Handley family came from Dale Co. during 1830s

Published 12:02 am Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Handley family was one of those moving into Covington County, Ala., during the 1830s. Several members of this family were enumerated in the 1850 Federal Census of the county. The senior member, Jesse Handley, was head of a household including his wife, Mary, and their two youngest children, John and Anna. Jesse was 65 years of age; Mary, 55; John, 16; and Mary, 12. Living next door to them was their son, Hezekiah Handley, 24 years old, with wife, Rebecca, who was 15. Residing next to Hezekiah was his sister, Elefare (Handley), and her husband, Michael Wells. Also in the county were another daughter, (Sarah Handley), and her husband, William John Merrill.

The earliest ancestor for Jesse Handley found on Ancestry.com was Mark Handley who was born in Scotch Irish, Rowan County, N.C., in 1715. In 1738 he was married to Elizabeth Dicey (1720-1790). One record indicated Elizabeth may have been born in Ireland, or it may have been in the United States. They had moved to Dobbersville, Wayne County, N.C., where he died in 1779 and she in 1790.They had a son named James Handley who was the father of the above Jesse. James was born in 1742 in Chip, Craven County, N.C. and died in 1823 in Dobbersville.

James Handley was married in 1767 in Davie, N.C., to Molly Cato (or Cater) (1750-1800), daughter of George Cato (1730-1795) and Martha (Beamon (1730-1830). (Note: Martha lived to be 100 years old!) Molly (Cato) Handley bore 16 children to James Handley. Among those was a son, Jesse Handley, who is the one named above. Jesse was born in 1785 in Sandersville, Washington County, Ga. He was married in 1815 in Georgia to Mary Molly “Jane” Brown who was born in 1793 in North Carolina.

In 1805 Jesse Handley drew in the 1805 Georgia Land Lottery. He and two of his sons, Irvin and John Aaron, received Land Patents in Covington County, Ala. They would move to this new location within a few years.

Around 1820, Jesse and Jane Handley moved from Washington County, Ga., to Dale County, Ala. Before 1834 they moved farther west to Covington County where they settled and lived out their lives. As mentioned above, they were enumerated in the 1850 census for Covington County. Most of their children if not all were born before they arrived in Covington.

Jesse and his sons began to acquire land from the government. In 1853, Jesse claimed 79.77 acres in the Dozier/Rose Hill Township from an 1850 Military Grant. In 1856 he purchased two additional tracts: 38.62 acres in the Rawls Township and 40.22 acres in the Dozier/Rose Hill Township. In 1855, Jesse’s son, John Aaron, bought 39.88 acres in Dozier/Rose Hill He also bought 39.88 acres in the same area in 1856. Jesse’s son, Hezekiah, bought 79.77 acres in 1855 in the same township. The next year, in 1856, he added in the same area five additional tracts: 40.13, two 39.88, 40, and 80.13 acres. Jesse’s son, Irvin, purchased in 1856 two tracts: 80.45 and 40.22 and another 40.13 acres in the same township. Also, Jesse’s sons-in-law acquired acreage in the same general area.

Jesse and Jane Handley reared the following children: Irvin, b. 1817, d. 1897, m. Catherine ? (1815-1896); Belinda C., b. 1820, d. 1862, m 1839 Hamilton Parrish (1810-1904); Hulda, b. 1821, d. 1848, m. Green Berry Merrill; Elefare Elizabeth, b. 1823, d. 1867, m. Michael Wells; Hezekiah Brown, b. 1825, d. 1869, m. Rebecca Dozier; Female, b. 1827; Female, b. 1829; Sarah, b. 1831 d. 1892, m. William John Merrill; John Aaron, b. 1834, d. 1906, m. Susanna Matilda Feagin; and Mary Anna, b. 1838, d. 1860, single. One record listed another son, Francis Marion, b. 1846, d. 1909, m. 1872 Minerva Hannah Jones. Several of these children married into prominent families in the Dozier community.

At least three of the children: Irvin, John Aaron and Mary Anna, along with their families headed west to Texas and settled in Polk County. This was probably following the War for Southern Independence, when there was a significant migration of families to that part of the country. However, Irvin was appointed Sheriff of Covington County on August 4, 1865, by Governor Lewis E. Parsons who was the new governor soon after the war ended. J. Handley was 16 years of age in 1864 when he enlisted for service as a private in the Confederate Army. There was also a J. Handley who was 50 years old at the same time who served as a private.

The oldest son, Irvin Handley, and his wife, Catherine, reared the following children: Mary, b. 1839, d. 1880; Judge S., b. 1849, m. Cassandra ?; and Gabriel Washington, b. 1850, d. 1889, m. Frances Elefare Dozier, daughter of Benjamin Dozier and Molsey Edenton (Holley).

The oldest daughter, Belinda C. Handley, was married to Hamilton Parrish. They had the following 11 children, ranging in ages from infancy to 20 years, before her untimely death circa 1860: Mary Elefare, b. 1840, d. 1904; Michael, b. 1842, d. 1929; James Irwin Handley, b. 1845, d. 1936; Jesse Handley, b. 1847, d. 1925; Mary Jane, b. 1850, d. 1929; John E., b. 1851, d. 1882; James J., b. 1855; Joseph Samuel, b. 1856, d. 1933; Jacob Thomas, b. 1857, d. 1934; Hulda Ann, b. 1860, d. 1946; and Henry, b. 1860.

Of course, there were many other descendants in this family whose names are not available to this writer.

Hopefully someone has research this family further and share their results with those who are interested.

The sources for this writing included Ancestry.com; Wyley D. Ward’s Original Land Sales and Grants in Covington County, Alabama; census records and a family story written by Jeanette W. Nabors and submitted by Luzelle Handley Williams for publication in The Heritage of Covington County, Alabama.

Anyone who might discover an error in the above genealogy or history is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL, 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: cthomasson@centurytel.net.



Descendants of the Burrell Jackson Stokes family will be gathering for their annual reunion on Sat., June 27, 2015, in the fellowship room of the Cedar Grove Church of Christ, which is located on the Brooklyn Road.

All relatives are urged to attend and bring a “covered-dish” dinner. The family of Lee and Bama (Fuqua) Stokes will be honored this year.