Curlee family homesteaded here in 1854

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 10, 2010

Like so many family names, the Curlee one has a number of variations: Curlee, Corlee Carlee and probably others. The earliest known ancestor of the members of this family who have resided in Covington County is Jesse Curlee, born circa 1898 in South Carolina. He may have been the son of Martha and William Corlee, Sr. Records indicate he resided in Georgia from 1830 to 1840, but he then returned to South Carolina by 1850.

In 1820, he was living in Darlington County, South Carolina, with his wife and three young sons and three young daughters. He apparently moved to Morgan County, Georgia, that year as tax records list him as a resident. In 1830, he was in Talbot County, Georgia, in Harrall’s Valley. He had several land transactions here and in Randolph County. He also had one slave at this time. By 1840, he was in Millmen’s District, Harris County, and had two slaves.

Jesse Corlee Sr. was enumerated in 1850 as head of a household in Savannah River Regiment, Abbeville County, South Carolina. In the household was an Eliza Marshall who was 23 years of age and who would become Jesse’s third wife in 1851.

There were some Curlee families residing in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in 1820, and a number of these later moved to Coosa County, Alabama. There were some in Talbot and Harris Counties in the 1830s. Some of these, especially James, William Jr. and Meredith, may be brothers of the above Jesse.

As so many from those states did, Jesse Curlee moved his family to Alabama by 1854, probably in search of better farming land. The government was offering prime land at unbelievable prices at that time.

Family legend proposes that that three beautiful girls came to the State of Alabama from South Carolina in the 1850s in covered wagons. Actually, these young ladies, daughters of Jesse Curlee, were born when the family was residing in Georgia, but the family had returned to South Carolina before their migration southward.

It appears that Jesse and his wife, whose name is unknown, had the following children: Elizabeth “Eliza,” b. 1826, m. 1845 ? Busby/Bussey; Malinda B., b. 1828, d. 1903, m. (1) 1856 Henry Exum (2) 1875 Andrew Jackson Williams; Male infant, b. 1830; Agnes Jane, b. 1834, m. 1857 Joshua Thomas Lord (1836-1914); Vicie Ann, b. 1836, d. 1924, m. (1) Mr. Hester (2) 1858 William M. Bennett (3) 1866 Samuel E. Brooks; Jesse William, b. 1838, m. 1858 Martha J. Armstrong; Andrew Jackson, b. 1840; and Francis M., m. Mollie Hattaway.

Jesse was married two additional times and had other children. These included the following: Martha, b. 1849; Lurana Elizabeth, b. 1852; Caroline, b. 1854; Julie Amanda, b. 1860, m. 1878 Adolphus Burt; and Serena Rebecca “Rena,” b. 1861, m. 1879 John W. Shaver. In 1866, Mrs. E. Curlee was residing in Montgomery and had the following daughters with her: Julia Amanda, Serena Rebecca, Martha, Caroline and Lurana Elizabeth. In 1871, She with Caroline, 15; Amanda, 10; and Rena,12; were still there and in the household headed by Ann Payne and Evaline Snowden.

The second daughter, Malinda B. Curlee, was married in Butler County in 1856 to Henry Exum. They had two daughters, Henrietta, b. ca 1857, m. 1875 William Henderson Pierce; and Mary A. “Mollie,” b. ca 1860. Henry served as a private in Company I, 29th Alabama Infantry Regiment in the Confederate Army in which he lost his life on March 10, 1864. In 1865, Malinda married Andrew Jackson Williams in Conecuh County. A.J. Williams had several children by his first wife, so Malinda would have helped rear them.

The third daughter, Agnes Jane “Aggie” Corlee, was married to J. Thomas Lord. Thomas enlisted in the Confederate Army and served as a private in Company I, 40th Alabama Infantry Regiment. They had two daughters when he left to serve, but he survived the war and returned home where they had two additional children. Both of them and their four children were buried in the Fairmount Baptist Church Cemetery in Red Level.

By 1860 Agnes Jane and Thomas Lord, had two daughters and were living in Covington County where he was a farmer. In 1870, they had a third daughter and were still in the county. By 1880, they were residing in the Fairfield/Red Level community and had a fourth child, a son. By 1910, the couple at 73 and 75 years of age, were living in River Falls. They reared the following four children: Martha Jane “Matt,” b. 1856, d. 1935, m. 1897 J.M. Hollaway (1869-1927); Emily Frances, b. 1859, d. 1927, m. ca 1882 John L. Hitson (1860-1940); Savanah V. “Sarah” Vanessa “Vannie,” b. ca 1864, m. 1904 Benjamin F. Aycock; and William Thomas, b. 1870, d. 1950, m. 1899 M.E. Benton.

The fourth daughter, Lavica “Vicie” Ann Curlee, was first married in South Carolina to a Mr. Hester. They had one son, John P. Hester, who later took the last name of Bennett, which was the name of his mother’s second husband. John P., b. 1854, d. 1939, m. Sarah Jane Spears (1854-1930). He was brought to Alabama by his mother and step-father and was residing in McKenzie when he died.

Vicie was next married in 1858 to William Materson Bennett (1829-1863). William served in the Confederate Army and lost his life in Richmond, Virginia. Before he left for war, William and Vicie had one son, William Beauregard, b. 1861, d. 1893, m. Delaney H. Matthews (1858-1901). Vicie was then married to Samuel E. Brooks in 1866. The two of them had two children before they were separated circa 1870. Their children were Mae Sula Brooks aka Bennett, b. 1866, d. 1947, m. (1) 1886 Yancey A. Ledlow (1860-1900) (2) 1911 Napoleon Bonaparte Powell (1837-1917); and Callie Brooks aka Bennett, b. 1870, d. 1943, m. James K. Lee (1859-1938).

No particular information is known at this time about the younger children of Jesse Curlee. However, there is additional data available on the next generation in this family. Appreciation is expressed to Pamala Celeste Nolan for sharing her research on this family of which she is a descendant.

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

RAMER FAMILY QUERY: John Ramer of Wisconsin has extensive Ramer genealogy he is willing to share with those researching the family. He has documentation of a John Ramer of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, who is not the John Ramer who came to Covington County, Alabama. Anyone interested in this information may contact Curtis Thomasson at the above addresses.