Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Love... Square... of Mary "Polly" Hovis

A few months ago, I met a not-so-distant cousin on the internet and she was able to shed some light and new information on one of our brick-wall ancestors. Her name was Ellen, and she was the second wife of William S. Martin, of Lincoln County, North Carolina. She shared with me Ellen's maiden name.. Hovis.. and that's when all the pieces gradually began to fit together.

I knew that Ellen Hovis was born sometime around 1825 and probably in Lincoln County, North Carolina. She had a previous marriage to a Robert Kenedy (Caneda) on 23 Jan 1840 in Lincoln County, North Carolina. Robert must have died, because Ellen was then married to her second husband, William S. Martin (also a widower), on 01 Sep 1845 in Lincoln County, North Carolina. Here are the children of Ellen Hovis Kennedy Martin:

Ellen Hovis & Robert Kenedy:

*Margaret E. Kenedy, married to William Misskelley

Ellen Hovis & William S. Martin:

*Mary C. Martin
married to a man named McDowel; divorced?

*Elmira Terissa Martin
married to James K. McDaniel

*Samuel Christopher Columbus Martin (my 2nd-great-grandfather)
married first to Mary Britnal
married second to Samantha Costilow (my 2nd-great-grandmother)
married third to Evie Evelyn Rodgers

*Saliana Martin

*John L. Martin
married to Clementine "Clemmie" McDonald

*Nancy Martin

*Ollie M. Martin

At this point, I was at a dead-end. I didn't know anything on the parents or siblings of Ellen Hovis or William S. martin. I did however know the name of the bondsman for the marriage of Ellen and William.. Jonas Lineberger. I originally found a Jonas who was the son of a Michael Lineberger and Katherine Hovis.. a definite clue and possible connection. This later led me (with the aid of another newly found cousin) to a publication called "Our kin : being a history of the Hoffman, Rhyne, Costner, Rudisill, Best, Hovis, Hoyle, Wills, Shetley, Jenkins, Holland, Hambright, Gaston, Withers, Cansler, Clemmer and Lineberger families", published in 1915 by D.E. Ryne, L.L. Jenkins and L.M. Hoffman. Yes.. a very lengthy title.

This book was my jackpot! On page 392, it stated that Ellen Hovis who married William Martin, was (one of three) illegitimate children of Polly Hovis, later married to Eli Chapple. The book actually gave a nearly-whole page account on Eli Chapple, and the author of this section clearly knew this man and this specific family well. I knew this information had to be correct! The information has Mary "Polly" Hovis as the daughter of Andrew Hovis and his wife Nancy Foster. Later searches around the internet brought up the same information, as well as Mary "Polly" and the illegitimate kids.. who erroneously bore the Chapple surname of their step-father.

I was then told about holy grail of records for illegitimate children.. Bastardy Bonds! I never knew these type of records existed back then and I was ecstatic while reading-up on them on the internet. With Mary "Polly" having THREE illegitimate kids, odds were in my favor that something had to have been recorded.. or at least I hoped so! A week or two after finding out all this exciting information, a gracious genea-friend sent me copies of an index to the Bastardy Bonds for Lincoln County, North Carolina, covering years 1784-1842. I found the exact entry I was hoping for, for my Ellen.. and I was given an extra surprise. It had her birthdate! It listed the father as "Jonas Huffman", which I knew was a mis-spelling of Hoffman, a very large family in Lincoln County, North Carolina.

I narrowed down my search for Jonas Hoffman, which was actually pretty easy, to a man born in 1788 and died (very young) in 1829. Ellen was only 5 when her father died.. I wonder if she knew he was her father at all, at that age? Anyway.. this is where the story gets good.. really good. Jonas Hoffman was a MARRIED MAN! Ten years prior to Ellen's birth (1814), Jonas Hoffman was married to Anna Maria Costner. From 1814 til his death in 1829, Jonas Hoffman and Anna Maria Costner had nine children.. and Ellen was born smack-dab in between the 5th and 6th child. How could Anna Maria Costner have continued to be with this man, fully knowing what he had done? She had to have known, because the bastardy bond was listed as a "joint bond".. both parties accepted the support of the child (Ellen). Anna Maria had to have known her husband was paying to support an illegitimate child... Right?

The story continues to unravel. In the publication I mentioned above, it stated that Mary "Polly" Hovis "lived on the old Hoffman tract of land embracing a very small piece of ground and a cabin put up for her". In the will of Jonas Hoffman's father, John Hoffman, this is verified. It appears it was HIS land, that Mary "Polly" was living on. So the whole Hoffman family must have known she had Jonas' bastard child! The will describes a portion of land that is to be divided between Jonas Hoffman's six surviving songs, because Jonas was deceased already. It's described as "the little place where Polly Hovis lives". Further research into John Hoffman, finds that his wife was a Hovis.. and the aunt of Mary "Polly". Ellen's parents were first cousins, they shared the same grandparents.

One last little clue that is pretty cool. Ellen's half-sister, Lanie Salena Hoffman, was married to a Jonas Lineberger.. the bondsman for the marriage of Ellen Hovis and William S. Martin. Something also interesting, is that Ellen and William had a daughter named "Saliana" (according to 1870 census). Could "Saliana" be a name-sake for her aunt Lanie Salena Hoffman? Ellen must have had a close relationship with her half-sister Lanie Salena Hoffman, for her husband to be a bondsman to her marriage and to name a daughter after her!

In the Bastardy Bonds index, I was able to find one more entry for a sibling to Ellen. It was in 1818 and I believe it was for her older brother, Rufus Hovis. The father is listed as "Joseph McCallister", probably McAllister.. another large family of Lincoln County, North Carolina. Mary "Polly" was later married to Eli Chapple, a "Yankee" shoemaker originally from New York. Mary "Polly" and Eli had a son names Joseph, who was later married to a McAllister woman. Was she a half-sister to Joseph's half-brother, Rufus? I found no entry for Ellen and Rufus' brother, whose name I've seen written as both Christian and Christopher.

Oh, that connections!


  1. Mary "Polly" Ellen was my 4x great grandmother so I found this article so very helpful in tracing my family history... Mary's daughter Terissa Elmina married William S. Martin which of course are my 3x great grandparents. I have always been told by my Grandmother that there was Cherokee in our blood but haven't been able to figure out who it was... Do you know of anyone in this line that would have married a Cherokee Indian? Many Thanks... Melissa Box-Fondren

    1. Mary, or "Polly" as she was known, was never known as Ellen - her daughter was Ellen. It is Ellen's daughter who was Terissa Elmira Martin, who married James K. McDaniel. There is no Native American ancestry through the Martin or Hovis lineage. Please contact me.. I'm curious about your line - William S. Martin and wife Ellen Hovis are my 3rd-great-grandparents.