Green Berry Talbot, The Preacher

Green Berry Talbot, The Preacher

The facts and stories presented on this page are believed to be accurate.  Nevertheless, many are undocumented and contain the folklore repeated to family members over many years.  We request your comments and suggestions and we earnestly solicit your corrections.

Green Berry Talbot, fifth child of Green Berry Talbot and Mary Tate Anthony, was born February 12, 1823 in Morgan County, Georgia.  He died February 20, 1901 in Calhoun County, Arkansas at the age of 78.  His life was filled with adventure, hardship, a bloody Civil War, loving children and grandchildren, and much more.  But through it all, he remained faithful to the God in whom he trusted and preached the Gospel for almost fifty years.  He organized many churches and served as the first pastor for most of them.

Although born in Morgan County, Georgia, he moved with his family to Meriwhether County while still a child and then to Chambers County, Alabama when he was not yet a teenager.  He grew into manhood in Chambers County and there at the age of 19, he married Mary Ellen Brawner, age 17, the oldest daughter of Tilmon Monroe Brawner and Sarah Higginbotham.  The Brawner and Talbot families came to Chambers County at the same time and settled on tracts of land adjoining each other in 1835.  Chambers County was one of ten counties established by the Alabama General Assembly in 1832 after the Creek Cession.  Although the Creek Cession ended the wars officially, sporadic fighting continued until after 1836 when the Federal Government relocated the Indians to Oklahoma.

Mary Ellen and Green Berry Talbot remained in Alabama for  three years after their marriage and two children, Sarah Ann and Elizabeth Anthony,  were born to them.  Presumably,  they were farmers because that was the predominant occupation but little is known about their early married life.  Nevertheless, in late 1846 or early 1847, Mary Ellen and Green Berry left Chambers County and moved more than 500 miles west to what was then Moro Township, Dallas County, Arkansas.  Calhoun County was formed in 1850 and Moro Township became a part of Calhoun.  They were accompanied by their two small children and Mary Ellen's parents, Tilmon and Sarah Brawner and the Brawner children.  The Brawner children included Jane Elizabeth, Sarah E., Hesseba, Louisa Frances, and Tilmon Monroe, Jr.  It appears that Larkin and Mary Grant Talbot Selman, Green Berry's older sister, accompanied them or if not in the actual traveling party joined them in Arkansas soon afterward.  The same was true for James and Martha Phillips Talbot Gardner, a younger sister of Green Berry's.  There may have been other families in the traveling party as well.  Many of the first settlers in Moro Township came from the same area in Alabama and some from just across the state line into eastern Georgia..

The Talbots and the Brawners acquired land in Moro Township under the provisions of an 1820 Act of Congress which authorized land purchase for $1.25 per acre.  Later that price was reduced and finally land was given away if one lived on it for a sufficient time.  The price the Talbots  paid for the land or if they paid at all is not known.  In fact, Green Berry wrote to Warren Barnes in Alabama in 1856 telling him the land could be acquired for fifty cents and acre.

In the 1850 Census for Moro Township, Dallas County, Arkansas, Green B. Talbot, age 27, Mary E., age 24, Sarah A., age 7, Elizabeth, age 5, and William Milton, age 3, are listed.  He listed his occupation as a farmer and the value of his real estate at $500.00. In 1850, Tilmon Brawner owned 17 slaves and Green Berry Talbot owned two.  The 17 slaves owned by Brawner made him one of the largest slave owners in Calhoun County and the age ranges would have made them the most valuable.  In 1860, G. B. Talbot owned seven slaves ranging in ages from 36 to age 2.  Four of the seven were males and three were females, three were mid 30's in age and four were 14 or less.  Three were seven years of age or younger.  There were two slave houses on the property.    Brawner also owned seven slaves in 1860, ten fewer than a decade earlier.

1850 Census for Dallas County, Arkansas, Moro Township, page 
Name Age Sex Col Occup Real Val Birth Place
Green Berry Talbot 27 M W Farmer 500 Georgia
Mary E. Talbot 24 F W     Georgia
Sarah A. Talbot 7 F W     Alabama
Elizabeth Talbot 5 F W     Alabama
William Talbot 3 M W     Arkansas

On August 10, 1847, seventeen people organized the Bethesda Baptist Church at Chambersville.  Green Talbot and Tilmon Brawner were the first organizers listed.  Although Green Berry had been an active churchman all his life as had his father, grandfather, and great grandfather before him, it was not until 1854 that he was ordained as a minister of the Gospel.  He became the first pastor of the church at Chambersville, organized the Shady Grove Church at Fordyce which later became the First Baptist Church and served as the first pastor there as well.  During the course of his long and productive ministry, he organized numerous churches throughout south Arkansas.

In 1854, Green Berry Talbot was ordained to preach by the Bethesda Baptist Church in Chambersville.  Immediately following that service, he was asked to be the pastor.  In 1855, he organized the Church at Fordyce and later the Church at Thornton.

In January 1856, Green Berry wrote a letter to his brother-in-law, Warren Riley Barnes, husband of Elizabeth Hale Talbot, advising him of the availability of cheap land and pointing out the higher quality of the bottom land in Arkansas in comparison to the "worn out" land in Alabama.  Elizabeth and Warren did not make the move to Arkansas although he wrote to them again in August 1857 urging them to join him.   Elizabeth and Warren did leave Alabama in 1859 and moved to Pittsburg, Texas.  Whether they stopped by to visit Green Berry and the two other Talbot sisters living in Arkansas is not known.

By 1860, Green Berry Talbot had established himself in his adopted State with a good farm valued at $4,000.00 and personal property valued at $6,000.00.  While these values may appear low by 21st Century valuations, they were quite handsome for 1860.  His family had grown to six children with the two older girls approaching maturity.  Green Berry's age on August 11, 1860, the date the Census was taken, showed 34 but he was, in fact, 37 years of age.  Other than the obvious "census taker error", there are no reasons for the discrepancy.  But his economic accomplishments were quite impressive for a man of his age.  

1860 Census for Calhoun County, Arkansas, Moro Township, page 625
Name Age Sex Col Occup Real Val Pers Val BP
G. B. Talbot 34 M W 4000 6000 Georgia
Mary 35 F W Georgia
Sarah 17 F W Alabama
Elizabeth 15 F W Alabama
William 12 M W Arkansas
James 9 M W Arkansas
Adoniram 5 M W Arkansas
Monroe 5/12 M W Arkansas

When the Civil War came to Arkansas, Green Berry did not join the fight.  He would have been about 38 or 39 when the battles began.  Family legends hold that he stayed home to defend the settlement from marauders and "greybacks" who pillaged in the wake of both armies.  It was said that the looters tried to get revenge on him but he escaped to Louisiana although he was wounded in the attempt.  Supposedly, he remained in Louisiana until it was safe to return.   In a letter that he wrote to his sister, Elizabeth Hale Talbot Barnes, dated August 10, 1863, he describes some of the conditions that he faced.  The  text of that letter follows:

"Dear Sister,   I received your letter of the 21 of July in due time and I can assure you it afforded me a great deal of satisfaction for it had been so long since I heard from you.  I can not express to you my feelings upon receiving it.  It brought to my mind the days of our youth and the many trials and difficultys that I have passed through since then.  During the last year I was in the employment of the Confederacy and had many serious difficultys to pass through.  I had to do with wicked and sinful men that was opposed to our Confederacy.  My life was threatened to be taken and my property destroyed but we have got clear of those men.  Some of them have been taken and hung.  Some have been sent to the army in Virginia.  Others have gone to the federals.  I have nothing interesting to wright you.  We have been expecting the federals to pay us a visit but they have not come yet.  Elizabeth you seem to entertain great fear of the Negros in Texas and that you desired to get near some of your relatives.  Dear sister, my attachment to you is great as it ever was and rest you assured I will do every thing that is in my power for your protection and comfort if you think you would be safer and better satisfied here.  I will give you all the assistance that I can.  I do not entertain any fear as to the Negros here but we are expecting the federals to overrun our country.  Times are very hard here now and that, of course, would make them a great deal harder.  Provisions are very high, cows and calves are selling from $50.00 to $100.00, good horses from $500.00 to $1000.00 and to add to all of this, our hogs have nearly all died with cholera.  The people here will have to do without meat another year.  Some have lost their last hog.  Upon an average, the people will not have one fourth enough meat to do them.  If you do decide to come and need any assistance, let me know what kind of assistance you need.  Do not be any way backward in letting me know what kind of help you would need for fear of troubling me for I would be the gladest in the world to have you clost to me.  Now it may be that the federals may cut off all communications from here [to] there.  If this should be the case, you must let me know your situation by the first possible chance.

