Family Stories

Mary Theresa Combs’ Father Was Born in 1772 – She was born in 1847 – Scott County

I have an interesting story to share with you today about the Combs family of White Sulphur Springs in Scott County, Kentucky.  We are going a bit backward since today we will talk about the youngest daughter of James Combs (1772-1852) and Julia (Peters) Williams Combs (1806-1875).  James and Julia were married February 8, 1844, in Woodford County, Kentucky.  His first wife, Matilda Smith Combs, with whom he had six children, died February 8, 1839, and was buried in St. Francis Catholic Church Cemetery in White Sulphur Springs.  Julia was married to a Mr. Williams previous to her marriage to James; a son, John Williams, lived with them in the 1850 census.  James was 72 when he married Julia, she was 38.  The couple had one daughter, Mary Theresa Combs, born April 7, 1847.  When James Combs died in 1852 at the age of 80 years, daughter Theresa was five years old.  By 1888, the last of Theresa’s six half-siblings on her father’s side had died.  She lived another 43 years without any family except her husband and children – almost half a century!  And when she died in 1931 her father had been dead for 79 years.  That seems like an enormous amount of time.  But with her father dying at such an old age, with her such a little girl when he died, and she living to a good age herself, the two generations stretch out over a century and a half – that must be a record!

But let’s take a closer look at Theresa Combs.  In the 1860 census she lived with her mother, Julia Combs, 52; John Williams, 24, half-brother.  Theresa was 13.  After the Civil War she married Edmund P. Halley.  In the 1870 census Ed is 30, a farmer; Theresa, 23; and their son, Samuel is 2.  Julia lives with her daughter and son-in-law, she is 64.  Julia died October 8, 1875, and was buried in Versailles Cemetery in Woodford County. 

In 1880 Ed is 42; Theresa is 32.  The following children live with their parents – Sammie, 12; Ed P., Jr., 10; Henry, 6; and Julia, 3.  In 1900 the two eldest sons live with their parents – both are teachers.  Edmund and Theresa have been married 32 years.  They have had five children.  An additional child, a girl, was born.

It seems from information I found that Edmund and Theresa had a wonderful life together.  October 1, 1917, they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.  A party was given by the two daughters and a delightful notice was written for the newspaper.

The Lexington Herald, Fayette County, Kentucky

Sunday, October 7, 1917

Golden Wedding Celebration

Mrs. Graham Kerr and Mrs. C. E. Marvin entertained on Monday evening, October 1, at the home of the former on Grosvenor Avenue, with a dinner in honor of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. E. P. Halley, this date being the golden anniversary of their wedding day.

The house was beautifully decorated with goldenrod and other autumn flowers, and the table was tastefully arranged with cut flowers and fruit, the centerpiece being a large wedding cake iced in orange blossoms and surrounded by an immense wedding ring studded with golden candles.

During the evening telegrams of congratulation were received from the three absent brothers, sons of Mr. and Mrs. Halley, one of whom resides in Chicago and the other two in California.

Mrs. Rufus Lisle, Sr., who was present on this occasion was one of the attendants at the wedding in 1867, and brought with her a copy of the original wedding invitations.

At the conclusion of the dinner Mr. Marvin was called upon to act as toastmaster, and after some pleasantries at the expense of the ‘bridegroom,’ he read the following verses dedicated to Mr. and Mrs. E. P. Halley:

Our golden Wedding Day – October 1, 1917

Time takes its flight, as we all know, To some quite fast, to others slow.  To us it seems on wings to fly, As months and years glide swiftly by.

But let’s go back to ‘sixty-seven.’  (It seems just like a breath from heaven.)  Hark!  Listen!  Can’t you hear those swells?  They sound to us like wedding bells.

An, yes, that sound has lingered long, It’s like the notes of some sweet song.  We can’t forget it, no, nay, nay, It rings our golden wedding day.

Today we scan the years gone by, These many years since you and I, Together joined our hands as one, To fight life’s battle – sun to sun.

We’ve had our joys and troubles, too, We’ve fought the good fight through and through, Now pleasures ‘round us gently hover,  And we are still each others lover.

That wasn’t the last celebration had by the couple.  Ten years later they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, and in 1930 they celebrated 63 years of wedded bliss – they were 92 and 83. 

May 22, 1931, Edmund P. Halley celebrated his 93rd birthday.  The next day he died.

The Lexington Leader, Fayette County, Kentucky

Saturday, May 23, 1931

E. P. Halley, 93, Dies

E. P. Halley, 362 Transylvania Park, who reached his 93rd birthday Friday, died this morning at 8 o’clock.  He was the son of the late Mariam Elkin Halley and Samuel Halley and was born in Boonesboro. 

When a young man he moved to Lexington with his parents.  He was a member of Company A, Ninth Kentucky Cavalry, Confederate Army, serving under Col. W. C. P. Breckinridge.  He was married to Mary Theresa Combs, White Sulphur, Scott County, 63 years ago.  In addition to her, he is survived by the following children:  Mrs. C. E. Marvin, Payne’s Depot; Mrs. W. Graham Kerr, Lexington; S. J. Halley, Courtland, California; E. P. Halley, Jr., Patterson, California; and Rev. H. H. Halley, Chicago.

Mr. Halley was a prominent farmer of White Sulphur for 44 years.

Complete funeral arrangements will be announced later.   

Theresa lived another six months before passing away.

The Lexington Herald, Fayette County, Kentucky

Wednesday, November 18, 1931

End Comes to Mrs. Halley

Mrs. Mary Theresa Combs Halley, 84 years old, died yesterday morning at 5 o’clock at her resident, 362 Transylvania Park, following a prolonged illness.

A native of Scott County, Mrs. Halley was the daughter of James and Julia Peters Combs.  She had been a resident of Lexington for 19 years.  In 1867 she was married to Edmund Payne Halley, who proceeded her in death only six months ago.  Mrs. Halley was a member of the Woodland Avenue Christian Church.  She is survived y five children:  S. J. Halley, of Courtland, California; E. P. Halley, of Patterson, California; Rev. H. H. Halley, of Chicago; Mrs. C. E. Marvin, of Scott County, and Mrs. W. G. Kerr, of Lexington.

Funeral services will be conducted at the residence Friday after noon at 2:30 o’clock with the Rev. Haynes Farish, pastor of the Woodland Avenue Christian Church and the Rev. Mark Collis, pastor emeritus of the Broadway Christian Church, officiating.  Burial will be in the family lot in the Lexington Cemetery.

1 reply »

  1. Love the Christian Church reference in the funeral notice for Mrs. Halley. I grew up in the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) in Ensley, Jefferson, Alabama. My great grandmother Mary Elizabeth Lyon was one of the founding members (Mrs. EE Freeman). Patricia went to this church in Indiana. While we were growing up, the headquarters was in Indianapolis. Then it moved to Nashville. Now it is located in Wheeling, West Virginia.

    Loving the column! Julie

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