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Thomasson Traces Association holds reunion

The descendants of Thomas Randolph Thomasson and Sarah (Roach) Thomasson gathered in Andalusia on Sat., Aug. 1, for their annual reunion. Their Thomasson ancestors arrived in Covington County in 1854 and settled near Red Level before eventually setting along the Old Possum Trot Road in the Burnout community located in the northeastern cormer of the county.

As the descendants arrived they registered and identified their ancestor, one of the 11 children of Thomas and Sarah Thomasson. They then began visiting with familiar relatives and meeting new ones for the first time. There were some 65 in attendance who represented six of the early generation: Trezevant Fernandes, Lorenzo Marion, James Franklin, Cornelius Starr, Jefferson Sylvanus and Mary Ann Abbigail (Thomasson) Henley, who was the only daughter in the family. Those descending from Cornelius Starr Thomasson outnumber those from the other lines.

On display for everyone’s enjoyment were many photos of previous reunions, some framed photographs, a large drawing of the family tree and a special display of scrapbooks and photos of the family of Mary Ann (Thomasson) and her husband, Mike Henley. These were made available by Osbern and Evelyn Henley who coordinate the annual Henley reunion on the fourth Sunday of May. This reunion is held at the Red Oak Baptist Church where the Henley’s reared their family and so many of them have been buried.

At noon, a welcome and announcements were made by Curtis Thomasson, great-grandson of Jefferson Sylvanus Thomasson, who coordinated the reunion. Dennis Knowles, great-great-grandson of Cornelius Starr Thomasson, voiced the invocation. Everyone than enjoyed the abundant spread of food, which included many family favorites. However, one item was missing, and that was Old Thomasson Pie, a fruit custard, which has been handed down in the family for many generations.

Following the meal a program of family history and heritage was staged. First, each person present was introduced and his lineage made known. Special recognitions were made next: Delano (Drake) Gillian who turned 99 years old on July 13 was honored as the oldest one present. She is a granddaughter of Jefferson Sylvanus Thomasson. Alexia Kilgore, was identified as the youngest descendant present. She is a greatgreat-great-granddaughter of Trezevant Fernandes Thomasson. Barbara (Crawford) Scales was recognized for having traveled the farthest. In the last few weeks she moved from California to make her home in Bagdad, Fla., where she was reared. She is the great-great-granddaughter of Lorenza Marion Thomasson, who reared his family in Covington County. Jack Thomasson, great-grandson of Jefferson Sylvanus Thomasson, was identified a being over 60 years of age and being present at the reunion for the first time. Each of these was presented with a gift bag filled with goodies, which were prepared by Muriel Thomasson of Sun City, Fla.

Mrs. Dennis (Tammie) Evans, president of the Thomas Randolph Thomasson Chaper of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, was present to give a welcome and announce that the chapter has had a good year and has gained four new members this past year. This chaper is so named to honor Thomas R. Thomasson who had eight sons to serve in the Confederate Army. Three of these lost their lives, and the other five returned home to continue rearing their families. Several ladies present who are members of the chaper were recognized. Curtis Thomasson, commander of the Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, voiced a welcome and recognized  four member of his local camp who were present: Oz Thomasson, John Hise, Darrell Thomason, and Lynn Henley. Each was given his current membership card and a decal with the SCV logo.

Lynn Henley, great-great-grandson of Mary Ann A. (Thomasson) Henley, had accepted the challenge at last year’s reunion to research the family legend that either a Henley or Thomasson soldier had attended to Traveler, General Robert E. Lee’s horse, while Lee was inside the McLean house at Appomattox Court House, Va., surrendering to General Grant. He found one source to indicate that there were only seven men in Company E of the Sixth Alabama Infantry who had survived the war. Of these, three were Henley relatives and two were Thomasson brothers. The Henleys were present at Appomattox, but one Thomasson was in prison and the other recovering from an arm injury. The legend was dispelled when it was announced that written accounts reveal that Private Joshua O. Johns of the 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry was the one who took care of Lee’s horse on that historic occasion.

Lynn also reviewed the family legend that Frank and Jesse James were Thomasson descendants. This is not true, but they were associated with the family because their mother, Zerelda Cole’s, mother, Mrs. Sarah (Lindsey) Cole, was married to Robert Thomasson. It does make for interesting tales, and this past year, Ida (Crawford) Dickey, a Thomasson descendant donated a copy of Thomasson Traces—Narrative of the Thomasson Family, 1677-1995, to the James Museum in their home state of Missouri.

John Hise, great-great-grandson of Cornelius Starr Thomasson, shared the highlights of a tour he and his wife make to visit Thomasson sites in the family’s native state of Virginia. George Thomasson II and his brother were early settled in Louisa County, Va., during the mid-1600s. The brothers were charted about 200 acres of land near Mineral, Va., upon which they built a house. Other land holdings were nearby, which totaled several thousand acres, all lying west of Richmond.

The Thomasson home site is listed in the out-of-print “Old Home Places of Louisa County, ca 1930.” It is located on the current property of a rock quarry off of Highway 613 and Christopher Run. The house was located on a hill top overlooking what is now the quarry. Behind the house were pastures and a large stand of hardwoods. Nothing of the structure is left, with the exception of rocks that would have been a part of the foundation and chimney and a pile of old timbers. There is an indented area in the ground, and the area is overgrown with shrubs.

While visiting the area, John and wife toured the area of the Gettysburg Battle Site. They walked over the field where the 6th Alabama Infantry fought on July 1 and 2, the first two days of the battle. The 6th Alabama was commanded by Col. J.N. Lightfoot. On day one, the 6th Alabama fought under General Jubal A. Early, and was quite successful. During the night, they were moved to Culp’s Hill and fought under General Ewel as O’Neal’s Brigade. They drove off the Federals from the lower slopes, which they occupied for about seven hours. During the night, they were pulled out and placed in reserve for day three. This spared them of the events of Pickett’s Charge and the carnage of a mile and a half frontal attach on fortified Federal positions.

Needless to say, the reunion group responded with a lively singing of “Dixie” in honor of their Confederate ancestors. The family’s traditional song, “Thomasson,” was led by Lavon Henley. The program was concluded with the singing of “The Unclouded Day,” a favorite hymn of Lorenza Marion Thomasson, Baptist minister in Covington County. Afterwards the family began to disperse with anticipation of a greater attendance for next year’s reunion on the first Saturday in August.

Anyone having questions about the reunion is urged to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or e-mail: cthomasson@centurytel.net. Also, anyone having interest in the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization or the United Daughters of the Confederacy may contact Curtis as well.