Shaver family settled, became prominent in Herbert community

Published 11:39 pm Friday, December 19, 2008

The earliest known ancestor of the local Shaver family descendants is John M. Shaver. John was born in 1807 and appears to have been in Lancaster County, South Carolina, in 1833 when he married Sarah Harper. Sarah (1809-1871) was the oldest daughter of William Harper III and his wife, Catherine (Huey).

Upon William Harper’s death, his widow, Catherine Harper, sold the family’s property in Lancaster County and moved to Harris County, Georgia, to be near her Huey uncles. It was about this time that Sarah was married to John Shaver. Within a short time, Catherine purchased land in Sumter County and moved her family there. She died there in 1855.

John Shaver and his wife, Sarah, had five children before his premature death in 1843 at the young age of 36 years. After John’s death, his widow moved with her children to Conecuh County, Alabama, to live near some of her Harper relatives. The oldest child reported that he was born in Tazewell County, Georgia, and it appears the rest of the children were born in Sumter County.

John and Sarah had the following children: William Benjamin, b. 1834, d. 1913, m. 1861 Martha Ann Tarleton Thomas; Phillip Camuel, b. 1836, d. 1884, m. Mary Georgia Griggers; James H., b. 1838, d. 1864 during war while on medical furlough at his Aunt Ann Moore’s home in Americus, Georgia; John Brown, b. 1840, d. 1863 in Battle of Chickamauga; and Elizabeth Catharine, b. 1842, d. 1853 at young age.

When the family moved to Conecuh County, the oldest son, William Benjamin, remained in Georgia where he was attending Georgia Reform Medical School at Macon. He finished his training and came to the Herbert community in Conecuh County shortly before the War Between the States erupted.

Dr. William Benjamin Shaver enlisted in the Confederate Army and served as a 1st Lt. in Company I, 40the Alabama Infantry Regiment. He was under the leadership of Captain Hiram Gantt of Covington County. He was captured at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in 1864 and spent a year in prison at Johnson Island, Ohio. His brothers, John B. and Phillip C., served together in Company E, 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment under the command of Captain Pinck D. Bowles. Both lost their lives during the war. After William Benjamin was released, he returned home to Herbert and practiced medicine there until his death in 1913.

Dr. William Benjamin was married shortly before the war in 1861 to Martha Ann Tarleton Thomas (1843-1928), daughter of William  (1807-1844) and Emily (Tarleton) Thomas (1801-1884) and a descendant of General Tristram Thomas of Marlboro District, South Carolina. They reared the following children: Elizabeth Augusta “Betts,” b. 1861, d. 1949, single; Henry Edward, b. 1866, d. 1938, m. 1889 Sara Elizabeth “Sallie” Deer (1867-1926); William Robert, b. 1871, d. 1938, m. Minnie L. Mancill (1878-1972); Sarah “Sallie” Emily, b. 1874, d. 1964, m. James M. Huston/Houston; B. Franklin, b. 1876, d. 1962, single; Percy Walker, b. 1880, d. 1955, m. Rosa Bell Foshee; Lloyd Clifford, b. 1890, d. 1959, m. Mary Frances Deer (1892-1982).

This Shaver family seemed to be well respected and reasonably successful in the Herbert community where they operated a rather large farm. There were several large houses built by members of the family, and four of these still stand. Dr. William B. Shaver was named postmaster of the Herbert Post Office in 1880, only one year after it was established. This role remained in the Shaver family until the office was closed in 1957.

William Benjamin’s brother, Phillip Camuel Shaver, and his wife, Mary Georgia Griggers, had two children: John Harkless, b. 1871, d. 1936; and Alabama Malone, b. 1875, d. 1951, m. John Hugghins (1868-1944), who was a community leader in farming, banking, and the lumber industry. John Harkless and Alabama Malone went to live with their Shaver grandparents when their home was dissolved.

When she reached adulthood, Alabama Malone Shaver was married to John Hugghins. They reared the following 11 children: Hubert, m. Effie Foshee; Herman, m. Ima Kilpatrick; Homer, m. Allie Mae Sullivan; Henderson, single; John Hinton, m. Vela Mae Carpenter; Pearl, m. Lee D. “Babe” Foshee; Ima Jay, m. Wheeler G. Foshee, Sr.; Jewel, m. Horace S. Barrow; Clara Mae, d. 2005, m. Grover G. McGowin; and Bama Lou, d. young. It is of note that three of these siblings married into the influential Foshee family of Red Level and Cohasset.

John and Sarah Shaver’s other two sons died during the war and were apparently single, and the only daughter, Elizabeth Catharine, died at 11.

In the next column, the genealogy and history of Henry Edward Shaver, oldest son of Dr. Benjamin Shaver, will be presented.

The source for today’s writing was a book entitled We don’t do business on Sunday and very little through the week, authored by George Sidney Waits, Jr., a great grandson of Dr. William Benjamin Shaver. Appreciation is expressed to Sidney for sharing his genealogy and for the many books and writings he has published for Andalusia and Covington County. He is one of Andalusia’s finest historians and has rendered much community service toward preserving local history through the Three Notch Museum, marking the Three Notch Trail, the erection of an historical marker for the Montezuma settlement, marking Devereux Hill, the recent naming of the E.L. More Memorial Bridge across the Conecuh River at River Falls, and many other contributions.

Anyone interested in responding to this writing is requested to contact the writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; call 334-222-6467; or e-mail

HISTORICAL PUBLICATION: The Heritage History of Covington County, Alabama, and that of several surrounding counties is on sale during the holidays. The Covington book, which normally sells for $60 plus tax, is currently available for $45 plus $3.60 tax. If the book has to be shipped, there is a $5 fee. Anyone interested may contact Curtis Thomasson.