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Stanmore Conwell

File contributed for use at the Bibb County, AL website by:
Ralph Ervin Williamson and father, John Conwell Williamson, December 31, 2004

Conwell: STANMORE CONWELL, the father; and JOHN CICERO CONWELL, a son.

STANMORE CONWELL appears in Centreville, Alabama, in the 1860 U.S.Census as having been born in South Carolina, and being aged 50, when his wife Mary was aged 48. His Christian name is spelled variously "Stansmore," "Standmore," and "Stanhope." The surname is variously "Conwill." Stanmore Conwell's great-grandson, "JC" John Conwell Williamson (1912-2001) of Midland, Texas, thought the surname derived from Conwill, a town in Wales.

"Stanhope Conwill" is mentioned in a piece by Jones, "Reconstruction in Bibb [County, Alabama]" at p. 68. In a terrible incident in March 1869, it is said, one of Stanhope Conwill's freed slaves was lynched during Reconstruction, accused of having attacked and robbed a white woman in Sandy. Historian Rhoda Coleman Ellison, in her fine work "Bibb County, Alabama: The First Hundred Years, 1818-1918," at p. 149, writes that the white vigilantees rationalized thus their misdeeds taken under the penumbra of the Klan: Although Stanhope Conwill owned land in Bibb County, he was more of a "Negro raiser" than planter, and therefore his slaves, by then manumitted, were less well-behaved than most.

In fact, here is the official 1848 Tax List of Bibb County, showing records of taxes levied upon slaveholdings as personalty. Stanmore Conwell owned three slaves: "CONWELL, Standmore B. - Sec. 7 T. 22 R. 11. Value $490. Two slaves under 10 (Luke, Jack), One between 20 and 30 (Sarah). 1 poll. Money at legal interest $117. (p. 123)." But, lamentably, Isacc G. Conwell owned eighteen slaves: "CONWELL, Isaac G. - Secs. 1, 12 T. 22 R. 10; secs. 6, 7 T. 22 R. 10. Value $800. Twelve slaves under 10 (Drayton, Bill, Andrew, Lucy, Shaayann, Margaret, Clerasa, Price, Sarah, Mary, Sophia, Louisa), 4 between 20 and 30 (Martha, Coraline, Dilly, Winney), 2 between 30 and 40 (Polly, Charity). (p. 128) ...."

Whatever the father Stanmore Conwell thought of slavery, his son John Cicero Conwell, long after the Civil War in which he, John Conwell, had participated so tenaciously, expressed the belief that it was a good thing for the South in the long run that the North had won the war, although he had enjoyed killing Yankees, and that it was wrong for one human being to purport to own another.

JOHN CICERO CONWELL, Stanmore Conwell's son, "Paw Conny" fought in Civil War battles in the eastern theater almost too numerous to list. He enlisted at the Centreville Courthouse, where the men are said to have stood on the lawn while their women hovered under the porch, and he stayed throughout the war with Law's Alabamians (the 44th Alabama regiment). The Ala. 44th, and we think John Conwell, fought at Manassas, Va., Aug. 30, 1862; at Sharpsburg, Maryland, the 17th of Sep. 1862; at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 2-3, 1863; at Chickamauga, Georgia, the 19-20th of Sep. 1863; at Wilderness, Virginia, on May 6, 1864; and Spotsylvania, Virginia, on the 8th & 10th & 12th of May 1864; at Mechanicsville Road, Virginia, the 1st of June 1864; at Cold Harbor, Virginia, the 3rd of June 1864; at Petersburg, Virginia, June 18th-July 25, 1864; and, finally, at the surrender of the Grays at the Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on the 9th of April 1865.

John Conwell is sometimes listed on the rolls as "sick," but he certainly fought at Gettysburg, and he stacked arms at the end of the carnage at the Appomattox Courthouse. Family tradition is that Paw Conny said he had double-loaded his gun which had to be surrendered with Rebel guns en masse at Appomattox, hoping to kill just one more Yankee. He certainly lost an index finger in the war: One family version has it that a supervisory Yankee soldier saw Paw Conny about to make a move at Appomattox and shot at his hand, but the more accepted family version is that Paw Conny's personal munitions somehow retro- fired to sever a finger.-- To get southwardly after Gettysburg, he managed to hop on intermittent train cars.-- When John C. Conwell's young grandson, JC Williamson, asked him if he had enjoyed anything at all about the Civil War, John Conwell responded, "Well, yes, at Cold Harbor I had a lot of fun. We got ourselves into a nest of Yankees and were shooting them like rabbits one after the other." --Family history has it that John Conwell carried with him to war a slave, who was killed, and a brother 4 years older named Daniel Conwell (aged 23 in 1861) who lost his life in the war. It is not known whether the brother named Jiles or Giles Conwell, aged 22 in 1861, died in the Civil War.

The Trek to Texas:

Upon return to Bibb County, Alabama, after the Civil War, in 1866 John Conwell married Josephine Albina McCrimmon (Conwell). Her father, Cornelius Dowd McCrimmon (who married Elizabeth Lawhon) was a son of DANIEL McCRIMMON, a prominent landowner who had amassed over 400 acres of land in Bibb County. Josephine McCrimmon (Conwell) called her husband "Johnny" and he called her "Josie." In old age she complained of tobacco in his long white beard, "Johnny, you smell." And he retorted, "Josie, you have a nose like an old hound dog."

In 1866 he soon perceived there was little left for him in Randolph, Bibb County, and made plans to head westward. The wife Josie refused to leave Alabama until the very day of departure, but that fateful morning conceded, "Where shall I ride?" and got in the wagon. They went to East Texas. They wandered up to Oklahoma where one of their sons, Augustine or Augustus "Augie" Conwell, practised medicine before removing himself (Augie Conwell) finally to Regina, New Mexico. Son Augie Conwell was a frontier doctor and, sadly, a binge drinker who had tired of being paid mostly with barter, with chickens and eggs. Though JC Williamson's "Uncle Augie" tried to retire, wherever he went the frontierspeople insisted he serve them medically. We think at one point Augie Conwell took an Indian common-law wife, then left her when he married a white woman; but most of what we know of Augie Conwell is strictly anecdotal.

John Cicero & Josephine McCrimmon Conwell had wandered up to Oklahoma and when they got itchy feet again, one daughter aged 15, Ruby Rae Conwell, wanted to remain there with her girlfriends and so is said to have married ERVIN WILLIAMSON. Ruby Conwell Williamson's brothers were horrified at her lowering her station in life in Oklahoma, but Paw Conny said, "Leave her alone. She has made her bed and she will have to lie in it." And Paw and Maw Conny moved on again. At one time around the dawn of the 20th century, John & Josephine Conwell spent about a year near the border of Mexico. Some of the people with whom they traveled and camped bribed the border guards to go on southward, but Paw Conny refused to pay bribes to get into Mexico and eventually moved back northward.

John & Josephine Conwell settled finally in the village of Thomaston, Texas, where one of their sons was the postmaster at what was called DD McManis' or DD McManus' store. Another son was named Everett Conwell. Johnny & Josie are buried with sons Howard Conwell and Ernest Conwell at Thomaston, which is near Cuero, which itself is near Victoria, Texas. The temperature is usually warm in Thomaston, Texas, just as it is in Bibb County, Alabama.

The descendants of John Cicero Conwell are left to wonder how such a man could have traveled and fought so far under such primitive conditions as reigned in the 19th century. Indeed, the Civil War seems to have taken the mercantile wind from his sails in that he farmed a bit and did a bit of carpentry, but never quite lived up to the economic promise enjoyed by Isacc Conwell and John Cicero Conwell's father Stanmore in Bibb County, and by at least one of his grandsons, "JC" JOHN CONWELL WILLIAMSON (1912-2001), an oil and gas wildcatter born in Purdy, Oklahoma, born as a second son to the Ervin Williamson who had acquired his teenaged wife Ruby Rae Conwell because she had wanted to remain in Oklahoma with her young girlfriends. Grandson JC Williamson settled in Midland, Texas, after getting a B.S. in geology at Texas Tech University in Lubbock and working toward a doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley. Grandson JC Williamson probably found more oil in West Texas and Eastern New Mexican than any other early 20th-century geologist. When James Michener was researching the oilfields to write his book "TEXAS," he came to talk to "JC" JOHN CONWELL WILLIAMSON.

-- Written with loving memories of "Pop," ("JC") John Conwell Williamson, 1912-2001, and Pop's wonderful stories about his Paw Conny, John Cicero Conwell of Bibb County, Alabama, not the least of which was young JC's getting his Paw Conny to sing "Tell Mother from the baggage train I'll not be coming home from the War" so that the Conwell women would cry.



Rehobeth Cemetery (Baptist), Bibb County:

In memory of Margaret H
Infant daughter of C.D. and Elizabeth Keziah Lawhon McCrimmon
13 August 1832
aged 9 months

David O. McRimmon
born in North Carolina
December 1852
aged 19 years

Mary Dunlap
wife of Daniel McCrimmon
died October 2, 1860
aged 68 years

[I imagine it was soon after her death that the widower Daniel McCrimmon removed to Texas.]



Lawhon Family of Bibb County

The wife of Cornelius Dowd McCrimmon, Baptist minister at Rehobeth Church in Bibb County, was Elizabeth Keziah Lawhon, who was born 24 April 1824 in Alabama. CD McRimmon & Elizabeth Lawhon married April 25, 1847 in Bibb County. C,D, McCrimmon was a son of Daniel McCrimmom and his 2nd wife Mary Dunlap, the second wife being a sister to Daniel McCrimmon's 1st wife. The local Presbyterian Church in Bibb County indicted and convicted Daniel McCrimmon of incest. While his case was on appeal to the wider Presbytery, Daniel McCrimmon joined Rehobeth Baptist Church). Son C.D. McCrimmon was licensed in Bibb County, Alabama, in 1861 as an ordained minister of the "Baptist Church of Christ" and authorized to perform marriages. He served as minister of Rehobeth Church.

More Lawhon lineage: Mary Mainer or Mainier (born in South Carolina) married Joab Brooks Lawhon (born NC 1799 - died 1838 in Bibb Co.). They married in Bibb Co., Alabama, on 12 Dec. 1820.

Many of the Bibb County Lawhon family removed to Texas after the Civil War, for example, our Elizabeth Keziah Lawhon (b. 1824 in Bibb County) who in 1847 married the Baptist preacher, Cornelius Dowd McCrimmon. Another Lawhon example is confederate soldier William Young Lawhon, born April 4, 1830, in Bibb County, who in 1851 in Bibb County married Mary J. Deaton or Deason (born 1835 in NC), and died August 14, 1912, and is buried in Troup, Smith County, Texas.

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