Many Rodgers families can boast Pike County beginnings

Published 6:48 pm Friday, October 31, 2008

The family residing in Covington County who has always used the Rodgers spelling of their name claims to be unrelated to the other Rogers or Rodgers lines of the same county. In the column of October 18, Thomas Lloyd Rodgers was featured as the highly decorate Pathfinder in World War II. He is a descendant of the family that will be presented today.

The earliest ancestor of this family to be identified is Matthew Rodgers I who was married to Isabelle C. Latham. They were most likely born in the mid-1700s. The country of their original ancestry and where the early generations resided is not known at this point. Among the children of Matthew and Isabelle were the following two sons: Adam, who settled in Columbus, Georgia; and Matthew II, b. 1790, d. 1851, whose line will be followed in this writing.

Matthew Rodgers II was married to Sarah “Sallie” Gillen (1792-1859), daughter of John and Jane (Young) Gillen. It is believed that his family was from North Carolina. As a young man, Matthew, was captured by area Indians, scalped, and left for dead, but some friends found him and nursed him back to reasonable health. Among their children was a son, Hugh Ross, b. 1827, d. 1964, m. Tabitha Ann Miller (1832-1915), through whom this line will be continued.

Hugh Ross and his wife, Tabitha Ann (Miller), are believed to have had eight children. Those known include the following: Tom, m. Lucy Olivia Alabama Folmar; Sarah Tryphosa, b. 1856, m. Walter Duncan Folmar; another daughter; and Oliver Hugh, b. 1859, d. 1951, m. (1) Rebecca McRae (1857-1901) (2) Mary Olivia McLeod (1873-1957). Hugh Ross moved his young family to Pike County, Alabama, in 1858 and settled about nine miles west of Troy in a community that became known as Rodgers.

An account of this family, their move to Alabama, and other anecdotes were revealed in 1939 by Hugh Ross’s daughter, Sarah Tryphosa Folmar, to her daughter, Sarah Tryphosa (Folmar) Horton. Their move by wagon included the following meager possessions: three mules, a few head of cattle, hogs and fowl, and three female “slaves” who were very good and loyal. Their standard of living in those days was quite bare and primitive.

She recalled how the Curtis, Bill Spivey, Morrison and Walker families who lived nearby gave friendly help in getting them settled. They helped Hugh Ross build a house, clear land for a farm, build barns and pens and even get the garden and crops planted.

She was very mindful of how the serious task of cooking was done. A large fireplace extended across most of the end of a large room, and cooking was done around it. The equipment consisted of a large iron pot, which hung over the fire, a Dutch oven on legs for baking and a legged skillet for frying. These items were all homemade and very crude. Serving dishes were made of pottery or wood, and the cutlery was also very crude.

She also described their clothing and how they treasured and carefully guarded the few sewing tools in their possession. Scissors, needles, pins and thimbles were invaluable items. They even made buttons from bone pieces and from persimmon or plum seeds.

To prepare fabrics for new clothes and other household cloths, cotton was hand-separated from the seed, thread was spun and dyed, and then this was woven into material. Wool was woven into a cloth for cold weather wear; socks and stockings were knitted, and leathers were tanned for making shoes.

The most trying of this family’s experiences must have been when Hugh Ross Rodgers was called into service for the Confederate Army in 1864. He enlisted and served in Company C of the 46th Alabama Infantry Regiment. He had been exempted previously because of his poor health, but at this point every available man was needed. He had been left behind to help look after the neighboring farms. His absence left Tabitha at home with six young children and expecting another.

While serving, Hugh Ross was captured and placed in prison at Camp Douglas, Illinois. He died there in the fall of 1864 from either yellow or scarlet fever. Other tragedies for the family included Tabitha’s parents’ home being burned in Georgia, so they moved to Alabama to live with her and the children.

Hugh Ross’s son, Oliver Hugh Rodgers, probably came to Covington County circa 1900. He and first wife, Rebecca (McRae), had the following children: Carrie Lee, b. 1882, d. 1896; William Henry, b. 1884, d. 1970; Minnie, b. 1886, d. 1928, m. ? McCormick; Ruby, b. 1887, d. 1980, m. Arthur Carter; Oliver Ross, b. 1890, d. 1922, m. Eva ?; Sarah Tabitha “Tabbie,” b. 1894, d. 1976, m. Lucius Davis; and John Thomas Evans, b. 1897, d. 1970, m. Eva Allie Bass.

Oliver Hugh and his second wife, Mary Olivia (McLeod), reared three children: Stella Rebecca, b. 1902, m. Gideon Fryerson Riley; Harvey Therall, b. 1906; Robert Jennings, b. 1908, d. 1986.

Several of the above children lived and reared their families in Andalusia. The oldest son, W. Henry, owned and operated the Rodgers Grocery Store, which was located on the northeast corner of Court Square. The youngest son, J.T. Evans Rodgers, operated a small general store on the Brewton Highway about where Raymond Harrelson’s Nursery has been operated for the last many years.

Evans was also well known for his two “rolling stores,” which he operated throughout the county during the 1930s and 1940s. As he and other drivers including two of his uncles, Stancil and Rufus Bass, would drive along the roads, they would honk their horns to bring the residents out to the road to shop. Many would trade their fresh eggs and chickens for basic groceries. These would be brought home and penned or packaged for resale.

Evans and his wife, Eva (Bass), reared the following children: Thomas Lloyd, b. 1920, d. 1944 during WW II; Sybil Yvonne, b. 1922, m. 1942 John Mandrake Jacobs; John Thomas Evans Jr., b. 1924, m. (1) Anice Henderson (2) Merle Henley; Ollie Kenneth, b. 1925, m. Ruth ?; and Ross Burton, b. ca 1927, m. (1) Myra ? (2) Alice ?.

Evans’s older brother, William Henry Rodgers, and first wife, Amy (Youngblood), had the following children: Jake; Lillian, b. 1906, d. 1974, m. William Jennings Bryan Riley; John Henry; Leroy, m. Sybil ?; Betty Mae, m. ? Young; Bernice, m. Foster Radford; Rudy Lee, m. Horace Gunter; and Christine, m. Leon Williams. William Henry and his second wife, Mae, had one daughter, Juanita, who married Billy Turner.

Evans’s sister, Ruby, and her husband, Arthur Carter, have two sons, Curtis and Murray. His sister, Tabitha, and her husband, Lucius Davis, had the following children: Jessie Evans; Luke; Knox; Floyce, m. ? Carter; Edna; and Betty, m. ? Russell.

Many descendants of the above families reside today in this county. One of these,

Sybil (Rodgers) Jacobs, shared her family records and memories for this writing.

Anyone who has any corrections to the above or additional history on any Rogers/Rodgers family of Covington County is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or Email:


The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will meet at 6 p.m. on Thurs., Nov. 6, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library.