The Joel W. Womack Story
Farris Wade Womack
Revised January 2015
Joel Womack was living in Stewart County, Georgia at the time of the 1840 Census. The record shows a "Joel Warnock" with two children the correct age of the older children, Martha and William, but there were two additional males and one female whose origin and circumstances cannot be determined. One of the males was between 50-60 and could have been the father of Joel or his wife. The other individuals, a male and female were between 20-30 and they could be relatives but that is pure speculation.
The first record of Joel Womack currently available shows that he was a
successful claimant in the 1832 land lottery and there are records of land
transactions in Stewart County until 1843. Joel W. Womack married Sarah
Ann Mathis in 1838 in Stewart County and a copy of the marriage license can be
viewed by clicking here.
There is a record of
his having claimed Lucinda Bumgarner as a legal child for inheritance purposes
in 1843. Lucinda appears to be the illegitimate child of Joel W. Womack
and Nancy Bumgarner. The first records in Alabama are the Land Patents provided by the Bureau of Land Management. Those
data show that Joel acquired land in Tallapoosa County, Alabama in 1849.
But it was common for Patentees to have lived on the land and made improvements
for a number of years before the actual Patent was granted. Land
Patents were issued by the United States to citizens who then took the
Patents to the local County Court House where the County official responsible
for the recording of deeds issued the Patentee a warrantee deed.
The abstract of title chain begins with the grant from the United States.
A plat of the five parcels shows that they were all contiguous even though
the last one was in an adjoining section.
Click here to view a map of Tallapoosa County, Alabama which displays Township and Range numbers. By using these coordinates, Joel W. Womack's land can be seen in relationship to the surrounding area.
Joel Womack and his family were living in Stewart County when they decided to move to Alabama and they must have known that they would face rather serious obstacles in getting to their new home site. The Chattahoochee River formed the Georgia/Alabama border and crossing it would have meant either a ferry or finding a fjord. The odds were that they crossed on a ferry around the present day site of Columbus and proceed on the then existing wagon trails/roads to near the town of Goldville. Wagon roads in 1840’s were little more than horse trails and the need to stop to clear a tree or get over a stump would have been frequent. Although the actual mileage as the crow flies from Columbus to Goldville is quite short, the family probably needed several days to make the journey.
The time of year when the move was undertaken remains a question but it was probably in the fall after the harvesting time had been completed. Migrations often took place in the late fall so as to provide time for the harvest to be completed and the necessary arrangements made for the journey. Moreover, the new home would be hardly more than a place to stop because the land had only recently been made available for settlement and there surely were no houses to be rented.
Joel Womack would have needed to cut logs and build a crude shelter before the winter weather made the work all but impossible. Many pioneer families spent their first winter in cabins so small that it seems virtually impossible by current standards. Moreover, Joel would have had to do the work himself because his children were too young to be of much help. Perhaps other pioneers would have lent a hand but most of the work would have been his to do. Then there was the matter of clearing enough acreage for a crop in the spring. Surely staying busy was not hard to achieve.
A little known but interesting fact concerning the juxtaposition of this property lies in its proximity to several gold mines. Joe Waters has written extensively about the history of gold mining in Tallapoosa County and the following narrative appears on his web site. Goldville was located a few miles north of New Site, the Post Office of record for Joel Womack.
Many of these mines were located within a mile or two of Joel Womack's land. Whether or not Joel and his family were engaged in prospecting is not known nor is it known whether or not gold and the search for it might have played any role in his coming to Tallapoosa County. He listed his occupation on each of the extant Census records as "Farmer" and that occupation seems to be the more likely one.In 1842, gold was discovered in Northeast Tallapoosa County. The news spread fast and furiously in the same manner as the 1849 strike in California. It brought all kinds of people with the same lust for riches. The population of Goldville quickly reached 3,500. Almost overnight Goldville became one of the largest towns in Alabama.
In the "Goldville District", gold veins were rich. The gold was there, but the methods of obtaining it were crude. There also was free gold, concentrated at the surface by weathering which made it possible to work with a shovel and pan in some places. Gold was worked down to water level. A great amount of work was done as indicated by the trenches, pits, and shafts that can still be found.
There were at least fourteen merchants, seven saloons, and two hotels that served the miners needs. Most of the miners lived in tents. There is not any evidence of a church in the gold rush days. The town of Goldville was born and died between the census of 1840 and 1850.The amount of gold taken from the mines and pits will never be known. Most of the miners were gone before 1850. When news of the California gold strike reached Goldville, the miners packed up and left not even taking time to put out their campfires.
The first mine in the Goldville District was the Birdsong Pits (S4,T24N,R23E) owned and operated by Edward Birdsong who between 1840 and 1850 carried on mining operations with negro labor(slaves). Other mines included the Jones Pits (S5,T24N,R23E) which is one of the oldest mines in the county. The Log Pits (S24,T24N,R23E) which was one of the richest operations ($30,000.00 in gold and a small amount of silver).
The Ulrich Pits, later called Dutch Bend or Romanoff Mine (S8,T23N,R22E) were located on the east bank of Hillabee creek about eight miles from Alexander City. Dr. Ulrich, a German, found gold here while digging a wine cellar. As late as 1906 a stamp-mill was operating on this property. The mining equipment here included a 20 stamp-mill and a cyanide plant. The Ulrich Pits were acquired by Robert A. Russell of Alexander City, who operated these mines till 1934.
Other mines that operated in the Goldville District mostly before 1900 were the Early Pits (SW1/4S26,T24N,R22E), Stone pits (S34,T24N,R22E), the Chisolm prospect (S9,T23N,R22E), the Duncan prospect (S16,T23N,R22E), the Mahan Pits (S4,T23N,R22E), the Croft Pits (S34,T24N,R22E), the Tallapoosa Mine (Sw1/4S26,T24N,R22E), the Tine Burnett Lode (SE1/4S24,T24n,R22E), the Houston Pits (S18,T24N,R23E), the Hawthorne Mine (S8,T24N,R23E), the Goldville Pits (S8,T24N, R23E), the Germany Pits (NW1/4NE1/4S9,T24N,R23E), and the Lowe Mine (NW1/4NE1/4S9,T24N,R23E). There were numerous other pits that were worked and abandoned.
Men in the financial capital of the United States were aware of the gold in Tallapoosa County. A letter to Colonel Dean from E.M. Morgan of R.A. Ammons and Company, bankers and brokers of #2 Wall Street, New York dated December 2, 1887 states " Regarding that Birdsong and Jones property. Mr. Roudebush leaves tomorrow for London and from cables and letters which we have received we are confident that the property will be taken by some people over there." There were many similar inquiries.
The 1850 Census for Tallapoosa County, Alabama listed Joel Womack in
Township 24. The Census Index recorded his name as "Joel Warrick"
but a closer examination of the actual microfilm shows that the last name
was more likely spelled "Wamick" by the Census taker. The serious
researcher has learned to accept and compensate for the vagaries of the
Census takers, many of whom could hardly read and write themselves and
very often the subjects of the Census were unsure of their age, place of
birth or the spelling of their name. Nevertheless, in every
instance when Joel or his known descendants signed or otherwise provided
their name as an official record, it was always spelled "Womack".
the 1850 Census presents an interesting case in another respect.
It appears that the actual census was taken in January of 1851 rather than
the summer of 1850. On the form, the Census Marshall has struck through
the 0 in 1850 and substituted a 1. That fact helps to compensate
somewhat for the age variances between the 1850 and 1860 Census for Joel
and his family
The birth of Mary A. in Alabama in about 1842 establishes
the approximate time of the move to Alabama and presumably Tallapoosa County,
however, Mary reported on the next Census that she had been born in Georgia.
The difference in the ages of Joel and Sarah may suggest that she was not
his first wife but that is speculation and not a shred of evidence exists
to support it. She would have been old enough to have given birth
to Martha A. in 1838-39 and more likely than not she was the first wife.
The last child, nee William, raises interesting questions. Why would
Joel and Sarah name a second child, William. He does not appear on
subsequent Census records. William H. is shown at age 9 and one year
younger than John. As we shall see, the next Census in 1860 reverses
|332||931||931||Joel W. Warmack||48||M||-||Farmer||1200||970||Georgia|
All of the ages listed were, to some extent, at odds with
the ages given in the 1850 Census but a part of the difference can be explained
by the dates each of the two censuses were actually taken. The instructions
for both Census calls for the age of the individual as of June 1.
Clearly, the ages given in 1860 are not exactly 10 years greater than they
were in 1850 but such is often the case. Martha and the younger William
are the two children not repeated. Their whereabouts are unknown
although Martha could have married. William H. and John have their
ages and places in the line up reversed. Mary reported that she was
born in Georgia while she had reported 10 years before that her birth place
was Alabama. Four additional children show up on this census.
By 1870, all of the children who had been born in Georgia were gone from home and only one additional child, Susan, had been born during the decade. Susan was born when Joel was 51 and Sarah was 42-3. After taking into consideration the extenuating circumstances surrounding each of these Census, it appears that Joel and Sarah were the parents of thirteen children, nine girls and four boys, in the following order. Some of the names of the children have been obtained from other records, primarily marriage bonds.
Descendants of Joel W. Womack
1  Joel W. Womack b: Bet. 1810 - 1811 in Georgia d: Aft. 1876 in Probably Tallapoosa Co.,AL
.. +Sarah LNU b: Bet. 1820 - 1822 in Georgia m: Bef. 1839 in Georgia d: Bef. 1876 in Probably Tallapoosa Co.,AL
. 2 Martha A. Womack b: 1839 in Georgia
. 2 William Harrison Womack, Sr. b: March 1, 1840 in Probably Stewart Co.,GA-Georgia d: August 4, 1905 in Independence Co., AR Burial: August 5, 1905 Mt. Zion Cemetery
..... +Harriet Euline Smith b: July 4, 1840 in Georgia m: November 13, 1860 in Tallapoosa Co.,AL d: December 24, 1916 in Faulkner Co., AR Burial: Republican
. 2 John S. Womack b: 1841 in Prob Stewart Co.,GA-Georgia
. 2 Mary Ann Womack b: 1842 in Probably Tallapoosa Co.,AL
..... +Lemuel P. Smith b: Bet. 1836 - 1837 in Georgia m: December 18, 1860 in Tallapoosa Co.,AL
. 2 Nancy Elizabeth Womack b: 1843 in Probably Tallapoosa Co.,AL
..... +William J. Galloway m: December 15, 1868 in Tallapoosa Co.,AL
. 2 Missouri Francis Womack b: Bet. 1845 - 1848 in Probably Tallapoosa County, AL
..... +Willoughby H. Carter m: January 9, 1874 in Tallapoosa Co.,AL
. 2 William Womack b: 1846 in Alabama d: Bef. 1860 in Probably Tallapoosa County, AL
. 2 Mary Darcus(Dorcus) Womack b: September 4, 1846 in Tallapoosa Co.,AL-Dadesville d: June 26, 1913 in Tallapoosa Co.,AL Burial: Old Concord Cem.
..... +Drewry Morgan Eathan Brewer b: December 3, 1846 in Tallapoosa Co.,AL-Dadesville m: March 3, 1868 in Tallapoosa Co.,AL-one record shows 2-26-1868 d: October 10, 1920 in Tallapoosa Co.,AL Burial: Old Concord, Cem.
. 2 Melvina Womack b: Bet. 1849 - 1850 in Probably Tallapoosa County, AL
. 2 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 Amanda Evaline Womack b: November 26, 1854 in Probably Tallapoosa County, AL d: November 2, 1919 in Tallapoosa Co.,AL Burial: Dillard's Cemetery near Hackneyville
..... +George E. McKelvey b: 1852 in Alabama m: December 16, 1873 in Tallapoosa Co.,AL d: 1934 in Tallapoosa Co.,AL Burial: Dillard's Cemetery near Hackneyville
. 2 Joel Franklin Womack b: November 1859 in Probably Tallapoosa County, AL d: 1928 in Clark Co.,AR Burial: Jones Cemetery
..... +Lucinda Walls b: December 28, 1857 in Alabama m: December 19, 1878 in Clay Co.,AL d: 1961 in Clark Co.,AR Burial: Jones Cemetery
. 2 Susan Carillar Womack b: January 6, 1862 in Probably Tallapoosa County, AL d: August 3, 1918 in McIntosh Co.,OK Burial: Hitchita Lackey Cemetery, Hitchita
..... +Henry Clay Walls b: February 14, 1858 in Alabama m: December 19, 1878 in Tallapoosa Co.,AL d: June 4, 1942 in McIntosh Co.,OK Burial: Aft. June 4, 1942 Hitchita Lackey Cemetery, Hitchita
*2nd Wife of  Joel W. Womack:
.. +Emily Childers m: August 1, 1876 in Tallapoosa Co.,AL
There are a number of interesting facts and suppositions to be drawn from the three Census records shown above, It seems certain that Joel and Sarah lived on the same place during all this period of time. While he may not have owned all of the parcels of land shown during all that time, the likelihood is that he did. Accordingly, the variation in the value of the real estate merits noting. In 1850, he reported that the value was $350.00 but by 1860 that value had risen to $1,200.00, an increase of 243%, more than 13% per year during the decade. But then the Civil War intervened and by 1870, Joel reported that his real estate was worth $350.00 again, a decline of 71%. What a wild ride he had seen in the value of his property! Perhaps that was a forerunner of the volatility that his descendants would come to expect from the 21st century economy.
Whether or not Joel served in the Civil War has not been determined; he would have been old enough not to be drafted but many older men did fight. His son, William Harrison, did serve and it is quite likely that his son, John, also served although the record has not been found. William, in fact, served the entire conflict and one of the interesting side bars to his service was that he joined the 3rd Georgia Cavalry rather than joining a unit from Tallapoosa County. Tallapoosa contributed more than 2800 men to the Confederacy and more that a quarter of them never returned.
The children of Joel and Sarah grew to adulthood in Tallapoosa
County and most, if not all, of them married there and began their own
families. At least four of his children made their way westward to
Arkansas; William Harrison moving to the Ozark foothills while Georgeanna, Joel
Franklin, and Susan moved in 1881 to Pike County, Arkansas. For a more
complete story of some of the children of Joel W. and Sarah, the reader should click