Copyright © Janice Tracy, Cemeteries of Dancing Rabbit Creek.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Just Who was Mary J. Byne?


According to her intricately carved gravestone, Mary J. Byne was born in 1790 and died on May 23, 1860, and was "aged about 70 years" when she was buried in Liberty Chapel Cemetery, near Ethel, Mississippi, in Attala County. Mary's gravestone is an interesting one. It shows a young woman in a flowing dress, with her head propped in her right hand, while her right elbow and left hand are resting on a some type of monument that is similar to a tombstone.

An immediate question comes to mind.....what does the far away look represent? Is the image reflecting on years past, or is she pondering her eternal future?

Something about this gravestone made me want to know more: Just who was Mary J. Byne?

So I began a search for something about Mary the person. I wondered if I might identify her relatives, or at least the relative or friend who cared enough for her to mark her grave with such a lovely gravestone. But my search has not yet uncovered that information.

First, there are no other Byne family members buried in that cemetery or others nearby. I found this simple fact alone to be odd, since Mississippi family members were more often than not buried in the same cemetery, especially in 1860. Maybe Mary was unmarried.

Next, I searched for Mary Byne on census records in Mississippi, but I was unsuccessful in locating anyone by that name who was "about 70 years" on either the 1850 or 1860 U. S. Census Records. This finding makes me believe that Mary had not arrived in the U. S. in 1850, perhaps was living in another state, or maybe that she even had another name at that time. The fact that I did not find Mary on the 1860 U. S. Census was predictable, since she likely had already died by the time the census was taken in September of that year. Oddly, I did find a Mary J. Byne, aged 24, who lived in another Mississippi County, with other family members named "Youngblood."

As I continued to search, I found a "Mary Byne" who appears on the 1850 U. S. Census taken in the 8th Ward of the town of Madison in Jefferson County, Indiana. Mary's birthplace, like that of four other household members, was shown as "Ireland." Others enumerated in the household were Catherine, Bridget, Margarett, and Michael. Strangely, no ages and no relationships are shown for Mary or others appearing in that household.
I finally located an individual enumerated as "Mary Byne"on the U. S. Census of 1860, living in Stamford (Fairfield County) Connecticut. Since she was already 71 years of age when the census record was made in August 1860, it appears unlikely this person is the Mary Byne buried in Liberty Chapel Cemetery.

Although my search did not reveal the information I sought, Mary continues to lie at rest under the lovely gravestone placed there many years ago by someone who considered her dear.

But I will continue to wonder: Just exactly who was Mary J. Byne?





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