|Conecuh County, Alabama Genealogy Trails|
BIOGRAPHIES OF CONECUH COUNTY ALABAMA
ASHLEY, CAPT. WILSON was among the most useful of Conecuh's sons. He was a native of Barnwell District, South Carolina. His entrance into public life was quite early. When in 1814 the struggle with Great Britain was pending, Mr. Ashley, then a youth of eighteen, joined a volunteer rifle company, of which he became the first lieutenant. He afterwards became the captain of this company, and subsequently the captain of a cavalry company. He removed to Alabama in 1820, and located within a few hundred yards of where he spent the remainder of his life. In his new home his attention was directed altogether to husbandry. The results of his energy and skillful management soon showed themselves in a growing fortune. In 1832 he was called from his favorite pursuit and was made the sheriff of Conecuh county. Three years later he was chosen, without opposition, to represent his county in the General Assembly of the State. At the expiration of his term of service he peremptorily declined further honors at the hands of the people of the county, and returned to the quietude of his rural home. Here he remained until 1861, when the stirring scenes of that period drew him again from his seclusion. In the election of President and Vice-President, of what was designed to be the permanent government of the Confederacy, Capt. Wilson Ashley was honored bythe people of his State with a position on the electoral ticket of Alabama. This closed his career with public life. Mr. Ashley was noted for his suavity of manner, his penetrating discrimination, and his clear judgment. Once convinced of the righteousness of the cause in which he was enlisted, and his zeal knew no bounds. He had all the elements necessary for a political leader of the people. In his home, he was proverbially hospitable. In his social relations, he was cheerful and generous. Full of years, well spent, and endeared to a host of friends and relatives, he closed his eyes in death in the 74th year of his age. Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama, By B. F. Riley, 1881, Transcribed by C. Anthony
AUTREY, ALEXANDER, was the second white man to settle upon the soil of Conecuh. His biography, therefore, is inseparably connected with the history of the county from its colonial period. He was born of French and German ancestry, in North Carolina, on January 4th, 1780. On March 5th, 1803, he was married to Parthenia B. Irvin. In 1810 he removed to Georgia, whence he removed to Monroe county, Alabama, shortly after the establishment of peace with Great Britain in 1815. Here he must have remained but a short time, for we find him in the early part of 1816 the founder of Hampden Ridge, on the range of hills west of Murder creek. In stature, Mr. Autrey was tall, rather disposed to stoop, and of lean physique. He practically illustrated in his life what could be achieved by genuine pluck and perseverance. The odds encountered, and the dangers braved by him in coining to Conecuh, only served to stimulate him to more vigorous exertions. He came up from the most straitened circumstances, enduring all the privations of pioneer life, and yet when he died he was one of the wealthiest men in Conecuh. The controlling traits of his character were an indomitable will and a vigorous energy. Whatever engaged his attention at all, fired him with an ardent enthusiasm. He reared a large family, both of sons and daughters, of whom only one remains—Mrs. C. P. Robinson, of Vermilionville, Louisiana. Mr. Autrey died at his residence on September 22nd, 1857, at the advanced age of seventy-seven years. Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama, By B. F. Riley, 1881, Transcribed by C. Anthony
John Bell came to Conecuh about 1819. He was an emigrant from Ireland. At the time of his removal to this county, Bellville, then called "The Ponds," was one of the most prominent settlements in Conecuh. He is said to have been quiet, unobtrusive and enterprising. The vast ponds which bound the community on the east, he determined to drain - and accordingly dug a ditch of great length and considerable depth, which crosses the road just below Bellville. In honor of John Bell the beautiful village was finally named. The time of his death is not known. He sleeps beneath the sod, under a wide-spreading tree, near the home of Mrs. Stanley. (Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)
Samuel Burnett came to Conecuh and located at Hampden Ridge as early as 1820. His native State was Georgia, where he was born in the year 1777. Mr. Burnett was the possessor of such elements of character as made him conspicuous among his fellow citizens. Quite social in his disposition, jocular and hospitable, and withal, the possessor of considerable executive ability, he was remarkably popular. As a result, he had been a resident of the county only ten years, when he was chosen judge of the county court. In this honored capacity he served Conecuh for two successive terms. During the terms of service as county judge, he would go from his home, on Hampden Ridge, to the court house, at Sparta, every day and return. An anecdote is related of him, as connected with one of his trips from the court house to his home, and as illustrative of his confidence in his favorite steed, as well as of the exuberance of his humor, even under trying circumstances. According to his daily habit, he left his office, at Sparta, late one afternoon, in mid-winter, and though he knew the swollen condition of Murder creek, and that the waters had swept away the bridge, he resolved to cross the dangerous stream and reach Hampden Ridge before night. Some friends, after endeavoring to dissuade him from such a mad-cap purpose, followed closely after him as soon as his departure had been ascertained. To their dismay they found, on reaching the deep stream, that he had been swept from his horse, and had succeeded in clutching hold of the trunk of a magnolia that was projecting into the waters. Astride this, with his body of 225 pounds, avoirdupois, going upward and downward, with the see-saw motion of the huge log, he was first beheld by the anxious eyes of his friends. In response to the question, " What are you doing up there. Judge?" he replied, "Ah, gentlemen, I'm navigating!" In his business relations Judge Burnett is said to have been scrupulously exact, spurning the thought of indebtedness to any one, and positively forbidding any one to owe him. He was the parent of eight children, most of whom lived in Conecuh, and themselves reared families of influence. John D. Burnett, Esq., a young attorney, of Evergreen, and among the most promising young men of the county, is a grandson of Judge Samuel Burnett. The subject of this sketch died at his old home, on Hampden Ridge, in 1839. (Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama, by B. F. Riley 1881 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)
CARY, ARMSTEAD DUDLEY
Armstead Dudley Cary was born in Gloucester county, Virginia, October 23rd, 1791. Eight years later his father removed to Clarke county, Georgia, and settled near the famous educational seat of Athens. When he had attained his eleventh year, young Armstead was sent from the paternal roof to receive his elementary training in the famous Waddell High School, in Abbeville District, South Carolina. Here he was the school-fellow of such men as James L. Pettigrew, of South Carolina, and of Governor Lumpkin and Judge A. B. Longstreet, of Georgia. Having been thoroughly fitted here for his future course in college, he returned to his home at Athens, entered the State University, and was graduated in 1813. He at once chose the profession of teacher, and became the principal of a school in Sumter District, South Carolina. Among his pupils in this school was the Hon. James E. Belser, who, in after years, was a resident of Montgomery, Alabama. Lured by the fascinating descriptions given of the lovely region of the Southwest, Mr. Cary, in 1820, removed to Claiborne, in Monroe county. Here he remained only one year. In 1821 he removed to Bellville, and two years later still, to Sparta. During this time, and for several years subsequent to 1823, he was engaged in teaching. In 1826 he was chosen Clerk of the Circuit Court for Conecuh, which office he held, uninterruptedly, for almost a quarter of a century. In 1833 President Jackson appointed him Receiver of the Land Office for the Sparta District. From this position he was removed in 1850, by President Taylor, because of the fact that he was a Democrat.
Such was the solidity of his character, that Mr. Cary passed through all these eventful scenes with unsullied record. He spurned with derision any proposition othat did not fully comport with the principles of rectitude, and strove to shun even "the appearance of evil." The following anecdote is related of him :
As Receiver, he was legally required to make quarterly returns. At the conclusion of one quarter he deposited the enormous sum of $140,000. Just prior to rendering in his returns, he was confidentially advised by a prominent and professional citizen of the county to pay his bondsmen the full amount of the bond of $40,000, and to put the balance in his pocket. Mr. Cary very frankly said : "But that would be dishonest." He was assured that this was the course adopted by nearly all the officers of the department. But Mr. Cary, with characteristic gravity, said: "My code of ethics will not permit me to do so dishonorable an act." And the amount was forthwith deposited.
