Martha Yeatman – Tombstone Inscription

Yeatman, Martha
Section 28.52
ID # 280279


Martha (Beckwith) Yeatman

By Carter G. Baker

An ornate monument in the old Nashville City Cemetery marks the grave of Martha Yeatman saying only that she was the “consort of Thos. Yeatman, Merchant of Nashville“, that she died on May 14, 1815 at age 19, and that her gravestone was erected by her son.

Martha was born Martha Beckwith on August 27, 1796 in Bullitt County, Kentucky. She was the daughter of John Beckwith and his wife, Martha (Polly) Williams. The Beckwiths had come from Maryland to Kentucky where John was involved in the iron business. Another older daughter, Eleanor, lived in Nashville and was the wife of Anthony Foster. She, too, is buried in City Cemetery along with her husband.

After 2008 Restoration
Martha Yeatman Tombstone
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Martha was married in Kentucky to Thomas Yeatman (December 25, 1787-June 12, 1833), about whom much has been written. A native of Brownsville, Pennsylvania, Thomas grew up in Frankfort, Kentucky and came to Nashville as a very young man where he became successful as a merchant and steamboat operator. He is said to have cornered the cotton market after realizing the disparity of prices in New York compared to Nashville. Among his other ventures were the banking firm of Yeatman, Woods & Co., a cotton brokerage firm, and the iron forges at Cumberland Furnace in Dickson County.

The son who provided the monument for his mother was William Theodore Yeatman (March 6, 1814-February 7, 1881) who was only 14 months old when his mother died. In 1817, Thomas Yeatman married Jane Erwin, daughter of Andrew Erwin, and sister of Nashville mayor and lawyer, John Patton Erwin, who is also buried in City Cemetery. John Patton, for a time, was the cashier of the Yeatman, Woods bank.

Thomas and Jane (Erwin) Yeatman had five children of their own, four of whom lived to maturity and led interesting and productive lives. Thomas Yeatman died of cholera on a steamboat going to Louisville and was buried there in Western Cemetery. Not long after, Jane Yeatman married John Bell, Congressman, Speaker of the House, and candidate for President on the Union ticket in 1860. They are buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

On August 27, 1838, William Theodore Yeatman married Amelia Patton Erwin (1821-1888), the daughter of John Patton Erwin and Francis Lanier Williams. Amelia was also the niece of her husband’s step-mother. W. T. Yeatman and his four half-siblings inherited about $60,000 each from Thomas’ estate. He became well-known as the owner and captain of the steamboat "Tennessee" which was in the New Orleans trade. In later years, he owned the resort hotel at Kingston Springs.
He and Amelia are buried at Mt. Olivet along with her mother and several of her sisters and their families.

"The Yeatman Genealogy", an unpublished and undated paper in the possession of the author. It came from John D. Lonas, a great-grandson of William Theodore Yeatman.
"Descendants of William Yeatman", from John D. Lonas’ extensive pages on Family Tree Maker.

Martha (Beckwith) Yeatman’s Obituary
Communicated to the Nashville Whig on Wednesday, May 17, 1815

Died at the residence of Anthony Foster, Esq., in the vicinity of Nashville, on Sunday, May 14, 1815, MRS. MARTHA YEATMAN, consort of Thomas Yeatman, merchant.

In the death of this truly amicable woman, society has sustained a loss which will not be easily repaired. Though associated with the great world by her connections and expectations of life, she neither practiced its follies, sighed for its pleasures, nor dreaded its vices.

Pure and instant in herself, as the dewdrop which the power of repulsion scarcely suffers to embalm the rose in its spangles, she never imagined the existence of that depravity which so blackens the human heart. To view the world with an eye of indulgence; to look alone upon the fairer side of human nature; to never believe in guilt while there is yet hope of innocence, were the bright characteristics to which she was adorned. To base and unworthy examples of the tenets which they teach, she left the entire possession of their favorite maxim, that man by nature is deformed and vile. In a judgment naturally strong in Mrs. Yeatman, was added a liveliness of fancy seldom surpassed; a fancy which frequently created a visionary Paradise of lengthened duration.

Softness and animation were happily blended in her disposition; and a most exquisite sensibility was early taught her to feel for the woe of others. Her highest wish was gratified when she coulld steal from the brow of a friend, the sadness by which it was beclouded; and to make a mourner forgetful was to her a work of delightful enjoyment.

Such was Mrs. Yeatman as a general member of society, but in what language can she be described when we contemplate her in the endearing situations of wife and mother?

Devoted to her husband with a singleness of affection seldom equaled; attached to her offspring with a maternal tenderness almost unparalled, but who can adequately disclose the heavenly charm of those domestic and holy relations? Alas – we can only feel!

Yet, amid all these animated and innocent enjoyments, this amiable woman is cut off in the bloom of her days – at the very moment when she was tasting with a purity unspeakable all the sweets of life. The destroyer came; disease with its most appalling aspect attacked her lovely form, and she, who but a few months ago was the delight of her husband and the pride of her friends, is now a lifeless corpse.