Information about Mary Elizabeth Larrimore is very difficult to find. In fact, it boils down to a marriage record, three census records and a bit of family lore. It is believed that she was born in October 1829 in Clarke County, Alabama, the fifth child of William M. and Hexey Ann Cobb Larrimore. The 1840 United States Federal Census lists one female between the ages of ten and fourteen living in the household of Wm. Laramore. Only the name of the head of household with age ranges for other members is given on this record.
In her short time on this earth, Mary married at the age of seventeen and gave birth to seven children, possibly eight if she died in childbirth as passed down in family lore. One of those children (Anna) died as an infant. Another Calk family researcher by the name of Wayne Calk shared this bit of family lore with me. “The story is passed down in my line was that Thomas C. family left for Texas in a wagon train and that Mary and the youngest child died on the trip to Texas.” Mary died sometime between 1863 and 1868.
Perhaps it goes without saying but her life must have been extremely difficult. The hard life that our women ancestors faced during those early days is beyond my imagination. Like other women of that time, Mary had seven children under very primitive circumstances and with little medical care. It is entirely possible she died while birthing an eighth child. Her young life was spent caring for her children and toiling to provide basic household needs. What we might consider necessities of life were non-existent. Here are a few excerpts from the book Women of the West by Cathy Luchetti in collaboration with Carol Olwell that give us a glimpse into the life Mary might have experienced.
Limited water supplies and scant privacy rendered even the necessities of life difficult…Unsanitary trail conditions contributed heavily to disease and death. Men, women, and children suffered from dysentery…If a woman survived dysentery there were typhus, cholera, malaria, and childbed fever to contend with, to say nothing of the extreme depression known as melancholia. Little wonder that many popular campfire ballads lamented the early death of young women…(Luchetti, 26-27)
Ancestry.com. 1840 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Ind., 2009.
Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Ind., 2009.
Calk, Wayne, Calk family stories, email correspondence, May 13, 2011.
Luchetti, Cathy and Carol Olwell, Women of the West, 1982.
Yates Publishing, U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.
Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, July 2014