John Birdwell is one of my heroes and ancestors. John Birdwell led a very storied life. He is the son of George Birdwell and Mary L Looney Birdwell. His father was a Revolutionary War Patriot. He is likely one of yours, too, if your surnames include Allen, Looney, Harmon, Isbell, Murray, Birdwell, Gregory, Sparks, Lenz, and a myriad of others.
The featured image is where John Birdwell’s property was located in Mississippi Territory, later Madison County, Alabama. He owned property in Tennessee, and in the counties of Madison, Lawrence, Franklin County, and Fayette County, Alabama. He also owned property in Texas, Rusk County and possibly Nacogdoches County.
John Birdwell was born in the Bent of the James River (sound familiar Peebles family?) on 24 Sep 1770. He lived and owned property in the states of Tennessee, Alabama, and Texas. He died at Mt Enterprise, Rusk County, Texas on 16 Feb 1854 at the home of his son, Allen Birdwell. The account of his death is tragic.
The Birdwell descendants are eligible to join:
- First Families of Tennessee
- First Families of Alabama
- Daughters of the Republic of Texas
- Sons of the Republic of Texas
- Daughters of the American Revolution (#A098196)
- Sons of the American Revolution
- Colonial Dames of the XVII Century
He first came to Texas in 1838 by some accounts  , while one reference gives a date as early as 1835, he did not move permanently until 1842 after the death of his wife, Mary Allen Birdwell. His son, Col. Allen B. Birdwell, wrote in his own notebook ledger that he moved to Texas in 1842 and that his father John Birdwell lived with him in Nacogdoches County. John Birdwell was still living in Allen Birdwell’s household in Rusk County in the 1850 census. The Handbook Of Texas by the Texas State Historical Association, says: “Allen Birdwell’s father John may have moved to Nacogdoches County, Texas, in 1838, and Allen and his wife Lucinda (Ross) followed by 1842.” 
John Birdwell was in Houston on July 8, 1838, when he wrote a letter of recommendation for George Nixon which is preserved in the George Antonio Nixon manuscripts collection at the University of Texas Arlington 
A family history states that John Birdwell moved to Nacogdoches County in 1838 and “lived at Old North Church two years,” then moved twelve miles to Mt. Enterprise in what became Rusk County when Rusk was formed from part of Nacogdoches.
John Birdwell signed his will Jan. 24, 1854, and it was entered in Probate Court April 27, 1854.Will is provided as image in this narrative.
John Birdwell died Feb. 16, 1854. The estate included $1,400 cash and included slaves and possibly other property since Col. Allen B. Birdwell posted a $4,000 bond with the Rusk County Probate Court to serve as administrator of his father’s estate, a considerable bond in those days.
FIRST FAMILIES OF TENNESSEE Descendants of John and Mary Birdwell are eligible for membership in the First Families of Tennessee, First Families of Alabama, the Sons of the Republic of Texas, and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.
1770 John Birdwell and Mary Allen grew up in Sullivan County, N.C., which later became Sullivan County, Tennessee. They married and lived there several years before moving to Alabama.
1781 John Birdwell (born 1770 Virginia, died 1854 Texas) and wife Mary Allen… in 1781 were in Sullivan County, North Carolina (now Tennessee), 1809 Madison County, Alabama; 1819 Lawrence County, Alabama.
FIRST FAMILIES OF ALABAMA 1805 The Birdwells settled in Madison County, Alabama in 1805, where they were charter members of the Enon Baptist Church which later became First Baptist Church of Huntsville. John Birdwell was the first clerk. (Alabama Historical Society marker in Marshall County lists their daughter “Sarah Birdwell Isbell, one of the earliest settlers of Madison County, 1805.” His son Allen Birdwell stated in his ledger that his parents took him to Alabama in 1805, when he was three years old).
1808 “Birdwell Family Tree” by Velma Stovey Schonder, p. 59: “JHB thinks that JB was living in Madison Co., AL by 1808. He was one of the organizers and first clerk of The First Baptist Church in Huntsville, AL. …The church minutes for 6-1-1811 state that the church authorized Brethren Watkins, Pruet Brock, Birdwell and Powell to view a place for a meeting house (Dale Langston, from microfilm notes at Madison Co. Library Heritage Room, Huntsville). “JB is on the 1809 census Madison Co. Al/Ms Territory, p.7, with 2 males under 21, 1 male over 21, 6 females under 21 and 1 female over 21. According to JHB his last 4 children were born there, while his first 4 children married there.” Page 23 (different version, p.72): “John Birdwell…moved Tx 1838.”
