Mary died sometime after the birth of William in 1883 and before her husband's marriage to Margaret E. "Mag" Petty Brasher, 1892. She likely died in Kansas; James then moved to Cedar County, MO, where he was murdered in 1893. Testimony of Thomas Brasher at the inquest of Miranda Wallace who was murdered at the same time, indicates Thomas had known Comstock about 4 years, so possibly he moved to Cedar County about 1889.
The only possible family I've found for Mary Elizabeth is in neighboring Barry Co, MO, in 1850 before the Comstocks moved to Missouri. The family is indexed as "Stumps" District 5, Hh 299:
The 1860 and 1870 censuses confirm this is surely Mary Elizabeth's family.
Then in 1870, living with Mary Elizabeth & James Comstock in Kansas:
Mary Elizabeth STAMPS and James Irving/Ervin COMSTOCK were married circa 1855.83 James Irving/Ervin COMSTOCK82,84,85,86, son of EPHRAIM FLOR HUBER COMSTOCK and NANCY GOODMAN, was born in 1837 in Tennessee.82,87,88 He served in the military in 1862 at Company I, 3rd Missouri Cavalry Regt., Marmaduke's Brigade in Civil War. He died on 11 October 1893 at the age of 56 in Cedar County, Missouri.
Found as "Irvin Comstock" in 1860 McDonald Co MO Census.
In Hewett's ROSTER OF CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS, vol. IV, there is James "E." Comstock enlisted in MO 3rd Cavalry, Company I, along with Warren and William D.
Apparently James took his family to Franklin Co Kansas late 1862/1863. Mary Elizabeth's father died at Ft. Scott, Kansas in 1863, leaving his widow with several young children in Franklin Co. His sister Caroline Randal also lived there following the Civil War.
1865 Kansas State Census: Geneva, Allen Co, Kansas. Line 22, Hh 127
The 1870 Census: Franklin Co, KS, Harrison Twp, p.98, Household 182.
There is a note in Comstock Family in America, "James Irving Comstock went north during the Civil War." This is a strange comment, since he fought for the Confederates and then went to Kansas.
1875 Kansas State Census. Ottawa, Franklin Co. Hh 295
Here is the 1880 Census:
I found a most bizarre statement in the manuscript papers of John A. Comstock which included correspondence from Samuel Willett Comstock who also had a number of Comstock letters gathered in the late 1800's by Noah D. Comstock for use in the Comstock books by Noah's brother-in-law Cyrus B. Comstock. In listing the children of Ephraim Comstock, Samuel W. noted that "supposed poisoned to death by stepson". This makes little sense. There were those extra Stamps children in the household in 1870, but they had not been there in 1860 and Elizabeth was not old enough to have had some of them. The ages of the Stamps children and the Comstock children overlap, too. I wonder if instead of stepchildren, these were perhaps nieces & nephews being raised as foster children. Or is it possible that James married a second time when he went back to Missouri and married someone with children:
The above manuscript collection was also the origin of the death date and place for James. Since he was living in Kansas in 1880, he would have had to move back to Missouri to die in Cedar Co.
James is said to have died 1893 Cedar Co. MO and youngest son William Decatur had married there prior to 1910 when he appears with a wife in the Census. I looked for the Comstock widow, Mary or Mary Elizabeth, in Cedar Co, 1900. Instead I found a Margaret E. Comstock, b. Nov 1841 in KY; she was a weaver of carpets. After the death of James, it was found she was a second wife.
Larkin T. Brasher, b. about 1841 in Missouri, died 1882 and buried Brasher Cemetery near Jerico, married Margaret E. Petty, born ca 1842 in Kentucky. They had three children shown in the 1880 Census, Benton Twp, Cedar Co MO - Drewry S. [Sterling as found in online databases] age 11, Mary 3. age 9, and Nelly A. age 4.
Sterling married Minnie Ethylene Brewster on 2 Oct 1890 in Stockton, Cedar Co. The censuses and an online database show they had two children - Charles Francis "Frank", b. Jerico Springs, Cedar Co, 20 Mar 1892, and Emma, b. Aug 1898. By 1930, Sterling & Minnie apparently divorced - he had married Lula M. Clark. Minnie was still in Jerico Springs living with the daughter Emma. Only in 1900 was Sterling not found in Benton Twp of Cedar Co - that year he was in Galena Twp, Jasper Co MO. If he was responsible for the poisonings, he apparently suffered no consequences. Missouri death certificates show Drewry S. Brasher of Jerico Springs, MO, was born 4 Mar 1869 and died almost 82 years old 28, Feb 1951. Wife Minnie had predeceased him. He is buried at the Brasher Cemetery.
I found the following marriage which took place at Jerico, Cedar Co. J. H. Erving married M. E. Brasher, 8 Jun 1888. This second husband was actually C. H. Ewing as found in the trial transcript after the death of James Irving Comstock. The trial notes also gave the marriage date of Comstock to Margaret E. Petty Brasher Ewing. The trial notes always give Comstock's name as "J. E. Comstock".
Then, interestingly enough, there is another marriage at Jerico. On 6 Nov 1893, Lizzie Comstock married J. B. Wallace, possibly her sister's widower.. Presumably, Lizzie is Margaret E. Petty Brasher Comstock and the middle initial was for Elizabeth. This does not explain the presence of Margaret E. Comstock in the 1900 census, however, unless J. B. Wallace also passed away or she left him. There was no J. B. Wallace counted in the 1900 census in Cedar County, nor did I find him in any of the cemetery records online. However, I never found him in 1880, either.
Is it possible that both Margaret E.'s husband [Comstock] and sister [Mrs. Wallace] were poisoned so she could marry Mr. Wallace?
Most needed to solve the mystery would be a newspaper story giving more details about the supposed poisonings, a death record of J. B. Wallace, information regarding the death of Mary Elizabeth Stamps Comstock, a marriage record for a Petty lady to J. B. Wallace to confirm her given name, etc.
I studied their families for clues, looking at the census records and online databases. More information was available concerning the Brasher family - sometimes the name was spelled Brasier in the censuses. A Thomas Brasher, was born ca 1773 in Chatham Co NC and died after the 1850 census in Christian Co KY - his wife was Catherine "Katie" Croft and they had at least 12 children, all of whom apparently lived in Christian Co and most of whom remained there in Kentucky the rest of their lives. The family also lived for a time in Greenville Co, SC and the first four children were born there, the rest born in Kentucky. One son, Greenville "Green" Brasher is in the 1880 Cooke Co TX census. A son Abraham is in the 1860 Miller Co MO census, and a son Isham S. Brasher, born ca 1815 in Christian Co KY, moved to Cedar Co MO where he died ca 1890. It is notable that Isham married Rose E. Petty, b. Tennessee about 1820 - they were married 14 Oct 1841 in Christian Co KY. Now Thomas Brasher who married Katie Croft was a son of Aquilla Brasher who was married twice and Thomas had a half-brother - also named Aquilla [b. 1786 in NC, died prob in Cedar Co MO] for his father, and the younger Aquilla also moved his family to Cedar Co, Missouri - the younger Aquilla had sons Thomas and John. This makes for a lot of Brashers in Cedar Co MO.
Among the children of Aquilla's son Thomas [b. 1816 Christian Co KY and died 1896, buried Brasher Cemetery in Cedar Co] is Larkin T. who married Margaret E. Petty. [Larkin's parents and some of his siblings are also buried in this cemetery.] Larkin was with his father and family in the 1860 Benton Twp, Cedar Co MO census - he was age 19 and was the first of his father's children to be born in Missouri. So the family moved to Missouri about 1840 - I found them in Dade Co MO in 1850, when Larkin was listed as age 10.
I did find confirmation online in an inquiry letter that there was a Drury Petty, born abt 1780 in SC, whose wife was Jane and children included Rosey E., born about 1820 in Tennessee, and a James T., born abt 1823 in Tennessee. James T. married Elizabeth Parker 23 Feb 1846 in Christian Co KY. There were some of Rosey & James T.'s siblings born later in Illinois, and then several born in Christian Co.,Kentucky. A sister Minera A., born 1836 in KY married John W. Wallace on 10 Jan 1856 in Christian Co. The youngest child of Drury and Jane was Margaret E. R. born abour 1841 in Kentucky. [So here is a Margaret Petty of the right age and she has a sister who was married to a Wallace, although his middle initial is different.] I also found the following notice from Christian Co KY Newspaper Abstracts, Vol. 20, availabe at World Vital Records online, which appeared July 31, 1874: "We are glad to learn that Mr. Drury Petty, our former county man, though now living in Cedar County, Missouri, is in good health and that his voice can still be heard a mile off, though he is now eighty-four years old."
The 1860 census showed that James T. Petty & wife Elizabeth were already living in Benton Twp in Cedar Co. Drewry Petty, age 67, was still living back in Christian Co KY in 1860, with wife Jane, age 60 and a daughter "M." [Margaret] Petty, age 18, born in KY, next door to Samuel Petty, age 29, b. Tennessee - so here is the youngest daughter Margaret - right age and born in Kentucky - likely the same as the Margaret Petty who married Larkin Brasher about 1867/68
In 1880, James T. Petty is listed as Thomas J. rather than the other way around. He was 58, born in TN, father b. SC, mother b. NC. Elizabeth his wife was now 59. In 1900, they were both still living and still in Benton, Cedar Co. - Now James T. Petty, b. Nov 1822, age 77, married for 55 years, and Elizabeth was born Nov 1821, age 78. They had five children, only two are still living. Jossie, marked as a daughter, but with no different surname, and her three children were living there as well.
In the news clip, Mrs. Comstock had lost her sister named Wallace and mentions a brother Thomas Petty Jr. It would seem likely that the brother was the above James Thomas, or Thomas James Petty. Based on the census records and other data, he doesn't appear to have been either a Junior or a Senior Thomas. There do not seem to be two Thomas Pettys of any age living in Cedar Co MO. Also the sister married to J. B. Wallace in the news article was shown as born 1836 online, not 1856. That does leave several questions.
Was the Mrs. Comstock in Cedar Co, a wife of James Irving Comstock? Had she been the widow of Larkin Brasher? Were there errors in the newspaper account - the birth year for the wife of J. B. Wallace, if she was the same as Minerva Petty, was off by 20 years. Minerva married John W. Wallace, not a John B. There seems to be no one to be called Thomas Petty "Jr". Was Mrs. Comstock's brother Thomas, the same as the man listed as James T. or Thomas J. Petty?
I did find census records for Minera Petty Wallace. In 1860, Christian Co KY - J. W. Wallace was 22, Manerva 23, daughter L. Fan. R. age 3 and two children with the surname Kinshaw. [Kinshaw is not a name associated with any of Minerva's siblings that I could find.] I could not find the family in 1870, but in 1880 they were definitely in Benton, Cedar Co, MO. John W. "Wallis", age 44, b. KY. Manerva A., wife, age 44 ,b. KY, parents born in SC. Jane E., daughter, 21, b. KY. James R., son, 13 and John R., son, age 10 - both born in Missouri.
Mary Elizabeth STAMPS and James Irving/Ervin COMSTOCK had the following children:
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