Gunter family came to area from Aiken, S.C.

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 2, 2003

Another family whose ancestors came to Covington County around the turn of the century was that of the Gunters. Most members of this group came during the late 1890s and early 1900s; however, there are records of a few arriving several years earlier.

In Wyley D. Ward's Early History of Covington County, 1821-1871, there is a record of Balaam D. Gunter homesteading 78.78 acres of land in 1870 in the Buck Creek Township, but the transaction was canceled. He may not have moved here at the time, but no further information on him is known at this time. There are records of an earlier Balaam Gunter who was an older brother to the Abel Gunter described below. This Balaam was married to Patience Jackson, and they had as many as eight children.

Gus and Ruby Bryan included in their book, Covington County History, 1821-1976, a photo of the Gunter House in Gantt, reportedly built by Cornelius and Rosa Gunter in 1880. They also showed Mr. and Mrs. Egleston "Gleston" Gunter and Cornelius and Rosa Gunter and indicated that they moved to Gantt during the early 1900s. Although these facts suggest a contradiction on dates, these families definitely played a significant role in the early development of the Gantt community.

Between 1898 and 1907, at least 12 members of the Gunter family homesteaded property in several townships: Buck Creek, Blue Pond, Carolina, Gantt, Libertyville, Rawls, and Red Oak. Most of the ones to be featured in today's column settled in the Carolina and Gantt communities in the beginning.

The earliest ancestors of this family to be named are John and Lucinda (Koonce) Gunter of Virginia. Their son, Joshua Gunter was born in Virginia and died in South Carolina. He was married to Keziah Banks, daughter of David and Elizabeth (Mitchell) Banks, and they reared a family of children including a son named Abel Gunter. It is this line that had descendants who came to Covington County to settle and rear their families.

Abel was born circa 1790 in Lexington County, South Carolina. He was married to Mary Cooper, and they reared their family in that state. Abel and Mary had the following children: William C., b. 1815; Levi, b. 1817, d. 1913, m. Dorothea Ready; Wilkin, b. 1818, d. 1876, m. Julia Caroline Lown; Vineyard, b. 1821, d. 1884, m. (1) Sarah "Sallie" Starnes (2) Henrietta Hutto; Lemuel H., b. 1823, m. Ellender Kirkland; Luvicia, b. 1824, m. (1) James Gantt (2) James Wesley Starnes; Lawson, b. 1826, d. 1897, m. Eleanor Gantt; Elizabeth, b. 1829, d. 1906, m. Elvin Poole; Hosea, b. 1831, m. Mindy ?; Zimri, b. 1833, d. 1912, m. Alsey Kirkland; Able Silvanus, b. 1834, d. 1905, m. (1) Louvenia (Hutto) Poole (2) Clarissa Poole; Mitchell, b. 1837, d. 1884, m. Betsy Ann Starnes; and Levins, b. ca 1838.

At least four of Abel's sons rendered service in the Confederate Army. They were Lawson, Mitchell, Abel Silvanus, and Zimri. Two of the sons, Lemuel and Zimri, married sisters who were daughters of Warren and Aliss Kirkland. These two families are the primary ones who moved to Covington County.

It is believed that Lemuel settled his family in the Carolina community. He and Ellender reared the following children: William Levi, b. 1849, d. 1925, m. Frances Elizabeth Ward; Isabella, b. ca 1850; Wesley N., b. ca 1852; Edward L., b. ca 1853; Marina Sedonia, b. 1854, d. 1915, m. John Busbee; Mary A., b. ca 1855; Emeline, b. ca 1860; Kreps, b. ca 1861, m. (1) ? (2) Lilla Mae Warren; and Luther, b. ca 1862, m. Eliza "Duck" Fulmer.

The oldest son, William Levi, and his wife, Frances Elizabeth (Ward), daughter of Jack and Mary (Wood) Ward, reared four children: Lodic Hartley "L.H.," b. 1875, d. 1959, m. Annie Laura Bodie; Emma L., b. 1878, m. Nolt Starnes; Mollie, m. Norman Bodie; and Alonzo, m. Alice Bodie. The three Bodies were all siblings.

