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W. P. A. History of Pontotoc County, Mississippi


Pioneer Families

The ABERNETHYS were originally from Scotland where many of the name may still be found living in and about the village of Abernethy, long the capital of the Parish Kings, the sear of the Episcopacy of Scotland, and where the celebrated Abernethy Biscuit originated.  Probably the name Abernethy had its origin in the Scottish phrase A-Be-Ney-Tha (the first A is proach), which has a corresponding meaning in the Hebrew as "Chosen by the Most High".  It is almost coequal with Abraham,
"God's Anointed and Father of the Faithful.  The crest of the Abernethy Coat of Arms is a parrot feeding on a bunch of cherries; the shield is a lion rampant, crossed by a black ribbon; the motto, "Salvation Through Christ".  Among them were found lords, barons, doctors, teachers, lawyers, reaching back to the beginning of the twelfth century when an Abernethy was King of England.  Doctor Abernethy, the great physician, author and physician at the Queen's Court, was one of the Scotch families.

The first Abernethys emigrated to Virginia about the beginning of 1700.  All were Revolutionary Patriots, and some were gallant soldiers noted for their temperate, moral, and religious habits.  From Virginia to North Carolina came Colonel Robert Abernethy, who served as an American soldier throughout the Revolutionary War, and who was a delegate from Lincoln County to the convention that framed the constitution of North Carolina.  Colonel Robert Abernethy lived and died in Lincoln County, North Carolina, near Beattie's Ford on the Catawba River and attended Unity Presbyterian Church, of which Rev. Dr. Morrison, father- in- law of the great Stonewall Jackson, was pastor for forty years.  One of his three brothers, William, was ancestor of many of the Abernethys in Pontotoc and Chickasaw Counties.  Robert Abernethy, son of William Abernethy, married a Buynum, a near relative of Preston Buynum, late chief justice of North Carolina, and to them were born five sons:  Miles Osburn, Robert Hagar, Samuel, Daniel, and Rufus T.

Sam Abernethy, a physician, married a Miss Wilson, of Mecklenburger, North Carolina, by whom he had four children:  William Gaston, Patrick Henry, Robert S. and Lillie Louise Wilson.  After the death of Sam Abernethy's first wife he married Jane McCurdy Bankhead, of Fayette County, Alabama, granddaughter of Mary Watson McCurdy, who as a young girl during the Revolutionary War immortalized her name by successfully delivering an important message, through the British lines near her home, to the American army.  This message was placed in her shoe by her mother, who instructed her to skip and sing as she passed through enemy lines, thereby allaying any suspicion that her presence may engender.

To Sam Abernethy and Jane McCurdy Bankhead were born three sons:  John Bankhead, Murray, and James Whitfield.  James Whitfield studied medicine and removed to Atlanta, Chickasaw County, Mississippi where he married the daughter of N. B. Crawford.

Rufus came west and settled in Pontotoc County.  He was elected probate clerk of Pontotoc County in 1860.  He married Miss Sallie Long, a first cousin of W. A. Bodenhammer, who was mayor of Okolona in 1885.  Rufus died, April 1865.  Herbert Abernethy, a banker of the same family was a native of Brunswick County, Virginia.  His wife was a Miss Susan Harwell, of Dinwiddie County, Virginia.  They removed to Lincoln County, North Carolina, soon after their marriage and reared a family of twelve.  One of these daughters, Fannie, married Miles Osburn Abernethy and to them were born four sons:  Robert Daniel, Samuel Turner, William Erbin, and Osburn Franklin, all of whom migrated to Chickasaw County and served in the Confederate States Cavalry.  They went from Okolona in April, 1861, and were in Company B, Jeff Davis Legion.  They served under General J. E. B. Stuart in the Army of Northern Virginia.  William was killed in the Battle of Boyenton Plank Road, near Petersburg, Virginia, October 15, 1864.  Samuel was wounded in February 1865 and paralyzed from the effects of the wound.  He came back to Mississippi and organized a good school at Red Land, and died while teaching there in August, 1868.  He left a wife and one daughter.

Osburn Franklin married Samuel Turner's widow and later moved to North Carolina.  Dr. John U. Abernethy, prominent physician at Troy for two decades, and his brother Professor Hosea B. Abernethy, who figured so prominently in the early educational program of Pontotoc County and who founded Troy Normal College in 1882, were the grandsons of William Abernethy, founder of the Abernethy family in Pontotoc County.  W. J. Abernethy, former treasurer of Pontotoc County, and Jack Abernethy, father of Willie, Mallie, Benton, Mattie, Annie, and John, were also direct descendants of this fine old patriarch.

Another branch of the North Carolina Abernethys that have been prominent in the development of Pontotoc and Chickasaw counties is that of Samuel Vance Abernethy, whose son, William Larkin, married Miss Biddy Abernethy of Birmingham, Alabama, and came to Pontotoc County and located near Troy, where he died in 1865.  He left the following children:  Emoline, Mary, Elizabeth, Marion, Jerusha, Caroline, William Larkin, Cain, John Robert, and Venie.

William Larkin Abernethy II married Miss Savely, of Chickasaw County.  Children of this marriage were:  Thomas Franklin, Sam, Arthur, Walter, Jasper, Mack, and Gates.  William Larkin was married a second time and to this union were born the following children:  Lorene, Mitchell, Vance, June, and Curtis.  Thomas Franklin, son by the first marriage, born in Pontotoc County, married a Miss Minnie Jenkins of Cadaretta, and to them were born four sons:  Hosea B. Abernethy, who lives at Houston and is prosecuting attorney for Chickasaw County; Thomas Gerstle, of Okolona, prosecuting attorney for the third district; and Gidden Stafford and Benjamin F., deceased.

John Robert Abernethy married Nancy Caroline Walden and the following children were born to this union:  Eddie Vance; Anna, who married J. A. Eubank, with the following children, Carrie Elma, Willie Edward, Leveda, Octia, Cleo, and Clarice; Modena, deceased; Luster Bobbie, who married Neil Dunlap, has two sons; Wilbur, who is now studying medicine at the University of Mississippi, and Lynn, who is a physician at the University Hospital in Oxford, Mississippi; Gara Elma, who married F. S. Stokes, has one adopted daughter; and Carl Ellis, who married Patty Roberson, has the following children:  Patsy  Carlean, Marylin Jane, and Nancy Walden.  Carl Abernethy is an optometrist in the city of Pontotoc and is a World War Veteran, having seen active service in the army and is now an active member of the local American Legion Post.(1)

(1) T. G. Abernethy, Okolona, Miss.

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