For many years he combined the offices of Receiver and Circuit Clerk. He was enabled to do this in the face of a prohibitory statute, by some friend securing the office for him, by securing his own election and appointing Mr. Cary as his deputy. Valuable service was rendered him in this way by Churchill Jones, Wilson Ashley, and Nicholas Stallworth, Jr. Such was the personal and professional popularity of Mr. Cary, that all efforts to defeat him before the people were totally unavailing. After the establishment of the Probate Court in the county, in 1850, Mr. Cary became the first Judge of Probate. In September of that year he became a member of the Baptist denomination, and was baptized by Elder Alexander Travis
During the closing years of his life, Mr. Cary was tenderly cared for in the homes of his children. His earthly career terminated on December 7th, 1879. No man who has ever lived in Conecuh has left a fairer record than Judge Cary. He was universally recognized as a man who was swayed in life by the purest motives. So circumspect was his deportment in all relations that no one has ever ventured to cast any asperities upon his fair name. (Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama by B F Riley 1881 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)
CROSBY, CHESLEY, The subject of this sketch was born is Chester District, South Carolina, July 22nd, 1788. Here he grew to manhood, when he removed to Conecuh, which was in 1818. When he came to the county he found a few struggling settlements, there having preceded him but few of the early emigrants. Like all others, he erected a rude house, and commenced his labors in the boundless forest's of Conecuh. Along with the growth of prosperity in the county he continued to accumulate wealth, and by dint of energy and economy, had amassed considerable property before his death. Mr. Crosby was the ancestor of a large offspring. Many of these reside in Conecuh, some in adjoining counties, and others in different and distant States. He was a man of many sterling qualities of character. In him the widow and orphan ever found a sympathizing friend. And when convinced of the worth of a public enterprise, no one was more liberal in contributing to its success. A praiseworthy example of his liberality is found in the Baptist church at Bcllville, to which he gave in a cash donation $500. In consideration of this marked liberality, a seat, stained with mahogany hue, was prepared for him, and which he occupied in his attendance upon the services of the church. After a long and useful life of seventy-five years, Mr. Crosby died at his home, between Bellville and Sparta, on May 22nd, 1864. Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama, By B. F. Riley, 1881, Transcribed by C. Anthony
Among the best and noblest of the citizens of Conecuh, during his career, was John Crosby. He came to the county from Chester District, South Carolina, in 1832, and settled, first, at the home owned at present by Dr. John D. Reilly. In personal appearance, Mr. Crosby was rather tall, of dignified mien, with ruddy complexion, and hair of raven blackness. In character, he was exceedingly firm and positive. Possessed of a vigorous energy and an unconquerable will, he bore down before him all difficulties, and rarely failed of success in any pursuit. If he was fond of accumulating wealth, he was equally fond of bestowing it upon any object that commended itself to his heart and judgment. While he was proverbially liberal, he grew wealthy within a few years ; thereby exemplifying the sacred expression, "The liberal soul shall be made fat." Commencing with resources quite meagre, he had amassed a respectable fortune in twenty -five years. During this period he had become the owner of two extensive plantations, well manned with negro slaves. To the comfort of these slaves he was devoted with a tenderness quite unusual. He was universally esteemed for his piety and manifested his devotion to the cause of Sacred Truth by being one of the most consistent of the members of the Baptist Church, at Bellville, for quite a number of years. A characteristic anecdote is related of him, as illustrative of his thorough honesty, and abiding conviction of right. During a given session of the Circuit Court, held at Sparta, Mr. Crosby was one of the petit jurors. In that capacity he would serve during the day, and after adjournment, ride to his home in the neighborhood of Bellville. Rising with the earliest tinge of dawn, he would start each morning toward Sparta, going via one of his plantations to give directions to his laborers for the day. One morning he was unduly detained at his farm, and did not appear at the court house until after his name had been called, his absence announced, and a forfeiture entered against him by the presiding Judge. Coming into the court room, he was apprised of the imposition of the fine. He was summoned into the presence of the court to give the reason of his absence. He replied that his absence was due to the protracted attention which he had to bestow that morning upon his affairs at his plantation. Whereupon the court asked him if any reason could be assigned by himself why the forfeiture should not be entered against him. He very frankly replied : " Oh, no! I have no excuse whatever. The whole matter is just as it should be. The fine is justly imposed." An example of his liberality is found in the fact that he donated to Howard College one thousand dollars, and defrayed the expenses of a theological student throughout his entire course. After a useful and exemplary career, he died at his beautiful home near Bellville, in the early part of 1849. (Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama, by B F Riley 1881 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)
FOUNTAIN, Mrs. J. C.
Miss Effie Cowan's Interview with Mrs. J. C. Fountain, White Pioneer, Merlin, Texas. Formerly of Sparta, Alabama.
"I was born March 27, 1873, at Pineville, Alabama. My parents were W. D. and Mary Katherine Kyser, who came to Texas in 1875. I was reared in Merlin and attended the public schools of Marlin and a college for young ladies at Winston Salem, North Carolina.
"On December 20, 1893, I married Mr. James C. Fountain, Jr., who was born in the vicinity of Reagan, Texas, on October 21, 1871, and is the son of Thomas G. Fountain, who became a citizen of Texas about the year 1869. He was a descendent of Dossey Fountain of South Carolina, of Scotch ancestry. Mr. Thomas Fountain was a native Southerner, was born at Sparta, Alabama, in 1839 and spent his youth on a plantation which was tilled by slave labor.
"When the war between the States came on he joined the Confederate Cavalry and with his brother Henry was enlisted in the cause of the South until the end of the conflict. He enlisted in 1861 at Pineville, Alabama, in Company F, Fifty-third Cavalry, and was first placed in General Forrest's command. After the battle of Iuke, the regiment was ordered to Northern Alabama, where it joined the army under Gen. Roddy and remained with it until transferred to the command of General Wheeler a few months later. Mr. Fountain fought in the battle of Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, the defense of Atlanta, the campaign against the advance of General Sherman's army, following him through South Carolina.
"The last battle that Mr. Fountain fought in was at Statesburg, and he lay down his arms at Columbia, South Carolina. He then resumed the life of a farmer and began the labor of rebuilding the family estate. This was done under the greatest difficulties for the trying days of reconstruction came on and when he came to Texas in 1869 he had made small progress toward financial independence. He came by rail to Falls County and settled in the Hog Island community near Reagan with a wife and three children and seventy-five cents in money. For some years he was a tenant on rented land but prosperity finally came his way until he was enabled to move to Reagan, where he engaged in the lumber business and bought a farm nearby.
"He was named for tax collector and filled this office four years. His educational advantages included the public schools of Marlin and a year in College at Lebanon, Ohio and a course in Eastman's Business College at Poughkeepsie, New York. His first experience in banking business was with the Citizens National Bank at Waco, Texas and after a year and a half there he was transferred to the First National Bank at Marlin, as bookkeeper. He served in this capacity until 1907 having entered this place of business in 1892, and having been elevated from bookkeeper to cashier. After having served this time in the bank he was elected city treasurer of Marlin and served in this capacity for twelve years. At the time of his death he was acting as receiver of the Merchants National Bank of Brownsville, Texas, and died November 25, 1934.
"To my father and mother were born six children, namely; Alva, Ernest, Jasper C., Jr., Lula Lee, Ruth and Leah, twin sisters and the youngest in the family. The oldest married Mrs. R. E. Beard, is now manager of Cox Dry Goods Co., at Marlin. Ernest married Vera Wiley and is in business in Marlin. Jasper Jr., married Pearl Paul and lives at Mart, he is manager of the Texas Utilities Company. Lula Lee married J. Frank Cheavens, a Baptist minister of Victoria, Texas. Ruth married James F. Patrick and lives in Dallas. Leah married James Parrish and lives at Marlin.
"I have resided at the old home since our marriage and one of my daughters, Mrs. Parrish is living with me." Source: Montgomery Advertiser, March 29, 1914; Submitted by Jo Ann Scott
FERRYMAN, JEPHTHA V.
