Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Joseph Thomas Maddrey, my great great grandfather, was born on August 24, 1842 in Northampton County, North Carolina. He was presumably raised Baptist, as his father James was appointed to select the site of the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church four years after Joseph was born. James chose a site less than a mile from the family’s 300+ acre farm. Recently, when I visited the church, I was told by neighbors that descendants of the Maddrey family had lived in a house at the west end of nearby Taylor’s Mill Road. The house is no longer standing.

On May 6, 1862, at the age of 19, Joseph enlisted in the Confederate Army as Private, to fight for Northampton County. He served in Company A, 3rd Light Artillery Regiment. On April 30, 1863, he was promoted to full Sergeant, and he remained on the rolls until December 31, 1864. He was paroled on April 27, 1865, at Greensboro, North Carolina – “absent sick at home.”

On December 6, 1866, Joseph married Mary L. Edwards. That same month, his father’s land was divided among eight children and one grandchild. Joseph received a 55 ¼ acre lot north of Corduroy Swamp. He and his wife presumably settled there. Joseph and Mary had four children: Joseph Miletus (September 17, 1867 – June 6, 1902), Samuel T. (November 10, 1869 – September 6, 1870), William Paul (March 20, 1871 – June 11, 1890), and Gerome G. (December 6, 1872 – July 7, 1873). Their firstborn was the only one who lived long enough to have a family of his own. He married Addie Lula Pruden (probably a native of Northampton County, since there are many Prudens buried in the Seaboard town cemetery) in 1893, and had at least three children: Lula (1894 – 1940), Ella Louise (born in March 1898), and Josie (1902 – 1989). At some point, Joseph moved to Florida, where he worked as a phosphate miner, and died in 1902. The burial sites of Samuel and Gerome are unknown.

William Paul, who died in 1890, is buried in a small family cemetery near the present-day intersection of Route 305 and Route 186 in the town of Seaboard, which leads me to believe that Joseph and his two young sons moved to this area sometime after the death of Gerome in July 1873. The town of Seaboard, named for the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, was incorporated in 1877.

By this time, Joseph had a second wife. He married Ella Josie Miller on December 18, 1873. Their first child, Little Tweetie, lived less than two years. Their second child, born on October 19, 1876, was Zebulon Vance, named after North Carolina Governor Zeb Baird Vance. He married Amelia M. Wehner, became a railroad engineer and moved to Indianapolis. Joseph and Ella’s third child, Lily Mae, married James A. Harris in January 1897. According to family obituaries, Lily Mae was living in Washington D.C. in 1953. Joseph and Ella’s fourth child was Lady Pearl. She married William A. Grant in 1900. Their fifth child, Ella Josie, was named after her mother, who died of consumption in February 1884, less than a year after giving birth to her. Ella Josie (the mother) is buried in the family cemetery is Seaboard. Ella Josie (the daughter) lived for fifty years in Norfolk, Virginia, before retiring in her hometown. I do not know if she ever married. She died in 1953, and is buried in the Seaboard town cemetery.

On December 11, 1884, Joseph Thomas Maddrey married again – this time, to Rowena Milner Stephenson, my great great grandmother.

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