Ancestors of VanArsdall family immigrated from Belgium

Published 1:49 am Saturday, March 30, 2019

The family name of VanArsdall is rather rare in South Alabama. In fact, the only family known in Covington County wearing the name is that of John Wayne “Johnny” VanArsdall Jr., a resident of the Town of Opp. Johnny is the son of John Wayne “J.W.” VanArsdall Sr. and his wife, Maudie Ina (Thomasson) Chambley.

For some time, Johnny has been seeking information on his VanArsdall lineage, but little has been found to date. He did secure a copy of an obituary for his uncle, George Washington VanArsdall Jr., which has been very helpful. Some additional genealogy has been gained from family trees found on

Many area residents will recognize Johnny since he is currently a driver for the Covington County Public Transportation System. He previously worked for many years at the Opp Micolas Mills before it closed some years earlier.

According to, the paternal genealogy of Johnny’s VanArsdall’s lineage is as follows. After several generations in Belgium, Symon Janse VanArsdalen (1628-1710) emigrated from Belgium to New York, USA. He and his wife, Pieterje Claessen VanSchouw, were the parents of Cornelius Symonse VanArsdalen (1664-1745) who married Marretje Dirckse Ammerman (1672-1745). They had a son named Abraham VanArsdalen (1708-1753) who married Maria VanNuys (1717-1809) and resided in Somerset, N.J. They were the parents of Cornelius Abraham VanArsdall (1748-1840) who married Jannetje Baird (1751-1801) who migrated to Kentucky. They were the parents of Abraham VanArsdall (1774-1839) who married Aule Ellen Vanerife (1775-1866) and were the parents of Alexander VanArsdall (1815-1898).

Alexander VanArsdall was first married to Martha Ann Stone (11820-1892), and they were the parents of Wilmore VanArsdall who was born in 1876 in the State of Kentucky. Alexander was later married to Jennie ?, and they were residing in Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Ky., in 1910. They were the parents of the following children: Ellen, b. ca 1907; Stelah, b. ca 1907; and George Washington Sr., b. 1908, d. 1979, m. Alice Louise Devine (1913-1989). All three VanArsdall children were born in the State of Kentucky.

George Washington VanArsdall was married on March 7, 1931, to Alice Louise Devine. Alice Louise was born in Harrodsburg and died in 1989 in Boyle County, Ky. In 1940, the family was residing in Mercer County, Ky., and in 1948, they were living in Danville County, Ky. They were the parents of the following three children: George Washington Jr., b. 1931, d. 2013, m. (1) Kathleen Van Winkle (1935-1962) (2) 1977 Judy Horton; Bessie Mae, b. 1933, d. 2004, m. William Donald Coffman; and J.W., b. 1935, d. 2002, m. Maudie Ina (Thomasson) Chambley (1926-1957).

The oldest son, George Washington VanArsdall Jr., was married first to Kathleen Van Winkle, daughter of James Leslie Van Winkle (1898-1952) and Verna Day (1911-1980). Kathleen was born in 1935 in Harlan County, Ky., and died in 1962 in Danville, Boyle County, Ky. George Jr. was later married in 1977 to Judy Horton in Campbell, Tenn. His obituary states he was the father of the following children: Victor, m. Sueticia ?; Billy, m. Michelle ?; Jacqueline “Jackie,” m. Robb Raines; Kim; and Tina, m. David Roney.

The obituary further states that George Washington VanArsdall Jr. was a member of the Danville High School Class of 1949 and that he was a member of the Army National Guard. He retired after 30 years as an electrician with Corning Glass and Phillips Lighting. He was an active member of the Gethsemane Baptist Church in Danville. At his death in 2013, he was buried in Danville Memorial Gardens. He was survived by the following grandchildren: Teela Johnson, Lance (Tiffany) VanArsdall, Justin VanArsdall, Jamie Harris, Lori Harris, Jason Raines, Mathew Slugantz, Michael (Carrie) Slugantz and Samantha Roney. He also had 11 great grandchildren at the time.

The only daughter, Bessie Mae VanArsdall, was married to William Donald Coffman. They were the parents of two children: Terri and Don. At their deaths, they were buried in Burgin Memorial Gardens in Boyle County, Ky.

The second son, J.W. VanArsdall, was born in 1935 in Mercer County, Ky. He was married in 1955 in Bay County, Fla., to Maudie Ina (Thomasson) Chambley. Maudie Ina had previously married George Barney Chambley in 1944 in Muscogee County, Ga. They were the parents of one child, George Barney Chambley Jr., b. 1945, m. 1965 in Bay County, Fla., Patricia Ann Smart. George Barney Jr. and wife, Patricia Ann, are the parents of three children: Christopher Barney, b. 1965; Donald Wayne, b. 1967; and Angela Denise, b. 1970.

