Springs family descendants have impressive heritage

Published 12:58 am Saturday, August 26, 2017

Since the Springs family lineage was presented in last week’s column, today’s writing will be additional genealogy and history of some members of this family who had relatives, namely Sarah (Roach) Thomasson and her descendants, to settle in Covington County.

It was the courageous matriarch, Gertrude Springsteen, who immigrated from Holland with her four children in 1652 and established a very productive life in America. She and her family settled in New Amsterdam, which became New York in the Queens and Long Island communities where they began to prosper.

Their first land grant from the Dutch Crown was located in what is currently Brooklyn and Queens, New York. Like most new arrivals, they realized the vast empty acres of land would eventually be filled with people and rise in value. They bought land on Long Island from the Indians, and by 1661, they had holdings of land up the Hudson River Valley in Schenectady and Albany, N.Y. Of course, most of this land was covered in virgin forests and required much work to clear for agriculture.

Margie B. Malloy wrote in Thomasson Traces—Narrative, Volume II, “The Springsteen men dressed like most of the New Netherlanders. They wore broad-brimmed hats, breeches full at the knees and caught up with silver buckled shoes. They were stocky, solid, determined, and although often rough voiced, they were at heart gentle and kindly people. One trait has been dominant in the family from the earliest time to the present; the men were of strong opinion and masters of their own minds, which were intelligent. They adopted new world forms of living and did not cling to past customs. The Springsteens prospered, made good providers, and their flaxen-haired children married into other Dutch families: the Degroots, Vanderbilts, Schermerhorns, Van Tassels and Storms.”

Derick Springsteen and wife, Geesje “Gertrude” (Remsen), left the New York area and moved to Kent County, Del., and later to Jones Neck near Dover. Their son, John Springsteen, was born circa 1715 in Long Island, N.Y., and was married to Sophia Gassaway, daughter of Col. Nicholas and Hester (Besson) Gassaway, natives of Maryland. Around 1766, John and Sophia migrated with their two sons and three daughters to Mecklenburg County, N.C., where they settled and built a plantation in the Providence community, located a few miles south of Charlotte. It was this couple who changed the name from Springsteen to Springs following their move.

The names of their children were outlined in last week’s story. Two of their sons, Richard and John Jr., became captains in the American Colonial Army. Afterwards, they both became large landowners and were the first to operate a gold mine in North Carolina. They mined their own gold into money without alloy by consent of the government. In one record, it is stated that “They contributed as much to the uplifting of North Carolina as any family in the state.”

John Springs Jr. (1751-1818) was married in 1780 to Sarah Shelby Alexander (1762-1842), daughter of Col. Adam Alexander and Mary Shelby. They were the parents of the following four children: Mary L, b. 1778, m. John Springs (her first cousin); Sarah Alexander, b. 1780, d. 1842, m. 1804 Maj. Jonathan Harris; Adam Alexander, b. 1782; and John B., b. 1784, d. 1837, m. Margaret Alexander.

Richard Springs (1754-1833) was married to Jean Baxter (1761-1804). They were the parents of the following children: John Jack, b. 1782, d. 1853, m. Mary Laura Springs (1778-1834); Cynthia, b. 1784, d. 1875, m. Frederick Dinkins; Andrew Baxter, b. 1786, d. 1860, m. (1) Mary Moore (2) Frances Henderson (3) Polly Wynen; Richard, b. 1788, d. 1801; Jane, b. 1790, d. 1810, m. Thomas Grier; Eli, b. 1792, d. 1833, m. Tirzah Ball Craig; Sophia, b. 1794, d. 1879, m. James Moore; Margaret Polk, b. 1796, d. 1871, m. William Polk Springs, her cousin; Baxter, b. 1798, d. 1901; and Harriet Baxter, b. 1800, d. 1832, m. Dr. William Moore.

The oldest son, John Jack Springs, was married in 1806 to Mary Laura Springs, daughter of Richard Springs. They were the parents of the following children: Richard Austin, b. 1807, d. 1876; Sarah Delia, b.&d. 1809; Jane Louise, b. 1810, d. 1817; Leroy, b. 1811, d. 1863; Mary Laura, b. 1813, d. 1872, m. ? Davidson; Jack Lawrence, b. 1815, d. 1818; Sergeant Jasper, b. 1817, d. 1824; Andrew Baxter, b. 1819, d. 1886, m. Julia Blandina Baxter; and Sophia Convert, b. 1821, d. 1883, m. William R. Myers.

The youngest son, Andrew Baxter Springs, became quite prominent in York County, S.C. He studied law, and even though he never formally practiced it, it was useful in his business and government endeavors. He owned Springfield Plantation, which was located north of Fort Mill. He became one of York County’s representatives to the state legislature. When South Carolina seceded from the Union, he volunteered for service. His wife and overseer carried on at the plantation as best they could in his absence. Within a year the state legislature withdrew him from active military service and drafted him for the post of Commissioner of the Soldiers’ Relief Board. His duties were to gather food and other supplies for men at the front and to care for their families when in need. Conditions were so terrible during the reconstruction years that he was called upon frequently by the government and individuals to assist those in serious need. He was described as “One of York County, S.C.,’s best known and respected men during the winter of 1867-1868 when the state was in sad economic despair.”

Andrew Baxter Springs was married to his cousin, Julia Blandina “Blandie” Baxter (1827-1902), daughter of Eli Harris Baxter (1778-1866) and Julia Richardson. Eli Harris Baxter was a leading citizen and judge in Hancock County, Ga. Andrew Baxter and Blandie were the parents of the following children: John Jack, b. 1850, d. 1851; Eli Baxter, b. 1852, d. 1933; John, b. 1853, d. 1890; Julia Richardson, b.&d. 1855; Richard Austin, b. 1856, d. 1944; Andrew Baxter, b. 1857, d. 1881; Alva/Alvin Cornell, b. 1859, d. 1932; Brevard Davidson, b. 1860 or 1864, d. 1936; Col. Leroy, b. 1861, d. 1931, m. Lena Mae ?; Frances Cutliff, b. 1863, d. 1866; William Myers, b.&d. 1866; Julia, b. 1869; Blandina Bleecker, b. 1869, d. 1949, m. John McCorkle Scott; and some records list Ethel Armitage, b. 1882.

The oldest surviving son, Eli Baxter Springs, became Mayor of Charlotte, N.C., and was a member of the New York Stock Exchange. His brothers, Brevard Davidson Springs and Leroy Springs, acquired a number of cotton mills and established Springs Mills, Inc., which was managed by Leroy’s son, Elliot White Springs. They produced such products as the quality linens bearing the Springs label.

The Springs family descendants continued to excel in business enterprises and in community leadership. Various families owned large plantations in New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. They contributed greatly to the economy and well-being of their home communities. Theirs is a proud heritage for the Thomasson descendants residing in Covington County.

The sources for this writing include the research records of Sue Cowger of Tallahassee, Fla.; Thomasson Traces—Narrative, Vol. II; and Ancestry.com. Anyone who might have a related question may contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: cthomasson@centurytel.net.


The Covington Historical Society will be meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 31, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. Guests and prospective members are encouraged to attend.