|Mary J. Stover ca. 1890|
was one year old her family was living on the Blue Spring Branch in District 9
of Elizabethton in Carter County, Tennessee. Mary’s father died when she was only
four years old, but in his will, David made several references to the care of
his children. He specified “It is my will and desire that my wife should remain
on my lands and raise and educate my children from off the proceeds of same. In
the management of the farm and in the education of my children I desire my wife
to consult and be guided by advice of my brothers S.M. and D. Stover. I do not
specify any particular mode but would prefer private teaching.”
Even though David died three years before the Civil War began, he must have had a premonition of what was to come because his will stipulated that, “In case my brothers, S.M. and D. Stover or either of them sells and relocates to another place or state and my wife desires to go and take my family with them, I give her and my executors full power to sell all my lands without any reservation and all other property that will not be of use. I will and desire that the moneys arising from the sale of my lands in this event shall be invested in Negroes and the lands, or lands alone, and I will that my children shall all share equally in the same at the death of their mother or at her marriage.” Given that David and Joanna had four daughters and three sons, it seems somewhat remarkable that he wanted his daughters to share equally in his estate.
|Downtown Elizabethton early 1900s|
Sadly, Mary’s brother Win died when Mary was six years old. He would have been ten or eleven.
When the 1860 census was taken the family was living in Elizabethton. Mary’s mother Joanna was 35, her sister Sarah was 11, Carrie 7, Mary 6, David 4 and Elizabeth was 2. They were living next door to Mary’s aunt and uncle Samuel and Caroline Stover and their four children. Ten years later Mary’s family was still living in Elizabethton but her aunt, uncle and cousins had moved to Sullivan County, Tennessee.
Ten years later on July 13, 1870 when the census taker stopped at the house Joanna’s age was recorded as 43 not 45, Sarah was 21, Carrie 17, Mary 15 and David was 14. The youngest, Elizabeth did not appear so must have died sometime before 1870.
Mary’s older sister Sarah was married in November of 1870, and on February 22, 1876 Mary married William McFarland Cameron – also a native of Elizabethton. He was born on March 1, 1856, the son of Dr. James McLin Cameron (1833-1906) and Mary Elizabeth Adeline Neilson Tipton (1834-1907).
|William Cameron from Dawn|
When the census was taken in 1880 the Cameron family was living in house number 25 in Elizabethton. William was 24, Mary 26 and their daughter Bessie was nine months. William was listed as a dry goods merchant.
Mary and William had eight children. The names of the known children were Bessie, born August 22, 1879, Clarence born in 1881, James Macklin born June 9, 1883, Claude born in 1885, Frances G. born in 1889 and Joanna born February 5, 1892.
Shortly after Joanna was born, the family moved to Los Angeles, California which is where they were when the 1900 census was taken. They were living at 440 Vernon Avenue in central Los Angeles. The 1900 census is difficult to read but it appears that William was employed as a farmhand. Mary and William’s son Claude died in 1902 as did Mary’s mother Joanna. Sadly, the following year William died on July 26, 1903 at the age of forty-seven leaving Mary to raise two teenage daughters on her own.
On September 24, 1903 the Los Angeles Evening Post ran a small notice that Mrs. Mary J. Cameron had applied for a building permit to have a frame cottage built at 1794 E. Vernon Avenue. Four days later there was a similar notice in the Los Angeles Daily Times that said “Mrs. Mary J. Cameron is having built for her own home a cottage at No. 1794 East Vernon Avenue.” Then on March 5, 1911 the Los Angeles Times ran this ad under Building Permits, “Dwellings five rooms each, 1784-88 East Vernon Avenue: Mary J. Cameron.
|Mary's son James M. Cameron|
On the 1910 census Mary’s address was listed as 1786 Vernon Avenue which may mean that she moved, or more likely the street was renumbered. Mary was identified as the head of the household and widowed at the age of 56. She was living with her son James aged 26 who was working as a teamster for the electric railroad. Twelve-year-old Grace Owens from Nebraska was also living with them and was identified as a “companion”.
Mary died from bronchial pneumonia on March 2, 1913 and is buried with her husband in Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles.
|Marriage record for Mary and William 1876|
|Another marriage record for Mary and William|
|Death record for William M. Cameron|
|Mary and William's daughter Frances Gena Cameron Swallow|
 Though neither of David’s brothers chose to leave Tennessee, his wife Joanna and her children did leave the state a few years after the Civil War. They relocated to Tarrant County, Texas. David’s son David and his eldest daughter Sarah remained in Texas but Mary and her sister Carrie both moved to California.