This week in #52ancestors I am going to write about a woman who fascinates me. She is not someone famous, or who had a public talent that everyone talked about. She was a wife, mother, daughter, neighbor. Just an ordinary woman, and yet she intrigues me. Possibly it is because of a family story about her, which I cannot prove or disprove. Possibly it is because her children loved her so.
Mary Elizabeth Carrell (records also use the spelling Carroll, Curl, Carrel) was born on 1 May 1840 or 1841 in Juliustown, Burlington County, New Jersey. Her parents and place of birth are proving difficult to track down, as one source says William Carroll of Juliustown but another (her death certificate) says Wm. Curl and Eliza Cox. William Carroll of Juliustown does not appear in the 1850 or 1860 Census under any spelling or phonetic variation on Carroll/Curl.
I cannot find a marriage record in either New Jersey or Pennsylvania for Benjamin and Mary Elizabeth. The Genealogical and memorial history of the state of New Jersey states that the marriage occurred sometime in 1859 and another source that I cannot track down states 20 October 1862 (this date appeared in an online family tree which did not specify an information source).
This is the crux of a family mystery. The story is that Benjamin Jones compromised a young lady in the employ of the family, a maid or laundress. Having gotten her pregnant, he was forced to marry her and his father, Richard Jones, disowned him. It’s a great story but the supporting factual details elude me.
First, William Carroll of Juliustown: he does not appear in the 1850 or 1860 Census under any spelling or phonetic variation on Carroll. If one broadens the search to Burlington County and environs, one finds several phonetic connections but none that have a 10 or 20 year old daughter with a name resembling Mary Elizabeth. I have also made use of the helpful resources at Burlington County Library, namely their Burlington County Newspaper Notices Index. Even removing surnames and widening the time period produces no results.
So I turn to Benjamin Jones to try to track his movements. Benjamin appears in the 1860 Census, living with his uncle, and working at farming, possibly cultivating cranberries, as that is what Samuel H. Jones is growing at that point. Benjamin then joins the 10th New Jersey Volunteers and goes off to train, but is shortly dismissed as permanently disabled. His military service record at the National Archives states that although he signed up 16 November 1861 at Beverly, NJ, to serve three years, as of 29 September 1862 he has been unfit for duty 62 days of the last two months. The surgeons diagnosis is cryptic but looks like “scrofula with a disease of the hip joint” which translates into a form of tuberculosis which evidences in a growth on his neck. (Intriguing sidenote: Alexandra, Princess of Wales also suffered from this disease in almost the same year!) So Benjamin is mustered out and sent home on 4 October 1862. I find it unlikely that he manages to return home, deflower a housemaid and marry her in the span of 16 days.
And yet, marry they do and begin a family in 1864. They proceeded to have 11 children:
- Susan Gibbs Jones (1864-1895)
- William Carroll Jones (1865-1937)
- Lillie Jones (1867-1946)
- Elwood Andrew Jones (1869-1940)
- Alice W. Jones (1871-1937)
- Elizabeth Watts Jones (1873-1900)
- Arthur Wells Jones (1875-1936)
- Horace Jones (1878-1884)
- Mary “Stella May” Jones (1881-1946)
- Rebecca Clevenger Jones (1883-1963)
- Martha Evans “Mattie” Jones (1885-1891)
The couple lived in Pemberton and even after Benjamin died, Mary lived at Egbert Street through the 1910 Census. In 1915, Mary is living with her daughter Alice and son-in-law Charles Wills. After that, according to the 1920 Census, Mary moved in with daughter Lillie (married to George Weest).
Mary Jones died on 29 May 1922 in Vincentown and is buried in the Methodist Cemetery in Pemberton. Her passing received far more attention than Benjamin’s and several months after her death her children post a memorial to her in the newspaper:
Mount Holly Herald, 7 October 1922
In Memoriam: In loving memory of our dear mother, Mary Elizabeth Jones. Four months have passed since that sad day, when one we loved was called away, God took her home, it was his will, but in our hearts she is living still. Sadly missed by sons and daughters.
I am still in search of many pieces of this story but the goal of #52ancestors is to get what you know down in print, so here it is. I would love to find a marriage date and place. I would also like to build out more of her life with Benjamin. And just who are her parents? So many questions.