Schley County, GAGenWeb Project Page -- Migration Last update:Sunday, 27-Jul-2003 15:48:06 MDT Schley Co GAGenWeb page


Did your Schley County Ancestors move from Georgia to another state?

Many times related families and neighbors did move together to new areas and form communities. Let's share the stories that we have heard about these, as they will also help others in learning about their ancestors.

The Migration of the Family of Dr. William J. Sears

Contributed by Harris Hill, Martha Rainey and Catherine Sears Towers

This migration story revolves around the family of Dr. William Joseph Sears and their migration from West Central Georgia to what was then probably the last frontier in the east, Florida, specifically, Osceola County, FL.  Dr. W.J. Sears was born January 30, 1833, in Talbot County, Georgia, to William and Martha "Patsy" Finney Lockhart Sears. Although we can't be certain, there is some evidence to suggest that the senior Wm. Sears may have been a doctor. His will, recorded September 5, 1848, would also suggest that he was a man of some substance. He owned considerable land when he died in 1848. At his father´s death, Wm. Joseph was but 15. His mother died 5 years later in 1853.

William Joseph Sears became a physician at a rather young age.  Great grandaughter Catherine Sears Towers has cards, dating from the mid-1850's, indicating that he attended Southern Botanico Medical College, established August 15, 1840 in Monroe County, Ga., and the Metropolitan Medical College of New York.  The Botanico Medical movement's philosphy embraced the belief that ills should be treated with medicinal concoctions obtained solely from plant life, namely herbs, rather than the vegetable/mineral concoctions common at that time.  Dr. Pemberton, inventor of Coca-Cola, is probably the most recognized graduate of this school.  

On October 22, 1853 he married Louisiana "Lou" Lockhart in neighboring Taylor County. Their first child, Wm. David Sears was born in Howard, Taylor County, Georgia, on December 8, 1856.  Shortly after Wm. David´s birth the family moved to Pond Town, later to become Ellaville, the county seat of brand new Schley County, Georgia. Schley County was created by act of the Georgia legislature in 1857, from portions of Marion and Sumter Counties. Pond Town, approximately where the Ellavile cemetery is today, was moved slightly north and named Ellaville in honor of the daughter of Robert Burton who sold the land to the county. At this time Ellaville was on a Indian trail and was a stage coach stop on the route from middle Georgia to Tallahassee, FL.

Dr. William J. Sears set up his practice in Ellaville and also opened the first drug/general merchandise store in the new town. He also built his first home here. He was a founder and deacon of the Missionary Baptist Church and one of the original members of the local lodge of the Knights of Pythias.

His family began to grow along with Ellaville. The 1860 Schley County census shows William, age 27, Lou, age 24, and the children William D(avid), 3, and Robert J(oseph), 9 mos.

On May 4, 1861, Dr. Wm. J. Sears enlisted as a private in Co. G, 5th Ga. Vol. Infantry and within two weeks was enroute to Pensacola, Co. G´s first duty station, and a short-term hotspot. He was here for quite some time. They saw little action and if the truth were known, there were long stretches of boredom. The letters of Charles Womack, also in Co. G, would tend to reinforce this (see ). Capt. Robert Burton resigned while the company was in Pensacola and Dr. W.J. Sears was elected the company´s next commander on December 11, 1861. One of the early Charles Womack letters indicates that there was considerable dissatisfaction, within the ranks, with Capt. Burton and his second in command Lt. Charles B. Hudson. This no doubt played a part in Burton´s resignation and Lt. Hudson´s subsequent assignment to hospital duty.

The boredom of Pensacola was to change, for Co. G was about to move. The remainder of the war was to make up for the long period of inaction. In April, 1862, they left Pensacola for Mississippi where they participated in the Corinth campaign (April-June 1862). The rest of the war was as follows for Co. G,  Murfreesboro (Dec. 31, 1862), Tullohoma campaign (Jun-Aug. 1863), Chickamauga (Sept. 19-20, 1863), Chattanooga (Sept.-Nov. 1863), Atlanta/Kennesaw Mt. (May-Sept. 1864), Savannah (Nov. –Dec. 1864), Carolinas campaign (Feb.-April 1865) and Bentonville (Mar. 19-21, 1865). Capt. Sears, according to his widow´s pension application, in testimony provided by two of his fellow soldiers (Thomas J. Hixon and Wm. Allen) was transferred in 1865 as an army surgeon. In the southern forces at this time there was a desparate need for trained medical personel.  Wm. J. Sears´ widow´s claim for pension makes for interesting reading and may be viewed online at ttp://  Among the pioneer Osecola County, FL names mentioned within the application are Carson, Donegan, Bass, Johnston, Bronson and Godwin.

Dr. Wm. J. Sears had two sons born during the period of the war. Edward L. Sears was born in 1862, and John Whitney Sears was born in 1864. His wife Lou died of consumption (tuberculosis) on Christmas Day, December 25, 1871 in Americus, Ga.  Wm. J. Sears finds himself a single father of four boys, the oldest of which is 15. After Lou´s death, the family moved to Smithville, Lee Co. Georgia, a short distance south of Americus. Dr. Sears practiced medicine there and in Americus. Here he met and married Mary Frances Fletcher Green (b. 6 Feb. 1835) on July 10, 1872 in Americus. She was an aunt to Duncan Upshaw Fletcher, U.S. Senator from Florida (Jacksonville) from 1909 tom 1915. Dr. Wm J. and Mary Frances had a son William Joseph, who was born December 4, 1874 at Smithville. About this time, William David decides to pursue a career as a physician and enrolls in the Atlanta Medical College (later to become the Emory Univ. School of Medicine). The 1880 census finds them all back in Ellaville and young Wm. David has begun his practice there.

In January of 1881, the Sears family minus Wm. David makes a big move. They move to Kissimmee City, then Orange County, Florida. The possible reasons are numerous and one can only speculate as to the cause for the move, but this was the beginning of an exciting time in this part of Florida. Kissimmee, formerly Allentown, was the headquarters for Philadelphia entrepreneur Hamilton Disston. Disston had made a deal with the state to drain the swamps, thus creating many acres of rich farm land. Kissimmee began to grow at a rapid rate.

The obituary of Dr. W.J. Sear's son Robert states "his family traded the family buggy for forty acres of land where they built a two story general store and engaged in the merchantile business, serving both white settlers and Indians, and since his father was a doctor, the store became Kissimmee's first drug store."  In deed book E, pages 337-9 (1885), of the Osceola County records, W.J. Sears is identified as the surviving partner of the firm of White and Sears, doing business in Kissimmee, Orange Co., FL.  Osceola was not split away from Orange and Brevard counties until May of 1887. In Myrtle Hilliard Crow's "Old Tails and Trails of Florida,"  she states, "W.G. White, the owner of the general merchandise store at Lake Jessup, where the pioneers did much of their trading, later owned a store in Orlando and was a partner in the firm of White and Sears in Kissimmee.  This general merchandise store was purchased by M. Katz and Carroll Makinson."   Makinson Hardware still operates today, in downtown Kissimmee.  Mary Willson Aultman in a letter to the editor of the Kissimmee Gazette, in October of 1931, a few weeks before her death reminisces about Kissimmee as she found it upon her arrival there in 1883. This is what she has to say about our Sears family. "Across from the side of that on Main street facing east, was the drug store and home of that fine old pioneer Dr. J.W.(W.J.) Sears, father of our Congressman, Joe Sears, and an old friend of my husband's in Georgia, who had first interested him in Kissimmee.  This store, with the name "Sears & White," on the site of the F.C. Bryan brick building was sold to M. Katz and Carroll Makinson of Baltimore  and Harve de Grace, Md., and developed by them into a fine hardware and mercantile establishment."  This would have located the home and business at the NW corner of the intersection of Park and Main.

As in Ellaville, Dr. Sears sought to establish a Baptist church.  Again from Myrtle Hilliard Crow's book, "Dr. W.J. Sears, dry goods merchant and practicing physician, who was a pious Christian gentleman, yearned for a Baptist Church in Kissimmee."  He was amongst those instrumental in founding the Baptist church and bringing Rev. Thomas J. Bell from Tazewell, Ga.(just a few short miles from Dr. Sears' prior home in Ellaville) to Kissimmee to be it's first pastor.

With the formation of Osceola County in 1887, Dr. W.J. Sears was appointed as the first Superintendent of Public Instruction. He later served several years as Chairman of the Board of Public Instruction. In 1889, he passed the Florida Board of Eclectic Medical Examiners.  He shortly became Chairman of the State Board of Eclectic Medical Examiners. Records indicate that Dr. Sears maintained his practice and a drug/general merchandise store in Kissimmee until his death on Monday evening, March 26, 1900.  On the day of his funeral, then Mayor Carson, ordered all Kissimmee businesses closed from 9 a.m. til noon in honor of the funeral.

He is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Kissimmee very near the entrance in the shade of a large live oak tree. There are reports that his grave was marked with a C.S.A. veteran´s marker as late as the mid 1980's, but upon my visit in May of 2003, there was no marker of any kind. A request for a C.S.A. marker has been made from the Veterans Administration.

Son, William David Sears married Emma Delula Battle, the daughter of Judge Cullen Lazarus Battle and Mary Elizabeth Countryman on April 2, 1882. They had four children: Bessie Lou, Joseph Cullen, Imogene and Fannie Ruth (who, at this writing is still living at the age of 105) and the marriage spanned nearly sixty-three years. He carried on the family tradition in Ellaville, practicing medicine and running the drug store for over fifty years. He was devoted to the Baptist church his father helped found and spent much of his time helping it to grow. He died at his home in Ellaville, March 15, 1945. He is buried in Ellaville Cemetery. More is available on the remarkable life of this man at

On October 2, 1883, son Robert J. married Ella Aderhold, daughter of Col. Jacob Wilson Aderhold and Jane Aderhold. Mary Aultman described the Col. in her letter referenced above as "that splendid Southern gentleman and former officer of the Confederacy.  He was not the first mayor of Kissimmee but was elected soon after my arrival, so he may have been the second."  Col. Aderhold was indeed a Colonel at war's end but enlisted initially in Co. A, 1st Ga. Vol. Inf., aka, 36th Ga. Inf., with the rank of Capt.  The 1880 census finds him in Macon, Bibb Co., Ga. There is much information about Col. Aderhold to be found in his widow's pension claim including some letters from early citizens of Brevard County, FL.  It may be viewed at:

The 1887 Kissimmee city directory shows Robert J. Sears as a porter for E.O. Morgan (mgr. Of the Lake House, a fashionable inn of Kissimmee) and a deputy sheriff. He was boarding at the Lake House. During his lifetime he was a saw mill operator and builder.  His obit indicates he lived in Kissimmee, Loughman, Sanford, Tampa, and Fort Pierce before settling down in Lake Wales in 1923.  He is mentioned in a newspaper report about his father´s illness, on March 16, 1900, as living in Loughman, FL (south of Kissimmee). Robert had a daughter according to the Lynward Lightner history and a son Joe, who died in Jacksonville Beach, FL, July 6, 1956. Joe was 70. He is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery, Kissimmee.  A January 18, 1907 piece in the Kissimmee Valley Gazette reports that, "Mr. R.J. Sears of Wildwood (FL), who accompanied the remains of his wife here for interment, returned home Wednesday."  Ella is buried in the Alderhold plot at Rose Hill Cemetery. Robert J. Sears died in Lake Wales, FL, in late October, 1953. He was 94 years old. He is buried in the Aderhold family plot in Rose Hill Cemetery with wife Ella and son Joe.  Robert's obit in the Kissimmee Gazette indicates that he had a step-daughter, a Mrs. T.O. Lewis of Lake Wales.  

On June 20, 1884, E.L.(believed to be Edward L.) Sears received a land patent of 40 acres in Orange Co., FL. The patent may be viewed at Edward is next found in Pennsylvania on the 1900 census in Belle Vernon, Westmoreland Co. He was married to Ella Jane Jones in about 1892. The census indicates they had no children. A Sears family history done by William David Sears´ grandson, Lynward Lightner, in 1985, states that Edward had a daughter named Verdie. To date, I have been unable to document that. Newspaper accounts have him visiting his brother William David in Ellaville in 1904, and his obituary states that he lived most of his life in Pennsylvania as a merchant and banker. It also indicates he spent his winters in Florida (perhaps in Orange Co). He died at the home of his niece, Mrs. B.T. Rainey (William David´s daughter, Imogene Sears) on July 10, 1941. He was buried in Pennsylvania.

Son, John Whitney Sears married Mary Lula Wagnon in Houston Co., Ga., on Aug. 29, 1886. It would seem that he did come to Florida shortly after his marriage. He is listed in the 1887 Kissimmee city directory as a clerk for Waters & Carson. It states he resided on Bass at the SE corner of Mitchell. Waters & Carson was a prominent retail merchant of the time. They carried mostly groceries, but also had such things as shoes, fertilizers, etc. C.A. Carson was one of the principles and he was also a witness to Dr. W.J. Sears´ will and provided a statement in support of Mary Sears´ widows pension claim. He was from the Carson family of Reynolds, Taylor Co., Ga., but that is a whole other migration story. John W. was in Florida at least until 1891. He is shown on the 1920 census in Fulton Co., Ga., with a 29 year old, FL born daughter. Through a combination of statements made in the Sears family history and the 1920 and 1930 census, we believe he had 7 children and lived the remainder of his life in the Atlanta area working as a baggage master for the railroad. John died October 26, 1927 in Fulton Co., Georgia, burial unknown.

Dr. William J. Sears´ youngest son, William Joseph  "Joe," played a significant part in the early years of Osceola county as well as the state of Florida. He attended the public schools of Osceola county and upon completion went on to Florida State College at Lake City, graduating in 1895. He studied law at Mercer University at Macon, Ga. and the Univ. of FL at Gainesville. He was admitted to practice law in GA and FL courts and the Supreme Court of Florida in 1905, and the Supreme Court of the U.S. in 1912. For 8 years he was the attorney for the Board of County Commissioners for Osecola county. He was the mayor of Kissimmee in 1899, editor of The Osceola Signal 1902-1903, member of the Kissimmee city council from 1907-1911, Osceola county superintendent of public instruction from 1905-1915. During his administration as Mayor of Kissimmee, he was instrumental in bringing Kissimmee into the modern era.  He convinced the city council to raise $3500.00 to build Kissimmee's first electric generating plant.  He was Chancellor of the Knights of Pythias for the State of Florida in 1913.  He was elected as U.S. Congressman for the Fourth Congressional District of Florida seven consecutive terms from 1915 to 1929. He was unsuccessful in obtaining the Democratic nomination in 1929 and returned to Kissimmee and resumed his law practice, eventually moving to Jacksonville where he was elected in 1933 for two additional terms in Congress as an at large representative. He was a member of the U.S. Tariff Commission (1936) and in 1937, he became an Associate Member of the Board of Veteran´s Appeals of the Veteran´s Administration in Washington, retiring due to poor health in 1942. Throughout his career he was affectionally known as "Uncle Joe" to vitually everyone.  He died in Kissimmee, March 30, 1944, and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery next to his father.

He was married in 1901 to Miss Daisy Watson, daughter of J.W. and Janette McCubbin Watson of Raleigh, N.C.  Daisy´s brother was John William Watson, Kissimmee and Miami businessman, Mayor of Kissimmee and Miami, 10 term Representative in the Florida Legislature for Osecola and Dade counties and Chairman of the Osecola county commission for 4 years. Joe and Daisy had two children, Margaret Watson Sears born March 11, 1902 and Wm. Joseph Jr., November 27, 1903.  Margaret died March 31, 1910 and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery. Joe became a lawyer and practiced in Kissimmee and Jacksonville with his father.  They travelled all over Florida for elections.  He married Catherine Witschen June 27, 1935, now age 92.  They had two children:  William Joseph (deceased) and Catherine, one of the contributors of this piece.

We welcome additional information on any of the individuals mentioned. I can assure you that considerable restraint was exercised in the writing of this piece as there was was much, much more detailed information available but in certain areas there is a definite deficit.

The more I look into the lineage of Kissimmee and Osceola County's early settlers, the more connections I find to West Central Georgia.  It seems that many of those pioneers came from Kentucky and Western Georgia.  It causes one to wonder if there might have been concentrated marketing efforts on the part of the Disston Land companies in these areas.  I will probably never know.  Whatever the reason, it seems that many of the pioneers of Osceola county knew each other before their arrival there.  There are more migrations stories here.  We welcome yours.


