Out of all of Tilman Curbow’s children, for some reason, Martha Isabell intrigues me the most. Martha Isabell Curbow was the youngest daughter of Tilman Curbow and Elizabeth Box. She was referred to by her family as “Belle” and sometimes “Mattie.” She was born 22 July 1857 in Mississippi, probably Itawamba County. Martha can be found with her family in the 1860 and 1870 census records. The photo below is thought to be a wedding photograph. The notations on the back of the photo read: “Grandmother Bedwell, who died in 1940.”
At the tender age of 14 years old, on 7 Aug. 1871, Belle married Charles Hodges in McLennan County, Texas. In this marriage record she is indexed as “Belle Kerbo.” Charles Hodges is possibly Charles C. Hodges born 1844 in Arkansas, the son of Walter Clark Hodges and Elizabeth Hines. To my knowledge, this couple did not have any children.
A short five years later, on 23 Nov 1876, Belle married Jonathon Monroe Bedwell in McLennan County, Texas. In this marriage record, Belle is listed as “Mattie Hodges.” John Bedwell was the son of William Dawson “Doss” Bedwell and Sarah Elizabeth Johnson. John’s father was a Confederate civil war soldier – a planter before the war – and a prominent citizen of Waco, Texas. It appears that Belle and Jonathan spent their married lives together in McLennan County, Texas living on the Bedwell Plantation. Martha and John had four children: Olivia A. in 1877; Albert in 1879 (lived only 6 years); William Franklin in 1880; and James Monroe in 1882.
After John’s untimely death in 1883 of meningitis, Belle continued living on the Bedwell family property with her children and her mother-in-law until she married Edward Henry Pressley on 1 Sept 1884. Edward was the son of Enoch B. Pressley and Mary E. Barrington. The couple had two children: Jennie Mae in 1889 and Walter Gordon in 1891. Belle had a total of six children – four boys and two girls – sadly, she outlived all of her sons.
By 1900 Belle and her husband (and the two younger children) were living in Cleburne, Johnson County, Texas where they were indexed as “hotel keepers” in the census. By 1910 the couple is living in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, where they lived out the rest of their lives together.
The photograph above is courtesy of Pressley researcher Carol Wolfe.
Belle died at the age of 83 in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas on 16 Feb 1941. She is laid to rest in Mission Burial Park. She shares a headstone with her youngest son.
OBITUARY: Published San Antonio Light on Sunday, Feb. 16, 1941, Par. 7, Page 3: PRESSLEY: Martha Isabel Pressley died at her residence, 134 Belden Street, Feb. 15, 1941, in her eighty-third year. Survivors, daughters Mrs. Mae Harper and Mrs. Olivia Harrison. Services Sunday 4 pm from the Chapel of Southside Funeral Home. Rev. W. P. Carmichael officiating. Interment, Mission Burial Park. Direction Southside Funeral Home< 5519 So. Flores Street in Harlandale.
I want to especially thank my friend (and distant cousin) Jan Shaffer for working with me so diligently on the genealogy of Martha Isabell Curbow. Jan is descended from James Monroe Bedwell and his wife Olive Mae Waldie in a very interesting way. I’ll write about that in another post! Without Jan – and her contacts – we wouldn’t know much about Martha and the Bedwells nor would we have these wonderful photographs of Martha. Jan and I would love to be in touch with other family members – particularly descendants of Olivia Bedwell Harrison; Jennie Mae Pressley Hensley Harper; and Walter Gordon Pressley.