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Margaret E. Pointer


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At a Glance

Mag Pointer attended the school with her cousin, Cornelia Elizabeth Williams. Mrs. Burwell noted that she had one eye.


Margaret Pointer attended the Burwell School in the company of her Person County cousin, Cornelia Williams; Margaret's father was the brother of Cornelia's mother, Ann Elizabeth Pointer Williams. Mrs. Burwell wrote on February 4, 1856 in a letter to daughter Fanny:  "Since I wrote three girls have come Harriet Brooks, Miss Williams &L Miss Pointer -- these last are ver nice girls. Mag P_ has only one eye _ but is smart & seems amiable and ladylike."  A few days later Mrs. Burwell wrote:  "The girls who stopped music is that Miss Pointer with one eye. She took three lessons & could not learn the notes, got discouraged & quite very much to to Mr. Hunt's delight, I believe."  Because the Burwells closed their school after the 1857 season, Mag and Cornelia might have attended for one, two or three terms. Mag was the daughter of Joseph Pointer Sr. and Susan Adams Pointer, both from Virginia. She grew up in a family of ten children in a large and handsome plantation house in northern Person County, near the Virginia border. Interestingly, Margaret is identified in two federal censuses as having been born in Alabama, but on one census as being born in Tennessee. Her father was a well-to-do farmer whose real estate was valued in 1860 at $10,000 with an overall net worth of $75,000 -- a considerable amount for that time and place. Margaret's brother, Joseph Pointer, Jr., married Cornelia Williams' sister, Georgianna Williams, and family information asserts that after her death he married another Williams sister. In 1864 Margaret Pointer married a Person County farmer and landowner, Absalom Barnett. In the 1860 US Census Ab Barnett is listed with real estate worth over $9,000, an overall personal estate value of $18,200, and 19 slaves -- a considerable estate for a 31-year old.  "Ab"  Barnett had a very brief tenure in the Confederate Army, being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 24th NC Infantry on May 5, 1861, and mustered out six days later on May 11, 1861, but it is not known how or why this occurred. Ab and Margaret Barnett had at least five children and lived in Person County their entire lives. It is not known how many children lived to adulthood; the family's entry in the 1870 census records one young daughter, Martha, who does not appear in the 1880 census, which also shows that the four children in the household had whooping cough. Ab predeceased Margaret but his exact date of death is unknown. It appears that the family did not retain the property and prosperity that characterized Mag and Absalom's early lives. In 1920, as a widow in her 80s' , Margaret lived near Roxboro, NC with her unmarried son, Haywood who was a laborer in a cotton mill. Margaret indicated that she could read and write, but Haywood could not, suggesting perhaps that Haywood had some special circumstances. Another son, Joseph H. Barnett, worked as a laborer in a buggy factory in nearby Durham, NC. Margaret E. Pointer Barnett died in Roxboro, NC 1926 in  "the county home"  at the age of 87.

Sources: NC Marriage Bond # 000109587

1860 US Federal Census for Olive Hill, Person County, NC and US Federal Census for Cunningham Store Township, Person Co., NC

1870 US Federal Census for Woodsdale Township, Person Co. NC

1920 US Federal Census for Roxboro, Person Co., NC

NC Bd of Health Certificates of Death for Margaret E. Barnett, Samuel Pointer, Joseph Pointer, JR., Joseph Pointer, Sr.

"Caswell County Family Tree;"  Caswell Co. Historical Society, Rootsweb (

Letters of Mrs. Margaret Anna Burwell, Historic Hillsborough Commission, Hillsborough, NC

Biographical Data

Margaret was called Mag.

Important Dates

Margaret E. Pointer was born on December 14, 1839, in Alabama. She died on March 15, 1926.

Places of Residence

Schools Attended