Lloyd Wagnon and the early Noble family


The Vagabond recently spoke with Lloyd Wagnon, who manages to still keep a busy life.

After becoming Alabama’s youngest Registered Professional Land Surveyor in 1949, Wagnon entered private practice in Gadsden. Through the years, he designed and executed many of the area’s finest residential subdivisions and established many land boundaries throughout Etowah County.

Wagnon served the City of Gadsden as a member of the City Planning Commission. He also served the region as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Alabama School of Trades and Technology. While in this position, Wagnon played a crucial role in the acquisition of the Gadsden State Junior College. For over 40 years, his service was felt through many community organizations, culminating with his position as Director of Tourism for Etowah County.

Flying 53 missions with the 310th Bomber Group as a B-25 pilot in World War II, Wagnon was awarded the Air Medal and seven Oak Leaf Clusters for his combat role.

Upon induction into the 1989 Patriots Hall of Honor, Col. Wagnon responded, “True patriotism is not measured by the beat of the loudest drum or the flutter of the highest flag, but by the cadence of sacrificial service to our flag – wherever we are!””

Rev. John Noble

The Rev. John Noble came to this country before the Cherokees were removed in 1838 (probably around 1830) and settled in what is now known as Sand Valley.

John was born April 2, 1788, from the Spartanburg District in South Carolina. He was steeped in the fine traditions of that state, being an educated minister of the gospel and a good farmer.

John and his brother Charles Pennington Noble were orphaned as children and adopted by two brothers named Brown (Aries and Lewis).

John married Sarah Holloway (born 1802), who was the daughter of William Holloway, who was also from Spartanburg.

Noble bought land from the Indians and later entered the property when this section was taken over by the United States government by treaty with the Cherokee tribe.

John founded a large family, the members of which have been influential in developing this country for more than 100 years. He built a two-story log house that was moved three times, but never more than a quarter of a mile. The last move was to make room for a weather-boarded white house.

One of John Noble’s grandsons, Madison Noble, more familiarly known as Matt Noble, once said that before there was a Birmingham, when Atlanta was known as Marthasville and Chattanooga was known as Ross Landing, the family used Mobile as its market. This location necessitated the shipment of cattle, hogs, grain and the like by flat-bottom boats on the Coosa River or by pack mules overland or simply by driving livestock over trails through a perfect wilderness.

There was a time when grandfather Noble sent his sons John and William and a young black fellow named Lawrence to Mobile with a drove of hogs. The boys drove the hogs over faint trails and little-used roads over the entire distance, with several weeks being required to complete the journey.

On arriving in Mobile, the boys sold their pigs for $2,000. $500 of that amount was paid with 12 and a half and 6 and a half-cent silver coins. The boys bought long home-knit socks, put the silver in them and started back.

The first leg of the trip was by steamboat to Wetumpka. From that point the boys traveled by foot. 

When they reached home, the boys were almost exhausted and were scared half to death. Every moment on the way home, night and day, they expected to be held up and robbed.

The boys’ return relieved the parents of great anxiety. Matt said he did not remember just how long it took the boys to go to Mobile and back, but judging from the account given him by his father, William Noble and his uncle John, it was a very long trip.

Matt talked interestingly about what his aunt told him about the Indians who were constantly passing the Noble home and of the family’s dealings with them. The Indians were not particularly hostile but were guilty of many peculiar antics and had ways that were puzzling to the whites.

Matt Noble was a merchant, postmaster and farmer at Avery’s store, a country post office for many years. (The Etowah Historical Society has the business’ 1835 store ledger book.) He was a fine citizen, as were other descendants of the pioneer preacher-planter family from South Carolina.     

The Noble and Holloway families came from South Carolina. William Holloway, the father-in-law of John Noble, had another daughter who married Vincent Bennett. It would appear the Noble’s, Holloway’s, and Bennett’s traveled from South Carolina and intermarried.

William Holloway, Sr., acquired two tracts of land that cornered one another (NE 1/4 S9 T12S R5E 6 Feb 1822 and E 1/2 SW 1/4 S4 T12S R5E on Oct. 1, 1823). Immediately northwest of his tract in S9, John Noble acquired all of S10 T12S R5E on May 1, 1845, immediately east of William Holloway east boundary in S9.

John Noble died on May 25, 1874, in Etowah County and is buried in the Noble Hills Cemetery. He and his wife had seven children – William, Nancy, John Baptist, Elizabeth (Betsy), Bennett and Martha.

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