2018 Stokes Reunion features Emory and Phyllis (Stokes) Rabren

Published 12:51 am Saturday, July 7, 2018

The descendants of Burrell Jackson and Cornelia Georgia (Hare) Stokes gathered for their annual family reunion on Saturday, August 4, 2018, in the fellowship room of the Cedar Grove Church of Christ, located on Brooklyn Road in Andalusia, Ala. The agenda was similar to those of past years which included registration, visiting, sharing photos and viewing memorabilia until lunch. Following the meal, a history program was presented featuring the descendant families of Ollie Phyllis (Stokes) and her husband, Emory E. Rabren Sr. This is in conjunction with the schedule of going through the children chronologically and featuring their children and later descendants.

Upon arrival, attendees registered according to ancestor and provided updated contact information along with receiving a name tag. They moved around the room viewing the items on display and renewing acquaintances with cousins and other relatives. Prominently displayed were portraits of Burrell Jackson and Cornelia Stokes and other relatives as well as a Stokes family crest.

There were two special guests who are both genealogy researchers of the Stokes family. Clyde Stokes of Jacksonville, Fla., who has attended the last several reunions came and displayed his records along with a large restored portrait of his ancestors, Mr. and Mrs. James Madison Stokes. Ike Stokes of Missouri, who is a native of Falco, Ala., was present and displayed a portrait of his ancestor, Wright Absalom Stokes, an older half-brother of Burrell Jackson Stokes. Wright Absalom was born in South Carolina, but he later settled in Falco in the Southern area of Covington County.

At noon, a welcome was extended and appropriate announcements were made by Curtis Thomasson, a great grandson of Burrell Jackson Stokes. An invocation was given by Russell Rigdon, a great, great, great grandson of Burrell Jackson. Then everyone enjoyed the abundant buffet meal of family favorite dishes. Awards were given to Faye Greenhill for her apple cake, Sandy Skipper for her strawberry pretzel salad, and Heather Blackwell’s vegetable pizza was selected as “Best All Around” recipe. Hazel McClain’s layered strawberry cake received honorable mention. Each of these received a gift of an embroidered hand towel made by Hazel McClain. All these ladies are descended of Lamar and Flossie Stokes who were talented cooks associated with the former Little Kitchen Restaurant. Hazel also presented a gift of toasted pecans to three special guests: Wayne Dees, Clyde Stokes and Ike Stokes.

Following lunch, everyone assembled for the history program, which featured the families of Emory and Phyllis (Stokes) Rabren. After all present were introduced by family line, a slide presentation on this family line was shown, which was prepared by Albert “Buddy” Blackwell of Reno, Nev., a great grandson of Burrell Jackson Stokes. Another great grandson, Wayne Dees, of Livingston, Ala., narrated the pictures and shared some family memories. Additional recognitions included a decorative Sweet Home Alabama door hanger for Audrey Thomasson Wilson for being the oldest person present at 88 years. Name drawings from the registration list gave Mallory Mucci a Sweet Home Alabama door hanger, Wayne Dees an Alabama door hanger and Robert Lee Holley, an Auburn door hanger. These gifts were all hand-painted by Amy McClain Wall, a great, great granddaughter of Burrell Jackson Stokes.

Ollie Phyllis (Stokes) Rabren was the eighth child born to Burrell Jackson Stokes and his wife, Georgia Cornelia (Hare), daughter of Martin Vanburen Hare (1846-1918) and Sarah Ann Beasley (1846-1878). Phyllis was born in 1900 in Andalusia and lived to be 68 years of age when she died in 1968 in Deland, Fla. She was reared in the Cedar Grove Church of Christ community and married the son of a neighboring family. She and Emory E. Rabren, Sr. (1894-1957), son of Henry Joseph Rabren (1850-1925) and Martha (Fuqua) Rabren (1859-1930), were married in 1915 in Andalusia and established their home near their parents.

The couple began their family there where Emory farmed to support them. When farming became difficult during the 1930s, they moved to a residence in Andalusia to allow Emory to do public work. In 1945, they moved into a huge house on Opp Avenue, which was located at the north end of the Magnolia Cemetery. To help with the monthly rent, they rented some of the upstairs bedrooms. There was also enough space to accommodate two daughters, Beatrice and Pauline, who were either widowed or divorced and found it necessary to move back home with their young children.

Emory worked two jobs to support the large family as a custodian for the Martin Movie Theatre and night watchman for the Covington County Courthouse. In addition, he maintained a large garden of vegetables to help feed the family and those renting rooms in the home. Phyllis was busy cooking the abundant meals from their garden and the groceries they could buy. They often secured meats and other foods from their relatives who still lived on nearby farms. Emory frequently killed wild game for the table as well. A grandson, Albert C. “Buddy” Blackwell, remembers helping his grandmother as a young boy cook many of those big meals. He expressed amazement at how she could take a few basic ingredients and create large, tasty meals. He credits her with teaching him how to prepare the “country or soul foods” that he continues to enjoy cooking.

Phyllis and Emory reared the following six children: Justice Guy, b. 1916, d. 1986, m. (1) Sue ? (2) Mary E. ? (3) Emmett Ray; Rosa Beatrice, b. 1920, d. 1999, m. (1) Odis Bevis Dees (2) James Kramer (3) Willie Green Mullins; Eleanor Pauline, b. 1922, d. 1966, m. (1) Albert Clayton Blackwell (2) Wilson Alfred Williams; Emory E. Jr., b. 1924, d. 1994, m. (1) Omia Jewel Lee (2) Dessie Robins; Tempie Erline, b. 1928, m. Paul Ewashenko; and Doris Jean, b. 1932, d. 1996, m. William L. McCoy. The only child living today is Erline who resides in the Deland, Fla., area.

The oldest son, Guy, had a daughter, Gloria Jean Rabren, who m. Jean Lue Began. Beatrice Rabren and her first husband, Otis B. Dees, had two sons, Mitchell Beavis, m. Mary Susan Bradshaw; and Wayne Harold, m. Judith Elliott. Beatrice and her second husband, James Kramer, had three daughters: Connie Marie, m. Donald Keith McCalligan; Alma Diane; and Peggy June. Pauline Rabren and her first husband, Albert C. Blackwell, Sr., had two sons: Ralph Ervin, m. Constance Marie Frick; and Albert Clayton Jr. “Buddy,” m. Gwendolyn Nancy Malone. Pauline and her second husband, Wilson A. Williams, had a daughter, Elizabeth Pauline “Liz,” who m. Robert McGrath. Emory E. Rabren Jr. and his first wife, Omia Jewel, had two sons, Jerry Lamar, m. Jackie Katherine Nadeau; and Vernon Lee, m. Karen Polack. Erline Rabren and her husband, Paul Ewashenko, had three children: Phyllis Joan, m. Roy Donald LeGrange, Jr.; Linda Anne, m. Harry Johnson, Jr.; and Michael Paul, m. Shelley Green. Doris Jean Rabren and her husband, William L. McCoy, had four children: Jackie, Freddie, Kenny, and Donna Jean. There are many in the next generation or so.

The 2019 Stokes Family Reunion was announced for the last Saturday in June at the same location. The families and descendants of the daughter, Naomi “Oma” Cornelia Stokes who married James “Jim” Fuqua, will be featured. Everyone was asked to mark their calendars and notify their close relatives of the event.


Anyone who might find an error in the above family information or who has a question regarding the reunion activities is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: cthomasson@centurytel.net.