Maternal Grandparents of Marshall E. Vardaman
His maternal Grandparents were Benjamin Anderson andSusan (Watson) Flinn/Flynn. Both B. A. Flinn and his wife Susanwere natives of Georgia who came to Randolph County, AL, in the 1830s shortlyafter this area was ceded to the U.S. and the state of Alabama by the CreekIndians in the Treaty of Cusseta on May 24, 1832. They married July 6,1831, in Coweta County, GA.
The exact date and place of Benjamin A. Flinn/Flynn’s birth are unknown. Theonly clue that exists to his birth date is the 1840 Randolph Co., AL, U.S.Censuson which he is listed in the “20 but not yet 30” age column. This wouldextrapolate to a birth year of 1810 to 1819. Since he married in 1831, toassume that he was born any later than 1810 would, in my opinion, be unreasonable. Inaddition, the 1840 census may possibly have him listed in the wrong agecolumn inasmuch as his wife (Susan) is very definitely listed in the wrongage column on that census ("at least 15 but not yet 20" which is patentlyimpossible). She, of a necessity considering her marriage date, would needto be listed in the “at east 20 but not yet 30” column in 1840. In anyevent, the 1810 birth year for B. A. is pure speculation.
The only evidence that we have as to the place of B. A.'s birth arethe various census records (1880, 1900, 1910 and 1920) for his daughter,Julia (Flynn) Vardaman. On each of four census records her father's placeof birth is consistantly shown to be Georgia. Since no known contradictoryrecord has ever been found to refute this information, it is accepted thatB. A. Flynn was born in Georgia.
He was a County Commissioner for Randolph Co.in 1842 but died priorto 1850 while yet a fairly young man. In the 1850 Census his widow, Susan,is shown as head of household, and B. A. Flinn cannot be found. Since achild, Benjamin Flinn, died in 1849-50 at the age of 3 (according to the1850 U.S. Census Mortality Schedule), it would appear unlikely that B.A. Flinn died prior to 1846. The deceased child is reported on the MortalitySchedule to have been born in Alabama and to have died in the month ofJuly. Since the census was taken on 30 Oct 1850, it is presumed that Benjamindied in July 1850 and, being 3 years old, that he was born in 1847. Sincethe elder Benjamin is obviously deceased prior to Oct 1850 (the date thatthe census was taken) but is not listed on the Mortality Schedule coveringdeaths for the previous year, I believe that we can be confident that B.A. died sometime between the latter part of 1847 and the early part of1849 with the 1847 date being the more probable.
Speculation that there was no 3-year old child by the name of Benjamin,and that the death shown in the Mortality Schedule was actually that ofa 39(?)-year-old Benjamin A. Flinn in 1849-50 does not appear tenable. While this would not be inconsistent with B. A.’s “thought-to-be” birthyear ca 1810, the place of birth (Alabama), shown for the deceased Benjaminwould be inconsistent with that of his father, B. A. Flynn. Also, seethe following note.Note: On the 1900 CoosaCo., AL, census, Susan (Watson) Flynn, living in the home of her son-in-lawand daughter, John F. and Julia Ann Vardaman, is shown to have had sixchildren with four of the children still living. On the 1850 RandolphCo., AL, census, Susan Flinn, a widow, is shown with four living children. Sincewe have no information to the contrary, it is reasonable to accept bothof these records as correct. Susan Flinn never remarried after the deathof her husband (ca 1847-1849) and had no further children after 1850. Sincefour of her children are alive at the time of the 1850 census, the twodeceased children must have died prior to the 1850 census and one of theseis assuredly the three-year old Benjamin shown on the 1850 U.S. CensusMortality Schedule.Julia Ann Flynn, daughter of B. A. and Susan, was born in 1840 in the Arbacoocheecommunity of what would later become part of Cleburne Co. Cleburne Co.was formed in 1866 from the northern part of Randolph Co. and the easternpart of Benton (later Calhoun) Co. together with a very small corner ofeastern Talladega Co. Julia's birth location places the Flynn family inwhat was then the northern part of Randolph Co. from sometime in the mid-1830suntil sometime between 1850 and 1860 when the widow relocated the familyto Coosa Co.