J.W. and Maudie Ina (Thomasson) Chambley VanArsdall had one son, John Wayne “Johnny” VanArsdall, who was born in 1955 in Bay County, Fla. In 1981, he was married to Melita Quinella Gordon, daughter of James Albert Gordon and Ida Williamson. They are the parents of one child, Lori Allison VanArsdall, who married John Fletcher “Trip” Jones III, son of John Fletcher Jones Jr. and Amy (Williamson).   At present Lori and Trip have a young daughter, Ella Claire Jones. Trip Jones is the minister for the Central Church of Christ in Andalusia.

When Maudie Ina VanArsdall died at a young age from injuries suffered from an automobile accident.  She left her two-year-old son, Johnny, who was taken in by her mother, Lokie (Sasser) Thomasson. When the young man was seven years old, he went to live with his mother’s sister, Gracie D. (Thomasson) Davis and husband, Holland Lee Davis. They then reared this nephew with their own five children. The Davis family resided in Opp, so Johnny grew up in that community.

To this point, the VanArsdall lineage for Johnny VanArsdall has been outlined. Now, his maternal lineage of Thomasson will be presented. Thomas Randolph Thomasson was his ancestor who brought the family to Covington County in 1854. Thomas was a native of Rock Hill, S.C., and later migrated to Madison, Morgan County, Ga. After some eight years, he moved his family to Pike County, Ala., where they resided for some 15 years. Thomas farmed and at times was a minister of the gospel while rearing his family.

Thomas Randolph Thomasson (1797-1872) and his wife, Sarah (Roach) (1805-1858), were the parents of 11 children: Thomas Roach, b. 1824, d. 1862, m. Mrs. Margaret (Hammond) Frazier; Trezevant Fernandes, b. 1826, d. 1898, m. (1) Susan Dudley Barron (2) Philura Massengale Read; Lorenza Marion, b. 1829, d. 1910, m. Martha Hammond; James Franklin, b. 1831, d. 1918, m. Julia Ann Shaw; William Monroe, b. 1833, d. 1863, m. Martha A. Ingram; Cornelius Starr, b. 1836, d. 1919, m. Susannah Henley; John Randolph, b. 1838, d. 1862-1865, m. Mary ?; Madison, b. 1841 or 1842, d. before 1850; Jefferson Sylvanus, b. 1844, d. 1939, m. (1) Rebecah Butler (2) Inez Davis (3) Mrs. Missouri C. Houston; Mary Ann Abbagail, b. 1847, d. 1936, m. 1866 Micajah “Mike” Henley; and Charles Clawson, b. 1850, d. 1929, m. Mary E. Little.

Johnny’s line descends through next to the youngest son, Jefferson Sylvanus Thomasson and Rebecah (Butler). They were the parents of the following children: Sara Cordelia, b. ca 1868, d. 1924, m. Charlie R. Raley; Harmon Ashley “Bud,” b. 1869, d. 1947, m. Ire Houston; Cornelius Thomas, b. 1872, d. 1970, m. Nancy Anna Frazier; Hyman Gordon “Hy,” b. 1873, d. 1958, m. Susan Mahala Alsabrooks; James Franklin, b. 1876, d. 1959, m. (1) Cynthia Beulah Sasser (2) Mrs. Lizzie Ella (Griswold) Nichols; Annie Laura, b. 1873, d. 1895, single; Charles Jefferson, b. 1880, d. 1966, single; Freddie Loretta, b. 1883, d. 1973, m. (1) William Edgar Alsabrooks (2) James Richard Frazier; Mary Elizabeth Sugar,” b. 1887, d. 1972, m. Colburn Drake; Perry Esker, b. 1888, d. 1982, m. Sofie Cowline Williams; and Preston Sylvania, b. 1892, d. 1947, m. Lokie Cornelia Sasser.

The youngest son, Preston Sylvania Thomasson and his wife, Lokie Cornelia (Sasser) were the parents of the following children: Female Infant, b.&d. 1921; James Jefferson, b.&d. 1922; Gracie D., b. 1924, d. 2009, m. Holland Lee Davis; Maudie Ina, b. 1926, d. 1957, m. (1) George Barney Chambley (2) John Wayne “J.W.” VanArsdall; David Bernard, b. 1929, m. Mrs. Audrey Jean (Terry) Johnson; Daniel Tyler, b. 1931, m. Doris Gertrude Seifert; and Male Infant, b.&d. 1933.

The second surviving daughter, Maudie Ina Thomasson, and her husband, John Wayne VanArsdall, are the parents of John Wayne “Johnny” VanArsdall Jr. Johnny and his wife make their home in Opp, Ala.

The sources for today’s story include, the obituary for George VanArsdall Jr., Thomasson Traces—Lineages and family records.

Anyone who should discover an error in the above or who might have additional genealogy on the VanArsdall family is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email:


The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will not meet on the first Thursday in April, their regular meeting date, but they will meet on the second Thursday, April 11, this month, at 6:30 p.m. in the Andalusia Pubic Library’s Dixon Memorial Room.