Cockcroft, Brown families connect

Published 1:21 am Saturday, January 25, 2014

The early genealogy of the Cockcroft family of Covington County was presented in a much earlier edition of this column. In today’s writing, a further review of one branch of this family will be outlined.

A brief review of the early Cockcroft ancestors begins with four generations who were born in Yorkshire, England. The earliest identified from was William Cockcroft who was born and died in England. He had a son, Thomas Cockcroft, who was born in 1692 and married Susan Ogden. They had a son, Ogden Cockcroft, who was born in 1738 and was married circa 1764 in England to Sally Crossley. Their son, John Cockcroft, was born in 1765 in England and was married in 1782 to Mary Still.

Ogden and his son, John, are the two Cockcroft ancestors who were the immigrants from England to America before 1782. The family settled in Edgefield County, S.C. where at the young age of 15 years, John was married to Mary. He died at a fairly young age circa 1814 there in Edgefield County. Among their children was a son, Thomas Alonzo Cockcroft, born circa 1805 in Edgefield County and died circa 1880 in Walton County, Fla. Thomas was first married to Nancy Susan Lovelace and later to Mrs. Nancy Jane Williams.

Among Thomas and Nancy Susan’s children was a son, James Tillman Cockcroft, who was born in 1842 and died in 1908. James Tillman along with his brother, David L. Cockcroft, rendered service in the Confederate Army as privates in Company B, 18th Alabama Infantry Regiment. James Tillman survived the war and returned home to his wife and young son.

James Tillman was married during the late 1850s to Sara Erzebelah Banks. They reared the following children: Thomas Alonzo, b. 1860, d. 1868; Frances Isabell, b. 1870, d. 1940, m. Benjamin Parrish; Sarah Beatrice, b. 1872, d. 1935, m. Alonzo Cobb; Bunervester, b. 1873, d. 1875; Joseph Leason, b. 1875, d. 1951, m. (1) Amanda Ward (2) ?; Nancy Jane “Nannie,” b. 1877, d. 1955, m. Wiley Tucker; Eli Furgason, b. 1880, d. 1965, m. Della C. Neese; Mary Ann Elizabeth, b. 1885, d. ca 1939, m. Isaac Boles; Julia Ann Josephine Savannah “Julie,” b. 1892, d. 1950, m. Henry Morgan Brown; and Reubin Wright, b. 1894, d. 1959, m. Mertie Florence Cook.

James Tillman moved his family to Baker, Fla., for a while. Afterwards in 1889, he moved them back to Covington County where he purchased 640 acres of land located in the vicinity of the current Red Oak Baptist Church along Alabama Hwy. 55. Here he built a house with sections made out of logs for his growing family. An early post office was located in his home, and a daughter, Frances Isabell, delivered mail on horseback. He later donated the land for construction of the Red Oak Church, which became the center for social activities as well as worship for the community. The Cockcroft home was also important for providing hospitality to visiting relatives and other travelers.

From this point on, the family of the ninth and next to the youngest child, Julia Ann Josephine Savannah or “Julie,” will be followed. She has been described as “a beautiful, stylish young woman with notable musical talent.” She sang and played the organ for services at Red Oak Church, of which she was a charter member. Her large family was a close-knit one and well respected in the community.

Julie Cockcroft was married in June 1911 to Henry Morgan Brown (1894-1955), the baby boy of Aaron Pearson Brown (1841-1921) and Sarah Ann (Raley) Brown (1847-1933). One can only imagine the challenges she faced upon leaving her comforting home and surroundings to move with her new husband to live in the home of his parents located in the Heath community, north of Andalusia. This was an active young lady building a relationship with her new husband in a totally different community while residing with her husband’s family. Also being church devoted, she faced adjusting to a new congregation.

Julie’s husband, Henry Morgan Brown, had grown up in the Heath community surrounded by his Raley cousins. His childhood home was located on property, which was homesteaded by his maternal grandparents, Samuel (1817-1899) and Sarah Jane (Jones) Raley. Samuel and his brother, Abraham Raley, sons of John Raley, had married sisters in Edgefield County, S.C. before migrating to Covington County, Ala., in the late 1850s.

After their first child, Sarah Elna Brown, named for her two grandmothers, was born, the couple moved a number of times around Covington County. One family story is of them living in a logging community in a boxcar, which caught fire and burned. By 1920, the family with three children had moved back to Julie’s home community of Red Oak. However, they soon returned to Morgan’s home area of Heath where they had more children and remained until 1928. With seven children needing education, which was not easily available in Heath, the family chose to move to Baker, Fla., to take advantage of the free schooling. Morgan rented a farm, but the “Flood of 1929” totally destroyed his crops. He then found other farms to rent, but farming did not appear to be his best calling.

Eventually, the family moved back to town where Morgan found work with the WPA road projects; such as paving the stretch of highway north of Baker to the Alabama state line. In 1939, the family moved to the southern end of the county where Morgan worked with the state road department until his health began to fail. Their residences included Niceville, Wright, and Ft. Walton Beach. They eventually settled in Niceville where they lived out their lives. Julie succumbed to cancer in 1950 and Morgan’s diseased heart lead to a fatal attack in 1955. Both were buried at the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church Cemetery at Baker.

Morgan and Julie Brown reared the following children: Sarah Elna, b. 1912, d. 1998, m. 1939 Hoyt Hudson; Mary Florence, b. 1917, d. 1937 (hit and run by a drunk driver); Jesse Willard, b. 1918, d. 1987, m. 1941 Ruby Cleo Helms; Aaron Tillman, b. 1920, d. 1980, m. 1943 Nettie Mae Covington; James Marion, b. 1922, d. 1973, m. Mary Jane ?; Lehn Eli, b. 1924, d. 2001, m. Irene “Nina” Pendleton; Gerald Pearson, b. 1926, d. 1991, m. 1952 Ethel Louise Ballard; and Nelle Faye, b. 1932, m. 1950 Lenvard Wade Hall.

The Cockcroft and Brown families have been reviewed in earlier issues of this column.

The sources for this writing were a family story written by Jo Brown-Nagel for The Heritage of Covington County, Alabama, and

Anyone who might find an error in the above 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 Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will hold its annual meeting to honor Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson upon their birthdays on Tue., Jan. 21, at 6:30 p.m. in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. Lee’s birthday is Jan. 19, and Jackson’s is Jan. 21. A film on General Jackson as General Lee’s “right arm” will be shown with refreshments to follow. Anyone interested in Confederate heritage is encouraged to attend.