BUCKNER KILLEBREW [1753-1824] and MARY WHITFIELD [1765-1843]
Much is known of this colorful couple, as writings were left by family and others. Sketch of the Killebrew Family by MARY JANE BARRY KILLEBREW, daughter-in-law of BUCKNER, wife of WILLIAM T., was written in 1867. Recollections of My Life, by grandson, JOSEPH BUCKNER KILLEBREW, son of BRYAN WHITFIELD KILLEBREW, written 1897, and Recollections of a Lifetime by Mary Katherine Killebrew, his wife in 1902. Daughter MARY KILLEBREW RADFORD�S Bible was in the possession of great great granddaughter Cordelia C Gary in 1957. Life and Times of Elder Reuben Ross, by his son, JAMES ROSS [1801-1878].

BUCKNER was born in Edgecombe Co., NC, and raised on the Tar River.  As a young man he moved to Duplin Co., where he became a business manager for his future wife�s uncle. BUCKNER and MARY lived in Duplin, NC, until they went to Tennessee. Her father,
WILLIAM WHITFIELD III, deeded property and slaves to the couple for �love, good will and affection.�  BUCKNER is found in records in Duplin Co. and frequently in the records of Montgmery Co, TN, and adjacent counties where he had extensive property.

Per a letter to J B KILLEBREW from a WHITFIELD cousin in 1853 "Your grandfather started from Duplin Co., NC, May 1st, 1795 or 6 and with JAMES HOUSE a brother-in-law, came to near Wythe, C.H. VA (Cripple Creek 12 miles from the C.H.) when HOUSE died.  They remained and made a crop and in the fall, KILLEBREW, Mrs. HOUSE [MARY�S sister RACHEL] and families came on as far as Nashville, arriving Oct. 18th. ... After staying about 6 weeks near Nashville they removed to Spring Creek and settled the place upon which they died." 

MARY�S father, WILLIAM WHITFIELD III, gave each of his 28 living children property valued at $10,000.  Per J B KILLEBREW "With this amount my grandmother and grandfather when they moved to Tennessee were considered persons of wealth and exercised influence accordingly.  Their house, situated near the banks of Spring Creek, was the most commodious in the vicinity, and here they entertained a great deal.   Many of the young people always made it convenient to go there to dinner on church days when the old pioneer Baptist preachers has services at Spring Creek Meeting House which was about a mile distant.  Unquestionably my grandparents on my father�s side were considered the best livers in the neighborhood."

From Life and Times of Elder Reuben Ross, by his son, JAMES ROSS [1801-1878],"There were several families in the vicinity of this church [Spring Creek Baptist Church, Montgomery Co., TN] whose custom it was to take people home with them to dine after preaching.  The more company they could engage the more delighted they seemed. They would often come to you before getting off your horse and make you promise beforehand to go home with them.

"I and my set usually went home with an old gentleman named BUCKNER KILLEBREW. On reaching the house, after helping their sweethearts off their horses, each young man would take off his saddle, bridle, and blanket, and lay them by themselves. Then he would turn his horse into a large enclosure, where would be a number of troughs filled with corn and pumpkins, and racks full of sweet blades of odder stripped from the stalks of Indian corn. Here the horses would fight, and eat all the evening. If one was whipped off from his trough, he would go and drive another from his, take his place, and so on all around.

"On going into the house all would be invited to 'take something.' What they called something at this place, was commonly old peach or apple brandy and honey. All from the old men and preachers down to the boys, would help themselves to some of this. You must not be surprised, for besides the belief that something of this kind was conducive to health, we were every one old Calvinistic Baptists at that time, all of whom are supposed by nature to like something good to drink. And Temperance societies and everything of that sort were no more dreamed of than railroads, telegraphs, or ocean cables.

"After this preliminary movement we were invited to a dinner that it would do any one's heart good to look at. The table would be literally covered with good things, so that there was not room enough on it for another plate or dish. But the most interesting thing of all was the pleasure it gave our old friend and his wife to see us eat. They watched us closely, and when they saw one about to quit were really distressed. This may seem like exaggeration, but I could mention some that even you can remember who were sorely troubled if their friends did not eat heartily of their bountiful tables.

