DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Montgomery Nov. 27, 1918
Mrs. B.H. Sandlin,
My Dear Cousin:
I trust you will pardon me for taking the liberty of writing you. My son, John, who lives at Brewton in this state, visited me a short time ago, and showed me a letter he had received from you, enclosing the family tree of our family, and asking him if he was related, or was of the same family as your grandmother. I recognized the kinship as soon as I scanned it, and pointed out some errors.
Before proceeding to point them out to you, permit me to say that I am perhaps the senior member of the family now surviving. If Henry, Uncle Marshall's eldest son, is dead, I have a perfect right to set up the claim. I was born on the 21st of March, 1842, which places me now near the end of my seventy-seventh year. I remember distinctly the members of your family. When Uncle Haywood first moved to Louisiana, he made periodical visits to this state, on which occasions he was accompanied by all members of the family, including Aunt Mary. I remember your mother very well, and know when she married Mr. Murphy. I also remember when Cousin Nancy married Mr. Pickel. I do not remember that Uncle Haywood visited this state after the great war of 1861-5. Your Uncle John did pay us a visit after that event and spent some time here, returning to Louisiana. As you did not mention him I presume he is dead. I knew that your Uncle Henry was killed in battle during that tragic period of 1861-65. I note that you knew that my brother James was also killed, and that Judge, Uncle William's son was killed during the same period.
My grand Father, your great grand father was named John, simply, not John Wesley. He was born and named before the celebrated John Wesley the famous founder of Methodism, reached the zenith of his fame. My grand father was a great admirer of him, as they were contemporaneous. I am enclosing the family tree with such information as I have in my possession and remember. After the great war of over fifty years ago, Uncle LeRoy and Uncle Marshall paid us some visits. My grand mother Purifoy lived until 1875 and up to the time of her death there were occasional visits from them or some members of their families. Uncle LeRoy's son Francis has made several visits. I have occasionally met him at the Reunions of Confederate Veterans, as I attend most of these. By comparing notes, we have found that we both attended one or more such reunions without meeting.
As long as Grand Mother Purifoy lived, and through Uncle Wesley, we used to keep up with the kinfolks in Louisiana and Arkansas. But after they died the younger set seemed to get away from each other. As the older ones dropped out the tie seemed to weaken. Aunt Martha Hobdy has but one, possibly, two daughters living. If there are any of Uncle William's children alive, I do not know their location. Years ago, Osborne Henry moved to Texas and married and I presume has died. Not one of them in this state is alive. I do not know how many of Uncle LeRoy's children are living, John, the eldest, is dead out, left several boys. I think all of Uncle Marshall's first children are dead. Nancy married a man named Powell. I have heard that he was not very successful. John was last heard from in Colorado, but has not been heard from in a number of years. There are several thrifty men of Uncle Marshall's second lot, Ihave been told. They live in western Arkansas.
Of my father's nine children there were five alive when I last heard from them. Two were in Texas, and three in this state. I have one full brother and a half sister living in this state. You will note that I am the eldest. Brother Edmund, my youngest full brother, nearing the end of his seventy-third year, lives at Marion, in this state. One of his children, a daughter, lives in Texas; one, a son, lives in Arizona: one, a son, lives in Yazoo City, Miss. He has two married daughters living in this state. Of my eight children, one died in infancy, three died just as he reached maturity. I have four now living; a daughter in Texas: three sons in this state. I have a son named LeRoy. He has two married daughters. My daughter in Texas has nine living children; five sons and four daughters. Three sons in the army in France. I have four grand sons in the army.
Pardon me for a personal reference; but I see from your family tree that your family have no knowledge of my career, and perhaps a brief statement on that line will not be without interest to you. I have held several positions of honor and trust. Thirty-eight years ago I was elected Probate Judge of my county, Wilcox. served afterword in the legislature. In 1892, was elected state auditor; served four and a half years as such; served two appointments as examiner of accounts, eight years; served four years as state treasurer; am nearing the end of a four years term as secretary of state. When I complete my term in this office I will have served a little over twenty-eight years as an official, state and county, twenty years of which were in state offices. You will see by the enclosed card that I served approximately four years as a soldier of the Confederate states, and engaged in nearly half a hundred battles, great and small. Was wounded three times slightly. I think I hear you say mentally that I was extremely fortunate to get off so lightly. I walked home from Appomattox Court House, and as the bridges were all burned or otherwise destroyed, I had to wade or swim nearly all the streams between that point and my home.
