Emma D. Thomas was the wife of Allen Suggs Howard and the mother of Connie Howard. She was born 25 May 1858 to Mary Jane Thomas. She married Grandpa Suggy 28 Dec 1879 and passed away at the age of 71 on 10 Aug 1929. According to her grandson Otis Kelly, she died of a gum infection.
Emma’s parentage provided me with a bit of a mystery. Early on, I had no idea of who her mother was. A copy of her death certificate on microfilm at the NC Archives listed her mother as Mary Jane Thomas. Her father was listed as “unknown”. (More on this later.) Searching the census records of Moore County and consulting with another researcher in that area, it is believed that she is indeed the (illegitimate) daughter of Mary Jane Thomas, and granddaughter of Anderson and Temperance Thomas of Moore County, NC. (This Thomas line has been well researched by another Lee County researcher and can be seen on www.rootsweb.com.)
A strong oral history in our family tells us that Dr. James Lamar Sheppard is Emma’s father. No definitive proof exists to support this information, however circumstantial evidence has Dr. Sheppard and Emma’s mother living in close proximity as well as attending the same church. Both Dr. Sheppard and Mary Jane Thomas are buried at Salem Church cemetery at one end of Buckhorn Rd in what is now Lee County. It would be interesting to find out if the Sheppard descendants are familiar with this story as well.
The above picture is a copy of the original that hung in Emma’s daughter’s Whitey’s bedroom. Otis Kelly is the only living relative that has memories of Emma. He smiled as he talked about her stating she was “a good woman” and “a great cook”.
The “Cherokee grandmother” is believed to have been through Dr Sheppard’s line. I’ll post my thoughts on that next time.