ALVIS, James Woodson (or Woodford), of Tennessee and Missouri

James Woodson (or Woodford) Alvis was born ca 1808 in Tennessee, probably in Sumner County, the eldest son of Shadrach and Nancy (Hail) Alvis.[1] He died between about 1844 and 1850, when his widow remarried.

On 17 Feb 1827 in Lawrence Co TN, as “Woodford Alvis” he married Luvina[2] Pulliam,[3] daughter of Alsey and Frances (McClendon) Pulliam. “Mrs Loveiny Alvis” married second Martin Dial[4] on 4 Jun 1850 in Jefferson Co IL[5]; their divorce is assumed, ca 1853, since both remarried. “Leatha Dial” married third Edward King,[6] 17 Mar 1853, Jefferson Co IL[7]; she and Edward were in separate households in 1860. “Lese King” married fourth Charles Cavender on 18 Sep 1864 in Macoupin Co IL.[8] Luvina (or Leatha) may have married fifth a Pulliam, since that is how she is listed in the 1880 census. Her date of death and place of burial have not been located.

Leatha/Luvina was born ca 1808 in TN and died sometime after 1880, probably in the home of one of her daughters.

James and Luvina moved to Missouri by 1830 when their census reads: Crawford Co MO, Crawford District, p 180: James Alvis, 00001…/100010… This is near present-day Pulaski Co MO. Line by line searches have failed to locate the family in 1840 Missouri; one daughter was born there in 1839 and the last child in 1844. A possibility may be Jefferson Twp, Buchanan Co MO, James W “Wood”: 010001/111001; this is next to Platte County, where Luvina’s parents were living in 1840, and the children in the family match ours exactly. This James W Wood family is not in Buchanan Co in 1850.

Two records in early Missouri call James Alvis a Methodist preacher. History of Pike County Missouri, has the following passage: “…the M. E. Church, which was organized about the year 1830. Frederick Leach and James Alvis were the first preachers, the services being held at private houses…”[9] And also, W S Woodard, in Annals of Methodism in Missouri, writes: “We begin this section with the introduction of Methodism in the extreme southwestern part of the State. This year, John Thompson, then on the Gasconade Circuit, organized a class on Osage Fork, fifteen miles east of where Lebanon now is. Rev. J. H. Ross has sent me the following interesting account…

Otterville, 1885”

Rev. W. S. Woodard: Dear Brother – I heartily approve your laudable undertaking…

In the fall of 1828 my father and mother, mother’s parents, John and Bethia Hillhouse, and my uncle, Josiah M. Hillhouse, moved from Lawrence Co TN, and on the 19th of November pitched their tent on the Osage Fork of Gasconade river, about fifteen miles east of where Lebanon now stands, just above where Farris’ mill was afterwards built.…

I have a distinct recollection of how anxious the settlers were to have preachers in the neighborhood; of hearing Ma and Aunt talk of preachers and meeting back in Tennessee. Of the preachers they spoke of Jacob Hearn, and longed to see him and hear him preach… I think the first preaching in the neighborhood was by a local preacher named Jacob Alvice; I know that he was there, and think that he had meeting once or twice. J. Thompson came as an itinerant in 1831. He established preaching at Anderson’s and gathered the scattered members into a society. He was zealous and well-received generally.”[10]

No family traditions about James W Alvis have survived. This writer wonders if he continued fervently preaching the Gospel in the backwoods until his early death. Or was there something about Luvina/Leatha that prevented her marriages from succeeding? Was it death that left the widowed wife and children in Jefferson Co IL, near James’s parents, or did the husband continue his life far from his family and far from his early calling?

These are the places where James W Alvis is known to have resided:

  • 1827: marriage in Lawrence Co TN
  • say 1828: probable birth of daughter Jane in Lawrence Co MO
  • 1830: Crawford Co MO census
  • 1830-1: preaching in Pike Co MO and near the Osage Fork of the Gasconade River
  • 1832: birth of son William in MO
  • 1834: tax list Greene Co MO, next door to William H[askell] Pulliam, his wife’s brother and the main source for identifying her parents
  • 1836: birth of daughter Mary in MO
  • 1839: birth of daughter Lucy in Springfield, Greene Co MO[11]
  • 1839: land grant for “ Woodson Olvis of Pike Co MO” 1 Apr 1839 in Pike Co Missouri
  • 1840: possible census, Buchanan Co MO
  • 1844: birth of daughter Sarah in MO
  • 1850: marriage of “Loveiny” in Jefferson Co IL; the mother and daughters Jane, Lucy, and Sarah were in that county in the 1850 census. Mary was in Madison Co IL. Although son William has not been located in this year, he was married in 1856 in Madison Co.
  • 1850: Letha Dial, 42 TN, and Sarah “Avis” in census with Martin Dial family, Jefferson Co IL
  • 1860: Luthy King, 52 TN, with daughter Mary and her husband Solomon Ferguson and their family, Macoupin Co IL
  • 1870: Lavenia Cavender, 60 TN, with fourth husband Charles Cavender
  • 1880: Leatha Pulliam, 69 TN NC NC, again with daughter Mary and her husband Solomon Ferguson and their family, Parke Co IN

Three daughters of James W and Luvina have birth certificates from many years after James’s death. Mary’s in 1934 says her parents were James Alvis and Leatha M Pulliam. Lucy’s in 1923 says James Alvis and Lethy Merrick Pulleon. Sarah’s in 1930 lists her parents as James W Alvis and Neda L Pullman.

Children of James and Luvina are:

1.  Jane E ALVIS. Born on 11 Feb 1828 probably in Lawrence Co TN. Jane E died in Jefferson Co IL, on 13 Jan 1895; she was 66. Buried in West Salem Cemetery, Jefferson Co IL. About 1847 Jane E married Roland S DARE, as his first wife. Born on 5 Jul 1827 in TN. Roland S died in Jefferson Co IL, on 12 Dec 1905. They had the following children:

i.            James W (1848- )

ii.            John Pinckney (1849-<1880)

iii.            William M (1851-)

iv.            Mary Elizabeth (1853-1946)

v.            Sarah Frances (1856-1878 )

vi.            George Edward (1858-1946)

vii.            Alison Junior (ca1860-1894)

viii.            Julius F (1863-)

ix.            Newton Elliott (1866-1945)

x.            Ida Cora/Ada Carol (1868-1910)

2. William Henry Harrison ALVIS. Born on 11 Jan 1832 in MO. He died in Brighton, Macoupin Co IL, on 17 Apr 1874. Buried in Brighton, Macoupin Co IL. On 14 Dec 1856 when William Henry Harrison was 24, he married as her first husband Frances BROOKS, daughter of Asa BROOKS & Anna JOY, in Madison Co IL. Born on 17 Jan 1837 in Fosterburg, Madison Co IL, Frances died in Irving, Montgomery Co IL, on 13 Jan 1917. They had the following children:

i.            Cora (1857-1925)

ii.            Isabella (1857-)

iii.            Edward Amandus (1861-1934)

iv.            William Elmer (1869-1924)

3. Mary Melissa ALVIS. Born on 16 Feb 1836 in MO. Mary died in Rockville, Parke Co IN, on 4 Nov 1934; she was 98. On 9 Feb 1854 when she was 17, she married Solon FERGUSON in Madison Co IL. Born on 20 Aug 1831 in NH or NC. Solon died in Rockville, Parke Co IN, on 23 Jun 1897. They had the following children:

i.            Cora L (1857-1939)

ii.            Alice (1859-1925)

iii.            Walter Scott (1860-1941)

iv.            William Elmer (1864-1943)

v.            Belle (1869-1941)

vi.            Frank (1870-)

vii.            Laura L (1874-1931)

4. Louisiana/Lucy Annie ALVIS. Born on 1 Feb 1839 in Greene Co MO. Louisiana/Lucy Annie died in Nokomis, Montgomery Co IL, on 17 Oct 1923; she was 84. In 1859 when she was 19, she married James YOUNG in IL. Born in May 1828 in Ireland. They had the following children:

i.            Jenny (1863-)

ii.            Mary A/Annie (1869-)

iii.            Nellie/Helen A (1872-)

iv.            William (1875-)

v.            Clara B (1878- )

vi.            Lucy M (1881-)

6. Sarah Lavina ALVIS. Born on 17 Mar 1844 in MO. Sarah Lavina died in Bloomington, Monroe Co IN, on 30 Dec 1930; she was 86. On 15 Sep 1866 when Sarah Lavina was 22, she married William Alexander FULWIDER in Rockville, IN. Born in 1844 in VA. William Alexander died in Bloomington, Monroe Co IN, on 24 Sep 1937; he was 93. They had the following children:

i.            Nellie (1867-1872)

ii.            Oscar M (1869-1961)

iii.            Ida Mae (1871-)

iv.            Luella (1873-1874)

v.            Jesse Herbert (1880-1967)

The Case for James W Alvis as a Son of Shadrach and Nancy (Hail) Alvis

Document List

  • Marriage certificate, Lawrence Co TN (“Woodford Olvis”).
  • 1830 Crawford MO (“James Alvis”).
  • The History of Pike County, Missouri, 1883, p. 57, “James Alvis” was an early Methodist minister, who came to Missouri about 1830
  • 1834 tax list in Greene Co MO, “James W Alvis,” next door to his brother-in-law, William H Pulliam.
  • Deed for a land patent near Palmyra MO, dated 1 April 1839 for “Woodson Olvis of Pike Co MO.”
  • 1880 marriage license, “Mrs. Loveiny Alvis” and Martin Dial, 1850 Jefferson Co IL.
  • 1880 Parke Co IN: Mary (Alvis) Ferguson, 44 MO TN TN. Mary’s mother was listed as “Leathy Pullman,” 69 TN NC NC.
  • 1820, Lawrence Co TN: Shadrach had a son under 10 and another (James) 10-16.
  • 1830, Pike Co MO: Shadrach with a son 15-20 and himself under 50.
  • 10 Oct 1835, like his son James Woodford (or Woodson), “Shadrach Olvis of Pike Co MO” received a patent for land near Palmyra MO.
  • 1840, Jasper Co IL: Shadrach with his wife and three children under ten. A few pages away, Shadrach’s second son, John S Alvis, was listed with his family.
  • 1850, Jefferson Co IL: Shadrach lived in the same county where James’s orphaned children and his remarried widow had also moved. Note Shradrach’s wife was Nancy (Haile), evidence this is the Shadrach from Lawrence Co TN.
  • 1860, Jasper Co IL: William H Alvis in his first known census lived where his grandfather had been ten years earlier.
  • 1860 Macoupin Co IL, “Lutha King,” 52 TN, and Sarah “Avis,” 18 MO, with Mary (Alvis), 24 MO, and Solon Ferguson family.
  • Marriage certificate, Macoupin Co IL, Mrs Lese King and Charles Cavender.
  • 1870 Macoupin Co IL, Lavinia Cavender, 60 TN.

Explanation: James Woodford (or Woodson) Alvis (occasionally spelled Olvis) has been located on a few documents only. Eighty years and more after his death, his three daughters’ death certificates all identified him by name.

His oldest known daughter’s 1880 census says he was born in Tennessee. I have not located his 1840 census in spite of a line-by-line search of several Missouri counties; their death certificates show that one daughter was born in 1839 in MO and another in 1844 also in MO.

Shadrach Alvis was in each location where James has been found and in each case is the only other Alvis in that region.

Shadrach Alvis            James Woodford Alvis

Lawrence Co TN  1820 census                              1827 marriage

Pike Co MO          1830 census                             1830 per county history

1835 land grant                        1839 land grant

Jasper Co IL         1840 census                              son’s 1860 census

Jefferson Co IL     1850, 1860 censuses         widow, children in 1850 census

There were no other Alvises in Lawrence Co TN or Pike Co MO or Jasper or Jefferson Co IL within 20 or more years of these dates, with these exceptions: in 1833, Shadrach’s half brother Ashley Alvis Jr was married in Lawrence Co TN although he lived in Alabama at that time, and Shadrach’s second son John S was also in Jasper Co IL in 1840.

The spelling of Luvina Merrick Pulliam’s first name is uncertain; she used either Luvina or Leatha on differing occasions. Her first two marriage licenses said “Luvina Pulliam” (indexed in Lawrence Co as “Sullivan”) and “Mrs Loveiny Alvis”; her next two said “Leatha Dial” and “Mrs. Lese King.” Her 1850 census was “Letha Dial,” 1860 was “Lutha King,” 1870 was “Lavinia Cavender”; 1880 was “Leathy Pullman.” One daughter’s death certificate said “Leatha M. Pulliam,” one said “Lethy Merrick Pulleon,” and the other said “Neda L Pullman.”  And one granddaughter was named Lavinia. It is not known at this time when and where Leatha/Luvina died and was buried.

© 2008, Kathy Alvis Patterson

[1] See below, “The Case for James W Alvis as a son of Shadrach and Nancy (Hail) Alvis,” on this page. The NSDAR approved this lineage in 2008.

[2] The spelling of Luvina Merrick Pulliam’s first name is uncertain; she used either Luvina or Leatha on differing occasions. Her first two marriage licenses said “Luvina Pulliam” (indexed in Lawrence Co as “Sullivan”) and “Mrs Loveiny Alvis”; her next two said “Leatha Dial” and “Mrs. Lese King.” Her 1850 census was “Letha Dial,” 1860 was “Lutha King,” 1870 was “Lavinia Cavender”; 1880 was “Leathy Pullman.” One daughter’s death certificate said “Leatha M. Pulliam,” one said “Lethy Merrick Pulleon,” and the other said “Neda L Pullman.”  And one granddaughter was named Lavinia.

[3] The original marriage license says Luvina Pulliam, but an indexer has written the name Sullivan on the page, and that is how it is indexed. One of the first Pulliams researchers I attempted to correspond with answered me, in a not very friendly manner, that a published index of TN marriages showed my James married Luvina SULLIVAN. This lady was not willing to look at the facts: an indexer copied the name wrong! It can clearly be seen to be Pulliam in the original, and this matches Luvina’s children’s death certificate information. She spent time checking TN records for the marriage of a Pulliam and a Sullivan. I have to thank her, though, because she directed me to Wanda Pulliam of Portales NM, one of my favorite all-time ladies and a wonderful help for the Pulliam family.

[4] Son of James and Mary (Abercrombie) Dial. His age in 1850, 46, is an error. Dial family researchers missed the marriage record in 1850, Jefferson Co IL, and consider Letha a daughter, rather than a young wife. Jefferson Co IL Marriage Records: Martin Dial m Ann Green 15 Jun 1853 (this may be Naomi); Martin S Dial m Elizabeth J Dickerson, 19 Dec 1867.

[5] Jefferson County Marriage Book. Marriage performed by JQA Bay, with whom Shadrach resided in 1860.

[6] He was probably the same man, 84-years-old, living in 1860 in Jefferson Co IL. He was also likely the same Edward King a few lines away from Shadrach Alvis in 1840 in Jasper Co IL. has Edward King, with a daughter Elizabeth who died in 1843 in Jefferson Co IL. She married Michael Bond. This Edward also had a son Henry King, living next door in 1860, Jefferson Co IL. From Jefferson Co IL genweb site: Early Land Sales Extracted from Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales Database:KING EDWARD, 06/18/1836, JEFFERSON Co; KING, 11/22/1837, JEFFERSON.

[7] Jefferson Co IL marriage index has her marriage to Edward King. Leatha Dial, 17 Mar 1853. The courthouse did not find a record of a divorce from Martin Dial, but he also remarrried on 15  Jun 1853.

[8] Macoupin County Marriage Book (1864), copy of certificate sent to me by Wanda Forste.

[9] History of Pike County Missouri, Des Moines: Mills & Company, 1883, page 920.

[10] W S Woodard, Annals of Methodism in Missouri. Columbia MO: 1893, pp 121-125. Chapter IV – section 2.

[11] Unfortunately, James W Alvis was not included in the late Marsha Hoffman Rising’s massive work, First Families of Southwest Missouri, 1835-1839, 2006. Leatha’s brother, John S Pulliam is included in the index of families, but neither William H Pulliam, Alsey Pulliam, Shadrach Alvis, nor Bryant McClendon is in the book; they were in Missouri at that time.

Published on December 16, 2008 at 2:08 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Hi,

    So, glad to see someone researching this family. My line is John A. Hale who was a brother to Sarah Hale Alvis.

    Mary Ann Million

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