JOSEPH FLOWERS (1790 to around 1878)
Written by Rebecca Sellars for the Madison Genealogy Society
Sometime before 1840, Joseph Flowers and his wife Charity Spurlock arrived in what was known in the census records as Middle Florida, Madison, Florida Territory. Like many of the Madison pioneers, Joseph was born in South Carolina and spent some time in Georgia. Joseph, who was born around 1790, married Charity in 1917 in Laurens County, Georgia.
By 1850, when census takers began recording names in the family, 8 children were living in the house, and the census taker reported that all were born in Florida. James was born in 1830, Elizabeth in 1832, Susan (also called Loraney?) in 1836, Joseph in 1839, Benjamin in 1840, Jesse in 1842, Henry in 1843, and Mary in 1844. By the 1860 census, another child, Amanda had arrived in 1851. It appears that Shadric, born 1820 in Georgia, and Ephraim, born 1819 also in Georgia were older sons, not listed in the household in 1850; Shadric was living with the Hartridge family and Ephraim was living with the Dewey family. John probably was another son, who married Nancy Dukes in 1848. Don’t know if Joseph had two daughters named Elizabeth , but an Elizabeth Flowers married Henry Dewey in 1843, so possibly Ephraim was living with his sister in 1850. In the 1870 census, another daughter, Nettie O., was living with her mother, Charity.
Joseph and his wife Charity both lived until sometime after 1870, when he was around 80 years old. A planter, in 1860 the value of Joseph’s estate was $1400.
Shadric may have had a daughter; he married Ann, and in 1880, was living in Bradford County with Ann and 5 year old Genie. Ephraim apparently did not marry. In the 1870 census, John and Nancy had Mary E.; in 1880, John and Nancy lived in Hamburg. Don’t know what happened to James or Henry. So Joseph left descendants through 3 sons: Joseph, Benjamin, and Jesse. Loreny apparently did not marry. She was living with her sister? Elizabeth Dewey in 1870, who had married Henry Dewey in 1843.
Records suggest that Joseph married Rebecca Rykard in 1850 They had the following children: William H., Simon P., Margarete H., Thomas J., and Vachael H. Joseph must have died around age 25; Rebecca is listed as the head of the household from 1860 to 1900. Rebecca is buried in Ebenezer Cemetery, and her headstone says that she was born 16 June, 1833 and died 29 October, 1908.
Married to Mary Ann Lewis, Benjamin had the following children: Alice, Benjamin, Elizabeth L., Richard Henry, Daniel, and Jennie. Benjamin fought in the Civil War, and was wounded five times in one battle. Benjamin and Mary Ann raised their family in Hamburg. According to his headstone at Ebenezer Cemetery, he was born 21 April, 1836 and died 13 June, 1912.
Jesse married Lurany (Lorena), and the couple had the following children: Joel (born 1868), Henry D. (1870), Jesse Russell (1873), John T. (1876), David Hunter (1879), Julia (1882), Maggie M. (1885), Addie E. (1887), and Carrie E. (1888).
In the Civil War, Jesse enlisted in Monticello in 1861 in Company I, Florida 1st infantry Regiment. He was described as 6 ‘tall, and as having a dark complexion, dark hair and dark eyes. In Ebenezer Cemetery, where Jesse was buried, his headstone tells us that he was born 27 April, 1838 and died 27 April, 1889.
Of Joseph, Jr. and Rebecca’s children: William H., Simon P., Margarete H., Thomas J., and Vachael H., we were able to trace the following: Vachael married Ida, whose parents, according to one of the family trees on Ancestry, were Louisa and William Benjamin Cave. It appears that they had all girls: Ada M.,( born 1886) who married Thomas Hart in 1902; Molly R. ( 1887) married Luther Williams, 1910; Carrie B., (1890); Janey T. (1890), who married Robert Pridgeon in 1905; and Gussie I. ( 1892). Vachael and Ida remained in the Hamburg area. They were both buried in Ebenezer Cemetery. Vachael’s headstone gives the following dates: born 11 December 1860; died 21 August 1925. Ida’s headstone reads 30 January 1867—6 June 1948.
We were unable to locate any information about William H., except that he was born 12 Oct 1852 and died 1 Oct 1889 and buried in Ebenezer Cemetery. We also found that Simon P. was born Nov. 13, 1854 and was buried Jan 21, 1897, according to his headstone at Ebenezer Cemetery. Thomas J. also was buried at Ebenezer Cemetery, with his headstone inscribed with his birth as 8 May 1858 and his death 5 June, 1889. It seems that neither William H., Simon P., nor Thomas J. married and had children.
Benjamin and Mary Ann seemed to have lived in and raised their family in the Hamburg area. Their daughter Alice married T. J. Hammer in 1905; (an Eliza Flowers married Bailey Flowers in 1887; we are not sure if this is Benjamin’s daughter, Lizzie;) Richard Henry, born around 1873, did not appear to marry and have children. Ephron Daniel married Isadora Bond in 1909. Dan and Isadora wound up in Pinellas County, with two children—Daniel R. and Georgia Bernard. Benjamin married Rachael L. and had the following children: Benjamin H., William J., Homer, Floyd, Ottis F., and Lillie M. Benjamin and Rachael moved to Brooks County.
Jesse and Lurany's children that we were able to trace were: Joel, Henry D., John T., David Hunter, Jesse Russell, Julia, Margaret M., Adeline E. and Carrie E. Julia married J. J. Flynn in 1902. Margaret M. married Sydney DeLoach in 1911; Adeline married John Frank Martin in 1918. Carrie married J. B. Hughey in 1909 and Theodore Loper in 1916. David Hunter married F. Katherine Scarborough; the couple did not appear to have children; it appears that they lived in Hardee, DeSoto, and Dade Counties and were buried at Ebenezer. David Hunter's headstone reads 14 February 1879 through 6 July 1937. Joel died in childhood.
Jesse and Luraney's son Henry married Amanda; the couple, in 1900, had Walter (born 1892); Etha (born 1894); and Allen (born 1899). They were living in Wakulla County. By 1910, they were living in Taylor County, and had Aline, (born 1900); Raymond, (born 1902), and John, (born 1904). In 1920, they were living in Holmes County and had added to their family, Ione, (born 1913). By 1930, Henry was back in Madison County, with daughter Etha and grandchildren Wilmer, Lester, and Maxine. Also in Madison, in the 1940 census, was Raymond W. Flowers, 38 years old, and living with his mother and father, Henry and Amanda.
Another son of Jesse and Luraney was Jesse Russell, who married Mrs. Rebecca Wilson in 1899. Jesse and Rebecca lived in the Hamburg area all of their lives, but didn’t appear to have any children. Jesse’s headstone, at Ebenezer Church, reads 16 March, 1873—27 February, 1944.
Although Joseph Flowers, who arrived in Madison County before 1840, had 12 or 13 children, by 1940, we can be sure of only one descendant in Madison County, John Thomas, son of Jesse and Lurany, born in 1875, who married Lula Williams in 1918. John T. and Lula had the following children: John T. (born in 1920); Jesse D., (born in 1921); Herbert, (born in 1922); Wyatt, (born in 1924); and Minnie R., (born in 1926). Most likely, John T. is buried at Ebenezer, with many of his ancestors.
There are some mysteries about Flowers descendants. William Henry Flowers, (1876-1943), married Edna Merritt in Madison County. He was born in Hamilton County, and raised his family mostly in Hamilton and Suwannee County. William Henry and Edna had the following children: Mary, (born around 1904); Cloe (born around 1908); Albert Cleavon (1909-1984); Collis, (born around 1911); Retis Clinton (1913- 1971); Charlie Hardy (1915-1971); and B. F. (born 1918). Some descendants of William Henry and Edna have lived in the Lee area for around a hundred years. We haven’t been able to figure out who William Henry’s parents were and would welcome any light that could be shined on this mystery.
Some real Madison Pioneers stories came up when researching Joseph Flowers. One of William Henry’s descendants told about hearing from his grandmother, who had heard from her grandmother, about having to flee to the stockade in Madison, where Four Freedoms Park is now located, to escape from Indian attacks. This grandmother also told about living in a log cabin, looking out the cracks in the wall, and watching Indians circling the cabin. She had a young baby, which she nursed, to keep the baby from crying.
Another question that hasn’t been answered is where Edwin Flowers came from. He was born around 1916 in Madison, and in 1940, lived in Madison; he married Janie Hicks in Madison in 1935. He is buried in Stonewall Cemetery in Lee. His father was Edwin Luther Flowers, born in Brooks County.
Many of the descendants of Joseph Flowers lived in Madison County in the Hamburg area, attended Ebenezer Church, raised their families, and were buried in Ebenezer Cemetery. Like other Madison Pioneer families, other descendants of Joseph Flowers moved on to form and be part of new communities. Those who remained left quite an impression in the Hamburg area of Madison County.
NOTE: A reader requested that the Flowers family Be featured in this column. We offer our apologies for any mistakes, and we welcome Flowers family input.
[Extracted from the Enterprise-Recorder, 22 Aug 2014]