Monday, February 02, 2009


As far back as most anyone researching our family name can go is around 1655, to a man born in St. Giles, London, England named Edward Marshborne or Marshburn. Having “borne” or the shorter “burn” added to a name usually denotes that his ancestors probably lived in the marshes, and more than likely near the growing port city of London. Edward, my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, had a son by his second wife Sarah Sindery whom they called Edward (Jr.).

Both Edward Sr., by some accounts a school teacher, and Sarah died young, he around age 37 and she before reaching 30, most likely due to the plague, diphtheria, or any number of other incurable diseases that ravaged London in those days.

Edward Jr., my great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, some accounts say because he alienated the “Crown” in published letters, and moved to America in 1697. He took with him his wife Mary Farrar, and two young boys, Edward and Matthew, to Virginia. Two other boys were born to the family in their new country, but only after moving to Onslow County, North Carolina.

Some say it was after settling in America that the “borne” became “burn”, but records such as the following will of Edward Jr.’s son Matthew attest that “Mashborne”, a shortened “Marshborne”, continued as the family name for at least another generation, or until 1761:


In the name of God Almighty, I Matthew Mashborne of the county of Northampton and Providence of North Carolina being sick and weak in body but of sound and perfect mind and memory praise be given there fore to almighty God, I do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following that is to say first: Principally I commend my soul into the hands of almighty god hoping through the merit death and passion of my savior Jesus Christ to have full and free pardon and forgiveness of all my sins and to inherit everlasting life, and my body I commend to the earth to be decently buried at the discretion of my executors hereafter named and as touching the disposition of all such temporal estate as it hath pleased almighty god to bestow upon me I give and dispose of in manner and form as followith: I will that my debts and funeral charges shall be paid and discharged.

I give unto my beloved wife Sarah Mashborne the bed board stead and furniture belonging to it as I myself usually lay on and my black horse named frock and my riding saddle and two cows and calves.

I give and bequeath unto my grandson James Mashborne son of Samuel Mashborne deceased in his fathers stead one two year old heffer.

I give and bequeath unto my son Edward Mashborne my still. {It is this bequeathment that has long given me reason to believe my family surname simply means we are from a long line of “moonshiners!” And from the “burn”, we weren’t too good at it!}

I give and bequeath unto my son David Mashborne one bed and the furniture belonging to it.

I give and bequeath unto my children Mary (Mashborne) Pirson, Anne Mashborne, Martha Mashborne James Mashborne, Edward Mashborne, Sarah (Mashborne) Lassiter, Pricilla Mashborne, Elizabeth Mashborne, Charity Mashborne, Rachel Mashborne, David Mashborne, Jethro Mashborne, Daniel Mashborne, William Mashborne. All the rest of my estate not given out in legacies and to be equally divided amongst them. I likewise desire my executors to have a care and see my three young children brought up as well and Christian like as possible in reason.

I do hereby appoint my sons Matthew Mashborne and James Mashborne executors of this my last will and Testament, and I do hereby revoke disannul and make void all other wills and testaments by me here-to-fore made. In witness whereof I the said Matthew Mashborne to this my last will and testament do hereunto set my hand and seal this second day of July in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty.

Notary Seal ( ) X ( ) Notary Seal

Matthew signed with X

Matthew, my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, married Sarah (nothing is really known about her except that she was married and died in Northampton County, N.C.)

The fourth child born to Matthew and Sarah was named James, my great-great-great-great-great grandfather, who was born in 1735, in Burke County, N.C. James married Rebecca Stroud in 1770 and they had 6 children.

The third child born was named Drury, my great-great-great-great grandfather, and Drury was also born in Burke County, N.C.

It was James’ children that began the spread of the Mashburn family name. His son Elisha died in Forsyth City, Georgia, and his brother Levi, it is said in some accounts, that he moved “west”, and finally William died in Monroe City, Tennessee.

Drury married Elizabeth Morgan and had 12 children! The 6th child was David, my great-great-great grandfather, born in 1799, still in or around Burke County, N.C. David lived to the ripe old age of 61, and had 8 children with Mary Woody.

David’s first son Noah Ozias, my great-great-grandfather, was the man that got my side of the family out of North Carolina! He married Rhoda Julia Ann Holden in August of 1848, the daughter of Uriah Holden and Rhoda Brookshire. Her name is the first in the family to be listed as being born “Cherokee Indian Nation, Gilmer County, Georgia. The couple moved to Etowah County, Boaz, Alabama, and raised 7 children.

