By Jonathan K. T. Smith
Copyright, Jonathan K. T. Smith, 1996

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            The family of James Lawrence Talbot (1813-1872) were high-lighted in a sketch about them in Part Vl. of the present writer's publication, MY RIVERSIDE CEMETERY TOMBSTONE INSCRIPTIONS SCRAPBOOK, 1995, pages 13-15. The present coverage deals with James L. Talbot's paternal uncle, Joseph H. Talbot.

            Colonel Joseph Hale Talbot was one of the children of Thomas Talbot (April 17, 1760, Bedford Co., Va.-January 28, 1831) and his wife, Ruth (Greer) Talbot (who died October 8, 1819, aged 51 years, 5 months and 8 days). (See, TALBOT FAMILY, a typescript by James L. Talbot, 1948, a copy of which is in the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville.) By the will of his father, "Jo" Talbot inherited $3000 from him. (Davidson County Will Book, 1832-1836, page 184; will executed Jan. 18, 1831 and probated July 22, 1833) A clever young person, Talbot trained for the law, securing his license to practice law in Davidson County in 1822 in which year he moved to Jackson, Tennessee, there qualifying in the county court of Madison County to practice law. Talented and industrious, his reputation grew steadily.

            When Robert Hughes resigned as clerk and master of the Supreme Court (of Errors and Appeals), western division, seated in Jackson, "Jo" Talbot was appointed to this position, May 5, 1834 (Supreme Court Minute Book 1830-1840, page 178); he was appointed to a full six-year term, in this office, April 11, 1836. (IBID., page 274) With the closing of the annual term/session of this court, 1840, he resigned as clerk, a year short of his having served a full term, being succeeded by William H. Stephens (who was acting as clerk in July 1840 and to which position he was appointed for a six-year term, April 6, 1841. (IBID., 1840-1850, pages 25, 28)

            Colonel Talbot, to call him by the courtesy title by which he became known, was in residence in Madison County where the census enumerator, 1840, listed him, aged 30-40, with a young male (his son, Frank), aged 10-15 (Census, page 71). In a deed dated April 1840, he was given as a resident of Madison County. (Madison County Deed Book 7, page 73)

            Colonel Talbot had married Almedia Ann Sanders, March 8, 1827, with whom he had several children but she died while still a young woman and was buried in Riverside Cemetery, Jackson, where a grave-length slab tombstone still marks her grave; its inscription: Sacred to the memory of MRS. ALMEDIA ANN TALBOT, wife of Joseph H. Talbot, Esq. Born March 5th 1807. Died October 10th 1835, aged 28 years, 7 months and 5 days. There is a calm for those who weep, a rest, for weary Pilgrims found; They softly lie, and sweetly sleep, Low in the ground. (Lower right of tombstone: J. Humble, Cin., O., being the tombstone company in Cincinnati, Ohio that created this tombstone)

            Nearby is the well-preserved tombstone of one of their several children: Sacred to the memory of JOSEPH GREER son of Joseph & Almedia TALBOT. Born 20th Sept. 1832. Died 27th May 1834. Aged 1 year, 8 months & 7 days.

            From the TALBOT GENEALOGY, mentioned above, and a record dated August 1895, it is known that Colonel Talbot and his first wife had children: Francis (Frank), born about 1830, who died unmarried at age forty; Thomas and Joseph, both of whom died in infancy; Almedia who married William L. Duff, a Memphis lawyer, who died at the birth of their children, Almedia who also died as an infant. Almedia Talbot Duff was buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Chapel Circle, Memphis, lot 5, November 14, 1867, aged 32 years.

            Colonel Talbot moved to Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee where he practiced law, bought land and had it farmed and in 1847-1848 built a large dwelling at an address then beyond the "hurly-burly" of the city


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but early in the 20th century known as 531 Vance Avenue. He derived revenue also from his rental properties, including a brick storehouse in the Howard Row of South Memphis.

            Colonel Talbot had remarried, August 16, 1842, to a Madison Countian, Martha P. Freeman (born in North Carolina, May 9, 1821; died in Memphis, October 23, 1884), with whom he had three daughters: Ruth, born in 1844 who married Hugh B. Martin, March 25, 1862 and had several children; Mary H. (January 13, 1846-April 22, 1883) who married John T. Hillsman (1838-1909) and had several children. They are buried in lot 76, Lenow Circle, Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, as is her mother, Martha P. Talbot. Delia Waters, born in 1848 who married Robert C. Williamson and had several children.

            Under mental stress, the causes of which are now unknown, Colonel Talbot's emotional stability gave way and in the terminology of his day was declared "that the sd. Talbot is a lunatic incapable of managing his business & that he needs a guardian to be appointed for him," by a jury convened in Shelby County to determine the state of his mental condition, February 5, 1849. (Tennessee State Library and Archives. Shelby County Microfilm Roll #292, probate-miscellaneous file for Joseph H. Talbot, 1849, #333) His nephew, James L. Talbot of Madison County was appointed his guardian and so acted from that date until his uncle's demise a few months later. (IBID.)

            Before he was incapacitated, Colonel Talbot executed his last will and testament, June 2, 1848, disposing of his estate in a manner he considered equitable:

        I Joseph H. Talboe of the city of Memphis, being of sound mind but feeble health and calling to mind the uncertainty of all human affairs and being about to travel north and east for the benefit of my health and having a desire to make provision for my family, peculiar to their condition, do publish this my last will and testament.
        Item 1. It is my desire that my body be taken to the old "Talbot burial ground" near the city of Nashville and there interred according to the rights /rites/ of the ancient and honorable fraternity of free and accepted Masons of which I have been for many years a member, provided my brethren consider me worthy of that honor.
        Item 2. I will and devise to my beloved wife Martha the place where I now live in south Memphis, being about 16 acres of land designated in the plan of south Memphis as block 54 bounded on the north by Vance Street, on the east by Lauderdale Street, and on the west by Wellington being the place where I now reside /thus marked through/ or should my wife prefer I will her my farm near Memphis consisting of about 87 acres of land purchased of Willoughby Williams, together with two thousand dollars to be applied by my executor hereinafter named, in suitable building should _____? it before my death have erected on the land suitable buildings for her condition or should my wife prefer I devise to her my old Jackson residence being a 10 acre lot and all north and adjoining thereto, and lying between the Christmasville and Trenton roads supposed to be fifty acres, but saying and reserving about 14 acres on the north part including the houses and field where my sister in law Mrs. Delia Talbot lives. I devise either one of the above three places, that she may prefer and she shall six months after the proving of my will to make the selection to have and to hold the place so chosen to her and her heirs in fee forever, but this devise is in lieu and satisfaction of all right of dower that my wife may be entitled to any of my lands wheresoever found. I also will to my wife Martha all my household and kitchen furniture, my carriage and a carriage horse (if I should them /a confused provision/, all the provisions on hand, etc. /at/ the time of my death, provided for the support of the family and upon her I charge the board of my children for a year after my death. I also give to my wife the following slaves, Old Jo and his family, to wit, Annis and her children, now born and her future increase, Vemus and her increase, Charles and little Jo and Susan. I also give to my wife my watch.
        Item 3. As I make no calculation that my son Francis will ever acquire sufficient intellect to provide for himself or take care of what I may provide him I will and devise to my executors herein after made, my brick store house in what is called Howards row, south Memphis and the ground it covers, now occupied by Florian & Co. as a grocery. This devise is made however in trust and for the use and benefit of my simple son. May /my/ said executors are to apply the rent and profits to his economical and decent support during life and to guard against casualties my said executors are required to keep the buildings constantly under as full insurance as can be procured so if in case of destruction, the insurance money may rebuild to a great extent the houses (all of the rent and the rent and profits over and above insuring repairs taxes &c. and the support of my son. . . .

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JACKSON GAZETTE, March 14, 1829:

        Item 4. All my other property real and personal I charge with the payment of my debts and my executors are fully authorized to sell or lease all my property not specifically devised for such purpose. And after the payment of my debts it is my will that the remainder of my estate of every description be equally divided between my children share and share alike. If any of my children die before coming of age, the part coming to such a child to go to the survivor or the representatives of such survivor.
        Item 5. At the death of my son Francis, the devise in trust to his use and all the remaining profits arising therefrom I will to be equally devided between my then surviving children and the representatives of such as may be dead.
            I appoint my brothers in law, Dr. Alexander Jackson and Abram K. Taylor, executors to this my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal at Memphis on this 2d day of June 1848.


Jos. H. Talbot

I wrote the above will in haste and although well considered /he made some structural changes/.


            On May 7, 1849 Dr. Alexander Jackson was appointed sole executor of Colonel Joseph H. Talbots last will and testament. The probate file (#808, year 1849) contains many vouchers for taxes Jackson paid on properties owned by Talbot, receipts of clothing and school materials for the Talbot children, detailed listings of property and supplies purchased. Mentioned as his children are Almedia Ruth, Mary H. and Della Talbot in these records.

            Colonel Talbot was taken to the well-known mental asylum in Lexington, Kentucky in February 1849 where he died a few months later; his body was taken for burial to the Talbot graveyard near Nashville. If a tombstone ever marked his grave, it had evidently been vandalized or broken up by 1948. He left an estate valued at about$150,000, consisting mostly of land and some 23 slaves.

            Jay Guy Cisco, a local historian of Madison County, generally reliable in his writing, wrote about Colonel Joseph H. Talbot in "Madison County", THE AMERICAN HISTORY MAGAZINE, volume 7, number 4, October 1902, page 339, "Joseph H. Talbot, who was a member of the first Jackson bar, and the possessor of much learning in the law, and who succeeded Alexander Bradford as attorney-general, came to Jackson from a point near Nashville about the year 1827 and there bought and improved real estate now known as 'McNairy Hill.' When the State Supreme Court was directed to sit in Jackson for West Tennessee, Colonel Talbot was appointed its clerk. The appointment was rendered to Mr. James L. Talbot, a nephew of Joseph H., but being under age he could not accept it. Thereupon the latter was appointed and made his nephew his deputy, when the young man reached his majority Colonel Talbot resigned and his nephew was appointed in his place. Later he moved to Memphis where he spent the remainder of his life, loved, honored and respected by all who knew him. His remains were buried at the old Talbot homestead near Nashville."

            It is simply not true that Colonel Talbot was appointed in place of his nephew and that he resigned for the sake of the same man, as the minutes of the Supreme Court amply reveal. William H. Stephens was his immediate successor when he resigned in 1840. Also, he moved to Jackson in 1822. He was also appointed the first clerk of the Gibson County circuit court, May 1824. (Goodspeed's HISTORY OF TENNESSEE, Gibson County, page 800) Gibson County is just north of Madison County.

            Colonel Talbot's signature, taken from one of the Supreme Court Minute Book 1830-1840 entries:


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