1812-1885 — Iredell, Alexander, Stokes and Forsyth Counties, NC
William M. BECKHAM was born April 15, 1813 in Iredell County, North Carolina and was the son of Lemuel Beckham. William married Rebecca DOUB in Stokes County on September 26th, 1839. Rebecca was born February 7, 1812 in the part of Stokes County that later became Forsyth County.  She was the daughter of Jacob and Susannah DOUB. William and Rebecca set up house in the portion of Iredell County that later became Alexander County. Ten months after they married, on July 1st, 1840, their first daughter, Pantha, (wife of R.C. LACKEY) was born. The couple had two more children, Jacob L (1843)* and Helen Elizabeth (1845). Rebecca died February 24, 1845, possibly from complications with Elizabeth’s birth. Needing another mother for his three small children, William married his wife’s younger sister Susannah, also called Susan, on August 4, 1847. They were also married in Stokes County and Daniel Doub, the women’s brother, served as bondsman for both marriages. Susannah and William had a child William A.C., born in 1851. All of the Beckham children attended school and at least Pantha attended the female seminary in Jonesboro.
William was not only a farmer but also a merchant. The manuscripts collection at Duke University includes an account book for William. The dates of the book are 1836 to 1867 meaning that the mercantile dealings were carried on after William’s death. The account book includes accounts for many names common in Alexander County such as Doub, Bogle and Matheson. Many of the accounts in the book are for school supplies.
On the 1850 census, a 37 year-old William was working as a farmer on his farm, which was valued at 700 dollars. On the census with his family was William’s sister Pantha M. Beckham. She was the namesake for William’s first daughter Pantha and to differentiate between the two, the younger Pantha was called Panthey. Pantha M. may have come to live with William to help care for his children after his first wife’s death. She remained unmarried and lived with William’s family for the rest of her life.
William was a slave-owner and is listed on the 1850 census as owning two slaves, a 25-year-old female and a 7-year-old male. William had acquired these slaves within the last ten years, as there were no slaves listed on the 1840 census. There is no record of what happened to these slaves when William died just a few years later.
William died at around the age of 40 sometime between August 1850 when he was listed on the census and December 1854 the first date mentioned in his estate record. He and Susannah had been married for only about 3-7 years. Susannah was left to care for the couple’s four young children. William did not leave a will to provide for his widow and minor children suggesting that his death was due to sudden illness or accident. In the settlement of William’s estate his father Lemuel BECKHAM was appointed guardian of the minor children’s property. At this time, when a child’s father was dead, even if the mother was still living, a guardian would be appointed to oversee the minor child’s personal property until the child reached the age of twenty-one. At William’s death, the children’s grandfather Lemuel became guardian of their finances, but the children still lived with their mother at the family home. The settlement of William’s estate created records in both Iredell and Alexander counties. Lemuel Beckham, as guardian of William’s children, started proceedings against the company Feimster and Feimster for a debt owed to William.
In 1860, Susannah was the head of the household but with no occupation listed on the census. Her real estate was valued at 500 dollars and her personal estate was valued at 470 dollars. Panthey, Jacob (working as a farm laborer), Helen Elizabeth and William C. were still living at home. A forty-five-year-old Pantha M. was still living with the family.
On August 15, 1862, at the age of 19, Jacob enlisted in the military to fight in the Civil War. Jacob was a member of the “Watauga Minute Men” of 37th Regiment Infantry, Company E. He was wounded in action at or near Reams’ Station, Virginia on or about August 25, 1864. He was reported absent wounded through October 1864. Jacob does not appear on the 1870 census or any census thereafter suggesting that he may have died of his wounds. Also, Jacob had been named as an heir in his grandfather Lemuel’s will, written in 1861. When the will was probated in 1867, Jacob was not among the devisees of the estate.
In 1870, Susannah was the head of household with real estate valued at 600 dollars and personal estate valued at 250 dollars. Her 18-year-old son William C. was still at home and her sister-in-law Pantha M. was living with them. Pantha M. was listed on the census as having no occupation. Also in the household were Susannah’s daughter Elizabeth, her husband Thomas Fielding Murdah and their four-year-old son N.F. Murdah. Thomas was a farm laborer and Elizabeth was working as a domestic servant. This census places the family as living in Gwaltney’s Township in Alexander County.
In 1880, Susannah, who still had not remarried, was living with her son William, his wife Lillie, their daughter Bertha and a boarder James Query. They were still in Gwaltney’s Township in Alexander County. Pantha M. was living with Thomas and Elizabeth Murdah, her niece, in Sharpe’s Township in Alexander County. In 1900, Pantha M. was still living with Thomas and Elizabeth. She died on march 4, 1902 at the age of 86.
Susannah Beckham died on February 1, 1885 and was buried at Rocky Springs United Methodist Church Cemetery in Taylorsville, NC. Susannah was born on March 12, 1822 making her 62 years old when she died.
*(This son is listed on the 1850 census as Jacob L., on the 1860 census as J.L., he was apparently in the Civil War and was listed as Lemon J. and is in his grandfather’s will as Lemuel W. Beckham. Research of the Census Records suggests that this is all the same man.)