Mary (Polly) ..... (probably Murphy)

In around 1835, 28 year old James E. Balkcom, the earliest identified Balkcom-named ancestor of the Oklahoma Balkcom families, married a 20 year old girl named Mary who was maybe a family neighbor.  James and Mary were most likely at the time living near their birth places in Duplin or Sampson County in eastern North Carolina, with James probably working as a farm hand.  Mary's family name hasn't been proven, but a good guess is that she was a daughter of one of the several Murphy families in the counties, some of whom lived very near to the Balkcom families.  The 1978 Balkcom book conjectures that Mary's parents were Daniel and Elizabeth Murphy, who from 1840 through 1860 lived as neighbors to James and Mary Balkcom when they moved to Georgia and later to Alabama.  Other researchers have accepted Murphy as Mary's family name, but no proof has been found.

If it is true that Mary's parents were among the Murphy families who were in Duplin County, North Carolina around 1800 then she may be a second or third generation descendant of immigrants to North Carolina from Ireland in the early 1700's.  The Murphy emigration excerpt below is a perspective on one of these families.  The surname list on this site links to the database of all researched names, including many Murphys who lived in the Duplin/Sampson County area between 1780 and 1830.

By 1837, James and Mary are found 400 miles south in Lowndes County, Georgia, in the southern part of the state.  The 1840 Lowndes County Census shows them with five children under age 5 in the household, two boys and three girls, all born in Georgia.  In around 1845 they made another big move, this time to Dale County, Alabama where they were to settle permanently.  In 1847 Mary had a son Brantley, the seventh of her children who survived to adulthood, and who would become the father of John Ira Balkcom who moved to Oklahoma in 1901.

James and Mary had a large family, and Mary at age 46 had 11 children in her household (some of adult age) along with husband James.  If census information is accurate, Mary had her youngest child (Joanna) in 1864, which would have made Mary age 50.  It may be that this child was adopted, but the federal census clearly labels her as daughter of James.  In 1870 she had seven in her household plus husband James.  By 1880 at age 66, she still had two adult daughters and a boy, probably a grandson, in the household.  Mary died in 1886, at the age of 72.