"After the first course was ended no one was permitted to leave his seat until the debris of the first battle were swept away, and pies, cakes, and tarts brought on. These were of various flavors -some were round like the full moon, some like the half moon, and others again crescent-shaped, interspersed with pitchers of cider, and cold sweet milk not with the cream all taken off, as is often done 'in these degenerate days.'

"At length the feast ended as everything good and beautiful must in this world. After this we would have some pleasant chat, in which the host and hostess took part. Then someone of the company would say, 'The sun is getting low' which was, alas, too true, and a slight shade of sadness might be seen stealing over our faces, and our party would break up and all start for home, sad, to think another long month must pass before we should meet again.�

Per M J B KILLEBREW   �In July 1824 the head of the family, the father, the much loved and deservedly respected father, BUCKNER KILLEBREW died after a few days� illness, and with him passed away the foundation of pure cordial feeling thru the family.  He had always treated me with true, fatherly candor and affection, and I felt it for him thru his life.  He had made his will some years before, and was as impartial in his disposition of property as a man could be.  All thought so at the time, but he had been in the grave but a little while, when it was whispered that though he meant well, there were some things more to the advantage of some than he intended.  Suffice it to say that a large loss was eventually in the estate through the trickery of some of the heirs.�

Per MARY J B KILLEBREW �Of these grandchildren some are now  in Mississippi, some in Texas, some in Tennessee, some in Kentucky, and some in another world.  When I write this, 1868, there is but one of the children living, Mrs. RADFORD [ELIZA JANE�S grandmother], and she is sixty years old, in very feeble health.� 

She also relates about the family religion �In March [1814], your father and I and your aunt BETSY KILLEBREW (1st Sabbath) were baptized as members of the Spring Creek Church, Elder RODGER (?REUBEN?) ROSS, Pastor.  Your Grandmother KILLEBREW had been a Baptist before she left North Carolina.�

Recollections ..., Mary Katherine Killebrew, �That day [when her son BRYAN left] an old rejected suitor of hers called in, and finding her in trouble, renewed his offer to take care of her.  She acceded, and they were married in two weeks.  She was now 66 years old, and the gentleman was about the same age.  She had been a widow about five years.  Her children had been as dutiful to her, and as careful of her interest as they could be, often going to see her, and inquiring as to what she wished done, and desiring to know if in any way they could be of service to her.  When she determined to marry, they said if it would make her happier, they had not a word to say.  She had a marriage contract to secure her property, but it only created a separation of interest, and consequently, divided the house against itself.  Of course it had a fall, and a mighty one, for in less than ten years she was prematurely in her dotage, and did not know her own children.  The love of property did it all !!!�

Another version from
Recollections..., J.B. Killebrew, �A few years after the death of BUCKNER MARY married JOSEPH NEVILLE, �a highly respected citizen and descended of a noble English family.  She continued to reside on the old homestead until her death Aug. 24th, 1843.  For several years before her death her mind was clouded and she scarcely recognized any one.  It doubtless arose from softening of the brain.  She was a woman of marked character and raised a very large family.�

BUCKNER and MARY�S daughter, MARY WHITFIELD KILLEBREW married WILLIAM RADFORD JR. They were ELIZA JANE�S great grandparents.

The herb pot pictured was brought by MARY WHITFIELD KILLEBREW from Virginia. She passed it on to her granddaughter, ELIZA JANE RADFORD STEGER, who gave it to her granddaughter, ELIZA JANE STEGER in 1905 before she married JOHN WILLIAM SHOLAR. JANIE had nursed her grandmother when she was ill. Before her passing JANIE gave it to her granddaughter, LOUISE, daughter of her eldest, VIRGINIA BELLE. Such pots and other dishes like them came as ballast on ships that came from Canton and Nanking in the 18th century. Five pots are on exhibit in
The Hermitage in Nashville, TN, 2 in Hope Plantation in Windsor, NC, 2 in the Owens Thomas house in Savanah, a whole set in a house in Charleston, and many examples of the dishes can be seen in other historic East coast houses and with private families.
Click to enlarge.
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