Brunson descendants excel in business and community leadership

Published 10:28 pm Friday, November 6, 2020

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Matthew Eugene Brunson II or Jr., the son of Matthew Eugene Brunson Sr., was born in 1844 after the family moved to East Alabama. Some records indicate he was born in Russell, some show Macon, and others list Lee County. He grew up on the family farm in Coffee County, and at the age of 19 years, he enlisted in the Confederate Cavalry on September 25, 1863. He joined Captain John C. Browns Independent Company of Barbiere’s Battalion. The enrolling description listed him having black eyes, dark hair and dark complexion and that he stood five feet and seven inches tall. He endured the rest of the war, and when the war ended, he was married in Elba in 1865 to Nancy Elizabeth “Nan” Brooks (1845-1934), daughter of Robert Peter Brooks (1817-1863) and Elizabeth Mary Head (1820-1869).

Matthew and Nancy Brunson were the parents of the following 15 children: Robert Peter “Bud,” b. 1866, d. 1936, m. (1) Etta Mae “Hettie” Hawthorne (1874-1896) (2) ?; Lillie A. “Sister,” b. 1869, d. 1963, m. Hillery Herbert Grant (1861-1938); Matthew Eugene III “Brother,” b. 1868, d. 1943, m. 1890 Minnie Jane Seale (1871-1930); James Clanton “Clant,” b. 1871, d. 1933, m. Dell Kierce; Arthur Claire, b. 1873, d. 1935, m. (1) 1899 Victoria Louise “Vicky” DuBose (2) Zelma Rowe; Ruby Hortense, b. 1874, d. 1951, m. 1895 Charles “Charlie” Lee Rowe (1864-1933); Forrest “Frost” Pleamon, b. 1876, d. 1939, m. Kate Sinquefield; Willa Belle, b. 1878, d. 1951, m. 1898 Curtis Steen Hutchison (1865-1942); Benjamin “Ben” Stephen, b. 1880, d. 1952, m. (1)  Mattie Wilson (2) Lena Hammond (3) ?; Kate “Katie” Love, b. 1882, d. 1955, m. 1901 Daniel Cameron McKinnon; Tommie (female), b. 1883, d. 1884; Mose Lee, b. 1885, d. 1953, m. 1908 Monie Madera Moore (1891-1978); Paul Lamar, b. 1886, d. 1921, m. Florence Marsh; and DeWitt Talmadge, b. 1887, d. 1914, m. Cora Kelly.

One of Matthew Eugene Brunson Jr.’s sons, Stephen Brunson, was born in 1880 in the Victoria community of Coffee County. He grew up in that area, and he was married in 1909 to Mattie Wilson. They settled in Elba and were blessed with a son, Edwin Guy Brunson, in 1910. They were divorced in the next few years, so Edwin went to live with his material grandparents, William Preston and Mattie C. Wilson. Both parents were remarried to other spouses, and Edwin moved back and forth between the homes of both sets of parents. Benjamin Brunson was described on his registration for the WW I draft as being of medium height and weight and having dark hair and gray eyes. 

In 1912, Benjamin was married to his second wife, Lena Hammond (1896-1972). They became the parents of a daughter, Theresa Brunson, who was born in 1915 and died in 1996.  Records suggest she remained single and resided in New Brocton and Elba.

Benjamin’s son, Edwin Guy Brunson, received training in the Christian faith. At the age of 24, he accepted Christ and determined to live a Christian life. He met Mary Alva Hardwick Strickland, who was born in 1904 in Dawson, Ga. She was the daughter of Pleasant Adam Hardwick and Mary Gatsy Moore. She had been married previously to a Mr. Strickland with whom she had a daughter, Mary Adeline.  She and Edwin Guy Brunson were married in 1934 and made their home in New Brocton. Guy became a father to Mary Adeline and reared her as his own. They became the parents of four more daughters: Martha Rebecca, b. 1936; Iris Rachel, b. 1938; Linda Annette, b. 1942; and Betty Edwina, b. 1947. All the children became Christians, and three married ministers. These three became involved in mission work in Africa. Linda became a legal secretary, and later, a church secretary involved in church ministry. Edwina became an English teacher who was quite involved in her local church in different ministries.

Guy was always a self-employed business man. He engaged in buying and selling timber, hauling hay, operating a service station, recapping tires and eventually became an antique dealer. Early on he built a small house across from the elementary school on South John Street, but as the family grew, he constructed a larger house, two-story brick, on North John Street. Being a talented seamstress, in 1960, Mary opened a dress shop, Brunson’s Style Shop, in the Town of New Brocton. The shop carried fabrics, ready made ladies wear, and some men and children’s clothing. 

The son of Matthew Eugene Brunson Jr., Arthur Claire Brunson Sr, was born in 1873 in Coffee County and died in 1935 in Elba. His draft registration for WW I listed him being of medium build and height and having gray hair and blue eyes. In 1895, he had married Victoria “Vicky” Louise DuBose (1875-1914). They resided in New Brocton and became the parents of the following children: Fox Henderson, b. 1901, d. 1977, m. Mary Gertrude Bailey (1901-1976); Mike Sollie, b. 1903, d. 1980, m. Nollie Belle ?; Amy May, b. 1906, d. 1995, m. 1928 Boling Zachariah Cooper (1904-1976); Louise “Lollie,” b. 1910, d. 1998, m. 1929 Herbert Spencer Whatley (1894-1964); and Arthur Claire Jr., b. 1913, d. 1998, m. 1934 Emma Elizabeth Winston (1919-2012).

The oldest son, Fox Henderson Brunson, was born in 1901 in Elba and died there in 1977. He married Mary Gertrude Bailey (1902-1976), daughter of William Marion Bailey (1871-1959) and Gertrude Alzada “Trudy” Ham (1871-1943). They made their home in Elba and reared two sons: Fox Henry, b. 1928, d. 1974, m. Jean Rousselle; and Marion Bailey, b. 1931, d. 2007, m. 1960 Nancy Elizabeth Cowart. 

Fox Henderson and Mary Brunson’s oldest son, Fox Henry Brunson, was born in 1928 in Elba. He married Jean Rousselle and they became the parents of four children: Dr. Jeana, Deborah, Richard and David. He died in 1974 and was buried in the Pine Crest Cemetery in Mobile.

Fox Henderson’s youngest son, Marion Bailey Brunson, was born in 1931 and became well known in the area for his leadership in education, local government and local history and family genealogy. He earned a B.S. degree in education from Troy State University and a Masters degree from Florida State University. He also completed an additional year of graduate study at Auburn University. His career in education included serving as Principal of Enterprise Elementary School, Principal of Elba Elementary School, and Principal of Elba High School. He also served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

In January 1983, the year after his retirement from education, Marion Brunson became the thirteenth Probate Judge of Coffee County. He was reelected in 1989 and served until his retirement in January 1995. During those years he served on numerous boards at county, district and state levels. He wisely completed Basic and Advanced Studies at the University of Alabama Law Center. During the year 1993-1994, he served a President of the Alabama Probate Judges Association.

Marion was an active member of the Elba United Methodist Church where he was church historian, past trustee, served on the administrative board, was a district lay leader 1988-2000, and was a member of the Conference Episcopacy Committee. He authored at least eight books and held membership in The Barons of Magna Charta, Sons of the American Revolution and the Huguenot Society.

In 1960, Marion Bailey Brunson Sr. was married to Nancy Elizabeth Coward. They became the parents of two sons: Marion Bailey Jr., b. 1965, m. Karen Williams; and Charles Matthew, b. 1969, m. Stephanie Hall.

The Brunson descendants continue to abound in Coffee County, Ala., and some moved into Covington County.

Sources for today’s story include and several stories written and submitted by descendants for publication in The Heritage of Coffee County, Alabama.

Anyone who might find 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: