Henry Jesse Law and family were prominent residents

Published 1:17 am Saturday, July 16, 2016

In his book entitled Andalusia, Alabama, William Casson “Bill” Hansford described Henry Jesse Law as “one of Andalusia’s most prominent and influential citizens.” After sharing some of Henry’s ancestry, more will be said about him as an individual, public servant and family man.

The earliest ancestor of this family found on Ancestry.com was Isaac Thomas Law Sr. who was born circa 1784 in South Carolina. He was married to Margaret Washburn who was born circa 1788 in North Carolina. They had at least two children: Martha Agnes, b. ca 1820, m. William B. Maddox; and Isaac Thomas Jr., b. 1820 in North Carolina.

Captain Isaac Thomas Law Jr. was married to Nancy Lee, daughter of Timothy F. Lee (1780-1841) and Elizabeth A. Murray (1797-1887). Timothy was born in Williamsburg, S.C. and died in Macon, Ga. Elizabeth was born in Williamsburg, S.C., and died in Magnolia Springs, Jasper, Tex. Nancy Lee was born in Williamsburg, S.C. and died in Coffee County, Ala.

Captain Law and his wife, Nancy, reared the following children: Martha Elizabeth, b. 1846, d. 1900, m. William C. Mixon; David James, b. 1848, d. 1914; John Seaborne, b. 1849, m. Rena Cox; Washburn Elisha, b. 1851, d. 1908, m. Malinda Rowe Harper (1856-1936); Margaret Sarah, b. 1853, d. 1941; Millard Fillmore, b. 1855, d. 1885; Thomas, b. 1856; Henrietta Jane, b. 1860, m. Lewis Pinkney Hutchison (1854-1929); Ella L. O’Neal, b. 1862; and Henry Jessie, b. 1867, d. 1930, m. Virginia “Jennie” Fletcher (1872-1954).

Isaac Thomas Law Jr. and his wife, Nancy (Lee), were the parents of the notable Henry Jesse Law, their youngest son, who was born in 1867 in the Haw Ridge community of Coffee County, Ala. In 1893 Henry was married to Virginia “Jennie” Fletcher, daughter of Judge Andrew Jackson Fletcher (born 1830), and Martha L. Ward (born 1833). Andrew J. Fletcher was born in West Virginia and eventually migrated to Covington County, Ala., by 1852. There he was elected to serve as Probate Judge and was also a tax assessor at one time. Jennie was born in 1872 in Alabama and died in 1954 in Andalusia, Ala. Henry died in 1930 in Montgomery, Ala., and was buried in the Magnolia Cemetery in Andalusia.

In 1880 Henry J. Law was residing with his family in Centreville of Coffee County, Ala. He moved to Andalusia from Geneva, Ala., during the early 1880s and resided there until the time of his death in 1930, but he died in Montgomery. He and his wife, Jennie, reared the following children: Ruby, b. 1894, m. 1922 Leon Mints Milligan; French, b. 1896, d. 1900; Maurice “Morris,” b. 1899; Hubert, b. 1901, d. 1975, m. Myra Mitchell Steagall (1905-1991); Lamar, b. 1904, d. 1957, m. 1928 Rubye Bernice Driggers (1909-1989); Virginia, b. 1908, d. 1982, m. Jake Lowe Pate (1899-1976); and Edith, b. 1911, m. 1943 Young Mark McElreath Jr.

In 1895 Henry Jesse Law was serving in Covington County as assistant clerk to Circuit Clerk Richard Mosely in the Probate Office. He was appointed later to be the Circuit Court Clerk and served from 1895 to 1906. During Henry Opp’s terms as Mayor of Andalusia from 1899 to 1906, Henry served as a Councilman. Also during his career, Henry Law was appointed by Alabama Governor Bibb Graves to serve in two state positions.

During earlier years, Henry Law had been employed as a salesman for Richard Tillis and Cyrus O’Neal, who was his brother-in-law. At a later date he engaged in a stable and horse selling business. He was the founder of the Andalusia Grocery Company, located on South Cotton Street next to the L&N Railroad. He helped finance the construction along with other shareholders: A.C. Wilder, E.D. Lorraine and William Thweatt. His family maintained interest in this business until his widow, Jennie Law’s, death in 1954.

Henry Jesse and Jennie Law’s youngest daughter, Edith Law, was married in 1943 to Young Mark McElreath Jr. They had two sons, Henry and Mark. This family moved at some point into Edith’s family home where they resided until it was sold in 1964. (Eventually the house was removed and the current Andalusia Post Office was built on the same site.) Edith stated at one time that her father brought the best building artisans to Andalusia to construct the family house. In his book cited earlier, Bill Hanson wrote, “The finish details were exquisite and as fine as any in the city. All the wood was stained, and the rooms were lit by beautiful globed chandeliers. There were fluted columns throughout the house. The dining room had a Tiffany chandelier. There were Queen Anne mantels and stained glass transoms.” Edith’s sons have reported that their mother never fully recovered from moving out of her family’s special house.

The children of Henry Jesse and Jennie Law were also prominent citizens of Andalusia. The oldest daughter, Ruby Law, was married in 1922 to Leon Mints Milligan (1895-1940), son of Sumpter B. Milligan (1864-1930) and Minnie A. Mints (1873-1942), also prominent citizens of Andalusia. Ruby was born in Andalusia, and Leon Mints was born in Milton, Fla. Leon Mintz died in Ashville, N.C.

There was another Law family residing in Covington County during the 1900s, but this writer has not been able to relate the two. Additional information on either of these two families would help to more completely review them. Anyone who might have such or pictures of any of the Law descendants is requested to contact this writer.

The sources for this story were Ancestry.com for the early generations and William Casson “Bill” Hansford’s book, Andalusia, Alabam, for the history related to Henry J. Law and family.


Cedar Grove Church of Christ is celebrating its 100th anniversary on Sunday, July 17. All former members, friends and guests are cordially invited to attend. Services on Sunday are at 9:30 a.m. for history, 10:30 for worship with Ricky Phillips speaking, dinner, and 1:30 p.m. for afternoon worship with Mike Jones speaking. Ricky and Mike are both former ministers for the church.