Peters family settled in Smyrna community, Florala

Published 12:01 am Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Peters family of Florala, Covington County, Alabama, and surrounding areas will be featured in today’s column.

They migrated to Alabama during the early 1840s and appear to have first settled in Geneva County.

Spencer Peters was the earliest ancestor of this family located on

He was born in 1814 in North Carolina and probably grew up there.

He was married first in North Carolina to Marthan Grice who was born in 1623.

She died 1n 1850 at a young age after giving birth to three children.

The first of these, Rachel Peters, was born in North Carolina in 1843 before her parents moved to Alabama.

The second child, William James Peters, was born in 1845 or 1846 after the family had settled in the Flat Creek community in Geneva County, Ala.

The third child, Matilda Peters, was born a couple of years later in 1847 and before Marthan’s death in 1850.

Spencer Peters was married the same year to his second wife, Elizabeth “Betsy” Jones, the daughter of John Jones who was born in 1798.

Spencer and Elizabeth had the following six children: Margaret, b. 1850; Aurelia Ann, b. 1853, d. 1924, m. William Dawsey White (1853-1905); John, b. 1855, d. 1920, m. Mary J. ? (1855-1916); George W., b. 1857, d. 1931, m. Frances Louise Marshall (1858-1925); Ely A., b. 1857; and Clara Ann, b. 1861, d. 1883, m. Jesse Jackson. Spencer died in Geneva County in 1880.

Spencer’s oldest son, William James “Bill” Peters, began his life in Geneva County and grew to manhood there.

He was married there in 1869 to S. Emmaline (or Emileen) Nolen (or Nolin), daughter of Fair Dennis Nolin and Mariah (Taylor). Bill homesteaded a section of land, and they reared the following eight children: Fair Thomas Nolin, b. 1867, d. 1952; James Franklin, b. 1871, d. 1941; John W., b. 1874; William Perry James, b. 1877, d. 1944; Matthew Sylvester, b. 1879, d. 1959); Martha Ann, b. 1882, d. 1953; Frances Ann Seleta, b. 1884, d. 1975; and Henry Newton, b. 1886, d. 1969, m. Ozie Lavanaca Turbeville.

William James Peters’s youngest child, Henry Newton Peters, was married in 1904 to Ozie L. Turbeville, daughter of Archibald Turbeville and Elizabeth Nancy (Moody). They moved to Covington County to the Smyrna community near Florala.

They had the following 14 children: Lonnie, b.&d. 1907; Monroe, b.&.d. 1908; Newery, b. 1910, d. 1997, m. Pat Kelley; Nora Vader, b. 1911, d. 1912; Mary Frances, b. 1913, d. 2001, m. Grady Early (1886-1973); Martha Ann, b. 1915, d. 2003, m. Tolbert Hughes (1909-1964); Thelma Priscilla, b. 1917, d. 2008, m. James Hughes (1912-1982); Henry Clayton, b. 1918, d. 1976, m. Lola Mae Ludlum; Venia Masie “Chick,” b. 1920, d. 1997, m. Joseph Hutchinson (1918-1967); William Quitman, b. 1921, d. 1991, m. Mildred Nelson; Willie, b. 1924, m. Winfred Geogahan (1924-1999); Birdie Mae, b. 1926, d. 2013, m. John David Adams (1917-1990); Inez, b. 1928, d. 1942; and Robert James, b. 1930, d. 2000, m. Bettye Jean Hayes (1934-1990).

Henry Newton Peters rode to work each day on the railroad, where he sawed logs for Jackson Lumber Company.

He and his family lived for several years in camp cars until they were able to move to the Maraman place in 1916.

The following year he was able to purchase 20 acres and split logs to build them a three-room cabin. Then the family of six was able to move into the Smyrna community in 1917.

Henry continued to work with the railroad, and he began to do some farming.

This Peters family lived very much as the area rural folks did.

They plowed the land with a mule, milked a cow to provide milk and butter for the family.

They grew garden vegetables and field corn for the stock and from which to grind corn meal.

For this they would shuck the corn, shell it and then take to a local gristmill operated by a Mr. Dauphin until he sold it to George and Mary Miller. The Millers then sold it to Bud Boles.

In 1925 folks in the community decided to organize a Baptist Church in the Smyrna community. On Jan. 7, 1927, the Farrow family donated two acres of land upon which to build the church building in the location of the current Smyrna church.

Henry Newton Peters donated logs, which were cut into lumber by Johnny Powell’s sawmill to use for the construction. J.F. Powell served as the first church minister.

Henry Newton Peters’s son, Henry Clayton Peters, returned from serving during World War II in 1944 and began working in the local sewing factory.

In 1945 he was married to Lola Mae Ludlum in 1920 in Munson, Fla.

They purchased a home in Laurel Hill, Fla., where Henry C. worked for 20 years there with Jackson Veneer Company.

In 1966, he began working with the Florida Road Department where he labored until his death in 1976.

They had one daughter, Dorothy Jean Peters, who was born in 1948 in Florala. She married Thomas Gordon Walther (1947-1977) of Baker, Fla., in 1969.

Before his tragic death in an automobile accident, they had two children, a son, Thomas Dewayne Walther, and a daughter, Elizabeth Renee Walther.

Henry Newton Peters’s son, William Quitman Peters, was married in 1943 to Mildred Nelson, daughter of Sam Nelson and Ella (Bryan).

They lived near Florala and Hacoda and worked in the sewing factory until they moved to Bartow, Fla., in 1960.

There Quitman worked in a dairy and later with high pressure pumps.

Still later he worked with Occidental in White Springs, Fla., until they moved to Lake City where he worked for Oxy.

Mildred worked in a fruit packing plant and later in a sewing factory.

The couple reared the following children: Eloise, Patricia, Diane, Richard and Karen.

Henry Newton Peters’s fourteenth child and youngest son, Robert James Peters, was married in 1955 to Bettye Jean Hayes, daughter of Russell Hayes (1910-1991) and Nettie McCullough.

They moved to Bartow, Fla., where James worked as an electrician in phosphate for Armour Agricultural Chemical Company.

In 1968 James moved his family of seven back to Florala and lived in a log cabin.

He purchased the Tastee Freeze business from his sister, “Chick,” and her husband Joe Hutchinson.

He later ventured into the restaurant business and built the Dinner Bell Restaurant, which fire consumed in 1985.

Robert James and Nettie Peters reared the following children: Redona, b. 1954, m. Gene Merritt; Angela, b. 1956, m. Jimmy Lee McCoy; Russell James, b. 1958; Nettie Lee, b. 1960; and Robert Newton, b. 1962, m. Quanz Seval Lee.

The sources for this family genealogy were three family stories written by members of the family that were published in The Heritage of Covington County, Alabama.

Lola Mae Peters submitted one on the Henry Clayton Peters family; Thelma Peters Hughes submitted one on Henry and Ozie Peters; Mildred Peters submitted one on William Quitman Peters; and James Peters submitted one on James and Betty Hayes Peters.

Along with these some information was gleaned from

Anyone who finds an error in the above writing is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or Email:





The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 2, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. New camp officers will be installed, and Francis McGowin will present an address on General Forrest. Anyone interested in Confederate heritage and prospective members are urged to attend.




Everyone is urged to attend the July 4 Parade in downtown Andalusia at 10 a.m. on Sat.,July 4. The parade is sponsored by the local Old Three-Notch Chapter of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution).