Stokes family’s 2011 reunion honors Ellie C. Stokes Pruitt Pope

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 2, 2011

The descendants of Burrell Jackson Stokes and his wife, Cornelia Georgia (Hare), gather each year on the last Saturday of June for their annual reunion. It is no coincidence that the meeting place is the fellowship hall of the Cedar Grove Church of Christ, located on Brooklyn Road in Andalusia. Burrell Jackson was the lead organizer is getting the congregation established in this location during 1916. Many of his descendants have been members through the years, and a good number are at this present time.

As is the custom, those attending the reunion registered by ancestor to provide a record of their attendance and current contact information. Nametags are used to help the less familiar be known as well as assisting them in recognizing relatives they have not seen for some time. Approximately 90 individuals attended who are descended from six of Burrell Jackson and Cornelia’s nine children who lived to adulthood. Special guests were Neal and Donna Parker of Prattville who are descended from Wright Absalom Stokes, an older half brother of Burrell Jackson Stokes.

During the morning the group visited with each other and reviewed notebooks on the different family lines. At noon, Curtis Thomasson, a great grandson, gave an official welcome and made pertinent announcements. Each family was requested to check their respective family notebook and to submit any missing family lineage sheets and any additional pictures of their family that might be included in the family history. Also, everyone was asked to write stories on their family members and share along with newspaper clippings.

Robert Lee Holley, great grandson, voiced the invocation expressing thanks for the family heritage and the abundance of blessings such as the tempting dinner about to be enjoyed. The Stokes families are known for their very tasty dishes and are in the process of compiling a recipe book. A prize was presented to Shelia (Bass) Parrish, a great granddaughter, of Level Plains for her Mexican casserole as the most popular dish. Another prize went to James Barron, a great grandson, for his turtle gumbo as the most unusual dish.

As everyone prepared to go through the buffet line, Judy Stokes, great granddaughter, took pictures of each family line present representing each of the six children. As each group’s picture was taken, they would move to the food tables, and this made for an orderly progression until everyone was served.

Following the meal, a few prizes were given to recognize certain persons in attendance. The youngest one present was Madelyn Skipper, eight-months-old daughter of Kyle and Brittni Skipper. Kyle is a great great great grandson. Clara Bass, granddaughter, who will be 94 in August, received the honor of being the oldest present. Eunivae (Pruitt) Bozeman, granddaughter, was recognized as the oldest descendant of Ellie C. Pope, the honoree for 2011. Linda (Stokes) and her husband, David Hinson, who reside in Atlanta, won the prize for having traveled the greatest distance.

Next, Curtis Thomasson who researches the Stokes family, presented a short program of family history. He announced that an examination of the DNA of his uncle, John D. Stokes’s, had been received.

The most significant findings were some early Stokes ancestors whose DNA closely matches John D.’s. A descendant of a Matthew Stokes, born in the State of Maine, is a perfect match, so there is hope that further study will result in more documented genealogy for this family.

The earliest proven ancestor of this family is Absalom Lafayette Stokes, who was born in Beaufort County, S.C., circa 1790. Various records such as the federal census suggest strongly that David Stokes and his wife, Millen Blount, who lived in the same area, were the parents of Absalom. Absalom and his first wife, Nancy Allene (Adkinson), had four children whom they reared in the area of Charleston, South Carolina. During the 1820s they moved to Walton County, Florida, where Nancy died circa 1850. Absalom married next a neighboring young lady, Elizabeth (Jay), and they had five children and later made their home in Andalusia. Absalom died in 1871 near Andalusia and left Elizabeth as a young widow with five children to finish rearing. One of those was Burrell Jackson Stokes, who is the ancestor of those gathering for this reunion.

Burrell Jackson Stokes was married to Cornelia Georgia Hare, daughter of Martin VanBuren and Elizabeth (Davis) Hare of Conecuh County. They reared the following children in the Adellum and Cedar Grove communities: Lyda May, 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; and Eunice Eva Dell, b. 1907, m. (1) Virgil H. Gilmer (2) Wayne Geral Hudgins.

Ellie C. Stokes, the next to youngest child, was the one being honored during the 2011 reunion.

She grew up as a member of this rather large family, which lived mostly in the Adellum and Cedar Grove communities. She is remembered as having a good disposition and being fun-loving.

She was around 18 when she married Lenzy Lamar Pruitt, son of a neighboring couple, Samuel Blake and Eddie Belle (Wall) Pruitt. They resided in several locations, and Lenzy’s work as a baker took them even to neighboring states.

Ellie was usually a full-time homemaker, but she worked on occasions as a saleslady in clothing stores.

Ellie and Lenzy Pruitt had the following four children: Gordon Lee, b. 1924, d. 1994, m. (1) Eula C. Sandley (2) Hazel Gardner (3) Frances ?; L.E., b. 1926, d. 1965, m. (1) Mary Bush (2) June Mancill; Margaret Eunivae, b. 1929, m. Reedy Darrell Bozeman, Sr.; and Joy Dean, b. 1933, m (1) Horace Homer Jackson (2) Al Blackmer (3) Otto Moyer.

Gordon Lee had two children by his first wife, Kenneth Mack “Buddy” and Peggy. Buddy later chose his stepfather’s Stokes name. Gordon had three children by his second wife, Hazel: Sharon Delane, Freddie Gordon and Lacey. L.E. did not have any children. Eunivae and Reedy Bozeman had four children: Reedy Darrell Jr., Brett Pruitt, Margaret Elaine, and Bruce Harvey. Joy Dean and her first husband, Horace Jackson had three sons: Horace Bennett “Benny,” Homer Lee, and Randal “Randy” Dewayne.

Ellie died in November 1971 in DeLand, Fla., and her remains were returned to Andalusia and buried beside her last husband, Lee Bennett Pope, in the Cedar Grove Church of Christ Cemetery where most of her siblings are buried. Her parents were buried in the Adellum Baptist Church Cemetery, which is only about a mile away.

Anyone who might have a question or comment on this writing may contact the writer, Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or Email:



The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will be meeting at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, July 7, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. Members are asked to bring finger foods for a light buffet. Program will be a display of Confederate memorabilia.