Cottle county’s third probate judge

Published 12:02 am Saturday, April 16, 2011

Thomas Peyton Cottle, Sr. was the third person to serve Covington County as Probate Judge. Alabama’s Provisional Governor, Lewis E. Parsons, appointed him to the office on August 4, 1865. This was soon after the end of the War Between the States, and the former Probate Judge George Alexander Snowden had completed his term in office. Then in 1868, he was re-elected to the office for another three-year term.

Unfortunately, records for the county’s affairs during Cottle’s tenure as probate judge were lost when the courthouse burned. Only a few recordings have been made of his public service and his family.

Thomas P. Cottle brought some outstanding leadership experience with him to the office of the probate judge. It appears that he brought his growing family to Covington County during the war in the early 1860s. He had enlisted earlier in the Confederate Army in Ellaville, Schley County, Georgia, in 1861. He was assigned to Company B., 17th Georgia Infantry Regiment and was immediately promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant, probably due to his education and civic standing. Another record indicates he resigned in December 1861 as a result of a disability.

Actually, three of Thomas’s brothers enlisted along with him in the Confederate Army on the same day, August 14, 1861. Obediah Jenks became a private; Cullen Horne was a private and was killed at Malvern Hill, Virginia, 1862; and Solomon Mills began as a private, but was later elected as Junior Second Lieutenant.

Even before the war ended, Thomas P. was called in 1864 to serve as a state legislator representing Coffee, Covington and the future Crenshaw Counties. He served to fill a vacant seat, which was created when Alfred Holley was removed from office for opposing Alabama’s secession. Alfred later escaped to Pensacola where he united with the Union Forces. In the next election, Thomas P. was elected to serve a full term in the Alabama Legislature. During this period of time, he was also serving as a sub-enrolling office in Covington County for the Confederate Army. Also, in 1865, he was became a member of the Alabama General Assembly.

Soon after the war ended in 1865, Alabama Governor Parsons appointed Thomas P. Cottle to the Office of Probate Judge for Covington County. He was then elected in 1868 to a second three-year term in the office. He had been listed as a registered voter for Beat One in 1867. In 1871, he homesteaded 80 acres of land in the Gantt community.

The earliest of Thomas P. Cottle’s ancestors to be identified appears to be his paternal grandparents, John Jennings and Delilah Cottle. John was born in the 1760s in North Carolina or Virginia, and died in 1843 in Georgia. His will was dated in 1842. Among the children of John and Delilah was a son, John Ebenezer Jefferson Cottle, born in 1801 in Georgia and who was the father of Thomas P. Cottle. John was married to Nancy Horne who was born in 1804 in Georgia and died in 1878 in the same state.

The following is a list of the children who have been identified to date for John Ebenezer Jefferson Cottle and his wife, Nancy (Horne): Thomas Peyton, b. ca 1825, d. before 1900, m. Caroline Mozelle Hunter; Solomon Mills; Cullen Horne, d. 1862; and Obediah Jenks, b. ca 1842, d. 1905, m. Eldora Butt.

Thomas Peyton Cottle Sr., the main subject of this narrative, was married to Caroline Mozelle Hunter, daughter of Jimpsey B. and Susan (Black) Hunter, natives of South Carolina and Georgia respectively. They reared the following children: William T., b. 1852, d. 1907; Sophia Viloria, b. 1855, d. 1920, m. Marcellus Coon Gantt; Eugene A., b. ca 1858; Thomas Peyton Jr., b. 1959, d. 1914, m. Eliza C. Jones (1966-1954); Abram C., b. 1862, d. 1916, m. Susan Frances “Fannie” Bustin; Ebenezer Jimpsey, b. 1865, d. 1930, m. Annie Estelle Haygood; Obediah Jenks, b. ca 1868, d. before 1910; Mary Susie, b. 1872, d. 1922, single; Cullen H., b. ca 1873; and Dom Pedro, b. 1876, d. 1933, m. Mary Lou Broom.

There were three households enumerated in the 1900 census for Covington County: Thomas P. Cottle, Sr. had apparently died as Caroline “Carrie” M. is listed as head of a household. With her were two of the children, Susan, 28; and Don Pedro, 23. The son, Thomas P. Jr., is head of a household at 41 years of age. With him are his wife Eliza, 33, and the following children: Lillie, 13; Eliza, 10; Earnest, 8; Bibb, 6; John, 2; and Otis, 1. Thomas P., Jr. and his wife, Eliza C. Jones, reared the following children: Lillie, b. 1886, d. 1982, m. Robert McLean; Elizen “Jo,” b. 1889, d. 1979, single; Earnist “Jack,” b. 1892, d. 1937, m. Mamie Robina McLean; Thomas Bibb, b. 1894, d. 1988, m. Lavonia Baisden; John b. 1897, d. 1978, single; Ottis, b. 1899, d. 1969, m. Bessie Wells; James, b. 1901, d. 1970, m. Zora B. Shehane; Dom, b. 1904, d. 1957, single; Gid, b. 1906, d. 1991, m. Louise ?; and Nobie, b. 1908, d. 1995, m. Irving Starnes.

The son, Ebenezer J. Cottle, is 35, and his wife, Annie Estell, is 33. At the time they had the following children: Willie A., 10; Lillian, 6; and Dasie A., 3. Also, Sarah Haygood at 69 years of age, who is most likely the mother of Estell, is in the home. Willie or William Appleton, b. 1890, d. 1968, m. Junia May Young; Lillian E., b. 1894, d. 1973, m. Hiram Jenkins Brogden; and Daisy, b. 1896, d. 1983, m. Frank Hargrove Buck.

The daughter, Sophia Viloria (Cottle), and husband, Marcellus Coon Gantt, resided in and became leaders in the Gantt community. They reared the following children: Carrie C., b. 1874, d. 1942, m. Thomas David Rawls; Lottie Mae, b. 1876, d. 1941, m. William Gray Rawls; William Malachi, b. 1878, d. 1908, single; Hiram Breckenridge, b. 1885, d. 1956, m. Erin Avant; Infant, b.&d. 1887; Roberta “Berta” Jewell, b. 1887, m. Asel D. Abel (Able); Thomas Israel, b. 1892, d. 1964, m. Mae Bell Ward; and Maude, b. 1895, d. 1964, m. Fred Johnson.

Another son, Abram C. Cottle, and his wife, Fannie, reared the following children: Lawrence Westal “Bud,” b. 1889, d. 1969, m. Hattie Broom; Thomas William, b. 1892, d. 1987, single; Lucy Carrie, b. 1896, d. 1968, single Minnie, b. 1899, m. Ferol Clinton Gunter; Jewell, b. 1903, d. 1975, m. Cecil Jones; and Ruby, b. 1906, m. Samuel Lawrence Lovelass Sr.

There are many Cottle descendants who currently reside in the county and who appreciate their family heritage. Reputable landmarks bearing the name include a post office called Cottle’s Mills, which was operated during the 1870s, Carrie

Cottle’s Cottle’s Beauty Shop, Cottle Creek in the Coldwater community near where Willie Cottle operated Cottle’s Grocery & Tractor Repair for a number of years, and Cottle Ford & Motor Company once operated in Dozier by “Jack” Cottle.

Sources for this writing include, research done by Betty Nelson, Gus and Ruby Bryan’s Covington County History, 1821-1976; and Wyley Ward’s Early History of Covington County, Alabama, 1821-1871.

Anyone who might find any errors in the above or who has additional information on the Cottle family is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or email:

HISTORICAL MEETING: The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is hosting a dinner meeting in honor of Confederate Memorial Month at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, at the Cedar Grove Church of Christ fellowship room. Members of the local United Daughters of the Confederacy and friends of Confederate heritage are invited and urged to attend. Meat for the meal will be provided by the camp, but everyone is asked to bring a covered dish. Camp Commander Francis McGowin will present the program.