Jeptha V. Ferryman...was born in Twiggs county, Georgia, February 9th, 1798. Thence he removed to Henry county, and after his marriage to Miss Jones, he removed to Conecuh, and erected a home on the west side of Murder creek, opposite the present site of Evergreen. He was among the first judges of the county court, having occupied this position as early as 1835. After serving the county one year in the administration of justice, he resigned, and became the Whig candidate for the Legislature. He was the Representative of the county for two successive terms, during which time he was efficient in aiding 'the State to pass through the financial storm that was sweeping the country. This ended his activity in public life for a number of years. In 1858 or 1859 he was made the superintendent of education for the county. And again did he re-enlist, with all the ardor of his nature, in the promotion of public improvements. The projected railroad from Montgomery to Pensacola fired his enthusiasm and enlisted his activity to the utmost tension. Not only did he liberally contribute of his purse to the undertaking, but engaged as one of the contractors to build the road, and it is thought undue exposure, incidental to his work, produced sickness, and finally death, which took place at his home, on March 30th, 1861 - just a few days prior to the completion of the two ends of the road. Judge Ferryman was the embodiment of a positive nature. He lived in an atmosphere entirely above the reach of the petty arts with which politicians sometimes seek to woo the masses. If convinced of the correctness of a given course of conduct, the force of public opinion was as weak as the breath of the zephyr. He was firm, without being obstinate ; positive, without being stern. To him the town of Evergreen is largely indebted. His earnest spirit gave life to many of its first improvements. He was notably identified with the establishment of the academy in the town. The same ardency that fired his zeal whenever he addressed his energy to an undertaking, gave a glow to his patriotism at the sound of the tocsin of war. When Lincoln was declared elected. Judge Ferryman tendered, by telegraph, to Gov. A. B. Moore - then the Chief Executive of the State - his two sons and five thousand dollars. The beauty that invested his useful life was, that whatever he undertook, he did it -without ostentation. Duty was his pole-star, and not the opinions of his fellows. He is described as having been exceedingly liberal and hospitable. "No petty avarice, no sordid ambition, characterized a single act of his life, and whatever fault may have been imputed to him, no one thought him capable of a dishonorable act." In the bosom of his family, and surrounded by his friends, he died at home, and was interred on the Franklin Plantation - the burial ground of his father-in-law, William Jones, Sr. Within a short distance of his first home in Conecuh, his dust is slumbering today. (Source; History of Conecuh, Alabama, by B F Riley 1881 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)GREENE, JOHN SR.
John Greene, Sr, came to Conecuh county as early as 1816. At that time it was embraced within the broad limits of Monroe. He was born in Abbeville District, South Carolina, on March 8th, 1790. When he had attained to ten years of age, his father removed with his family to Jackson county, Georgia, where he resided till 1816. Coming to Conecuh at this period, Mr. Greene found it without the slightest trace of civilization. But, thoroughly prepared to grapple with the difficulties here encountered, he began to establish his home in the midst of the wild forests. Quite fortunate for upper Conecuh, and for its educational interests, one of its first citizens was a man whose attention had been largely directed to literary pursuits. Of course, at this period of the country's history, educational facilities were exceedingly meagre. According to Mr. Greene's own statement, he was indebted, for his acquirements, to a small public library in Jackson county, Georgia. Here, under the direction of a judicious friend, he was enabled to pursue a course of reading, and to improve his handwriting. Ambitious of future eminence, he prosecuted with zeal his studies to the utmost of his facilities, and finally decided to adopt the profession of teaching. He was the first to establish a school in Conecuh, and has trained for usefulness many of her best and honored citizens. . At different times, Mr. Greene has had accorded him, by his fellow-citizens, worthy honors. Twice has he been selected as her Representative in the General Assembly of the State - once in 1824 and again in 1828. Though a Union man, he was chosen to represent Conecuh in the Secession Convention in 1861; and in 1875, was sent as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Coming to Conecuh in early manhood, with no other resources at command than an honest heart, a courageous energy, and an unbending will, he has accumulated a fortune, reared a useful family, and by his sage counsel and public-spiritedness, has aided largely in advancing the interests of the county from its organization to the present. He is one of the very few persons now alive who has lived under the administration of every President, from Washington to Arthur. Venerable with age, Mr. Greene still lives in the midst of his fellow citizens, honored and revered by all who know him. (Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama by B F Riley 1881 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)HAWTHORNE, REV. KEIDAR
Rev. Keidar Hawthorne was a native of North Carolina. He removed from Robinson county, in that State, to Conecuh county, Alabama, in 1817. Six months after his arrival in Alabama, he enlisted in the United States Army under General Jackson, and continued with him to the close of the Indian War, in Florida. After his return to Conecuh, he settled near Bellville, where he was married to Martha Baggett, in 1825. It was just subsequent to this time that both Mr. and Mrs. Hawthorne became the subjects of renewing grace, and were baptized by Elder Travis. About two years afterward, Mr. Hawthorne was licensed to preach the gospel, and after serving as a licentiate a short time, he was ordained by Elders Travis and Ellis. A door of opportunity opened to him in the Forks Sepulga, and he forthwith directed his attention here as an inviting field for the exercise of his ministerial powers. A flourishing interest was established by him in this growing section. Leaving this region, he removed to Mount Moriah, in Wilcox county. He founded the Baptist church at that place, known as the Fellowship Church. Living at a period when there was quite a scarcity of ministers, his services were broadly demanded, and hence he became thoroughly identified with every denominational interest that sprang up in the counties of Wilcox, Monroe and Conecuh. He aided in the constitution of most of the churches in these counties. Perhaps the most remarkable period of his career was the service which he rendered in Eastern and Middle Florida, as a missionary. His labors here were peculiarly blessed. In 1856 Mr. Hawthorne removed to Mobile and established a book-store, at the same time serving with efficiency the Stone Street African Church—one of the largest in the South. Mr. Hawthorne reared quite a useful family, several of whom attained to marked distinction. One of his sons, Gen. Alexander Travis Hawthorne, was a chivalrous officer under General Price, in the Trans-Mississippi Department, during the late war. Another of his sons, Rev. Dr. J. Boardman Hawthorne, has a national reputation as a pulpit orator. Like many others, Elder Hawthorne suffered the total loss of his estate by the war, but he was tenderly cared for by his children to the close of a long and useful life. He died in Greenville, Alabama, in 1877. Some estimate of his wonderful usefulness may be had when the fact is related that, during the years of his active ministry, he baptized more than 4,500 believers. His ministry extended over more than fiftyyears. Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama, By B. F. Riley, 1881, Transcribed by C. AnthonyHAWTHORNE, J. RICHARD
J. Richard Hawthorne is a native of Robinson county. North Carolina, where he was born March 8th, 1805. Five years later, his father removed, with his family, to Wilkinson county, Georgia. Here the family resided until 1817, when they removed to Conecuh county. The first place of permanent residence was near the home of the late Henry Stanley, now in the beautiful little village of Bellville. Here was pitched the family tent when Richard was a bright boy of twelve summers. At the time of the settlement of this locality it was known as "The Ponds" - a name derived from the extensive lakes which lay to the east of the community. Highly gifted with native powers, mental and physical, Mr. Hawthorne's influence was felt as he advanced toward the period of manhood's perfect mould. He was equal to the hardships incident to a frontier section, and from straitened circumstances he rose to the possession of considerable wealth. In 1837 Mr. Hawthorne was the nominee of his (the Democratic) party, against a very formidable opponent, Jephtha V. Ferryman. And though he belonged to the minority party of the county, his popularity came well nigh securing for him the laurels of the contest. For when the ballots were counted he came within seven votes of victory. No man who has ever lived in Conecuh exerted a broader or more wholesome influence, than did J. Richard Hawthorne. His zeal in all matters relating to the public weal was proverbial. He occupied several positions of public trust before his removal to another section. In 1854 he removed to Pine Apple, Wilcox county. Here his influence was not inactive, and soon public appreciation summoned him to active usefulness. He was sent to represent the county in two terms of the Legislature, and has been frequently called upon to act in matters requiring calm and dispassionate consideration. He has reared a large and respectable family, and accumulated considerable property. He still lives to wield a godly influence in the promotion of the general good. Generous, hospitable as a prince, warm-hearted and public-spirited, and above all, a devout Christian gentleman, his usefulness is destined to be commensurate with his days. Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama, By B. F. Riley, 1881, Transcribed by Veneta McKinney
HUNTER, JOHN STARKE
John Starke Hunter was an attorney of some distinction, who came to Conecuh shortly after it became a county. He was a native of Camden, Kershaw District, S. C. His early literary training was of the first order, having graduated from the South Carolina College. He was admitted to the bar to practice law in 1816, and two or three years later turned his face westward toward Alabama, the fame of whose inviting territory had already reached the older States. He first located at Claiborne, in Monroe county, as the law partner of Hon. A. P. Bagby. Thence he removed to Sparta, and became the partner of Samuel W. Oliver. About the year 1829 he removed from Conecuh to Hayneville, Lowndes county, where he continued the practice of law. In 1834 he was promoted, by election, to the circuit judgeship to succeed Hon. John W. Paul, but remained upon the bench only a single year. In 1836 he was placed upon the electoral ticket for Martin Van Buren. In 1840 he was sent from the county of Lowndes to the Legislature, and after a single year's service in this branch of the General Assembly, he was elected Senator. Resigning his seat in the Senate in 1843, he removed to Dallas county. While residing in Cahaba, he combined planting with the practice of law. In 1849 he was again summoned to the arena of politics to join in a contest with Hon. S. W. Harris for Congressional honors. In this contest his opponent was successful. He removed from Dallas county to Kentucky in 1857, and there engaged in raising stock. After an absence of eight years, he returned to Dallas county, Alabama ; and during the latter part of 1865, he was elected to the Constitutional Convention. This closed his public career. During the year 1866 he died at Louisville, Kentucky, having completed "three score and ten years." Judge Hunter is described as having been an orator of more than ordinary ability. His manner was easy, his diction chaste, and his reasoning forceful. He was rather austere in his general bearing, which operated sadly against his popularity. In the counties of Dallas and Mobile many of his descendants are still residing. (Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama, by B F Riley, 1881 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)
KING, REV. JAMES
The writer was fortunate enough to find an autobiographical sketch of the life of this sainted preacher, in the hands of his daughter, Mrs. John Sampey. She very kindly surrendered it for publication, and it is herewith submitted :
December 10, 1856.
