The family lived on a farm in Flower Creek, Kentucky, rural Pendleton County with hilly, rolling terrain and fertile river flats. Flower Creek had a post office on the east bank of the Main Licking River. The land was backwoods country with only wagon roads through the forest and some stage coach routes up to the Ohio River where people could take a boat to Cincinnati and Louisville. The Kentucky Central Railroad was put through the county the year Mary Jane was born. The county did not have a newspaper until 1870. An old cemetery existed in the main town of Falmouth containing pioneer graves, but in 1930 the headstones were used for crushed stones to build roads. A one room school house was built in Butler, the nearest village, in 1856 and this is likely where Mary Jane and her siblings attended school. Her grandfather, William Johnson, had owned a saw and grist mill on the South Fork of the Licking River in Pendleton County since 1832. An uncle, Jacob Caseman, had a saw mill on Flower Creek until his untimely death at age 37 in 1874.
Mary Jane was the second of 14 children born to her father over a span of thirty four years and two wives. Mariah birthed the first ten children and 4 half siblings were born to father’s second wife in Lewis County. Two siblings died when Mary Jane was 4 years old, - Jacob at age 15 months and her older sister, Lydia Ann at age 5 years - within 4 days of each other, both with infant flux. No record is found of her brother, William H (1858- ) after 1860, so he likely also died in childhood. A sister was born in 1861 several months before George enlisted in the Union Army. Of George’s five children born before the Civil War, only two survived childhood.
George was a farmer, likely a tobacco farmer as Pendleton County was one of the first counties in Kentucky to produce tobacco. George was away at war from the time Mary Jane was seven until 10 years old, leaving Mariah with three young children, Mary Jane, William, 3, and Emily, 7 months. In this instance, the oldest girl - 7 year old Mary Jane - would have taken on many household responsibilities. George’s two brothers, Jacob and young Foster, enlisted at the same time, leaving no men to work the farms. Jacob had married in 1857 and that family also lived in Flower Creek with two young children when Jacob went off to war with his brothers.
|Our only photo of George (1828-1913)|
In June 1864 the family would receive news that George had been captured by the Confederate army at Kennesaw Mountain just north of Atlanta during Sherman’s march through Georgia. He was released in November 1864 and returned home to the farm in January 1865. After George’s return, he and Mariah had another five children in rapid succession, and then nothing further is heard about Mariah who presumably died sometime between the 1870 and 1880 census.
Five years after her father's return, fifteen year old Mary Jane married 23 year old Francis Marion Shumate in the family home. Frank was from nearby Carter County but there were other Shumates living in Pendleton; likely, Frank came to Pendleton County through these connections.
|Mary Jane's and Frank's marriage license, Pendleton County|
Mary Jane and Frank moved from Illinois to Clarksburg in Lewis County by 1879. She had her third child, Jesse, in April 1879 just days before her husband was killed by being kicked in the head by a horse. By age 24, Mary Jane was a widow with three young children who had suffered multiple other losses, including three young siblings, mother, a young uncle (Foster) in the civil war, a second uncle (Jacob) in 1874, a mother in law in 1871, a 14 year old brother-in-law, as well as having a father away at war for several years and not knowing whether he would return after capture by the Confederates.
The 1880 Census shows Mary Jane living in Valley, Lewis County, Kentucky, and working as a seamstress. On the next farm is her widowed father, George, and his six children ranging in age from six to 19 years. We don’t know whether George or Mary Jane was first to move to the Valley/Clarksburg area. My grandmother, Grace Lee, was born to an unmarried Mary Jane in 1883. Recent research supported by the 1880 Lewis county census and a letter to Grace in 1902 shows the father was William Frederick Horsley, a 35 year old farm laborer living with his sister on a nearby farm.
Complicating matters further, eight months after Grace was born 29 year old Mary Jane wed a 49 year old farmer from Fleming County, Abia .J. Dillon. William Frederick - biological father of Grace - was a witness at the wedding.
|Mary Jane and Abia Dillon marriage certificate listing W.F. Horsley as a witness.|
Mary Jane had another loss in 1885 when her son, George W., namesake of George Sr., died at age eleven years old. Her second child, 14 year old Francis, married a 30 year old man, William Johnson, and left the home in 1889. Mary Jane and second husband, Abia, may have separated before his death in 1889 as he died in Fleming County.
|Mary Jane's children: Jesse Shumate, Grace Martin, Francis Shumate|
|Half sister, Lydia Caseman, Lydia's husband Charles Wallace, and Mary Jane, photo taken in 1890's|
Back to Mary Jane and Bill’s story, they had no children of their own but Ramona describes Bill as a caring stepfather to Mary Jane’s children.
Mary Jane’s youngest, Jesse Shumate, married and left the home in 1898, made a living as a farmer, but had his own tragedies with deaths of two wives at young ages. Jesse’s life was filled with loss and one of his descendants related Jesse felt he was a curse. For a time around 1920, Mary Jane and Bill are caring for Jesse’s two children in their home.
Grace eloped in 1902 at age 19 to a 26 year old teacher, Jacob Dillow. Indeed, he had been her teacher at Valley School. Why they eloped is unclear as Jacob was a fine, upstanding, educated young man. They remained in Portsmouth for the next 3-4 years until buying a farm in Vanceburg just over the hill from Mary Jane and Bill’s farm in Valley.
By the 1920 census, Mary Jane and Bill left their farm in Valley and bought a home just across Dry Run Creek in Vanceburg, Lewis County where they were readily available for grandparenting Grace and Jacob’s seven children. The family suffered another loss when one of the grandsons developed diabetes and died in 1925 at age seventeen. Another grandson died in 1934 from typhoid fever. Son Jesse's first two wives died at young ages, one in the 1918 influenza epidemic.
By 1930, Mary Jane and Bill, still living in the Dry Creek home, were also operating a general store in the area. Her daughter, Francis. never had children and during Mary Jane's lifetime continued to live in Clarksburg, a once thriving community just north of Valley. Grace and Jacob gave Mary Jane seven grandchildren and Jesse three grandchildren.
|William Martin and Mary Jane|
|William Martin in front of his and Mary Jane's General Store and Sunoco Station, Vanceburg, KY|
Our mother spoke fondly of Mary Jane, often adding“the men really liked her.” She had searched for Mary Jane’s paramour and father of Grace with some clues but only with the internet have we been able to track this gentleman. William Frederick Horsley never married that we know, but lived with various relatives until his death in New Grand Chain, Illinois, in 1922.
Mary Jane died June 18, 1935 at age 80 with influenza; her husband lived another sixteen years. Both are buried in Woodland Cemetery.