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Solomon & Rhody (Pugh) Blair

Submitted by:  Jim Yarbrough

Source:  Joe Blair Family Genealogy

    Following their marriage on December 13th, 1877, Solomon David and Rhody E. Pugh Blair headed for Texas to join Adeline and Solomon’s siblings. About 1883, Solomon, Rhody and their two children born in Texas, Hixie Adeline and Thomas William Blair returned to Pike County. All the other siblings with the exception of John McDaniel returned with Solomon. He resumed farming in Pike County probably on William’s land.

   Back in Pike County, Dorcas Kitsey Ann married William B. Durden in 1884. They had the following children: David,  born Aug. 1885, Addie (daughter), born May 1887, Annie, born Feb. 1889, Frank W., born Nov. 1890, Esther, born Sept. 1893, Andrew E., born Dec. 1895 and Eva, born Dec. 1897. Andrew married Dora McCloud, a daughter of Jasper and Mollie Sunday McLeod. Andrew's nickname was Doc. They had 8 children: William, Grover, Joel (died at 13 from hornet stings), Frances, Marjorie, Ruthie Mae and Andrew "Doc" Junior. Photo is of Andrew "Doc" Durden.

The other siblings, Juley V. A., Leonard and Henry were still minors when William Blair's property was sold.

   Leonard later married Doris (?) and had no children. He and Doris owned a mercantile store in Gordon, Alabama located in Houston County north of Dothan. 

   Henry married Cora Penolia Sasser and lived in Goshen between Troy and Luverne, Alabama.  Juley V. A. married Francis  M (Mack). Sanders.

   Apparently William Solomon Blair died without a will. There is a case record in the Pike County Probate Court detailing the action taken to settle his estate. The description of the land as given is difficult to read however the amount of land is listed as “137 acres more or less”.

   This action was filed with the Probate Court on December 1st, 1888 and reads as follows: “In the matter of application to sell land for partition among tenants in common made by S. D. Blair, et al by J. D. Stafford, Esquire of Troy in the State of Alabama or to such one or more of you as shall act herein—Greeting: KNOW YE, that we, reposing confidence in your integrity, skill and ability, have appointed you Commissioners to take the answers to the interrogatories and cross-interrogatories hereunto attached of M. A. Hinson and W. S. Pugh.”

   On December 17th, 1888 notices was given as follows: “WHEREAS, in and by decree of the Judge of the said Court on the 17th day of December 1888, you are appointed to sell the following described real estate in this county, to wit: (Description of property given here). NOW, THEREFORE, you are hereby directed in,  pursuance of said decree, and the statue, in such cases made and provided, to sell the above real property to the highest bidder for cash at the Court House door at Troy in this County, for the purpose of making an equitable division between the said joint owners….” The order required that notice of the sale be published in the Troy Messenger for at least three weeks detailing the terms of the sale, together with a description of the property. P. O. Harper, Esquire, was appointed as “Guardian ad Litem" for the minor children, Julia V. A., Henry O. and L. L. (Leonard) Blair.

   Auction was held on January 21st, 1889 and the land was sold to S. J. Skinner for the sum of two hundred and twenty dollars, cash. Court costs amounted to seventy dollars and forty-five cents leaving one hundred forty nine dollars and fifty-five cents to be divided the heirs. Payment was made to each of the surviving children of William Solomon Blair in the amount of twenty-four dollars, ninety-two and ˝ cents.

   Another “fireside” story exists that probably has basis in the sale of William’s lands. Buford, Solomon’s son, told this story: Sometime after the time that Solomon, his family and all siblings except John McDaniel, returned to Pike County a disagreement arose between Solomon and John McDaniel. His understanding was that it concerned land.

   With no land left to farm, Solomon moved his family to the citrus growing area of Florida for several years then returned to Pike County and resumed farming there. It is not known if he purchased, rented land or sharecropped.

Solomon and Rhody’s children were Hixie Adeline, b. October 12th,  1878 in Houston County, Texas and Thomas William Blair, b. January 20th, 1882, Houston County, Texas. All the other children were born in Pike County, AL. They were James Solomon, b. May 14th 1886, Joseph M., b. December 12th 1889, Leonard Frank, b. September 1st, 1892, Allie Pearl and Sallie E. (twins), b. April 23rd 1895 and lastly Buford Ray, b. June 22nd, 1902. A family story says that a son between the twins and Buford was stillborn. Photo on the left is of Hixie Adeline Blair taken about 1896. By 1901, Rhody, then forty-four years, old had gone thru the change of life. She caught a case of the measles that caused her to briefly return to being able to bear a child. Solomon must have gotten frisky about that time and Buford came along. His children often refer to him as “a case of the measles”.

