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BIOGRAPHY: Mrs. Bernard McKiernan (March 9, 1792 – bef. February 13, 1885)


By R. L. James


To the Readers of the Alabama Historical Quarterly: (The Alabama Historical Quarterly, Vol. 07, No. 03, Fall Issue 1945)

I am releasing another section. No. 3, of my article “Colbertians.” I hope it will be possible for me to add one more section but I am sure there will still be many interesting people whom I cannot include. In addition to those to .whom I expressed thanks in the preface (See No. 2 Vol. 7) I wish to acknowledge my appreciation to Mr. James Carloss of Elkmont; Mrs. J. F. Craig, Jasper; Mrs. William Malone and Mrs. W. D. Brotherton, Cherokee; Mrs. Emma Scruggs and Miss Mattie Guy, Tuscumbia; and there are probably others who deserve to be mentioned in this connection whom I cannot at this moment recall. Mr. Woodruff Delony gave me quite a bit of information. I was at his house on August 6, 1946, which incidentally, was his eighty-sixth birthday, and had a long conversation with him. Since then this venerable citizen of Leighton, has passed away. He was a son of Dr. Edward B, Delony. I hope to write more about the Delony family in some future issue of the Quarterly. Sept 4, 1946 R. L. JAMES



(March 9, 1792 – bef. February 13, 1885)

(Maryland, Tennessee and Colbert County, Alabama)

Mrs. Bernard McKiernan”A Remarkable Woman. A remarkable woman, Mrs. Mary A. McKiernan, died on Friday last, at the residence of her son, Maj. C. B. McKiernan, not far from Florence, Tuscumbia, and Leighton in Colbert County, Ala. Mrs. McKiernan was born in Maryland, March 9, 1792, and her maiden name was Mary Anthony Waters, a sister of Dr. John Waters, an esteemed and wealthy citizen of Nashville many years ago. She came to this city in early life and lived in the family of Dr. Felix Robertson who married her sister, and was married at his residence in 1814 to Bernard McKiernan.

Several years after their marriage they removed to Alabama when the country was inhabited by the Indians. Her husband opened a cotton plantation in what is now Colbert county and was a successful planter. He was afterwards a commission merchant in New Orleans, living there in the winter, and spending his summers on his plantation. After the death of her husband she lived with her son, Maj. Charles B. McKiernan.

She was the mother of eight children, one of whom was Judge McKiernan of Memphis, who died there many years ago. Two of her sons were buried in the clothes bought for their wedding garments, their deaths occurring before their marriages, two years apart, however. One of her daughters was a noted belle in her day and was married to Gen. Hugh Dunlap of Louisiana. Another daughter was married to W. M. Jackson, of Florence. Mrs. George W. Douigan of this city is a granddaughter of the deceased. All her relatives were highly respectable people.

“The memory of the deceased was wonderful. Ninety-three years of ago, a physical wreck, yet with a mind as vigorous and clear, and her memory as retentive, both as to past and present events, as it was seventy years ago. Scarcely such another case is on record. Only one month before her death her evidence was taken to prove the death of an old citizen of her county who died sixty years ago. She gave the history of the family, the names of the children, to whom they were married, when the old man died and where buried, with as much minuteness as though it had occurred at a recent date. She signed her name plainly to the deposition, and the attorney said it was the most remarkable case he had ever witnessed.

“Her burial took place Sunday last, at 11 o’clock, in the presence of many relatives and friends and a number of her old servants all whom were devotedly attached to the good old woman. She passed away to the spirit land calmly, peacefully, quietly. She rests from her labors and her works will follow her. A very large circle of relatives and friends in Alabama, Tennessee and other States will mourn the departure of this aged Saint.”

Mrs. McKiernan’s obituary is from Nashville-American in the North Alabamian for Feb. 13, 1885. The North Alabamian for June 24, 1881 records a visit of Mrs. McKiernan to Tuscumbia. The account said that she was suffering from a fall of recent date but that she was still cheerful. It also stated that she had always been fond of the society of young people and that she had been noted for hospitality.

There was a David C. Waters who died at the residence of Mrs. Sarah C. Hogan near Tuscumbia. Jan. 25, 1873. He was born in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, February 22, 1794. He moved to Nashville, Tenn., in 1812 and was a merchant there for several years. He then came to the vicinity of Tuscumbia. He is said to have been a very amiable gentleman and was polite to the nth degree, I am not advised whether he was related to Mrs. McKiernan or not, but I am inclined to believe he was.

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