Stephen Braddock and Mary A. Bell married and started their family in Laurens South Carolina, moving to Tippah county Mississippi in the 1840s. Mary Bell was born about 1784-85, the daughter of Adam Bell and Mary McClure. The life of Stephen Braddock cannot be told without first dealing with the question of who his father was. Yes, he was raised by Francis Braddock and Ann McClure, but the records and evidence not only raise the question of Francis not being his father, they also give the answer as to who really was his father.
Stephen Braddock's birth year must first be calculated. In the 1850 census of Tippah county, Stephen and Mary are enumerated twice. Stephen had actually already died by this time. However, the enumeration instructions were to include everyone living as of 1 June 1850, even if they had since died. Stephen died on the 7th of June, so he was appropriately included in the census, being listed last after wife Mary and daughter Mary A. On page 502 the three are listed with Jeremiah and Rebecca Braddock, one of Stephen and Mary's sons. Here Stephen's age is given as 60 and Mary as 66 and daughter Mary A. as 30. But on p. 527 they are listed in their own household, Stephen being 64, Mary being 65, and daughter Mary as 33. Further, in the independent household there is real estate value and an occupation given, the son's listing does not give this information for Stephen. In the absence of other information, weight would have to be given to the independent household where Stephen's wife probably gave the information; the estate cannot already have been settled or distributed so it was still in Mary's hands at this time and should have been listed.
The 1840 census puts Mary correctly in the 50-59 column and Stephen incorrectly in the 40-49 column (it also puts daughter Mary incorrectly in the 15-19 column). This looks to be an error as the 1830 census again puts Stephen in the 40-49 column. The 1820 census does not help to date him as the age group is for 26-45. Stephen does not seem to appear with Francis and Ann Braddock in the 1810 census, nor is he enumerated in his own household. But in 1800 he is in the 10-15 column with Francis and Ann.
Many researchers have settled on giving him a birth year of about 1788-1789. However, in January 1807 Francis deeds land to Stephen. This could very likely be for his coming of age, which would also put his birth in about 1786; note that this also conforms very well with the 1850 census information and is not contradicted by the other census data (except for the 1840 probable error). Regardless, Stephen's birth year must be before 1790, with evidence suggesting it is 1786.
The 1790 census shows no Braddock family in Laurens; the land records show no Francis Braddock as a party, neighbor, or witness until November 1796, nor does he appear in any court records or jury lists (the first time in the court records is March of 1800). The South Carolina counties were formed in 1785 and land records before then and even for a while after 1785 were recorded in Charleston: there is no Braddock in the Charleston records. What the 1790 census does show is Ann McClure alone with a male under 16; they are not far from Adam Bell who had married her sister Mary. There is no other Ann McClure in this or any later Laurens census, and she is located in the area where she and Francis would be together later.
John and Jean Adair (Laurens deed book D, p. 38) sold part of a tract of land to Ann "McCluer" in 1791 (after Stephen's birth) and they sold another part of the same tract in 1796 to Francis Braddock (book F, p. 206). The birth of Francis' and Ann's first provable child is James McClure Braddock, born 13 January 1794, leaving a gap of 7 odd years from the probable 1786 birth of Stephen. Ann McClure is also listed as a purchaser in the estate of Robert Bell at an estate sale on 15 August 1792 (Laurens Will Book A1, p. 56). The only familial tie I can find for the name "Stephen" is a Stephen McClure who was a witness to a land sale by Francis Braddock in 1800. It does not seem to be a Braddock name and is not passed on in any of Francis' descendants' families.
These gaps and inconsistencies and direct evidence of Ann not being married at the time of Stephen's birth must be accounted for. All of this has led up to this entry in the Laurens Court Minutes:
13 June 1786Alexander Adair was a married man with two or three children by this time (4 in the 1790 census), living very nearby the other Adairs and Ann McClure. I am quite satisfied by all the records and evidence that: Alexander Adair is the natural father of Stephen Braddock; that Stephen was born in 1786; that Francis Braddock and Ann McClure married after 1791; and that Francis gave Stephen his name and raised him.
Adair, Alex'r £50 and £3 11sh. fine and cost And Ann McClure admit bastardy.
The land entries above and the ones following can be identified on the map #4 from the Union County Historical Foundation's Land Grant Maps. It is easier to open this map in a new window, size and move it to your convenience, and move back and forth between it and this writing to see the lands discussed. I have coded the various names and tracts.
