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Chesteen family settled in the Valley Grove community

By Curtis Thomasson The Andalusia Star-News Contact Us Letters: Send your commentary to the Andalusia Star News. 

There was a second Stokes family line that came to Covington County during the 1850s. At this point, the research has not revealed if there is any relationship to the more numerous Stokes family, which has been presented in an earlier column.

There are records of a Reading Stokes purchasing 200 acres of land in the Gantt community in 1856. Census records show that he was born circa 1805 in the State of Georgia. There is no knowledge of his parents or other relatives at this time. The other Stokes families moved from South Carolina to Florida and then into Covington County in the 1840s.

Within a year after moving to this area, Reading was married circa 1857 to Lucinda Cooper Scroggins, the daughter of Eli and Rebecca Cooper. Lucinda was born circa 1820 in South Carolina and was first married circa 1848 to C. Wright Scroggins. She had two children by this husband while living in Georgia. They were Lucy, b. 1850; and Columbus R. “Brisk,” b. 1852, d. 1910, m. Caroline “Callie” Mitchell, daughter of Alex and Rebecca (English) Mitchell.

A few years later, after C. Wright Scroggins’s death, Lucinda married Reading Stokes. It appears that Lucinda moved to Covington County to be near her parents shortly before or after her first husband’s death. Her father, Eli, had purchased 320 acres of land in the Gantt community in 1855. This property would have been in the general area of Reading’s land.

When the 1860 census was taken, Reading was listed as being 55 years of age, and Lucinda, at 40 years. They had one son, Adolphus D., who was one year old. Lucinda’s two Scroggins children at ages 10 and eight years were also residing in their home.

Sometime between 1860 and 1866 Reading passed away. He was not living in 1866 when the Alabama State Census was taken nor in 1870 Federal Census when Lucinda was listed as head of the household. With her at that time were her son, Adolphus, and a 20 years old Wright Stokes whose identify is not clear.

There is a possibility that Reading served in the Confederate Army. There is a record of an R.F. Stokes who was discharged from the Army in June of 1862 because of disabilities. This could explain what happened to him and may have led to his untimely death.

Adolphus, born in 1859, was 33 years of age when he was married in 1892 to Kemla Augusta “Kimmie” Jones at the home of her brother, Jesse Jones, of Hamptonville. The couple reared the following children: Ted D., b. 1892, d. 1928, m. ca 1919 Mary Frances “Frankie” Carver; Ila, b. 1904, d. 1970, m. 1928 William LeGrand Booth; and Amber Lee, b. 1907, d. 1983, m. 1928 John H. Slawson. This family resided primarily in the Straughn School community.

There were only two children in the next generation. Ila and her husband, William, son of Raford and Mary (Jones) Booth, had the following two children: Bennie June, b. 1929; and Raford Dolphus, b. 1934, m. Sue Cheryl Sport. William was a disabled veteran of World War I. He operated a small, country store, located on U.S. 29 in the Heath Community, and Ila was a first grade teacher at Straughn School for many years.

The next generation was represented by the son, Raford Dolphus. In 1956, he was married to Sue Cheryl Sport of Dozier. They had the following two children: Anna Elizabeth, b. 1961, m. 1983 Paul McEwan in Pensacola; and Aaron Ashley, b. 1970, m. 1995 Leslie Barbee in Pensacola. Currently, Anna and her husband are both professors at Asbury College in Wilmore, Ky. Aaron is a medical doctor and Leslie, a dental hygienist in Kansas City, Kan.

Appreciation is expressed to Frances Wheeler of Okeechobee, Fla., for sharing the genealogical data she has compiled on this Stokes family and other lines of interest to her. She and others of this family would be interested in learning any new information related to it.

Anyone who might have corrections or additions to the above is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:


Elijah Jackson and Nancy Mason Beasley reunion will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 8-9 at the Point A Lodge. All relatives and friends are encouraged to attend.

Henderson-Butler-Sasser reunion will be held on Saturday, September 15, at the L&N Depot in Florala. Bring covered dishes to go with barbecued pork and chicken. A memorial service is planned for Plessie Lee Gibson, Carlie Stuckey, Maxine Little, and Leon Curenton, Sr.

Heritage County History:

Please note that the final deadline for submitting articles to the heritage history of Covington County is Nov. 30.

Topics needed include brief family histories, businesses, churches, cemeteries, communities, schools, military service veterans, and stories of how our people of this area have lived. Anything peculiar or special to this county is of particular interest. For additional information contact Doris Johns at 334-222-4238 or or Curtis Thomasson at 334-222-6467 or

Chesteen family settled in the Valley Grove community

By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News

The ancestor of the Chesteen family who came to Covington County, John H. Chesteen, was born in 1869 in Georgia, probably somewhere near Atlanta. This being only a few years after the War for Southern Independence, the family, like most others in the South, had very poor means of supporting itself.

Today, John’s descendants have family records of his life as a young lad. With times being so tough, he was 9-years old before he owned a pair of shoes. The story is told of how someone bought him his first pair to wear to his mother’s funeral. Afterwards, he placed them in the box for safe keeping and only removed them for very special occasions. Sadly to say, it was not long before he outgrew them

Some time later, John’s father (parents names unknown) was married again. Unfortunately, John’s relationship with his stepmother and stepsister was not very good. After an unpleasant incident in 1883, he left home to find a new life away from his family.

There is a likely possibility that a brother went with him even though John was only 14 years of age. He always seemed to be in communication with a brother who eventually resided near Montgomery.

For the next 10 years or so, John did a number of odd jobs to support himself. He told his family of living in railroad camp cars and driving teams of oxen for lumber companies. The last one he worked for was the Miller Brent Company of Poley an abandoned logging town located east of Opp. (There is a photo including John in the Bryan History of Covington County that was taken in 1916 of some logging site at Valley Grove.) Life was rough for him and he missed his father, but John put his past behind and worked to make a good future for himself.

On Sept. 22, 1894, when he was 24 years of age, John was married to Rossie Jackson, sister of Colonel, Major, and Connie Jackson of Coffee County. The new couple made their home in the Valley Grove community located about five miles north of Opp. Today, that is the home site of a Primitive Baptist Church and a cemetery where many early citizens of the area are buried.

John and Rossie had the following four children born to them: Curtis Connie, b. 1896, d. 1959, m. (1) Fannie Caton (2) Nettie Davis; Valonia, b. 1898, d. 1967, m. Nace Devine; Matthew, b. 1899, d. young; and Arthur “Bunk,” b. 1901, d. 1978, m. Cora Lee “Babe” Nelson.

John’s world was shaken terribly circa 1902 when Rossie was killed by a strike of lightening. She was cooking supper on a wood burning stove when the stove pipe and she in turn were struck. While dealing with his heavy grief, John chose to keep a lock of her hair and the shoes she was wearing at her death. (Some of the grandchildren remember that at John’s death these items were placed in the casket with his body as he had requested.) He was buried in the Valley Grove Cemetery beside both his wives.

While it is uncertain when, John chose Fannie Floyd to be his next wife. He knew first hand how his children needed a mother as he understood the pain of losing one at a young age.

In the 1910 census, Fannie was a part of the family with the children being 13, 11, and 9 years of age. This suggests that one, Matthew, had probably died during his early years. The family remembers Fannie being a wonderful mother to John’s children and the grandchildren as well.

The oldest son, Curtis Connie, was married first to Fannie Caton. This couple had one son, Ruben, before they divorced. Ruben, who never married, was born in 1919 and is currently living in the Rose Hill area.

Curtis later married Nettie Davis, and they had the following children: Mellie Irene, b. 1926, d. 1997, m. (1) Reid Walls (2) Johnny Riddle; Arthur Eugene, b. 1927, d. 1983, m. Elma Williams Musgrove; Margaret, b. 1930, m. Ned Warthern; Macie Lou, b. 1832, m. Maurice Bartosh; Roy Ellic, b. 1934, d. 1998, m. Carol Canant; and Gerald Donnette, b. 1940, m. Peggy Wesley. Curtis reared his family as a share-cropper in the Antioch, Rose Hill, and Harmony communities.

Valonia and her husband, Nace, reared their family in the Kinston area. Their children included the following: Lamar, b. 1922, m. Rossie Mae Anderson; Inez, m. Lee Roy Phillips, Minnie Lee, m. E.J. Nelson; Geraldine, m. Ben Smith; and Roosevelt, b. 1935, m. Voncille Burke. Some feel there was a twin girl born with Geraldine, but there are no proven records.

Arthur and Babe reared two boys on farms in the Newbia and Antioch communities of Coffee County.

They had one son, J.D., b. 1927, who married Myra “Tip” Smith, daughter of Aubrey Smith of the Pleasant Home community. They also reared a nephew, Wilton Nelson, who married Shirley Taylor. J. D. became a football coach in Hartford and Wilton became a teacher in Dothan.

Descendants of this family held their first family reunion on Aug. 19, but they had limited participation. They are anxious to communicate with other relatives and conduct further research on this family.

Appreciation is expressed to Peggy (Wesley) Chesteen of the Antioch community for sharing her husband, Gerald’s, family history. They would like to hear from anyone who is related to the Chesteen family.

Anyone who might have corrections or additional information to the above is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or E-mail:

Historical Meeting:

The Covington Historical Society will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, August 30, at the Andalusia Public Library for a program on Sears & Roebuck Houses in Andalusia.


Thomasson Traces Family Reunion will be held on Saturday, August 25, at the Shaw Recreation Center on Sutton Road. Bring covered dish dinner; paper goods and ice will be furnished.

Third Annual Philyaw & Varner Reunion will be held on Saturday, August 25, at Point A Lodge. Fun begins at 8 a.m. Bring covered dish dinner.

Annual Foley Reunion will be held on Saturday, August 25, at Lucile and Rob Foley’s cabin near Opp. Bring covered dish meal.

Reunion of descendants of Jacob and Joseph C. Holloway will be held Saturday, September 1, at the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Samson, Alabama. Bring covered dish dinner, old photos, etc.l.

Hamilton descendants are of Scottish heritage

By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News

Ancestors of the Hamilton family of Covington County came from the Island of Arran, located off the Coast of Scotland. Near Brodick, the capital of the island, is Brodick Castle, ancestral home of the Hamiltons since 1503.

The castle was given to the first Duke of Hamilton by King James IV. Although it was partially destroyed on several occasions, it was always rebuilt and renovated to its present condition. It is visited regularly by many tourists who are vacationing in Scotland. Some years earlier, the castle passed into the hands of the National Trust of Scotland to assure it would be preserved as a national shrine.

In 1975, Hamilton ancestors united to form the Clan Hamilton Society. Descendants from throughout the world joined the prestigious organization, and many continue to enjoy the related benefits. The clan holds an annual meeting at Grandfather Mountain, Lineville, N.C., during which there is great pageantry depicting their heritage. Percy Hamilton, a native of Covington County, attended the meetings for a number of years before his death. One of his favorite activities was being able to play his bagpipes. (See related photo.)

The Scottish trait of enjoying music and singing was quite evident in the local Hamilton families. Thomas Greene Hamilton and Thomas Eliad Hamilton enjoyed playing the fiddle, and William Richard Hamilton learned to sing very well. Other Scottish traits prevalent in the families have included the men’s skilled labor in farming and woodwork and the women’s talents in crocheting and needlework. A number of these items have become treasured family heirlooms.

One such talented Hamilton descendant is Annie Laurie (Hamilton) Donaldson, a current resident of Middletown, Conn., where she lives with her son, David, and family. A native of Covington County, Annie Laurie, reared her family in Andalusia and lived here until recently. She was an active member of the local historical society and museum and has contributed much to the preservation of local history. She has a keen interest in her family genealogy and has been able to contribute additional records for updating the previous column written on this family.

For review, two Hamilton brothers, Richard Stephen and John F., migrated during the 1830s from South Carolina to the Brantley area. Traveling in their company were members of the Tisdale family. It is no surprise that the two brothers married daughters in the Tisdale family.

In the earlier Hamilton article, considerable lineage data on Richard Stephen’s family was presented. His brother, John F., was only mentioned briefly and his wife’s name was listed as Mary ?. Since that time, family records have become available that includes new information on John’s family.

John F. was married circa 1850 to Elizabeth Rebecca Tisdale, probably a sister to his brother Richard’s wife. (Previously, his wife’s name was believed to have been Mary.) The couple had the following four children before his premature death at age 34 years: William T., Richard S., John or Jim, and Martha “Mattie.”

John F. died while serving in the Confederate Army in 1862. He was a private in Company D, 58th. Alabama Infantry Regiment. It is believed that he was buried in a Confederate cemetery near Washington, D.C. His untimely death left his wife a young widow to rear four children.

It is no surprise that Rebecca and her children were living in the household of her parents-in-law, Thomas J. and Temperance Hamilton, when the 1870 Census of Crenshaw County was taken. At the time she was 33-years old and the children were listed at the following ages: William T. “Bill,” 13; Richard S., 11; John, 9; and Martha “Mattie,” 7. At the time, Thomas J. was 72 years of age, and Tempa was 61.

Some additional genealogy for John F.’s brother, Richard Stephen’s, family is related to Thomas Greene and Elizabeth (Saunders) Hamilton’s children. Their second son, Thomas Eliad was a farmer in Opp and was married to Thennie Buckelew. They had the following five children: Bertie Bell, Carnie, Sherrill, Ava Dell and Floyce.

The next son, Henry Wesley, was a farmer and carpenter. He and his wife, Ellen Williamson, had the following four children: Wesley, Dene, Benjamin and Frances.

The youngest son, Howell, was married to Minnie F. Williamson. They had a daughter, Howellene who was married first to Holly White, a native of Andalusia. They had the following three sons: Steve, Marshall and Phillip. After Holly’s death, his widow was married to Woodrow Plant.

Appreciation is again expressed to Annie Laurie (Hamilton) Donaldson for sharing her family’s history. She would be interested in communicating with anyone who is researching this family.

Anyone who might have corrections to the above or additional data on the Hamilton family is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:

Historical Meeting:

The committee for compiling the heritage edition of Covington County history will be meeting on Monday, August 20, at 11 a.m. in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. Anyone with interest or who has stories ready to submit is encouraged to be present at the meeting.

Descendants of John H. Chesteen and both his wives will meet for a reunion at 10 a.m. on Sunday, August 19, at the Rose Hill Community Center. Call 222-4742 for additional information.

Thomasson Traces Family Reunion will be held on Saturday, August 25, at the Shaw Recreation Center on Sutton Road. Activities begin around 10 a.m. All Thomasson relatives are urged to attend and bring a covered dish dinner. Paper goods and ice will be furnished.

Third Annual Philyaw and Varner Reunion is scheduled for Saturday, August 25, at the Point “A” Lodge. All relatives of John W. and Cynthia (Varner) Philyaw are encouraged to attend and bring a covered dish dinner. Call Margaret Kilpatrick at 222-3055 for more information.

Descendants of Jacob and Joseph C. Holloway will have a reunion on Saturday, Sept. 1, at the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Samson. Bring Covered dish dinner along with old photos, etc.

Call Darlene Halcomb at 334-393-2376 or Joyce Ward at 334-347-2903 for additional information.

Other Martin relatives were in Covington County by 1832

By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News

Members of the Martin family were in Covington County as early as 1832. During that year John Martin attended a meeting in Tuscaloosa as a member of the committee selected to investigate the actions of Judge Devereux. Along with other things, Devereux had seemingly forced Sheriff Vining Howard out of office. Obviously, Martin was a respected citizen of the young and developing county.

During 1846 and 1847, Robert C. Martin was working as a flagman with the partial resurvey crew. He was working with William Weakley’s crew assigned to Ranges 14 through 16E.

During the 1850s when so many settlers were moving into Covington, there were several Martin men who obtained land from the government. In 1854, Francis S. acquired 319 acres in the Panther Creek area, William bought 40 acres in the Beulah community, and Cyrus W. purchased 160 acres in the Chapel Hill section. In 1855, William added 80 acres to his land in Beulah, and Jonathan F. bought 80 acres in the Panther Creek area. In 1856, John F. acquired 40 acres in the Dozier/Rose Hill area. In 1861, James M. purchased 80 acres in the Chapel Hill community.

There were many Martins who homesteaded land throughout Covington County during the 1880s, 1890s, and early 1900s. Among these were Charles, Benjamin F., Zachariah M., Benjamin C., Ellen, John F., Green B. and Marcellus O. Some of these were related to the Martin family featured in last week’s column, and some are from the earlier Martin families.

The only Martin household enumerated in the 1850 census of this county was that of Rachael Martin, listed as a mulatto at 70 years of age. Listed in her home were the following: John, 30; Eliza, 28; Sevina, 25; Silis, 16; Morgan, 14; Nancy, 30; Joseph, 13; Measuri, 12; Mary, 10; Caroline, 8; William, 6; and John, 4. They were all identified as mulattos.

Obviously, other Martin families began to arrive soon as they were buying land during the mid-1850s. By 1859, James M. Martin was well established in the Chapel Hill community as he was one of those representing the Chapel Hill Missionary Baptist Church at the Zion Association Meeting.

The following families were enumerated during the 1860 census: Alexander Martin, age 42, was living alone. John F., 45, and his wife, Elizabeth, 42, were born in Georgia and had the following children born to them in Alabama: Ranson, 18; Alfred, 16; Susan, 14; Eliza, 12; Hanah, 7; and Rebecca, 4.

James Martin, 38, and his wife, Sarah, 39, were born in Georgia and had the following children born to them in Alabama except the oldest, who was born in Georgia: Wiley, 19; Eli J.L.D., 17; Elizabeth F., 13; Mary Ann, 6; and Cyrus W., 3. Also residing with them were two invalid females, Frances, 80, and Bethiah, 70.

Cyrus W. Martin, 33, and his wife George Ann, 32, were born in Georgia and had the following children with them: Lethy Ann, 12; Martha, 9; Isaac, 7; and Daniel, 9 months.

The household of Rachael Martin, 80 years of age, included the following: John Martin, 45; Sarah E.J., 44; James J., 14; Sarah E., 13; Joseph D., 10; and Ann E., 6. The census data list Rachael as black and John as mulatto.

Before the War Between the States, Alexander Martin owned two slaves in 1860. E.W. Martin of Conecuh County lost his bid to represent the area in the state senate.

As the war began in 1861, W.F. Martin enlisted in Co. B, 18th. Ala. Inf. Reg’t, Confederate States of America. During 1862, C.W. Martin, was serving as Aid-de-Camp for the 60th. Reg’t (Cov. Co.) 8th. Brigade, 11th. Division of the Alabama Militia and later became a 1st. Sgt. in Co. I, 29th. Ala. Inf. Reg’t. During 1864, James Martin, age 52 years, became a private in Co. A, Cov. Co. Reserves (First Class).

Following the war, in 1867, there were several Martins who were listed as registered voters. From Beat Three there were William, J., W., and another William Martin. From Beat Seven there were J.F., C.W., and John A. From Beat Two there was A. Martin.

During the taking of the 1870 census, there were several Martin households enumerated.

Those included the families of C.L, Patience, Ellen, James M., W.F., Cyrus, and J.M. Many of these were still residing here when the 1900 census was made. In addition, the descendants of the two brothers, Richard Bryan and George Washington, who were featured last week were living here as well.

Research for this writing included examining the records of several Martin family descendants, reviewing census records, and gathering data from historical publications on Covington County: Wyley Ward’s Covington County History and Original Land Sales and Grants in Covington County, Alabama, and Covington County History by Gus and Ruby Bryan. Additional research is needed to relate all the different Martin families who came fairly early to this county.

A request is made to anyone who might have corrections or additions to the above to contact the writer at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:


Martin families settled in Red Level

By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News

Although there appears to be have been several Martin family lines as pioneers in Covington County, only one will be featured in this writing. Around 1870, two brothers, Richard Bryan Martin and George Washington Martin, moved to the Red Level community.

The brothers were the sons of John H. and Elizabeth Martin who had arrived from South Carolina in 1830 to join John’s relatives in the Ozark Community of Dale County. John’s parents, Benjamin and Elizabeth Martin, were natives of North Carolina, who had moved to Dale County during the 1820s. There are written records of the Martins’ wagon trip to Alabama traveling in the company of the Byrd and Matthews families.

Benjamin, the son of William Martin, was born in 1776 in North Carolina and married Elizabeth circa 1879. They were the parents of 10 children born in Lenoir and Johnson County, N.C.: John H., b. ca 1800, d. before 1860, m. Elizabeth ?; Frances, b. 1803, d. before 1860, m. William Andrews; William, b. 1804, m. Mrs. Elizabeth Campbell; James, b. 1808, m. Mary ?; Sarah, b. 1810, m. Isaac Matthews; Martha, b. 1811, m. Joshua Suggs; Haywood, b. 1813, d. 1900, m. Emily Dixon; Elizabeth, b. 1815, d. before 1860, m. William Hines; Benjamin Jr., b. 1816, d. 1897, m. Mary Byrd; and daughter, m. ? Byrd.

The oldest son, John H., and his wife, Elizabeth, also reared 10 children: Benjamin William, b. 1828, d. 1910, m. Pheriba Andrews; Sarah, b. 1825; Tabbitha “Bitha,” b. 1826, d. 1895, m. John Isaac Loyd; William H., b. 1829, d. 1855, m. Mary M. Matthews; Smithey, b. 1832, m. Nelson Hughes; John H., b. 1837, d. ca 1880, m. Sarah A. Hood; Elizabeth F., b. 1839; Martha, b. 1841; Richard Bryan, b. 1843, d. 1918, m. Mary Serena Matthews; and George Washington, b. 1846, d. 1905, m. Rebecca Ann Matthews.

When most of the above couples moved to Texas after the war, the two youngest chose to settle at Red Level near the relatives of their wives who were sisters. They were the daughters of William and Polly (Liles) Matthews. While William was making trips to Red Level from Ozark to purchase cattle, he met Polly whom he later married and brought home with him.

When Richard was 19 years of age in 1862, he enlisted at Ozark as a private in Company I, 33rd Alabama Infantry Regiment of the Confederate States of America. In January of 1863, he was seriously wounded, probably at either Franklin, Tenn., or Nashville, Tenn., and was hospitalized at Tullahoma, Tenn. He recovered and continued his service until 1865 at which time he was discharged at Columbus, Miss.

When Richard returned from the war he married Serena, and their first child was born in 1869 before the move to Red Level. After arriving, he purchased 200 acres of land bordering Pigeon Creek and U.S. 84 from Elijah “Lige” Beasley. This he farmed and supported his family.

Richard and Serena had the following four children: Marcellus Pendleton, b. 1869, d. 1957, m. Elizabeth Missouri “Lizzie” Josey; John, b. 1871, d. 1874; William Uriah, b. 1876, d. 1945, m. Lottie Blair; and Lilly Belle, b. 1880, d. 1881. Most members of this family are buried in the Fairmount Baptist Church Cemetery in Red Level.

The oldest son, Marcellus, built a log house near his father’s and across the road from the old Lambert School. He was married in 1889 to Elizabeth “Lizzie,” the daughter of James Salter and Civel (DuBose) Josey. Around 1904, he homesteaded land near Yellow River in the Red Oak community, but he returned to Red Level by 1909. In addition to operating his farm, he cut and moved timbers down the river on rafts.

Marcellus and Lizzie had the following children: Zeina Alice, b. 1890, d. 1943, m. David A. “Bud” Beasley; Frank Gordon, b. 1892, d. 1977, m. Dell Beasley; Infant girl, b. 1893; Ludie Agnes, b. 1895, d. 1971, m. (1) Ethan C. Bradley (2) Phillip Eugene Cotton; Leonard Pierson, b. 1897, d. 1979, m. Daisy Edson; Rufus Hobson, b. 1899, d. 1990, m. (1) Mary Inez “Nettie” Parker (2) Lois Blair Kilpatrick; Mary Ray, b. 1904, d. 1988, m. Carl Whitten; John William, b. 1907, d. 1970, m. Blanche Tranum; Kathleen, b. 1909, d. 1999, m. Zackie Emmett Rogers; and Josey Holman “Joe,” b. 1913, d. 1985, m. Mary Elizabeth Salem.

Richard’s son, William, taught school and was a co-owner with Dr. J.E. Terry of a drug store in Red Level. The business later became Roundtree Drug Store. William and Lottie made their home across the railroad from the store. They did not have any children.

Richard’s brother, George Washington, and his wife, Rebecca Ann “Becky” Matthews, were both born and married in Ozark. A dark hour occurred the day before their move to Covington County when they buried an infant daughter at the Claybank Church Cemetery. George settled his family in Red Level near his brother, Richard. He later homesteaded land in the Red Oak area near Five Runs Creek. He lived in that community until his death in 1905. He and his wife were buried at the Fairmount Cemetery.

George and Becky had the following children: Oscar Monroe, b. 1869, d. 1962, m. Lillis Williams; Jessie Oliver, b. 1876, m. Arrie Hutcheson; Sherod Madison, b. 1879 m. Mary Soles; and George Malachi, b. 1884, m. Agnes Kennedy.

The oldest son, Oscar, and his wife, Lillis, had the following children: Elbert Walker, b. 1890, d. 1982, m. Bertie V. Hassell; Ollie Marvin, b. 1892, d. 1974, m. Dora J. Mason; Earl M., b. 1894, d. 1971, m. (1) Annie Mae Hassell (2) Margaret ?; Jule, b. 1896, d. 1958, m. Stella Parker; James Madison “Jim,” b. 1900, d. 1956, m. Jessie May; Queenie Victoria, b. 1902, d. 1982, m. Harvey Hilbert Hassell; George, b. 1905, d. 1985, m. Ruth Raley; Frank, b. 1907, d. 1995, m. Nellie Maddox; Nobie, b.1909, m. (1) Bob Acree (2) Clayton Herring; and Grady, b. 1913, d. 1982, m. Nola ?.

In the 1920s, Oscar chose to leave his farming in Red Level and moved into Andalusia. He bought a house on Dunson Street and entered the construction field. During the 1930s, following in Benjamin Martin’s footsteps, he was elected a Justice of the Peace, a position he held for 20 years. Through this office he became a well-known public figure around the Covington County Courthouse. His grandchildren recall going by his office after school and being treated with a nickel for ice cream.

These Martin families remained very close and began having family reunions many years ago. This tradition is still maintained each year.

Appreciation is expressed to Mary (Rogers) Adams of Dauphin Island, Alabama, who is the daughter of Kathleen (Martin) Rogers, for sharing her family history records for this writing.

Anyone who might have corrections or additions to the above is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:

Gridertown was named for John David Grider

By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News

Covington County Geanealogy Forum

The current community of Horn Hill, located southwest of Opp, was once known as Gridertown. It was named to honor one of its leading citizens, John David Grider. John was born in 1875 in Bullock County and came to this county as a young man probably around the turn of the century. He was later followed by some of his brothers and sisters.

It appears that John was a great nephew to the Francis Marion Grider identified as a descendant of the Grider family presented in last week’s column. Hopefully, further research will confirm this relationship and provide additional genealogical data for this family.

John’s family claims a legend that two Grider brothers left South Carolina and made their way eventually to south Alabama circa 1839. One of these, Benjamin Franklin, was born in 1792 in North Carolina. His family lived in Morgan County, Ga., from 1817 when he married about 1839 when they came to Alabama. The family was enumerated in the 1840, 1850, and 1860 Censuses of Pike County. In 1866, when Bullock County was formed, the Griders' community of Inverness fell in the new county.

Benjamin was married by 1820 to Anna Boman. When they left Georgia, they had the following 10 children: John T., b. 1821, d. 1886; Sarah A., b. 1823, d. 1880; Jacob Brown "Jake," b. 1825, d. 1911, m. 1850 Matilda "Tila" Gilmer or Gilmore; Mary John "Polly," b. 1827, d. 1903, m. Daniel Campbell; William H. "Bill," b. 1830, d. 1879; Anne T., b. 1832, d. 1908; Susan Frances, b. 1833, d. before 1865, m. Irvin G. Whittle; George W., b. 1835, d. 1862; Martha A., b. 1837, d. 1862, m. Roy Hayes; and Frances Marion, b. 1839, d. after 1925, m. Harriet Nuel DeVoe.

The third child, Jake, and his wife, Tila, had the following 13 children: William Benjamin, b. 1850, m. Martha Elizabeth Breedlove; Wiley Martin, b. 1853; Daniel Christopher "Chris," b. 1854, d. after 1940, m. (1) Amanda Amy Elizabeth Allen (2) Mary Gertrude "Dollie" Blue; Sara Frances "Sally," b. 1855; Eliza Caroline, b. 1858; John Thomas, b. 1860, d. 1862; Georgia Ann, b.&d. 1862; Matilda Anne, b. 1863, d. 1874; Emma, b. 1866; Winnie Adeline, b. 1858, d. 1955, m. ? Ellis; Molly Adina, b. 1870; Jacob Henry "Jake," b. 1871; and Alvarada "Lady," b. 1874.

The third son, Chris, and his first wife, Amanda, had the following children: John David 1875, d. 1950, m. (1) ? McCart (2) Irene Lanier (3) Nola Caston (4) Alva Hudson Martin; Florence Elizabeth, b. 1877, d. 1969, m. (1) Levy B. Blizzard (2) James R. Spivey; Matilda Lou, b. 1879, d. 1951, m. L.G. Duke; Tressie Ola Adeline, b. 1881, d. 1944, m. (1) ? Waters (2) ? Ellis; Emma Brown, b. 1883, d. 1964, m. H Andrew Osteen; William Tipton "Tip," b. 1885, d. 1949, m. Claudia Veturia Mathews; Daniel Christopher Jr., b. 1888, d. 1970, m. Martha C. ?; Joseph Young, b. 1891, d. 1962, Mattie Mae Lawrence; Annie Adella "Dell," b. 1893, d. 1944, U.L. Osteen; Alice Corine, b. 1895, d. 1919, Eugene M. Barfoot; and Alvarada Inez, b. 1898, d. 1976, m. Paul DeMo/DeeMoore.

Daniel was married a second time to Mary Gertrude "Dollie." They had the following four children: James Martin; Mary Sheparone, m. Marvin A. Andrews; J.B.; and Thomas E.

The oldest son, John David, is the John mentioned earlier who moved the family to Covington County. He appears to have arrived around the turn of the century and settled in the community that became Gridertown and Horn Hill later. He acquired considerable land acreage and had tenant farmers to help farm the land. He also operated a saw mill and a general store. During the 1930s, he built the Gridertown Church of Christ, which is active today with Douglas Williams of Elba serving as minister.

John had two daughters, Bessie, who married a Willis, and Ruby by his first wife. He had one son, John Smith who had three sons: Tip David, William Gerald, and John Jacob "Johnny."

One of John David's younger brothers, William Tip, followed his brother to Covington County and became a pioneer preacher and missionary for the Church of Christ. He was instrumental in helping establish several congregations in south Alabama and northwest Florida.

In addition to his ministerial work, Tip owned and operated a farm in the Rose Hill community. He donated the land for the Rose Hill Church of Christ, which is located on an unpaved road southwest of Rose Hill. His home was nearby, but across the highway on the west side. At times Tip worked as a school teacher. To supplement his income, Tip also sold monuments for the McNeil Marble Company of Georgia and a general antiseptic product for livestock that was called Vizene.

Tip met with an untimely death in 1949 when he suffered a fatal heart attack. His descendants recalled that he was working on a small fishpond located in the large gully or ravine located behind his house. He likely over-exerted himself carrying large containers up and down the steep banks to and from the pond.

His obituary attests to the high regard held for this Christian gentleman. He was referred to as "Beloved minister of the Church of Christ for 47 years." He was praised for devoting the greatest portion of his life and ministerial efforts to the rural sectors. Among the estimated 2,000 in attendance at his funeral at the Dozier Church of Christ were 26 fellow-ministers.

Tip’s oldest granddaughter, Kathryn Ann (Collins) McAuley, expressed her great love and admiration for her "Daddy Tip." She spent a large portion of her childhood with him as her family lived for a period of time with her grandparents. She has written accounts of a number of remembrances she has of him and his generous acts of kindness. He shared an interest in baseball with her and they listened to the Red Sox games on the radio. He supported the sport in Rose Hill and Troy and built a field at his home for area youth. There is no end to the precious memories Kathryn could tell about her dear grandfather. Also, there are many area citizens who knew him and have great appreciation and admiration for the Christian service he rendered to so many in this area.

Tip and his wife, Claudia, had the following four children: Lena Kathryn, b. 1911, m. Jim Tom Collins; William Allen, b.1913, d. 1979, m. Collyer Emogene Drake; Ethlyn, b. 1920, m. Woodrow "Pres" Wilson; and Helen Corene, b. 1921, m. Kernis Campbell. There was also an infant who died at birth.

A number of Grider descendants are interested in their heritage and hope to hear from others who are as well. Some who contributed information for this writing are Kathryn Ann (Collins) McAuley of Gantt and Joan (Grimes) Grider of Montgomery. Appreciation is expressed to them and others who helped in any way.

Anyone who might have corrections or additions to the above is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:

Grider family came to America circa 1717

By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News

Ancestors of the Grider family came to America circa 1717 from Switzerland. Originally from Germany, the early generations used the German form of the name, which was Kreuter. Hans Jacob Kreuter/Grider was the first to arrive, and he settled in Lancaster County, Penn. It is believed that he had two brothers, Martin and Mathew, who came with him.

The name of Hans’s wife is unknown, but the couple had at least two sons whom they named Henry and Jacob. The child was born in Lancaster County in 1755. When he was 26 years of age, Henry moved in 1771 to Culpepper County, Va. After a number of years, he met and was married in 1788 to Elizabeth Smith, daughter of Jesse Smith.

Soon after their marriage, Henry and Elizabeth moved to Kentucky and settled near Brandt’s Station, which is called Danville today. After some 11 years, the couple relocated to Bowling Green in Warren County.

During the Revolutionary War, Henry served as a lieutenant from the State of Virginia. He was engaged in the Battle of Blue Lick, where he received a wound from which he never completely recovered. He also participated in pioneer warfare in Warren County, Ken.

Henry and Elizabeth reared the following children: Ann, m. (1) Charles Mitchell (2) John Boone; Mary, m. Robert Brean; Sallie, m. Asa Mitchell; Elizabeth, single; Nancy, m. (1) Rev. W. McDonald (2) ? Moffett; John, m. ? Martin; and Henry Jr., m. Rachael Covington.

The son, John, and his wife had the following children: Rev. J.S., Dr. John, Mack, and two unknown daughters.

The youngest son, Henry Jr., and his wife, Rachael, had the following two sons, Col. Benjamin and Henry III.

Henry’s brother, Jacob, was also a veteran of the Revolutionary War. He and his wife reared the following children: Jacob “Jake,” Martin, Tobias, Thomas, William Henry I, and Richardson.

Jacob’s son, William Henry I, and his wife, Elizabeth Gordon, reared the following children: William Henry II, John Frank, Agnes, John Hogan, and Jesse.

William Henry I’s son, William Henry II, and his wife, ? Horton, had the following children: William Henry III; Mae, m. Clifford Bruce; John, m. Lucy Starr; and Halle, m. Emmett Joyner.

William Henry I’s son, John Hogan I, had a son whom he named John Hogan II. John H. II and his wife, Maria Morris, had three children: William Henry IV, who married Sue McGavock; Agnes; and Dora.

William Henry IV and his wife, Sue, had the following children: George, m. Nem H. Williamson; Josephine, m. Frederick P. Jacobs; and John McGavock, m. Marguerite Samuels.

John McGavock and Marguerite had the following children: Jacob “Jake,” Chris, John, William, and Francis Marion “Tobe,” b. 1839, d. 1925, m. Harriet Nuel DeVoe. Harriet was born in Ireland and brought to America when she was three years of age. The DeVoe family eventually settled near Union Springs in what is Bullock County today. Members of the family are buried in the nearby Sardis Cemetery. Tobe was born in Georgia, but he later moved to Union Springs in Bullock County. Family anecdotes state he was a first cousin to the infamous Frank and Jesse James brothers. Their mothers were believed to be sisters.

Francis Marion and Harriet reared the following children: John, m. Kate Stone; James Walter, b. 1863, d. 1951, m. 1888 Iola Josephine Clark; Benjamin “Whiskey;” Frank; Minnie, m. William Locklier; Pastoria, m. Cliff Berry; Elizabeth “Betty,” single; Sallie, m. Kane Reeves; Flora Bell, m. Louis N. “Pony” Joyner; Anna, m. Jim Bates; and Willie, m. Ross Cogdell.

It was their son, James Walter, who was the first of the family to reach Covington County. He moved from where the family was residing at Inverness in Pike County to this county during the late 1800s. He always earned his living as a farmer. His farm and home was the area along the west side of U.S. Highway 29 north along where the Howell’s Nursery is located today.

James Walter and Iola had the following eleven children: Infant, b. & d. 1888; Minnie Lee, b. 1890, d. 1935, m. 1907 Minnie Lee Streetman; Walter Clarence, b. 1892, d. 1957, m. Jewel Celeste Brown; Mattie Ruth, b. 1894, d. 1903; James Ernest, b. 1896, d. 1972, m. 1917 Irma Brown Stewart; Henry Grider, d. 1899; Marion Bartley, b. 1900, d. 1959, m. 1924 Willie Cornelia Pollard; Roberta Curry, b. 1904, d. 1966, m. 1929 D.A. Booker; Infant, b. & d. 1906; Clark Howell, b. 1907, d. 1962, m. 1930 Aileen McEverly; and Infant, b. & d. 1910.

Appreciation is expressed to Faye (Grider) Marty, the daughter of Marion Bartley Grider, for sharing her family history records. Faye’s mother, Willie, was a well-known school teacher in this area who taught most of her career at Pleasant Home School.

Anyone who might have corrections or additional data on this family is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:

Vines family settled in the Brantley area

By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News

Descendants of the Vines family who live in Covington County descend from John Bush Vines, a native of England. Born circa 1700, John emigrated to America before 1723. In that year, his son, Benjamin Bush, was born in Anson County, N. C.

Sometime before 1750, Benjamin was married to a young lady named Elizabeth. They reared at least three sons: Johnathan Daniel, b. 1750 S.C.; Isaiah, b. 1755 Ga., d. 1820 Elbert Co., Ga; and William, b. 1760 Ga.

Isaiah chose a young lady named Sarah to be his wife. Their son, Caswell Dozier Vines, is the one who led the family into Alabama. Caswell was born in 1796 in the Indian lands of Coweta County, Ga. He was just the right age to serve in the War of 1812 and the Indian Wars.

Fortunately Caswell survived military service and was married to a lady whose name remains unknown. Some family researchers believe it might have been Cynthia Elizabeth since several descendants were given the name. The couple reared the following three children: Chesley Daniel, b. 1825, d. 1865; Harriet, b. 1828, m. Alfred Tillery; and John W., b. 1830, d. 1861-65 during the war.

Caswell was next married to Holland Meeks. This wife bore one son before her untimely death during the 1830s. The son, William, was born in 1832.

Caswell was in Covington County by 1856 when he purchased 40 acres and 80 acres of land in the Brantley area. (This area would become a part of Crenshaw County when it was formed in 1866.) During the same year, a William H. Vines acquired a 80-acre tract in the same community.

Caswell was enumerated in the 1860 Census for Covington County as a farmer at 60 years of age. He had lost his second wife, so the family of James M. Daniel was living and farming with him. James was 35 years of age with his wife, Frances A., at 30 years. They had the following children: David J., 11; Elizabeth A., 10; James, 8; Pheriba, 7; John, 2; and Sarah, 1. At his death, Caswell was buried at the Tillery/Vines Cemetery on Tillery Farms, Crenshaw County.

Caswell’s oldest son, Chesley Daniel, was also listed in the 1860 census. He was 34 years of age, and his wife, Elizabeth, was 26 years. They had their four surviving children with them. They had the following children: William Asa, b. 1853, d. 1929, m. Martha Caroline Welch; Cynthia Elizabeth, b. 1854, d. 1855; Sarah Ann Saphronia, b. 1856, d. 1929; Nathaniel Caswell, b. 1858, d. 1870; and John Daniel, b. 1860, d. 1927.

Chesley was credited with building a road including bridges over the Pea River and Whitewater Creek from Bullock to Clintonville. His primary means of supporting his family was through farming. While he was away during the war, his wife, Elizabeth acquired 80 acres of land in the Brantley area from the State of Alabama.

Chesley was a private in Co. E, 61st. Ala. Inf. Reg’t. Related records indicate he was captured in 1864 during the Battle of Spottsylvania. He died of chronic diarrhea on March 20, 1865, while imprisoned. His grave is listed in the Woodlawn National Cemetery at Plot 1575.

Chesley’s brother, John W., also lost his life during the war. He enlisted in the Confederate Army 1862 in Elba and later served as a private in Co. H, 53rd. Partisan Rangers. (The Rangers were known as a very tough and hard-fighting band of men.) It is believed John W. was wounded in the Battle of Atlanta and that he died there in a hospital. His grave, like so many others, was not marked.

Several years before the war, John was married to Martha Samantha Matheny, a sister to Elizabeth. They had the following three children: John William “Hyde,” b. 1854, d. 1909, m. Nancy Elizabeth Atkinson; Holland; and Missouri, m. ? Johnson. At Martha’s death, she was buried in the Rutledge Cemetery in Crenshaw County.

Chesley’s oldest son, William Asa, and wife, Martha, had the following children: Chesley Daniel, m. Pearl Stout; Rosa G., b. 1873; Robert Webster, b. 1877, d. 1963, m. (1) Mary Lanenia Moore (2) Clara May Smith; and William Asa Jr., b. 1888, d. 1961, m. Nellie Stewart.

John W.’s son, John William “Hyde,” and his wife, Nancy, reared the following children: William Henry “Billy,” b. 1887, d. 1925, m. (1) Neta Reeves (2) Neta Staggers; James Clayton “Jim,” b. 1888, d. 1958, m. Rebecca Isabell “Becky” Elmore; John Thomas “Tom,” b. 1891, d. 1963, m. Ola Bea Burgins; Joe Lee, b. 1894; Alma Mae, b. 1896, m. Calvin Spears; Velma, b. 1899, m. J. Newt spears; and Cynthia Elizabeth “Skip or Lizzie,” b. ca 1902, d. 1959, m. (1) ? (2) Ollie Helms.

Hyde’s second son, James, and his wife, Rebecca, had the following three children: Freddie Morgan, b. 1923, d. 1975, m. Dorothy Ernestine Kilpatrick; Carlson Boyles Vines, b. 1925, d. 2001, m. 1949 Betty Jean Kelly; and William Edgar “Waddie,” b. 1928, m. Carmie Jean Colvin, daughter of Irvin and Velma (Bryant) Colvin.

Hyde’s third son, Tom, and his wife, Ola Bea, who was the daughter of William and Anice (Reeves) Burgins, reared the following children: Ruby Rodel, b. 1925; John Thomas Jr., b. 1929; Johnnie William, b. 1933, d. 1959; Ralph Jerry, b. 1944, d. 1956; Linda Sue, b. 1947; and Martha Faye, b. 1951.

Hyde’s daughter, Alma Mae, and her husband, Calvin Spears, had four children: Carroll, Lois, Mary Kate, and Bubba.

Hyde’s daughter, Cynthia Elizabeth, had one child, Lamerie, b. 1919, d. 1921, by her first husband. She had two children by her second husband, Ollie Helms: Reginald B., b. ca 1929; and Dolly Mae, b. ca 1922, m. ? Littles.

Appreciation is expressed to William Carlson “Bill” Vines of Andalusia for sharing his family history for this column. Bill is the son of Carlson and Betty Vines and is married to Mary Kathleen (Johnson), formerly of Chicago, Illinois. Bill credits his uncle, William Edgar Vines, as having done much of the research on this family.

Anyone who might have corrections or additions to the above is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:

Hamilton family settled in the Brantley area

By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News

The earliest Hamilton ancestor to arrive in Covington County was Thomas J. Hamilton, a native of South Carolina. He was born in the Greenville District of that state as the son of Thomas and Temperance (Arnold) Hamilton. He was the grandson of David and Margaret (Carlisle) Hamilton who were born in Ireland.

David and Margaret emigrated from Ireland with their family circa 1762. After a voyage of some three months, the family landed on the coast of Virginia. They settled in Culpepper County, where they resided with one of their sons.

The only one of their sons who is known is Thomas Hamilton, born in 1758 in Belfast, Ireland. He was married in 1782 to Temperance Arnold, daughter of Benjamin and Ann (Hendrick) Arnold. The couple eventually made their home in Lowndes County, Alabama. They both died there and were buried in the Watkins Cemetery at Collirene.

Family tradition holds that their son, Thomas J., came to Alabama from South Carolina in the 1830s. He was married to Temperance, a native of Georgia, circa 1824. Some records indicate the marriage occurred in the State of Alabama; therefore, there is some uncertainty on the actual dates for Thomas J.

While there is some question as to when Thomas J. arrived in Covington County, he was not  listed in the 1840 census. According to other census records, Thomas J. was a wagon-maker and farmer. He and Temperance were the parents of at least three children: Richard Stephen, b. 1825, d. 1864, m. Ellen Tisdale; Nancy, b. 1827, d. 1850, m. 1846 Jonathan Andrew Everage; and John F., b. ca 1828, d. 1862, m. 1850 Mary ?.

Thomas J. and Temperance were enumerated in the 1850 Census for Covington County as Dwelling # 345. He was 51 years of age and she, 44. With them were their son, Richard, age 24; and a Martha E. Bagence, age 22; and Caroline, age 2. Living next door were their son, John, age 22, and his wife, Mary, age 17. This census reports John being born in Georgia and Mary in Florida.

During the 1850s, several tracts of public land were purchased by members of the Hamilton family. Although there are discrepancies on the initials, the individuals acquiring the land are probably sons or relatives of Thomas J. In 1855, John T. bought 80 acres in the Brantley area. In 1855, John J. bought 40 acres in the same area. In 1856 and 1857, Richard L. bought 200 acres and 40 acres respectively in the same area.

During the 1860 census, Thomas J. was residing in the Brantley area which would later become a part of Crenshaw County. He died there sometime after 1870 and was buried in the Providence Cemetery located in northeast Covington County near the Crenshaw County line.

Thomas J.’s oldest son, Richard, died during the war in 1864 at the young age of 39 years. He served as a private in Company C, 57th. Alabama Infantry Regiment and is buried in an unmarked grave near Pollard. He left a widow, Ellen, and three children: Thomas Greene, m. Elizabeth Saunders; Sarah Prudence; and Polly. Thomas Greene was a carpenter and farmer who lived in the Brantley area. He and his family later moved to the Mt. Ida/Spring Hill community. He and Elizabeth reared eight children: Elizabeth, William Richard, Thomas E., Henry, John, Ether, Annie, and Howell. At her death, Ellen was buried in the Old Brantley Cemetery.

The son, William Richard “Bud,” was born in 1888 and was married in 1914 in Opp to Mary Edna “Mollie” Woodham. During the first four years of their marriage, they operated a small farm in Crenshaw County where their first two children, William Aubrey and Annie Laurie, were born in 1915 and 1918 respectively. During 1919, the family moved to the Babbie community in Covington County where another son, Percy Leon, was born in 1920. The family moved next to the Wiggins community, located about two miles north of Sanford, where two more sons, Samuel Marlin and Robert Coleman, were born in 1922 and 1925 respectively. In 1937, Bud moved the family to Opp, where a number of descendants still reside. Bud and Mollie and their sons, Percy and Marlin, were buried in the Hickory Grove Cemetery near Opp on Highway 84 west.

Thomas J.’s daughter, Nancy, married Jonathan Andrew Everage, son of James Everage, circa 1848. The couple had two infants when Nancy died at a very young age in 1850. The children were Nancy Elizabeth, b. 1848, d. 1932, m. John Marion Phillips; and James A.B., b. 1850, m. Johanna ?

After Nancy’s death, Jonathan was married to Martha Elizabeth Tisdale, daughter of Furney Green and Mary (Norton) Tisdale. This marriage produced eight children.

It is unknown if there were any children born to Thomas J.’s son, John F., and wife, Mary. He met with an untimely death in 1862 during the W.B.T.S. He served as a private in Company D, 58th. Alabama Infantry Regiment and is believed to be buried in a Confederate cemetery near Washington, D.C.

Appreciation is expressed to a descendant, Annie Laurie Hamilton Donaldson, for sharing her family’s genealogy. She is a former resident of Andalusia who currently resides in Middleton, Conn., near her children.

Anyone who might have additions or corrections to this writing is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:

Sightler family is of Swiss descent

By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News


The Sightler descendants of Covington County have traced their ancestry back to Switzerland and Amsterdam. George Seitler (Sightler), Sr. was born in Switzerland and came to America circa 1756 as a young man. He was under marriage contract with a young lady, Margaret Myers, who was a native of Amsterdam. The couple was married soon after their arrival in Charleston, S.C., and they made their home in the German/Swiss settlement on the Congree River.

Among their children was a son named Henry Sightler Sr. who was born in 1760 and died in 1832. Henry was married in 1791 to Margaret Murph, daughter of John and Ann E. Murff. Their children included the following: John, b. 1792, single; Ann, b. 1794; Betsy, b. 1795; Mary M., b. 1797, m. ? Parker; Caty, b. 1799; Joseph, b. 1801, d. 1857, m. Jane L. McGrew; Sarah, b. 1802; Harmon J., b. 1807, m. (1) Sara Poole (2) Amarintha McGrew (3) Eliza Salter; Henry Jr., b. 1809, d. 1869, m. Matilda Senn; Margaret, b. 1811; and George W., b. 1813, m. Lavenia Williams.

Among Henry Jr.’s children was a son named George Washington who was born in 1831 in South Carolina. George was married first to Caroline Bachman, daughter of Henry and Mary Bachman of Saxon, Germany. They reared the following children: Mary, b. 1859, d. 1941, m. John Rast; Emma, b. 1860, d. 1915, m. Frank Goodwin; Louise, b. 1862, d. 1919, m. John Loester; Arch R., b. ca 1863, d. 1936, m. Ida Hall; Marina, b. 1864, d. 1939, m. William Noah Spires; Alzadie “Sadie,” b. 1871, d. 1922, m. J. Kirby Rucker; Jacob W., b. ca 1874, d. 1951, m. Kansada Glenn; Daniel A., b. 1876, d. 1951, m. Rebecca Tolue Eiland; and George Pleasant.

George became a large landowner to support his growing family. When the War Between the States broke out, he did not serve because of his poor health and having several small children. Family anecdotes relate how he hid and saved one old mule during the last stages of the war. When Sherman’s men were scouring the area for any available livestock and supplies, George and a slave alternated keeping the mule hidden in a Rosemary bush thicket. They had to be with him at all times to keep him quiet because the Union soldiers were moving throughout the area. Saving the animal meant having a means to plant a garden the following year to provide food for the family.

George and Caroline were active members of the Sandy Run Baptist Church in Gaston, S.C. Several of his relatives had been charter members of this church. He served for a number of years as a deacon and for a period of time as Sunday school superintendent. He was a delegate at the 1885, 1887, 1889, and 1899 association meetings. He served as treasurer for the Lexington Baptist Association from 1887 to 1889.

After Caroline’s death in 1885, George was married to Mary Hall. They had the following children: Lemuel H., b. 1886, m. Maude Hilson; Lillie E., b. 1888, d. 1946, m. Joseph N. Jumper; Infant daughter, b.&d. 1889; Golden, b. 1890, d. 1953; Carl D., b. 1892, m. Annie Josey; Bessie, b. 1895, m. James W. Smith; Ward C., b. 1896, d. 1952; Douglas B., b. 1897, m. Viney Sharpe; and Wigfall D., b. 1899, m. Lillie Virginia Sharpe.

Around 1900, George’s youngest son, Daniel A., by his first wife made his way to south Alabama. Family legend reports that it took several days to make the journey by horseback. Although the reason for his coming is unknown, it is supposed that he was looking for a better place to live and earn a living.

Upon arriving, Daniel decided to go into the turpentine business. He returned home to secure mules and the equipment he would need to operate the two or three stills, which he eventually owned. A black man, Henry Washington, came back to help him, and a brother, Jacob, and two of his half-brothers, Lemuel and Carl, came down also.

Jacob worked in the turpentine business with Daniel for a few years and then returned to South Carolina. His first four children were born in Andalusia before the family moved away. Those included Blanche, m. B.M. Sturkie; Mary Evelyn, m. Carroll Smith; George Washington, b. 1906, m. Lila Bee Smith; and D.B., b. 1908, m. Linnie G. Lucas. The children born after the return to South Carolina included Jacob Woodrow, b. 1912, m. Helone Lois Rabon; and James Edward, b. 1913, m. Sybyl Wise.

Lemuel also worked in the turpentine business for a while and then returned home to South Carolina. While in Andalusia, he was married to Maude Hilson, and the couple had one child, Gladys, b. 1914, m. Finley Hall. Their second child, Douglas, was born in 1915 in Holmes County, Fla. The young family moved to South Carolina and had the following children: Gaynell, b. 1919, m. Sidney Branham; Hollie C., b. 1923, d. 1924; James Robert, b. 1926, m. Virginia Corley; Lucille Marie, b. 1929, m. Reginald hancock; Dolores, b. 1931, m. Edwin Berry; Carroll Edwin, b. 1933, m. Carolyn Elizabeth Bennett; and Larry Hall, b. 1937, m. Amelia Sturkie.

Carl also married a local girl, Annie Josey, and engaged in farming south of Andalusia. He eventually moved to Lockhart to rear his family. Their children included the following: Mary, m. Erwin Geohagan; Dewitt, m. Myrtice Ward; Sara, m. Tom Gamble; Annie Lou, m. Clint Windham; Jean, m. Wilson Jones; Janett, m. Bernie O’Brien; and Barbara.

After the turpentine business began to play out, Daniel purchased a large tract of land of about 1,000 acres. The property was located several miles south of Andalusia on the Florala Highway. There he began farming operations that included growing cotton mainly. The same land is owned by his descendants who continue to farm it and raise cattle.

Daniel and his wife, Tolue, reared the following children: Christalee, b. 1912, m. 1833 Clifton A. Maddox; George Travis, b. 1913, m. 1951, Marie Walker; Bachman Grant, b. 1915, m. Lucille Elmore; and Shirley Ray, b. 1918, m. 1944 Sara Frances Cockcroft.

Appreciation is expressed to Shirley and Frances Sightler for sharing their family history and lending their copy of the book, “The Sightler Family,” compiled by Aubrey Marion Sightler of Greenville, S.C.

Anyone who might have corrections or additions to the above writing is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:

Josey family lived mainly in
the Oakey Streak community

By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News

Although most of the Josey descendants in this area lived in Butler County, some families did settle and reside in Covington County. The earliest Josey ancestors to come to South Alabama settled first in Conecuh County. James William Josey and his young wife, Nancy (Salter), moved from her home in Georgia before 1818. He appeared on the 1818 Property Tax List for Conecuh County, and they were enumerated in the 1820 census for that county as well. Their first child was born there in 1819.

James William, a native of North Carolina, was born in 1793 in Halifax County. He was the son of Robert and Mary (Pittman) Josey of that county. At some point, James made his way to Jefferson County, Georgia, where he met and married Nancy in 1815.

James and Nancy continued to reside in Conecuh County until the early 1830s. They had eight children to be born there before they moved to the Oakey Streak community in Butler County. They reared the following children: Robert M., b. 1819, d. 1883, m. 1841 Elizabeth "Betsy" Howard; Olive, b. 1821, m. Ramsey Jones; Martha, b. 1822, m. 1847 Dr. Jonathan O. Ballard; James Salter, b. 1823, d. 1908, m. (1) 1843 Elizabeth Huggins (2) 1858 Mrs. Civel M. Dubose Glidewell; Mary Margaret, b. ca 1824, m. James Brown; Elizabeth S., b. 1826, d. 1897, m. 1854 Richard Singleton Hughes; Rebecca, b. 1828, d. 1904, m. 1849 James Long; John C., b. ca 1830, m. 1855 Harriett ?; Evander Travis, b. 1833, d. 1920, m. (1) ? (2) 1875 Elizabeth L. Wilson; Henry, b. 1835; Harriet Leona, b. 1838, m. John F. Thomas; Nancy A., b. 1839, d. 1914, m. 1867 Henry Louis Solomon; and William, b. ca 1845, d. 1851.

In 1831, James had become a friend to Covington County Court Judge John W. Devereux. He along with other friends signed a letter to the governor recommending that Eli Briggs be appointed sheriff of the county in the absence of Vining Howard. (There was a disagreement over Howard being required to post increased securities for the office.)

When James and Nancy moved their family to Butler County, they became involved in the development of the Oakey Streak community. It was one of the earliest in the county and became known for its "high standards in education, religion, and patriotism." James donated land for the Consolation Primitive Baptist Church and a cemetery. His son-in-law, Richard S. Hughes, helped construct the church building and preached there for a period of time.

There is a record of Robert, the oldest son, moving into the Loango community in the 1830s. When the new Beat Six was created in 1843, he was commissioned as a Justice of the Peace. He resigned from this office in 1850, but served as a Vice Justice in 1851.

Martha and her husband, Dr. Jonathan O. Ballard, were enumerated in the 1850 Census for Covington County. He, a native of South Carolina, was a physician at 37 years of age, and she, 28. Living with them were their children, Mary, 14; John, 10; and Jonathan, 2; along with a laborer, John C. Posey, who is probably John C. Josey, Martha’s brother.

The next son, James Salter, died in 1908 at Vera Cruz. He was married to Elizabeth Huggins, daughter of D.T. Huggins. They reared the following children: Rebecca, b. ca 1844; Thomas Jefferson, b. 1845, d. 1904, m. 1867 Emily or Emma F. Jernigan; Martha J., b. ca 1847, m. 1866 William Jernigan; Nancy, b. ca 1849, d. before 1860; Daniel T., b. 1851, d. 1928, m. 1878 Amanda Sophronia Malanda Scott; James Walter, b. 1853, m. Laura Ann Bush; John Hillary, b. 1855, d. 1933, m. 1882 Lavenia V. Brewer; and Jesse Enoch, b. 1856, d. 1929, m. Sarah Ann Malissa Lee.

James Salter and his second wife, Civel Glidewell, reared the following children: Mary Adeline "Sis," b. 1860, d. 1937, m. 1877 John Washington Payne; James Madison "Bud," b. 1863, d. 1943, m. Mary Frances Cook; Richard Henry, b. 1866, d. 1929, m. Martha Orah Jeter; and Elizabeth Missouri "Lizzie," b. 1869, d. 1946, m. 1889 Marcellus Pendleton Martin.

James homesteaded 160 acres of land in the Patsaliga Township in 1885. A number of his close relatives also homesteaded or purchased land in that community. Henry R., who is probably James’s brother, homesteaded 160 acres in 1889. A son, Daniel T., homesteaded 160 acres in 1890. Another son, James M., homesteaded 160 acres in 1889

James’s brother, John C., was one of the earliest to purchase land in the above area. In 1854, he acquired 117 acres through an 1850 Military Grant. He also purchased 39 acres during the same year. In 1861, he was one of the two individuals who purchased land in Covington County during the war. Unfortunately, the sale was voided after the war when the federal officers took over the land offices. John served as a private in Co. I, 40th. Ala. Inf. Reg’t of the Confederate Army. No more is known at this time regarding his own family.

