Newton County, Mississippi 
By Terry Terrell Lange
Pictures Left: John Walton & Melinda Hailey Terrell with William Aaron and Martha Ellen
The Terrells came to America from England in about 1658, settling in Virginia, and then branching out through North and South Carolina and on down to Georgia.
Jeremiah Terrell was born about 1738 in Virginia. It is not proven who his parents were, and we don’t know where in Virginia he grew up. He married Louisa Walton, daughter of William Walton and Susanna Cobbs. Louisa was born about 1739 in Virginia.
From Virginia, Jeremiah and Louisa moved to North Carolina. They settled in Anson County, a backwoods area about 90 miles long and 30 miles wide with the Pee Dee River running through the center of the county.
About 1784 the family moved from North Carolina to Georgia, settling in Wilkes County about 10 miles north of Elberton near the Savannah River. Wilkes County was later divided, and the area in which they lived became Elbert County. This is where they lived until they died.
Jeremiah and Louisa had seven children: William, John, Polly, Rachel, Louisa, Roseanna, Susanna. Jeremiah died about 1816 in Elbert County.
William Terrell, the oldest child of Jeremiah, was born about 1762 in Virginia. About 1799 he married Martha Taylor, born about 1782, daughter of William and Martha Taylor.
William and Martha Taylor Terrell had ten children, all born in Elbert County, Georgia: Rebecca, John Walton (from whom I am descended), Robert, Frances, William, Martha, Aaron, Sarah, Tavnnah, and Jim. William died in 1850; Martha died in 1860.
JOHN WALTON TERRELL
John Walton Terrell was born in 1802 in Elbert County, Georgia. He married Melinda Hailey, daughter of John Hailey and Mary Underwood, in 1846. Melinda was 30 that year, and John was 44.
John, Melinda and the children left Elbert County sometime between 1851 and 1860.Â It is believed they traveled to Mississippi in the company of McMullans, Clevelands, Roebucks and others.
John was the only member of his family to move to Mississippi. He left Georgia knowing he would likely never see his family again.
Melinda already had relatives living in Newton County. Her sister Peninna Hailey was the wife of James Madison Cleveland, and they lived at Rock Branch. Her sister Ella Elizabeth Hailey married Patrick McMullan, Jr., and they moved to Newton County, likely in the same migration as the Terrells. Their farm, known as Mt. Vernon Plantation was located along Highway 15 east of Everett’s store, south of Mt. Zion Church.
Melindas nephew Isham Hailey Brown owned land near Hickory, Mississippi. A cousin, William Rabun Hailey, also moved to Newton County. Both her sisters and her cousin had large families, so Melinda had quite a few relatives in Mississippi.
The caravan or wagon train from Georgia traveled for three months to reach Newton County. All their possessions were transported in covered wagons. Among the items they brought with them were photographs of family members who remained in Georgia. Melinda brought daffodil bulbs dug from her home in Elbert County to be planted at her home in Mississippi.
The men and older boys rode horses, while the women and children traveled in the wagons. They would travel all day, then camp by a stream at night. The men and boys slept on the ground, while the women and young children slept in the wagons. The next day after breakfast they would start out again.
The first thing they did upon arriving in Newton County was clear a garden spot. Families had to be fed. Next, they built a temporary shelter for the family. Then the land had to be cleared and crops planted. Finally, they would build a permanent home.
John and Melinda located their home on the south side of Mt. Zion Road facing north, and Melinda planted her daffodil bulbs.
Many of their neighbors were Choctaws.
John Terrell died April 8, 1891 at age 89. It is believed that Melinda died June 12, 1890.
John and Melinda were the parents of the following children:
- Martha Ellen Terrell, born April 15, 1848, Elbert County, Georgia died July 21, 1923, Decatur, Mississippi; married William Robert McMullan, the overseer of Mt. Vernon plantation. They were parents of nine children.
- John Walton Aaron (Bill) Terrell, born August 30, 1849, Elbert County, Georgia died November 19, 1928, Newton County, Mississippi; married Matilda Katherine (Tilda) McElhenney. They were the children of ten children. See later.
- Ann Elizabeth Terrell, born February 2, 1851, Elbert County, Georgia died June 30, 1938, Newton County, Mississippi; second wife of James Lewis Hunter, by whom she had no issue.
John William Aaron Bill Terrell
John William Aaron Bill Terrell was born in Elbert County, Georgia in 1849. The name Aaron dates back as far as 1790 in the Terrell lineage and is still in use today by descendants of William Aaron Terrell.
Bill married Matilda Katherine Tilda McElhenney in 1874. She was the daughter of George Washington and Susan (Johnson) McElhenney and was born in 1854 in Elbert County, Georgia.
Their home still stands (though in sad disrepair) and is located on Mt. Zion Road. Constructed of heart pine, this home has withstood the elements of nature for more than 125 years.
Bill and Tilda had ten children: George Walton, William Lee, Robert Walker, Charlie, Emily, Lottie Elizabeth, Annie Mae, Emma Catherine, Codie Jane, and Ebbie James. Charlie died as a baby, and Emily died at age 6.
Bill was a good provider and a generous man. His children received dental care when a dentist came through the county. They owned an organ, and music lessons were provided in the same way. Family photographs were taken when a photographer came through. Bill donated land to the Mt. Zion Church in 1899.
He was asked by the Thames family of Sunny Hill Road to help with a church they wanted to build. He donated the trees for the lumber, had his sons cut and haul them to sawmill, and had them sawed into timber for the new church. 
He was a man of character as evidenced by an entry in a journal he kept where he offered to buy back a horse from an individual who was not satisfied with the trade.
Tilda was known for her hospitality. A visitor to her home could always expect to be served food might be cookies, might be a baked sweet potato but always served with the stipulation save some for Bill.
Every fall Bill would order a barrel of salt mackerel, which would arrive by train. Tilda would soak the mackerel in water to remove some of the salt, then batter and fry it. 
Drummers liked to finish up their day in the vicinity of the Terrell residence because they knew they would have a good meal. Tilda once caught a drummer stealing from them, but Bill would not throw him out. 
Bill owned a sawmill. He was also a partner in a water-driven cotton gin, which was located on a pond across the road from where Stratton School stood in the Stratton community.
Bill sustained a crippling injury in a logging accident. They were logging on a hillside, and Bill was leading the team,
walking on the downside of the hill. (Proper logging technique was to walk on the uphill side of the wagon to avoid accidents.) The bolster broke and logs and wagon fell on him. After the accident he walked with difficulty and used a cane.
He had a horse named Spurgeon that became his legs. Spurgeon was trained to stand beside a stump or the steps to the porch so that Bill could reach the stirrup.Â Bill would not allow Spurgeon to be worked at the plough, but kept him in the barn where he received special treatment.Â When Bill died, his oldest son took Spurgeon to his home and continued to care for the horse until it died of old age. 
While stripping sugarcane in the fall of 1928, a blade from a stalk of cane cut a mole on Bills face. It became infected, and he died from the infection on November 19, 1928 at age 79. 
Tilda died of internal hemorrhaging in 1935 at age 81. Tilda and Bill and all of their children are buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery.
George Walton Terrell, Sr.
George Walton Terrell, son of William Aaron Terrell and Matilda Katherine McElhenney, was born in 1875. He married Ruby Gladys Cleveland, daughter of Rueben Gardner and Ann Eliza Roebuck Cleveland. They owned an 80-acre farm located on the south side of the Mt. Zion-Beulah Hubbard Road, and had seven children: William Walton, Velma Zerthan, Annie Rose, Andrew Vardaman (my father), Earl Singleton, Ruby Gladys, and George Walton, Jr., born in 1917, died in 1917.
Ruby died in 1917 from childbirth complications. At age 42 George was a single parent of Walton age 13, Zerthan age 11, Annie Rose age 8, Andrew Vardaman age 6, Earl age 4, and Gladys age 2.
For a time, the family lived with Georges parents, Bill and Tilda. As many as six adults and six children would have been nearly impossible under one roof, so the older girls went to live with Georges brothers, Walker and Lee.
With the help of her aunts and her grandmother Zerthan learned to cook and keep house. When she was 14, her father asked her if she could manage their household; she answered that she could, and George and the children were reunited in their own home. Zerthan (with the help of her younger sisters) did the best she could to keep food on the table and their clothes clean.
One by one, George’s children began to drop out of school, which was held at Mt. Zion. In addition to trying to make a living, George must have spent a good deal of time managing the children.
All the homes were built off the ground on piers. In the winter, the wind howled through the cracks in the floor, around the doors and windows. The only source of heat was a fireplace and the wood stove on which they cooked. Ceilings were high to allow for ventilation in the summer, and the heat produced by the wood-burning fireplace quickly rose to the ceiling, so at floor level you could be quite cold.
During the years that followed, the annual income of the farmer declined dramatically, as agriculture was shifting from self-sufficiency to commercial farming. In 1927 the average annual income of the small farmer was $548.Â Electricity had not reached the rural south, and there was no indoor plumbing.
There were no appliances to aid women; no tractors to plow the fields. Young men who should have been in school followed mules and used what muscles they had to keep the plow in the ground. Child labor laws did not extend to the farmers children, who worked from sunup until sundown.
The Great Depression began in 1928, lasting for 10 years. There was no public relief; there was no unemployment compensation; there were no jobs to be had. Many farmers lost their farms to foreclosure.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated in 1933 he established a work relief program, one of many programs designed to stimulate economic recovery. Known as Civil Conservation Corp, or CCC camp, they built highways, did construction in national parks, built lakes and other public works. Participants were provided room and board and were paid a very modest amount, which most sent home to their families. My father, Andrew Vardaman Terrell, worked on the construction of Roosevelt Lake State Park at Morton, Mississippi.
Gladys attended another of Roosevelt’s work relief programs, the National Youth Association. This program provided for single females to attend classes two weeks out of the month during the summer. They were taught housekeeping skills, crafts, etiquette, etc., and in return were provided room and board during their stay and were paid a modest amount. The program was conducted at Newton, Mississippi. My mother, Beryl Hansford, also attended this program.
Eventually, the children married and moved away from the homestead.
Only Earl, still single, remained at home with George, although at different times, various members of the family were provided shelter and sustenance under their roof. Walton came home; Zerthan and daughter Margaret came home; Roses sons, Bobby and Gerald lived in the home for a number of years after their mother died. Zerthan’s son Edd also grew up in the home.
George died in 1947 from congestive heart failure. George and Ruby and all of their deceased children are buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery.
e e e
This brings us back to the beginning of the Terrell legacy in Newton County. Melindas daffodils, planted sometime in the 1850s, still bloom every spring at the site of John and Melindas homestead on Mt. Zion Road. Life goes on.
 A more extensive history of this family is available at the NCHGS Archives.
 Information on the trip from Georgia to Mississippi was provided by Robert Lee Bob Terrell from his memories of stories told to him by his grandfather, William Aaron Terrell.
 Information about the music lessons and dental care provided by Billie Carnell Herd LoCicero. Information about the Measells came from a Journal kept by William Aaron Terrell, now in the possession of Carol Rigdon. Information about the Sunny Hill Church came from Thomas Aaron Jack Terrell and his son Scott.
 This information was related to me by my grandmother, Camma Arnold Hansford, who was once a neighbor of William and Matilda Terrell.
 Jack Terrells memories.
 Jack Terrells memories.
 Jack Terrells memories.
 Bob Terrells memories.
 Jack Terrells memories.
 Information from Ruby Gladys Terrell Herd.
 CERTIFICATE OF DISCHARGE.
 Information provided by Beryl Hansford Terrell.