Kizziah Souther Humphries and Her Family

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By:  Ethelene Dyer Jones


Kizziah Souther Humphries and Her Family

The name Kizziah given to my great, great aunt has fascinated me since I first heard it.  Kizziah Souther was born at Old Fort, McDowell County, North Carolina on March 27, 1811.  She was the sixth child of fourteen born to Jesse Souther (1774-1858) and Jane Combs Souther (1782-1858).  I began to wonder where Jesse and Jane Souther came up with the name “Kizziah” to give to their baby in 1811.

          Searching for the name Kizziah, I found that it was a surname, not usually a given name.  I thought that perhaps someone in either Jesse or Jane’s family might have had the name Kizziah.  My search did not reveal an ancestor with the name, but I did learn that Kizziah seems to be a Tuscarora Indian name, and that there were families in the area of North Carolina where the Southers lived that had the Kizziah surname.  My search did not reveal why the name Kizziah for the new baby born to the Southers in 1811, but it sounds pretty, and still holds a fascination even now.  Maybe the beauty of the name also fascinated my great, great, great grandparents.

          Kizziah Souther married John Humphries (b. 1810) on December 27, 1831 in Burke County, North Carolina.  She was 20 and John was 21.  He no doubt was a farmer, and perhaps a trapper and timber cutter.  Four of the thirteen children who were born to this couple were born before Kizziah’s brothers who had already migrated to Union County in North Georgia enticed John and Kizziah to leave Burke County and find their fortunes on land available in Union County after the exodus of the Cherokees.  Her brothers, Joseph and John Souther, had already secured land holdings in District 16 (Choestoe). 

          By the time of the 1840 Union County census, John and Kizziah Humphries were living in their adopted county.  In their household in 1840 were 3 male children under 10 and 2 female children under 10.  A next-door neighbor to John and Kizziah were her brother Joseph Souther, and a little farther away, her brother John Souther (my great, great grandfather).

          By 1850 we learn in the census the names of the children born to John and Kizziah Humphries, and their ages.  Jesse, 17 (named for Kizziah’s father Jesse Souther), Jane, 15 (named for Kizziah’s mother, Jane Combs Souther), Catherine, 14, and Willis, 11, had all been born in North Carolina.  Since Willis was born in 1839, this gives us a date of their leaving North Carolina, after Willis’s birth, but before the census enumeration in Union County in 1840.  Other children in the Humphries’ household, all born in Georgia, were James, 10; Philip, 9; John, 7; Noah, 5; Sarah 3; and Mary, 2.

          Whether the farm in Union County could not yield enough to support his growing family, or whether the desire to go to other more promising places hit John Humphries, sometime before the 1860 census they had departed from Union County.  By 1860 John and Kizziah Humphries and the children remaining at home were in Monroe County, Tennessee.  Three other children, bringing the total to 13, had been born to Kizziah; these were Nancy Ann, Joseph F. and David.

They moved on from Monroe County to Blount County in Tennessee where some of the family lived.  By the 1880 census, Kizziah had died (her death date is unknown to this writer), and her husband John was listed as a widower, living in the household of his next-to-youngest son, Joseph.  However, before John Humphries died, he moved to Cherokee County, NC to live with one of his children there, and died in Cherokee County.

          We will trace what we know of Kizziah and John Humphries’ thirteen children.  The oldest, Jesse (b. 1833, NC) served in the Civil War.  He married Charlotte, known as “Lottie” Duckworth.  This marriage record is entered for this couple in Union County marriages:  Charlotty Duckworth to Jessee Umphris, March 11, 1855, performed by H. J. Scruggs, minister. The 1910 census shows that they were living in Union County then.  Later Jesse moved to Walker County, Georgia.  He and Lottie had four known children:  Rosetta who married a Martin; their marriage is entered, with this spelling in Union records: Roseta Umphas to T.H. Martin, by C. N. Davis, JP, on May 6, 1878. Ellen, their second child, married Juan Jones on November 17, 1882, with A. B. Harkins, JP, performing the ceremony.  Her last name in the record was spelled Umphres.  The other two children of Jessie and Lottie were Sarah and John E.

          Jane Humphries (1835-1881) married Wiley Dean in Union County on December 26, 1854.  He lost his life in the Civil War.  She had four children.  Jane and her children were living in the 14th District of Blount County, Tn at the time of the 1870 and 1880 census taking.  Her children were Clarissa Dean, Eli Smith Dean, Hulda Dean and Richard Dean.

          Catherine, nicknamed “Katie” Humphries was born in 1837.  Katie married John Hix, their ceremony performed by William Pruitt, minister, in Union County on November 2, 1854. In the record, Catherine’s surname was spelled Umphris.  As Katie’s next-to-youngest brother, Joseph, recalled his memories of his family and gave information to Tennessee genealogist, Mr. Will Parham, in 1931, he noted that Katie and John Hix moved from Union County to White County, Georgia.  They had several children.

          John and Kizziah Souther Humphries’ fourth child, Willis, born in 1839 in North Carolina, married May Johnson on October 14, 1866 in Union County, with Thompson Collins, Justice of the Peace, performing the ceremony.  By 1870, this young couple had moved to Cherokee County, North Carolina, where they were recorded as having two children, but the children’s ages indicate that Mary may have been married before she and Willis married, and she had two children, Elizabeth, 11 in 1870, and Hugh, 9.  They were listed, however, under the last name Humphries.  Joseph Humphries in 1931 stated that his brother Willis moved west to Arkansas where he “was killed” (no indication of whether his death was by accident or confrontation).  Willis Humphries’ wife and children moved on to Texas after his death and settled there.

<>          We will continue the account of John and Kizziah Humphries’ remaining nine children in a subsequent article.  This family provided an example of the migrations that occurred in the mountain regions of North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee in the 1800’s.  Nearly always, moves came because the head-of-household was looking for better opportunities for his family.  It is interesting that the surname Humphries (with its various spellings, Humphreys, Humphrey, Humfries, Umphries, Umphres) is Welch in origin and is from “Hun” meaning “bear cub,” plus the suffix “frid” meaning peace.  In the 9th century, the Bishop of Therouanne, named Hunfrid, was named a saint, known for his peace-keeping skills.  He was very popular among the Norman settlers of England.  In 1854, Blanche and Edward Humphries settled in Virginia.  They may have been ancestors of John Humphries who married Kizziah Souther in Burke County, NC in 1831.  The Humphries coat-of-arms motto is “L’homme vrai aime sons pays,” and, translated, means “The true man loves his country.” 


c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published August 25, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA.  Reprinted by permission.  All rights reserved.

[Ethelene Dyer Jones is a retired educator, freelance writer, poet, and historian.  She may be reached at e-mail; phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708 Cedarwood Road, Milledgeville, GA 31061-2411.]

Updated August 26, 2011

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