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Fayette County, Alabama

~ Mary Adaline Bankhead Marchbanks ~
(A Staunch Southern Spouse)


Mary Adaline BANKHEAD lived with her parents in Union County in South Carolina before the family migrated into Marion County, Alabama.  Some interesting facts about these areas — and about the United States — in Mary Adaline’s time.

South Carolina had become one of the richest of the 13 original colonies when the American Revolution took place.  Early inland settlers were mainly farmers and traders who evolved into a governing group of merchants and planters.  It was the 8th state to join the union, with its May 23, 1788, ratification of the American Constitution.

Union County, although having originally been a food-growing farming area, had become a cotton-producing area starting about the time of Mary Adaline’s birth around 1802 — during the years that Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the still young United States.

The soil began losing its fertility during the 1820s, a reality which may have been among the reasons that the father of a teenage Mary Adaline decided to relocate in Marion County, Alabama.

Marion County, formed in the northwestern part of the state by Alabama’s governing body in 1818, was just about two years old when the Bankhead family arrived in the first year of the new decade of the 1820s when James Monroe was in his second term as the country’s president.


Earlier, I had written a biography about my maternal great-great-great uncle titled Elijah Marchbanks: A Southern Stalwart.  Mary Adaline was every bit as resilient as Elijah, her husband.  It is most appropriate, therefore, that this essay about the life and times of my maternal great-great-great aunt be titled Mary Adaline Bankhead Marchbanks: A Staunch Southern Spouse.

Mary Adaline, along with her parents and siblings, trekked westward from South Carolina’s northwestern Piedmont area into the agricultural area of northwestern Alabama that was immediately adjacent to their neighboring southern state of Mississippi.

Great joy must have resounded throughout the Union County, South Carolina, home of Jane GREER and George BANKHEAD when Mary Adaline, their first child, was born in about 1802.  Her South Carolina grandparents, Elizabeth BLACK and James BANKHEAD, surely also rejoiced — as did George’s eight brothers and sisters, now the aunts and uncles of Mary Adaline.

In 1820, when Mary Adaline was about 18 years old, George BANKHEAD and his family migrated from Union County to Marion County, Alabama. (1)

One of younger men residing in Marion County that Mary Adaline met after the BANKHEAD’s arrival was the Tennessee-born Elijah MARCHBANKS, the first son of Jennie Jane YOUNG and William MARCHBANKS Jr.  A courtship developed between Mary Adaline and Elijah that culminated in their marriage in about 1824 when the bride was about 22 years old and her husband was 27.

Pertinent to this story is that parts of the Alabama counties of Marion, Fayette and Pickens were used in February 1867 to form Jones County — which was renamed Sanford County then Lamar County in 1877. (2)

In the 25 or so years that followed, Mary Adaline and Elijah’s family had grown to somewhere between five and seven children (see Elijah Marchbanks: A Southern Stalwart for the names of these children).  Elijah enjoyed great success as a farmer while also being elected to terms in both the Alabama House of Representatives and Senate.

Sometime after his term as Alabama State Senator ended in 1846, Elijah and Mary Adaline decided to relocate just across the state line as the 1850 Census for Monroe County, Mississippi, lists Elijah as 53 and a farmer; Mary A., age 48, and five children. (3)

The greatest tragedy that could happen to a husband and wife is the heart-breaking fact that these children died in a malaria outbreak in about 1853.  They are buried at The Marchbanks Cemetery on Wolf Road in Monroe County. (4, 5)

Despite the loss of these children, Mary Adaline and Elijah continued to prosper as a farming family with extensive landholdings in Monroe County for another 14 years until his death on or about December 16, 1867. (6)

All known evidence indicates that Mary Adaline continued to successfully operate the Marchbanks Farm or Plantation on Wolf Road after Elijah’s death. (7)

One verification of the above is a deed entered into on November 14, 1871, by which Mary Adaline bought approx. 1,000 acres of land for $2,498 from J.S. BRUTON and his wife T.E. BRUTON. (8)

Mary Adaline’s last will and testament was written May 20, 1869.  James S. BARTON, her grandson, is named her executor along with Henry M. DILLINGHAM. (9)

It is interesting to read that the valuation of Mary Adaline’s will places her estate at about $9,000 as follows: (10)

