Gaston family descendants arrived in South Alabama in early 1820s

Published 4:46 pm Friday, November 20, 2020

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The Gaston family of Conecuh County, Ala. and surrounding counties was of Scottish descent. The earliest ancestor identified by this writer is John Gaston who was born in 1645 in Melrose, Scotland. He was married in 1680 to Ester Naugh who was born in Fishing Creek, Scotland. They died respectively in 1714 and 1720 in Ballymena, Antrim, Ireland.

John and Ester Gaston were the parents of a son named William Gaston who was born in 1685 in Antrim County, Ireland. In 1702, he was married to Mary Olivet Lemmon who was also born in 1685 in Antrim County. They died there in 1770 and 1752 respectively. Their son, John “John Justice” Gaston was born in 1703 in Cloughwater, Antrim County, Ireland. In 1730, he was married to Esther Waugh who was born in 1715 in Antrim County. They both died in Fishing Creek, Chester County, S.C., in 1782 and 1789 respectively.

John and Esther Gaston were the parents of Hugh Gaston who was born in 1751 in Lancaster County, Penn. Both father and son were patriots in the Colonial Army as supporters in the Revolutionary War. Hugh was married to Martha A. McClure who was born in 1754. They both died in 1836 in Gastonburg, Wilcox County, Ala., so Hugh became the Gaston ancestor to migrate circa 1820 with his family to Alabama. Their son, John Gaston III was born in 1779 in Chester County, S.C. before the move to Alabama.

John Gaston III was married to Mary “Polly” B. Kirkpatrick who was born in 1789. They appear to have moved at some time with his father and family to Wilcox County, Ala. According to, their son, David Gaston, was born in 1802 when they were living in Abbeville County, S.C. (Some research reports the relationship between Hugh Gaston and David Gaston is not proven.) John and Polly were in Alabama by 1822 when David married Mary Jane “Jensie” Yeldell who was born in1796 in Edgefield County, S.C. They spent their married life in Butler County, Ala., where they died in 1881 and 1871 respectively. Their son, Robert Harvey Gaston, was born there in 1824.

Robert Harvey Gaston was married in 1851 in Butler County to Frances Rebecca Palmore, daughter of William W. Palmore (1802-1879) and Rebecca Yeldell (1814-1843). She was born in 1833 in Butler County. They both died in the Pineapple community of Wilcox County in 1901 and 1904 respectively. They were the parents of the following children: James William, b. 1850, d. 1933, m. Mahala “Haley” Elon Andrews; Augustus Bythwood, b. 1851, d. 1909, m. Henry Catherine Watts (1851-1904); Jonathan Franklin, b. 1853, d. 1936, m. Missouri Elvira “Zou” Shofner (1853-1921); Robert Clinton, b. 1855, d. 1913, m. 1876 Margaret “May” Emma Moore (1851-1926); John H., b. 1859, d. 1900; Joseph David “Joe,” b. 1861, d. 1932, m. 1881 Florence Jefferson Carter (1868-1940); Minnie Jane, b. 1870, d. 1948, m. 1888 Josiah Samuel “South” Weatherford (1860-1946); Mary Roberts, b. 1873, d. 1936, m. 1892 James Albert Chappell (1870-1951); and Leila Lula, b. 1875, d. 1963, m. 1892 George W. Melton Jr. (1872-1935).

The oldest son, James William Gaston, was born in 1850 in Butler County. He was married in 1897 to Mahala “Haley” Elon Andrews (1845-1932). James William died in 1933 in Conecuh County, Ala., where he had settled at Belleville. He served as mayor of the Town of Repton for eight years and was a strong supporter of community activities. He had a strong sense of duty and was recognized as an excellent leader. Records indicate he was held in high esteem by friends and neighbors.

James William and Haley Gaston were the parents of the following children: Hortense “Tennie,” b. 1871, d. 1948, m. 1889 John Allen Smith (1860-1938); Robert Henry, b. 1874, d. 1962, m. 1897 Jane Nettles Bradley; Charles Caldwell, b. 1876, d. 1957, m. 1899 Saphronia “Fronnie” Lula Bradberry (1880-1967); and Leroy Clifton, b. 1881, d. 1937.

Their oldest daughter, Hortense “Tennie” Gaston, was born I 1871 and was married in 1889 to John Allen Smith. They were the parents of the following 10 children: Minnie Alma “Mamie,” b. 1890, d. 1974, m. John J. Rhodes; Anna, b. 1891; Claude Stanford “Buddy,” b. 1892, d. 1962, m. Julia Sutton; Annie Lee “Leathy,” b. 1895, d. 1993, m. Junius Myra Brantley Sr.; Carl B., b. 1997, d. 1918 in France during WW I; Mamie Yates, b. 1900, d. 1990; James Ladelle, b. 1903, d. 1991; m. Adilee “Alma” Hamby (1906-1998); Ealon Catherine, b. 1905, d. 1978, m. Walter Gaines Seaburg (1903-1967); Vernard Palmer, b. 1908, d. 1976, m. Erma Smith; and Mildred, b. 1914, d. 1984, m. Harold Smith Moore.

Their oldest son, Robert Henry Gaston was born in 1874 in Belleville. He was married in 1897 to Jane Nettles Bradley, daughter of Samuel G. Bradley (1828-1889) and Mary Alabama Robbins (1851-1928). She was born in 1979 in Conecuh County. They died in 1962 and 1957 respectively and were buried in Evergreen, Ala. They were the parents of the following children: Mary Linda, b. 1899, d. 1963, m. Joel “Joe” Franklin Nichols Sr. (1897-1939); Hortense M. “Mattie,” b. 1900, d. 1980, m. 1924 William Earl Mangel (1894-1953); Samuel Albert, b. 1902, d. 1986, m. 1929 Edith McCreary (1905-1981); James Allison, b. 1903, d. 1978, m. Willie Dent Rumbley; Bertha L., b. 1905, d. 1970; Ernestine (twin), b. 1909, d. 2014, m. 1929 Elma Leroy Raines (1906-1970); and Christine (twin), b. 1909, d. 2006, m. ? Booker.

Their next son, Charles “Charlie” Caldwell Gaston, was born in 1876 in Belleville. In 1899, he was married in Belleville to Saphronia “Fronnie” Lula Bradbury (1880-1967). They were the parents of the following children: Willie James “W.J.” or “Willie J.,” b. 1900, d. 1987, m. Ruby Belle Pickens (1902-1994); Lee Otis, b. 1901, d. 1979, m. Elvera Johanna Olsson (1912-1976); Mamie Elain, b. 1903, d. 1976, m. Charles Homer Bailey ( 1896-1960); Claphin Lyon, b. 1905, d. 1967, m. Hattie Mae Hodge (1907-1968); Mattie Lou, b. 1907, d. 1999, m. (1) Gideon M. Hodge (1909-1929) (2) Corrie Francis Matthews (1908-1990); Alice Zantha, b. 1910, d. 1988, m. Lawrence O’Dailey (1907-1965); Quinton, b. 1912, d. 1967, m. Vera Evers (1018-2010); Lilly Chatha, b. 1914, d. 2001, m. Sam B. Parker (1912-1969); Juliette, b. 1916, d. 2006, m. Homer Lee Salter (1910-1992); Camelia O., b. 1918, d. 2006, m. Martin Ray Padgett (1916-1999); and George Pryor, b. 1922, d. 1983, m. Grace Purnell (1927-1988).

In the next generation of this family, Robert Henry Gaston’s oldest child, Mary Linda Gaston, was born in 1899 and married Joel “Joe” Franklin Nichols Sr. They were the parents of the following children: Joel “Joe” Franklin Jr., b. 1922, d. 1974; Wilma Inez, b. 1924, 2003; Winifred, b. 1926, d. 2006; James Albert, b. 1928, d. 1936; William L., b. 1929, d. 2014; Mary Virginia “Ginger,” b. 1935, d. 2001, m. Jesse Cleve Baggett (1920-2003); and two additional children listed as private in family tree on

Robert Henry Gaston’s second oldest son, James Allison Gaston, was born in 1903. He married in 1928 Willie Dent Rumbley, daughter of Richard Henry Rumbley (1871-1942) and Mary Eugenia Fowler (1882-1968). Willie was born in 1907 in the Peterman community of Monroe County. James Allison and Willie both died in Georgiana in 1978 and 1987 respectively. They were the parents of three children: Margaret Jane, b. 1930; Barbara Jean, b. 1931, d. 1933; and John Allison, b. 1947. Appreciation is expressed to Margaret Jean for sharing her family records for this story.

The source for today’s story included and the family records of Margaret Gaston of Georgiana, Ala.

Anyone who finds 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: