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William Berry of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana

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William Berry of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana

Posted: 1342729161000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Berry Taylor Rowe Heard Maloy Hewell
This is being posted to correct some erroneous data posted online regarding William Berry of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana and his origin. William was born about 1800 in Georgia. He married Sarah Rowe in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana in 1832, she died in 1850 and he remarried Mary Maloy in Claiborne Parish in 1851. William can be found on the 1840 Ouachita Parish Census and the 1850 and 1860 Claiborne Parish censuses.

William Berry was the son of William Berry (died 1808 in Oglethorpe County, Georgia) and Susannah Taylor Berry. Susannah died about 1829 in Newton County, Georgia. William of Claiborne Parish has been erroneously described in on-line trees as the son of a William Berry who died in Warren County, Georgia and who was married to a Susannah (or Hannah or Sarah) Middleton. This is a different William Berry. He has also been confused with a William Berry who appears on the 1830 Claiborne Parish census with his mother Rebecca, widow of Lt. James Berry of Tennessee. As shown by R. Thompson in a GenForum post dated April 11, 2002, this William was dead by 1854. My William Berry died in the 1860’s.

Positive identification of William Berry was not attained until discovery of a cache of old letters written by Jesse Holloway Heard to his mother in law, Martha Berry Hewell. Martha was William Berry’s older sister who lived in Newton County, Georgia. For a few years in the 1850’s Jesse lived near his wife’s uncle, William Berry, in Claiborne Parish, and he mentions him quite extensively in the letters. I can only post a few snippets as I do not own the letters, but here are two relevant passages (grammar has been corrected):

Nov. 7, 1858 - “I am living about a mile from Uncles. They are all well. He left here day before yesterday. Two of his children are here now...He has 4 children by his first wife that [he] married out here and 4 by the wife that he has got now. His first children are very smart but his last wife is just as mean as she can be. She is mean to his first children...She is a Roman Catholic. [Uncle] is very good every way else. He don’t want nobody out here to know that he has a wife back home but I thought that I would tell you all about it. His son that lives in Georgia by his first wife...was out here last spring...he lives in Butts County, Liberty Hill Post, and he says that he is going to come out here some time next year. I did not see him but uncle told me about him.”

April 22, 1860 - “I was at your Brothers Uncle William Berry in February. He and family were well and he said that he was coming down here in May. He spoke of moving to this country. I can’t tell yet what he will do. He has got a very bad wife...”

These passages can only refer to William’s family by Sarah Rowe (the first children) and Mary Maloy (second children). Mary was born in Ireland per the 1860 census and most likely was Roman Catholic. What these passages also confirm is that William had a wife back in Georgia. She was Elizabeth Brady Heard. This marriage was well known to researchers of the Berry and Hewell families of Georgia. We knew that William disappeared by 1850 as Elizabeth and her children are on the census in 1850 in Monroe County, Georgia. But I, at least, assumed William was dead. What these letters show is that William left his first wife and moved to Louisiana by 1832, leaving at least two children. His oldest child, William Berry, is on the 1860 Butts County, Georgia census, as predicted, with his mother, Elizabeth, in his household.

At least two of William’s children by his second wife, Sarah Rowe, moved to Rusk County, Texas after the Civil War. They were John G. Berry and Mary Oliver Berry. Some researchers have tried to connect them to several other Berry families who moved into Rusk County earlier but I can see no connection.

Sorry if I offend anyone by reproducing Jesse Heard’s editorial comments on Mary Maloy Berry’s disposition. Take them with a big grain of salt. I only included them as they help to identify William Berry as the son of William and Susannah Taylor Berry. The widow Mary Maloy Berry moved to Austin, Texas by 1870 as she is there on the census. The marriages of her four daughters are in the Travis County Courthouse:

Mary Alice Berry md. Carl Edwin Dietrich on January 20, 1870

Margaret Joseph Berry md. Michael Riley on May 11, 1876

Eugenia Berry md. E. F. Caldwell on January 29, 1875

Louisa Berry md. Francis M. Kane on October 10, 1870.

Louisa’s death certificate shows that she was born June 29, 1855 in Homer, Louisiana and died September 30, 1934 in Rio Grande City, Starr Co., Texas. She was buried the next day in Rio Grande City Cemetery.

I hope this proves to be useful to descendants of William Berry.

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