8 bales cotton weighing in the aggregate 500 pounds at average of 20 cents per pound
b. Eighteen hundred dollars in gold coin
c. One lot of hogs at
d. Household and kitchen furniture
e. Proceeds of crop of 10 bales of cotton for year 1867 weighing 500 lbs. each at 20 cents per pound
f. Proceeds of 700 bushels of corn at 50 cents per bushel

          Aggregate amount   

It is equally interesting to view the Appraisers Estate Report Schedule A of Mary Adaline’s possessions: (11)

a. One bureau 8.00
b. One bureau 5.00
c. One [unreadable word] 1.00
d. One bed bedstead counterpane sheet and twin pillows 20.00
e. One bed bedstead counterpane sheet bolster and pillows 20.00
f. One bed bedspread counterpane sheet and twin pillows 18.00
g. One clock 2.00
h. 13 quilts @ 1.00
i. 2 counterpanes @ 1.25 2.50
4 coverlets @ 4.00 16.00
2 checked counterpanes @ .50 1.00
1 sidesaddle 5.00
1 small table 1.50
2 trunks @ .50 1.00
1 looking glass .50
1 Safe 3.00
Table ware 3.00
1 cookstove and vessels 12.50
2 tables @ .50 1.00
1 wash pot 3.00
One mule 25.00
Cotton crop now growing       
Six chairs @ .50 3.00


Elijah and Mary Adaline were referred to as wealthy citizens of Monroe County. (12)

Further evidence that the Monroe County plantation of Mary Adaline and Elijah resulted in their being among the prominent families in the county was found in other documents dealing with Mary Adaline’s estate:
Aggregating $9,325.00  (13)


Mary Adaline died September 1877.  Her burial in The Marchbanks Cemetery on Wolf Road in Monroe County, Mississippi, reunited Mary Adaline with Elijah and their young children who died in the malaria epidemic.

Graciously contributed by
Jim McDonald
© 5/2004


  (1) Alabama Department of Archives, letter to Jim McDonald, September 20, 1956

  (2) A Lamar County History on the ALGenWeb of the USGenWeb as downloaded by Jim McDonald on August 27, 2003

  (3) Evans Memorial Library, Aberdeen, Monroe County, Mississippi, re Jim McDonald May 2003 research

  (4) The date of this malaria epidemic was about 1853 according to “The Heritage of Lamar County, Alabama," biography of Elijah Marchbanks re JimMcDonald May 2003 research at Evans Memorial Library in Aberdeen, Monroe County, Mississippi

  (5) It is the catastrophic loss of these young children that caused me to title their biographies as Elijah Marchbanks: Stalwart Southerner and Mary Adaline Bankhead Marchbanks: A Staunch Southern Spouse.  As cousin Mary Barton Posey, a descendent of Mary Adaline and Elijah, remarked in an April 2004 e-mail to Jim McDonald after visiting the Marchbanks Cemetery: It was poignant to see the individual markers for these young children.

  (6) Inventory of Estate of Mary Adaline Marchbanks re September 1877 term of Chancery Court, Monroe County, Mississippi, re Jim McDonald research at Aberdeen, Monroe County

  (7) Legal documents re September 1877 term of Chancery Court, Monroe County, Mississippi, re Jim McDonald May 2003 research at Aberdeen, Monroe County

  (8) Deed recorded in the Office of H. S. Gilleylen, Clerk of Chancery Court of Monroe County, Mississippi, on October 30, 1877

  (9) Mary Adaline Marchbanks' will re legal document that witnesses of her will appeared before Clerk of Monroe County Chancery Court on July 9, 1877, to verify their witnessing the writing of her will

(10) Monroe County, Mississippi, legal documents pertaining to Mary Adaline Marchbanks' will

(11) Executors Bond.  Estate of Mary A. Marchbanks, deceased, in the Chancery Court of Monroe County.  J.S. Barton, Executor.  Filed September 29, 1877

(12) Boling Feltz Marchbanks, 1920 Family History

(13) Monroe County, Mississippi, Chancery Court Document Pertaining to Estate of Mary A. Marchbanks - Wife of Elijah Marchbanks re Jim McDonald May 2003 research

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This page last updated 13 May 2004.