Mary Hightower
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Mary Melinda Abagail Hightower (1877 - 1940)

Mary Melinda Abagail Hightower
Born in Scott County, Arkansas, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
Wife of — married 29 Mar 1891 (to about 1911) in Sebastian, Arkansas, United Statesmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Giddings, Lee, Texas, USAmap
Profile manager: John Yates private message [send private message]
Profile last modified | Created 18 Jul 2020 | Last significant change: 8 Sep 2020
20:32: Walt Steesy edited the Biography for Mary Melinda Abagail Hightower (1877-1940). (changed from "smart (angled) quote marks" to straight (verticle) quote marks) [Thank Walt for this]
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Mary was born on 13 Jan 1877 [1] to Marshall J and Frances Ann (Harris) Hightower, in Tomlinson, Scott Co Arkansas.[2] Her mother died when she was a girl, how young is unclear, her father remarrying just before she turned 10. She lived in the house with her step mother for only four years, because on 29 March 1891 she married English Walker Yates, [3] eleven months after his first wife died in a house fire. As the story goes, young Mary, from across the road, felt sorry for the two little girls who had lost their mother, began caring for them, and became their new mother at age 14.[4] Although the marriage record listed her age as 16, this is rather unlikely, as four different census records and her death certificate place her birth in early 1877.

The marriage lasted about 20 years. Lowell Yates, a grandson who stayed with Mary at times, recalled stories.[5] It was around 1911 when English Walker Yates abandoned Mary and their children, leaving in a horse-drawn wagon from which he operated a photography business or sold goods. Mary was in her early thirties then, still quite attractive, enterprising, and with a "razor tongue." The oldest son Atmer, large and strong for his age, started working in the Lehigh coal mines at age 15 to support the family. For a time in the 1920s Mary operated a restaurant out of an old railroad dining car, the classic "diner." In the small mining town there were rumors with innuendo that a man had helped her to set up the business.

Mary had nine children[6], with grandchildren from six of them. A two-year old son was lost in 1894, and a daughter Lois died at age 4 in 1909. Mary's first daughter, Myrtle, died in 1916 two weeks after her first childbirth. Mary raised the grandchild, James Belmont Dutton. Her youngest son Cecil died in a hunting accident in 1922. Mary died of stomach cancer in 1940 while living with her daughter Doyn Hooter in Giddings, Texas[1] and is buried near their permanent home in Shreveport.[7]


• Noah, 1892-1894. • Myrtle Yates, 1893-1916, married James A Dutton, Jr; one son. • Atmer Enlgish Yates, 1896-1958, married Mary Hardy, a son and 2 daughters. • Ola "Olga" Yates, 1898-1990, 1st husband Bernard A Harley, two children; 2nd husband Lawrence S King, 4 adopted children. • Cecil Vernie Yates, 1901-1922, died in a hunting accident. • Paul Raymond Yates, 1903-1967, married Sarah E Andrews, a daughter and 2 sons. • Lois Yates, 1905-1909. • Marguerite "Peggy" Yates, 1908-1999, married William M Register, 3 duaghters. • Edress Doyn Yates, 1910-1993, married Henry Clay Hooter, 3 daughters.


DNA Confirmations

  • Marshall Hightower as father. Dorothy Hightower and Jesse Hightower were from parents Marshall Hightower and Sarah Hodgin. Their half sister Mary Hightower had a different mother, Frances A Harris. A great granddaughter of Mary Hightower, CH (GM# A073090), and a 2nd-great granddaughter of Dorothy Hightower, VV (GM# A182854), are half-second cousins once removed and match by 89 cM over 6 segments. GEDmatch predicts 3.7 generations back to an assumed pair of common ancestors. Four is the number for third cousins, which have the same genetic distance as half-second cousins once removed. Also, BG (GM# A619449) is a granddaughter of Jesse Hightower and a half-second cousin of CH, and they match by 138 cM across 7 segments. The predicted generation distance is 3.4, which matches the number equivalent to this situation, which is 3.5. These results confirm Mary, Dorothy, and Jesse as children of Marshall Hightower.
  • Frances Ann Harris as mother. Milton Harris and Frances Ann Harris were children of John Chancellor and Effa Harris. A great granddaughter of Milton Harris, SHS (GM# A551432), and a granddaughter Frances Ann Harris, CH (GM# A073090), are third cousins and match at GEDmatch by 129 cM across 8 chromosome segments, with a predicted 3.4 generations back to common ancestors. The number of generations is 4 for third cousins, so this match is above average and confirms the lineages to Milton Harris and Frances Ann Harris.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Death Certificate for Mrs Mary Yates, born 13 Jan 1877, died 22 Jul 1940 of carcinoma of stomach, place Giddings, Lee, Tx; father Marshall Hightower, mother [step] Mary F Hampton; informant Rev. H.C. Hooter. Source: Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982 [database on-line]. Original data:Texas Department of State Health Services. Texas Death Certificates, 1903–1982. Austin, Texas, USA.
  2. 1880 US Census at M J Hightower household, (name relation age birthplace): MJ Hightower self 30 Alabama, Francis Hightower wife 23 Missouri, E M Hightower dau. 5 Arkansas, Mary Hightower dau. 3 Arkansas, Lillie Hightower dau. 3 Arkansas, Vergil Wilcox other 25 Arkansas. Tomlinson, Scott, Arkansas, citing enumeration district ED 168, sheet 344B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,254,056.
  3. Marriage license, "Arkansas Marriages, 1837-1944", database, FamilySearch, Mary M. Hightower in entry for E. Walker Yates, 29 Mar 1891, Sebastian Ark.
  4. The date of Sarah Hogdin's death, 28 Apr 1890, was recorded on a note left by Lillie Yates Mathes, in the possession of her great granddaughter Cecelia Reid. That she died in a house fire was told by Lilly to her family and independently told by Ola Yates to her granddaughter Shelley Behles.
  5. Recalled by Lowell Yates, recorded by John Yates.
  6. 1910 US census, Mary (Hightower) & household of E W Yates.
  7. Find A Grave: Memorial #184598136

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DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Mary by comparing test results with other carriers of her mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known mtDNA test-takers in her direct maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Mary:

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posted by Kay (Johnson) Wilson

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