by Willa Deane Pike Gates, Lena Mae Leigon & Harold Graham
One of the early and prominent families of Decatur was that of Isham Dansby and his offspring.
Isham Dansby, born 10 March 1801 in Fairfield County, South Carolina, caught the spirit of his forefathers in finding new horizons to better his way of life. The son of Jacob and Eleanor Dansby, he lived in the western part of Fairfield County on a land grant made to his father on 1 September 1794 on the north fork of Rocky Creek, a fork of the Broad River. His paternal grandparents were Isham Dansby and Martha Noble. The elder Isham Dansby fought in the 3rd South Carolina Regiment during the Revolutionary War.
Isham probably started his schooling at the James Rogers Academy, an institution established by the citizens of Monticello in 1791.
The siblings of Isham Dansby were Dr. John Cowsert Dansby, Martha (Patsy) Dansby Cooper, Jacob Dansby, Jr., Mary Ann Dansby Henry, Carolina Dansby Collins Duff, Eleanor Dansby McDowell, Isaac Dansby and Robert H. Dansby. Some researchers think that Dr. Daniel M. A. Dansby and Elijah Dansby were also his brothers; however, they were not mentioned in the will of Ishams mother, Eleanor Dansby.
Jacob Dansby moved with his family to Hickman County, Tennessee, about 1812, then followed other settlers from South Carolina to Pickens County, Alabama by 1820. The home of Jacob Dansby was in Pickensville and was the seat of the first court of Pickens County. Jacob was a Justice of Peace and Police Commissioner there in 1821.
Isham Dansby married on 5 November 1823 to Jane McCreight, the daughter of Robert and Ann McCreight. The McCreights lived on the east side of Black Warrior Creek in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama. By 1825, Isham and his new bride were living in Tuscaloosa County and are listed there in the 1830 Federal Census.
Isham Dansby sold his land in Tuscaloosa County on 18 January 1833 and moved to Sumter County, Alabama. Eleanor Dansby, Ishams mother, lived with Isham and Jane from 1835 until her death in 1843. In her will, probated 22 April 1843, Sumter County, Alabama, she left two slaves to Jane.
Isham & Jane Dansby moved to Decatur, Newton County, Mississippi, following the death of Eleanor Dansby and were living there as early as 1847. Shortly after their arrival, Isham established himself in the town of Decatur as a merchant and druggist. The land they owned was immediately to the south and east of Decatur, including an area from Highway 15 east along Highway 503. An early house was known to have been built along that route and may have been the house of Isham Dansby.
Descendants recall that Indians would camp in the Dansby front yard to wait for Isham to take care of their medical needs. A tradition within the Dansby family also states that when Shermans army passed through Decatur, killing livestock, burning buildings, and destroying crops, that the women begged him to stop and he complied.
Jane McCreight Dansby died after 7 July 1860 at Decatur and Isham married (2) on 20 October 1861 at Decatur to Mary Rebecca Thrash Allen, a daughter of Fielding S. Thrash and Jane D. Butler.
The Dansby were Presbyterian, but it is not known where they worshipped in Newton County. Both Isham Dansby and his son Johnson Pearson Dansby were members of the Masonic Lodge. Johnson P. Dansby, like his father, was also a merchant and druggist.
Isham Dansby died in 1870, about the time his daughter, Martha Butler Dansby was born. His burial site and that of his first wife, Jane McCreight Dansby, have not been located, but are believed to be in unmarked graves in Decatur Cemetery. His second wife, Mary Rebecca Thrash Dansby, moved with her son-in-law and daughter, William Henry Parks and Lorena Adella Dansby Parks to Coryell County, Texas and died there.
The children of Isham Dansby and his first wife, Jane McCreight, were:
- Louisa Noblin Dansby married James Ezell
- Johnson Pearson Dansby married Sophia M. Taylor
- Robert McCreight Dansby, died as a child
- Elenor Ann Dansby, died as a child
- Jacob Layfayette Dansby married Margaret Bell Ridgeway
- Maryann Carolina Dansby married Pat McCune
The children of Isham Dansby and his second wife, Mary Rebecca Thrash, were
- Lorena Adella Dansby married William Henry Parks
- Eleanor Bell Dansby married Henry King
- Martha Butler Dansby married J. Clark Williams.
Mary Rebecca Thrash had married (1) to John J. Allen and brought the following step-children into her marriage with Isham Dansby:
- Barbara Alice Virginia Allen married Henry C. Williams
- William Littleton Yancy Allen, died as a child
- Jane Dow Louretta Allen married William Moses (Whit) Hollingsworth
Most of the children and step-children of Isham moved to either Coryell or Hutchinson County, Texas; however, Johnson Pearson Dansby and Jacob Lafayette Dansby remained in Newton County. Johnson lived at Newton and is buried in the Masonic Cemetery there. Jacob lived in Decatur and is buried in Decatur Cemetery.