Stokes raises family near Cedar Grove church

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2003

Several writings on the Stokes family of Covington County have been presented in earlier columns. Today, the descendants of Burrell Jackson and Cornelia (Hare) Stokes will be featured.

Burrell Jackson was the fourth child born to Absalom L. and Elizabeth (Jay) Stokes. Absalom migrated from Charleston, South Carolina, to Walton County, Florida, during the early 1820s. The family was living in Santa Rosa Co., Florida, when Burrell Jackson and his four siblings were born. It appears that the family moved during the 1860s to Covington County, probably to be near Absalom's daughter, Thirsa Ann, and her husband, George A. Snowden.

By 1850, Absalom's four children from his first marriage had married and were living in their own homes. Absalom was 55 years of age and living next door to the James Arthur Jay family. In 1852, he married the Jays' oldest daughter, Elizabeth, in Santa Rosa County. He was about 60 years old and she, 18 years. They had the following children: Mary P., Matthew Wright, Noah Stanton, Burrell Jackson, and Decatur.

Burrell Jackson (B.J.) was born April 6, 1864, near the time the family moved to Andalusia. His father died in 1871 and left him and his four siblings with a young mother to support them. She had to work hard as a seamstress and other ways to support the family during the difficult years following the War Between the States.

During his late teens, B.J. married Cornelia Georgia Hare, daughter of Martin VanBuren and Sarah (Beasley) Hare of Covington Co. His father-in-law, Martin, was a pioneer Baptist minister in the area who helped establish the Adellum Baptist Church.

B.J. and Cornelia had the following children: Lyda May (1884-1885), Wright Absalom (1887-1949), Mary Delilah (1889-1929), Leland Congdon (18891-1949), Justice Lamar (1893-1966), R.V. (1895-1896), Matthew VanBuren (1897-1959), Ollie Phyllis (1900-1968), Naomi Cornelia (1903-1977), Ellie C. (1905-1971), and Eunice Eva Dell (1907-?).

B.J. became a widower in 1923. He later married Dora Bell Harper, and after her death he married Tempie Brownlee. At his death in 1941, B.J. was buried beside his first two wives in the Adellum Baptist Church Cemetery. His third wife was also buried there at her death.

B.J. lived most of his youth and all of his adult life in Covington Co. He supported his family by farming and trading in farm livestock. He also worked for a number of years as a dry goods store clerk.

B.J. and Cornelia reared their children in a house located about three miles down the Brooklyn Road. The unpaved road leading to it was just west of the Cedar Grove Church of Christ. B.J. built later a house further up the Brooklyn Road in the Chalk Hill area. He chose a site across from his brother, Noah Stanton, The road on which they lived was named Stokes Road at the time and is currently called Rabren Road (Co. 19).

One of B.J.'s most significant achievements was helping establish the Cedar Grove Church of Christ. It was organized in his home circa 1916, and the small group began to meet at the Adellum School house. In 1919, a lot was purchased about two miles down the Brooklyn Road. A building was erected and the congregation grew steadily.

Currently, the attendance averages around 200. Many of B.J.'s descendants have been active members of this church.

B.J.'s oldest son, Absalom, married Minnie L. Rabren, and reared several children: Sadie Garrett, Nina Gorum, Corene Hicks, Cornelia Decker, Silas, and Sanford.

Mary Delilah married James LaFayette Rabren, and they reared six children: Thelma Lee Girdner (1906-1971), Edna Fletcher (1909-1968), Burrell Joseph "Bill" (1912), Esther (1925-1941), Thomas Edward (1921-1981), and James Heflin (1924-1993). Unfortunately, Delilah died at the young age of 40 years, and Fate then married Mrs. Annie Sinkfield.

Leland Congdon "Lee" and his wife, Callie Alabama (Fuqua), had the following six children: Ruby Evelyn Thomasson (1910-1953), Clifton Jackson (1911-1994), Earl Hampton (1914-1937), John D. (1916), Leland Congdon, Jr. (1920-1994), and Bernice Leola Holley (1924).

Lamar and his wife, Flossie (Huggins), had the following children: Lydia Faye Goodman (1915-1953), Lurlie Rae Little (1917), Annie Maude Griggs (1919), Brooks (1922-1984), and Sybil Lenelle Nall (1933).

Matthew and his first wife, Agnes Leona (Eiland), had five children: Clara Verna Bass (1917), Carlies James, (1921-1922), Burnard (1920-1920), Bonnie (1920-1910), Gordon Lee (1923-1923), and Matthew Van Buren Jr. (1927). Matthew and his second wife, Alma Thompson, had two daughters: Shirley Marie Mock (1936) and Bernice Lynda Yvonne Thomas Richey (1944).

Phyllis and her husband, Emory Rabren, had the following children: Guy, Beatrice Dees Kramer Mullins, Pauline Blackwell Williams, Emory Jr., Erlene Ewashenko, and Doris Jean McCoy.

Naomi and her husband, James Wesley Fuqua, had the following children: Beryl James (1921-1973), Lillian Cornelia Vaughn (1923), Elma Evelyn Barron (1925), James Wesley Jr. (1928), Thomas Roland (1932-1994), Jeff Hines (1938), and Kathryn Brown (1944).

Ellie and her husband, Lenzy Lamar Pruitt, had the following children: Gordon Lee (ca 1925-1994), L.E. (1926-1965), Margaret Eunivae Bozeman (1929), and Joy Dean Jackson Blackmer Moyer (1933).

Eunice and her first husband, Virgil Gilmer, had two children: Elwood, and Eleanor. Eunice and her second husband, Wayne Hudgens reared a daughter named Shirley who married a Walding.

Most of B.J.'s children reared their families in the same community. Many of them farmed and traded in livestock. Several of them owned and operated local businesses. One son, M.V. Sr., operated the local Stokes Stockyards, which later became Stokes & Brogden. Another son, Ab, operated a grocery store on South Cotton Street. His son, Lamar, cooked for a cafe and later the Little Kitchen, managed by his daughter, Lurlie Rae Little, and her husband, Duncan Little. A grandson, L.C. Stokes, and his wife operated Stokes Grocery and Market on South Cotton Street for many years. They later operated Stokes Salvage on the South By Pass.

Many of B.J.'s descendants currently live in Covington County. They have considerable pride in their Stokes family heritage and have been collecting related genealogy. The family held its first reunion on July 26, and it will be featured in a future column.

Anyone who might have corrections to the above data or additional information is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson, a great grandson, at 21361 Rabren Road, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:


The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 4, in the Dixon Room of the Andalusia Public Library.