Gravlee Family of Walker County
Researched, written and
submitted by Gene Gravlee-2004
Gravlee family first came into Walker County in 1820 and settled on
the banks of the Mulberry River in what is called today Rice’s
bottoms. This area is just up the Mulberry River toward Cullman
County from where the Mulberry and the Sipsey fork to form the
Warrior River. Some of the information contained is taken from a
letter written by William Gravlee and information, which was written
in his family Bible which, is in my possession.
ancestors of William Gravlee were John Gravely and his wife Margaret
“Peggy” Ballinger of Pickens District, South Carolina. John and
Peggy were the parents of Labum Gravely. Labum married Mary Blythe,
the daughter of William and Sarah Murphy Blythe. Labum and Mary
married about the year 1804 and about 1808 they moved to Rhea
County, Tennessee having two daughters, Sarah and Margaret. William
was born February 9, 1810 and John was born May 31, 1812. In April
1814 Labum Gravely died leaving Mary alone with four children to
raise and care for. Mary married once more in 1817 to Thomas
Drennen and they had two children, Walter Blythe Drennen and Mary
Drennen who died as an infant. The Drennen families of Cullman
County are the descendants of Walter Blythe Drennen. This includes
the Don Drennen family in the Birmingham area today.
1819, Mary sold out her possessions and started the move to Alabama
and stopped in the Wills Valley in the Cherokee Nation to make a
crop. April 18, 1820 is the date that Mary and her children landed
on the Mulberry River, about a mile from Hambys old mill. Thomas
Drennen had stayed behind in Tennessee to collect some old debts and
never arrived in Alabama. There was a letter received from Thomas,
but he was never heard from again. Once more Mary was alone to
raise children by herself and she never remarried. Mary Drennen
died on June 28, 1841 after losing a bout with typhoid fever. Mary
had been a member of the Primitive Baptist Church for about eighteen
years. Sarah, her oldest married Manley Stewart by whom she had two
sons, John and William. William Stewart fell in the Battle of
Murphresboro and I do not know what happened to John. Sarah died
May 31, 1841. Mary’s other daughter married William Butt, the son
of William Butt Sr. who was one of the first settlers on the
Mulberry River. William and Mary Butt had several children, Marley
A. Butt who was killed during the War Between the States, William
who resided in Walker County and some daughters. Mary Butt died
June 21, 1841.
married Rebecca Cromwell the daughter of a well known and well to do
and respectable farmer. She lived only a few years and John was
married a second time to Lizzie Calvert. They raised a large family
and moved to Texas after the War Between the States.
Gravlee married the daughter of John Fowler of Blount County near
the town of Blountsville. John Fowler’s wife was Lucy Whitaker and
there were several children of this marriage including Williams’
wife, Martha Cara Fowler. John Fowler’s father was Godfrey Fowler
who fought in the American Revolution with the North Carolina
Militia. William and Martha Cara Gravlee were married February 17,
1831 and of this union there were seven sons and four daughters.
The children were John David, William Hardy, Walter Godfrey, Mary
Lucintha, Jesse Lafayette, Martha America, Harvey Jackson, George
Washington, Elizabeth Caroline, Daniel Houston and Nancy Matilda.
William Gravlee was a farmer in the Cordova area, operated several
boats which hauled goods down the Warrior River, was involved in the
first coal mining operations on the Warrior River and was elected to
represent Walker County in the Alabama State Legislature in 1861.
William Gravlee is also the person who changed the spelling of the
surname, as we know it today from GRAVELY TO GRAVLEE. William
Gravlee was illiterate and attended school with his children so that
he might be better educated.
Gravlee married Irville Whorton and they had four sons and one
daughter. John David joined Major Hewlett’s calvary in 1862and was
discharged in 1863 because of poor health. John and Irville
Gravlee’s children were, Dr. William Isaac “Willie” Gravlee who
married Sarah Dorendia Sally Parchman in 1877, John Winston “Wint”
Gravlee who married Susan Savannah Vanna Grimes, Hubbard Barker
Gravlee who married Mary Etta Linda Phillips, George Gravlee who
married Emma Stephens and Alta Gravlee who married Jack Cates.
Gravlee married D. E. “Buddy” Mullins and had at least one child,
William W. Mullins. I have found that “Buddy” Mullins is listed as
both B. E. and D. E. Mullins. They moved to Tennessee after the War
Between the States and in 1881 Mary died and was buried near
Franklin, Tennessee. Her husband Buddy went to Texas and I lost
track of him.
Hardy Gravlee died in 1855 from congestion of the brain at only 20
years of age and he never married.
Godfrey Gravlee married Sarah Anne Elizabeth Roberts, the daughter
of Abraham M. Roberts. They lived in Jasper and had four sons and
three daughters. The children of this marriage were Dr. William L.
(Bill) Gravlee, Martha A. Gravlee who married Dr. J. A. Goodwin,
John A. Gravlee who married Lettitia E. (unknown last name), Walter
Forest Gravlee, Joseph Mortimer Gravlee, Lillian Gravlee who married
a Davidson and Jessie Gravlee who married a Burt. During the War
Between the States, he was an owner of a gristmill and he was
required to stay home and operate the mill while four of his
brothers went to fight.
America Gravlee married E. J. Rice who was a Captain in the
Confederate Calvary during the War Between the States. E. J. Rice
was the son of James Rice and Mahulda Cannon Rice from Cullman
County. Their children were Effie Eugenia Rice who married Thomas
Gaulding on December 26, 1880, Florence O. Rice who married A. W.
Kerr, Sale Rice, Will Rice, Ralph Rice, Meta Rice and Emma Rice.
Sometime around 1880, this family moved to Texas and some of their
descendants live in the Dallas and Fort Worth area at this writing.
