Saturday, August 16, 2008
The Meriwether Society
Census and Marriage Records - 1830 - 1860
I initially began a search for the Meriwether surname, with only two names of known relatives......Margaret Susanna Meriwether and her father, Wilds Meriwether. I searched for all of the variations in the spelling of the name. During my review of available census and marriage records in Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas for the period between 1830 and 1860, I found this information:
Meriwether, Francis - U. S. Census 1830 - Chicot Co., AR
Meriwether, India - U. S. Census 1850 - born in VA and lived in Jefferson (Carroll County) MS
Meriwether, John N. - Tallahatchie County, MS marriage record
Merriwether, John T. - U. S. Census 1850 - Monroe County, MS
Merriweather, Judith - U. S. Census 1850 - Carroll County, Northern Dist., MS
Merriwether, Nicholas - U. S. Census 1850 - Carroll County, Southern Dist., MS
Meriwether, R. C. - U. S. Census 1840 - Pike County, MS
Meriwether, Robert - U. S. Census 1830 - Greene County, AL
(Note: It is a well-documented fact that many families migrated to MS, and specifically to Attala County, MS from Greene Co., AL. Sometimes several families migrated together.)
Meriweather, Robert E. - U. S. Census 1850; 1841 and 1845 MS State Census -living in Carroll County, Mississippi at the time each census was taken
Merriwether, V. H. - U. S. Census 1850 - DeSoto County, Southern Dist., MS
Based on this review of names, it appeared that I should focus my research on Carroll County, Mississippi. I was not surprised to find a number of Meriwether family members living in Carroll County, since my grandmother, Lelia Porter Branch, had told me stories as a little girl that her grandmother grew up around "Black Hawk", a community in Carroll County.
And then I discovered the existence of The Meriwether Society. Finding the society during a simple internet search was a revelation to me. I was amazed to find the group had been established since 1898, and at the time of my discovery, members of the group had been researching their family lines for over 100 years. The society has a number of different family groups working on their own specific "lines", and the entire society meets annually in a location that is significant to the history of the Meriwether family. Members of the society pay small annual dues and participate voluntarily in ongoing society-planned research projects. These projects have now resulted in several books documenting the Meriwether family's migration path from its immigration from England to western Virginia (later Kentucky,) down through the Carolinas into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and back into Kentucky. Since I have known about the society, it has had annual meetings in Williamsburg, VA, Louisville, KY, and Nashville, TN. Apparently, many members of the early Meriwether family lived in or near all of those locations.
Interestingly, the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, was actually built by a member of the Meriwether family member.
I also found that a number of Meriwether family members moved from Mississippi back to Shelbyville and Ballard County, near Louisville, Kentucky, where other relatives already lived, during the mid-late 1800's. Some of the information I found indicated that many Meriwether families left Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi before the Civil War broke out and moved farther north.
Based on the information I have found, I believe the family story of of how Wilds Meriwether left Mississippi with his family when they migrated back to Kentucky may be true. Or at least, Wilds may have left to re-join his family after they relocated there.
But the big question still remains. Why would he leave without Malverda and their two children?