Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Young Parents -- Thomas and Mary Elizabeth

Thomas and Mary Elizabeth were married on December 23, 1846. By 1848, they were parents of a little girl. Although early records list her name as "Atlanta" (I'd love to know the story behind that), later records use the nickname "Addie." Within two years, Lucy was born to the family. She is of particular interest to me because she is my great-grandmother. What I wouldn't give for a baby picture.

Lucy Probert
I can only imagine the joy followed soon after by sorrow, when their first-born son, Thomas, was born. I don't know how long Thomas lived, but their must have been complications. Little Thomas was buried in the Lexington Cemetery on November 21, 1854 followed a week later by the burial of his mother on November 28, 1854. I assume she died from the complications of childbirth.

Lexington Cemetery Record
Records like this always break my heart. Of the eleven family members buried here, two are children and two are infants. Baby Thomas is buried at the feet of his mother.

Grave of Mary Elizabeth Probert and Infant Son, Thomas
Thomas was 30 and a widower with two young daughters. Mary Elizabeth died at the age of 29.

A couple of months earlier, Thomas also lost his mother. She was only 51 years old and was living in Louisville with one of her daughters at the time of her death from cancer.

Kentucky Death Records, 1852-1953, Louisville, Jefferson Co., p. 3.

As any parent of two young children knows, you need a support system. Where was Thomas' support?
Next Up: The move to Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thomas -- Young Husband and Entrepreneur

The next time Thomas appears in the public record is as a young husband to Mary Elizabeth Diamond. They were married in Lexington on December 23, 1846. The marriage was reported in the Lexington Observer and Reporter. Both the bride and the groom were of Lexington. Thomas was 22 and Mary Elizabeth was 21 years old at the time of their marriage.

Thomas initially supported his young family as a baker. The 1850 Census showed that Thomas was not only supporting his young wife and first-born daughter Atlanta (aka Addie), but also his widowed mother, Mary, and younger brother, William. William, John Bridges and Bow Higginbotham are listed as bakers and apparently living in the same residence.

Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: District 2, Fayette, Kentucky; Roll: M432_199; Page: 200B; Image: 178.

His bakery appeared to be quite successful as this notice was published in the Kentucky Statesman on March 30, 1850. 

Published in Kentucky Ancestors, Vol. 39. p. 183.

All seemed well for the young family. Thomas, who was left fatherless at the young age of 13 appeared to have stepped up to the plate and was quite responsible at the age of 25. What could possibly go wrong?

Note: The spelling of "Diamond" has appeared both with and without an "a" in  various records. The family that survives has chosen to spell it with an "a."

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Thomas -- The Early Years

Credit: Wikipedia.com
Thomas H. Probert, the son of William and Mary (Polly), was born on August 29, 1824. Until I discovered a digital copy of a marriage record for Thomas and his second wife, Kate, I had no idea that he was born in Hartford, Ohio County, Kentucky. In fact, I was surprised to learn that there was an Ohio County in Kentucky. It is about a four-hour drive from Cincinnati, located south of Evansville, Indiana.

The family had moved to Nicholasville, Kentucky just outside of Lexington where they were listed in the 1830 Census. Within four years, the family was listed in Lexington, where William initially made his living as a baker.

By the time William volunteered to be a fife player as part of a Lexington contingent of men who volunteered for the War of Texas Independence in 1836, William was working as a tailor.

Thomas was the first-born of five children, although one daughter, Sarah Elizabeth died at 18 months. He was only 12 years old when his father left for the war, and he had to grow up quickly. We are fortunate to have copies of correspondence from William to his wife in which it becomes obvious that William valued education. In a letter sent to his wife, Mary, dated  December 1836, William stated, "I am happy to know that you are doing so well as what you are and likewise that Thomas is able to help you a little. I hope he will be a good boy. I am very sorry to hear that William got his hand burnt, but I hope it is not injured much.  I am glad likewise that Nancy Jane is improving in her schooling. I would be glad if you could spare Mary Ann so that she could go to school, but these things I shall leave to your own good management."

Letters on file with the Texas Archives

In a second letter dated January 1937, William stated, "I hope you will endeavor to keep the children to school and expect that before my return I shall see a letter of Thomas' own writing."

I wrote about William's participation in the War for Texas Independence in several previous posts. What was unknown to all concerned was that life was about to get much more difficult. On William's return trip to Lexington via New Orleans, he succumbed to illness and died. Thomas was only 13 years old and the oldest of four children of a widowed mother. Things had to be tough.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Fifty Shades of Thomas Probert

No doubt about it. I have "favorite" ancestors. Thomas H. Probert, who always signed his name as T.H. Probert, is one of those. He is a paternal gg-grandfather to me, grandfather to Norine, father of nine, and husband of two. Although I've written about him before (links below), he still draws me in, "forcing" me back to the Kentucky Archives and historical newspapers, trying to understand who Thomas was. Although I've not yet read the runaway bestseller Fifty Shades of Gray, the title of the book  fits with my notion of Thomas. You could never describe one or two "facts" about Thomas and think you've figured out who he was. He is a complex man, and that's why I love him.

So after four months of research, I'm ready to write. I hope you'll follow along on this journey and tell me if Thomas speaks to you. Want to be overwhelmed? Try to imagine how many direct descendants of T.H. are currently walking this planet. I'm glad to be one of them.

Need to catch up? Here are links to previous posts I've written about Thomas H. Probert.

Sometimes There Are Surprises
Where I've Been
You Be the Jury - Guilty or Not Guilty
You Be the Jury - Guilty or Not Guilty - Part 2
The Verdict Is In