Mary Elizabeth Phinazee Todd
Most of my known ancestry involves Newton County. In addition to Todd, my ancestry includes the names Day, Wroten, Chapman, Puckett, McCord, and Blackburn. Except for two Chapman great-grandparents buried at Garlandville in Jasper County, Mississippi, my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents are all buried in Newton County cemeteries.
My Todd family traces our roots to Joseph Wilkes Todd (9 September 1788-18 July 1869) and Esther Parker Todd (24 February 1791-1866). Joseph Wilkes Todd was born in Wilkes County, Georgia; Esther Parker Todd in frontier country that would become Hancock County, Georgia. The couple was reputedly issued the first marriage license after Hancock County was constituted. Although there is evidence that Joseph Wilkes Todd was the son of John and Elizabeth Todd of Wilkes County, Georgia, to my knowledge, this has not been officially confirmed.
The Name Todd and How It got Here
Todd is not a common surname, but in recent years has become a popular first name in the U.S. The name has had a few “problems”. Tod is the Scotch word for “fox.” In Scotland and Northern England a todhunter is a foxhunter. However, blunt Scotch irreverence has been known to point out that tod is not the hunter but is the hunted, i.e. the fox – with the human implication being “chicken thief”. Then there is the matter of alteration or “corruption” of the name with the doubling of the last letter. With his gift for language, it was Abraham Lincoln himself who most pithily lampooned the pretensions of his wife's family name. "One 'd' was good enough for God," he quipped, "but not for the Todds." Enough said.
Historians identify four distinct waves of migration from different areas of the British Isle to the American colonies. The last one, starting around 1720, and lasting till 1775 came from the borderland of southern Scotland, northern England and northern Ireland and has been labeled “Broderland to Backcountry”. The Todds were part of this migration, settlers of that name having deeds in Spotsylvania County and other tidewater Virginia counties as early as 1728. But later the bulk of this wave – newcomers and offspring of tidewater settlers went straight to the backcountry and later crossed the Appalachian to Kentucky or following them southward to the Carolinas and Georgia. The sheer numbers, the scarcity of records and the prevalence of the names John, Joseph, and George has resulted in tangled genealogic searches of our ancestry in this period.
First Generation: The Family of Joseph Wilkes Todd and Esther Parker Todd
Joseph Wilkes and Esther Parker Todd were the parents of eleven children:
Of the eight children of this couple reaching maturity, four migrated to east central Mississippi. prior to the Civil War. Only George Wilkes Todd’s family would establish multi-generation residency in the area, but in the pioneer and Civil War years the lives of the four were intertwined, and available information on the other three is presented before proceeding with George Todd’s family.
Second Generation: Mary Evans Todd McMullen Adams
Mary Evans Todd, daughter of Joseph Wilkes and Esther Parker Todd, married John McMullen. They were early settlers and large property owners in Kemper County, Mississippi. Upon John’s death ca. 1845, her young brother George came for several months to provide assistance and protection until her remarriage to Dr. Sidney Adams, a widower with adjoining property. He had one child, Sidney Adams, Jr., from a previous marriage. She had no children from either marriage. She died in 1862. Her step-son, Sidney Adams, Jr., would marry her niece, Emma Todd in a double wedding ceremony on November 9, 1865.
Second Generation: Cornelia Easley Todd Kendrick
Cornelia Easley Todd, daughter of Joseph Wilkes and Esther Parker Todd married John Roger Kendrick on 10 May 1838, Monroe County, Georgia. They lived for twelve years in Georgia before moving to Newton County, Mississippi in 1850 and are shown in the 1850 Federal Census of with five children, all born in Georgia. The 1860 Federal Census of Newton County lists them with eleven children, four of whom were born in Georgia. They prospered before the Civil War and John Roger Kendrick is known to have owned slaves and operated a plantation of 200 or more acres immediately east of Decatur in Section 22, Township 7, Range 12E. Their success in Newton County, in fact, may have been a main factor in the migration of her brother, George Wilkins Todd, to Newton County. John Roger Kendrick reportedly served in the Army throughout the War, first in Co. A, 1st Ms. Militia, later in the cavalry. Interestingly, their last child who reportedly “died young” was named Manassas with a birthdate of July 31, 1861, which was one week following the 1st conflict at that Virginia site. The couple’s oldest son Arastus, b. 1839, died while serving in the Army. Along with sixteen other families the Kendricks moved to Texas in 1868, first to Hill County, then to Callahan County.
Second Generation: Harvey Webster Todd
Harvey Webster Todd, son of Joseph Wilkes and Esther Parker Todd, married Missouri M. Philips in 1854 (Missouri’s sister Emily married Andrew Jackson “Jack” Smith, the progenitors of the large Smith family in central Newton County). Harvey is listed in the 1860 Federal Census of Newton County as a “clerk”. One of this couple’s five children, a daughter, is buried in the Decatur Cemetery. On the tombstone, her age is noted as 2 ½ years; the year as 1859, but the portion with her name is missing.
Family legend depicts Harvey as the polar opposite of his brother George in physical appearance and temperament. He is described as small, wiry, bright-eyed, active, full of mischief, witty, sharp--tongued, and an ardent secessionist. If this sounds like the ideal profile for a Civil War cavalryman, this is exactly what happened. Brown’s History of Newton County lists Harvey and his brother-in-law A. J. Smith as lieutenants in Capt. Blalock’s Co. B, 2nd Ms. Cav. which served under Van Dorn, Forrest, and S. D. Lee. His postwar efforts at newspaper publishing and teaching in Newton County were not successful. (Josie Mae Todd Elam related that her father, Joseph H. Todd told her the longest school session he ever attended was 21 days and that it was taught by Uncle Harvey.)
The Harvey Todd family moved to Texas in the late 1860’s where he was in the newspaper business for the remainder of his life. Flowing letters in classic cursive to relatives decades later, in addition to family news, contained passionate opinions on the major political movements of the day.
Second Generation: George Wilkins Todd
George Wilkins Todd, son of Joseph Wilkes and Esther Parker Todd, was born March 20, 1825, Monroe County, Georgia and died September 26, 1911, Hickory, Mississippi. His first marriage was December 21, 1847, Monroe County, Georgia to Mary Elizabeth Phinazee, b. 1832, Monroe County, Georgia-- d. Feb 17, 1864 in Chapel Hill community, Newton County, Mississippi.
A biographic profile of George constructed from written testaments and family legends include: an aspiring “planter” reduced by events to yeoman farmer status; a reliable provider and good citizen; a stern schoolmaster; a fervent church elder; a public servant (probably Justice of the Peace) who executed deeds and wills, and performed marriages; a practical and sincere man who was utterly devoid of humor; a curious mind with interest in science, efficiency, health, and theology but with no affinity or aptitude for weapons or military matters. The single irrefutable fact is that with two wives, over a period of forty-three years, he fathered thirteen children, eleven of whom would reach adulthood and follow with fifty-four grandchildren.
George Wilkins Todd and his first wife, Mary Elizabeth (Bettie) Phinazee, moved to a partially cleared farm on Chunky Creek northeast of Decatur in the winter of 1854-55, bringing with them four children. The first Congregational Methodist Church in the area was organized in their home in 1855 and given the name Mt. Zion. “Bettie” died of a febrile illness February 17, 1864 during the federal military campaign in the area.
The father of Mary Elizabeth (Bettie) Phinazee Todd was Hiram Phinazee (b. 1802, Hall County, Georgia – d. 1883, Monroe County, Georgia). Although he never set foot in Mississippi, a Todd family history must mention this “larger than life” man, the father of George Wilkins Todd’s first wife. An abbreviated biographical sketch is an injustice to this self made, multi-dimensional citizen of Monroe County who was universally revered by family, community and the Congregational Methodist Church which he served for decades and who was recognized as the heart and soul by his fellow founders of that denomination. In addition to family legend and the laudatory biographic story published by Rev. Rolfe Hunt, the sensitivity of the poem written to his daughter Bettie on her departure to Mississippi, and the valedictory he addressed to his fellow citizens (Monroe Advertizer) a few days before his death in 1883 suggest an extraordinary man.
The children of George Wilkins Todd and Mary Elizabeth Phinazee were
Three of George and Bettie’s children; Mary Todd (Thames), Ava Todd (Freeman), and Robert Elby Todd after their marriages would live on adjoining farms 4-5 miles northeast of Decatur. Their homes were located approximately one mile apart in a triangular configuration. Presumably the women moved onto existing Freeman and Thames properties. Hiram P. Todd related that his father (Robert Elby) bought his 520 acre farm “with the aid of a loan from Mr. S. D. Russell of Smith County, Mississippi, about the only money lender I knew of in the area at the time.”
These three families, living on adjoining farms, collectively had 14 children, 12 of them males. All three families quit their farms for urban life in south Mississippi around the turn of the century.
