Who Was Sarah Lemacks?

John Taylor’s wife was named Sarah Ella Lemacks.   The 1943 death certificate of their youngest child, Georgia Taylor Forbeus, lists the names of her parents as John Taylor and “Sarah Ella Lemox”. 1   That death certificate, incidentally lists Sarah’s birthplace as Charleston, South Carolina and John Taylor’s as Raleigh, North Carolina.

Married in Early County, Georgia

On 30 August 1838 John Taylor and Sara Lemacks were married by William Tully, J.P. by a license dated 11 August 1838.2  (Her name is mis-indexed as “Semacks” in one online index, but the original marriage record clearly reads “Lemacks”.)   That was the only Taylor marriage in Early County for the next twenty-five years.   There was, however, a second Lemacks marriage in Early County — see below.

Since Sarah Taylor’s census records indicate that she was born about 1822, she must have been only 16 or 17 or so when she married.  That implies that a parent or guardian gave consent for her marriage but the original license, which would have identified that person, no longer exists.

Her two oldest children enlisted in the Union Army in 1863 and 1864, declaring that they were born, respectively, in Early County, Georgia in 1839 and in Randolph County, Georgia in early 1841.   At that time Early and Randolph counties adjoined one another in southwestern Georgia, separated from Alabama by the Chattahoochee River.

James A. Lemacks — a likely brother

A year after Sarah Lemacks married John Taylor, James A. Lemacks (1814-1883) married Talitha W. Hammonds (or “Falitha”) in Early County on 17 October 1839.3   He later married Sarah Hornsby and remained in southwestern Georgia.  I did not find him in the 1850 census, but by 1854 he was taxed in nearby Dougherty County where he also appeared in the 1860 and 1870 censuses.  (Oddly, he registered for the Reconstruction oath in 1867 in Miller County.)  By the 1880 census he was in Colquitt County.   He evidently spent some time Florida, as one child claimed to have been born there about 1846.  He is buried in the Cool Springs Baptist Church cemetery in Colquitt County, along with his second wife Sarah Hornsby.  There do not appear be any probate records for him in Colquitt County.

According to censuses he was born in South Carolina, as was Sarah Lemacks Taylor.

South Carolina Lemacks

Georgia Taylor Forbus’s death certificate gives her mother’s birthplace as Charleston, South Carolina.  That is probably accurate, as Lemacks is quite an unusual name and appears in early American records only in the vicinity Charleston, South Carolina.

The 1790 U.S. census lists only two men with a similar name, both of them among the 625 households of St. Bartholomew’s Parish of Charleston District, South Carolina:  John “Lamox” and John “Lemax”.4

They evidently lived in the part of Charleston District that was cut off into Colleton County (then called a District) in 1800, as Lemacks families were enumerated there in subsequent censuses.

Lost Records

Unfortunately, Colleton records are close to nonexistent for the period in question.  A fire in 1865 destroyed essentially all county records.  We are left with federal census records and not much else.

James Lemacks — a possible father?

There were only three Lemacks households in the 1830 federal census, all of them in South Carolina in St. Bartholomews Parish of Colleton County.  Two were slave owners listed just 22 names apart.5  Both of them were also enumerated in the 1840 Colleton census, and therefore were unlikely to have a son and daughter married nearly 400 miles away in Early County, Georgia.

The third Lemacks 1830 household was headed by James Lemacks, aged 50-60, whose household was the only one of the three that included children of the right ages to be Sarah and James.6  The only James Lemacks I could find in the 1840 census was aged 50-60 and located in Lowndes County, Georgia on the FLorida border, heading a household of six.7  Unfortunately, there are essentially no records of Lowndes County prior to the Civil War.

A plausible theory — but one that we cannot prove owing to missing records — is that Sarah Lemacks and James A. Lemacks were children of James Lemacks and that he or his family migrated to Early County, Georgia in the 1830s.  The lack of records in both places make it impossible to pursue the theory, barring the emergence of a family record of some sort.

Other Lemacks in Early County

In support of this theory, however, I note that the 1850 census of Early County contained three young Lemacks persons who were living with other families:  William B. Lemax (age 24) in the household of David Lewis, and Elizabeth Lemax (age 16) and Joseph Lemax (age 13) in the adjacent household headed by William Skeggs.  All three were born in Georgia according to the 1850 census.   (Elizabeth Lemacks apparently married Joshua Hutson on 23 January 1851 in neighboring Randolph County.)

A clue to location

The two adjacent households with these young Lemacks — the only persons in the county with that name — were living in the part of Early County that later became Calhoun County, specifically in the vicinity of the town of Morgan.  (The families in neighboring households in the 1850 census were  found in 1860 and 1870 living in Calhoun County with their Post Office listed as Morgan.)

  1. Texas Death Certificate #11106. []
  2. Early County “Record of Marriage Licenses 1834-1853, No. 2”, page 29. []
  3. Early County “Record of Marriage Licenses 1834-1853, No. 2”, page 41. The marriage record appears to read either “Talitha” or “Falitha”. []
  4. John Lemax, page 578: 2-0-1 with 13 slaves.  John Lamox, page 572: 2-0-3 with no slaves. []
  5. Alfred J. Lemacks 10001-20001-9 slaves and  John I. Lemacks 110001-022002-20 slaves. []
  6. James Lemacks: 12020001-1110001- no slaves. []
  7. James Lemacks: 11110001 – 001. []