(compiled & submitted by Elizabeth Ann Embrey)
Margaret ‘Meg’ Applegate, Mary Elizabeth Applegate, Martha Ann Applegate: In 1862, along the Mississippi River in Coahoma County, Mississippi, there were 3 sisters, ages 10, 7 and 5. Margaret, Mary and Martha lived with their parents, Jesse and Henrietta Applegate. It was hard to live in this country, in a place full of mosquito's, on farmland that flooded often, far away from town or many people. They had no grandparents - Jesse Applegate's father died when he was a boy and his mother, Mary, died when the girls were very small. Henrietta's parents were also both dead. There were aunts, uncles and cousins who lived a little distance away, but in that swampy land, transportation was mostly by boat on the rivers and bayous, or by horseback. And it was the troubling time of our nation’s terrible Civil War.
Jesse and Emmanuel Applegate had come with their parents and siblings, down the Mississippi River from Ohio, exploring a new way of life. Many men were deciding to move their families to the new land, where they could grow cotton and other crops, live off the land (hunting bear and mountain lion, cutting trees for lumber to build homes). Their family lived a few years across the Mississippi River in Arkansas, but by 1840 had moved across the great river into the new state of Mississippi, first to Bolivar County, then up to Coahoma County.
Jesse Applegate was about 35 years old in August of 1862 when he went to meet his brother, Emanuel. Together they carried their hunting guns, as they rode their horses to Shufordsville to join the war. They became cavalry soldiers in the Confederate Army, and were soon sent to fight against Union soldiers doing battle in Arkansas. They were going to fight for a cause they believed they needed to win if they were going to keep their families safe in Mississippi.
Jesse’s wife, Henrietta (Oldham), was about 31, and had 3 little girls at home. Emanuel left his wife, Lucy Catherine (Henderson) and 2 little girls. In December of that year, Jesse was killed, and when word finally reached home, his wife, Henrietta, was so upset and sick, that she soon died, too. Margaret, Mary and Martha were left alone, scared and hungry, beside their dead mother. There came along a man who found them, but he was only interested in stealing any money he might find. He thought that the oldest girl might know where her parents had hidden any money, so he hung her up by her neck, trying to make her talk! An older black man came by and saw what was happening. He chased away the mean man and rescued the 3 little girls. He buried their mother, caught a chicken running around in the yard, killed it, plucked off its feathers, cleaned it, gathered wood for a fire, and cooked food for the hungry children. Then he took the little girls in a boat up the river to their Aunt Gillock's house.
Aunt Nancy Gillock was a sister to Jesse and Emanuel Applegate. Nancy Applegate had married Michael Gillock, and took the orphans into their home, where they lived until each married. Aunt Gillock had a family with her own daughters, and Martha remembered feeling like Cinderella, doing the chores and staying home while the Gillock cousins had fine clothes and went to parties.
All three little girls grew up to be lovely young women, who married, had children and their own homes. The middle sister, Mary Elizabeth Applegate, married James Mortaman Montroy, had 7 children and stayed in Coahoma County, Mississippi. They are buried in Montroy Cemetery. The oldest, Margaret Applegate, married John Thomas in Mississippi, had 2 children, then moved to Cotton Patch, Arkansas, where he clerked in a store while she taught school and had 4 more children. In the 1890’s they followed their cousin, Madora Gillock Vandiver, moving from Coahoma County, Mississippi to Delta County, Texas. Margaret & John Thomas are buried in Oaklawn Cemetery, Delta County, Texas. Madora Gillock Vandiver moved from Delta County, Texas to Indian Territory, Oklahoma, where she died in 1905 (near Antlers, Pushmatahaw County, Oklahoma).
Martha Applegate married J. Russ Davis in Coahoma County, Mississippi in 1876. They had 9 children and in 1901, they also moved to southern Delta County, Texas to an area near the Sulphur River which sometimes flooded, much like the area they left in Coahoma County. In 1924 they went with their youngest son, Jack Davis, his wife Irene and baby, Imogene (6 wks old), to Hobbs, Fisher County, Texas. They traveled by wagon & mule, taking 3 weeks to get where they finally stopped. Jack had been told by doctors to “go West” for his health. He was a tenant farmer, worked on WPA bridge projects, hunted ducks for food, yet they were poor. J. Russ Davis died there in 1931, Jack died from a pneumonia relapse in 1932, and Martha Applegate died in 1948. They are buried in the dry, red dirt of Hobbs Cemetery.
Emanuel Applegate survived the war, though nearly blind and feeble. He moved to Jackson County, Arkansas with a daughter, where he lived to be about 75 yrs old and died about 1905.
Civil War: Brothers Jesse & Emanuel Applegate enlisted 23 Aug 1862 at Shufordsville MS as Privates in the 18th Battalion Mississippi Cavalry, Company B, Chalmers' Partisan Rangers. They each furnished their own horse & saddle, valued at $150 and $15 each.
Both men were 6' tall, slender and had black hair and gray eyes. Jesse was 10 lb. thinner (at 160 lb.) than Emanuel.
Jesse Applegate died 22 Dec 1862 at age 34. Emanuel Applegate survived, though nearly blind, filed for & received a pension warrant of $75 in Aug 1903 while living in Jackson County, Arkansas.