The second marriage of George Wilkins Todd was conducted on 19 November 1865, Chapel Hill community to Caroline Virginia “Callie” Jones, b 1840 Paulding, Jasper County, Mississippi--d July 4, 1913 at Hickory, Mississippi. They were married ten days after the double wedding of his two oldest daughters. Caroline was the daughter of a Congregational Methodist minister, Rev. Lazarus Jackson Jones, who also published a newspaper and ran a boarding school in Paulding, Mississippi prior to the Civil War. Caroline had lost a beloved finance in the war.
George and “Callie” had five children. The oldest three were born at The Chapel Hill farm. In 1876 the family relocated to a farm one mile north of Hickory. A new house built in 1875-1876 was the birth place of their last two children. Their children were:
9. Eugenia Stuart Todd (1867-1954)
Third Generation: Emma Virginia Todd Adams
Emma Virginia Todd, daughter of George Wilkins Todd and Mary Elizabeth Phinazee, married Sidney Adams, Jr., step-son of Mary Todd Adams, and a Confederate veteran. They lived in Kemper County, Mississippi, and had eight children; Mary, Lizzie, George, Hope (male), Fannie, Mattie, Joseph, and Harris. Sidney Adams died in 1882. In the late 1890’s, when her children were grown and had scattered to other areas, she moved to Pachuta, Clarke County, Mississippi, where she died in 1910.
Third Generation: Mary Elizabeth Todd Thames
Mary Elizabeth Todd, daughter of George Wilkins Todd and Mary Elizabeth Phinazee, at age 14 married William Edward Thames, age 17, and a Confederate veteran as part of a double wedding ceremony on November 9, 1865. William Edward Thames was the son of William Thames, who had a large plantation at Little Rock, Newton County, and Caroline Coates. Mary Elizabeth Todd and William Edward Thames had the following children: William Isham Thames, 1866-1942 (married Fannie Yates), Mary Caroline (Callie) Thames, 1868-1888 (married Franklin A. Cross), Dr. Walter Roger Thames, 1870 (married Addie Andrews), James E. Thames, 1872 (married Viola Merrell), Joseph Elby Thames, 1874 and Howard Davis Thames, Sr., 1877-1930 (married Nell Green Boykin). William Edward Thames died in 1887. Mary died in 1924. Their son Dr. Walter Roger Thames was a physician in Meridian, Mississippi. His brother, William Isham Thames, was a noted educator whose career included that of Superintendent, Hattiesburg (MS) Public Schools. A great-grandson of Mary Elizabeth Todd and William Edward Thames, Dr. Shelby Thames, is a noted scientist and former President, University of Southern Mississippi.
Third Generation: Robert Elby Todd
Robert Elby Todd, son of George Wilkins Todd and Mary Elizabeth Phinazee, married Mary Olivia Adams. Their children were Hiram Phinazee Todd, b 1880, Grover Cleveland Todd, b 1889, Victor Fair Todd, b. 1892, and George Todd, b. 1894. Robert Elby Todd died in 1920. His son George died in early manhood of heart disease. The three remaining sons lived beyond 90 years.
Third Generation: Joseph Hiram Todd
Joseph Hiram Todd, son of George Wilkins Todd and Mary Elizabeth Phinazee, owned a farm and operated a water powered gin and grist mill on Okahatta Creek three miles north of Hickory. He married 1st Ida Chapman, (b Feb. 14, 1868) in 1889. This family sustained a series of misfortunes. Five children died in early childhood, ages 2-5 yrs. Fire destroyed the watermill in 1900, and the farmhouse in 1904. Ida died of tuberculosis in 1904. Their children who reached adulthood were Mary Eunice Todd Strahan 1890-1948, Hiram Elby Todd, 6/13/1895-1973, and Dr. Lindsey Ogletree Todd, 1901-1973, the latter whose distinguished career in education included that of President, East Central Junior College and Superintendent, Meridian (MS) Public Schools. Dr. L. O. Todd married Bernice Day and was the father of the author of this story.
In 1908 Joseph Hiram Todd bought his father’s farm one mile north of Hickory for two reasons: to put his children in the Hickory School district, and to allow his aging parents to move into town nearer their daughters, Eugenia Leverette and Kate Gallaspy.
Later in 1908, Joseph Hiram Todd remarried to Sarah Francis Speed (1883-1964). Their children were Emma Todd, 1909-1910, Josie Mae Todd Elam, 1911-1992, Annie Wilson Todd, 1915-1962 (married Ester Edwards), George Hopkins Todd, 1917-1968 (married Letty Cochran), and Elizabeth Todd, 1919. Today, descendents of Annie Todd Edwards and George Hopkins Todd have homes on the Todd homestead north of Hickory.
