Very early settlers of Etowah County, part one of two


One of the largest families represented in early Etowah County was the Whitt family. The first of this name to come to the area was William Whitt, born in circa 1775, and his wife Feroba Middleton, born in 1786.

William’s father was Shadrack Whitt, born in 1741 and married to Mary Rogers. The couple lived in Virginia. Shadrack served with Washington’s Army at Valley Forge, where he is buried in a mass grave.

William’s great-grandfather was the emigrant John Witt-Whitt from England to Virginia around 1666. When the McClendon family had a reunion on Oct. 6 of this year, there was a dedication at the Kyuka Cemetery in Duck Springs for the early Whitt families. The Rev. Harry Whitt, a Baptist preacher, gave the invocation. Harold Baty, dressed as a Revolutionary War soldier, gave the pledge. Retired Lt. Col. Whitt Lee Lathem gave the history of the early Revolutionary War soldiers and the Whitt family.

Sallie Hallmark, the chaplain of the Big Wills Creek Chapter of the DAR, and Augusta D. Waters conducted the dedication of the Shadrack Whitt marker. Descendants of William Whitt paid for the marker. The ceremony ended with a prayer, after which Mr. Baty fired black powder from a Revolutionary War-type gun.

William Whitt settled in Sand Valley even before the Indians were removed. His children married into some of the better-known families of that day. According to records, he and his wife had four daughters and two sons: Rachel, the first wife of James McClendon, son of Burwell and Nancy Crump McClendon of Gallant; Elizabeth who married Roland Crump, uncle of James McClendon; Nancy married a Benjamin Camp (By 1837, Nancy was already a widow; her husband died an innocent victim of a lawless mob. Nancy and her children moved to Little Rock, AR before 1860); William P. Whitt, born in 1817, married Sarah McClendon, a sister of James McClendon; Shadrack M, born in 1814, married Caroline Horton; Manerva, married Allen Smith; and Celia Whitt McCormack, who seems to have died before marrying.

William P. and Sarah McClendon Whitt were the parents of 11 children: Ruth married A.S. Davidson of Blount County and are the ancestors of Margaret Sizemore, dean of women at Samford University; Franklin, born 1846 married first, a Miss Gray and second, Mary Jane Symons; William (Billy); George Marcus married Zude Massey; Margaret married J.T. Noojin and are the ancestors of the Lonnie Noojin family of Gadsden and the Noojin family of Attalla; John married Mattie Jane Orr; Louis W, born 1864, married Betty Leath; Anderson, born 1866, married Mary T. Lulu Daniel; Burwell married Adelia Howard; Nancy married John David Davidson of Blount County and brother of A.S. Davidson, who married her sister Ruth; Richard died in the Civil War.

William P. Whitt also served in Capt. Season’s company in the Civil War.

The six children of Shadrack M. Whitt and his wife Caroline Horton are: William P. who married Elizabeth McMahon; Artie married Bill Smith; Nell married Sam Cummins; Archibald married Eliza Burns, Middleton married Mary Burns and went to Shade Springs, Miss.; James moved to Arkansas. To the best of the Vagabond’s knowledge, all the Whitts of this area are descendants of this early family.

Until recently, the descendants of William Whitt “did not know in which year William was born;” “did not know where William was born;” and “did not know who William’s parents were.”

Since there was no existing family Bible, William’s descendants also did not know if William had any siblings or other relatives.

Family tradition suggested that William Whitt was either an only child or an orphan. William Whitt’s year of birth actually appears to be circa 1775.

The existing headstone on William Whitt’s grave, which is located in Kyuka Cemetery in Duck Springs, states that he was born in 1781.

The date of 1781 is questionable because the original headstone had deteriorated and was later replaced with the current headstone.

It seems that William Whitt lived with his family in Franklin County, Tenn., as early as 1810. He then pioneered into DeKalb (now Etowah) County sometime between 1820 and 1824, where he purchased 20 acres of land. The old Whitt home was located in Sand Valley at Leath’s Gap.

The 1812 Franklin County list of Free Taxable Inhabitants contains the name of William’s neighbors, of which Leroy May was one. May sold William 20 acres of land in Franklin County, Tenn., in 1818. Leroy May also served in the War of 1812 and the Creek Indian War (1813 to 1816) and could have provided William Whitt with the information that prompted William to leave Franklin County and settle in Alabama.

William Whitt served in the War of 1812 with two different units from Franklin County. First, in the “Record of Commissions of Officers in the Tennessee Militia 1812,” William Witt is recorded as a Lieutenant who served in the 32nd Regiment from Franklin County, Tenn., in July 1812. Second, William Witt is also listed on the Dec. 10, 1812 muster roll for Captain Capelton’s Company, 2nd Regiment of Tennessee Volunteers, which is on file at the National Archives in Washington.

During the War of 1812, Captain George Caperton commanded the only company that was composed entirely of men from Franklin County, Tenn.

The Dec. 10, 1812 Muster Roll listed a William White (Whitt).

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