Source material:  (in no particular order) U.S. Census, Roster of Co. G, 5th Ga.,The Sears Family History as compiled by Lynward Lightner (1985), Martha Rainey (great great granddaughter of Dr. William David Sears), Catherine Sears Towers (granddaughter of Congressman Joe Sears), Osceola County Courthouse, "The River of the Long Water," by Alma Hetherington, "Flashbacks, The Story of Central Florida's Past," by Jim Robison and Mark Andrews of The Orlando Sentinel, The Osceola County Historical Society, "Old Tails and Trails of Florida," by Myrtle Hillard Crow, "Osceola County, The First 100 Years," by Aldus M. and Robert M. Cody, The Kissimmee Valley Gazette, The St. Cloud News, The Schley County News, The Ellaville Sun, Confederate Soldier Pension and/or Widow's Claim applications of Dr. W.J. Sears and Col. Jacob Wilson Aderhold, the "History of Marion County, Georgia," by Nettie Powell, "Florida:  Past, Present and Future" by George M. Chapin, Schley County WebPage, Georgia GenWeb ( ), The City of Kissimmee, Parks and Recreation Department (Rose Hill Cemetery), and the Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1949.

Jim Robison featured the Sears family migration story in Orlando Sentinel, Osceola's History column. July 27, 2003.


Orlando Sentinel

Captain filled key role in family history

By Jim Robison
Sentinel Staff Writer

July 14, 2002

Harris Hill is at it again.

Hill, whose wife comes from the Lee family that started ranching and growing citrus in the Alligator Lake area a century ago, has documented that family's records back to the years before dredging in the late 1800s opened canals and drained off low lands for groves and pastures.

This time, he is tracing his side of the family and other early Osceola families with ties to Schley County, Ga., named for former governor and Congressman William Schley in the mid-1850s. Hill has found many Osceola families from this middle Georgia county.

"A number of my Hill ancestors have their roots in Schley County," he wrote in a brief e-mail about this latest research project. "I decided to try to solicit some family migration stories and as a result have created a section of the Web site [] just for that, using an example that I came across in some of my [swamp drainer Hamilton] Disston research."

The sample he sent was like opening a history book of the early Osceola pioneers.

What he found was that many relatives and their neighbors left Schley County around the same time and resettled in Osceola County. Among them was one of his distant cousins, Rosa Woodall, who was a Kissimmee librarian in the 1950s when she told some of her family stories to Florida riverboat historian Edward A. Mueller. Mueller, an engineer and former secretary of transportation, researched much of Florida's steamboat heritage for a series of books.

Woodall, born in Georgia on Nov. 30, 1882, was barely a year old when her parents and relatives left Georgia by train for Jacksonville. From there, they boarded a steamboat that carried them south along the St. Johns River to Sanford. The final leg was an oxcart ride to Kissimmee, where her father, contractor Frank Bass, built their first home and set up his business.

Their two-story white frame house had a bannistered front porch, high ceilings and a tin roof. Bass planted the oak tree out front at Oak and Royal streets. He and relatives also built some of the early railroad depots around Central Florida, including Kissimmee's station. Several of downtown Kissimmee's Broadway buildings were constructed under his guidance.

Paddleboat plans

One of Woodall's uncles was the legendary steamboat captain, B.F. (for Benjamin Franklin) Hall. His steamer the Bertha Lee was too big for the twists and turns the Kissimmee River took to get to Lake Okeechobee, and the narrow channels of the Chattahoochee River that flows out of lake and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Bertha Lee

Hall, who had learned his trade on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, signed on to bring the Bertha Lee to Florida. She was 130 feet long, much bigger than the compact, flat-bottomed steamers in use on the river. The Bertha Lee lower desk was used for freight and machinery, and the upper deck had passenger cabins. Ed Douglas, who owned the Tropical Hotel on Lake Tohopekaliga, planned to use the grand paddleboat for the winter tourist trade.

Hall had no trouble getting the big ship along the Gulf from the Mississippi to the cattle trade port at Punta Rassa. The challenge was getting the Bertha Lee around the bends of the Caloosahatchee River. His crew tied ropes around cabbage palms and pulled hard. Sometimes the captain ran the bow and then the stern into the riverbanks before steaming ahead.

Some stretches were so shallow, the crew had to build dams to raise the water level enough to float the big ship.

Tourists and cotton

During the winter of 1883-84, tourists at Kissimmee were treated to scenic tours aboard the Bertha Lee, but once the summer rains raised the rivers, Hall took the ship back to the Gulf and up the coastline to Apalachicola to haul cotton.

Hall, though, returned to the Kissimmee River, where he owned a fleet of small riverboats and, with engineer J.G. Gottwalles, owned the Okeechobee Shipyard Co.

Frank Bass built some of the early houses in the area now called Old St. Cloud, including the Disston sugar-cane plantation's commissary, still standing today but remodeled as a residence. Bass also helped in the building of the sugar mill, the last remains of which are the brick foundation along the St. Cloud Canal.

Rosa Bass married John Jefferson Woodall, son of Jasper Newton Woodall, and first cousin to Mary Ella Woodall, wife to Arthur Hill of Schley County.

"The Bass family went on to become a pioneer family in Osceola County, and have a strong presence today," Harris writes. "The Woodalls, likewise, helped shape this area. I now live on a lake where much of this dredging and draining activity took place more than 100 years ago. It's a small world, isn't it."

