Tillman family settled in Straughn community near school

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 28, 2015

Tillman family settled in Straughn community near school


The Tillman family of Covington County was introduced in last week’s column and reviewed from the earliest known generations down to that of Hardee Hill Tillman. Hardee was born in Georgia in 1849, and he migrated to Alabama and where he finally settled in the Straughn School Precinct of Covington County.

Hardee (or Hardie or Hardy) Hill was married in 1872 to Sarah “Sallie” S. Lloyd (1839-1924), daughter of Daniel M. Lloyd (1805-1869) and Rebecca (1806-1855). He was 23 years old, and she, 33. Sallie’s father was a wealthy plantation owner who lived in a large antebellum home located outside Hurtsboro, Ala., which was near the community of Creekstand. The house is still beautifully maintained and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Sallie grew up with three brothers and two sisters. Two of her brothers rendered service in the Confederate Army during the War Between the States as First Lieutenants. Her brother, Benjamin, was killed in 1861 in Virginia.

In 1850 the Lloyd family was residing in Dallas County, Ala., and owned 32 slaves, five of whom were runaways. By 1860 they had moved to Creekstand (Warrior Stand) where they lived on a large plantation, which was rumored to be around 27,000 acres of land. In the 1860 federal census the Lloyd family was listed on the same page as the Tillman family, so they would have been neighbors. This probably accounts for Hardee and Sallie getting to know each other.

Following the end of the war, the slaves were freed and most of the South’s liquid assets had disappeared. Also, the land was nearly worthless, and most large land owners could not afford to pay the taxes on the land, which they owned. According to family legend, Sallie, the youngest of the four children left, took $500 as her share of the estate and moved with her new husband, Hardee Tillman, to Covington County. They settled in the Straughn community and lived in a large, old house located on the site of the present new Straughn High School. Descendants remember the house as being of classic Southern design with a breezeway (dog-trot) separating the bedrooms from the other rooms. The main family room was originally a one-room log cabin.

Around 1922 Sally Lloyd Tillman gave four acres of land for construction of Straughn School. The current Straughn Elementary School is located on the four acres given originally. The new Straughn High School was built on the site of the old Tillman home. This property was probably owned by Jack Tillman.

Hardee and Sallie Tillman had five children whom they reared in the Straughn community. They were as follows. Walter Emmett, b. 1873, d. 1956, m. Laura Lavenia Caton (1883-1970); Edward Lloyd, b. 1876, m. Hulit Hudgens; Marvin Pierce, b. 1878, d. 1965, m. Exie Dora Caton (1891-1975); Bonnie “Burney/Barney” Hill, b. 1881, d. 1947, m. Effie Lee Helms (1892-1985); and Leola Estelle, b. 1883, d. 1965, m. James H. Johns.

The oldest son, Walter Emmett Tillman, was married to Laura Lavenia Caton, daughter of John Henry Caton (1787-1855) and Rebecca C. Veasey (1855-1926). They lived and reared their family in Andalusia and the Straughn community. They had the following seven children: Otis E., b. 1902, d. 1975, m. Mamie Radford; Rover, b. 1904; Roby, b. 1905; Leola, b. 1906; Hubert, b. 1908; Emmett, b. 1910, d. 1984; and another daughter.

The second son, Edward Lloyd Tillman, moved his family around to different cities, but the Straughn area was still home for him. He was married to Hulit Hudgens of the Opp area. They reared the following children: Reuben Edward, b. 1909, d. 2003, m. Lucille Hogg: Lloyd Edward; Fulton Edward; Lorraine, d. 2014, m. ? Beaver; and several other children. Reuben and Lucille had only one son, Jerry Edward Tillman, b. 1935, d. 1979, m. Paula Jean Snowden with whom he had four children.

The third son, Marvin Pierce (Pearson) Tillman, was married to Exie Dora Caton, daughter of John Henry Caton and Rebecca C. Veasey. This couple also resided in the Straughn community where Marvin was a farmer. They reared the following children: Mary A., b. ca 1920, m. Robert Jones; Ina Merle, b. ca 1822, m. Waylon Ham; Mabel G., b. ca 1824, m. Gaston Wood; Marvin Jr. “Jack,” b. 1826, d. 1984, m. Margaret Carnley; Rebecca, b. ca 1929, m. Donald Nall; and James Hardy “Bill,” b. 1932, m. Wilma Lee Whatley.

The next son, Bonnie or Barney Hill Tillman, was married to Effie Lee Helms, daughter of Hilliard Helms (1867-1945) and Laura Annie Johnson (1875-1961). They lived in the Straughn community and reared the following four children: Ferrell Hill, b. 1920, d. 1945, single: Verta Mae, b. 1922, d. 1997, m. Cecil Calvin Wyatt (1921-2008); Annie Rae, b. ca 1923, m. Z.T. Jones; and Hoyt Hardie, b. 1928, d. 2005, m. Faye Jenkins. Hoyt’s son, Donnie Tillman built his house on Tillman land located across from Straughn School.

The youngest child, a daughter, was Leola Estelle Tillman, who was married to James H. Johns. This family resided in the Coldwater community where James farmed and Leola Estelle was a homemaker. They reared the following children: Homer C., b. 1903, d. 1994, m. Cora Lee Brown (1907-1975); Clifford, b. ca 1906, m. Lorene Brogden (1909-2001); Ruth M. Johns, b. 1910, d. 1991, single; Theo F., b. 1911, m. Emma Grimes McKenzie; Zena, b. 1914, m. Griffin Gammage; Thad M., b. ca 1916, m. Helen Wiggins; and Kensel Pat, b. 1920, d. 1998, m. Ruby Wells Garvin (1919-1999).

The Tillman and Caton families were neighbors in the Straughn community, so was natural for two Tillman sons to marry Caton sisters, which resulted in double kinship. John Henry Caton built his homestead in 1871 and married Rebecca Veasey soon afterwards and reared four children. The youngest, a daughter, Exie Dora, married Marvin Tillman, and they moved into the Caton house to care for her aging parents. The original house began as a one-room log cabin, which had later additions. Fortunately, the house, located on the Preacher Barfoot Road near Straughn School, was acquired, moved and restored by James Hardy “Bill” Tillman. Today, it stands on the John Henry Caton Lane just off the Heath/River Falls Road in the Heath community. Its location is on property purchased by Marvin Tillman in 1900. It has been enjoyed by the family and the site of several Tillman family reunions.

A number of descendants of this family were buried in the Bethany Baptist Church Cemetery at Heath, but even more were buried in the Mt. Zion Methodist Church Cemetery near Straughn School. There are currently many descendants who continue to reside in Covington County.

Sources for today’s writing include Ancestry.com, a brief history entitled “Tillman-Caton Family Histories, 1795-2008,” written by Gary Wood, a grandson of Marvin and Exie Dora Tillman, and family records provided by James Hardy “Bill” Tillman, Sr.

Anyone who might find an error in the above or who has additional information on the Tillman family is encouraged to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: cthomasson@centurytel.net.