With Hard Work, Family History Reappears
Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas


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With hard work, family history reappears
Published May 7, 2007

By Gelene Simpson

Isn’t it strange how you sometimes move to an area where you don’t think you have any connection to anyone? You even spend several years there, never discovering even a thread of kinship. Then suddenly one day you find in a book, which a relative wrote in another state, a considerable list of ancestors who have been buried there since the 1800s.

This is what happened to my brother, sister, and me. I was looking in the Grange Hall Cemetery Book in the Liz Gillispie Genealogy Room in the Corsicana Public Library one day while Liz was still alive and volunteering there. In it I discovered some names that were in my ancestor book about the Chapmans and Powes. You see, there was a man named David Hooks Williams, who married a woman named Catherine Thrashley Powe, who was the daughter of Sarah Harry Chapman and Henry Pegues Powe. Sarah Harry Chapman was our connection to these people.

I was led to this cemetery book by an article on pages 126-127 of “Vol. 6 of Navarro County History; Women of Navarro County,” published in 1991 by the Navarro County Historical Society. The article gave a picture and a history of Catherine Thrashley Powe Williams and was written by Nelda Breithaupt Tarrer. Liz asked me if I knew the Breithaupts, but I didn’t at that time.

Liz could see that I was really excited to read about this Catherine, who was named for Catherine Edwards and Thrashley Chapman. They were my ancestors, too! In fact, Abel Edwards, was my DAR ancestor. He was born in 1739 in Delaware Welch Tract and died in 1793 at Society Hill, S.C. He was a deacon in the Welch Neck Church and a member of St. David Society. He lived on the north side of Cedar Creek near the crossing of the often-mentioned Cheraw and Darlington Railroad. Records show that he contributed to the support of the poor in Boston and left money to the Welch Neck Church when he died.

“Thrashley” had been a helpful name in tracing this ancestry. Some people think it came from the surname “Streshley.” It was very popular and appeared in the female names as well, as you can see in Catherine’s name. Thrashley Chapman was also unanimously elected to the St. David Society, and his name is subscribed to the constitutional rules.

The Catherine who was his descendant lived in Meridian Miss., in 1860 with her husband David. Their son Sidney Allen was born in 1863 just a few weeks after David joined the Confederate Army and was sent to Virginia in Co. K., 13th Mississippi Regiment in the Army of Northern Virginia. By then the war was going on in earnest.

As did most women, Catherine had to fend for herself and five children. Taking care of the farm and the house was the daily duty of the Southern women. David was captured at the Battle of Knoxville and was taken to prison at Rock Island, Ill., until he took the oath of allegiance and came home in June of 1865.

After the war, he brought his wife and seven living children to Cryer Creek, in Navarro County, where they resumed their farm life, and the last child Thomas Ormond Williams was born in 1877. Their daughter Clara Cornelia Williams married Joe W. Kilpatrick. They are buried at Grange Hall Cemetery also as are Aderson Thornton Williams, their son and his wife Genevie Watson Williams. David and Catherine’s other sons Sidney Allen Williams, Erasmus Hill Williams, and William Henry Williams are also found there. But Edward Johnston Williams, their son born in Alabama, died in infancy and was buried there.

It is a very strange feeling to look at their gravestones and to think that they have stood there in the Grange Hall Cemetery all these years and I didn’t even know it.

I am very thankful for the members of the Navarro County Historical Society for the hard work they have put into the set of Navarro County history books and I salute the volunteers of the Navarro County Genealogical Society and their librarian for keeping alive the tradition of Liz Gillispie, whose spirit, I am convinced, will always inspire their number.

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Edward L. Williams