Stokes family reunion features descendants of Leland Stokes

Published 12:03 am Saturday, July 4, 2015

The descendants of Burrell Jackson Stokes and Cornelia Georgia (Hare) gathered for their annual reunion on Sat.,, June 27, in the fellowship room of the Cedar Grove Church of Christ, located on Brooklyn Road in Andalusia, Ala. The approximately 50 who attended were descendants of Leland C. Stokes, Justice Lamar Stokes and Matthew VanBuren Stokes. The program this year spotlighted the Leland Congdon “Lee” and Bama (Fuqua) Stokes family, which is following a pattern of the order of birth of Burrell Jackson Stokes’s children.

The day’s activities began around 10 a.m. with each person registering on family sheets and providing current contact information. The next two hours were spent with everyone visiting and getting acquainted with those whom they have not seen in years. Throughout the morning and for the entire reunion, those interested viewed pictures and examined family history records.

Items displayed included a Stokes family crest, pictures, portraits and genealogy records. Large portraits of Burrell Jackson Stokes and his wife, Cornelia Georgia (Hare), were placed over the registration table. They are the ancestors common to all those in attendance with the exception of two guests. A portrait of Leland Congdon “Lee” Stokes, and his wife, Callie Alabama “Bama” (Fuqua), was the center-piece of another large table upon which were several other framed photographs of family pictures including one of past reunion family groups. Hanging over the table was a large, hand-painted portrait of Ruby Evelyn (Stokes) Thomasson, who was the oldest child of Lee and Bama Stokes.

At noon, an official welcome was given by Curtis H. Thomasson, a great-grandson, who coordinated the reunion. Several announcements were made including the following: Explanation of family memorabilia on display and request for others to be brought to future reunions, request for donations for use of facilities and request for completed genealogical family group sheets. Following these an invocation was worded by Bill Bass, grandson, for the abundant covered-dish dinner, which everyone enjoyed immediately afterwards. At earlier reunions recognitions have been given for the best dish, but that has become too difficult with there being so many delicious family favorites.

Following the meal, everyone assembled for a program of family history featuring the family of Lee and Bama Stokes. Grandson Curtis Thomasson read a brief biographical sketch of Leland Congdon Stokes, which he had written from family notes. Relatives were asked to share any memories they had of Lee and Bama Stokes. One shared was how much he enjoyed children and playing with them. He worked mostly with buying and selling livestock and how well he knew the value of them. He had the rarest type blood, AB-, which he frequently donated for those in need. Others recalled how hard he could thump the ears of children as he walked past or sat behind in church. He was a deacon at the Cedar Grove Church of Christ, of which his father was the leading organizer.

Next a powerpoint slide program was shown of pictures depicting Lee and Bama Stokes and their descendants. It began with the couple and then followed with their children and families in chronological order. They reared the following six children: Ruby Evelyn, b. 1910, d. 1953, m. James Wesley Thomasson (1905-1971); Clifton Jackson, b. 1911, d. 1990, m. (1) Myrtle Cleste Rabren (2) Ruby (Peek) Bryant (1917-1989); Earl Hampton, b. 1914, d. 1937, m. Pauline Kirkland (1910-2002); John D., b. 1916, d. 2011, m. Mildred Thomas (1914-2002); Leland Congdon Jr. “L.C.,” b. 1920, d. 1991, m. Bonice Jones (1922-2010); and Bernice Leola, b. 1924, d. 2009, m. Robert Theron Holley (1916-1990).

The oldest child, Ruby Evelyn Stokes, was married at the age of 15 in 1925 to James Wesley Thomasson, son of James Franklin Thomasson and Cynthia Beulah (Sasser). They both grew up in the same Cedar Grove Church of Christ community where they became members and lived near there throughout their lives. Wesley farmed and drove trucks for Sessoms and Andalusia Grocery Companies for which he was a noted driver, and Ruby was always a homemaker. They reared the following four children: Audrey Bell, b. 1930, m. Roy Medford Wilson; James Leland, b. 1934, d. 1992, m. Charlotte Miriam Kelley; Curtis Hampton, b. 1940, m. Marjorie Lou Jacques; and Kyle Ray, b. 1945, m. Carole Nancy LeRoy.

The oldest son, Clifton Jackson Stokes, was first married to Myrtle Cleste Rabren, daughter of Marion Rabren. Cliff, like his father and grandfather, farmed and sold and traded livestock. He and Myrtle reared four children: Leland Jackson, b. 1930, d. 2009, m. Louise Phelps; Charles Billy, b. 1932, m. Mary Frances Rogers (1930-2005); Mildred, b. 1933, m. Reuben Diamond; and Max Medford, b. 1939, d. 1990, m. Mary Faye Taylor.

The second son, Earl Hampton Stokes, was a barber, and he died quite young at 24 years from peritonitis caused by kidney stone infection. He left his wife, Pauline, a young widow with two young children: James Randall, b. 1932, m. (1) Katherine Chine (2) Lynda F.; twin Manuel Eugene, d. 1932 at birth; and Betty Jean, b. 1934, m. Jerry Lamar Stilwell (1933-2000).

The fourth son, John D. Stokes, worked as a road grader for Covington County and farmed his place located off Brooklyn Road. He was an active member of Cedar Grove Church of Christ where he served as church treasurer for about 80 years and many years as an elder. He was married in 1937 to Mildred Thomas, daughter of Homer Thomas and Adell (Donaldson), and they reared two daughters: Martha Crystell, b. 1942, m. James “Jimmy” Troy Prestwood; and Bernice Gail, b. 1943, m. Fred Mixon Segrest.

The youngest son, Leland Congdon “L.C.” Stokes Jr., was a machinist and operated retail sales stores, grocery and salvage. He was married to Bonice Elizabeth Jones, daughter of Mack Herman Jones and Ruby (Parker). They reared the following three daughters: Jeanie Willene, b. 1942, m. (1) David Hendricks (2) Robert Joseph Metzger; Dorothy Nell, b. 1946, m. (1) Phillip Hudson (2) Roy Gustave Gullberg Jr.; and Judy Ann, b. 1949, m. Charlie Lucious Hughes Jr..

The youngest child, Bernice Leola Stokes, was married to Robert Theron Holley, son of Joseph Manning Holley and Ina Mae (Mapes). They resided in Andalusia where Bernice worked with the Commercial Bank and Robert, with Alabama Electric Cooperative. They reared two sons: Robert Lee, b. 1953, single; and John William, b. 1955, m. Sheila Y’vonne Mote.

Pictures of almost all of these children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even a few great, great-grandchildren were shown in the slide program. Also, a couple of photos of five generation families were shown.

In addition to the many descendants present, there were two guests who descend from other Stokes lines. Gary Stokes is in the line of Wright Absalom Stokes, an older half-brother to Burrell Jackson Stokes. Clyde Stokes, an avid Stokes genealogist of Jacksonville, Fla., is descended from a brother of Absalom L. Stokes, father of Burrell Jackson Stokes. Their presence was greatly appreciated.

The 2016 Stokes reunion is planned for the fourth Saturday of June, and the program will feature the Justice Lamar Stokes family. All relatives are encouraged to mark this date and make plans to attend.

Anyone who might have any correction to any of the above information or additional Stokes genealogy is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL; 334-804-1442; or Email: