Thursday, December 1, 2016

Margaret Jennings Brayfield 1847 - 1937

Margaret Jennings
Dec. 29, 1847
Jan. 28, 1937

Buried Smithland Cemetery, Smithland, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 2 October 2010.

People are usually buried in a particular location because they have a connection to that place, but sometimes it was simply convenient.

At first glance, it appeared the burial of Margaret Jennings Brayfield in Smithland was going to be a puzzle, but a little research  showed her connection to that cemetery.  

According to various census records, she was born in Tennessee, her father in North Carolina and her mother in South Carolina.  Margaret married John S. Brayfield in McCracken County, Kentucky 22 February 1876.[1] She lived in Paducah, was 27 years old and this was her first marriage.  John S. Brayfield  lived in Evansville, Indiana, was 32 years of age and this was also his first marriage.

By 1880, the couple was living in Evansville with the family of William Jennings (age 78, born North Carolina) and Sarah Jennings (age 70, born South Carolina).  John Brayfield's occupation was listed as a printer on the 1880 census.

On the 1910 Vanderburgh County, Indiana census, John and Margaret Brayfield were living on Lincoln Avenue in Evansville and John was a newspaper reporter.  Their living situation changed by 1920, when they are shown as inmates of the Indiana State Soldiers Home in Tippecanoe County. This facility was established by the work of the Grand Army of the Republic (Union Army veterans of the Civil War) and had opened 1 February 1896. The last time Maggie/Margaret appears on the census was in 1930 when she was an 81-year-old widow still living in the State Soldiers Home.

 Sometime after 1930, she went to Paducah, where she died 28 January 1937.  Her parents are not identified on her death certificate[2]  and the informant was Marvin Scyster, age 41 and a real estate agent. He lived in Paducah, but the 1910 census shows him living with his parents, George D. and Maggie Scyster in Smithland.   So what connection did Marvin Scyster have to Maggie/Margaret Jennings Brayfield?

The 1860 Livingston County census shows W.J. Jennings, age 58, and Sarah J. Jennings, age 53, running a boarding house in Smithland. In their household were Joshua A. Jennings, age 25, and Margaret J., age 11 - probably their children. A salesman, Amon Price, also lived with them.  This has to be the right  Jennings family.

Now we know the Scyster and Jennings families both lived in Smithland at one time. Was that the only connection?  No, it wasn't. The answer is found in a deed[3] whereby a dispute was being settled between James Ellis, son of John Ellis, and W.J. Jennings.  In dispute were several slaves Jennings had given to his daughter, Sarah L.A. Ellis, the wife of James Ellis, before Sarah died.  One more thing - Marvin Scyster's full name was Marvin Ellis Scyster. His mother was Margaret M. Ellis, daughter of James Ellis and Sarah A.L. Jennings. James Ellis and Sarah A.L. Jennings were Marvin's grandparents and his grandmother was a sister to Margaret Jennings Brayfield.  

And that is how Margaret Jennings Brayfield was connected to Marvin Ellis Scyster and this is another reason why I love deeds.

[1] Kentucky, Marriage Records, 1852-1914, McCracken County,, accessed 18 August 2016.

[2] Kentucky Death Certificate #5428 (1937),, accessed 18 August 2016.
[3] Livingston County Deed Book 5:82, dated 3 October 1861.

Published 1 December 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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