Milton William Talbot, Jr.
Whether it was the numerous children poised to claim inheritance, the pressure of the burgeoning flood of emigrants from Virginia and the Carolinas, wanderlust or simply a desire to find new lands and build new lives, the urge to move westward was one of the stronger forces in the lives of the people of the early nineteenth century South. The sons of William and Mary Bailey Talbot, feeling compelled to leave their ancestral lands, moved from Georgia into Alabama in the first years of the century. Green Berry Talbot, born in Wilkes County Georgia, married Mary Tate Anthony in 1815 and moved westward to Morgan county, Georgia, then to Chambers and Tallapoosa counties in Alabama and eventually followed his son, Green Berry, Jr. to Arkansas.
William Bailey Talbot, third child and second son of Green Berry and Mary Tate Anthony Talbot, was born in Morgan County, Georgia on January 30, 1819. Before he was ten, he moved with his family to Meriwether County, Georgia, and in 1835 when he was 16, to Chambers (now Lee) County, Alabama. His father was a farmer and landowner and William Bailey undoubtedly learned from him the skills necessary for this profession for he, too, remained a farmer and planter. After four years in Chambers County, he married Nancy Haney Willis, the 16-year-old daughter of wealthy and successful planters, Paul Thilman Willis and Martha Melvina Mills on October 20, 1840.Although they were in Macon County in 1850, their six children were born in Opelika, Chambers County over the first 17 years of their marriage.
The excitement of new land was too great however. In 1859, when his youngest child, Milton Anthony, was still in infancy, land in Scott County, Mississippi, became available following the Choctaw Cession of 1832. The family moved the several hundred miles to central Mississippi in wagons and buggies, fording creeks and crossing rivers and established a plantation on Shokolo Creek a few miles north of the town of Harperville in Scott County and near Hillsboro which at the time was the county seat. The slightly rolling land was heavily forested with pine timber but the reddish sandy soil was fertile and the bottom lands redolent with hardwood.Nancy Haney Willis Talbot died five years after the move in her 38th year on January 15, 1864 and was buried in the Old Hays Creek Graveyard adjacent to the Baptist church of which they were members and which was only two miles from their house.
William and Nancy had six children: Elizabeth Melvina Talbot, born January 19, 1844, Paul Thilman Willis Talbot, born February 15, 1846, Green Washington Talbot, born August 5, 1849, Sarah Edna Talbot, November 8, 1851 William Simpson Talbot June 30, 1854 and Milton Anthony Talbot born August 28, 1856.
After the death of Nancy Talbot, William Bailey married a second time to Martha P. Bryant, a widow with at least one child. They were married in Harperville on January 31, 1867, and from this marriage two more sons were born: Matthew Franklin Talbot on November 1, 1868 and Walter Bailey, June 12, 1971.
William Bailey Talbot was a plantation owner during the peak of the ante-bellum cotton boom and, apparently, affluent. As each of his first 6 children was born, according to family tradition, they were each assigned both a Negro “mammy” and young Negro child of the same age and sex to be a companion and playmate. His fortunes changed, however, with the Civil War and its aftermath: his land became of little value, his assets evaporated with the collapse of Confederate currency, the labor for his plantation became scarce. He essentially “lost everything”
Paul Thilman Willis Talbot, the oldest son, was 30 years older than his youngest half brother. In fact he had been married nine years and was the father of an eight-year-old daughter when his father’s last child was born. He apparently contracted the wanderlust that had infected his forbears and, facing the economic collapse of the southern plantation system and his father’s subsequent despair, moved sometime between 1867 and 1869 to the northern Louisiana community of Summerfield in Claiborne Parish. He was in his early twenties. He had married (on November 30, 1867) his 18-year-old neighbor, Toressa Cassandra Ledbetter, daughter of William Ledbetter and Cassandra Spragin Black who had been neighbors of the Talbots in Chambers County, Alabama, and apparently moved to Mississippi with them and then to Summerfield. William Ledbetter was a merchant and Paul T. W. Talbot, recognizing its opportunities also became a merchant. Soon after their marriage he and Toressa moved to San Marcos, Texas. There he developed a mercantile business in this thriving Texas town that burgeoned into one of central Texas’ major emporiums. He was a community leader for whom a street was named, a deacon and leader in the First Baptist Church in San Marcos and when the San Marcos Baptist Academy was founded about 1909 he was elected president of its Board of Trustees. He gave liberally to the Academy, and on the School Campus is a boys’ dormitory called “Talbot Hall” in his honor.
He and Toressa had nine children: seven girls and two boys. They all received college educations. William Ledbetter Talbot, the first son, after graduating from Coronel Institute remained in San Marcos in partnership with his father. Paul Thilman Sellers Talbot, the second son, graduated from the Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans in 1908 after premedical years at Texas A&M University. He became a specialist in Gynecology and Obstetrics, an instructor in Surgery at Tulane and was for many years secretary and executive of the Louisiana State Medical Society. He served overseas in the Medical Corps during World War I. He married Jennie Mitcheson in 1913 by whom he had twin daughters. Many of the descendants of Paul T. W. Talbot remain in central Texas
Elisabeth Melvina Talbot, the oldest child married John C. Haralson on May 3, 1861, but died on May 7, 1867, four months after her father’s remarriage.
Green Washington Talbot married Fanny Lyle on November 3, 1970 and remained in Forrest, Mississippi, which had become the largest town in Scott County, and only 5 miles from his childhood home. They had three children, Toressa Edna Lyle Talbot who married Marshall William McCormick, Matthew Lyle Talbot and William Oliver Talbot.
William Oliver Talbot who was born in Scott County MS on February 2,. 1878, was a well-known dentist in Dallas, Texas. He served as a Trustee of the American Dental Association and as a member of the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners. He married Rose Dale Andrews on October 10, 1901 with whom he had three children: Lt. Col. O. S. L Talbot, Daniel Green Talbot and Mary Teresa Talbot who married Theodore Penner. All of the children continued their life in Dallas
On November 26, 1867, A few months after her older sister’s death and her father’s remarriage, Sarah Edna Talbot married Forrest, Mississippi, physician, William Ferguson. Dr. Ferguson served the Mississippi regiments during the Civil War as a surgeon and returned to practice in Jonesboro, Louisiana, where he died in 1922.Sarah died May 16, 1894 at the home of her older brother in San Marcos, Texas. Sarah and William Ferguson had five children, of whom the three sons, Robert Claude, Marion Gray and Benjamin all became physicians practicing in Mississippi and Louisiana.
The second marriage of William Bailey and Martha Bryant was not well accepted by the children of Nancy Willis Talbot and apparently resulted in a rupture of the relationship among them. As a consequence of this upheaval, the death of their older sister, and the marriage of their next oldest combined with the financial collapse of the family, the two youngest sons, William Simpson then age 13 and Milton Anthony, 11, went to live with their older brother, Paul, in Summerfield, Louisiana, and moved with him when he established residence in San Marcos. It is unclear whether the two younger boys left with Paul or joined him later.
William Simpson Talbot, after living with Paul and Toressa for four years and attending school in San Marcos, enrolled in Medical School at Louisiana State University from which he resigned in his senior year, much to his older brother’s dismay, after being unable to face the exhumation of the corpses necessary to the anatomy class. For the next twenty-one years he “toured the globe as a roving school teacher and adventurer". He ultimately married Olivia Belle Sampson of Mantua in Grayson County in North Texas, and settled there where his descendants still live. He died after moving to Kaufman County, Texas, on March 21, 1941.
The youngest child of William Bailey and Nancy Talbot was Milton Anthony. Born in Chambers County, Alabama, moving as an toddler to Scott County, losing his mother when he was eight, his surrogate mothers (his older sisters) at eleven, confronted with a hostile stepmother and the complex change in lifestyle which the War had mandated, he moved with William to his oldest brother’s home in Summerfield and then to San Marcos. He remained there, attending San Marcos schools and absorbing the skills and techniques of merchandising from his brother and his cousin William, until around 1876 when he returned to Summerfield, Louisiana, to visit his brother’s in-laws, the Ledbetters. The pine forests and lush countryside of Claiborne Parish were reminiscent of his Mississippi home and more pleasing to him than the cedar covered limestone hills and open prairies of central Texas and he decided to remain there. He started a mercantile business in association with the Ledbetters. He soon fell in love with and, on December 28, 1878, married Emma Cassandra Ledbetter, the niece of his brother’s wife Toressa. Milton and Emma Talbot remained in Summerfield until 1899 as his mercantile business grew.But the steady march of progress that brought the railroad to northern Louisiana brought it, not to Summerfield, but to the town of Bernice, in Union Parish, some twenty miles away. Recognizing its necessity for his business he moved his family and his livelihood to Bernice where he and Emma spent the remainder of their lives.
Milton Anthony Talbot and Emma Cassandra Ledbetter had ten children, all born in Summerfield, Louisiana:
Annie Elizabeth Talbot, born on November 17, 1879, married Dr. George Reed Carroll on April 29, 1915, and moved with him to Fullerton, Vernon Parish, Louisiana, where he was in general practice. They had one daughter, Maudames Carroll, who married William Conner. Dr. Carroll died at his boyhood home in Spearsville, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, in 1941 and Annie in Bernice, in 1964.
Benjamin Paul Talbot, born August 27, 1881, became an independent oil operator and producer in Houston, Texas. Quite successful in the “oil business” he married Madrid Whitten there in 1903.They had no children. He died in Houston on April 21, 1944, at 63 years of age.
Milton William Talbot, the third child, was born on March 20, 1883.He attended schools in Summerfield and Bernice, Louisiana, entering medical school at the University of Nashville, Nashville, Tennessee, (now the University of Tennessee) from which he graduated in 1910.He interned at hospitals in Shreveport, Louisiana, and entered practice with his brother-in-law, George Carroll in Fullerton, Louisiana. Although overage at 34, he volunteered for Military Service in World War I, serving in the Medical Corps of the AEF in France from 1917 until the War’s end. Upon his return he married Willie Alice SoRelle of Many, Sabine Parish, Louisiana, on November 13, 1919, and settling in Meridian, Evangeline Parish, Louisiana, resumed his medical practice. It was in Meridian that their only child, Milton William Talbot, Jr. was born in 1922.In 1924 he moved with his family to the town of Leesville, in Vernon Parish, not far from his original practice sites at Fullerton. In Leesville he was a much beloved physician during the 39 years he served there. In General Practice, he delivered more that 2000 babies, and was devoted to the demands of his largely rural practice. He was one of the organizers of the Merchants and Farmer's Bank and Trust Co., in 1928 and he served as director and from 1935 until his death, as vice president. He served the community of Leesville and Vernon Parish as physician, community leader, banker and political counselor until his death in 1961.He was a member of the First Christian Church, a Knight Templar Mason and an active member of the Vernon Parish and Louisiana State Medical Societies.
Jesse Marion Talbot, born February 16, 1885, and always known as Jett, remained his entire life in Bernice, managing the Talbot Department Store of his father and his own oil and lumber interests. He never married.
Lyle Green Talbot, carrying the name of his great-grandfather, was born on February 2, 1887.After schooling in Summerfield and Bernice he obtained the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery from Louisiana State School of Dentistry in Baton, Rouge, Louisiana, and entered dental practice in the southern Louisiana city of Lake Charles, Calcacieu Parish, in about 1912.He married Olive Magee in 1914 with whom he had one child, a daughter, Gretchen. Gretchen married but had no children and died in 1982. Green Talbot died in 1932.
Emmie Tress Talbot, born November 1, 1888 married Sam W. Davis, operator of the Palace, a large department store in Monroe, Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, 50 miles from Bernice. She lived in Monroe until her death in 1990 at the age of 102.She had no children.
Desmond O. Talbot, born December 31, 1890 followed his father as a merchant and retailer, establishing Talbot’s a department store in Hope and then in Magnolia, Arkansas. He married Madeline Berkman on July 13, 1913.“Dudley” as he was called and Madeline had two sons, Joe Dudley Talbot, who obtained his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1938 became an obstetrician and gynecologist in Shreveport, Louisiana, and Benjamin Paul Talbot who joined his father in the management of the Talbot’s stores in Hope and Magnolia.
Maude S Talbot was born on February 16, 1893, married Dr. Julius Sheppard Moore, a physician, and lived in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, until her death in 1977.She and Dr. Moore had no children.
Forno Miles Talbot was born December 12, 1896.He married Janie Ellison Dixon from Belcher, Caddo Parish, Louisiana on October 20, 1925, earned a dental degree from Louisiana State School of Dentistry in Baton Rouge and practiced general dentistry entirely in Shreveport, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, until his death in 1962.He and Janie had one child, a daughter, Jean Dixon Talbot. “Red” Talbot was one of Shreveport’s leaders.
Myrtle Blanche Talbot, born February 18, 1899, remained in Bernice and taught English in the Bernice High School until her marriage in 1949 to Floyd Monzingo, a successful entrepreneur with extensive lumber and oil interests in Hot Springs, Arkansas. They had no children, but Floyd Monzingo had one child, Joann Monzingo, by a previous marriage. Myrtle lived in Magnolia, Arkansas, until her death on February 20, 1886 at 88 years of age.
William Bailey and Nancy Haney Talbot, although having only six children together had scores of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, among them 28 physicians.
The second marriage of William Bailey Talbot occurred in Scott County, Mississippi, on January 13, 1867, 3 years after the death of Nancy Haney Willis Talbot. Martha Bryant was apparently a widow, although I have found no record of her previous marriage. As noted above the marriage was not well accepted by the children of Nancy Talbot. The marriage produced two sons, Matthew Franklin Talbot, born November 1, 1868 and Walter Bailey Talbot born June 12, 1871, both in Scott County. After the death of their father on March 16, 1878 when they were nine and seven years old they moved with Martha Bryant Talbot to Kaufman County, Texas, to be near their Bryant relatives.
Matthew Franklin Talbot lived as a farmer in Kaufman County and died there on April 2, 1950.
Walter Bailey Talbot married Ada Ethyl Rodden in Kaufman County on November 14, 1897.They had 4 children, all girls: Ruby Talbot, August 20, 1898 who married Leonard Marvin Turner; Maybelle Talbot, May 31, 1903 who married, first Henry Bailey with whom she had two daughters, Henry Virginia Bailey and Ada Lee Bailey , secondly R. Skaggs, and thirdly, David Bridwill; Nettie Lee Talbot, July 6, 1905, who married a Mr. Mills; and Marie Talbot, October 28, 1911, who married a Mr. Roberts and then a Mr. Nixon with whom she had two children, Charlotte and Lockey Nixon. Walter Bailey Talbot spent most of his life in Kaufman County, Texas, particularly near the town of Forney, the site of the farm on which he lived until his death in 1943. Walter and Matthew Talbot ultimately lived in the same community as their half brother, William Simpson Talbot.
William Bailey Talbot lived his life in the pinewoods of the South. His children and grandchildren seemed drawn to them. Although many of his descendants lived in the open savannas of Texas, most remained in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas their westward movement slowed and its urgency forgotten. They seemed finally to feel at home in the land where they were. The towns of Fullerton, Meridian, Leesville, Bernice, Summerfield and Many were built on the lumber industry which, in the first half of the twentieth century, provided the opportunity and life style, although now faded, so rewarding to those who partook of it.
William Bailey Talbot continued to live in Scott County, even after the economic catastrophe that robbed him of his wealth and his family. He spent the last eleven years with his second wife, Martha, then died and was buried beside his first wife, Nancy Haney Talbot, in the “Old Hays Creek Graveyard” near Harperville. This cemetery, although now completely rural and situated in an area that shows no signs of its plantation past, is still active and has some maintenance. The Baptist church for which it is named no longer exists, nor does the home of William and Nancy Talbot and their children. The gravestones of William Bailey Talbot and his first wife, though, are still to be found there.