Mosbys of DeSoto County[1]
By Tim Harrison

The first Mosbys in DeSoto County, Mississippi arrived between 1853 and 1855. This was the family of James Benjamin Mosby[2], known as “Benjamin,” and his wife, Sarah. Another Mosby, William Overton Mosby, also settled in the county in the mid-to-late 1850s, marrying the oldest daughter of Benjamin and Sarah Mosby in 1858.

The Mosby family can be traced with certainty back to 1660 in Virginia. However, it is generally accepted that the first of this line was Edd Mosby, born about 1600 in England, who was listed as a vestryman in Henrico County, Virginia in 1655 and died December 3, 1663. Edd’s son, Richard, was executor of the estate and 38 years of age at the time. Richard’s wife is believed to have been Judith Parsons. Richard and Judith’s son, Edward Mosby, was born in 1660 in Virginia, and from him the line is traced with certainty. Edward Mosby married Sarah Woodson about 1687. Sarah (b. 1668) was also from a prominent Virginia family which had arrived at Jamestown in 1619.[3] Edward and Sarah were members of the Society of Friends, commonly called “Quakers.” They were the parents of at least eight children.[4] Sarah died in 1707 and Edward remarried to Mrs. Mary Watkins. He died in 1742.

Benjamin Mosby’s descent was through Edward’s oldest son, John (b. 1 June 1689), who married Martha Womack[5] on November 22, 1708. John and Martha’s oldest son was John Mosby, Jr. (b. @1709 in Henrico Co., VA), who married Lucy Allen[6] in September 1746 in Henrico County. They were the grandparents of Benjamin Mosby. John, Jr. died in 1801.[7] The eleventh child of John, Jr. and Lucy was Samuel Mosby, born about 1768. He married Mary Anderson[8] in Henrico County on 27 May 1794. They were the parents of Benjamin. Samuel died 31 January 1829 in Hanover Co., VA leaving “an affectionate wife and nine children to lament a loss to them irreparable.”[9] Even though Samuel was too young to have served in the Revolution, the Mosbys were patriots. His brother, William, was a captain in the 5th Virginia Regiment, Continental Army. Samuel later served as sergeant of Richmond in 1782.

Benjamin Mosby, born 9 December 1819 in Hanover County, Virginia married Sarah Ann Woodson[10] in Goochland County, Virginia on 8 May 1839 at the home of Captain Philip Woodson. The service was performed by the Rev. James B. Taylor. Sarah was born 18 September 1817 in Virginia, the daughter of Matthew Woodson and Pauline Woodson, both direct descendants of Dr. John Woodson and his wife, Sarah. Her great-grandfather, also named Matthew Woodson, served as chaplain of the First Virginia Regiment during the Revolution. The Woodsons were related to many of the first families of Virginia, including the Randolphs. Benjamin and Sarah left Virginia and settled first in Shelby County, Tennessee[11] in the early 1840s before relocating to DeSoto County, Mississippi in the mid-1850s. In 1860 Benjamin owned 15 slaves and had 4 slave houses. Benjamin and Sarah had at least twelve children:

Mary Pauline Mosby – born 30 March 1840 in Virginia. Married 1st William Overton Mosby[12] in DeSoto County on 15 April 1858. Children: William O. (b. 25 April 1859; d. 12 August 1866) and Annie Pleasants[13] (b. @1861). In 1860 they owned 9 slaves. William O. Mosby served in Co. I, 29th Mississippi Regiment, CSA and did not survive the war. Mary married 2nd Opha T. Draughon (b. @1835 in NC) on 19 March 1872 in DeSoto County. Children: Elmer (b. @1874) and Mary V. (b. @1877). Mary died 14 March 1880 and is buried in Palestine Cemetery, Tate County, MS.

Robert Overton Mosby – born 6 June 1841 in Shelby County, TN. Served in Co. D, 44th Mississippi Infantry, CSA with rank of sergeant. He was wounded in the arm at the Battle of Chickamauga, GA in September 1863 and disabled. He later served in Co. B, Blythe’s Cavalry, CSA as a 2nd Lieutenant. He married Kate May Wright[14] (b. 6 March 1846 in MS; d. 27 December 1906) on 10 January 1865 in DeSoto County. Children: Ella May (b. 4 October 1866; d. 11 December 1919. She married George C. Harvey on 8 July 1896); William Arthur (b. 16 February 1868.  Married Georgie M. Turner on 28 November 1895); Mary Beulah (b. 2 February 1871); Robert Theron (b. 20 August 1874); Kate Eva (b. 28 May 1876; d. 15 October 1898. Married Dr. George H. McCain 18 November 1896); Wright P. Cooper (b. 15 October 1878); Jennie[15] (b. 16 June 1885. Married 1st Robert T. Bibb 19 November 1906 and 2nd Chester Duncan Cochran 31 January 1919). Robert died 2 January 1929 and is buried in DeSoto County.

