This week I want to share with you my favorite ancestor. I know it may seem weird to have a favorite dead ancestor, but I just love her. Her name was Mary Ann Harllee and she was my 3rd great grandmother on my mom’s side.
Mary Ann Harllee was born in Cheraw, South Carolina on August 23, 1829, her parents were Colonel David Stuart Harllee and Harriet Pope Barnes.
Fortunately the book Kinfolks has a wonderful write up about Mary Ann by her son Francis, who was the brother to my great, great grandfather Edward.
In 1847, she married Benjamin Hamilton Covington (1812-1866) he was 34 years old and she was just 18 years old. I will write more about her husband in a future post. After their marriage they lived in Rockingham, SC and had their first 4 children on their plantation there which was called Elmdale. After the death of Mary Ann’s father and later her mother, Benjamin bought her parents’ plantation in Marlboro, SC I 1858, which was 1670 acres. This area was very isolated and did not appeal to Mary Ann who preferred to be surrounded by people. In 1862 they moved back to Rockingham where Benjamin built a beautiful Gothic style home that Mary Ann called Golden Spring.
As written by Francis Covington: “So you will note that there was a difference of over 17 years in their ages. There were differences other than the matter of age between them. That was the matter of temperament. So great was that difference that one would wonder how they ever lived amicably together, if one did not remember and believe the old saying that opposites attract.
“My mother had a buoyant optimistic disposition, a lively imagination and was a brilliant conversationalist. Oftentimes in my life I have met people who knew my mother when there were young speak of how crowds of young people would gather around her and be enthralled be her conversation and the wonderful stories with which she would entertain them.
“My father was a placid, equable temperament, never highly elated or deeply depressed. He was a good business man, industrious and economical. My mother seemed to be utterly without a business sense. I know you children will exclaim, “That was the Harllee in her.” It has been noticed that the Harllees, or those that had a preponderance of Harllee blood in their veins had a much greater talent for spending money than for accumulating it.
“While she was not a finished pianist, as her training on the piano was limited to her training at Floral College which she attended, yet she was a composer of music. She composed a piece for each one of us children, at least for three or four of us, each of which she said represented our peculiar dispositions. I remember one day she called us together at the piano and said, “Come here, children, I want to tell you a dream I had last night and play you a piece I heard in that dream.” She told us that she dreamed she was walking on a winding road in a beautiful forest and at one of the turns in the pathway she saw a castle all lighted up (for it was night) and out of that castle there proceeded the strains of beautiful music. She said she had never heard that piece of music, and that she listened awhile and woke up, and that the music made such an impression on her that she got up and went to the piano to reproduce it and that she believed that in the main she did so. “And now,” she said, “I am going to play it for you.” Then she played a weird but beautiful piece which I had never her heard her play before, but which she played often afterwards.”
This is one of the reasons that Mary Ann is my favorite ancestor. I see so much of myself in her and even notice a similarity between her husband and mine. Although we are only 4 years apart in age. I am a children’s librarian and therefor am often surrounded by children at my storytimes and programs. and while I am not quite the optimistic type I do have a pretty good imagination! I also play piano, and while I don’t make up songs on the piano for my kids, I do make up and sing songs for them and about them, or change the words to favorite songs. I also do not have great money sense and have to work really hard to save, whereas my husband has always naturally had the disposition to be more frugal, even as a very small child. He is also of a very even temperament!
In 1876 at the age of 47, Mary Ann died at the house of a neighbor. She had been ailing for sometime and when she was called away on business (even though she was very ill) she stopped at the neighbor’s house and there passed away. Her husband Benjamin had passed away 10 years before.