HISTORY OF HOLMES COUNTY -- The First Settlers of Holmes County --- The Faircloth Family (by Geraldine Kryder Clemmons)

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(From the book "Heart and History of Holmes County" by Anna Paget Wells (used by permission of the publisher, Sue Cronkite))  This book is chock full of pictures and what has been used within this web site is only a small about 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 Faircloths of Holmes County were part of a family that seemed to be forever on the move.  The grandfather of this pioneer family had helped to settle three counties in Georgia before coming to Holmes County.  Abraham Faircloth was born in Laurens County, Georgia, Jan 18, 1813.  He was the son of Richard Faircloth who was born in Cumberland County, North Carolina.

Richard was the son of Benjamin Faircloth, a Revolutionary War soldier from Virginia, and a direct descendant of William Faircloth, who came to America from England in 1665.  Richard Faircloth served in Captain Blacksher's Company of the Georgia Militia in the War of 1812.  He was rewarded for his service with 600 acres of land in Laurens County, Georgia.  The early Faircloths seemed to be thrifty land dealers, buying and selling land at great profits.

Before Abraham's family moved into Holmes County in 1848, he had lived in Laurens, Houston, and Thomas County, Georgia.  He is listed on Page 226 of Rigsby's Historic Georgia Families.

I've often wondered about Abraham, and why a man who, according to records owned a 500-acre plantation and 42 slaves in Thomas County, Georgia, would sell an established home and come to the pinelands of Holmes County.

Perhaps he could foresee the coming struggle of the Civil War, or perhaps he enjoyed the challenge of the struggle for survival that was so evident in the lives of the early pioneers.  Perhaps his desire for privacy and elbow room forced him to travel forward as each county became heavily populated.

We shall likely never know the reason for his travels, but he did settle in Holmes County with his wife Rebecca, and his sister, Prudence.  Here he found his final home as he settled about 12 miles northwest of Bonifay and lived there until his death in 1877.  He did, however, leave descendants who have stayed by the fireside and have been instrumental in the political, educational, social and economic progress of Holmes County.

Abraham and Rebecca Faircloth had the following children:

    Elbert, born in 1850, married Rhoda Woodall;

    Catherine, born in 1852, married Joe Hagans;

    Eliza, born in 1854, never married;

    Matilda, born in 1857, married D J Paul;

    Paul D, born in 1861, married Mary Ellen Woodall;

    Elizabeth, born in 1864, married Zeke Harris and Richard French;

    Gatsie, born in 1867, married John Barntine;

    William, born in 1856, died in 1861; Abram, born in 1869, died in 1897.

Ada Strickland (this webmaster's great-grandmother!), Peggy Rowland, Ruthie Cozart, Emma Paul, Doc Barntine, and Susie Register, are grandchildren of Abraham and Rebecca.  Hundreds of Holmes County families can trace their roots to this pioneer family, some of them fifth and sixth generations.  Some of the sixth generation descendants are:  Timothy Register, Shawn Lewis and Jassmin Lea Ingram.

Some of the fifth generation descendants are:  Shane Brooks, Robert A Brinley, Derrick Martin, Tiffany Miller, Christy Clemmons, James Faircloth II, Marty Bush, Janet Manuel, Rocky Miller, Jason French, Zackuel Clemmons, Julie Hawkins and Jessica Lee Ann Barnes.

It has been this writer's (Geraldine Kryder Clemmons) privilege to hear unforgettable fireside stories of this pioneer family.  Susie Register, at 88 years of age, recalled the tragic death of Grandma Rebecca in 1909

There had been a buggy accident in which Grandma Rebecca was killed; Susie recalled her father, D J Paul, rented a surrey so that his family could attend the funeral.  They stopped and picked up a neighbor, Mrs John Dixon.  It was a dreary, rainy day, and in Mrs Dixon's effort to ease the burden of this family, she quoted a verse from her childhood that states "Blessed is the corpse that the rain falleth upon."

The Holmes County Faircloths have held a family reunion each June, and the third Sunday in September the descendants gathered at the Memorial Singing Hall in the Bethlehem Community for a Memorial Sing in honor of my grandmother, Elizabeth Faircloth French.

This sing was started in 1841 by Will Harris, the oldest of my grandmother's children.  The gathering practiced the old tradition of sacred harp practice, singing, an art within itself.

In the first sing, the gathering remembered my grandmother reverently with these words:  "I want to live a Christian here, I want to die a shouting.  I want to see bright angels stand and wait to receive me.  To bear my soul to Canaan's land, where Christ is gone before me."

Through the years countless others have been added to the list to be remembered.  As the singers continued to decrease, the warmth and love was still evident as the gathering raised their voices in harmony, keeping alive one of the oldest traditions in Holmes County.

Shortly after Abraham Faircloth settled in Holmes County, he was followed by two of his brothers, Isaac and Jacob.

Isaac came to Holmes County as a single man.  He later married Diana Lewis, a widow with children.  One Malissa Lewis married W J McDonald of the Whitewater Community.  Isaac is buried in Union Hill Cemetery in the Bethlehem Community.

Jacob married Mary Anne Pumphrey in Leon County in 1835 when Florida was yet a territory.  Jacob at one time owned 200 acres of land in Holmes County and had one child, Marry.  I failed to find any of the descendants of Jacob.  He was counted on the 1870 Census, but I could find no other record.  He may have returned to Georgia or he may have been buried in one of the unmarked graves in Holmes County.

The three brothers must have shared a deep feeling for "family ties", as wherever one traveled, the other two soon followed.

In 1979, a National Faircloth Association was created by Robert Earl Woodham of Atlanta in an effort to bring the descendants of the Faircloth family together.  Hundreds of historical documents have been acquired, placing this family and its heritage and accomplishments among the finest in the nation.

From the Oath of Allegiance of Lt William Faircloth taken at Valley Forge with Gen George Washington in 1776, to retired Maj Grover Paul of Holmes County, this family has been a great participant in preserving freedom in the greatest nation in the world.

In a greater effort to further the interest and pride in this enormous family, the Faircloth Family Association commissioned Holmes County artist, Mrs L N (Lee) Smith, to paint the Faircloth Coat of Arms which was on display at the National Faircloth Family Headquarters in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Robert Earl Woodham, president of the Faircloth Family Association, said of the Coat of Arms granted in England in 1853, "Each color and emblem stands for an accomplishment of this family, and as we claim right to the Coat of Arms, let us be reminded that under this banner great battles have been fought and history has been made, and that we are a "family".

From 1665 Faircloths and their descendants have gone forth through this nation to leave their footprints in the sands of time.  Even unto the sands of Holmes County, Florida.

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