Photo of John Independence Hassell prompts family story

Published 2:34 am Saturday, February 23, 2019

A friend shared with this writer a photo of an older gentleman this week. The subject was John Independence Hassell (1850-1926). The middle name of Independence is a bit unusual, but the fact that he was born on July 4, 1850, explains the origin. A native of Conecuh and Covington Counties, John was a little too young to serve in the Confederate Army, but he had several older brothers who did enlist.

John Independence was the youngest son and child of William Hassell and Mary “Polly” Mock. William Hassell was born in 1809 in South Carolina, and his unidentified father was born there circa 1765, but it is not known if the father migrated to Alabama as his wife, Nancy, did. William’s mother, Nancy Hassell, was born in Virginia in 1768, but she died in Conecuh County, Ala., in 1850 while living with William and family.

William Hassell migrated to Conecuh County, Ala., during the early 1830s. He was soon married to Mary or “Polly” Mock, daughter of Littleberry or Little Berry Jackson Mock (1780-1866) and Jane Young who migrated through Georgia to finally settle in South Alabama in Conecuh and Covington Counties.

William and Mary Hassell were the parents of the following children: George, b. 1834; Francis Marion “Frank,” b. 1836, d. 1908, m. Mary Jane Padgett (1850-1930); Little Berry Jackson, b. 1838, d. 1912, m. Elizabeth Padgett; Anderson J., b. 1840, m. (1) Elizabeth Ward (2) Caroline Ward; Samuel J., b. 1841, d. 1862; Thomas J., b. 1845, d. (?)1863; and John Independence, b. 1850, d. 1926, m. Milley Jane Godwin.

Next to the oldest son, Francis “Frank” Marion Hassell, enlisted for service in the Confederate Army and was assigned to Company C, 15th Alabama Cavalry Regiment. It appears he began as a private and later rose to the rank of sergeant. After the war, he returned home and was married to Mary Jane Padgett (1850-1930), daughter of Wiley Padgett and Caroline Barrow. They became the parents of the following children: John William, b. 1869, d. 1954, m. (1) 1891 Anne Maria Feagin (1863-1900) (2) Martha Jane Feagin (1885-1967); Margaret Julia “Maggie,” b. 1874, d. 1950, m. Cornelius Granville Thomasson (1871-1923); James Alexander, b. 1878, d. 1949, m. Sina E. Ward. Frank was listed as a registered voter for Beat Two in 1867. At their deaths, Francis or Frank and Mary Jane were buried in the Smith Cemetery in the Mobley Creek community.

The next son, Little Berry Jackson Hassell, enlisted in the Confederate Army on November 17, 1861. He was assigned to Company D, 23rd Alabama Infantry Regiment, the same unit his next two brothers would enlist in as well. Little Berry was married to Elizabeth Padgett (1847-1926), daughter of William Henry Padgett and Anna Elizabeth Diamond. They resided in the Fairfield and Red Level communities and were buried in the historic Fairmount Cemetery in Red Level. They were the parents of the following children: William Henry, b. 1867, d. 1956, m. Lizzie ?; Mary Ann, b. 1869; Roberta, b. 1877; Rosa Lee, b. 1877; and Ellen E., b. 1884, d. 1889. Little Berry was listed as a registered voter in 1867 in Beat Two.

The next son, Anderson J. Hassell, was born in 1840, which meant he was at an ideal age to enlist in the Confederate Army. He did that at the very same time as two of his brothers on November 17, 1861. He was assigned to the same Company as his brothers, Company D, 23rd Alabama Infantry Regiment. He was married to Elizabeth Ward, daughter of Simeon Ward and Martha Padgett, probably when he returned from the war. She was born in 1845 and died circa 1885. Anderson then married Caroline Ward, daughter of Moses Ward and Ellen Chambless. He and Elizabeth had two sons: William Anderson, b. 1865, m. 1893 Nancy Elizabeth Brooks (1866-1913); and John, b. 1868, m. in Mississippi. The family resided mostly in the Pea Ridge community where Anderson farmed and worked in the timber industry. At their deaths, he and his wife were buried in the Mobley Creek Cemetery. An Anderson Hassell was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Beat Two on November 7, 1871.

The next son, Samuel J. Hassell, was born in 1841, and he lost his life at a young age during the war on July 8, 1862, in Knoxville, Tenn. He was the third brother to enlist in the Confederate Army on November 17, 1861, and to be assigned to the same unit, Company D, 23rd Alabama Infantry Regiment, as his two brothers.

Limited information was found for the next to the youngest son, Thomas J. Hassell, who was born in 1845. Since he was of an ideal young age to volunteer for service in the Confederate Army, he most likely did. Although no record of his enlistment was found, an entry in a family tree on indicates he died during the war in 1863. No other death date was found, so this information is undocumented.

The youngest son, John Independence Hassell, was slightly too young to serve in the Confederate Army. He was born in 1850 when the family was residing in Conecuh County, Ala. However, they mostly lived in the southwestern areas of Covington County, especially in the Fairfield community. When the 1910 and 1920 censuses were enumerated, John Independence Hassell was residing in Brooklyn, Conecuh County. A few years later in 1926, he passed away while living in Andalusia. He and his wife were buried in the historic Smith Cemetery located in the Mobley Creek community.

John Independence Hassell was married in 1869 in Conecuh County, Ala., to Milley Jane Godwin (1850-1920), daughter of James A. Godwin (1821-1895) and Priscilla Wall (1829-1857). Since they reared a large family of children and that there is genealogy on their grandchildren and other relatives, the review of this family will be continued in next week’s column.

Sources for today’s story include, Wyley D. Ward’s Early History of Covington County, Alabama, 1821-1871 and his The Folks from Pea Ridge in Covington and Conecuh Counties, Alabama, and The Heritage History of Covington County, Alabama.

Anyone who may find an error in the above narrative or who might have additional genealogical data on the Hassell family is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email:


The Covington Historical Society will be meeting on Thursday, February 28, at 6:30 p.m. in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. Guests and prospective members are encouraged to attend.