Urquhart#039;s Confederate service honored today

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 10, 2002

A special memorial service will be conducted on Saturday, May 25, beginning at 2 p.m. at the gravesite of William Henry Urquhart in the Mt. Gilead Baptist Church Cemetery near Rose Hill. Members of the Andalusia-based Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will be assisting descendants of the Urquhart family in honoring the military service of William Henry Urquhart and dedicating a marker denoting his Confederate service. The family will also share their memories of the family heritage and officially pass the "Urquhart Walking Stick" to the next generation. Coordinating this event is Minta Forester of Ozark who is the descendant who provided the history and genealogical data for today's column.

Earliest memories of the Urquhart family stem from the first known relatives who lived in an old feudal castle, located on the shores of Loch Ness, just outside Inverness, Scotland, during the 1600s. During that century the family began to spread through the British Empire. One of the most notable of the family was Sir Thomas Urquhart who translated the Works of Rabelais in 1653.

Family tradition claims that in 1774 three Urquhart brothers sailed from North Britain to the Cape Fear region of the North Carolina colony near the current city of Wilmington. The brothers were named Henry, Norman and Alexander. Although his age at the time is unknown, Henry was presumed to be the oldest; Norman was 24 years old; and Alexander was eight years of age.

The Urquhart brothers' ship arrived just prior to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. Having signed loyalty oaths to the British Crown, they were prohibited from bearing arms against it. They moved upriver to an area already established by other Scottish immigrants. There they obtained land in the Buie's Creek area near Cross Creek. Norman built a gristmill that is currently on the campus of Campbell University.

When the War of 1812 began, Henry and Norman were mustered for the "Home Guard" of Cumberland County, North Carolina. Alexander had died in 1792 and was buried in St. James Episcopal Church Cemetery in Wilmington. Henry was involved there as a merchant and Norman was a farmer.

When the 1800 federal census was taken, Norman and his wife, Janet, had 10 children: John, b. 1774, d. 1844, m.(1) ? Nealy (2) Margurete McCall; Neil, b. 1780, d. 1844, m. Elizabeth "Polly" Smith; Alexander A. "Alex," b. 1783, d. 1843, m. Elizabeth Smith; Nancy Urquhart, b. 1784, d. before 1864, m. ? McLeod; Florince "Flora," b. 1786, d. 1859, m. (1) Neal Shaw (2) Jonathan Moates; Catherine, b. 1790, d. after 1850; Elizabeth, b. 1792, d. before 1860, m. John Shaw; Margaret "Peggy," b. 1792, d. after 1864, m. John Joyce; Norman Jr., b. 1794, d. before 1859; and Daniel, b. 1797, d. 1864, m. Agnes Shaver.

Norman and his family joined the multitudes moving to the "new frontier" in Georgia where they settled in Jasper County circa 1814. In 1819 Norman and his son, Alexander, purchased public land from the government in the Alabama Territory, about a month before Alabama became the 22nd State in the Union. They moved to this property, which is located near present day Pine Level, Montgomery County. Here the family established a permanent home, and the children began to build homes around them. The Bureau of Land Management reveals 40 land grants issued to the Urquhart children over the years 1821 to 1906, the first being 79.75 acres in Montgomery County to John Urquhart, and the last was a 175.44 acres homestead in Covington County by William O. Urquhart. By the third generation this family had spread from Troy in Pike County to Ramer in Western Montgomery County.

The above named William Henry Urquhart was the son of Rev. Norman Alford Urquhart and his first wife, Eliza Caroline Allen. He was the fifth child born to this union. His mother died during childbirth when William was 10 years old. His father was married later to Lydia Ann Taylor who bore four children before she also died in childbirth in 1866.

The War Between the States had ended, but it left a great loss to the family. The oldest son Peter Oliver, was killed at the Battle of Kingston in 1865. The younger son, Robert Burns, enlisted in Co. I, 22nd Ala. Inf. Reg't in 1861. He was seriously wounded in the Battle of Peach Tree Creek, Georgia, in 1864 when a bullet lodged in his brain. It could not be removed, but the wound healed over, which caused him to experience "spells" for the rest of his life.

At age 21, William Henry enlisted in Co. K, 22nd. Ala. Inf. Reg't at Ramer in 1861. On April 6, 1862, he was seriously wounded during the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee. A large shell or "shot" passed through both bones of his left leg, breaking them just below the knee. The wound never healed and was open for the remainder of his life. He was honorably discharged from the Confederate Army on the day of surrender in 1865.

Henry's father, Norman Alford, was married a third time after Lydia's death to Martha Stanford in 1868. This union resulted in two additional children, so Henry was reared in a family with many children. As a minister, his father was away much of the time.

In July 1870, Henry was married to Eliza Jane Smith McBryde, widow of Daniel McBryde who died during the war. She brought three children to the marriage, and she and Henry had five children of their own who were all born in Ramer. Henry was a member of Ramer Grange 1873 in which he served as gate keeper and assistant steward.

Sometime before 1894, Henry sold his place in Ramer and moved the family to Andalusia where they lived in the town and had a farm several miles outside of it. He lived there until his death in 1905. He was survived by the following children:

William Oliver, b. 1871, d. 1937, m. Etta Harrelson, daughter of Giles Harrelson and his first wife, Elizabeth Jeter. In 1906, William Oliver filed for 175.44 acres of land, located near the current Mt. Gilead Baptist Church. He and his family including eight children moved to Texas after 1917. He died in Athens, Henderson County, Texas, in 1937 and Etta, in Cherokee County in 1964.

Edna Earl, b. 1873, d. 1959, m. Harper Pinkney Benton in Covington County. The couple later moved to the Birmingham area.

Luther Henry, b. 1875, d. 1947, married Minta Lela Collins of the Warrior area. He taught school in Montgomery County prior to their marriage. They settled in Woodlawn, which is now Birmingham.

Nannie Belle, b. 1878, d. 1914, married Marion McLelland. She died shortly after the birth of her eighth child in 1914. It is believed this couple is buried at the foot of the graves of William Henry and Eliza Jane in the Mt. Gilead Cemetery.

Rubin Smith, b. 1880, d. 1921, joined his brother, Luther "Luke," in Tarrent City where he was married to Ottie Belle Lattimer.

William Henry was also survived by his half brother, Joseph Alford (1855-1921). Joseph was granted a land patent for 159 acres in 1892 in Covington County near the present location of Mt. Gilead Baptist Church. Joseph was married first to Georgia Missouri Warner of Helicon, Crenshaw County, and second to Annie Elizabeth "Lizzie" Gamble in 1903 in Butler County. Joseph later moved his family to Milton, Santa Rosa County, Florida.

While the Urquhart name is rarely heard in this area today, there are a number of descendants throughout the country. Around 50 are expected to attend the memorial service planned for May 25.

Anyone who might have corrections or additions to the above is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email: chthom@alaweb.com


Two memorial services will be held Saturday, May 25, to dedicate grave markers denoting military service of Confederate Veterans, William Henry Urquhart at 2 p.m. in the Mt. Gilead Baptist Church Cemetery and Elisha Kindred Flournoy at 3:30 p.m. in the Rose Hill Cemetery. All descendants and any interested guests are urged to attend.

The Covington Historical Society will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 30, in the Andalusia Public Library. The program will be on the history of Florala.


The third annual Lawrence family reunion will be held Saturday, June 1, in the Florala High School Cafeteria. Activities begin at 9 a.m., and all are asked to bring a covered dish along with memories. Tea, rolls, flatware and paper goods will be furnished.