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Charles Allen Combs was born 28 November 1811 in Kentucky. The first information about Charles’ life is from Sadie1. She says Charles was married 21 January 1839 (age 28) to Rebecca Traylor, born November or December 1815. Sadie does not mention the location but it was probably either Tennessee, where census information identifies their 2nd son James was born, Kentucky, where Charles was born or Mississippi. Rebecca may have come from Mississippi as there is an 1830 census record identifying a head of family named John Traylor in Yazoo, Mississippi with a female child about 15 (the appropriate age for Rebecca in 1830) and a male child about 11 (also appropriate for her younger brother - see John P. Traylor below2).

Charles Allen and Rebecca had four children:

  1. Thomas J. Combs born 14 December 1839, died 6 September 1846
  2. James C. Combs born 30 September 1841, died after 1860 (see below)
  3. Grace A. Combs born 28 December 1843, died 8 July 1848
  4. Rebecca B. T. Combs born 17 December 1847, died 27 July 1848

Rebecca Traylor Combs died at the birth of Rebecca B.T. Combs3.

Caroline Jane Rushin4 was born 25 July 1825 in Tennessee to Elizabeth H and an unknown (possibly Alex) Rushin.

Caroline married John P. Traylor, younger brother of Rebecca Traylor Combs, on 17 July 1843. John P. Traylor was born 20 October 1819. Based on the evidence mentioned above for Rebecca, it seems possible he spent some of his early days in Yazoo, Mississippi and they were married either in Mississippi or Tennessee.

Caroline and John P. had two children:

  1. John A. Traylor born 21 October 1844, died 12th August 1848
  2. Mathew Traylor born 19 February 1847, died 11th August 1848

John P. died of unknown causes 26 August 1847.

Charles Allen Combs and Caroline Jane Rushin Traylor were married in Fayette County Tennessee 27 January 18485. While this was only a little over a month after Rebecca Traylor Combs died and four months after John P. Traylor died, it was not uncommon among pioneers to marry soon after the death of a spouse. Caroline was about 15 years younger than Charles.

Charles and Caroline suffered six family deaths in the space of one year (August 1847 to August 1848) with the death of their spouses in 1847 and four of their children in 1848. Another child, Thomas Combs died in 1846 and as we find later yet another child, Martha Emmaline Combs died in 1850. Even for the times this seems unusually tragic. Since four children died between the months of July and August 1848, they probably died of the same disease. There was an emphysema epidemic in 1848 so it is possible the children were victims of this epidemic.

The 1850 census has Charles, Caroline, and James C Combs living with Caroline’s mother, Elizabeth H. Cummings and Elizabeth’s six children by her 2nd marriage to a John Cummings6. Charles’ occupation is listed as wheelwright7. John Cummings was dead by this time. Sadie simply refers to him as ‘Old Man Cumming’ in her Ledger8. Sadie documents in her Ledger the Estate of the Cummings Family. They had among their assets 2200 acres, a cotton gin, 1000 head of mules and hundreds of bales of cotton. She adds at the end of the itemization: "Robert Lee Combs settled the estate and got all they had, he and his lawyer".

Four children were born to Charles and Caroline in Union County Arkansas in the 1850’s: George Washington, William Harrison, Sarah Elizabeth and Pauline Anne (see below for details). Charles was a Justice of the Peace in Jackson, Union County presiding over the marriage of Caroline’s half sister Rebecca B. Cummings and William Rester on 24 August 1854. Charles purchased three parcels of 40 acre lots in Union County, Arkansas in 1858 and one parcel in 1860 under the 24 April 1820 Act entitled “An act making further provision for the sale of Public Lands”. The Cummings land was in the same section of Union County as the Combs land and very near Edward Ward’s property9 10. Curiously there is another entry for the purchase of 40 acres by a Charles A Combs in 1895 next door to one of Charles’ 1858 purchases. This could not have been Charles as he died in 1880. Due to the location, it seems likely it was one his children.

Despite the fact Charles and Caroline bought land in Union County in 1860, the 1860 census has them living in Alexandria, Rapides Parish, Louisiana with four children. Charles’s occupation is listed as a farmer and James, age 19, a farm hand. Charles may have had two sisters in the area per Lucille Combs Johnson. There are two entries for the Charles Allen Combs family in the 1860 census where it is claimed he owned the farms and homes in which they were residing. Unfortunately there are few land or court records for Alexandria from this period due to General Bank’s Union Army torching Alexandria in 1864.

Louisiana joined with South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Georgia in succeeding from the Union in January 1861. Arkansas did not join the Confederacy until Abraham Lincoln requested they send troops to the Union Army later that year.

Charles would have been 50 years old at the time of the outbreak of the Civil War so it seems unlikely he enlisted. One entry was found however for Charles Combs, a private in the 1st Arkansas Infantry Regiment, a volunteer regiment11. Company A was from El Dorado. Additional research needs to be done to determine if this is our Charles Allen Combes.

It seems more likely, Charles’ son, James C. Combs, joined the Confederate Army as he was around 20 years old in 1861. It was at this time James Combs left the family and was not seen again12. Grace and Lucille Combs said he was a drummer boy in the Civil War and drove a wagon. However he seems old for a drummer boy. Uncle James was almost certainly a documented J.C. Combes who enlisted in the Louisiana 16th Infantry Company G. Company G was a Rapides regiment.13 J.C. Combes died 3 July, 1862 at the General Hospital Macon Mississippi14 after participating in the battles of Shiloh and Corinth.

At some time between 1860 and 1863, possibly in 1861 at the start of the Civil War, Charles and Caroline returned to Union County Arkansas, just outside of El Dorado, where twins Richard Penn (my great grandfather) and his sister Francis were born in 1863. Robert E. Lee was born in 1867.

Charles Allen and Caroline had nine children:

  1. Martha Emmaline Combs born 13 June 1849 in Tennessee or Arkansas, died 21 February 1850 in Tennessee or Arkansas.
  2. George Washington Combs born 4 January 1851 in Union County Arkansas, married Elizabeth Pickering, and died 10 January 1931 in Union County Arkansas
  3. William Harrison Combs born 5 September 1853 in Union County Arkansas, married Amanda Bell Rogers, and died at an unknown date probably in Hot Springs, Arkansas
  4. Sarah Elizabeth Combs born 28 September 1855 in Union County Arkansas, married Greene Daniels, and died 13 August 1941 in Union County, Arkansas
  5. Pauline Ann Combs born 16 March 1858 in Union County Arkansas, married George Pickering, and died 13 June 1924
  6. Joseph Edward Combs born 22 August 1860 in Rapides County, Louisiana, married Sofrania Reynolds, and died 1 March 1922
  7. Richard Penn Combs (twin) born 12 October 1863 in Union County, Arkansas, married Octavia Ward15, and died 19 August 1940 in Union County Arkansas
  8. Rachael Francis Combs (twin) born 12 October 1863 in Union County Arkansas and died 22 January 1934 Union County Arkansas
  9. Robert E. Lee Combs born 9 May 1867 Union County Arkansas, married Annie Hearin, and died 20 January 1907 in Union County Arkansas

Caroline died 11 February 1879 (age 53) and Charles died slightly less than a year later on 20 January 1880 (age 68).16 After the Death of Caroline and Charles, their children were found scattered throughout Union County working mainly as farm laborers. The census of 1880 shows George Washington married with a few children. Sarah Elizabeth is married with four children and Francis and Robert are living with her and her family working as farm laborers. William Harrison and Pauline Ann are married without children. Joseph is working as a farm laborer. So far, no record for Richard Penn in the Union County 1880 census has been found.


  1. From Sadie’s Ledger and Ila Grace’s Letters and Tombstone information. Sadie is Sarah Elizabeth Combs. Sadie and Grace were sisters and both maiden granddaughters of Charles and sisters of my grandfather. Both sources refer to dates, including days and months but not locations. Locations were obtained mainly from Census information.
  2. 1830 United States Federal Census, Yazoo, Mississippi; Roll: 71; Page: 310.
  3. From Sadie’s Ledger, however a Rebecca Traylor, born 1815 was found in the 1850 Federal Census (age 35) living in Kentucky with other Traylor’s who, by their ages, seem to be her parents. Is it possible Rebecca did not die in 1847 as documented by Sadie but moved back to live with her parents in Kentucky? Seems hard to believe she would leave her children.
  4. Sadie has it as Rushin but it could also be Rushen or Rushing.
  5. Tennessee marriage record supports. Photocopy of marriage certificate available.
  6. 1840 Census has a John Cummings living with children and wife of the appropriate ages in Fayette County Tennessee, where Charles and Caroline were married. Still John is a guess as Sadie calls him simply ’Old Man Cummings.’ Grace calls him ’Bob’ which is another possibility as his son and grandson were named Bob. So far, however, a supporting record for a Robert or Bob Cummings has not been found. Grace may have been confused with his son or grandson, whom she may have known.
  7. Grace has Charles’ occupation as carpenter
  8. Old Man Cummings had a son before he married Elizabeth named Robert Cumming. Robert had two children:
    1. Mary Cummings, married unknown Montgomery
    2. Bob Cummings
    Old Man Cumming and Elizabeth had six children:
    1. Rebecca B. Cummings born 1829, married William Rester, she died 28 February 1868. William and Rebecca had two daughters found living with Elizabeth H. in the 1870 census without William Rester. It appears either William Rester died around the same time as Rebecca or he left the children with Elizabeth after her death.
    2. John W. Cumming born 1831, died 1 October 1883
    3. Alex P. Cumming born 12 March 1833, died 1 March 1898
    4. George Cumming born 1839 or 1840, died after 1860 - went to the Civil War and did not return.
    5. Mary A. Cumming born 16 Aug 1835, died 28 February 1899
    6. Margaret Cumming born 28 November 1837, married Asa Brumbelow, and died 3 November 1899
  9. Township 18-S Range 16-W 5th PM sections 36 and 25 - see Family Maps of Union County, Arkansas
  10. Edward Ward was my 2nd great grandfather, father of my great grandmother, Octavia Combs’. Octavia’s mother was Sarah Rester. Sarah Rester’s older brother was William Rester who married Rebecca Cummings, Old Man Cummings’ and Elizabeth’s eldest daughter.
  11. U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles
  12. Sadie’s Ledger. James C. Combs or COMBES, born September 1841 in Tennessee has not been identified so far in an online search of 19th century U.S. data after 1860. One James Combes of the right age was found living in Kentucky but he said he was born in Kentucky. It was he and his new wife’s 2nd marriage.
  13. U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles
  14. Confederate Archive, Chapter 1 File no. 27 Page 28
  15. My great grandfather and grandmother.
  16. Sadie’s Ledger, Ila Grace’s Letters and Tombstone information