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Generation 5

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Terry Donnell Sharpe
Mary Elizabeth Donnell




14. Mary Elizabeth Donnell (Married Julius Henry Sharpe (#13), 4 April 1878). A copy of the wedding certificate can be seen by clicking here. [Note: Although the wedding certificate says she was 20 when she married Julius, she was really 24, 4 years older than Julius.]


Born: 17 August 1854 in Guilford County of John Cunningham Donnell (#27) & Sarah P. Albright (#28). [Source for the green information is research done by Michael Cavenaugh (Glass family genealogist denoted on Guilford County Genealogy Association Website]


Died: 7 April 1912. She is buried with her husband, Julius, at Moriah United Methodist Church Cemetery, Greensboro, N. C.


[Her sibling included:

a) Sarah Rebecca Donnell: (Married: John Calvin Sharpe, brother of Mary Elizabeth's husband, Julius Henry Sharpe #13) Born: 26 July 1857 in Guilford County, North Carolina Died: 4 January 1934 of coronary disease. She is buried at Moriah United Methodist Church Cemetery. [source of birth and death information is her death certificate]]


[Her Half siblings included:

a) Jesse Ed. Smith: (Married: Ida Lindley) Born: ~1865 Died: ?; (Source 1870 Census for Guilford County).

b) Annette Smith: Born:~1867 Died: Before the 1880 Census; (Source 1870 and 1880 Census for Guilford County).

c) William Adolphus Smith: (Married: Ida Stack (Ida Elizabeth Stack) on November 4, 1894) Born: February 5, 1870 1870 in Westminister, Guilford Co, North Carolina Died: February 9, 1931] [Some of Mary Elizabeth's siblings have the last name of Smith because her mother remarried.] [The red information came from LDS Family Search on 4 June 2008. [Mary's mother married William R. Smith on 1 April 1863 in Guilford, County). (Source: North Carolina Marriage Collection, 1741-2004 (database on-line.) Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007. The original data is from County court records are located at Greensboro, NC and on Family History Library microfilm #0536823-0536828.) ( Source: Find A (Source of purple: Application to Sons of the American Revolution Dec 6, 1968 by D. C. Smith)]



Mary's father, John, died less than 4 months after Mary's sister was born, leaving behind Sarah, her mother, to raise two young daughters alone. Mary Elizabeth was only 3 years old.

Her father had died intestate; ie. he did not have a will. As a result, Daniel Albright, Mary Elizabeth's uncle (her mother's brother), became the administrater to help her mother settle affairs. With a legal team, her mother petitioned the Common Pleas Court for a year's allowance of her husband's land, Negroes, crops, and money to provide a livelihood for herself and her two young daughters. Daniel had John's land surveyed and inventoried, and listed all of the property for probate records. Some items were given to Sarah. Other things were sold to pay off debts.

John had had 9 slaves. The court divided the slaves into thirds, giving 1/3 to Sarah and 1/3 to each of her daughters.

In 1858, Daniel Albright applied to the State of North Carolina, Guilford County court to become guardian of the two young girls. In 1861 Daniel did not pay the required bond fee to the Court of Pleas to renew his guardianship of the girls. The Court issued a summons. In 1862, Daniel showed up in court with his brother, George W. Albright. The 1882 document shows that he paid $6,000. In 1862, the court re-appointed Daniel E. Albright as guardian of Sarah's children, Mary E. and Sarah R. Donnell.

The 1860 US Census shows Sarah is the head of the household. She is 30, a farmer, with real estate value equal to $1800 and her personal estate equal to $7600. She had two daughters, M E Donnell [Mary Elizabeth], age 6, and S R Donnell [Sarah Rebecca], age 3, living with her.

On April 12, 1861, the Civil War began. Several of Mary Elizabeth's uncles served in the Confederate Army.

On January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation, stating "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free." It is unknown how this would have affected the slaves that had been assigned to the Donnell women in 1858. The names of slaves did not appear with Sarah's family in the 1860 census, so it is unknown where they were living.

On April 1, 1863, Mary Elizabeth's mother married William Rankin Smith.

On April 9, 1865, the Civil War ended.

There were several years that Daniel did not pay the required $1000 bond to the Court of Pleas to revew his guardianship. In May,1866, he went to court with John G. Efland and George W. Albright and paid the bond.

The 1870 US Census shows Sarah was 41 and keeping house. The head of the household, William (age 37) [William Rankin Smith], was a farmer. Evidently Sarah and William had had three children together since their marriage ~7 years earlier: Jesse Smith (age 5), Annette Smith (Age 3), and William Smith (age 5/12). Also in the house are Mary Elizabeth (age 15), and Rebecca Donnell (age 12), Preston Donnell (Age 9), and Jefferson Donnell (Age 9). [Note: Both Preston and Jefferson as listed as Black. They are likely freed slaves.]

On July 8th, 1874, a complaint was filed on behalf of Mary Elizabeth Donnell & Sarah R. Donnell, by W. R. Smith (the girls’ stepfather) against Daniel E. Albright, administrator & guardian. They were suing Daniel for money they were entitled to from their father’s estate as well as money from the estate of their uncle (Robert Donnell... their father’s brother). (Robert had died in the Civil War in 1862). [In 1874, Mary E. would have been ~ 20 years old and Sarah R., ~17 years old.] Daniel explained that he had been paying debts owed by John Cunningham Donnell, and paying doctor bills, legal fees, and other costs. Daniel had records to show that both Mary and Sarah had received some cash and interest for some estate items previously. In interviews conducted by the court, Daniel explained that over the years he had been hiring out the girls' negroes for money, selling lumber, and in other ways acting as administrator of the estates to pay bills, but he admitted that he had not been keeping good records. Daniel explained that there were many circumstances making his job as administrator and guardian difficult. Some men who had rented slaves and purchased lumber never paid him. In addition, Daniel had served as a Captain of Home Guards in the Confederate Army and was not at home during the war. During his absence, he relied on others to keep track of things, and they had to be paid. Another problem was that some transactions prior to the ending of the war had taken place using Confederate dollars, which at the end of the war were worthless. In 1874, after legal fees were paid out and Daniel was paid an administrator fee, the court awarded Mary $274.68 and Sarah $50.88.


Mary married her husband in 1878.


Right: Mary Elizabeth posed for this picture with baby Edna (circa 1890). This photograph was in a family photo album in the possession of Evelyn Bumgarner (one of her granddaughters) on 9 September 2009.



Below: This photograph (ca 1900) shows Mary Elizabeth posed with part of her family. Left to Right: Sarah Edna (Edna), baby Katharine Elizabeth (Kate), Julius, Robert Norman (Bob), Nellie Novella (Nellie), and Mary Elizabeth. The older children: Ernest Perry (Perry), Terry Donnell (Terry (#7), William Henry (Henry), and Mary Gertrude (Gerti) are not shown.

The 1880 United States Federal Census for Gilmer Township, Guilford County, North Carolina lists Julius H. Sharpe as 22, a farmer, married to Mary E[lizabeth] [ Donnell]. Julius and Mary are the parents of one child, Earnest. Julius is living near his brother (John) and his wife (Sarah), Mary's sister.

Over the years, Mary and her husband, Julius, had eight children.

The 1900 United States Federal Census for Gilmer Township, Guilford County, North Carolina lists Julius H. (42), Mary E. (45), Ernest (21), Terry D. (18), Mary G (5), Henry W. (13), Sarah E. (10), Robert W. (7), Nellie N. (4) and Katie (6/12). Also listed on this census are the family of Julius' brother John: John (47), Rebecca S. (42), Mittie E. (22), James A. (19), Charles C. (15), Arthur E. (11), Lillian I. (8), and Annie M. (2).



Below: An aging, Mary.


Mary died at 57 years 8 months. The cause of her death is unknown by this webmaster. Her youngest child, Kate, was only 11 years old. Her oldest child, Ernest Perry, was 32.

Below: Mary's tombstone at Moriah United Methodist Church Cemetery in Greensboro, North Carolina. (GPS: 36° 1.145 minutes N, 79° 45.480 minutes W.) This photograph was taken on September 29, 2005.


Lifetime Events Summary for Mary Elizabeth Donnell:

Mary's Age
Age at Father's Death
Civil War
7 - 11
Marriage to Julius H. Sharp
Children's births
1879 - 1900
25 - 46
Terry Donnell Sharpe (#7) birth
Age at Mother's Death
Spanish American War


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