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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Henry Smith's marriages: 1) Mary Burks/Birks 2) Margaret, widow of Gideon Garrett

Henry Smith married 1) Mary Birks/Burks in Bedford County, Virginia 26 May, 1761.

Henry Smith married 2) Margaret, widow of Gideon Garrett about 1781 probably in Kentucky. By the time Henry died, Margaret was living in Kentucky. Historians in Garrard County, Kentucky did not know the first wife's name, but knew that Margaret was the widow of Gideon Garrett, so she was probably from Kentucky.

Steps used to find Henry's marriages:

1) Look for spouse of Henry Smith.

Children's guardianship

Henry Smith's will, found in court records of Lincoln County, Kentucky, named his current wife, Margaret, and living children. (See information under "John Doyle married Chloe Smith" proving that Henry Smith of Illinois also lived in Kentucky.) His three eldest daughters, Leddy Duff, Sarah St. Onge and Chloe Doyle were married and are not mentioned in later guardianship proceedings. The other two living children from his first marriage, Henry and Elizabeth, were over fourteen years of age and were old enough to select their own guardians, Samuel and Isham Burks.

Found: Henry Smith married to Margaret, widow of Gideon Garrett.

Margaret, was assigned to be the guardian of her son Liberty Smith, son of Henry, and her son, Henry Garrett-Smith, son of Gideon Garrett. These boys were younger than fourteen, so they were assigned a guardian rather than getting to chose a guardian. When Margaret married a third time to Joseph Jones in 1791, guardianship for Liberty and Henry Garrett was changed to Henry's brothers. The two sons were still less than fourteen years old. Because Henry Garrett, Margaret's son by a previous marriage, and Liberty Smith, her son by Henry are younger than Henry's other children, this shows that Margaret was a second wife for Henry.

2) Find Henry's first wife.

Henry Smith, Jr. and Elizabeth Smith were wards of Isham and Samuel Burks. Court records and the division of Henry's estate show this.

"By Henry Smith Junr Lagacy paid to Isham Burks his guardian 73.9.5
By Chloe Dials Lagacy paid to her husband John Dial agreable to the will 46.8.5
By Elizabeth Smiths Lagacy paid to Samuel Burks her guardian" 69.7.5
(amounts in pounds, shillings and pence)

In researching Samuel and Isham Burks, the guardians for Henry's middle children, it was found that they did not live in Lincoln County, Kentucky at the time, but in a more distant county in Kentucky. They must have some relationship to the family. With both of them having the last name of Burks, it was highly likely that Henry's first wife had the last name of Burks.

3) Look for Henry Smith married to a woman with the last name of Burks.

In court in Illinois, Henry Smith stated that he was a native of Virginia.

4) Look in Virginia for Henry Smith married to a woman with the last name of Burks.

Virginia Records

Records in Botetourt County, Virginia had Henry transferring land with a John Burks. When Henry sold land, his wife was listed as Mary.

5) Look for Henry Smith in Virginia married to a Mary Burks.

The search was expanded to Bedford County, Virginia where at an earlier date, Henry was found having land dealings again with Burks.

In Bedford County a marriage record was found between Henry Smith, bachelor and Mary Birks, spinster. Because consent didn't have to be given, Mary must be of age. The security was John Partree Burks.

Marriage certificate of Henry Smith and Mary Birks showing Henry's signature and the signature of John Partree Birks

Found!! Henry Smith married Mary Burks in Bedford County, Virginia 26 May 1761.

Children listed for John Partree Burks were Samuel, Isham and John Burks. This is the Samuel and Isham who become Henry and Mary's children's guardians. The boys (Samuel, Isham and John) are quite a bit younger than Mary. John Partree Burks also gave consent in Bedford County to the marriage of Elizabeth Burks. Neither time does he give relationship as their father.

Mary's father

In doing further research, John Partree Burks' father was Samuel Burks, Sr. Samuel Sr. had a son, Samuel Jr. who died before Samuel Sr. did. Samuel Jr., John Partree's brother, left many under-aged children. Two of his younger daughters were Mary and Elizabeth. John Partree got married about the time Samuel Jr. died. I believe that John Partree Burks became the guardian of Mary and Elizabeth. Mary and Elizabeth would be raised in John Partree's home and Samuel, Isham and John would be raised as their younger brothers.

John Partree Burks died in Bedford County, Virginia, but his son John Burks was found in many of the same areas as Henry. They both lived in Botetourt County at the same time, having land dealings with each other. They were both at Ft. Jefferson on the Mississipi River at the same time. This is also an indication of family ties.

Mary's death

We learn information about Mary's death in the Draper Papers from correspondence between Col. John Floyd, Mary's second cousin, and Col. William Preston, a neighbor of Henry Smith's family on Pott's Creek in Botetourt County.
1781 APRIL 26 Letter from Col. John Floyd to Col. William Preston. "...and poor Henry Smith has lost his wife and almost the whole family by sickness at Illinois."
The previous letter was written on September 5, 1780.


Henry Smith married Mary Burks, ward of John Partree Burks, in Bedford County, Virginia on 26 May 1761. Mary died before April 26, 1781. Henry owned land both in Illinois and Kentucky. Shortly after Mary died in Illinois, Henry married Margaret, widow of Gideon Garrett, probably in Kentucky.

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