52 Ancestors Week 20 – Henry D Griffin, Bright’s disease sufferer

Flora Ann Griffin Grant

Flora Ann Griffin Grant, sister of Henry David Griffin and my 2nd great-grandmother

Henry David GRIFFIN was the brother of my 2nd great-grandmother, Flora Ann GRIFFIN GRANT. This makes him my 2nd great grand uncle.

Henry was born 23 Jan 1858 in Marlboro County, South Carolina to William H GRIFFIN, Sr and Margaret PEARSON GRIFFIN. He attended school in Marlboro County and learned to read and write.

Moving out

Sometime in the mid to late 1870’s, Henry left Marlboro County and headed to Columbia, the state capitol. In 1880, he was working as a teamster – someone who drove a team of draft animals, usually a wagon drawn by oxen, horses or mules. Also in 1880, 22-year old Henry married 18-year old Ann M. (Annie) WATTS.Horses for pulling

Time marches on

Twenty years later, in 1900, Henry and Annie were farming in Sandy Run, Lexington County, South Carolina. Nine of their 10 children had been born, with the last to come in 1903.Barn and farm equipment

Henry and Annie continued to farm in Lexington County through the next 20 years. The census shows them as owning a farm in Platt Springs in January 1920. Owned and free of a mortgage, even. Henry and Annie’s son, Bogan M. GRIFFIN, lived next door.

Henry takes sick

A few days after Thanksgiving that same year, Henry took sick with Bright’s disease. Bright’s disease is an old term used for kidney disease now called nephritis. KidneySymptoms were severe back pain, elevated blood pressure, vomiting, fever, edema due to fluid retention causing restricted breathing, smoky or bloody urine, and high levels of albumin in urine.

Another of my 2nd great grand uncles, Jesse THOMAS, provided a prescription for Bright’s to my grandmother, Florrie THOMAS MARTIN in 1932: 1 half ounce of oil of cubabs. and one ounce of balsam copiava. Take one-half teaspoon before meals. Sounds pretty tasty to me…NOT.Cure for Brights disease

(Balsam copaiba is a sap-like substance collected from trees belonging to the copaifera species. They are flowering plants in the legume family. The oil is useful for production of oil products like lacquers and biodiesel. Medicinally acts as a diuretic and it reduces inflammation.

Oil of cubebs or cubeba comes from the dried unripe berry of a tropical shrub of the pepper family (piper cubeba or tailed pepper). The oil causes a marked diuretic action and is an efficient disinfectant of the urinary passage.) 

Henry passes away

Perhaps Henry’s doctor prescribed this same remedy for him, but whatever the doctor did, it didn’t help. Henry passed away early on 12 Dec 1920, just a few weeks after becoming ill. He was 62 years old. Henry was buried at Gaston First Baptist Church in Gaston, Lexington County, South Carolina.



52 Ancestors Week 19 – Robert R. Pyles, A desperate man

Robert R. PYLES was the youngest child born to John Daniel PYLES (1861-1915) and Ellen Jane ROBERTS PYLES (1862-1938). Robert’s father and my great-grandmother, Sarah Rebecca PYLES PRICE were brother and sister, making Robert my first cousin, twice removed.

Robert was born about 1902 in Frederick County, Maryland. His father died when Robert was 13, but his older brothers picked up the slack for the family. In 1920 Robert married Mary M. WOLFE.

Great things happen for Robert and Mary

Iron works fire

Core making was hard, hot work.

The 1920’s were wonderful years for this young couple. They had two children, Anna Margaret and Robert Jr. In 1928, they were living about 15 miles from Frederick in Thurmont, Maryland, and Robert was a core maker for Frederick Iron and Steel Company. Life was good.

Around 1930, Robert bought a little house south of Thurmont. Even though the Great Depression had started, Robert had a steady job and he was able to take care of his family…until he was laid off in June of 1933.

Desperate measures for a desperate man

Robert was able to make the house payments for a while, but in November 1933 he saw the writing on the wall and he made a choice to dance with the devil. He was ‘caught in shady practices,’ according to an article in The News, a Frederick newspaper.Flour in a bowl

This upright citizen participated in the theft of flour from the Thurmont Milling and Supply Company. He was also present at the robbery of a filling station in Franklinville, Maryland, though he claimed he was in the car at the time of the robbery. Robert was arrested for the filling station robbery (charges that were later dropped), and while in custody he confessed about the flour theft and told the police where to find the flour. He was kept in jail to await trial.

