Joel Biggs was in county by the early 1820s

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 8, 2003

Joel Biggs, a native of Virginia, was the progenitor of the Biggs descendants who have lived in Covington County. He was born circa 1780 in Brunswick County, Virginia, and was in South Alabama before Covington County was formed in 1821. One researcher found him to be in the Mobile District before 1818. He was in this county by 1824, since during that year he was an Ensign for Beat One Company, Covington County, Battalion, 8th Brigade, 4th Division of the Alabama Militia.

Joel was married to Elizabeth Ann Ramer during the 1820s. She was most likely the daughter of John and Barbary Ramer, natives of North Carolina and Pennsylvania respectively, who were living next door to Joel and Elizabeth in 1850. Based on census records, Elizabeth appears to have been born circa 1800 in South Carolina. She was probably the Eliza A. Biggs who was identified in 1830 as owning one slave. In the 1850 census, Joel was listed at 70 years of age and being blind and Elizabeth, at 60 years. (Based on other censuses, she was probably only about 50 years old at the time.)

The couple had at least three sons born to them. The names of two are not known at this time, but one named William H. was born in 1829. Since he is known to have remained in Covington County, it is his descendants that this writing will feature. Joel died before 1860, and Elizabeth was residing in the home of their son, William, in that year. Elizabeth died after 1880 and was buried beside Joel's grave in the Biggs Family Cemetery, located near Dunn's Crossing north of Gantt. (This cemetery is probably the one known currently as the Carter Cemetery, located on the old Sims Bridge Road near the Coldwater Church.)

William was born in Covington County and grew up probably in the Gantt area. He would most likely have farmed with his father. When the 1850 census was taken, he was residing in the home of Martin Ramer who was probably his mother's brother. He was 21 years of age and listed as a farmer.

Around 1854, William H. was married to Susannah Carter, the daughter of another pioneer family in the Gantt area. They had the following seven children: John William, b. 1855, d. before 1930, m. 1883 Christine "Christi" Sorrells; James Seaborn, b. 1858, m. Tempy E. Harrelson; George W., b. ca 1863, m. Elizabeth Gilmore; Henry M., b. 1865, d. 1930, m. Caroline "Carrie" Sorrells; Caroline ? Chrischansy, b. 1867, m. Lewis Bozeman; Jonathan M., b. 1874; and Narcissa C. "Addie," b. 1878, m. ? Gay.

William H. homesteaded 85 acres of land in 1867 in the Gantt township. In 1886, he homesteaded an additional 85 acres in the same area. This is where he would have settled and reared the above children.

Susannah died circa 1888 and was buried in the Biggs Cemetery. Following her death, William was married in 1890 to Carrie Simmons who was born in 1858.

The oldest son, John William, was married on Christmas Day in 1883 in Crenshaw County to Christine Sorrels who was born in 1864. They reared the following children: William, b. 1885; Olin, b. 1886, m. Mary S. Mitchell; Henry Bishop, b. 1892, d. 1982, m. Rosa "Rosie" Almere Scroggins; Hubbard, b. ca 1893; Maude, b. 1894; Ida Mae, b. 1895, d. 1974, m. Eli L. "Bose" Scroggins; Albert, b. 1901; Alice, b. 1903; Walter, b. ca 1905; and Rosa, b. ca 1906, m. Dewey Grice.

The next son, James Seaborn, was married to Tempy E. Harrelson, daughter of Jonathan and Mary Jane (Jones) Harrelson. They were known to have had one daughter, Gertrude, who was born in 1901 in Covington County. James homesteaded 38 acres of land in the Gantt township in 1896.

Another son, Henry M., and his wife Caroline Sorrells, had the following four children: Thomas Henry "Tom," b. 1888, d. 1963, m. 1913 Rebecca "Becky" A. Scroggins; Liza, b. 1904; Lee, b. 1908; and Nobie, b. 1904, m. George Burke; and Don, b. unknown.

No additional information is readily available on the other children of William and Susannah Biggs. However, in the next few paragraphs, several of their grandchildren's families will be outlined.

The grandchildren of John William Biggs include the children of Henry Bishop and his wife, Rosie (Scroggins), daughter of Columbus Wright "Brisk" and Caroline (Mitchell) Scroggins: Mary Lee, b. 1915, d. 1991, m. Willie J. "Will" Batson; John Henry, b.&d. 1919; John, b. 1921, d. 1973, m. Merle Lee Holloway; Frank, b. 1923, d. 1945, single; Charlie Ray, b. 1928, d. 1995, m. Elizabeth Ann Holloway; Vester, b. 1931, m. Quennel Windham; and Callie Mae, b. 1935, d. 2002, m. Junior Steele. They also include the daughter of Ida Mae Biggs and her second husband, William D. Henderson, Elizabeth Hender-son, who married Alma Lonnie "Jack" Turberville and had four children.

The grandchildren of Henry M. Biggs include the children of Thomas Henry Biggs and his wife, Rebecca A. Scroggins, sister to Rosie: William Sidney, b. 1918, d. 1997, m. Mary Jewell Moore; Marion Burnett, b. 1920, d. 1959; Fred, b. 1922, d. 1980, m. (1) Nina Mae Aughtman (2) Annie Jo Wright; Bertha Mae, b. 1925, d. 1984, m. Alfred L. Scroggins; Infant, b.&d. 1927; Harold, b. 1929, d. 1992, m. Mary Alice Ballard; and Farrell, b. 1929, d. 1990, m. (1) Margaret Evelyn Wise Hall (2) Demovel "Bobbie" Armstrong (3) Margaret Green. They further include the son of Nobie Biggs and her husband, George Burke, Eddie Lou Burke, b. 1934, m. Foy B. Scroggins.

Needless to say, there were many descendants from Joel Biggs to reside in Covington County and to spread to other states. Research on this family continues.

Appreciation is expressed to Frances Wheeler who shared her genealogical records on this family. Anyone who might have corrections or additions to the above is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 21361 Rabren Road, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:


The Covington Historical Society will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday evening, January 23, in the Dixon Room at the Andalusia Public Library.