Williams Family

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.Mary Wharton Williams (6).

Mary Wharton Williams is a daughter of William Williams, Sr. and Sarah "Sallie" Philips

Mary Wharton Williams

Born 26 Oct 1816 in Davidson County TN
Married 4 Dec 1838 Davidson County TN to
              Robert Massengill Porter
              Born 12 Apr 1818
              Died 1 July 1856
Died 21 Mar 1839 in Davidson County TN

Mary Wharton Williams is buried in the Philips' Sylvan Hall Cemetery with her parents and some of her siblings.  She is buried under a somewhat rare "Tabletop" grave marker with a very rare pearl inlay of her name in the side of the top stone.

The top stone was broken into two pieces and one piece was missing from the cemetery.  The top and support posts were all buried in the ground in the cemetery when we began the restoration process in 2013.

The picture below was taken during the restoration of the top before the new inlaid letters had been cleaned.

Above picture taken after new inlaid letters were cleaned.

End view of "Table-top" grave marker

Stone on "Table-top" grave marker before missing part restored.

Side view of "Table-top" grave marker before new inlaid letters were cleaned.

Inscription on stone pictured to the left reads:

daughter of
William & Sarah Williams
and wife of
Born October 26, 1816
Married December 4, 1838
Died March 21, 1839

Robert married  Felicia Ann Grundy on 14 July 1852.  She is the widow of William Eakin with whom she had two sons and two daughters.  The marriage produced one son, Robert Massengill Porter Jr.  She was born 26 Jun 1820 and died 27 Jun 1889.

Robert Massengill Porter was a remarkable man, graduating from Harvard University in 1836 with a BA degree and then a Harvard Law degree in 1838.  His wife Mary Wharton Williams died 21 Mar 1839 after only being married a few months and he turned to the study of Theology at Princeton University in New Jersey, graduating in 1843.  He then turned to the study of medicine at the University of PA where he received his MD in 1845.  After spending two years in Europe studying anatomy, practical medicine, and surgery, he set up practice in Nashville TN.

Four years later he accepted the chair of Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Nashville.

He married the widow of William Eakin, Felicia Grundy, who is the daughter of Felix Grundy who had served as U.S. Senator from TN.  They had one son.

He died after a short illness on 1 July 1856 as the result of an infection he obtained during an autopsy.  He was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville TN.

The below excerpts are from the free Google book "Life and Character of Robert M. Porter MD" which was written to celebrate his life when he died early at the age of 38.

The full eBook is included below also.

"He received the degree of Bachelor of Arts in October 1836, and in November entered the Law Department of Harvard University at Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he remained for nearly two years, under the tuition of the distinguished jurists, Story and Greenleaf. He commenced the study of Law with many misgivings as to whether his aversion to public speaking and mingling with men would ever allow him to pursue the practice. However, he was young, and had means, and no subject was better fitted to engage his attention as a branch of useful and entertaining knowledge. Oh the 29th of August, 1838, he was graduated as Bachelor of Laws, without being present at the Commencement. After leaving Cambridge, he pursued his legal studies for nearly a year in Louisiana, with his cousin, Judge Alexander Porter.


 He then returned to Nashville, and on December 4th, 1838, was married to Mary Wharton (Williams), daughter of William Williams, Esq., of this vicinity. The following letter from Judge Story, addressed to him on this occasion, may be regarded as illustrative of the friendly interest in his welfare with which he always succeeded in inspiring his teachers:

(Judge Story served on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1811 to 1845 and was a Harvard Law School class-mate of Mary's father William Williams.)



MY DEAR SIR: I have transmitted your Diploma, which I brought from Cambridge, to the Hon. Mr. Bell, according to your suggestion. Allow me to congratulate you on your admission to the Bar, and still more so upon your marriage.


It is a source of sincere pleasure to me that you have thus become allied to one of my early friends and classmates, whose purity of character and high intellectual qualities have always commanded my warmest respect and praise.

Give my kindest regards to your wife, and assure her that I shall ever take the liveliest interest in her welfare, and that I feel proud that one of my own pupils, every way deserving of her affection, has had the good fortune to obtain her hand. May you live together in happiness many, many years, and possess, what is above all price, that mutual devoted love, which gives the highest charm to prosperity, and softens, and soothes, and cheers the heart even in the darkest hours of adversity.


 Pray give my truest respects to Mr. Williams, and assure him that as we are descending into the vale of life I feel it among my best consolations, that, distant as we have been from each other, I have been enabled to hold a place

in his friendship.


                                                         I am affectionately your friend,



                                                                   JOSEPH STORY.


This marriage, the fruition of an early formed and devoted attachment, was destined to shed happiness upon only a brief portion of his days, as Mrs. Porter lived but a few months after their union: she died March 21st, 1839.


His hopes of domestic happiness and plans of life, thus rudely broken in upon by the hand of death, inclined him to seek retirement from the world, and taught him a severe, but doubtless salutary lesson, on the vanity of all human expectations. He connected himself with the Presbyterian Church in this city, and, in June, 1840, became a student in the Theological Seminary at Princeton, New Jersey. Here, pursuing his studies with his usual diligence, he won a, high standing among the six score young men then assembled in ths halls of the Seminary, from every portion of the Union. I visited Princeton while he was there, and found him a general favorite for his amiable and noble qualities, and highly respected for his scholarship. On the 15th of May, 1843, he received the certificate of having completed the entire Theological course to the satisfaction of his professors—the two Alexanders, Samuel Miller, and

Charles Hodge.


He did not, however, apply to Presbytery for license to preach; but at once turned his attention to the study of the profession which was to be his true calling, and which had been his father's choice for him. He went to Philadelphia, and commenced the study of Medicine under the preemptorship of Dr. Hugh L. Hodge, professor in the University of Pennsylvania."