Mary J. Church

ID#422, b. about 28 March 1863, d. 19 March 1878
Father: William S. "Bill" Church
Mother: Elizabeth Jane "Betsy" Roberts

Birth date: about 28 March 1863 calculated date based on age at death of 14 years 11 months 19 days per gravestone
Birth place: Wetzel County, West Virginia.1

According to the date on her gravestone, Mary was murdered on 19 March 1878.1

Mary has also been reported to have died on 21 March 1878 in Wetzel County, West Virginia. Per the account in the History of the Roberts Clan, Mary was working for her cousin, Mary Roberts, who had married George Wallace. George and Mary had two children, Esther Dora and a 3-month old baby. George and his brother, John Wallace, had moved to Wetzel County from West Alexander, PA. The story goes as follows:
     "One night George and John were out together and John came to George's home during the night and told Mary that someone was sick over at Uncle Bill Church's and they wanted her to come over. Mary got up and took the baby and they started up the hill and when they reached the top, John took the baby and smashed its brains out on a fence post. Then he attacked Mary and chased her and killed her. He went back to the house and asked little Mary Church to get up and get him something to eat, and while she had her back towards him, cutting meat, he hit her in the head with a hammer and killed her. He then went over to Churches and told them he had found them all murdered. He started up the hill with the men and Sam Church, Mary's brother, ran on ahead and found his syster lying on the floor in the kitchen murdered. He ran home to tell the family and fell on the floor out of breath. John was arrested the next day and this was his confession. This knob was always called "Murder's Knob". This murder took place March 21st, 1878."2

Her body was interred in the Thomas Chapel Cemetery, Wetzel County, West Virginia. The gravestone inscription reads, "Mary J. Daughter of W.S. & E. Church, MURDERED Mar 19, 1878. Aged 14 Ys. 11m. 19 Ds."1

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Family Line(s):
Church Index
Last Edited Date=22 Jun 2015


  1. [S233] Digital photograph of gravestone in Thomas Chapel Cemetery; photo taken by LIVING Church.
  2. [S54] Carrie C. (Roberts) Richmond, compiler, History of the Roberts Clan, by Carrie C. (Roberts) Richmond, 1966, page 3.