1809 Enon Baptist Church Records (Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama), Sept. (2?), 1809:
1809 September (1st?) Saturday 1809. 1st The Church Met & after Prayer proceeded to Business– …5th The Church Appoints Brother Birdwell to Write the Association Letter & Bring the same to next meeting–
1810 Enon Baptist Church Records, Sept. 1, 1810: September 1st Saturday–1810 The Church met and after proceeded to business– 1st Opened a door for the reception of member– 2nd the church took up a reference from last meeting and laid it over till next meeting– 3rd The Church agree to delegate Bros. Hellums, Childress and Birdwell to The Association.
1818 Madison Co. DB E, p. 133 #500: item 500: dated 8-18-1818 Grantor, John & Mary Birdwell Grantee, George Oglethorpe Gilmer For the sum of $3300 Ind. SW/4 Sec. 18-2-E lying east of Briar Fork of Flint River, & 10 Ac. in 3/2 & 10 a. N/2 NW4 sec. 17-2-1E. Proven 11-3-1818 & DR (Pope) (Note: 10 a. in S/2) purchased by Birdwell from Joseph Powell. Witnessed by: Lewis B. Taliaferro, Jacob Pruett, and Levi Isbell.
1818 1818, Aug. 18 – Madison County, Alabama; John Birdwell and wife Mary deeded land to George. Oglethorpe Gilmer. Witnesses: Lewis B. Taliaferro, Jacob Pruitt, Levi Isbell. Levi Isbell was John and Mary Birdwell’s son-in-law.
1819 In January 1819 John and Mary Birdwell moved to Lawrence County, Alabama where they purchased large tracts of land and were also founders of this church,Birdwell Springs Baptist Church, which later changed its name to Enon Baptist Primitive Baptist Church. They were both established within the Mississippi Territory since Alabama was still a part of the native american nation and not yet a state.
The First 200 Years of the First Baptist Church of Huntsville [Alabama] gives the origin of that Enon Church as several years earlier: “All of Enon’s very first members were squatters since the government’s Nashville land office, which handled the sale of Madison County lands, did not even open for business in the Madison County area until August 1810, more than a year after Enon was established.
Page 3: “After having met in private homes for two years, the church in June 1811 appointed a committee —- William Watkins, Jack Prewit, Isaac Brock, John Birdwell, and Joseph Powell –‘to view a place for a meeting house.’ That led to the start of construction of a log building on the western bank of the Brier Fork of Flint River, a few hundred yards north of the present terminal of the North Huntsville Executive Airport. The small building, exact location unknown, was close to the river bank…, affording a convenient place for baptismal services. For some reason, perhaps a shortage of funds, construction was halted short of completion. Almost two years later, Feb. 6, 1813, a new committee was named, consisting mostly of the first group plus William Hellums, to complete the work, and while there was apparently no fanfare to herald its conclusion, the structure was finished and in 1815 did accommodate the second annual meeting of the Flint River Association. …”with regard to the squatter hypothesis, it is interesting to note that the providers of Enon’s one-acre lot, John Birdwell and Joseph Powell, did not themselves receive title to their jointly-held property until April 1814, the church construction having begun on their proffered land three years earlier. But things were ‘looser,’ less formal in those days.”
“A History of Early Settlement: Madison County Before Statehood,” The Huntsville Historical Review (2008) by the Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society provides this information of the church and its: “The closest meetinghouse was Enon Baptist Church on the Briar Fork of the Flint Reiver. Established in 1809, one of its three founders, and its first pastor, was a preacher who lived and owned two pieces of property in the region, John Canterbury. There is no evidence that he was a slaveholder, but the second Enon pastor, Richard Shackelford, was a major landowner who at his death had more than a dozen slaves. He was called as a pastor in 1815 and served until his death in 1823. Enon’s first meetinghouse was a lot building constructed in 1813 on the Briar Fork. (This is on land of the present Madison County Executive Airport.) “Joseph Powell and John Birdwell, charter members of the Enon Church, jointly owned the land adjacent to land owned by both Canterbury and Shackelford. The church building had been erected and in use for a year before Powell and Birdwell themselves received title to the property that they had provided to the church.”
1819 1st Saturday January 1819 (Jan.2) “John Birdwell and Mary his wife” were granted letter of dismissal from the Enon Church in Madison County on the first Saturday in January, Jan. 2, 1819. (ref., First Baptist Church Minutes, James K. Harrison, First Baptist Church History Committee.)
They moved to Lawrence County near Moulton and established a new church.
1819 “F.W. Helmbold, Curator of the Society, in his historical presentation, revealed the fact that the Enon church was constituted originally as Birdwell Springs Baptist Church on the third Monday in June (June 21), 1819.”
1820 The 1820 Federal Census Record reads: Lawrence County, AL.
- John Birdwell & wife over 21,
- 3 sons under 21,
- 6 daughters under 21.
The 1820 Federal Census Record in Franklin County, Alabama has John Birdwell listed there as well. He owned property in many places.
The 1820 Federal Census Record for Giles County, Tennessee lists a John Birdwell, but this one is John Birdwell’s nephew John (son of Robert) and family His nephew was probably the John Birdwell in Giles County, Tennessee.
