Joanna Elizabeth “Jo” Ham was the first daughter born to Joel Ham and his wife Mary Emily Montgomery. She was born in Mississippi, probably in Yalobusha County, on 31 Aug. 1843. Joanna can be found there with her parents in the 1850 census. By 1860, the Ham family is in Texas, and we find Joanna there with them in Mount Vernon, Titus County. There she grew up and met Benjamin Franklin (known as Bing) Edwards whom she married on 3 Jan 1862 in Hopkins County, Texas.
Bing was born in 28 September of 1840 in Cherokee County, Alabama. He is one of the sons of Gideon and Jane Edwards. Bing served the Confederacy in the Civil War. He was a Sergeant in Company K, 19th Texas Infantry. His tombstone states that he was a “Badge of Courage” recipient.
The family spent time between several different counties in Texas – 1870 they were in Hopkins County; 1880 they were in Johnson County; and in 1900 they were in Hill County.
To say that Jo and Bing had a large family would be a huge understatement. In the census records Joanna advised the census taker that she had given birth 14 times and that 11 children survived. Now…I don’t know about you – I barely managed to bring forth one child. Can you image what it was like to be pregnant 14 times?! And to give birth 14 times?! And all this without prenatal care? And then to lose three children – what heart-break.
These are the children that we know about:
- Calidonnia “Donnie” Mansfield Edwards (1864-1939)
- Alice Lenorah Edwards (1866-1946)
- Mary Udora Edwards (1868-1943)
- Sara Edwards (1871-?)
- Joanna Elizabeth “Betty” Edwards (1872-1930)
- Ninnie M. Edwards (1875-?)
- Benjamin Franklin Edwards, Jr. (1877-?)
- Lula L. Edwards (1879-?)
- William Arthur Edwards (1880-1898)
- Robert Eston Edwards (1882-1974)
- Ola Etna Edwards (1885-1971)
- Thomas E. Edwards (1886-1950)
Joanna’s husband, Benjamin Franklin Edwards died in Hill County, Texas on 4 July 1910 at the age of 69. He is laid to rest in Derden Cemetery in the county. That same year in the census record Joanna is living with one of her daughters, Ola Etna Edwards Mabe and her husband Clarence. Joanna died five years later at the age of 72 on 20 Sept 1915 in Buel, Johnson County, Texas. She is laid to rest in the Buel Cemetery. Her death certificate below is a rare find. Even though death records were sometimes kept as early as 1900 in Texas – it is unusual to find one this early (1915).
This branch of the Ham family tree frankly still needs a lot of work. We don’t have much information on any of Joanna’s children and no photographs. For those of you that know me – you know I love the old family photographs most of all. It helps to put a face to a name when researching a family line. Theoretically, there should be a lot of descendants out there! We would love to hear from any of you that are interested in exchanging information on the Ham family genealogy.