Prescott family settled primarily in Elba community

Published 11:09 pm Friday, May 3, 2013

One of the earliest pioneers in South Alabama was Ephraim Prescott, a Methodist minister. He and his brother, Isaac Prescott, have had many descendants to reside primarily in Coffee County, but several have made their home in Covington County. These families have been neighbors and had some inter-marriages with the Tucker family featured in last week’s column.

Ephraim Prescott was born in 1776 in Edgefield District, S.C., and was the son of Ephraim Sr. who was born in 1750 in the same state. The name of his mother is not known, and they both parents died there before at least two of their sons migrated south.

Ephraim Prescott, Jr. came to South Alabama with his family and probably with his brother, Isaac, during the early 1820s. His work as a Methodist minister most likely led to him seeing a mission effort in a new frontier. He and his wife, Rebecca (Cain), settled first in Crenshaw County, which had once been a part of Pike County, and they later moved to Coffee County, which had been a part of Dale County. After Ephraim Jr.’s death in 1847, his widow, Rebecca, moved into the household of her son, William Daniel Prescott.

William Daniel Prescott was born in 1805 in Edgefield District, S.C. and came to Alabama circa 1822 with his parents. He was married in 1828 to Harriet Elizabeth Richburg who was born in 1812 in Clarendon, S.C. Harriet was the daughter of Professor Hugh and Rebecca (Manning) Richburg. She was a descendant of the Reverend Claude Philippi deRichbourg, a Huguenot minister who left France when Louis XIV revoked the Edit of Nantes, which deprived his protestant subjects (Huguenots) of their civil and religious liberties. He came to the United States and settled in Jamestown, Va., circa 1699. A few years later, he moved to South Carolina.

In 1834, William Daniel Prescott moved his family to Coffee County, Ala., and settled on Beaver Dam Creek, which was a few miles northeast of Elba. He was a very successful farmer and operated the first sugar cane mill in the county. He rendered service in the Indian War of 1836 and 1837. When the War Between the States erupted, he was too old for service, but he had four sons to enlist. Unfortunately, three of these lost their lives during the war. He remained an active member of the Methodist Church in which his father was a minister. At William’s death in 1880, he was buried in the Prescott Cemetery, located south of Elba, where many of his relatives and descendants have been buried.

William Daniel and Harriet Prescott reared the following 12 children: William Daniel Jr., b. 1824, d. 1863 when killed in Atlanta during battle, m. Elizabeth M. Bodiford; Harriet Elizabeth, b. 1831, d. 1891 in Texas; James Hiram, b. 1833, d. 1862 when killed in battle near Tupelo, Miss., buried in Confederate Cemetery in Vicksburg; Sarah Rebecca, b. 1835, d. 1910, m. John L. Lindsey; Mary Seleta, b. 1837, d. 1910; John Wesley, b. 1839, d. 1861-65 in battle at New Hope Church; Susan Ellen, b. 1842, d. 1924; Hugh Andrew, b. 1844, d. 1924; Nancy Ann Lucinda, b. 1846, d. 1933; Jackson Lafayette, b. 1848, d. 1912, m. (1) Nancy Etta Clark (2) 1911 Mrs. Hattie Kelley; Mahala Emiline, b. 1850, d. 1932, m. George Madison Richburg; and George Calvin, b. 1855, d. 1945, m. Ava Ann Cauley.

One of the younger sons, Jackson Lafayette “Fate” Prescott, was born in 1848 in Coffee County. Being only 13 or 14 years of age, he was too young to serve in the regular Confederate Army, but he did volunteer for the Home Guard. He was selected to travel to Greenville at the end of the war to collect his seriously injured brother, Hugh Andrew, from the train station. Hugh fought in several battles and was taken prisoner in 1863. He remained there until the end of the war and he made the trip home in 1865. The trip to Butler County proved to be an eventful experience for Fate in that he met a young lady named Nancy Etta Clark, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (Bodiford) Clark. He returned to her home and was married in July 1866.

In 1867, Fate acquired 80 acres of land in Coffee County. Within two years in 1869, he sold the land and moved into Crenshaw County where they made their home until 1872. At that time, they moved to Milam, Tex., but they returned to Crenshaw County in 1874. In 1877, the family finally settled permanently in Elba.

In 1878, Fate was selected as a juror to view and mark out the best route for a proposed road from Elba to Andalusia, which would follow Taylor Mill Road and Brannen’s Stand. In 1884, he was elected to serve as Sheriff of Coffee County and was re-elected in 1888. In 1893, he started operating the J.L. Prescott Livery Stable and Elba Coach Company. In 1897, he was one of the initial stockholders in the Elba Improvement Company, Inc. He began acquiring land until he owned around 650 acres. During these years, he was active in the Elba Methodist Church where he was elected to serve as a trustee.

Fate Prescott and his first wife, Nancy, who died in 1910, reared the following nine children: John William, b. 1869, m. (1) Carrie B. Summerlin (2) Nannie T. Ford; Louise Ellafair, b. 1870, m. John J. Sharpless; Debbie N., b. 1872, m. Walter G. Compton; Jackson Lafayette Jr., b. 1875, m. Lola Lucinda Mattox; Daniel Franklin, b. 1878, m. Frances Etta Blocker; Gordon Moore, b. 1881, m. Beatrice Owens; Georgia Lenora, b. 1884, m. Hardie Henry Bailey; Minnie Ola, b. 1887, m. Patrick O. McLain; and Oscar, b. 1890, single.

Fate and his second wife, Mrs. Hattie Kelley had one daughter, Mary, b. 1912, m. Newton N. King.

William Daniel Prescott’s youngest daughter, Mahala Emiline Prescott, was married to George Madison Richburg, son of William M. and Temperance (Fannie) Richburg. Their son, John Franklin Richburg, born in 1868, was the seventh generation of the Huguenot Claude Philippe deRichbourg. He became a Master Mason and was an active citizen in his community. In 1888, he was married to Davina Rena Donaldson. After they were unable to have their own children, they traveled to the Baptist Children’s Home in Evergreen. There in 1915 they adopted Lurline Brewer who was four years old. The child missed her brother so much that they returned the next year to also adopt her brother, William Chester Brewer, who was almost eight years of age. In 1918, John purchased land in the Flat Creek area near Samson. He died there in 1922 and was buried in the Lime Springs United Methodist Church Cemetery. Davina died in 1960 at the Masonic Home in Montgomery.

George and Mahala Richburg’s daughter, Harriet Melinda Seleta Richburg (1850-1932), was married to Franklin Pierce Tucker, son of Benjamin Franklin and Mary Elizabeth (Hill) Tucker. They had the following children: Lela, b. 1902, d. 1980, m. George Johnson; Margaret Alice, b. 1904, d. 1987, m. Johnny B. Homer Davis; Myrtle, b. 1906, d. 1907; and Button Blue, b. 1908, d. 1948, m. Buna Wright.

Additional genealogy has been compiled by descendants of this family. The sources for today’s writing include, family records of Imogene (Davis) Stokes, stories published in The Heritage of Coffee County, Alabama, and

Anyone who might have a correction to the above or additional information on the Prescott or Richburg family is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or email: