Monday, February 6, 2023

About Zachariah


There is a story about Zachariah Taliaferro, one of the kind we stumble upon in those old published genealogies (sometimes lacking source information), concerning his marriage to Margaret Chew Carter. Zachariah, namesake son of his father and wife Mary Boutwell, had been born about 1760 in Caroline County, Virginia, but was raised in Amherst County where his father had land holdings.

After the Revolution, the younger Zachariah studied law and decided, by 1786, to leave Virginia and settle in what was then called the Pendleton District in South Carolina. By this time, Zachariah was nearing thirty years of age, yet still unmarried.

It wasn't until at least ten years later when, still unmarried, he decided to return to Virginia to visit family. He was just about to conclude his visit when a friend persuaded him to postpone his plans so he could attend a ball to be held nearby the next day.

According to a genealogy published concerning the Carter family of Virginia—alas, with no documentation concerning this anecdote—the story was shared that, on the eve of that dance, Zachariah had a dream of seeing a beautiful young woman at the ball, standing "at the head of the room tying her slipper." Next evening, attending the ball, that is exactly what happened. Zachariah sought an introduction to meet her, and eventually claimed the young Margaret Chew Carter as his bride.

The Carter genealogy, in sharing that story, portrayed Zachariah as "an old bachelor lawyer," and indeed, he was over forty years of age when they married. However, he apparently outlived her, his 1831 will indicating no mention of a wife, only daughters, sons-in-law and some of his grandchildren. 

One of the executors listed in his 1831 will was a man named Richard Taliaferro, most likely one of Zachariah's six brothers. In addition to those six brothers, Zachariah had at least three sisters. If our goal this month is to trace the branches of this Taliaferro family, with a sibling count of that size, we may as well get busy looking at what we can find on those other children of the senior Zachariah Taliaferro and his wife, Mary Boutwell. 


  1. Be sure to look for Tolliver records, too, as that is a modern variation of Taliaferro.

    1. Linda, are you a Tolliver/Taliaferro cousin? I actually have one branch of my family who uses that alternate spelling. They mostly are attached to the Taliaferro relative who moved to Colorado.

  2. Jacqi, Not a Taliaferro anywhere in my husband's family tree, but I've come across the name many times while researching his mostly Southern families. That's how I knew about Tolliver.


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