Stokes’ 2010 reunion honors Cornelia Georgia (Stokes) Fuqua

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 3, 2010

One Stokes family of Covington County – the descendants of Burrell Jackson and Cornelia Georgia (Hare) Stoke – gathered for their annual reunion on Sat., June 26, in the fellowship hall of the Cedar Grove Church of Christ in Andalusia. Some 80 relatives were in attendance with the award for having traveled the farthest being presented to David and Linda (Stokes) Hinson of Atlanta. Linda is a great granddaughter of Burrell Jackson Stokes.

Other prizes awarded included Clara (Stokes) Bass who was the oldest relative in attendance and who will be 93 on August 3. The youngest present was Jeremy Griggs, 10-month old son of Corey and Teah Griggs. Awards were designer prints featuring verses of scripture, which were made by Kathryn (Fuqua) Brown, youngest daughter of Naomi (Stokes) Fuqua.

Burrell Jackson and Cornelia Stokes reared the following children: Lyda Mae, b. 1884, d. 1885; Wright Absalom, b. 1887, d. 1949, m. Minnie L. Rabren; Mary Delilah, b. 1889, d. 1929, m. James Lafayette “Fate” Rabren; Leland Congdon, b. 1891, d. 1949, m. Callie Alabama “Bama” Fuqua; Justice Lamar, b. 1893, d. 1966, m. Flossie Huggins; R.V., b. 1895, d. 1896; Matthew VanBuren, b. 1897, d. 1959, m.(1) Agnes Leona Eiland (2) Alma Vaughn Thompson; Ollie Phyllis, b. 1900, d. 1968, m. Emory E. Rabren; Naomi Cornelia, b. 1903, d. 1977, m. James Wesley Fuqua; Ellie C., b. 1905, d. 1971, m. (1) Lenzy Lamar Pruitt; (2) Lee Bennett Pope; and Eunice Eva Dell, b. 1907, m. (1) Virgil Gilmer (2) Wayne Hudgins.

Those attending the 2010 reunion were descendants of Mary Delilah Rabren, Leland Congdon Stokes; Justice Lamar Stokes, Matthew VanBuren Stokes and Naomi Cornelia Fuqua. Each relative registered and received a nametag for the day. Activities during the morning included considerable visiting and viewing of family pictures and family records. Each family was asked to take a family group sheet and complete it for the family’s genealogical history.

At noon, Curtis Thomasson, a great-grandson who was the local coordinator of the reunion activities, gave a welcome and outlined the agenda for the afternoon. Before the meal, Wayne Goodman, great-grandson, voiced the invocation. The menu consisted of the “covered dishes” brought by all the families. The amazing spread of Southern foods was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. Jeff Fuqua’s grilled pork tenderloin was declared the winning dish of the day.

Following the meal, everyone assembled for a program on Stokes family history. Thomasson presented a brief review of the earliest known Stokes ancestor, David Stokes, of Beaufort County, S.C. His son, Absalom Lafayette Stokes, was born circa 1790 in that county and was married around 1812 to Nancy Allene Adkinson. They had four children born by 1820 and were enumerated there in the 1820 federal census. By 1830, the family had migrated to Walton County, Fla., in an area near the Alabama state line.

Absalom’s wife had died by 1850, and he was married in 1852 to a neighboring young lady, Elizabeth Jay. They had five children born between 1854 and 1866, which included the above Burrell Jackson who was born in 1863. During the early 1860s, Absalom and Elizabeth moved their family to Andalusia where his older daughter, Thursann, lived with her husband, George Alexander Snowden.

Snowden served as one of the early probate judges for the county. Absalom’s death certificate states that he died in 1871 near Andalusia, but the site of his burial is not known. It would seem that he would have been buried in the Magnolia Cemetery and probably near his daughter, Thursann’s, grave in the Snowden family plot.

Burrell Jackson Stokes grew up in and around Andalusia. He became a farmer and livestock dealer. At one point, he worked as a clerk in a dry goods store. He and his wife reared their family at the end of Cedar Road, which is behind the Cedar Grove Church of Christ.

Naomi Cornelia (Stokes) Fuqua, the child being honored on the occasion of this reunion, was born in the same community and lived out her live in the general area. The photographs of Naomi on display included one of her and her parents’ family when she was about 10 years old, one at 16 during the year after her marriage, one at her and Jim’s 50th wedding anniversary and one of her in her later years reading her Bible.

When she was 15 years of age, Naomi was married to James Wesley “Jim” Fuqua, son of a neighboring family and brother of her sister-in-law, Bama (Fuqua) Stokes. They became farmers for their livelihood, and Jim operated a feed crushing business at different sites. They lived at several locations in the area including the McCraney place, the Simmons place and others before building a new house on Padgett Road next to Coker Mill Creek where Jim operated his last feed crushing business. They lived out their lives there, and the youngest son, Jeff Hines Fuqua, later renovated the house and made it his family home.

Naomi and Jim reared the following children: Beryl James, b. 1921, d. 1973, m. Mary Evelyn Brown; Lillian Cornelia, b. 1923, m. Loyce Vaughn (1919-1986); Elma Evelyn, b. 1925, m. Sam Kierce Barron; John Wesley “J.W.,” b. 1928, d. 2005, m. Jane King (1927-1986); Thomas Roland, b. 1932, d. 1994, m. Kathleen M. “Kay” ?; Jeff Hines, b. 1938, m. (1) Arlene Stinson (2) Madalyn (Turman) Hardy; and Kathryn Naomi, b. 1944, m. William Feigh Brown. Four of these, Lillian, Elma, Jeff, and Kathryn, survive their parents and were present to honor their mother at the reunion.

The seven children were reared on a farm at different sites. At one of these where the family lived for 21 years, the Simmons place, there was no electricity; therefore, they lacked a number of conveniences. Jim, called “Big Daddy” by his grandchildren, erected a windmill to provide running water in the house and for the farm. They also acquired a kerosene-powered refrigerator, which was a delight to the entire family. They continued to move to improved housing until they were able to build a new one.

Since Naomi was being honored at the reunion, her children and grandchildren offered many wonderful memories of their mother and grandmother. They all hastened to point out that she was a “good Christian lady.” She reared her children to study the Bible and to live by its teachings.

They faithfully attended the Cedar Grove Church of Christ, which Naomi’s parents had helped organize in 1916. The family would ride to services in a wagon pulled by mules, which they would tie to the hitching post at the church. Of course, many of the rural families did the same during that period of time.

Naomi not only taught the Bible to her children, but she also taught others as she had an opportunity. A local black preacher in the area, Will Bradley, came regularly to the feed-crushing mill, and he and Naomi would discuss the Bible. Over a period of time, their study led to Will becoming a member of the church of the New Testament. He was instrumental in helping build the Second Street Church of Christ in Andalusia. He and his wife would also visit Cedar Grove Church, where the Fuqua’s attended.

Another example of Naomi’s Christian life is the many benevolent services she provided through the Ladies Bible Class at Cedar Grove. She made many gowns and robes for those confined to nursing facilities. In fact, her youngest daughter, Kathryn, described her as being like Dorcas in the New Testament. She was always sewing and cooking meals for those who were sick or in need. And all her family members recall the delicious meals she would cook and serve them. Kathryn remembers her mother even sitting in a chair as she cooked meals during her last years.

The children honored Naomi and Jim on their 50th wedding anniversary, and there is a good photograph of them on that occasion. They had much to celebrate with their fine family and successful life together. Their children praised them and recalled fond memories. On the occasion of this Stokes reunion, one daughter, Elma, said she had “a wonderful mother with good qualities who could not be beat.” And the son, Jeff, said he “did not have a single bad memory of his mother.” What a tribute to a loving, Christian lady who was affectionately called “Big Mama” by the grandchildren.

Hopefully, research on the Stokes family and future reunions will continue. Please contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, a grandnephew of Naomi (Stokes) Fuqua, if you have questions or further information on this family to share. Contact him at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or e-mail:

Cornelia Georgia (Stokes) Fuqua Circa 1918 at 16 years of age