Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sarah Elizabeth Busby

One of my mystery ancestors is Sarah "Sallie" Elizabeth Busby. I think I know she is the daughter of Martin Busby and his wife Elizabeth, but there are some researchers who think she may have been adopted by Martin and Elizabeth and that we don't really know her true name. I disagree.

The first record found for Sallie is the 1850 census of Fulton County, Arkansas, where she is listed as a 2-year-old in the home of Martin Busby. (Several transcribers of this census have mistakenly listed her as a twin of Zachariah, born in May of 1850. All I can say is, go back and look at that census closer. Sallie is written in between Mary and Zachariah and is shown as 2 years old.)

My grandmother was confident when she told me that Sallie was a Busby born near Salem, Arkansas, and, on another occasion to another family researcher, she added that Sallie had a sister named Lane. In the 1850 household of Martin and Elizabeth Busby in Fulton County where Salem, Arkansas, is located, there is an older daughter named Delaney. These three pieces of confirmed data have convinced me that this is the correct family.

Martin and Elizabeth apparently died between 1850 and 1860. By 1860 the children are scattered across southern Missouri, living with various families who may have adopted them, fostered them or been relatives. Nothing has been proven in this regard as yet.

Sallie married for the first time at approximately age 15 to a man named Sanders or Saunders. She herself was unable to tell her grandchildren how old she was at the time of her first marriage. Mr. Sanders/Saunders was killed by marauders as he and Sallie were riding through the woods. One family story that has been passed down hints that there may have been a child of this marriage who was given up for adoption after the father was killed. No record of the marriage or of the possible child has been found.

Sallie was reportedly only about 17 when she married Jeff Frankum. No one has been able to explain to me how they met or came to be married. In 1860, Jeff and his family, originally from Tennessee, are living in Douglas County, Missouri, not far from where some of the Busby children were located with the families who fostered them. Did Jeff and Sallie know each other from that time period? The Frankum family is back in Tennesse by November of 1861. The family had returned to Tennessee at the onset of the Civil War and Jeff's father and older brothers fought in Tennessee regiments. In 1870 Jeff is still living in middle Tennessee with his mother and siblings. Did Sallie somehow come to be in Tennessee after the war? Or did Jeff go back to Missouri? Again, no marriage record has been found in Tennessee, Missouri or Arkansas, although my grandmother gave me a firm date of December 20, 1873, for the marriage. It is a puzzle that remains to be solved. (If, indeed, the marriage took place in 1873, then Sallie would have been 25 and not quite the child bride of 17. The only explanation that has been presented for this disparity is that Sallie's parents died when she was quite young and she never knew for sure when she was born. However, I find this hard to swallow as there were older brothers and sisters who should have known the facts.)

Sallie & Jeff Frankum

A dark rumor floats among some family members that the child that may have been born of Sallie's first marriage was given up for adoption because Jeff was unwilling to take on another man's child. I have always hoped that it was a rumor and speculation and not fact. One does not like to believe that one's great-great grandfather could be so biased and cruel against a small baby. And I find it hard to believe that Sallie would have willingly abandoned her baby. I would find it easier to believe that the child either died or was given up because Sallie was alone and unable to provide for it. Another puzzle to be solved.

Sallie at her spinning wheel

So, we are left with the mystery of how Jeff and Sallie met, what was the name of Sallie's first husband, was there a child of her first marriage and what happened to that child, and how did Jeff and Sallie decide to move to Texas? In 1877, Jeff and Sallie, with two children and one on the way (who was my great-grandfather William Henry and who was born during the move), headed to Bastrop County, Texas.

Sallie Frankum

The Frankums were folks who liked to move around and Jeff was no exception. From Bastrop County, Sallie would follow Jeff to San Saba County where he died in 1912. Sallie lived to be about 85 years old and died in Wharton County in 1932. She is buried in the Wharton City Cemetery near her son William Henry.


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