William's oldest son, Lodic Hartley, moved his family including the first three children from Aiken, South Carolina, to the Gantt community circa 1903. He and his wife, Annie Laura, reared the following 10 children in Covington County: Lilla Mae, b. 1897, d. 1981, single; Willa Bell, b. 1899, d. 1977, m. Pugh Hollis Murphy; Florence E., b. 1902, d. 1988, m. Roy Copeland; John Quincy, b. 1905, d. 1989, m. Lillian Holmes; Felder David, b. 1907, d. 1995, m. Ethyl Hogan; Mollie Frances, b. 1909, d. 2002, m. David Tadlock; Laura Thelma, b. 1911, d. 2000, m. Robert Edward Norton; Alice Inez, b. 1913, m. Clyde McCall Northrop, Jr.; Julian Marcus, b. 1916, d. 1987, m. Earnesteen Jewel Pierce; and Elgie Lee, b. 1920, m. 1939 Alton Amos Mason.

Lodic supported his family through working primarily in timber and real estate. At one point he was associated with Andalusia Realtor John D. Riley. He settled his family in the Gantt community at first and then moved to various locations throughout the county. In his later years, he lived with his unmarried daughter, Lilla Mae, in River Falls where several of his children lived. At his death, he was buried beside his wife's grave in the Magnolia Cemetery of Andalusia.

In the following paragraphs, the grandchildren of Lodic and Annie will be outlined.

The oldest married daughter, Willa Bell, and her husband, Pugh Murphy, had the following children: Bobby R., m. Audrey Stokes; Walter Earl, m. Fay ?; Sara Nell, b. 1925, m. Densel Meeker "Teddy" Barrow; Pugh Mack, b. 1930; and Laura Ann, b. 1934, m. Abner Gillis Jones.

Florence and her husband, Roy Copeland, had one daughter, Wilda Jean, who married ? Fields. At one time Roy operated a gristmill and a general grocery store in the River Falls area.

John Quincy and his wife, Lillian, had a son, Gene, who married Jewel ?. John was the owner and manager of the Gunter-Dunn Furniture Stores, located throughout South Alabama and Northwest Florida.

Felder and his wife, Ethyl, had two children, David and Sandra. The family moved to Vero Beach, Florida.

Mollie Frances and her husband, David Tadlock, had the following two children: Billie Joseph, m. Romaine Teate; and James David, b. 1938, m. (1) Jean Bean (2) Grover Nell Little. David was the owner and manager of the Covington Building Supply Company of Andalusia.

Laura Thelma and her husband, Robert Norton, lived in the Prattville area where he was a civil engineer with the State of Alabama. They had two children, Mary Ann and Robert who married Donna Limbke.

Alice Inez and her husband, Clyde McCall Northrop, Jr., reared their family in the Flomaton area where Clyde was associated with automotive services. He eventually became a NAPA auto parts dealer. They reared the following children: Clyde McCall III, b. 1936, m. (1) Margaret Jean Porter (2) Patricia Ann McGuinn; Kenneth Gunter, b. 1940, m. Saranne Noblin; John Thomas, b. 1943, m. Patricia Reeves; and Susan, b. 1952, m. Joe LeRoy McMath.

Julian and his wife, Earnesteen, reared their family in the River Falls community where he worked as a construction contractor. They had the following three children: Judy Remona, m. Bill Capps; Mark, b. 1946 m. Cynthia Kelley; and Larry Pierce, b. 1949, m. Patricia Bullock.

Elgie Lee "El" and her husband, Alton Amos Mason, reared the following children: Jimmy Alton, b. 1941, m. (1) Reba Ann Mount (2) Barbara Ann Bush; Jerry Gunter, b. 1941, m. Vivian Ashurst; Nancy Suzette, b. 1947, m. (1) James Hughes (2) Kenneth Paul Helms; and Tony Lee, b. 1960, m. (1) Donna Murphy (2) Jennifer Lynn Jarrett. Alton was injured in WW II, but he moved to Flomaton and became a manager in five and dime stores. He worked with several stores throughout the area and ultimately acquired a store in Luverne where his widow continues to reside.

Descendants of this family have moved all over by this date. One descendant who actively researches the family and who shared his records for this writing is Clyde McCall Northrop III. He and his wife, Patricia, reside in the Salem community on a tree farm and grazing land purchased by his father during the early 1950s. Albert Blackwell, another descendant, also contributed his Gunter family research for the column.