The Mystery Wives of Thomas Bembry

Thomas Bembry almost certainly had two wives. The second wife was Mary, last name probably Savage. He married her before 1850, probably in Pulaski County, GA, and her presumed father (or another relative), Charles Savage, is living with the couple on the 1850 census.

Many online trees list Martha “Patsy” Dickens as Thomas Bembry’s first wife, but I have never seen any actual evidence of this. It appears to be based on oral history alone, but if you know different, please email me. These same online trees also have Martha Dickens dying around 1830.

Thomas’ son Henry’s death certificate and 1880 census entry shows his mother’s birthplace as North Carolina. But Mary Savage, Thomas’ second wife, was definitely born in Georgia, according to her two census entries in 1850 and 1870. So,  was Thomas’ first wife still living throughout the 1840s?

Census entries for 1820-1840 have a consistent age for Thomas’ wife throughout that period. Unfortunately, Mary Savage was born almost exactly the same time as his first wife (between 1800 and 1810). In other words, we cannot tell from the ages listed whether it was two different wives listed, or the same one from 1820-1840.

We can say, however, that Mary was not the wife listed in 1820- 1830 in North Carolina because Mary was born in Georgia.

Therefore, the only census in question is 1840, after Thomas had moved to Pulaski County. Which wife is listed on that census?

I am trying to figure out what happened to Elizabeth and Laura Bembry, both born after 1840. If I can find them under their married names in 1880 or 1900, when parents’ birthplaces were listed on the census, then that would settle the question of when and if Thomas remarried once and for all.

It is possible that Thomas’ unknown first wife was also a Savage. The Bembrys and the Savages were tight back in Edgecombe County. They lived near each other and Thomas’ father, Miles Bembry, was named as an executor of Warren Savage’s will.  Warren’s widow was named Frances, as was Thomas’ first (likely) daughter.

There are also two “Thomas N. Savages” in that clan. Perhaps one of them was the father of this unknown wife, and that is how Thomas N. Bembry got his middle initial.

This is one of those brick walls that I will probably have to get to the local court house to break down, and that won’t be happening for a while!

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