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Whigham, McLaughlin families are united through marriage

Last week’s column was an introduction to the Whigham family of South Alabama, and today’s story will be a continuation of that review. The previous narrative ended with the generation of Joseph Whigham Sr. and his first wife, Elizabeth Hanna’s, children. On of those 14 children, Joseph Whigham Jr., and his descendants will be the primary focus of this writing.

Joseph Whigham Jr. was born in 1824 in Jefferson County, Ga. He was about 21 years old when his father and brother, Thomas, left Georgia and moved to the community of Blue Springs in Barbour County, Ala., in 1845. There was an agreement they would send for Joseph Jr. as soon as they were well settled in their new home. Joseph Jr. was residing in Oglethorpe, Ga., when they sent for him to come to Alabama in 1847. He had met a young lady, Jane Elizabeth Walden, and they had become engaged. However, they were unable to marry due to someone in her family adamantly opposing such. Therefore, it was necessary for them to devise a plan for marriage and their departure.

Since Jane’s family’s home was on the road leading out of town, Joseph arose early of the day of planned departure, loaded all his earthly possessions and tied his livestock including cows, mules and horses behind the wagon. He also loaded his chickens and small pigs in crates. He was preparing to establish a residence on some farm in Barbour County, Ala. As he drove toward Jane’s house, a “mystery” rider rode with him. Upon arrival, Joseph Jr. called for Jane who came out with her possessions, which were loaded on the wagon. The other rider pulled out his Bible and performed a marriage ceremony on the spot, which was in the middle of the main public road. Afterwards, the couple left for their new home in Alabama which would have been about a two weeks journey.

When they arrived, Joseph Jr.’s father and brother had made provisions for a dwelling and place for the livestock. They settled in, and their first child was born within the year. Joseph Jr. was successful in farming, and the family grew to six children. Soon after the last child was born, Joseph Jr. enlisted to serve in the Confederate Army. He was assigned to Company H, 39th Alabama Infantry Regiment and served throughout the war.

Joseph Whigham Jr. and his wife, Jane Elizabeth, were the parents of the following children: William Lowery Augustus, b. 1847, d. 1925; John Shealy Sr., b. 1850, d. 1914; Sarah Jane Eudora, b. 1852, 1914; Joseph Thomas Eugene, b. 1856, d. 1930, m. 1880 Mary Frances Bloodworth; Georgia Ann, b. 1858, d. 1946, m. Adam Hagler; and Franklin Joseph, b. 1860, d. 1960.

In his last years, Joseph Jr. was visiting in the home of his youngest son, Joseph Franklin Whigham, in Geneva County, Ala., when he died in 1880. His body was taken back to Blue Springs and buried in the Bethel Hardshell Baptist Church Cemetery. Jane lived another 30 years and died in 1910. At the time she was visiting or living with her two children who resided in Geneva County. Due to the difficulty of transporting the body back to Blue Springs, the decision was made to bury her there in the Early Town Church of Christ Cemetery.

The third son, Joseph Thomas Eugene Whigham, was born and lived his entire life in the Blue Springs community. He was married in 1880 to Mary Frances Bloodworth at the home of her parents, Milton Bloodworth and Charlotte Faulkner, near Skipperville, Ala. Joseph Thomas became a very industrious and successful farmer and businessman. He acquired extensive land holdings including several different farms, some of which his family farmed, and others were farmed by “share-croppers.” In addition, he developed a very blue-colored spring which occurred suddenly on his property. He also constructed a hotel and cabins to rent to the tourists seeking the benefits of the healthy springs. In addition, he built a brick mill and a lumber mill, which he operated successfully until the depression began in 1929.

Joseph Eugene and Mary Frances Whigham were the parents of nine children who were all born in Blue Springs: Porter Franklin, b. 1880, d. 1954, m. 1903 Alberta Green; Georgia Ann Eudora, b. 1882, d. 1962, m. 1902 Ernest Price; Melvin Genoa, b. 1885, d. 1933; Dr. Arthur Lee, b. 1883, d. 1958, m. Flossie Ray Bowen; Dovie Alma, b. 1890, d. 1983, m. 1911 Dr. James Daniel McLaughlin (1880-1953); Chalmers Eugene, b. 1892, d. 1930, m. 1931 Mary Ann McWhorter; Shelley May, b. 1895, d. 1980, m. Tullis Knight; Grady Cadiz, b. 1897, d. 1912, single; and Augustus Dean “Gus,” b. 1902, d. 1972, m. 1940 Madelyn James.

The next generation to be reviewed are the descendants of the fifth child, Alma Dovie Whigham, and her husband, Dr. James Daniel McLaughlin. First, a description of how they met in relevant since he was from the Rose Hill community in Covington County, and she, from Blue Springs in Barbour County. Dr. Dan Campbell was a well-respected physician in Rose Hill at the time, and he saw great potential in the young James Daniel McLaughlin. As a result, he became his mentor and encouraged the young man to prepare for a medical career.

Before pursuing medical training, James Daniel “Jim” passed the Alabama State Teacher’s Examination after which he taught school for several years. After saving enough money for medical school, he was admitted to the Atlanta College for Physicians and Surgeons in 1905. After finishing two years at the school, which is now Emory University, Jim decided for some reason to transfer to the University of Alabama Medical Department School of Medicine in Mobile, Ala. After the next year, his funds were depleted, so he had to stop out and work for a year. He reentered the next year and was graduated in 1910.

During his senior year, he became acquainted with a classmate, Albert Lee Whigham, of Blue Springs. Since Albert Lee needed some academic assistance, Jim, a few years older and with several years of teaching experience, was hired to be his tutor. As it would happen, Jim accompanied Lee to his home in Blue Springs to allow for some serious study. Naturally, Jim would come to meet the younger sister, Dovie Alma Whigham. Apparently, there was a mutual attraction from the beginning as the couple began a courtship, which was maintained through correspondence and probably Jim visiting the family on rare occasions during the next year or so.

Upon graduating, Jim went immediately to Blue Springs and obtained living quarters and office space in the McRae Hotel. However, Dovie’s father adamantly opposed her marrying a gentleman who was 10 years her senior. Yet, true love prevailed, and the couple chose to elope on October 29, 1911. They settled in Blue Springs where Dr. James Daniel McLaughlin developed a successful medical practice. Although the town did not grow as anticipated, they were comfortable around their relatives and supportive neighbors. It had become fairly popular because of the several mineral springs in the area so that in 1911 Dovie’s father, Joseph Thomas Eugene Whigham, enlarged by 12 additional rooms the hotel he had constructed in 1900.

Dovie Alma Whigham and her husband, Dr. James Daniel McLaughlin were the parents of the following eight children who were all born in Blue Springs: Dr. James Lawrence, b. 1913, d. 1995, m. Myrtice Wilkenson; Mildred Flossie, b. 1916, d. 1989, m. 1940 Irby Hammond; Rupert, b. 1917, d. 1999, m. Ethyl Padgett; Dr. Leon Durward, b. 1919, d. 2010, m. Carolyn Mills; Imogene, b. 1921, d. 1967, m. Thaddeus Thomas Webster; Dr. Robert Joseph, b. 1925, m. (1) 1953 Elizabeth Ann Coggins (2) 1974 Judy Faye Miller; Dr. Max Victor, b. 1928, m. (1) Sally Schofield (2) Nikki Collins; and Dr. Wayne Lee, b. 1930, m. 1954 Joanne Hayes. It is remarkable that five sons out of six earned their doctor’s degree.

The youngest son, Dr. Wayne Lee McLaughlin, is the author of the book, Blue Springs, which served as the source for today’s Whigham family story. Appreciation is expressed to him for his detailed research and then sharing his findings along with an account of his life.

Anyone who might discover an error in the above is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: cthomasson@centurytel.net.