Edward A. Mueller has written several books on the steamboat-era of Florida, including The Steamboat Era in Florida, Steamships of the Two Henrys: Being an Account of the Maritime Activities of Henry Morrison Flagler and Henry Bradley Plant and Ocklawaha River Steamboats.

Jim Robison can be reached at or 407-420-5137.
Copyright 2002, Orlando Sentinel

Ad for Florida Land

Interview with Mrs. Rosa Woodall, Kissimmee Librarian, Aug. 13, 1954

Given to Eward A. Mueller, former Secretary of Transportation for Florida and historical steamship writer of some renown. Unfortunately there is only one page available.

Mrs. Woodall was born in Georgia Nov. 30, 1882. When she was thirteen months old she came to Kissimmee in a party of thirteen composed of her father and mother and various family members. They went from Americus to Jacksonville by train, to Sanford by boat(steamboat), and to Kissimmee by oxcart.

Her father was Frank(N.F.) Bass, a general contractor, he set up business at Kissimmee after building a house for his family. There were no sawmills here at that time so he had to get the lumber elsewhere. Allen(Kissimmee was originally known as Allendale) built the first sawmill here later.

Capt. B(enjamin) F(ranklin) Hall(pioneer steamship Captain and colorful character) was her uncle; had two sons, Benny and Ed, who worked on the boat with them. Ed is still living in Texas. Capt. Hall bought the Bertha Lee from Evansville, Ind. to Kissimmee with J.G. Gottwalles, the engineer. They came down in 1884. The boat was too big for this area, had trouble traversing Southport Canal. Stayed here less than six months, after which Capt. Hall took it to Cedar Key where he ran it on the Suwannee River. In less than a year it sank at Cedar Key.

Mr. Gotwalles was engineer on a dredge that cut the canal between East Lake and Hart Lake. (This was probably No. 4, possibly No. 2) Mr. Gottwalles would stay away from town all week and come home on weekends. Had to take a small boat into town. They worked day and night on the dredge. From that dredge, he went to the Okeechobee as engineer. It was too big, also, for this area, but it stayed here for years and years. A man named McIntosh was night watchman when it was for so long tied up at Kissimmee.

Disston(Hamilton Disston) sold the boat to Herbert Fleming who pulled it over to Summerlin Island(now belongs to Dick Makinson). The boat had an iron hull and is still there now under the water. Mr. Gotwalles and Capt. Hall then went in together and started a shipyard near the old Johnson place on the lake. The yard probably belonged to the Disston company. Was called the Okeechobee Shipyard Company. Capt. Hall went back on the river; used to dock boat at house which is north of what is now the old R.R. grade and the road to St. Cloud. This was after he had unloaded at Waters and Carson grocery company, the building in which it was is still standing. After a while the river began to fill in and it got harder and harder to navigate, especially through the Southport Canal. Sometimes during the dry season, you couldn't get through there. Before WWI, Capt. Hall moved to Alva on the Caloosahatchee; his house is still standing. He lived there for a while and died in Nacoumus a few years later. It was probably during WWI. His son, Ed, has his father's old records.

Mrs. Woodall's father, Frank Bass, built houses at old St. Cloud shortly after he arrived in this area. He built the commissary(which is still standing, Gyriatric's manor). Contractors from Philadelphia built the sugar mill and he helped some. There were hundreds of Dago and negro shacks. A spur track came off the Sugar Belt(RR) up to the mill and sugar was loaded on R.R. and came to Kissimmee. Italians drove two-wheeled carts to mill which were pulled by mules. There was a blacksmith shop there. Italians and negroes didn't get along together. The Italians might have done the cutting of the cane. No women, either Italian or negro worked in the fields. Italians came from Philadelphia and New Orleans.

Possibly Disston quit coming down here in the 90's. Ward(C.W. Ward)ran the company toward the end. He had a lot of money sunk in it. Ward was a splendid man, tall and slim. Not very healthy looking. Average in looks and a very kind person. He was a close friend of Frank Bass. Used to say, "If Mr. Ward had come in earlier, things would have been different." Wards nurse was middle-aged. He was never in good health. They might have lived in Orlando after the Disston sale in 1901.

When she was fifteen, Mrs. Woodall married and they moved over to old St. Cloud. Her.... (need the rest!)

For those unfamiliar with Florida history, suffice it to say that the events that surrounded Kissimmee in this time and the activities of Hamilton Disston have shaped the development of Florida and continue to do so today.

The Woodalls came from Schley County. The Woodall Rosa Bass married was John Jefferson Woodall, son of Jasper Newton Woodall, and first cousin to Mary Ella Woodall, wife to Arthur Hill of Schley County (Woodall family history courtesy Keith Hill).
The Bass family obviously came from the same area, but I have not pinpointed where yet. Sumpter county seems a strong possibility. The Bass family went on to become a Pioneer family in Osceola Co., FL and have a strong presence today. Woodalls likewise helped shape this area. I now live on a lake where much of this dredging and draining activity took place over 100 years ago. It's a small world isn't it.
Contributor: Harris Hill

Orlando Sentinel "Osceola's History" by Jim Robison

Sunday, July 7, 2002
A Florida land company in the 1880's advertised, "Ten acres is enough for any man to buy in Florida. It will yield as much as 160 acres at the North. Five acres set with orange trees and five planted in vegetables will almost insure competency." The real estate booklet offered land at $20 per acre for the farm land and $75 per town lot.
(Note: In St. Cloud which was founded as a retirement community for Northern Civil War Veterans, the purchase of a lot in town from the Seminole Land and Investment Co., also yielded the purchaser 5 acres of farmland in the area surrounding the town.)

"This land will yield abundant bananas, guavas, strawberries, peaches, grapes, sweet and Irish potatoes, cabbage, turnips, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, lettuce, in short, every kind of vegetables," the booklet states. "The wild or sour oranges now growing on some of the land proves that oranges and lemons may be cultivated with no small chance of success."

The booklet also suggested the colonists raise chickens.
"Poultry-raising is a successful industry and brings good profits in all season, but particularly in winter, when a number of tourists and invalids come to this part of the country to escape the northern winters."
It continues, "Almost any crop will prove remunerative. If one crop fails, a score of others will succeed. Three good crops may be grown on the same land in one year. A good living cannot be secured with the same amount of labor in any other state."

Indian Territory

(Also see Co. G 5th Regiment

Thomas Allen

This migration story revolves around the Thomas Allen family of Schley Co., and principally his son, Henry H. Allen.  I was inspired to research them as a result of the following letter and reference to letters in old editions of the Schley County News.

The Schley County News  Thursday, August 31, 1905  Vol. XV No. 36.
A letter received this week from Mr. Frank S. Allen, who is now at Davis, Indian Territory, states that the cotton crop through that section is almost a complete failure caused from damage done by the boll weevil and the boll worm.  
The Schley County News  Friday, January 26, 1906.
Makes Mention of Schley County People, and Gives An Idea of the General Condition of Affairs.
Davis, Indian Territory, Jan. 22, 1906.
Editor News:  Captain H.H. Allen, a native of famous Schley County, Georgia, and his young nephew, Frank, recently arrived from Ellaville, living here, I thought it no more than right to comply with the request and write to you a few lines about this locality.  
Full blood indians seldom come on the streets of Davis, in fact, it looks as though the Choctaws and Chickasaws are pretty well mixed with the Caucasian race, or white washed.    
Those indians are pretty wealthy, each of them gets over 600 acres of land and about $6000 in cash.  Most of the land and money, of course, will ultimately be owned by the white people.  The farming is all done by the whites.  Only about one half of the exceedingly fertile Washita Valley has ever been tickled by a plow.  Congress will, no doubt remove most of the restrictions from the Indian lands this winter.  A new era will commence here after the 6th of March when tribal government will go out of existence.
This town was started fourteen years ago.  It is located on a slopping prarie, one mile east of the Washita river.  Davis has about 1800 inhabitants, mostly from Texas and other Gulf states.  A large majority are Democrats.  We have six churches, 592 school children and seven teachers.  We have two banks, one local paper, many merchantile establishments and no saloon.  Davis is located on the main line of the Santa Fe railroad from Kansas to Texas.  The Lexington--Davis--Sulpher Springs railroad is under construction.  A motor road to romantic Turner Falls, six miles from here will be builded this year.
The adjacent Arbuckle mountains contain lots of different minerals, and mining operations will be conducted there in the near future.  We have no whiskey here, but lots of very good water, $25,000 water works will be constructed here this season.  
Lots of cotton and corn is raised in this region.  Thousands of cattle and horses are feeding on the naturally cured grass in the nearby mountains.  
Captain Allen, the staunch Schley--Bryan democrat, is doing fine.  He is one of our foremost citizens. He still keeps the Allen Cottage Hotel, the best in Davis.  Frank acts as chief clerk in his uncle's confectionary and fruit store.  Frank often thinks about the sweet Ellaville girls and the venerable Captain often talks about the land of his childhood and Schley county which was named after one of the very best men that ever breathed.  
Matt Duhr
The Schley County News  Friday, April 27, 1906
We have before us, the Davis News, published at Davis, Indian Territory (Oklahoma) and the home of Capt. Tip Allen, brother to A (Aurelius) and Wm. Allen (former Sheriff) of this place.  Judging from the many evidences of prosperity and natural advantages that the News holds out for the Territory, it must certainly be the coming section of the Union.
Henry H. Allen was one of four sons born to Thomas and Dolly(Murray) Allen.
1860 Schley census pg. 35
232  ALLEN, Thomas  59 M farmer
       Dolly  59 F
       William  25 M farming
       Augustus  22 M farming
       Henry  19 M farming
       Orreleius  16 M student
All four of the Allen brothers enlisted in Co. G, 5th Ga Inf.  All but Augustus survived the war.  

Allen, Augustus E.- private May 11, 1861. Elected Jr.2d
Lieutenant April 30, 1862. Died of typhoid fever at
Canton, Miss. June 23, 1862.

Allen, Aurelius-- private May 18, 1862. Appointed
Corporal. Surrendered Greensboro, N. C. April 26, 1865.

Allen, Henry H.-- private May 11, 1861. Discharged,
disability, July 5, 1862. Reenlisted June 22, 1863. Roll
for December 31, 1864 , last on file, shows him present.
No later record.
Allen, William-- private May 11, 1861. Wounded at
Bentonville, N. C. March 18, 1865. Paroled at General
Hospital in Thomasville, N. C. May 1, 1865.
Of the three remaining brothers, William and Aurelius returned to Schley and began families
1880 Schley Co. Ga., GMD 961 Ellaville, 9 June 1880, pg. 24, image 24/5.
222/213 Allen, Wm. w/m 47        farmer Ga(all)
                      Mollie E. w/f 37 wife keeping house
                      T???(smudged) w/m 6 son
                      Chas. T. w/m 4 son
                      Dollie w/f  2 dau
                      Mollie w/f  4/12 dau.
1900 Schley Co. Ga., 28 June 1900, sheet 24a, image 47.
394/399 Allen, William head w/m May 1833 67 wd. Ga(all) sheriff(note: 1894-1900)
                      Dollie dau w/f June 1879 20 S(this is not the same Dollie in 1920/30 OK census, but a
                        cousin, she was Ellaville postmistress from Oct. 1914 to March 1925 and a founding
                        member of the Sarah E. Hornady Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy.)
                      Frank R. son w/m June 1883 16 S clerk & ???(this is nephew referred to in letter)
William had an older son, Chas. T., found on 1880 census.  

