Martha Ellen Settle, my 2nd great-grandmother, was born 7 October 1849 to Edward Horace Settle and Parthenia Thurmond in Edgefield, South Carolina. Her mother died when she was 7 years old and, by 1860, her father had left the state, leaving Martha and her three younger siblings with their maternal grandmother, Eleanor DeLaughter Thurmond.

Martha was the second wife of George Washington Medlock, my 2nd great-grandfather. They married in 1877, making her stepmother to two young boys, Silas and Arthur. She and George would have four children: Martin, George, Henry, and Frances. According to census records, she lived in Edgefield County her whole life. She died 25 August 1934 at the age of 84. Her death certificate says that she died of bronchial pneumonia with a broken hip as a contributing cause.

MESettle Death Certificate

But there is an interesting error on her death certificate. Under “Color or Race,” she is listed as “colored.” It’s hard to tell who filled out the form — parts 1-4 all seem to be the same handwriting, while the rest could be done by one or two others. The other information, with the exception of Martha’s mother’s first name, is accurate, so it’s unlikely that there was another person named Martha Ellen Medlock.

What makes this mistake interesting is that Martha’s father, Edward Horace Settle, is known to have fathered several children with an enslaved woman named Martha Anne. I have no knowledge as to what Martha Ellen and her descendants knew about Edward’s additional family (although Martha Anne and her children also lived in Edgefield County for at least some of their lives). While an interesting coincidence, the error on the death certificate seems to have been clerical.

2 thoughts on “Mistaken

  1. Hammad Settles Asad says:

    I have often wondered if the two sets of siblings knew each other. In any case it seems that Edward Horace Settle didn’t spend much time with any of his children. Have you noticed that the black siblings added an “S” to their last name? Thus my 3rd great grandfather was named Wesley Settles, not Settle!


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