This day the Conference met at Tuskegee, being the day that closed my 74th year ; and being present with this large body of ministers, numbering about two hundred, it caused my mind to run back over the past scenes of my ministerial life, with deep and very solemn reflections. In contrasting the past with the present, I have thought proper to write down a brief sketch of ray ministerial life, with a few incidents connected with my history, which are as follows:
In 1800, I attached myself to the Methodist Church. The society which I joined was composed of six women and one free black man - he being the class-leader. In 1802, I married and took upon myself the responsibilities of a family. In 1803, I was appointed the leader of the class which I had joined. In 1805, I was licensed an exhorter. In 1806, I was licensed a local preacher. By this time the society had increased to the number of seventy. In 1816, I was ordained deacon, in Wilmington, by Bishop McKendree; that being the first ordination ever conferred in that place. Up to this date my family had increased to nine in number, beside myself and wife. I remained in North Carolina until 1818, making twelve years. During this time my ministerial labors were confined to six counties, to wit: Bladen, Brunswick, Hanover, Cumberland, Roberson, and Columbus, with some occasional visits to Horee District, South Carolina. In view of the charge upon my hands looking up to me for support, it will be easy to perceive that my labors were extended beyond the ordinary grounds of a local minister; and for all this service and labor I had no claim upon the church, nor did I receive one cent for my labors. On the 21st of April, 1819, I removed with my family to Alabama. I arrived at Alabama Town, where I met with some of my North Carolina friends, who prevailed upon me to stop there for the year. My ministerial labors during that year were as follows: One Sabbath at Alabama Town - the next at Philadelphia (now Montgomery.) I was the first licensed preacher that ever preached in that place. This was one of the years of great trial and privation to me, there being no regularly organized society, and I heard but one sermon preached during the time. In the winter of 1819, I removed to Conecuh river. There being but few settlements at that time, my labors were somewhat curtailed; but I had two appointments - one above and the other below the Florida line. In the winter of 1820, I moved higher up, into the Burnt Corn settlements, in the bounds of what was then called the Conecuh Circuit, belonging to the Mississippi Conference. This circuit, at that time, covered nearly all that part of Conecuh county that was then settled, and a considerable part of Monroe county. Here, a field was opened wide enough for my labors. In 1822, I was ordained Elder, at the Bellville Church, by Bishop George and others. This circumstance brought upon me a greater amount of labor. The Mississippi Conference, being weak, could not afford an ordained preacher for all the circuits. For four or five years there was no regularly ordained preacher sent to Conecuh Circuit, and consequently it devolved upon me to attend all the societies around the circuit to administer the ordinances of the church. Up to 1830, I continued to travel and labor in that section of the county. In 1830, I lost my wife, which was a severe trial to me. Having three daughters with me, I proposed to them to make their homes with three of their sisters, who were then married, and that I would join the Itinerancy. To this proposition they were opposed, preferring to remain at their own home. Consequently I consented to remain with them, and to do the best for them I could. In 1832, I married the second time. At this time one of my daughters had married, and the other two had gone to live with their sisters.
In the spring of 1834, myself and wife removed to Middle Tennessee, where we remained until the close of 1835. My labors during that time were confined to three counties, to wit : Weatherford, Bedford and Williamson, and I attended five campmeetings during my stay there. In the winter of 1835, I removed to Wilcox county, Alabama, and settled a short time afterwards. At the request of Bishop Andrew, I consented to confine my preaching for one year to the colored people, for the purpose of arranging a mission. For this service I received one hundred dollars from the Missionary Society ; all is told that I ever received for my ministerial labors. From that time up to 1850, 1 continued my labors in Wilcox and adjoining counties. In 1851, I lost my second wife. This circumstance changed my situation, and placed me under the necessity of breaking up for good. Since that time, being relieved of the cares of a family, I have devoted my time, as far as circumstances and feebleness would permit, in extending my labors to a wider field.
I have been three rounds with the Presiding Elders down on the west coast of Florida ; one round on the Lowndesboro District, and as far east in this as Dale and Pike counties ; from thence west across the State as far as Sumter, and the southern portions of Mississippi. I have visited the above named State three times, in its northwestern counties; and I have also made three visits to my native State - North Carolina. And in all my travels I have preached as often as circumstances would allow. And, in conclusion, what is in the future, is impossible for me to foresee ; but of one thing I am assured, that it is my settled purpose to devote the remainder of my life to the service of God and his church. W hereunto I subscribe my name.
[Signed] James King.
It will be seen from the above article that my labors have been scattered over seven States, to wit : North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee.
[Signed] J. King.
Mr. King died in Wilcox county, on January 12th, 1870, at the advanced age of eighty-seven years. (Source: History of Conecuh County, by B F Riley, 1881 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)David Lee, Baptist minister, was born February 4, 1805, in Johnston County, N. C.; son of Joel Lee (q. v.) ; brother of George and Hanson Lee (q. v.). Rev. Mr. Lee removed with his parents to Alabama and located in Conecuh County in 1817. He began to exhort in 1827, was ordained in 1833, and served the Hopewell church, Mount Willing, for over thirty-five years. Author: many religious papers.' Married: Mary Coleman, of Mt. Willing. They left many descendants. Last residence: Mount Willing - Source: History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, By Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owen, Published by The S. J. Clarke publishing company, 1921; Submitted by Barb ZiegenmeyerGeorge Lassiter Lee, Baptist minister, was born November 28, 1819, near Burnt Corn, Conecuh County, and died February 16, 1867; son of Joel Lee (q. v.) ; brother of David and Hanson Lee (q. v.). He received a good English education and during his ministerial career served the Bethlehem association as clerk and moderator. Married: Nancy C. Henderson, of Monroe County. There were ten children born of this union. Last residence: Conecuh County. Source: History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, By Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owen, Published by The S. J. Clarke publishing company, 1921; Submitted by Barb Ziegenmeyer
LEE, Rev. HANSON
Rev. Hanson Lee removed, with the remainder of his father's family, to Conecuh, in the earliest settlement of the county. He was the sixth son of Joel Lee. The subject of the present memoir was born in Johnston county, North Carolina, on December 27th, 1816. He was a young man of brilliant parts, and at an early age resolved to fit himself, through self-training, for future usefulness. By dint of close and laborious study, he succeeded in acquiring a classical education of a high order of merit. Recognizing his ability, the college at Marysville, Tennessee, conferred upon him the degree of A. M. When he was a lad of sixteen he was baptized by Rev. Alexander Travis, and became a member of the famous Old Bethany Church. He was ordained to preach the gospel about 1844. In connection with preaching, he adopted the .profession of teacher. His services were secured at different points as teacher. His first school was at Brooklyn. Thence he was invited to take a school in Lee county, Georgia, whence he removed to Louisiana. Here he became the President of Mount Lebanon College. In connection with his duties here, as Professor, he became the editor of the Louisiana Baptist - the organ of the Baptist denomination in Louisiana for a number of years. He died at his home in 1862. In writing his obituary, Rev. William Carey Crane, D. D., LL. D., President of Baylor University, Texas, said : "A great man in Israel has fallen." Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama, By B. F. Riley, 1881, Transcribed by Veneta McKinneyJoel Lee, pioneer settler and planter, was born January 4, 1773, at Smithfield, N. C., and died October 21, 1862. He came to Alabama in 1817, settling near Burnt Corn, Conecuh County. He was a planter and was the first justice of the peace in Alabama. He was a Baptist and a Democrat. Married: Media Lassiter. Children: 1. Owen; 2. Susan, m. (1) Mr. Williams, (2) Dr. John Miller, (3) Frank Farrow; 3. Martin, m. Nancy Partin; 4. Lee, m. Emily Witherington; 5. David, m. Mary Coleman; 6. Eliza, m. Elazarus Carter; 7. Robert, m. Parthenia Autrey; 8. Mary Ann, m. Sebastian Witherington; 9. Hanson), m. Mary Cates; 10. George Lassiter, m. Nancy C. Henderson. Last residence: Conecuh County. Source: History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, By Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owen, Published by The S. J. Clarke publishing company, 1921; Submitted by Barb Ziegenmeyer
LEE JOEL, Among the first who set foot upon Conecuh's soil was the subject of this sketch. Joel Lee was born in Johnston county, North Carolina, January 4th, 1773. Forty-four years after this date he removed to Conecuh county, choosing for his home a spot about three miles from Burnt Corn. Here his usefulness was speedily recognized, and he became one of the most prominent citizens in this section. When Alabama became a State, and Conecuh was made a county, Mr. Lee became her first justice of the peace. He was appointed by Gov. William Bibb—Alabama's first Governor. In 1821 he became a member of the Old Bethany Baptist Church, and was baptized by William Jones, Sr. In his church relations his usefulness was as conspicuous as it was in the walks of public life. For many years he served his church efficiently as clerk and deacon. Under his wholesome influence there grew up a large and useful family. Three of his sons were eminent ministers of the gospel. One of them still remains a venerable monument of piety, and asage counsellor in Israel. I refer to Rev. David Lee of Mount Willing, Lowndes county. Joel Lee died at his home, near Burnt Corn, on October 23rd, 1863. Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama, By B. F. Riley, 1881, Transcribed by C. AnthonyNorvelle Robertson Leigh, lawyer, circuit judge, was born May 31, 1836, at Brooklyn, Conecuh County; son of John David and Nancy (Robertson) Leigh, who lived at Wil- llamsburg, Covington County, Miss., the former a native of Virginia, who moved with his father to Savannah, Ga., when a boy, and moved to Brooklyn, Conecuh County, in 1820. became a farmer and merchant, and died December 28, 1848; grandson of Norvelle Robertson a native of Georgia, of Scotch descent, a Baptist minister, who lived in Mississippi and preached the gospel for seventy-two years, and died in 1857, at the age of ninety-four years. On his father's side, his ancestors were Scotch-Irish immigrants who settled in Virginia in colonial days. He was educated in the common schools of Conecuh County, and when he was fifteen years of age became a clerk in the mercantile house of Charles Williford, at Quitman, Miss., remaining with that concern until 1855. During the latter year, he went to Milton, Fla., and became a clerk in a store owned by his brother. In 1857, he purchased his brother's stock and followed the general mercantile business until the beginning of the War of Secession. He entered the C. S. Army as second lieutenant of a company of mounted rangers, and on the reorganization of the company eight months later, was chosen captain of Co. E, Fifteenth regiment of cavalry, and commanded that company until the close of the war. For some time after the war, he engaged in farming in Conecuh County, but in 1867, entered the mercantile and timber business at Pollard, Escambia County, and continued in that business until 1879. He was elected probate judge of Escambia County in 1880, and was subsequently re-elected until he had held the position for twenty-four successive years. He is a Democrat, a Baptist and a Mason. Married: March 31, 1864, at Belleville, Conecuh County, to Catherine, daughter of John H. and Margarett (Donald) Burnett, who lived at that place. Children: 1. Maggie, m. David M. Hand, Birmingham; 2. Katie, m. E. S. McMillan, merchant, Brewton; 3. Norvelle Robertson, Jr., b. July 23, 1870, was graduated from the University of Alabama, LL.B., lawyer at Brewton, member of the constitutionalconvention of 1901; 4. John David, (q. v.) Residence: Brewton. Source: History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, By Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owen, Published by The S. J. Clarke publishing company, 1921; Submitted by Barb Ziegenmeyer
Adam M'Creary was the ancestor of the extensive relationship of that name still to be found in Conecuh and adjoining counties, and indeed in different States. He was born in Barnwell District, South Carolina, about 1772. He removed to Conecuh county in 1818. The struggles and perils of his youthful life thoroughly inured him to hardship, and fitted him for what he had to encounter in a wild region, such as was Conecuh when he removed thither. While he was quite a boy he endured some of the horrors of the Revolution. His father's home was located in that region which was so sorely infested by the Tories. Fearful lest her son might have to pay the penalty of his father's patriotism -for he was in the ranks of the regular army - the anxious mother would send her son, in company with a negro boy, to sleep, at night, in the woods.
Upon his removal to Conecuh Mr. McCreary selected, as the place of his future residence, the thrifty little community of Old Town. He was the first to improve the present home of Dr. Taliaferro. In disposition, Mr. McCreary was quiet and passive. His Christian deportment was almost without exception. Such was his veneration for the Scriptures that he drew therefrom the names of all his children. His views were exceedingly hyper- Calvinistic, and quite frequently, in the midst of calamity, he would seek relief in the assurance "that it was foreordained, and therefore right." On one occasion, a negro boy, belonging to him, made an inroad upon the smoke house of his Antinomian master, and when arraigned for the deed, took refuge in the favorite doctrine of his owner, saying, "Well, Massa, you see all dis was 'ranged fore hand. It was all fore'dained dat I should take dat meat I" Stung by the evident sarcasm, and exasperated by the complacent impudence of the thief, the master bound toward him and caught him in the collar, saying, "And it is foreordained that I give you a thorough thrashing, and I'll do it !" After a long and useful life, spent in Conecuh, he died at his home, in 1844, in the 72nd year of his age. (Source: History of Conecuh County, by B F Riley, 1881 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)This distinguished citizen was a native of Virginia,where he was born about 1796. The early portion of his life was spent in Clarke county, Georgia. His literary course was taken at Franklin College, and was fitted for the bar in Litchfield, Connecticut. In 1819 he removed to Conecuh, aud located near the new county site at Sparta. He soon associated with himself, in the practice of law, Hon. John S. Hunter. By his ability, Mr. Oliver soon won the confidence of his fellow citizens. In 1822 he was elected first to the Legislature, in which position he was retained by the popular voice of the people for twelve years. In 1834 he was chosen Speaker of the House. Two years later he was elected to the State Senate from Conecuh and Butler, but this position he resigned upon his removal to Dallas county, in 1837. During this year he was the candidate of the anti-Van Buren party for the office of Governor. But in the contest he was defeated by a majority of 4,000 for lion, Arthur P. Bagby, of Monroe county. Colonel Oliver died at his residence, on Pine Barren creek, in Dallas county, January 18th, 1838. He was a gentleman of shining qualities, spotless reputation and popular bearing. Had his life been prolonged, he would doubtless have attained great distinction. Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama, By B. F. Riley, 1881, Transcribed by C. Anthony
RABB, WILLIAM SR.
Among those who have contributed to dignify the early annals of Conecuh county by an unobtrusive, yet virtuous life, may be classed the subject of the present memoir. William Rabb, Sr., was born in Fairfield District, South Carolina, on January 10th, 1775. His father was born in Ireland. Mr. Rabb's mental training was defective, because of the meagreness of educational advantages during his early life. During his youthful days he realized the fearful responsibilities of the present life, as connected with the life to come, and without delay gave his heart to God. At this time he joined a Presbyterian church, but in 1835 his church relations were changed by his union with the Old Beulah Church. In 1804 he was married in Edgefield District, South Carolina, to Miss Sarah McDonald, of Scotch parentage. With his family, he removed, in 1819, to Conecuh, and settled what was subsequently known as Rabbville, or Rabb's Store, five miles east of Evergreen. This was one of the first voting points established in the county. Here Mr. Rabb proceeded to merchandising and farming. His goods were hauled across the country, from Pensacola, by his own teams. Like most of the pioneer fathers, who had been attracted from their homes in distant States, Mr. Rabb was active and energetic, and shared largely in the fruits yielded by the virgin soil of Conecuh. He was noted for his liberality, and gave largely to the relief of suffering humanity. His days upon earth closed on September 20th, 1859. His family physician remarked that it was the first natural death he had ever witnessed. There was no disease, no expression of pain, but a placid sleep, ebbing out in death. He sank
"As sinks the morning star,
Which goes not down behind the darkened west,
Nor hides obscured amid the tempests of the sky,
But melts away in the light of heaven." (Source: History of Conecuh County, by B F Riley, 1881 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)
SAMPEY, JOHN SR.
Among the best and most useful of Conecuh's earliest inhabitants was John Sampey, Sr. His birthplace was Belfast, Ireland, where he first beheld the light on April 20th,. 1801. In September, 1824, he sailed for America, and reached New York some time during the following month. His tastes having led him to the new regions of rapidly growing America, he came to the inviting State of Alabama, then just looming into prominence, and settled upon the soil of Conecuh. His attention was directed at once to stock raising, and he soon populated the grass grown districts of southern Conecuh with .herds of stock cattle. The energy with which he addressed himself to his chosen vocation soon became proverbial. The ancestors of Mr. Sampey (Sampler) were French. They were driven by religious persecution from France during the 16th century, and sought refuge in Ireland. The subject of this sketch was originally a devout member of the Church of England, in which he was reared; but upon removing to Conecuh he became a member of the Methodist Church, in which he spent a devoted life. Mr. Sampey was remarkably quiet and unostentatious. His career was one of even-flowing uniformity. He was scrupulously exact in all his transactions, was careful never to allow a note to mature without being promptly met. His eyes were closed in death at his old home, near Bellville, on July 8th, 1877. (Source: History of Conecuh County, by B F Riley, 1881 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)
SIMPSON, THOMAS W.
Thomas W. Simpson was a native of South Carolina. He was born March 23rd, 1806. Coming to Conecuh, together with his father, as early as 1818, he enjoyed but few educational advantages. He commenced life in circumstances quite humble, with no other reliance than a strong determination and a heroic energy. With the growing development of the county he continued to increase his acquisitions until he had surrounded himself with a property quite respectable. Mr. Simpson was one of the most useful, and yet one of the most modest, of Conecuh's citizens. He delighted in dispensing hospitality. His roof was the refuge of many a way-worn traveler. To a praise-worthy degree he exemplified the principles which he professed as Mason, Son of Temperance, and Christian. Among his children who survive him is Ransom Simpson, of Snow Hill, Wilcox county - a citizen whose worth is greatly prized in his adopted county. Mr. Simpson died at his home, near Bellville, June 1st, 1861. (Source: History of Conecuh County, by B F Riley, 1881 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)
STALLWORTH, NICHOLAS, SR
Nicholas Stallworth, Sr, was one of the original settlers of Conecuh. Born in Edgefield District, South Carolina, on April 25th, 1777, he removed to Clarke county, Alabama, where he remained but one year. The hostilities of the Indians having subsided, in 1818 he, together with several others, removed to the east side of the Alabama river. He located his home four miles southeast of Evergreen, on what is now known as the Evergreen and Brooklyn public road, where he continued to reside until his death in 1836. Mr. Stallworth was constitutionally fitted to brave the perils of a pioneer country. With robust frame, determined will and unlimited energy, combined with business tact and shrewdness, he rapidly accumulated a handsome fortune, and became one of the wealthiest men in the county. He was the ancestor of quite a number of descendants, some of whom attained marked distinction. (Source: History of Conecuh County, by B F Riley, 1881 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)
STALLWORTH, NICHOLAS JR.
Prominent among the first generation of young men, reared in Conecuh, was he whose name is recorded at the head of this sketch. He was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina, on February 21st, 1810. When he was only eight years of age he was brought, with the remainder of his father's family, to Alabama. He was married to Miss Martha Travis - eldest daughter of Rev. Alexander Travis. The result of this union was seven children, among whom were Robert P. Stallworth and Frank M. Stallworth, of Falls county, Texas ; Major Nick Stallworth, late of Hilliard's Legion ; and Mrs. Barnett* wife of Hon. Samuel A. Barnett, now of Mobile. Reared in the midst of circumstances unfavorable to his mental development, at a time when few or no schools existed, Mr. Stallworth had to depend almost altogether upon self-training. He was lacking in none of the virtues that make a sterling citizen. Hospitable, liberal and possessed of public spiritedness, he was quite popular with the masses. Without himself seeking the position, he was at one time made Circuit Clerk of Conecuh county. When, in 1850, the office of Judge of Probate was made elective, he warmly espoused the candidacy of A. D. Cary. As early as 1838, Mr. Stallworth foresaw the struggle which reached its bloody culmination in 1861. The tendency of existing political issues caused him to predict the dismemberment of the Union, and the probable abolition of American slavery. Mr. Stallworth died in 1853, in the prime of manhood. *(Who died several years ago.) Source: History of Conecuh County, by B F Riley, 1881 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)
STEARNS, HENRY FRANKLIN
About the year 1830 there came to Conecuh a young Canadian, of pleasant address, and with a liberal education. A stranger amid strangers, he is said to have spent a night at the home of Alexander Autrey, on Hampden Ridge. Mr. Autrey, having learned that he was a young man just beginning his rough encounters with the world, and having been pleased with the unusual promise coached in the elegant gentleman, and more with his pronounced principles of Universalism, gave him some substantial aid, and rendered him valuable service in securing his introduction into Conecuh. This young man was the subject of this sketch. Henry Franklin Stearns was born in the county of Stanstead, Dominion of Canada, province of Ontario, on March 21st, 1805. He was of English parentage. He was graduated from a college in New Brunswick. In 1830 he came to Conecuh, and found employment in teaching a school for some time near Bellville. Shortly after this he addressed himself to the study of the law, and was admitted to practice in 1834 or 1835. At that time ample scope was afforded him for the exercise of his legal powers, and he entered at once upon a successful practice. He had continued his practice but about two years, however, when he was appointed judge of the county court. Judge Stearns was noted for his invincible zeal. In him every cause which he espoused found an ardent advocate. By discreet management he accumulated a respectable property. The hospitable spirit, so characteristic of the well-to-do residents of Conecuh, was entirely congenial with Judge Stearns when he became a citizen of the county. At one time he was the candidate of his (the Whig) party for Representative in the General Assembly ; and though his party was in the majority in the county, he sustained defeat. This was due however, to the fact that he was of Northern birth. He was honored with being a delegate to the National Whig Convention which nominated Henry Clay for the Presidency. At the time of his death, Judge Stearns had in course of successful prosecution a plan for the establishment of a cotton factory at Fowler's Mills. His waning health forbade the execution of a work, which, had it been successful, would have conferred lasting benefits upon the county at large. In 1856 he went to Texas in the interest of a plantation in that State. Returning home during the following year, he was able to get no nearer than Claiborne, Monroe county, where he died, on February 3rd, 1857. Here, too, was the resting place of his remains. (Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama by B F Riley 1881 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)Among the earliest inhabitants of Conecuh was Fielding Straughn, who was in very many respects an extraordinary man. He was born in Chatham county, North Carolina, in 1783. In 1817 he came to Conecuh, iu the full vigor of manhood, and settled his home where Thomas Robbins at present resides. Such was the hardiness of his physical constitution that he defied all the difficulties encountered by him in this pioneer region, he was a modern Nimrod amid the abundant game that thronged the primitive wilds of Conecuh. It is said to have been a marvel how he could penetrate with bare feet and short-cut trousers, the dense everglades of cane and tan tried thickets of briar, as he would chase the flying deer or the retreating bear. Though unlettered, he is said to have been a speaker of marked ability in the religious assemblies, of which he was from time to time a member. In early manhood he had a passionate fondness for pancakes and molasses, and indicated an ambition to become sufficiently wealthy to have them every day, instead of only on Sunday. The object of his gastronomical ambition was finally attained, and finding his desires for other objects increasing with hie acquisitions, he declared that every man had a pancakes and molasses point in life which was never reached. Mr. Straughn lived to be quite old, having died in 1867, after reaping his share of the prosperity of the county during "the flush times" of its early history. Because of his calm judgment and extensive practical knowledge, he served the county for a long time as one of her most efficient commissioners. Among other descendants he left two sons—Pinkney and James—the former of whom has been a prominent aud useful citizen of Monroe for many years, and the latter of whom has served the county of Conecuh with efficiency, as surveyor, for several successive terms. Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama, By B. F. Riley, 1881, Transcribed by C. Anthony
The sacred position which Mr. Travis occupied, together with the wholesome work accomplished by him in giving so much moral tone to the character of Conecuh county, demand that he occupy the first place in the biographical sketches of her useful and prominent men. Alexander Travis was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina, on August 23rd, 1790. He was the child of humble, though respectable parents. Having been reared on a farm, he was inured to hard service, and thereby the better fitted for the toilsome duties which awaited him in the latter half of his useful and eventful life. The educational advantages of young Travis were limited—not exceeding an imperfect training in the rudiments of the English. But possessing more than an ordinary stock of native intellectual power, he absorbed much information from divers sources, which gave him a respectable position in society. In appearance, Mr. Travis was tall and dignified, and by the gravity of his bearing commanded universal respect. He was converted in 1809, and baptized into the fellowship of the Addiel Church, in South Carolina. One year later, he was licensed to preach; and in 1813, was ordained to the full work of a Baptist minister. Assuming charge of several churches, he retained his pastorate uutil his removal to Alabama in 1817. Upon coming to Conecuh, he located near Evergreen, where he resided till his death. Such was the zeal of this consecrated missionary, that he would gather together, as he could, a batch of hearers, from Sunday to Sunday, to preach to them the richness of grace iu Christ Jesus. Nor were his efforts vain; for soon he collected a sufficient number of converts together, with those who had previously been members of Baptist churches, to organize a church near his home. Hence he became the founder of the famous Old Beulah Church, situated between Sparta and Brooklyn. This he did in 1818. Nor were his labors restricted to this particular section; for in all directions his energies were exerted in the organization of yet other churches. The sparseness of the population compelled him to take long and trying journeys from week to week. But never did inspired apostle address himself to his work with more alacrity. During the week he was an earnest, active student. His library was a plain English Bible; over this he would assiduously pore, by the aid of blazing pine knots, after his labors in the field. Such was the devotion of this pioneer disciple, that he would leave his home early on Friday morning in order to walk to his appointments, thirty-five miles away. And not unfrequcntly, in these foot-marches, he would encounter swollen streams; but, nothing daunted, he would strap his saddlebags—which he always carried in his hands—about his neck, boldly plunge in, and swim to the opposite shore. Through his indefatigable exertions, thriving churches were established in different parts of the county, and some in districts quite remote from others. And such was his zeal, his success, his ability as a preacher, and his affable firmness as a pastor, that he remained in charge of several of these churches from the period of their formation to his death. This was true with respect to the Beulah and Bellville churches. Of the former he was pastor thirty-five years; of the latter thirty-two. A large and flourishing interest was established by him in the Higdon settlement, between Burnt Corn and Evergreen. Because of his peculiar parliamentary ability, Mr. Travis was chosen the Moderator of the Bethlehem Association for more than twenty consecutive sessions; and because of his earnest support of education, he was made the first chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Evergreen Academy, for many years together. So evenly balanced were all his powers—mental, physical and moral—that he was admirably fitted to the work providentially assigned him in a rugged, pioneer region.
Elder Travis died in 1852, at his old home, where he had lived full thirty-five years. His death was a public calamity, and was universally lamented. He was emphatically a good man. He was, in many respects, a man of greatness. He was unswerving in his principles, and had the courage of his convictions, whica he boldly evinced when occasion required; and yet, in his general deportment, he was as meek as a child. At the pulpit end of Old Beulah Church may be seen to-day by the passer-by, a plain marble shaft, which marks the resting place of this sainted pioneer hero.
Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama, By B. F. Riley, 1881, Transcribed by C. Anthony
TRAVIS, WILLIAM BARRETT - THE HERO OF THE "ALAMO."
Near the ancient Spanish town of San Antonio, and on the left bank of the stream of the same name, in the southern border of Texas, is to be seen, to-day, a cluster of block-houses. This is the famous site of Fort Alamo, the calm bravery of whose ill-starred defenders entitles them to a place in the world's history along-side that of the heroes of Marathon and Thermopylae. At this sacred spot, baptized in fire and blood, was displayed a heroism unsurpassed in the annals of conflict. Around this little spot centres the thrill of the War for Texan Independence.
William Barrett Travis was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina, (near Old Fort Ninety-Six,) on August 9th, 1809. He was the son of Mark Travis, Sr., and nephew to Elder Alexander Travis. The family removed to the county of Conecuh [Ala]in 1818, and founded a home that is near the location of the present home of Rev. Andrew Jay. Young Travis was as thoroughly educated as the educational facilities of a frontier region would allow. When he reached maturity, he studied for the bar, at Claiborne, under Hon. James Dellett. Whether induced by the rapid developments made in the far West, to remove to Texas, or whether led by love of adventure, is not known. But, quite early in 1835, we find him bidding farewell to his quiet home in South Alabama and removing to Texas. When he reached the province, he found it in a state of seething excitement. The rapid strides which were being made by Santa Anna toward centralization met with a warm protest from the Texans. Young, ardent and chivalrous, Mr. Travis was soon in profound sympathy with the Texan patriots. In the very beginning of hostilities, we find him conspicuous as a chosen leader. When, at length, a declaration of hostilities was made by Santa Anna against the Anglo-American Rebels of Texas, and when, at the head of an army of 4,000, he marched upon San Antonio, near the beginning of 1836, we find Col. W. B. Travis in command at this point. The advance of Santa Anna's army reached the heights of the Alazan, overlooking the city of San Antonio, on the morning of the 22nd of February. Before so formidable a force as that led by the Mexican President, Colonel Travis retired with 144 men to the Alamo. Upon the occupation of the city, Santa Anna sent a summons to the garrison to surrender. The response of the heroic Travis was a cannon shot from the battery, - for he too well knew the treachery and blood-thirstiness of his foe. Travis had within the fort fourteen cannon, but only a limited supply of ammunition. Having received so defiant a reply from the American commander, Santa Anna caused to be run up above the church of the city a blood-red flag, proclaiming, "No Quarter!"
On the 24th, Travis dispatched couriers to San Felipe and Goliad for assistance. Meanwhile the Mexicans steadily bombarded the fort without effect. At quite an early hour on the morning of the 25th, the Mexicans evinced a more determined spirit than ever. They brought into active play all their available guns. Toward noon Santa Anna left his headquarters in the city, crossed the river, and gave his personal supervision to the well directed aim of the gunners. Wherever he could screen himself from view, he would advance and plant his guns nearer the walls of the fort. To prevent surprise, the Texans sallied forth on the night of the 25th, and burnt some houses standing near the fort. The following morning a brisk skirmish took place, but without decisive results. The overwhelming numbers of the Mexicans were now greatly increased, and Santa Anna proceeded to draw the toils of his strength more closely around the walls of the besieged fort, in order to cut off the garrison from water. But in this he signally failed. When night had again settled upon the assailants and the assailed, Travis's men made another sortie, and again destroyed some houses, behind which the besieging forces might take refuge. For several days together the Mexicans continued the bombardment without the accomplishment of any serious results.
On March 2nd, the garrison in the Alamo was reinforced by thirty-two citizen soldiers, who had cut their way through the ranks of the enemy. These were under the command of the gallant Capt. John W. Smith, of Gonzales. On the day following Colonel Travis sent a courier to Washington, where the State Convention was assembled, and with the following message:
"I am still here, in fine spirits, and well-to-do. With 145 men, I have held this place ten days against a force variously estimated at from 1,500 to 6,000; and I shall continue to hold it until I get relief from my countrymen, or I will perish in its defence. We have had a shower of cannon balls continually falling among us the whole time, yet none of us have fallen. We have been miraculously preserved."
During the day Colonel Bonham, who had been sent to Goliad to secure reinforcements, returned to the fort and united again with his comrades in its defence. After nightfall, the Texans again issued forth upon a sally, but without the achievement of any success. The morning of the 4th of March dawned upon the besiegers and the besieged. Sharp cannonade was renewed by the assailants. The ammunition being scarce within the fort, the garrison but seldom fired. The day wore heavily away, and no change still was produced in the situation.
At night, Santa Anna called a council of war, and urged upon his officers the necessity of a speedy assault upon the fort. Against this suggestion, however, all his officers remonstrated, and counseled tardiness until the siege guns should arrive. But the impetuous President had grown impatient of delay already. Given to celerity of movement, he chafed under the worrying delay incident to a siege. His wish finally prevailed. He had resolved upon storming the fort. It was to be attacked simultaneously from different directions by four columns under the leadership of his most experienced officers. The orders of the commander-in-chief were given with the utmost minuteness. Each column was to be provided with scaling ladders, pick-axes and crowbars. The signal of attack was to be given precisely at midnight. The cavalry was to be marshalled in the rear to prevent the desertion of the unwilling troops, and to intercept the escape of the Americans. For some reason the time of attack was delayed several hours. At precisely 4 o'clock on the morning of March 6th - the thirteenth day of the siege - the bugle sounded the attack along the whole Mexican line, and a firm, onward movement was made. The garrison soon became aware of the situation, and leaped to their guns, and poured upon their assailants a storm of lead and iron. Before the well directed fire of the Texans the three columns on the north, west and east staggered and swung back. Some confusion was produced by several columns becoming commingled; but the solid mass rallied again under efficient officers, and renewed with vigor the assault. This time they succeeded in effecting an entrance into the wall of the yard running around the fort. About the same time the column advancing from the south made a breach in the wall, and captured one of the guns. This cannon was commanded by Colonel Travis himself, and it is supposed that he fell early in the action, as he was found dead very near the gun. The Mexicans turned this favorite gun upon the last remaining stronghold, and dislodged the Texans, who took refuge in the different buildings of the enclosure.
The conflict now began in good earnest. Each building was a separate battle scene. Resolved to die with as much profit as possible to the struggling province, every man fought like a bayed tiger. When the enemy would press so closely upon one that he could not load his piece, he would reverse his gun and club every advancing assailant until he fell pierced with a bullet, or driven through with a bayonet. The heroic Crockett, knowing that death was inevitable, struck down his enemies until, when his corpse was found, it was in the centre of a circling heap of dead Mexicans. Colonel Bowie was confined to his bed in the last stage of consumption. As the enemy rushed into his room, he sat upright in his bed, and killed several of the foe before he himself was killed. The details of the horrible massacre have oftentimes been given, and need not be repeated here. It may be proper to state, however, that the bodies of the Texans were collected into heaps and burned. A year later. Col. John N. Seguin superintended the collection and proper interment of the bones of these heroes.
As you enter the capitol, at Austin, you are confronted by a monument bearing this inscription: "Thermopylae had its messenger of defeat; the Alamo had none." Thus went out into the darkness of a horrible death the star of the brilliant and brave Col. William Barrett Travis. With the change of adaptation, we adopt here the language of Albert Pike, in his "Grave of Washington:"
"Disturb not his slumber! Let Travis here sleep,
'Neath the boughs of the willow that over him weep!
His arm is unnerved, but his deeds remain bright
As the stars in the dark- vaulted heaven at night.
O, wake not the hero! His battles are o'er!
Let him rest, undisturbed, on Antonio's fair shore!
On the river's green border as flowery dressed,
With the hearts he loved fondly, let Travis here rest." (Source: History of Conecuh Alabama by B F Riley 1881 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)
Maj. Richard Warren removed from Burke county, Georgia, to Alabama in 1817. He first improved a home near Burnt Corn, during the most troublous period of the county's history. Ever careful for the rights and interests of others, he, with true chivalric spirit, erected a fort near Burnt Corn, as a refuge against the depredations of the Indians. After a sojourn of one year here, he removed southward, and was the first to venture across Murder creek, and to erect a home on the eastern side. He settled the place now owned by the Messrs. William and John Burgamy. Mr. Warren and his sons were the first white inhabitants who lived in the neighborhood of Sparta. Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama, By B. F. Riley, 1881, Transcribed by Veneta McKinneyDr. John Watkins was a distinguished physician, who removed at quite an early period, to Conecuh, where he found himself almost alone, for some time, in his practice. Dr. Watkins was born within a short distance of the scene of General Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, in 1775. Having received a liberal education, he pursued his medical studies in Philadelphia, whence he was graduated in 1804. He first located at Abbeville Court House, South Carolina, where he practiced in the family of Senator John C. Calhoun. He removed to Alabama in 1813, and located first on the Tombigbee river. Later we find him at Claiborne—the only physician between the Alabama and Chattahoochee rivers. Notwithstanding his decided usefulness in his chosen profession, he was urged to represent Monroe in the Constitutional Convention in 1819, and during the same year was elected to the Senate from the same county. At quite an early period after the settlement of Conecuh, he removed to that county, where his ability was speedily recognized as a physician. But here again he was destined to share in political honors, for in 1828 he was sent to the Senate from Conecuh and Butler. Several years afterward he was chosen to represent Conecuh in the lower branch of the Legislature. In 1842 his services were again demanded in the realm of politics, and he was chosen Senator from Conecuh and Monroe counties. His devotion to his chosen profession, however, continued unabated, and he was assiduous in the accumulation of scientific works, that he might be the more fully prepared to meet the advancing demands of medicine. Dr. Watkins died at his home, near Burnt Corn, in 1854. He was a man of extraordinary physical powers. In manners he was exceedingly plain, and oftentimes very blunt. The following characteristic anecdote is related of him: He had a patient who had for a long time suffered from extreme nervousness. Dr. Watkins having learned that she had a peculiar fondness for coffee, admonished her to discontinue its use. Having been called to visit her again, he found her with her head resting upon her palms, and leaning over the fire-place, where he spied the coffee pot, poised upon a pedestal of glowing coals. Without ceremony, he knocked it from its position, causing the contents to flow out, and then proceeded to kick it across the room, through the door, and into the yard. But he was universally esteemed for his benevolence and hospitality. His memory will ever be cherished in Conecuh, because of his superior public worth. Source: History of Conecuh, Alabama, By B. F. Riley, 1881, Transcribed by C. Anthony
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