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Ancestor of the Month 

August 2006

 

Mary Ann Fouracres (Foreacres)

b.  c1738            d.1796

 

 

Finding information about any of our ancestors requires some digging.  Often they remain merely names and dates of birth and death.  This situation is particularly true in regard to women.

 

In times past historians were sometimes negligent in recording information about women.  Unless a woman was a ruler, very little beyond name, birth, and death made the pages of public records—much less history books.  Of course we must remember that for centuries women were considered chattel.  Even fairly near to our own time the comment was made that “a lady’s name should only appear in the newspaper three times:  when she is born, when she marries, and when she dies.” 

 

Nevertheless, women have played an important part in making our history and our family what it is today.  One such woman is our ancestor Mary Ann Fouracres.  Though “just a woman” she shows the importance of ancestors in general and the courage and brains of one particular woman.

 

Parents

 

Mary Ann Fouracres was born in St. Luke’s Parish, Queen Anne, Maryland in c1738.  She was the daughter of John Fouracres/Foreacres (b. 1714 d. 1756) and Sarah Eleanor Halts.(nd)   John was born in Delaware, but after his marriage in Maryland on July 13, 1735,  he and Sarah made their home in that colony.  John was a planter who within five years owned one hundred acres of land in MD.  John Fouracres served as a private in the MD colonial militia under Capt. James Brown. 

 

Mary Ann was one of several children.  Her siblings were Elizabeth, John, Jr., and Isaac.  John and Sarah had  two other children who either died in infancy or whose names are unknown.

 

The Adventure

 

As a young girl, Mary Ann had an adventure that has been retold for over 250 years.   For some reason in about 1750 when she was around twelve years old, Mary Ann was not living with her own family but with a neighbor lady. We are not told why the girl did not live with her family, but it was customary in those days to apprentice young men to craftsmen to learn a trade, and for young girls to serve as maids or helpers in neighboring homes.  This was especially so in the case of neighbors who were older women or for those recovering from childbirth.  Mary was the second child of six, so her family might have needed the money she would have made as a helper or they might have allowed her to stay with the woman as a kindness.

 

One day the lady sent Mary Ann to her nearest neighbor’s house.  That nearest neighbor lived three miles away, and to get there, the girl had to go through a heavily wooded area and across a creek.  Mary Ann made the trip just fine.  She accomplished her errand and started her trip back to her mistress’s house.

 

On the way home she heard the unmistakable cry of a mountain lion or panther some distance behind her.  It seemed to be on the same road or path she was traveling.  Mary Ann grew frightened.  Perhaps the animal was stalking her.

 

The twelve year old began to run as quickly as she could.  Behind her she could still hear the panther.  Its cries were getting louder.  It was gaining on her.  What could she do?  She knew that she could not possibly outrun the panther.  It would be on her before she could get home.  Suddenly she saw the creek before her, and an idea came to her mind.  She waded out into the water and then downstream for as far as she dared.  She saw a tree growing in the water or near its edge and quickly climbed up into the thickest part of its branches, covering herself as best she could with the boughs and leaves.

 

Very shortly after she had hidden herself, Mary Ann peeked through the leaves.  To her horror she saw that what she had feared was true.  A panther moved steadily down the path to the creek.  He sniffed the ground then moved into the water and crossed to the other side.  There he tried to pick up the girl’s trail again. Of course he couldn’t find the trail because Mary Ann had gone downstream, not across it.  She sat silently, holding her breath while she waited to see what the panther would do.  All the time the panther kept screaming his awful cries.  Luckily the wind was blowing downstream so the panther could not detect Mary Ann’s scent.

 

Mary Ann could see the panther clearly.  She watched his search and listened to his cries.  Finally the beast appeared to give up and wandered slowly away, up the valley.  Again Mary Ann was lucky in that the panther kept up its fearful screams.  When the cries became faint, the girl assumed that the time was safe to try to escape.  She quickly climbed down the tree and ran home to her mistress.

 

Mary Ann’s life was fairly tame after that horrible adventure.

 

Marriage and Family

 

In 1757 when she was about nineteen years old, she married Clemant Trigg, Jr. son of Clemant Trigg and his wife, Sarah Bullett,  Six years later the couple moved into Gloven Hall which was located on 75 acres of land in MD.  Clement and his brother had purchased the house and a larger holding of land when their father fell on misfortune.  The elder Trigg was heavily into debt with London merchants.  He absconded in the middle of the night, leaving his land holdings to fall wherever they might.  The county condemned, seized, and appraised the land, preparing it for public sale.  Clement, Jr. and his brother Jeremiah bought the property and divided it between the two of them as an “inheritance” from their father.

 

Clement was a planter like Mary Ann’s father.  They continued to live at Gloven Hall throughout the major portion of their marriage, and reared ten children there: Mary, Elizabeth, James, William, Drucilla, Joshua, Rhoda, Simeon, Sarah, and Samuel.  Mary Ann’s second child,  Elizabeth Trigg grew up to marry Timothy Ragan (1747-?).  It is from Elizabeth that we descend.

 

In 1776 the Triggs appeared on the Church Census for Prince George Co., MD.  Sometime between that date and 1 Feb1779, the family moved to Caswell Co., NC.  On Feb 1, 1779, Clement made an entry for 1640 acres of land on the waters of Fish Pond in Caswell Co., NC.  Unfortunately, Clement died shortly thereafter, and by October 21, 1779, the state issued a warrant for the survey of the land for Mary Ann Trigg, Clement’s widow.1735-17 Mysteriously, on 13 Oct 1783 the state crossed out Mary Ann’s name and re-inserted Clement Trigg  Why would they have done that?  Clement had been dead  for four years.  The chain carriers for the survey were R. Gebron and Timothy Ragan, Clement’s son in law.  Is there any significance to Timothy being a chain bearer?

 

Later Life

 

After Clement Trigg died, Mary remarried .  Her new husband’s name was Thomas Hatsfield,  Other than his name, nothing seems to be known about this man.  He, like Clement, also predeceased Mary.  The marriage was a short one, for by 1786 Mary Ann was a widow who was listed at the head of household in the State Census of NC.   Mary herself died ten years later in 1796 in Caswell, NC at fifty-eight years of age.

 

Mary’s Ann Fouracres’ life was a normal one with the exception of the panther adventure.  That adventure, however, shows us how important ancestors are.  If that panther had killed Mary Ann, and  if she had died when she was 12 years old, she could not have grown up to marry and have children. None of us who descended from her would be here today.  Lucky for us Mary Ann was smart enough to save herself.

 

Mary Ann Fouracres is Eli McCarter’s great, great, great grandmother on the Reagan side.  If you are Eli’s great, great grandchild, Mary Ann is your 5 great grandmother.

 

Line of Descent from Mary Ann Fouracres to Eli McCarter

 

Mary Ann Fouracres (1738-1796) + Clement Trigg, Jr. (1735-1779)

Elizabeth Trigg (1760-1725/30) + Timothy Ragan (1750-before 1830)

Richard Ragan (1776-1829) + Julia Ann Shultz (1775-1845)

Daniel Wesley Reagan (1802-1892) + Nancy Ogle (1810-1844)

Marriah Reagan (1842-1923) + Thomas Hill McCarter (1846-1923)

Eli McCarter (1886-1955) + Mary Elizabeth (Betsy) Hatcher  (1889-1969)

 

Sources:

 

Beckman, David L.   Smokykin.com. 1995,96.

 

“Trigg, Clement,” Family Search.com.

 

Reagan, Donald B.  The Book of Ragan/Reagan, 1983, pp. 395-398.

 

Shelton, Lula F.  “Joshua Reagan,” 1982, p. l.

                       

 

 

           

 

 

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