Taylor County Family Stories

Taylor County Family Stories

Since so many Georgians moved westward in to Texas, check out "Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas," (1889). Scanned book
Written by W.G. Hill, March 5, 1926

                         TAYLOR COUNTY

If on earth there is a paradise
Where men neither serve nor sacrifice
I'd like to share its bounty, 
But since there is no such place
The earth doth hold upon its face
I'll be content in Taylor County.

No place of perfect joy and ease, 
No sudden wealth beyond the seas, 
No one to leave to me a bounty
On me my success depends
Me alone and not my friends
So I'll labor on in Taylor County

I know adversity here I'll meet
All my days will not be sweet, 
But here for me is a bounty, 
Health and plenty here I find
Hosts of friends, true and kind
And this is why I love Taylor County.   

Sketch of Robert Rutherford Howard and his wife,Mary Lou Flournoy
(Based on earlier data in family by Roberta Howard Rumble)

Robert Rutherford Howard was born in Columbus, Ga., Feb. 14, 1824, the son of John Harrison Howard and his wife Caroline Bostwick. His Aunt Eliza had married Robert Rutherford for whom he was apparently named. Nothing of his earlier life seems to be known to the present generation but it has been learned from Yale University that he was a student there 1840-1842. He served in the Mexican War being enlisted in the "Ga. Light Infantry of Muscogee Co." The first record I found was in White's Historical Documents or Collections, giving him the rank of Corporal but Daddy said he was a Capt. when it was over. As a child I remember his powder flask, canteen and Bowie knife, together, in a secretary drawer in the hall. My son, Robert Parks Rumble has the knife now.

Robert and Chess were John Harrison's only sons to marry. John and Troup died unmarried.

Two years after the war (Mexican), Robert married Mary Lou Flournoy, daughter of Gen. Thomas Flournoy and his wife Caroline Rogers of Eufaula, Ala. They bought a plantation of around a 1,000 acres on the Flint River near Reynolds, Ga. Many acres were in swampland and timber but enough were cleared to keep busy the "around 70" slaves they had. the farm had some buildings on it when purchased...frame house, barns, crib, smoke house, etc. They had plans drawn and some of the materials on hand for a more suitable house when the war broke out. With all iron needed for war, no orders could be filled. The house, delayed, was never to be built.

After the War a larger house was needed and Grandmother wasn't one to give up so easily. She eyed the big smokehouse - so much more that they now needed. They tore it down, added materials to those on hand and build a larger shelter. A 20x20 living room had a central fireplace in one wall which served to heat bedrooms that had a mutual corner fireplace and finished out a sort of square house. Dinig room and kitchen were separate building, not far from the house but apart on account of fire hazards. A porch across the rear of the bedrooms, a hall down one side of the house to connect front porch, one bedroom, living room and rear porch completed the simple plan. The house burned after they left the farm. Alberta Cason remembers seeing a doll house there papered with Confederate money, and enjoying the sunken flower garden. Big oak trees still mark the house site. [Note: One tree died in the 60's and was removed; the other oak that marks the spot is dead inside but still remains. Aug. 1997).

The plantation was on the River Road to Oglethorpe about 3 miles from Reynolds, where Roy Jones lives today. The graves in the family lot were moved to town when Grandfather died.[The road is currently called The John B. Gordon Road].

Our picture of Grandfather shows the brown Howard eyes and rather high forehead. The usual black-brown hair was by then white. A law library, flute and colored ivory chess men belonged to school days but were a memorable part of the days after the War.

With no transportation but horse or foot, no money to waste on lights, there were many gatherings around the fireplace or under the trees in the dusk. And tales of the story-telling, music loving Howard gatherings live in the memory of all the neighbors and family. The family of Gen. John B. Gordon lived a mile away...maybe a mile and a half. Grandpa played the flute, Cousin Warren was a fabulous player-by-ear of anything he ever heard once...on the piano, and Grandmother's piano had been retrieved from possessions scattered after the War. Troup, Chess, Hamp Howard were nearly of the same age, good companions for fishing, hunting or just talking. By the time Dad was involved he could play the guitar with a brace to hold a harmonica. And by the the hardest adjustments to make after the War had been made and his memoried are of the brighter spots.

There were three little girls in the home when the War reached the stage, in Ga., of calling out the Militia for defense. Grandpa was in the long "retrograde movement" from Chattanooga in Johnston's army. He was about 40 then. At the battle of New Hope Church he was shot in the ankle and invalided home. There he told of the directed preparations to hide in the swamp until he could walk again, at least. They didn't tell the negroes what they were planning and in the night let 3 flatboats drift downstream nearer Oglethorpe but into the swamp where there was an island he remembered. Aunt Fannie Eidson came to help with his care and that of the children. The two little girls, born 1853 and 1855 had died in infancy; arabella died 1863 aged 6, so Sallie was 14. Jennie about 6 when they were in the swamp. Betty was about 2. Alice was born 1865 ( and my father was born 1873) soon after their return to the plantation.

One day a Federal straggler, with a red rose in his mouth, stumbled on their camp. The panic-stricken women thought he was hurt and would retaliate bu taking Grandfather prisoner, at least. But he told them the War was over. They didn't believe it until he threw his brace of pistols over the end of the cot that night in Grandfather's tent. The next day they broke camp at daylight. After a short distance with them the stanger vanished, name and address still unknown. The baby was due in about a month. Imagine that haul up river.

Back at the plantation they tried to pick up the pieces. The house and some buildings were still there for an officer had stopped the private who stared a fire. Some of the $900 Law Library books had been replaced in boxes, others had been opened and syrup poured over the lot. Soldiers had driven horses, wading in syrup through the rugs and furniture. Some of the surviving articles were sideboard, a picture of John H. Howard, small desk, silver toureen, syllabub set and coffee pots, odd china, flute, Bible and trinkets. Most of the useful things were given to any negro nearby or burned.

Then they started over...Grandpa crippled for life, the ankle shattered and never set well, no field hands, 3 girls and a baby, no supplies. The slaves were replaced by occasional help, the 2 carriages by a wagon with chairs in it, and possessions traded for necessities. There was no law practice. Little by little the plantation, lunber and land were sold.

The garden was most important. Traps were set in the lower garden to catch rabbits destroying the plants, and persons warned away. A young house-girl, Mattie, disregarding the warning, put her hand into one. It was made for bears in the swamp and too strong for Grandmother to opem. She picked up the girl, trap and all and made her way to the quarters a half mile away for help.

Grandmother was a proud and resourceful person. As oldest daughter, she was hostess for her father who headed Richmond Academy, a military school for boys. She went to college in Alabama and was a pianist. She, too, was a brunette and tall and slender. When I lived in Louisville, Ky. I talked with Joe Pelham, Dad's chum. He said "when Mrs. Howard thought we were in mischief her eyes looked right through us. She sat as proud in that wagon as a queen." She had been gently reared, sent to college, married happily, expected a serene life. Her jewels had gone for supplies and if Grandfather was away from home she "met the situation". On one occasion, Grandmother discovered a man prowling while Grandpa was on jury duty. She snatched down the gun from over the door and ran after him. She missed the first shot and fired again when he jumped the fence. Only as she reached the spot did it occur to her she was holding an empty gun on a scared, maybe hurt, grown man. But he kept going and she returned across the moonlit field with no trouble. Contributed by: Beth Collins


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