Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Dunagan Family Reunion 2015 - Descendants of Ezekiel

Mary Jane Yancey Dunagan

My great grandfather was Jeter Andrew Dunagan and he married Mary Jane Yancey on August 26, 1876, in Hall County, GA. They had the following children:
Elizabeth Anna “Lizbeth” Dunagan born 16 Nov 1879, died April 1882 in Hall County, GA
William Andrew Dunagan born Jun 1880, died 22 May 1939 in Gainesville, GA
Mary Jane Dunagan born 28 Oct 1881, died April 1882 in Gainesville, GA

All of the children died of  "the fever" including Mary Jane, except for my grand father William Andrew Dunagan for whom I am named after.

I never knew a lot about the Yancey family but recently learned that Mary Jane Yancey's father was James W. Yancey born in 1821 in Laurens County, SC. He married Sarah M. Mayfield on April 25, 1847, in Gainesville, GA. He was also a veteran of the CSA. Mary Jane Yancey was born in 1851, in Gainesville, Hall county, GA. . She had a younger sister named Nancy Yancey. Don't you know the kids at school had fun with her name.

My great grandmother's grandfather was Lewis Tillotson Yancey b. 1811 in Culpepper, VA and married Rebecca Siddall.

There are several revolutionary war soldiers from this Yancey Culpepper, Virginia line. I also found some research that suggest the Culpepper Yanceys are related to the the Bush family. (Lewis Davis Yancey's father Charles was an 8th great-grandfather to George Herbert Walker Bush, via Charles Jr, Robert, Jeremiah, Jechonias, David, Sarah Amanda Yancey WEAR, James Hutchinson Wear, Lucretia Wear WALKER, Dorothy Walker BUSH mother of George H W.Bush)

Below is research I found posted by Dennis J. Yancey, probably a very distant cousin:


By Dennis J Yancey

Information concerning the earliest Yanceys found living in America is quite obscure and so much conflicting and inconsistent information has been published concerning the early members of the family that it has taken many years of research by various dedicated Yancey genealogists to differentiate between what is fact, what is hear-say and family tradition, and what is down right erroneous information. A summarization of the results of this extensive research follows. The dominant family tradition is that of four or five brothers coming over from Wales in 1642 with Sir William Berkeley (Colonial Governor of Virginia) and settling in the James River area of Virginia. It is often stated that all Yanceys descend from these four or five brothers. Many colonial records of Virginia have been destroyed or lost to current generations and it would seem that if any record ever did exist concerning these brothers that it has been lost or destroyed (Many researchers question these stories of the first Yanceys coming over about 1640 - because of the lack of any evidence whatsoever of Yanceys living in America in the 17th century or any connection to Gov. Berkeley) The tradition that all persons of a particular surname descend from a common immigrant (or family group of immigrants) is quite common among American families - especially those with more uncommon surnames. Genealogists, however, are often wary of such statements - as they have often proved to be erroneous. In the case of the Yancey families, even though no documentation exists proving the existence of the group of Yancey brothers coming to America in the mid 1600's, research has shown that (except for one very minor exception) that all Yanceys, do indeed, have a common ancestry - descending from a group of families living in the Hanover and Culpeper Counties of Virginia in the early 1700's. Concerning the four or five Welsh brothers, sources are somewhat inconsistent as to their names but the names: Charles, Robert, William, Joel and John are names often cited. If family lore is true, and these brothers did arrive in Virginia in the mid 1600's, we know nothing concerning their fate. It would seem that many of them had few or no descendants; as by the arrival of the 18th century, only a handful of Yanceys were to be found living in Virginia. Some reports lacking evidence claim that one or more of the brothers were killed by Indians. The earliest valid documentation of a person by surname Yancey is that of a Charles Yancey whose name is found among the list of property owners recorded on the Quit Rent Rolls of Virginia found living in King William County Virginia in 1704 and owning 100 acres. No other verified documentation has been discovered which refers to Yanceys of an earlier date. Due to the fact, however, that names were often changed, modified, and/or misspelled an extensive search was made of early colonial records of possible variant spellings of the name (example: Yancy, Yancie, Jancey, Jauncey, Yansy). The only record that could be found was that of John Jancy - found living in Lancaster County Virginia in 1666. Due to the fact that the name Jancy is pretty well nonexistent in early Virginia and an extremely uncommon surname in general, it would seem that this could possibly be an early member of the Yancey family who either used a variant spelling or more probably whose name was misspelled upon transcription.

Returning to the Charles Yancey found living in King William County Virginia in 1704. It would seem that this same Charles Yancey married and continued living in what was later to be Hanover and Louisa counties with his wife and children. (Hanover County was formed from New Kent and King William Counties in 1720 and Louisa County was formed from part of Hanover in 1742.) Various genealogical reports record the wife of this Charles as a Miss (Mary?) Bartlett; the International Genealogical Index [IGI] records them as being married 14 January, 1704 in King William County but no verification of this has been found. Family tradition has it that Charles of King William County was the son of an earlier Charles Yancey and wife, Miss (Mary?) Leighton - thought to be a descendant of the Scotch divine Alexander Leighton (cruelly persecuted for his religious teachings). Various reports have recorded birth, marriage, and death dates for these two Charles' - none of which have been documented and years of research have not produced any evidence proving (or even supporting) the above information concerning the two Charles and such information should not be considered as fact until proven as such. If a group of Yancey brothers did come to Virginia in 1642 as lore has it - the Charles recorded on the Quit Rent Rolls was probably either a son or more probably a grandson of one of the immigrant brothers. This same Charles Yancey (of King William County) is recorded as owning land in 1722 that was later to be part of Louisa county between North Anna and Little River. Between 1725 and 1730 he received land grants from King George II entitling him to 448 acres of land in Hanover county. Rather recently documents were discovered that recorded Charles and his wife and seven sons: James, Richard, Charles, Robert, John, Jechonias, and Archelaus living in Hanover county in the mid 1730's. Documents record him deeding land to his son James in 1734 and in 1735 to his son Archelaus. The latest recorded date that Charles is known to have been living is in 1745 when he deeded a negro slave to his son Robert. Contrary to some reports, no extant will has been found of this Charles Yancey of Hanover and it would seem that he died sometime soon after the deed of 1745.


Besides the Hanover/Louisa County branch of the Yancey family, which descend from the above mentioned Charles Yancey, the other main branch of the family found living in early America could be named the "Culpeper County branch" - as they descend from a Lewis Davis Yancey who was an early settler of that area which was later to be Culpeper County in Virginia. Some researchers feel that Lewis Davis Yancey may have been the brother of the Charles of Hanover and some evidence would indicate that Lewis Davis Yancey may have come from the Hanover County area during the early 1700's to settle in Orange County (from which Culpeper County was formed in 1748). It is interesting to note that on the 1704 Quit Rent Roll of King William County where the Charles Yancey is recorded there is also record of a man by the name of Lewis Davis. It would seem that the Davis family may have been intimately associated with the Yanceys. Records show a Lewis Davis living in Hanover county in 1735 near the Yanceys and dying in Louisa county in 1747 without leaving a will. Going back to Lewis Davis Yancey - about the year 1730 he married Mildred Winifred Kavanaugh - daughter of Philemon & Sarah Williams Kavanaugh (Mildred Winifred was usually referred to solely as Winifred). Philemon Kavanaugh had come to this country from Ireland in 1705 and is said to have held a land grant of 40,000 acres of land in what was later to be Culpeper County. It was a portion of this land that he deeded to his daughter Winifred in 1731 and upon which was built the Yancey estate of "Arlington" (which was passed down though the family for many generations). In 1733 Lewis Davis Yancey received a patent for two hundred seventy acres of land lying near the fork of the Rappahanock River - this land lay near the land that had been deeded to his wife. In 1748 he was granted an additional 300 acres in the same area. Lewis Davis Yancey's family lived during the period of the Revolutionary War and various of his sons and grandsons served in the war against the British. Lewis, himself, being of a relatively advanced age, did not actively serve in the military - but various records do document him supporting the revolutionary cause by "stalling" beef to the militia in 1781 ("Stalled" beef meant beef on hoof - ready to be slaughtered") . It was during the Revolutionary era that Lewis wrote his will (in 1778) and at the time the will was written, two of his sons were away from home serving in the Revolutionary Army and he was not sure that they would return. They did return and did claim their inheritance when the will was probated in Culpeper County in 1788 (four years after Lewis had died). Lewis Davis Yancey was buried there on the Yancey Estate - as was his wife. They were the parents of ten children - all born in Culpeper County: Elizabeth, Charles, John, Philemon, Lewis, Winifred, Ann Eleanor, Richard, Robert and James. The exact death date of Winifred Kavanaugh Yancey is not known, but she is known to have been living in 1797 when she "relinquished" land in Culpeper County to her son Charles. It would seem that she must have passed away soon after this. She was buried next to her husband. A tombstone (not the original) still marks their graves. Inscribed on the tombstone of Lewis is: "LEWIS DAVIS YANCEY 1689-1784 MARRIED 1710 MILDRED W. CAVANAUGH". The markers not being original and the dates not being consistent with other verified dates, many researchers have come to the conclusion that the date given for Lewis' birth may be in error. He was probably born in 1698. The marriage date recorded also seems to be in error and is probably the birth date of Winifred.


Extensive research has shown that most Yancey families whose lineages trace back to the early 1700's seem to descend from either the Charles Yancey family of the Hanover/Louisa County area or the Lewis Davis Yancey family of Culpeper County. There are various Yancey lines with many recorded descendants who have not yet been able to trace their lineage back far enough to connect in with these two main branches. But it would not seem too far fetched to claim that most, if not all, Yanceys are descended from these two main branches of the family.

CHARLES W. YANCEY - Born about 1770-1780. 1830 living in Franklin County, Indiana. Died about 1838 in Butler County, Ohio. Wife is to have been Mary Ann _________, Parents of Ambrose Yancey and Elcey Yancey. AMBROSE YANCEY - Born 5 November 1818 in Butler County, Ohio. Married 3 May 1839 in Franklin County, Indiana to Phebe Jane Goffe. Ambrose died in 1892 leaving many descendants. ELCEY YANCEY - born 17 October 1816 in Butler County, Ohio. Married 19 February 1835 in Butler County, Ohio to Alexander Duke. She died in 1888 also leaving descendants.


Cyrus Yancey, born about 1777 in Virginia. 1802-1814 recorded on various deed records in Anderson & Pendleton Counties in South Carolina. 1830,1832 in McMinn County, Tennessee. In 1850 a Cyrus Yancey found living in Hall County Georgia in the houishoeld of J.H. & Nancy Hanson (Nancy is thought to be a possible daughter). The wife of Cyrus is to have been one Sarah Smith. Children of CYRUS included one MEREDITH, ALEXANDER & NANCY. MEREDITH YANCEY was born 19 July 1803. He married Mary Witt in Monroe County, Tennessee in 1833. He is recorded on the 1840 & 1850 census of Monroe County. He later moved to Crawford County, Arkansas where he is recorded on the 1860 and 1870 census. He died in 1893 leaving many descendants. ALEXANDER YANCEY was born about 1801 in South Carolina. He married about 1825 one Elizabeth Bowman. The family is recorded on the 1830 census of McMinn County, Tennessee. Later in 1840 they were in Hamilton County, Indiana and in 1850 in Boone County, IN. By 1860 they were in Cass County, Missouri. CYRUS is thought to be a descendant of the Culpeper County Virginia Yanceys (descending from Lewis Davis Yancey) - but the exact identity is quite obscure.

Thought to be brothers. George W. Yancey is found on 1840,50,60, & 70 census of Telfair County, Georgia. He was born about 1815 in North Carolina. He married Sarah Brinkley 8 Jan 1837 in Upson co., GA. About 1840 he is to have married one Susannah Cravey and 12 Feb 1848 he married Susannah's sister Mary Cravey. He had various children who grew up in the Telfair County area. George's brother John Yancey was also on the 1840 census of Telfair County but he has not been located on the 1850 census. He is recorded on the 1860 census for Telfair. By 1870 he had moved to Smith Co., Texas and was also there on the 1880 census. He married Elizabeth Cravey 10 Feb 1840. They had various children. The parentage of George & John is unknown.



MINES/MEANS, DABNER, MILES, LEWIS YANCEY - all thought to be brothers. MINES YANCEY was born 3 February 1793 in Virginia. He served from South Carolina in the War of 1812. He married and Miss Jane Edwards 10 November 1817 in Pendleton District of South Carolina. In 1820 & 1830 he is found living in Hall County, Georgia. In 1850 he is found living in Jefferson County, Alabama where he died in 1859 leaving various descendants. DABNER YANCEY born about 1795 in Virginia, He also served in the War of 1812 from South Carolina. about 1815 he married a Miss Mary Siddall. In 1820 he is found living in Pendleton district SC. 1830 & 1840 he was living in Pickens County, SC. By 1850 he was living in Cherokee County, Georgia and in 1860 in Milton County, GA. He died in 1869 leaving various children. MILES YANCEY was born about 1796 in Virginia. He is to have eloped with one Catherine Wilson about 1811 in South Carolina. He also served in the war of 1812. In 1820 he is found living in Pendleton District SC. In 1830, 1840 & 1850 in Pickens Co., SC. In 1860 he was living in DeKalb County, Alabama where he died in 1864 leaving many descendants. LEWIS YANCEY was born about 1799 in Virginia. He also served in the war of 1812 from South Carolina. He married about 1827 one Rebecca Siddall. He is found on the 1820 census of Pendleton District SC. In 1830 & 1840 in Hall County, Georgia. By 1850 he was living in Dekalb County Alabama where he probably died sometime after 1860.


RICHARD YANCEY - 1820, 1824 living in Hall County, Georgia. 1830 living in Campbell County, Georgia. Married (1st) in the 1790's -wife's name unknown . Married (2nd) 27 November 1834 in Hall County Georgia at age to Sarah Gaisum. Thought to be father of WILLIAM, ELEANOR, JAMES & possibly TYRA YANCEY (probably others too). WILLIAM YANCEY born about 1797 in South Carolina - married about 1820 Esther _______. They are found living in Hall Co., GA in 1820 and in Campbell Co., GA in 1830,1840, and Esther is on the 1850 & 1860 censuses. They had various children. ELEANOR YANCEY - born about 1798 in South Carolina -married 17 November 1839 in Campbell Co., GA to David Darnell. They are found on the 1850 census of Campbell Co., GA (no children are recorded). JAMES YANCEY born about 1800 in South Carolina - Married before 1820 to Nancy _______. They are found recorded on the 1820 census of Jackson Co., GA and the 1830,1840,1850 censuses of Campbell County Georgia with various children. TYRA or TIRA J YANCEY - born about 1821 is recorded by some as being a son of RICHARD - but it would seem much more probable that he was a grandson. Tyra married 20 October 1839 in Campbell County, GA to Janet Hill. They are found on the 1840 & 1850 census of Campbell County. They are recorded on the 1870 census of Lafayette County, Arkansas and the 1880 census of Cass County, Texas.

One large branch of the family which is most probably related to one of the two main branches of the family - but for which the exact connection is uncertain is the WILLIAM/AUSTIN/FANNY/CHARLES YANCEY branch. It is one, the origin of which has eluded researchers for decades. The earliest record of a William Yancey is on tax records of Hanover County Virginia in 1758. A William Yancey is later found living in Granville County North Carolina in the early 1760's. Various deed records of William are found in the late 1760's in Mecklenburg County NC from which Tryon County NC was formed. Various records show him living in Tryon Co., NC from about 1768 to 1784. He is found on the 1790 census living in Rutherford County NC. This may be the same William Yancey found living in 1792 in Laurens County, South Carolina "with sons". and it may be the same William Yancey who died in Montgomery County, Tennessee about 1814. There is also a William Yancey found living in the Barnwell district of South Carolina in 1810. William married some time before 1760 a Miss Sophie Davis of Granville Co., NC and they are probably the parents of AUSTIN & FANNY YANCEY. Another child may have been one CHARLES YANCEY. AUSTIN YANCEY is to have been born 29 August 1752 and married 11 February 1775 in the Tryon/Rutherford County area (documentation for these dates are lacking- but dates seem reasonable) His wife is to have been one Sarah Garrison. In 1820 he was living in Montgomery County, TN and in 1830 in Franklin County, IL. In 1833 he applied for a pension. FANNY (FRANCES) YANCEY was born about 1768 in North Carolina - she is thought to be another child of WILLIAM & SOPHIE YANCEY. She married about 1790 one Nathaniel Dobbs. They early on traveled to Georgia and in 1850 are found on the Gwinnett County Census records. They had various children. Another possible son of WILLIAM & SOPHIE YANCEY is one CHARLES YANCEY. A Charles Yancey is found living in 1790 in Bladen County, North Carolina. and by 1800 in Robison Co.,NC. It is thought quite possible that this is the same Charles Yancey who is to have died in Gwinnett Co., Georgia about 1817. Although information concerning his wife and children is scant - Possible children include: Charles, Wesley, Alford, Ezekiel, Levi, Elisha, William, and Elijah Yancey.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Donnie Dunagan, Voice of Disney's Bambi

Donnie Dunagan was a hard-nosed Marine, a highly decorated veteran of the Vietnam War who served for a quarter-century. First drafted in the '50s and subsequently promoted 13 times in 21 years — a Corps record at the time, he recalls — Dunagan found the Marines a perfect fit. That is, so long as he could keep a secret.

According to Richard Dunagan's research, Donnie's father was Warren Frederick Dunagan of Colliersville, Tennessee. Warren moved his family to Oklahoma but when the depression hit they moved to California where Donnie became a child actor, landing the role of the voice of Bambi in the Disney movie "Bambi." He also landed a role as a child actor in the movie, "Son of Frankenstein."

Donnie Dunagan with his wife, Dana, on a recent visit to StoryCorps in San Angelo, Texas.
Donnie Dunagan today.

Dunagan was tapped by Walt Disney to be the voice of the lead in the 1942 Bambi, the now-classic animated film about a young deer learning about life in the forest. And not one of his fellow Marines knew.

"No chance!" Dunagan, now 80, tells his wife, Dana, on a recent visit with StoryCorps in San Angelo, Texas. "I never said a word to anybody about Bambi, even to you. When we first met I never said a word about it. Most of the image in people's minds of Bambi was a little frail deer, not doing very well, sliding around on the ice on his belly."

Now, imagine the man who was once Bambi as a commander in a Marine Corps boot camp, responsible for hundreds of recruits. Dunagan didn't want his recruits drawing any connections, mocking him or calling him "Maj. Bambi." So, he kept his mouth shut.

When Dana asks him how his life is different from the way he might have imagined, Dunagan points out that all the wounds he suffered in service, all the honors he's earned along the way, still haven't changed a thing.
"I have some holes in my body that God didn't put there. I got shot through my left knee. Got an award or two for saving lives over time," he says. "But I think I could have been appointed as the aide-de camp in the White House, it wouldn't make any difference — it's Bambi that's so dear to people."

No matter how he tried to escape it, that voice from his past always found him. "But I love it now — when people realize, 'This old jerk, he's still alive and was Bambi.' And I wouldn't take anything for it, not a darn thing for it."

This is Donnie Dunagan in 1974, during his time in the Marine Corps. Even if anyone had known, it's tough to imagine anyone calling him "Maj. Bambi" to his face then anyway.
This is Donnie Dunagan in 1974, during his time in the Marine Corps. Even if anyone had known, it's tough to imagine anyone calling him "Maj. Bambi" to his face then anyway.
Courtesy of Donnie and Dana Dunagan.

Newspaper clippings of young Donnie Dunagan from the early '40s.
Courtesy of Donnie and Dana Dunagan.
Sources: NPR; Richard Dunagan

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Maxine Dunagan Eddleman Obituary

From Karen Smith

The Cullman Times,  Cullman County, AL
Posted: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 3:37 pm
Graveside services for Maxine Dunagan Eddleman will be at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 14, 2015, at Cullman City Cemetery, the Rev. Richard Saylor officiating.
Ms. Eddleman was born May 31, 1943, and passed away Sunday, March 1, 2015. She enjoyed spending time with her family and friends and loved working with a variety of community service organizations.
Maxine was preceded in death by her husband, Kenneth Eddleman; father, Ewel Jackson Dunagan; mother, Audie Odell Dunagan; brother, Leroy Dunagan; niece, Kimberly Dunagan; and stepbrother, Kenneth Ewel Dunagan.
She was survived by her son, Marty (Denise) Eddleman; a brother, Gordon (Martha) Dunagan; grandchildren, Stacy Eddleman, Shea (J.P.) Westfall, Stephanie (Josh) Akers; great-grandchildren, Avery Brook Akers, Audie Ruth Westfall; and a host of nieces and nephews.

Maxine is descendant of::

Ewel Dunagan
Andrew Jackson Dunagan
Abner Dunagan
Ira Dunagan
Abner Dunagan

The step brother was a half brother.

Gordon Dunagan was the Mayor of Good Hope, AL
for several years,

Abner Dunagan is Maxine's great grandfather, who died during the Civil  War and Ewel told the story about Abner coming home on leave and murdered the Home Guards who had beaten his dad and abused his mother and son, the Guards were trying to steal their money.  Andrew was the little boy.
The money was hidden under a pile of rocks the family had cleared from a field,

This story was told by Ewel Dunagan of Cullman, Alabama to Karen Dunagan-Smith of Kankakee, Illinois, and what follows is the story as told by my father, George Jeter Dunagan. He referred to this story as a civil war tragedy of Pickens County, Georgia.Ira Dunagan was the son of Abner Dunagan, Sr. of Habersham County, Georgia. Abner, Sr. was the brother of Ezekiel Dunagan of Hall County, Georgia, a veteran of the War of 1812. Both these brothers came into Georgia with their father, Rev. Joseph Dunagan, in 1796 from Pendleton, South Carolina.Ira was born in 1805 in Franklin County. He was married and living with his wife Elizabeth and three children in 1830 in Lumpkin County, Georgia. The other two children were born in Gilmer County. In 1850 Ira and his family lived on the Fairmount Road leading out of Jasper in Pickens County.May 15, 1854, Ira served on the Superior Court Grand Jury, which was held under a huge oak tree before Jasper was a town. Ira was a farmer and a miller and people came from many miles around to his mill to get their corn ground into meal.Ira and Elizabeth had two sons and three daughters. Their son's Abner, Jr., and Benjamin joined the Army of the CSA soon after the Civil War began.Abner, Jr. was a farmer and was married to Lucinda Swofford of Union County. They had one son whose name was Andrew Jackson Dunagan who was about six years old when his father went to war. Benjamin was single and ran a grocery store when he had to enlist.During the Civil War in the south there were men in every community assigned as "Home Guards." One night seven of these Home Guards went to Ira's house. They thought Ira had some money and wanted it. He had over three hundred dollars in gold and silver which he had placed in a gourd and hid in a hollow stump. He covered the stump with rocks like many people did in those days when there were a lot of rocks in their fields. They would pile these rocks in a pile and plow around it.Ira would not admit to the men that he had any money. They were sure he had some money and they planned to make him tell them where it was hidden. He was close to sixty years old. They tied his feet with a rope and threw the end of the rope over the ceiling joist and had him swinging back and forth with his head down near the floor. Each man would knock Ira from one side of the room to the other, while two other men were pulling Elizabeth by her hair trying to get her to tell them where the money was hidden.Andrew Jackson Dunagan, Abner, Jr.'s son, was staying with his grandparents. He had gone to bed and was asleep when he was suddenly awaken by the noise. He ran into the room and was knocked over into a corner and told if he moved or said a word they would kill him. He was about eight years old.The war had been going on for over two years when Abner decided he needed to go home to check on his family. He had been stationed in Memphis, TN, and was able to get a leave of absence for fifteen days. When Abner arrived home his parents told him about the incident and who the men were, because they knew each one of them by name. Abner stayed around for a few days, but abruptly left one day never to return taking his fathers only horse. Both Abner and his brother Benjamin were killed in the war.After the war was over one of Ira's neighbors who had served in the same Confederate unit with Abner, told Abner's parents what had happened that eventful day when Abner had left so suddenly. He had killed all seven of the "Home Guard" who had violated his parents and son that fateful night.When Abner had left that day he had gone to the home of the last man he was to kill and asked the wife where he was and called for him by name. She said he was in the corn crib shucking corn. This is where Abner killed the man.After Abner returned to his unit it was later told that he had become very bitter and extremely hardened. He killed many men before he met with his own death.Soon after the war came to an end, Ira and his family including Lucinda, Abner's widow and son Andrew Jackson Dunagan, moved to Winston County, Alabama. This is where Ira lived when he and Elizabeth died. They are buried in the Liberty Church Cemetery, in Winston County.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Governor John Gardiner Richards, Jr.

I had posted previously that there were two governors of Georgia in the Dunagan Family Tree, Zell Miller and Nathan Deal. I have recently learned from Catherine Bankhead Dunagan, who is married to my nephew, David Dunagan, that she is the great granddaughter of a former governor of South Carolina. This is his story.

John Gardiner Richards, Jr. (1864 – 1941) was the 96th Governor of South Carolina from 1927 to 1931.Born in Liberty Hill, Kershaw County, on September 11, 1864, Richards was the son of the Rev. John G. Richards and Sophia Edwards Smith. Richard's father served in the Civil War as a CSA Chaplain having graduated from Oglethorpe University, Georgia in 1850, and Theological Seminary, Columbia, S.C. in 1853, becoming a Presbyterian minister, later moving his family to Liberty Hill, Kershaw County, SC, to pastor a church.

John G. Richards, Jr., the future governor, grew up in Liberty Hill and attended the common schools of Liberty Hill, later spending two years at Bingham Military Institute in Mebane, North Carolina, before returning home at age nineteen to manage the family farm. In June 1888, Richards married Betty Coates Workman. The couple had eleven children.

In 1890 Richards supported “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman in his agrarian crusade against the conservative leaders of the Democratic Party, the so-called “Bourbons.” Tillman triumphed and Richards became a Kershaw County magistrate. After serving for eight years, he won a seat in the state House of Representatives in 1898. Over the next twelve years, Richards championed agriculture, conservative budgets, public education for whites, and liquor control. The son of a Presbyterian minister, Richards was a staunch advocate of prohibition.

After an unsuccessful bid for the governorship in 1910, Richards was appointed to the state Railroad Commission, where he sat for twelve years between 1910 and 1926. During that time, he shifted his political allegiance from Tillman to Cole Blease, the victor in the 1910 gubernatorial election. Richards failed to succeed Blease as governor in 1914, and lost a third run for the office 1918. Finally, in his fourth attempt, Richards won the governorship in 1926.

In office, Richards declared war on the board of public welfare, evolution, and the highway and tax commissions, proclaiming the latter “a veiled effort to establish an oligarchy.” He urged strict adherence to the Ten Commandments and ordered the state constabulary to close businesses that violated the Sabbath and even arrested golfers for ignoring state Blue Laws. Appalled, the New York Times editorialized in March 1927 that “There is another sport in South Carolina which is not seriously interfered with. This is lynching.” A month later, a Columbia Record poll revealed 249 respondents favored the governor’s position on Sunday activities while 3,943 opposed his interpretation of the Ten Commandments. The legislature and the state supreme court responded by curtailing Richards’ authority, while popular opinion rejected his actions.

By 1928, the governor had abandoned his persecution of golfers and concentrated on rallying support for a $65,000,000 road construction project and the upgrading of public schools. Both of these endeavors were tremendously successful under Richards’ stewardship, but were overshadowed by his zealous moral crusade. By the time he left office in 1931, South Carolinians enduring the Great Depression were far more concerned with obtaining the basic necessities of this life than with the narrow moral code of their governor. Retiring to his farm in Liberty Hill, Richards remained a loyal Democrat and supported Franklin Roosevelt in the 1932 presidential campaign, although he simultaneously led opposition in the state to the repeal of national prohibition. Richards died on October 9, 1941, and was buried in Liberty Hill Cemetery.


Cann, Katherine D. “John G. Richards and the Moral Majority.” Proceedings of the South Carolina Historical Association, 1983.

McClure, Charles F., Jr. “The Public Career of John G. Richards.” M.A. thesis, University of South Carolina, 1972.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Governor Zell Miller and Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia

Two Georgia governors from the same family tree is not that common. Former Governor Zell Miller(also former U. S. Senator) with his wife Shirley and the current Governor Nathan Deal(former U. S. Congressman) with his wife Sandra Dunagan Deal, my oldest sister. Zell is the great grandson of Lydia Dunagan Miller and James Miller. Lydia Dunagan was the daughter of Joseph Ellis Dunagan, my third great grandfather and the oldest son of Ezekiel Dunagan and Lydia Ann Brown of Hall county, Georgia. Joseph Ellis Dunagan was elected to the Georgia State Senate and served 24 consecutive years in the Georgia Legislature in the early 1800s. Sandra likes to point out that Nathan has never lost an election except when he ran for President of the Jaycees of Gainesville/Hall County.

Photo taken January 12, 2015, Governor Deal's swearing in ceremony, Georgia State Capital, for 2nd term. Governor Zell Miller also served two terms as Governor and later served in the U. S. Senate for 6 years before retiring from politics.

January 12, 2015, Nathan is sworn in as Governor of Georgia, by his eldest son, 
Superior Court Judge Jason Deal, surrounded by his family.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ezekiel Dunagan Family Reunion 2014

Ezekiel Dunagan Family Reunion 2014
Gainesville Marina on Lake Lanier
September 21, 2014

Additional photos by Lindsey McDowell at: