Wednesday, February 13, 2013


My great great grandmother Vashti had an unusual name and unusual life. Vashti the First was a Persian Queen in the Book of Esther. Some associate the name with a strong willed and independent woman. I don't know if that description fit my grandmother or not but I have a couple of them around today.

Vashti Ann Graham was born in Montgomery County, Alabama in 1836. When she was 21 years old she married a man old enough to be her father.

Moses Wilson was 44 and needed a wife pretty bad since his first wife died after bearing 12 children, 6 of whom were still in the house. Vashti Graham's parents Mercer and Mary Graham had known Moses Wilson for a long time, moving from North Carolina and later to Florida together in a migration for better land. Mercer Graham was a veteran of the War of 1812 and he and the Wilson clan moved to Alabama when it was opened up to homesteads and then to Florida after the Civil War.

Vashti bore Moses 13 more children and number 10 was my great grandfather Benjamin Franklin Wilson. He was born on March 22, 1875 near Fort Dade, Florida and died in Oneco, Florida on September 15, 1933.
Moses Wilson died on April 17, 1896 in Pasco County, Florida at age 83, leaving Vashti with a house full of children. She also had a large extended family in the area. That happens when you have over two dozen kids, the oldest an AARP member himself by that time.

The younger children moved to Manatee County around the turn of the century and settled near Oneco and Myakka, Florida. Several of them died within a few years of Moses.

For years I've wondered what happened to Vashti after Moses died in 1897. I could never locate any trace of her. I found these records after a cousin told me about a cemetery listing in Gadsden County, Florida for a Vasters Wilson. Her name had been spelled all kind of ways on census and other records so I decided to contact the hospital to see if it could be her.

They told me the old patient records from that period, that had not been destroyed, were sent to the Florida Archives 50 plus years ago. Several weeks after contacting the Archives in Tallahassee I received a file that included these commitment records. The records confirm the Vasters Wilson they have listed in the State Hospital Cemetery, dying in February 1904 was Vashti Ann Graham Wilson.

Florida State Hospital Cemetery

She was apparently living with one of her children when the 1900 census was taken although I have not found her on it yet. By 1903 her youngest son, James Wilson and James Mack Childers, son in law and husband of daughter Mary Salenca Wilson filed these papers to have her committed to the State Hospital for the Insane in Chattahoochee, Florida.

At age 67 Vashti was depressed and unable to cope with the loss of her husband and children. The Court file says she had been this way for 2 years and the family could no longer take care of her. Her son James moved to Gadsden County Florida around 1905 or at least that is what family members remember. I am still looking for him. I am not sure if Vashti's grave has a marker. Next time I'm in the area I'll check on it.

My grandmother died in 1992 and I never asked her about her grandmother so don't know if she knew this story or not. I talked to her younger brother Walt Wilson several times and he didn't know what had happened to either Moses or Vashti after his father moved to Manatee County.

No comments: