Stokes family holds first annual reunion in Andalusia

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2003

The family of Burrell Jackson Stokes, son of Absalom L. Stokes, was featured in last week's column. His descendants gathered in Andalusia on Saturday, July 23, for their first family reunion, which they hope to make an annual event. There were some 140 cousins who gathered at the Cedar Grove Church of Christ fellowship hall on Brooklyn Road to enjoy renewing acquaintances and to actually meet new kin.

Most were pleasantly surprised at the number of kinsmen, representing six generations, who were present. While many live in the area, there were those who traveled from as far as Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and the states surrounding Alabama.

A main reason for meeting at the Cedar Grove Church was the fact that Burrell Jackson Stokes and his wife, Cornelia (Hare) Stokes helped establish this congregation in their very home. A lady confined to a wheelchair, Mrs. Missouri Lynam, was boarding in their home, and she encouraged the beginning of the church in that community. They later met at the Adellum Schoolhouse until they were able to erect a building in 1919 on the site of the current church facilities. Many of the Stokes descendants have been and are current members of the Cedar Grove Church.

Relatives began arriving for the reunion around 10 a.m. and enjoyed a fun-filled day until late afternoon. During the morning hours there was much visiting and viewing of family photos and memorabilia. As each arrived he registered on a sheet prepared for his particular family line. He was given two color-coded, leaf name tags, one to wear and the other to place on the large "family tree" posted from floor to ceiling. This activity, directed by Hazel McClain, made for a colorful display of the number of descendants representing each of Jackson and Cornelia Stokes' 10 children.

There was no one present from the family of Deliah (Stokes) Rabren, Eunice (Stokes) Hudgens, or the two children who died as infants, R.V. and Lyda May.

The oldest son, Wright Absalom, was well represented by the following: Armen and Jackie Melikian, Cornelia Hecker, CO; Jim and Loretta Kinney, OK; Ralph and Louise Parrish, Sadie (Stokes) Garrett, Cleveland and Virginia Hicks, Larry, Retta and Rachel Phillips, Laura and Kyle Keever, all from Montgomery; Martha Garrett, Chuck and Kerry Garrett, Rogersville; Shelia Williams, Gulf Shores; Sylvia and Max Jordan, Tallahassee; Rick and Sharon Martin, Augusta, GA; Gary and Alice Hicks, Mobile.

The next son, Leland Congdon, was represented by the following: Randy and Lynda Stokes, J.R. Stokes, Judy Stokes and children, Anne Hardy and Ross Butler, Janet Chalk and sons, Conner and Andrew, all from Fort Walton Beach, FL; Jenny Petrillo and sons, Ryan and Christina, St. Petersburg, FL; Gail and Fred Segrest, Huntsville; Karen McGuire and children, Wetumpka; Cindy, Courtney and Cari Martin, Hope Hull; Heather and Mike Pate and children, Stokes and Brax, Montgomery; Gloria Bearden, Prattville; John D. Stokes, Crystell and Jimmy Prestwood, Debra and Leah Turman, Bernice Stokes Holley, Robert Lee Holley, Jack Stokes, Mildred Stokes, Billy and Mary Stokes, Faye Stokes, Bonice Stokes, Judy Stokes, Curtis, Margie and Clay Thomasson, all from Andalusia.

The next son, Justice Lamar, had the most descendants present: Lurlie Rae Pruitt, Jimmy, Ellen, Laura and Jeff Little, Karen, Ryan and Emily Messer, all from Saraland; Don Gardner, Jr., Madison; Danny and Kathy Little, Ft. Walton Beach; Don and Renee Gardner, Auburn; Wayne and Ginger Goodman, Dan and Debbie Goodman, Opelika; Faye and Henry Greenhill, Alison and Adam Pippin, Prattville; Sybil and Joe Nall, Benjie and Kim Nall and children, Beverly Pace and children, Corey and Teah Griggs, all from Montgomery; Elizabeth and Jimmy Coxwell, Sandy, Heather, and Kyle Skipper, Susan, Patrick and Russell Rigdon, Lauren, Clif and Kade Green, Thornton and Eleanor Griggs, Donnie, Barbie, Justin and Jonathon Griggs, all from Red Level; Hazel McClain, Tracy and Garrett Simpler, Brenda Goodman, all from Andalusia.

The next son, Matthew VanBuren, had the following descendants present: Clara Bass, Patricia Grissett, Jerry and Mary Lou Bass, Katie Foley, M.V. and Imogene Stokes, all of Andalusia; Shirley and Hill Mock, Navarre, FL; Bernice Waddell, Angela Alley, Biloxi, MS; Linda Stokes, Canal Fulton, OH

Representing Ollie Phyllis (Stokes) Rabren were Liz and Bob McGrath, Bradenton, FL

Representing Naomi Cornelia (Stokes) Fuqua were three daughters: Lillian Vaughn and Kathryn Brown, Hope Hull; and Elma Barron, Andalusia.

Representing Ellie C. (Stokes) Pope were: Eunivae Bozeman and her son, Brett Bozeman, Andalusia.

Other guests included Marie Pruitt Pierce, a descendant of Mathew Wright Stokes, a brother to Burrell Jackson, and Roland Pittman, a relative to the Rabren descendants. Also, David Paher, minister of the Cedar Grove Church, was present to assist with photography and copying photographs.

At noon, the oldest male descendant present, John D. Stokes, gave an invocation before the meal, which consisted of the finest and most delicious dishes imaginable. The potluck menu included all the family favorites, and there was such an abundance of very attractive dishes. These prompted a goal to compile a Stokes family cookbook.

Following lunch, the group assembled for a brief program of fun and genealogy. Special recognitions included the following: Oldest descendant present, Sadie (Stokes) Garrett at 93 years; youngest, Max McGuire, 4 mos.; traveled farthest, Cornelia Hecker and daughter, Jackie and Armen Melikian, of Berthoud, CO; representing 7th generation, Kade Green; and family group with most present, Lamar and Flossie Stokes' descendants.

Curtis Thomasson, reunion organizer, gave an outline of the Stokes family's genealogy. Originally from England, some of the ancestors appear to have come to the States of Virginia, North and South Carolina, and the descendants spread throughout the country. The father of Burrell Jackson, Absalom L., was born ca 1790 and grew up in South Carolina. He was married ca 1812 and lived in Charleston, South Carolina. It appears he moved his young family after his wife's death in 1820 to Walton County, Florida. They probably sailed along the coast to Northeast Florida and traveled the old federal road across the panhandle.

In later years, Absalom was married a second time to Elizabeth Jay, and they reared five children. During his older years, Absalom moved his family to Andalusia, probably to be near his older daughter, Thursann (Stokes), wife of George Alexander Snowden.

The group chose to feature each child of Burrell Jackson in future reunions and allow the descendants of that particular line to sponsor that year's reunion. After group pictures were made and final greetings extended, the crowd departed for their own home destinations.

Anyone of the descendants who might have a correction to any of the above is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 21361 Rabren Road, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email: