Battle descendant becomes popular physician

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 19, 2013

In the last column, the early generations of the Battle family were presented down to that of William Sumner Battle who was born in 1761 in Virginia. He and his wife, Sarah Whitehead, a native of Nash County, N.C. and daughter of Lazarus Whitehead, reared a large family of 12 children. He had an eventful life from serving in the Revolutionary War and marrying afterwards in 1783 in Edgecombe County, N.C. His first child, Elizabeth, was born there in 1784, and then the family moved to Hancock County, Ga., where the other 11 children were born.The family experienced a very sad occasion in 1803 when Elizabeth, the oldest child, died at the age of 19. She as well as most members of her relatives was a dedicated member of the Baptist Church.

The third son, John William Battle, was born in 1792 in Hancock County, Ga. He was a successful planter and merchant. He was married three times with Elizabeth Atkinson being his first wife. He and Elizabeth had four children before her death at a young age. Their children were William Whitehead, d. young; Jesse Sumner, b. 1829, d. 1864, m. 1850 in Penfield to Nancy Elizabeth Thomas Culbreath (1832-1896); John Milton, b. circa 1831, d. during 1860s, m. Ann Garrard; and infant daughter who did young.

John William Battle was married second to Miss Asbury, cousin of his first wife, but they did not have any children. He was next married to Sidney Ann Tuggle (1808-1887) with whom he had three additional children: William Augustus, b. 1836, d. 1894, m. 1860 Mattie Rebecca Edwards; Lee Whitehead, b. 1839, d. 1903, m. 1867 Elizabeth Ann Harris, daughter of Thomas W. and Nancy S. Harris; and Julia Ann, b. 1841, d. 1867, m. 1858 William Jones Frazer (1835-1888).

John William Battles’s second son by his first wife, Elizabeth Atkinson, was Jesse Sumner Battle who was killed in battle near Petersburg, Va., during the War Between the States. However, he was married before the war in 1850 to Nancy Elizabeth Thomas Culbreath, daughter of William and Martha (Tuggle) Culbreath. This writer was unable to locate the names of any children for this couple.

John William’s third son by Elizabeth was John Milton Battle who was married to Ann Garrard of Pine Level. This couple had two children before John Milton’s untimely death during the War Between the States. The first child was a son who died in infancy, and the second was a daughter, Elizabeth Adelaide, b. 1857, d. 1928, m. 1879 Millard Clay Townsend, son of Jefferson M. and Savannah A. Townsend. Following John Milton’s death, Elizabeth was married to Dr. E.H. Rowell who moved the family to Texas.

John William Battle’s oldest son by his third wife, Sidney Ann Tuggle, was William Augustus Battle who was married in 1860 in Montgomery County to Martha “Mattie” Rebecca Edwards, daughter of John and Susan Jane (Morris) Edwards. William Augustus served in the Confederate Army as Captain in Company B, 51st Alabama Cavalry. He supported his large family of 10 children through farming primarily.

Their children were Mattie Belle, b. 1861, d. 1862; Frank Forest, b. 1862, d. 1867; Florence Vernon, b. 1865, d. 1922, m. 1890 Susan Virginia Wright, daughter of Jonathan David and Rosetta Virginia Wright; Franklin Adair, b. 1867, m. (1) 1891 Ella Irene Thigpen (1869-1895) (2) 1896 Edna Posey Evans; Henry Elton, b. 1868, d. 1923, m. 1897 Jessie Corine Wright; John William, b. 1870, d. 1924, m. 1903 Bessie Sessions Vaughn, daughter of Gillan Nicholson and Amanda Madora (Goode) Vaughn; Thomas Milton, b. 1871, single; Sherrod Augustus, b. 1873, m. 1890 Birdie Collins, daughter of Daniel Marion and Sarah Ellis (Powell) Collins; Bernice Chalmers, b. 1876, m. (1) Willie Griswold (2) Mrs. Bessie Bedgood; and Gertie Alabama, b. 1878, d. 1906, m. G. Adolphus Morris, son of Alexander and Fannie Morris.

One of the above children, Henry Elton Battle, is the one who became a medical doctor and practiced medicine in the Covington County area during the early 1900s. Dr. Battle was born in China Grove, Montgomery County, Ala., in 1868. He received his training and medical degree from the University of Tennessee. He began his practice in Pine Level in 1896 and was married the next year, 1897, to Jessie Corine Wright, daughter of Jonathan David and Rosetta Virginia (Parke) Wright, of the Pine Level community. Soon afterwards, Dr. Battle moved his family and practice to Andalusia where he would work until his death in 1923 at which time he was buried in the Magnolia Cemetery next to his young son’s grave.

Dr. Henry E. Battle and his wife experienced some grave tragedies with their two sons. The first, Sumpter Elton, was born in 1899 and died the next year. The second, Lee Otis, was born in Andalusia in 1901. When a teenager, he enlisted to serve during World War I where he was assigned to duty aboard the Cyclops, the infamous destroyer, which was lost at sea in 1918. From written reports, the ship simply disappeared with no evidence of what caused the tremendous loss. The Battle family received word that Lee Otis was among those missing and presumed dead. In a later tribute, the Battle-Malcolm Veterans of Foreign Wars Post was named in his honor.

Fortunately, the family was blessed through the birth and life of their only daughter, Evelyn, who was born in 1906. She grew up to marry Richard A. Findley and resided most of her life in Andalusia. She is remembered by many as Mrs. Findley, their teacher at Church Street Elementary School.

Dr. Henry E. Battle was well respected in the Andalusia community. In his obituary, it was stated that he was “a prominent physician of this area and died at his home of heart trouble after a brief illness.” His funeral was held on the day of his death in 1923 at his residence with the local Baptist pastor officiating. He was a member of the Knights of Pythias who performed their burial rites as a part of the ceremony. In addition to being a member of the Baptist Church and Knights of Pythias, he was a member of the local lodge W.O.W. and M.W.A. His local colleagues or fellow physicians served as his pallbearers.

Plans are for some additional Battle family history and genealogy to be featured in the next column. Many descendants have been prominent in public life, and the name has been associated with several landmarks.

The sources for this writing were Covington County History—1821-1976 by Gus and Ruby Bryan and The Battle Book—A Genealogy of the Battle Family in America by H.B. Battle, Lois Yelverton, and W.J. Battle.

Anyone who might have any correction to the above or additional information on the Battle Family is requested to contact this 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 is hosting a meeting on Monday, January 21, at 6:30 p.m., to pay tribute to Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas Edward “Stonewall” Jackson upon their respective birthdays. The event will be held in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library and will include a covered dish dinner and speaker. Guests are welcome.