Cannon families contributed to business, politics

Published 12:00am Saturday, February 8, 2014

There were two Cannon family lines to move into Covington County fairly early. One headed by Lewis M. Cannon arrived during the 1850s and settled in the northern area of the county. The second patriarch was Eugene Monroe Cannon who came during the very early 1900s and settled in the southern area of the county.

Ancestry.com shows Lewis M. Cannon to be the son of Raiford Cannon, who was born in 1795 in Richmond County, Ga. Lewis was born in 1827 in Randolph County, Ga. He was married to Martha L. Whitaker (1833-1900) during the early 1850s and around the time he came to Covington County. In 1858, he acquired 99.96 acres of land from the government in the Gantt Township. He eventually resided in the Leon community of Crenshaw. His life experiences took him from Randolph County, Ga., to Cherokee County, Ala., to Covington and then

Crenshaw County before his death circa 1900.

Lewis M. and Martha had three young children at the time he became one of the volunteers for the Confederate Army. He enlisted as a private in Captain Gantt’s Covington County Farmers in April 1863, but he did not reenlist in October when his company was made a part of

Company I, 40th Alabama Infantry Regiment. He and many of the other members of his company returned home at that time.

Lewis M. and Martha Cannon reared the following children: Mary Ellen, b. 1854; Amanda Ella, b. 1859, d. 1888, m. Henry Jackson Merrill (1861-1956); William L., b. 1864; Enoch Alonzo, b. 1856, d. 1934; Charles B., b. 1869; and A.P., b. 1872. Amanda Ella and Henry J.

Merrill had the following three children: Bruce Brown, b. 1885, d. 1915; Walter L, b. 1886, d. 1911; and Ella Mae, b. 1888, d. 1960. These families resided in the area of Leon in Crenshaw County.

The other Cannon family, headed by Eugene Monroe Cannon, came to Covington County from Tallapoosa County, Ala., during the early 1900s. He was a young man who was born in the Deatsville community of Elmore County. He settled in Lockhart and began work with the newly opened Jackson Lumber Company of that town. His work was actually in the wooded area north of Lockhart.

Within a short time after moving to the area, Eugene Monroe returned to his home in Elmore County in 1905 and was married in Tallassee to Mary Lela Lambert (1889-1962). Mary Lela was the daughter of Marion (1844-1920) and Laura Rhoad (1854-1924) who were residents of Elmore County. After their marriage, Eugene and Mary Lela returned to his place of work in Lockhart where they established their home in the North Creek community, which was located between Yellow River and Lockhart.

With his considerable experience in farming and growing crops, Eugene was given the job of superintendent of farms for the timber company, which produced much of the food needed by the employees and their families. The family moved to the Dixie Farm, which was just northwest of Lockhart and where their first two sons were born. In 1910, they moved to the “Big Farm” where more children were born.

Eugene M. and Mary Lela Cannon reared the following children: Modie Eugene, b. 1907, d. 1977, m. Ester Pouncey; Virgil L., b. 1908, d. 1926 of kidney infection, single; Curtis Clifford, b. 1911, d. 2002, m. Lelia Robertson; and Forrest Lester “Shug,” b. 1916, d. 1995, m. 1940 Evelyn Stephenson. The sons and three grandchildren, Dick, Dan and Jane, were graduated from Covington County High School in Florala. Modie and Ester reared two daughters, Janette and Sue. Curtis and Lelia had one daughter, Jane. Forrest and Evelyn had two sons, Dick and Dan.

Eugene and his sons became an important part of the business and political life of Lockhart, Florala and even Covington County. Eugene was a successful businessman in the Florala/Lockhart area where he owned and operated a sawmill, cotton gin, automobile dealership and active in farming.  He served as a county commissioner for three terms from 1936 to 1946, the year of his death. He also served as Chairman of the Covington County Democratic Executive Committee from 1928 until his death. His son, Modie Cannon, served as County Treasurer from 1936 until 1972. His son, Forrest Lester Cannon, served on the Lockhart City Council from 1948 until 1956 and the Florala City Council from 1964 to 1972.

Some of Eugene Monroe Cannon’s genealogy was found on Ancestry.com. The earliest generation identified there was James Cannon (1755-1849) and Jemima Nichols (1755-1801). James was born in Greenwood, S.C. They had a son whom they named John Cannon, born 1785 in North Carolina and died in 1858 in Indiana. John was married to Mary Beard who was born in 1800. They had a son whom they named Everett Cannon, born in 1814 in Indian Springs, Wayne County, N.C.  He was also married there during the early 1830s to Nancy Henderson (1814-1901).

During the 1840s, Everett left Georgia and moved his family into Tallapoosa County, Ala., where he settled them on a farm. He and Nancy had the following 14 children before his untimely death during the war in 1863: Henry, b. 1835, d. 1863; Martha Ann, b. 1838, d. 1911; Robert James, b. 1839, d. 1863; John Everett, b. 1842, d. 1917; Mary, b. 1845, d. 1905; David Millard, b. 1847, d. 1945; George Washington, b. 1849, d. 1936; Rebecca, b. 1851, d. 1905; Sally, b. 1852, d. 1860; William M., b. 1852, d. 1930; Charles Martin, b. 1853, d. 1917; Franklin Marion, b. 1855, d. 1929; Felix Perry, b. 1857, d. 1936; and Tolliver Woodrow, b. 1860, d. 1946.

Everett had enlisted for service in the Confederate Army and was killed in 1863 in East Tennessee. He was a private in Company I, 50th Alabama Infantry Regiment. At his death, he was buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Chattanooga. His two older sons also died during the war in 1863.

The son, Charles Martin, was married in 1880 in Elmore County, Ala., to Sarah Ann Langley Williams (1856-1934). They reared the following seven children: Eugene Monroe, b. 1882, d. 1946, m. Lela Lambert; Ruberta, b. 1883; Rufus, b. 1883; Marinda Edna, b. 1886; Sarah, b. 1890; James Henry, b. 1893, d. 1982; and Charles Franklin, b. 1896.

The oldest son, Eugene Monroe Cannon, and his family are the ones featured earlier in this column. Dick Cannon, a grandson, wrote a family story, which was published in The Heritage of Covington County, Alabama. Other sources for this writing include Ancestry.com, and Wyley Ward’s Early History of Covington County, Alabama, 1821-1871.

Anyone who finds an error in the above history or additional information on the Cannon family is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or email: ctho-masson@centurytel.net.

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