Sunday, August 26, 2012

The real life of Martha "Mattie" Colvin Helton

Martha "Mattie" Colvin was born between 1787 (1812 pension application) and 1800 (1850 Census). She was born either in SC (1850 U.S. Census) or GA (1870 U.S. Census). The best we can do for her birth year is the range suggested because the sources are confusing.

The 1880 US Census for AL shows that her father was born in Ireland and her mother was born in Georgia. This favors GA as her birthplace. The 1820 US Census for GA shows Mary McDaniel (probably Joseph's mother) near John Colvin in Washington County. Several trees have John Colvin born in 1758 and dying in 1827. So perhaps John was Martha's dad. Or brother. Or not. There's really no way of knowing unless a will comes up.

I've found no further information on her parents that I can prove. I'm pretty certain that she is not the same person as Martha Feaster Colvin as listed in several Public Family Trees at With a birth date of 1788 and a death date of 1796? Impossible. And the picture is of William and Martha Feaster Colvin, not Joseph Helton and Martha Colvin. Maybe her parents? Another connection? It looks like folks have "our" Mattie who married JH confused with Martha Feaster Colvin who married Alfred Monroe Timms and moved to LA, which "our" Mattie decidedly did NOT do. Here's a site about MFC with notes:

"Our" Mattie married Joseph Helton on March 19, 1811, in Washington County, GA. (1812 pension application) Although she was much younger than Joseph, she probably was not 11 at her wedding. I'm guessing that the 1790 =/- birthdate is probably most accurate. Which would make her age 20ish when she got married. Born about 1780 (1850 Census), Joseph was about 31 when they got married. Although he doesn't show in Washington County for the 1820 U.S. Census for GA, Joseph (and thus Mattie) were in the area as they were definitely in Pike County by 1825 with no male children over 16 (Georgia Tax Digests).

A digression here: I wonder if the "1" in "1811" is really a "7," and Mattie and Joseph got married in 1817, not 1811. That would explain the childless gap between 1811 and 1817. It seems unlikely that a 31-year-old man and a 20-something married, obviously fertile female would have no children for the first six years of their marriage. It would also explain why Mary, their first known child, was born in 1817. 

In the 1830 U.S. Census for GA, Joseph Helton lives in Pike County. In the household are one male under 5 (John H.), one male 5 - 10 (Allen), and one male 40 - 50 (Joseph). There are also one female under 5 (Elizabeth), two females 10 - 15 (Martha and Mary), and one female 30 - 40 (Mattie). This census puts her birth year between 1790 and 1800. 

In the 1840 U.S. Census for AL, Joseph Helton is in Kimbrel's, Coosa County. In the household there are one male 5 - 10 (James W.), one male 10 - 15 (John H.), one male 15 - 20 (Allen), and one male 50 - 60 (Joseph). There are one female under 5 (Eliza), one female 10 - 15 (Nancy), one 15 - 20 (Elizabeth), and one 40 - 50 (Mattie). Mary has married Joseph Davis; Martha is not in the household anymore. Mattie's birth year between 1790 - 1800. 

In the 1850 U.S. Census for AL, Joseph Hilton is living in Tallapoosa County. He is 70, a farmer, no money, born SC, can read and write. Also in the household are Martha, 50, John, 18, a farmer, both born GA; Eliza, 14, and Henry, 10, both born AL. Neighbors are son Allen R. Hilton, John Davis, Archibald Meaks, Miles Whiles, John Simmons, son-in-law Joseph Davis and daughter Mary, Collins Hardy, Mathew Kelso, Woods, Bagall, Parker, Jahile Davis, John Keys, Abraham Pullen. 

In the 1860 U.S. Census for AL, Martha Helton is living in Bibb County. She is 70, widowed, born SC, living with son Allen & family, and son J.H. Helton & family, in the household of Clinton Corley, 52, a farmer, born SC, and his wife Martha Corley, born SC.

In the 1866 State Census for AL Eliza Hardie is in Bibb County. In the household are two males under 10 (John, 10, and William, 1), one male 20 - 30 (this may be John Hardy, the one who is also listed as having died, which is why Eliza’s name is the one listed in the Census), three males total; two females under 10 (Blakey, 9, and Nancy, 6), one female 20 - 30 (Eliza, about 30), one female 70 - 80 (Mattie, 76 or so); four females total, seven people total, and one died of sickness. 

In 1870 U.S. Census for AL she is listed as Martha Hesdin, widowed, 84, born GA, cannot read or write, living in household of Eliza Hardy, 32, widowed, b. GA. Birth year of 1786. 

In 1877 Martha applied for a widow's pension from Joseph's service during the War of 1812. The affidavit lists her age as 90, which gives a birth year of 1787. She was living with daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law Blakely Eddins in Randolph, Bibb County, AL. Please see my earlier post for details from this application.  

In the 1880 US Census for AL she is listed as Mattie Helton, 92, widowed, mother-in-law of Blakeley Eddins, born in GA, father born in Ireland, mother in GA. Birth year 1788. Living with Elizabeth and Blakely in Randolph, Bibb County.

Mattie disappears after 1880 and does not show up in anyone's household in 1900. One can surmise she died between 1880 and 1900. As yet her gravesite has either not been found, recorded, or shared on line. 

That's what I know for sure about Mattie. I search constantly for new material about her, but that's all I've found so far. 


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