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Subject: [PHILLIPS] Reuben & Rebecca Watkins Philips - St. Clair, Alabama
Date: Mon, 21 May 2007 18:31:00 -0500


Copied from St. Clair Alabama Heritage Book page 348

The Family of Reuben PHILLIPS and Rebecca WATKINS

Reuben PHILIPS and wife Rebecca WATKINS came from the area that today
includes Spartanburg and Cherokee Counties in South Carolina and
Rutherford County in North Carolina. Rebecca was born December 26, 1789
in South Carolina. She was the first daughter of Evan (Jack) WATKINS and
Mary Ann (Polly) DILL. This family also lived at times in Rutherford
County, North Carolina. While much about Reuben’s origins (including
parentage) is unconfirmed, his tombstone shows his birth date as October
1, 1777. His birthplace was reported in the 1850 census as South
Carolina, but another source shows North Carolina. One bit of lore says
the family changed their surname’s spelling from Phillips to Philips in
order to avoid misdirected mail. Whatever the plausibility of this story
(and the authors are skeptical), the family has steadfastly maintained
the spelling with one “L” from the early 1800’s to the present.
Reuben and Rebecca were married November 24, 1808, probably
in Rutherford County, North Carolina. Afterward, they lived for a time
in South Carolina. In about 1819, the year that Alabama joined the
union, they moved to St. Clair County. They came with three or four
children, and they were accompanied by members of the WATKINS and DILL
families. In St. Clair County, the PHILIPSES first lived with Samuel
BOYD, whose relationship to them is unknown. They purchased land on
Canoe Creek, just north-east of Ashville, in 1820. Later, about 1823,
they moved to Beaver Creek and established a permanent home, about seven
miles east of Ashville. There they prospered and raised a large family.
Reuben served as school commissioner around 1840 but his main livelihood
was apparently cotton farming.
Reuben and Rebecca had eleven children: Delinda, Benson,
Mary, Ross, Jackson, Nannie, James Madison, Grandeur, Sarah Ann, Caroline
and Pinckney. Two died as infants.

1. Benson PHILIPS was born in 1812 and died in 1814 in S. Carolina.
2. Grandeur PHILIPS was born in 1824 and died in 1826.
Information about the other children follows.
3. Delinda PHILIPS was born August 19, 1810, in South Carolina. Delinda
married Miller BROWN in St. Clair County. They moved to Pontotoc County,
Mississippi, about 1842, where Miller farmed and served as Justice of the
Peace and County Treasurer. Legend has it that in 1854 Delinda and
family were in a wagon on the way to church, with Jefferson Davis Brown,
the youngest of her twelve children, in Delinda’s lap. the mule team ran
wild, and Delinda fell from the wagon and died. Little Jeff and the
others survived.
4. Mary (Polly) PHILIPS was born November 27, 1813, and was probably
named after her maternal grandmother. Polly was deaf. She never married
and made her home with her parents, and then with her brother, Ross. She
died October 11, 1868, probably in St. Clair County.
5. Ross PHILIPS, born October 31, 1815, in Spartanburg District South
Carolina, came to St. Clair County with his parents. He married Marzee
AUBREY. An abstract of the “Diary of Ross Phillips” is available at the
Ashville Museum & Archives. It reads like a short, autobiography. An
interesting story from the diary relates the circumstances surrounding
his abrupt departure from St. Claire County. He left Alabama for
Mississippi in early 1868 with Roger Williams after Roger, his business
partner and son-in-law, shot and killed a man in a gunfight. December
27, 1867. Roger was quickly acquitted, but Ross and Roger were nearly
mobbed by “Tories” a few days afterward, so they fled. Ross had been a
teacher in early life, later served as a Probate Judge, was a farmer for
a time, and was a merchant at the time he fled to Mississippi. He served
as an Elder at his church. Ross and Marzee had five children. Ross died
in Mississippi in 1891.
6. Jackson PHILIPS was born May 29, 1819, possibly in St. Clair County.
Jackson married Cynthia Ellen ASH AND THEY HAD TWELVE CHILDREN BETWEEN
1844 AND 1862. Jackson taught at several schools in the County. He died
January 12, 1898, and is buried in Ashville.
7. Nannie PHILIPS was born April 6, 1820. Nannie married a minister of
the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Bennett OLDHAM. They had seven
children. Nannie died in 1896 and is buried in Oldham Cemetery in St.
Claire County, Alabama.
8. James Madison PHILIPS was born June 7, 1822. He married Elizabeth
Yarbrough and had a family of fourteen children. In 1847, he built a
large colonial style house on his plantation near Ashville, which still
stands. He was active in church, school and government matters.
Elizabeth died in 1881, and James remarried, with Bety MARTIN. James
died in St. Clair County, May 9, 1905. It is said he died from the kick
of a mule.
9. Sarah Ann PHILIPS was born April 19, 1827. She married David FOREMAN
and lived near Branchville, Alabama. They had three children. She died
in 1894.
10. Caroline PHILIPS was born October 8, 1829. She married Oliver COOPER
and lived on Canoe Creek near Hopewell Church. They had three children.
Caroline died in 1883 and is buried in Hopewell churchyard near her
parents.
11. Pinckney PHILIPS, the youngest, was born March 22, 1832. He is
believed to have been engaged to Margaret LOONEY, but the two never
married. He joined with brother Ross to buy the family farm after
Reuben’s death. But shortly thereafter Pinckney volunteered for military
duty in the first company raised in the county. Pinckney was mortally
wounded at Manassas, Virginia June 30, 1862, with the 10th Alabama
Regiment.


Much of what is above, plus information about additional generations, was
traced through 1928 in a booklet by Reuben Littleton PHILIPS and May
SIDDONS PHILIPS, based in part on materials gathered by Jere C. PHILIPS.
At that time, large groups of descendants were not only in St. Clair
County, but also in Mississippi, Texas and Oklahoma. Some descendant
lines have been traced to the present, while the search for others is
ongoing.
Rebecca WATKINS PHILIPS died December 11, 1850. Her husband
Reuben died September 7, 1856. They are buried at Hopewell Baptist
Church, on US 411 between Ashville and Gadsden. Submitted by: James C.
Philips and Written by: James C. Philips and James A. Brown, Jr.
Sources: Reuben L. Philips and May Siddons Philips, “Short History of
the Philips and Yarbrough Families”, Self-published, Pauls Valley OK,
1928; Various census returns including St. Clair Co., Al, 1850; Mattie
Lou Teague Crow, Abstract of “Diary of Ross Philips” included in
“Anthology: People, Places, Events of St. Clair County”; Daniel Edgar
Bloxom, Jr. and Ann Katherine Deming Bloxom, “Philips – Yarbrough-
Elledge Pictorial Family History” Self-published, Los Angeles, CA 1983.


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