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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Hardaway Abernathy

Hardaway T. Abernathy was an early Lawrence County pioneer arriving in Lawrence County about 1838 and settling in the area that would later become the Pinhook School District. He moved here from Fayette County KY with a large family and his wife, Martha Barnes Abernathy. More children were born after they arrived here in Lawrence County. In an unusual turn of events, the life of his spouse is recorded in more detail than his is, in the pages of the Lawrence County Courthouse files.

Martha Abernathy filed divorce papers in January 1844 with the help of her sons, describing her husband as being a "habitual drunkard" who neglected to provide for his family the necessities of life and exercised the utmost cruelty towards his children and herself. She alleged that he frequently beat her so as to almost disable her and compelled her to fly from her house and seek security in the houses of her neighbors from his tyranny, that he repeatedly took family articles of clothing which she had provided with her labor and industry for herself and her children and sold them to procure 'ardent spirits,' and when she begged him in terms of tenderness and affection not to deprive the family of those things he threatened to take her life, and finally wholly abandoned his family and  moved to Missouri. He filed a statement denying her allegations, but the divorce was evidently granted.

Haraway remarried and had another family, but it is hard to imagine the inner strength it took in the mid- 1840's for a woman to file for divorce with nine children to support. No alimony, no child support, no job, no welfare.  Martha eventually remarried on Christmas Day 1853 to James Lanterman.

Martha’s son Lunenberg became an attorney in Lawrenceville and filed on behalf of his mother for the divorce. John, her second son married Mary M Fyffe and died at age 33. The third son James returned to Fayette County Kentucky to marry. George Anders, the fourth son, had 17 children by his first wife and after her death, married a woman with seven children of her own. The fifth son David died at age 37.

The fifth son, Sydney, and the sixth and last son, Elijah, both enlisted during the Civil War serving together as sharpshooters in Company I of the 66th Illinois Infantry.  During the campaign near Corinth Mississippi, Sydney was discharged from service for an “unspecified disability.” He returned to Lawrence County but died within one month of his discharge May 28, 1862. Cpl. Elijah Abernathy was killed on July 22, 1864, at the Battle of Atlanta and was buried in the Marietta National Cemetery.


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