I have been searching and searching for more information on this. I can’t find anything! I’ve also been looking for information and photographs of the Mary Loiselle. Again, nothing. On MemphisHistory.org I found another account of Marcus Winchester’s life that does not mention the ban on persons of mixed-race and questions the “accusation” that his wife was indeed a Negro.
He married Mary Loiselle of New Orleans somewhere around 1823. Mary was said to be a woman of color, but in this context it is hard to say what that meant. Many slaves by this time looked white. In any case the idea that she was a Negro hurt Winchester’s reputation and contributed to a number of business reversals that were to follow him to his grave.
Marcus acted as an agent for the proprietors and opened the first store. He was one of the first five members of the Quarterly Court and was elected register in 1820. When Memphis was incorporated in 1826, Winchester became the first mayor. He operated a ferry and served as postmaster until 1849, although his loyalty to the Jacksonians came under question when he supported Davy Crockett for Congress.
Because of his marriage and the deep rifts occurring along race lines leading up to the Civil War, Winchester’s career declined. A whispering campaign by members of the Murrell Clan alienated Winchester from the community. Ultimately Winchester moved his family to a home a few miles outside the city.
The idea that she was a Negro… That says a lot.
I searched through the guide to the Winchester family papers on TN.gov. I find it “interesting” that in all of the correspondence listed for Marcus, there is no mention of a wedding or a wife or children. One can glean that he was in New Orleans around the time he is said to have married. There is also a later request for a deed for a “lot south of town of Memphis” which gives credence to the town’s ban of mixed race people.
I am so curious about this.