Friday, October 12, 2012

James Neville Brown, Elbert County, Georgia

The purpose of this post is to help identify James Neville Brown of Elbert County, Georgia and his son James N. Brown of Madison County, Georgia.

George posted same information under the title The White Family earlier. [I have also written about the double connection to the White Family through both William Head Pearson and later on though James Madison Pearson, Sr. It is all a bit confusing.] George also earlier provide information on Benjamin Rush Pearson. If I am just repeating him, I apologize.

Still, I thought it helpful to draw a line from our grandfather James Madison Pearson, a.k.a. Daddy Matt, back through his father Dr. Benjamin Rush Pearson. On my great grandfather's maternal side there is the Brown Family. Benjamin's mother, Elizabeth Brown leads on to James N. Brown and his father of the same name. By the time we get back to James Neville Brown, Sr. we have arrived at 1752.

Several Georgia counties are involved including Jasper (the Pearsons), Madison, and Elbert. All of these counties are steeped in history.

Benjamin Rush Pearson at VMI, Class of 1871

Benjamin Rush Pearson at VMI
The connection begins with a bit from the VMI Rosters online. [The image to the left of Ben at VMI was first used by my cousin George in his post January 2007.] The VMI story is short, so I have reproduced the genealogy in full:

Born- Aug. 1, 1849 in Daderville, Ala.
Father- James Madison Pearson.;
Mother- Elizabeth Brown.

Pat. Grandfather- William Head Pearson;
Pat. Grandmother- Mary White : both of Dadeville, Ala.

Mat. Grandfather- James N. Brown;
Mat. Grandmother- Martha McCoy : both of Madison, Ga.
[Note to myself. In looking for information on Martha McCoy, it is necessary to search the spelling; "married Martha "Patsy" Mackoy December 26, 1809". See number 11.]

Married- Sallie Coleman Ferrell of Montgomery Ala. in 1873.
1- Mrs. William R. Letcher [given name unknown];
2- Dr. Coleman Ferrel Pearson;
3- James Madison Pearson.

Entered VMI- Jan. 28, 1868; Graduated- July 4, 1871 standing 21 in a class of 46.

Careers- Merchant; Farmer; Physician; President of Medical Society of Montgomery Ala.; County Health Officer.

Died- March 12, 1906 in Richmond, KY at the home of his daughter.

From Benjamin Rush Pearson (1849 - 1906) to Elizabeth Brown (mother) to James N. Brown (dates unknown) to James Neville Brown (1752 - 1851)

I was interested in the maternal grandparents of Benjamin Rush Pearson, James N. Brown and Martha McCoy of Madison County. In searching online for traces of family history, it is sometimes necessary to approach a search from different angles before success is achieved. It is like Thomas Edison's search for the perfect filament to light the light bulb. A lot of trial and error is involved.

The search that got the result I needed included the words "James N. Brown, genealogy, Georgia".

This lead me to the page on Celia Page of Buckingham County, VA. There, one discovers that Celia Page (1732 -1799) married Henry White (1724 - 1802). Seven children are named, including Lucy White (1753 - died after 1815). Lucy married James Neville Brown (1752 - 1851) of St. Ann's Parish, Albermarle County, Virginia.

James Neville Brown was one of the individuals attesting to the will of Henry White, who died in Bedford County, Virginia in 1802, [Bedford County, VA, Will Book 2, pp. 366-7].

There follows in the notes on James Neville Brown his own will, recorded in 1841, (Recorded the 15th of April 1841, Wm. B. Nelms, C. C. O. [Elbert County, Georgia, Probate Records, Book __, p. 206]).

There follows an appraisement of the estate, listing various debts owed to James Neville Brown totaling $3,579.79.

James N. Brown

The will of James Neville Brown identifies "James N. Brown, Jr., the oldest son, who was living in Madison County, Georgia".

As I said at the beginning, my cousin George has written on The White Family. The focus on the Brown Family gives someone something else to do.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Two Young Coosada Braves

  In 1819 Wyatt A. Bibb of Coosada, Alabama, was elected the first Governor of the state of Alabama. He had served two years as the first territorial governor. Coosada was an Indian Settlement in Elmore County on the Alabama River and a landing station for the steamboats that plied their trade between Mobile and Wetumpka.

Governor Bibb's home was on a plantation two miles from the river and one mile from the B and N Railroad Station between Montgomery and Birmingham. It was known as "Auburn Hill".
While in office as governor, Governor Bibb was killed by being thrown from a horse. He was buried on his home place in a country cemetery a few hundred yards east of the home. The graves of about one hundred of the early settlers of Elmore County are in this cemetery, including the graves of Governor and Mrs. Bibb. The tombstones among the many shade trees in the cemetery always created a rather ominous impression on my childhood mind. I'll confess a cowardly fear of the dark as a boy which I attribute largely to the weird ghost tales that so many old people hatched up and seemed to enjoy. They frightened old and young alike by supposedly true experiences with ghosts and haunted houses. In those days, for the lack of other forms of amusements, most men folk became practical jokers and resorted to jokes on their friends that sometimes were truly unmerciful and cruel on the victims.

After Governor Bibb's death, my maternal grandfather, Col. Washington Lary, purchased the Bibb estate. A few years after mother and father married, they moved from Montgomery into the old home in Coosada -just twelve miles from Montgomery. We lived there many years until the old home burned to the ground in 1898. Three of their children, Vallie, Ed and Claude Ferrell were born in that house. Emma Mae, the oldest was born in Montgomery before they moved to Coosada. Father had a country store, a sawmill and cotton gin at the L and N Railroad Station and farmed the home place (mostly cotton).

We had many relatives in Montgomery on both father's and mother's side, the boys and girls of the Montgomery families spent lots of time with us every summer. Mamie and Warren Hall spent more time with us than they did at their own home and we considered them brother and sister. Our summer guests were not confined to the children by any means - we had a continuous house party every summer. We spent many happy times with our close relatives. In those days families were closer, they looked forward to their visits with each other as they had no cars to travel as we do today. Horse and buggies and a few trains were our only mode of travel. A trip into Montgomery by train on the L and N was a real adventure to us, we had more fun then.

In 1897 our Uncle Lonnie Ferrell, who had a select boy's school in New Orleans, and our Cousin Willie Tullis and our Uncle Sapp Jackson, a doctor of Union Springs were visiting us at Coosada for a couple of weeks. All three were practical jokers of the breed I mentioned. My first cousin, Mat Pearson, who became General Pearson of World War I and World War II (and was a career Army Officer during his lifetime), lived in Montgomery and spent most of every summer at Coosada with us. At that time in 1897, I was seven years old and Mat was eleven years old. These three men could hardly wait to seize the opportunity of testing the bravery of Mat and me. Mat was the typical leader - into every devilment that could be conceived. He was leader of the Dexter Avenue Gang in Montgomery. They ruled the town and as the old saying goes, Mat wasn't afraid of a circular saw.

So as my story goes, after considerable conniving, these "Three Wise Men with Uncle Lonnie as spokesman came up with a proposition for Mat and me.- a get rich quick scheme. They offered each of us five silver dollars if we would sleep on the edge of the cemetery all night, agreeing that Mother would furnish us two quilts and a pillow to assure us comfort for sleeping. At that time, neither of us had seen five silver dollars, much less own such a fortune. I doubt seriously that the three would have made such an offer had they felt they would have to pay it. Five dollars was a lot of money, needless to say, Mat and I were so excited the thought of the price we were to pay didn't enter our minds. It was agreed we could go to Montgomery and spend all that money just as we desired. The offer was quickly accepted and dreams of the big times ahead overwhelmed us. We lost no time in getting our quilts and pillows from Mother and made our pallets at the cemetery.

No thoughts entered our minds except the acquirement of the five dollars. That noon at the dinner table, the "three wise men" talked among themselves very excitedly about some ghost experiences they had heard over the years and many that had happened in our very cemetery. These remarks were for our ears but not directed to us. Uncle Lonnie told about how Governor Bibb's ghost had come out of his grave a few months before and had gone to the lot where he had been killed - he rode one of the horses all over the fields to get even with the horse for killing him. His ghost was constantly chasing every horse he saw. Uncle Sapp told about his seeing several ghosts in the cotton field near the cemetery playing leap frog. Before dinner was over, my enthusiasm had cooled considerably but I managed to keep quiet.

The three girls, Emma Mae, Mamie and Vallie, were left out of the deal. Vallie couldn't see why we two boys were making that kind of money and asked if they wouldn't let her sleep at the cemetery too. The ghost tales didn't seem to score with her one bit for that kind of money. It was finally agreed that Vallie could sleep between two apple trees in the field halfway from the house and the cemetery. She got her pillow and quilts laid out in that spot.