Another unidentified relative who purchased land in 1854 is Jeremiah J. Josey. He acquired 80 acres of land in the same area. His relationship to James is not known to this writer. Others buying land in the area included John J. Josey and Edward J. Josey.

James’s son, Jesse Enoch, and wife, Sarah, lived in the Stanley community south of Andalusia. They reared the following children: Martha, m. ? Stanley; William Enoch "Billy," b. 1885, d. 1923, m. Frances "Folsom" Acree; Minnie, m. (1) ? (2) ? Failer; Annie, m. Carl Sightler; Bertha, m. ? Barton; Cora, m. T.J. Plant; Dan; and Eddie, m. ? Walker.

James’s daughter, Mary Adeline, and her husband, John Payne, reared a family of 12 children in Butler County. Their oldest daughter, Carrie Henrietta, b. 1878, d. 1964, m. 1898, m. Rufus W. Cross. This couple lived in Covington County where Rufus was a Primitive Baptist preacher. They operated a small grocery store in Andalusia, which was located where the current Rite-Aide store stands at the southwest corner of the junction of River Falls Street and U.S. 84 ByPass.

James’s son, James Madison, and his wife, Mary Frances, lived in Opp and reared the following children: James Russell, b. 1884, d. 1918, m. Fannie Holland; John Henry, b. 1885, d. 1948, m. Minnie King; Margaret "Maggie," b. 1885, d. 1945, m. (1) C.E. Maloy (2) ? Reece; Jessie James, b. 1889, d. 1961, m. (1) Esther Thornton (2) Georgia Farlow; Civel E., b. 1892, d. 1965, m. John W. Gadbold; Amanda Etta "Mandy," b. 1894, d. 1963, m. Lewis Rowells; Archie, b. 1896, d. 1900; Cletia Clara, b. 1898, d. 1900; Mary Frances "May," b. 1902, d. 1951, m. Mack O. Matthews, Jr.; Metzger Elroy, b. 1904, d. 1963, m. Alma Storey; Benjamin Franklin "Ben," b. 1906, m. Violet Martin of England; and Eugene, b. 1909, d. 1930, single.

The two oldest sons, James Russell and John Henry, operated a drug store in Opp between 1914 and 1940s. Russell died young, but Henry continued to run the store. Russell married Fannie Holland and had one daughter, Frances Russell, who married M.J. Albritton of Andalusia. Henry married Minnie King and one son, John Henry Jr., who died young in Opp.

James’s youngest daughter, Lizzie, and her husband, Marcellus Martin, reared the following children: Zeina Alice, b. 1890, d. 1942, m. David A. "Bud" Beasley; Frank Gordon, b. 1892, d. 1977, m. (1) Dell Beasley (2) blanche Chambers Strickland; Infant dau., b.& d. 1893; Ludie Agnes, b. 1895, d. 1971, m. (1) Ethan Bradley (2) Phillip Eugene Cotton; Leonard Pierson, b. 1897, d. 1979, m. Daisy Etson Rufus Hobson, b. 1899, m. Mary Agnes "Nettie" Parker; Mary Rae, b. 1904, d. 1988, m. 91) Robert jacobs 92) Carl Whitten; John William, b. 1907, d. 1970, m. Blanche Tranum; Kathleen, b. 1904, d. 1999, m. Zackie emmett Rogers, Sr.; and Josey Holman, b. 1913, d. 1985, m. Mary elizabeth Salem.

Researchers of the Josey family are interested in learning additional information. One of these, Mary (Rogers) Adams of Dauphin Island, generously shared her family history for this column. She is the daughter of the above Kathleen (Josey) and Zackie Emmett Rogers.

Anyone who might have corrections or other data to share on the Josey family is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:
Clayton family settled in the Mt. Gilead community

By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News

The name Clayton appeared in Covington County as early as 1855 when Eli T. Clayton purchased 40 acres of land in the Loango community. There were not any households with the name Clayton enumerated in the 1850 census. It is not known what happened to Eli and his family as they did not appear on the 1860 or 1870 census for this county.

In the 1860 census, Norman B. Clayton, a native of Georgia, and his family were enumerated as household #853. Norman, a farmer at 37 years of age, and his wife, Mary Ann, age 30, had with them the following children: John W., 13; Martha Ann, 10; Green B., 9; James N., 7; William W., 4; and Roxan E., 1. All of the children were born in Georgia with the exception of the last two who were born in Alabama.

In 1887, an Edward C. Clayton homesteaded 160 acres of land in the Loango community. A short time earlier, circa 1886, an Alvin Clayton opened a new restaurant in the little town of Andalusia.

A Clayton family that is known and who has descendants living in the area today is that of William Seth Clayton. He moved his family from Crenshaw County to Covington County during the 1880s. William was born in 1852 and was married to Narcissa Bonner in 1871. (She had a brother named William Bonner.) The young couple had several children when they moved to this area.

In 1895, William homesteaded 40 acres in the Mt. Gilead community where he and Narcissa reared their family and lived out their lives. They reared the following children: Mollie, b. 1872, d. 1903, single; Robert “Bob,” b. 1874, d. 1934, m. Sadie Eiland, one child; Mattie, b. 1878, d. 1951, m. Will Colvin, 3 children; Fadry Lucille, b. 1884, d. 1976, m. George Edward Bryant, 10 children; Roy, b. 1887, d. 1974, m. Maggie Kelley, several children; Adolphus B., b. 1892, d. 1995, m. Carlie Estelle Butler, 2 children; Claudie, b. 1894, d. 1975, m. Bolton Merrill, one child; and Leila, b. 1896, d. 1991, m. W.H. “Bud” Butler, no children.

The oldest son, Bob, and his wife, Sadie, had one daughter, Levonia. She was married to a Mr. Williams.

Mattie and her husband, Will Colvin, reared the following three daughters: Bertha, m. James “Jim” Bryant; Nora, m. Burey Bryant; and Mila Lee, m. K.C. Wallace. Bertha and Jim were the parents of former Andalusia Mayor Chalmers Bryant, Rex Bryant, and Merlin Bryant.

Fadry and her husband, George Edward Bryant who was the son of Robert Stephen and Rissie Bryant, reared their family in the Mt. Gilead community. They had the following children: Ralph, b. 1907, d. 1983, m. Eunice Peek; Ruby, b. 1909, m. Charles R. Short; Wilbur “Dugan,” b. ca 1911, d. 1948, m. Ruby Peek; Lucille, b. ca 1913, d. 1999, m. (1) Jeff Carter (2) J.V. Lord; Rudolph “Jack,” b. 1915, m. Mary Williamson; Florene “Flo,” b. 1921, m. Tobe Lord; Eva, b. 1928, m. Lloyd Rathel; Cecil, d. at 1 1/2 years; Handson, d. as infant; and Elwood, d. as infant.

Roy and his wife, Maggie Kelley, moved to Florida and reared several children.

Adolphus B. and his wife, Carlie Estelle Butler, reared two daughters: Louise, m. Ual Russell; and Sara Ben, m. Jack Floyd. They also lived in the Mt. Gilead community where so many of the Clayton descendants resided.

Claudie and her husband Bolton C. Merrill, reared one daughter, Myra Mozelle. Mozelle married Marvin Eugene Hammett, and they reared the following children: Carolyn Miree, Seth Merrill, and Joan Eugenia. All of these families live in the Rose Hill and Andalusia communities. Seth is the current President of Lurleen B. Wallace State Junior College and Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives.


Howard ancestors among early residents

By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News

King Howard was one of the earliest settlers to arrive in south Alabama.

By 1818, he was listed on the Conecuh County Tax List for that year. He was enumerated in the 1820 Census for Conecuh County along with the following Howard families: Charles, James Sr., James, and Thomas. All of these people were probably related to each other.

By 1830, King Howard and his family were residing in Covington County. He was born circa 1800 in Georgia, and his wife, Martha, was born circa 1802 in Georgia also. By this census, the couple has four sons and three daughters. (They had more children later.) It appears that one of the couple’s fathers was residing with them at this time.

King continued to appear in the 1840, 1850, and 1860 censuses for Covington County. In 1860, he was listed as a farmer at 60 years of age with his wife, Martha, at 58 years. They had the following children living in their household: James J, 15; Charles M., 27; Green, 6; Thomas, 4; and Fielding, 2. Also, living with them were Leonard, 24, and Mary, 18. Leonard and an Asneny A., 19, were listed as farm laborers.

Living one house away from King in 1860 was Elbert Howard who was obviously an older son. He was living in King's household at 22 years of age in 1850. Elbert was also a farmer at 31 years of age with a wife, Martha, at 28 years. They had two children with them: Josiah F., 9 years, and Macella, one year.

Also living near King and Elbert was a farmer named Richard Bonds who was 48 years of age. In his home was a female infant named Martha A. Howard at four months of age.

King did not acquire any land from the government until 1855. During that year he purchased two tracts, one 80 acres and one 160 acres, in the Red Level community. His son, Elbert, had acquired 80 acres one year earlier in the same area. He also purchased 40 acres during 1855.

The first Howard to acquire land in Covington County was James Howard who purchased 160 acres in Loango in 1823. In 1835, he added an additional 80 acres to the other. He and his family was enumerated in the 1830 and 1840 censuses, but he was not shown any further.

During 1855, there were three other Howard men who acquired land. Charles M., definitely a son of King, purchased 80 acres in the Rome community. Alfred purchased 40 acres in the Buck Creek, and Joseph purchased five tracts totaling 240 acres in the Buck Creed, Red Oak and Damascus communities.

An early settler and political figure in this county was Vining Howard who served as one of the earliest sheriffs. He was elected in 1829 and served until 1831 when he was removed from office following a dispute with County Judge John Devereux. For some reason, Devereux, doubled the bond required for Howard and refused to accept some of the securities offered. Howard offered adequate bond, and a majority of the local citizens supported him to continue in the office, but Devereux and state officials blocked his renewal.

During 1829, Vining Howard also served as a Vice Justice of the Peace during Eli N. Briggs tenure. (It was Briggs who followed Howard as sheriff.) Around 1830, Vining was commissioned as a Captain in Beat No. 1 Co., 46th. Reg’t. (Covington and Dale Counties) 11th. Brigade, 4th. Div., Alabama Militia. In 1834, he became a Lt. Col. In the 60th. Reg’t. (Covington County) 11th. Brigade, 5th. Div., Alabama Militia. (There was a Prince E. Howard serving as a Lt. in Beat No. 2, Co. of the same regiment about the same time.)

Vining and his family were enumerated in the 1830 census. He was between 30 and 40 years of age and his wife, between 20 and 30. They had a daughter and three young sons at the time. In 1833, he represented Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church at the association meetings. No other references to him are known, and he was not listed in any future censuses for this county.

To return to the King Howard family, a son named Charles M. was born circa 1833 in Covington County. He was living in his father’s household in the Red Level community in 1860 at age 27 years. The three young children, Green, Thomas, and Fielding, are most likely his children. (The four months old Martha A. Howard living with a neighbor, Richard Bonds, is probably his infant as well.)

Charles M. acquired 80 acres of land in the Rome community in 1855. He is possibly the Charles Madison Howard who served in Co. A, 25th. Ala. Inf. Reg’t. of the Confederate Army, but this has not been confirmed. Leonard, another son of King, served as a private along with James and H.H. Howard, in Co. I, 40th. Ala. Inf. Reg’t. There was a J. Howard, age 16, who served as a private in the Co. of Cov. Co. Militia (2nd. Class) and another J. Howard who was in Co. C, Cov. Co. Reserves. An S.A. Howard, private, and H.H. Howard, drummer, were in Co. B, 15th. Ala. Inf. Reg’t.

Green W., a son of Charles, was born circa 1854. He was married to Sarah Adeline Thomasson, daughter of Lorenza Marion and Martha (Hammonds) Thomasson of the Heath community. They had the following three children: E. Louis, b. 1874, m. Fannie Bozeman; L.N., b. 1876, m. Louis Berry; and John Monroe, b. 1879, m. Pearl Eugenia Barton, daughter of William Morgan and Sarah Fronia (Jeffcoat) Barton.

The first two children reared their families in the Heath and Gantt communities. At their death’s most of them were buried in the Bethany Baptist Church Cemetery at Heath. The mother, Sarah A., and probably Green, were buried there as her father was serving as minister of that church at the time. (The graves of this couple are not marked.)

The youngest son, John, chose to move his family circa 1914 to George County, Miss. There he farmed and purchased 40 acres of land in 1823 in the Barton community. He and his wife helped established the Barton Baptist Church in their home in 1830. John served on the committee to help build the church, which still thrives, on two acres of land, which he donated to the church. It is appropriate that he was the first person to be buried in the adjacent cemetery. Their two children, Chloa, b. 1903, d. 1961; and Medford D., b. 1907, d. 1973, are both buried beside their parents.

Appreciation is expressed to Elsie (Howard) Harvey, a granddaughter of John Monroe Howard, for sharing her family’s history. Also, pertinent data relative to this family was gained from Wyley D. Ward’s books.

There is a need for more research to be done on this family. Anyone who might have corrections or additions to the above is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:

Judge Malachi Riley was an Andalusia father

By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News

A Covington County family related to the John D. Chapman family presented in the last two columns is that of Judge Malachi Riley. He came to Andalusia from Crenshaw County in April of 1876.

Malachi was the son of Willis J. and Martha (Clark) Riley, both natives of Georgia. Willis was born in 1825 and Martha in 1826. They were both reared on farms in Georgia and were married there circa 1845. Willis’s father had died when he was quite young; therefore, he was reared by his widowed mother. Neither of the two received much formal education due to limited opportunities.

After marriage, the couple moved to Barbour County, where they resided until 1860 at which time they moved to an area that would later become Crenshaw County.

During that year, Willis became the Postmaster for the Leon Post Office. In 1889, the aging couple settled in Greenville where they continued to have a positive influence on the community. Willis was successful in business adventures and accumulated considerable property holdings.

Willis and Martha, the daughter of Alfred Clark of South Carolina, reared the following children: Lou, d. 1867; Fannie, m. Dr. J.E. Kendrick; William; Julia, m. James R. Burnett; Alsie Malachi, b. 1853, d. 1896 m. Anna Chapman; Middleton; Robert E. Lee, m. Dr. John E. Pendry; and two children who died in infancy.

Malachi was reared on a farm and ventured on his own at 19 years of age. He began by reading law with Gamble & Powell of Greenville and was admitted to the bar in 1872. In 1874, he began teaching school in Crenshaw County, which he did for two years. In 1876 he moved to Andalusia where he was soon appointed superintendent of education. Some two years later he resigned after having been elected to represent the county in the State Legislature.

Malachi went to Montgomery and served on the committees for judiciary and privileges and elections. At age 25, he was the youngest member of the Legislature, but he achieved a record of distinction. At the end of his term, he returned to Andalusia in 1880.

He was elected Probate Judge of Covington County, and was said to be the youngest such judge in the state. He was re-elected in 1886 and again in 1892. His record has been described as “a very efficient official who was conservative and courteous.” He and his wife were members of the Missionary Baptist Church, and he was a Mason in Andalusia Lodge No. 434, F. & A.M.

In 1880, Malachi was married to Anna White Chapman, daughter of John D. and Mary Chapman. The couple reared the following children: Alsie Malachi, b. 1881, d. 1939, m. Pattie Davis; Frances Louise “Fannie Lou,” b. 1883, d. 1969, m. Walter L. McLeod; Mary Boone “Bonnie,” b. 1885, d. 1963, m. 1908 Allen Crenshaw; John Daniel, b. 1888, d. 1981, m. Inez Preston; Walter Emmett, b. ca 1994, d. 1977, m. Inez Leech.

During the early 1890s, Malachi built the historic Riley House on East Three Notch Street. (It has been stated that he owned about 100 acres of land along that street.) Tragically, he never resided in the house as his untimely death occurred before it was finished. His widow, “Miss Anna,” moved in and reared their five children. She was a resident for nearly 50 years.

The family of John Daniel and Inez Riley, daughter of Dr. Andrew Jackson Preston, has been well-known in Andalusia. Their children included the following: Inez, b. 1922, m. Paul Grady Moss; Anna Dora “Peggy,” b. 1925, m. Harry Joseph Graves; and Jonnie Dee, b. 1936, d. 1988, m. Terrell David Little, a state senator.

John Daniel earned his degree in pharmacy from Mercer University. (His oldest brother, Alsie, was also a pharmacist and operated the A.M. Riley Drug Store.) As a practicing pharmacist, John D. owned and operated several drug stores with the last one surviving into the 1940s. He was also involved in real estate development and helped in opening some of the earliest subdivisions in Andalusia: The Riley Addition, Green Acres, Pine Ridge, Lake Forest, and the Valley of Shiloh on Gantt Lake. In the 1950s, he developed Andalusia’s first shopping center in the front yard of his parents’ home on East Three Notch Street. The site is the current location of King’s Village Market and Darby’s Pharmacy. Another business endeavor was the establishment of one of the earliest automobile agencies in the town.

John D. and his family resided in the historic Riley Home and shared in the growth of Andalusia. They were active members of the First Baptist Church and participated in the civic life of the community. He was a charter member of the Rotary Club and early member of the Chamber of Commerce. She taught school at one time and was a life long member of the Mentor Club.

Additional descendants in the Riley family include the other grandchildren of Malachi. His daughter, Bonnie, and her husband, Allen Crenshaw, had the following children: Francis Louise; Carolyn, m. Coach Thompson; Charles; Allen; Anna Riley; and Bonnie. Alsie and his wife, Pat, had four children: Harry, Pauline, Rebecca, and Allen. Fannie and her husband, Walter McCloud, had one daughter, Fannie Ruth, who married Sam Carmack. Walter did not have any children.

This family has some wonderful memories, especially related to their Christmases at the Riley Home, recorded by one of the descendants, Inez Riley Moss, of Roswell, Georgia. For the family’s enjoyment, she has recalled the traditional celebrations experienced on Christmas Day. This treasure should become even more valuable to future generations.

Appreciation is expressed to Peggy (Riley) Graves for sharing her family history records. Also, the biographical sketch of Judge Malachi Riley as recorded in “Memorial Records” of Alabama was very helpful.


Anyone who might have corrections to this writing or additional information to offer is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:


Chapman family ancestor settled near Leon in 1850s

By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News

The Chapman name was an early one in Covington County and its bearers left some indelible marks on the area. Chapman Street and the Chapman house that is located on the East corner of East Three Notch Street and Second Avenue are but two accounts. (The current resident, Scott Wright, restored this historic home in recent years.) While there are only three current listings in the telephone book for Covington County, there have been many families who resided in the area.

As early as 1822, John M. Chapman emerged as one of the first leaders in Covington County. He was appointed to serve as one of the new set of commissioners to organize the county and conduct elections to fill the county offices. During that year, he was recommended by J.R. Mobley to replace Mobley as Judge of the County Court. He was then appointed and served until December at which time he resigned and moved from the county. The location of his new residence and his relationship to the other Chapmans to arrive later are not known.

John D. Chapman had arrived in Covington County by 1856 because he purchased several parcels of land during that year. He acquired 120 acres in the northern part of the county that would fall in Crenshaw in 1866. He bought three parcels, 121, 81, and 40 acres, in the edge of Butler County that would later fall in Crenshaw.

John D. was the oldest son of Benjamin and Sarah E. Chapman who were born in 1796 and 1802 respectively. The children in this family included the following: John D., b. 1827, d. 1884, m. Mary H. Anderson; Abner, b. 1830; William C., b. 1832; Martha A., b. 1834; Sarah E., b. 1836; Seaborn H., b. 1839; Caroline H. (or F.), b. 1841; and Solomon D., b. 1845.

Benjamin was apparently the ancestor to move the family to Alabama. It appears that he settled his family in Coosa County near Wetumpka. Census data indicates his first child was born in Georgia, so the family most likely moved from that state. Family records indicate Benjamin left the area and moved to Arkansas before his death in 1855. Most of his family moved with him as his sons, Abner, Seaborn, and Dudley, died there.

The oldest son, John D., stayed behind because he had married there in Coosa County in 1847. His wife, Mary H. (Anderson), was the daughter of Suprey and Elizabeth (White) Anderson. John D. and Mary reared the following children: John Henry, b. 1847, d. 1932, m. 1882 Mollie Campbell; Sarah E., b. 1849, m. 1869 Dr. Edmund H. Johnson; William Hickman “Hick,” b. 1852, d. 1902, m. (1) 1877 Belle Reynolds (2) Martha Bellvidear; Robert Bunyan, b. 1855, m. 1877 Leonora “Nonie” Johnson; Anna White, b. 1858, d. 1944, m. 1880 Judge Alzie Malachi Riley; Mary Boone, b. 1861, d. 1917, m. 1885 Pinckney Newell Hickman; and Dr. Abner Richard “Buddie,” b. 1864, d. 1920, m. 1884 Susie Hammonds.

Circa 1850, John D. decided to move his young family to “The Valley” community in Pike County. The location was near Luverne, which is in Crenshaw County today. After some six years at this residence, the family moved a little further south to Covington County.

In the new location, about six miles north of the town of Dozier, he acquired a large plot of land along the Conecuh River. He prospered and “opened up” a large, five-horse, farm. He eventually owned 600 or 700 acres, and had eight slaves to help operate it in 1860.

The family lived comfortably on this “plantation” for about nine years. Following the end of the war and facing the trying period, he moved his family to Leon where he continued to farm and sell goods. He also operated a horse-drawn cotton gin that reportedly had a good day when two bales of cotton could be turned out.

During the war John D. served as a private in Co. F, 33rd Ala. Inf. Reg’t (Covington and Coffee Grays). During the same year, 1862, there was a Jon. D. Chapman listed as a private in Co. I, 40th. Ala Inf. Reg’t. The relationship of these two nor that of the J.E. Chapman, 41 years of age who was discharged from Co. C., Cov. Co. Reserves by the medical board, is not known.

John D.’s young son, John Henry at 16 years of age, joined the Confederate Service in 1864 as a private in the Company of Covington County Militia (Second Class). He survived and lived to an advanced age at which time he wrote an informative record of his family and experiences titled “Memories of J.H. Chapman.” His personal life will be discussed in next week’s column.

By 1859, John D. had become a leader in his community. During that year, he was commissioned as a Justice of the Peace for Beat No. 5, and he was one of three men who represented the Zion Missionary Baptist Church at the Zion Association Meeting.

Following the war, John D. returned to public service upon being elected to serve a two-year term representing Covington County in the Alabama Legislature. He was recognized as a notable gentleman in the Leon community and was regarded as a “moderate” in his political views. He is credited with having submitted the bill to form Crenshaw County in 1866.

At the end of his term, John D. returned to Leon and continued his normal livelihood. In the 1870 census, his family is listed as Number 64: John E. Chapman, 42 years, and Mary, 43 years, with children: John, 22; Hickman, 17; Robert, l4; Anna, 11; Mary, 10; and Albert, 6.

John D.’s descendants were numerous and influential in the development of Andalusia. They will be presented and discussed in next week’s column.

Appreciation is expressed to Marilyn (Henderson) O’Neal for lending her family records for this writing. She is the daughter of the beloved Abbie (Chapman) Henderson. Of course, sources such as Wyley Ward’s books, Gus and Ruby Bryan’s book, and Sidney Waits’s book were consulted.

Anyone who might have corrections or additions to the above is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email: Any further information on this family would be greatly appreciated to be included in next week’s writing


Chapman family resides in Andalusia, Geneva

By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News

The family of John D. Chapman was introduced in last week’s column. His life was covered and his wife and children were named. In today’s column, some coverage of his children’s families and their descendants will be presented.

John D.’s oldest son, John Henry, was born in 1847 while the family was residing in Coosa County. Within a few years his father moved the family to a location in Pike County that later fell in Crenshaw County. After about six years at this site, which was near Luverne, the family relocated to Covington County. John Henry would have been around nine years of age when this move occurred probably in 1856.

john  Henry grew up on the “plantation,” located a few miles north of Dozier. During these years, his widowed Grandfather Anderson lived with the family. The two were very close, and John Henry has left a record of some of his pleasant memories of this period.

In 1964 when he was 16 years of age, John Henry enlisted in the Company of Covington County Militia (Second Class). He ended up in the Cavalry, so he had to furnish his own horse and saddle at a cost of $1,300 in Confederate money. He was immediately sent to Mobile where he joined the Fifteenth Confederate Regiment, a group made up of cavalry from Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi. He ended up serving about a year and six months until the end of the war.

John Henry returned to Covington County after the war and helped his father with farming and operating a small cotton gin. His father was elected to represent the county in the State Legislature.

John Henry and his siblings attended a log schoolhouse at Leon under the instruction of Professor Rousseau. He has described this educational training as very helpful to all the children and some adults in the community. Following this period in their lives, the Chapman children began to marry and establish families of their own.

John Henry was married near Leon in 1882 to Mollie Campbell. They moved to Andalusia and reared the following children: Dewitt Dudley, b. 1884, d. 1954, m. 1916 Ethel Darling; Robert Bunyan, b. 1885, m. 1904 Beulah Foster; Mary John, b. 1887, d. 1957, m. 1912 Walter Allen Davis; Abner Boone, b. 1895, d. 1986, m. (1) Nellie Moon (2) Marie Hyde; and Annie Clare, b. 1896, d. 1987, single.

By 1888, John Henry had settled his family in Andalusia and was elected to serve as a city councilman during the administration of Mayor Ed T. Albritton. He settled first on a farm in the vicinity of the current Andalusia High School. The family was faithful members of the First Baptist Church. In 1894, he homesteaded 160 acres of land in the area. He later built a fine home on East Three Notch Street on the East corner of Second Avenue. (This house was restored by the present resident, Scott Wright.)

John Henry’s sister, Sara E., had married earlier than he in 1869 to Dr. Edmund H. Johnson. They later lived in Troy and reared five children, but only the names of the following are known: Mae, Abbie, Annie, and Bud. Sara lived to see her children grown before her death. Dr. Johnson lived some years longer, but was killed by a train while he was on his way to see a patient.

The next child, William Hickerman “Hick,” and his wife, Belle Reynolds, reared the following children: Charles Daniel, b. 1878, d. 1965; William “Willie,” b. ca 1880; Mamie, b. 1882, m. James Edwin Graves, Sr.; Annie Lee, b. 1884, m. Ike Tatum; Stella, b. 1886; Lucille, b. 1889; Ethel, b. 1893, m. John C. McQueen; and Jesse Mae, m. ? Nall. Hick reared his family in Geneva where he was a medical doctor after receiving his training in a medical school in Mobile.

Robert Bunyan and his wife, Lenora V. Johnson, reared the following children: Eugene, b. 1881; Ola Bell, b. 1885, m. Charles Golson; Anna R., b. 1890, m. Frank Hastings; Ouida, b. 1892, m. ? Cash; Osborne; and Bettie, b. 1899, d. 1964.

The next child, Anna White, married Alsie Malachi Riley in 1880. They reared the following children: Alsie Malachi Jr., b. 1881, d. 1959, m. Pattie Davis; Fannie Lou, b. 1883, d. 1968, m. Walter L. McLeod; Bonnie, b. 1885, m. 1908 Allen Crenshaw; John D., m. Inez Preston; and Walter E.

The next child, Mary Boone and her husband, Pinckney Newell Hickman, did not have any children. They were close to the family and helped rear some of their nephews.

The youngest child, Abner Richard, and his wife, Susie Hammonds, reared the following children: Charles Hickman “Charlie Hick,” b. 1885, d.1920, m. (1) Florie Malone (2) Ann Barton; Glennie, b. ca 1887, d. very young; John Emmett, b. 1890, d. 1965, m. Alyce Sasser; James Paul, b. 1893, d. 1959; Marie, b. 1895, d. 1898; Abbie, b. 1897, d. 1995, m. Charles Henderson, son of Edward Milton and Mary Armilla (Trammell) Henderson; Jerome Cochran, b. 1900, d. 1967, m. 1934 Katharyn Gilbert; and Mary lee, b. 1903, living, m. Joseph Henderson.

Abner Richard was a medical doctor after receiving his medical training at Vanderbilt University. He settled his family in Geneva where he established a medical practice.

Abner Richard’s oldest son, Charlie Hick, became a medical doctor after receiving his training at the Tulane Medical School. Following his internship in New Orleans, he entered the Medical Corps of the United States Army and served overseas for two years. Then in 1920, he returned to Andalusia to open his medical office.

Abner’s brother, Jerome Cochran, was also a medical doctor who specialized in pediatrics. He was a graduate of Tulane Medical School and finished an advanced course in New York City. He settled in Birmingham where he had a successful practice in pediatrics.

The next generation of these families became significant citizens of this area. Many contributions to the community have been recognized, and these attest to the this family’s good reputation. It appears that a majority of them lived in Andalusia and Geneva.

Appreciation is expressed to Marilyn (Henderson) O’Neal for sharing her family records for a majority of the above history. She is the daughter of Abbie (Chapman) and Charles Chapman, who were well-known residents of Andalusia.

Anyone who might have corrections or additions to the above writing is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:


Roach ancestors arrived in mid-1800s

By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News

A surname that is not recognized in this area at present is that of Roach. Some residents may recall a John Roach who came to Andalusia to be the plant manager of the Amoco Fabrics and Fibers plant when it opened in 1982. John, whose ancestors were from South Carolina, moved his family here from Bainbridge, Ga.

After some four years, John and his family, returned to Georgia to work with the Amoco Plant in Nashville, Tenn.

However, his daughter, Jill, who was finishing high school about the time the family moved, had met and later married David Bryant of Andalusia. This couple has chosen to make Andalusia their permanent home.

John was interested in his Roach ancestry and had done considerable research. He was surprised to learn there had been other Roach families to reside in Covington County; however, he did not know if he had any relationship to them.

A David Roach, native of South Carolina, came to Alabama during the early 1800s. He is believed to be the son of Abraham and Mary (Erwin) Roach. He was born in 1790 and was married in 1817 in South Carolina to Delilah Elizabeth Patterson. The couple may have traveled the next year to south Alabama. David died at the young age of 48 years in 1838.

Some records suggest David was in Covington County as early as 1818 when his first child was born, but he and his family were not enumerated in the 1820 nor 1830 federal census for the county. Some of his younger children appear to have been born in Butler County. The first official record in Covington County is of Delilah Roach acquiring 80 acres of land through a military grant in 1851. The land was in the Leon community that probably fell in Crenshaw County when it was formed in 1866.

David and Delilah reared the following children: Elizabeth Margaret, b. 1818, m. John Staggers; Harriet, b. 1820, m. Arnold James; James, b. 1822, d. 1909, m. (1) Eliza Ann Price (2) Carrie Davis; Martha Isabelle, b. 1824, m. Shadrick Cranford; David Clopton, b. 1825, d. 1896, m. Matilda M. Black; and David Patterson, b. 1828, d. 1910, m. Nancy C. Davis.

At this point, no further information is known regarding Elizabeth and John Staggers. The second daughter, Harriet, and her husband, Arnold James, had three known children: Edgar, David, and Noel.

The oldest son, James, purchased 40 acre of land near his mother’s farm in 1853. In 1855, he added an 80 acre tract and a 160 acre tract, and in 1856, he added an additional 80 acres. All of this property was located around the Littleberry Rogers’ property.

James was born in Alabama and his first wife, Eliza Ann, was born in Georgia. They are reported to have had 12 children. They were listed in the 1860 Census of Covington County with the following family: James, 37 years of age, and Eliza Ann, 25; Emily C., 11; John D., 9; and Sarah J., 7. They were enumerated in the 1866 Alabama Census and had four additional children by that time. They had apparently moved by 1870 as they have not been located in that census.

The fourth child, Martha Isabelle, and her husband, Shadrick Cranford, reared the following children: Martha Ann, Peter, Eliza, Lavone, Lorena, and Francis.

David Clopton, who was born in Butler County, and his wife, Matilda, had the following children: Alvisa, Laura Isabella, Felix Randolph, David Clopton Jr., and Malissa M., b. 1864.

David Patterson, believed to have been born in Covington County, and his wife, Nancy, reared the following children: David Little, b. 1851; John Moses, b. 1853; Florence, b. 1855; Robert Balliver, b. 1857; Jake, b. ca 1859; James, b. ca 1860; Laura Ann, b. 1862; and Delilah, b. 1864.

Several of the children moved to Texas. James, Martha Isabelle, and David Patterson moved with their families, and those three died there in the early 1900s.

While there is no proven connection, another Roach ancestor moved into Covington County during the mid-1850s. There is a likely possibility that Sarah Roach, the daughter of Major Thomas Roach and his wife, Ann Abbagail Garrison, was a first cousin to David Roach. If so, that means Thomas and Abraham Roach were brothers and the sons of Samuel and Eleanor (Springsteen) Roach of Mechlenburg County, N.C.

Sarah Roach was married to Thomas Randolph Thomasson in 1823 in York District, South Carolina. The couple left South Carolina circa 1831 and moved to Madison, Ga., with other relatives. After some eight years, the couple with several children moved to the community of Post Oak in Pike County. After another 15 years, the family moved to Covington County and settled near Red Level. Later, they moved into the Burnout Community north of Rose Hill.

Sarah and her husband, Thomas R. Thomasson, reared the following children: Thomas Roach, b. 1824, d. 1862, m. Margaret (Hammonds) Frazier; Trezevant Fernandes, b. 1826, d. 1900, m. (1) Susan Dudley Barron (2) Philura Massengale Read; Lorenza Marion, b. 1829, d. 1910, m. Martha J. Hammonds; James Franklin, b. 1831, d. 1918, m. Julia Ann Shaw; William Monroe, b. 1833, d. 1863, m. Martha Ann Ingram; Cornelius Starr, b. 1836, d. 1919, m. Susannah Henley; John Randolph, b. 1838, d. during war, m. Mary ?; Madison, b. ca 1841, d. before 1850; Jefferson Sylvanus, b. 1844, d. 1939, m. Rebecah Butler; Mary Ann Abbagail, b. 1847, d. 1936, m. Micajah “Mike” Henley; and Charles Clawson, b. 1850, d. 1929, m. Mary E. Little.

Much research has been done on Sarah Roach’s family and descendants. Eight of the above 10 sons served in the Confederate Army, and three of them lost their lives during the War Between the States. The others returned to Covington County and reared large families. Some later moved to homes in Montgomery, Florida and Texas.

Those researching this family are particularly interested in additional information on the David Roach whose family came to the county fairly early. Anyone who might have any extra data on the family or corrections to any of the above is requested to contact the writer, Curtis Thomasson, who is a descendant of Sarah Roach Thomasson. His address is Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or E-mail:

Appreciation is expressed to other researchers and cousins, Margie (Brasselle) Malloy and Darrell Thomason. They have conducted considerable research on this family.


Seeking information on the ancestors of Wesley D. Carter, b. 1804-1812 in SC, m. Rachael O’Neal. He seemed to have moved back and forth between Alabama and Florida. Among his children were sons, Lanier and Emanuel A. Anyone with data on this family is requested to contact Anita (Carter) Glockner or Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:

Would also like to communicate with anyone researching any of the Carter families in Covington County. There were many who moved into the county at an early date.

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This nonprofit research network is affiliated with the American History and Genealogy Project and hosted by USGenNet, a nonprofit historical and genealogical Safe-Haven Server. No claim is made to the copyrights of individual submitters, and this site complies fully with with USGenNet's Nonprofit Conditions of Use.

Maintained by Margie Daniels
    Copyright 1991 - All Rights Reserved