1820 John Birdwell was assigned by an act of the Alabama legislature to review the Flint River in Cotaco County (later Morgan) Alabama, from its junction with the Tennessee to its main fork, to see if it was navigable.
3 Dec 1820 “On December 6, 1820, an act of the Alabama Legislature was approved which designated David Parker, Jonathan Burleson, and John Birdwell, or any two of them, to make a careful “review” of Flint River, from its mouth to the main fork therein, and report the practicability of its navigation, the distance examined, and the expense necessary to improve the river for navigation. On the 20th of December an act was approved to incorporate the Flint River Navigation Co. The incorporators were Fleming Jordan, George Taylor, James McCartney, John Sprowl, Stephen Pond, John P. Brown, John Grayson, Dial Perry, David Walker, Ebenezer Byram, Stephen McBroom, William Derrick, and David Cobb, and they were authorized to improve the navigation of the Flint River in Madison County, from Capt. Scott’s Mills to the Tennessee River. Section 2 of the act provided a penalty of $3 for each day a tree cut or felled into the stream so as to obstruct navigation was allowed to remain, the proceeds of such fine to be applied to the improvement of the river.” The Act is quoted in Alabama Genealogical Quarterly, vol. 1, p.216, and also the Alabama Genealogical Society, Inc., Magazine (1976) vol. 18, issue 1-4, p.38.
Owen, op. cit., p. 595: “It does not appear that much, if any, work was done under either of these acts. In any event, there was none of sufficient permanence to affect the navigation or other characteristics of the stream at the present time. References.—Acts, 1820.
1819 “Enon Church. This church is situated in Lawrence county, ten miles east of Moulton. It was originally called Birdwell’s Spring Church. It was one of the constituent members of the association. It was organized in July, 1819, on nine members, whose names are as follows: Stephen Penn, Mary Penn, John Birdwell, Mary Birdwell, Ezekiel Thomas, Jenny Thomas, George Keys, Elizabeth Keys, and Sarah Simpson.”
They left this church for a few years and helped organize Hopewell Church near Danville.
Page 169: “Hopewell Church, Morgan County. This church was received into the association in July 1825. It was constituted on the first Saturday in December, 1824. The presbytery was Elders Featherstone, Walden, Stephen Penn and John Birdwell. …We suppose it is the place where the church house now stands, about two and one-half miles east of Danville.”
SOME EARLY ALABAMA CHURCHES (ESTABLISHED BEFORE 1870) (1973) by Mabel Ponder Wilson, Dorothy Youngblood Woodyerd, Rosa Lee Busby, Daughters of the American Revolution Alabama Society, p. 95: “Organized in 1819, this church was first known as Birdwell’s Spring Church. The nine organizing members were Stephen Penn,…John and Mary Birdwell….”
Page 130: “Hopewell Baptist Church (located two and one-half miles east of Danville) Hopewell Baptist Church was constituted… l824, with the Presbytery composed of Elders Featherstone, Walden, Stephen Penn, and John Birdwell.”
‘LIFE AND LEGEND OF LAWRENCE COUNTY, ALABAMA’, by Dorothy Gentry (Tuscaloosa, 1962): “Enon, originally called Birdwell’s Spring Church, located ten miles east of Moulton was organized in July, 1819 on nine members, whose names were Stephen Penn, Mary Penn, John Birdwell, Mary Birdwell, Ezekiel Thomas, Jenny Thomas, George Keys, Elizabeth Keys and Sarah Simpson.”
1823 In October 1823, one William Birdwell (1766-1823), age 57, was executed at Moulton, Lawrence Co., AL. for the murder of Mr. Rhea. Thought to be the son of John Birdwell’s older brother Robert Birdwell (1751-1815) of Giles County, Tennessee. The two had had a dispute 10 years before.
1824 The Morgan Baptist Association: “One of the oldest churches in Morgan County, Hopewell was organized on the first Saturday in December 1824. It is mentioned in Hosea Holcombe’s 1840 A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists of Alabama. The presbytery was composed of Elders John Birdwell, Stephen Penn, Walden, and Featherstone. Charter members were Barkley Ballard, Polly Ballard, William Johnson, Sarah McDowell, Martha Rodgers, James Simmons, Stacy Simmons, Elizabeth Simmons, Polly Simmons, Solomon Simmons, Mary Simmons, Nicholas Gillentine Sr., Jane Gillentine, Richard L. Gillentine Jr., Martha Gillentine. Annie Gillentine, Gideon Spalden, and Nancy Spalden.” The first deacon was Nicholas Gillentine and the first clerk was William Johnson. The first recorded pastor was Henry W. Hodges in 1827. The church was located on land deeded to the church by William Johnson, “near the well of Brother Simmons” about two and one-half miles east of Danville, eight tenths of a mile south of what is now Highway 36, between Hartselle and Danville. The church was received into the Muscle Shoals Association in July, 1825.”
1828 Lexington (KY) REPORTER, July 23, 1828, p.1 contains a letter John Harris of Moulton, Lawrence Co, AL., to Andrew Jackson on the character of his late father John Harris, Justice of the Peace of Lawrence County. Column 1 cites “John Birdwell, Esq.” among those vouching for him. Column 5 is signed by John Birdwell, Allen Birdwell, and others.
John Birdwell received letter of dismission from Enon in 1842 when his wife Mary died and he moved to Texas. He was known to have visited Texas already by 1838 and probably made several other trips between Texas and Alabama.
Alabama Genealogical Society, Inc. magazine, Volume 21, Issue 1-2 (1958), (reissue? 1989) p. 24: “The First Meeting House. On Saturday, June 1, 1811, the church appointed the following committee ‘to view a place for a meeting house’: …John Birdwell and Joseph Powell.” p. 25: “…west bank of the Brier Fork of the Flint River, on a triangular piece of land about one acre in size. It was in the Northwest Quarter of Section 17, Township 2, Range 1 East of the prime meridian. This entire section (160) acres) was patented (or deeded) by the United States of America to John Birdwell and Joseph Powell…” p.26: “John Birdwell was the son of George Birdwell and Mary. John Birdwell was born in 1770 in Virginia. He married Mary Allen in Tennessee. Some of his children were born there. He moved to Mississippi Territory, Huntsville Meridian about 1805. According to the minutes of Huntsville First Baptist Church, his last Sunday as clerk was January 2, 1819. From there he moved to Lawrence County Alabama where he donated land and helped form the Birdwell Springs Baptist. About 1836 he moved to Fayette County, Alabama, then into Walker County, Alabama. Around 1845, after the death of his wife, he moved with his son, Col. Allen Birdwell, to Rusk County, Texas, where he died in March 1854. He has many descendants in Texas.”
FOOTPRINTS (Ft. Worth Genealogical Society, 1979), vol. 23-23, p. 107 says John Birdwell moved to Rusk Co, Texas in 1845.
His will is published in Alabama Genealogical Society Magazine (Birmingham, AL: 1985), Vol. 19, Issue 1. (Reissue 1989?)
Isbell Country: Genealogy of an Isbell Family by Odessa Morrow Isbell (2000), pp. 11, 19-20: “John Birdwell was in Alabama by 1805; settling north of Huntsville in 1805. He owned land in Sullivan Co., Tennessee and kept two homes so he could homestead Alabama property. He came to Texas in 1842-43 with son Col. Allen Birdwell. …”
1842 George W. Birdwell administered the estate of Robert Bell estate in 1842 in Rusk County, Texas (one book states incorrectly it was John Birdwell). Robert Bell (27 May 1797 TN-13 June 1842 Rusk Co, Tx) was former sheriff of Cherokee County, Alabama. His wife Belinda Scott (b.4 Jun 1795 TN d. 1842) also died in 1842 not long after her husband.
Some Mallorys and Bells (Greenville, Tx.: 1950) by James Robert Mallory, pp. 21-22: “Robert Bell…sent down to Cherokee County, Alabama, for John Birdwell, who was County Judge when Robert Bell was Sheriff.” (Correction: Robert Bell was sheriff of Cherokee County when John Birdwell’s nephew George, son of Joseph Birdwell, was county judge there.) Page 22: “The three families, Bell, Gray and Birdwell came out to Texas together, arriving in 1839. Bell’s headright joined that of Houston….” The author recites his grandfather’s descriptions of Sam Houston visiting the Bell home when he was a young boy. p.26: “John Birdwell, who had come to Texas with Robert and Belinda Bell and had been very close to the Bell family since their days in Alabama, was made Administrator of the Estate of Bell, at Bell’s dying request. Creditors immediately asked for an accounting and Birdwell auctioned off the farm and all the personal belongings of the family for benefit of the creditors.” p.27: “Birdwell, who had taken a headright and then bought up several more from disgruntled settlers, saw that it was impracticable for the Howeths to try to take care of all these children, so he ordered that the two boys, James, fifteen, and William, eleven, be bound out to Robert Gray, who had married Cynthia Scott, a sister of Belinda Scott Bell.”
1854 Birdwell family records show that John Birdwell died Feb. 16, 1854, at age 83 years, 4 months, 23 days, in the home of his son, Col. Allen Birdwell, and was buried in the family cemetery on the site. A fairly large number of the Birdwell family was buried in the cemetery, along with some related families and a number of slaves. After the farm had passed out of the Birdwell family, the later owners rather callously plowed the cemetery under. Trees marking some of the graves were cut down, while the gravestones were thrown into a ditch and covered. A partial list of those known to be buried there was supplied by Mrs. Bohannon of Mt. Enterprise, and a descendant of the Birdwell family, and printed. Some burials were recorded in the Birdwell family bible and appear in the book The Mitchells of Linn Flat by Gwenneth Mitchell, including the notation that John Birdwell’s grave is there.
Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Texas, 1854-1857, by A.S. Ruthven, Grand Secretary and Past Grand Master, vol. II (1857), p.242: Mount Enterprise Lodge, No. 60. p.243: Past Masters. Master Masons. …Allen Birdwell, John Birdwell
The Mitchells of Linn Flat, by Gwenneth Aenone Marshall Mitchell (Austin, 1981), refers to the Birdwell Cemetery on pp. 174, 202, 214 and 215. Page 174: John Birdwell, his grandson John C. Birdwell, and John A. Birdwell Jr. were buried in a row, side by side, “at the Birdwell family burying ground on the Allen Birdwell place, not far from the family residence near Orton Creek,” three miles from Mt. Enterprise. On p. 202: “The cemetery has been abandoned for some years and pine trees grew over it. Some twenty years ago the ground was smoothed over and seeded in range grass.” From Gwenneth Aenone Marshall Mitchell (posted 10-29-1999 on Birdwell List, on Rootsweb.com): “Rusk Co., Texas History by the Rusk Co. Historical Society, 1982: page 112: John Birdwell, “old great-grandpap”, John C., his grandson, and John Birdwell (Old Uncle John) are all 3 buried in a row side by side. John C. in the middle, Grandpap on the southside, and Uncle John on the north side. Lucinda Ross Birdwell was most likely the first buried there.
1809 census shows 2 sons and 6 daughters born 1788-1809.
1820 The Federal Census record for Lawrence County, Alabama shows:
- John Birdwell & wife over 21
- 3 sons under 21, 6 daughters under 21
1830 Federal Census for Lawrence County, Alabama shows:
- John Birdwell & wife,
- 1 son (John),
- 2 daughters 15-19 (Lucinda & Ann),
- 1 dau 5-9 (Talitha).
1840 census shows all children gone from home.
The combined censuses of 1809, 1820 and 1830 show these children:
- 1 m b1788-1809 Moses 1796
- 1 m 1788-1809 Allen 1802
- 1 f Nancy 1795
- 2 f Eliz 1797
- 3 f Sarah 1799
- 4 f ?Mary Polly c1800-1804?
- 5 f Susan c1805-7
- 6 f Jane 1807
- 1 male 15-19 (1811-1815) John 1814
- 1 f 15-19 (1811-1815) Lucinda 1812
- 1 f 15-19 (1811-1815) Ann 1813
- 1 f 5-9 (1821-1825) Talitha 1821
Children of John Birdwell and Mary Allen:
- 1 Nancy Birdwell b Nov. 3, 1795 married James S. Romine
- 2 Moses Birdwell b 1796 married .1815 Sarah Duncan
- 3 Elizabeth Birdwell b Dec.31, 1797 (Jan. 1, 1800?) married 1813 James Isbell
- 4 Sarah H. Birdwell b Feb 14, 1799 married Levi Isbell
- 5 Allen B. Birdwell b Mar 22, 1802
- 6 ? Mary/Polly Birdwell c1800-5 (on some lists), (died young?)*
- 7 Jane Birdwell 1806- m. Samuel Neal (Jane Birdwell m. 10/27/1825 Samuel Neal (10/29/1825 recorded Lawrence Co. Marriage Book 1A, p.226; Gandrud, p.27); lived there 1830 w/ 1 son under 5. Lived in Panola Co., MS in 1850.
- 8 Susan Birdwell 1807- married Joel S Watkins
- 9 John Alexander Birdwell 1812-1871
- 10 Lucinda Birdwell 1809-1811 married James M. Vaught
- 11 Ann Birdwell Feb. 15, 1813-1868 married James B. Fowler
- 12 Son bc1816 (1810-20) on 1820 census, d 1820-30*
- 13 Talitha R. Birdwell June 18, 1821 married James Smyley Wright
- It is possible that one of the married daughters and her husband (Romine or Isbell?) was living with them in the 1820 census and there was no son who died young. However, both James Romine and Levi Isbell were born well before 1800 and do not fit the 1810-20 age bracket.
Some lists of children online include these:
- 1 Mary Birdwell 1800-1888 m1 John McCormack,2Josiah Phelps. This Mary was the daughter of John, son of Robert Birdwell
- 2 George William Birdwell 1811-1831, some lists show him as another son, and some say died at Moulton, Lawrence Co., AL. (confusing him with Moses?), but he was not in the household in the 1830 census.
- 3 Matilda Birdwell Jan 20, 1816-d 1895 Bristol, Ellis Co, Tx is on some lists as another daughter, but note that Talitha R. Birdwell’s name is incorrectly transcribed as Matilda by some researchers. The Matilda Birdwell of Bristol, Tx. was the daughter of John Birdwell of Giles Co., Tn.; granddaughter of Robert and Ellen (Sanford) Birdwell, Robert being the brother of John Birdwell who married Mary Allen. Matilda married in Giles CO., TN. 12 Dec 1834 Neal C. Dever (1802-1878).
