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James Allen Meek and Mary A. Henley Meek

In 1849, JAMES ALLEN MEEK (1816-1877) and Mary A. Henley Meek (1816-1887) purchased farmland in Weakley County from Martha Smith with the encouragement of Major Alexander Ralston, who was instrumental in white settlement of the area. Moving from Chapel Hill, Tennessee, James and Mary brought with them their seven children (listed below) and built their original house on a knoll in the woods north and west of present-day Bethany Church Road. After their arrival, James and Mary had four more children. Eight of their eleven children are buried in Freeman Cemetery alongside James and Mary. They faced the usual hardships of the time--harsh winters and hot summers in the untamed wilderness, the illness and loss of children, and the difficulties of the Civil War. That they and many of their ancestors persisted is a testament to their strength and that of the community, as well as to the richness of the soil that first drew them to the area.

James Allen Meek hoped all of his children would grow up to live and work on farms adjoining the farm in Weakley County. But the Civil War and its aftermath wiped out this dream. Reportedly, when the two oldest sons, William and John, signed up as Confederate soldiers, James became depressed. He had freed the one or two slaves owned by his family in Middle Tennessee before coming west, and was unenthusiastic about the cause. Of course, he had also lost two young sons in the decade before the Civil War. After it began, Felix, 11 years old at the time, took on much of the day-to-day work of the farm. Both William and John would die as a result of the war. In addition, James and Mary's two oldest daughters, Mary Eliza and Sarah, had their marriage prospects hindered due to the loss other young men in the community. Both of them postponed marriage and childbearing. Mary Eliza married at the age of 37, and Sarah at the age of 35. In spite of so much loss, James and Mary raised their remaining children and left numerous descendants in Meek, Lefler, Hawkins, Hogard, and Mahon families.

WILLIAM H. MEEK (1838-1864)

Mary Eliza (Liza) Meek Lefler (1840-1926)

FRANKLIN MEEK (1842-1856)

Sarah J. Meek Hawkins (1844-1925)

JOHN W. MEEK (1845-1866)

RUFUS MEEK (1847-1854)


FELIX McCAGER MEEK (1850-1928)

Pleasant Anderson Meek (1852-1937)



Spring 1854

Rufus and Franklin Meek shared tombstone

They had come to lay little Rufus in the graveyard donated by Peyton Hendrix, the first settler. It was on the brow of a hill surrounded by a wood. Only two other mounds covered with dead grass and naked brambles marked the lonely spot where fresh earth waited to blanket the tiny wooden coffin of James and Mary's fourth son.

--Effie Meek Maiden, Home in the Wilderness, 79

RUFUS MEEK (1847-1854) and FRANKLIN MEEK (1842-1856) are the first two known burials in Freeman Cemetery. They died as young children in the years shortly after the family arrived in the area after leaving Middle Tennessee.

WILLIAM H. MEEK (1838-1864) enlisted in the Seventh (Duckworth's) Cavalry of the Confederate Army in December of 1861. He served as a private, including at the infamous battle of Brice's Crossroads, where the Confederates achieved an unexpected win. However, within a few weeks, William was mortally wounded by a sharpshooter and died of gangrene in a military hospital in Grenada, Mississippi. His parents had taken the wagon to get him after they received a letter from Captain H. C. McCutchen telling them he had been wounded, but they did not arrive in time. His brother John was at his side. He is at West Point, Mississippi, with the war dead, but the family placed a memorial in Freeman Cemetery.  

William Meek memorial stone.JPG
J E Lefler tombstone.jpg

Mary Eliza Meek Lefler (1842-1926) married J. E. LEFLER (1833-1894) in 1877. He is buried in Freeman Cemetery, but after his death, Mary moved to Marmaduke, Arkansas, with her sister Sarah.

Mary Eliza Meek and J. E. Lefler had one son, John H. Lefler (1880-1949). John married Laura Myrtle Thorne Lefler (1886-1960). They had no children.

Mary, John, and Laura are all buried in Harvey Chapel's Cemetery in Marmaduke, Arkansas.

Sarah J. Meek Hawkins (1844-1925) married M. S. Hawkins (1836-??), and they moved to Marmaduke, Arkansas. They had one child, James E. Hawkins, who married Vera Cavitt Hawkins (1885-1940). Vera Cavitt Hawkins is buried in Havey's Chapel Cemetery in Marmaduke, but it is unknown where Sarah, M. S., and James are buried.

James and Vera Cavitt Hawkins had four children: Jones Harold (Joe) Hawkins, Mary Ellen Hawkins, Mavis Hawkins, and Myrtle Hawkins.

JOHN W. MEEK (1842-1866) survived the fighting of the Civil War to return home to Weakley County. However, he never recovered his health, and died within a year after returning home, from some form of respiratory disease, likely from one or more complicating factor such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, malnutrition, or pellagra.

John Meek tombstone.jpg

SUSAN OPHELIA (PHELLY) MEEK HOGARD (1848-1885) married William Ewin Hogard (1849-1898), and they had five children before her untimely death. To read more about Susan Ophelia Meek Hogard and her family, click below.

FELIX McCAGER MEEK (1850-1928) married CHARLOTTE TEMPERANCE (TEMP) ATKISON MEEK (1859-1919), and they had five children. To read more about Felix and Temp Meek's family, click below.

Pleasant Anderson (Ples) Meek (1852-1937) married Lydia Ann Clementine Mahon (1852-1887), sister of JAMES MONROE HOLT (JIM) MAHONhis sister PAT MEEK MAHON's husband (see below). Ples and Clementine moved to Pemiscot County, Missouri, where they had four children: David E. Meek, William H. Meek, James Allen Meek, Robert Anderson (Bunk) Meek, and Bertha Meek. After Clementine's death, Ples married George Ann Jackson Meek (????-1928), and they had one daughter, Kesiah Ann (Kizzy or Annie) Meek Stallings (1891-1921). Ples seems to have been married several more times and may also have fathered Jacob Franklin (Jake) Meek. 

The first name of BERTHA PAIRLEE (PAT) MEEK MAHON (1855-1943), which she never used, is variously given as Bephire, Bethar, and Bertha. She went by Pat and married JAMES MONROE HOLT (JIM) MAHON (1859-1919). They are both buried in Freeman Cemetery, along with two of their four children and four of their grandchildren. To read more about the Mahon family, click the button below.

Madison and Alace Jackson Meek later Fin
Meek, Madison - Mat - cropped.jpg

MADISON CLAYBROOK (MAT) MEEK (1858-1889) married ALACE C. JACKSON MEEK (later FINCH) (1859-1926). They did not have any children of their own, but adopted two of Mat's sister Susan Ophelia Meek Hogard's children after her death and raised them with the name of Meek.


BIRDIE HOGARD MEEK (1885-1885), whose mother had died in childbirth, did not live long.

Penola Edmoe Hogard Meek (1871-1948) married Oscar Lee Freeman (1867-1944) in 1891. They moved with other extended family to Marmaduke, Arkansas, and had nine children. Penola Hogard Meek and Oscar Freeman are buried in Harvey's Chapel Cemetery in Marmaduke.

In 1890, after the death of Mat Meek, Alace married RANSOM J. FINCH (1851-1923). Alace has had two tombstones--the older one using the name Meek, and a more recent addtion using the name Finch. Another Finch, SARAH P. FINCH (1863-1908) is also buried in Freeman Cemetery. It is possible that she is the sister of Ransom, but the records are not entirely clear. They seem to have been the children of James H. and Mary Finch of Fulton, Kentucky.

Sarah P Finch tombstone.jpg
Ransom Finch tombstone.jpg
Alace Jackson Meek Finch tombstone 2.jpg
Alace Jackson Meek Finch tombstone Meek.
Madison Meek tombstone 2.jpg
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