Barfoot family celebrates at reunion in Snowdoun

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 27, 2010

Families having association with Covington County are presented in this column in various formats and often include coverage of family reunions. Today’s writing will feature the Leander Barfoot Family through a special summary prepared for their reunion on Sept. 13, 1982. This was composed, researched and shared by a descendant, Elizabeth Jamalyn (Barfoot) Smith, daughter of Eugene Monroe Barfoot and granddaughter of Leander Barfoot. She is speaking through the imagined words of her grandfather.

“As the Patriarch of the Barfoot family, I want all of you to sit down and visit with me while I tell you about myself and my wife, Corinthia. I know you have wondered about us and how life was for us while on earth. I was approximately 5 feet, 6 inches tall and in my later years, I grew a long beard. You may compare your life with ours as we go along.

“To get the setting you must realize that I lived all of my 82 years on the Meriwether Trail and vicinity from Dublin (Raif Branch) to China Grove in both Montgomery and Pike counties. This was only about 12 miles of unpaved country road. We never had a car, just a wagon drawn by mules. We had no modern conveniences as inside plumbing for running water and bathrooms, no refrigerator, no washing machine or dryer, electricity, television, etc. We lived strictly from the fruits of the land and sky coupled with patience, endurance, hard manual work, pride and prayer, mostly prayer.

“As I go along you will know more of how our life was, as compared with yours, and you will understand us better, appreciate and love us as we have looked down and appreciated and loved you. Oh, we love these reunions! You are the canvass on which we painted our life-story. We had no material wealth, never a bank account, but we have you as our legacy. Not bad, huh?

“I was born in 1850, quite an eventful year, as this was the year of the Compromise of 1850, which was to prevent a showdown between the North and South as the Civil War was brewing. Also at this time the War with Mexico was going on and times were most unsettled. I was born only 31 years after Alabama became a State and only four years after Montgomery became the capital. The land was fertile and the woods abundant. I was born only 47 years after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Millard Fillmore was President of the U.S.

“Blacks were slaves when I was born, as the South was agricultural. Selling slaves became a profitable business. Also in 1850 railroads were being built in the West, and the South lost a lot of business. The North continued to violate the Compromise and was refusing to return runaway slaves and was also trying to help them escape. See, I was born at a very chaotic time in history. When I was two years old Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published and stirred up feelings that the blacks were mistreated.

“In 1861 when I was 11 years old the Civil War began. My father joined the Co. B & F, 37th Regiment of the Confederate Army on March 12, 1863. I became fatherless at the age of 12, and my mother became a widow at the age of 37. The war continued for a period of turmoil and violence. The Ku Klux Klan was active, Republican President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, constitutional changes continuously were supported and opposed relevant to the racial problems. I was a young teenager during this and for two years of the war, I helped my mother to raise a living from the soil and did so for six more years after the war ended until I married Corinthia Argin Anderson on July 16, 1871.

“Education was considered a private matter, which meant that no one else should pay to educate you or your children. Many children from poor families grew up without formal education. Work was more important, and if one had some spare time it didn’t hurt if he got more education.

“When Corinthia and I married, I was 20-years-old, and she was 14. The North took over the South, and the rights of blacks were challenged to vote. The Republican government concentrated on building the West. The South had a period of troubles from losing the War, freeing the slaves, building the West and changing from a Democratic Solid South to a Republican System. Ulysses S. Grant, the Northern General, was president from 1869-1877, and Northern troops were not withdrawn from the South until 1877 when I was 27 years old, Corinthia, 20, and we had been married six years and were the parents of three children named Joel, Lon and Margaret, ages 5, 2 and infant.

“My mother died in June 1883 soon after Corinthia Estelle was born in January. The Spoils System fastened itself and corruption in government ran rampart, especially in the South. The Civil Service Commission was formed in 1883, the year Corinthia Estelle died. I was 33 years old, cotton was cheap and the South hurt politically and economically.

“The Republicans stayed in power until 1885 when I was 35 years old and Corinthia was 28. We had been married 14 years and had seven children: Joel, 13; Lon, 10, Margaret, 8; Lillie, 6; Jack, 4; Estelle, 2; and Hattie, infant.

“It is exciting to know that I was living when so much of history that you study in books was in progress. It was so long ago to many of you. Yet, when you think, much of what I spoke of you are experiencing today as racial unrest, re-writing the Constitution, Republican President, war brewing on our hemisphere, economic hard times, etc. So you see things were always unsettled and difficult in our day. China Grove was our little corner of the world amid and away from such hard times.

“We were content to raise our family in a reserved family-like atmosphere with no city rat race and no direct involvement with politics. Salem Church of which most of you are very familiar is till standing today as testimony to our community. Corinthia was buried there in 1918, the year that Woman’s Suffrage began, and the World War I was going on. During the period of her death the horrible flu epidemic claimed so many lives. She died July 13, 1918, only three days before our 47th Wedding Anniversary.

“Jan. 9, 1918, just six months before Corinthia passed away, Calvin Flint, our son was called back to Heaven. He was 24 years old and killed in a tragic accident, leaving a widow, Bertie, and two small infants, twin daughters, Dorothy Edna and Doris Evelyn. Corinthia was so crushed and so very grieved to the point of hospitalization. She was 60-years-old, and I was a widower at 67. Our life together on earth came to a close. We could be proud and boast of 47 years of marriage and nine living children and 42 grandchildren. We had 13 children born to us, so the statistics at Corinthia’s death in 1918 were Joel, 46, m. to Susie Meredith, 8 children; Lon, 43, m. to Sammie Wright, 2 children; Margaret, 41, m. to Tobe Alford, 7 children; Lillie, 39, m. to Ed McMoy, 7 children; Jack, 37, m. to Jessie Redmond, 5 children; Hattie, 33, m. to Frank Greer, 5 children; Henry, 31, m. to (1) JoAnna McKinney, 2 children (2) Mattie Howell, 3 children; Eugene, 26, m. to Corinne Grider, 1 child; Eula Bae, 22, single; Flint, deceased, m. to Bertie Harwell, 2 children.

“This is an amazing record to hold at death. We enjoyed a good life despite the rest of the world. We left a legacy of You, our descendants—we are so pleased!

“When we passed away we did not have markers for our graves as I died during the worst of the depression, and Corinthia died during World War I. This year, 1883, 133 years after my birth, you saw that we both had a marker. I see it at Pine Level Methodist Church right next to Lillie and Ed and adjacent to Lon and Sammie. God bless you all and especially to Eugene’s children for the trips down there to clean the area, reclaim some lines, bury the jar for the monument company to show the spot and direction for the marker. The marker is so beautiful, and we love all of you for it. We remember you up Here too.

“In July 1983, Eugene’s children (Jamalyn, Rendall and Era Mae) were visiting with Johnnie Ree, Roderick’s first wife. Roderick is the oldest son of Eugene. Johnnie Ree told them about me weaving baskets and her dad, John Sullivan, bought cotton baskets from me for his farm. I had given her a small basket, which I had, weaved for her and would you believe, she still has it? Jamalyn was so excited to know that something was still here on earth that I had actually made.

“I love to visit here at Snowdoun each September and see all of you so loving, plenty of good food and enjoying the fellowship of each other. Someday we will all be UP HERE and the fellowship will never end. Until then, keep smiling.”

What a wonderful tribute to this family’s ancestor and treasure within their heritage. Other families would benefit from having some descendant write such for them.

HISTORICAL MEETING: The Covington Rifles Camp of SCV will meet at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 4, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library.