Steele family came to Alabama in 1817

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 9, 2002

The first Steele family to settle in Covington County arrived a few years before 1830. Peter Henry Steele moved his family here from Conecuh County and became a leader in the growth of the new county. Peter was the son of Peter and Sarah (Guerin) Chovin Steele of St. James Santee, Charleston, South Carolina. He was born circa 1794 in South Carolina.

Peter was married to Eliza Dannelley, daughter of James G. and Elizabeth Goatee/Goethe Dannelley. James, a noted Revolutionary War Veteran, later moved to Covington County as well.

Peter and Eliza arrived in the Alabama Territory with their first young son in 1817. They first settled in the Conecuh County area. In 1818, Peter was appointed clerk of the court at Ft. Claiborne, Conecuh County. They were residing in that county in 1820 and had two additional children.

A few years later they moved to the Southern area of Covington County and located west of Lake Jackson, near the Almarant community of Walton County, Florida. They were enumerated in the 1830 census, and Peter owned two slaves that year. In 1834, he was elected Clerk of Circuit Court for Covington County. He died some time between 1837 and 1840 at the young age of 45 years. He was buried in the old John Ghent Cemetery south of Florala, which is no longer recognizable.

Peter and Eliza reared the following children: Robert, b. 1817, d. 1885, m. (1) Myra Baggett (2) Susan Barnhill; Sara Elizabeth, b. 1818, d. 1878, m. Wright Absalom Stokes; Henry William, b. 1818, d. 1892, m. Eliza Hart; William Colby, b. 1822, m. Elmira Jane ?; Peter, b. 1823, m. Mary Emily Carter; Joseph, b. 1827, m. Mary Stewart; James Jason, b. 1828, d. 1865 during war, m. Elizabeth Kennington; Amanda Wyatt, b. 1830, d. 1924, m. Robert Morrison; Isaac Alexander, b. 1832, d. 1907, m. Cynthia Susanna Dannels; Julian D., b. 1836, m. Mary Catherine ?; and Caroline, b. 1837, m. William Johnson.

When Peter died, Eliza was left with 11 children, and the oldest was 20 years old. She was listed as head of the household under 50 years of age in the 1840 Census of Walton County, Florida. Apparently she had moved there after Peter's death. She was living near the Absalom Stokes family.

In 1840, Eliza's daughter, Sarah Elizabeth A., was married to Absalom's son, Wright Absalom Stokes. When the 1850 census was taken, the Stokes couple was residing in Covington County along with Wright's brother, John William Stokes, and family. Living in John W.'s household was a Henry Steele at 35 years of age. Also residing in Covington County at this time was Eliza's son, Henry William Steele, and his family.

Henry William was 27 years of age with his wife, Eliza, being 26 years old. They had the following children living with them at the time: John, 5; Nancy, 4; Ana, 3; and Sarah, 10 months. The first three children were born in Florida, and the last, in Alabama. Also in the household was Mary Hart, 18 years old, who was probably Eliza's sister.

When the 1850 census was taken in Walton County, Florida, Eliza was residing in a household with Josiah Hampton Stokes, another son of Absalom Stokes, listed as head. She was 45 years of age and Josiah was 30 with the following children from Eliza's marriage to Peter Steele: James, 22; Julian, 14; and Caroline, 13. There was also a five year old Henry Steele in the household.

While it is uncertain, it appears that Eliza had married Josiah Stokes, a young man 15 years her junior. That is supported by the fact that she later applied for a pension as Mrs. Eliza Stokes. The Steele and Stokes families were neighbors, and Josiah's older brother had married Eliza and Peter Steele's daughter, Sarah Elizabeth. This would mean Josiah married his brother's mother-in-law.

There are records where Josiah purchased government land in Andalusia in 1856. He acquired a 40-acre tract on the south side of Watson Street and near South Cotton Street. This was located near land owned by his brother-in-law, George Alexander Snowden.

A short time later Josiah left for Texas where he met and married Ann Eliza Dawson and reared several children. Eliza Steele (Stokes ?) lived her last years in the home of her son, Robert. She died circa 1865 and was probably buried in the Scipio Cemetery, located west of Yellow River in North Florida and which has also become obscured.

Most of Eliza and Peter Steele's children seemed to have moved toward Florida. In 1850 Peter Jr. was living alone at 27 years of age near his mother in Walton County. Near by was his brother Joseph, 27 (23?) years, with wife, Mary, 24 years.

In 1859, J. Steele (one of Eliza and Peter's sons ?) represented the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church at the Zion Association meeting. The church, located in the area where the Steele's lived, had 44 members at the time.

Eliza's daughter, Sarah Elizabeth, and husband, Wright Absalom Stokes, settled in Covington County in the Falco community. They reared the following children: Elizabeth A., b. 1840, d. 1900, m. Willis Lundy; Melisa Jane, b. 1842, d. 1873; Edith Rosanie, b. 1843, single; Martha Thursann, b. 1845, d. 1902, m. Daniel Ingram Britton Adkison; Peter Young, b. 1846, d. 1904, m. Elizabeth "Lety" Adkison; John W., b. 1848, d. 1915, m. Amanda Catherine Hart; Newton Allen, b. 1850, d. 1888, m. Angeline L. ?; Eliza E., b. 1852, d. 1916, m. John A. Watson; William Sampson, b. 1854, d. 1903, m. Nancy C. Clary; Susan Caroline, b. 1856, d. 1868; Sarah AvaAnn, b. 1859, d. 1927, m. Robert Lowery; and Buford Caroline "Bood," b. 1862, d. 1927, m. Jesse Albert Chessher, Sr. Wright and Sarah Elizabeth were buried in the Nichols Cemetery at Wing along with several of their relatives.

There were several Steeles who purchased government land in Covington County during the 1880s and 1890s. In 1881, a William B. Steele, an early timberland buyer who lived in Crestview, Florida, bought may acres of timberland in the southern part of the county. In 1887, J.E. Steele teamed with James Austin Prestwood of Andalusia to buy a tract of around 45,000 of railroad land for a total of $270. Several Steele descendants acquired land in the Damacus and Falco communities.

Appreciation is expressed to Eloise (Eason) King for sharing her family records for today's column. Other sources include census records, Cox's "The American Genealogy of the Steele Family," and Wyley Ward's "Original Land Sales and Grants in Covington County."

Anyone who might have corrections or additions to the above information is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 34620 or Email:


The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will meet at 7 p.m., Thursday, June 6, at the Andalusia Public Library.


The third annual Lawerence family reunion will be held June 1 at Florala High School Cafeteria beginning at 9 a.m. Bring a covered dish dinner, but tea, rolls, flatwear and paper goods will be furnished.-