By Angela Stout

I would like to introduce you to Mary “Polly” Roberts.  Both my dad and I believe there is enough evidence to claim that Mary Roberts was Joseph Roberts’ sister. 

Mary was born about 1800 in North Carolina (Joseph Roberts was born 6 Dec 1797 in North Carolina).  Both Mary and Joseph traveled through Greene County, Tennessee. 

Somehow Mary Roberts of Tennessee met and married an Asa Mott of in Greene County, Tennessee.  According to Tennessee Marriage Records 1780-2002, Mary married Asa Mott on 19 Jul 1817 in Greene County, Tennessee (Joseph was married on 21 Jun 1814 also in Greene County, Tennessee). 

Asa Mott’s family records show that Asa’s family lived in the Alabama/Mississippi territory specifically in Clarke County.  Asa’s military records show him serving in the War of 1812 as a Private in the 15th Regiment Mississippi Militia under the command of his uncle, Lovelace Mott.  He was mustered in on 20 Jan 1815 and discharged 27 Mar 1815. Asa and his family members are recorded as traveling/living in the Greene County, Tennessee to the Clarke County, Alabama/Mississippi territories in the late 1700s through early 1800s.   

Asa and Mary Mott had two children.  Rebecca Mott was born 1819 in Alabama (according to the 1850 and 1860 census records).  We could suppose that after Asa and Mary were married, they traveled down to where Asa’s family was living in Clarke County Alabama/Mississippi territory.  We then can then deduce that Asa and Mary Mott had moved up to Tennessee.  In May of 1821, Asa has 12 acres of Greene County, TN land surveyed. 

In 29 Nov 1823, Asa and Mary Mott had a son in Tennessee.  Asa then dies about 1824.  We do not know where he died or where he is buried.  In 1835, Amos and Rebecca Mott are granted 200 acres near Mine Lick Creek.

Kemp was appointed guardian by the White County, TN court.  On 14 Apr 1828, an indenture was signed by a William Roberts for nine year old Rebecca Mott.  Through Y-DNA testing, William Roberts could be a brother to Joseph Roberts.  William Roberts must have been an uncle to Rebecca and thus making Mary Mott and Joseph Roberts sister and brother.  We do not know why Amos Travis Mott is not included in an indenture.

Rebecca Mott is not indentured very long because we see at the age of fourteen, Rebecca marries William Travis Barr on 22 Sep 1833 in White County, Tennessee making her no longer indentured to William Roberts.

About 1825 Mary (Roberts) Mott marries Barnett Kemp (not to be confused with his first wife Mary McKee and their four children).  We do not have marriage record for Barnett and Mary Mott, however, we do know they have a daughter in 1825 in Tennessee. Mary Demarius Kemp was born 1825 and died 1860.  In Barnett’s will, he leaves everything to his wife Mary Kemp and his daughter, Demarius Kemp.  Barnett Kemp dies in 1843 and we suspect is buried in the Kemp Cemetery.

Mary Demarius Kemp marries a Jessie Thomas and they have six children.  One of her children is Mary Frances Thomas.  Mary Frances Thomas gives us the best evidence of Mary (Roberts) Mott Kemp relation to Joseph Roberts. Mary Thomas marries a Claborn Bryant.  In Claborn Bryant’s Civil War affidavit for Francis Marion Roberts, he states that “his wife was 2nd cousin to Francis Marion Roberts.”  If that’s true, that makes Mary Roberts sister to Joseph Roberts. 

Another clue that Asa and Mary lived on Mine Lick, is that Barnett Kemp files for a land grant of 50 acres that includes an improvement made by Asa Mott and possibly Mary was still living there.  It was surveyed 11 May 1826 and interestingly one of the chain draggers was Joseph Roberts.

24 Aug 1848, Mary “Polly” (Roberts) Mott Kemp remarries to a Thomas Logan Whitefield giving her name as Mary Comp in the White County marriage records.  We are assuming Comp is Kemp.  They are listed together in the 1850 census both listing North Carolina as their birthplace.

Thomas Logan Whitefield dies sometime after 1854 and Mary (Roberts) Mott Kemp Whitefield dies 24 May 1856 in White County Tennessee.  She is buried in the Kemp Cemetery located on the Martin Farm.  There is an unmarked stone next to her stone that we believe is Barnett Kemp. 

Frieda (Thomas) Boyd is a descendant of Mary (Roberts) Mott Kemp Whitefield.

- Great great great granddaughter of Mary (Roberts) Kemp

- Great great grandmother Mary Demarius (Kemp) Thomas

- Great grandmother Sarah Lodusky (Thomas) Herren

- Grandfather Albert Pea Herron

- Mother Clara (Herren) Thomas

Freida tells the story of how when her mother (Clara Thomas) was a child about 9-10 years old, Clara would go with her grandmother (Lodusky Herren) to put flowers on the graves in late May. They would pass the 'ole' Allison cemetery and continue on to the Kemp cemetery and they would place flowers on Lodusky Herren’s grandmother and grandfather's (Barnett and Mary Kemp) grave. 

Mary (Roberts) Mott Kemp Whitefield tombstone says, “Wife of Asa and Mother of A. T. Mott” which makes it seem that her son (or descendants of) Amos put the tombstone up.  We don’t know why the tombstone doesn’t mention his sister Rebecca Mott.

Amos Travis Mott and wife Sarah Malinda (Allison) Mott and some of his descendants migrated to Indiana during the Civil War.  My parents and I went to Indiana in hopes of discovering more about the Motts because there was a family bible that supposedly referenced Mary (Roberts) Mott Kemp Whitefield.  The public library had a book on Amos and Sarah.

The book did verify some information as a secondary source.  There was a typed page of the Mott Family Bible referencing Mary (Roberts) Mott Kemp Whitefield as Mary Whitefield.  Unfortunately, there were no further pages from the family bible in the book and I also had no luck locating the actual bible.

There is much more information on Amos Mott and Rebecca Mott descendants.  Studying their father’s (Asa Mott) family history is also interesting.  But for the purposes of this article, let me recap the reasons that Mary Roberts is the sister of Joseph Roberts.

- Mary’s granddaughter by Barnett Kemp references Mary Roberts as Francis Marion Roberts’ second cousin…making her a sister to Francis Marion Roberts’ father, Joseph Roberts.

- A Joseph Roberts dragged chains for Mary’s husband Barnett Kemp.

- William Roberts signs the indenture of Mary’s daughter, Rebecca Mott.  This gives strong evidence that William was a possible brother to Mary and thus Mary is a sister to Joseph.

- Mary and Joseph both live, die and are buried in White County, Tennessee.

- Mary and Joseph both migrate to the same area of White County, Tennessee.

- Mary is age appropriate to be Joseph’s sister.

- Mary and Joseph are both born in North Carolina.

- Mary and Joseph are both married in Greene County, Tennessee.

Maybe one of you reading this article will have more light to shine on Mary Roberts.  If so, please feel free to contact me.

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