Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Talented Tuesday: “A Woman that Understood Something [of] the Nature of Phisick and a Tolerable Good Nurse”

As I continue to look through these chancery court records available for Halifax County, Virginia, I am finding wonderful tidbits of information that help provide a clearer picture of the lives of those who lived there so long ago, especially for women who so often did not have a voice in any extant records. Since it is women's history month, I thought to highlight what I recently found out about a collateral ancestor of mine:

Image from ushistoryimages.com

Sally Burchett was married to Samuel Watts Jr. who was born around the year 1767. Their first child was born about 1785. Samuel Watts Jr. died in 1805 and Sally was administratix of his estate. In 1812 she married James Mayne. A marriage bond was dated April 3, 1812 and five days later on April 8, the two had an agreement recorded wherein they “agreed to be joined together as man and wife” and said Mayne “wished to claim none of the property belonging to said estate but at her death go to her children.” These actions would lead one to believe that she was a smart woman. A further record shows that she was a skilled nurse as well:

On November 12, 1819, Rowling [sic] Watts gave a deposition to Matthew Rowlett, a Halifax County Justice of the Peace, in reference to a chancery case between Elizabeth Majors by etc. against Phillip Majors (page 37 of 98). In his deposition Rowling stated that he was an overseer for Phillip Major “this present year” and was frequently in and about the house and on the 14th day of February, Phillip Major was very sick “and I thought he would die” “and he Philip Major wanted me to go for Col. Coleman as I expected to do some writing for him (but did not say what writing)...” Rowling (known variously in records as Roling, Rowling, Rowland, Ryland) said that he sent for his mother, Sally Mane, as she was “a woman that understood something the nature of Phisick and a tolerable good nurse...”

Sally Main also gave deposition herself on the same day to Matthew Rowlett saying “that sometime last fall Mrs. Elizabeth Majors was sick and and Philip Majors sent for me by [a] negro boy of his to come immediately to see his wife...” She went on to say that she “gave her some drops that night and next morning I gave her some pills and she got better...” Sally also explained that “last spring Mr. Majors was taken sick” and “he sent for me by Rowland Watts and I came with him...” Sally noted Mr. Majors' symptoms and asked for honey to make a mixture for him, telling him what she was “going to make for him to take was very bad and if I made it he must take it and he told me he would...” (page 15 of 98, note the Main surname was unindexed in this file). 

Sally's husband was the brother of my direct ancestor, Thomas M. Watts, whom I have discussed in my book and in a recent blog post. In that post, I wrote about how I discovered information that shed more light on five of Thomas' daughters. These chancery records have turned into a real boon in regards to documenting women's lives. I will share more as time allows and hope to do so within this month to celebrate Women's History month.

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