Thomasson family heritage celebrated at Saturday reunion

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 27, 2011

Members of the T.R. Thomasson UDC Chapter, photographed by Brandie Evans who attended the 2011 Thomasson family reunion, were: Sue Cowger, Margie Thomasson, Martha Richey, Wynona Anders, Delano Gillian (101 years old), Linda Castleberry, Tammie Evans (chapter president), Eleanor Williamson, Lisa Mollitor. | Courtesy photo

The Thomasson family with roots in Covington County, Pike County, Morgan County, Ga., York District, S.C., Granville County, N.C., and Louisa County, Va., has been staging an annual reunion for many years in Andalusia. As usual, the gathering was held on August 6, the first Saturday in the month, in the fellowship hall of the Cedar Grove Church of Christ, located on Brooklyn Road.

Attendants for the most part are descendants of Thomas Randolph and Sarah (Roach) Thomasson who led the family from the Carolinas to Covington County. Upon their arrival in 1854, they first settled near Red Level, but Thomas R. acquired land from the government in 1856, which was located a few miles northeast of Rose Hill, which was near the Burnout community. A number of his family members resided on the historic Possum Trot Road.

As with most families the children began to move to other communities and even other states, so the annual reunion is designed to attract as many as possible back to their “roots.” Many find this a very rewarding time for renewing fond acquaintances as well as meeting new relatives.  There is always an attitude of recognizing and honoring ancestors through historical programs, erecting headstones and restoring and maintaining cemeteries where relatives were buried.

One major activity of the 2011 reunion was a memorial to Osborne “Oz” Thomasson of Sun City, Fla., who passed away this past spring. His family who has strongly supported recent reunions had requested that he be honored and remembered through donations being made to the Thomasson Cemetery, which is located near Hopewell Baptist Church located on Brooklyn Road. Most of the graves there are for descendants of Cornelius Starr Thomasson, son of the above Thomas R. and Sarah Thomasson.  Oz Thomasson was not buried there, but he and his family are descended from Cornelius S. and have contributed much to the cemetery.

During the memorial service, several relatives were remembered as well. One was Oleta (Frazier) Thomasson, granddaughter of Jefferson Sylvanus Thomasson and a resident of Opp, who passed away just weeks before her 101 birthday. Another was Bill Manis, husband of Jo (Thomason) Manis of Panama City, Fla., who died of cancer only a few days after the 2010 reunion. Jo and her family have been great supporters of Thomasson family research and the reunions. The assembly sang a hymn, “The Unclouded Day,” which was a favorite of one of the ancestors, Lorenzo Marion Thomasson, who was a reputable minister of several Baptist churches in the county.

Another highlight of the reunion was an opportunity to honor Delano Cumi (Drake) Gillian, the oldest person present who was 101 years old on July 14. Delano, a granddaughter of Jefferson Sylvanus Thomasson, resides in Greenville and spends considerable time at the Drake place, her parents’ home in the Burnout community. She was presented many well wishes along with a hand crocheted afghan.  Her niece, Wynona (Drake) Anders, currently resides with Delano.

At each reunion, special tribute is paid to the ancestors, Thomas R. and Sarah (Roach) Thomasson who reared 10 sons and one daughter. One son died at age 10, and one was too young to serve, but the other eight sons served in the Confederate Army. The future husband, Mike Henley, of the one daughter also served in the same company as two of his future wife’s brothers. Three of the Thomasson sons died during battles, and the other five returned home to rear large families.

In 1983, the family’s noted historian, Marjorie B. Malloy, who was a leader in the U.D.C. organization in Georgia, was the organizing president for a new U.D.C. chapter in Andalusia. She prepared applications for 56 charter members who were all descendants of Thomasson Randolph Thomasson, for whom the chapter was named. This is a very special tribute to the couple, which furnished and sacrificed so much for the Confederate cause.

Several members of this chapter of the U.D.C. were present to represent this organization. As a special part of the program, Chapter President Tammie Evans initiated a new member, Lisa Mollitor of Andalusia. The group is growing and performs a number of notable services to preserve Confederate Heritage. As a remembrance of the period of the War Between the States, the assembly sang “The Bonnie Blue Flag.”

At least nine Thomasson descendants are members of the local Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to honor the service of their particular ancestor. Following a brief report of camp activities, the group sang “Dixie” in honor of their Confederate heritage.

During the morning hours of the reunion, relatives visited and shared family news until noon. Lavon Henley worded the invocation for the occasion, and the abundant meal to be enjoyed by all. The program was begun immediately following the dinner with several awards being made.  The most interesting and tasty dish recognition went to Alma Knowles for her apple pie baked in an iron skillet. The youngest in attendance was Alexa Moore of Panama City, Fla., and the senior member present was Delano (Drake) Gillian at 101 years of age. Tom Malloy and his family of Nashville, Tenn., had traveled the farthest. Each of those recognized were given gift bags prepared by Mrs. Oz (Muriel) Thomasson of Sun City, Fla.

To generate additional interest in the family and the reunions, there were numerous items on display: Photos of relatives and past reunions, ancestral chart, family scrapbooks, copies of the Thomasson Traces book, a wall-hanging of the Thomasson family crest, and a collage of photos of Oleta (Frazier) Williams and family. A surprise presentation was made to Curtis H. Thomasson by Martha (Thomason) Richey of Birmingham who has been a faithful genealogist and supporter of the reunions. She had painted and framed a watercolor drawing of the first Thomasson house in America, which was located in Louisa County, Va. This special piece will be displayed at future reunions.

The occasion was concluded with someone from each of the family lines volunteering to be the contact person for his respective branch in planning for the 2012 reunion, which is scheduled for the first Saturday in August 2012.

Anyone who might have a question or comment on this writing 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 SCV will be meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thurs., Sept. 1, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. Anyone interested in Confederate heritage is welcome to attend.