   About 1905/06 Solomon traveled as far South as Jay, Florida looking for land to purchase. He finally settled on a plot of land in the rolling red clay hills of Covington County about two miles North of Andalusia, AL. Why Solomon searched for land in the Jay, Florida and Covington County, Alabama area is speculation. He most likely traveled south into these areas along the Three Notch Road that ran from Fort Mitchell thru Pike County then into Covington County, southwesterly along the East side of Conecuh River thru Escambia County and into Santa Rosa County where the town of Jay is located. Three Notch Road ended in the Pensacola area. Relatives of Rhody, the Pugh family, lived in Santa Rosa County, Florida and Solomon’s first cousin, Major Lee Blair, owned a farm North of Andalusia, Alabama. Major was the son of John Jr. and Malinda Burgess Blair. Solomon bought his farm between the Major Blair farm and the city of Andalusia near Major’s land. Rhody's brother Joel Pugh and his wife Sallie either followed Solomon & Rhody or moved to Covington County at a later date. Joel and Sally are buried at Bethany Baptist Church Cemetery in Heath, not too far from Solomon & Rhody.

   Back in Pike County, the family gathered their belongings, rounded up their stock and headed for Covington County. Buford was about four years old at that time. The trip probably took about eight to ten days. Upon arrival on their property, they had to set up housekeeping, clear land and get ready for farming. There possibly was an old house on the property for them to live in. According to a story told by Hixie Adeline relates that Indians were still living along the small creek that ran thru Solomon’s property. (Photo above is Solomon's great great grand-daughter Jennifer Blair Butler receiving promotion to Lt. Colonel in U. S. Army. Her father, T. W. Blair, Sr. pinning the silver maple leaf to her lapel.)

   Hixie had married James William Aughtman (called Dave) prior to the family’s move to Covington County and had a daughter named Kate, born in 1903. Thomas William was also married by this time and remained in Pike County. All the other children were single and made the move to Andalusia with the family.

   About 1909, Solomon had his last home built. It was located on top of the highest hill on the property near the south boundary. The house was square, facing to the East and had three bedrooms, a kitchen and a dining room. A hallway about six to eight feet wide ran from east to west. One could enter from the east and exit to the west without ever entering any of the rooms. Solomon had a porch built on all four sides of the house. He commented that this was done so that he could sit in the breeze no matter which direction the breeze came from. Pecan trees were planted to the South of the house. In the yard, Rhody had flowers, maintained a fig and a pomegranate tree but no grass, the yard was kept swept clean with a “brush broom” made from bushes with a thick top. Floors inside the house were kept clean and white by scrubbing with a “scrub brush” made from corn shucks (husks) placed inside holes cut in a board that was attached to a handle. A solution made from lye soap and water was used as the cleaning compound. The photo on the left is of such a scrubber on display at the Pike Pioneer Museum in Troy, Alabama,

     Northwest of the house in the back yard was a smokehouse where Solomon hung his sausage, bacon and hams to cure. Atop the smokehouse was the “dinner bell”. When Rhody had dinner ready, she would ring the bell so the men could come in to eat (Dinner in the South is the noon meal, supper is the evening meal). A well was on the back porch. This provided water for cooking, drinking and bathing. She also used the well to keep milk and butter cool during the hot summer months. Baths were taken in a tin washtub that also doubled for washing clothes. Other bathroom duties were taken care of in an outhouse located outside the yard, down a short path in the pasture. James Solomon Blair and Leonard Frank Blair, after marrying, lived on and helped work the land. In 1935 Buford also moved his family onto the farm. Three houses were on the property at that time.

   The family prospered over the years. Solomon built up a sizeable bank account. Rhody had her own account from selling milk, butter and eggs in downtown Andalusia, about two miles from the farm. The stock market crashed in 1929 plunging the nation into a deep depression. Rhody made a trip to the bank to deposit her monies. The teller took her money and as she walked out the door, he closed and locked the building. The banks had been ordered closed by the federal government. This did not set well with Rhody. As the nation began to get back on its feet, depositors were paid ten cents on the dollar for the money they had at the time of closing. Rhody commented “Solomon thanked them for his but I told them they stole my money”. To say the least Rhody was frugal.

   For as long as I can remember, Solomon would say grace before his meals.  When he visited our home, he would do the honors.  I pass it along here for the younger ones who never heard it. It went thusly: “Kind Father, pardon now our many sins and make us thankful for these and all other blessings. Amen”. It was short and to the point. Solomon was ready to eat.

   Rhody died at home on July 27, 1938 after short illness at the age of 81. Heavy rains hit the area for several days prior to her death. The red clay hills were too slick for the undertaker to travel over the hills. Rhody was placed in a wagon pulled by Solomon’s mule for the trip to a place where they could pick her up. Her wake was at the home of Dave and Hixie Blair Aughtman. The day of the funeral, the mourners walked to Bethany Church for the funeral. The procession was quite a sight as mourners passed the grandchildren that were not allowed to attend the funeral. The author was one of those grandchildren. (An interesting note: Solomon had a mule he named Rhody.)

   Following the death of Rhody, Leonard Frank Blair, then living on Pugh Street in Andalusia, moved his family back to the farm and lived in the house with Solomon. Two of Solomon’s sons farmed the property, Leonard Frank and Buford. A year after Rhody died, Solomon sold the farm to his daughter, Allie Pearl Blair Kinder. Allie Pearl lived in Texas. Farming the land by Frank and Buford continued for another year after which Buford moved his family to Brewton, Alabama and lived out his life there. Solomon continued to make his home at the old home place for sometime then lived with his daughter Hixie Adeline Blair Aughtman, about three or four miles from his farm. Jess Aughtman, Dave’s father, also lived with Dave and Hixie. During each of these periods, he would spend a week or two with all of his other children except with Allie Pearl. The trip to Texas was too much for him. His visits to Buford’s home most often were in November about the time deer-hunting season opened. Photo is of Leonard Frank and Adaline Halford Blair. Adaline is Frank's third wife.

On one of his trips to Brewton, best as can be determined was about the hunting season of 1947, Solomon who was eighty-eight years old went deer hunting. His gun was a double barrel L. C. Smith shotgun that he called “Old Her”. He was placed on a deer stand in the Coleman Island area about twelve miles East of Brewton. Solomon was “hard of hearing” and it was difficult for him to hear the dogs chasing the deer. This author, son of Buford Blair, was on the stand with Solomon with instructions to let Solomon have the first shot at any deer that came by. Well into the hunt, the sound of dogs chasing a deer were heard headed in the direction where Solomon was. I tapped him on the shoulder and pointed in the proper direction. The deer came within about thirty or forty yards of Solomon. He saw it. Bang! The deer falls to the ground first shot. Only problem was it was a doe. Buford , several years later, told the Game Warden this story. He laughed and said if he had caught Solomon, all he would have done was say, “Good shot”.

   On another of his fall (hunting season) visits, Ida had cooked some coon for supper. Solomon loved coon and Ida was an expert at cooking them. The next morning Ida asks Solomon what he would like for breakfast. Solomon replied: “Si Ida, if there’s any of that keeon left, I'd just as soon have that”. (Explanation of “si”: Solomon generally pre-fixed his comments with “si” which is pronounced as “sigh”. Buford explained that it was originally “says I”.)

   Occasionally Solomon would visit Buford’s family during the summer months. Fishing season. Buford kept several fish baskets in Conecuh River and caught catfish for eating and selling to various individuals in the Brewton area. The photo on left is of Solomon holding baskets Buford made in 1946. These baskets were made from white oak strips. The trees were cut down and sawed into lengths easy to manage. Buford would then split the oak into thin strips; scrape them (he used a piece of broken glass and a sharp knife) until they were pliable. These he would weave into a long basket in such a way as to allow the fish to enter but not come back out. Buford caught a lot of catfish with this method. This type of fish basket is now illegal. Solomon loved catfish head stew. Ida would cringe but would make him a pot each time he visited.

  Solomon lived to be 97 years old. One morning he got out of bed and while putting on his pants, he fell, breaking his hip. He was bed ridden for a period, and with his age, the bones would not heal properly. Eventually he caught pneumonia and died in 1956. He was laid to rest at Bethany Baptist Church in Heath, Alabama next to his beloved Rhody. Solomon’s life spanned the periods of the Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II and the Korean Conflict. Some of his ancestors or descendants fought and died in all those wars. Remarkable indeed.

   After Solomon died, Allie Pearl sold the property. No longer was “Blair Hill” owned by anyone in the Blair family.

   Hixie Adeline Blair married James William (Dave) Aughtman. She gave birth to two sets of twin children and one single birth however only one child, Kate born 15 September 1903, survived at birth. Kate married Walter Patterson and was the mother of Edwin and Janice Patterson. Hixie died 30 December 1975 at the age of 97 years, the same age as her father when he died. Edwin married Margaret Hall. They have no children. Edwin is a Baptist Minister and is Pastor of a Searight Baptist Church near Dozier, Alabama several miles North of Andalusia.

   Thomas William Blair married Mary Alice Jeffcoat. They had eight children: Mary, George, Melva, Myrtle, Melonee, Mildred, Carlton Thomas and Harold. Tom had a habit of giving his children, especially his sons, nicknames (and this writer is not sure of the accuracy of the above names). Carlton Thomas’ son, Thomas William Blair, Sr. laughs when he tells the story that his mother never knew his fathers legal name until he was drafted into the army during World War II. Bill was killed in battle shortly before the end of WWII. She knew and married him as Bill Blair. The T. W. Blair family lived in Ansley, Alabama in the Northwest corner of Pike County. A photo of the Blair home in Ansley can be seen in “The Heritage of Pike County” book. The photo on left is of four generations of the Blair family: Solomon David, Thomas William Blair, Carlton Thomas (Bill) and his son Thomas W. Blair.

   James Solomon (Jim) married Vera Gardner. Their first child was named Audrey. A son was stillborn. Vera died shortly after giving birth to the son and was buried at Bethany Cemetery in Heath, Alabama. Jim moved in with Solomon and Rhody for the next few years before the death of Rhody. In the mid 1930’s Jim met and married Thelma Crawford from Brewton, Alabama. They purchased farmland between Solomon Blair and the Major Blair property. Thelma was working at the Andella factory in Andalusia. For years she walked back and forth the three miles to work in rain, blazing sun and freezing weather to pay for the farm. Jim did the farming, housework, and some of the cooking. The photo on the right is Audrey in 1944. Audrey married Fate James (Jim) Carnley and following the end of WWII, they moved to the Los Angeles area of California. Their two children are named David and Brenda.  In  1976, following the death of James Solomon Blair, they moved to Brewton to care for Thelma Crawford Blair. James S. and Thelma Crawford Blair are buried at May Creek Cemetery. Dave lives in Oregon and Brenda lives in Brewton, Alabama. Jim Carnley died in 1987 and Audrey died in 1992. Both are buried at May Creek Cemetery on Ridge Road about seven miles East of Brewton on the banks of May Creek.

   Joseph M. Blair married Claudie Jeffcoat. Joe worked at several different professions during his lifetime. He began his career working for the railroad. During the prohibition period, he was Chief of Police in Phenix City, Alabama. While he was Chief of Police, he was arrested and convicted for bootlegging. While talking to an old timer from Phenix City many years ago, this writer was told that not only was he guilty of bootlegging but in fact delivered the booze on the city fire truck! After his release from prison, Joe opened and ran a Sinclair Gasoline station and Sinclair distributorship in Phenix City. During the time that Joe was running the gas station an old and tattered looking man came in and sat down. He stayed there until closing time. Joe asks him if he wanted to have supper with him and his wife. The old fella jumped at the opportunity. Later, Joe ask him if he had a place to sleep..he said no. Claudie fixed up a room for him. He continued to live with Joe and Claudie for a period of time. Occasionally he would walk into the business section of Phenix City but always returned. When the old man died, a will was found leaving everything he owned to Joe and Claudie. It was a substantial amount of money.  About 1943/44 he purchased the Blue Gator fishing lodge in Wewahitchka, Florida. He died there from a stroke in 1946. The children of Joe and Claudie were: Caroline, Homer and Margaret. The photo is of Joe, Claudie, Rhody and Solomon Blair, taken prior to 1938.

   Leonard Frank married first Mary Newton. They had seven children including two sets of twins. They were: Daniel Fay/William Ray (twins) born 1918, Rhoda Elma born 1920, Charles born 1922, Claudia Pearl and John Foy/James Roy (twins) born 1930. Mary Newton died in the middle 1930’s. Frank then married a lady from Andalusia whose name I do not know (this marriage lasted only a few months) and then married Adaline Halford by whom he had one child, Mary Ann. Photo on right  is James Roy and John Foy Blair, age 12 years, taken in 1942. Roy is on the left and Foy on the right.

    Allie Pearl married a man by the name of Boswell, first name unknown, and had two children: Lewis Boswell and Wilson Boswell. She later married John Kinder and lived most of her adult life in Texas.

   Sallie married Frank Copeland and had five children. They were Fred, born 1915, died 1993, David (called Pete), Floris and Doris (twins) and Frances. Frank Copeland was several years older than Sallie and had children by a previous marriage. They lived on what is now called Wire Road in Macon County, Alabama a mile or so South of Notasulga, Alabama. Buford and his family lived about a quarter mile South of Frank and Sallie near a country store owned by the Christian family from about 1925 until January 1935. All of Buford’s children except Lee were born in Macon County. Gladys was about six weeks old when the family moved to Andalusia. This photo is of Sallie Blair Copeland holding baby (Ernest Blair), Lee Blair sitting on a stump and Ida Register Blair on the right. Photo taken in late spring of 1926 in Macon County, Alabama. Frances Copeland married Tommy Culpepper, a forest ranger who was assigned to the lookout tower in Brewton. Frances underwent minor surgery and died on the operating table.

   The marriage of Buford Blair to Ida Lee Register, daughter of Joseph Lee and Susan Taylor Register on April 24th, 1923 introduces the Register and related families.

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