Eugenia Polly Dora Mosby – born 13 October 1842 in Shelby County, TN. Married William L. Parsons[16] about 1861 in DeSoto County. Children: Sarah (Sallie) Ann[17] (b. 8 November 1862; d. 27 November 1886 in Tate County); William L. (1 February 1865); Mary Eugenia (12 December 1866); James Benjamin (9 December 1869); Elizabeth Blanch (9 December 1869); Thomasia Virginia (5 September 1871); A. L. (female, @1876); Dora (1879). She died 6 March 1918 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Matthew Woodson Mosby – born 19 December 1843 in Shelby County, TN. Served in Co. I, 29th Mississippi Infantry, CSA and wounded on 31 December 1862 at the Battle of Murfreesboro, TN. Married 1st Anna B. Stevens[18] (26 October 1845 – 31 October 1888) on 21 November 1868 in DeSoto County. Children:[19] Matthew Woodson, Jr. (1869); Lovick Woodson (1871-1960. Married Violet Ann Williams[20]; Ernest Stevens (14 April 1875. Married Alice Jones[21]; John Benjamin (1878); Walter Overton (1870); Robert Overton (March 1886). Married 2nd Sallie A. Jones[22] (1856-1894). Children: Earl Ferrell (20 March 1891-1978), Beulah (December 1892); Sallie Jones (1894-1895). Matthew died 17 June 1927 in DeSoto County.

Samuel Anderson Mosby – born 4 February 1845 in Shelby County, TN. Enlisted on 7 December 1861 in Barrett’s Missouri Battery, CSA, in Memphis, TN. He transferred to Co. I, 29th Mississippi Infantry, CSA on 1 February 1863 and was taken prisoner at the Battle of Lookout Mountain, TN on 24 November 1863, spending the remainder of the war as a prisoner at Rock Island Prison, IL. He married Hettie A. A. Massey[23] (20 October 1846-3 September 1932 Perry Co., AR) on 3 February 1866 in DeSoto County. Samuel moved his family to Perry County, Arkansas before 1880. Children: Ellen (1867 MS); Dora Eugenia[24] (4 September 1869 MS – 8 May 1951 AR); Ida (1872 MS); Joseph B. (9 June 1874 MS – 16 January 1953 Perry Co., AR; Sarah (1877 MS); Nannie (May 1880 AR); Bertha (February 1883 AR); Leonard A. (23 January 1886 AR – 29 September 1920 Perry Co., AR. Married Elizabeth[25] (Lizzie) in 1910). Samuel died 27 January 1888 in Perry County, Arkansas.

Nathaniel Anderson Mosby – born 3 May 1846 in Shelby County, TN and died before 1850.

Virginia Anderson Mosby – born 26 May 1848 in Shelby County, TN and died 31 August 1849.

John Stout Mosby – born 4 April 1850 in Shelby County, TN and died 21 August 1850.

Thomasia Price Mosby – born 30 May 1851 in Shelby County, TN and died 14 March 1853.

Thomas Price Mosby – born 19 July 1853 in Shelby County, TN and died 23 July 1853.

William Overton Mosby – born 7 September 1854 and died the same day.

Philip Woodson Mosby – born 17 September 1855 in DeSoto County, MS. He married Anna Solomon[26] (20 October 1859 DeSoto – 14 September 1933 Memphis, TN) on 19 February 1883 in DeSoto County. Children: Emma (7 August 1885); Fred Phillips[27] (13 November 1889 Perry County – 1965 DeSoto County. Married Evie Sutton); Mabel (1 February 1892 AR); Sadie (13 March 1895 AR. Married Louis Morris); Ray Overton[28] (13 March 1895 AR. Married Louise Montroy[29] on 1 January 1920.); Pauline (6 March 1898 AR. Married James Ivy). Philip died on 25 November 1899 in Perry County, Arkansas and is buried in the Perryville Ragsdale cemetery. His wife, Anna, is buried in DeSoto County, MS.

Sarah Mosby died of “consumption” on 18 October 1869 in DeSoto County. The 1870 Census shows Benjamin living with his widowed daughter, Mary, and her child, Annie. Benjamin remarried on 28 June 1872 to Mrs. S. V. Graves in DeSoto County. Sarah V. Meriwether Graves (b. 1843 GA) was the widow of F. Y Graves (1837 GA – bef. 1870), who had served in Co. D, 2nd Mississippi Cavalry, CSA.  She had one child at the time of her remarriage, Frank Graves, born about 1862.[30]

Sometime after 1880 Benjamin moved to Perry County, Arkansas where his son, Samuel and his family, already lived. Sons Robert and Matthew and daughter Eugenia Mosby Parsons remained in the DeSoto/Tate vicinity where some of their descendants remain to this day. Benjamin made out his Last Will and Testament in May 1892. He died 24 September 1892 in Perry County, and was buried in the Perryville Ragsdale Cemetery. In his will he leaves one hundred acres to Hettie Massey Mosby, widow of Samuel, and her children, and additional land and one town lot in Aplin, Arkansas to his son, Philip W. Mosby. Philip is also named as Executor of the Will. No mention is made of his second wife, Sarah, and it is unknown when and where she died.

The Mosbys made their presence known in DeSoto county. To quote from the article by Mary Violet Mosby Knox in Our Heritage:

Three of Matthew Mosby’s sons were merchants in DeSoto County.

One of these sons, Lovick Woodson Mosby (1871-1960), lived his whole life in DeSoto County. He was not only a merchant but ginner, farmer and postmaster. He worked for his brother Ernest Stevens Mosby (1875-1961) before purchasing the Steve Bramlett store in Love. It was in 1908 that he opened his own general merchandise store. In 1914 he became postmaster for the Love Community, succeeding Mrs. W. H. Lamb, Sr.


About 1904 Ernest Stevens Mosby, another son of Matthew Woodson and Anne B. Stevens Mosby, bought the Drane’s store in Love. he was a merchant there before moving his business to Hernando. In 1918 Ernest sold his store in Hernando and moved to Whitehaven [Tennessee] where he was a farmer and extensive land owner. Many Whitehaven subdivisions stand on land once owned by Mr. Mosby.

Earl Ferrel Mosby (1891-1978) was the son of Matthew Woodson and Sallie Jones Mosby, his second wife. He worked for his brother Ernest in Love and in Hernando, buying the store when Ernest moved to Whitehaven. Earl and his wife, Pearl Farris Mosby (1900-1977), continued to run the store until he retired in 1955.


[1] Information for this article was found in various sources, including Tidewater Virginia Families by Virginia Lee Hutcheson Davis, Our Noble Heritage The Mosbey Family History by James H. Mosbey, The Valentine Papers, Vol. II, by Edward Pleasants Valentine, and Our Heritage, edited by Pam McPhail Ivy.

[2] James Benjamin Mosby is listed in all documents as Benjamin.  His entire name is taken from the death certificate of his daughter, Eugenia Mosby Parsons, who died in 1918.

[3] Sarah Woodson was the granddaughter of Dr. John Woodson and his wife, Sarah, who came to Jamestown, Virginia aboard the ship, “George Yeardley,” on 10 April 1619.  Her parents were Robert Woodson (b. 1634 in Henrico Co., VA; d. 1707) and Elizabeth Ferris, who married in 1656.

[4] Their youngest son, Benjamin, was the father of Littlebury Mosby of the Revolutionary War, known as General Littlebury Mosby.  Another son, Hezekiah, was the ancestor of the “Gray Ghost of the Confederacy,” Colonel John Singleton Mosby.

[5] Daughter of Abraham Womack (abt. 1645 – 1733) of Henrico County.  After her husband’s death, Martha remarried to James Hambleton.

[6] Lucy was born about 1825 in VA and died after 1801.  She is believed to be the daughter of James Allen and Lucy Hobson.

[7] John, Jr.’s will was dated 11 November 1801 and probated 7 December 1801.  The Will names his wife, Lucy, and children: William, Elizabeth, Lucy, Susanna, Hezekiah, Ann, Martha, Joseph and Samuel, as well as deceased children Mary, Robert and Benjamin.

[8] Mary was the daughter of Nathaniel Anderson (Sept. 1747-26 January 1812) of Albemarle County, Virginia and Elizabeth Carr, daughter of John Carr and Barbara Overton. Nathaniel was a lieutenant in the Virginia line during the Revolution. Mary died in Hanover County, VA in 1847. She is listed in the 1830 Hanover County Census, p. 215 and the 1840 Hanover County Census, p. 110.

[9] The names of Samuel and Mary’s nine children are not known for certain.  I believe they included Samuel Mosby (b. @1808) and Joseph H. Mosby (b. @1808), who were merchants in Memphis and listed in the 1850 Shelby Co., TN census.  These two Mosbys built the Mosby-Bennet house in Memphis in 1852.  Samuel Mosby is believed to have been co-owner of Mosby & Anderson Storage, listed in the 1859 Memphis City Directory. The business was located on Union between Second and Third Streets (where the Hotel Peabody is today).

[10] Sarah’s descent back through her father was: Matthew (1779-1828), John Stephen (1757-1833), Matthew (1731-1794), Stephen (1704-1735/36), John (1658-1715), Robert (1634-1716), Dr. John (1586-1644). Through her mother: Paulina (1793-1860), Philip (1767-1846), Matthew (1731-1794), etc. as through her father.

[11] 1850 Census, Shelby Co., TN p. 193.

[12] William Overton Mosby was the son of William Overton Mosby (@1802-1829) and Jane P. Woodson (d. 29 May 1835). William may be another son of Samuel Mosby. Jane was the daughter of Captain Philip Woodson of Hanover County, VA and sister of Paulina Woodson, mother of Sarah Woodson who married Benjamin Mosby.  At the time of her death, Jane Woodson was living with Mary Mosby, widow of Samuel.

[13] Living with her sister, Eugenia Parsons in 1880 Tate County census, p. 248B.  Married B. A. Edwards in Tate County on 1 December 1880.  Buried in Edwards Cemetery, Potts Camp, MS.

[14] Kate was the oldest child of James L. Wright (1813 TN) and Mary Catherine Bowen (1822 VA). James died 12 March 1879.  His widow died 21 September 1896.

[15] Jennie Mosby Cochran was still living in June 1979 when the book, Our Heritage, was written.  According to Mary Violet Mosby Knox, she worked at the University of Mississippi beginning in the early 1940s as House Director for Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority.

[16] William L. Parsons, b. 13 October 1834 in SC to James Parsons.  Served in Co. C, Ballentine’s Regiment of Cavalry, CSA and Blythe’s Battalion, Mississippi Cavalry.  Died 10 July 1891 in Tate County.

[17] Married Joseph Benjamin Massey on 25 January 1882 in Tate County.  They had three children: Mary Eugenia (11 December 1882 – 27 December 1887); Leslie Ann (10 May 1884 - 24 December 1964 and married to Thomas Spencer Harrison); S. E. (probably Sarah) (1886 – 1891).

[18] She was the daughter of J. W. Stevens (1813 VA-1888) and S. C. (1820 VA-1880).

[19] According to an article by Mary Violet Mosby Knox, Matthew and Anna had six sons.  Unfortunately, she doesn’t list them all or give vital statistics.  A picture with the article shows the children of Matthew, and that is where the names Walter Overton Mosby and Robert Overton Mosby are from, as well as children of Matthew and Sallie: Earl Ferrell and Beulah.  The 1900 DeSoto census, p. 67A also lists R.O., Earl and Beulah living with Matthew, Sr.  The 1890 list of educable children in DeSoto lists W. O. (20), L.W. (19), E.S. (15), J.B. (12) and M.W. (9).

[20] 1877 – 1922.

[21] 1874 – 1962.

[22] Daughter of Willis Ferrell Jones (1817-1885) & Mary J. (1831-1900).  Her father served in Co. A, 9th Mississippi Infantry, CSA.

[23] Hettie was the daughter of Joseph Benjamin Massey (27 November 1820 Lancaster Co., SC – 11 April 1884 Tate Co., MS) and Nancy E. J. W. Spratt (11 January 1822 Lancaster Co., SC – 23 February 1890 Tate Co., MS). Joe Massey served in Co. D, 18th Mississippi Cavalry, CSA.  Hettie’s great-grandfather, William Massey, was a veteran of the Revolutionary War, serving as Adjutant of the 1st South Carolina Regiment and Muster-Master General with the state, holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  He was captured by the British at the siege of Charleston, SC in 1780.

[24] Several Mosbys are buried in Smyers Cemetery, Perry County, AR: Dora, Joe B., Leonard A., Lester (son of Leonard and Lizzie) and Lizzie, wife of Leonard.

[25] Elizabeth (last name unknown) was born 13 December 1892 in AR and died 30 October 1910.

[26] Anna was the oldest child of Joseph H. Solomon (23 August 1832 TN – 16 September 1902 DeSoto) and Emily E. Joyner (14 January 1843 Livingston Co., KY – 28 March 1920 DeSoto).  Joseph served in Co. I, 29th Mississippi Regiment, CSA.  Joseph’s parents were William Solomon and Harty Bridges.  Emily’s parents were Henry Joyner and Cynthia Persons.

[27] Fred served as night marshal in Hernando for 19 years, Constable for 27 years, and Deputy Sheriff for 20 years.  He was a veteran of World War One, serving from 22 September 1917 to 15 March 1919 with the rank of corporal in the U.S. Army.

[28] In Our Noble Heritage by James H. Mosbey, Ray and Louise are listed as having the following children: Harold Ray (5 February 1927 Coahoma Co., MS); Charles Luther (10 February 1929).

[29] Louise’s parents were James Mortiman Montroy (1856 MS) and Mary Elizabeth Applegate (1856 MS).  Living in Coahoma Co., MS in 1880.  Louise was born 2 March 1896 in Coahoma County.

[30] Living in Tate County in 1880.  No other information available.

This Page Was Last Updated Thursday, 04-Apr-2013 21:35:43 EDT

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