Third Generation: Catherine Eliza Todd Turner
Catherine Eliza Todd, daughter of George Wilkins Todd and Mary Elizabeth Phinazee, was a school teacher when she married Thomas William Turner in 1882. They lived in Kemper County, Mississippi, and had one child, Pearl Turner Rawls. Following her husband’s early death in 1888 Eliza and Pearl (age 5) moved back to Newton County. She resumed a long career as a teacher. Pearl, the daughter of a single mother working outside the home, grew up surrounded by grandparents and an abundance of aunts, uncles, and cousins in Newton County. Pearl graduated from MSCW (MUW) in 1903 and began a teaching career. She married Fred Rawls in 1916. An infant son is buried in the Decatur cemetery. Children reaching adulthood were Fred Rawls, Jr. and Mary Byrd Rawls Dear. Pearl Turner Rawls’ (1883-1979) interest in genealogy, her unique experience of close personal contact with three generations of a large family, and her determination to write about it late in her long life made her the source of most of the information in this article.
Third Generation: Ava Francis Todd Freeman
Ava Francis Todd, daughter of George Wilkins Todd and Mary Elizabeth Phinazee, married Alonzo Freeman in 1887. Their children were Louis Elwood Freeman, Rodney George Freeman, Ramon Henry Freeman and Beltie Freeman. Ava died in 1913, Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Third Generation: Eugenia Stuart Todd Leverette
Eugenia Stuart Todd, daughter of George Wilkins Todd and Caroline Virginia “Callie” Jones, married Mirabeau Duncan Leverette (1864-1905) in 1890. She continued to live and raise her sons in Hickory following her husband’s death. Their oldest son, Dewitt died of “lock jaw” following a farm injury at age 19 in 1911. The three remaining sons lived long lives-- Blanks F. Leverette in Havana, Florida; Sidney Leverette and Woodfin Leverette both in Houston, Texas. Later she moved to Jackson and ran the Methodist Orphanage before moving to Florida. In her later years the beloved “Aunt Jeni” made annual summer trips to visit friends and relatives in Mississippi.
Except for listing the children of Pearl Turner Rawls, the source of much of this information, the article has not extended beyond the grandchildren of George Wilkins Todd. However, in the opinion of the writer, one of this beloved woman’s grandsons Sidney Leverette Jr. deserves special recognition. Following a Ph.D. in cardiovascular physiology, serving the USAF in active duty and civilian status, he was one of the world’s most productive, distinguished and honored aerospace and environmental medicine scientist from the mid-1950’s until his death at age 62 in 1987.
Third Generation: George Whitfield Todd
George Whitfield Todd, son of George Wilkins Todd and Caroline Virginia “Callie” Jones, married Lillian McMorries of Brookville, Mississippi, in 1904. They had no children. He was president of Bank of Union. He was the last child of George Wilkins Todd to live in Newton County.
Third Generation: Harvey Wirt Merritt Todd
Harvey Wirt Merritt Todd, son of George Wilkins Todd and Caroline Virginia “Callie” Jones, married Cora Chatham. They had five children: Juanita Todd, Julia Todd, Caroline Todd, Spencer Todd and Glenn Todd. At some point they moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky where the daughters lived long lives. The sons both became sugar cane farmers in Louisiana. Merritt had a second marriage and lived in Seattle, Washington. From that marriage he had a son, Harvey Wirt Merritt Todd, Jr.
Third Generation: Katie Eunice (Kate) Todd Gallaspy
Katie Eunice Todd, daughter of George Wilkins Todd and Caroline Virginia “Callie” Jones, married William Leroy (Lee) Gallaspy in 1898. They had seven children, one of whom, Billie Gallaspy, lived only one year (1906-07). The remaining six were: Laura Caroline Gallaspy who married Jones Wasson; George Leroy Gallaspy who married Lottie Cuevas; Allene Gallaspy who married Thomas Blari, Glenn Gallaspy who married Gladyce Fortenberry, James Whitfield Gallaspy who married Bessie Stamper and Joe Dewitt Gallaspy who married Sara Fullileve. Around 1920, the family moved from Hickory to New Augusta, Mississippi where Lee was president of a local bank. Kate is remembered as a warm and high spirited person for her entire 92 year life.
Third Generation: Dr. Lazarus Perry Glenn Todd
Lazarus Perry Glenn Todd, son of George Wilkins Todd and Caroline Virginia “Callie” Jones, was a physician in Jackson and never married.
The author appreciates the effort of all who have preserved family history, but with special recognition to three people who spent hundred of hours documenting my Todd, Phinazee, Ogletree ancestry. They are J.P. Mott of Cornelia, Georgia, at the turn of the 19th century, and Pearl Turner Rawls and her daughter, Mary Byrd Dear throughout the 20th century.