South ancestor created South Community in late 1880s

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 18, 2010

Most folks from Covington County are familiar with the small community of South, which is located about two miles north of Red Level in the northern section of the county. There is little evidence today of any commercial activity, but at one time South was a very industrious little town. The name came from an earlier settler, Thomas South.

On May 29, 1900, a post office was established at South with Andrew L. Posten serving as the first postmaster. He was succeeded in 1901 by Arcy B. Powell who served until 1903. At that time William E. Thames, a local storekeeper, replaced him and kept the office in his store, which was located where the later R.S. Nolen house stood. Next, William J. Williamson served as postmaster from 1909 until W.E. Thames was reappointed in 1910. It was discontinued later that year.

In 1910, J.S. Jackson moved from Graceville, Fla., to the area of South. With a vision of a thriving little town developing there, he bought up a good portion of the surrounding land. He constructed a gin and a large brick building in which he operated a general store for many years. Other merchants who joined him included George Barrow, I.J. Chesser, William Thames, John Beesley, George Buck and A.M. Hester.

The remainder of this writing will focus on the South family for whom the little town was named. Three of the earliest South ancestors to settle near South were William T. South who homesteaded 158.78 acres of land in 1882 in the Pigeon Creek Township, Wylie O. South who homesteaded 158.78 acres near that of William T. South, and James O. South who homesteaded a tract of 116.36 acres in the Buck Creek Township in 1890 and one of 160.16 acres of land set aside for railroads in the same area in 1893. All three men were sons of William E. South, a native of South Carolina.

William E. South was born in 1813 and died in 1864. He was residing in the northern part of Covington County in 1850 and was a farmer. With him were his wife, Nancy, 25 years of age and native of Alabama, and a one-month old son, William Thomas. Also, there was a Celia Gipson, 12 years of age, living in the household who was probably a housekeeper. Both William and Nancy were listed as being unable to read and write. William would have been the progenitor of all future Souths to reside in this county. Records suggest that Nancy was the daughter of Thomas and Jane Glidewell who lived next door to the Souths. One would wonder who William’s parents were and what brought him to this area during the 1840s.

In 1860, the family of William E. South was residing in Red Level. He was still farming at 46 years of age, and Nancy was a housekeeper at 35. They had at the time the following four children: William T. (Thomas), 10; Elias, 6; Malinda, 4; and Alexander F., 2. William died sometime before 1870. In August 1864, William at 51 years of age enlisted as a private in Company B., Covington County Reserves (First Class) for the Confederacy. It appears that he died later that year.

In 1870, Nancy is listed as head of the household at 40 years of age. She was living between her son, William Thomas, and his wife’s parents, John and Lydia Whiddon. She had her three youngest sons with her: Alex, 13; Willey, 10; and James O., 6. By 1880, she had married an unknown Peacock. She was still residing in Red Level and had her three youngest sons with her. She appears to have died around 1880.

William E. and Nancy South reared the following children: William Thomas, b. 1850, d. 1911, m. Axie Delina Whiddon (1846-1925); Elias, b. 1854, d. 1860; Malinda, b. 1856, d. 1860; Alexander Franklin, b. 1858, d. 1926; Wylie O., b. 1860, d. 1944, m. Frances D.E. Lee (1863-1945); and James Oliver, b. 1865, d. 1931, m. Alice P. Parker (1861-1919).

William Thomas was married to Axie Whiddon, daughter of John and Lydia Whiddon. They reared the following children: William Andrew, b. 1868, d. 1908, m. Mary Jane Kervin (1878-1958); Marion Lawrence, b. 1872, d. 1957, m. Mary Eudora Parker (1868-1955); Martha Emmaline, b. 1871, d. 1964, m. James Newton Gorum (1870-1936); Thomas Simpson “Simps,” b. 1870, d. 1964; m. (1) Rhodie Louisa “Liza” Kervin (1882-1959) (2) Lonnie Armenta Williamson (1894-1964); Dollie Susana, b. 1877, d. 1950, m. William Doss Kervin (1864-1944); Julius “Samps,” b. 1880, d. 1919, m. Sarah Jane Kervin (1874-1957); Noah Alex, b. 1884, d. 1948, m. Leark Belle Ficklin (1883-1967); Lydia Nancy, b. 1888, d. 1922, m. Thomas Kervin, b. 1878, d. 1954; and Beady Exer, b. 1888, d. 1975, m. Leonard Stacy Rhodes (1880-1940). By 1880, William Thomas and Axie had moved to Butler Springs in Butler County. By 1920, Axie was listed as 75 years old and living with her brother, Eli Whiddon. William Thomas had died in 1911, and Axie then died in 1925. At their deaths, they were buried in the Bushfield Cemetery in northern Covington County.

Next to the youngest son of William and Axie was Wylie O. South, who was married circa 1889 to Frances D.E. Lee, daughter of Jesse and Emmaline (Whiddon) Lee. They lived at Red Level and reared the following children: Lee S. Sr., b. 1889, d. 1969, m. Lennie Beasley (1896-1963); Hordie, b. 1890, d. 1900; Robert, b. 1891, d. 1971; Claude, b. 1897, d. 1975, m. Mary Eva South (1899-1991); and Emma Nancy, b. 1897, d. 1970, m. (1) Joseph Napoleon Beasley (1886-1968) (2) John Rodford Chance (1898-1956). At their deaths, Wylie was buried in the Fairmount Cemetery, and Frances was buried at New Home.

The youngest son, James Oliver South, was married to Alice P. Parker, daughter of Noah and Isabella (Bennett) Parker. They resided in Red Level and they reared the following children: Oscar, b. 1890, d. 1912, single; Ola Leola, b. 1891, d. 1964; m. Zollie Broughton Bryan (1888-1958); William Albert, b. 1892, d. 1954, m. Jimmie Barbaree (2) Dotha Avant; and Nancy Elizabeth, b. 1895, d. 1947, m. David Robert Foshee (1890-1962.

Since genealogy of the next generation in this family is available, the next column will feature a continuation of the Souths. Although she is not a descendant, Pamala Celeste Nolan has researched this family and made her records available for this writing. Some additional information on the community and some of the individuals were gleaned from Wyley Ward’s Original Land Sales and Grants in Covington County, Alabama and Gus and Ruby Bryan’s Covington County History, 1821-1976.

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