Thomas Bembry

Thomas Bembry, son of Miles Bembry, was born about 1799, in North Carolina, probably Martin County.

He moved with his parents to Edgecombe County, and is found there with his own household, and a small farm with six slaves on the 1830 census. His first wife is unknown, but he married her between 1815 and 1820.

Thomas moved to Pulaski County, Georgia by 1840 with his family and three slaves–two of them elderly. 

Thomas eventually had about eight children. Known names are:  John, Thomas N., Elizabeth, Laura, and Henry L. Possible children are Frances Martha  and Margaret J., and at least one more unknown daughter.

Between 1840 and 1844, the Macon Weekly Telegraph ran announcements of several court-ordered sales of Thomas Bembry’s property in order to pay debtors.  They are listed below.

Macon Weekly Telegraph March 3, 1840

Macon Weekly Telegraph March 3, 1840

March 3, 1840: public sale of property (lot 138 in District 3, Dooly County) to satisfy a financial judgment against John, Miles, and Thomas Bembry and Enoch Griffin.

Macon Weekly Telegraph, September 7, 1841

Macon Weekly Telegraph, September 7, 1841

September 7 1841: sale of Rose, a slave, to satisfy a financial judgment against David Scarborough in favor of Thomas Bembry, “administrator.”  This probably means that Thomas was an administrator of his father, Miles Bembry’s, estate.

Macon Weekly Telegraph, August 15, 1843

Macon Weekly Telegraph, August 15, 1843

August 15 1843: public sale of  property (lot 50, 7th District, Dooly County) to satisfy a judgement against Thomas Bembry by Washington Ingram.

Macon Weekly Telegraph September 5, 1843

Macon Weekly Telegraph September 5, 1843

September 5 1843: public sale of property (two Sorrel Horses, each about 9 years old; 2 Feather Beds; 1 eight-day Clock; and one Sideboard) to satisfy a financial judgment against Thomas Bembry in favor of Sally Ann Bembry, his niece (daughter of John Bembry) and her guardian (David Scarborough and Sally’s older sister, Penelope.)

Macon Weekly Telegraph, February 13, 1844

Macon Weekly Telegraph, February 13, 1844

February 13 1844: public sale of the “interest” held by Thomas Bembry in the lot 50, 7th District, mentioned above, to satisfy a judgement in favor of Thomas Gadin against Thomas Bembry.

Also, on April 6, 1841, land sold at auction (half of lot 89, District 4, then-Dooly, later Pulaski County) seized as a result of (?) Boyce, Samuel B. McCombs and Washington Ingram versus Thomas Bembry. (Thanks to Felicia Rhaney for sending me a copy of this original document, that she found in grandmother’s attic!)

Between the last sale in 1844 and 1850, Thomas’s presumed first wife died, and he pulled up stakes and left for Gadsden County, Florida.

He is found in Gadsden County in 1850, living with his second wife Mary probably Savage, her presumed father (or possibly uncle) Charles Savage, and his three youngest children.  By this point, he had no slaves at all, and his property was worth just $300–very little by comparison with his wealthy brother, Kenneth, in Leon County, Florida, the family of his deceased brother, William, whose son Miles was a prosperous planter and miller in Pulaski County, Georgia, or even his own son, John Bembry, who acquired $3,600 worth of property by 1870.

In short, this marks the point at which my line of the family became poor tenant farmers. I suspect there was something more than bad luck at play with Thomas: mental illness or alcoholism, perhaps, which led to his downward spiral.

Wakulla County farmer, 1890s. Photo from State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

Wakulla County farmer, 1890s. Photo from State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

Thomas’ whereabouts in 1860 are unknown. But, in 1870 he is found living with Mary in Crawfordville, Wakulla County, Florida. There are no other Bembrys living anywhere near here, and it was considered to be a backwoods, lawless kind of place at the time. No real estate value is listed.

Thomas died some time before 1880, having lived well into his 70s. His burial place is unknown, but may turn up some day as more cemetery transcriptions are completed and put online.

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