Recently, I updated a surname report to cover all 12, 495 persons in my ancestral tree, which has grown from 10,772 since I produced my first post on surnames in 2014. Based upon my analysis of surnames, it turns out that my father’s family was much larger than my mother’s. And, the gender ratio among all surnames is 1.05 males for every female–very similar to the gender ratios that I found in the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook.
My word cloud to the right represents today’s top 50 family surnames in my tree. The larger the word appears, the more people within my tree who had/have that surname.
And, the larger appearing names affirm why many of my blog posts to date have focused on my paternal Bolling, Chambers, and maternal Lathrop families.
Introducing Mary Wharton
In this post, we will take a first look at the Wharton family branch that begins with my paternal great-grandmother Mary Florence “Flossie” Wharton Bowling (1878-1928). Mary Wharton was born and lived her life in the now infamous area known as “The Wilderness,” in Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Mary died at the age of 50 on January 1, 1929. My father, her grandson, Frank Burton Boling was born just one month earlier on December 7, 1928. The loss of the family’s mother possibly explains why we know only what I have been able to piece together through my personal research. You see, typically the women in the family hand down the family stories through the generations. In this instance, neither my dad’s paternal grandmother or his natural mother was a part of his life.
The facts I assembled show that Mary Wharton was 20 years old when she married Edward “Bud” Vincent Bowling (May 9, 1898), in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. It could be that Edward and Mary married in Eley’s Ford Baptist Church on Eley’s Ford Road in Fredericksburg, near the Chancellorsville Battlefield, where they and their families had lived and attended church there for generations.
We first visited Eley’s Ford Baptist Church in the Fall of 1981. Many of the graves in this churchyard have Bowling, Bolling, or Boling surnames on their headstones (including my great-grandparents). Many other headstones, as we later learned have different surnames but are relatives through neighbors marrying neighbors. What’s interesting about Mary Florence’s (or “Flossie,” as her husband called her) is that her surname is spelled “Boling,” instead of “Bowling” as her surname was spelled on most records about her. This tells me that one of her seven living children at the time who spelled their surnames as “Boling,” filled out the request for the headstone. Further, the year of her death was inscribed as “1928,” instead of “1929” as appears on her death certificate–this could have been the stone writer’s error because she died on the first day of the new year.
Mary and her husband Edward had eight children (5 boys and 3 girls) during their 30 years of marriage. Their eldest child was Evelyn Barber Bowling (1899-1919). She married Varian Mansfield Chewning when she was just 16. Two years later in Chancellorsville, Evelyn gave birth to their son, Leslie Varian Chewning, who remained in Fredericksburg throughout his 83 years on this earth. Evelyn was just 20 when she took sick with the flu. It developed into pneumonia and she passed in the cold of winter on January 26, 1919.
My paternal grandfather, Jesse Burton Boling, was Mary and Edward’s second child and firstborn son. At age 26, sometime in the year 1928, Jesse moved away from Virginia and married Helen Louise Chambers. They moved to the District of Columbia and a few years later crossed the District Line and moved into Maryland. Jesse’s mom, Mary, was 50 years old when she passed away on January 1, 1929, in Chancellorsville. Just as her daughter had done in January ten years earlier, Mary developed the flu that turned into pneumonia and she succumbed to it.
Jesse was a farm hand as a boy and thus had only a second-grade education. He probably learned carpentry and cabinet making from his father, Edward. Yet, we don’t know anything about their relationship or Edward’s relationship with his other children. Death records show that widower great grandfather Edward died of heart disease and congestive heart failure at age 74 on July 11, 1946–18-1/2 years after his wife Mary had passed. His death fell just one day shy of a week after my parents Frank Boling and Norma Ford eloped to Ellicott City, Maryland, to marry. Edward’s headstone is next to Mary’s and one of 131 other interments in Eley’s Ford Baptist Churchyard Cemetery. Most of them probably relatives.
I asked my dad today if he had ever heard or known any stories or facts about his grandparents. He said his dad, Jesse, never talked about either Edward or Mary. I asked if he had ever visited them in Fredericksburg where his dad grew up. He said he remembers only one visit. Dad and grandfather Jesse took a train from Union Station in the District of Columbia to Fredericksburg to visit his father Edward. At the time, my dad said this visit must have taken place when he was a young teen because it occurred before my dad met my mother at age 15, which would have made it somewhere around 1942 or 1943, I’m guessing. The only memory that sticks out in dad’s mind about this visit is that his grandfather was chewing tobacco. He made only a couple of other visits there during the 1950’s and 1960’s to attend family funerals (probably his uncles). And, this is when I first learned what little I know about Fredericksburg and Eley’s Ford Road.
With so very little to go on regarding Mary Wharton’s Family, I have started digging deeper. From The Doomsday Book of 1086, The Wharton family’s earliest origins were found in towns and civil parishes named after them (located in Westmorland, Cheshire, and Lincolnshire, Counties, England). And this is where I will pick up in my next post.
Just maybe, over time and among my blog readers, a Wharton relative may pop up and give me some more detailed stories about Bud and Mary’s children and their lives together.