By Don Taylor
Martha Melinda Montgomery Haley Midyett had a rough life. She married young (17), had six children who she saw die. She also was widowed – twice. There was no informant for her death certificate, and she was, apparently, buried without a marker.
Roberts/Brown – Ancestor #39
List of Grandparents
Martha’s birthdate is one of the most confounding set of birth information I’ve encountered. I am confident that she was born on 5 October 1839 in Tennessee, probably Bedford county. Her parents were Leonard L and Syrena (Meadows) Montgomery; she was the third of seven children born to Syrena. The 1850 Census is the record that was closest to her birth and it indicated she was ten years old at the time. The following census records suggest her being born in 1838, 1839, or 1840.
The monument (marker) for her first husband indicates her birthdate as 5 October 1835; however, there is no corroborating documentation. Likewise, her death record appears to say her birthdate is F. 1st 1836. That record also indicates her age at death as being 77 years, 11 months, and 22 days, suggesting a death date of 30 or 31 July 1836.
The 1840 Census didn’t indicate individual’s names, only the head of household’s name was enumerated. In this case, her father, Leonard L. Montgomery, is living in Bedford County, Tennessee. Living with him is a young boy, two very young girls, and a young woman. That fits with what I believe the family unit should have included
- Leonard Age 20 to 30 – He should be 26.
- Syrena Age 20 to 30 – She should be 25.
- William Age 5 to 10 – He should be 5 or 6.
- Mary-Ann Under 5 – She should be 2.
- Martha Under 5 – She should be 1.
The 1850 Census is the first census to list names in a household. The Leonard Montgomery household of 1850 consisted of the following:
Name Sex Age Born
- Lenard Montgomery M 36 Tennessee
- Syrenia Montgomery F 35 North Carolina
- Wm G M Montgomery M 15 Tennessee
- Mary Ann Montgomery F 11 Tennessee
- Martha M Montgomery F 10 Tennessee
- John H Montgomery M 9 Tennessee
- Thomas J Montgomery M 6 Tennessee
- James H Montgomery M 5 Tennessee
- Harriet J Montgomery F 0 Tennessee
This has the appearance of a traditional family.
1857 – Marriage
If the Montgomery family lived on the eastern side of Bedford County, the nearest larger town to them would have been Manchester in Coffee County. That is where the 17-year-old Martha was married to Andrew J. Haley on 20 August 1857 By L. F Dillard, Justice of the Peace.
The Haley family of 1860 consisted of:
- A.J. (Andrew) Age 23
- Malinda Age 21 May (aka Mary) Age 1
- Ben Age 81
- Nancy Age 70
I believe that Benjamin and Nancy Haley (ages 81 and 70) are likely his grandparents.
Andrew was 25 in 1860. For Andrew to be Nancy’s child, she would have had to have him at age 45 and Benjamin would have been 56. Possible, but it is much more likely that Benjamin and Nancy are Andrew’s grandparents. Further research will be needed to prove that.
Sometime between 1860 and 1870, they moved the 235 miles from Manchester, Tennessee, to Ewing, Franklin County, Illinois. During that period, Franklin County grew nearly 35% to 12,653.
The 1870 Census finds Martha keeping house and has two children, Mary and Amanda, living with her and Andrew. Later, we will learn that Martha had eight children; only three lived to adulthood. The 10-year gap between Amanda’s birth and the 1870 census suggests that that decade was horrific for Martha and Andrew with several children dying.
Martha’s daughter Mary married Theodore Edward Curry; they had a child, Martha (Mattie). Mary and Mattie are living with Martha and Andrew as well as daughter Serina. Mary is listed as “Confined.” The nature of her (Mary’s) disability is not listed.
The census taker entered the age of the individuals in years and months. So, the household included the following people:
Name Age Suggested Birthdate
- Andrew J. Hailey 44 5/12 Dec 1835
- Martha M Hailey 40 8/12 Sep 1939
- Mary F Curry 21 8/12 Sep 1858
- Serina J Hailey 9 2/12 Mar 1871
- Martha L Curry 1 5/12 Dec 1878
The 1900 Census is where we learn what a tough life Martha had. It indicates she had eight children and only two were living. With her and Andrew are two granddaughters, Clora and Laura, two of the daughters of Martha’s daughter, Amanda. Amanda died in 1889 at the age of 28.
Living in the household was a boarder, Budge Casey, a farm laborer.
1905 Death of Andrew
Andrew died in 1905, leaving Martha a widow.
1906 – Marriage to Lacy Midyett
The 67-year-old Martha quickly remarried a widower, Lacy Meadows Midyett.
1910 – Martha lived with Lacy in Goode Township (a change from Barren township where she lived with Andrew). The household consisted of 75-year-old Lacy and 70-year-old Martha. Living with them was a granddaughter of Lacy, Ema Sweet.
1912 – Martha’s husband, Rev. Lacy Meadows Midyett, died in Chicago on 5 December 1912.
1914 – Martha died in Goode Township, Franklin County, Illinois, on 22 July 1914.
Green Birth, Blue Marriage, Read Death.
- Tennessee, Bedford County – Birth, 1840, 1850,
- Tennessee, Coffee County – Marriage 1, 1860
- Illinois, Franklin County – 1865, 1870, 1880, 1900, marriage 2, death.
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