Contributed by: Gordon Trueblood
Richard Elliott was born in Perquimans County, November 11, 1829. His parents were Francis and Christian (Byrum) Elliott. His first wife was Mary Elliott, daughter of Humphrey and Cynthia Elliott. Mary Elliott was his second cousin. They were married on January 22, 1849, when Richard was just a little over 19 - considered young in those days for a groom. Their children were: Benjamin (died in infancy), John Humphrey (md. Arabella Winslow); Addison Q. (md. Susan Cockran), Robert (died in infancy), Mary (md. Felix Cherry), Julia (md. John Quincy Adams Wood), Richard (died in infancy). Mary Elliott died circa 1864-5. Richard Elliott then married Martha Jane Goodwin on Feb. 25, 1867. Their children were Miles S. (md. Amelia White), Richard D. (md. Mary A. White), William H. (md. Patti Elliott), Martha L. (md. Jasper LeRoy March 22, 2003eans), Pauline (md. James E. Deans), and Elizabeth (md. Rosser Brinn). Since my professional background is in Public Health/Epidemiology, I have a tendency to read into data to perceive intuitively other information that may be present. Mary Elliott, the first wife of Richard, experienced a number of known pregnancies between the time she married and the time of her death (we don't know of any miscarriages that may have occurred). There are a number of possible conditions to which her death may be assigned, however, I rather suspect that barring death from injury or accident, that maternal depletion/exhaustion must have been a contributing factor. Sanitary conditions could have played a role - not to imply that Richard and Mary were unclean, but in those the germ theory was still unknown. Mary Elliott came from good Quaker background whereas Richard Elliott did not embrace organized religion; he was not a churchman. In fact, he seemed to hold organized religion in some kind of contempt - perhaps because of the way he saw people live (or not live) their faith. He was nonetheless a student of the Bible and was guided by what he read and his own interpretation of it. When Mary Elliott's parents died, she joined the Methodist Church at Centre Hill as a compromise between Quakerism and Richard Elliott's "churchlessness". Richard, of course, did not follow her in that respect. Nevertheless, he understood the importance of religion and moral values and never interfered with the religious education of his children by their mother and teachers. My view on this is that Richard knew he was the exception, knew where he wanted to go with it, and knew how to handle it. He, however, did not want to impose such a cavalier way of thinking and living (for those days) on his children. Richard was committed to the importance, not of education, but of good education, for his children. The best school was at Center Hill, a distance of 8 miles from Bear Swamp. Richard sent his children the 8 miles there and 8 miles back each day by horse and wagon, driven by the oldest son. In 1870, Richard's quest for better education for his children led him to relocate his family to a farm at Smalls Cross Roads in Chowan County. He also kept the farm at Bear Swamp. At Smalls Cross Roads the children received instruction in English, Latin, French, as well as the basics: reading, writing and arithmetic. Richard's children attended church near Smalls Cross Roads. When the church decided an organ was needed, Richard contributed $5 - a considerable amount in those days - to the organ fund. This is further evidence that Richard, though not a churchman himself, was a kind and generous man. Evidence all around is that Richard Elliott was prosperous farmer. Richard was a lover of books and attended to his own continuing education by subscribing to the New York Tribune, which he read from cover to cover before passing it on to his neighbors. Richard Elliott died May 25, 1902 and is buried in an above-ground brick vault in the Elliott Family Plot on the main road between Hertford and Center Hill. When I visited the grave last summer, the family plot was surrounded by a small fence. Richard's brick vault is located outside the fence, next to the ditch along the road. The vault was almost overtaken with weeds. The mortar between the bricks is deteriorating, leaving the vaule in need of repair. The vault looked as though it may not hold up much longer. Although I am not a direct (or indirect) descendent of Richard Elliott, the biographical material I have on him reveals a man of wisdom, kindness and unusual character for his day and time.
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