The Georgeanna America Womack Story

The Georgeanna America Womack Story


by
Farris Wade Womack
May 2001


From
 Tallapoosa County, Alabama
to 
Pike County, Arkansas 


  
            Georgeanna America Womack, the 10th child of Joel W. and Sarah Womack, was born August 2, 1852 in Tallapoosa County, Alabama.  At the time of her birth, the Womack family was living on their land in Township 24 North, Range 23 East, near the United States Post Office at New Site.  Joel and Sarah had moved to this area about 1841-2-3 from Georgia, probably Stewart County.  Joel obtained the 200 hundred acres in the homestead by Patent from the United States.

            Tallapoosa County had been formed and opened to settlement in 1832 and the older Womacks were among the early settlers of the County but they were by no means the first.    A little known but fascinating fact about the County concerns the concentration of gold very near the property that Joel and Sarah owned.  Gold had been discovered in 1828-32 and many prospectors tried their hand at "making a strike".  The town of Goldville, located just a few miles form the Womack place was a thriving community for more than a decade.  Whether the Womacks were engaged in the search for gold remains a mystery but it is quite certain that if they were, they were not successful.  More likely than not,  they were fully engaged in farming and trying mightily to feed the growing family which now numbered twelve, two adults and 10 children none yet into their teens.    Indeed, with the discovery of gold in California in 1849, three years before Georgeanna was born, the "serious" miners had already moved on to the more lucrative prospects in the "Golden State".  Joel and Sarah had been living in Alabama on this homestead for 10 years or more when Georgeanna was born.  Click here to read the Joel W. Womack Story

            Living on the frontier carried with it many challenges with the struggle to make a living and feed a family at the top.  For children, there must have been strange and wonderful things to learn, just as now, but the conveniences that 21st century Womack descendants take for granted and think to be necessary were not a part of life in the mid 19th century.  Schools were primitive and small, most with only a few months each year and the terms split to coincide with the labor needs on the farms.  Although churches were usually a part of each community, most churches did not have active ministers as that is presently understood.  The countryside was rural with only a few villages scattered across many miles.  The principal means of making a living was farming and more than 98 percent of the population was engaged in the effort.

            And so it was into this rural wilderness that Georgeanna America Womack was born in the summer of 1852.  No doubt her early years were similar to those of other children in the family as well as those on the surrounding farms.  But the details of the  day to day activities that engaged her time and attention are unrecorded.  What constituted a typical week?  Games, School, church, all of the above or none?

            When she was still a child of ten, the Civl War broke out.  Like most of their neighbors, the Womacks owned no slaves and quite likely were unconcerned about the other issues that provoked Americans to take up arms.  But they did take up arms and at least one if not both of her older brothers went away to War in the spring of her tenth year.  More than 2800 Tallapoosa County men and boys joined the fight and after four years more than 700 did not return to their homes and families.  Those who did come back found a countryside and culture far different from the one that had left.  Money, always in short supply, was now not only scarce but worthless.  Farm values had plummeted by a factor of four.  Government was controlled by carpetbaggers and the hated Yankees.  Reconstruction was in full array.  Nevertheless, life went on and she like thousands of others made the best of it.

            On December 14, 1871, just a few months past her 19th birthday, she married Eli Jasper Foshee, son of William Riley and Susannah Sorrel Foshee.  Like other newly weds in the mid 1800's,  they began their life together as small farmers in eastern Alabama not far from the farms of their parents.  In fact, Eli's father lived 8 houses away and his brothers, Alexander and Joseph, lived on either side of their father.  Eli parents had moved from Georgia to Alabama in the late 1840's and they lived in Tallapoosa County until the late 1870's when they moved only a short distance away to Clay County.  Georgeanna and Eli began their soon after their marriage.  Their first child was born June 28, 1873 and the second one, also a son, was born in October 1875.  A third son was born in 1878 and their only daughter was born in 1880.  The first decade had been a busy one but it was only the precursor to the adventures that would follow.
 
 

1880 Census for Clay County, Alabama - ED#38, Page 8
Name Col Sex Age Rel Occup BP FBP MBP
Foshee, Eli J. W M 34 Head Farmer AL AL AL
Foshee, Georgeana W F 27 Wife Housekeeping AL AL AL
Foshee, John W. W M 6 Son AL AL AL
Foshee, Ollin W. W M 4 Son AL AL AL
Foshee, Robert L. W M 2 Son AL AL AL
Foshee, Sarah S. W F 1/12 Dau AL AL AL

            The years following the Civil War presented numerous and often frustrating challenges for the Alabama dirt farmers.  Many left to seek opportunities elsewhere with high hopes that the land would be more productive and that they could get a new start.  In 1877 or 78, Georgeanna's older brother, William Harrison Womack left Tallapoosa County to relocate in the Ozark foothills in Independence County Arkansas.  While it seems certain that he did not go alone, the identities of others in the 'train' are unknown.  The wanderlust struck Georgeanna and Eli in 1881. For it was in that year that Georgeanna and Eli joined with her younger brother, Joel Franklin,  and her younger sister, Susan,  to make the out migration to Arkansas.  Joel's wife, Lucinda, and Susan's husband, Henry Clay Walls, were sister and brother.  Eli's brothers, Joseph and Alexander, and his sister, Narcissa Elizabeth,  decided to come along and when the traveling party left Tallapoosa, it contained at least six families, their children and all the possessions they had or could carry.   But Georgeanna did not leave Tallapoosa to hook up again with her older brother, William Harrison,  in the Ozark foothills.  Instead she and the other members of her party made their way to Pike County, Arkansas and settled near the present day community of Kirby.  The distance was more than 500 miles "as the crow flies".  Such a trip under ideal conditions would require a month to achieve, perhaps longer.

            Why they decided that Pike County was the place to be remains a mystery but soon they were settled and engaged in the business of making a living by the same means that they had pursued in Alabama.  Although the 1890 Census was destroyed by fire, some other records exist to document their existence.  And the 1900 Census shows in considerable detail the concentration of Alabama "kinfolk" who came to make a new life for themselves in the western part of Arkansas.  Georgeanna's brother was living only a short distance away and her younger sister, Susan Walls, was only a few families away.
 
 

1900 Census for Pike County, Arkansas - Page 5B
Name Rel Col Sex BMO BYR MS MYRS Child Living BP FBP MBP
Foshee, Elye J. Head W M Feb 1850 M 28 AL GA GA
Foshee, Georgia A. Wife W F Aug 1852 M 28 4 4 AL GA GA

 
1910 Census for Pike County, Arkansas - Page 252A
Name Rel Sex Col Age MS MYRS Child Living BP FBP MBP
Foshee, Eli J. Head M W 60 M1 39 AL GA GA
Foshee, Georgia A. A. Wife F W 58 M1 39 4 4 AL GA GA

            Georgeanna and Eli had no other children beyond the four born to them in Alabama and the 1900 Census documents the number of children and recognizes that they were all living. Their sons grew to manhood in Pike County, married and fathered numerous children.  Descendants of Georgeanna and Eli still reside in Pike County and carry with justifiable pride the name and character that so clearly marked the lives of of these Alabama pioneers.  Current research has failed to determine the date of death or place of burial for Georgeanna but it seems likely that the event occurred in Pike County.  Eli died in 1918.


The Womack database contains other facts about this remarkable lady and it can be search by clicking on:  WOMACK

Descendants of Georgeanna America Womack

 1   Georgeanna America Womack b: August 2, 1852 in Probably Tallapoosa County, AL  d: Aft. 1910 in Probably Pike Co.,AR
..  +Eli Jasper Foshee b: February 28, 1850 in Alabama m: December 14, 1871 in Tallapoosa Co.,AL d: April 3, 1917 in Pike Co.,AR
. 2   [1] John William Wilkerson Foshee b: June 28, 1873 in Clay/Tallapoosa Co.,AL-??Bluff Springs  d: December 23, 1946 in Pike Co.,AR
.....  +Mary Cassie Ray b: 1876 m: November 21, 1895 in Pike Co.,AR d: Bef. 1910 in Prob. Pike Co., AR
.  *2nd Wife of [1] John William Wilkerson Foshee:
.....  +Mattie Ann Smalling b: January 14, 1890 m: May 25, 1911 in Pike Co.,AR
. 2   Ollen "Ollie" Walter Foshee b: October 1875 in Clay/Tallapoosa Co.,AL-??Bluff Springs  d: in Pike Co.,AR-Kirby
.....  +Kitty L. Thrash b: February 1876 in Georgia m: September 26, 1895 in Prob. Pike Co.,AR
. 2   Robert L. Foshee b: February 14, 1878 in Clay/Tallapoosa Co.,AL-??Bluff Springs
.....  +Myrtle Battie Ray b: March 1877 in Tennessee m: October 12, 1896 in Pike Co.,AR-Book A 134
. 2   Sarah Suzanna "Sallie". Foshee b: May 14, 1880  d: December 6, 1971 in Pike Co.,AR-Glenwood
.....  +Christopher Columbus Pounds b: 1876  d: 1945
 



            How to close the story of a great lady is a problem.  She lived a life that doesn't call attention  and never engaged in the kind of living that causes others to take notice and chronicle her activities and achievements.  But the contribution that she made in small but obvious ways constitute the qualities of greatness.  She endured a bitter Civil War as a child, an even more onerous period of Reconstruction, the rigors of leaving everything familiar in the hope of finding a better life for her family and by her example, she made the world a little more civil and decent for countless numbers who would follow.   What a great legacy!


Please send corrections, comments, and suggestions to: fww@umich.edu