Mary <I>Allen</I> Birdwell

Mary Allen Birdwell

Sullivan County, Tennessee, USA
Death 1840 (aged 59–60)
Lawrence County, Alabama, USA
Burial Oakville, Lawrence County, Alabama, USA
Plot Birdwell
Memorial ID 50359021 · View Source
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Mary ("Polly") Allen Birdwell.
Wife of John Birdwell.
Daughter of a Revolutionary War soldier.

Cousin of Sam Houston.

Buried at Enon Baptist Church, 3293 County Road 209, Danville, Alabama. She is buried in the very heart of the cemetery beside her son Moses Birdwell between two cedar trees. His was said to be the first grave at Enon Church.

It is unknown whether she accompanied John Birdwell when he went to Texas in 1838, but she died in Alabama in 1840/1.
After her death, John Birdwell moved to Texas with their son, Col. Allen Birdwell in 1842.
The Handbook of Texas by the Texas State Historical Association, says: "Allen Birdwell's father John may have moved to Nacogdoches County, Texas, in 1838, and Allen and his wife Lucinda (Ross) followed by 1842." (Jennifer Eckel, "BIRDWELL, ALLEN," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed June 27, 2015. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.)

A biographical sketch of Col. Allen Birdwell refers to his mother as the daughter of Malcolm Allen. Some researchers say she was the "daughter or sister" of Malcolm Allen. The reference is to Malcolm Allen "Jr." who married Margaret Henderson. Part of the confusion comes from the fact that Malcolm Allen "Jr." was a grandson, rather than son, of "Malcom" Allen Sr., who came from Scotland and settled in Botetourt County, Virginia. Malcom Allen Sr.'s son was Hugh Allen who married Ann Hunter. Their son was Malcolm Allen "Jr." who married Margaret Henderson and moved to Sullivan County, N.C. (present-day Sullivan County, Tennessee) where John Birdwell and Mary Allen were said to have married. John Birdwell's father George was a neighbor of Hugh Allen in Botetourt County, Virginia. George Birdwell was a Colonial soldier there and a Patriot in the Revolution before moving to Sullivan County, Tennessee. Hugh Allen, also a Revolutionary War soldier, named all his children in his will, including his minor daughter "Polly," one of two unmarried daughters at the time. His older son Malcom Allen "Jr." also had a daughter Mary/Polly near the same age as her aunt Polly.

Descendants of John and Mary Birdwell are eligible for membership in the First Families of Alabama, First Families of Tennessee, Daughters of the Republic of Texas, and Sons of the Republic of Texas, Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution, and the Colonial Dames of the Seventeenth Century.

The Birdwells settled in Madison County, Alabama in 1805 (ref., Historic Markers in Alabama; historic plaque erected by the Alabama Historical Commission). Allen Birdwell's ledger contains an account in which he says his parents brought him to Alabama in 1805 when he was three years old. The Birdwells continued to own their land in Tennessee simultaneously while becoming "squatters" in Alabama in order to homestead land, according to historians' theory. They are on the 1809 tax list for Madison County, the 1810 and 1816 censuses. In 1809 they were charter members of Enon Baptist Church which later became the First Baptist Church of Huntsville. John Birdwell is believed to have been the first church secretary.
1818, Aug. 18 - Madison Co., AL. John Birdwell and wife Mary deeded land to Geo. Oglethorpe Gilner. Witnesses: Lewis B. Taliaferro, Jacob Pruitt, Levi Isbell. Levi Isbell was John and Mary Birdwell's son-in-law. (Book E Page 133.)

In January 1819 the Birdwells moved to Lawrence County where they had purchased land and founded Birdwell Springs Baptist Church, which later changed its name to Enon Baptist Church. John Birdwell and E. Thomas were the first two deacons of that church. John Birdwell is shown on the 1820 and 1830 Lawrence County censuses and 1840 Fayette County census.

THE FIRST 200 YEARS OF THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF HUNTSVILLE by Joseph M. Jones, p. 2, gives the origin of Enon Church as several years earlier: "All of Enon's very first members were squatters since the government's Nashville land office, which handled the sale of Madison County lands, did not even open for business in the Madison County area until August 1810, more than a year after Enon was established."

Page 3: "After having met in private homes for two years, the church in June 1811 appointed a committee —- William Watkins, Jack Prewit, Isaac Brock, John Birdwell, and Joseph Powell --‘to view a place for a meeting house.' That led to the start of construction of a log building on the western bank of the Brier Fork of Flint River, a few hundred yards north of the present terminal of the North Huntsville Executive Airport. The small building, exact location unknown, was close to the river bank…, affording a convenient place for baptismal services. For some reason, perhaps a shortage of funds, construction was halted short of completion. Almost two years later, Feb. 6, 1813, a new committee was named, consisting mostly of the first group plus William Hellums, to complete the work, and while there was apparently no fanfare to herald its conclusion, the structure was finished and in 1815 did accommodate the second annual meeting of the Flint River Association.
…"with regard to the squatter hypothesis, it is interesting to note that the providers of Enon's one-acre lot, John Birdwell and Joseph Powell, did not themselves receive title to their jointly-held property until April 1814, the church construction having begun on their proffered land three years earlier. But things were ‘looser,' less formal in those days."

John and Mary Birdwell were granted their fourth letter of dismissal from the Enon Church in Madison County on the first Saturday in January, Jan. 2, 1819. (ref., First Baptist Church Minutes, James K. Harrison, First Baptist Church History Committee.)

They moved to Lawrence County near Moulton and established a new church called Birdwell Springs, which was later renamed Enon Baptist Church also.

The Alabama Baptist Historian, volume 6, issues 1-2 (1970), p.20: "F.W. Helmbold, Curator of the Society, in his historical presentation, revealed the fact that the Enon church was constituted originally as Birdwell Springs Baptist Church on the third Monday in June (June 21), 1819."

HISTORY OF THE MUSCLE SHOALS BAPTIST ASSOCIATION by Rev. Josephus Shackelford (1891), p. 165:
"Enon Church. This church is situated in Lawrence county, ten miles east of Moulton. It was originally called Birdwell's Spring Church. It was one of the constituent members of the association. It was organized in July, 1819, on nine members, whose names are as follows: Stephen Penn, Mary Penn, John Birdwell, Mary Birdwell, Ezekiel Thomas, Jenny Thomas, George Keys, Elizabeth Keys, and Sarah Simpson."

They left this church in 1824 for a few years (a descendant, Ethlyn Rainey, said "about four years") and helped organize Hopewell Church near Danville. It was in 1824, apparently during their absence, that the name changed from Birdwell Springs Church to Enon Church. The Birdwells do not appear on the list of members recorded at Enon in 1824. But by 1832 they were back at Enon Church, originally Birdwell Springs.

Hopewell Church near Danville, Morgan County, was organized in December 1824.
Shackleford's HISTORY OF THE MUSCLE SHOALS BAPTIST ASSOCIATION, p. 169: "Hopewell Church, Morgan County. This church was received into the association in July 1825. It was constituted on the first Saturday in December, 1824. The presbytery was Elders Featherstone, Walden, Stephen Penn and John Birdwell. …We suppose it is the place where the church house now stands, about two and one-half miles east of Danville."

HISTORY OF ALABAMA AND DICTIONARY OF ALABAMA BIOGRAPHY (1921), vol. 1, p. 595: "On December 6, 1820, an act of the Alabama Legislature was approved which designated David Parker, Jonathan Burleson, and John Birdwell, or any two of them, to make a careful 'review' of the Flint River, from its mouth to the main fork therein, and report the practicability of its navigation, the distance examined, and the expenses necessary to improve the river for navigation."

SOME EARLY ALABAMA CHURCHES (ESTABLISHED BEFORE 1870) (1973) by Mabel Ponder Wilson, Dorothy Youngblood Woodyerd, Rosa Lee Busby, Daughters of the American Revolution, Alabama Society, p. 95: "Enon Baptist Church... Organized in 1819, this church was first known as Birdwell's Spring Church. The nine organizing members were Stephen Penn,...John and Mary Birdwell...."

Page 130: "Hopewell Baptist Church (located two and one-half miles east of Danville) Hopewell Baptist Church was constituted... l824, with the Presbytery composed of Elders Featherstone, Walden, Stephen Penn, and John Birdwell."

LIFE AND LEGEND OF LAWRENCE COUNTY, ALABAMA, by Dorothy Gentry (Tuscaloosa, 1962): "Enon, originally called Birdwell's Spring Church, located ten miles east of Moulton was organized in July, 1819 on nine members, whose names were Stephen Penn, Mary Penn, John Birdwell, Mary Birdwell, Ezekiel Thomas, Jenny Thomas, George Keys, Elizabeth Keys and Sarah Simpson."

The Morgan Baptist Association: "One of the oldest churches in Morgan County, Hopewell was organized on the first Saturday in December 1824. It is mentioned in Hosea Holcombe's 1840 A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists of Alabama. The presbytery was composed of "Elders John Birdwell, Stephen, Walden, and Featherstone. Charter members were Barkley Ballard, Polly Ballard, William Johnson, Sarah McDowell, Martha Rodgers, James Simmons, Stacy Simmons, Elizabeth Simmons, Polly Simmons, Solomon Simmons, Mary Simmons, Nicholas Gillentine Sr., Jane Gillentine, Richard L. Gillentine Jr., Martha Gillentine. Annie Gillentine, Gideon Spalden, and Nancy Spalden." The first deacon was Nicholas Gilentine and the first clerk was William Johnson. The first recorded pastor was Henry W. Hodges in 1827.
The church was located on land deeded to the church by William Johnson, "near the well of Brother Simmons" about two and one-half miles east of Danville, eight tenths of a mile south of what is now Highway 36, between Hartselle and Danville. The church was received into the Muscle Shoals Association in July, 1825."

John Birdwell received his letter of dismissal from Enon in 1842 when he moved to Texas. He was known to have visited Texas as early as 1838.

Alabama Genealogical Society, Inc. magazine, Volume 21, Issue 1-2 (1958), p. 24: "The First Meeting House. On Saturday, June 1, 1811, the church appointed the following committee 'to view a place for a meeting house': ...John Birdwell and Joseph Powell.
p.26: "From there he moved to Lawrence County Alabama where he donated land and helped form the Birdwell Springs Baptist. About 1836 he moved to Fayette County, Alabama, then into Walker County, Alabama. Around 1845, after the death of his wife, he moved with his son, Col. Allen Birdwell, to Rusk County, Texas, where he died in March 1854. He has many descendants in Texas."

FOOTPRINTS (Ft. Worth Genealogical Society, 1979), vol. 23-23, p. 107 says John Birdwell moved to Rusk Co, Texas in 1845.

His will is published in Alabama Genealogical Society Magazine (Birmingham, AL: 1985), Vol. 19, Issue 1.

Isbell Country: Genealogy of an Isbell Family by Odessa Morrow Isbell (2000), pp. 11, 19-20: "John Birdwell was in Alabama by 1805; settling north of Huntsville in 1805. He owned land in Sullivan Co., Tennessee and kept two homes so he could homestead Alabama property. He came to Texas in 1842-43 with son Col. Allen Birdwell. ..."

Many family trees online show her birth date as July 24, 1780. However, her sister-in-law Mary Birdwell's birth is recorded in the family bible as July 24, 1770, so the July 24th birthdate for Mary Allen Birdwell is suspect.

1809 census shows 2 sons and 6 daughters born 1788-1809.
1830 census shows 1 son (John), 2 daughters 15-19 (Lucinda & Ann), 1 dau 5-9 (Talitha).
1840 census shows all children gone from home.

Children of John Birdwell and Mary Allen:
1 Nancy Birdwell b Nov. 3, 1795 James S. Romine
2 Moses Birdwell b 1796 m. Sarah Duncan
3 Elizabeth Birdwell b Dec.31, 1797 (Jan. 1, 1800?) m. James Isbell
4 Sarah H. Birdwell b Feb 14, 1799 m. Levi Isbell
5 Allen B. Birdwell b Mar 22, 1802
6 ? Mary/Polly Birdwell c1800 (on some lists), (died young?)
7 Jane Birdwell 1806/7- m. Samuel Neal
8 Susan Birdwell 1809- m. Joel S Watkins
9 John Alexander Birdwell 1812-1871
10 Lucinda Birdwell 1811- m. James M. Vaught
11 Ann Birdwell Feb. 15, 1813-1868 m. James B. Fowler
12 Talitha R. Birdwell June 18, 1821 m. James Smyley Wright

Some lists of children online include these:
1 Mary Birdwell 1800-1888 m1 John McCormack,2Josiah Phelps. This Mary was the daughter of John, son of Robert Birdwell
2 George William Birdwell 1811-1831, some lists show him as another son, and some say died at Moulton, Lawrence Co., AL. (confusing him with Moses), but he was not in the household in the 1830 census.
3 Matilda Birdwell Jan 20, 1816-d 1895 Bristol, Ellis Co, Tx is on some lists as another daughter, but note that Talitha R. Birdwell's name is incorrectly transcribed as Matilda by some researchers. The Matilda Birdwell of Bristol, Tx. was the daughter of John Birdwell of Giles Co., Tn.; granddaughter of Robert and Ellen (Sanford) Birdwell, Robert being the brother of John Birdwell who married Mary Allen. Matilda married in Giles CO., TN. 12 Dec 1834 Neal C. Dever (1802-1878).

Some incorrectly include Thomas Gaines Birdwell, another son of John, son of Robert.
Some incorrectly list grandson William McElree Birdwell 1837-1906 (son of John A.) as another son.


Plan a visit to Enon Baptist Church Cemetery?



  • Created by: Ray Isbell
  • Added: 28 Mar 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 50359021
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Mary Allen Birdwell (1780–1840), Find A Grave Memorial no. 50359021, citing Enon Baptist Church Cemetery, Oakville, Lawrence County, Alabama, USA ; Maintained by Ray Isbell (contributor 47188697) .