Stephen first enters the Laurens records on 25 November 1805 when he was a witness with John Young to another deed from Robert Young to Francis Braddock (Book J, p. 57). This 170 acres bounded on "Bonds, Francis Braddock, John Owens and the Dutch Bounty". It was surveyed (well after the sale, for some reason) for Robert Young and further described as "on the waters of Indian Creek joyning Francis Braddock Dutch Bounty & Robt Scot...". The chain carriers were James Bradock and Adair.
Then on 30 January 1807 Francis Braddock sold 129 acres to Stephen for $100. This is the sale that possibly dates Stephen coming of age and getting his "start in life". The land was part of the first tract conveyed earlier by Robert Young to Francis Braddock, on the waters of Duncans creek and the plat map shows it bounds on Francis Braddock, James Bond, Daniel Owens, and -- McConnethey. Francis signed by his mark, the witnesses were Robert Young and David Bell, it was proved by David Bell on 30 May 1812 and was recorded in book K, p. 232 on 4 January 1818. The plat for this deed is shown below:
Stephen is not shown in the 1810 census, either at home with Francis and Ann or on his own. Therefore we cannot tell if he was already married, but we know he married his first cousin Mary A. Bell (if it is correct that Adam Bell's wife and Stephen's mother Ann were sisters, nothing contradicts this fact that I have seen). Their first child was Adam, born 17 May 1812. Their second son George Washington was born 9 September 1814, followed by Mary Ann "Polly" in about 1817-1818 and James Marion in about 1819. The 1820 census for Laurens county shows the family on p. 28 as (I've added the names):
Stephen Bradoc [sic]About 1823 Stephen and Mary's next child was born, named Jeremiah S(tephen?).
1 male 26-44 (Stephen 34)
1 female 26-44 (Mary A. 36)
3 males under 10 (Adam 8, George W. 5, James Marion 1)
1 female under 10 (Mary Ann "Polly" 1-2)
There were 2 male slaves 26-44 and 1 female slave 26-44 in the family's listing. This census was alphabetized by the first name (!) so there is no analyzing neighbors and relative locations of family members. Francis and Ann are also listed in this census, with the name being miswritten as something like "Reader" in my judgment. I suspect I am wrong in identifying this as Francis and Ann as I cannot really account for the persons listed with them.
Stephen bought another 170 acres from John Barksdale on 15 Dec 1828 for $480. The payments were due on 1 January 1829 and again on 1 January 1830. This land bounded -- Laird and James Simpson. I am missing the second page of this deed (Book N, p. 97-98) so I do not have a recording date, but the deed preceding it was proved in 1835. According to records, this brings Stephen's land holdings to 299 acres.
Only 3 of the state census records made before 1850 are extant and one of those is the 1829 census for Laurens District. It lists only the head of household and the number of free white inhabitants. Stephen Braddock has 7 (Stephen, Mary and the 5 children). Francis Braddock has 2 (this is Francis and Ann's son Francis Jr. and his new wife Betsy Milam), and James Braddock has 1 (James McClure Braddock, another son of Francis and Ann; he has been long married so something is off in this entry). John W. Braddock, their other son does not show up on this tax list even though he is about 29 years old.
Francis Braddock and Ann McClure had both died in 1828. There is no record of an estate which is vexing because they seem to have still had land. Such an estate might have been very helpful in understanding better the family history and Stephen's place in it!
Stephen does not show up in Laurens county records during these early years, in legal affairs or even as a juror. The next record of the family is in the 1830 census, p. 205:
1 male 40-49 (Stephen 44)
1 female 40-49 (Mary A. 46)
3 males 10-14 (Adam is actually 18, George W. 16, James Marion 13)
1 female 5-9 (Mary Ann is actually about 10-12)
1 male 5-9 (Jeremiah S. about 7)
1 male under 5 (??)
This last young son must have been born after the 1829 census and does not show up on the next census or family records, he must have died by 1840.
Later that year, on 18 November 1830, Stephen bought 107 acres at an auction of the estate of David Mason. The land was on Indian Creek adjoining James Neighbors, Saml Mason, and James Simpson. The payment was $199.75 and the deed was witness by Samuel McAtee(r) and Israel Prater, sworn to by McAtee on 6 February 1835 and recorded on 24 March 1835 in Book N, p. 36. This brings Stephen's land holdings up to 406 acres.
