Costen family settled in Red Level community during early 1900s

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 7, 2015

The English name of Costin has varied along the way from the original to Coston and Costen. The immigrant ancestor of the Costin descendants who settled in Covington County appears to have been Stephen Costin who was born in 1622 in England. He was married in 1644 in England to Anna Jane (?) Costin. They arrived in Virginia before 1645, the year his son, Stephen Costin II, was born in Northampton, Va. Stephen I died there in Northampton in 1686.

According to, there were four ancestors in succession named Stephen Costin beginning with the immigrant ancestor. The son Stephen Costin II mentioned above and born in 1645, was married to Comfort Furnis (1663-1735). He died in 1696 in Somerset, MD. Their son, Stephen Costin III, was born in 1687 in Somerset, and he married Mary Elizabeth Fogg (1689-1735). This couple had a son born in 1712 in Maryland whom they named Stephen Costin IV. (The Roman numerals were added by this writer to keep the generations in order.)

The name of Stephen Costin IV’s wife is not known, and neither is his death date. However, he had a son named John Costin who was born in 1740 in Maryland. He became an American Patriot and died in 1801 in Onslow, N.C. The name of his wife is not known, but they had a son whom they named Stephen Costin, which brought the name back into this particular lineage. This Stephen was born in 1756 in North Carolina and died there in 1850. He was married to Abigail Burns (1775-1870). They had a son whom they named Levi Costin.

Levi Costin was born in 1793 and died in 1873 in North Carolina. He was married to Mary Register (1793-1866), daughter of Josiah Register and Abigail (Costin). They had a son, John Costin who was born in 1817 and died in 1874, both in North Carolina. He and his wife, Mary A. ?, reared a son named George “James” Costin who married Annie M. Smith in Gates, N.C., in 1861. George was born in 1840 in North Carolina, but the date and place of his death is not known. Several of this couple’s children migrated to South Alabama and lived first in the areas of Jamestown and Brooklyn in Conecuh County where they were in 1900. They moved on to Covington County before 1910 when they were mostly residing in Red Level.

George “James” Costin and his wife, Annie M., reared the following children in Gates, N.C.: Claude W., b. 1865, m. Julie Kellogg (1856-1930); Charles Aubrey, b. 1866, d. 1922, m. Carrie Ann Eugenia Watkins (1874-1958); Emma F., b. 1869; Isaac Walter, b. 1870, d. 1938, m. Elizabeth Mae Lynch (1886-1920); Fannie S., b. 1872; George, b. 1877; and Thomas, b. 1878. It appears that these sons who moved to Covington County were the ones to change the name from Costin to Costen.

The oldest son, Claude W. Costen, was born in 1865 in Gates, N.C. He was married in 1887 to Julia A. Kellogg, and they had migrated to the Brooklyn Precinct of Conecuh County, Ala., by 1900 and on to Covington County by 1910. In 1900 the couple had a daughter, Julia Emma, in the household along with Claude’s brother, Thomas M. Costen, who was 22 years of age. In addition, there were seven boarders and one servant in the household.

Records from indicate the Claude and Julia had five sons born to them who died young and no names were found. These were born in 1888, 1892, 1894, 1896, and 1898. Their daughter, Julia Emma Costen, was the second born in 1890 and was married in 1914 to James Madison Handley Sr. (1888-1924)). Julia and James Handley had six children born to them: James Madison Jr., b. 1914, d. 1953; Claude C. Coston, b.1916, d. 1997; Sara G., b. 1921; Alfred Bowen, b. 1922, d. 1923; William Alexander, b. 1923, d. 2006; and daughter (private).

The second oldest son, Charles Aubrey Costen, was married in 1893 to Carrie Ann Eugenia Watkins, a native of Georgia and the daughter of Marion W. Watkins and Clara Harlow Tennille. Charles was born in North Carolina and lived in the Gates area until he showed up in Georgia in 1893-1894. He and family were enumerated in Red Level in 1910 with the household including their daughter and one helper. In 1920 Claude and Julia A. were living alone in Red Level. Their daughter, Julie Emma, had married in 1914.

Charles A. and Carrie Costen deeded land for the Red Level Methodist Church and were on the church’s roll of members. Charles A. Costen and Hyman Watkins built the first drug store in Red Level in 1912. Charles A. became president of the First National Bank of Red Level. C.W. (Claude W. ?) Coston was appointed vice-president of this bank. Charles’s family most likely resided at one time in the stately Powell-Costen-Little home in Red Level, which was built in 1906 and still stands as an imposing landmark.

Charles and Carrie Costen reared the following children: Aubrey Eugene, b. 1894, d. 1974, m. Evie Novella Lee (1892-1963); Inez, b. ca 1898, m. Earnest Stough; Mabel, b. ca 1899; Annie, b. 1903, m. Reuben Milton Jernigan; Lois, b. 1905; Clara, b. 1907; Otis C., b. 1910, m. (1) Jessie L. ? (2) Miriam Beatrice (Boyette) Stone Perrett; Wallace Jordan, b. 1912, d. 1959, m Lois Poston (1912-2006); and Carrie W., b. ca 1912.

The third son, Isaac Walter Costen, was born in 1870 in North Carolina. He did not move south with his brothers, but he settled in Suffolk, Va., where he died in 1938. In one census he was listed as a physician. He was married to Elizabeth Mae Lynch during the early 1900s. They were in Virginia by 1907 when their only known son, Ralph Lynch Costen, was born. Ralph was first married to Anne Price (1913-1980) and second to Mildred Witt Phillips (1904-1984). He had a son and daughter by his first wife and a daughter by the second wife.

The youngest son, Thomas M. Costen, was born in 1878 in the Gates area of North Carolina. He was married circa 1903 to Frances H. ? who was born in 1879 in Alabama. They resided in Red Level and reared the following three children: John D., b. 1906, m. Bettie M. ?; George Carbell, b. 1907, d. 1972, m. Lidie ? (1911-1981); and Mary, b. ca 1911. Earlier when the 1930 federal census was recorded, George Carbell was living as a single man in the household of Eddie P. Deer in Butler County.

There were other Costen families who lived for a time in the counties surrounding Covington, but the above line appears to be better known, especially as residents in the Red Level community. Several members of this family were buried in the Fairmount Baptist Church Cemetery.

The sources for this writing include, Costen family records, and Gus and Ruby Bryan’s Covington County History, 1821-1976.

Anyone who may discover an error in the above or who has additional genealogy on the Costen family is encouraged to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL; 334-804-1442; or Email: