Sowell family settled in Covington County in early 1820s

Published 11:59 pm Friday, July 31, 2009

The Sowell family name is fairly common at present in Covington County, but this family was one of the earliest ones to settle in this area. On Nov. 6, 1823, a James Sowell purchased the first tract of new land made available in the Sparta District. At that time the land fell in Monroe County.

George W. Sowell appears to be the first member of the family to acquire land in Covington County. In 1854, he purchased 320.82 acres of government land in the New Hope Township. In 1859, he was elected to serve as Justice of the Peace for Beat Number Nine.

In 1860, L.L. Sowell was enumerated as a farmer and shown as owning three slaves. L.L., a native of South Carolina, was listed as being 63 years old. His wife, Elizabeth, was 56. With them were the following children, all born in Alabama: C.G., b. 27; G.D.H.T., 19; M.E., 15; and W.H.J., 13.

Residing next door to the L.L. Sowell family in 1860, was George N. Sowell, also a native of South Carolina. He was a farmer at 35 years of age, and his wife, Nancy, was a native of Georgia at 34 years of age. They had the following children with them at the time: Abijah L., 13; Jane Ann, 8; Darling H., 6; Margarett A., 5; Nancy Ann R., 3; and Biddy Ann F., 3 months. All the children were born in Alabama.

Also enumerated in 1860 was an Ezekiel Sowell, 21 years old and a native of Georgia. He was residing in the household of John and Elyada Clark. The family of a Thomas Sowell was living near the Clark home. Thomas was 29 years old and a farmer, and his wife, Elizabeth, was 28 years old. They had two young children born in Alabama with them at the time: James A., 4; and John A., 1.

In 1861, G.L. Sowell enlisted as a private in Company B, 18th Alabama Infantry Regiment, CSA. In June and July of 1861, George N. Sowell recruited a company of men primarily from the southern part of Covington County for the Confederate Army. Since he was the chief recruiter, he was elected to serve as Captain. They chose the name of Covington Blues, 4th Battery, Alabama Volunteers. In 1862, the name became Company I, 29th Alabama Infantry Regiment.

It is surprising that no households for Sowells were found in the 1870 census for this county. Also, in 1966, right after the War Between the States, there were no Sowell households identified. However, there was an L.S. Sowell listed as a registered voter in Covington County in 1867. It is possible some Sowells were over-looked in the 1866 and 1870 censuses.

Several Sowell men purchased government land in the county during the 1890s. In 1893, James A. Sowell homesteaded 79.98 acres in the Brantley Township. In 1897, King S. Sowell homesteaded 160.40 acres of land set aside for railroads in the Falco area. In 1898, Joseph W. Sowell homesteaded 160.96 acres of land set aside for railroads in the Florala area. In 1899, William H. Sowell homesteaded 160.48 acres of land set aside for railroads in the Falco area. In 1900, George H. Sowell homesteaded 166.44 acres of land set aside for railroads in the Florala area.

By 1900, there were several Sowell households recorded in Covington County. John W. (1847-1928) Sowell was residing in Andalusia and was 53 years old. His wife, Mary A. (Mary Amanda (Ganey) (1855-1932), was 45 years old, and they were both born in Alabama with their fathers born in South Carolina. They had the following children with them: Amy, 18; John, 16; Efby (?), 12; Ples, 10; and Eva May, 1. Ples Wesley Sowell was born in 1887 and died in 1962. He was married to Jessie Ray Franklin (1893-1966).

Bill Sowell and family were living in the Hughes Precinct, Beat Nine. He was 35 years old and a native of Alabama, and his wife, Miram, was 33 and native of Alabama. They had the following children with them: Napoleon, 10; Elmer, 6; Alvin A, 3. Also in the home was Mary Lock, 65 years old, and the mother of Bill or Miram.

Sam Sowell and his family were residing in the Hart Precinct, Beat 10. He was 30 years old, and his wife, Mary, was 26. They had a 1-year-old daughter, Addie, and one of their mothers, Mary, 67 years old, with them.

A fourth household was that of George H. (Hillary) Sowell and his family who were living in the George Precinct, Beat 19. George was 29 years old, and his wife, Arrie L. (Worley), was 29. They had three young children at the time: George W., 5; Phiney May, 4; and Joda Love, 1.

Two Sowell daughters were recorded as attending the Dixie School in the Damascus community. The school, which served students from grades one through eight, was built and began operating in 1911. This school had begun in the Caylor home with John Caylor as the first teacher when he was 17 years of age.

The sources for this writing included census records, local histories, and records from Sowell descendants. Anyone who might have a correction to any of the above or additional history on the Sowell family is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; call 334-222-6467; or e-mail:


The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will be meeting at 6 p.m. on Thurs., Aug. 6, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. Anyone interested in Confederate history is invited to attend.