Thursday, November 29, 2007

Henry T. Rutherford Family

Genealogical and Historical Room
Washington Memorial Library, Macon, GA

HENRY T. RUTHERFORD and MARY ALLIS (ALICE) DAVIS were married 15 January, 1829 in Pulaski County, Georgia. Henry was born about 1804 in GA, and died about 1865 in Pike County AL. He was the son of Samuel Rutherford and Cynthia Parnell, daughter of an American Indian. Alice was born about 1807 in NC, and died after 1880, probably in Grimes County, TX. She was believed to be the daughter of John Aaron Davis and Priscilla McElroy.

Henry and Alice were farmers. The family remained in Pulaski County until about 1844, when they migrated to the area somewhere along the Florida-Alabama state line. They are not found in the 1850 US Census, but their oldest daughter Frances Amanda (Daniel) was married and residing in Dale County, AL. By 1860, Henry and Alice were living in the Mt. Ida neighborhood of Pike County, AL. The four oldest children were married. Two of them lived in Covington County, AL, one in Dale County and one in Escambia County, FL.

In the years following the War Between the States, many of the surviving family migrated to Texas (later to OK Territory). Others remained in Florida and Alabama, and one married and lived briefly in Georgia before bringing his family to Henry County (now Houston County), Alabama.

Children of Henry T. Rutherford and Mary Alice Davis

1 - Frances Amanda Rutherford b: Jan 1830 Pulaski County, GA d: 1916 Vinson, Harmon County, OK [11 children]
... + James Monroe Daniel b: Abt. 1825 Gadsden County, FL d: 20 Sep 1875 Roans Prairie, TX m: 18 May 1848 Dale County, AL Father: David Daniel Mother: Mary Rodgers. Military: CSA Alabama 57th Inf. Reg., Co. C; 22nd Inf. Reg., Co FL

2 - John A. Retherford b: 25 Nov 1833 Pulaski County, GA d: 1914 Holmes County, FL [5 children]. Military: CSA Alabama 53rd Reg., Mounted, Partisan Rangers, Co. D
... + Thursey Ann Pate b: 9 Jun 1832 SC or GA d: 30 May 1897, Geneva County, AL m: Abt. 1857 Dale County, AL Father: Alexander Pate Mother: Unknown (First marriage: Robert C. Floyd - 2 children)

3 - Rachel Rutherford b: Abt. 1836 Pulaski County, GA d: unknown [3 known children]
... + Howell S. Cobb b: Abt. 1829 AL d: 22 Jul 1864 in Civil War m: Abt. 1857 Covington County, AL Father: Stephen Cobb Mother: Lizzie. Military: CSA Alabama 57th Inf. Reg., Co. C

4 - Abigail S. "Abbie" Rutherford b: Nov 1840 Pulaski County, GA d: Aft. 1900 Citrus County, FL [7 children]
... + (1) John Lindsey Leavins b: 31 Jan 1831 Holmes County, FL d: 1863 m: Abt. 1856 Father: Richmond Leavins Mother: Nancy Martha Lindsey. Military: CSA Florida 11th Inf. Reg., Co. K; bur: Escambia, FL
... + (2) Smith S. Layport b: Abt. 1837 Pennsylvania d: Aft. 1875 m: 10 Aug 1867 Escambia County, FL Father: Smith S. Layport. Military: U.S. Marine Corps

5 - Sarah J. "Sally" Rutherford b: 26 Jul 1843 Pulaski County, GA d: 31 May 1905 Colbert, Bryan County, Indian Territory, OK [9 children]
... + Albert J. Gibson b: 3 Sep 1845 AL or MS d: 11 Jun 1921 Colbert, Bryan County, Indian Territory, OK m: 30 Dec 1864 Father: Unknown Mother: Sarah Gibson. Military: CSA Local Defense

6 - James Rutherford b: 1845 Alabama d: 1863 Chattanooga, TN.
Military: CSA Alabama 33rd Inf. Reg., Co. F; bur: Confederate Cemetery at Chattanooga

7 - Samuel R. Rutherford b: 18 Dec 1846 Alabama d: 22 Mar 1885 Alvarado, Johnson County, TX. Military: CSA Alabama 33rd Inf. Reg., Co. F [7 children]
... + (1) Susannah May Chester b: Abt. 1840 GA d: Abt. 1867 Pike/Crenshaw County, AL m: 4 Nov 1866 Pike County, AL Father: Asa C. Chester Mother: Lavonn __
... + (2) Mary Elizabeth "Lizzy" Clancy b: 24 Nov 1851 Pike County, AL d: 19 Dec 1942 Houston, TX m: 24 Dec 1873 Grimes County, TX Father: Alfred Joseph "Job" Clancy Mother: Sarah Elizabeth Ganey

8 - Cynthia Ann Rutherford b: 1849 Alabama d: 1889 Navasota, Grimes County, TX [8 children]
... + John B. "Jack" Brunson b: 1845 Alabama d: 1882 Navasota, Grimes County, TX m: 31 Dec 1866 Crenshaw County, AL Father: Albert Brunson Mother: Elizabeth Jenkins. Military: CSA Local Defense

9 - William Henry Rutherford b: 13 Mar 1851 AL d: 14 Feb 1887 Ashford, Henry County, AL (now Houston County) [7 children]
... + Hannah Elizabeth Dupree b: 11 Feb 1852 Pulaski County, GA d: 3 Jan 1935 Ashford, Houston County, AL m: Abt. 1869 Father: Daniel Thomas Dupree Mother: Sarah A. E. Berryhill

Data collected from many sources, but special thanks to Cousin Sandy from Chicago, who has spent many years researching the families named above. If you wish to exchange information with us, please email me.

Henry Rutherford (Retherford) - 1830 Census

Click to enlarge

1830 Census, Pulaski County, GA, Cpt. Bishop District:

Henry Retherford* and wife, age 20-30
Two daughters under age 5

Our research has uncovered no further information on one of the girls. The other daughter was Frances Amanda, born in 1830.

* Rutherford, Retherford and Relerford were sometimes used interchangeably, especially in 19th Century censuses and military records.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Dressed for success

Siblings George, Lizzie and James Retherford,
about 1937.
Their ages in 2007: 86, 87 and 89.

Their Parents
  • James Bernie Retherford (1886-1975)
    + Daisy Lisenby (1888-1989)

  • Grandparents
  • Henry Frederick Retherford (1857-1939)
    + Callie "Caroline" Dawsey (1861-1922)

  • George William Lisenby (1866-1907)
    + Mary A. "Tinsey" Woodham (1868-bef. 1920)

  • Great-Grandparents
  • John A. Rutherford/Retherford (1833-1914)
    + Thursey Ann Pate (1832-1897)

  • James Silvester Dawsey (1836-unk.)
    + Sarah White (1834-1907)

  • John Wesley Woodham (1847-bef. 1880)
    + Elizabeth A. "Eliza" Richardson (1848-unk.)

  • William H. Lisenby (1828-1895)
    + Mary Druscilla Riley (1834-1892)

  • Great-Great-Grandparents
  • Henry T. Rutherford (1804-abt. 1865)
    + Mary Alice "Allis" Davis (1807-aft. 1880)

  • Alexander Pate (1811-1905)
    + Unknown (American native)

  • Thomas A. Dawsey (1804-bef. 1880)
    + Pheraby Laurel Crawford (1819-aft. 1880)

  • John Lisenby (1793-abt. 1865)
    + Piety Tiller (1797-abt. 1870)

  • Great-Great-Great-Grandparents
  • Samuel Rutherford (bef. 1785-unk.)
    + Cynthia Parnell (bef. 1790-aft. 1850)

  • (Believed) John Aaron Davis (abt. 1775-unk.)
    + Priscilla McElroy (abt. 1775-unk.)

  • Zacheus (or Zachariah) Pate (1785-1862)
    + Elizabeth Humphrey (1791-aft. 1870)

  • Thomas D. Dawsey (1766-1854)
    + Elizabeth Hooks (1774-1854)

  • Joshua Lisenby (1763-1801)
    + Ruth Blackford (1772-aft. 1793)

  • Some dates are approximate.
    If you wish to share information on these families, please
    email me.

    Thursday, November 1, 2007

    Yearling boys in North Florida

    Retherford Brothers with Their Calf

    James H., born Mar. 1920 (left) and George W., born Dec. 1921,
    standing in front of their home, about 1928.
    They had seven older sisters and one younger brother.

    As adults, both men served in World War II,
    James in Africa and Europe, George in the Pacific Theatre.
    The brothers and one sister still live in Holmes County.

    (George is my dad.)

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    Family of Florida's 6th Regiment

    Mt. Vernon Arsenal
    Built 1839. Used to muster Confederate troops in Civil War, later a penitentiary and now part of Florida State Hospital.

    Florida's 6th Infantry Regiment, organized in March, 1862, at Chattahoochee, Florida, contained men from Gadsden, Jackson, Union, Collier, and Washington counties. During April the unit had 31 officers and 511 men, and soon moved to East Tennessee. Later it was assigned to Colonel R. C. Trigg's, and General Finley's and J. A. Smith's Brigade, Army of Tennessee.

    It served on many battlefields from Chickamauga to Atlanta, was active in Tennessee with Hoods, and ended the war in North Carolina. This regiment reported 35 killed and 130 wounded at Chickamauga and in December, 1863, totalled only 214 men and 133 arms. Only a remnant surrendered in April, 1865. The field officers were Colonels Jesse J. Finley, Daniel L. Kenan, and Angus D. McLean, and Lieutenant Colonel Robert H. M. Davidson.

  • Source: National Park Service, Confederate Florida Troops

  • Thomas Dawsey Cabin
    Built 1827. Frame vernacular. 1 and a half stories, log construction, clapboarding, full-width front porch. The oldest documented building in Gadsden County, it is a good example of a pioneer homestead.

    Great-great uncle dies at Chickamauga

    James S. Dawsey and John R. Dawsey were the only sons of Thomas A. Dawsey and Pheraby Laurel (Crawford) Dawsey. They enlisted together in Florida's 6th Infantry Regiment, Company K, 8 March 1862, at Mt. Vernon, Florida.

    At the time, James was 26 years old and had been married to Sarah White for four years. James and Sarah had one daughter, who was to become my great-grandmother, Callie "Caroline" (Dawsey) Retherford, born in 1861. A son, James S. Dawsey Jr, was born in 1863.

    John was 19 and single, so far as we know. The young men had two sisters, Desdamona M. (Dawsey) Hayes and Sarah Ann Elizabeth (Dawsey) Smith.

    John R. Dawsey lost his life at the Battle of Chickamauga, 19 September 1863. He was 20 years old.

    Great-great grandfather disappears without a trace

    Records indicate that James S. Dawsey was absent without leave on 8 February 1863 (perhaps to see a newborn son, James Jr?). James appears on duty again in October 1863, but was under arrest in Atlanta in early 1864 (reason unknown). He later appears on a receipt roll dated in mid-1864. James never returned home following the war and the family never learned what became of him. Searches of historical records have provided no clues.

    Several years went by following the war's end, and Sarah finally remarried. By then, her son James S. "Jimmy" was about 15 years old. He had promised his mother that if she married "that old man" he would run away from home. She did, and he did, becoming a fireman aboard merchant ships and sailing the world for twenty years before settling down near Edinburgh, Scotland. He met his wife Nellie Jackson, an English girl, in Dalkeith and they were married there in 1902. They later bought a home in Annon, Dumfrieshire, Scotland, near Carlisle, England. During those years, Jimmy never returned to Alabama. In 1907 - twenty-seven years after leaving home - James contacted his family and returned to the US because of his mother's failing health. She died the same year. James and Nellie raised their sons in Geneva County, AL and Holmes County, FL.

    * Family data from my father, grandfather, and Cousins Scott Dawsey and Nell Sellers Dawsey.
    * If anyone reading this has further information on James S. or John R. Dawsey's military service in the Florida 6th Regiment, please contact me.

    Monday, October 29, 2007

    Another branch of the family tree

    The West Florida War, a book written by Dale A. Cox, was published in 1989 and 1999. It was made available online "to assist those researching family connections to the Battle of Marianna and in the hopes of stimulating new interest in this nearly forgotten Florida battle." - The West Florida War: A new look at the 1864 raid on Marianna

    Probably one of the more entertaining episodes - or least destructive events - that Cox describes involves Home Guard member Bethel Mattox and a group of undercover Yankees:

    Pushing on through the rain that had been falling almost continually since the raid began, the Federals [under the command of Brig. Genl. Alexander Asboth] crossed the Choctawhatchee at Cerrogordo [then the capital of Holmes County] on the 25th.

    The column was again moving through an area regularly patrolled by a home guard company, but there is no evidence that Captain Sam Grantham [Holmes County Home Guard] or any of his men attempted to delay its progress.

    At least one of Grantham's men, 45-year-old Bethel Mattox, was home with his wife, Edy, and their six children when the Northern troops arrived. All of his horses and guns were taken, except one favorite rifle which he managed to hide.

    [In the following days . . . ]

    Spurling [a Union officer who disguised himself and his men as Confederates] crossed the Choctawhatchee and rode nine miles to the home of Bethel Mattox by nightfall. The home guardsman was so glad to see uniformed Confederates that he provided them with supper, a place to sleep and information on the passage of the Yankees, "who," he said, had stolen "all his horses and guns except one favorite rifle."

    Sergeant Butler [another undercover Union officer] suggested that he bring it out, as it might be needed should the enemy reappear during the night. Mattox agreed, never suspecting that the enemy sat across his table. Producing the rifle, he swore that "it would fetch a Yank at a hundred yards at every pop." - Part Two, The Raid on Marianna, Holmes County

    [Then, following the raid on Marianna . . . ]

    Even as the main body of the Federals was withdrawing from Marianna, Lieutenant Colonel Spurling and his small detachment of "undercover Yankees" were still missing. Asboth appears to have presumed them captured. In reality, quite the opposite was true.

    While the main command was battling for its life in Marianna, Spurling and his disguised scouts were living quite well. Leaving the Holmes County residence of Bethel Mattox on the morning of the 27th, "with the present of a hive of honey to sweeten the way," the detachment crossed Holmes Creek and arrived in the Grace settlement (Graceville) just in time for dinner. - The Withdrawal

    See also . . .

    Note: The Mattox family had migrated from Georgia to Washington County, Florida about 1844. Bethel and his wife Edith "Edie" Folsom were my ggg-grandparents on the maternal side. Their children, all born between 1843-1865 in Holmes County: William Ira, Eliza, John, Aaron (my gg-grandfather), Ann America, George, Mary L., Jeff, Texas.

    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    Memories of Grandma's cabin

    Some memories fade with time.
    Others define who we are.

    This is a photograph of my grandparents’ old home, located about a quarter-mile from the house where I grew up. I took the picture in 1970, several years after Bernie and Daisy Retherford, in a land trade among family members, had moved to a “modernized” house, with electricity and running water, two miles away. After raising nine children and weathering the Great Depression on this Holmes County homestead, their farming days were over. Thank God, and Roosevelt, for the “old folks” supplemental check that made their remaining years easier on tired bones. My grandfather, born in 1886, lived to age 89, and my grandmother lived an even century, from 1888-1989. (More on their lives another day.)

    The house was constructed on sill timbers set high off the ground on large foundation blocks, exterior walls of 14-inch heart pine boards, and cedar shingles that were replaced with asphalt roofing in the mid-1950's. The wide front porch, supported with hewn poles and safety rails, and filled with rocking chairs and homemade straight chairs with deerhide seats, offered ample seating for frequent family gatherings. A breezeway ran from east to west through the center of the house to the kitchen in the southwest corner. Adjoining the kitchen was the back porch with a water well, the watershelf and a communal gourd dipper hanging above the wooden water bucket. Golden and red cannas bordered the porch and flourished under frequent applications of waste water from the well.

    A large dinner bell, used to call family members from the fields at dinner time (11 a. m.), hung on the south wall beside the kitchen door. Only steps away were the log smoke house and pantry for canned goods, and a vegetable garden with crops for all seasons. The cane shelter, barn, feedlots and outhouse, stocked with corncobs and Sears & Roebuck catalogs, were located north and northwest of the house. Several pecan trees, fruit trees, oaks, pines and a magnolia completed the surrounding landscape.

    The house was not wired for electricity. Grandpa and Grandma never lived in a home with such luxuries until they moved away from here. For seventy years of life, they managed to live well with kerosene lamps, wax candles and a flashlight, fireplaces, a wood stove, smoke house, two-seater outhouse, wash pot and scrub board, homemade lye soap, well water, ice box, cured meat, and an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. News arrived via a battery-operated radio with a connection to the wire antenna that ran across the yard to the smokehouse. The “rolling store” days preceded my memory, but I am old enough to recall the ice truck from Bonifay and fish and oyster peddlers from West Bay making regular runs through the neighborhood.

    Memories of visiting my grandparents, sometimes on a daily basis, include aromas of the smokehouse, wood floors scrubbed with lye soap and a cornshuck scrub broom, smoke from the woodstove, the pot of Luzianne coffee with chicory that Grandma kept on the stove most of the day, and the variety of flowers that filled the yard. Fragrance from a giant cape jasmine met visitors at the front gate. Pink and white running roses grew on the back fence. No grass was allowed to grow in the fenced portion of the yard, and the pathways through the flowerbeds were packed like concrete and swept with gallberry "brush" brooms. Grandma loved petunias best. Massive beds of cross-pollinated color combinations filled the front yard. Petunia seeds, washed by rains down the sandy lane for some distance, produced a profusion of fencerow flowers that tangled with the briarberry and bullis vines.

    As a small boy in the 1950’s, I loved eating my grandmother’s raisin cakes and egg custards, which she baked to perfection in the wood stove, but my favorite delicacy was the jelly cake filled with several thin layers of mayhaw jelly. Grandma preferred too-sweet cool-aid to iced tea.

    No one else ever lived in the old house after my grandparents moved away, and my dad converted one of the rooms to a corncrib for several years. By 1970, a new crop to the area, soybeans, filled the surrounding fields and even the yard, as the picture shows.

    I miss the “good old days,” my grandparents and their ties to the nineteenth century. I would not trade my memories for anything.

    Saturday, October 27, 2007

    Never trust a wild animal

    A bobcat runs through a yard in south Lakeland on Wednesday. The bobcat repeatedly went into an open garage in the area and aggressively chased people who were outside. Polk County Sheriff's Office Animal Control Officers responded, and one of the officers was scratched.

    After capture, the animal had to be euthanized because of its aggressiveness toward people and so it could be tested for rabies. The animal was sent to the state laboratory for rabies testing and was confirmed positive Thursday. This is the third case of an animal testing positive for rabies in Polk County this year. - Lakeland Ledger, Sept. 21 (Photo by Scott Wheeler)
    I grew up on a farm in the Florida panhandle. To meet the school bus, I walked a quarter mile along an old wagon trail through the woods to the paved road.

    When I was in first grade, a major outbreak of rabies occurred in that part of the state, so my mother - more concerned about the danger than I was, of course - walked with me to the bus stop for several months.

    Rabid animals were attacking livestock and pets, so my parents' fears for my safety were not irrational. I heard descriptions of "foaming at the mouth" animals and the series of painful shots to the stomach that might prevent dying a slow and painful death if bitten by a rabid animal!

    The closest I came to one, however, was the morning that a red fox, in broad daylight, approached the farm house. The hound dogs, along with the free-range chickens and guineas, alarmed by a fox running wildly about the woodpile and vegetable garden, were raising a terrible racket. My dad grabbed his 12-gauge shotgun and, standing on the back porch, fired once as the fox came flying over the picket fence toward the dogs. Struck in midair, the poor creature hit the ground dead.

    The dogs had been given their rabies shots, so they were relatively safe, but the incident was frightening nonetheless. I learned my lesson well: avoid wild animals as much as possible -- especially the ones without fear.

    Pic: I'm the boy with dark hair. My first-grade teacher was Virginia Spears.

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    The pioneering legacy of Alexander Pate

    Alexander "Elek" Pate was born in Robeson County, North Carolina about 1811, and died in Holmes County, Florida in 1905. His first daughter, Thursie Ann Pate (1832-1897), was my gg-grandmother.

    Thursie Ann, apparently raised by her grandparents, Zach and Elizabeth Pate, is believed to have been the daughter of an Indian maiden, but I have been unable to verify her mother's identity. (If anyone has further information, please email me.)

    This profile of Alexander is excerpted from J. R. Peacock's monograph, Pate Pioneers on the Pee Dee River, 21 Jan 1987.

    Alexander Pate lived to be at least 90 years, possibly 92 years, of age. He was active in business affairs in the last year of his life. Holmes County deeds show he executed turpentine leases and timber sales in 1904. Four months prior to his death, deeds were executed transferring land to his daughter, Ada, and her husband W. J. Austin. The last deeds by Alexander are in Book 16, p. 467 and Book 19, p. 87.

    Extant records and oral tradition shared by descendants create a colorful image of the man. Alexander Pate was well educated for his times. Letters in his handwriting are in the Pension and Bounty Land Records. He was capable of expressing thoughts and opinions in written communication into his old age. Material success came his way. The Holmes County tax records prove he owned pleasure carriages, gold watches, he loaned money for interest, and his household furniture tax was among the highest of Holmes County residents. His herd of cattle, sheep and swine numbered 188 head in 1860. Tax records confirm he continued to own a similar number of livestock thru most of his life. In 1885 Alexander acknowledged, on the agricultural return, a farm income of #500 from crops and livestock. Other income from turpentine and timber sales are indicated. Thus, he seems to have enjoyed the best in material blessings for his times.

    Family tradition suggests Alexander was active and hard-driven. They include descriptions of him frequently riding his horse thru the country at full speed, his full beard flowing in the breeze, and emitting vocal yells that could be heard great distances.

    Alexander Pate inherited a pioneering legacy. Thoroughgood Pate challenged the unsettled banks of the Rappehannock River of Colonial Virginia in the middle 1600's. Alexander, along with other Pates of his time, was the sixth generation of this family to move onto unsettled and virgin lands. This life favored the hard-driven, confident, and, perhaps, prejudiced characters. The long life and material success attest to Alexander's ability to cope with the life style.

    Holmes County was not unknown to Alexander when he left Georgia. Note has been made that his Father, Zach Pate, was on the 1830 census of the Eastern part of Walton County, Florida. Some of that area became Holmes County in 1848. The census enumeration leaves little doubt that Zach was accompanied by one of his sons on that trip to Florida. This was probably the oldest son, William, not the two younger boys, Alexander or Benjamin. But it is certain the reports of the area impressed the younger family members. It seems reasonable other trips from Thomas County (Georgia), with other family members, followed.

    The area of West Florida was inhabited by hostile Indians at the time. Some white settlers persisted in the area. But it was the Indian Wars of 1836-1838 that resulted in an environment conducive for families. Alexander played a part in the Indian Wars. Pension records show he served as a Corporal in Captain William's Company of Floyd's Mounted Georgia Militia Regiment from Thomas County in the Florida Indian Wars in 1838. Records on the Singletary family describe Indian attacks on the residents of Thomas County. The destruction of a Singletary family home is described. The reader will recall Alexander's sister, Delighter, married one Richard Singletary in Thomas County.

    Alexander wrote a letter to the Pension Commission in January 1892. This contains a description of his injury sustained in a charge on Indians in the Okeefenokee Swamp. He was thrown from his horse and suffered a hernia, which never healed.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Thomas Dawsey Cabin

    Also known as Joshua Davis House,
    Old Bates House, and Old Stagecoach Stop

    Location: Oak Grove/ Mt. Pleasant, Gadsden County, Florida, between Quincy and Chattahoochee (north side of US Hwy. 90, a quarter-mile east of 379B-Smithtown/Atwater Road).
    Description: Frame Vernacular. One and one-half stories, log construction, clapboarding, full-width front porch. The oldest documented building in Gadsden County, it is a good example of a pioneer homestead.

    Vernacular buildings are also found all over the state. Many are humble little homes. Their style does not originate from important buildings of a previous era or another nation. They represent the way humble buildings were built in other parts of the world. In the case of Florida many vernacular buildings look like buildings of the common folk of nineteenth century England, although in Florida they were mostly built of wood, which was readily available ... (Burnsed Blockhouse, Baker County; Pensacola Athletic Club, Escambia County; Joshua Davis House, Gadsden County .... ). Note the extensive use of porches and large windows. This, in Florida, along with high ceilings, was very common before air conditioning. High ceilings meant that in the summer the warm air could rise in the room, and the large windows helped air circulation. Florida Architectural Styles

    History: In the 1820's, settlers from Georgia, South Carolina and other states came to the new United States Territory of Florida in search of land to homestead. One such frontiersman was Thomas Dawsey, who by 1819 was residing in the Leon/Gadsden County area. In 1827 Dawsey purchased the 160 acres upon which this house stands from the United States Public Land Office, a common practice for homesteaders.

    Another pioneer in the region was Joshua Davis, who brought his family from Laurens County, South Carolina to a farm two miles west of Quincy ca. 1828. He soon moved to the North Mosquito Creek community located about a mile northeast of this site. Between 1830 and 1849, Joshua Davis acquired the Dawsey property and moved with his wife and five children into what would be their permanent home.

    By 1830, a road had been built through this area from Quincy to the Apalachicola River crossing at Chattahoochee. Stage-coaches carrying mail and passengers through this fertile and well-populated farming region traveled over what was known as "the upper road." Some evidence suggests the Joshua Davis House served as a stage-coach stop and perhaps as a horse-changing station. [....]

    This house has been used as a frontier home, tenant house, and storage facility. It was originally built as a one room, 18' by 27' dressed timber structure with a front porch and a heating-cooking fireplace at the west end. Early alterations included a rear porch, attic sleeping loft, and east room. Joshua Davis enclosed the rear porch into shed rooms opening onto a breezeway, refurbished the interior and exterior with hand-beaded siding, and is thought to have added a separated kitchen in the rear. The additions include several architectural elements not commonly found in Florida. This house, which was still the property of descendants of Joshua Davis at the time of its restoration in 1974, is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Sponsors: David A. Avant, Jr. and George Davis Avant in cooperation with Florida Department of State.


    Thomas D. Dawsey was my gggg-grandfather. According to some records (undocumented by me), Thomas was born in 1766, lived in Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia before bringing his extended family to the Florida Territory in 1819. During his lifetime he farmed, traded livestock, and according to at least one record, at various times he also taught school, published a newspaper, established a mercantile business, became a Methodist minister, and was appointed the first Judge of Probate for Leon County (Tallahassee), Florida. Florida attained statehood in 1845.

    Thomas bought 160 acres in Gadsden County, Florida in 1827 and built this cabin about 1828. His sons, John R., James Joshua and Thomas A. (my ggg-grandfather), also purchased nearby land. In 1838, many of the Dawsey family moved again, this time to Poplar Head (now Dothan), Alabama. Thomas Dawsey died in 1854, at the age of 88, three months after the death of his wife, Elizabeth Hooks Dawsey.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    Welcome to Florida Traces

    A brief introduction

    As a seventh-generation Floridian on both my paternal and maternal sides, I descended from a long line of pioneer farmers. With this blog I will explore my family's history as it relates to Florida's history, especially the settlement and development of Northwest Florida, but including bordering areas of Southwest Georgia and Southeast Alabama - the heart of "wiregrass country."

    From as far back as I have records, my ancestors were farmers, and little changed as they migrated from Scotland, Ireland, England and other countries to pioneer the mid-Atlantic states during colonial times, then moved on to settle the Georgia, Florida and Alabama frontiers after 1800.

    Last in a long line

    The last of my direct line to earn a living from Florida soil was my dad, born in 1921. Neither my brother nor I became farmers, but we continue to love the land and to honor our heritage.

    Click to enlarge

    This was my dad on his way to side dress a field of watermelons. He is standing in front of the barn he built, which in turn stood across the yard from the house his grandfather had built in a previous generation. The mule is Ole Buck. He never trampled the corn or kicked the traces. (Traces are the lines, or chains, that connect each side of the harness to the singletree, which in turn is attached to a plow or other farm implement.)

    Traces of Florida's past

    Vast areas of this richly beautiful state would be unrecognizable today by the forefathers who settled here nearly two centuries ago. Little of Florida remains untouched, even from my childhood years of the 1950's and '60's.

    Understanding the past is key to planning the future. Change is sometimes inevitable: Development has devoured the wilderness and farmlands, technology has diminished tradition, and greed has replaced respect for the earth. We cannot hold onto the past, but perhaps in understanding it we can preserve some of the things that mean the most to us.