The Joel Franklin Womack Story

The Joel Franklin Womack Story

Farris Wade Womack
May 2001



Tallapoosa County, Alabama 
 Pike and  Clark Counties, Arkansas

            Joel Franklin Womack, the 12th child and fourth son of Joel W. and Sarah Womack, was born in Tallapoosa County, Alabama in November 1859.  His father and mother had moved to Tallapoosa County a few years after 1840 and by the time of his birth, the Womacks had been living in the New Site area for about as long as any of the pioneers who settled that part of Alabama after the land had been opened to settlers.  Click here to read more about the Joel W. Womack family.  Joel Franklin joined the other Womack children in a household that probably number 14 members.  It is possible that Martha had married and moved away by the time of his birth but all the other children were still at home.  Because the Womacks already had a lot of experience with children, his arrival surely did not pose new problems other than the additional mouth to feed.  But Joel W. was doing all right with his farm and prospering as well as any of  the other families in the area.

            By the time of Joel Franklin's birth in 1859, the tensions that ultimately resulted in the Civil War were already far along.  Although the small dirt farmers of this section of Alabama had few slaves and probably were little concerned with the issues that stirred others, when the conflict came, they were quick to take up arms.  Passion and emotions ran high along the Alabama Georgia border and the little County of Tallapoosa would eventually send more than 2800 of her sons to fight.  And so it was into this paradoxical time and culture that Joel Franklin made his entry.  One can hardly imagine what life for a small boy would have been in the months leading up to the Civil War.  Surely, the long months during that struggle made long lasting impressions upon him.  But children are resilient and he likely experienced an early childhood that was both wonderfully exciting as well as sometimes filled with terror.  And further, his mother and father welcomed a new child, Susan, in 1862 and he was no longer the baby.

            He was a lad of six when the Civil War finally came to a close but the aftermath of the struggle was an ever present reminder of a life that, for him, had only known armed conflict, either preparing for it or engaged in it.  In August 1870,  he was listed at age 12 on the Census along with his parents and five sisters, Frances, Melvira, Georgeanna, Evilene, and Susan.  His older brother, William Harrison who had married in 1860, lived nearby and had children only a few years younger than Joel Franklin.  The farm presented plenty of activities to keep a young boy busy but he surely had a fair measure of pleasure.  Because school terms were short and often interrupted, he probably received only the rudiments of an education.  The center of activity was probably the church.

            Current research has yielded few clues following the1870 Census.  He married Lucinda Walls December 19, 1878 at the home of her mother, Adeline Walls, in Clay County, Alabama.  Lucinda Walls was a sister to Henry Clay Walls who married Joel Franklin's younger sister, Susan, on the same date.  One child, Henry M. Womack, was born August 13, 1880 in Alabama.  

            The 1880 Census for Clay County sheds significant light on the early married years for Joel Franklin and Lucinda.  At the time the Census was taken, he and Lucinda were living in the household of Anderson Calley, the husband of Elizabeth who was, presumably, the sister of Lucinda.  Also in the household was Adaline Walls, the mother of Henry and Lucinda and, quite obviously, Elizabeth.   Frank was the brother of Susan Womack Walls.  All the males were farmers and all the females reported that they were keeping house.  And so, in this household of eight individuals, Adaline Walls and her daughters, Elizabeth and Lucinda, and her son, Henry, the spouses of the three Walls children and the daughter of Henry were living happily.  It seems quite likely that this had been their home since the marriages near Christmas in 1878 of Henry and Lucinda to the Womack siblings, Susan and Joel Franklin.


1880 Census for Clay County, Alabama - Wicker
Name Col Sex Age Rel MS Occup BP FBP MBP
Calley, Anderson W M 23 Self M Farming AL --- ---
Cally, Elizabeth W F 30 Wife M Housekeeping AL --- ---
Walls, Adaline W F 52 MotherLaw W Housekeeping GA NC NC
Walls, Henry W M 21 BroLaw M Farming AL GA GA
Walls, Susan W F 20 Other M Housekeeping AL GA GA
Walls, Cilar W F 8M Other S   AL GA GA
Wamack, Frank W M 20 Other M Farming AL GA GA
Wamack, Lucinda W F 24 Other M Housekeeping AL GA GA

            While it has not been established with certainty, more likely that not, he and Lucinda were members of the traveling party that left Tallapoosa County, Alabama in 1881 and settled in Pike County, Arkansas later that same year.  For a more detailed narrative of that epic adventure, click on the Georgeanna America Womack story.  It appears that perhaps as many as seven families, maybe more,  left Tallapoosa County in 1881 to make a fresh start in Pike County, Arkansas.  These families were linked together in many ways, not the least of which was their common desire for a better life somewhere other than where they were.  But they were also linked in more direct ways.  Four of them were descendants of William Riley Foshee and three were descendants of Joel W. Womack, and the two just mentioned above were descendants of Zachariah and Adeline Walls.  To read more about the families who made the move from Alabama to Arkansas, click here

1900 Census for Pike County, Arkansas - Page 1B
Name Rel Col Sex BMO BYR Age MS Yrs Child Living BP FBP MBP Occup
Womack, Joel  F. Head W M Nov 1859 40 M 22 AL GA GA Blacksmith
Womack, Lusinda Wife W F Dec 1857 42 M 22 7 4 AL GA GA
Womack, Henry M. Son W M Aug 1881 19 S AR AL AL Blacksmith
Womack, Etta L. Dau W F May 1886 14 S AR AL AL
Womack, Ruba Dau W F May 1889 11 S AR AL AL
Womack, Joel F. Son W M Aug 1892 7 S AR AL AL

            The above table discloses that Joel and Lucinda were married in about 1878, he at age 19 and she at 21.  Joel's occupation as blacksmith presents another interesting fact because it is known that his older brother, William Harrison Womack, did some blacksmith work for the 3rd Confederate Cavalry during the Civil War.  Was that a skill taught to them by their father?   Both Joel and Lucinda reported that their fathers and mothers had been born in Georgia but Lucinda reported on the next two Censuses that her parents had been born in Alabama.   The 1900 Census data show that seven children had been born to Joel and Lucinda but that three had died.  Because it seems that only one child was born while they lived in Alabama, the three deaths must have occurred in Pike County but no evidence has been found of the birth, death, or burial.

1910 Census for Pike County, Arkansas - Page 251 B
Name Reel Sex Cool Age MS MYR Child Living BP FBI MBA Occupy
Womack, Joel F. Head M W 60 M1 31 AL GA GA Blacksmith
Womack, Lucinda Wife F W 51 M1 31 7 4 AL AL AL
Womack, Etta Dau F W 21 S AR AL AL
Womack, Ruby Dau F W 20 S AR AL AL
Womack, Joel Son M W 17 S AR AL AL

            The 1910 Census contains an obvious error in the age given for Joel Franklin.  A comparison of the three Census Tables for the years 1900, 1910, and 1920 show that he would have been 50 in 1910 not 60.  By 1910, Henry M. Womack, the oldest child had married and started a family of his own but he was living only a short distance away and reported the same occupation as his father.  The three remaining children were still at home.

1920 Census for Clark County, Arkansas - ED#55, Page 6A
Name Rel Home Mort Sex Color Age MS Read Write BP FBP MBP Occup
Womack, Franklin Head Own Free M W 61 M Yes Yes AL AL AL Blacksmith
Womack, Lucinda Wife F W 62 M Yes Yes AL AL AL

            By 1920, Joel and Lucinda were living in Clark County as were their two sons.  Henry lived only three households away and Joel F. lived next door.  All three reported that they owned their homes free of mortgage and that they worked in a Blacksmith Shop and owned the shop.  Perhaps to avoid confusion, sometime before 1920, Joel Franklin had begun to use the name "Franklin" while his son used the name "Joel".  There are other records in which the name is "Frank".

Descendants of Joel Franklin Womack
 1   Joel Franklin Womack b: November 1859 in Probably Tallapoosa County, AL  d: 1928 in Clark Co.,AR
..  +Lucinda Walls b: December 1857 in Alabama m: December 19, 1878 in Clay Co.,AL d: 1961 in Clark Co.,AR
. 2   Henry M."Tobe" Womack b: August 13, 1880 in Alabama  d: January 18, 1953 in Clark Co.,AR
.....  +Minnie L. Taylor b: September 30, 1884 in Arkansas m: February 2, 1904 in Pike Co.,AR d: December 8, 1941 in Clark Co.,AR
. 2   Etta L. Womack b: May 30, 1886  d: April 14, 1980
.....  +John Alexander Barentine b: 1878 m: August 21, 1912 in Pike Co.,AR
. 2   Ruby Womack b: May 1889
.....  +Lesley Tolleson b: 1890 m: September 30, 1911 in Pike Co.,AR
. 2   Joel F. Womack b: August 5, 1892 in Prob Pike Co.,AR  d: September 7, 1975 in Clark Co.,AR
.....  +Ola A. LNU b: November 18, 1901  d: August 9, 1995 in Clark Co.,AR
            Joel Franklin died in 1928 and was buried in the Jones Cemetery which is located approximately one mile east of Amity on Highway 8.  Lucinda was 69 years of age when Joel Franklin died.  She lived until 1961; dying at the age of 104 although the dates on her grave marker show that she was born in 1855 which would have made her age 106.  She was buried in the Jones Cemetery.  Many of their descendants are also buried here.

            Joel Franklin and Lucinda Walls Womack were in many ways quite typical of those pioneering spirits whose energy and determination led to the settlement of the southwestern states during the 19th century.  But in many other ways they were quite different.  Almost all of these hardy souls earned their living farming but he and Lucinda followed a different trade.  But it wasn't their choice of occupation that made them distinctive.  Rather it was an indomitable spirit and courage to take on new challenges, to leave the old behind and not look back.  That is a pretty good legacy to leave one's descendants.

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