- 4 Judge Thomas Gaines Birdwell b1804 Giles Co, TN was not a son. He was a son of John Birdwell’s nephew John (son of Robert), and a brother of Mary and Matilda above. Interestingly, his son Thomas J. Birdwell’s daughter Pearl married John William Culver, son of Susannah (Culver) Isbell Culver, widow of Zach Isbell, son of Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell Conway.
- 5 William McElree Birdwell 1837-1906 was a grandson (son of John A.), rather than a son as some lists incorrectly show.
1912 “For My Children: Memoir of Rev. George Preston Birdwell” (1912): “My grandfather, John Birdwell,…died at my father’s house near Mt. Enterprise, Texas, at the age of 84 years. He was never sick in his life, never had a chill nor a fever. There were nine boys in the family, and all died between the ages of 84 and 90. My father, Colonel Allen Birdwell, was born in West Tennessee…moved with his parents to North Alabama and settled about one mile from Raleville in Lawrence County…. In 1838 he came to Texas to look at the country. He was well pleased and in 1841, he moved to Texas. He settled first near Old North Church in Nacogdoches County. I think he made two crops there before he bought his home, three miles south of Mt. Enterprise, in Rusk County. This was all Nacogdoches County then, in Rusk County. This was all Nacogdoches County then….”
Family links: Parents:
- George Birdwell (1721 – 1780)
- Mary Birdwell (1742 – 1811)
- Mary Allen Birdwell (1780 – 1840)
- Nancy Birdwell Romine (1795 – 1885)
- Moses Birdwell (1796 – 1832)
- Sarah H. Birdwell Isbell (1799 – 1876)
- Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell Conway (1800 – 1872)
- Allen B. Birdwell (1802 – 1893)
- Susan Birdwell Watkins (1809 – 1888)
- Lucinda Birdwell Vaught (1811 – 1873)
- John Alexander Birdwell (1812 – 1871)
- Ann Birdwell Fowler (1813 – 1868)
- Talitha R. Birdwell Wright (1821 – 1905)
- Robert Birdwell (1745 – 1815)
- George Birdwell (1760 – 1816)
- Benjamin Birdwell (1765 – 1840)
- Moses Birdwell (1769 – 1848)
- John Birdwell (1770 – 1854)
- William Birdwell (1772 – ____)
- Find A Grave Memorial# 50518424
- Find A Grave Memorial# 50518424
- Find A Grave Memorial# 50518424
- The Mitchells of Linn Flat by Gwenneth A.M. Mitchell, pp. 184, 201
- Col. Allen B. Birdwell Journal
- Jennifer Eckel, “BIRDWELL, ALLEN,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2015. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association
- Special Collections, George Nixon Collection, Box GA122, Document 00189
- Rusk County Deed Book N-O (1860), p. 367
- FOOTPRINTS, vol. 23-24 (Ft. Worth: Fort Worth Genealogical Society, 1979), p. 107:
- Madison County, Alabama Deed Books A-E, 1810-1819, by Dorothy Scott Johnson (1976)
- Madison County, Alabama Deed Book E Page 133
- The First 200 Years of the First Baptist Church of Huntsville by Joseph M. Jones, p. 2
- The First 200 Years of the First Baptist Church of Huntsville by Joseph M. Jones, p. 2
- A History of Early Settlement: Madison County Before Statehood, The Huntsville Historical Review (2008) by the Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society, p. 69
- “A Dream Come True, The Story of Madison County and Incidentally of Alabama and the United States, Vol. 1, James Record. (Huntsville: Hicklin County, 1970), pp. 39-40.
