Brower family descendants were avid supporters of education

Published 2:03 am Saturday, April 6, 2019

Although not prevalent, the family name of Browder has been well known in Covington County and surrounding areas. Some known to this writer who bore the name include William Moody Browder and his wife, Helen (Wood), and his brother, Malmer “Mal” B. Browder and his wife, Jule (Bradley), as well as their children.

Moody Browder was a teacher in the Andalusia City Schools and the Covington County Schools   with a tenure of many years at Pleasant Home School before his retirement in 1982. He primarily taught courses in the science field. He was married to Helen Horne Wood, daughter of Dr. Gordon L. Wood. Dr. Wood maintained an office on the second floor of the Pelham Building on South Cotton Street in Andalusia, which housed Thagard Drug Store on the ground floor. Moody and Helen were the parents of one daughter, Cindy (Browder) Grantham who also pursued a career in education, teaching in the elementary grades in the Eufaula area.

Mal and Jule Browder made their home in Andalusia where they were both employed. Jule taught twelfth grade government and economics for many years at Andalusia High School from which she retired. Mal was employed by the State Department of Education to work with disadvantaged citizens in Covington County and surrounding counties until his retirement in 1981. He and Jule were the parents of two children: Julanne (Browder) Beasey and James “Jimmy” Browder.

The above Browder descendants have extensive family lineages extending back to Ireland and England. The earliest identified ancestor found on family trees is John Broader who was born in 1630 in Ireland and appears to have been the immigrant ancestor. He and his unidentified wife were the parents of Edmund William Browder Sr. who was born in 1655 in Bath Parish, Va. He was married to Lysbeth Simpson who was born inn 1670 in England. He died in 1739, and she, in 1721 in Jamestown, Prince George County, Va. They were the parents of John Browder who was born circa 1690 in Charles City, Va., and who was married in 1714 to Elizabeth ?. John died in 1755 in Bath Parish, Va.

John and Elizabeth Browder were the parents of Richard Browder who was born in 1720 in Jamestown, Va. and died in 1807 in Dinwiddie, Va. He and his wife, Mary Thompson, were the parents of John Browder who was born in 1748 in Chatham County, N.C. and died in 1818 in Chesterfield, Va. He was married to Elizabeth “Betsy” Dyson who was born in 1750.They were the parents of Arthur Browder who was born in 1771 in Bladen County, N.C. He was married in 1790 to Charlotte Brayboy (1771-1850). They migrated to South Carolina where Arthur died in 1825 in Williamsburg, and Charlotte, in 1850 in Greeleyville. They were the parents of John J. Browder Sr.

John J. Browder Sr. was born in 1802 in Williamsburg County, S.C., and died in 1870 in same county. He was married to Delilah “Lila” Walsh (1804-1880). They were the parents of William Thomas Browder who was born in 1819 in Williamsburg. He was married in 1847 to Eliza Atkinson (1828-1860), and then he was married in 1860 to Margaret Susan Bradshaw (1834-1880). He and his first wife, Eliza, were the parents of William Thomas Browder who was born in 1851.

William Thomas Browder is the ancestor who brought the family to South Alabama and settled in McKenzie of Butler County near the Conecuh County line. He probably arrived before he was married in 1847 to Mary Elizabeth Cook (1853-1930), daughter of Alexander Hamilton Cook (1818-1872) and Susan Elizabeth “Eliza” Henderson (1831-1886). The Cooks came to Crenshaw County circa 1845 and later moved to the Pigeon Creek community of Butler County where he died in 1872.

William Thomas and Mary Elizabeth Browder were the parents of the following children: James Henry, b. 1879, d. 1854; Chapman B., b. 1882, d. 1971, m. Minnie Lou Pierce (1887-1977); E. Ann, b. 1886; Minerva Elvira., b. 1888, d, 1956, m. 1906 Franklin Lesley Watford (1886-1965); James Samuel “Jim,” b. 1889, d. 1935, m. Clara Belle Mitchell; William David, b. 1891, d. 1956, m. 1914 Georgia Lou Horton (1897-1977); Hardie R., b. 1893, d. 1957; and Daniel Daryl, b. 1894, d. 1919.

Their son, James Samuel “Jim” Browder, was the father of the Browders who resided in Andalusia. He was married to Clara Belle Mitchell (1892-1981), and they became the parents of the following children: Ralph Jackson, b. 1912, d. 1985, m. Johnie Mae Gomillion; Nellie May, b. 1915, d. 2000, m. 1936 Glenn Goree/Gorie; James Winfred, b. 1917, d. 1971; Malmer R., b. 1919, d. 2003, m. Jule ?; William Moody, b. 1920, d. 1993, m. Helen Horne Wood; and Mack, b. 1926, d. 2012; Maton, b. 1930, d. 2011: and Jean, m. Beeman Bond.

The mother of the above children was Clara Belle Mitchell (1892-1981), daughter of William Monroe Mitchell (1857-1951) and Emma Mae Brooks (1868-1937). At her death, she was buried beside her husband in the New Home Cemetery in Conecuh County near where she was reared. Her husband, James Samuel Browder, was living with his family in the Pigeon Creek community in Butler County in 1910, but he had moved to the Jamestown community in Conecuh County before he and Clara Belle were married in 1911. They made their home there where James Samuel farmed. Unfortunately, he died at a fairly young age of 46 years, which left Clara a widow to finish rearing their children. The oldest son, Ralph Jackson, was in college at the time, but he came home to help his mother with the farm and the younger children.

Clara Belle Browder placed a strong value on education for her children. She had attended New Home School, a two-teacher one, located near Evergreen where she completed all grade levels available at the time. Upon completing grade eight, she passed a teacher’s exam which qualified her to teach. However, she chose to marry at age 18, so she and James Samuel moved to a “five-mule” farm of about 150 acres, which was located in the eastern edge of Conecuh County near the Town of McKenzie.

Clara Belle’s goal was for all of her children to complete a college education even during the depression years. All of them did accomplish that with the exception of the older son who left college to help his mother after his father’s death. Four went on to earn graduate degrees, and they all pursued careers in accounting, teaching, pharmacy and financial consulting. In appreciation of their mother’s support of their education, a conference room at Southeast Arkansas College in Pine Bluff, Ark., was named in her honor in more recent years. Her youngest child, Jean Browder Bond, was chairman of the board of trustees at the college. The special room was made possible by Jean and her husband, Beeman Bond, along with the Eli Lilly Foundation. A portrait of Clara Belle Browder hangs in the memorial room.

Two of the sons, Malmer and Moody, made contributions to education in Covington County. Moody taught science courses in the Conecuh and Covington County School Systems. Malmer was employed by the State Department of Education and worked with handicapped persons in Covington County and surrounding counties. In 1982, Malmer and his sister, Jean (Browder) Bond, donated two scholarships to students at Lurleen B. Wallace State Junior College in honor of their mother Clara (Mitchell) Browder. Indeed, the Browder family has been strong supporters of education.

Sources for today’s story include, a story by Renee LeMaire published in The Andalusia Star-News and personal knowledge.

Anyone who may find an error in the above or who has additional information on this 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 be meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. Prospective members and guests are invited.