Hoomes family established Hoomesville community and church

Published 5:12 pm Friday, February 26, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Hoomes family of Escambia County, Ala., was introduced in last week’s column, and the lineage was carried from Major John Hoomes, a native of England, down through the family of John Willis Hoomes, who was born in 1831 in Conecuh County, Ala. Today’s story will feature the life and family of John Willis’s brother, Armistead Hoomes. Armistead and John Willis Hoomes had three other siblings, but no information was readily available on them.

The oldest child of George Churchill Hoomes, Armistead Hoomes, was born in 1830 in Conecuh County which later became Escambia County, Ala., in 1868. He was married first to Nancy Mancill (1839-1863), sometime in the late 1850s. They had a daughter born to them who died at birth and was buried beside her Grandfather George C. Hoomes. At some point, Armistead enlisted to serve in the Confederate Army as a member of Company I, 15th Alabama Infantry Regiment. His wife, Nancy, died in 1863, during the middle of the war, and Armstead was married that same year to Marjorie Murphy (1846-1919), daughter of Joe Murphy.

Marjorie Murphy Hoomes was a teacher and taught school in one of the early private schools in her community in Escambia County, Ala. She also taught at the public school located on the site of the Walt Blackmon homeplace. She taught later at the Hoomesville School, which was a two-room frame building located about one mile from the present Hoomesville Church of Christ. To attend this as well as other rural schools, students had to walk sometimes as far as six miles. Sadly n 1898, a tornado came through the area that totally destroyed the Hoomesville School and Church buildings. Several of the Hoomes children attended the nearby Teddy School.

Armistead and Marjorie Hoomes were the parents of the following 12 children: Stephen Alonzo, b. 1864, d. 1878, single; Sarah Juliet, b. 1867, d. 1923, m. 1888 Charlie F. (or T.) Reynolds; Florence Eugenia, b. 1869, d. 1948, m. 1891 Walter T. Grissett; John Allen, b. 1870, d. 1946, m.1904 Bell Murphy; William Willis, b. 1872, d. 1878, single; Matilda Ann Eliza, b. 1874, d. 1969, single ?; Henry Bennett, b. 1878, d. 1956, m. Dora Tucker; Mary, b. 1879, d. 1917, m. Ed Lambert; Emma, b. 1880, d. 1952; Armistead Jake Sr., b. 1883, d. 1964, m. 1907 Ella Frances Crosby; Marjorie Josephine, b. 1886, d. 1925, m. Walter Austin Tippin; and Agnes “Aggie” Belle, b. 1891, d. 1967, m. Alvin L. Riggs. Armistead died at his home in 1897 and was buried at Teddy in the Damascus Cemetery adjacent to Douglas Chapel. Marjorie lived until 1919 and was the first person to be buried in the Hoomesville Church of Christ Cemetery.

Armistead Hoomes had three sons who purchased adjoining farms in an area north of the homeplace which would become the Hoomesville community. They were John Allen, Henry Bennett, and Armistead Jake Sr. John Allen Hoomes became the first Post Master of the Teddy Post Office on October 16, 1900, and his sister, Aggie Belle Hoomes Riggs served as Post Mistress of the Bellville Post Office.

Armstead’s son, Armstead Jake Hoomes Sr., was born in 1883 on the farm his father had homesteaded in the area that became Hoomesville. In 1907, he was married to Ella Crosby (1888-1968), daughter of Thomas Jefferson Crosby and Mary Ann Martin. The Crosby family had migrated to the Hoomesville community about the turn of the century. They had three daughters, and all three married Hoomes men.  In addition to Ella marrying Armistead Jake, Sarah Cosby married Lewis Hoomes, and Dosie Cosby married George W. Hoomes, son of William Henry Hoomes. Armistead Jake and Ella settled in Hoomesville where he farmed and held other jobs.

Armistead Jake Hoomes Sr. moved his family to Dixie sometime during 1920 to enable his children to attend a high school. He continued farming and began keeping books for the Dixie Grocery. When President Roosevelt initiated the Workers Program Administration (WPA), Jake became timekeeper around 1935 to 1937 and supervised about 79 workers. Most of the men residing in that area participated or worked in the WPA program.

During that period of time, Jake had tenant farmers and sharecroppers living on his farm in tenant houses. They grew most of their food, and Jake provided corn meal and syrup as well as advanced money when needed until crops were gathered. Jake provided the land, farm equipment and mules for farming, and the tenants shared in the costs of the seeds, fertilizer and other farming costs. The pond on the property was the center of many family activities: Fishing, swimming, washing clothes, baptisms, etc. The typical schedule of the rural women was to wash on Monday using a wash pot and three wash tubs, and homemade lye soap. They would then mend and iron the clothes on Tuesday.

Armistead Jake Hoomes Sr. and wife, Ella Frances, were the parents of the following five children: Ethel Blanche, b. 1908, d. 1953 in auto wreck near Cross City, Fla., single; Eunice Christine, b. 1911, d. 1991, m. Chester Baggett (1912-1990); Milford Pennell, b. 1913, d. 1923 at age 9 of appendicitis; Mary Marjorie “Pete,”, b. 1918, d. 1995, m. Homer Lambert; and Armistead Jake Jr. “Jakie,” b.1929, d.2020, m. Judith Ann Wilson. Mary Marjorie and Homer Lambert had two children: Ethel Linda and Stephen Hoomes. Jakie and Judith Ann had two children: Phillip Armistead, m. Stefania Sabo; and Jeffrey Jake, m. Donna Rhoden.

The Hoomes family was very involved in the establishment of the Hoomesville community after purchasing farms in the area. One would assume the name was in honor of the Hoomes family settlers. One major accomplishment was their establishing the Hoomesville Church of Christ which is still in existence and meets each Sunday, but with a limited attendance. The current minister is Wiley Booker of Jay, Fla.

The Hoomesville Church was organized in 1892 as the first congregation of the Church of Christ to be established in Escambia County, Ala. A small group of folks began meeting in the Hoomesville School, which was located north of Smith Creek and about one mile from the present church building. John Allen Hoomes donated the land, and the men were able to erect a small two-room frame building during 1892, but it was destroyed by the same tornado which demolished the nearby school in 1898. A new building was constructed in 1910 using logs also donated by John Allen Hoomes. The logs were cut and sawed into lumber at a mill in Teddy. Once the building was completed, the first service in it was held on February 17, 1911, with Bro. Cawthon of Andalusia delivering the first sermon.

The building was furnished with pews made of 1 x 3 lumber which were used until 1954. A wood-burning heater sat in front of the pulpit, and there were two kerosene lamps hanging from the ceiling. At the time, several families traveled for miles by horse and buggy or mules and wagon to attend the Sunday morning service.  They also did the same to attend the “Big Meetings” which were held on occasions for several nights. In 1954, a new auditorium was completed, and the former building was converted into classrooms and a fellowship hall. In later years, the vacant building of the former Snow Hill Church of Christ, located on Brooklyn Road in the edge of Covington County, was moved to the Hoomesville Church site and renovated for a larger fellowship hall and additional classrooms.

The sources for this story were the genealogy web site of Armistead Jake “Jakie” Hoomes who passed away in 2020 and a story of the history of the Hoomesville Church of Christ published in The Heritage of Escambia County, Alabama.

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