Facing the judges

Two judges heard Robert’s flour theft case in March 1934. Character witnesses testified on Robert’s behalf including his former employer at the Frederick Iron and Steel Company and Reverend John S. WEYBRIGHT, pastor of the Church of the Brethren of Thurmont. Also, Robert asked the judges for leniency for the sake of his family.Courtroom

The following day The News reported ‘a sad scene was enacted in Circuit Court Wednesday afternoon. With his wife and two children grouped around him, Pyles made an earnest plea for another chance, before sentence was imposed. The defendant said, “The only thing left for me is my family and I have done the best I could.” He said he placed himself in jeopardy to help his family’ and that ‘their home will be taken away the first of the coming month leaving his family with no place to go.’

One of the judges went Judge Judy on Robert saying, “You have a good mind and a ready tongue.” He indicated that he thought if Robert had used his brain and good sense he could have avoided being involved with the theft. The judge also said, “You are old enough to know better. You don’t deserve as much sympathy as a man who comes from a bad environment.”


Robert wept freely, as did Mary and the children when he was sentenced to one year in the House of Correction.


The rest of the story

After Robert’s year in jail, he went to work as a carpenter in Frederick to support his family as best he could. In 1940 the family was living in New Manchester, Pennsylvania where Robert was once again a core maker. Staying in Frederick after being in prison was probably difficult and embarrassing for Robert and his family.

General store

Not Robert’s store, but perhaps one like it

They stayed in Pennsylvania until the early 1950’s when Robert and Mary purchased a general merchandise store and lunch room in Franklinville, Maryland. By then, time and World War 2 probably dulled people’s memories about Robert’s past, and he felt he could return to Frederick County.

On March 21, 1957, at age 55, Robert died after being hospitalized for two weeks. I couldn’t find a death certificate for Robert, and there are many possibilities of what caused his death. He was buried at Blue Ridge Cemetery in Thurmont, Maryland.

Robert R. PYLES was a good man caught up in bad times. I’m sure he wasn’t the only one to do questionable things to survive the Great Depression, but he confessed to what he did and served his time. Thankfully he was able to reunite with his family and redeem his life afterward.52ancestors-2015

52 Ancestors Week 18 – William H, Griffin, NOT a farmer!

My 3rd great-grandfather, William H. GRIFFIN, was born about 1820 in Wayne County, North Carolina. Wayne County is located east of I-95 and north of I-40. The county seat is Goldsboro. I have no conclusive evidence about the identity of William’s father.Welcome to NC sign

The next I know about William is the 1850 census where he is listed as living in Marion, South Carolina with 2 small children (John and Mary), no wife, and 60-year old woman, Zilpha, who was probably his mother.

I don’t know anything about the mother of John and Mary, but I know William was married again soon after this 1850 census to my 3rd great –grandmother, Margaret PEARSON GRIFFIN. In October of 1851, William and Margaret’s first child, Flora Ann GRIFFIN was born. Flora was my 2nd great-grandmother. William and Margaret went on to have 9 or 10 more children after Flora.

20150308-LancasterPA-LandisValleyMuseum-Blacksmith (6)

Not William H. Griffin, but a blacksmith in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

In 1860 William and his family were living in Bennettsville in Marlboro County, South Carolina. According to census records, William was a blacksmith, which is highly unusual for my Carolina ancestors of that generation; most everyone else was a farmer.

My grandmother, Flora Jane THOMAS MARTIN, said that William was a reverend. I haven’t found records to confirm that, so he may have been a lay preacher. According to another family historian, the family folklore handed down is that he was a Baptist minister.

24th SC Infantry flag

Flag of the 24th SC Infantry. Found at http://batsonsm.tripod.com/b/reg24.html

In December 1861, William and his son, John, enlisted in the 24th SC Infantry. They were both assigned to Company B. William was immediately given the position as a commissioned officer – Second Lieutenant. He was 42 and John was 16.