Source: Arbuckle Historical Society in Davis, Oklahoma 1. In 1898 the town of Davis was incorporated with H. H. Allen the mayor, L. M. Frame the clerk, Sam Davis the treasurer and T. W. Poole as city marshal.

2. An article in the Davis News dated April 1901 stated that H.H. Allen returned from Dallas where he attended a reunion of Confederate soldiers. There was a "fraternal group" in Davis called the Joe Shelby Camp that consisted of 15 former CSA soldiers who also attended the reunion. The notice of the reunion was signed by H.H. Allen, Commander, Joe Shelby Camp. So evidently Allen was a Confederate veteran.

3. The Davis News reported in 1908 that Wm. H. Murray of the lower house of the legislature had appointed H.H. Allen of Davis as the captain of a group known as the Chickasaw Squirrel Rifles who were champions of the Constitution with the rank of Colonel.

4. The Sulphur News-Democrat reported in 1909 that in an interview of H.H. Allen, at the Scullin train depot, that he had visited the "Buffalo Suck" at what would become Platt National Park in 1848 or 1849. Allen who was 79 in 1909 would have been born in 1830 and this would have made him about 18 or 19 when he came here well before the civil war. Allen commented that he saw buffalo in the area that became Sulphur in uncountable numbers and these wooly creatures would roll in the spring water and coat themselves with mud to protect themselves from the insects. Allen also stated that there were large herds of wild turkey, deer and antelope in the area that became Murray County. Dennis Muncrief   Host - Murray County,OK

This excerpt from the Schley County News, dated
June 15, 1906, tells us a little more about him.
Mr. William Allen received a letter this week from his son, Charlie, of Stanton, Tex., bearing the news of his recent marriage to Miss Mary Elam, of that place.  Charlie's friends will remember him as a mere lad when leaving Ellaville some fifteen years ago, for the west, where he has since lived and attained success in the cattle business.
William died in 1919 and is buried in Ellaville cemetery.
Ellaville Cemetery
Allen, William(Co. G 5 Ga. Inf. C.S.A.)
Georgia Death Index, 1919-1927

Name: William J. Allen
Death Date: 02 Dec 1919
County of Death: Schley
Certificate: 18671-A
William's daughter Dollie is found on the 1920 census.
1920 Schley Co., Ga. GMD 961 Ellaville, 8 Jan 1920, sheet 4b, image 8.
Broad St.
92/104 Allen, Dollie head owns f/w 42 S Ga(all) post mistress.

Aurelius married Susie V. Tondee, 21 Nov 1869, but had no children that I have been able to locate.
1880 Schley Co. Ga., GMD 961 Ellaville, 9 June 1880, pg 21B, image 22.
191/185 Allen, Aurelius w/m 37           grocer(?) Ga(all)
            Susie V. w/f 32 wife keeping house
1900 Schley Co. Ga., 28 June 1900, sheet 25b, image 50.
428/454 Hornady, Sarah E head w/f Jan 1837 63 wd. 3/4 landlord
                           Mary dau w/f Jan 1862 39 S postmistress
                           Mary ?? dau-in-law w/f Sept. 1870 29 M 5 2/1
                           Minnie D. grand-dau w/f Jan 1895 5 S
                Allen,  Aurelius boarder w/m March? 1843 57 M 30 farm ???
                          ??? wife w/f Feb 1848 52 M 30 0/0 ???(Mrs Allen was known to operate a ladies'
                             millinery shop)
I believe that at this time Aurelius was Commander of the W.T. Black Camp of the United Confederate
1920 Schley Co., Ga., GMD 961 Ellaville, ? Jan 1920, sheet 2b, image 4.
College St.
39/42 Allen, A.A. head owns m/w 76 M Ga(all) merchant
                  Susie wife f/w 71 M
1930 Schley Co., Ga., GMD 961 Ellaville,  7 Apr 1930, sheet 4b, image 8.
 College St.
111/118 Allen, Susan B.(V.) head owns $2500 f/w 82 wd. Ga(all)
Aurelius and his wife Susie are buried in Ellaville cemetery.
Ellaville Cemetery
Allen, Ameleis 3-01-1843 10-16-1923
Allen, Susie Valeria Tondee 2-21-1848 5-15-1935
There is more about this family in the Schley archives, see Bibles, Peter Tondee.
I can't account for Henry from 1865 to 1880, but it would appear that he went to Texas after the war.   The 1880 census finds him in Kimble Co., Tx as a boarder on the farm of Bruno J. McKeever.  He lists his occupation as stock raiser.  He married in Tx about 1889 and had a daughter Dollie(his mother's name) in Jan. of 1890.
1880 Kimble Co., Tx, precinct 2, taken 11 June 1880, pg 273, image 8.
32/36 McKeever, Bruno J. w/m 62 M farmer NY MA CT
                         Lucretia w/f 57 wife M keeping house NY VT VT
                         Laura w/f 20 dau S at home TX NY NY
                         Hugh w/m 18 son S working on farm TX NY NY
                         Ida(?) w/f 12 dau S at home TX NY NY
          Hamilton, ??? w/m 26 boarder S at home IN OH IN
         Grantman, John w/m 29 milk rai??? M stock raising TX AL AL
                         Mollie E. w/f 20 wife M keeping house TX -- MS
                         Jessica w/f 1/12 dau   TX TX TX
                Allen, Henry H. w/m 39 boarder S stock raising GA --  --
The Allens are not found on the 1890 Oklahoma Territory Census Index, it would seem that they are still
in Tx.  Dollie would have been born in 1890 in Tx.  By June of 1900, Henry and his family are in Davis
township, Indian Territory, Chickasaw Nation(Oklahoma).  They are operating a small hotel/boarding house
on First street in Davis.
1900 Indian Territory Chickasaw nation census Davis Township 11 June 1900 Sheet 19b image 38
314-Allen, Henry head m/w Oct 1840 59 M 11 Ga Ga Ga Hotel Keeper
               Amy wife f/w July 1850 39 M 11 1/1 Ms Sc Al
               Dollie dau f/w Jan 1890 10 S Tx Ga Ms
               plus 1 boarder, 1 housekeeper, 1 cook, 2 waiters
1910 Murray Co. Oklahoma census Davis town taken 25 Apr 1910 Sheet 9b image 18.
East side First street
179-Allen, Henry H. head m/w 69 M 38? Ga Ga Ga Commercial Hoisery House
               Amy C. wife f/w 49 M 21 1/1 Ms SC Al ??? Hotel
               Dollie M. dau f/w 20 S Tx Ga Ms Milliner ???
     Keller, John C. son-in law(wf) m/w 25 M 2 Ok Tx Tx Agent ???
               Ruby niece(wf) f/w 24 M 2 Tx Ms Ms None
     Plus 7 boarders, it's apparent they are operating a hotel/boarding house.
Henry's wife Amy died in September of 1917.  He and Dollie continued to run the boarding house until
his death in 1923.
1920 Oklahoma Murray Co. Allen Township page 15a
308- Henry H. Allen 79 head widow m/w Ga Ga Ga Proprietor Rooming House
        Dollie M.         26 dau  single f/w    Tx Ga Ms
The 1930 census finds Dollie living with a cousin in Oklahoma City.  
1930 Oklahoma Oklahoma Co Oklahoma City page 12b
328-Bell, William W. head m/w 43 M 23 Tx Tx Tx salesman retail shoe store
              Mabel H. wife f/w 39 M 20 Tx Tx Ms saleswoman retail dry goods
      Messic, Susan mother-in-law 73 Wd. Ms Sc Sc
      Allen, Dollie M. cousin f/w 42 S Tx Tx Tx bookeeper state
Dollie died September 18, 1970.  She is buried along with her parents at Green Hill Cemetery in Davis,
Murray Co. Oklahoma.
Green Hill Cemetery, Murray Co., Davis, Oklahoma
Allen, Amy C. July 9, 1859-Sept. 13, 1917
         Henry H. Oct. 22, 1840-Nov. 6, 1923
         Dollie May June 26, 1890-Sept. 18, 1970

I'm descended from Thomas Allen through his daughter, Mary Jane who married Frederick West.  I was very surprised to learn that one of Mary Jane's brothers lived in Oklahoma.
 I know very little about Frederick and Mary Jane(Allen) West.  A cousin and I have been working on Frederick for over 10 years now.  Though I do know that Mary Jane's parents were Thomas and Dorrity (Dolly) Murray Allen.  Dolly's family has been fairly well researched in a book called "The Kindred Murrays".  There is a copy of that book online.

Frederick and Mary Jane are married on December 20, 1849 in Houston County, Georgia.  I found the following mention of their marriage in the Georgia records and also in a January 2, 1850 Macon Messenger blurb:

"Frederick West, of Dooly County to Miss Mary Jane Allen, daughter of Thomas Allen, formerly of Burke County.
They are enumerated in 1850 Houston County living on West road in the Haynesville District.

      In 1860, they are enumerated in Sumter County, Americus P. O. with their children:

      West, Frederick  36    schoolteacher  
            Mary Jane 36
            George Thomas   9
            John F.         8
            William M       6
            James Allen     4
            Aurelious Henry 2
            Julious Q.      9/12

I can't find Frederick or Mary Jane beyond this census.  My g-grandfather is Aurelious and I know they moved to Oklahoma in 1902.  James Allen moved to Oklahoma in either 1899 or 1900, prior to Aurelious and family.  I've been able to track my line down from Aurelious and portions of James A.

The names I've listed out above are information we obtained from a family bible, that unfortunately doesn't show anything before Frederick and Mary Jane.  I do know that they had all sons and had no daughters.  Family lore is that they travelled to Galveston, Texas from Georgia by boat.  James A. Obit says that was in 1874.  The only place I find any sort of lead on Frederick is in Wise County, Texas, listed as a boarder and a schoolteacher; that being in 1880.  I do believe I've located some of the boys in the 1880 census in Texas.  I have the record, just don't have my records with me here at work.  

That's unfortunately about all I know.  The name Aurelious has always perplexed me, and that's why I feel that Mary Jane is a member of the Thomas Allen family.

Susan West

Material contributed by Harris Hill and Debra Crosby. We welcome more information about this family.

E-mail Harris Hill,County Coordinator or Virginia Crilley

Schley County Page last updated: Sunday, 27-Jul-2003 15:48:06 MDT

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