All of the information for this story comes from one of these sources:
- “The Family History of the Jolly Family” by Clara Jolly Henderson
- Census records
- Texas State Archives
Martha Paralee Montgomery was born on March 28, 1841 in Tippah County, Mississippi. In many of the census records she’s listed as “Paralee”, and the picture here also uses that name, so I assume that’s the name she went by.
Based on when and where the two brothers just below her were born, the family moved from Tennessee to Mississippi around 1839, a few years before she was born.
Moving to Texas
Martha and her family moved from Mississippi to Texas between 1850 and 1860 according to census records.
Martha marries Ebikinezer Brantley
Ebikinezer “Ebben” Brantley’s family came from Illinois to Texas some time before 1850, when they’re listed in the Red River Co, Texas census. On November 17, 1861, Martha and Ebben married in Red River Co, Texas. She was 20 years old and he was 26 years old.
Between 1863 and 1879 they had six children. Their first child lived only a few months.
Martha applies for a Confederate pension
Martha’s husband died on October 30, 1902 leaving her with no means to support herself at the age of 61 years. The 1900 census lists her and Ebben as renting a house in Justice Precinct 1, Coleman Co, TX (no street name or address is given), so she probably needs to also figure out a place to live .
The 1900 Census also lists their two youngest children, Addison Lee and George Washington Brantley as living with them. Addison was 20 and George was 25, and both had jobs as school teachers, so perhaps they were still living with their parents when Ebben passed and Martha was able to live with one of them.
Fortunately for Martha, Ebben had enlisted as a Private in the Confederate army in 1863, giving her a way to care for herself in her old age.
The federal government did not grant pensions to Confederate veterans or their dependents, however, southern state governments granted pensions to Confederate veterans and widows. In 1899, Texas began granting pensions to indigent Confederate veterans and their widows.
On February 9, 1903, Martha Paralee Montgomery applied for a Confederate military pension based on her husband’s service, and was approved on March 21, 1903. When she fills out the form, she lists that she lives in Garden City, Glasscock Co, TX.
I wonder how she would even know to apply for the pension. The law authorizing pensions had passed only a few years before, so it was pretty fresh. But how did word get out when the units had been disbanded nearly 38 years before? Maybe it was such big news that word traveled. I Googled the question but found no answers.
Martha’s heartbreaking answers
I have a reproduced copy of her original application from the Texas State Archives and I could feel the pain coming through some of her answers to the questions.
Q: What is your occupation if able to engage in one? I am not able to engage in one.
Q: What is your physical condition? It is Bad.
Q: What real and personal property do you now own, and what is the present value of such property? I own no real or personal property.
Q: What property, and what was the value thereof, have you sold or conveyed within two years prior to the date of this application? None
Q: What income, if any, do you receive? None
Q: Are you in indigent circumstances; that is, are you in actual want, and destitute of property and means of subsistence? Yes
Q: Are you unable by your labor to earn a support? Yes
I can’t imagine being 61 years old, recently losing my husband of 41 years, and having to say that I am in actual want, and destitute of property and means of subsistence. It must have been a scary time for Martha.
Martha moves in with family
I don’t have any records of what happened between 1903 and 1910, but in the 1910 Census I’m happy to say that Martha is listed as living with her daughter, Edwinna Honeycut, and her family in Erath, Texas.
According to her death certificate, Martha died on July 15, 1916 in San Angelo, TX, of acute nephritis.
I don’t know who she was living with at this time, but her death certificate is signed as true by her son Addison Lee Brantley. His WWI Draft Registration card dated September 1918 shows him living in San Angelo at the time, so perhaps she went to live with him after staying with her daughter Edwinna for awhile.