On July 4, 1862, William resigned his commission and left the army. I don’t know what happened, but another family researcher speculates “that due to his age (42) William  lacked the stamina and endurance required by his post. The fact that his resignation was readily accepted suggests he was over the normal age for required military service.

Most Southerners over age 40 served in the Home Guard, not in the regular army. Ordinary foot soldiers could not resign, they could only desert, and might be hung if captured. So William, at age 42, was definitely in a different category.”

William returned home and to blacksmithing, and perhaps to lay preaching as well.  Horseshoe

In 1870, he and Margaret and some of the younger children are living in Brightsville, Marlboro County, South Carolina which is about halfway between Bennettsville, South Carolina and Hamlet, North Carolina.

William doesn’t appear in the 1880 census, and his youngest child was born in 1874, which says he probably passed away before 1875, in his mid-to-late 50’s. I suspect he’s buried somewhere in Marlboro County, but his grave has yet to be found.52ancestors-2015

52 Ancestors Week 17 – Jim T. Grant, A Good Man

Tate Grant,Anna Jane Grant, James Thomas( Jim T) Grant, mother Sarah Ann Rebekah Thomas Grant, Jerry Grant

Sallie and 4 of her kids all grown up. From left – Tate, Annie, Jim T., Sallie, Jerry

James Thomas GRANT (known as Jim T.) was born 13 Mar 1879 in Chesterfield County, South Carolina.  He was second of the five children born to Henry Harrison GRANT (1848-1886) and Sarah Ann Rebeckah THOMAS GRANT (1852-1937).  As was common in those days, Henry was a farmer and Sallie (Sarah Ann) was a farm wife.

Henry died in 1886.  At that time of his father’s death, Jim T. was seven.  His older brother was 9; and his younger siblings were 1, 3, and 5. You can imagine the burden this was for Sallie.

JD Thomas-2

Jeremiah Daniel (Dan) Thomas

Sallie’s brother, Jeremiah Daniel THOMAS, came to her rescue.  Their father sent Dan (Jeremiah Daniel) to Sallie to help her out.  According to another cousin, Dan walked the 80+ miles from Richland County, where Sallie’s parents and siblings lived, to Chesterfield County where the widowed Sallie and her children lived.

Dan was 28 when he arrived in Chesterfield County.  He immediately went to work helping his sister run the farm and raise her young ‘uns.  Dan married Margaret Ann (Maggie) GRANT, sister of Sallie’s late husband, in 1887; but he continued to work on Sallie’s farm and take care of his sister and her family even once he and Maggie started a family of their own.

Jim T. and his siblings grew up with their mother and their Uncle Dan and their many GRANT relatives looking out for them.  One grown, three of the children went to Texas looking for better opportunities.  Jim T. and his sister, Annie Jane, stayed in Chesterfield.

In fact, Jim T. spent his entire life in Chesterfield County, living in the towns of Cheraw and Chesterfield.

Jim T. Grant and his son Tommy

Jim T. and his son, Tommy

He started out working as a railroad laborer and a carpenter, but went to work for the sheriff’s office in his 30’s.  Over the years, he worked as a jailer, a deputy sheriff and as the sheriff.  He was also the chief of police for the city of Hartsville, South Carolina and the mayor of the town of Chesterfield, South Carolina.Sarah E Grant, daughter of James T Grant


Jim T. married Essie BRIM around 1926.  Jim T. was in his 40’s and Essie was in her late 20’s.  They had children right away – Tommy in 1927 and Sarah in 1930.  Tommy died young, but Sarah grew up and married and had children and grandchildren.

Jim T Grant's house in Chesterfield SC-1

Jim T.’s house on Main Street in Chesterfield. It’s still there today.


The family lived in a large house on Main Street in Chesterfield.  On the 1940 census Jim T. was listed as unemployed but their house was a boarding house, so I expect there was plenty for 61-year old Jim T. to do right there at home!

Jeremiah Daniel and Margaret Ann Grant Thomas ca 1942 Jim T Grant's in Chesterfield SC-2

Dan and Maggie Thomas in front of the little house Jim T. built for them. It was torn down several years ago.


Also on the 1940 census, Jim T.’s beloved Uncle Dan and Aunt Maggie (now 81 and 69 years of age) are listed as living next door. Dan and Maggie had moved to Richland County around 1905 to be near Dan’s family.  They often visited Chesterfield and Cheraw, though, so the families remained close through the years.

Essie Grant (Jim T. Grant's wife) in dark coat with a roomer at Essie's house in Chesterfield Co, SC 1953

Essie Grant (in the dark coat) with one of the boarders. Taken around 1950.

Jim T had built a little house for Dan and Maggie behind his own house for them to live in. It didn’t have a kitchen, though. Jim T said, “I am not putting a kitchen in it because that’s too much work for you.”  He didn’t want Maggie to have to cook, so their meals were brought over to them from his house three times a day.  Essie, Jim T’s wife, cooked for her boarders anyway, so she just added in more food for Dan and Maggie.


Dan passed in 1946, and Maggie moved back to Columbia with her daughter, Aggie Nora THOMAS JEFFORDS.

Jim T. passed on 25 Nov 1953 at the age of 74.  Essie passed four years later.

Jim T. was well-known in Chesterfield County and well-loved.  Besides serving the community by working in law enforcement, he was also a mason and a shriner. He was an active member of his church, and he took care of his Uncle Dan and Aunt Maggie in their later years.  My grandmother (Jim T.’s first cousin) and my mother always spoke very highly of Jim T., too.

It seems his was a life well lived.


52 Ancestors Week 16 – William Heiser, National Roadeo Champion

William Kenneth Heiser Sr

Photo of William Kenneth Heiser Sr. from The News (Frederick, MD) October 1950

William Kenneth HEISER Sr. (19 Feb 1916 – 27 Oct 1988) was my father’s first cousin. He was the oldest of the three children born to Joseph Henry HEISER Jr and Mary Virginia DRONEBURG HEISER. William’s father and my grandfather, Daniel Wilbert HEISER, were brothers.

Ordinary Beginning

William had a typical upbringing. He learned to play the piano, and at times he accompanied his sister when she sang at women’s meetings and such in their home county of Frederick County, Maryland. He graduated high school, and he was a pallbearer at his grandmother’s funeral.

After high school William worked as a laborer in a distillery near Baltimore. In 1935 and 1940, he was living in Ellicott City, Maryland. On the 1940 census, he is married to Gladys Larue NAUMAN HEISER.

In time, William and Larue had two children – William Kenneth, Jr. and Judith.

Not So Ordinary Anymore

Life became less ordinary for William starting in 1949, 6 years after he got a job driving a truck for Davidson Transfer and Storage Co of Baltimore.


Not William’s truck, but probably about the same as the one he drove

William was an awesome truck driver. So awesome that he won first in his class in the Highway Safety Week truck driving competition several times and went on to compete in the National Roadeo Finals in New York several times as well.

A newspaper article in 1956 said William had entered the roadeo competition for nine years, winning the State title eight times and placing second and third in the national competitions. William drove a single-axle semi-trailer.

These competitions were about more than driving. ‘The driver had to take a written examination on rules of the road, first aid, and the trucking industry.’

He also had to ‘pass a skill test which included parking the vehicle with only four feet to spare, backing to a loading dock with six inches to spare, weaving a 39-foot truck through a serpentine course with barrels placed 20 feet apart, and driving through parallel rows of golf balls on tees.’

Driver of the Year

In 1954, William was presented with the Driver-Of-The Year award by the Maryland Truck Association.

William K Heiser Sr MD truck driver of the year 1954

William receiving the Maryland Truck Driver of the Year Award

They based their decision on his having won the state and national championships several times, his 9 ½ years of driving without a chargeable accident, his frequent radio and television appearances on behalf of the trucking industry; and a series of safety talks delivered to Boy Scout troops and similar groups, on a voluntary basis.

The Rest of the Story As I Know It

I couldn’t find anything else about William after 1959 except for his being on the social security death index. No newspaper articles or even an obituary.

I met his wife and son once in the mid 1980’s at the home of William’s brother, Charles Reginald (Bud) HEISER. William wasn’t there, but I don’t remember why.

I never saw any of those family members again.52ancestors-2015

52 Ancestors Week 15 – William Wallace Pyles: Family Man and Farmer


Not Wallace’s farm, but a farm that Wallace’s might have been like

William Wallace PYLES, my 2nd great grandfather, was the third of five children born to John PYLES/PILES and Rebecca Poole PYLES/PILES. He was born about 1837 in Montgomery County, Maryland, and he went by Wallace.



Wallace was minimally educated. He was listed as a farmer on every census he appears in, including 1850 when he was only 13 years old. At 22, he married Emeline PRICE. Over the next 14 years, they had eight children, one of which was my great-grandmother, Sarah Rebecca PYLES PRICE.

Sarah Rebecca Pyles Price cropped

Sarah Rebecca PYLES PRICE, my great-grandmother


In the 1860 and 1870 census records, Wallace is living within about 10 miles of his parents, either in the Medley’s district or the Clarksburg district of Montgomery County. His personal and real estate value increased considerably between 1860 and 1870, too. According to an article in the Montgomery Sentinel newspaper, Wallace was ‘a highly respected citizen of the county.’

Life appeared to be going well for Wallace and his family until 1877. According to that same article, ‘He was weakened and thrown into bed by diligent application of labor which proved to be unsuitable for the preservation of his good health.’

Funeral Info for WW Pyles from church records

Funeral information for WW PYLES from church records

Wallace was sick for several months and, according to church records, ‘he could neither lie down nor sleep.’ The illness finally got to Wallace, and probably seeing no chance of recovery, he committed suicide on 24 May 1877 at 40 years of age.

According to the Sentinel, ‘Being of inordinate industrious disposition, on the morning of the rash act, afore-mentioned, he had so far regained strength as to enable him to get from the bed, unknowingly to the family, and procure a loaded gun, which he placed to his breast while in a sitting posture and with the ramrod pushed the trigger, the contents entering his body where it remained. Death was instantaneous.‘ Wallace was only 40 years old.

The church record of the funeral says Wallace was believed to be ‘in a state of non compos mentis’ which means ‘not sane or in one’s right mind.’ Months of no sleep and no relief from the pain would certainly make a person go out of his mind.52ancestors-2015

52 Ancestors Week 14 – Phillip Martin: Farmer, Preacher and POW

Phillip MARTIN, my 2nd great-grandfather, was born 30 March 1831 to Joel E. MARTIN and Sarah GILL MARTIN. He was the 8th born of their 11 children.

Margaret Futrell Martin

Margaret Futrell Martin, around 1910

Joel was a planter/farmer, and Phillip followed in that line of work according to all the census records that can be found for him. Joel and Phillip both lived in Richland County, South Carolina their entire lives.

Phillip married Margaret FUTRELL sometime before 1860; their first child was born in the summer of 1860. The Civil War broke out, and Phillip enlisted. He was about 30 years old.

7th SC Battalion Flag - James and Jesse and John Henry all served in this battalion

Flag of the 7th Battalion, SC Infantry

Phillip was part of the 7th Battalion of the South Carolina Infantry. They were also known as Enfield Rifles. The Battalion fought in both Carolinas and in Virginia. On 16 May 1864, Phillip was wounded and captured at Drewry’s Bluff on the James River near Richmond, Virginia.

As a POW, Phillip was transported from Virginia to Point Lookout, Maryland and eventually to Elmira, New York. The war ended, and he was released 27 June 1865 after signing an oath of allegiance to the United States. He had been a POW for over a year.

Phillip's Crutch used from Pt Lookout to SC

Phillip’s crutch that was used on his long walk home. One of my Martin cousins has it.

On his release, it was noted that he had dark hair, dark eyes, a dark complexion, and he was 6 feet, 2 inches tall. This is especially interesting since except for a painting of him as an old man, there is no other information about what he looked like.

Phillip could have stayed in New York, but he wanted to return home. So using a crutch to help him walk, Phillip walked over 700 miles back to his home and family in South Carolina. Back home he resumed farming. He was ordained as a church elder in the Methodist Protestant Church in 1866.

Better Portrait Rev Phillip Martin 18311901

Reverend Phillip Martin, my 2nd great-grandfather

For the next 34 years, Phillip both farmed and preached. He seemed to be a successful farmer. He is listed in the 1880 Non-Population Schedule of the census where he reported having about 250 acres of land, 3 working oxen, 3 milk cows, 15 swine, and 11 chickens. He also reported that in 1879 he had slaughtered 9 cows, made 150 lbs of butter, and produced several hundred eggs.

Phillip passed away on 8 August 1901 at the age of 70. According to what appears to be his obituary: At 11:14, August 8, in the church hear his home, he fell almost instantly in the hands of his God, without a frown or struggle. The last sound of voice we heard from Bro. Martin was that sweet old song, “Oh, when shall I see Jesus and reign with him above.”

Click HERE for the words to this hymn.

Click HERE for a video of the hymn being sung.  Go listen; it’s beautiful!

The obituary goes on to say: He leaves a dear wife, five daughters, six sons, and many friends to mourn their loss, which is his lasting gain.52ancestors-2015

52 Ancestors Week 13 – Vera Luana Crouch, Pretty Young Thing

Vera Luana CROUCH was born on 18 Oct 1904 to Risden Tyler CROUCH and his wife, Pennie GRANT CROUCH. The family was in Chesterfield County, South Carolina at that time.

Penelopy Grant Lawhorn

Pennie, Vera’s mother

Vera, daughter of Penelope Grant Crouch Lawhorn cropped

Vera Crouch, appears to be about 10 years old

Vera was a beautiful girl. She had her mother’s dark hair and thin frame, but her face was rounder and less angular than her mother’s. Perhaps the round face came from her father.

When Vera was 10, she was diagnosed with mitral regurgitation which meant that the mitral valve in her heart didn’t close tightly.  This allowed for blood to flow backward in her heart. Mitral regurgitation can be caused by several things including rheumatic heart disease, mitral valve prolapse or an infection in the heart. Any of those things could have caused Vera’s heart problem.

Vera Crouch (on leftt), dau of Aunt Penny per Agnes Jacobs cropped

Vera on the left, looking to be 13 or 14 years of age

My grandma, Florrie THOMAS MARTIN, told me about a cousin of hers who “had a hole in the heart and you could hear the blood wooshing around just being in the same room with her.”  It must have been Vera she was talking about since a severe mitral regurgitation can be heard without a stethoscope. Pennie and Florrie’s mother, Margaret GRANT THOMAS, were sisters making Florrie and Vera cousins.

As you can guess, Vera died young. At 15, her heart was no longer strong enough to  keep her alive. According to her death certificate, she suffered for 5 days with ‘acute congestion of the lungs’ until she finally passed on 24 June 1919.

Vera’s father passed away when Vera was eight, and her mother married a second time to a man named George Lawhon. Vera,her mother and her stepfather were living in McFarlan, North Carolina at the time of her death. She was buried at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in McFarlan. The following poem can be found on her gravestone:

We loved her, yes we loved her,

But Jesus loved her more,

And he has sweetly called her,

To yonder shining shore.


The golden gates were opened,

A gentle voice said come,

And she with a farewell unspoken,

Calmly entered home.

52 Ancestors Week 12 – Murder at the Mill

John Henry WISE was one of the many people who lived on the Fort Jackson property before it was Fort Jackson. Wise was a saw miller and a logger. On this particular day in February 1877, Wise hired several relatives and neighbors for log piling.52ancestors-2015

The neighbors included brothers John Henry MILES (who went by Henry) and William MILES; and their brother-in-law Jesse GATES who was married to Henry and William’s sister, Fannie.

Henry, William and Fannie were all siblings of my 2nd great-grandmother, Margaret FUTRELL MARTIN.  For whatever reason, Henry and William sometimes used Miles, their mother’s maiden name, instead of Futrell.

After finishing with the logs many of the men who worked that day, if not all, started drinking. And as you can guess, no good came of it.

William Miles started arguing with Jesse Gates after William made a comment about Fannie. After exchanging a few words William struck Jesse with his fist. Jesse stepped back, drew a pocket knife and stabbed William.

John Henry Miles or Futrell

John Henry Miles, witness to the murder of his brother William

Henry saw his brother collapsing and grabbed him, lowering him to the ground. William looked up at Henry and said, “Brother, Gates has drained the life from me,” and died. He was 30 years old. Gates threatened the other men that he would cut them also if they bothered him.

Murder charges were brought against Gates, and a coroner’s jury was named to view the body to determine how William died. The results were that he died from being stabbed by Gates.

Even though Gates was indicted for murder, the charges were dropped. Was it decided he acted in self-defense? Or was it ruled a domestic family affair? We don’t know and never will.

Fannie and Jesse split up at some point. Not surprising. After all, Jesse did murder Fannie’s brother. Even if it was self-defense, how do you get past that?

Fannie married a man named Thomas Davis. Thomas and Fanny (along with her only child with Jesse Gates) left South Carolina for Alabama and eventually moved to Florida. Thomas and Fanny went on to have several children of their own. Fanny died in 1903.

This story was told to me by John Howell, another Fort Jackson family descendant (and probably a distant cousin, too, since we seem to be related to every Fort Jackson family!)  John’s great-grandfather was John Henry Wise, the man who hired all the workers that day.   Portions of the above story are John’s words, not mine.  I appreciate him allowing me to use his words for this blogpost.

52 Ancestors Week 11 – Hallie and Dosia and Ellen

When I was growing up I often heard family speak of Hallie and Dosia and Ellen. I knew they had lived with my grandma, Florrie Thomas Martin, and her family when my grandma was a girl, but I didn’t know much more than that. I asked my cousin, Agnes, who is old enough to have known them all, and she told me the story.

Sisters Theodosia Marie (Dosia) Thomas Martin and Hallie Atan Thomas Felder ca mid 1900s-cropped

Sisters Dosia and Hallie Thomas, mid 1910’s



Hallie Atan Thomas (2 Nov 1898 – 9 Dec 1966) and Theodosia Marie Thomas (3 Aug 1893 – 21 Jan 1954) were the daughters of James Renatus ‘Ren’ Thomas and Laura B. Roberts. Ren was the brother of Jeremiah Daniel ‘Dan’ Thomas, my great grandfather. According to Agnes, Laura ran off with a neighbor, leaving the girls with Ren. Ren, who worked on the railroad, couldn’t take care of the girls.

Ren loaded the girls and their clothes into a horse-drawn wagon and took them to his brother, Dan, and Dan’s wife, Margaret Ann ‘Maggie” Grant Thomas. Dan and Maggie raised them from that point on. Agnes did not know exactly when this happened. According to the census, Dosia and Hallie were living with their mother and father in 1900, but living with Dan and Maggie in 1910. Do the math.

Hallie and Florrie cropped-1

Hallie Thomas and Florrie Thomas, cousins. Approx. 1911



Ren was still in their lives, and when he was older he lived with each daughter for a time. It’s just that they needed a two-parent home when they were young. My grandma had a brother named Herbert and a sister named Aggie. Poor Herbert must have felt overrun with these four girls in the house! It was actually five for a while when you include Ellen. I’ll tell you about her in a moment.

Hallie married Lamar Felder, and they had three children: Lamar, Jr., Mildred, and Ruth. Lamar Sr. died in 1939, and Hallie remarried to a man named Falls. I don’t know his first name.

Lamar and Hallie (Thomas) Felder, circa 1920, SC

Hallie and Lamar Felder, circa 1920



Dosia married Arthur Martin (no relation to the other Martin’s in my family). Dosia started going by Marie at some point; she is listed this way in some census records and on her death certificate. She and Arthur didn’t have any children.

Arthur and Theodosia Thomas Martin per Agnes Jacobs-1

Dosia and Arthur Martin



Now about Ellen. Dosia’s husband had an older brother named Duff Martin. Duff’s wife, Claire, gave birth to Ellen in 1906. Claire was very sick after the birth and she asked their friends Dan and Maggie to take Ellen to raise because Claire felt that she would die which she did not long after Ellen’s birth. Duff was a farmer and wouldn’t be able to take care of Ellen. Dan and Maggie took Ellen and raised her for a time. I’m sure Maggie had plenty of help from her daughters and nieces.

Gladys Martin and Ellen Martin Cooke, circa 1942,SC

Ellen Martin Cooke (L) with Gladys Martin Heiser, my mother. 1940’s


Eventually Ellen went back to live with her father and her older siblings. Duff was about 18 years older than his brother, Arthur (Dosia’s future husband), so all this with Ellen took place long before Dosia and Arthur married.

Ellen married a man named Cooke/Cook. When my grandma would visit in South Carolina, she would always go see Ellen Cooke. I knew she and Grandma were close, but I thought they were just good friends.