Polk County, Florida


1829 - 1887

Hugh Bethea was born June 25, 1829 in Alabama son of Rev. Goodman Bethea and Charlotte A. Grice. Goodman was the son of Jesse Bethea and Celia Harrelson. Jesse Bethea migrated from Marion District, South Carolina to Monroe County, Alabama in 1818. According to a Record Book kept by William Thomas Bethea (son of Hugh Bethea) Goodman Bethea died 22nd September 8 PM 1863 and Charlotte A. Bethea died 12th of May 1862, 2 PM. Apparently W. T. Bethea had copied this information from an old family Bible record.

Hugh Bethea married Celiann Still. She was born February 25, 1833 daughter of John Still and Nancy (Pringle?). W. T. Bethea's Record Book stated that John Still died December 19th, 1855 and Nancy Still died 1868. The next line read "Nancy Jane Pringle 1868". This would lead one to believe that the maiden of Mrs. Still might be Pringle. Hugh and Celiann (Still) Bethea had the following children:

1. Charlotte Ann Bethea, born January 29, 1851 in Conecuh County, Alabama; married William Madison "North" Crews April 21, 1870 in Manatee County, Florida; died April 8, 1922, buried in New Hope Cemetery.

2. William Thomas Bethea, born December 8, 1852 in Conecuh County, Alabama; married Lucy Elinor Sellers (daughter of John and Mary Folsom Sellers) on June 19, 1873; died December 8, 1928.

3. Evander J. Bethea, born December 15, 1855; died February 4, 1866.

4. Dougall Carmichael "Mike" Bethea, born January 19, 1857; married Sophie Saphire Whidden on December 29, 1877; died May 7, 1932.

5. John Bethea, born October 22, 1858; died October 26, 1858.

6. Nancy Jane Bethea, born October 24, 1859; married John Andrew Boyd on June 3, 1877; died April 13, 1922.

7. Salathiel Bethea, born January 5, 1864; married James W. Mercer.

8. Mary Malisia Bethea, born December 26, 1866; married Jerry A. Whidden.

9. Hugh C. Bethea, born January 11, 1870; married Mabelle Daughtry, daughter of Arthur and Maheny Jernigan Daughtry.

10. Virginia "Jenny" Lee Bethea, born February 1, 1874; married George Walter Collier on May 2, 1889 in DeSoto County.

Hugh and Celiann Bethea were enumerated in the 1850 federal census in Conecuh County, Alabama along with other relatives, E. J. Bethea (age 28) and family, Goodman and Charlotte A. Bethea, Joseph A. Bethea and family, Bartlett Still (age 26) & family and John and Nancy Still. They were also listed in that county in the 1860 census.

The Betheas moved to Florida in 1867 settling first at Medulla near Lakeland in Polk County. They later homesteaded 200 yards west of the Charlie Anderson place on the Zolfo Springs-Crewsville road.

The 1870 Manatee County census shows the Hugh Bethea family residing in Township 34 which includes the Fort Hartsuff, Zolfo and Popash areas. Neighboring families included Barzella Douglas, William Wingate, William Crews, Dempsey & Molcy Crews, Thomas Sellers, Alex Rymer and John Sellers. Hugh was listed in the 1871 tax payers of Manatee County.

William T. Jackson of Gainesville state that Celiann was a tall lady who always wore black. Hugh was heavy set and jovial but also had a touchy temperment. Hugh was a Methodist minister in his earlier years but later became a Baptist preacher. The minutes of the Tenth Annual Session of the Manatee Baptist Association at Mount Moriah Church at Davidson, Manatee County in October of 1885 show that Elder Hugh Bethea preached two nights and that he was paid $139.32 by the association for services as a missionary. He is also shown as contributing $50.00 for the Cuban Mission. In the 1886 minutes of the Association's annual meeting Hugh Bethea was listed as the pastor at two churches: Cross Prairie and Rock Hill (both had post offices listed as Pop Ash).

Hugh Bethea died May 28, 1887 and was buried in New Hope Cemtery in Hardee County. Celiann (Still) Bethea lived with her different children after Hugh died. She died at her home on December 10, 1913 and was buried in New Hope Cemetery.

SOURCES: Census: 1840, 1850, 1860 Conecuh County, Alabam; 1870, 1880 Manatee County, Florida; Cemeteries: New Hope, Crewsville, Sweetwater; Record Book kept by W. T. Bethea-copy owned by William T. Jackson; Kinfolks, William Harllee, p. 2191; marriage records of Manatee and DeSoto counties; William T. Jackson, Gainesville, Florida; 1871 tax list of Manatee County, Florida; Manatee Baptist Association annual session minutes, 1885, 1886.


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