Thomasson descendants learn more about ancestors

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Thomasson Traces Family Association held it’s annual reunion on Sat., Aug. 4, 2012, in Andalusia at the Cedar Grove Church of Christ fellowship hall located on Brooklyn Road. Approximately 90 descendants gathered to honor their ancestors, review family heritage and share a period of fellowship.

The Thomasson Traces organization was formed primarily for activities related to the descendants of Thomas Randolph and Sarah (Roach) Thomasson, natives of South Carolina. The earlier Thomasson ancestors came from England where three generations had lived. They arrived during the late 1600s and settled in Louisa County, Va. They later moved to Granville County, N.C., and then to York District, S.C. Some members of the family moved to Madison, Morgan County, Ga., and spread from there across the South. Thomas and Sarah left Georgia and headed to Pike County, Ala., where they resided for about 15 years before finally settling in Covington County in 1854.

In the summer of 1978, a group of descendants worked together to establish the family association and initiate the annual reunions. During one of the early reunions, a large granite marker was erected and dedicated to the memory of Thomas R. and Sarah (Roach) Thomasson at their approximate burial site in the historic Fairmount Cemetery in Red Level. Sarah died in 1858 and was buried there only a few years after arriving in the area. Their son, Lorenza Marion Thomasson was the preacher for that church for a number of years during the late 1800s. Lorenza and two of his nine brothers and his only sister reared their families in Covington County and have many descendants who faithfully attend the family reunion.

The 2012 reunion was a very successful one since there was a good representation of the different families in attendance along with some special relatives. One was Helen Ruth, a descendant of Beverly Daniel Thomasson of Arkansas, and her husband, Dr. Stuart Towns, who came from Forest City, Ark. Helen shared a few comments about her ancestor who was a brother to Thomas R. Thomasson. The other first-time attendees were Bruce and Carol Thomasson of Little Rock, Ark. Bruce, a descendant of James Jackson Thomasson, another brother of Thomas R. Thomasson, is a long-time researcher of the Thomasson family.

This meant that there were descendants of three Thomasson brothers who were born between 1797 and 1805 sharing a meeting together almost 200 years after their common ancestor, William Pollard Thomasson’s, death in 1818. William P. was born in 1763 in Louisa County, Va., and died in 1818 in York District, S.C. In 1980, a group of Thomasson descendants made a trip to the Ebenezer Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Rock Hill, S.C., to erect and dedicate a marker to their ancestor, William P. Thomasson, who was a veteran of the Revolutionary War.

At the 2012 reunion, Bruce Thomasson of Maumelle, Ark, made a presentation in which he introduced his branch of the family and discussed possible origins of the Thomasson family name. He is descended from the James Jackson Thomasson line (1800-1859), who was the son of the common ancestor, William Pollard Thomasson (1763-1818). James’s son, William Barron Thomasson, was born in South Carolina and moved with his family to Georgia about 1832. At the age of 19, he was made an attorney by a special act of the Georgia Legislature. When the War Between the States broke out, he raised a company of men for the 41st Georgia Infantry and was elected Captain. He was in the Battles of Corinth, Perryville, Missionary Ridge and Georgia as well as the Siege of Vicksburg and Bentonville “where the last gun was fired.” In 1872, W.B. followed his Uncle Beverly Daniel Thomasson (1805-1885) to Southwest Arkansas and settled near Murfreesboro where he practiced law, served as county clerk and farmed until his death in 1918. Bruce’s lineage is William Pollard Thomasson>James Jefferson T.>William Barron T.>Homer Logan T.>Lloyd Homer T.>Bruce T. He has one brother who lives in Arlington, Texas.

Bruce recounted the earliest documented Thomasson relative is George Thomasson, a printer and bookseller, who came from the “Hamlet of Sudlow in the Hundred of Bucklow.” He explained that he could not find any map showing a village or town named Sudlow, but Sudlow Lane in Cheshire appears on Google maps and that the “Hundred of Bucklow” refers to an ancient division of that county. Both Sudlow and Bucklow fall within 30 miles of an ancient Viking settlement on the Wirral Peninsula. Wirral was densely settled by Scandinavian people, and Norwegian was spoken there until the 13th century. Bruce pointed out that the Vikings were people from modern day Norway, Sweden and Denmark. He also noted that the 15 most common Swedish surnames all end in “-sson” and that there are currently more Thomassons in Sweden than in England and Wales combined. He plans to continue researching a possible Scandinavian origin of the Thomasson name.

Reunion festivities included the usual ones of meeting and visiting the various relatives and sharing general family history. There were displays where attendees could view family photos and group pictures of earlier reunions. A large family tree diagram was displayed along with a couple of items made and donated for the family’s memorabilia collection. These were a quilted hanging of the family crest make by Charlotte Thompson of Robertsdale and an original watercolor of an earlier Thomasson home in Louisa County, Va., painted and framed by Martha (Thomasson) Richey of Birmingham.

Prior to the buffet meal featuring Thomasson favorite dishes, Dennis Knowles, a great-great-great grandson of Thomas R. Thomasson, worded the invocation. After the meal, a program of family history was presented beginning with an introduction of each person present according to the different family lines. The descendants of Cornelius Starr Thomasson who reared his family in the Hopewell community had the most present.

Special recognition and prizes were given to several people: Martha Richey at 85 years of age was the oldest lady present, and James Thomasson at 84 was the oldest man present. The youngest boy present was Blake Kelly, great grandson of James Thomasson, who is 4 months old, and the youngest girl was Lillee Hill, granddaughter of Esker Thomasson, at three years of age. Michael Thomasson of Spokane, Wash., had traveled the farthest, but he yielded to the next farthest who was Kathy Thomasson Futrell of Midland, Texas.

Special recognition was paid to Alma Knowles and her sister, Betty Knowles Parker, for their fried apple pies made by their mother’s recipe and Janice Richey Snow’s cheese cake as favorite desserts. Several were honored for being the first to answer Thomasson history trivia questions. All of these were presented with gift bags prepared by Muriel Thomasson of Sun City, Fla., except the two oldest ones were given a handmade afghan shawl or lap robe.

Katie Beth Morris, a ggg granddaughter of Thomas R. Thomasson, shared her fourth grade school project, which was a scrapbook on Alabama history. She used old family photos and unique artwork to illustrate her ancestors’ periods of history. She was able to describe a few of the events she covered in her book. Everyone was impressed with such a neat school assignment, which blended genealogy with local Alabama history.

Darrell Thomason, one of the family researchers, surprised everyone by displaying a piece of wooden trim, which was once mounted on the old Thomasson house in Louisa County, Va. He traded it to Martha T. Richey for a framed original watercolor of the house.

A highlight of the reunion was the presentation of the newly published copies of Thomasson Traces—Lineages, Vol. I. Sue Cowger with the assistance of Muriel Thomasson worked with a publisher in Tallahassee, Fla., to have 100 copies of the book published since the first printing sold out several years earlier.

The family is grateful to these ladies for successfully achieving this project. Several were purchased and a few copies of Thomasson Traces – Narrative Vol. II were sold, which leaves the supply of it very limited.

It was announced that the 2013 reunion scheduled for the first Saturday in August will highlight Mary Ann Abbagail (Thomasson) Henley, the only daughter of Thomas R. and Sarah Thomasson.

Anyone interested in the Thomasson family or who might have a question related to this writing is encouraged to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or email: