Searight was site of Christian church, White cemetery
Published 2:52 am Saturday, December 2, 2017
Searight is a community located along US Highway 29 just north of the Covington-Crenshaw County line. Actually, it was in the northern part of Covington County until Crenshaw was created in 1866. Gus and Ruby Bryan, authors of Covington County History, 1821-1976, described it as a “bustling supply town during the 1890s when it was a terminus for the Central of Georgia Railroad.” They further suggested it might have become “one of the business centers of the South’ if the railroad had not been extended further south to Andalusia in 1899. At one time it was incorporated, but the town has long since ceased to function in that manner.
The Bryans stated the name of the little town came from a Mr. Searight who was the first store owner and operator in the location. He had migrated from Georgia and settled there. Other early stores included the following: Knox & Henderson, Shreve’s, Clark & Parker, Feagin’s Drug Store and Riley’s Barroom. The physicians practicing at the time were Dr. Q.P. Ray and Dr. Lorenzo Parker.
There were other businesses that operated during the early years, which included a large hotel, cotton gins, sawmill and various shops that make up a small town. When the Bryans’ book was completed in the 1970s, the only businesses still in existence were Marler’s Place, J.C. Clark, Mrs. L.N. Kirkland and H.D. Boyette.
Agents for the railroad through the years included O.H. Smith, M.E. Rawls, C.L. Williams, J.W. Jackson, J.C. Stanford, J.E. Duffy, J.W. Edwards, J.M. McKinley, E.C. Weaver, H.C. Rawls, J.A. White and Miss A. Sims. Some of those who served as postmasters for the post office included John White, Nathan Simon, John M. Rawls, Willie Kirkland and Mrs. R.A. Sturges.
The Bryans reported the following familiar names associated with the early Town of Searight: George Parker, Billy Clark, John White, John Loman, Bob Sturges, Athan Boyette, David Clark, Jim Rainer, John Simms, Lake Gantt, Ben Perrett, William Shreve, William Knox, Tom Brown, Ike Rosenburg, Walter Lowman, Abe Sachs, Dr. Ed Broughton and Tom Clark.
In the words of Gus and Rudy Bryan, “The town is not completely dead. You can hardly visit there without feeling some of the atmosphere of romance that hovers like a fog over the spacious old churches and comfortable weather-beaten homes nestling among giant oaks. Tall weeds now grow where once stood homes and business houses.”
A small cemetery is located a short distance west of U.S. Highway 29. It is named White Cemetery after one of the families who resided in the area. It is also adjacent to a site where the Searight Church of Christ once stood. Unfortunately, the small white frame building burned during the 1920s, which most likely forced the members to attend other nearby congregations. Members of the White family were faithful leaders and workers in the church as long as it existed.
In 1998, Gerald and Joan Hidle recorded a census of the headstones in the White Cemetery. These included the following names: Devane Nall (1911-1933), Dr. Marvin B. Nall (1884-1915), Fannie Mae Faulk (1905-1998), Infant of M.B. & J.E. Nall (1907), Infant of M.B. & J.E. Nall (1909), E.A. H. wife of W. T. Pingleton (1835-1906), Eunice daughter of R.T. & Q.C. Sermon (1906), Justice J. son of R.T. & Q.C. Sermon (1902), Sarah R. daughter of R.T. & Q.C. Sermon (1891-1892), Ever B daughter of R.T. & Q.C. Sermon (1896), O.H. son of R.T. & Q.C. Sermon (1912-?), Clemie Sermon (1892-1968), R.T. Nealie Handley (1857-1930), Sallie B. White (1853-1948), L.G. Rawls (1849-1898), Fannie White Rawls (1856-1933), Exa A. Faulk (1875-1910), John C. White (1843-1930), Sarah wife of John C. White (1859-1924), Joseph Oscar son of John C. White (1882-1896), George White (1800-1891), Sina White consort of George White (1816-1883), and Royce Oswald son of O.J. and E.E. Jackson (1908-1909).
The following directions to the White Cemetery are provided: At Searight, turn west off U.S. Highway 29 onto Bryan Road (unpaved) and go to end of it. Turn right and go to bottom of road where there will be a beaver pond on left and the White Cemetery on the right.
George White was an early ancestor of the White family mentioned earlier. He was born in 1800 in Georgia and was probably the son of James T. and Martha White. Another record suggest George was the son of John White (1768-1854) and his wife, Ann Wilborn (1776-1840), daughter of John Wilborn (1750-1805) and Sarah York (1755-1816). The latter John White was a native of North Carolina and later migrated to Pike County, Ala.
George White was married first in Henry County, Ga., in 1822 to Nicy Taylor (1793-1841). George and Nicy were dedicated Christians who were converted during the “Restoration Movement” to become members of New Testament Christianity. They met in their home to establish a congregation of the New Testament or church of Christ. They later migrated to Pike County, Ala., where they continued their strong church association.
After Nicy’s death in 1941, George was next married to Seline “Sina” (Lowery) Godwin, a widow as well. Sina was born in 1816 In Pike County and lived until circa 1883 at which time she died in Searight, Ala. George and Sina donated the land for construction of the Searight Church of Christ, which was a log building. The White Cemetery was established next to the church, and it appears Sina’s grave was the first one in it. At least, her headstone bears the earliest date, which was 1883.
No detailed records for the Searight Church of Christ have been found. There are a few references to it in the White-Lowman genealogical records of Charles Lowman. There is also a photo of four of the children of George and Sina White, which was taken in front of the church building. Only a portion of the structure is visible. (This writer would be most appreciative of any information related to the church, the cemetery or the White family. Anyone who has anything at all is urged to contact him at the addresses below.)
Sources for this writing include Ancestry.com, Gus and Ruby Bryan’s Covington County History, 1821-1976 and family records of Charles Lowman.
Anyone who may see something that needs correcting in the above is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has scheduled its annual Christmas meeting for Thursday, December 7, at 6:30 p.m. in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. There will be a covered dish dinner and a brief program presented by Compatriot Francis McGowin. Members’ wives and members of the Thomas Randolph Thomasson Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy will be special guests. Other guests and prospective members are cordially invited to attend as well.