Thomasson Cemetery is memorial to Cornelius S. Thomasson

Published 1:12 am Saturday, February 16, 2019

As a spin off from last week’s column featuring the Thomasson Boarding House, a history of the Thomasson Cemetery and related family will be featured. The George and John Thomasson who were reviewed and who operated the boarding house in Andalusia are members of this family. Actually, John and his wife, Deborah, were the ones who built and managed the business.

The Thomasson brothers’ father, Cornelius Starr Thomasson, was the ancestor who donated two acres of land for the establishment of the Thomasson Cemetery. It is located across the Brooklyn Road from the Hopewell Baptist Church and Cemetery. There is a small burying area that adjoins the Thomasson section on the southwest side, and a short distance from the Thomasson Cemetery on the northwest side is the small Beck Cemetery. Of course, the Hopewell Cemetery is adjacent to the church building and has some of the older graves of local citizens.

Cornelius S. “Neil” Thomasson moved his family from Rose Hill during the early 1870s to the Fairfield community, which was located to the east of Mobley Creek in southwest Covington County. Fairfield was a growing, prosperous village at the time with several stores, a barroom and other businesses. The Fairfield Post Office was established on December 17, 1872. It was a great place to live, and Neil and his wife, Susannah “Susan” (Henley), raised their nine children there.

In addition to farming, Neil Thomasson operated a general store under the name of C.S. Thomasson. It was necessary for him to haul his supplies from Searight, located north of Gantt, because the area railroad ended there. On occasions, he would also haul freight from Castleberry, a distance of about 25 miles southwest and where the Mobile and Montgomery Railway had a station. He made the trips traveling on a cart pulled by oxen and later a two-mule wagon.

After a few years, Neil purchased the Fairfield property of Bob Miller, brother of T.R. Miller of lumber company fame, for $900. In the sale, Neil acquired Miller’s land, a pair of mules, livestock and all the corn and fodder. The Thomasson Cemetery is located on a parcel of this property.

Sometime before 1889, Neil’s oldest son, Erastus Melvin Thomasson, joined his father in the mercantile business, and the name was changed to C.S. Thomasson & Son. According to records, they were dealers in dry goods, clothing, hats, boots and shoes as well as groceries and hardware. Local children could also purchase their school books there. They were able to serve the community with a good line of general merchandise. They also advertised they would pay the highest prices for cotton and country produce.

It appears that Neil Thomasson turned over the store to two of his sons and to have retired from it to manage his farm. On January 1, 1380, there was a statement headed by the named of E.M. (Melvin) and C.G. (Granville) Thomasson. Neil always helped his children get a good start in life.

The Neil Thomasson family was highly respected in the Fairfield community. They were faithful members of the Hopewell Baptist Church for which Neil served as church secretary from 1893 to 1896 when S.W. Raley was pastor. In 1906, when W.P. Howell was pastor, Neil was again elected as church secretary

Neil Thomasson was elected to serve as Covington County Tax Collector from 1880 to 1884 with his commission being signed by Governor Cobb on September 20, 1880. During those years, the county did not provide office space at the courthouse, so Neil worked from his house. His work was quite demanding as he rode horseback throughout the large county. He notified the different communities as to when he would be visiting, and most of the citizens would pay their taxes in gold.

In 1905, Neil sold his Fairfield property and moved across the Conecuh River to the Conecuh River community. He wanted to be near his two younger sons, George and John, so he built a house between them, and the three men farmed together a sizable acreage. Neil’s good reputation followed him to this community, so his advise and judgment were sought by his neighbors.

On July 8, 1901, Neil had first made application for a Confederate pension based on his service as a private in Company E, 6th Alabama Infantry Regiment. He and his brother, Jefferson Sylvanus “Syl” Thomasson, had enlisted together at Rose Hill in 1862 and served together, mostly in Northern Virginia, for the entire war with the exception of the last few months when he was captured prisoner and Syl was hospitalized in Petersburg for a broken elbow. Neil’s application stated he owned 120 acres of land, a few livestock and farm equipment. He also indicated he had a slight wound received during his fighting at Gettysburg. He also filed again on May 28, 1906, after moving to the Conecuh River community.

His health was slowly deteriorating after that move, and on one occasion he stumbled breaking his hip from the fall and developed what was called “heart dropsy” experiencing   difficulty in breathing. He died on January 17, 1919. He had requested a neighbor, Reuben Padgett, to saw and save some cypress lumber for making his coffin. His neighbors made it, and the ladies carded cotton for lining it. His funeral service was held at Hopewell Baptist Church where he had been a member for many years, and his body was laid to rest in the Thomasson Cemetery, which he had established.

Although the date for the first burial in the cemetery is unknown to this writer, it appears that it would have been in the early 1900s. There were a few graves before Neil Thomasson was buried there in 1919. He created this special burying area for any of his descendants who would desire to be interred there. There are only a few other relatives who have been buried along with Neil’s descendants. The cemetery is in fine condition and is being used occasionally. A nice historical monument has been erected in front of the cemetery which gives a brief history of it.

Cornelius Starr Thomasson, son of Thomas Randolph Thomasson and Sarah Roach, was born in 1836 in Madison, Morgan County, Ga., where the family resided for about eight years before moving to Pike County, Ala. The family had moved to Georgia from York District, S.C. Upon arriving in Pike County in 1839, the family settled first in the small community of Farriorville, which was later named Post Oak. Soon afterwards, Neil was awarded a homestead grant of 40 acres in the community known as Thomasville, which was later known as Inverness. When Bullock County was formed, both these communities fell in it.

Neil was about grown when the family finally settled in Covington County circa 1854. Neil’s father secured title to 40 acres in the Red Level community. Land in the area was selling at a very low price. His oldest son and family located on 120 acres of land along Possum Trot Road near Rose Hill, but the road no longer exists. He later purchased the property in 1856 and added another 40 acres in 1857. The Thomas Henley family were neighbors and early settlers of Covington County, and two of their children married Thomasson siblings.

In 1959, Neil was married to Susannah Henley, daughter of Thomas H. Henley and Susannah Moody. They set up housekeeping on 80 acres that had belonged to his brother, Thomas Roach Thomasson. Since his mother had died the year before, Neil and Susan took his three younger siblings into their home. Their first child was born in 1860 and a second one in May 1862. In September 1862, Neil and his younger brother, Syl, enlisted for service in the Confederate Army. Fortunately, they survived the war and returned home to their family and farm, and Neil and Susan began to have more children.

Neil and Susan Thomasson were the parents of the following children: Nancy Adaline, b.1860, d. 1924, m. James Andrew Jackson Hart; Tempie Caroline, b. 1862, d. 1953, m. John Frank Anderson; Thomas Randolph II, b. 1863, d. 1950, m. Annie Laurah Riley, Erastus Melvin, b. 1866, d. 1930, m. Lillie Rebecca Mancil; Cornelius Granville, b. 1871, d. 1923, m. Margaret Julia Ann Hassell; Dora Ellafair, b. 1873, d. 1966, m. Sion Asbury Hutcheson; Callie Susan, b. 1875, d. 1972, m. William Nathaniel Knowles; George Clauson, b. 1878, d. 1961, m. (1) Marjorie Ellen Hilton (Helton) (2) Elizabeth (Rumley) Rabun; and John Herbert, b. 1881, d. 1963, m. Deborah Ann Hilton (Helton). (These last two sons were featured in last week’s story about the Thomasson Boarding House.)

There are many descendants in the next few generations, and many continue to live in the Brooklyn, Fairfield, Hopewell and Mobley Creek communities. Many of them attend the annual Thomasson reunion in honor of their ancestors, Cornelius S. Thomasson and his father, Thomas Randolph Thomasson.

Sources for this story include Thomasson Traces, Volumes I and II, compiled by Marjorie Brasselle Malloy, a great granddaughter of Neil Thomasson, and Curtis H. Thomasson.

Anyone who may have additional information or who finds an error in the above is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: