~ Elijah Marchbanks ~
(A Southern Stalwart)
came out of North Central Tennessee, just a few miles south of the
Kentucky state line, into the fertile farmlands of northern Alabama and
Elijah was born October 31, 1797, in Tennessee, probably in Overton County: the first son of Jennie Jane YOUNG and William MARCHBANKS Jr. William’s birthplace was South Carolina, probably the Pendleton District (Laurens County). Elijah had four brothers and three sisters. Larger families were commonplace in these earlier times, at least partially, as one way of having enough folks to help on the family homestead or farm.
By the time he was 27 years old, Elijah had relocated to Alabama where he married Mary Adeline BANKHEAD of Marion County in about 1824. Mary Adeline was born in Union District, South Carolina, in about 1802: one of eight children born to Jane GREER and George BANKHEAD who arrived in Marion County in 1820. (1)
The BANKHEADs, incidentally, became a prominent Alabama family. George was the grandfather of U.S. Senator John Hollis BANKHEAD. William B. BANKHEAD, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Talullah BANKHEAD, a well-known Hollywood movie actress in the 1940s and 1950s, were also descendants of this family. (2)
Some confusion exists about the names of the children of Mary Adeline and Elijah. One source lists them as Mary Ann, Sarah Angeline, Elvira (Sina?), James, Burton, Bailey, Jane Lethia (Lithia?). (3)
A different source, however, identifies these children as William, James, Frances, Martha, Margaret. (4)
It should be noted in this narrative at this time that Lamar County, Alabama, was newly minted in February 1867 from parts of the counties of Marion, Fayette and Pickens (it was originally called Jones County before being renamed as Lamar County in 1877). (5)
Elijah, like his BANKHEAD relatives, was active in Alabama politics. He was a member of the state House of Representatives in 1840-1841 before serving in the Alabama Senate, 1843-1846. (6)
At some time between 1842 and 1849, Elijah, Mary Adeline and their family moved just west across the Alabama state line to Monroe County, Mississippi. The 1850 Census for Monroe County enumerates them as Elijah, 53 and a farmer; Mary A. 48; William 19; James 18; Frances 15; Martha 13 and Margaret 11. All the children are listed as born in Alabama. (7)
This MARCHBANKS clan, now Mississippians, established their new home on The Wolf Road at a site then identified as "The Walnut Tree." (8)
The Marchbanks Family History relates that Mary Adeline and Elijah endured a horrible tragedy when most of their children died during a malaria outbreak in Monroe County. The family history further states that Elijah and Mary Adeline, as a result of this catastrophe, abandoned their home at "The Walnut Tree" site and moved about 1.5 miles up The Wolf Road where they built a second home. (9)
The only child known to have survived this family disaster was their daughter, Mary Ann. (9)
William, however, also must have survived this 1853 malaria outbreak as he prepared a last will and testament dated July 20th, 1861. William’s will, in addition to giving all his land (280 acres approx.) and all other possessions to Elijah and Mary Adeline, named Elijah as executor. (10)
Further evidence that more than one of Mary Adeline and Elijah’s children may have outlived this malaria onslaught is the statement in the Marchbanks Family History that Elijah gave each of his children "large numbers of Negroes when they married."
Elijah, in addition to his political service, was a very successful farmer. While still residing in Alabama, he farmed about 80 acres – and likely almost a section – of land. (11) After migrating to Monroe County, Mississippi, Elijah farmed about 360 acres of land. (12) His agricultural accomplishments resulted in the Marchbanks Family History describing him as "wealthy."
Elijah continued to live in his second home on The Wolf Road in Monroe County until his death. While a search has yet to discover his will, legal documents filed re Mary Adeline’s estate state that Elijah died on or about December 16, 1867. (13)
Mary Adeline, presumably, also resided in their second home until her death in about September 1877. (14)
The appraisers report of Mary Adeline’s estate listed a wide assortment of household furnishings, none of which was individually valued at more than $20 each. The most valuable entry was $160 for the cotton crop "now growing." The second most valuable item – and the one most amusing to me, but one that also underscores the value of livestock in a farming operation – "One Mule @ $25.00" – i.e. this lone mule was worth more than any of Mary Adeline’s household goods.
Elijah and Mary Adeline, along with their children who died in the malaria epidemic, are buried in the Marchbanks Cemetery located one mile south of Cockerham Bridge on Wolf Road, East Buttahatchee. They are listed as Elijah MARCHBANKS; M. S. MARCHBANKS; G. M. MARCHBANKS; J. R. MARCHBANKS; W. B. MARCHBANKS; F. E. MARCHBANKS; Margaret MARCHBANKS (followed by the word SULLIVAN). There are no dates for any of these MARCHBANKS family members. (15)
Photographs have been taken of the Marchbanks Cemetery. Several graves have stones only (i.e. no engravings). Two grave markers, those for the MARCHBANKS family members, are identified. One reads: "In Memorem. G. M. Marchbanks, J. P. Marchbanks, W. B. Marchbanks, F. E. Marchbanks, M. S. Marchbanks, Margaret S. Marchbanks." The other stone reads: "Parents. Elijah Marchbanks, Mary A. Marchbanks." (16)
The marker for the MARCHBANKS children is further described as "a tall marble shaft with the initials of the Marchbanks children who died about 1853 in the malaria epidemic." (17)
Elijah MARCHBANKS can be adequately summed up by the following quote: "In [the] Monroe County, Mississippi, records there are references to his civic duties during the years he lived there. It is regrettable that more is not known of this fine man and his family." (18)
Hopefully, this account of Mary Adeline and Elijah MARCHBANKS and their family will result in there now being more awareness of these folks I am honored to have as my treasured family members.