- The Alabama Baptist Historian (1970), p.20
- History of Morgan County, Alabama by Knox, p. 54
- History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, published 1921 by Thomas McAdory Owen and Marie Bankhead Owen page 595
- Betts, Early history of Huntsville, by Betts, 1916, pp. 33, 70
- History of the Muscle Shoals Baptist Association by Rev. Josephus Shackelford, 1891, p. 165
- Find A Grave Memorial# 50518424
- Birdwell Family, East Texas Families, pp.233-34, 279-80
|and later the cemetery where he was buried was ploughed under.Some family members give his name as John Alexander Birdwell and his birth year as 1795 while others say 1812 and call him John Birdwell Jr. It is not believed his father had the middle name of Alexander, however. He was born 1812 in the Mississippi Territory in what would become Madison County, Alabama.He was murdered 19 December 1871 at Linn Flatt in Nacogdoches County, Texas performing his duty as Constable. According to his niece Addie Birdwell’s bible, Uncle John’s body was brought 12 miles from Linn Flat to be interred in the family cemetery at Mt. Enterprise.”The Mitchells of Linn Flat,” by Gweneth A. Marshall Mitchell (1981), page 114, referenced John Birdwell, Jr., dying in the notorious Linn Flat Raid and stated that John Birdwell, Sr., John Birdwell, Jr., and John Calhoun Birdwell were buried in a row in the family graveyard in Mt. Enterprise, Rusk County, Texas. (the Allen Birdwell place). The burial site was pastureland in the 1960s-80s and no markers are there to identify it, as written in Adeline Birdwell’s Bible; also, that “Uncle John had married Mrs. Elizabeth Johnson–1859. He was murdered 1871.”A little background is needed to better flavor the gruesomeness of the end of our John Birdwell’s life. The topography of that area of the Republic of Texas was naturally beautiful. It was made up of gently rolling hills and beautiful small valleys. The soil was known as ‘red’ while there was also sanded soil and rich black soil. The white population came mainly from the deeply southern states; many came from Alabama. The state was noted as the ‘sickly’ state as the sanitary conditions and the change in climate caused many illnesses that the settlers struggled in coping with and had a hard time in general. That moniker was a strike against the area and likely caused some to change their minds about relocating there. Those hailing from the southern states often heard their fathers speak of ‘the hatful of quinine’ they took before leaving their Alabama birthplace for Texas. Where they settled in Linn Flat was one of the prettiest plateaus
in East Texas. From the description, it seems that it looked a lot like the area in northern Alabama where they had lived previously. OurBirdwells were some of the first settlers of the Republic of Texas and ofNacogdoches County as they followed not too long afterthe the first Americans arrived in 1880. Allen BBirdwell who was a State Representative was likely the first to venture to the faraway Republic of Texas. He represented Rusk County in the Texas state legislature, Nov 7, 1853 – Nov 5, 1855 (District 22), 5th legislature session, and Nov 2, 1863 – Aug 6, 1866 (District 13), 10th legislative session. It is seems he came around 1831, liked it and went back to his Alabama homeland to return circa 1842 with his fatherJohnBirdwell, brother JohnBirdwell and sister LucindaBirdwellVaught. It is noted by some researchers that JohnBirdwell the father may have been in the Republic of Texas in the 1830; could it have been he was traveling with son AllenBirdwell on his first visit? They were certainly there before the first Constitution that was formulated in 1185; and just after Davy Crockett’s arrival in Texas in 1833. The Linn Flat county jail was constructed after their arrival as it wasbuilt in 1850 at a cost of $900.
The farmer who claimed ownership of the land piled all the grave markers in the ditch nearby and ploughed up the cemetery in the 1960s. Today the cemetery has reportedly been planted in pine trees to further obliterate it. John Birdwell Jr. was the father of James Andrew Birdwell (1835-1914), father of Henry W. Birdwell, father of Clara Emma Birdwell who married John Alfred Collier and was the mother of singer, dancer and actress Ann Miller (April 12, 1923 – January 22, 2004). The following is one account of the gruesome death of our John Birdwell posted by Ray Isbell, original source is not known:
|Following is the text from Chapter VII of The Book of Nacogdoches County, Texas entitled “The Linn Flat Raid” pages 35-46.
“Constable John Birdwell, 59, was survived by his wife and 10 children.”
Marilla Jane Birdwell 1855-1887
William J Birdwell 1859-1910
Mary Elizabeth Birdwell Shirley 1862-1937
that is what the brick walls in my Murray, Peebles, Gregory, Casey, and other family lines are even to this date. I was heartened this week by finding out about one of my Peebles family ancestors. It was staring me right in the face for several years, but I just did not connect the dots.
In past years I have lived where my Manus, Casey, and Peebles line, or factions of them, have lived. The most recent discovery was Sarah Elizabeth Reesanna Peebles. She was the youngest known daughter of my great-great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side, John M Peebles. Even with DNA testing and verifying that our John M Peebles and descendants were the offspring of Captain David Peebles and Elspet Mackie McKee Peebles there remains a brick wall.
Captain David Peebles was the progenitor of our line of Peebles in America. He was born in Peebles-shire Scotland. Much to my chagrin, however, I have not connected a father to our John M Peebles, although he is believed to be Robert Peebles born circa 1750. DNA testing has verified that we are related to John Pinckney Peebles, Lewis Peebles, Jesse Peebles, Thomas H Peebles, Thomas Washington Peebles and his family from Mooresville in Limestone County, Alabama. We are also related to the Peebles line in Columbia, Tennessee.
Needless to say I was shocked to find Sarah Elizabeth Reesanna Peebles lived almost within walking distance of me when I lived in the Monrovia community, in Madison County. And she is buried at Fowlkes Cemetery on Capshaw Road in Monrovia. Also buried at Fowlkes Cemetery in Monrovia are: William Oliver Peoples Peebles born 24 Jul 1853 in Marion County, Alabama and died 24 Oct 1935 in Monrovia in Madison County, Alabama. He also had daughters who were buried in Fowlkes Cemetery in Monrovia, Madison County, Alabama. They were: Evie Drucilla People Holman 1895 – 1966; Velma Nettie Peoples 1896 – 1935; Exie Idora Meris Peoples Daniel 1899 – 1990.
William Oliver Peeples was the son of John Pinckney Peebles. John Pinckney Peebles was the son of Isham, who himself was the son of the elder Isham. And Isham the elder was the son of William (of Pitt) Peebles of North Carolina. The surname is variously spelled Peebles, Peeples, Peoples and possibly other variants. The surname that was the correct name for our forefathers was Peebles, towit Captain David Peebles. I think I feel very close to finding the clue to our John M Peebles’ parents; these are all proven lines though DNA, now just to connect the dots.
He and Sarah Elizabeth Shirley, 1861 – 1948, had the following known children in addition to the ones listed above as buried in Fowlkes Cemetery: Martha Jerrity Peoples born 1882, John William Pinckney Peoples 1884 – 1976, Hassie Mary Lou Peoples 1886 – 1977, Arthur Clanton Peoples born 1889, Lillie B Peoples 1891 – 1962, Evie Drucilla Peoples 1895 – 1966, Velma Nettie Peoples 1896 – 1935, Exie Idora Merdis Peoples 1899 – 1990, Bertha Elsie Irene Peoples 1902 – 1977.
Children buried in other cemeteries in Madison County, Alabama include: Sallie Sillie B Peoples and it appears that she died at the age of 102; Martha Jerrity Peoples Brown whose death date is not known but is likely buried in Marion County, Alabama; John William Pinckney Peoples 09 Nov 1884 in Lamar County, Alabama and died 04 May 1976 in Toney, Madison County, Alabama; Hassie Mary Lou Peoples Wisham born 27 Oct 1886 in Pelham, Shelby County, Alabama and died 08 Sep 1977 in Torrance, Los Angeles, California; Arthur Clanton Peoples born 18 Jun 1889 in Pikeville, Marion County, Alabama and likely died there; Lillie B Peoples Seymour born 28 Dec 1891 in Alabama and died 11 Mar 1962in either Flint, Morgan County, Alabama or Madison County, Alabama; and Bertha Elsie Irene Peoples Seymour, who may have also married a Hallmark. She was born 16 Jul 1902 in Tupelo, Mississippi (possibly) and died 12 Mar 1977 in Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama.
Now the question begs to be answered why does Sarah Elizabeth Reesanna Peoples live in the same community as William Oliver Peoples? All the others spell their surname as Peebles, but not Sarah, or whoever documents her in records. That is a puzzle yet today. She was born in Giles County, Tennessee to John M Peebles and Elizabeth Octavia Laughlin McLaughlan. John M and Elizabeth Octavia were married in 1833 in Limestone County, Alabama as they lived just over the state line. Sarah Elizabeth Reesanna Peoples appears to never have married; or at least no record has been found as of yet. Her children bear the surname of Peoples, which is her maiden name. John M Peebles and Elizabeth Octavia Laughlin Peebles, 1813 – 1870, had the following known children: Emeline H Peebles Sylvester born 1836; Anna Menefee Peebles born 1838; Katherine E Peebles born 1839; Priscilla Laughlin Peebles Lee 1840 – 1913; George Henry Peebles, Grandpa Dick, 1842 – 1928; William M Peebles 1842 – 1891; Mary Peebles born 1846; Wynona Satoka Toke or Nona Peebles Woodard 1859 – 1916; Sarah Elizabeth Reesanna Peebles Peoples 1861 – 1948; and Margaret Maggie Peebles 1870.
Some researchers believe that a Pleasant Mullins was the father of her children; but which Pleasant Mullins remains a mystery. And as of yet no marriage record has been found; but that is not at all unusual. Her known children are: James Franklin Pete Peoples 1873 – 1953 and Ella Birdie Peoples who first married a Malone and then a Beard, 1877-1960. James Franklin Peoples was sometimes referred to as Pete and sometimes referred to as Frank.
Ella Birdie Peoples Beard is buried at Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama. The photos below are courtesy of Jim Bauman and are posted on Find-A-Grave on their respective memorial pages.
|Birth:||Dec. 2, 1877
|Death:||Oct. 18, 1960
Daughter of Pleasant Mullins and Sarah Elizabeth (Sally)Peoples.Wife of William Thomas Malone,mother of Franklin Malone and Minnie Odell Malone Beard of this marriage. Wife of Benjamin Franklin Beard, mother of John Wesley Beard, Florence Beard Perry, William James Belton Beard, Beatrice Beard McBride, Eleanor Beard Taylor. Grandmother of Roy Belton Beard (Jim T.Bauman) and many others.