Markham of Chesterfield
      Ancestors and Descendants of John Markham

Bio: Francis Osborne Markham


Francis Osborne Markham was born about 1792-95, the son of George Markham and his second wife Mary Hardaway Osborne. He was named for his maternal grandfather, Francis Osborne. He was a young boy when his father died in 1800. He must have remained under the care of his mother. Aso in the household, an older sister, two younger brothers and a number of older half-siblings. It is unknown whether his mother remarried, or when she died.

In 1811, as Francis O Markham was approaching manhood, he was under the guardianship of his brother-in-law, Henry W Robertson. Robertson had married his sister Martha in the preceeding year. Nothing is known of Francis O Markham's education, but it has been said that his younger brother was well-trained in the classics, so we might assume that all of the brothers received some formal education.

It was in 1821, when Francis O Markham was nearing age thirty, that he was first married:

8 Oct 1821; Francis O Markham and Emily S Woodson 21 years of age. Daughter of Wade N Woodson. Surety James M Harris; married 10 Oct by Rev Edward Baptist. Bond of Powhatan county Virginia.

Family records give his bride's name as Emily St Aubert Woodson. She was the daughter of Wade Netherland Woodson and Mary Elizabeth Josepha Harris of Powhatan county Virginia. Her paternal grandparents were Tucker Woodson and Mary Netherland of Goochland county Virginia. Her father was twice married and had ten identified children. Just before Emily Woodson was married, her father removed with his new wife and several children to Barboursville in Knox county Kentucky. Emily Woodson may have choosen to remain in Virginia. Her stepbrother, Silas Woodson, served as governor of Missouri from 1873 to 1875.

I have long been interested in Emily Woodson's middle name, St Aubert. It was passed down through several generations of her descendants. It is very similar to the name Aubin, which comes down through the generations of my Markham family. There is a suggestion of a Hugeonot connection for the name, but I have never been able to trace the origins.

Francis O Markham and Emily Woodson took up residence in Powhatan county Virginia, perhaps on property given to them by her father. They were the parents of two identified children, Thomas Woodson Markham born in 1823, and Emily Caroline Markham born in 1829.

In 1823 Francis O Markham was in debt to his brother-in-law Henry W Robertson. He also mortgaged his slaves, horses and household items to his brother-in-law to secure debts he had with others. In 1827 Francis O Markham, along with his wife Emily and his two brothers, sold interest in their father's mill to Henry W Robertson. By 1830, the census shows Francis O Markham with a farming operation in Powhatan county Virginia. He has six slaves working on his farm.

The 1830 census of Powhatan county Virginia also tells another story. There are two adult males in the household, also one male child age five to ten and one female child age five to ten. Emily Woodson Markham had died in the previous year, 1829, possibly following child birth. The baby, Emily Caroline Markham, may have been put in the care of relatives when her mother died. Because the female child in the household is shown as between the ages of five and ten, it is assumed that this was a daughter born before 1825. This older daughter, whose name is not known, must have died in childhood.

It may have been debt or the need to start over, that caused Francis O Markham to leave his home and move west. About 1833, possibly accompanied by the family of his brother George Markham, he set out for a new home. He settled for a few years in Mecklenberg county Virginia. There is no evidence that he ever bought property there. But he did find a new wife and mother for his children. She was Susan Eleanor Somerville, the daughter of George Somerville and Eleanor Howe Burchett. The marriage records of Mecklenberg county Virginia give us this information:

Francis O Markham to Susan Somervill bond 19 Jun 1834 Surety: George C Scott, consent Eleanor H Somervill, mother, of Mecklenberg Co, Va.

A lengthy prenuptual agreement appears in the records of Mecklenberg county Virginia. It states that the property which Susan Somerville brings to the marriage and the property 'to which she may become entitled' will be for her 'seperate use'. When her father, George Somerville died in 1824 he left a considerable estate to his wife and two daughters. The prenuptual agreement allowed Susan Somerville Markham to retain the right to make decisons about this property.

Shortly after the 1834 marriage, Francis O Markham and Susan Somerville migrated to Tipton county Tennessee. They added three more children to the Markham family - George Somerville Markham born 1835, Mary Goodloe Markham born 1840, and Eleanor Howe Markham born 1842.

In 2003, I was in touch with John W Marshall, historian and author of two books on Mason, Tipton county Tennessee. He shared a wealth of information on the Somerville family and the many inter-related families in Fayette and Tipton county Tennessee. We exchanged details on people in the area, and he gave me some great clues on Francis O Markham and his descendants.

Francis O Markham and his wife Susan Somerville Markham do appear in the 1840 census of Tipton county Tennessee. They lived along the Tipton - Haywood county border. The ages recorded in the 1840 census do not match the family very well, and there seems to be four or five extra male children in the household. One might be Susan's brother, William Somerville, but the rest remain a mystery. Susan's widowed mother, Eleanor Burchett Somerville probably in the household. In 1843 Eleanor Somerville was secondly married to William H Macon. But, he died within a short time and she returned to live out her days in the Markham household.

John W Marshall came across a reference to a lawsuit in Nov 1845 between William H Macon and his wife Eleanor vs. Francis O Markham and wife Susan E Markham. There was no mention of what the suit was about, but he suggested it may have been a "friendly" suit to divide up property.

In May of 1846 Francis O Markham's oldest son, Thomas Woodson Markham, married Indiana Booker in Tipton county Tennessee. About this same time we have a records of Francis O Markham being deliquent on his property taxes in District 10 of Tipton county Tennessee. He was about fifty-five years of age and his health may have been failing. I have not been able to determine exactly when he died, but it was probably in 1846 or 1847. No probate documents have been found, and his burial is not recorded in any known records.

On the 25th of December 1847, Susan E Markham purchased 50 acres of land in Tipton county Tennessee from AT Booker. John W Marshall notes, "This is the place where Susan would live the rest of her days. The land was bounded on the east by her cousin Thomas T Somervill and on the south by Joseph P Booker."

After her husband's death, Susan had three young children to raise. With the support of nearby family she took on the task. Her older step-daughter, Emily Caroline Markham, removed to Memphis Tennessee where she married James Smither in 1852. On the dawn of the Civil War all of Susan Somerville Markham's children had reached maturity, and her son George S Markham enlisted in 1861 in the 7th Tennessee Cavalry. A few years earlier, her youngest daughter, Eleanor H Markham, had married at a tender age to Jesse Claiborne. She was the only child of Susan Somerville Markham to marry. Susan Somerville Markham died on the 8th of May 1865, right at the close of the Civil War. She was about age fifty. She is buried in the Trinity Church Cemetery (Trinity in the Fields) in Mason, Tipton county Tennessee.


Do you want to know more?
Link to Francis Osborne Markham
Sketch: What John W Marshall Told Me! Markham, Somerville and Related Families

Bio for Francis Osborne Markham; written by Pamela Hutchison Garrett for Markham of Chesterfield website; 2014.