John Warren Kirkland family settled in Gantt area

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 29, 2003

Today's writing will pursue the family genealogy of one of the daughters from the Smithart family who was featured last week. Jeanette Smithart, born in 1868 in Orangeburg County, South Carolina, was married circa 1887 in that same state to John Warren Kirkland of said county. Jeanette was the daughter of John and Emmerlin (Starnes) Smithart, and John Warren is believed to have been the son of John and Levicy (Horsey) Kirkland. Future research on the Kirkland family should confirm this parentage.

John Warren and his wife, Jeanette, left Edgefield, South Carolina, and eventually settled in Covington County circa 1900. Like most men of the day, John W. was engaged in farming and seeking a better life for his growing family. They located in the Gantt area, and the family continued to grow to include eight children. There were other Kirkland families in the county already, but the relationship of John W.'s family to them has not been discovered.

John W. and Jeanette reared the following children: Anna, b. 1888, d. 1975, m. Henry Jernigan; Ida Cornelia, b. 1890, d. 1968, m. Jesse Edmund Wheeler; J.T. Tillman, b. 1892, d. 1942 from automobile accident, single; Addie Pearl, b. 1898, d. 1964, m. 1918 Alpha J. Johns; Clara, b. 1900, d. 1966, m. Wilburn C. King; Addison Felder, b. 1906, d. 1979, m. (1) Myrtice Gunter (2) Lucille Tobytha Smith; George Simpson, b. 1909, d. 1979, m. Jeffie Chance; and Annie Clyde, b. 1911, d. 1997, m. (1) Noah Mock (2) Robert Ard. At their deaths, John W. and Jeanette were buried in the Oak Grove Baptist Church Cemetery near the northern border of Covington County.

The oldest daughter, Anna, and her husband, William Henry Jernigan, son of Willis and Sharlet (Pool) Jernigan, reared the following children in Covington County: Pearl "Sis," b. 1911, m. Ralph Boyette; Minnie Lee, b. 1913, m. Lewis Williamson; James Harold, b. 1914, d. 1979, m. Ester Pearl Griggs; and Buddy, b. ca 1916, d. as a youth when he accidentally shot himself while placing his shotgun in the rack.

The second daughter, Ida Cornelia, was married in 1910 to Jesse Edmund Wheeler, son of Morgan and Lucindy (Bozeman) Wheeler. Jesse was a farmer and reared his family in the Gantt community in the northern section of the county. He and Ida had the following children: Ollie Mae, b. 1911, d. 2002, m. Clifford Handey; Hugh Daniel, b. 1913, d. 1980, m. Mary Laura Lunsford; Cora Lee, b. 1915, d. 2000, m. James Lunsford, brother to Mary Laura; Donna Meral, b. 1917, d. 1984, m. Wiley Davenport; Jimmy Lee, b. 1919, d. 1974, m. Ruby Lee Martin; and Lester Edmon, b. 1928, m. Helen Eugenia Elliott.

The third daughter, Addie Pearl, was married in 1918 to Alpha J. Johns. This family lived mostly in the Rawls community where Alpha farmed to support his family. Alpha also went to Mobile to work in the shipyards during World War II. He later went, as did a number of his relatives, to Niagara Falls, New York, to work in the booming plants for a few years. The family included the following five children: Annie Mae, b. 1919, d. 2000, m. James Leon Ryals; John Thomas "J.T.," b. 1921, d. 1996, m. (1) Ellen Dewain (2) Stella ?; Mable Jewel, b. 1923, d. 1996, m. Grover Cleveland Taylor; Willie Ben "Bill," b. 1925, m. (1) Eunave Caraway (2) Cora Weaver; and Russell Derrel, b. 1927, m. Doris Annette Adams.

The fourth daughter, Clara, and her husband, Wilburn Calvin King, resided in the Red Level community where they reared their family. The first child, Dalton, was Wilburn's young son by his deceased wife when he married Clara circa 1918. The five children included the following: Dalton, b. 1917, d. 1970, m. Merle "Booney" Cantaline; Mildred, b. 1925, m. Lewis Cantaline; Louise, b. 1929, m. (1) James Ervin "Spud" Bass (2) Bobby Yancey; Eloise, b. 1935, d. 1995, m. Bobby Bennett; and John Willie "Buddy," b. 1937, d. 2000, m. Elaine Jackson. At their deaths, Clara and Wilburn were buried in the Fairmount Baptist Church Cemetery at Red Level.

The second son, Addison Felder, was the first child to be born in Alabama. It is also interesting that he is the only child who went to New York who died there. Around 1933, Felder and his family lived in what was known as the Old Parker Place. From there, they moved to the Nall farm where Felder worked as a sharecropper. The family later moved some distance away on the same road. Felder moved to New York in 1944, and his wife and children followed in 1947. He worked in the sanitation department for the City of Niagara Falls.

Felder and his first wife, Myrtice Gunter, daughter of Gain and Sedoma Elistyne Gunter, reared the following three sons: Austin K. "Hubb," b. 1927, d. 2001, m. Charlene Elizabeth Maryann McLaughlin; Terry Ray "Turkey," m. 1949 Teresa Rannalli; and Homer Howard, b. 1932, m. Maggie May Mills. Austin was the first one in the family to move to New York when the factories were booming in 1944. He soon sent for his father, and then the rest of the family came. Austin and Homer returned to Mobile and later settled in Red Level. Terry Ray came south with other relatives in 1956.

The youngest daughter, Annie Clyde, and her first husband, Noah Mock, had a son named Lomax, born circa 1930. He moved from this area. At her death, Annie Clyde was buried at the South Church of God in Red Level.

Although a number of descendants in this family lived for a period of their lives in New York, most of them returned to Covington County and lived out their lives here. There are many later descendants who continue to reside in the area. Two of these provided their family history records as the sources for this writing. Russell Derrel Johns, son of Alpha and Addie Pearl Johns, shared his genealogy records, and Lester E. Wheeler, son of Jesse and Ida Wheeler, furnished additional family data.

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