Tom Feagin#039;s family is preserving its rich, Southern heritage

Published 12:00am Tuesday, July 8, 2003

A few years earlier, new documentation on the Feagin family was found through the internet related to the slaves wearing the name and their descendants. John David Feagin, Sr. of Columbia, Maryland, formed a Feagin web site for the white Feagin family ancestry and was elated to finally make a connection with slave descendants who also bear the name. They were graciously welcomed to share in this family's rich heritage.

John D. Feagin proposed that the African ancestors of the Feagin descendants probably came to America via Annapolis, Maryland. There some were sold to George Feagin who was born circa 1720 and owned land in Manassas, Faquier County, Virginia. He later moved to Washington County, Georgia, where he died in 1800. His wife was Elizabeth Richardson, and they reared the following children: Edward, William, Aaron, Richardson, George, and Burgess. At his death, George willed his slaves to his sons. The son, Edward, did have a slave named Tom and one named Martha according to his will.

Aaron Feagin is the son who came to Alabama and brought his slaves. One of his sons, Samuel Feagin, became a resident of Covington County. He and his wife, Nancy West Allen, lived here until his death in 1859 and hers in 1889. They most likely inherited and owned slaves during their lifetime.

It is known that a Tom Feagin was born as a slave in Covington County, Alabama. The only known information about his parents is that his mother's name was Becky "Bec." He was known to have had a sister named Abby who maintained her residence in Andalusia.

Tom moved to Butler County and was married to Maggie Matthews, who is believed to have been of Indian descent. She had a son named John before her marriage to Tom. The couple made their home in Butler County and had the following six children: Burie, Tom Sly, Jonah, Lillie, Lula, and Lonnie. It is known that Burie was the oldest and Lonnie, the youngest, but the order of the others is not certain.

Lonnie described his mother as having the prettiest long, black hair. He recalled that she could carry a bucket of water on her head for miles. Maggie died at a young age leaving her young children. She was buried below the Old Crittenden Place near Pigeon Creek, Alabama.

Tom later married Betty Jones, who also died leaving him a widower for the second time. He then married a lady called "Sweet" who also died before he did. Tom then lived with his daughter, Lula, until his unfortunate death during his 80s.

Tom often walked a distance of some 38 miles from Butler County to his sister's in Andalusia. During one such trip during 1948, Tom went missing. Upon learning of his disappearance, his children began desperately searching the area but to no avail. About a year later, a gentleman named Obbie Bargainer visited Lula to report that police had found the remains and belongings of someone in the State yard in Andalusia. The items found included a hat, knife, stick, and a nickel. Bargainer, knowing the family did not have any extra money, advised them that if they did not identify the items, the State would be responsible for burying Tom. Lula reluctantly told the authorities that she was unsure if the possessions were those of her father, but she returned home and tearfully told her relatives that she felt strongly that those were her daddy's remains.

The police report stated that the victim had been shot. Although several theories were proposed as to what might have happened, the truth was never known. It appears to have been a sad ending for a gentleman who was greatly loved and admired by his descendants.

This Feagin family has regularly scheduled reunions to pay tribute and recognition to Tom and Maggie Feagin. In June 1998, the reunion theme was "From one generation to the other, we will always love one another" The colors were lavender and gold, and the song was "I'm Blessed." The descendants truly seem to have a strong respect and appreciation for their ancestors and preserving their family heritage.

The source for today's story was a file on the Feagin family located in the genealogical section of the Andalusia Public Library. Obviously, most of the material was written and researched by John David Feagin, Sr. of Columbia, Missouri.

The writer would appreciate hearing of any corrections needed or learning of additional information on this family. Also, information on the white Feagin family is needed to compile a brief history of that lineage for a future column. Anyone who might provide information or assistance is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 21361 Rabren Road, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email: chthom@alaweb.com

QUERY:

Seeking information on Joseph Valentine Brantley and his wife, Emily Catherine Travis. Their daughter, Jemima Adeline, married Joseph Franklin Webb. Descendants of these families are desirous of learning more about their heritage. Also, the data would be useful resources for writing future columns on the Brantley and Webb families. (The Travis family has been featured in an earlier column.) Contact Curtis Thomasson or Jackie Hare by email: briarpatch@alaweb.com

HISTORICAL MEETING:

The Covington Rifles Camp will have a special meeting in honor of General Robert E. Lee's birthday at 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 16, in the LBW Dixon Conference Center. District Judge Frank McGuire will speak on the "Person and Character of General Lee." Anyone interested in Southern heritage is cordially invited to attend.

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