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A Family for Mary

Mary/Polly Templeton (1792-1857) was an early 19th-century woman who moved through various states as they opened for settlement. We know her as a wife and mother, but not as a child. Her parentage and siblings remain unproven.

Her name first appears on a record in Greene County, Tennessee when she married John Carter on 9 Feb 1815. At least one child, Susan, was born there.

The young family moved on to Wayne County, Kentucky where several more children were born. No Kentucky record with Mary’s name on it has been found.

When settlers began moving into Coles County, Illinois, the Carters were among them. Mary’s name appears a few times in Illinois records. Her gravestone is inscribed with Pioneers of 1830 to honor her and John Carter. Prior to her death in 1857, Mary applied for a War of 1812 pension based on John’s service in that conflict.

None of these records offers any information about her birth family. The pension application tells us that her maiden name was Templeton. A family Bible page gives us her birthdate.

So who were her Templetons? Other researchers place her in different Templeton families:

  1. Robert Templeton. This man served in the Revolutionary War from South Carolina. Many in Greene County, TN where Mary resided in 1815 were from North Carolina, but this man lived further south. He could have migrated to Tennessee, but so far I have found no record of him there. The South Carolina man had daughters with some of the same names as Mary’s daughters, so it is tempting to say that she was one of this family. Evidence is needed to prove this claim.
  2. Absalom Templeton. This man married Susanna Carter in Greene County in 1799, seven years after Mary was born. Several researchers claim Mary was a child of this couple, but this does not seem likely to me.
  3. Joel Templeton. No one else has advanced this claim, but this is my own hypothesis. Several Templetons in addition to Mary were married in Greene County in the early years of Tennessee statehood. All the others were children from one family, that of Joel Templeton. Absalom married in 1799, Catharine in 1802, Jenny in 1802, and Rachel in 1809. It seems reasonable to me that the only other Templeton marrying there, Mary, was also a child of Joel Templeton.

With Absalom eliminated as a candidate for Mary’s father (unless he had an earlier marriage), I plan to collect some more information on the lives of Robert and Joel Templeton. Did either of them live in Greene County, Tennessee? Did either one have a daughter Mary who was born in 1792?

Templeton is not a common name. These people should be traceable. Greene County is the place to begin.

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