Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Falling In Between the Cracks

 Having recently completed a post on my Great  Great Uncle, James Coleman Webster - Faulkner, I discovered that his wife Mary Virginia Hildreth, was just as much a mystery as he was. Well, at least her origins were.

Dec. 29, 1868James C. Webster, s. ---- & Susan Webster, and Mary V. Hildreth, d. of Polly Hildreth.

The first solid link was the notice of her marriage to James in 1868. We know she was the daughter of a Polly Hildreth.

Name:Mary Falkner
Age in 1870:23
Birth Date:abt 1847
Birthplace:North Carolina
Dwelling Number:38
Home in 1870:Gulledge, Anson, North Carolina
Post Office:Wadesboro
Occupation:Keeping House
Cannot Read:Yes
Cannot Write:Yes
Inferred Spouse:Coleman Falkner
Inferred Children:Mary Falkner
Household MembersAge
Coleman Falkner23
Mary Falkner23
Mary Falkner1/12

We know she is found in Gulledge Township with her husband and brand new baby girl, Mary Elizabeth Faulkner in 1870.

Name:Mary Fackner
Birth Date:Abt 1845
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1880:Gulledges, Anson, North Carolina, USA
House Number:57
Dwelling Number:353
Relation to Head of House:Self (Head)
Marital Status:Widowed
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina
Occupation:Keeping House
Cannot Read:Yes
Cannot Write:Yes
Household MembersAgeRelationship
Mary Fackner35Self (Head)
Elizabeth Fackner11Daughter
Sylvester Fackner7Daughter
Daisey Fackner2Daughter

We know she's found as a widow with 3 children in 1880 and that she filed for a widow's pension based on her husbands service in the Civil War.

Name:Mary Faulkner
Age in 1910:58
Birth Date:1852[1852]
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1910:Lanesboro, Anson, North Carolina, USA
Relation to Head of House:Mother-in-law
Marital Status:Widowed
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina
Native Tongue:English
Able to read:No
Able to Write:No
Number of Children Born:6
Number of Children Living:3
Household MembersAgeRelationship
Sidney T Dabbs39Head
Elizabeth Dabbs39Wife
James T Dabbs20Son
Callie Dabbs17Daughter
Henry Dabbs14Son
Dais Dabbs6Daughter
Eunice Dabbs1Daughter
Mary Faulkner58Mother-in-law
Bessie Faulkner34Sister-in-law

We know that in 1900 and 1910, she found in the home of her daughter, Mary Elizabeth Falkner Dabbs, and her husband, Sidney, along with her unmarried daughter, Bessie Catherine Falkner.

We know that she died after complications of a Hernia surgery on November 7, 1910, in Charlotte, and recieve one of the oldest death certificates I've seen in North Carolina, most starting around 1914 or 1915.

Random group of 1800's ladies

What we don't know is who she really was before her marriage and who her people were.

The 1880 cenus of Polkton, Anson County, NC offers our first hint.

Mary Virginia's only son, Shelton, is living in the home of Henry and Sarah Pilcher, sometimes seen as Pitcher. Of course, the transcribers totally destroyed this name, recording it as "Pitchie". I had never heard of this family, and indeed, they were a small one. 

The clues are in the relationships given between the people who were living in the home. As I believe the correct spelling of the surname is Piltcher, that is the way I will stick with it, no matter how it appears if various records. The head of the house is 67 year old Henry Piltcher and his 57 year old wife, Sarah. Their is a 17 year old Henry Hildreth, listed as their grandson, then 7 year old Shelton, also listed as their grandson and a young man named Thoms Hildreth, age 26, retlationship given as "Uncle". Now, I don't believe 26 year old Thomas was the Uncle of 67 year old Henry. It may be instead, that the census taker broke from proper protocal and meant he was the Uncle of the two boys, or something simliar.

I considered the fact that maybe it was an error that Shelton wasn't their grandson at all, but the fact that Mary Virginia was born a Hildreth kind of  defactors that a little. I also considered the possibility that Polly Hildreth, mother of Mary Virginia and Sarah Piltcher were one and the same. Maybe being born as Mary Sarah Hildreth, or something similar. It couldn't be that easy. It wasn't. So the first thing was to determine the connection of Henry and Thomas to the Piltchers.

