Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Little Theresa Comes of Age

When Job Tison died in 1824, his was not particularly the death of one of Glynn County's elders. He was fifty three. Not old but, arguably, not young, either—except that he left, upon his departure, a daughter who was not yet four years of age.

It was upon this daughter—Theresa Elizabeth—that the completion of one particular detail of her father's will awaited direction. Upon Theresa's arrival at the age of majority, one specifically named enslaved person—Mary Ann—was no longer to be permitted to remain "undivided" from "her future increase." Presumably, that meant Mary Ann, whoever she was, could now be separated from any of her children, and likely sold so that the complete distribution of the Tison estate could finally be accomplished.

For whatever reason, that action was not forthcoming from the executrix—Theresa's mother, now remarried and known as Sidnah Peck—which prompted Theresa to take the matter to court.

Theresa, by the point at which she attained the age of twenty one, was herself a married woman. Though I have yet to locate any documentation of the wedding, by 1841, Theresa had signed her petition to the Court of Ordinary as Theresa E. Mumford, and indicated within the petition that she had "intermarried" with one Sylvester Mumford. By December of that same year, she was to give birth to her oldest child, a daughter whom she named Ocenna. She—perhaps through the urging of her husband—may well have had reason to view her petition as "being to the interest of all the heirs of said estate."

Job Tison's probate file was filled with other indications that his executrix was not attending to business with any alacrity. Even after Sidnah Sheffield Tison Peck's death in 1855, it wasn't until 1859 that her son John Tison, assuming the role of administrator of the estate, finally petitioned the court for permission to sell, among other items, all the slaves still affiliated with the Job Tison estate.

Whether that list of enslaved individuals included Mary Ann—or her "increase," whoever that might have been—is yet to be seen. With so many pages of information on the estate—over thirty pages in Job Tison's file, plus the follow-up embedded in his son John Tison's own probate records—it will take a lot of bleary-eyed deciphering of handwritten documents to determine which was the final version of the many appraisals filed away in these records.

Above: Theresa Tison Mumford's signature, as affixed to her 1841 petition to the Court of Ordinary of Glynn County, Georgia, requesting final distribution of the personal estate of her deceased father, Job Tison; image courtesy



  1. Replies
    1. Yes, I thought that was a curious way to put it. Made me wonder whether she married a distant family member from that wording. Of course, like everything else, it would be important to check what the context and meaning of such a word choice might have been in that time period.


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