Family Stories

James Monroe Quarles and Nancy Jane Petty – Western Kentucky

We are visiting western Kentucky today, Graves County, particularly Maplewood Cemetery, in the city of Mayfield.  But our story also takes us to Marshall County, McCracken County and Alachua County, Florida.  Let me introduce you to James Monroe  and Nancy Jane Petty Quarles and their family.

When we visited the historical society in Graves County last March we found many books and information – and such help from the society!  The following italicized portion is from Graves County Kentucky History and Families.  My notes are in regular type.  I love the description of James by one of his daughters – any first hand information is a true find!

James Monroe Quarles, eldest son of Samuel Overton Quarles and Parthenia Maria Hynds, was born at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, October 25, 1825, and died at Mayfield, Kentucky, June 24, 1906.  James began his education at Copeland Meeting House, in Wilson County, Tennessee, at a school taught by his grandfather George Henry Hynds.  He later went to his Uncle Milton Winston Quarles in Paducah, from whom he learned the saddler’s trade, by the age of 16 years.  Uncle Milton was considered an expert saddler.  Prior to 1850 he settled in Marshall County, Kentucky, and learned the bricklayer’s trade, farmed and supplemented his earnings by teaching school in the winter months.

James married Nancy Jane Petty, daughter of Ralph Petty and Lucy Embrey, at her home in Marshall County on June 19, 1853.  Nancy Jane was born September 1, 1834, at Farmington, Graves County, and died in Hawthorne, Florida, on May 12, 1883.  Shortly after his marriage, he purchased a home and farmland on Soldier Creek, Marshall County.  It is here that his first four children were born:  Lanora Isadora (1854-1883), Ralph Petty (1855-1921) who married Ida May Strow; Kansas Alva (1858-1943) who married James Gainer, and Madorah Adalicia (1860-1927) who married Rueben Hiser, and after his death married Rol Wyatt.  Born near Paducah, Kentucky, were Mary Alice (1865-1883), Albert Sydney Johnston (1868-1921) who married Elizabeth Roche; and Gustavo Beauregard (1869-1937) who married Anna Hope McCaleb, and after her death married Rose Loring.  The family moved to “Pine Cottage Farm” near Paducah in 1870, where the following were born:  Horace Henry (1872-1942) who married Thursa Wilson, Harriet Boswell (1874-1951) who married William Davidson and later became Lol Wyatt’s second wife, and Robert Edward Lee (1878-1952) who married Florence Bradley.  His five sons were all pioneers in settling the west, becoming lawyers, educators, bankers and an Idaho Supreme Court justice.

James Monroe was reared as a Methodist, while Nancy Jane was reared as a Primitive Baptist, consequently they decided to join the Cumberland Presbyterian Church so their family would belong to the same faith.  James Monroe was also a Mason and belonged to the Order of Odd Fellows.  A certificate showing his membership in the Odd Fellows has the date of 1853, Murray, Kentucky.

In 1882 the family moved to Florida for the health of Nancy Jane, who suffered from severe bronchitis.  They settled in Hawthorne, Florida, and it proved a disastrous decision, when Nancy Jane and two daughters, Lanora and Mary Alice, all died of typhoid fever in the spring of 1883.

Buried in Hawthorne Baptist Church Cemetery, Hawthorne, Alachua County, Florida  –

Nancy Jane Petty Quarles, September 1, 1834 – May 12 1883

Alice Quarles, September 10, 1865 – June 7, 1883

Lanora Isadore Quarles, May 27, 1854 – June 23, 1883  (Lanora Isadora Quarles was educated in music and taught the piano.  She died just three days before her wedding day and was buried in her wedding dress, with her marriage license in her hand.  Nora, as the family called her, was buried beside her mother and her sister, Mary Alice Quarles – this portion is listed on the Find A Grave website – I could not verify.)  James must have despaired of losing a wife and two of his children to typhoid.  The family returned to Kentucky but I am not sure of the date.

