Martin McGraw and Margaret “Polly” Shores

Lately, I see the name “Margaret ‘Polly’ Shores in so many family trees of others with whom I share DNA. Below is the marriage record from which the name is taken. Note the date and the location of the marriage: Our alleged great-grandmother is marrying a man whose name isn’t Martin McGraw in a county approximately 170 miles from Greenbrier about 16 years after Martin died. I know that “Polly” was a nickname for both or either given name Mary and Margaret. I won’t deny that I may be distantly related to the McGraws of Hampshire County, WV. I do, however, deny that this couple is our direct ancestors, Martin and Margaret McGraw.
Margaret Shores marriage to Samuel McGraw

Studying the records, you will find that the name Martin McGraw is used consistently, namely in the Court Records and Tax Records for Greenbrier County. However, Martin died about 1810 as that is when he disappears from the Tax Records and “Widow” or Margaret McGraw replaces him. In the court records before and after 1810, his sons are referred to as “Martin McGraw’s hands or titheables.” Son Martin McGraw II followed the same example as his father, using one name throughout – censuses, marriage records, tax records, pension records – in four different counties, from Monroe in 1806 to Putnam in 1850.

Martin McGraw I (or senior, if you prefer) and wife Margaret – surname unknown as of this writing – were most likely born between 1750 and 1755. Why? Because their two eldest sons, Anthony and John, were both married in 1799 Greenbrier County. At that time, young men didn’t marry until the age of 21 or thereafter. Subtract 21 from 1799 and the year of birth is about 1778. I’m not saying the two brothers were twins: Anthony was most likely the elder of the two as he appears on the 1796 Greenbrier County Tax List with father Martin making him at least 16 years of age. John doesn’t appear on the Tax List until two years later.

Where did Martin McGraw and Margaret ___ marry? In 1850 both John and Martin appear in the census; John in Russell County, Virginia and Martin in Putnam County, (West) Virginia. Both provide his birthplace as Pennsylvania. Therefore it is likely that IF Martin and Margaret were married in America, they would have married and began having children in the state of Pennsylvania.

I know that younger brother Samuel gave his birthplace as Augusta County on a voter’s list in Fayette County – and that may well be – but his elder siblings were born north of the Mason-Dixon line. I’ve estimated Samuel’s year of birth as 1792. In an affidavit for Elizabeth (Betsy Brian) McGraw Gill, Anthony’s widow, Samuel states that he was “a small boy” when Anthony and Elizabeth were married but he was able to recall it. I suggest that Samuel would have been about seven years old at the time of the event.

And if you run across my public tree in Ancestry and find that I’ve given our ancestor Margaret the surname of “Weir Ware” please be advised that this is only a hypothesis, not her actual surname. Another word of advice: Before copying from someone else’s data, do your homework to establish accuracy otherwise you create a brick wall of your own making.

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