I found that some of Sue Allen’s nieces and nephews’ descendants believe that the Thomas Hayes she married was her own age and died in 1880 and is buried out in Mt. Olivet. This does give her time to marry Ben in 1883, but it doesn’t jibe with other things. First, the Tennessean article says she was a Civil War widow. Now, maybe I’m just picking nits, but to me, being a Civil War widow means you became a widow because of the war. Otherwise, you are the widow of a Civil War veteran. But Sue was born in 1848. As we discussed, this puts her in her mid-teens throughout the war.
Now, sure, Thomas Hayes could have joined the war as a 14 year old. That certainly happened. But the Perkins/Ewins were very prominent Nashvillians. And a lovely nineteen/twenty year old Thomas Hayes from a huge family of farmers lived just down the way. I found a ton of them in the census all living just south of downtown (if you imagine walking south on Spruce/8th Avenue, according to the Nashville in the 1890s/1900s books, it started to feel really rural once you got past Demonbreun. Tons of trees, huge houses set back on big lots, and then, by the time you got to what is now the 8th/Lafayette split—though Lafayette didn’t come that far in those days, if I’m remembering right–you would have found the extended Hayes families farming.). I think it’s more likely that her family let her marry young into a suitable prominent family, perhaps to a friend of her brother’s and new brother-in-law’s than it is to think they would have let her, at fourteen marry another fourteen year old. Not that fourteen year olds didn’t get married, just that, in this case, it doesn’t seem likely.
Plus, that Thomas and Sue Hayes, if I’ve found the right couple in the census, had children. No other family histories mention anything about our Sue having children and, when she died, her niece had to inherit what was left of the family fortune. Plus, the Perkins/Ewing clan had pretty consistent naming conventions. And none of the names of Thomas and Sue Hayes kids fit into it. So, I don’t think that’s her.
Which means, though, that she’s nowhere to be found in the 1870 or 1880 census. I don’t find her living with any of her mother’s people and I don’t find her living with any Hayeses.
I did find something very interesting, though. Living with one of the families were two servants, both black. One with the last name of Edmiston and the other? Sue Perkins. Same approximate age as our Sue Allen.
It got me thinking about naming conventions as a form of social protest. Like, in the 1870s and 1880s, as a black woman in Nashville, you may not have been able to refuse sex or (hey, let’s be optimistic) you may have had to accept that not all of your consensual relationships could be publicly acknowledged. But your kids get names, nevertheless. And your little girl gets named the same name as a prominent white little girl that lives in your neighborhood? Sure, you can just say you named your kid after her. Plausible deniability. But that’s always then a line that’s drawn, a connection that’s made.
Also, Ben Allen made fishing lures. Named one “Miss Sue” and the other “Miss Martha.” No word from the census on who Miss Martha might be. I hope it’s their spirit guide.
And one last thing, Ed Baxter, Sue’s sisters’ husband (yes, he married two of them) turns out was a prominent attorney in town (the Baxters all were and some of them even taught at Vanderbilt). Now, when I think of the story of the lawyer trying to debunk The Thing, you know I can’t help but wonder if it was Ed, running from 8th Avenue South, clear up to the top of Rutledge Hill, chased by a demon.