Every possible moment from dinner on, the three in ear shot of us kept up a continual, well-conducted, scare conversation. Believe me, it sounded mighty real as all three of them were good actors and the way they told things, no one could possibly help but believe them. As each hour passed that afternoon, my spirits sank lower and lower and lower. I was a mental wreck, as the sun went down and night approached, I threw in the sponge and declared that I didn't want to make the money.

These three were brutal and had me crying, accusing me of being a coward (which of course I was) and a disgrace to our entire ancestry. I was the first to ever be proven a coward, inconceivable they said. But the more they talked, the further I was away from the job. Finally they accepted my resignation and said they were glad that Mat and Vallie would make their easy money. Mat had been quiet for sometime, after their reproach to me, he meekly said, "If Ed ain't going, I ain't going either". Evidently his 'bravo' didn't cover the dark or ghosts. They could not shame him into the job as he had me for an excuse. They worked on us unmercifully but finally had to tell us to go bring our quilts in from the cemetery. It was about good dark, we tried to get them to let us get them in the morning but Mother even was embarrassed that we were so cowardly and said we must get the quilts. Mat called me aside and said if I'd go with him, he would go with me. During all the excitement Vallie hadn't wilted in the least and said she was going through with the deal.

Mat and I got over the yard fence and slowly walked across the cotton patch to the cemetery. I was scared to death after hearing all those tales about the ghosts and Governor Bibb and the cemetery. We were twenty feet away from the quilts on the edge of the cemetery, when suddenly - a ghost began to rise from behind one of the head stones and came right towards us. We were petrified, it seemed ages as the ghost got closer and I couldn't move I was so scared. I finally managed to turn my head to see Mat - he was fifty yards away running to the house. With the help of the Lord, I began to run and ran as fast as he was running. I got hung on the wire fence and almost tore my clothes off, Mat ran for a big basket that was kept under the steps and they could not even find him for quite sometime. Of course it turned out that Uncle Lonnie was the ghost, Mother said she would never have allowed things to go that far if she had known what they were going to do.

Believe it or not, after all that terror, Vallie did not budge from the deal. Our Uncles couldn't believe she would try to sleep outside. They insisted Mother let them see if she would really go through with it as they admired her bravery. Mother consented only that she could stay out under the apple trees for an hour to prove she would go through with it. Mother sent Mary Jackson out with a chair to sit in the field about fifty yards away. After an hour they called to Vallie to come in. She called back, "Send me the five silver dollars and I will". They sent the money.

Written April 22, 1970 by Edgar Dawson Ferrell on request of Gloria Dalton Sorenson.

Incidentally, Mat Pearson fought all through World War One and Two in the Infantry. He was decorated for bravery with several medals but on the battlefield of Coosada Cemetery - he was a failure.

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Saturday, October 06, 2012

James Madison Pearson, Sr.

My grandfather was named after his grandfather, James Madison Pearson (1817 - 1891).

The Pearsons, their relatives the Whites, and the Brown families all came from Georgia. One county where they took up residence was Madison County, so I wonder if that is where the connection to James Madison came from. There are other possibilities. Pearsons also came from Jasper County, Georgia and the small community of Monticello. Monticello is named after the home of Thomas Jefferson, friend to James Madison. Both Jefferson and Madison were critical in the formation of our country. One was responsible for the Declaration of Independence the other is called Father of the Constitution. So, could it be that there is a remote family connection to one or the other? One cousin thinks so and I remember as a small child, my grandfather weaving tales that connected our families with those of James Madison and Benjamin Rush.

James Madison Pearson, Sr. left Georgia for new land in Alabama. It was land that became available after the War of 1812 and the bloody battles with Creek Indians. James Madison Pearson and his wife Elizabeth Brown, settled in Tallapoosa County in the 1830's. Tallapoosa County is in northeastern Alabama, about half way between Birmingham and Auburn. Once upon a time "Cotton was King". James Madison Pearson and his son Charles Lafayette Pearson, brother to my great grandfather Benjamin Rush Pearson, built up a land holding in Tallapoosa County that grew to 42,000 acres.

James Madison Pearson farmed and practiced law. He married, had 9 children, and lived a long and happy life. He is buried along with his wife Elizabeth Brown and his son Charles Lafayette Pearson in a small family cemetery in Tallapoosa County.

James Madison Pearson, Jr.

I don't have an image of my great great grandfather, but I do have images of my grandfather and his father.

James Madison Pearson, Jr. in Army Uniform
We, the grandchildren affectionately called our grandfather Daddy Matt. With all of us he stressed education as the means to a happy life. It is an ideal he passed down to his children and grandchildren. It was something that was passed down to him by his father, Benjamin Rush Pearson (1849 - 1906), graduate of Virginia Military Institute, and a doctor in Birmingham, Alabama, and his grandfather, James Madison Pearson.

Benjamin Rush Pearson at VMI

Misc. Notes..................................

I came across this scrap of information while googling various topics.

Alexander City, Tallapoosa Co., pop. 1,500. City Superintendent J. M. Pearson 


Alexander City is just down the road from Dadeville. It has an elementary school named Jim Pearson, but I don't know the significance of the name.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Pearson's Dragoons

Note. I have no information to directly connect Pearson's Dragoons with my family. I just wanted to get this down in case some information should turn up.

The Civil War impacted every corner of the South and Tallapoosa County was no exception. One estimate is that small rural Tallapoosa County contributed almost 3,000 soldiers to the war effort on the Confederate side, and of these almost a third perished. A Few Soldiers of Old Tallapoosa.

Campaign Flag First Alabama Cavalry Regiment

Pearson's Dragoons 

The First Alabama Cavalry Regiment was organized at Montgomery, November, 1861 under the command of Colonel James H. Clanton.

The First Alabama Cavalry Regiment fought at the battles of Shiloh and Murfreesboro. It was also part of the rear guard which protected the retreat from Tullahoma and Chattanooga, losing severely at Duck river; fought at Chickamauga, Clinton and Knoxville, and took a brilliant part in the Sequatchee raid. It was engaged in retarding Sherman's advance on Atlanta.

Read more.

Company D of the First Alabama was also known as Pearson's Dragoons. It is also called Company C and may have had other designations due to reorganizations. It was formed in Tallapoosa County. Its regimental commanders included: John G. Stokes (resigned, 25 Oct 62); Jesse W. Fitzpatrick (resigned, 26 Nov 64); Henry C. Washburn (1st Lt., paroled as Capt., Co. "D").

The company designation changed during the war due to reorganizations. Other designations include: "Co. C, 1st Alabama Cavalry; Co. D, 12th Alabama Cavalry, later 2nd Co. C". I have also seen reference to Companies C, D, and F. See following.

The 1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment surrendered at Charlotte, North Carolina, May 3, 1865. Pearson's Dragoons was then under the command of Henry C. Washburn, and designated as Company D. Seventy-two officers and men of the Alabama First Cavalry signed paroles. Re: James Henry Pitts.

Lost in all of this is the explanation for the name Pearson's Dragoons. The Pearson family lived in Tallapoosa County from shortly after the War of 1812 and the Battle with the Creeks. They owned a significant amount of land in the county. That land was located off modern Highway 280 and up Slaughter’s Crossing Road. Today, the land is owned by Kimberly Clark.

The land was passed down to General Charles Lafayette Pearson, but he was born in 1854, and would have been only six or seven at the outbreak of the Civil War. His father James Madison Pearson, born Monticello, Jasper Co., Georgia in 1817 is the more likely connection, if any, to the company name. He was an attorney and farmer, who passed the farm down to his son Charles. Family cemetery of Charles Lafayette Pearson, including his father James Madison Pearson.

There were nine children born to James Madison Pearson and his wife Mary White. My connection is to older son, Benjamin Rush Pearson, my great-grandfather, who became a doctor and practiced in Birmingham. His son, my grandfather, was also named James Madison Pearson.

My grandfather often spoke about his adventures in and around Dadeville and Tallopoosa County.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Battle of St-Mihiel

This article is a summary of The Americans in the Great War, which can be read online. The article concerns a portion of the Battle of St-Mihiel.  The original 1920 publication is part of a series of touring guides by Michelin. Read also online The Battle of St. Mihiel. My grandfather James Madison Pearson was in the thick of it.

James Madison Pearson in uniform

A note - The military records of James Madison Pearson would help. I am assuming that at the time, our grandfather was attached to the Second Infantry Division, the famous Indianhead Division. The Second Infantry Division was organized in October of 1917 at Bourmont, France under the command of  Preston Brown. The unit was composed of the 3rd Infantry Brigade and the 4th Marine Brigade. The 3rd Infantry Brigade, in turn, was composed of the 9th and 23rd Infantry Regiments. Our grandfather references General Brown in letters after the war. He was also billeted at Graffigny-Chemin, a short 2 miles from Bourmont. At the time of the St-Mihiel Offensive, the Second Division was under the command of Marine General John Lejeune.