"I saw sister Mary and Martha yesterday and the day before at Church.  They are all well and said they would be very glad for you to come.  Martha said that she had written three letters to you and had never received an answer.  You must wright to me again when you receive this.  Mary sends her love and esteem to you.  Give my love to all your children though they have never seen me and accept the same for yourself and may the Lord bless you and them together with your husband and may He grant that the time may soon come when he shall soon be permitted to return home and enjoy peace and quietude.  This leaves us in good health and I trust it will find you and yours enjoying similar blessings.  I close by subscribing myself, your affectionate brother untill death

G. B. Talbot
(The original of this letter is in the possession of Beverly Barnes Edwards, Great Grand Daughter of Elizabeth Hale Talbot Barnes.)

Although he failed to identify the specific nature of the employment that he had with the Confederacy, he does make clear his sympathy to the Confederate cause and his support of it.  His father-in-law, Tilmon Brawner, aged 60 when the War started, volunteered in the 9th Arkansas Infantry and was wounded at Shiloh.  His brother-in-law, Tilmon Brawner, Jr. volunteered in the 1st Arkansas Cavalry and served throughout the Civil War. He was captured and later exchanged and finally was killed in 1865 in South Carolina.  The details of Green Berry's activities during the Civil War remain cloaked in mystery.

At any rate, Green Berry Talbot was back in Arkansas by the time the 1870 Census was taken for he was listed in Jackson Township, Calhoun County, Arkansas along with his wife, and the five younger children.  Sarah Ann Talbot had married John Ware Abernethy in 1867 and was listed in his household.  Elizabeth Anthony Talbot had married Sterling V. Wood in March of 1870 and was listed with him.  His son, William Milton had married Lizzie Craven and was living next door.   Green Berry Talbot listed his occupation as a farmer and gave the value of his real estate at $3,000.00 and his personal property at $650.00.  Considering the price of land, this would suggest a sizable acreage.

Probably in late 1871 or early 1872, Green Berry Talbot bought a section of land in Jackson Township for his father and Green Berry Talbot, Senior, moved from Tallapoosa County, Alabama to Jackson Township, Calhoun County, Arkansas.  Talbot, Senior, brought with him his wife, Mary Tate Anthony Talbot, Green Talbot Sikes and John Preston Sikes, the orphaned children of Emmily Greer Talbot Sikes, Sarah Barnes and her four fatherless children, and Caroline America Talbot Tims and her three fatherless children.  The Talbot party consisted of thirteen souls ranging in ages from 80 to 12.  For a complete story of this migration, see the Green Berry Talbot Story at this web site.

Sometime after 1872, Green Berry Talbot, Jr. left Jackson Township and returned to the area near Chambersville where he and the Brawners had first settled.  He continued to preach but he was active in politics too,  being elected Surveyor of Calhoun County for the term beginning in 1872 and ending in 1874.  He was elected to the House of Representative of the State Arkansas for the 1885 session of the General Assembly.  He was quite active in the life of the community and engaged in commercial interests as well as his work as a minister.   He enjoyed the respect and admiration of his neighbors and was often honored by them with election to a number of public offices.

In 1881, Elizabeth Anthony Talbot Wood, the wife of Sterling V. Wood and the second child of Green Berry died at the age of 36.  She left three children.  In 1882, the oldest child, Sarah Ann Talbot Abernathy, died leaving eight children, all boys, ranging in ages from 2 to 13.  John Ware Abernathy, the father, was unable to care for the boys.  After Sarah Ann's death, Green Berry and Mary Ellen Brawner Talbot kept the three younger Abernathy boys along with Dot Wood whose mother had died a year earlier.  In 1884, John Ware Abernathy went to Texas to try to get a fresh start in a different place.  While he was away, Larkin Monroe Talbot, Green Berry's sixth child, stayed with the older boys and they batched.  Two years later, John Ware Abernathy sent for his sons.  Green Berry and Larkin took the boys to Texarkana to meet their father.  Edward Abernathy remembered hearing his grandfather say, " Larkin, I don't believe I can let the boys go."  They had been his responsibility for four years but he did let them go and the story of their successful lives, chronicled by Edris Abernathy, can be read at one of the links on the Talbot main page.  In 1884, James Tilmon Talbot, died at the age of 33.  A year later, in April, Mary Ellen Brawner Talbot, Green Berry's wife of 43 years died and in November, his mother died.  The first five years of the 1880's decade had visited much tragedy and hardship on the family.  Nevertheless, his behavior and steadiness during this heart wrenching time held the family together and set a standard which other generations would use as an example when the hard times came.