At an estate sale for Thomas Beasley during the 8th through 10th of January in 1833 Stephen Braddock was a buyer along with many other familiar names in our family group. Also in 1833 [I don't have the exact date] Stephen Braddock was a purchaser at the estate sale of Abner Young. He bought a Dun cow and calf bobtail for $6.25 and a Secretary and Case for $30.0625. Abner Young was probably the brother of Margaret (?Young) Leak whose daughter Elzire later married Adam Braddock, son of Stephen and Mary Braddock.
Mary Bell Braddock's father Adam had died in 1805, and her mother Mary had died on 1 March 1832. On 2 March 1833 their heirs requested a survey of their parent's land which they then sold for $400 to John McKoy (Book N, p. 115). This was 180 acres on Hendricks branch (also referred to as being on the south fork) of Duncan's Creek, adjoining John Bell, David Bell, Elizabeth Cox, Lewis Jones, and William Adams. Stephen Braddock signed on this deed (in right of his wife Mary Bell Braddock), along with all the other children of Adam and Mary Bell.
Sometime during these years, but definitely by 1834, Stephen and Mary's first son Adam Braddock married Alzire Leak, daughter of George Leak and Margaret, whose maiden name was possibly Young. Then on 30 March 1837 their son George Washington Braddock married Charlotte E. Jeans.
The 1840 census for Laurens, p. 65, shows Stephen's family as (this is the census with ages very off):
Stephen BraddockAgain, I have not finished searching all the court records for Stephen and Mary Braddock during these later years, but they don't show up in any of the Equity Court Books. There is still more searching to do! Their son Adam Braddock and his family had moved by 1845 to Tippah county Mississippi and are shown on the tax lists there. Much more of the family, including Stephen and Mary would join them there in the next few years.
1 male 40-49 (Stephen who is actually about 53-54)
1 female 50-59 (Mary)
1 male 20-29 (James Marion 21)
1 female 15-19 (Mary Ann, actually about 20-22)
1 male 15-19 (Jeremiah S., about 17)
On 30 January 1847 Stephen sold 204 acres for $1287 to James A. Meadow, land on the waters of Indian creek adjoining James Braddock, William C. Simpson, John Horton, Isaac Adair, and Hasbey J. Simpson. The witnesses were Wesley H. Roberts and John Johnson. Mary relinquished her dower rights in this land on the same day. The deed was proved on 5 February 1848, recorded 2 days later in Book P, p. 79, and a return was said to be given to Stephen and Mary on 1 May 1848. This land appears to be some parts of his 170 acre tract and the 107 acre tract he had purchased.
There are two deeds of Stephen's I am missing, one is Book K p. 46. Sara M. Nash in her abstracts of Books A-K also refers to it as p. 46 in her index, but doesn't have it abstracted either. I have looked all around and in possible other pages (96, 146, 246, etc.) and simply cannot find it. There is also an index listing in the original deed books for Stephen in book P, p. 98. These indices are very hard to read; there is a double numbering system of the books going on and I have yet to find that deed either. These would hopefully show the rest of the disposition of Stephen's lands, as he still has some 202 acres left on record.
Stephen and Mary did go to Tippah county Mississippi along with their other children. Whether the deed return referred to above got to Stephen's hands is not clear, because he was purchasing land in Tippah before that date. Either one might have been handled by a power of attorney, but I suspect he was in Tippah when he bought land from Caleb and Mary Goodman on 15 January 1848. This was for $750 and was the southwest quarter of section 21 in township 3, range 4 east (160 acres) and the northwest quarter of section 28 in township 3, range 4 east (except for 40 acres on the west boundary, making this a tract of 120 acres). This is in Tippah deed book 1, p. 26. These are actually adjoining tracts and are located more or less by taking county road 502 to 564 at the intersection of 515, just past 556 (which is on the left). Here is a picture of this land as it looked in 1998.
Fortunately, during the Civil War, W. W. Robinson put the Tippah court records in a wooden box, buried them out in Dumas, and brought them back after the war. Tippah is one of the few counties in Mississippi that has their records intact. There are state census and tax lists: the earliest Braddock was Adam in 1845, then there is a gap until 1856.
As already described in the first parts of this write-up, the 1850 census was taken after Stephen had died and enumerates him twice, once with his son Jeremiah, and once in an independent household. Both listings show Mary, his widow, and Mary A., his daughter. The slave schedules for this year show both Mary's listed with slaves. Mary Braddock has (all are listed as "black"): 1 male age 60, 1 female age 60, 1 male age 27, 1 female age 9, 1 male age 7, and 1 female age 5. Mary A. Braddock shows a male age 75, 1 female age 65, 1 male age 26, 1 female age 26, 1 female age 12, a female age 10, 1 female age 6. I believe the daughter is generally referred to in records as Mary A., so the first Mary is probably the widow of Stephen. Some of the daughter's slaves may be identifiable from her estate sale in 1879, Peter and Squire were heavy buyers then and they are shown in the later tax lists of the area as "colored". I put more information that helps the identification of Braddock slaves in a post on GenForum (don't forget to read my correction post as well!).
There are no records for estates at the time of Stephen's death, but Mary stayed on the land and maintained the estate until her death, at which time it was probated (see later). The tax lists for 1856 show these Braddocks: Mary, Adam, John, Jeremiah, G. W., and J. M., all in Crunk's District, which ran north from just above Tippah to just short of Falkner, and about 6 miles both east and west of today's highway 15.
The 1860 census for Tippah, p. 23, dwelling 175, family number 153, lists Mary Braddock age 76, born in South Carolina, with real estate valued at $1100, and personal property worth $800. Interestingly there are ditto marks in the occupation column which refer to a previous "farmer" as occupation. With her is Mary Ann, age 40, also born in South Carolina. All the rest of Mary and Stephen's children are also listed with their families in this census. The slave schedules for Mary Braddock show (all are given as "black"): 1 male age 39, 1 female age 38, 1 female age 19, a male age 16, 1 female age 14, 1 female age 9, a female age 6, a male age 5, a male age 1, 1 male age 7 months. These are in very close correspondence to the slaves listed in 1850, with the elder two probably having died, and new ones born. I do not know what happened to the slaves listed for Mary A. Braddock in 1850, she does not have a separate listing in 1860.
The 1860 Agricultural Schedule for Tippah county, the Northern Division, shows the various Braddock families and their acreage; Mary is listed with 280 acres, described the same as their 1848 land purchase (the two quarter sections minus 40 acres).
There is a State Census for Tippah in 1866. Mary Braddock is shown with 1 female 80-90 (Mary A. Bell Braddock, age about 86, widow of Stephen) and one female age 40-50 (daughter Mary Ann, age about 40-42). The only other Braddock shown who is identifiably of this family is J. S. Braddock and his family.
Mary is listed for the last time in the census in 1870 on page 203, dwelling and family number 44. She is listed as M. Braddock, age 80, born in South Carolina, keeping house. With her is Mary Ann, age 53, born South Carolina, and Elizabeth, age 18, born Mississippi.
Mary A. Bell Braddock died not too long after the census, and on 30 December 1870 J. S. Braddock petitioned for letters of administration. He states that Mary died about the 4th of November. I have posted abstracts of the full estate here (Chancery Court File 172). The probate of the estate went on through 1874 in the records, the personal estate was inventoried and Stephen and Mary's land is again described as before and sold. In the papers can be found much information about the descendants and their whereabouts at this time. My Adam Braddock signed on the administrator's bond of J. S. Braddock on 30 Dec 1870, and at the sale on 26 January 1871 Adam bought a shot gun, a foot adze, 2 chisells, a shovel and tongs, while his wife Alzire bought some foot curtains, a tea kettle, and an oven and lid. However, Adam and Alzire Braddock were gone by 24 July 1871 at the time of notification of the land sale. They are listed as being near Middleton, Tennessee. Adam and Mary did go there for a while, then moved on to Northern Texas.
Stephen and Mary's daughter Mary Ann bought part of their land on 18 March 1872, the 120 acres in the southwest quarter of section 21. The other tract was sold to Thomas Braddock. Mary Ann lived until late 1879 when her estate is probated. Some of the land is referred to, but I haven't made a thorough analysis of what happened to the rest of it.
Many of the Braddock family had joined the Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church and Bobbie Duncan McDowell has published the Register of the church. As well, many are buried in the church's cemetery (see the picture index of graves on this site for some of those photos). Neither Stephen nor Mary appear in these records nor do there seem to be marked graves for Stephen and Mary A. Bell Braddock in Tippah county Mississippi.
Sources searched which include Stephen and Mary Bell Braddock's times and areas but which didn't yield information about them specifically:
Go to Stephen Braddock and Mary Bell in the Ahnentafel
Go to Stephen Braddock and Mary Bell's family group sheet
Go to the Picture Index.
Go to the Table of Contents.