Bio: Rebecca Markham
Rebecca Markham was born about 1795-1800, the daughter of John Markham and his wife Mary. She grew up on the Markham family plantation in Pittsylvania county Virginia, but little else is
known about her childhood and youth. Her father died in 1801 when she was very young, and her mother died eight years later when she was about ten or twelve years of age. She was placed
under the guardianship of her oldest brother Peter Markham. Eleven years passed from the time of her mother's death, until she was married. It is uncertain whom she lived with before her
marriage, but she had two older, married sisters who may have taken her in.
On the 11th of January 1820 Rebecca J Markham was married to Joel Barber in Pittsylvania county Virginia. Her brother-in-law, James Whitehead, acted as surety and she signed her own
consent "Rebecker J Markham". The marriage was performed by Rev Griffith Dickinson. She was probably age twenty to twenty-five.
It has been difficult to confirm the identity of Joel Barber. There is a very large Barber family in Pittsylvania county Virginia, but no Joel Barber has been found. A general search
of the 1820 and 1830 census turns up no Joel Barbers in the United States. I have considered whether the name could be "Cole" Barber, as there are several Coleman Barbers found in the 1820,
1830 and 1840 census of Pittsylvania county Virginia. I have also seen it suggested that name might be George Barber. But, the marriage bond of their son George T Barber in 1866
indicates "s/o Joel and Rebecca Barber."
The 1820 Census of Pittsylvania county Virginia, enumerated beginning in August 1820 (about nine months after her marriage), suggests that Rebecca Markham Barber is "husbandless". She is
identified as head-of-household, age 26-45; with one young male child in the home. This should be her son George T Barber. Living nearby are the families of her two sisters, Elizabeth
Markham Callaway and Mary Markham Burch. So, what happened to Joel Barber? Did he die, desert his wife and child, or simply go off somewhere to pursue something? My first thought would
be that he died shortly after their marriage in January of 1820, but there is evidence that Rebecca Markham Barber has two more Barber children - Judith Virginia Barber and Elinora
Barber. These daughters give varying birth years in later census records, but I suspect that the birth years given in the 1850 census are closest to correct - Judith Virginia Barber being
born about 1828 and Elinora Barber being born about 1835. Following these daughters has been a challenge, and raises several questions. The first question being - Was their
father Joel Barber?
Neither Rebecca Markham Barber or Joel Barber have been recognized in the 1830 or 1840 census. By the 1850 census of Pittsylvania county Virginia, we find Rebecca Barber in the household
of her son, George Barber. Also in the household are George's wife, infant son, and Rebecca Markham Barber's daughters, Virginia Barber born in 1828, and Elnora Barber born in 1835.
Rebecca Barber was living in the general area around Berger's Store (today - Toshes). Her married sister, Mary Markham Burch lived nearby, as did the family of her deceased sister,
Elizabeth Markham Whitehead.
In 2006 I was in contact with researcher Sallie Hurt. She put me on to a very interesting theory related to Rebecca Markham Barber and her descendants. I would never have recognized this
story without Sallie's work and generous sharing. Lots of questions remain, related to the Barber daughters. Sallie Hurt believes that Judith Virginia Barber had several children with
Richard Parker, who was married elsewhere. Her daughter Elinora Barber also had at least one, and perhaps several, illegitimate children. The stories of these daughters will be more
fully told in their individual bios.
Researcher Sallie Hurt sizes up the family entry in the 1860 census of Pittsylvania county Virginia this way:
George Barber; 39 (1821); head
Rebecca T Barber; 56 (1804); mother
Judith V Barber; 26 (1834); sister
Elinora R Barber; 19 (1841); sister, Anne Elinora Barber
Washington Barber; 12 (1848); son of George Barber and Elizabeth Custard
Edmond Barber; 6 (1854); illegitimate son of Judith Virginia Barber
Benjamin H Barber; 5 (1855); illegitimate son of Judith Virginia Barber
Benjamin A Barber; 3 (1857); illegitimate son of Elinora R Barber
I have not found any further evidence of Rebecca Markham Barber after the 1860 census. She likely died sometime during the 1860's. Several of her children and grandchildren continue
to appear in the records of Pittsylvania county Virginia. The meager bits and pieces we have been able to find about her suggest to me that her life was hard.
Do you want to know more?
Link to Rebecca Markham
Biography of Rebecca Markham; written by Pamela Hutchison Garrett for John Markham of Chesterfield website; 2014.