Miley family reportedly impacted Covington County, 1843-1867

Published 11:59 pm Friday, August 7, 2009

The Miley family was one of those who migrated from South Carolina to Alabama during the first half of the Nineteenth Century. Andrew Barnwell Miley, Sr. was the ancestor who moved his family to Covington County circa 1843, only a short time before the Town of Andalusia was established. Andrew became a prosperous farmer and leader in the county government during the 25 or so years that he resided in this area.

Andrew was the grandson of Henry Miley/Myley who moved from Philadelphia to Craven County, South Carolina by 1750. Among Henry’s children was a son, Robert Miley, who became the father of Andrew Barnwell Miley. Robert was married twice and reared two sets of children. He and his first wife, Mary, had the following children: Henry, Jacob, David, Delilah, Samuel, Robert Jr., Daniel, Martin, Mary Ann “Molly,” and William Goodman. Some of these families migrated to and settled throughout the State of Alabama.

Andrew was in the second set of children. Robert and his second wife, Elizabeth (Smog), had at least the following three children: Ann Susannah, James Wilson, and Andrew Barnwell. Andrew was born in 1818 in Barnwell County, South Carolina, the very year during which his father died. He was married in that state in 1835 to Marthey Caroline McKinney. They began their family there, but they chose to head south to Alabama circa 1843 with their five young children. Marthey died in Covington County about four years after their arrival. She was supposedly buried here with the two young daughters who had died before her.

Andrew and Marthey had the following seven children before her death in 1847: Robert Barnwell, b. 1836, d. 1862 during war; Marey Elisabeth, b. 1837, d. 1922, m. (1) Marion T. Meadows (2) Alfred Hillard May; Rebecah Isabel, b. 1839, d. 1840; Marthey Susannah, b. 1841; Caroline Elinder, b. 1843, d. 1847; James Washington, b. 1844, d. 1863; and Sarah Jane, b. 1846, d. 1921, m. (1) John V. Carter (2) Ed R. Bryan. The first five children were born in South Carolina, and James Washington was the first one to be born in Covington County.

When the 1850 census was enumerated, Andrew had married in 1847 Marey McKinney, sister of his first wife. Marey was born in 1822 in South Carolina and died in 1875 in Texas. The census shows Andrew as a farmer at 32 years of age and Marey at 27. With them were the following five children of Andrew and Marthey: Robert, 12; Mary, 11; Susannah, 9; James, 6; and Jane, 4. Andrew and Marey had the following three children by this date: Margaret, 3; Andrew Jr. and Anna, twins, at 6 months.

The agricultural census of 1850 reported the Miley farm as having horses, milk cows, other cattle, sheep and swine. The family raised corn, rice, beans, sweet potatoes and cotton.

In 1846, Andrew was commissioned as a Lt. Colonel for the First Battalion, Covington County, as a part of the Alabama State Militia. On May 1, 1847, Andrew B. Miley was commissioned to serve as Judge of County Court and Clerk for Covington County. He was reappointed in January 1850 and served until the office was abolished in May 1850. A person in this office had jurisdiction over various matters including Probate, and custodian as clerk of county records. The first person appointed to this office was in 1822, and various men served through the tenure of Andrew Miley, at which time the duties were transferred to the Judge of Probate.

During the 1850s, Andrew was able to amass nearly 500 acres of land. In 1853, he acquired 40.06 acres in the Wiggins Township from the 1850 Military Grants. In 1854, he added five other tracts of land in the same township with some being in Sections 34, 35, and 36: 40.05 acres, 40.05 acres, 240.36 acres, 40.06 acres, and 80.30 acres. With this property he was able to create a sizable farm, which was reported in the 1860 census as being worth $1,300 in real estate and $4,388 in personal property. This included three slaves with one of them being a house-servant.

Andrew and his second wife, Marey (McKinney) reared the following 10 children: Margaret Delilah, b. 1847, m. Lewis Russell; Andrew Barnwell Jr., b. 1849, d. 1899, m. Rebecca Gregg Reid; his twin, Anna Caroline, b. 1849, d. 1872, m. Frank H. Perkins; Nancy Catherine, b. 1852, d. 1936, m. James Ashall Reid; Mandy Adaline, b.&d.1854; Frances Ursula, b. 1855, d. 1921, m. 1875 James Pruett Jeffrey; Lucinda Ellen, b. 1857, d. 1953, m. George Brandon; Malissa Abigail, b. 1859, d. 1897, m. J.C. Woods; William Jefferson, b. 1861, b. 1927, m. Frances Green; and Emma Lee, b. 1865, d. 1894, m. George W. Davis.

During the War Between the States, Andrew and two of his sons rendered service in the Confederate Army. Andrew was 47 years old when he enlisted in Captain George W. Kierce’s Company A of the Covington County Reserves, Home Guard. Since he was a minister of the gospel, he did not carry a gun. He was later discharged by the medical board. His oldest son, Robert Barnwell Miley, served as a second lieutenant in Company B, 25th Alabama Infantry Regiment and was killed near Egypt, Miss., on June 7, 1862. His oldest son, Andrew Barnwell Miley Jr., by his second wife was a first lieutenant in Captain Gantt’s Company, 4th Alabama Volunteers Regiment.

In addition to his farming interests, Andrew Sr. frequently served as an elder and minister in the Primitive Baptist Church. Since he located in the Babbie community, he served the local historic Bethel Primitive Baptist Church, which was established in circa 1855. Andrew pastored there for several years prior to his departure for Texas circa 1867. (He was apparently seeking better opportunities following the end of the war.) The Bethel church building still stands, and there is evidence of one member still living. Of late, there has been an effort to donate the building and land to the Bethel Cemetery Board in an effort to preserve it in future years.

Andrew Sr. did move his family to Texas circa 1867. His wife, Marey, died in 1875. In 1876, he was married to a third wife, Avarilla Dollahite Ray who was born in 1836 in Tennessee. They had one son born to them, John Henry, b. 1878, d. 1944. Avarilla died in 1895, and Andrew died a year later in 1896.

After settling in Texas, Andrew was selected to pastor the Union Primitive Baptist Church in Bastrop County in April 1883. He worked throughout his lifetime to live righteously and further the teachings of his denomination.

A step-son, Jeff Ray, described Andrew as being fairly large in stature, six feet, six inches tall and weighing 200-plus pounds. His honest character and frugal financial management was also noted. For instance, while earning his wages as a farmer and preacher, he sent at least five children to a private school, which required tuition. He was obviously successful in business, government and religion while being a good husband to three wives and father to 18 children.

The sources for this writing include stories written by Kay Dunlap Boyd of Austin, Texas, and Beth Murphy of Portland, Oregon, and published in The Heritage of Covington County, Alabama; census records; and written histories on Covington County.

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