Sunday, March 29, 2015

Francis Smith meets General Lafayette

The Marquis de Lafayette, friend and confidant of George Washington, was one of the great heroes of America’s Revolutionary War. In 1824, at the invitation of President James Monroe, Lafayette returned to the United States for a celebratory tour.  The year-long visit marked the upcoming fifty year anniversary of America. Lafayette traveled over six-thousand miles, visiting all twenty-four states. 

In October of 1824 Lafayette made a week-long stop in Richmond Virginia, a city he had twice defended during the Revolutionary War.  The Richmond Enquirer, dated 29 October 1824, gave an account of the myriad of events that surrounded Lafayette’s visit to the city.  The article included a “Muster Roll of Revolutionary Officers who met at Richmond on 26 Oct 1824 to welcome General Lafayette.”  On that list we find, “Francis Smith, First Virginia Regiment, 83 years.” 

This must have been a great day for Francis Smith, our old veteran!  A family friend, commenting on Francis Smith, recalls, “. . . when I was a boy 17 years of age . . . I stayed at his [Francis Smith] house with Capt Wm his son, - he set up half the night, talking of nothing but the Rev War, it was his only theme from that day to the present . .”

This account of Lafayette’s arrival in Richmond is found in “Chesterfield: An Old Virginia County”, Francis Earle Lutz, 1954:

Lafayette and his party came up the James River and landed on October 26 at Osbornes where a huge assemblage was awaiting his arrival, including the official State welcoming party, an escort of horse, and a detachment of artillery to fire a salute.  An immense multitude thronged the wharves and adjacent hillsides to get a glimpse of the distinguished visitor.  He was conducted to the waiting carriage amid enthusiastic cheers and started for Richmond by road with an escort of cavalry.  Everywhere along the route waving crowds were there to cheer and it is reported that the escort had difficulty in clearing Mayo Bridge for the triumphal entry into the capital city.

We will probably never know the exact vantage point from which Francis Smith observed these historic events.  Was he part of the welcoming party?  At age eighty-three, did he ride with the Cavalry? Or, did he simply watch with the crowds from the hillside?  According to accounts, this impromptu parade tracked down Main Street and eventually arrived at Richmond’s historic Eagle Hotel. 

We garner a clue of Francis Smith’s likely participation in the day from Duke and Jordan’s, “A Richmond Reader: 1733-1983”, published in 2011:

The parade ended at the Eagle Hotel where Lafayette would stay, but the General's groupies still hung out in the streets outside of the hotel.  Many were able to meet the revolutionary hero, but forty old and venerable vets of the revolution got a personal reception from the Frenchman. They were able to meet with him in an elegant room the evening he arrived.  Some saluted in silence; some "welcomed him with every expression of sincerity and kindness.

These “old and venerable vets” may have joined Lafayette for dinner that same evening at the Governor’s mansion.  The dinner guests were said to include Vice President John C Calhoun, Virginia Governor James Pleasants, Chief Justice John Marshall, and “more revolutionary vets”.

Despite his advanced years in 1824, Francis Smith lived on for nearly ten years more, dying in April of 1833. The account of this great day, when General Lafayette visited Richmond, must have been given a prominent place in his repertoire of revolutionary war stories.   

For more details on Francis Smith, visit his page at the Markham of Chesterfield website.

Moving back in time:  Francis Smith married Catherine Markham, b abt 1745  > John Markham of Chesterfield, b abt 1700.
Francis Smith is the husband of my 5th great-grandaunt.

About the Photo:  The Landing of General Lafayette.  Platter, pearlware with transfer-printed decorations; James and Ralph Clews, Cobridge, Staffordshire, circa 1825.  On display at the DAR Museum, Washington DC.  Photo by Daderot – placed in the public domain.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

John Markham – Who are you?

Exploring the life of John Markham has been a bit like assembling disparate pieces into a puzzle.  One of the first pieces to appear was a Will for John Markham, proved in 1770 in Chesterfield County Virginia.  It named nine children, but no wife.  Then, by great good fortune, a genealogy presented itself - published in the Virginia Magazine of History about 125 years after that Will.  The genealogy introduced an interesting wife, but she didn’t seem to fit very well into the puzzle.  Next out of the box, something about New York – Really?  Then an amazing clue arrived, but the piece was hard to get to – a fellow researcher suggested a quest for Bernard Markham in Ireland.  So the pieces were laying themselves out on the table, but they weren’t fitting together very well.

Time and patience has worked its magic, and gradually the story of John Markham’s life has come into better focus.  There are still some missing pieces. And, one or two pieces just don’t fit like they should.  But, I am determined to get his puzzle into better shape.  Perhaps future researchers will be able to give it some polish. 

John Markham was born near the beginning of the eighteenth century in County Kilkenny Ireland.  He was the son of Bernard Markham and Rebecca Briscoe, whose families had come into Ireland from England in the previous century.  The basic timeline of John Markham’s life is fairly simple – As a young man, in the 1730’s, he immigrated to America, and settled in Orange county New York; probably just before 1740, he married Catherine Mathews and began a family;  just after 1750, he uprooted his family, and moved south to Chesterfield County Virginia;  in Virginia his family continued to expand and he pursued a variety of occupations;  in 1770 John Markham died in Chesterfield County Virginia. 

It was when I tried to color John Markham’s timeline with details that his story became interesting and challenging.  Did he come alone to America?  There is little evidence of family or friends.  What is the story of his wife?  Her puzzle piece is one that doesn’t fit very well.    What inspired John Markham to uproot his family and move to Virginia?  That wasn’t a typical migration pattern of the time.  And, the questions continue. 

I have written extensively about John Markham at my Markham of Chesterfield database website.  I suspect that I have asked, and examined, more questions than I have answered.  If you like to consider puzzles, and are interested in the life of John Markham, I hope you will make a visit, and read more.  There are still plenty of seats at the puzzle table!

For more details on John Markham, visit his page at the Markham of Chesterfield website.

Moving back in time:  Albert Luther Clarkson 1901 > Aubin M Fry 1878 > Eliza Brooks Hutchins 1844 > Aubin M Markham 1817 > John Markham 1770 > Bernard Markham 1737 > John Markham of Chesterfield, abt 1700.

Monday, March 9, 2015


Greetings!  I am delighted to have you visit my Markham of Chesterfield Blog.  My name is Pamela Sue Hutchison Garrett, and I have been researching on Markham, and allied surnames, for almost forty years.  This Blog is a companion site to my Markham of Chesterfield database website.

The Markham of Chesterfield database website sets out, in orderly fashion, the ancestors and descendants of John Markham of Chesterfield county Virginia.  He is my 6xgreat-grandfather.  I chose him as the centerpiece of this Markham story, because he was that adventurous ancestor who brought my Markham family across the ocean to America.  Besides the vital statistics, the database website includes stories, photographs, biographies, social history sketches, and documents, both original and transcribed. 

The Markham of Chesterfield Blog will serve a slightly different purpose than the database website.  The ancestor stories here will be relatively brief and focused.  They might tell about a family home, a quirky character trait, or a historic event.  The postings might introduce a compelling or amusing story that I have come across in my years of research.  

This Markham family seems an ordinary family.  But, when their stories are thoughtfully considered, their lives take on an extraordinary cast.    If you enjoy the stories and want to know more about how they relate to your own ancestral past, be sure to visit the Markham of Chesterfield database website

I hope you enjoy your visit.

Pam Garrett
March 2015
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