Mary Younger was born about 1766, give or take a few years, to Marcus Younger and his wife, probably Susanne, whose last name is believed to be Hart, but is not confirmed. Mary was probably born in Essex or King and Queen County, VA where Marcus lived before arriving in Halifax County, VA, where he is listed on the tax list for the first time in 1785.
It wasn’t long before Mary Younger married George Estes, in 1786. There has been some suspicion for years that there is an earlier connection between these two families in King and Queen and Essex Counties, because they were near neighbors there. At the least, they would have known each other. They also could have been related, because we have unknown ancestors in both family lines and a seeming familiarity with each other upon arrival in Halifax County. Or, a really big coincidence.
In Halifax County, George Estes lived next door to a William Younger who owned the land adjacent George’s father, Moses’s, land. Did Marcus come to visit William Younger and maybe stay with that family long enough for his daughter, Mary Younger, to meet George Estes? Perhaps. We’ll likely never know. We do know that the land that Marcus purchased is not close to the Estes land, roughly ten miles distant.
William Younger had no male children, so there is no Y DNA to test to see if that line connects with the Marcus or Thomas Younger line.
The first time we actually find Mary Younger in a record is when she married George Estes on December 19, 1786, six days before Christmas. She married George on the same day his brother, Bartlett Estes married Rachel Pounds, so that Christmas at the Estes household was one full of celebration and the richness and hope of new love. Maybe they received gifts to help them set up housekeeping.
Like couples of that timeframe, the first baby arrived the next year and then every couple years thereafter, like clockwork.
Given that Mary’s father, Marcus Younger didn’t buy land until 1788, it’s very likely that Mary and George spent their first few years of married life on Moses Estes’s land in what is now South Boston, across from the Oak Ridge Cemetery, shown below.
In the google image above, Estes Street is the street to the left that runs beside the water plant and today, down to the landfill, behind those trees.
Below, the Estes land from the east at the recycling center today.
Below, overlooking the Estes land from the back side.
There is no 1790, 1800 or 1810 census for Halifax County, so we can’t tell anything about Mary and George’s children until the 1820 census. By this time, Mary and George have been married 34 years and several of their children would have been born, grown up and left the nest, with families of their own. Mary probably stopped having children about 1810 or so, when she would have been about 44 years old. We’ve had to piece their family together from other documents. Mary Younger and George Estes had the following children:
- John R. Estes born in 1787 who married Ann Moore in 1812 and removed to Claiborne County, TN. about 1820.
- Marcus Estes born about 1788, died 1815, married Quintenny, surname unknown, and may have had one child, Marcus.
- William Y. Estes born 1785/1786 and died 1860/1870, married Rebecca Miller in 1815.
- Susannah Y. Estes born in 1800, died in 1870, never married but had 5 children.
- Polly Estes born 1801/1808, died after 1880, married James Smith.
- Sally Estes married Thomas Estes, her first cousin, about 1819.
There may have been other children, but based on the 1842 estate settlement of Mary Younger’s sister, Susannah, to Mary’s heirs, these are the children who survive or had died but had heirs.
In 1805, Mary’s father, Marcus must have become quite ill, because he wrote his will. That’s not something people did in that place and time in advance, which is why so many people actually died without wills.
However, Marcus Younger recovered from whatever ailed him and did not die until ten years later, in 1815. Marcus’s wife, whose name we think was Susannah, was not mentioned in his 1805 will, which tells us that she had already died. So, in 1815, when Marcus died, that would have been the last of Mary’s parents. She would have been just about age 50.
Given that Mary Younger married George Estes in 1786, and Marcus Younger didn’t purchase his land on the Banister River until 1788, we don’t know if Mary actually ever lived on this land before she married. Marcus could have been renting it before he purchased the land.
However, in the 1790s, we find George Estes along with John Younger, Mary’s brother, who owned land adjacent Marcus, assigned as road hands together among the Younger family group – so at one time it appears that George and Mary lived on Marcus’s lands, or nearby.
Given that George Estes is not individually taxed as late at 1810, and Marcus Younger is taxed with two white males, it’s certainly likely that George and Mary lived on the Younger land for several years. This means that their children born from about 1788 through about 1815 were likely born on the Younger land on the Banister River, and not in South Boston.
