Friday, February 7, 2014

About Horace’s Mother

When Mabel Martin proudly displayed the antique she described as a Dresden china clock, according to the Erwin, Tennessee, Record, she had mentioned that it was passed to her husband, Horace, from his mother.

My mind automatically wants to know who she was, and how she came to possess the unique collectible.

Discovering much about the wife of George Edward Martin, however, is not easy. Thankfully, I’ve already been provided with Emma Martin’s maiden name—Morris—but not much else to help explain how she came to own such an unusual clock.

Apparently, Horace’s father, George Martin—often going by the nickname Eddie, according to some census records—married Emma B. Morris on October 25, 1882. They were most likely married in Cumberland in New Kent County, Virginia. Best I can tell at this point, George was son of Thomas S. and Harriet K. Martin. Emma, on the other hand, was a mystery.

I was able to find a young woman matching Emma’s likely age—she was born in October, 1863, according to some census records—listed as a niece in the household of elderly Benjamin and Elizabeth Morris in the 1880 census. The couple lived in Cumberland. Included in their household, along with their sixteen year old niece “Emma B.” was another niece, eighteen year old “Mary S.” and a nephew, eleven year old “Walter C.”

Of course, each of those children living with their Uncle Ben and Aunt Lizzie could have been cousins. Just in case Mary, Emma and Walter were actually siblings, I went hunting in the 1870 census for a matching set.

While the 1870 census does not provide any listing of familial relationships, it was encouraging to find—also in Cumberland—a household that, along with an older Thomas and John, included a Mary, an Emma, and a Walter. Each was correspondingly ten years younger.

An interesting side note was that the woman listed as head of household happened to have the given name Indiana. If you, as I had, wondered about Mabel’s husband Horace having a sister named Indiana, perhaps you can now join me in presuming that the younger Indiana was named after the woman heading the household where Emma lived in 1870.

It is possible that Indiana was not Emma’s mother. After all, the next name listed in the household—showing on the page previous to the listing that includes Emma—was for twenty one year old Florence Morris, who obviously could not call the thirty five year old Indiana her mother.

For what it’s worth, I thought I’d try my luck for one more decade, even though by now, it would predate Emma’s arrival in the household—if, indeed, Indiana’s household was the right place for Emma.

In a household in the 1860 census—still in New Kent County, Virginia—headed by Thomas S. “Morriss” and, I presume, his wife “Indianna,” are listed children “Lusie,” Ellen, “Th. W.,” and baby John. No Emma yet—she was born in late 1863.

There was one more person in that household you might be interested in. While there is no indication of relationship in this earlier census, there was a seventy four year old woman living in that Morris household. Her name? Ann Lightfoot.

Could it be that Horace Lightfoot Martin gained his middle name from his mother’s maternal grandmother? And could this Ann, born approximately 1786—still in Virginia—have been the one to pass along that Dresden china clock that ultimately found its home at the New Jersey address of the great-grandson who bore her surname?

Though it still doesn’t explain how anyone in the extended Martin-Morris family came to own a German antique of that nature, at least it connects a few dots and gives us more of the big picture of some related surnames.

Photograph, above right: Meissen porcelain clock from the nineteenth century. Although this clock is not the same as the clock owned by my aunthers was wider and not as tall, and was without the figurines featured in this designit serves as an example. Original photo (including examples of candelabra as well) courtesy of Wikipedia under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License from user IvoryMammoth.


  1. has photos of various clocks.

    1. Thanks for sharing that link, Iggy! My, what a wide variety of designs. The second photo seems most similar to Mabel's clock by shape only...less flowers on hers, more filigree. And, of course being a newspaper photograph, I have no idea what colors might have been used in the decorations. But this certainly gives the idea.

  2. Ta da! By George, I think you've got it! No one would randomly pick "Lightfoot" for a middle name unless they were plotting a charade to pass for "high society."

    1. I was pretty pleased to find it, if I do say so, myself! Of course, if this were my line, I'd go back and double check all the documentation. This was just a thumbnail sketch to see what I could find. So glad you're here to share all the inside Virginia connotations, Wendy! I would never have known.

  3. Cool, but I still wish you had the clock:)


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