Sarah Jane Watson Farmer Lawrence

This is the story of my third-great-grandmother as I know it. All information pulled from records unless otherwise noted.

Sarah Jane Watson, commonly called Jane, was born December 23, 1849 in Robertson County, Tennessee to Sarah Sally Frey and Talton Watson. By the 1860 census, the family of nine lived in Cheatham County, Tennessee which borders Robertson County to the south.

Jane’s father, Talton, enlisted to fight in the Civil War and died December 2, 1852 in Rankin, Mississippi. Jane was nearly 13 at the time of her father’s tragic death. Her mother, Sally, was pregnant and gave birth to Albert Floyd Watson on February 13, 1863, just a few months after Talton’s death. Talton left a wife and eight children: Frances (born 1844), Almedia (born 1847), Sarah Jane, Thomas (born 1851), Mary (born 1853), Luvina (born 1856), George (born 1849), and Albert.

The heartache this must have caused the Watson family. When did they find out about Talton’s passing? I wonder how the news would have reached them.

In 1870, Sally, Almedia, Jane, and Albert lived with Frances and her husband, Mark Swift, in Cheatham County. I am bothered that I cannot find record of Thomas, Mary, Luvina, and George in 1870 or beyond. Did they pass away? Was this family put through more grief? (Also, these children were just initials on the 1860 census. These names are listed for them on Ancestry trees but not verified.)

At age 24 in 1873, Jane married Thomas J. Farmer in Montgomery County, Tennessee. (Source: — Volume 5 Page 185) (Read post about Thomas here.) Jane was seven years older than Thomas. Their first child, Ellen Gray Farmer, was born October 7, 1876.

In June 1879, Jane’s sister, Almedia, died from cancer. On January 20, 1880, Jane gave birth to a second daughter, Harriett Almeda “Hattie” Farmer, named after her sister.

The 1880 census lists both Jane and Thomas as 24, although we know that Jane was 31. She was listed as sick with “flux”. I’m not familiar with that term, but this website states it has to do with dysentery and bowel issues.

Jane recovered from flux and had two more daughters: Addie Mary Farmer (born July 20, 1882) and Lillian Lee Farmer (born September 29, 1885).

Jane’s mother, Sally, died sometime after the 1880 census, where she was still living with daughter Frances Swift and family.

Since the 1890 census was destroyed, we are missing valuable information that the census could have provided. Family trees give Thomas Farmer a death year of 1889. I have found no record to back this up.

Thomas Farmer must have passed away between 1885 – 1895, because on November 10, 1895, Jane married Robert Lawrence in Cheatham County, Tennessee. She became a widow again when Robert died in 1909.

I haven’t found her on the 1910 census.

On both the 1900 and 1920 census, Jane is listed as able to read and write.

Sarah moved to Nashville by 1920 to live with Addie’s family, the Bennetts (my lineage). They lived at 1906 Fourth Avenue North. According to Google Maps, that address is a vacant lot now.

Jane died at age 75 on April 1, 1925 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee. Her cause of death is listed as influenza on her death certificate. A doctor attended to her for ten days from March 20 – March 30 and said she died at 2:10 a.m. on April 1. (Note death certificate calculates wrong age and lists wrong father’s first name — “Jos.” for Josiah. Maybe Josiah was Talton’s first name?)

Sarah Jane Watson Death Certificate

Jane was buried in “Heop” (??) burial ground in Robertson County according to her death certificate. She is listed on FindAGrave in the Heads Free Will Baptist Church Cemetery in Cedar Hill, Robertson County, Tennessee. No stone is pictured and this has not been verified.

There was no formal obituary in the newspaper after Jane’s death, only a small mention.

SJWatson Obit1
April 3, 1925 edition of The Tennessean

One can’t look at Jane’s life and ignore all of the loss she faced starting at an early age. We don’t have many clues about Jane’s personality, but I am sure she was a strong and resilient woman.
Posted September 24, 2018

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