Blackwells settle in Carolina

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 7, 2003

Members of the Blackwell family arrived in Covington County around the turn of the century. In 1900, John Blackwell homesteaded 119.78 acres of land in the Carolina community. This means he had most likely resided in the area for at least the last five years to qualify him for the homestead. In 1912, Hilton Blackwell homesteaded 119.78 acres of former railroad land in the Buck Creek community.

The Blackwell family was characteristic of the many who moved to the area to improve their standard of living. Most of them worked long and hard as farmers and in the booming timber business. Brave efforts were made to care for their families and provide better opportunities for the next generation.

Most of today's writing will focus on John Ervin Blackwell, a native of South Carolina, who settled his family in the Carolina community. He appears to be the John named above who homesteaded land in that community. He was born circa 1854 in South Carolina and was married there during the 1870s to Martha Allie Gunter, daughter of Zimri and Alsey (Kirkland) Gunter, also natives of South Carolina. A reference has been found showing Martha Blackwell and her daughter, Estelle, being enumerated in the 1880 Federal Census of Giddy Swamp, District of South Carolina. Maybe John was away, and Estelle was their only child at the time.

John and Martha eventually had nine children whom they supported by farming. It was a real tragedy when John died around the age of 48 years, which left Martha with young children. John was buried in the Carolina Baptist Church Cemetery where many of his and the next generation would be buried.

John and Martha reared the following children: Estelle, b. 1877, d. 1949, m. Silas Cross; Malissa, b. 1880, d. 1897, single; James Milton, b. 1881, d. 1952, m. Nancy Viola Jane Lawson; Malzia, b. 1884, d. 1944, m. Joseph Richard Gortman; Dolly, b. 1886, m. Simpson Gunter; Minnie, b. 1890, d. 1953, m. Louie Garvin; Maggie, b. 1894, m. Tangor Nelson; Ellen Sophronia, b. 1897, d. after 1917, m. 1913 Dink Raybon (2) Lawrence Earnest Cooksey; and Carlis Hampton, b. 1899, d. 1961, m. 1920 Delia Elvira Harrelson.

Estelle and her husband, Silas Cross, moved away from the area, but when they died they were brought back and buried in the Carolina Cemetery. They had the following children who were not necessarily born in the listed order: Alonzo, b. af. 1900; Herbert, d. as infant; John (David or William), b. 1906, d. 1980; Julia, m. ? Balkom; Nellie; Silas; Winnie; and Earl, b. 1903, d. 1915.

The next child, James Milton, reared his family in the Carolina area where his children were married to local residents. He was married to Nancy Viola Jane Lawson, daughter of William and Emma (Battle) Lawson. Viola's paternal ancestor, James P. Lawson, served in the Confederate Army in Company F, 27th GA Volunteer Infantry. He was wounded in the Battle of Olustee, Florida, along the Georgia border. This Confederate Veteran and his wife, Jane G. Bryant, were also buried in the Carolina Cemetery.

James Milton and Viola had the following children: Willie E., b. 1907, d. 1924, single; Henry Hilton, b. 1908, d. 1979, single; James Lee, b. 1911, d. 1983, m. Lula Smithhart; Frances B. or Allie Frances, b. 1914, d. 1986, m. Clement Gunter; Nola B., b. 1917, d. 1998, m. Harvey Gunter; Albert Clayton Sr., b. 1919, d. 1994, m. (1) Eleanore Pauline Rabren (2) Reba Ola Ferguson (3) Emily Opal Vance; Clifton, b. 1921, d. 1998, m. Voncile Bass; and Edd, b. 1924, d. 1974, m. Christine Bass.

The next daughter, Malzia, and her husband, Joseph R. Gortman, reared the following children who are not listed in exact order of birth: Haskell; Jerrell; Lester, b. 1910, d. 1985, m. Verna Hutto; Signel, b. 1913, d. 1983, m. Lucille ?; Charles, b. 1916, d. 1966, single; Hance; Ida, b. 1925, d. 2002, m. R.C. Lord; Maggie Lou, b. 1927, m. Earl C. Resmondo; and Claude.

The names of any children born to Dolly or Maggie are not known at this writing. Their sister, Malissa, died single at age 17 years.

Maggie and her husband, Tangor Nelson, reared only one son, Garney or Gamey.

The next daughter, Ellen Sophronia, and her first husband, Lawrence Ernest Cooksey, did not have any children. She and her second husband, Dink Rabon, reared the following children: James Carl, b. 1914, m. Alma Mae Lewis; Albert Bryan, b. 1916, m. Rose Nunes; (twins) Inez, b. 1919, m. Billy Maxted, Irene, b. 1919, m. (1) James Kelley (2) Charles Bischoff; and Bernice, b. 1921, m. Robert Boynton.

The youngest son, Carlis Hampton, and his family resided in the Carolina community where he supported them by farming and logging. In later years, they moved to Phenix City where they lived until their deaths. He and his wife, Delia Elvira Harrelson, daughter of John and Susan (Schofield) Harrelson, reared the following children: Lois Wyndolen, b. 1921, d. 1976, m. Eugene Gunter; Juanita, b. 1923, d. 1941 on her wedding day (reported that she was buried in her wedding dress); Byron Blake, b. 1925, d. 1987, single; Annie Merle, b. 1928, m. John Henry Graham; Pauline, b. 1930, d. 1981, single; Earnestine, b. 1933, m. Cecil Owens; James Donald, b. 1936, d. 2001, m. Judith Diane Cook; Charles, b. 1938, m. Barbara Catherine Smith Crawley; and Mary Elizabeth, b. 1941, m. William Hayne Cornett.

There are many descendants in this family who currently reside in the area and many who have located across the county. Among these are two who contributed the family history to make this writing possible. Debra Brown, a resident of Andalusia, is the daughter of Earnestine (Blackwell) Owens and the granddaughter of Carlis Hampton Blackwell. Albert Blackwell, a resident of Las Vegas, is the son of Albert Clayton Blackwell, Sr. and the grandson of James Milton Blackwell. Appreciation is expressed to both of these individuals who are continuing to research this family.

Anyone who might have corrections or additions to the above records is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 21361 Rabren Road, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email: