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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks no. 34—Mary (Polly) Templeton (1792-1857)

My family does not have much information (yet!) about our ancestor Polly Templeton Carter. For all I know, data on her may be just a few steps away in my office. A couple of years ago I inherited the genealogical work of my dad’s cousin, and perhaps she documented some of Polly’s life. If so, the information still sits in notebooks and file drawers I have not yet had a chance to review.

For my own part, I have not done any work on the Templeton family.

Mary Templeton, known to us as Polly, was born in 1792 in eastern Tennessee. I do not know the identity of her parents.

Polly grew up in Tennessee, and there she married John Carter on the ninth of February, 1815. After their first child, Susan, was born later that year, they moved on to Wayne County, Kentucky. Between 1816 and 1829, they had seven more children, including my second great-grandmother, Jane.

We do not know how Polly and John learned that new lands had come available for settlement in southeastern Illinois. We do not know why they decided to uproot their large family and make the move. We just know that they became “Pioneers of 1830” who settled near Ashmore, Coles County, Illinois.

Their last child, Catharine, was born there in 1832.

The family settled into pioneer life, and all went along well until John became ill. He passed away in 1841, and Polly was widowed at age 49. She never remarried.

She seemed to have moved around some after that. In 1855, she lived alone in Edgar County (next to Coles County), and she kept $180 worth of livestock.

Over the next couple of years, she performed acts that left the only records we have of her life. She presented an inscribed Bible to her daughter Jane in 1856. In 1857, she executed a Bounty Land Claim for her husband’s long-ago service in the War of 1812.

Polly passed away on 11 November 1857 in Coles County at the age of sixty-four. She was buried next to John in the Ashmore, Illinois cemetery.

Polly died intestate, but she did leave an estate that needed to be administered. Her son Joseph was named Administrator in 1858. Her monies were distributed to her heirs with $39.57 going to each:

  1. Susan Austin (daughter)
  2. Catharine Young (daughter)
  3. Solomon Collins (son of deceased daughter Thena)
  4. Nancy Boyd (daughter)
  5. Shelton Carter (son)
  6. Jane Reed (daughter)
  7. Joseph Carter (son)
  8. John Carter, minor (son of deceased son Bailey)

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