We know that there were several houses on Marcus’s land. One house would have stood by the original well, near Yellow Bank Creek. All that is left today, are some daffodils, a stone that was either the cornerstone or the step, and the well, both shown below.
Another house on the property still stands today, or did a few years ago.
Mary’s life was probably pretty rough about that time. In 1813, Mary’s father-in-law, Moses Estes, died and it’s very likely that the care of Luremia, her mother-in-law fell to Mary and George which may ultimately have been part of the reason they moved back to South Boston – that plus they would be inheriting part of George’s father’s land there. In 1814, Mary’s 14 year old daughter had a baby without being married, and in 1815, Mary’s father died. Mary probably wondered what would strike next. Sadly, it would be her son, Marcus’s, death as well.
Mary’s mother and father would be buried in the Younger Cemetery, on Marcus Younger’s land. All of the graves are in a wooded area on private land that Marcus owned at the time, and all marked only by fieldstones. If you didn’t know where this cemetery was, you would never, ever, find it. It took 3 tries and I nearly didn’t – and I never would have found it had it not been for the generosity of the current landowner.
Mary may also have some children buried in this cemetery as well, including son Marcus who died in 1814 or 1815 who may be buried near his grandfather, for whom he was named. This land may well have been very close to Mary’s heart. In fact, it may have been Mary who lovingly planted the flowers that bloom in the spring here, in the heart of the forest wilderness, today. The periwinkle, below, wasn’t in bloom a the time, but it covered the entire cemetery – obviously planted intentionally by someone.
By the 1820 census, the Mary Younger/George Estes household is back in South Boston and is shown with 1 male over 45 and one male under 10, which would be Mary’s grandson, Ezekiel through daughter Susannah. There is one female under 10, 2 females 16-26 and 2 over the age of 45. One of those older women would be Mary. The female under 10 would be Sarah, Susannah’s second child born in 1818. Susannah herself would be one of the females age 16-26 (although she was age 30) and the second would likely be her sister, Polly.
The other woman over the age of 45 is likely George’s mother, Luremia. If so, that would mean 4 generations under one roof. Depending on how well people got along, that could be a very good thing…or not. I’m guessing that the events of 1813, 1814 and 1815 were extremely stressful for this family, and for Mary, in particular.
After Mary’s father’s death, the family moved from her father’s land to South Boston, among the Estes family. Things didn’t calm down much either, because Susannah continued to remain unmarried and have children – a second child born in 1818. Mary’s son, John R. Estes and Marcus would marry and then in 1814, march off to serve in the War of 1812. John R. Estes came back. Marcus died either during that time, or shortly thereafter, as his estate was probated in 1815.
By 1820, Mary was saying goodbye to John R. Estes, forever, as he and Ann Moore packed a wagon with what belongings they could and set out with their young family for the frontier. I wonder if Mary’s grandchildren waved to her from the back of the wagon until they were out sight. Did they know they would never see their grandmother again?Mary surely knew.
John R. and Ann’s house on the Estes land would have been vacant, at least for awhile, a silent reminder of the family Mary would never see again. Perhaps it was their house that Susannah moved into before the 1830 census.
John R. wasn’t the only child who left. Sally who married Thomas Estes moved to Tennessee as well about the same time. Another wagon to wave goodbye to…and cry.
And then there is the mystery child – the one we know was dead by 1842 and left a son named Mark. Given that there is only one heir mentioned, one child, Mark, it’s likely that the Estes parent died young and Mary would have buried that child as well. Mary’s son, Marcus’s estate mentions nothing about a child, but the 1842 documents suggest that perhaps Marcus, the grandson, was the son of Marcus Estes who died in 1814/1815 after all. I wonder if Mary raised grandson Mark after her child died.
By 1830, George Estes is shown as living alone, and Susannah is shown living in her own household, so it’s very likely that Mary and Luremia have both died. I wonder if George is enjoying the silence or if he is lonely. Maybe it depends on when you ask him.
There is a bit of confusion about when Mary Younger Estes actually died. Mary’s sister, Susannah Younger had a will dated 1831; Halifax Co., Va. pg. 25–Will Bk. 15, pg. 422, which, among other things, states that she leaves her clothes to her sister, Mary Estes. Another version says to Susannah Estes, which would be Mary’s daughter. If Mary was dead by 1831, these clothes would not have helped her and might explain the second version, mentioning Susannah. Of course, we don’t actually know when this will was physically written, but it suggests that Mary died closer to 1830 than 1820 and perhaps not until after 1831 – although she is not accounted for in the 1830 census. Mary is assuredly dead by 1833 when George deeds land to daughter Susannah without Mary’s signature to release her dower rights.
We don’t know if Mary Younger Estes is buried in the Younger Cemetery on her father’s land, then owned by her brother John’s heirs, or if she is buried in the Estes Cemetery in South Boston. If she is buried in the Estes Cemetery, she could have been originally buried in what is believed to be the Estes family cemetery, now Oak Ridge Cemetery which was originally part of the Estes land, shown below.
Or, depending on who was feuding with whom at the time, Mary could have been buried in the “new” Estes cemetery in what is now under the landfill. If Mary was buried there, the graves were moved to the Estes plot in the Oak Ridge Cemetery. So, you could say she might have a migrating grave.
I know that there were some terribly stressful times in Mary’s life, and that once they began, never ended. Her daughter Susannah had to be a constant, lifelong concern for Mary. How would Susannah ever support those children? It became evident that Susannah was going to continue having children and wasn’t going to marry. There is more to this story that we’ll never know. Many women had their first child out of wedlock and went on to marry and have a family. Why didn’t Susannah?
I hope that the difficult times did not overshadow the good times for Mary. And surely, there were good times. Mary did have 5 grandchildren through Susannah, 11 through William Y., at least 4 through Polly, plus the mystery grandchild Mark who may have lived in close proximity. That’s 21 grandchildren that she got to love and interact with, at least the ones born before her passing. She lived with some of these grandkids for many years so you know she had a special bond with them.
Mary’s other 17 or 18 grandchildren lived in Tennessee, but she did get to be with John R’s oldest children for the first few years of their lives. The older children likely carried warm and loving memories of their grandmother, Mary, in their hearts forever. There is just no one like a grandmother to make you feel loved and special.
Thankfully, Mary had some daughters who had some daughters. If we can find someone who descends from Mary Younger Estes through all daughters today, we will be able to test them for Mary’s mitochondrial DNA. From that, we may be able to tell where in the world, in a general sense, her mother’s family originated.
Women contribute their mitochondrial DNA to both genders of their children, but only females pass it on. So, we’re looking for someone, male or female, who descends from Mary through all females to the current generation.
Mary’s daughters and their daughters who had daughters were:
1. Susannah Y. Estes born about 1800 who had two daughters who had daughters:
- Sarah Estes born in 1818 who married John Mountcastle and had at least 4 daughters, Sally, Martha, Harriett and Sallie Mountcastle
Sarah Estes Mountcastle, at left, with daughter Sarah.
- Mary Mildred Estes born in 1828 who married William Greenwood and had daughters Nannie Elizabeth and Mary Jane Greenwood. After William Greenwood died, she remarried to Jessie Jacobs and had daughter Susan E. Jacobs. Nannie married John Thomas Murray, Mary married James Nathaniel Murray and Susan married Samuel Carroll Miller. All 3 daughters had daughters.
Back of photo: Mother Mary Mildred Estes Greenwood after she remarried to a Jacobs with daughters Mary Jane Greenwood Murray and Nannie Elizabeth Greenwood Murray.
2. Polly Estes born between 1801-1808 who married James Smith in 1824 and had 2 daughters:
- Elizabeth Y. Smith born 1824
- Sarah Smith born about 1839
3. Sally Estes married Thomas Estes and moved to Giles and Montgomery County, TN, having 4 daughters:
- Rachel W. Estes born about 1825
- Eliza A. Estes born about 1830
- Julia A. Estes born about 1842
- Sarah W. Estes born about 1847
If you descend from this family, please get in touch. We’re kin. If you descend from all women, maybe we can unravel a bit more of Mary’s life.
The lives of these pioneer women were difficult, which probably meant they appreciated their brief respites of beauty more profoundly than we do today. You can always tell where a homestead stood, and the cemetery, by the spring wildflowers growing nearby. This daffodil was growing in the Younger cemetery in Halifax County, and I like to think it symbolizes my family buried there – never entirely gone – not as long as we remember them. For all we know, Mary may have planted this herself on her parents’ or her child’s grave.
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