Finding Your Folks: The Parker-Byram family

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

I'm still trying to tackle these Pike County Byrams and I have to admit this is one of the most difficult families I've done. Either there is little documentation of information on the early members of this family or those who have it ain't partin' with it. I have been to the Pike County probate office three times and have only found two references to our Beverly Byram, who was there at least from 1826 (when he purchased land) until his death in 1849. One probate reference was his will and the other was a notice that he had been made administrator of the estate of a James Byram Sr. in 1835. This raises a whole 'nother set of questions in itself … the first one being, who the heck was this James Byram? There were a lot of them.

There was James Byram, Beverly's brother, but he didn't die until 1858, so that eliminates that one. There was James A., son of James (Beverly's brother), but he didn't die until 1890. There was James, son of Beverly, but he didn't die until 1853; and James B., son of James, son of Beverly, but he didn't die until 1862. Are you thoroughly confused yet? It seems that the only James left that could be a James Sr. is Beverly's father from Mecklenburg County, N.C., who died in 1834. I do have a note from another researcher that James Sr. is thought to have died in Mecklenburg, but that was only a guess based on his pension application being filed there a year before he died. Could this James Sr. mentioned in Pike County records be Beverly's father who came to join his sons shortly before his death in 1834? And were his sons in Georgia Beverly and James … or Beverly, James and John? Did James and Mary/Mariah Beverly have more children than just James and Beverly? Common sense and the ways of those times would say definitely so. These are questions I hope we can find answers to.

I also have put out queries on the Internet about Beverly's alleged children and a few have responded. But when I ask for documentation or where they found their information, everybody just disappears. And I am still concerned about the consistent presence of this John Byram who was down here buying land three years before Beverly came on the scene. If this John Byram was a contemporary of Beverly (perhaps a cousin about the same age) or a brother, then he might have children in the area too.

If he was Beverly's son, he could only be so by a former marriage since Beverly and Sarah were not married until 1807. If this John was even the minimum age of 21 (old enough to enter into a contract) when he bought land in 1823, he would be born in 1802. We know from the census that Beverly could have been born as early as 1780 which would make him definitely old enough to have a son born in 1802. But it would have to be from a prior marriage and no one has even mentioned that. Questions, questions, questions. Now maybe you can see my dilemma.

So, until I can start finding some answers, I'm going to share with you those things I do know about the two children we know are Beverly and Sarah's - Martha Byram Parker and James William Byram. Initial information on Martha was provided by descendant Chris Wren of Alabama, and initial information on James was provided by Heather Byrom Hannah of Senoia. I have done a little more research myself (since these families connect to mine) and will share my search results. Since Martha was the oldest, we'll take her first. I will go as far as space allows this week and pick up with the remainder of the children next week.

As was stated last week, Martha Byram married John Parker in 1833 in Pike County, son of Enoch Parker (per Georgia Memoirs), and they had seven known children: Catherine F., Mary E., John H., James A., Henry G., Martha J., and Cassie Louisa Parker. John also had two children by a first wife, Elizabeth Spurling but nothing is known of them except their names: Sarah C. and William A. Parker, both named in the deed of gift John made to all his children. All grew up in the first district of Pike County, married and started their families. Martha and John Parker both disappear from the census and court records by 1870 and are presumed to have died between 1860 and 1870.

John and Martha's first child, Catherine F. Parker, married (1) William R. Dunn in 1854 in Pike County and had three children by 1860: Mary, b. abt 1856, Nancy, b. abt 1858, and Henry Dunn, b. abt 1859. Catherine married second in Coweta County in 1875 to a brick mason from Upson County, Sterling Norris. They had one daughter, Dosell by 1880. This was a second marriage for both Catherine and Sterling. He was formerly married to Matilda, had seven children, and lived in Upson County (1850, 1860, 1870 census), where he was listed as being a member of Company A, Third Regiment, Georgia Reserves, and Company E, Third Battalion, Georgia Reserves (Cavalry) during the Civil War. War records refer to him as "Starling." Source: The History of Upson County, Georgia by Carolyn Walker Nottingham and Evelyn Hannah.

Sterling's oldest son, James, lived next door to Catherine and Sterling in 1880 in Pike County. Catherine and Sterling's death places are unknown, although Chris noted Catherine may have died in Cullman County, Ala. Others of this family headed that way, as we shall see in future columns.

Family histories about your ancestors who lived on Atlanta's south side are always welcome. Send them to or Mail to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214. All letters and e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.

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