Monday, January 27, 2014

52 Ancestors: #4 Mary F. Morris

A picture of two stuffed ducks may seem like an odd graphic for a story about my 2nd great-grandmother but they are connected and I'll explain how a little later. 
Mary F. Morris lived her entire life in Harlan County, Kentucky. She was born about 1830 in the Watts Creek area to Littleton Morris and Martha Mark. As with most Marys in that time, she was usually called Polly. 

Polly became the third wife of John Covey Howard on 10 Mar 1856 at the home of her parents. Six years before that she gave birth to her first child, Emily Sylvania. From all indications, Polly and her daughter's father were not married but, according to Emily's death certificate, his name was Enoch Ball. 

Polly was half John Covey's age when they married. His first wife disappeared in 1849 or 1850 leaving him with 11 children, five of them under 10 years old. His second marriage only lasted two or three years but added two more children. Polly and John Covey had seven children together giving her a total of eight and him 20. 

This picture is supposed to be John Covey and his first wife, Matilda Brock. I'm not convinced that this isn't Polly. When Matilda disappeared, she was about 39 years old and had just given birth to her 11th child. John Covey was 43. This couple looks much older than that to me. His second wife wasn't around long and was under 40 during their brief marriage. One of Matilda's descendants had this portrait and she believed it was Matilda. While there doesn't appear to be 20+ years difference in their ages, I think it's possible this is Polly. 

John Covey and Polly owned at least 150 acres at Wallins Creek in Harlan County. His occupation in census records from 1850–1880 was farmer. If you've been to Wallins Creek, you know there wasn't much farmland there. (Just look at this Google Map view.) I don't know what kind of farmer John Covey was (something else for the to-do list) but most of their "farm" was mountainside. 

After John Covey's death in 1899, Polly lived with their daughter, Lucinda Hopkins and her family. When they left Harlan County for Rockcastle County (and better farmland) about 1901, she moved in with another daughter, Sarah Brock and her husband. 

Polly's date of death is unknown but she apparently died between 1910 and 1920. At least, she wasn't with any of her living children in the 1920 census. The burial location for Polly and John Covey is unknown. 

Now about those stuffed ducks. . . 

While I don't know what kind of farmer John Covey was, I do know the Howards raised sheep. Whether that was a few for personal use or a large number, I do not know. Polly spun their wool, dyed the yarn and wove her own fabrics. When my grandfather (Polly's grandson) died in 1980, two wool throws Polly had made were among his things. My mother has two sisters. That's two throws divided by three great-granddaughters. 

Their solution. 

Cut each one into three pieces. 

My mother made the ducks from her pieces to keep the fabric from unraveling over time. 

A close-up look at Polly's work

Written for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge at No Story Too Small. 

Polly was my 2nd great-grandmother through her daughter, Lucinda Howard.

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