Miley family came during the early 1840s

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2003

An early pioneer family in Covington County were the Mileys who lived here for about 25 years before moving west to Bastrop County, Texas, in 1867. Like so many families after the devastation of the War Between the Sates, the Mileys left the area seeking improved opportunities for their people.

The ancestor who is best remembered in Covington County is Andrew Barnwell Miley, who was born in 1818 in Barnwell County, South Carolina. He was the youngest son of Robert and Elizabeth (Smog) Miley of that area. Robert was the son of Henry Miley/Myley who settled in Craven County, South Carolina, after moving from Philadelphia. Robert died the year Andrew or A.B. was born. For some unknown reason, A.B. decided to migrate south. Although the exact date of the family's arrival in Covington County is not known, it appears they came between 1840 and 1844. This means A.B. would have been a young man in his twenties.

A.B. was married to his first wife, Marthy Caroline McKinney, on March 12, 1835, before he left South Carolina. She was born in 1823 in South Carolina. They had the following seven children before her death in 1847: Robert Barnwell, b. 1836, d. 1862; Marey Elizabeth, b. 1837, d. 1922, m. (1) Marion T. Meadows (2) Alfred Hillard May; Rebecca Isabel, b. 1839, d. 1840; Marthey Susannah, b. 1841; Caroline Elender, b. 1843, d. 1847; James Washington, b. 1844, d. 1863; and Sarah Jane, b. 1846, m. (1) John V. Carter (2) Ed R. Bryan. According to some records, James W. was the first child to be born in Alabama. In the 1850 census, only three of the children, Marey, Susannah and James, are in the household.

A.B. settled his family in the Wiggins community where he became a leader. Although he supported his family through farming, he became involved in the state militia and county government. In 1845, he was serving as a Captain in Beat Number Three Company of the 60th Regiment (Covington County), 11th Brigade, 5th Division, Alabama Militia. In 1849, he was appointed as County Court Judge. His term expired on May 6, 1850, when the office was abolished and the related duties transferred to the Judge of Probate. This means A.B. Miley was the last judge of county court in Covington County.

A.B. was also a Christian-minded man and actively involved in the early Primitive Baptist Churches. He was a delegate to the association meetings for New Providence Primitive Baptist Church, which was located near the eastern county line on the Elba Highway. When the Bethel Primitive Baptist Church was organized circa 1855 in the Babbie community, A.B. was one of the early elders and preachers. He pastored there for a number of years before 1871.

A.B. acquired several tracts of land during the 1850s. In 1853, he was granted 40 acres in the Wiggins Township for earlier military service. In 1854, he purchased the following three tracts in the same community: 240 acres, 40 acres, and 80 acres. He also owned three slaves in 1860.

A.B. and two of his sons served in the Confederate Army. Even though he was 47 years of age, he was a private in Company A, Covington County Reserves (First Class). His son, Andrew Barnwell Jr., was a first Lieutenant in Company I, 40th Alabama Infantry Regiment, formerly Captain Gantt's Co., 4th Regiment Alabama Volunteer Militia. The oldest son, Robert Barnwell, was a Second Lieutenant in Company B, 25th Alabama Infantry Regiment and died on June 7, 1862, near Egypt, Mississippi.

In 1847, A.B. was married a second time to Marey A. McKinney, a sister to his first wife. He and this wife had the following 10 children: Margaret Deliah, b. 1847, m. Lewis Russell; Andrew Barnwell Jr. "Barney," b. 1849, d. 1899, m. Rebecca Gregg Reid; Anna Caroline, b. 1849 (twin), d. 1936, m. Frank H. Perkins; Nancy Catherine, b. 1852, m. James Ashall Reid; Frances Ursula, b. 1855, d. 1921, m. 1875 James Pruett Jeffrey; Lucinda Ellen, b. 1857, d. 1953, m. George Brandon; Malissa Abigail, b. 1859, m. J.C. Woods; William Jefferson, b. 1861, d. 1927, m. Frances Green; and Emma Lee, b. 1865, d. 1894, m. George W. Davis.

A.B. was married the third time to Avarilla Dollahite Ray on August 10, 1876. She was born in Tennessee in 1836. They had one son, John Henry, b. 1878, d. 1944 in Oklahoma. John Henry was the only child of A.B.'s to be born after the family moved to Texas.

After moving to Texas, A.B. continued his active participation in the Primitive Baptist faith. He was appointed minister of the Union Church in Bastrop County, Texas, in April 1883. His life ended on November 12, 1896, and he was buried beside his wife, Marey, in Bastrop.

Sources for today's column featuring the Miley family include the following: Wyley Ward's Early History of Covington County, Alabama, 1821-1871, census records, and articles by Kay Dunlap Boyd and Beth Murphy in The Heritage of Covington County, Alabama. These Miley descendants and other fellow-researchers have compiled a thorough history of their family.

Anyone who might have any corrections to the above or additional information on this family is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 21361 Rabren Road, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email: