2017 Stokes Reunion honors M.V. Stokes Sr. family

Published 1:00 am Saturday, July 15, 2017

Descendants of Burrell Jackson and Cornelia Georgia (Hare) Stokes gathered on Saturday, June 24, for their annual reunion. As usual the event was held in the fellowship hall of Cedar Grove Church of Christ, located on Brooklyn Road in Andalusia, Ala. This occasion marked 101 years since Burrell Jackson Stokes led in establishing the Cedar Grove Church in 1916.

For several years now the relatives have been featuring the family and descendants of one of Burrell Jackson and Cornelia’s children in chronological order. This was the year for recognizing the family of Matthew Van Buren “Math” Stokes. More will be presented about his family later in this narrative.

The schedule for the reunion pretty much followed an established or traditional agenda. As each attendee arrived, he registered by ancestor and provided current contact information along with pinning a name tag. From this point, everyone began to exchange greetings and an enjoyable period of fellowship followed. Family history, photos, etc. were shared and exchanged. This continued until noon at which time appropriate announcements were made. Afterwards, Mike Bass, great, great grandson of Burrell Jackson Stokes, voiced the invocation. An abundant buffet meal of family favorites and Southern foods was enjoyed by those in attendance.

Upon completion of the meal, the crowd assembled for a program of family history. Before the power-point presentation, all descendants in attendance were introduced by ancestors who were the children of Burrell Jackson Stokes. The majority were descended from Leland Congdon Stokes and Justice Lamar Stokes, but there was good representation from Ellie (Stokes) Pruitt Pope and Matthew Van Buren Stokes. Clyde Stokes, a Stokes family researcher from Jacksonville, Fla., was a special guest.

Some door prizes were given by members of the Matthew Van Buren Stokes family to selected persons in attendance. The oldest person present was Sybil (Stokes) Nall, daughter of Justice Lamar Stokes, who was presented with a memories chest and album. She is one of only three living grandchildren of Burrell Jackson Stokes. The other two are Eunivae (Pruitt) Bozeman, daughter of Ellie (Stokes) Pruitt Pope, and Kathryn (Fuqua) Brown, daughter of Naomi (Stokes) Fuqua. A bag of children’s gifts was given to the youngest present, Madelyn Skipper. For having traveled the farthest from Thomson, Ga., Linda (Stokes) Hinson received a home-baked blueberry pound cake, which she had admired. Gifts of scented candles were given to two ladies whose dishes were declared the tastiest–Mildred Stokes for her red-velvet cake and Sandy (Coxwell) Skipper for her strawberry-pretzel salad.

Next, a power-point presentation was given picturing Matthew Van Buren Stokes, his two wives, their four children and families. Math as he was called was born in 1897 in Covington County and died in 1959 in Andalusia. He was married first to Agnes Leona Eiland (1896-1934). They were the parents of the following five children: Clara Verna, b. 1917, d. 2014, m. 1936 William Columbus “Bill” Bass; Bernard, b.&d. 1920; Bonnie, b.& d. 1920; Carlis James, b. 1921, d. 1922; Gordon Lee, b.&d. 1923; and Matthew Van Buren Jr., b. 1927, d. 2008, m. (1) Louise Holley (2) Imogene Davis. After Agnes’s death, Matthew Sr. married Alma (Vaughn) Thompson with whom he had two daughters: Shirley Marie, b. 1936, d. 2017, m. Hill Moore Mock; and Bernice Lynda Yvonne, b. 1944, m. (1) Marlon Guy Thomas (2) Rick Richey (3) George Waddell. Matthew Sr. and both of his wives were buried in the Adellum Baptist Church Cemetery on Brooklyn Road in Andalusia.

The daughter, Clara, and her husband, Bill Bass, were the parents of four children: Shelia Pamelia, m. Carmen Lee Parrish; Patricia Lucille, m. Kenneth Grissett; James William “Jimmy,” m. Louise Kelley; and Matthew Gerald “Gerry,” m. (1) Sharon Diane Teel (2) Mary Lou Bush. The son, M.V. Stokes Jr., and his first wife, Louise Holley, were the parents of Matthew Van Buren III, m. Linda ?; and Linda, m. David Hinson. The daughter, Shirley, and her husband, Hill Mock, had one son, William Anderson Mock, single. The youngest daughter, Bernice, and her first husband, Marlon Thomas, had two daughters: Angela Michelle, m. Timothy Joseph Alley; and Lisa Lynn, m. Steve Maultsby. Of course, there are several great grandchildren and even great, great grandchildren at this time.

A review of Matthew Sr.’s ancestry reveals his father, Burrell Jackson Stokes, was the son of Absalom Lafayette Stokes and his second wife, Elizabeth Jay. Burrell Jackson was born in 1863 when the family was residing in Santa Rosa County, Fla., before moving to the Andalusia area of Covington County, Ala. His father died in 1871 near Andalusia and left a fairly young widow to rear their five children. With the assistance of her husband’s older children by his first wife, Elizabeth cared for her children by sewing and later working in a country store operated by her sons when they became adults.

While there is no documentation of such, it is fairly certain that Absalom Lafayette Stokes was the son of David Stokes and Millen Blount. Absalom was born circa 1790 in Beaufort County, S.C., and David and family were residing in that county at the time and until his death in 1810. Absalom was married in Charleston, S.C., circa 1813 to Nancy Allene Adkinson. The date of Nancy’s birth is not known, but she appeared to be several years older than Absalom.

Absalom and Nancy were the parents of the following four children who were all born in Charleston: John William, b. 1814, d. 1873, m. 1845 Avoann Albritton; Wright Absalom, b. 1816, d. 1878, m. ca 1839 Sarah Elizabeth Ann Steele; Thirsa Ann, b. 1818, d. 1904, m. ca 1845 George Alexander Snowden; and Josiah Hampton, b. 1820, d. 1870, m. 1858 Ann Eliza Dawson (1839-1932). Some records suggest Josiah may have been married earlier to Eliza Dannelly Steele who was the mother-in-law of his older brother, Wright Absalom Stokes. He would have been several years younger than she, and it is questionable whether they were married. He left Andalusia in the mid-1850s and went to Madison County, Tex., where he met and married Eliza Ann Dawson.

There is considerable earlier Stokes genealogy that has been researched, but the fact that this family has not been able to document Absalom Lafayette Stokes’s father leaves a gap in the lineage. With an increase in the number of descendants submitting to DNA testing, there is a good chance of this puzzle being resolved. Anyone who does have their DNA tested is requested to contact this writer at the addresses below. Also, there is a Stokes DNA Project, which is administered by Mike Terry who may be reached at mterry3158@sbcglobal.net. He places a person’s DNA results in appropriate categories and show the relationship to others who have tested.

The Burrell Jackson descendants enjoy an annual reunion, and it is held at the very church of which he was the leading one in its establishment. The 2018 reunion will be held on the last Saturday in June, and the family of Phyllis (Stokes) and Emory Rabren will be honored. All descendants are asked to make plans now to attend the event.

The sources for this writing were the actual events of the reunion and the family records of this writer, Curtis Thomasson, who is a great grandson of Burrell Jackson Stokes. Anyone who might have questions related to the reunion or the Stokes family in general is requested to contact him at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: cthomasson@centurytel.net.