It was all Joseph’s Fault

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Females

Joseph was a prolific producer of children, female children, that is. When he married Irene about 1850, little did he suspect he would father fourteen children during their married life. Of those fourteen children, two were boys.

Joseph Calvin Parry was a farmer in Martin County, North Carolina. He was born about 1825. At the time, about seventy-nine percent of the American population were farmers.¹ Farming was hard work; tending to crops and animals required muscles and brawn. Men most likely hoped there would be sufficient boys born into the family to help with the work.

Irene Revels was born in 1830. As a new bride, did she suspect she would birth fourteen children? It’s a fact Irene deserves a medal.

A year after their marriage, Francis was born. Her sister Margaret followed about two years later. Things were looking up for Joseph when John Grey was born a year later. His little brother George followed. Joseph’s little helpers had arrived. As these boys grew, they would be a great help to Joseph.

Then Mary Etta was born, followed by Nancy, Sarah, Louisa, Laura, Ida, and Minnie. Then Isabelle, Lucinda, and Irena arrived; we don’t know where they fit into the mix of children. Twelve girls, two boys, mother, and father…sixteen mouths to feed. Was it Joseph who kept trying to have a boy? Or was it the warm arms and bed of Irene that drove him on? Were his dreams of brawny boys to help on the farm dashed as each girl was born?

No doubt, the girls helped in the fields, helped with the farm animals, and helped their mother. Irene would need all the help she could get. Fourteen children can take a toll on one’s body. The children of farmers endured hard work, work essential to the efficiency of the farm, and providing for the economic welfare of the entire family. No doubt all fourteen children did what was needed to ensure the family prospered.

Today, science tells us it is the man who determines the sex of his children.² Yes, Joseph was a prolific producer of children. He was responsible for those twelve beautiful girls. It was all Joseph’s fault.

Joseph and Irene Perry are my great-great-grandparents. Their daughter Minnie Mae Perry is my great-grandmother on my father’s side of the family. The Perrys left North Carolina between 1860 and 1870 for Haywood County, Tennessee. They lived the rest of their lives in Crockett County, Tennessee. You can read about Minnie Mae here.

Note: The names of Joseph and Irene’s children came from my Aunt Belle, who lived close to our grandma, Irene. I have not been able to find any information about Isabelle, Lucinda, and Ireana which may indicate they died at an early age.

¹Digital History, Agriculture,

² Science Daily, 12 Dec 2008,