John Henry and Walter L. Hildreth

John Henry Hildreth was born on December 8, 1860 in Anson County.  He was the son of Elijah Hildreth and Ann Piltcher. Elijah Hildreth was the son of  Thomas Hildreth (1785-1845) and Hispira Childreth. Ann Piltcher was the daughter of, you guessed it, Henry Piltcher and wife Sarah. So this is how Henry is their grandson, through his mother. 

A bried summary of his life,  John Henry was born just a few years before his father, like many young men of his day, perished in the Civil War. He had a younger brother, Walter, born in 1863. Having grownup with his maternal grandparents, he married  Phoebe Katherine "Katie" Porter, in 1884, in Anson County, at the age of 23. They remained in Gullege, in Anson County, farming, until after the turn of the century, several of the Porter family living with them. During the 1910's and 1920's, they can be found in Albemarle, Stanly County, NC, working in the Cotton Mills and several of Katie's family still with them, along with their own two chidlren, Arpie and Bettie. A third, Carrie, had died young.

In 1930, Henry was a widower, and living with the family of his daughter, Bettie, and her husband, James R. Pope, an Insurance Salesman. All of Katies Porter relatives were still tagging along. They lived in High Point, Guilford County, NC, a furniture manufacturing center.  Henry passed away the next year, on May 18, 1931 in High Point, but returned to Deep Creek, in Anson County, for burial.

His brother, Walter, born in 1863, corresponds with the age of this "Washington" in the 1870 census of Gulledge, Anson County.  Whether the census taker made a mistake, or Ann decided to change his name to Walter, later, 'Washington', grew up to be Walter L. Hildreth. The two small Roberson children belonged to the Roberson family who lived above another widow, sister-in-law of Ann Piltcher Hildreth, Collin, or "Colly" Hildreth. Then just above the Robersons is a Gulledge family with Ann's parents, Henry and Sarah Piltcher, living above them. With the Piltchers is this year is John Henry, Ann and Elijah's older son, aged 10, living with his grandparents. There is also a 17 year old, only identified as "Hildreth". After a tenous research, again, into the Hildreths, whom I had previously reviewed when researching my Turner and Axom/Exum ancestors, some of  whom had made the trek to Alabama with a number of the Hildreths, Carpenters and Porters before the Civil War, particularly the Rueben Hildreth family, I've came to the concrete conclusion that this wasn't a "Hildreth Piltcher", but instead, Thomas Hildreth, who shows up in the 1880 census as a 27 year old adult, living with the Henry Pitcher family.

Walter, of course, is seen living with his grandparents in 1880, and on December 14, 1885, at the age of  22, he married Mary Jane Tarlton, daughter of  William R. Tarlton and Mary Jane Moore Tarlton. Like Walter, Mary Jane had lost her father in the Civil War. The couple lived in Wadesboro for several decades, raising three sons: James (1889-1965), Chancy Carlton (1894-1970) and Jesse May (1896-1917). While Jesse May sounds like the name of a daughter these days, the name "May" referred to the family name of May in Anson County in the 1800's.


The Messenger and Intelligencer

Wadesboro, North Carolina
03 Jun 1915, Thu  •  Page 4

After the sudden death of his wife, Mary Jane, in 1915, Walter moved to Mecklenburg County. 

Marriage of Walter L. Hildreth and Mary Phillips Poplin

There he married Mary E. Phillips Poplin at the age of 55, on March 26, 1918. He was widowed again in 1929, when his second Mary passed away. He worked as an employee of Southern Railway. Walter spent his last years living with his son C. C. Hildreth on 12th Street in Charlotte, until he passed away in 1941.


The Charlotte Observer

Charlotte, North Carolina
23 Oct 1941, Thu  •  Page 15

So, who was Elijah Hildreth and would he lead us to James Coleman Falkner's wife, Mary?


Elijah Hildreth does not show up in the 1850 cenus of Anson County. Neither does a number of other Hildreths, nor does his In-laws, Henry and Sarah Piltcher. It's like there was an entire neighborhood missed. 

He does, however, appear in the 1860 census. It's difficult to read, but this listing includes:

House Number 1096   Mary Hildreth 60, Female, Owner of Farm, Elizabeth 28, Female, Domestic, David, 24, male, farm Labor, Walter 21, male, farm Labor,  Mary, 15, female, farm labor and Thomas 11.

House Number 1097  Berry Hildreth, male, 27, Farm Labor, Coley 26 (marked male, but as I discovered in further records, she was female and his wife, and Sarah (their daughter) 7.

House Number 1098 Elijah Hildreth 21, Farm Labor, Ann 20, and John 7 months old, who I now know was John Henry Hildreth. 

Of note, but not shown on this page, was House number 1099, headed by Margaret Teal, 60, Occupation "Lady" and living with her was Harriett Piltcher 18, female. Knowing Ann was a Piltcher, and their ages being so close, it was a high probability that they were related, most likely sisters.

As Ann and Harriett were likley related due to name and location, likewise these Hildreths living three houses in a row appear to be a family grouping. 

The rest of what we know about Elijah Hildreth is that he served, and perished, in the Civil War.

Name:Elijah Hildreth
Enlistment Age:25
Birth Date:abt 1836
Enlistment Date:17 Sep 1861
Enlistment Place:Anson County, North Carolina
Enlistment Rank:Private
Muster Date:17 Sep 1861
Muster Place:North Carolina
Muster Company:K
Muster Regiment:26th Infantry
Muster Regiment Type:Infantry
Muster Information:Enlisted
Casualty Date:1 Jul 1862
Casualty Place:Malvern Hill, Virginia
Type of Casualty:Wounded
Side of War:Confederacy
Residence Place:Anson County, North Carolina
Notes:1862-08-15 Returned, Estimated day; 1863-12-15 Returned, Estimated day; 1864-06-30 Absent, For wounds
Additional Notes 2:Casualty 2 Date: 01 Jul 1863; Casualty 2 Place: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; Casualty 2 Casualty Type: Wounded; Casualty 3 Date: 20 Aug 1864; Casualty 3 Place: Near Petersburg, Virginia; Casualty 3 Casualty Type: Wounded;
Title:North Carolina Troops 1861-65, A Roster

He enlisted in September of 1861 in Wadesboro, and was wounded on July 1, 1862, at Malvern Hill, Virginia. He was wounded again at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and survived a second time. He was wounded a third time on August 20, near Petersburg, Viriginia. The third time he did not survive, and passed away on August 27, 1864. One tough soldier.

Name:Elijah Hildreth
Birth Date:1836
Death Date:27 Aug 1864
Cemetery:Hollywood Cemetery
Burial or Cremation Place:Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, United States of America
Has Bio?:N
Children:John Henry Hildreth

Elijah Hildreth was buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. He was survived by his widow, Ann Piltcher Hildreth and his two sons, John Henry and Walter. 

Fifteen year old Mary in the above 1860 census corresponds closely to the age of Mary Virginia Hildreth who married James Coleman Falkner, and there is Thomas, who later lived with the Piltcher family. If Thomas and Mary were siblings, and Elijah was their older brother, that would explain why Thomas was referred to as "Uncle" in 1880. He would have been and uncle of Shelton and Walter.


We know that Thomas was living with the Piltcher/ Pilchie family in 1880 and 1870. So where was he in 1860?

This fragment of the 1860 census of Anson County, NC appears to show a family grouping of 3 households in a row bearing the surname of Hildreth. In household 1096 is Mary Hildreth, a 60 year old female head of household noted as being the "Owner of Farm". She's followed by a list of younger Hildreth, all noted as farm laborers, except the youngest. There's Elizabeth, 28, a domestic, David, 24, Walter, 21, Mary 15, and Thomas 11. 

Mary corresponds in age with Mary Virginia Hildreth who married James Coleman Webster Falkner. Thomas corresponds in age with Thomas who lived with the Pilcher family.

In Household 1097 is Berry Hildreth 28, Coley 26, and Sarah,7.

In Household 1098 is Elijah Hildreth, his wife, Ann Pilcher Hildreth and their 7 month old son, John Henry Hildreth. 

Following in household 1099, not shown on this page, was a 60 year old Margaret Teal with an 18 year old Harriet Pilcher living with her. Living next door to each other, being close in age and the Pilchers being such a small family, Ann and Harriet were undoubtedly related and probably sisters.

If Mary Virginia Hildreth and Thomas Hildreth were siblings and Elijah Hildreth their older brother, then Thomas would indeed be the uncle of both Walter L. Hildreth and Shelton Falkner.

Neither Elijah Hildreth or Mary Hildreth born in 1800 are in the 1859 census. As Henry and Sarah Pilcher don't appear either,  it appears that an entire neighborhood may have been missed. 

The Hildreth family is a jigsaw of their own. The repetition of names, can, and has, led to a great deal of confusion. There's at least 3 different Thomas's born in Anson within a decade of each other.

To verify Mary Virginia, there's more unpacking to do.


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