Noah’s family may also have been the first “Mashburn’s”. The move to a new state may have prompted the dropping of the “Marsh” and the “borne” from the surname. Only they know if it was by desire or by necessity!

Robert Jefferson “Mashburn”, my great-grandfather, was Noah and Rhoda’s 4th child. He was born in Boaz, Alabama on April 12, 1857, and continued to live there for the next 81 years. The ol’ boy had 4 wives over this period too!

My direct linage comes through his 3rd wife Sarah Robinson, and their 4th child William Thomas Mashburn, my grandfather.

William Thomas was Robert Jefferson’s 11th child. Robert sired 16 children with his 4 wives, spreading the Mashburn name throughout the south…almost single handedly through his 10 boys!

So, on the 14th day of December in 1902, in the little town of Boaz, Alabama, the Reverend W. F. Milwee asked a small gathering of the couple’s friends, in the parlor of his home, to recognize William (Willie) Thomas Mashburn and Ola (otherwise known as Toler, and sometimes as Nora) L. (Lou) Hammonds as husband and wife. He ended the service by repeating what was written atop their marriage certificate, “What therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder.

The new couple, Ola 21, and Willie 22, would, over the next 22 years, have 7 boys and 1 girl. They were my grandparents. Their children, in order of their appearance, would be:


In 1918, Willie (known to his family as Pa) and Ma (Ola) moved their family by covered wagon from Etowah County, Alabama to Five Points, Tennessee. James Ernst and Elmer Eugene were the last children to be born, and the only ones to be born in Tennessee.

He bought an 80 acre farm near Five Points and raised corn and cotton. It was on this farm that I learned to chop/hoe and pick cotton, and to weed long corn rows. Even as a small child I would often ride the “scratcher” through the field, busting up clods of dirt and grass, as Pa directed a team of “plow-broke” mules with gee’s, haw’s, and whoa’s! Pa would firmly bark out “Gee” and the team would veer right, or left to “Haw”!

I can still smell the white lime rich soil as it ran under me, dry and white on top, and dark and moist underneath, hear the crunch of the dry crust beneath his work shoes as he walked the plowed row beside me, the tinkle, the jingle, and the rasp of leather-on-leather from the harnesses, hear him grunt his commands, and hear the raspberry-like sound from the mule’s lips as they exhaled their complaints through slobbery mouths. A grandfather could leave no better legacy to his children than this!

Against that benchmark, I will fall terribly short.

Pa Mashburn was a hard working man, and did farm work until the year before his death in 1963. As a matter of fact, he “made a garden” the last summer of his life. He was 81 years old when he died and bragged the year before, in an article to the local newspaper, about having had only one “shot” from a doctor. He cut his hand working his farm that last year and was given a tetanus shot as a precaution.

Pa never had an easy job, whether it was cutting and hauling cross-ties using a “yoke of oxen” for 50 cents a day, or splitting rails and cutting logs. He did it all without complaint and must have walked thousands of miles in countless fields, fueled by only what he grew himself, and cooked with love, in lard, by his wife. Ma left Pa in the care of their unmarried daughter in 1960. It was my honor to have been one of her pallbearers.

Little is known about my grandmother’s family. Whether she took the Hammonds surname from her mother’s side of the family or her father’s is not known. All that is known is that she was raised by her grandmother, after her mother died when she was a young girl. However, she does show up in Boaz, Alabama in time to marry my grandfather in 1902.

And me, well, I’m:

James Paul Mashburn (Generation 11)

Son of James Ernest (Christine Williams)

Son of William Thomas (Nora Lou Hammond)

Son of Robert Jefferson (Sarah Roberson)

Son of Noah Ozias (Julia Ann Holden)

Son of David (Mary Woody)

Son of Drury (Elizabeth Morgan)

Son of James (Rebecca Stroud)

Son of Matthew Sr. (Sarah)

Son of Edward Jr. (Mary Farrar)

Son of Edward Sr. (Sarah Sindery)

My lineage can be argued, and other scenarios can be offered, but no one has any real proof contrary to the genealogy as presented. I like this scenario and I’m satisfied with it. Regardless, one day I’m sure, all will be revealed, and none of this will matter.


Sarge Charlie said...

I love this stuff Mushy, just so you know, we may share some of the same blood line, my mother is from the Brookshire's in north Georgia.

Pat Houseworth said...

Great Stuff....I started my Houseworth Research back in 1999...have written a book and have a blog decicated to it....called "The Family and Decendents of Israel Houseworth 1751-today"

as I've always said, family history, outlaws and heros is far more interesting than any work of fiction.

Way to go Mushy!

Debbie said...

Must be nice to know so much about your family history. I know a little about my grandparents, but no further back than that. The Will is very interesting.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

Les Becker said...

Wow! My parents have dabbled in their geneology, but not to the extent that you've managed! All those "greats" are impressive!

Becky said...

That is so cool that you can trace your history so far back. I'm adopted, so I don't know anything about my family and am pretty envious of those that do (but not enough to go tracking records/people down).

FHB said...

Very cool. Love it. And let me try to shed maybe a little light. You know, history dude... can't stop myself.

First, the time this all starts was a very turbulent time in Britain. There was a civil war there from 1642 to 49, and then a very chaotic republic from 49 to 52. Then Cromwell restored order and ruled as something less than a king till he died in 1659 or so. 1660 is when they restored the monarchy (last king went to the chop in 49). After that there was a huge outbreak of plague and a fire that burned much of London, but the rest of the next 25 years were pretty good. Many people went to America then, for the land. It was mostly free, and gave you opportunities you might never have at home.

Also, on the different spellings, realize there were no rules about spelling till later in the 1700s. People were mostly literate then, but could have just taken to using different spellings based on how they actually pronounced their name themselves. that's why there is so much variation in those things from that time. For instance, they probably simply changed the spelling to "Mashburn" by the time they got to TN. because they were pronouncing it that way, having long evolved out of the old British accent.

And about the still, realize there were no laws about such things till Washington's government set up the first whiskey tax in about 1792 (setting off something called the Whiskey Rebellion - largest armed rebellion in the country till 1861!). So many people made their own. It was thought to have medicinal qualities, and sold like crazy! particularly to Indians. It was a LOT easier to transport than grain, since there were no roads. And people drank a LOT of it back then. Any of our ancestors would think us children now, for our lack of capacity. Well, maybe not Steve.

And don't kid yourself brother. You're a credit to all those folks. Your story takes their story into the modern age, taking the story from the farm to the industrial age/information age, bringing things to fruition. Your kids and grandkids and such will do the same for you, if the character of your son is evidence. You did well, and thinking less just ignores the faults that all those folks no doubt had. we all have them.

Having said that, your last sentence tells it all. In the end, we're dust. I just hope all this is preserved, as our family history will be. It connects us to every other history. Some day, some descendant of mine or yours will wonder what we did, thinking our time primitive and quaint. They should be able to know. I thin k we're both pretty cool, and they'll like us. Hey, but if they don't, fuck 'em!

I guess that's the history dude in me.

BRUNO said...

Sounds almost like royalty!

About the only thing royal in my family tree is the fact we all liked Royal Crown cola!

Oh, I guess I could've been related to one of the Three Musketeers on the candy bar wrapper.

Don't know if it would be the NUTTY one, the CHEWY one, or the CHOCOLATE one...???

Mushy said...

Great comments guys...that's why I love to share with my blog all are cool too!


Sandi McBride said...

There is nothing more thrilling than to be able to trace your family history, your roots, back to the land from which those ancestors helmed...I think that is why Scotland is so dear to me and why I love mountains instead of the beach. Fine work you've done're a lucky man.

david mcmahon said...

What a great tribute, Mushy. A wonderful reminder to us all that the history of our ancestors is to be cherished and honoured.

You, sir, are an example to us all.

Suldog said...

Wow! You've got one fantastic treasure trove of family history, Mushy. And now those descended from you will have a great record of it, too, as well as the wonderful tales you tell here. Great job.

Love that will, by the way. Just plain love it.

Scott from Oregon said...

And then there is your DNA history...

Way back... way back...

Maggie May said...

I wonder if our children would be happy to receive a bed in our Will instead of money?!
People were easily satisfied in those days.

Great research done to the family tree.
Came over from David's!

Mushy said...

And again I say thanks for the great comments and friendship.

Steve Mashburn said...

Although it doesn't really make any difference unless your are into genealogical, most of the English records spell the name Marshborne as did the first couple of generations in America. After the Revolution the spelling Mashburn became more and more prevalent. In the 1800's the Onslow County NC branch began using the spelling Marshburn. Of course, because clerks were often barely literate and wrote down what they heard in the local dialect, many variants are found. Also twenty years ago, someone misread my website. Mary Farrar was married to Joseph Watkins (the old DOS screen charts were hard to follow). Church of England records are very through and no record of a marriage of Edward Mashborne to Mary Farrar exist. The common practice in London of that time was for men to marry in their late 20's/early 30's. For Edward to have had two children at the age of 21 doesn't jive with what was the norm. Thse who wish to know more about our heritage are invited to The Mashburn Genealogy Archines at