French President Poincare, in a message to President Wilson, expressed the following words regarding the the St-Mihiel Offensive and the first major engagement of American troops on French soil :

" I congratulate you, Mr. President, on a victory which has been completed so brilliantly. General Pershing's magnificent divisions have just liberated with admirable dash, cities and villages of Lorraine which have been groaning for years under the yoke of the enemy. I express the warmest thanks of France to the people of the United States."
Marshall Foch, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, similarly expressed his gratitude:

" This was where the Americans for the first time showed their worth. This is where we were able to judge of these admirable soldiers, strong in body and valiant in soul. In one swoop they reduced the famous salient, which during so long we did not know how to approach."
St-Mihiel lies on the Meuse River and is located south of Verdun and north of Toul. (As a note to the family, the famous sculpture of Ligier Richier, The Entombment, can be found in the Church of St. Étienne in St-Mihiel. Richier is family name.) The German salient at St-Mihiel was formed in 1914, early in the war, as the Germans tried unsuccessfully to take Verdun.the battle lines did not change much for the next four years. German defensive lines were marked by successive lines of trenches defended by machine gun nests and artillery. The length of the front was about 65 kilometers.The Germans forces consisted of eight divisions on the lines and five divisions in reserve.

The battle began on September 12, 1918. The operation was for the first time under American command with General Pershing planning the operation to the smallest detail. French units fought alongside the American 4th Corp and the I Corp, containing the Second Division. The Second Division on the right held that part of the front lying between Eparges and Spada Pass.

The Allies advanced quickly despite stiff German resistance. The multi-pronged attack was a success due in part to the use of supporting tank units and the audacity of unit commanders who accompanied the troops.The attack was so successful that on the following morning Generals Pershing and French General Petain entered St-Mihiel. The victory was complete: 16,000 prisoners, 443 guns of all calibres, and huge quantities of stores and munitions were captured, as compared to an Allied loss of only 7,000 killed and wounded.

Complete Allied victory over Germany occurred on November 11, 1918.

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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Our Grandparents at the Campbells

Here is the url for good measure.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Pearson Surname

Pearson is French.

Pearson translates as son of Pierre, Pierre being the French for Peter, literally "rock". The Bible explains that the apostle Peter was named by Jesus, the rock or foundation on which Jesus would build his church. Prior to 1066, it can be safely assumed that there were no Pierres in England. Cuthbert, Canute, Edward, all good Anglo-Saxon names, but no Pierres. This changed with the invasion of  a Norman from France, William the Conqueror. Following William's defeat of King Harold in 1066, England and Scotland received an infusion of Norman and French immigrants. Many must have had the name Pierre, which was a popular Christian name. When it became important to distinguish individuals for purposes of land holdings, offices, and taxation, surnames were needed. Thus, Pierson or Pearson entered the written records. has a good explanation of the surname Pearson. The site page concerns the Scottish side using the name Pearson. The site can be found by googling "surname Pearson" or just use the link here. Another explanation of the surname Pearson on the English side can be found at another Ancestry page.

The first recorded Pearson was Wautier Pieressone in 1296.The Campbell branch of the family will be interested in learning that the name Pearson is Scottish, deriving from MacPherson ("mac" meaning son of). Other spellings of Pearson include:Pairsone, Pearsone, Peirsonde, Peirsone, Peirsound, Pesirsaunde, Persone, Peyrsoune, Peyrson , as well as, Pierson, (which our grandfather used briefly in France during World War I), and the names Piersone, Peirsoun, Pieressone, Perysoun and Person.

The first recorded Pearson - Wautier Pieressone, a landowner in Berwickshire, was mentioned in 1226 in the Ragman’s Roll as Pledging Alliegance to Edward I, King of England. The event was not a happy one for the Scots. King Edward I went to the city of Berwick in August 1296 to receive formal homage from some 2,000 Scottish nobles, after defeating the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar in April and forcing King John I of Scotland (John Balliol) to abdicate.The Ragman Roll in which Wautier Pierssone's name appeared was considered with disdain by the Scots as the city went back and forth between Scotland and England. Today, Berwick is the northernmost city in Northumberland, a scant 4 miles from Scotland.

The English Pearsons appear somewhat after the Scottish names.Early recordings of the surname include: John Pierisson, documented in 1332 Wales; Robertus Perrison of Yorkshire listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379; William Pierson recorded in the year 1412 in Lancashire; and, John Peyrson registered at Oxford University in 1510.

In 1596, we read of Edward Peersonne, who lived in Cheshire, England.