Mary Brawner died in 1885 at the age of 60.  In 1888, Green Berry, then aged 65, married Letha Pennington, a lady 39 years of age who had not been married,  but that marriage lasted only six years, ending with her death in 1894.  He remained unmarried until his death in 1901 at age 78.  He was buried between his two wives in the Chambersville Cemetery.

Much has been written about Green Berry Talbot and the family stories are legend.   He was adored by his children and grandchildren and hundreds, perhaps thousands, benefited from his ministry.  The churches he founded spread the work he started and perhaps that is the most enduring memorial to his long and fruitful ministry.

The children of Green and Mary Brawner Talbot were:

........ 1.   Sarah Ann Talbot b: September 30, 1843 in Jefferson Co., Al  d: November 23, 1882 in Calhoun Co., AR-Chamber
............  +John Ware Abernethy b: June 16, 1848 in Pontotoc Co., MS m: October 17, 1867 in Bride's Home, Calhoun C d: March 01, 1929 .in Hollis, OK-Fairmount
.........2.   Elizabeth Anthony Talbot b: July 31, 1845 in Chambers Co., AL  d: November 17, 1881 in Calhoun Co., AR-Ricks
............  +Sterling V. Wood b: June 18, 1847 m: March 23, 1870 in Calhoun Co., AR d: June 27, 1917 in Calhoun Co., AR-Ricks
........ 3.   William Milton Talbot b: November 23, 1848 in Calhoun Co., AR  d: March 13, 1912 in Calhoun Co., AR-Ricks
............  +Ann Elizabeth Craven b: July 14, 1850 m: April 22, 1870 in Calhoun Co., AR d: May 12, 1937 in Calhoun Co., AR-Ricks
........ 4.   James Tilmon Talbot b: September 28, 1851 in Calhoun Co., AR  d: September 23, 1884 in Calhoun Co., AR-Chambersville
............  +Alatha Jane Hearnsberger b: February 21, 1852 in Calhoun Co., AR m: January 26, 1872 in Calhoun Co., AR d: February 24, 1901 .in Calhoun Co., AR-Chambersville
........ 5.   Adoniram Judson Talbot b: July 31, 1855 in Calhoun Co., AR  d: March 07, 1935 in Calhoun Co., AR-Ricks
............  +Sallie Ruth Ricks b: October 14, 1858 m: February 10, 1881 in Calhoun Co., AR d: November 04, 1940 in Calhoun Co., .AR-Ricks
........ 6.   Larkin Monroe Talbot b: January 05, 1860 in Calhoun Co., AR  d: December 16, 1938 in Dallas Co., AR-Chambersville
............  +Sarah Elizabeth Samuel b: September 13, 1865 in Calhoun Co., AR m: January 09, 1887 in Calhoun Co., AR d: January 01, Calhoun Co., AR-Chambersville
........ 7.   Mary Jane "Mollie" Talbot b: December 12, 1863 in Calhoun Co., AR  d: January 12, 1945 in New Edinburg, AR
............  +James Allen Youngblood b: February 25, 1860 in Bradley Co., AR m: March 07, 1887 in Bradley Co., AR d: June 18, 1947 inCleveland Co., AR-New Edinburgh
........ 8.   Green Berry Talbot b: November 05, 1867 in Calhoun Co., AR  d: June 30, 1949 in Calhoun Co., AR-Chambersville
............  +Betty Jones b: February 10, 1872 in Calhoun Co., AR  d: August 09, 1915 in Calhoun Co., AR-Chambersville

Mary Ruth Dedman Abbot has written a piece, Memories of Gran Talbot, in which she recalls her Grandfather, Larkin Monroe Talbot, the sixth child of Green and Mary Brawner Talbot. Click here to read the paper.
Pictures of Green Berry and some descendants Return to the Matthew Talbot page
The Tilmon Brawner Story