Thursday, May 15, 2014
Mary Johns and the Mathews
In 1840, Mary E. Johns of Washington County, Georgia signed a deed with James Mathews of Crawford County, Georgia and John Mathews of Sumter County, Alabama in which she gave two slaves to her daughter Amanda E. Mathews. The two slaves were Buck, a man of about 38 years of age, and Harriet, a girl about 20 years old. As long as Amanda resided in Georgia, the slaves were to be managed by James Mathews. If Amanda chose to move to Alabama, the slaves would be managed by John Mathews. In either case, the slaves were to be subject to Amanda's control and could be disposed of by her by hire, sale or exchange for land. Mary apparently signed the deed herself and it was witnessed by H.P. Harman and J.A. McNair. There is a copy of the deed in Crawford county. Amanda's location was not given other than "Georgia". There was no provision for what would happen to these slaves if Amanda married.
A Mary E. Johns appears in the 1840 Washington County census as a head of household, age 30-39. If this is the correct Mary Johns, a question arises as to why she is gifting slaves to Amanda only, when there are 8 other children (not necessarily hers) in the census. She does own a number of slaves, so giving some away is plausible. There is also a Mary E. Johns head of household in Jefferson County in 1830. The ages and number of the children are close enough that this might be the same Mary. However, she is also 30-40 in 1830, meaning she is either exactly 30 in the first (40 in the second) or she fudged her age in the second one. Again, she has a significant number of slaves. In 1832, an Amanda E. Johns in Jefferson County married Daniel Matthews.
There is a John Mathews in Sumter County, AL in 1840 with 3 adult males in the household, two who are 20-30 and one who is 40-50, probably but not necessarily the head of household. In 1850, the only John Mathews in the county is age 58, married to Keziah, born in South Carolina, which is where many of the Mathews in Crawford County are also from. In 1840, there are two James Mathews heading households in Crawford County, one age 40-50 and one age 50-60. In 1850, the only James Mathews who might have been an adult in 1840 is one born in 1794 in South Carolina. John born in 1792 and James born in 1794, both in South Carolina, are tempting to look at as brothers, but more information would be needed. Amanda does not appear in 1840. There is no Amanda Mathews in 1850. There was an Amanda Mathis who married Hopewell Adams in Washington county, Georgia in 1843. Mathis is the common pronunciation in Georgia of the name Mathews, but her family appears to have been literate and so less likely to use this phonetic spelling. If this is the correct Amanda, she was born about 1825 making it impossible for her to be the Amanda who married Daniel in 1832.
So, this leads to questions about the relationships between these people. The only one that is certain is that Mary E. Johns is the mother of Amanda E. Mathews.
A. Amanda Johns the daughter of Mary E. Johns married Daniel Mathews and therefore the John and James Mathews are her in-laws. With this scenario, I would assume Daniel is dead although I have not yet found an estate settlement or will for him. If he were alive but had deserted Amanda, it is less likely that his family would be given management of her assets. If he were alive and still married to Amanda, it would have made more sense to give him control rather than his relatives, if Mary wanted a man to be managing the slaves. This scenario also does not take into account what happens if Amanda remarries, but perhaps that was just an oversight on Mary's part. This also assumes that the two Mary E. Johns in the census are the same person.
B. James, John and Amanda are siblings, all Mary's children from a marriage before Johns. This explains Amanda's relative autonomy (she gets to decide what happens to the slaves and whether she lives in Alabama or Georgia) while still coming under some nominal male control. In this scenario, based on the ages of the only James and Johns available, Amanda would probably be somewhat older and therefore unlikely to marry, explaining the lack of a provision for this contingency. This scenario eliminates both Daniel's wife and Amanda Mathis Adams as the correct Amanda. This also means that both Mary Johns from the censuses are not their mother but rather that she is in someone else's household.
C. James and John are Mary's brothers and Amanda was an illigitimate daughter born before her marriage to Johns. Close second to the above theory with the same considerations as to why these men would have say over Amanda's life. In this case, though, Amanda would probably be somewhat younger, so unless she had some handicap that made marriage unlikely, this option would not explain the apparent assumption that she will not marry. This would, however, make the Amanda Adams born in 1825, possible as Mary's daughter.