Major Lewis Easter, The Patriarch of the Monroe County Easters

This is an excerpt from The Journal of Monroe County History of Mississippi Volume XXI, 1995. Published by the Monroe County Historical Society.

Major Lewis Easter, The Patriarch of the Monroe County Easters

by Meige Bronson Easter *

William Easter, great-grandfather of Major Lewis Easter, came to Surrey County, Virginia 20 July 1663 as an indentured servant. He married Mary, and they were the proud parents of mine children: Thomas, Frances, Mary, Jocomin, John, William, Samuel, Abraham, and James. After living in America for 69 years, William died in 1732.

William Easter by his will left his estate to be divided between his widow and children. Apparently Mary did not properly file the will; and since she had children that were very young and since the estate was of small value, the court ordered that the house and one third of the remaining portion would be disposed of by justices to make sure the children were properly cared for.

On the petition of Thomas Easter, a son of William Easter, the court ordered that Thomas Grant who married the widow Eify Docodon became the guardian of the young children. The court on the 4th of December, 1734 ordered that Thomas Grant be given five pounds for keeping the late William Easter's three small children (James Easter and Mary being two of these children) for the previous year. This money was to be deducted out of the decedents' estate of sufficient. Thomas obliged himself to keep these three children until they were fit to be bound out.

James must have been about two years old when his father died. The penniless son of an indentured servant, James became a wealthy farmer. By 26 August 1765 James had acquired 2,115 acres of land in Lunenburg County, Virginia including 683 acres granted by King George II for the sum of 40 shilling. He received 1087 acres in the fertile Broad River Valley of Wilkers and Elbert County, Georgia as bounty land for fighting with the Virginia line in the War of the Revolution.

As was customary before his death he gave land to his married daughters and his sons William Thompson and Booker Burton, and his will documented these gifts. The tract of land on which the James Easter family lived was given to his wife Sarah to live on for the rest of her life. All of the young unmarried children were to be raised and schooled by Sarah using the part of Estate left to her.

Lewis Easter Left Fatherless at Age Nine

From James Easter's Will, we learn the names of his nine daughters (Mary Ann, Elizabeth, Dolly, Patty Aycock, Tabby Napier, Lotty, Sophia, Tere and Marjary) and his four sons (William Thompson, Booker, Burton, Lewis and Champion). Lewis Easter received two slaves named Caleb and Bet, and two other slaves to be divided between him and John, Champion, Sophia, and Tere, plus one feather bed, one horse, bridle and saddle, two cows with calves and one sow with pigs. Born around 1782, Lewis was 9 and Champion was 6 when their father James died.

Lewis grew up in the area of Wilkes and Elbert Counties of Georgia. He married Elizabeth Neal of Virginia in October of 1802. Of his eight Children, seven were born in Georgia. Jasper M. Easter was born ca1822 in Alabama. That, Lewis did own some land in Georgia, is shown by the announcement found in the Georgia Journal issue of October 17, 1810.

Collectors Sales

"Will be sold on Saturday the 29th of December next in the town of Clinton, between the usual hours, the following tracts of land or so much thereof as will be sufficient to pay the tax due thereon, and cost: 101 1/4 acres of land on Cedar Creek in Jones County, granted to W. Barnett, given in by Lewis Easter, tax due $1:08:9."

Lewis Easter Serves in the War of 1812 and the Creek Indian Wars

Lewis joined the army and served during the Creek Indian Wars and the War of 1812. Probably the strangest war in United States history, the War of 1812 could well be named the War of Faulty Communication. Two days before war was declared by Congress, the British Government had stated that it would repeal the laws which were the chief excuse for fighting. If there had been telegraphed communication with Europe, the war probably would not have been fought. Speedy communication would also have prevented the Battle of New Orleans fought fifteen days after a treaty of peace had been signed. Stranger still, the war for freedom of the Seas began with the invasion of Canada, and the treaty of peace which ended the war settled none of the issues over which it had supposedly been fought. Furthermore, the chief U.S. complaint against the British was interference with shipping; but the great shipping section of the U.S., New England, bitterly opposed the idea of going to war. The demand for the war came chiefly from the West and South, Although these sections were really not hurt by British naval policy.

In addition, both sides claimed the victory in the War of 1812. The whole struggle involved a confused mass of contradiction which must be explained before we can understand why the democratic United States sided with Napoleon I, the French dictator, in a struggle for world power.1

Lewis Easter served as Captain of the Second Company Lan's Regiment in the Georgia Militia in the War with Great Britain declared by the United States Congress on June 18, 1812. He also served as Captain in the 3rd Regiment (Colonel Ezekiel Wimberly's) of the Georgia Militia in the year 1814. (The Treaty of Ghent officially ending this war was ratified on February 17, 1815.) He volunteered for this War at the town of Clinton, Georgia, Jones County, in 1814, and was active in service until honorably discharged at Darian, Georgia, 8 March 1815.

The Creek Indian wars were struggles between the white man and the Creek Indians over the rich lands in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Tecumseh had stirred up the Creek Indians who attacked Ft. Mims (close to Mobile, Alabama) and massacred several hundred settlers. Panic seized the pioneers scattered across the southern frontier. Using the battle-cry, "Remember Ft. Mims," Andrew Jackson rallied a force of militiamen. They broke the back of the Creek Indian Nation at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on the Tallapoosa River in East Central Alabama.2

Lewis Easter, son of James Easter, served as a Private in the Creek Indian War under Captain Joseph Howard in the First Regiment of the Georgia Militia under Colonel Harris. He volunteered at the town of Clinton, Georgia, and continued in actual service for the term of six months, being honorably discharged at Ft. Hawkins, Georgia in March, 1813.

The issue of July 13, 1814 of the Georgia Journal reveals the following.

"To persons wishing to acquire military knowledge . . . An experience of a number of years has taught the people in general that the present mode of disciplining the Militia does not answer the purpose for which it was intended . . . We have likewise found from a small experiment of encamping, that this is the only means to warrant strict discipline. A number of citizens of this county . . . have agreed to encamp at the Camp-meeting ground (Jones County) Allen Green's for one week . . . where they intend to observe the order and discipline now used in the service . . . (signed) Lewis Easter, Capt. Samuel W. Langston, Lieut. (original spelling used)"

On September 22, 1815, Lieutenant Easter, the paymaster of the 8th Infantry U.S., paid the administrator of the estate of the late Private John Patterson $63.25, the balance of the deceased soldier's pay.3

Sometime between his selling land in Georgia in 1817 and the Monroe County Census of 1830, Lewis moved his family to Mississippi. Since his youngest son Jasper was born in Alabama around 1822, he may have stopped off for a while there. Perhaps for a time he joined his brother Champion who was living in Madison County Alabama as early as 1814.

The Monroe County Census of 1830 lists two Easter families. Lewis Easter was identified as being present with five male children and one female child. Born around 1778, his wife Elizabeth Neal Easter, was about 52 at the time; he was around 49. The three males listed between ages 10 - 15 would have been Oscar F. who was around 13, Alson E. who was around 12, and Jasper who was around 8 or 9 years of age. Champion was about 18 years old and Madison ws about 17. Clarissa, who was 20 at the time, was born around 1810, and as far as can be determined, she never married. Also living with the family at the time was a female slave between 24 and 36 years of age.

The Lewis Easter Family
Major Lewis I. Easter born ca1782, Elbert County, Ga, occupation Soldier\Farmer, married Elizabeth Neal Oct-1802, in ga, born ca1778, va, died Monroe County, Ms. Lewis died 23-Aug-1851, Monroe county, Ms.4 I.Elbert Jefferson Easter born ca1800, Georgia, occupation Farmer, married (1) Mary Ann married (2) Elizabeth Grubbs, 23-Apr-1850, in Monroe County Ms, born ca1820, SC, died Monroe County, Ms. Elbert Jefferson died Monroe County, Ms. II.Madison Jones Easter born ca1800, Ga, occupation Farmer, died 13-May-1894, Monroe County, Ms. Never married "Jones" died 13-May-1894, buried Easter Cemetery III.Micajah "Mac" W. Easter born ca1805, Georgia, married Catherine Howard, 06-Feb-1838, in Monroe Co., Ms. Mac sold his land sometime before the 1850 Census and moved to Itasca, Tx. IV.Alson (Alcon) E. Easter born ca1805, Ga, occupation Farmer, married Muad "Amanda" Neeland, 28-Sep-1847, in Monroe Co., Ms, born 08-Jun-1829, SC, died 15-Apr-1881, Monroe Co., Ms, buried Easter Cemetery. Alson died 06-Nov- 1895, Monroe County, Ms, buried Easter Cemetery. V.Clarissa Easter born ca1810, Ga. Never married. VI.Champion A. Easter born ca1812, Ga, occupation Farmer, married Margaret Neeland, 25-Nov-1841, born ca1824, SC, died ca1894, Monroe Co.,Ms. Champion died ca1896, Monroe County, Ms. VII.Oscar F. Easter born ca1817, Georgia, occupation Farmer, married Charity, born ca1820, Tn. Oscar died Monroe County, Ms. VIII.Jasper M. Easter born ca1822, Al, occupation Farmer, married Sarah Catherine King, 09-Nov-1843, in Monroe Co., Ms, born ca1824, SC. Jasper died 26-Jan-1874 in Hill County, Tx.

Monroe County Deed Book III, p.91 throws a little more light on the Lewis Easter family at this time.

"Stephen Harman to Lewis Easter, Savelia Ann Gideon, an orphan girl about at 5 years of age, until she is 18 yeats old to be fed, clothed and taught ordinary business of family Domestic Labor and Services." Dated 9 June 1832.

Children of Lewis Easter who were not mentioned in the 1830 census were Micajah or "Mac" who was about 25 at the time and Elbert Jefferson who was about 30. Elbert Jefferson had married Mary Ann at this time because their oldest daughter Teresa was born around 1830.

Also present in the 1830 Census was David Easter who was between 50 and 60 years of age. In his family was a boy between 10 and 15 years, a young man between 20 and 30 years of age. He also had a female slave under 10 years. At this time the relationship between David Easter and Lewis is not known. David is not mentioned in the census a decade later.

Like the rest of the early settlers who came west in the cloth covered wagons, the Easters were hard pressed the first few years. The first major task was to clear off the wooded areas and plant crops. Once crops were planted, then a shelter for the family would be built. The earliest shelter would be a hand-hewn log building with a rock chimney stacked with mud. Another room would be added later and would be connected to the original room with a breezeway. As time went by and the pioneer made more money in his crops, windows, mantels, fancy doors and porches were added.

Major Lewis Easter became known far and wide as "the Colonel". He was a gentleman farmer, and left the hard work of his farm to his boys. This practice was undoubtedly practiced through his grandson Buckner's day.

Lewis's sons seem to have purchased land before their father ever obtained the deed to any property. Alson Easter purchased land for his family 22 February 1834; followed by Micajah Easter 26 February 1835. His sons began to buy up government land in Sections 10 through 17 in Township 14, Range 17 West of Monroe County. Elbert Jefferson Easter deeded Monroe County land to his son Lewis I Easter on 7 October 1837. This deed was also signed by his wife Mary Ann Easter. Lewis Easter was literally "Master of all he surveyed", and farmed extensively wherever the land pleased him in those early days of 1830 and 1840.

Among the evidence that he was an actual Colonel (rather than the one rank lower of Major) is the following letter kept by one of his descendants and the obituary of Henry L. Easter quoted later in the book. Mollie Easter Jones gave Mrs. Miriam Baker Apperson, granddaughter of Andrew Jackson Easter, the following letter written in "1838". However, Andrew Jackson Easter had the monument to Major Lewis Easter put up in the Easter Cemetery. The reader will have to draw his or her own conclusion as to the actual rank of Lewis Easter.

"Colonel Easter Sir: I have detailed you a member of a Brigade Court Martial to be holden in the town of Hamilton on Friday the fifth day of August next to assess fines on field officers of regiments and to heat appeals ordered . . . missing . . . where you are ordered . . . missing . . . attendance . . . missing . . . honor to be . . . missing . . . your old . . . missing
Cocke Brg.
Brg, 1, Mississippi Militia

Lewis Easter had won his "laurels"in the Creek Indian War and the War of 1812, and now he was content to live a farmer's life surrounded by his wife, Elizabeth Neal, a Virginian, his sons and daughter Clarissa. Field after field of white cotton, easily grown in the fresh loamy soil were a beautiful sight to his passing years in sunny Monroe County. The lack of education, and even the many hardships he endured were accepted. Although the had roamed from Elbert County, Georgia, down to Jones County, Georgia, thence to many places in both the Creek Indian War, and the War with Great Britain, he was a last content to settle down to the life of the "Good Earth". Ho more blazing of wagon trails, mo more camping out at night with his large family and young wife, and mo more questions as to where he would settle. He had at last found peace in Monroe County.

Natives of Monroe County called that area "Easter Town". Easter Town, named thus because his sons chose to buy up land there and because by 1850 their offspring began to swell out of all bounds. The Easter name came to be as plentiful as the cotton and sugar cane grown in their sections. Easter Valley Road in Greenwood Springs remains today as a testimony to the influence of the Easters in the community.

On 13 December 1850, Lewis Easter signed a document before the acting Justice of the Peace, George Gray, to begin the process for his application for a Bounty Land Grant. At that time he was 68 years of age.

In order to receive Bounty Land for his services in the Creek Indian Was, and in the War with Great Britain, Major Lewis Easter was required to file a sworn document notarized by the Justice of the Peace in Monroe County, Mississippi. These sworn documents contain the only information we have concerning his enlistment time.

In his petition to the United States Government, Lewis Easter also presented the testimony of those who would vouch for him.

David Funderburk stated that he was in the same Company and Regiment as Lewis Easter in both these wars, and knew him well. This was no coincidence, as the Funderburks were friends of the Ester family for years. The Funderburks came from Georgia along with many others who left Jones and Elbert Counties, Georgia, in heavy, cloth-covered wagons bringing their large families and all their worldly goods. Later Eugenia Funderburk would marry Buckner Easter.

George Gray stated that he was a very close friend of Elizabeth and Lewis Easter, having known them over a period of twenty years or more in Monroe County.

John Wise was also a close friend and neighbor of the Easters. He stated that he was a "near neighbor" of the Lewis Easter family for over twenty years. Small wonder that in the years that followed their settlement in Monroe County, the Easters, the Funderburks and the Wises had children that would later intermarry and the families would become even closer. (A saying in Aberdeen today is, "You'd best not say anything bad about anybody around these parts because they will probably be kin to the one yu are speaking to".)

George Gray, the Justice of the Peace also stated that he has known Lewis and Elizabeth Easter for twenty years. On 3 May 1853, Elizabeth made further request that the land warrant be issued in two 80 acre scrips rather than one 160 acre scrip. She said that there was not 160 acres to locate it on and having it divided would add to the value of it by fifty percent.

SignatureSignature
Elizabeth EasterLewis Easter

Later on 31 April 1853, Elizabeth Easter, aged about seventy-five, came before the same Justice of the Peace, bearing the Bounty Land Warrant number 9035 which was issued to Lewis Ester on 8 October 1851. Elizabeth was bringing the warrant because Lewis Easter had died before the said warrant was issued. She testified that she married Lewis in Georgia, some time in October in 1802, and that lewis died at their residence in Monroe County on 23 August 1851. She further stated that she is still a widow and requested the bounty land to which she was entitled. Apparently Elizabeth died before the 1870 Census.

Major Lewis Easter's bachelor son, Madison Jones Easter, who was called "Jones", stayed on the land that was originally his father's.5 In the Monroe County, Mississippi courthouse is a deed from Madison Jones to his nephew John Barnyan Easter. From this deed, we can locate the place where Lewis Easter lived and farmed. In the 1880 Census, Madison Jones listed as "James", is living with the John B. Easter family.

"Lots nos. 2 and 5.1 and five and fifty acres off the north end of the west half (w/a) of the northwest quarter (n.w. 1/4) of section (15) fifteen and fifty acres off the north end of the east half (e) of the north west N.W. 1/4 of section (16) all in Township fourteen (14) Range seventeen (17) West containing by estimation (223) two hundred and twenty three acres to the same more or less"

Lewis Easter's descendants have spread far and wide across these United States and around the world, But they have not forgotten their roots in lovely Monroe County. Last year 56 families from eight different states made their way there to the 2nd Easter Family Reunion in recent years. Their occupations are no longer farming, but range from minister/missionaries, pipe- fitters, or engineers to forward weapon controllers with the USAF; but the strength and determination exemplified in the early Easter pioneers is still visible today in Easter men and women.

(A picture of The Bounty Land Scrip that Elizabeth returned to request two 80 acre scrips. Obtained from the Archive in Jackson, Mississippi.)




*Meige Bronson Easter was born in 1943 in Tallapoosa County, Alabama. She is a graduate of Jacksonville State University, and currently a student at Bethany Theological Seminary. In 1965 she married D.H. Easter, Jr. They have one child, Mack, who is stationed in Germany. D.H. is an evangelist and the Director of the Good Sheperd Baptist Mission. Meige worked as an English teacher for 15 years.

1 Julius W. Pratt, "War of 1812", The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 21 (Chicago, Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, 1977), p.26.

2 Wayne C. Temple, "Indian Wars", The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 10 (Chicago, Field Enterprises Education corporation, 1977), pp.144 & 147.

3 Elbert County, Georgia, Will Book K 1812-1816, Returns of Administrators and Guardians, p.227.

4 The information contained in this family history has been obtained from census records, wills, marriage bonds, family history forms, and books listed in the bibliography.

5 From a letter written by Mrs. Miriam Apperson. Her information came from her mother.


This page was last updated on Tuesday, 16-Dec-2014 14:09:39 MST

Thanks to ROOTSWEB for Server Space and a great deal of support! Help support them in their mission to make massive amounts of genealogical data available to us!


Chris, Dawn and Courtney Jackson
psychosop@gmail.com

Copyright 1999 - 2014 by Chris, Dawn and Courtney Jackson - All Rights Reserved