My grand father Purifoy was born in Craven county, North Carolina. He moved from that state to Georgia about 110 years ago, accompanying his two elder brothers, William and Arrington. He was a boy or young man just grown. Seven of his children were born in Hancock county Georgia. He moved to Alabama between 1825 and 1828. Settled, first in Barbour county, and moved into the wilderness of Dallas county, near the northern edge of Wilcox, within three miles of Snow Hill, and cleared land and built his home, practically camping out until the houses were built. This was between 1830 and 1835. My grand father died before I was born. I was born in the Dallas county home in 1842. My father moved into Wilcox county, when I was about two years old, and I lived in that community, Snow Hill, until I moved to this city in 1892.
Very few of the Purifoy name live in the community of the old home. They seem to have been afflicted with the wander lust and have scattered broadcast. One of Uncle William's grand son's lives at Furman, which was Snow Hill, when your mother used to visit there, and is post master there. Snow Hill is now about two miles west of its former location. On of my nephews, Esten, Scott's son, lives at Camden, the county seat of Wilcox. His sister married a young lawyer at that place, named Miller. The latter was recently elected state senator from that county, which he will hold for four years.
Aunt Martha Hobdy died a few years ago at the ripe age of ninety-eight. She come near outliving all her children. Her descendents are scattered about in this state. Some of Uncle William's grand children are living in this city.
I may br making this letter so long that it may become a bore. I suppose, however, that you are not up on your kindred here, and have taken the liberty of going into details at the risk of becoming tedious.
It may be of interest to you to learn something of the history of our ancestors in North Carolina and Virginia.
It is a well established fact that our original ancestor, Captain Thomas Purifoy, reached America in 1613, about seven years after the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia. He settled in the tide-water section of Virginia, in Elizabeth county, and owned large landed estates. He had a place which he improved highly, having built a mansion of brick on it. This he called "Drayton", after the name of the English residence of the family which bore that name, and was owned by one of the name who held a baronetsy. It was supposed that the English branch of the family came from Normandy with William, the Conquorer. Captain Thomas Purifoy held the position of member of the house of Burgesses repeatedly. This was the colonial legislature of Virginia before it became a state. His son Thomas inherited his estate and died and left a widow and some children. She remarried, and her second husband cabbaged all the property and cast the children out. One of these wandered into North Carolina, and selected a location in Craven county, near the town of Newborne. From that point our ancestor, John Purifoy, came over a hundred years ago.
From that point I can hear of persons bearing the name that have scattered into other states, westward. Those bearing the name are now located in several different places in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia and Alabama, as well as Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas. I hear of them also in states of the northwest. Several Englishmen bearing the name have made reputations that are very creditable.
I wish you to remember me to your mother, Cousin Martha. Ask her if she remembers that, on one occasion, when the family visited Alabama, her father took back with him a pair of Pea-fowls and some little cedar trees. The writer remembers the incident very vividly, though it occurred more than sixty years ago. The family was stopping at my father's just before starting for home, and the fowls and cedar bushes were collected there and carried, on a wagon to the river fifteen miles away, where the family boarded a steamboat for Mobile, thence by steamer to New Orleans. Thence by steamer up the Washita river. Traveling then was slow and tedious. Now we get aboard a train and with no mishap, we reach our destination in short order. It looks as if travel will yet be by air-ship or air-plane. For over a year there has been a camp for the flyers in this vicinity, and we have been regaled with planes every day and sometimes many times a day. When our peace celebration took place there were over sixty flying over the city at one time. On several occasions, groupes of flyers have flown over and circled around at one time.
I wish you to remember me especially to your mother whom I met several times when we were children. I remember your Uncles, however, better than your mother and aunts. Fearing lest you become wearied, and trusting that what I have written may be of interest to you.
I am sincerely your cousin,