Head family members rendered leadership for Covington County

Published 1:40 am Saturday, July 28, 2018

The family name of Head is remembered by many local residents for several reasons. One of the best known is the popular Covington County Sheriff Thomas E. Head. Then his untimely death while in office resulted in his wife, Kayte Head, serving out the remainder of his term. She was a very colorful character and is well-remembered.

Another well-publicized incident which occurred in Andalusia in 1891 was the murder of Dr. W.J. Head by a fellow-physician, Dr. Ciscero Jones. On January 29, 1891, Dr. Jones went to Dr. Head’s office where some disagreement ensued, and Jones shot Head in the temple killing him instantly. Jones then went to the sheriff and turned himself in. Next, Sheriff Duncan notified Justice Hair and legal proceedings were begun. Dr. Jones, the son of Byrd Jones, had only been in Andalusia for about a year. Dr. Head had moved to Covington County circa 1888 after he was divorced from his wife, Emma K. Head. Emma came to Andalusia in July 1891 with their five-year old daughter to settle Dr. Head’s estate in the interest of the daughter.

A number of the old timers of this area will remember the expansive Head Farm, which was located along the road named Head Farm Road that leads off Lindsey Bridge Road southeast of Andalusia. Near the area is the older Five Runs Cemetery, which was once beside an early one-room school and church building. It is estimated that 10 to 12 families lived on the land comprising the Head farm and worked as tenant farmers for the Head owners. There was also a slightly smaller Freeman Farm for tenant farming located adjacent to the Head one.

During the 19 teen years and the 1920s and 1930s, many families were able to support themselves by working as tenant farmers on such large farms. Local citizen, Horace Worley, shared that his family consisting of parents, 10 sons and one daughter, lived on the Head Farm for several years at least three different times. He also recalled the Hudson, Lawson and Thames families being residents. The Worleys lived in the first house as one entered the farm area, but all the houses of that time are all gone. It is believed that the Dixon family purchased the Head Farm some years ago.

According to family trees posted on Ancestry.com, the following few paragraphs outline the lineage of Sheriff Thomas Elisah Head, who was mentioned above. He was born in 1896 as the youngest child of Benjamin Columbus Head and Dora Burgay Kendall. Benjamin and Dora were both born in Spalding County, Ga., in 1856 and 1860 respectively. Benjamin died in 1923 in Covington County, and Ancestry records indicate Dora had gone back to Georgia before her death in 1942. Benjamin Head was the son of Thomas Jefferson Head and Caroline A. Reeves, natives of Georgia. Thomas Jefferson was born in 1831 in Georgia and died in 1873 in Griffin, Spalding County, Ga. His wife, Caroline (Reaves), daughter of Alfred M. and Sarah S. Reaves, was born circa 1836 in Georgia.

Thomas Jefferson Head was the son of Richard Columbus Head and Rachael Harriet Bowling (1810-1836). Richard was born in 1810 in Georgia and died in 1887 in Fayette County, Ga. He was the son of James Head, but the name of his mother was not identified. James Head was born in 1762 in Virginia and died in 1848 in Carroll County, Ga. He was the son of William Head and Mary Williams. William Head was born circa 1745 and died in 1808 in Putnam County, Ga.

Going back to the generation of Benjamin Columbus Head, he was the ancestor who migrated to Covington County, Ala. He was married in 1878 in Spalding County, Ga., to Dora Burgay Kendall, daughter of Elisha T. Kendall (1839-1908) and Martha J. Burgamy (1842-1919). He and Dora were the parents of the following children: Sarah Ann or Annie Clara, b. 1879, d. 1935, m. James Oscar Freeman (1877-1942); Edgar Blakely, b. 1881, d. 1898, single; Grover Carl, b. 1885, d. 1940, m. Tishie (or Tessie) Dean (1892-1943); Carrie D. or Belle, b. 1889, d. 1936, m. 1907 John Pinkston Maynard (1879-1939); Ruby Winifred, b. 1894, d. 1982, m. 1915 Homer H. Gossett (1891-1970); and Thomas Elisah, b. 1896, d. 1958, m. 1918 Ida Kayte Champion (1897-1983).

The oldest daughter, Annie Clara, and her husband, James Oscar Freeman were the parents of one daughter, Grace (1903-1941). The son, Grover Carl Head, and his wife, Tishie, were the parents of one daughter, May Carol (1925-1927. Grover was involved with the farming operations of the large Head Farm. He became Kinston’s Postmaster in 1914. The daughter, Carrie Belle Head, and her husband, Homer H. Gossett, were the parents of a son, Homer H. Jr. (1917-1970).

The youngest son, Thomas E. Head, was married in 1918 to Ida Kayte Champion, daughter of W.W. Champion of the Town of Opp, Ala. It appears they lived in the Sanford community between Opp and Andalusia at the beginning of their marriage. When the 1920 census was enumerated, he was listed as having no occupation, but he was most likely involved in farming operations with his family. In the 1930 census, he was shown as being a foreman for a fertilizer company and having a home on East Three Notch Street. In 1940, he was serving as Covington County Sheriff, a career he continued until his death in 1958. Afterwards, his widow continued to reside in their house. Years later, in 2017, the house, which had become the property of the St. Mary Episcopal Church, was sold and moved to a site near Gantt Lake.

Thomas E. was no stranger to law enforcement since his father served as Sheriff of Spalding county, Ga., for four years. He grew up in Griffin, Ga., where he attended school, and he later attended Mercer University. Upon graduation from college, he visited his sister in the Kinston community and liked the area. He settled there and soon met his future wife. His World War I draft card describes him as being of slender build with blue eyes and light-colored hair.

Thomas Elisah and Kayte Head were blessed with two children: Thomas Elisah Jr., b. 1919, d. 1960, m. Mary Lee Stone (1922-2000); Marjorie Dowe, b. 1927, d. 1969, m. Charles Prestwood. Thomas Jr. became a veterinarian and moved to Texas. He and his wife, Mary Lee, were the parents of a daughter, Marsha Karen (1943-1946).

A few other Head relatives mentioned in various history books include the following: J.M Head, who is probably James Madison Head, was a merchant in Andalusia in 1910 and was appointed Andalusia City Clerk circa 1912 under Mayor A.R. Powell; Joe Head was any early Marshall in Andalusia with the police department and in charge of keeping the streets in repair and collecting taxes; J.T. Head was appointed Chief of Police for Andalusia after Trammel E. Henderson’s third election as Mayor in 1932; P.C. Head was a registered voter in Covington County in 1868; and R.C. Head was elected Commissioner of Revenue and Roads for the county in 1871. Truly, the Head family has rendered significant leadership in Andalusia and Covington County.

The sources for today’s writing include Ancestry.com, Gus and Ruby Bryan’s Covington County History—1821-1976, Wyley D. Ward’s Early History of Covington County, Alabama—1821-1871, article in The Covington Times on January 31, 1891 and interviews with local citizens who recall members of the Head family.

Anyone who discovers an error in the above history is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 34620; 334-804-1442; or Email: cthomasson@centurytel.net.



The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will be meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 2, in the Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. Compatriot John Allen Gantt will give a presentation on the economics following the War Between the States. Guests who are interested in Confederate heritage and prospective members are encouraged to attend.