Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Who was John Wesley Martin's First Wife

   Another mystery in John Wesley Martin’s life is the identity of his first wife. According to his daughter, his wife’s name was Mary Pollock.  John and Mary had two children together. The oldest was my great grandfather, Joseph Edward Martin born in 1866. The youngest Martha (Mattie) Martin who was born in 1868. According to the family legend, Mary died soon after Mattie’s birth and Mattie went to live with her mother’s parents. 

Where does the data road lead?

   In searching for this “Mary Pollock”, I had tracked every Mary Pollock I could find in Georgia. All of them were living after 1870 and most had families that discounted them from being the correct person. It is possible the surname Pollock was a miscommunication. The family story was from an interview with John and Vesta’s daughter, Nancy. There was a Pollock connection in Vesta’s family. It is also possible the fact that John married his brother’s widow was to be kept a secret. Either way, it seems likely that Mary Pollock was actually Mary Sellers. Consider the following evidence.

   John is found in 1870 Mitchell County Georgia listed with his second wife, Vesta Ann Rogers and his son Joseph Martin, age 4.
   His young daughter, Martha (Mattie), should be listed with her mother’s parents. The following census entry is adjacent to John and Vesta: 

1870 Mitchell county census
Elijah Sellars 59
Susan Sellars 50
Anna Jane West 70
Susan E Martin 16
William 15
James E 14
Mary E 13
Neal L 11
Laura L 8
Martha S 1

   Second question is who are all these Martin children and why are they living with the Sellers?

Part of the answer is found in the 1860 Mitchell County census. Living in Camilla, Mitchell County is a James Martin age 29 and Mary Martin, his wife, age 22. They have 5 children: 

SE 7
Wm H 5
JE 4
MA 2
AG 1

   These children’s ages and initials correspond to the Martin children in the above 1870 listing. According to court house records Elijah Sellers posted an orphans bond for all the Martin children except for Martha. Martha is, I believe, John W and Mary Sellers daughter. No bond would be posted for her since she is not an orphan.
   Also listed living with the James Martin family in 1860 is a JW Martin age 20 working as a laborer.  I believe this is John Wesley and James Martin could be his brother. Family legend does state he had a brother named James. Elijah Sellers and his wife are also living in this county and the daughter Mary that is listed with them in 1850 Baker County is not listed. (Mitchell County was formed from Baker County in 1857.) Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any marriage records or death records for James or Mary.
   Sometime before 1870, James Martin dies and it is very probable that John Wesley marries James’ widow when he returns from the Civil War. Given the fact that the Sellers took in the Martin orphans, it would make sense they would be the children of their daughter. The 1880 Mitchell County census has the following listing:
Mrs S E Sellers 59
Mary A Marten 23 g dau
Don L Marten 21 g son
Mattie S Marten 12 g dau

Elijah has passed away and Susan lists all these Martin children as her grandchildren. 

   The best evidence I have found supports the theory that Joseph Edward’s mother and John Wesley’s wife was Mary Sellers, daughter of Elijah and Susan West Sellers, instead of Mary Pollock.  My DNA does show some Sellers surnames but no absolute connection yet. 
The search continues.

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