It was 1849 and Rebecca was living just outside of Macon with her husband David Gurganus. Dependent on funds from the Pauper Account from Bibb County, Georgia, they got by. David’s oldest daughter, widowed and in her fifties, had moved in with them.
In the spring of 1849, an event occurred that changed everything. David’s widowed daughter, Mary Ellen, was brutally murdered in their front yard and David was clubbed in the head with the butt of a rifle. (The complete story is told here.)
Rebecca, stood helplessly by as she witnessed the horrific scene. After the attacker fled, it was Rebecca's wails that brought a nearby neighbor running to help. Finding Ellen dead from a gunshot wound to the neck and 87 year old David, kneeling on the ground, bleeding head in his hands, the neighbor carried David into the house and then went for help.
|By Harry French [Public domain], |
via Wikimedia Commons
Rebecca testified at the trial of Ellen’s murderer in September of 1849, but David was not well enough to even attend the trial much less testify. Newspaper accounts indicated it was unlikely that he would ever recover. As predicted, he never did fully recover and passed away the following March. In a relatively short time, Rebecca found herself completely alone.
Rebecca had no means to pay for David’s coffin. Inferior Court minutes show that E.B. Mims was reimbursed for the cost of David's coffin from the Pauper Account. It was also the Pauper Account that continued to sustain Rebecca.
According to the newspaper,The Macon Messenger, in July of 1850 there were three unclaimed letters addressed to Rebecca Gurganus at the post office. I can't help but wonder, who wrote her? Did she have children from a previous marriage? Did she have living siblings that knew of her plight? Did she ever pick up and pay for her mail and did she respond?
What did Rebecca do next? I will share what I know in next post.
Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved