Walthall County Mississippi

MSGenWeb Project

Early Families



Ralph Stovall settled in and owned the land in what became China Grove in 1815.  He had a set of mills built over Magee’s Creek that were run by water power: an upright saw, a cotton gin and press, a rice pestle mill and fan for cleaning, and a grist mill.  His brothers, Drury (See below) and Henry Stovall, settled a few miles north of him.  Their sister, Sally, married Elisha Holmes Sr. and settled in the same area (See below).


Other China Grove settlers were Richard Ratliff in 1817, Benjamin Youngblood in 1816, Ben Jones in 1818 and Joseph Thornhill in 1812 (See below).  China Grove had a school (a log building that originally was the church ) and a Baptist church.  It was named for the grove of China trees set out on the grounds of the schoolhouse and church yard.


Owen Conerly and his brother Rev. and Dr. Luke Conerly emigrated from Duplin County, NC in 1822 and Owen bought all of Ralph Stovall’s property at China Grove.  This included the property on which the Baptist church stood, and it was turned into a Methodist church.  His brother Luke, settled in nearby Marion County on Pushepatapa near Waterholes Church. 


Owen and Luke were the sons of Cullen and Letticia Conerly, and married sisters:  Owen married Mary Wilkinson and Luke married Rebecca Wilkinson, the daughters of William and Elizabeth Wilkinson.  Luke and Rebecca had no children.


Owen and Mary were married January 14, 1808 in Fayetteville, Cumberland County, NC. Their children were:


Cullen Conerly married Levisa Lewis

William W. Conerly married Caroline Starns. Children James, Jr. and Mark plus John and William who died young. He married 2nd to Margaret Connally, daughter of Price

Connally from Georgia.  She was a sister to Tallyboly, to William Tyler’s wife, and to George, Crosby, Jack and Rebecca.  They had one daughter, Lulu.

John R. “Jackie” Conerly married Elizabeth Tines.

Eliza Conerly married Jesse Ball. Children:  William, Newton, Needham and Rebecca

Owen Conerly, Jr. married Anna Louisa Stephens of New Orleans, daughter of Samuel James Stephens and Ann Lawn (daughter of Buxton Lawn and Mary Dawson/Dorson of

                        London, England.

Emily Conerly married Daniel Ball.

Luke Conerly – died young

Rebecca Conerly– died young

Cathorine Conerly– died young

Mary Jane Conerly married Jabez Lewis. One child, Mira, who married Monroe Smith.  She was widowed and later married Benjamin Lampton, son of William Lampton, a

brick mason from Kentucky.

James Conerly married Mary Lamkin, daughter of Sampson L. Lamkin

Melissa Conerly

Susan Conerly– died young


Owen Conerly Jr. helped his father run his mills until Owen Sr. died about 1848.  The property was sold to Needham B. Raiford, the Methodist minister at China Grove.  Owen Jr.

owned land higher up on Magees Creek which had been settled by John Gordon in 1817.  He had built a saw, grist mill and cotton gin there.  He sold a part of the property to

Thomas J. Connally, a blacksmith, who named it Possum Trot.


Early settlers of Magee’s Creek were:

Parish Thompson

James Craft

Zachariah McGraw

Owen Elliott

John Merchant, school teacher and preacher

James Reed

James May

William Reed

Noah Day, chairmaker

Jacob Smith

Joseph May

William Boon

Stephen Ellis -  See below

Joseph Newsom


Sartin’s Church was established in 1813 by John Sartin, Joseph Newsom, James Reed, John May, Joseph May, Owen Elliott, and Stephen Ellis.


Stephen Ellis was a school teacher and preacher and spearheaded the establishment of a church at Magee’s Creek—a peeled pine log house used as a church, a

day school, and a Sunday school where he taught and was the superintendent and minister.  His brother, Ezekiel Parke Ellis, was a district judge for the Florida

Parishes in Louisiana.


Stephen married Mary Magee, sister of John, Hezekiah and William Magee.  They later moved to Washington Parish, LA near Franklinton.  He died there about

1869 at age 79. Their children were:


Stephen R. Ellis of Acadia Parish, LA.

Melissa Ellis married Rev. David M. Wiggins and lived at Sharon, MS.

Mary Ellis married Rev. Benj. Impson

Gabriella Ellis married Hugh Bateman

Ellen Ellis married Robert Babington of Franklinton, LA

Sara Ellis married Judge James M. Burris

Daughter Ellis married Rev. L. A. Simms

Daughter Ellis married Jason Bateman.


Stephen and Ezekiel were the sons John and Sarah Johnson Ellis both of Virginia.  John and Sarah moved to Georgia and on to what was then Pike County then

to Louisiana in the territorial period.  The Ellis families of Copiah and adjoining counties are of the same family—George, John, Reuben, Stephen and

William Ellis are some of the members as well as William Millsaps of Browns Wells, T. J. Millsaps of Hazlehurst, Mrs. Sally Wadsworth widow of Rev. William

Wadsworth, and Dr. George E. Ellis of Utica, MS.


Ezekiel Parke Ellis lived on Magees Creek and taught school.  He was 12 years younger than brother Stephen.  He married the youngest daughter of Col. Thomas

Cargill Warner, a veteran of the War of 1812 under Gen. Andrew Jackson at New Orleans in 1814-1815, and a judge of the probate court of Washington Parish, LA.

Ezekiel later became a lawyer and was a judge of his district for many years.  He died in Amite City, LA in 1884 at the age of 79.  His children:


E. John Ellis – lawyer and orator, a member congress from the 2nd LA District form 1875-1885.  He died in Washington, D.C. in 1889.

Stephen D. Ellis - lawyer at Amite City, LA and Surveyor of the Customs of the Port of New Orleans under President Cleveland

Thomas Cargill Warner Ellis – senior judge of civil district court of New Orleans.

Daughter Ellis married Rev. John A. Ellis of the MS Conference.


Col. William B. Ligon – owned plantation on Magee’s Creek.  He married Eliza LawnThru his efforts a post office was established at China Grove in 1836, and he was the first postmaster.


Peter Sandifer came from South Caroline in 1812 and first settled at “Thick Woods” near Baton Rouge, LA then in 1820 moved to Magees Creek and settled a few miles

below China Grove.  In that same year a hurricane came thru and destroyed all his buildings and his Magee’s Creek neighbors came together and helped him rebuild.


Daniel and Mary Palmore Burkhalter settled on Varnal which empties into Magee’s Creek just above Peter Sandifer’s place. Their children were:


Henry Burkhalter

William Burkhalter

John Burkhalter

James Burkhalter

Eliza Burkhalter married Joseph Luter.

Cynthia Burkhalter married Mike Jones

Mary Burkhalter married William Kaigler

Sarah Ann Burkhalter married Frank Leland

Louisa Burkhalter married Willis Magee first then Elbert Magee


William Boon and sons settled on Indian Creek, one of the head streams of Magees Creek (it was a camp ground of the Choctaw Indians).His sons were:

John Boon married Helen M. Sartin.

Richard Boon

Frederick Boon

Skinner Boon.


Joseph and Elizabeth Fitzpatrick Thornhill settled there about 1812. They married in South Carolina.  They children were:


Liddy Thornhill married Claiborne Rushing of lower Magees Creek

Polly Thornhill marred Jack Reddy of upper Magees Creek

Evan J. Thornhill

Lucella Thornhill

John Thornhill

Hiram Thornhill

Joseph Patrick Thornhill

William Thornhill (the father of Dr. Jo. M. Thornhill)


Elisha and Sally Stovall Holmes, Sr. came from Georgia and settled on Collins Creek in the early part of 1800.  They are the ancestors of the extensive Holmes family in

the old Pike County area.  Their children were:


Coleman Holmes married Polly Ann Foil (sister of William Foil from Georgia)

Josiah Holmes married Agnes Sumrall

Benjamin Holmes married Mary Sumrall (see below)

William Holmes married Jane Foil (sister of Ann)

Jesse Holmes married Nancy Sumrall

James Holmes married Nancy Shirley

Cynthia Holmes married David Brumfield

Betsey Holmes married Isaac Brumfield

Jennie Holmes married Willis Brumfield

Elisha Holmes Jr. married Mary Roberts (daughter of David Roberts from Georgia) – See below.

Berry Holmes never married.


Elisha Holmes Jr. settled on Varnal Creek.  His children were:


Thomas H. Holmes married Telitha Duncan (daughter of James and Winnie Carmon Duncan)

Polly Holmes

Ellen Holmes

Emily Holmes

Harriet Holmes

Sarah Holmes married George Gartman

Elizabeth “Betsy” Homes married Dave Gartman


Benjamin and Mary Sumrall Holmes settled on the east side of Magees Creek about two miles north of China Grove.  He was a farmer and a bell manufacturer—made

by hand in his shop.  Their children were:


Dave Holmes

Capt. John Holmes (last captain of the Quitman Guards)

Benny Holmes




Mary Ann



Drury and Lucy Wright Stovall settled north of China Grove around 1815.  He was born in Georgia in 1770 and she in 1780.  They married in 1803 and their children



Charles Green Stovall stayed in Georgia.  (The others settled in the Darbun neighborhood.)

John Lewis Stovall

Thomas Peter Stovall

William J. Stovall

Felix Crawford Stovall

Mary ‘Polly” Stovall married Richard Ratliff.  (See below)



Harrison Bracey moved from South Carolina in 1815 and married Elizabeth McGowan. (Sister of Colonel James and Elijah McGowan)  “He was a nephew of President

William Henry Harrison on his mother’s side.”


Their children were:


Sarah Bracey married William Mellerd

Mary Bracey married Hugh Craft

Cynthia Bracey married Needham L. Ball

Rebecca Bracey married Calvin Ratliff first then Jackson Holmes

Margaret Bracey married Sherod Gray

Lucy Bracey married Mike Pearson

Washington Bracey

Harrison Bracey, Jr. married Louisa Ball (Daughter of Jesse Ball Sr.)


Richard Ratliff settled in Darbun in 1817.  He married Mary ‘Polly’ Stovall (daughter of Drury Stovall and Lucy Wright).  Their children were:


Franklin Ratliff

Warren Ratliff

Calvin Ratliff

Green Ratliff

Robert Ratliff – died young

Simeon R. Ratliff married Joan Ellzey at the close of the Civil War.  He was one of the survivors of the Quitman Guard and the only son still living.


Jake Smith settled on the west side of Magee’s Creek a few miles north of Tylertown.  He and his wife were from Germany, lived in South Carolina and then Georgia before

coming to Mississippi.  They had five children: 


Daniel Smith married Miss Magee

Jacob Smith married unknown.  His granddaughter (daughter of Jacob Smith, Jr.), Sarah, married Leander Sartin.

John Smith married Miss Morgan

William Smith married Angeline (daughter of John Magee)

Salena Smith married Hugh Ginn.


Benjamin Jones, a gunsmith, came in 1811 from South Carolina and settled on Magee’s Creek in 1818.  He married Polly Harvey, daughter of Michael Harvey. Their

son, Mike Jones, married Cynthia Burkhalter daughter of Daniel and Mary Palmore Burkhalter.


Michael and Mary Clowers Harvey came from Georgia in 1808 and first settled on the Pearl River below Columbia in what is now Marion County then later moved to China Grove.  Their children were:


Harris married Liddy Smith, daughter of Jerre Smith

Daniel married Melovie Smith, sister to Liddy.





Pearl, Sr.



Ruth married William Walker, son of John and Mary Gates Walker who came to MS in 1814.


William Ravencraft settled in the territory on a small streaming that flowed into Magee’s Creek that was later named Ravencraft Creek.   “He was a fine cabinet maker and made wagons, chairs, reels, spinning wheels, looms, shuttles, slays and fancy white wicker hickory baskets.”