Wednesday, January 10, 2024

What I Know About Margaret


Considering Margaret Chew Carter, my fourth great-grandmother, if you asked me what I know about her, I'd have to say: very little. Well, at least that is a step beyond answering, "nothing." But my aim this month is to learn far more about this woman's life.

The problem with researching Margaret starts with learning that she was someone who was born in 1771—not a very good time for finding records about women. Even so, there should have been some records on her life. Women's names did appear in baptismal records and marriage records—if, after over two hundred years, we can still find them. Yet, even those basic documents I have yet to find.

What I do know about Margaret starts at the end of her life. She became the wife of Virginian Zachariah Taliaferro, and moved with him to South Carolina, where they set up housekeeping and he practiced law. Over the years since their wedding, she gave birth to four daughters who survived to adulthood, all of whom married and raised families of their own. These she named Sarah Ann, Lucy Hannah, Mary Margaret, and Caroline Virginia.

In addition, Margaret's headstone is pictured at Find a Grave, a wonderful gift to family researchers, with the small caveat that I can't exactly read the inscription pictured on her grave's memorial. A kind volunteer at Find A Grave transcribed the information onto the website's virtual memorial, indicating that her date of death in South Carolina was May 19, 1822.

While I have no way to vouch for that information—yet—I noticed there was no mention of her name in her husband's will, dated January 14, 1831. Nor was there any indication that he, if a widower, had remarried. Zachariah Taliaferro died—again, according to his Find a Grave memorial—April 14, 1831, nearly nine years after the date indicated on his wife's headstone. 

However, while I can't find actual documentation regarding Margaret, apparently, several others have included her in their published genealogies. Granted, any genealogy can contain errors, but it would do us some good to at least catalog the several sources I've run across while working on this family line. Some of the books were written on the Taliaferro line of Margaret's husband, some on other surnames related to Margaret's own Carter family in one way or another. Let's take a few days to review what has already been written on her in these hundred-year-old resources. If nothing else, we can use any information we find as a road map to guide us in locating those elusive records.

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