Finding Your Folks: Anyone seen Laura McWhorter Thompson Stowers?

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

I was so excited last week after receiving a reply to a message I had left on Rootsweb back in 2001 about my McWhorter family.

Laura McWhorter was the daughter of my GGG grandfather, Leroy McWhorter, and the sister of my GG grandfather, Moses McWhorter. Since research on Laura's family had come to a screeching halt years ago, and I had bigger fish to fry, I had just left her sitting there in 1870 in Heard County with her second husband and three children.

Research by others (and haphazardly checked by me) had shown that she was first married to a William Thompson and had two boys, William and Franklin, and second to James Stowers, and had another son, Leroy Stowers.

And there she sat until last week when Elaine Luce of Texas answered the message, desperately seeking the family of her William Thompson who married a Laura McWhorter in Calhoun County, Ala. Elaine had waded through misinformation, badly transcribed names, closed-mouth relatives, sealed adoption records and dead-end family stories and had ended up on the Rootsweb message board grasping at the straw that was my Laura, hoping beyond hope that she was the "Isabel" listed with her A.W. Thompson in 1860 in Jefferson County, Ala.

I believe she was. From records we have been able to obtain, here's Laura's story.

She was born 30 Nov. 1827 (Bible records), probably near Greenville, S.C., since her father was a deacon at Reedy River Baptist Church there from 1825-1830. She was the fifth child of the Rev. Leroy and Mary Elizabeth Thomasson (or Thompson) McWhorter and moved to Georgia with her parents in 1839 when she was about 12 years old. Her brothers and sisters, in order of birth, were Moses Allen, Sarah M., Mary Ann E., Johnson, (Laura), Thomas Benson, Elizabeth, Newton Alexander, and Doctor Franklin (I believe this is a name, not a title), all born in South Carolina.

Laura's father settled his family first (1840) in Cass (now Bartow) County and in 1843 accepted the pastorate of Van Wert Baptist Church in neighboring Paulding (now Polk) County. In 1847, the family moved on, and Leroy became one of the founders and the first pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church near Villa Rica in Carroll County, a county that would become home base for many McWhorters yet to come.

On 15 July 1855, Laura married Alexander William Thompson in Calhoun County, Ala. (formerly Benton and part of Cleburne which is adjacent to Carroll). A.W. was the son of William David Thompson and his wife, Mary, who had moved to Benton County in the 1830s with a large contingent of the Thompson family from Kentucky and Tennessee. A.W. and Laura moved to Jefferson County, Ala., and had two sons, William W. in 1858 and Franklin in 1861. A.W. was studying medicine, probably under Dr. F.M. Churchill with whom he, Laura (listed as "Isabel" in the census) and their two sons resided.

Meanwhile, back in Georgia, Rev. Leroy had accepted the pastorate at Centralhatchee Baptist Church in Heard County, north of Franklin, and moved his family there sometime before 1858. Several McWhorters remained in Heard after Leroy moved back to Carroll County a few years later.

I say this to set the scene for the next ten years of Laura's life for which we have no records as yet. But the Civil War intervened and, since Laura remarried by 1870, we can only assume the worst, that A.W. was killed in the war. Elaine said that Thompson family stories indicated A.W. was a doctor during the war. She has not been able to find any records.

Sometime before 1866, Laura remarried James Marion Stowers (whether in Georgia or Alabama is unknown) and moved back to Heard County, probably to be with family. Her brother, D. Franklin married Nancy Ann Lucinda Wilson and lived in Heard until his death in Kentucky, also in the Civil War, and, since Laura named one of her sons "Franklin," I would assume she and Franklin's family were close. There are many members of Franklin's family buried at Centralhatchee Cemetery in Heard County.

By 1870, Laura and James Marion Stowers were living in the Corinth District of Heard County with Laura's two sons by A.W. and one son of their own, Leroy, born in 1866. In 1880 the family members remain the same so Laura and James M. had only that one son, at least only one child who lived.

It is believed that Laura died sometime before 1897 and James (b. 1824) remarried to Lula Dean (b. 1875), a young lady more than 50 years his junior, as shown in the 1900 Heard County census. James died before 1910 and Lula is shown as a widow that year, living with her mother, Elmina Dean. She and James had one son, Clifford Stowers, b. 1899.

Leroy Stowers, Laura's son and Clifford's half-brother, married in 1889 in Coweta County to Alice J. Walker and they had four children: Nina Ruth (1894) m. Willie Cook Rosser, Hubert S. (1895) m. Nannie Lou Robertson, Ouida (1898) and Lillie May (1901). Alice died before 1906 and Leroy Stowers remarried to Mamie J. Tumlin and they had two children, Harry Lee Stowers (1907) m. Lucy Faver and Ora May Stowers (1908) m. Willie B. Costley. Both Mamie and her two children with Leroy are buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Newnan.

Clifford Stowers, son of James Marion Stowers and Lula Dean, married Hattie Gray in 1921 in Coweta County.

Of Laura's sons with A.W. Thompson, nothing is known of Franklin. William W. married twice and made his way to Texas. If you know anything about these families, I would love to hear from you.

Stories about your families who lived on Atlanta's south side are always welcome. Send stories to or Mail to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214. All letters and e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.

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Submitted by Bonkers on Sat, 08/23/2008 - 5:25am.

But I know about Leroy Alfonso Unknown!
Unknown, due to questionable birthright.
Never have I understood hunting seeds sown
As records of old often faked within sight.

I know back to those who were great grands
But much of their private deeds are just that
And I simply do not want to know the exact stands,
Nor do I wish to disturb them to fabricate a chat.

I have two researches done by old relatives of mine
I can tell that they left out horse thieves,
Evil doers and jailbirds separated from the fine
They are all gone, known by the falling of leaves.

I came from the ocean, and is all I need to know
And I care not for adding to past dear relatives woe!

Submitted by KarenElaine on Thu, 08/21/2008 - 4:46pm.

Great article Judy! Getting in touch with you has been such a blessing from above! Looking forward to hearing from some Thompsons, McWhorters, Stowers or anyone who has any knowledge of our ancestors.Again, Thanks so much for all your help!!!Elaine

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