Just to let you know--this "John Houston Marley" and his sister Sarah appear in the 1850 Census for Monroe Co TN in the household of Arch and Sarah Marley. Oddly enough, I stumbled across them searching this census in Ancestry.com for Houston relatives--because THIS CENSUS INDEX IDENTIFIES BOTH JOHN AND SARAH WITH THE SURNAME HOUSTON, NOT MARLEY. They appear as Houstons also in the index searchable through the Monroe County website.
I really don't know what to do with this bombshell, other than to provide it to John's and Sarah's descendants and let you sort it out for whatever it's worth to you. I realize that census takers were often barely literate and made frequent errors, but an error of this sort seems unlikely. Arch lived in District #9 of Monroe Co. There are no Houston households in Dist #9 and only 3 other Houston households in all of Monroe County in 1850.
I'm searching for the parents of William L Houston, my ggggrandfather. He appears in that census (age 21) with his bride Sarah Jane (age 17) and brother, Robert Houston (age 13) in Monroe Co Dist #15. William and Sarah Jane were married Dec 26 1849. I assume William's and Robert's parents are dead--not many newlyweds want a teenage boy living with them unless out of necessity, right?
Sarah Jane (Peeler) Houston's parents are in the same census, same county and district. They are the
famous preacher, Joseph Peeler, and Sarah Jane Allgood. Two farms from them is another family of young Houstons, James H (age 28), his wife Caroline (25) and two children (4 and 1). James H and Caroline married in 1845. Caroline's parents (Solomon and Fannie Atkins/Akin/Eakin) live next door. I think James H is another brother of William and Robert. The only other Houston household in Monroe Co in 1850 is that of Joseph E, son of another "James." Joseph is 10 years older than James H. I don't think Joseph E is another sibling, but may be a cousin. William and James H were born in NC. Joseph and his father James were from NC, too. Robert (age 13), John Houston "Marley" (age 14) and Sarah E Houston "Marley" (age 11) were all born in TN.
So, you can see why I think your John and Sarah are Houston orphans living, perhaps, with relatives on their mother's side. I'm aware that the Marleys also came from NC and in 1850 they live next door to Cunninghams from NC who were known to intermarry with Houstons. I've heard that Arch Marley and his family moved to Missouri before the 1860 Census. William L (with wife and 3 children) moved to Salem, Dent County, Missouri in 1857. James H remained and died (1894) in Monroe County. I haven't found Robert after 1850.
For several reasons, we have always suspected that William had Native American blood. Dark, straight hair and grey eyes still occur in my mother's generation--along with Blood Type O. My ggrandmother (daughter of Margaret Jane below) thought those features came from William.
There are rumors of several Houston men of the period marrying, I think, Cherokees. Gen Sam's brother is supposedly one of that number. And, of course, Gen Sam lived with Cherokees for six years in Oklahoma.
William died of disease Nov 11 1862, four months after enlisting in the Union Army. His rapid decline and death may have been due to Native Am ancestry. We believe he enlisted only to avoid being murdered by Confederate soldiers who were murdering unenlisted Southerners in the area in the months just before he signed up. In fact, they murdered the 20-yr-old brother of Margaret Jane's future husband who was William's neighbor. As William was dying, he wrote a heart-wrenching note inside the fly of his Bible to his wife that begins, "Sarah, when you receive this, I will be gone...." Needless to say, he's a romantic hero in our family--at least among the girls.
For comparison, William and James named their children in this order:
Williams' sons: Joseph P and James Armstrong
James' sons: John, Thomas, Robert F and F.C.
Margaret Jane, Martha A Elizabeth and Nancy E
Mary, Martha, Margaret, Nancy, S.S. and A.C.
Joseph P (named for his grfather Joseph Peeler) had sons John W, Joseph and Christopher and daughter, Sarah (likely after his mother). Joseph P (born 1851) died soon after his youngest child was born in 1880. It seems significant that both James and Joseph P named their first born sons "John." I suspect that their father was named John and their grandfather named James. Others searching for their father think he may be James the uncle of Gen Sam Houston.
I suspect also that the Marley's were somehow related. It wouldn't surprise me if my William/Sarah made the move to Missouri with the Marleys--if the Marleys did, in fact, go there. Maybe I should be searching Iowa for my missing Robert Houston.
So, here's enough info for you perhaps to begin to sort out what you think of your new identity. I'd love to here from any of you. Happy gene trails!