Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Thomas Simpson Woodward

Before I knew that he was my first cousin 6 times removed, I had read and relished the "Woodward's Reminiscences of the Creek or Muscogee Indians" available here. His letters, recollections and information on his time among the Creek Indians are invaluable to many who research the lower creek indians. Since I research the Tensaw area, I have often referred to his writings.

Yet Thomas Simpson Woodward is my relative. His grandfather was Nehemiah Howard and his grandmother was Edith Ede Smith, the parents of my 5th great grandmother, Nancy Ann Howard, the wife of Elijah Owens. My 4th great grandfather John J. Owens speculated heavily on the land that opened up with the Cherokee land lotteries, and owned some of the first land in Russell County, where the family soon settled. Nancy Ann Howard Owens is buried there.

Some of the family remained in Columbus, Georgia, and some moved to Dallas County, Alabama where Thomas Simpson Woodward married in 1820 Sarah Ann Dubose, the mother of his three eldest children. By the late 1830's he had started a reputed relationship with Mary, a slave, and alleged mother of three children.

Thomas Woodward wrote of his relatives very little, yet it is the only insight into the family of which I also belong that exists. His cousin Clarissa Owens married James William Boykin, the ambassador of Indian Affairs for Georgia, but I don't recall any mention of him  in his letters. What he does write about was his grandfather's prejudice against his father, Thomas Woodward for being a descendant of Indians.

The Howards were among the earliest settlers in Georgia, prominent men, they owned plantations and slaves. Thomas was raised by an Aunt when his mother passed away, and mention of his attempts to obtain  his inheritance are in his correspondence, a feat I don't think he ever accomplished.

His correspondence which covers a wonderful period in the history of Alabama was never meant to be published, but thankfully someone saw the value and did. It is from his words, and the words of men like George Strother Gaines, Benjamin Hawkins, and Albert Pickett that we have first hand accounts of an important part of the history of Alabama.

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