Thomas Williamson Fulghum, my third-great-grandfather, lived all of his 98 years in the Middle Tennessee area. Below is a picture of Thomas. It amazes me to be able to gaze upon the face of someone born around 1816.
All information in this article can be found in records on Ancestry.com unless otherwise noted.
Family histories, along with the fact that there were no other Fulghums in the area at the time, indicate Thomas Williamson Fulghum was the son of Theopolis Fulghum and Mary “Polly” Williamson. From census records, we can tell Thomas was born about 1816. In 1816, Theopolis is on the tax list in the 14th district of Davidson County. This area of Davidson County became Cheatham County in 1856 when the later county was established. Thomas was likely born near Dog Creek where his family lived.
(Family histories in books “West Nashville – Its People and Environs” by Sarah Foster Kelley and “Dunn and Mays Families” pages 143 – 144 of the referenced book on the Dunn and Mays families; research conducted by Fulgham-Fulghum Family Database.)
I have not located a marriage record for Thomas, but he married Martha Woodward sometime around 1840. A common date listed for their marriage is December 9, 1840, but census records indicate as early as 1838.
By 1850, Thomas was about 33 and living in then-Davidson County, Tennessee. Martha and he had four children. He was a farmer.
In 1860, Thomas, now 44, was living in Cheatham County (became a county in 1856 – Thomas likely didn’t move or didn’t move far). The couple now had eight children. Thomas was working as a day laborer.
By the time he was 54, Thomas had a personal estate worth $300 in Cheatham County. He continued work as a farmer in 1870. Five children were living with him on this census including, Martha (Lena), my great-great-grandmother.
In 1880, Thomas was 64, still working as a farmer in Cheatham County. His household consisted of his wife, Martha, and two daughters: Tabitha and Martha.
Thomas & his wife lived in Dickson County in 1900, which is the county to the left of Cheatham. A later newspaper article indicates they resided in the community of Burns. Thomas’s wife up until 1900 was referred to as Martha, but this lists his wife as “Claira” or Clara. I believe it’s the same woman due to the age listed and years married. Clara stated she had 6 living children and 10 total children. I was able to confirm the couple had at least 10 known children:
John Arthur Fulghum 1841–
Harriett E Fulghum 1843–1932
William James Fulghum 1844–1947
Mary Fulghum 1846–
Sarah E. “Sally” Fulghum 1850–1936
Benjamin Franklin Fulghum 1852–1939
Sarah Margaret Maggie Fulghum 1855–1920
Theophilus Offie Fulghum 1860–1935
Tabitha Fulghum 1862–
Martha Lena Fulghum 1865–1917
In the March 16, 1909 edition of The Tennessean newspaper, an article runs about the suicide of Thomas’s wife, Martha/Clara. Her age is wrong, as she was likely only born about 1822. This was a sad discovery.
Thomas was widowed on the 1910 census, and lived as a boarder with the Anderson family on Kingston Springs and “Craggishoton” [sic] Road in Cheatham County, Tennessee. His age was listed as 94, with his father being born in North Carolina and mother from Virginia.
Thomas passed away around mid-April 1914. Ben Tidwell, the son of Martha Lena Fulgum Tidwell, is mentioned in the April 28, 1914 edition of The Tennessean as going to his grandfather’s funeral. Article below.
Thomas is buried in Burns, but I don’t know where.
98 years meant he had many great stories to tell. I can’t imagine all of the changes he saw take place upon the Middle Tennessee landscape in nearly a century.
If you’re also related to the Middle Tennessee Fulghums, please feel free to get in touch! My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.