Edgar ancestors migrated to South Alabama circa 1850

Published 12:01 am Saturday, March 29, 2014

The first Edgar ancestor to bring his family to South Alabama was that of John Thomas Edgar, a native of Georgia. He arrived circa 1850 and settled first in Dale County. He later resided in Coffee County, and his descendants remained there as well as spread to surrounding areas including Covington County.

While the earliest generations of this family have not been completely documented, there are two possible origins. First, the name Edgar has been interchanged with that of Adair from early history. Family lore contends that the Edgar ancestors were originally from Scotland. It is believed that Dunferries, Scotland, was the ancestral home of the Edgars/Adairs. During the period when families united in large groups for protection, the Edgars/Adairs became a part of the Maxwell Clan. In fact, the Edgar tartan is the same as that of the Maxwells.

It is also believed that the family began with Edgar, son of Duvenald who was the son of Donegal of Morton Castle, which was originally owned by the Adairs in Galloway. Edgar was the leader at the Battle of the Standard, which was between King David I of Scotland and Prince Stephen of Northumberland in Northern England in 1138.

There is an interesting side note that in 1892 there was an Adair Post Office in the Eanon community of Coffee County where the John Thomas Edgar family lived. This seems to support the connection of the two names of Edgar and Adair.

The earliest ancestor provided by Ancestry.com for this family is William Edgar who was born in 1689 in England. He was married to Jane Armstrong (1691-1730). Both of them lived out their lives in England where William died in 1730 according to one record. However, his son, John Ewing Edgar, is listed as being born in 1831, so these dates are questionable.

Assuming John Ewing Edgar was born in 1831 in Northumberland, England, he was married in England to Rachael Pattison (1728-1780 or 1822). This John was the one who immigrated to America and settled for a time in Trenton, N.J., where his son, John Lynn Edgar, was born in 1758. John Ewing is shown in one record as dying in 1778 in Missouri and in North Carolina in another.

John Lynn Edgar was married in 1780 in North Carolina to Elizabeth Cummins (1761-1829), a native of North Carolina and daughter of George Washington and Sarah (Collins) Cummins. John L. and Elizabeth died in 1835 and 1829 respectively in Hart, Kentucky. Their son, John Thomas Edgar, is reported to have been born in Georgia in 1803. He is the one mentioned earlier as the ancestor who brought the family to South Alabama.

In 1827, John Thomas participated in the Georgia Land Lottery and was the lucky draw for 202.50 acres in Coweta County. He claimed the acreage, but it is not known what he did with it. That same year he was married for the first time to Mary Ann “Polly” Holloway in Walton County, Ga. Five years later, in 1832, John Thomas was again a fortunate winner in the Gold Lottery when he won 40 acres in Cherokee County. He also claimed this tract, but there is a record of him later selling it. He was residing at the time in Walton County, Ga., where he remained until the late 1840s.

Circa 1850, the family moved to and settled in Dale County, Ala. By 1860, some of the sons had received land grants in Dale and Covington Counties. Some members of the family had moved to Clarke County. By 1868, John Thomas had returned to Coffee County, and Mary Ann died there during that year.

John Thomas and Mary Ann Edgar reared the following 12 children: Georgia Matilda, b. 1827, d. 1913, m. 1844 Elijah “Ely” Jackson Clark (1825-1864); Mary Ann “Margie,” b. 1829, d. 1912, m. 1844 William H. Pritchett (1829-1865); John William, b. 1830, d. 1896, m. 1848 Charity Elizabeth Stewart; George W., b. 1831, d. during war; Hugh, b. 1834, d. 1928, m. Frances Rebecca Holloway (1836-1918); Henry, b. 1836, d. 1886, m. Eliza Americus Blanton (1835-1908); James O.A., b. 1838; Clarissa Jane, b. 1840, d. 1911, m. William Clark; Caroline, b.&d. 1843; Eliza, b.&d. 1845; Marian, b. 1847, d. 1850; Martha Ann, b. 1849, d. 1945, m. 1865 Charlie Coats “Bud” Bingley; and Greenberry, b. 1851, d. 1934, m. (1) 1867 Mary Elizabeth Pugh (1851-1880) (2) Martha Ann Pugh (1854-1916).

Soon after Mary Ann died in 1869, John Thomas Edgar was married the same year to Atlissa Melissa Grubbs (1811-1904), widow of George Washington Grubbs who was probably a casualty of the War for Southern Independence. John Thomas and Atlissa had one son, James Riley, b. 1871, d. 1942. This family resided in Coffee County.

Since there is considerable genealogy available that has been researched by several members of this family a second column next week will feature additional generations. Appreciation is expressed to those who have done this work and made it available to others.

The sources for this writing include Ancestry.com, family records, a story in The Heritage of Covington County Alabama written by Martha (Clark) Brightwell, and three stories in The Heritage of Coffee County, Alabama submitted by J.L. Edgar, John F. Edgar and Frankie W. Sawyer, Ph.D.

Anyone who might find any errors in the above history or genealogy is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 34620; 334-804-1442; or email, cthomasson@centurytel.net.

The Covington Rifles Camp #1586 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will be meeting at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 3, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. Each member and anyone visiting are requested to bring some Confederate memorabilia item to show and tell about it. Guests and prospective members are most welcome.