Washington “Wash” Gravlee married Czarina Nalls. During the War
Between the States he joined Major Hewlett’s Calvary and was a
Lieutenant in Captain E. J. Rice’s company. “Wash” was in the
surrender and left Walker County to make his home in Fayette County
and raised their children, Wiley Walter Gravlee who married Mamie
Bell Bridges, William Nathan Gravlee who married Mattie Lou Hodge,
Ila Gravlee who married Hugh Oscar White, Cara Czarina Gravlee who
married John O. Walker, Mary Gravlee, George Jeter Gravlee who
married Pearl Barnette, Macon Washington Gravlee who married Jimmie
Nell Branyon, Bradley Gravlee, Leland Clark Gravlee Sr. who married
Mary Annie Wright, James Bailey Gravlee who married Mamie Louise
Vassar and Mimmie Metta Gravlee.
Lafayette Gravlee joined the Confederate Army just as his other
brothers had done. Jesse was a Lieutenant in Captain F. A. Gamble’s
company in the 28th Regiment and was wounded in Wild Cat
Gap in Bragg’s retreat from the north. Jesse was taken to the
hospital in Montgomery where doctors amputated his leg above the
knee. He suffered the most excruciating pain until his death on
November 30, 1862. William Gravlee went to Montgomery to escort his
body back home for burial but upon arriving in the Democrat
(Sumiton) area, found that heavy rains had caused the rivers to be
flooded and had to make a raft in order to take the body across the
Mulberry River. Jesse was buried at Rice’s Chapel Church Cemetery
in the family plot.
Jackson Gravlee also joined F. M. Musgrove’s Company and fought the
entire war in the calvary. He married Nancy Narcissus Gaines the
daughter of George Shipp Gaines and Francis Ann Elizabeth Jones
Gaines on December 20, 1872. The Gaines family was from Corona.
George Shipp Gaines parents were Henry Pendleton Gaines and Nancy
Shipp Gaines. The Gaines family was from Virginia, North Carolina
and Greene County Alabama before coming to Walker County Alabama.
“Jack” and “Nan” raised a very large family to adulthood. Their
children were Clyde who married Minnie Forrester, Walter Sylvester
Gravlee who married Pearl Mamie Tanner, Jessie Gravlee who married
James Garfield Barton, Grady Gaines Gravlee who married Olathe
Parsley, George Strother Gravlee who married (1) Lillian F. York,
(2) Ada Elizabeth Sellers, Lula Gravlee who married Alexander
Hasslevander Roberson, Robert Earl Gravlee who married Madge McNeil,
and Cara Ruth Gravlee who married John Vance Ward. Jack Gravlee
spent most of his life in Walker County where he was in the
mercantile business. He was also postmaster at the Gravleeton post
office as William Gravlee had been before him. The Gravleeton Post
Office was located near Rice’s Chapel on the Old Baltimore Road.
Caroline Gravlee first married Martin Roberts, the son of Marcus
Roberts. They had one child Laura who lived to be 21 years of age.
When Martin Roberts died, Caroline married William H. Duffee. Their
children were Ella Duffee, Cecil Gravlee Duffee who married Nell
Devine, Daniel Jackson Duffee and Walter George Duffee who married a
Bessie W. (last name unknown to). Even though Caroline and William
lived and died in the Walker County area, some of their children
moved away to other parts of Alabama. Some of their descendants are
in the Birmingham area today.
Houston Gravlee lived at the old homeplace with his brother Jack
Gravlee and was in the mercantile business with him.
Gravlee married Thomas Peter Lamkin a son of Griffin and Sarah
(Thacker) Lamkin. Thomas Peter Lamkin was a Confederate soldier in
Company F. Sixteenth Alabama Infantry and served until the close of
the war. Griffin Lamkin was a soldier in the war of 1812, holding
the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After the War Between the States,
Thomas Lamkin was a successful businessman and farmer. He was
active in the United Confederate Veterans and he commanded the
Alabama Division of Veterans. Their children were Griffin Lamkin who
married Bessie McCarty, Kenneth Lamkin and Alma Lamkin. I
understand that there were four children, but I only have three in
Most of Jack
Gravlee’s children moved from Walker County, but one who lived most
of his life in Walker County was my grandfather, George Strother
Gravlee. Strother Gravlee was born in Gravleeton but lived in
Sumiton for very long time. He was an ordained Baptist Minister, a
Justice of the Peace who signed many documents for people in the
area, a schoolteacher and the operator of a small country store.
Strother married Lillian F. York the daughter of J. Barney York and
Octavia Gresham on June 5, 1902 and they had three children: Clyde
Lester Gravlee who married Palestine Key, Myrtle Josephine Gravlee
who married Paul Francis Corbett and Nancy Ava Gravlee who married
William Homer Sides. After Lillian’s death, Strother married Ada
Elizabeth Sellers on September 26, 1909. “Lizzie” was the daughter
of John Walton Sellers and Missiniah Ellen Wilson Sellers. From
this union were born the following children: George Clarence Gravlee,
who married Julia Peyton Rudisill, Walton Jackson Gravlee who
married Willie Mae Roberts, Mabel Ellen Gravlee who married Francis
Bernard Miller, Grey Strother Gravlee who married (1) Amy Dewise
Black (2) Thelma Spears, Gaines Pendleton Gravlee who married
Elizabeth Ann Hornsby, Elizabeth Gravlee who married Otis Edward
Moss, Myra Opal Gravlee who married Odell Felton Grady, Carie
Marquerite Gravlee who married Thomas Eugene Tidwell and Leila
Carolyn Gravlee who married Vernon Allen Gaines.
sources: Gene Gravlee