Tuesday, March 5, 2024

About the Reverend


The search was on to discover my roots—specifically, the mother of my orphaned second great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Warren Taliaferro Rainey. Because the name Taliaferro kept showing up in what I could find about this family, I was fairly certain that was M.E.W.T. Rainey's mother's maiden name. However, in looking around the page where the younger Mary Elizabeth's marriage entry had been made in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, I noticed some interesting details.

For one, the name of the minister who performed the marriage ceremony for young—and I do mean young—Mary Elizabeth and her beau Thomas F. Rainey was Nicholas Powers. The Reverend Powers had signed a statement indicating that he had performed their marriage ceremony on June 9, 1818. Remembering that Mary Elizabeth had, in later years, reported her age such that her year of birth would have either been in 1804 or 1806, I did the math. Yep: this girl was either fourteen or—worse—twelve at the time of her marriage to Thomas Rainey. Surely, that couldn't be correct.

That marriage date was gleaned from one Oglethorpe County record, but there was more than one entry for Mary Elizabeth's wedding date. In another ledger, listing only the date and names of bride and groom, the entry date for Mary and Thomas' wedding was given as May 30, not June 9. Could that have been the date when the marriage license application was made? 

While puzzling over that discrepancy, my eyes wandered over the page. What should I spot, just below the Rainey and Taliaferro entry, but another Taliaferro entry. This one also was dated the same: May 30, 1818. The Taliaferro in question for this entry was someone named Mary, but rather than Mary E., as our Mary's record had been entered, this other Mary was "Mary M."

And the groom? The Reverend Nicholas Powers, himself.

Of course, the next question was: who was this Mary M. Taliaferro? She couldn't have been a sister of our Mary, I reasoned. It would be unlikely to see two sisters with the same given name. Perhaps this was an entry for two Taliaferro cousins who coincidentally got married on the same day—or at least applied for their marriage license at the same time.

As it turned out—at least, if we can trust this clue at Find A Grave—the other Mary was someone named Mary Meriwether Gilmer. The reason she was identified in her marriage record as Mary Taliaferro was that she had been the widow of someone named Warren Taliaferro. On the same day that the Reverend Nicholas Powers applied for a license to marry the widow Mary Taliaferro, Thomas Rainey had applied to marry the exceedingly young daughter of that same widow, and her future step-father had performed the ceremony ten days later.


Above: Entry from the marriage records of Oglethorpe County, Georgia, showing the entry dated May 30, 1818, for Thomas F. Rainey and Mary E. Taliaferro immediately above that on the same day for Nicholas Powers and Mary E.'s mother, Mary M. Taliaferro; entry courtesy Ancestry.com.


  1. Interesting. And I bet there was a story as to why a 12/14 was getting married that same day. One of my g-grandmother's has just turned 15 seventeen days before her wedding. Her dad signed a waiver that she was over 16 years of age.

    1. What a story, Miss Merry! I'm sure there was a story, and I'm determined to find it, if I can. Sometimes, we find things in our pursuit of family history that only serve to make us wonder even more...


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