Family Origins

The family history appears to descend from slaves that were taken or sold to west Tennessee to work on cotton plantations in Fayette and Hardeman Counties. Indications are the slaves came from Virginia, North Carolina and Alabama to work on plantations established in the 1820s on the fertile grounds of west Tennessee as the cotton business boomed.  After the Civil War, many former slaves remained on the property of their former masters and worked as sharecroppers.  General William Tecumseh Sherman and the U.S. government had promised “40 acres and a mule” to every freedman but that’s a promise African-Americans are still waiting on.

William Lambert – Virginia Origin

William and Mariah Lambert first show up on the 1870 U.S, Census for District 15 of Fayette County, Tennessee. taken on August 11, 1870.  William is listed as age 40 which would make his birth date sometime in 1830 but that is an estimate as records were not exact.  Census and DNA records indicate that William may have been the son of a Black woman, Margaret (Peggy) Lambert and a white man that was probably her owner, Julius Edmund Lambert of Mecklenburg County, Virginia.  It is not known how William Lambert ended up in Tennessee but he was probably sold away by Julius.  Peggy had many children and DNA records indicate that Julius was the father of at least a few.  As far as we can determine, William came to Tennessee without any other siblings. Many Lambert cousins remained in Virginia. Primarily Lunenburg County where Peggy lived until her death as a free women in 1880.

Mariah Lambert & The Children

Mariah Lambert is listed as age 33 on that 1870 Census and that would make her birth date sometime in 1837.  They are both listed as Mulatto, which at the time meant you had one white parent and one black parent.  Their occupation is noted as farm laborers who could neither read nor write. More than likely, the family lived and worked as sharecroppers where they had been slaves.  This was likely at the Cedar Grove Plantation of the John Walker Jones family.

Children listed on the 1870 Census are William H., age 10 and indicates he attended school but he is also listed as a farm laborer.  Other children were John age 8 (b. 1862), Edward (Adamon) age 6 (b. 1864) and Robert H. age 4 (b. 1866).  Neither of the younger boys are listed as attending school.  The whole family is listed as born in Tennessee but as we will see later, the federal census takers were not always reliable in recording the right data and sometimes that may have been because our ancestors did not always know the year or day they were born and even sometimes the state.  Particularly those that were born in slavery or who could not read nor write.

The picture below is a copy from our family book and is said to be of Mariah Lambert.  Also below is a copy of her death certificate.  The death certificate list her at age 75 (b. 1843 – see I told you!) when she died on Sep 23, 1918.  It says she was widowed and died of “old age”.   Her mother was listed as Alice Turner and her father was “unknown” and likely was a white slave owner too.  She is listed as born in Virginia not Tennessee like the 1870 Census states.

Mariah Turner Lambert
Mariah Turner Lambert (1843-1914) wife of William Lambert
Mariah Lambert DC
Death Certificate – Mariah Lambert

Mariah was laid to rest in Old Jones Chapel Cemetery  on September 25, 1918.  I do not currently have a death certificate for William Lambert.

By the time of the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, the remainder of the children of William and Mariah had been born.  The census below states that in addition to William H.,  John C., Edward and Robert H., we now see Alice age 10 (b. 1870), Martha age 8 (b. 1872), Nancy age 3 (b. 1877) and Junious 4 months (b. 1880).   There is also a nephew listed in the household named W. Anthony but I am not sure whose nephew he is.  This time only William Sr., is listed as Mulatto and Mariah is listed as born in Virginia.  Every one else is listed as “Black”.

It is from these folks, all of us are descended.


Mariah Turner Lambert
Mariah Turner Lambert (1843-1914) wife of William Lambert

Mariah Turner

BIRTH: 1843 in Virginia, USA

DEATH: 23 Sep 1918 in La Grange, Fayette, Tennessee, USA


Relationship Events

Marriage:  1860




1. William H Lambert

Wm & Liz Adair Lambert Family Group Sheet

Wm & Alice Walton Lambert Family Group Sheet

BIRTH: Sep 1861  in Fayette, Tennessee, USA

DEATH: 1920


2. John C. Lambert

John C. Lambert Family Group Sheet

BIRTH: Sep 1863  in Fayette, Tennessee, USA

DEATH: 13 Aug 1944  in Cordova, Shelby, Tennessee, USA

Robert Lambert (1867-1950)

BIRTH Sep 1867  in Grand Junction, Hardeman, Tennessee, USA

DEATH 17 Jul 1950  in Memphis, Shelby, Tennessee, USA


4. Edward Lambert

Ed Lambert Family Group Sheet

BIRTH: 01 Mar 1869  in Fayette, Tennessee, USA

DEATH: 08 Apr 1935  in Fayette, Tennessee, USA

Alice Lambert Harvey
Alice Lambert Harvey, (1874-1914)

BIRTH: 1874  in Fayette, Tennessee, USA

DEATH: 16 Dec 1914  in Fayette, Tennessee, USA

Dora Lambert Pugh
Dora Lambert Pugh (1876-1965)

BIRTH: 24 Aug 1876  in Grand Junction, Hardeman, Tennessee, USA

DEATH: 09 Jul 1965 in Hardeman, Tennessee, USA


7. Nancy Lambert

BIRTH: Aug 1877  in Tennessee, USA

DEATH:  Unknown

Martha Lambert
Martha Lambert (1877-1943)

BIRTH: 1877  in Fayette, Tennessee, USA

DEATH: 26 Jun 1943  in La Grange, Fayette, Tennessee, USA


9. Junius Lambert

BIRTH: Mar 1880  in Fayette, Tennessee, USA

DEATH:  Unknown


9 thoughts on “Family Origins”

  1. oh my goodness what a great great thing you have done, my name is Monica Lambert, I am the third daughter of William Edward Lambert and my father is the first born child of Clarence Edward Lambert which his father was William H. Lambert and mother was Mrs. Alice Walton, which you already know. I just want to say thank you so very much for our history for I am a big on family and have always desired to know about who I am and where did I come from and again I thank you so very very much.


    1. Thank you Monica! I do it because I love family and I want folks to know we’ve come a long way and struggled hard to get where we are today. We shouldn’t take it for granted and no matter how hard we think we got it, our ancestors had it harder.


  2. Thank you for taking the time and finding all the information that you did. Just want you to know that you are appreciated truly for your hard work. So with much love Marvin again I say thx. Love Barbara Ann Sims daughter of Dorthey Mae Sims (Mckinley) who is the daughter of Gussie Mae Mckinley


    1. Thanks Barbara. I haven’t done much with the website for a while but I recently added a couple new pictures and some content. Maybe one day I’ll get it published.


  3. Great job Marvin! Its amazing–we’ve come a long way from 1888 when Momma Julie was born into a family of sharecroppers. Thank you for your faithfulness in researching and recording the family legacy!


  4. Wow! I am been searching for family information since my Mother–Mae Francis Govan–passed in 2006. My maiden name is Govan. Jesse Govan was her father, I think Spencer Govan is his father, my great grandfather. I am interested in knowing more about the Govan/Lambert family.

    Thank you for this history!!! Ruby


    1. Hi cousin. I’m glad you found the website. I also have a big family tree on but I don’t have Jesse listed as a son of Spencer Govan. Do you have anymore information on him like a birth date or date of death? Did he live in Hardeman or Fayette County his whole life? Spencer had a lot of kids so I may have missed him in one of the census records.


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