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James Allen Meek tombstone cropped.jpg
Mary A Henley Meek tombstone cropped.jpg

James Allen and Mary Henley Meek Family

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.

their remaining children and left numerous descendants in Meek, Lefler, Hawkins, Hogard, and Mahon families.

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

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