Kervin descendants were community leaders and compatriots

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Morris Kervin Sr. family was introduced and featured in last week’s column. Today’s narrative will focus on the genealogy of his older children and their families.

For many years, the oldest son, Morris Watson Kervin Jr., family researchers were unable to locate any descendants or any significant data on what happened to him. There were rumors in the family that he may have hidden out in the woods to escape having to enlist in the Confederate Army. In recent times, some interesting information related to Morris Jr. has been learned. Family legend had it that he had migrated to Texas. This was later found to not be the case. Instead, he settled in Mississippi and had many children who later migrated to Texas and Arkansas, and their numerous descendants are there today.

Morris Jr.’s military records indicate he was dispatched to Mississippi from Pensacola around 1862. This is about the time that the Free State of Jones (County) was established. In that area a group of men had become weary with following the orders of the wealthy officers while they were in need of basic supplies such as clothing and shoes. They rebelled and thus the Jones Free State resulted. Through this, Jones County seceded from the Confederate States and created its own country.

There were actually a few small battles locally in that the Free State supporters were in conflict with the regular Confederate States Army. The leaders found it necessary to move their operations into the local swamps from which to launch their operations. These men were very rebellious and created a rather distinct culture. The men often had several wives and some married black women. Morris Kervin, Jr. was an integral part of this bold stand.

Morris Jr. met a young lady who was a daughter of a Mr. Jones who resided in Jones County and may have been an officer in the rebel army. They were married circa the time the rebellion began in 1862, and their first child was born within the year. The names of their children are not all known. There was a Morris Kervin III and a William Harrison Kervin. Morris Jr. named one of his sons Thomas, possibly after his younger brother. Connie Brashear and her distant cousin Billy Kervin contributed this information. Morris Jr.’s descendants are aware that they have many half cousins. William Harrison, Thomas, Billy, and Morris Watson are names still found in their various families.

Also, as many of the men of the rebellion did, Morris Jr. is believed to have had children by three women other than his wife. It has been estimated that he fathered as many as 19 children. Unfortunately for genealogists, most of all of them moved away and have been difficult to locate. One current Kervin researcher was told that Morris Jr. became such a difficult man that all his children moved away from him.

It is interesting to learn that Victoria Bynum, a professor at the University of North Carolina, has published a book, Free State of Jones — Mississippi’s Longest Civil War, on the rebellion in Jones County. She was motivated by a much earlier book entitled Echo of the Blackhorn, which helped her gain insight into the underlying causes of the rebellion.

She explains that a significant number of the citizens of Jones County did not favor secession from the Union. They wanted no part of the ensuing conflict and considered the war as one for the rich men. Bynum reports that all slaves of this group were freed, and citizens held an attitude of everyone having full and equal rights. This was a unique social and political phenomenon, which occurred in the Jones Free State and established equal rights for all even before the emancipation proclamation and over 100 years before the Civil Rights Act.

The University of North Carolina supports Bynum’s work and other universities have found it to be one of the best literary works on the War Between the States era in decades. It is rumored that Ms. Bynum is communicating with agents in Hollywood about possibly marketing her book for a movie deal. This discovery and publication has added a rich chapter to the Kervin family history.

Morris Kervin Sr.’s next son, John Franklin Kervin, was born in 1838 in Red Level and died in 1926 in Butler County. He was a Confederate veteran along with most of his brothers. He served in the 17th Alabama, Company B. He homesteaded 160 acres near the original Morris Sr. homestead near Kervin Cemetery. This farm was along the Covington and Butler border. The heirs sold this land to W.T. Smith Lumber Company.

John Franklin was married to Dorothy “Dorcus” Elizabeth Rambo (1845-1905) whose father was a Swedish immigrant. Her parents, John and Isabella (Neal) Rambo were married in 1839 and were enumerated in 1860 in Somerset, Kentucky, where they owned a large dairy farm. They had moved there from Washington County, Va. Dorothy was a “war bride,” and John Franklin brought her back from Kentucky after the War Between the States after working for a period on the Rambo farm.

John Franklin and Dorcus or “Dorothy” reared the following children: Isabelle, m. ? Pruett; Florence, single; John Larmar, b. 1877, d. 1967, m. (1) Hattie Lee (1880-1907) (2) Armanta Bennett; and James Cosby. The first wife, Hattie Lee, died during the birth of their third child. She was buried with the infant in her arms in the Kervin Cemetery. Prior to her death, Hattie gave birth to Clydie Mae, b. 1901, d. 1990, m. Albert Davis; and Luther Marion, b. 1903, d. 1958, m. Annie Belle Durrell.. Clydie’s name was changed to Carrie after about six months.

John Larmar Kervin’s second wife, Armanta Bennett, from the McKenzie area, resided with him in what is today Pigeon Creek community and it is here where the Kervin farm still exists today. They had the following children: Mary Lois, Hattie Myrtle, and L.D. (Lee Dean, Sr.), b. 1923. They also had three young children to die of various epidemics and they are all interred at Pigeon Creek Cemetery.

John Franklin’s son, John Lamar Kervin, had the following grandchildren: His daughter, Carrie, and husband, Albert Davis, had the following children: James Leroy; Albert Levon, m. Carolyn Laura Holliday; and Nellie Mae, b. 1938, m. (1) Jesse Ferrell Broadus (2) Charlie Lewis Ainsworth. Albert Levon Davis and wife, Carolyn (Holliday), had two sons, Andy and James. Nellie Mae Davis and husband, Jesse Ferrel Broadus, had two daughters, Carrie Nell, m. Randall Jordan; and Deborah Ann, m. Tim Fore. Nell and second husband, Charlie Lewis Ainsworth, had one daughter, Sonya (Ainsworth) Walker. Carrie Davis and husband operated their farm next to her brother, Marion Kervin, who ran a store at the crossroads of what is now Pigeon Creek RD and County 107. Carrie also operated the Pruett farm, which her aunt Isabelle (Kervin) Pruett had owned.

Isabelle Kervin Pruett is John Frankin’s sister. Nell Davis Ainsworth still lives on this land today. Both Isabelle’s father, John Franklin and her husband’s father went off to war together and they grew up on neighboring farms near Welcome Church. John Larmar’s son, Luther Marion Kervin, and wife, Annie Belle Durell, had two children: David Orell and Hattie Dois.

The original Durrel homestead was near the John Larmar farm, so they swapped land. This is how the Kervin farm grew, and Marion and wife, Annie Belle, lived at the end of Pigeon Creek Road where their store was. Today, Joel Kervin, son of Orell Kervin resides on that farm. Dois Kervin had one daughter, Selene, m. George L. Chesser of Pigeon Creek. Orell Kervin m. Louise Irene Lee of McKenzie, and they had the following children, John David, Roger Orell, Susan Louise, and Joel Marion. Orell Kervin had a trucking operation for many years in the Pigeon Creek community.

John Franklin Kervin and his second wife, Armanta Bennett, reared the following children: Mary Lois, m. Perry Beasley; Myrtle Kervin, single; Lee Dean “L.D.,” m. Lula Belle Faust of McKenzie. He farmed in the Pigeon Creek community, and they had the following children: Amelia Florence, Cecelia Ann, Johnny Lee, Bennett Faust, Joseph Fate, and Lee Dean Jr. The L.D. Kervin family ran a country store for many years and had a cattle farm. Myrtle Kervin was a past president of the Andalusia Chamber of Commerce and worked for Taylor Parts for 50 years. She is well known for her public and private volunteerism. Mary Lois and Perry Beasley operated a rental property business. The LD Kervin farm encompasses what were the original Cap Kervin and James Calvin homesteads.

John Franklin’s other son, James Cosby married Evella Hinson ca. 1898 and they had the following children in the Welcome Community in Butler County, which is five miles northeast of McKenzie: James Houston, b. 1901: four who died as infants; Herbert Jordan; Eliza “Elzie,” m. Morris Parker; Surmon; Purnell Cosby; Woodrow Wilson; and Myra, m. Charlie Vinson. Myra went on to Montgomery and operated her own salon where she was socially prominent and later retired to her Kervin land. James Cosby had a distinguished reputation in his community and a notable Victorian style home at a cross of three roads. It became a tradition for travelers to stop, drink water, and rest in his yard.

His eldest son, James Houston, took over much of the farming. He married Lucille Fail of Greenville and they reared the following children: John Howard, Elizabeth Ann, Rufus Edward, James Wheeler, Mona Marcela “Marsha,” and Cosby Issac. John Howard preaches for a church in Butler County and has been the state personnel director for the National Guard for many years. Elzie Kervin Parker ran a salon in Andalusia for many years and is remembered for her expertise in this area. Herbert, the next eldest, m. Gray Harrison and reared the following: Delaney; Tex Shannon; Regina; Patsy, m. Oscar Sanders; Wanda; Sandra; and Karen. Delaney was the Headmaster at Pike Liberal Arts for many years in Troy. Elize Kervin Parker reared the following children: Emily Jean, m. George Reid; James; and pLarry, m. Adrienne Gholson. The next eldest son of Cosby Sr. was Surmon who m. Sally Sellers and reared Adonis, Enoch, Devon, Francis, Glenda, Elton, and Janis. Purnell Cosby m. Ruby Tallant and the children are: Dorothy June and Wayne. Woodrow Wison m. Dorris Mosley and had one son. Myra m. Charles Vinson and had Kaye Vinson.

Ironically, James Cosby and his sons along with a Davis family built a church in their community and it was also named “Welcome,” which led to the community becoming the “Welcome Community.” It is different from the Welcome Church is in Covington County. Upon their father, John Franklin’s, death, Cosby and his brother John Larmar went to the original homestead and dug up his money and gold, which he had buried. There were several pieces of gold, and large amounts of cash in various forms of decay.

Additional children and families of Morris Kervin Sr. will be presented in the next column. Sources for this narrative were family records and memories of several Kervin descendants: Lee Dean Kervin, Jr., Beth (Kervin) Bush, Carrie (Broadus) Jordan, Connie Brashear, Billy Kervin and Rufus Kervin.

Anyone who has a correction to the above is requested to write Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; call 334-222-6467; or e-mail: