Brightwell family migrated from Georgia in 1850s

Published 12:20am Saturday, March 8, 2014

Members of the Brightwell family came to South Alabama as early as the1850s when they settled in Butler County. Family legend contends that they descend from a “Thomas H. Brightwell of England who was a Gentleman, an Esquire in the service of a lord—liege to Charles I. Thomas escaped to Ireland during the Cromwell Rebellion. The family had been there since circa 1655 through 1752, and he lost large land holdings from this move. Thomas escaped from Emerald Isle and eventually landed in the State of Georgia. It is believed that some ancestor in the family was granted a ‘league’ of land in the vicinity of the future Andalusia, Ala.”

Family research has not been able to document their lineage from Thomas and the succeeding generations, but it is only natural to assume the pioneers in Alabama were related to the early generations bearing the name of Reynolds Brightwell. One researcher contends that the earliest generation proven is Reynolds Brightwell of Granville County, N.C., who married Mary ?.

The earliest Reynolds Brightwell ancestor to be found on is Reynolds Brightwell and his wife, Elizabeth. This couple was married in 1683. Reynolds was born circa 1666 and died in 1692 in King William County, Va. It is a bit tedious to trace this family line due to the use of the Reynolds name in several generations. However, this Reynolds and Elizabeth had a son named Reynolds who was born in 1692 in King William County.

As one might expect, the second Reynolds named a son Reynolds who was also born in 1735 in King William County. He died in 1806 in Prince Edward County, Va. He was married in 1756 to Mary Olive (1742-1771). They had the following three children before her death: Charles, b. 1757, d. 1847; Barnett, b. 1758, d. 1830; and Samuel, b. 1763, d. 1840.

Reynolds was then married in 1771 to Drucilla Allmond with whom he had the following six children: Nancy, b. 1767, d. 1839; Elizabeth “Betsy,” b. 1774, d. 1794; Lucy, b. 1775; Barnette, b. 1778; William, b. 1779, d. 1866; and Amy, b. 1872.

Returning to the Reynolds Brightwell who had a wife named Mary that has been proven, this writing will focus on their descendants. They had at least the following four children: Judith; William, m. Sarah Windsor; Nancy, m. William Warren; and Sally, m. Patrick Duffy. William Brightwell is one of several in this line with the name of William. He was married to Sarah Windsor, believed to be the daughter of Anderson Windsor of Barnwell, S.C.

William and Sarah later moved to Edgefield, S.C., where they reared at least the following children: John Jackson, b. 1802, d. 1859, m. (1) ? (2) Sarah Winzer (1815-1882); ? (Male), b. before 1815, d. ca 1850, m. Mary ?; William (Thomas ?), b. ca 1815, d. 1884, m. (1) Pamela Bush (2) Manirvey ?; L. Reynolds, b. 1825, d. 1863, m. 1846 Caroline Elizabeth Parker; Nancy, m. Henry Mitchell; Lavinia, m. Caswell Weatherford; and Mary, m. William Majors.

The oldest son, John Jackson Brightwell, had a son named William B. Brightwell, b. ca 1832, d. 1881, m. Mary Isabelle ? William B. was born in Georgia and enlisted there in 1861 in Company A, 17th Georgia Infantry Regiment, CSA. He was immediately sent to Northern Virginia. He was wounded from being shot in the leg during the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864. He would end up suffering from this injury for the rest of his life, and actually died from it because of widespread infection. He was buried in the Popular Springs Cemetery in Webster County and has a C.S.A. headstone.

William B. Brightwell and his wife, Mary, reared the following children: Sarah E.; John L., b. 1860; James T., b. 1865, d. 1925, m. 1890 Lila Stokes (1868-1911); W.L Alac, b. 1868; Susie E., b. 1870; George W., b. 1874; Richard; Edward “Eddie,” b. 1877; and Eugene Linwood “Babe,” b. 1880.

The son, James T. Brightwell, moved to Colquitt County, Ga., during the early 1900s and farmed on the large tracts of land he purchased there. He and his wife, Lila, reared the following children: May; Mamie; Nola; Willie Clinton, b. 1900, d. 1958, m. (1) 1919 Florence Worsham (2) 1930 Sabie Thompson; Walter J.; and Susie.

Willie Clinton Brightwell and his first wife, Florence, had seven children: James Clinton, b. 1919, d. 1978, m. Virginia Haskins; Earl Richard, b.&d. 1921; Charlie Edward, b.&d. 1923; Coy Cecil, b.&d. 1924; J.B., b. 1926, d. 1928; Bernard Crawford, b.&d. 1938; and W.C., b.&d. 1929. Florence died at 29 years of age after childbirth complications with last infant. Willie Clinton then married Sabie and had three children: John C., d. at birth; Harry; and Ray, died at birth.

The above James Clinton Brightwell and his wife, Virginia, had the following four children: James Clinton Jr., b.&d. 1949; Rodney A.; Phil D.; and Christie Ellen.

William and Sarah’s son, L. Reynolds Brightwell, was born in 1825 in Barnwell, S.C. He was married in 1846 in Stewart County, Ga., to Caroline Elizabeth Parker, daughter of Daniel C. and Mary (Mitchell) Parker. After 1850, the family moved to Butler County, Ala. and even later to Covington County. At some point, one of the sons, James H. Brightwell, helped in establishing the Magnolia Baptist Church in Crenshaw County. L. Reynolds Brightwell enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1862 at Leon to serve as a private in Company C, 37th Ala. Infantry Regiment. He mustered in service at Auburn, Ala., and was most likely active in the battles at Iuka and Corinth, Miss. He was home from service in 1863 when he died in Covington County.

His widow, Caroline, was listed in the 1866 Census of Alabama as a widow. In 1870 federal census she was residing in Crenshaw County at age 42 with the following children: Sarah, 20; Martha, 19; Mary, 17; Missouri, 15; Matilda Callie, 13; Hillary H. (Albert ?), 11; and James H., 8. The youngest son, James H. Brightwell, was married first to Mary “Mollie” Elizabeth Bedgood (or Bellinger). They were the grandparents of a well-known businessman in Andalusia, James Edward “Eddie Brightwell Sr., who with his wife, Martha (Clark), owned and operated the Brightwell Sporting Goods store in Andalusia.

William and Sarah’s son, William Brightwell, was born ca 1815 in Barnwell or Edgefield, S.C. Some believe his middle name was Thomas. He later moved to Stewart County, Ga., where he was married to Pamela Bush. Sometime after 1850, he moved along with his brother, L. Reynolds Brightwell, to Butler County, Ala. Also moving with them were his wife’s Bush parents and the Daniel C. Parker family. William T.’s name was the first one listed on the original roll for the Mount Olive East Baptist Church in Butler County.

William T. and family moved to Covington County during the war years where his brother was residing. He enlisted to serve in the Covington County, Alabama Reserves in 1864 at the age of 57 years. He and family were enumerated in Covington in the 1866 Alabama Census. By 1870, he had moved back to Georgia and was residing in Preston with his second wife. He died there and is believed to be buried in an unmarked grave in the Parrott Cemetery north of Dawson, Ga.

William T. Brightwell and his first wife, Pamela, and second wife, Manirvey, had at least eight children, but this writer has been unable to determine the children by each wife. In the 1870 census for Preston, Ga., the following children are listed: Daughters M.J., S.E., Safroney and Elizabeth, and sons William, Samuel and R.L.

In 1880, the family was enumerated in Terrell County, Ga., as follows. William, 76; Manirvey, 46; Mary, 34; Sarah, 32; Fronia, 18; Lizie, 13; Ellen 18; Billie, 24; Samuel, 22; and Bobbie, 11. All the children were born in Alabama.

The sources for this writing were and stories by Brightwell descendants published in The Heritage of Covington County, Alabama.

Anyone who might have a correction to the above genealogy or additional information on the Brightwell family is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or Email:



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