The Family Letter Blog

Connecting Generations

Annie McNabb Preston – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Live Long

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I have a lot of female ancestors on both sides of my family that lived into their 80s and 90s. I like to think that this bodes well for my chances of living a long productive life as well. Today’s post is about Annie McNabb Preston – my great great grandmother who was born in Baltimore, Maryland on January 15, 1841.

Annie was the second child and second daughter born to James McNabb and Eliza Folk. The Census reports consistently list James’ birth place, as well as that of his mother and father, as Baltimore Maryland. The results are not as consistent for his wife Eliza, who is sometimes listed as being born in Pennsylvania and sometimes Virginia. I’ve yet to find their marriage record or birth records and Eliza Folk’s early life is a complete mystery.

In the 1850 census, 9-year old Ann McNabb is the second daughter in the home of James and Eliza McNabb, living in the 12th ward of Baltimore City. Her older sister Mary is 11 and the following younger siblings are also in the home: James (5); Kate (2), John (11 months). Interestingly, I find no other records or mention of John and the line with his name is hard to read so I’m not sure that name is correct. Later census reports don’t seem to have a child that is John’s age, so he may have died before the next Census. Also in the home is 26 year-old Frances McKew whose birthplace is listed as Ireland. Unfortunately it is impossible to tell from the Census whether she is a relative of James or Eliza or neither! Another mystery – they never end!

The McNabb family of Baltimore does not appear in the 1860 census but I’m not sure why since other records suggest they were still living in Baltimore. James McNabb appears on several IRS tax assessment lists for 1862-1863 and his son, James McNabb, Jr. enlists as a Sergeant in Company G of the 10th Maryland Infantry of the US Army on July 3, 1863, serves for about six months, then re-enlists in the 11th Maryland Infantry in early 1864. He was wounded in the Battle of Monocacy (in Maryland). It can’t be a coincidence that he enlisted on the day the battle of Gettysburg ended – or can it?

By the 1870 census, James and Eliza McNabb have moved to Washington DC and have the following children at home: James (26), Kate (18), Gertrude (15), Henry (13) and Charles (10). The McNabb family remained in DC for the rest of the 1800s. James McNabb died in 1894 and Eliza died in 1906. Several McNabbs are buried in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, James Jr. and Charles for sure, but Annie McNabb Preston is buried in Arlington Cemetery with her husband Herbert Augustus Preston (HAP) and their youngest daughter, Theodora C. Preston.

Part of my fascination with Annie is that she was a working woman in the early 1900s, which was probably not that common. She also had seven children of her own. I suspect she had to support her family after her husband’s sudden death in 1893 in his early 50s. I did find a record of her claiming a widow’s pension for HAP’s service in the Civil War but I doubt that would have provided for all that she needed.  Annie lived until 1930 and the 1910 Census, which lists her age as 69, lists her occupation as a government clerk for the Treasury Department.

Although I don’t know how Annie McNabb and Herbert Preston met, there is a wonderful account of their weddin in the National Republican dated October 20, 1869, a Wednesday, referring to the wedding taking place at 7:30 a.m. “yesterday” at Saint Patrick’s church. It was part of a morning nuptial mass and after a fairly detailed account of the ceremony, including the Bible passages that were read, the article ends with the following account of Annie’s wedding outfit:

“The bride was attired in a traveling dress of delicate dove colored poplin, with upper and lower skirt trimmed in pleated ruffles. A close fitting basque, gloves and veil of the same shade, and a beaver hat with a white gull, completed a dress at once tasteful and appropriate.”

With the exception of the Census report for 1920, when Annie McNabb is living in Boston Massachusetts with her younger daughter Theodora, Annie was always in DC. She died in August 1930 and her obituary reports that she was living in the Cordova Apartments, close to 20th and S Street NW in Washington DC. The 1930 Census lists her at that address with her daughter Theodora who was 46 and never married. Annie was about two months shy of her 90th birthday when she died.

She is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in her husband Herbert Augustus Preston’s plot, along with their daughter Theodora.

Headstone for Herbert A Preston's Grave

Headstone for Herbert A Preston’s Grave

Together in the End

Together in the End


Author: kakingsbury

I finally took the leap and started a blog in mid-March 2014. I currently maintain three blogs "All Things Kalen" "The Family Letter Blog" and "Trovando Famiglia." Trovando Famiglia is about my husband's family, particularly the original four Giorgio brothers who immigrated to western Pennsylvania from San Vito Chietino, Italy in the late 1800s. The Giorgio boys and their descendants have been the focus of my genealogical research over the past two years. The blog allows me to share family stories and photographs. Thanks for checking me out!

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