Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jemima's story

Sometimes the person you've been looking for has been right there under your feet all along.

A few years ago I put together the marriage of Jemima C. Robinson and David M. Purnell, using census records and the Purnell-Clouse family Bible.   Jemima, who went by the nickname Mima, was the daughter of Henry J. Robinson and Linia Catherine Emerson.  With her marriage to David M. Purnell, there was sort of a trifecta of families.  The Robinson, Emerson and Purnell families were all closely associated in the early 1800s in Marion County, Alabama and earlier back in Abbeville District, South Carolina.  All three are direct lines of mine although Jemima, David, Henry and Linia are not my direct descendants.

David M. Purnell was the nephew of my great-great-great grandfather Samuel Morris Purnell.  Henry J. Robinson was the supposed brother of my great-great-great grandfather John E. Robinson, while his wife Linia Catherine Emerson was the daughter of John E. Robinson's sister, Easter.  Easter's husband was George Emerson, and I believe - but have no proof - that George was the father of John's wife, Rachael Reed Emerson, from a marriage before Easter.

The Purnell and Robinsons intermarried a few times.  My great-great grandfather, George Emerson Robinson, son of John  E. and Rachael, married Charlotte Purnell, the daughter of Samuel Morris Purnell and Sarah E. King.  Samuel's sister, Martha Ann "Patsey" Purnell, married James L. Robinson, very probably a brother to John E. Robinson and Henry J. Robinson.

Back to Jemima C(atherine?) Robinson - as I said, I figured out that she married David M. Purnell.  The Purnell-Clouse Bible indicates that David married on December 16, 1873 but doesn't list his wife's name.  The Bible does indicate that David had a son born September 11, 1874, named Henry Johnson Purnell, and that David died on August 18, 1875.    The 1880 census shows Jemima Purnell widowed and living with her parents, along with a five year old son, Henry J., and three year old daughter, Minnesota.

1880 Census
Marion County, Alabama    Beat 3
Henry Robinson 60 SC blank blank   farmer  (born 1820)
Catherine 58 AL SC SC
Jemima Purnell 24 AL  daughter, widowed
Easter A. 16 AL  "paralysis"
Henry J. 5 AL  grandson
Minnesota 3 AL  granddaughter

In the 1900 census, Henry and Catherine have only Minnesota in their household, and there's no sign of Jemima or Henry J. Purnell.  I assumed they had died.  After all, why would Minnesota be living with her grandparents if her mother were still living.  Plus, Catherine indicated that she had had two children born with none living in 1900.  Case closed.

Until.... a few days ago when I was contacted by a Keith family researcher about a Mima C. Keith, wondering if perhaps she was the same as Jemima Purnell Robinson.    It turns out that Jemima remarried, to James M. Keith, shortly after 1880, and they had five children together before Jemima died around 1896, probably from giving birth to her last child.   James M. Keith married again very shortly after Jemima's death because his wife in the 1900 census indicates she had been married for two years.   This would also explain why Minnesota Purnell was living with her grandparents in 1900 - her mother was dead, and her stepfather had remarried.

Thanks to Dean Howell Page, and her curiosity about her husband's family, a new connection has been made.  I've learned that Jemima is buried in the cemetery at Shottsville Methodist Church in Marion County -- her gravestone is pictured above.  Without Dean's help, her e-mails to me, and her phone calls to her husband's elderly aunts, we might never have made the connection.  It's nice to have Jemima's story completed.   After all, we are distant cousins from three different families.


Jessie Emerson said...

I'm so glad this connection was made!

(another cousin)

Mona Robinson Mills said...

With your help, Jessie!