Finding Your Folks: Tidwells, Westmorelands and a whole lot more

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

Quite by accident, I stumbled across an old book online and opened a whole lot of doors to Southside families.

I had run into a dead end on one of my lines and decided to take a different tack and head in another direction. Since the Tidwells married not only into the Boyd family of Bethany, but also into my Robert Boyd’s family, on a whim, I did a search for Tidwells at Ancestry. Up popped this terrific little book (360-plus pages) which has a number of family surnames very familiar to Fayette, Coweta, Campbell, Carroll, Pike, and Meriwether county researchers.

The book is called, “McCall-Tidwell and Allied Families,” by Ettie Tidwell McCall, published in 1931. I found it on’s Family and Local Histories database but it probably is available at many libraries in our coverage area.

The book is not without controversy because Mrs. McCall does bring in the deGraffenried line in the Tidwell family, a line which has been questioned by some researchers.

It also has much information on the early Virginia ancestors of these families and has quite a bit of information on collateral lines (aunts, uncles and cousins).

It not only develops the Tidwell line behind Milly Tidwell Boyd (mother of the Bethany Boyds) but also the Jones line behind her mother, Mary Amelia Jones Tidwell. I have been curious about this line for years.

Amelia apparently is descended from Captain Richard Jones of Prince George and Brunswick counties in Virginia, who was born (probably) between 1660 and 1665. He lived not far from the present site of Petersburg. His descendants migrated southward until Mary Amelia emerged on the scene, born in 1785 in South Carolina. Her father (William Jones) came on into Georgia and settled in Wilkes, Elbert, Greene and Jasper counties, where Amelia met and married William Tidwell.

I never realized how many Westmorelands were in this area until I started coordinating the names in the book with Fayette and Coweta resources I have here at home. Those guys were everywhere and they had very large families.

The Westmorelands in this area are descended from William Westmoreland of Virginia through his son Joseph and Joseph’s son Reuben. Reuben’s son, Mark Westmoreland, born in 1801, married Ann Maria Coppedge of Pike County.

My ears always perk up at familiar names. My dad played golf for years with a Dr. Coppedge of East Point. Wonder if these might be his ancestors? Hmmm ...

Many members of the Westmoreland family married and settled in counties in the Atlanta area. We will develop this line more completely in another column.

The Tidwells are descended from John Tidwell of Virginia who, along with his two brothers, Richard and Robert, came to America from England and settled about 1683 on the Potomac River in Westmoreland County, Va. John may have had a large family but records only exist for two sons: Robert, who married Hannah Carr, and John (who we will call Jr.), whose wife’s name is unknown. John Jr. was the father of William Tidwell who was born in Virginia in 1765 and moved with his parents to Craven County, S.C. in 1772.

William’s story is a sad one as he and his wife both died during the Revolutionary War and left two orphans, William and Benjamin, who made their way to Georgia and became the progenitors of all those Tidwells in Coweta, Meriwether, Pike, Campbell ... and they were very plentiful.

Mrs. McCall also gives a wonderful history of the deGraffenried family who migrated from Switzerland to America, on down through South Carolina and into Georgia. Even though some may dispute the relationship of this line, the story is wonderful and tells of a wayward son who was disinherited because he married too young. The deGraffenried line connects to the Tidwell line and then to the Westmoreland line.

If you haven’t discovered it already, you have to be really good at untangling knots to be a good genealogist. Some of these families will lead you on a merry mind-boggler trying to figure out who is related to whom and how.

A Simmons family also figures in this puzzle and, since we had Simmons behind our Bethany families, I wonder if they are the same ones?

There is a lot to tell here and it may take several weeks to discuss all the families.

And, you have to remember, this is from a book and some things may be referenced with official records and some came from family stories. The story of Reuben Westmoreland and Keziah Simmons who met and married in Mississippi and made their way back to Georgia is a firsthand account from Mrs. McCall herself who spent many hours listening to stories about the Civil war and the burning of Atlanta from those who were there.

Remember, this book was written in 1931. The Civil War had occurred a scant 70 years in the past. Sort of like us, today, listening to stories about World War II.

I look forward to telling these family stories and genealogies over the next few weeks.

Although time does not permit me to do personal research for others (unless the family connects to my own), I welcome all letters and e-mails about genealogy and info on south metro Atlanta families. Send them to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214; e-mail or Any letters and/or e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.

Until next week, happy hunting!

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