Mr. J. M. K. Guinn, in his history of Randolph Co., Randolph Co., AL,Sixty-TwoYears Ago, The Red Man's Home, The White Man's Eden, as published seriallyin the Wedowee "Randolph Toiler" from Dec. 1894 to Mar. 1896, writesas follows:"B. A. Flinn lived in Abel's Beat. He was a Whig and madea dutiful, efficient officer, prompt in attendance, reasonable and justin his opinion and acts. He was a personal friend of father's and sharedhis confidence. I don't remember having seen him after his term of officeexpired."Since the next election of officers was in 1844, I assume that the abovepassage indicates that Mr. Guinn did not recall seeing B. A. Flinn aftersometime during that year. Flinn's death ca. 1846-47 would readily accountfor this. Of course, his death as late as 1850 could also fit this situation.
Susan (Watson) Flynn’s parents have never been identified. Family legendas told by Susan’s daughter, Julia (Flynn) Vardaman, to her grandson, AdrianSutton Gwin, says that "Susan was one of the wealthy 'Watsons of Georgia'but that she was disowned by her family when she fell in love with an Irishman,a railroad section hand named Benjamin Flynn. Since he was 'below her',the family threatened to disinherit her if she married him. She marriedBenjamin anyway (6 July 1831, in Coweta Co., GA) and the family carriedout its threat. Benjamin and Susan moved across the state line to Alabamawhere they started their family."
By 1860 Susan Flinn had moved her family to Coosa Co., probably nearNixburg where her daughter Julia would marry in 1865. Sometime prior to1870 she would become a member of the John F. Vardaman household for therest of her life. She died Tues., July 8, 1902, and is buried in the Vardamanplot at Smyrna Cem. near the town of Goodwater in Coosa Co., AL.
Based on Census records, Susan's birth date is a matter of some confusion:(1) The 1840 Census shows her in the 15-20 year column (bornnot before 1819 nor after 1825).Since she married in 1831, the ages shown on the 1840, 1850, 1870 and 1880censuses cannot possibly be correct, and the age shown on the 1860 censuswould appear to be very unlikely. This leaves only her age and date ofbirth as shown on the 1900 census as possibly being correct.
(2) The 1850 Census shows her age as 26 (born 1823 or 1824).
(3) The 1860 Census shows her age as 43 (born 1816 or 1817).
(4) The 1870 Census shows her age as 45 (born 1824 or 1825).
(5) The 1880 Census shows her age as 60 (born 1819 or 1820).
(6) The 1900 Census shows her age as 87 and that she was born in January1813.
In addition to the census records, the John F. Vardamanfamily Bible states that she was about 95 years old at the time of herdeath, which would place her birth ca 1807. The Marshall E.Vardaman family Bible shows her birth year as 1809 which would have madeher about 93 years old at the time of her death.
Bearing in mind the date of her marriage (6 Jul 1831) and the factthat the marriage occurred over the objection of her parents (she wouldhave had to have been 21 years old to marry without her parents consent),I believe that we might, with reason, suggest her date of birth to be nolater than early in 1810--unless the couple eloped. If they eloped, whichmight be considered probable under the circumstances, the time of her birthas shown on the 1900 census (Jan 1813) is a more likely probability. Thedate would certainly have been not later than 1816.
In view of the wide disparity in the ages shown on the various censusrecords as well as with the family Bible records, and considering the analysisin the preceeding paragraph, I will tentatively go along with the MarshallE. Vardaman Bible record (a birth year of 1809) until some more definitivepiece of information comes to light. Since her husband is tentatively thoughtto have been born ca. 1810, and bearing in mind her marriage in 1831, abirth year of 1809-16 would seem to be indicated.
Since Susan died at Kellyton, AL, about 10 miles from the Vardamanhomeplace northeast of Goodwater, we assume that she was either livingwith or visiting her granddaugher, Maggie Webb, who lived at Kellyton atthat time.