John T. (probably Thomas) Bembry was born on 24 November 1854 while his parents were living in Sumter County, Georgia with Sarah’s mother, Dolly Simpson. When he was eight years old, his father, Thomas N. Bembry, went off to fight in the Civil War, leaving him with his mother, possibly his grandmother, Dolly, and five younger siblings.
In 1870, at the age of 16, he was still living with his family, and listed as illiterate and “Works Farm.”
By 1880, John had moved back up to Statenville, Echols County, Georgia, just over the Florida state line. He probably moved there several years earlier, because in 1878, he married Matilda Williams, who grew up in Echols county. In 1880, they and their first son John Mack boarded with a man named Henry Collier who lived next door to John’s older brother, James H. Bembry and his family. John T. is listed as a farm laborer, but on this census, he claims that he can read and write.
By 1885, John T. had moved back to Hamilton County’s second district and lived next door to his younger brother Aaron Bembry. On this census, John claims that he can read, but not write.
By 1900, he is living in Smithville, Hamilton County, with Matilda and their eight children: John Mack, Hiram, Ella Nora, Robert Lee, Fred, Jesse, Johnie, and Julie. (This may actually be the same place he was living in 1885, as Aaron is still living close by. ) He owned his land, reported that he could read and write, and that his first four children could read and write as well.
John T Bembry died on 13 January 1910, and is buried in Rosemary Cemetery, Suwannee County, FL, along with his wife, Matilda, son Jesse, and many members of the Jenkins family, who were kin to him through his daughter, Ella Nora. His tombstone reads: “In my father’s house are many mansions.”