Richards family settled in Rose Hill area

Published 11:59 pm Friday, April 24, 2009

It appears that John J. Richards was the earliest ancestor of that family line to settle in Covington County. He was born in 1813 in North Carolina and was married circa 1836, supposedly in Marion County, Georgia, to Hanah Hathorn who was born in 1815 in Georgia. They had made their way by 1850 to Russell County, Alabama, where several of their youngest children were born. After farming there for a few years, they moved their large family to Covington County before 1860.

Around the beginning of the War for Southern Independence, the family moved to a farm at Horse Creek near Greenville in Butler County. In 1861, their son, John Joseph, enlisted in the 2nd Corps, Company B, 18th Alabama Infantry Regiment, Confederate Army, which was organized in Andalusia. He advanced to the rank of Sergeant in 1863, but he was captured and eventually sent to prison at Rock Island, Illinois. He was able to escape and made his way back home to Alabama. His brother, William Nicholas, served with him in the same unit, but William was killed in battle in 1863, probably at Chattanooga.

When the next son was old enough, John J. Richards enlisted in the Confederate Army along with him, Thomas Asberry, on March 31, 1862. John J. was 43 years old and was assigned to 4th Corps, Company E, 42nd Alabama Infantry Regiment. He was listed as sick in October of that year and left the army at some point afterwards. He was probably dismissed for medical reasons. Unfortunately, Thomas Asberry lost his life during the war. Since the youngest son, Francis Marion was only 15 years old at the end of the war, he was never able to serve.

John J. and Hanah Richards reared the following children: William Nicholas, b. 1837, d. 1863, m. Sarah J. ?; John Joseph, b. 1839, m. Celia Turberville (1845-1904); James Wesley, b. 1842, d. 1924, m. (1) Sarah (Merrill) Franklin (2) 1873 Arra Anne Bashaby Maloy; Thomas Asberry, b. 1844, d. ca 1863; Emelelne Elizabeth, b. 184, d. before 1850; Mary Susan, b. 1849, d. 1924, m. 1881 James C. Sutley (1853-1918); Francis Marion, b. 1852, d. 1913, m. Mary Elizabeth Bedgood (1859-1898); Martha Antramessta, b.1854, d. 1973; Sarah Caroline, b. 1856, d. 1873; and Hannah Jane, b. 1859, m. 1879 William Lawson.

It had to have been a very sad time for the family when the mother, Hanah, died in 1873, and the next day, two of her daughters, Martha Antramessta and Sarah Caroline, died. It was reported that they all died of complications associated with measles. A few months later, the father, John J. died in the same year. It is believed that all four of these relatives are buried in unmarked graves in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Rose Hill, Alabama.

John Joseph was the oldest son to survive the war and return to his home. He was born on November 23, 1839, probably in Marion County, Georgia. He was residing in his parents’ household in 1850 in Russell County, Alabama, but he had made it to Covington County by the 1860 census. During the early 1860s, he met and was married to Celia Turberville of the Rose Hill community. Celia was the daughter of another pioneer family in the area, Jesse and Celia Turberville. Celia was born in 1845 in South Carolina and died in 1904.

In 1861, John Joseph Richards and his older brother, William Nicholas Richards, enlisted in Company B., 18th Alabama infantry Regiment, CSA, in Andalusia. William N. lost his life during the war, but John J. returned, and the following account reveals some of his trials during that period.

A grandson of John Joseph, Delphan Millard Richards who is the President of the Richards Clan, related the following account of John Joseph’s escape and return to his home. “On 30 August 1864, John Joseph decided he did not care much for the hospitality of a Yankee prison. He escaped with the intention of returning to his home in Alabama. He would travel at night, hide, and rest during the day. The only food which he ate was foraged from the woods. He was guided south by following the stars and rivers.

“The Confederate uniform was swapped for civilian clothing from clothes lines of unsuspecting homes along the way south. After traveling on the road with little to eat and hiding in the woods for weeks, he became tired and stowed away on a river steamer, which was traveling south on the Mississippi River. A day or so later, the ship’s captain discovered him and cussed and kicked him. The captain may have believed he was either a Yankee or Confederate deserter. The next day the captain came upon him again cussing and kicking him. After these two incidents of being mistreated, John Joseph became violent and struck the captain. The altercation ended with the captain being thrown overboard. After the fight, John Joseph jumped overboard, swam to shore, and continued on his way south.

“It is not clear if John Joseph followed the Mississippi River into the deep South or left it and followed the Tennessee River into Alabama. However, after reaching the friendly surroundings, he was able to obtain food and shelter from fellow southerners.

“It took John Joseph a little over two months to reach his home in Alabama. By that time, the war was lost, and family nor friends seemed to care about an escaped Confederate prisoner. On 17 June 1865, John Joseph came to be paroled and returned home to his family. (This document is available in family records.) John Joseph spent the remainder of his life as a farmer who lived in peace and harmony.”

At some later date, he moved with his own family to some location in Walton County, Florida, where he most likely died. His death date nor his burial place is known at this time, but researchers of this family believe he was buried either in the Rose Hill Cemetery of this county or the Magnolia Cemetery in DeFuniak Springs.

John J. and Celia Richards reared the following children: John Thomas, b. 1865, m. Matella ?; Emma, b. 1866, d. 1867 Rose Hill; Neil Gillis, b. 1868, d. 1918, m. (1) 1888 Emma Salter (2) 1892 Artie Missie Salter (1876-1949), sister to Emma; Franklin Lanier, b. 1869, d. 1927, m. Lucinda “Cindy” Wasden (1873-1953); Jessia Elizabeth, b. 1871, d. 1906, m. 1886 Richard Levens; Joseph Julius, b. 1875, d. 1956, m. 1912 Julia Eugene Wyse (1889-1972); Sarah Ann Malissa, b. 1877, m. 1896 John L. Salter; Mary Isabella, b. 1879, d. 1965, m. 1903 George Lee Davis (1880-1951); Kenneth Malcolm, b. 1881, d. 1949, m. 1901 Della Weeks (1886-1968); James Marion “Uncle Jim,” b. 1883, d. 1968, m. 1910 Allie Sarrett (1888-1977); and Anna Virginia, b. 1885, d. as infant.

Descendants and researchers of this family have made considerable genealogy available for this review. Appreciation is expressed to one, Floyce (Richards) Butler, for sharing her book, Family History of: John J. Richards, which was authored by Joyce (Richards) Blalock, Jack E. Richards and The Richards’ Clan. Additional history will be presented in next week’s column.

Anyone who might have any corrections to the above or additional information on this family is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson, 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; call 334-222-6467; or e-mail:


The Covington Historical Society will be meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. Guests are welcome.