Sunday, November 28, 2010

Meet Some of Our Colorful Ancestors


John Calvin Stovall was born in Lawrence County, Alabama 22 December 1832, his lineage is well documented back to the immigrant Bartholomew Stovall.  John (Bartholomew, John, Josiah, David Joseph Sr., David Joseph Jr.) has Revolutionary War Patriot ancestors and was himself a veteran of the Civil War, that's where John's story gets tangled.

Like most young southern men John enlisted in Itawamba County, MS into the 19th Mississippi Infantry along with several other family members.  John was wounded during the battle at Sharpsburg, MD.  A wound that left him unable to use his left arm, John was sent on medical furlough back to his home in Mississippi.  When his leave was over, John was still not able to return to his duties. His younger brother Alfred went to war as a substitute for John only to lose his life a few months later.  John wasn't able to return to the fight, but returned to the war as a cobbler.  His new assignment took him to Savannah, GA to make shoes for the CSA. Now the story takes a twist. John had married a Ms. Lindsey in Mississippi and together they had at least 3 children. That family was in Mississippi waiting for John Calvin to return home.  We all know about William T. Sherman and his march to the sea.  The route of destruction took Sherman through Savannah,.  After the surrender, the Stovall family decided that since John didn't return he was killed  in Savannah, leaving a widow and 3 young children.

That was not the case,John Calvin Stovall came to Etowah County Alabama shortly after the Civil War with a wife Marthy A. Hammack Stovall and at least seven other children.  The 1880 census finds this family  in Etowah County, AL.  Apparently his wife Marthy A. Stovall died in the early 1890's and John Calvin married again in Etowah County, AL.  This time he married  Nancey A. (Nannie) Reed and this union produced three more children.  John applied for this CSA pension and according to Nancey's Widow's CSA pension he died in Etowah County, AL in 1899.

In an interesting note, his first wife applied for and received a CSA widow's pension from the State of Texas.  The documentation contained in all three pension applications leave no doubt that all were filed were for the same person.

Who knows why some of the men didn't return home after the Civil War, but we've had several incidents reported in our family files, but none as interesting as John Calvin Stovall.

Of course some creative researchers have family trees that include this man on the internet but these three families are the only possible connections to him. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Howard Gardner Nichols Memorial Library

Yesterday's post was the history of N.E. Alabama Genealogical Society.  The early members of NEAGS were responsible for preserving a part of Gadsden, Etowah County and Alabama history.
They purchased the library building built in memory of a young Harvard graduate, Howard Gardner Nichols.  Not only was this a very important part of Gadsden and Etowah County history it was also the first lending library building in Alabama.  There were other lending libraries in Alabama when the HG Nichols Memorial Library was built, but they were housed in other businesses. Shortly after his Harvard graduation,  Howard Gardner Nichols was sent to Alabama to oversee the building of the Dwight Cotton Mill and the surrounding village for the mill workers. He was a well liked young man and very hands on.  His drive to be part of everything cost him his life.  While helping to install equipment in the mill, a piece of machinery  fell and crushed the young man.  He was carried by special train to Atlanta and at one time it was thought that he might survive his injuries but it was not to be.
After his death his body was returned to his home in Haverhill, Mass. for burial.  Several prominent members of the Etowah County community made the trip to show their respect.After a time of mourning the Nichols family sent workers and materials back to the community that Howard Gardner Nichols loved to honor his memory by building a library in the Dwight Mill Village.  The library was stocked with books and opened in late 1899. Only men worked in the mill at that time and they were the only people allowed to borrow books.  No Women!

That changed with the onset of World War II, the men went to war and the women had to go to work in the cotton mill.  Since they had young children, the library became the childcare center for Dwight Cotton Mill.  Mrs. Ola Hamil was hired as the nursery's director.  When the mill closed the Hamil family bought the building and continued to use it as a daycare until the late 1960's.
When the daycare closed the building was placed on the sales market.

Jerry B. Jones recognized the importance of saving the little building and contacted the Etowah Historical Society and asked them to buy it.  They declined and Mr. Jones asked the members of N.E. Alabama Genealogical Society if they would buy it.  The society agreed and Mr. Jones took a personal loan at Alabama City Bank and purchased the Howard Gardner Nichols Memorial Library.  Various organizations and community leaders contributed to the repairs that were necessary.

After the repairs were made, Nichols Memorial Library became the home of N.E. Alabama Genealogical Society and as they say the rest is history.  The library is on the National Register of Historic  Places.  For more information on the society or Nichols Memorial Library please contact us. We're always ready to help with your genealogical research needs in our area also.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Northeast Alabama Genealogical Society

N.E. Alabama Genealogical  Society was organized in about 1961.  The main purpose at the time was to help researchers and promote genealogy in the Northeast Alabama area.  Located in Etowah(Baine) County, the society chose to include the  counties of St. Clair, Marshall, Blount, Cherokee, DeKalb, Jackson, Calhoun(Benton),Talladega, Randolph and Clay. The founders of N.E. Alabama Genealogical Society included  these counties to share resources since at that time there were very few genealogical  groups in Alabama.  In 1962 the first N.E. Alabama Settlers was published and became the quarterly for our society.  N.E. Alabama Settlers continues to be published without interruption.

In 1973 the owners of the Howard Gardner Nichols Memorial Library Building in the Dwight Cotton Mill Village decided to sell the building.  After much discussion N.E. Alabama Genealogical Society purchased the library building. (We will cover the history of Nichols Memorial Library in a future blog.)  N.E. Alabama Genealogical Society (NEAGS) now had a home.  Over the past forty plus years many genealogical research and family books have been purchased and donated.  When the society introduced the first Ancestor Swap Meet to Gadsden in 1999, researchers were asked to contribution information to be placed in family files. Today those files contain 5,000 surnames and continue to grow.  So if you're reading this and have information you would like to include in our files, just contact us.  We do not limit our information to this area, state or region.  Our ancestors came from everywhere so we want our information to be as varied as they were.  We may not be able to purchase as many books as  we would like from outside the area, but with family file contributions we can still make those connections.

Nichols Memorial Library is open for research on Thursdays from 10 A.M. until 3 P.M. and at other times by request.  Our volunteers will be happy to help with your research needs. Please visit our web page for  more information  Nichols Memorial Library also has a facebook fan page.

Saturday, November 13, 2010