Berry family came to Covington from Bullock

Published 11:59 pm Friday, February 6, 2009

Although additional information is needed on the Berry family of Covington County, today’s writing is offered with the family history that is available. The earliest ancestor to be identified to date by local researchers of this family is John W. Berry, a native of South Carolina. He was born there in 1832, but he had settled in Alabama by 1867, which was only a couple of years after the end of the War Between the States.

In 1867, John W. Berry was married to Dianna Colvin, daughter of Henry and Catherine (McFarland) Colvin, early pioneers of this area. Dianna was born during the mid-1840s and was in Covington County by 1850. She was residing with her family in the Henderson Store community of Coffee County in 1860. She and John Berry were married in Bullock County where they lived for a number of years. They were in the Bruceville community of Beat Eight in 1870.

Sometime before 1900, John had moved his family to Covington County, and they were living in the Williams Township. He is most likely the John Berry who homesteaded 159.68 acres in the Pigeon Creek Township in 1885. If so, that would suggest he had arrived here no later than the early 1880s. John W. Berry and his family were still there in 1910, but they had moved to Dozier in Crenshaw County by 1920.

It is interesting that the H.L. Berry Company of Whitfield County, Florida, purchased 11,584 acres of land on June 17, 1897, from Morris Adler. The company paid $28,909 for this vast acreage, which was in the eastern part of Covington County, the western part of Coffee, and the southern part of Crenshaw. The majority part, 17,487 acres, was in Covington County.

During 1900, a Mary A.L. Berry homesteaded three tracts of land in the Yellow River Township. On one occasion, she homesteaded 40.62 and 40.63 acre-tracts. On Aug. 24 she homesteaded 81.25 acres in the same general area. Her relationship to John W. Berry is not known at this time, but she is most likely from his family line.

At least three children have been identified for John W. and Dianna (Colvin) Berry. They include the following: Luella, b. 1868, Dock B., b. 1874, m. 1892 Savannah Gilmore (or Gallimore or Gallamore); and Lavonia, b. 1883, m. 1899 Lawrence Love Mallett (1873-1959).

The oldest son, Dock B. Berry, was enumerated in the Williams Precinct in 1900 and also in 1910. In early January of 1920, he was a laborer in the Rubber Works of Akron, Ohio, where he resided in Summit County. Later that month, he was recorded as living in the Copperas Head of Precinct # 14 in Covington County.

Dock B. and his wife, Savannah Gilmore, reared the following children: Sidney, b. 1893, m. 1914 Kate Lee Tipton; Artie Missie, b. 1895, d. 1976, m. Charles H. Moore (1900-1982); Mollie, b. 1897; James Sammie “Sam,” b. 1901, d. 1968; Evie, b. 1904; Lawrence, b. 1906, d. 1957, m. Bonnie Colvin; and James “Jimmie,” b. 1909, d. 1965.

The youngest daughter, Lavonia Berry, was reared in the Williams community. She was married to Lawrence Love Mallett in 1899, and they had moved to Dozier in Precinct 15 in Dozier of Crenshaw County by 1910. At that time, Lawrence was a general store merchant in Dozier. They also resided there in 1920 and 1930. In 1930, Lawrence was Post Master for Dozier-Searight in Precinct 15. He died in 1959 in Montgomery County.

Lavonia and Lawrence Love Mallett reared the following children: Lovie Mae, b. 1904; Cassie A., b. 1908; Fred, b. 1910; Florence, b. 1912; Ethel, b. 1913; Hubert A., b. 1915; and Clara Nell, b. 1917.

For the next generation, the oldest son of Dock B. Berry, Sidney Berry, was born in 1893. He was married in 1914 in Covington County to Kate Lee Tipton. It is believed that this family moved to and lived in Akron, Ohio. Dock B. Berry and family were living and working there about the time of Sidney’s marriage. Sidney and Kate reared the following children: John Kenneth, b. 1915; James Lamar, b. 1917; Sidney Lowell, b. 1919; and Helen N., b. 1925.

Dock’s son, Lawrence Berry, was born in 1906 in Covington County and grew up in the Williams and Copperas Head communities. He was married to Leana King who was born in 1913 in Alabama. In 1920, she was residing with her family in the Dannelly Cross Roads community of Coffee County. When Lawrence died in 1957, he was buried in the Valley Grove Cemetery, which is located a few miles north of Opp on U.S. Highway 331 next to the Valley Grove Primitive Baptist Church.

This completes what genealogy lineage that is available at this time on this Berry family. There are other Berry lines with descendants residing in Covington County who were probably related to the above Berry family. These were enumerated when the 1900 federal census was recorded. The following three households were residents at that time.

Virginus Berry, 31 years of age, was born in 1869 in Alabama, His wife, Ina L., was 27 years old and born in 1872 in Georgia. They had the following children: Mattie H., 5; Carl, 4; John T., 1; and Evelen E., 10 months. At the time, they were residing in Andalusia.

Another household was that of William Beer who lived in Hamptonville or Gantt as it is known today. He was 30 years old and born in Alabama in 1870. His wife, Ella A. was 22 years old and born in Alabama in 1878. With them were three young children: Stella, 4; John S., 3; and unnamed infant boy, 9 months.

The third household was that of John D. Berry who was living in the Westover area in the northwestern part of Covington County. He was 23 years old and born in 1878 in Alabama. With him were several different aged individuals. Ida J., 18, was probably his wife. James T., 14, was probably a brother. Nellie, 65, was identified as his mother-in-law. Also in the home were Ann Williams, 30, and Susan Williams, 41, both born in Alabama.

Notes on the Berry family compiled by Joan Hidle, census records and Wyley Ward’s Original Land Sales and Grants in Covington County, Alabama, were the sources for today’s writing. This writer would very much appreciate receiving any additional information on the Berry families that resided in Covington County.

Anyone with additional information or any corrections to the above genealogy is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; call 334-222-6467; or e-mail: