Thomasson loved livestock, was cowboy at one time

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 16, 2020

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Today’s story is a continuation of the feature of the children and descendants of Jefferson Sylvanus “Syl” Thomasson and his wife, Rebecah Butler. They named their second son Cornelius Thomas Thomasson after his uncle, Cornelius Star Thomasson, and grandfather, Thomas Randolph Thomasson. This was a very common practice of Southern families.

Cornelius Thomas became known as Tom to his family and friends. He was born in 1872 when his family resided in the Heath community of Covington County. A few years later, the family moved to their final residence in the Burnout community near the Covington/Crenshaw County line. He grew up attending the local rural schools which most likely included the Thomasson School his father had built on their property. Of course, he learned all the skills needed to operate the large farm. Besides the farming, his first job was to deliver the mail by horse between Heath and Andalusia.

Tom seemed to have inherited a desire for adventure, probably from his forebearers. In 1893 at the age of 21, he chose to go to Texas and settled somewhere in the vicinity of Galveston. There he hired on as a horse wrangler, so his experience on the farm proved beneficial. He enjoyed this work very much, but he was once caught in the middle of a stampede. He was always grateful that fate was in his favor by providing a tree for his safety. It seems he lived a rather dangerous and rugged life during this period. When he returned to Alabama, he always enjoyed sharing his escapades and entertaining his relatives with them.

Tom had a special love for horses. While in Texas his preferred was a special mustang stallion which had a star between his eyes. Even though the horse was a bit unruly and given to causing trouble, he was Tom’s favorite. It was a sad day when he had to leave him in Texas upon his return to Alabama.

Once when Tom was visiting a tavern in Galveston, he ended up sharing a drink with Frank James of the James brothers’ fame. He was not particularly impressed at the time, but his relatives learned later that there was a distant family connection. A much-removed Thomasson cousin, Zerleda Thomasson, married Frank and Jesse James’ father, Robert James. Although the relationship is very remote, it is fascinating to the family.

In September 1900, a destructive hurricane hit the Texas Gulf Coast, and a storm tide developed as it approached land. In Galveston, the water rose four feet in a matter of seconds. The destruction was unbelievable, and after the storm, some 6,000 people had drowned. The Galveston Hurricane has been labeled one of the most powerful to ever hit the United States. Of course, sickness prevailed and was widespread following it. Tom was one who survived the storm, but he was stricken with a sickness called “Texas Fever” or “Slow Fever.” He came close to death, but recovered enough to make it home to Alabama.

Following that harrowing experience, Tom decided to stay home permanently. He spent the next few years farming, buying and cutting timber and floating logs down the Conecuh River to Pensacola. However, his main interest remained with livestock. He kept all kinds and loved attending the auctions at the area stockyards. He probably knew more about horses and cattle than anyone in the area. For more than 20 years, he owned a white gelding of which he was particularly fond. He also owned a yoke of oxen which was more or less his partners on the farm.

Tom waited several years before settling down to marriage and establishing a family. He met and was married in 1907 at DeFuniak Springs, Fla., to Nancy Anna Frazier (1877-1956), daughter of Francis Marion Frazier and Celia Ann Chandler. Obviously, he met Nancy through relatives as her father was the stepson of Tom’s uncle, Thomas Roach Thomasson. There had always been a close relationship between the Frazier and Thomasson families.

Tom and Nancy were blessed with four children: Iva Myrtle, b. 1908, m. 1932 Fletcher Lee DuBose (1911-1971); Bonnie Victoria Celeste, b. 1910, m. 1926 James Presley Carroll; Thomas Jefferson “Buddie,” b. 1912, m. 1942 Jewel Pauline Pursell; and Charlie Clawson “Dodd,” b. 1914, m. 1940 LaRue Pursell. Their children were reared on the farm just as their dad had been. They all married in Covington County and reared their own families there as well. Buddie and Dodd’s wives were sisters, the daughters of John Lee Pursell and Era Frances Bence.

The oldest daughter, Iva Myrtle, and her husband, Fletcher Lee DuBose, son of Herbert DuBose and Eliza Cole, made their home in Sanford, Ala., near her parents and siblings. They were the parents of two children: Lois Gwendolyn, b. 1936, m. (1) 1954 Maxie Pate (2) ca 1969 Oliver Olson; and Darryl Thomas, b. 1940, m. (1) 1965 Anne Mehler (2) Peggy Ann Queen.

The second daughter, Bonnie Victoria Celeste, was married to James Presley Carroll, son of William Henry Carroll and Charlotte Mack. They were the parents of four children: James Presley Jr., b. 1929, m. 1949 Alice Mueller; Gerald Henry, b. 1931, m. 1953 Louise Roughton; Charles Linton, b. 1935, m. 1958 Barbara Rae Peters; and Patricia Ann, b. 1937, m. 1953 O.J. Henley.

The oldest son, Thomas Jefferson “Buddie,” was married to Jewell Pauline Pursell, daughter of John Lee Pursell and Era Frances Bence. They lived in the Sanford community along with his relatives. They were the parents of two children: James Ray “Jack,” b. 1945, m. 1968 Peggy Lorraine Butler; and Sharon, b. 1949, m. 1968 Tommy Elbert Vinson.

Their youngest son, Charlie Clawson “Dodd,” was married to LaRue Pursell, daughter of John Lee Pursell and Era Frances Bence. They also made their home in Sanford near their relatives. They were the parents of eight children: Frances Wylene, b. 1941, m. 1960 Jerry Bradley Kelley; Dianne, b. 1943, m. 1966 Robert Eugene Shaw; John Paul “Sonny,” b. 1945, m. 1972 Nancy Sue Shiver; Kathy, b. 1948, m. 1969 Leslie Ray Kilpatrick; Rebecca, b. 1949, m. 1959 Moda Herbert Daughtry; Harriet Elaine, b. 1951, m. (1) 1971 Larry Edward Hilburn (2) Malcolm Peevy ; Yvonne Delane, b. 1953, m. 1972 John Alfred Bryars; and Steve, b. 1958, m. Karen Elmore.

Iva Myrtle and Fletcher DuBose’s grandchildren include the three children of Lois and Maxie Pate: Patrina Gwen, b. 1956, m. 1975 Jeffery Gilmore; Brenda Gail, b. 1959; and Veronica, b. 1963. Their son, Darryl and his wife, Anne, were the parents of one daughter, Kelly Denise, b. 1971.

Bonnie and James P. Carroll have the following grandchildren: The children of James P. and Alice Carroll Jr. are: Judy Sharon, b. 1957; James Perry, b. 1958; and Jerry Paul, b. 1863, m. 1981 Domini “Vickie” Voucher. The children of Gerald and Louise Carroll are: Miriam Ann, b. 1953, m. (1) Donnie Stephen Bartlett (2) Daniel Lee Davis (3) Jimmy Charles Thomaston; Jerry, b. 1960, m. Kathleen Crowley; and Lisa, b. 1966. The children of Charles and Barbara Carroll are: Lori Andrea, b. 1958, m. John Gallman; Deana Lynn, b. 1962, m. James Isaac; Charles Gregory, b. 1965; and Jenny Marie, b. 1974. The children of Patricia and O.J. Henley are: Jeffrey Brian, b. 1960; Jimmy Carroll, b. 1967; and Jody Douglas, b. 1970.

The grandchildren of Buddie and Jewell Thomasson include the following: Jack and Peggy Thomasson had two children: Nikki Anne, b. 1973; and Michael Jack, b. 1980. Sharon and Tommy Vinson had one son, Morris Lee b. 1973.

Dodd and LaRue Thomasson have 11 grandchildren. The children of Wylene and Jerry Kelley are: Theresa Ann b. 1961; Gena Ashley b. 1962; and Jerry Bradley Jr. b. 1969. The children of Dianne and Robert Shaw are: Sandra A., b. 1967; and Mitchell E., b. 1970. The children of Sonny and Nancy Thomasson are: Christopher Paul b. 1974; and Brandi Nicole b. 1977. The children of Kathy and Leslie Kilpatrick are: Delane Ann b. 1972; and Adam Ray b. 1976. Rebecca and Moda Daughtry’s son is Matthew Lee, b. 1970. Harriet and Larry Hilburn have two children: Kimberly Dawn b. 1973; and Joshua Eric, b. 1974. Yvonne and John Bryars have a son, John Garrick, b. 1973. Steve and Karen are the parents of two children: Tim and Emily.

Tom Thomasson left a fine family legacy. He lived to be 98 years old and at his death was buried beside his wife in the Sanford Baptist Church Cemetery which was very near his residence. Many of his descendants are buried there as well.

The source for this story were the Thomasson Traces—Lineages, Vol. I and Thomasson Traces—Narrative, Vol. II. Anyone with questions is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: