Catherine Markham was the first-born daughter of John Markham and Catherine Mathews. She was probably born between 1740 and 1750 in Orange county New York. She moved with her family to
Chesterfield county Virginia sometime between 1748-1752. We have little information about her childhood.
Catherine Markham was married to Francis Smith before 1770, when she is named as Catherine Smith in her father's Will. She and her husband probably received a significant settlement at the
time of their marriage. John Markham's Will, probated in Chesterfield county Virginia, 1770, states, "Item- I give unto my daughter Cathrine Smith one feather bed and furniture." In the
year following, Francis Smith purchases a portion of the John Markham estate:
25 June 1771; Francis Smith Jr of Hanover county deed from Benjamin Watkins, Vincent Markham and George Markham, executors of John Markham dec'd for 200 pounds current, 200 acres in
Chesterfield county adjoining lands of Brett Randolph, dec'd, Robert Gordon, Olive Branch, Stephen Pankey and Buckingham Road.
[source] Edward Pleasants Valentine Papers, pg 2167.
The Catherine Markham and Francis Smith story has been a challenge to follow. The paper trail is limited and scattered. They did set up housekeeping near Catherine's family in
Chesterfield county Virginia. This may have provided some security as Catherine's husband and brothers all soldiered during the American Revolution. The Smith - Markham family was
growing through the war years and beyond. A statement included in Francis Smith's pension file claims that he served six year and nine months, resigning near the close of the war ". . in
consequence of sickness of his wife and death of a child in Chesterfield County Virginia."
Francis Smith's Will identifies eight children who survived to adulthood. But, it has been difficult to determine the mother of these children. Francis Smith had at least two
marriages. After careful consideration, I have come to the tentative conclusion that the children, Rebecca Smith, Francis Smith III, Catherine Smith and Ballard Smith belong to Catherine
Markham Smith. Other researchers may conclude differently!
Many years ago I came across a court record that hinted at Catherine Smith's death in 1784, as the result of murder:
Will Book 3; pg 507; Inquisition taken at the house of David Morriset 1 Jan 1785 in King William Parish before me Abram Salle, Justice of the Peace, upon view of body of Catherine
Smith, lying dead, and on oath of Thomas Bridgwater, John Morgan, Robert Wooldridge, Stephen Pankey, Young Short, John Short, William Trabue, Daniel Morriset, John Fore, John Cox, Elisha
Wooldridge, Enox Ellyson and Daniel Saseen, good and lawful men of the said county and parish, say that on 30 Dec last past, some person unknown did by force of arms assault said Catherine
Smith and did give her sundry mortal wounds about the head and face, of which wounds she instantly died.
[source] Chesterfield County Virginia Wills 1774-1802; Weisiger.
March Court 1785; pg 99; An inquisition on the body of Catherine Smith being returned was ordered to be recorded.
[source] County Order Books of Chesterfield county Virginia 1749 - 1865; FHL film#30911-30913.
Despite diligent effort, I have never been able to confirm that the Catherine Smith mentioned in this record is Catherine Markham Smith. Other researchers have independently considered
this possibility without satisfactory result. The Coroner's Jury that met on the first day of January 1785 concluded that Catherine Smith died from wounds to the head and face two days
previously, 30 December 1784. I have assumed that the "murder" took place in the home of David Morriset of King William parish, Chesterfield county Virginia. I hope that further evidence
will surface to "prove or disprove" the theory that Catherine Markham Smith was murdered in 1784. We will probably never know the full story.
If Catherine Markham Smith died in 1784, her four likely children were still youngsters in the family household. Francis Smith needed a new wife, and he may have married Elizabeth Lewis
in short order. She probably carried on the task of raising the Smith children, and she added three or four more children to the family. Catherine's children grew into successful adults
who made significant contributions to their families, communities, and the state of Virginia.
Catherine Markham Smith's story needs further investigation.
Do you want to know more?
Link to Catherine Markham
Sketch: Identifying Francis Smith
Biography of Catherine Markham; written by Pamela Hutchison Garrett for John Markham of Chesterfield website; 2014.