His daughter, Harriet (Quarles) Wyatt, wrote a description of her father in 1938.  “Physically, he was five feet eight inches tall, broad shouldered, full chested, erect and carried his head high, looking the world square in the face.  His hands were broad and square.  He was not fat but stockily built.  His hair was dark, as were his eyes, grey, large and well set.  He was very handsome and wore a long white beard.  He kept all of his teeth but two, up to his death, and one of those he would not have lost except that it came out when the faulty one was pulled.  He used a quill toothpick and cleaned his teeth after each meal.  He could call hogs the farthest and snore the loudest of anyone.  He was a very moderate smoker until he was 72, when he developed a sore on his lip where his pipe stem rested.  He became alarmed for fear it might develop into cancer, so he announced one day that he was going to quit smoking.  He loved the taste of whisky but never indulged because he would not set an example for his boys.  A bottle of brandy was on the mantle next to his tobacco box always, and it stood there month in and month out without being touched except in case of sickness.  In his old days he decided to take a little stimulant every morning, and so took about a teaspoonful before breakfast.  He remained a widower for 23 years and never showed the slightest inclination to ‘run around’.  He believed in games and dancing for the young people and although a strict Presbyterian, allowed his children to play a social game of cards, and have their friends in for a nice dance.  He believed in the strict observance of the Sabbath and desired that a fire be made in the stove only to make a pot of coffee for breakfast.  He said people did not need a big lot of food when they were not working and that a woman needed a rest as well as a man.  He believed in ‘manners’ especially table manners and he could carve and serve the most graciously of anyone.  He quoted ‘Madame Etiquette’ to the children constantly.  There was no scientific education along food lines in his day, but he preached so many of the things that the scientists are preaching today.  He always said it was a crime for a child to be without a cow, and that milk was necessary to any child’s well being and he saw that two pitchers of milk were on the table at each meal, one of sweet and one of buttermilk.  He also saw that there was always an abundance of fruit and vegetables for the family.  His rule in putting up his meat was a hog for each member of the family and one for company.  He was a strict disciplinarian and obedience was always his first law.”

J. Monroe Quarles, born October 25, 1825, died June 24, 1906.  Maplewood Cemetery, Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky.

He sold his home in Paducah in 1899, and after spending a year in Idaho with his sons, came to Mayfield to live out his years with his daughter Dora and her husband, Rol Wyatt.  James Monroe passed away in 1906, at the age of 81.  He is buried at Maplewood Cemetery, Mayfield, Kentucky.

A death date of 1907 was inadvertently placed on his gravestone – he died in 1906.,

The Courier Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Tuesday, June 26, 1906

In the July 1968 The Paducah Sun newspaper were articles about a fire at The Pines which burned the Greek Revival home to the ground.  The home was located at the intersection of Pines Road and Friedman Lane.  This house was built nearly 100 years before the fire and got its name from the beautiful pine trees surrounding it.  James Monroe Quarles bought this home in Paducah in 1870, and he named it Pine Cottage Farm.  Before the turn of the 20th century it was sold to the Friedman-Keiler family.  In a letter to the newspaper Virginia Quarles Wendt, a granddaughter of James and Nancy Quarles, gave the following information:

‘The Pines was the ancestral home of my family, the Quarles family.  It was sold to the present owners about the turn of the century by my grandfather, James Monroe Quarles, who was then an old man.  My father was born in the house and he was the youngest of ten children.  The foundation was made of slave-made brick.  The ceilings were 12 feet tall and every room opened out with glass doors.  And, if I recall, every room had a fireplace.’  The house pre-dates the Civil War.


2 replies »

  1. Thank you for this wonderful article that I just came across by googling information from the newspaper in Salmon, Idaho about the family home in Kentucky that you state burnt down. I will be posting it to his memorial in the bio field. James Monroe Quarles was my great great grandfather. I would like permission to post your article on Find A Grave to his memorial #67667197 but will not be able to post the photos in the bio field. The same photos or similar photos are already posted to it. Thank you for your time. Adele Murphy

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