Hicks family migrates from Georgia to Covington County, Ala.

Published 7:04 pm Friday, August 7, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

At the end of last week’s column, a notable member of the featured Hicks family, Gillam Thomas Hicks, had died in 1895 in Heard County, Ga. His wife, Samantha, who had earlier been a widow of a gentleman who died in the War Between the States, was left a widow again with their younger children still at her home. She continued to reside in Heard County for a few years before taking up and moving to Alabama. Her son, Alonza Hicks, was working as a carpenter with a construction firm which contracted to go to Covington County, Ala., to build a series of houses. Lonza went with the crew and fell in love with the area which was around the Straughn community.

When Alonza returned home and related how much he liked the area and how friendly the people were, the family began considering a move to this pleasant-sounding area.  Alonza’s brother, John Fletcher Hick’s, wife had died in 1898 leaving him with a young daughter. In addition, their sister, Alice, and her husband, Charles F. Langston, had already located in the Straughn area. Those conditions led to the family making the decision to make such a move. This occurred circa 1900 since they were present in Covington County, Ala., for the recording of the 1900 federal census.

The extensive preparations began with searching for a family to rent the house and farm in Georgia. Next came the purchase of two large wagons, one covered for their furniture, clothes and food, and one open for hauling the farm equipment, tools, and chicken and pig crates. The horses, mules and cows would follow the open wagon and herded by the brothers.

The moving trip required several weeks. The family stopped at towns along the way to rest, buy food and feed for the animals. They also visited relatives and friendly farms at times. The three sons walked the entire trip and would take turns at night to keep watch and herd the animals. They often chose to stop and camp beside a stream or creek for a good supply of water and for the animals to drink as well as a good location for cooking. When it rained, the sons would sleep under the wagons while the women folk were inside the covered wagon.

The travelers included Samantha Hicks, her three sons:  John Fletcher Hicks, Alonza “Lon” Hicks, and Joseph Henry Hicks, and her daughters, Anna Hicks and Cora Hicks. Also, in the group was five-year old Fletcher Hicks, daughter of John Fletcher. 

The family finally arrived in the Straughn community of Covington County, Ala., during the year 1900. They most likely camped and stayed some with relatives or neighbors in the area before being able to move into a house in which the Curtis Bennet family had resided. Samantha was soon able to purchase an 80-acre farm located directly across the road from the new Mt. Zion Methodist Church, which was begun the previous year during 1898 and 1899. In the coming years, most members of this Hicks family would become members of that church and be buried in the adjacent cemetery.


The Benjamin Rush Radford family had also migrated from Pike County, Ala., to the Straughn community. They and the Hicks relatives were all attending the Mt. Zion Methodist Church. It wasn’t long before Joseph Henry Hicks and the Radford daughter, Eula Bell, began courting. They were consequently married in 1903 and were fortunate in that her father, Benjamin Radford gave them, as well as each of his children, 40 acres of land to help them get established. Their parcel of land was located on Holly Road which later became Antioch Road as it is known today. Joseph Henry commenced to build them a large, comfortable house which served the family well through the years. Most likely he was helped by his brothers, Alonza and John Fletcher, and his Radford relatives. His father-in-law, Benjamin Rush Radford, probably furnished the building materials. It was a fairly large and nice-looking house which served the growing family well. Around 1950, the house was torn down, and the materials were used to build a smaller one for Joseph and Eula which was more energy efficient and comfortable. The couple lived there until their deaths.

Gillam Hicks’s oldest son by his first wife was James Thomas Hicks who was born in 1858 in Heard County, Georgia. He was five years of age when his mother passed away in 1863. He was left with his younger siblings when his father went off to serve in the Confederate Army.  When he was 26 years of age in 1884, he was married to Texas Orleans Combs (1855-1944) who was 29 years of age. It was told that her first choice for a husband died, so she then consented to marry James Thomas. She was the daughter of William Harrison Combs (1825-1916) and Martha Jane Woodard (1827-1865).

James Thomas was married with a family before his stepmother and siblings left for their move to Alabama. A few years earlier, he had chosen to migrate to Texas where he settled and reared his family. The exact date of the move is not known, but when the 1900 federal census was recorded, they were already in Texas and all four of their children had been born there. Family memories include a story from Texas Orleans of the move from Georgia to Texas by covered wagon. They were the parents of the following children: William Thomas, b. 1887, d. 1956; Janie Arrena, b. 1888, d. 1989, m. ? Sapp; Charles Wesley, b. 1891, d. 1960; and James Martin, b. 1894, d. 1973, m. 1926 Winnie Lucille (Garrett) Darden (1905-2006).

Gillam’s next son, William Jasper Newton Hicks, was born in 1860 in Fulton County, Ga. He also migrated to Texas and married Hannah Jeanetta Watts (1876-1959), a native of Waco, Tex. They were the parents of one son, William Martin Hicks, b. 1898, d. 1945. They both died in Wichita County, Tex., and were buried in Roscoe Cemetery in Nolan County, Tex.

Gillam’s daughter, Mary Elizabeth Frances “Mollie” Hicks, was born in 1863 in Heard County, Ga. In 1883, she was married to James David Lashley (1859-1940), son of A.B. Lashley and Missouri Lacy. They eventually resided in the LaGrange, Ga., area, and at their deaths, were buried there in the Shadowlawn Cemetery. They were the parents of a daughter, Mattie M., b. 1883, d. 1961, m. John B. Middlebrooks (1880-1952).

Gillam’s daughter, Emma Emaline Hicks, was born in 1866 in Heard County, Ga. and was married in 1882 to Henry Clay Daughtrey (1862-1939), son of William Logan Daughtrey (1830-1901) and Mary ? (1846-1879). They were married in Alabama, but they had moved to Waco, Tex., by 1890. They became the parents of the following four children: William Henry, b. 1883, d. 1959; James Gilham, b. 1886, d. 1964; Thomas R., b. 1888, d. 1972; and Ollie Lee, b. 1892, d. 1966. Emma died in 1892 and was buried in the Patrick Cemetery in McLennan County, Tex. Her infant daughter, Ollie Lee, was only two months old. 

Shortly afterwards, Henry Clay took his three young sons and infant daughter and rode the train, walked and hitched rides back home to Chambers County, Ala. As he needed help with his young children, he was soon married in 1893 to Mary Lizzie Bartlett (1859-1931). They resided there in Hamburg and Five Points, Chambers County, and even later in the Columbus and Phenix City area. It appears Henry Clay died in 1939 in Russell County, Ala. He and Lizzie were the parents of one son, John S. Daughtrey (1895-1963).

This writing covers Gillam Thomas Hicks’s family and children by his first wife, Arrena. In next week’s column, his family and children by his second wife, Samantha Stewart, will be covered.

The source for today’s story was the book The Hicks Family Tree; The Magnificent Journey of Our Branch of the Hicks Family Tree, 1455 to 2011, and The Families That Made a Difference, written by Gale Hicks Thompson and Bob G. Hicks.

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