Battle descendants were prominent in Mobile in 19th century

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 26, 2013

Battle descendants were especially prominent in Mobile in 1800s

Another son of William Augustus Battle and his wife, Martha R. (Edwards), was John William Battle, the brother who was two years younger than the Dr. Henry Elton Battle, who was featured in last week’s column. John William was born in 1870 in Bullock County, Ala. He was married in 1903 in Union Springs to Miss Bessie Sessions Vaughn, daughter of Gillam Nicholson and Amanda Madora (Goode) Vaughn. The family moved to Dothan where John William became a successful merchant.

The Vaughn family resided in the Union Springs community of Bullock County where they had annual family reunions around July 4 for many years. The home place is still standing and rented out at this time. Gillam N. Vaughn was a Confederate Veteran who enlisted as a private in Company D, 3rd Alabama Infantry Regiment on March 20, 1862. He served throughout the war and was described as standing five feet six inches tall with dark hair, blue eyes and a dark complexion. He was the son of John William Henry Vaughn who was born in Virginia and later moved to North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia before making it to Alabama circa 1837. He returned from the war and was married nine years later at the age of 38 years to Amanda Medora Goode, daughter of Joseph and Maria Ann (Clark) Goode.

John William Battle, and his wife, Bessie Sessions Vaughn, had only one daughter, Mamie Louise Battle, who was born in 1905 in Dothan. She became a faithful member of the Baptist Church and was awarded her degree in music from Judson College in 1928. She was married to Thomas Jefferson Wynn, Jr., and they made their home in Dothan. They had only one daughter, Annette Louise Wynn, who was born in 1931 and who married William Henry Reeves (1929-1999). They reared four children: Dana Gaye, m. (1) Tony Cross (2) Ronnie Landon; William Mark, single; John Benjamin, m. Elizabeth Carson; and Steven Parrish, single. (Annette Reeves, a current resident of Andalusia, is the descendant who shared her family records for this series on the Battle family.)

There was an article of interest related to the Battle family, which appeared in The Mobile Press Register on August 1, 1976, written by Cammie East. The title was “Battle china evokes remembrance of a romantic past.” Cammie described the china, a service for 36 and purchased in Europe, was used by the John A.M. Battle family in their home at 602 Government Street, which was built in the early 1850s. The china was decorated with “a trim of gold gadroons and an elegant gilt “B” for the Battle name on handsome, rose-rimmed plates.” “The Battles, one of Mobile’s leading families, entertained ‘absolutely exquisitely’ using their Davenport china.” Currently, pieces of the china are displayed at the Museum of the City of Mobile, which is located in the Bernstein-Bush House.

John Adam Moore Battle (the above) and Samuel G. Battle were nephews of James Battle, a native of New Bern, N.C., born in 1793, who came to Mobile to participate in the trade that made the town boom. James was quite successful in his work as a cotton factor and other business ventures, so he invited his two nephews to move from North Carolina and join him. John A.M. was married to Frances Elizabeth King Clitherall, daughter of Dr. George Campbell Clitherall. After her death in 14 years, he married her widowed sister, Mrs. Mary Madeleine C. Jones.

These men are the descendants of Mathew and Anne Battle of Surry County, Colony of Virginia. Although it has not been documented, Mathew is generally accepted as the brother of John Battle of the same area who was the ancestor of the family that has been outlined earlier. The above brothers, John Adam Moore Battle and Samuel Battle, were the sons of Lott Battle and his second wife, Nancy U. Goodhue. Lott was the son of Ephraim Battle, veteran of the Revolutionary War and planter in Onslow County, N.C. He was a later descendant of Mathew and Anne Battle.

The Battle firm prospered in Mobile, and in 1850, the three Battle relatives were eager participants in the organization of the Battle House Hotel. James was particularly prominent and served as the first president. Isaiah Rogers, who was reported to be the most famous hotel architect of his time, designed the hotel building. The brick structure featured five stories with 240 rooms and had hot water available, which was the first of its kind. The furnishings were especially chosen from available imports in Boston. The hotel was opened for business in November of 1852.

John A.M. Battle was especially prosperous in his Mobile ventures. During 1952, the same year the hotel was opened, he invested in the construction of two steamboats, The Eliza Battle and The James Battle. The two were used in the river commerce, which kept the Town of Mobile booming. “The James Battle was especially esteemed, regarded by many as one of the two finest Mobile packet boats.”

Another story of note was printed in The Dothan Journal circa 1937 regarding the University of Texas campus in Austin. A new administration/library building was being constructed, and the architect was authorized to design a special office on the top floor of the new tower. A Greek professor, Dr. H.T. Battle, had occupied for more than four decades a similar office in the fourth floor tower room of the old main building, which had been demolished for the new one. Dr. Battle was so ensconced in his old office that he was reluctant to remove himself, his collection of books and classic statuary. University officials respected and honored his exended dedication with the creation of the special office and its location on the top floor. This writer could not relate Dr. Battle to the other Battle lines being presented.

Obviously, the Battle family has a very rich heritage, which included many locations, even in Andalusia and Covington County. Various descendants have done extensive genealogical research, and the bulk of it appears to be included in the publication, The Battle Book—A Genealogy of the Battle Family in America, which was published in 1930 by The Paragon Press in Montgomery. The work was planned and in great part executed by Herbert Bemerton Battle, Ph.D., a native of North Carolina and chemist in Montgomery, Ala. The publication was completed by Lois Yelverton and issued under the supervision of William James Battle, Ph.D., professor of classical languages, University of Texas.

The above publication and newspaper stories with assistance from Annette (Wynn) Reeves, a Battle descendant who currently resides in Andalusia, have been the primary sources for these three columns about the Battle family. Appreciation is expressed to her for her generosity in sharing her genealogy.

Anyone who might have any corrections 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:

HISTORICAL MEETING:  The Covington Historical Society will be meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. Anyone interested in local history is encouraged to attend.