John Clifton Polson’s family ancestry is unresolved

Published 1:32 am Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Polson name will be recognized by many in the area of Andalusia due to Arkie Polson’s Barber Shop, which he operated for many years. The Polson Barber Shop was located in a block building located on Tucker Street next to the railroad and near the former Oscar Hipp’s Gin and the Southern Oil Company. That site today is just east of Stewart Brothers Farm Supply. Arkie was a well-known barber and would ask each customer how he wanted his hair cut. Regardless of the answer, he proceeded to cut it in “Arkie’s Style,” the only one he knew.

Arkie, or Archie as he was sometimes called, was a son of John Clifton Polson, supposedly a native of South Carolina. A Polson family researcher, Norma Bough, of South Carolina, reports that there were five different Polson family lines in the Chesterfield County, S.C., area. She has not been able to relate John Clifton to any of those families, so that generates questions.

There is not yet any concrete documentation of John Clifton Polson’s ancestry. records show him to be the son of Henry Polson and Cordy Ann Hunt who were indeed natives of South Carolina; however, their son was John B. C. Polson. Henry was born in 1858, and she, in 1863. He died in 1933 in Cheraw, Chesterfield County, S.C., and she, in Richland, S.C. Their descendants do not believe they are the parents of the John Clifton in question. Some other records suggest he was the son of Clifton Polson (1836-1921) and Mary or Maude Ingeram (1836-1940), who were also natives of South Carolina. Researchers have not been able to relate John C. to these parents or any of the other Polson lines from South Carolina.

Also, there is an interesting theory relative to John Clifton Polson’s family. He had migrated to South Alabama by the early 1900s when he was married in 1905 to Lillie Luiza Jane Ellenburg (1888-1972), daughter of Daniel Alexander Ellenburg (1866-1940) and Mary Ellen Sasser (1867-1932). A marriage record was found in the Coffee County, Ala., Courthouse that had John Clifton’s last name as Folsome rather than Polson. Some years ago, circa 1949, his daughter, Eunice Lois, who believed it should be Polson had the record corrected. However, during that transaction, it was changed to Polsome, which would likely have been taken from the original document. Now it is believed that his name may have indeed been Folsom. One of his granddaughters shared that her father, Willie Rufus Polson, always told them they were related to Alabama Governor Big Jim Folsom, so who knows? Future research will hopefully solve this mystery. John Clifton and his descendants have consistently used the Polson name even to this day.

It is thought that John Clifton Polson came to the area circa 1905 with two men, Zack Polson and Burl R. Polson, who were related to each other, but not necessarily to John Clifton. These two were following the railroad industry, but It is understood John Clifton likely came for work in the turpentine industry. He owned his own company and worked along with a crew. He lived for many years in the Burnout community, which is in the northeast corner of Covington County. In 1930, he was enumerated as residing in the Straughn Schoolhouse district, and he was farming at that time. In 1940, he was living in Andalusia. In later years, he and his wife resided in the home of their daughter, Lois Polson, whose house was the first one located on Lindsey Bridge Road behind Welch’s Grocery Store. It is believed that road was called Brewton Street at that time. At their deaths, John C. and Lillie were buried in the Antioch Cemetery across from the Antioch Congregational Church. Most of their descendants are also buried in this location.

John Clifton and Lillie Luiza Polson reared the following children: Mary Jane, b. 1906, d. 1987, m. Arthur H. Sasser (1898-1988); Arkie C., b. 1908, d. 1977, m. Lois Myrtle Tipton (1911-1985); Jewel (or Juel), b. 1911, d. 1988, m. Robert Patterson; Myrtie Vee, b. 1914, d. 1991, m. Marion       Creel; Willie Rufus, b. 1917, d. 1981, m. (1) Lobis Culpepper (2) Gladis Johnson; and Eunice Lois, b. 1920, d. 1971, single. At one point, the couple had 14 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren.

The oldest daughter, Mary Jane Polson, was married to Arthur H. Sasser, the son of Delphine M. Sasser and Mary Jane White. They reared the following children: Edith Cumi, b. 1911, d. 2004, m. (1) Roy Baggett (2) Cecil A. Howell; Onnie Merle, b. 1924, d. 2002, m. Dotsie Ammons; Olene, b. 1926, d. 1997, m. Ray Arnold; Edward, b. 1928, m. (1) Martha Nichols (2) Patricia Parrish; Mavis Inez, b. 1931, m. (1) James Arthur Scott (2) Clifford R. Sutton; Voncile, b. 1933, m. Robert Alexander; and twin, Lucile, b. 1933, d. 2017, m. Aaron Goodman.

Son Arkie Polson and his wife, Lois, had one son, George Von Polson, b. 1931, d. 2017, m. Hilda G. Mathews (1939-2010). George lived in Andalusia, but he did not have any children to carry on this line. At their deaths, Arkie and Lois were buried in the Andalusia Memorial Cemetery.

Youngest son, Willie Rufus Polson, and his first wife, Lobis (Culpepper), had three children: Jerry, Willie Faye and Willie Merle. He and his second wife, Gladis Johnson, had two daughters: Johnny Merle, b. 1955, m. (1) Vernon Norris (2) Mark Edwin Jordan; and Lilly Bea, b. 1956, m. (1) Randel McCart (2) Wade Adams.

In the next generation, Mary Jane (Polson) Sasser’s daughter, Olene Sasser, and her husband, Ray Arnold, reared the following children: Hayward, b.&d. 1943; Sara Elizabeth, b. 1945, m. Joe Frank Bickford; Harold, b. 1947; Bobby Joe, b.&d. 1948; Betty Joyce, b. 1950, m. Joseph F. Watson; Diane, b. 1952, m. (1) Michael Malone (2) Duane Whittle; and Marjorie, b. 1954, m. Henry D. Smith. Sara Elizabeth’s husband, Joe Frank Bickford is the person researching this Polson and other families.

Although was consulted, the primary source for this story was the records of Joe Frank Bickford whose wife, Sara Elizabeth Arnold, was the daughter of Olean (Polson) and Ray Arnold. Appreciation is expressed to him for his diligent research and sharing it for today’s writing.

Anyone who finds an error in the above or who might have additional data on the Polson family is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email:



The Covington Historical Society will be meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 25, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. Guests and prospective members are encouraged to attend.