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   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 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.  No Lemacks appears in the 1840 census in any county of Georgia or Alabama.

James A. Lemacks — a likely brother

A year after Sarah Lemacks married John Taylor, James A. Lemacks (1814-1883) married Talitha W. Hammonds in Early County on 17 October 1839.3   (A few years later he married Sarah Hornsby.)  He remained in southwestern Georgia, appearing in records of Dougherty, Baker (later Miller), Mitchell, and Colquitt counties.  He also spent some time Florida, as one child was born there in 1846.  He is buried in the Cool Springs Baptist Church cemetery in Colquitt County, along with his second or third wife Sarah Hornsby.  According to censuses he was born in South Carolina, as was Sarah Lemacks Taylor.

South Carolina Lemacks

Georgia Taylor Forbeus’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.

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 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  There was no sign of James Lemacks in the 1840 census.

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.

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 Lemax (24) in the household of David Lewis, and Elizabeth Lemax (16) and Nathan Lemax (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.)

  1. Texas Death Certificate #11106. []
  2. Her name is mis-indexed as “Semacks” in one online index, but the original marriage record book clearly reads “Lemacks”. []
  3. The marriage record appears to read “Talitha” but an online index rendered it as “Faitha”. []
  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. []