HISTORY OF HOLMES COUNTY -- The First Settlers of Holmes County --- The Cawthon Family

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 By Anna Paget Wells (used with permission of publisher Sue Cronkite) from the book "Heart and History of Holmes County". This book is chock full of pictures and what has been used within this web site is only a small amount of the book.  It can still be ordered from Sue Cronkite or from the Holmes County Advertiser, 112 E Virginia Avenue, Bonifay FL 32425; phone 850-547-2270; fax 850-547-9200

The Cawthon family forebears were in Virginia in the early 1700s. Richard Cawthon migrated to the New World before 1720. Near the end of the century, the family was in South Carolina and later moved to east Georgia, where William grew up. He was married there to Sarah Smith. Around 1810, his family, including brothers and sisters, moved to Henry County, Ala, which then included Houston County.

In South Carolina and Georgia, the family raised cattle and sheep and they continued to raise livestock after they moved into Alabama, and for some years Dothan was known as Cawthon’s Cowpens. From Dothan, Cawthon moved to Walton County, Fla. A large group of people, as well as several thousand head of livestock, made this move into Florida.

From William Cawthon’s first marriage, there were seven children, six girls and one boy. While in the Dothan area, there were two deaths – his son, Thomas Jefferson, was thrown from a horse and killed; and his first wife died. He then married Elizabeth O’Neal, a member of a prominent Henry County family. Six children were born to them before they were divorced. In all, Cawthon was married four times and fathered 24 children. His third wife was Nancy Langston Fountain. She died in 1847. William Cawthon then married his fourth wife, Mary McSwain. She had one child, who the last child in the family.

There was great strength and stamina in this family. They lived under pioneer conditions where life was hard, especially for children. Most families exposed to frontier conditions were lucky to raise half of the children born to them, so it is remarkable that all the Cawthons, except the one killed by the horse, lived to be adults and established families of their own.

With such a large family there were many allied families by marriage with the Cawthon family. Names of some of the brides and grooms included McCaskill, Welch, Ghen, Koonee, Armes, Ball, Troutman, Hart, Miller, Gordon, Williams, two sisters married Waldens, three children married Hutchinsons, two brothers married twin sister, Maria and Clara Brown; and three married McSwains. Many of the Cawthon children settled around DeFuniak Springs, but two well-known ladies of Bonifay, Mrs Crissie C Miller and Miss Beatrice Cawthon, were granddaughters of William Cawthon. Some of his Hutchinson descendants also settled in Bonifay.



This page was lasted updated on 17 June, 2002 08:42 PM