God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; Ananias and Rhoda created he them.And God blessed them, and God said unto them “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth.”The Lord God placed his creation in the formed state of Alabama, where his seed became many like the seed of Abraham.(A shortened, revised & condensed portion of the Old Testament)
“Nias” as he was commonly called was born in Alabama in April of 1845, while his father was from VA., and his mother from GA.He also had an aunt named Peggy Fells that was reared in GA.Word of mouth from Eddie Fells Sr. was that one or both of his paternal grandparents came to United States on a “boat”.However, the 1900 census records his father as being from South Carolina and his mother from Alabama.Not all the information on census records is accurate due to the illiteracy of census takers and the accents of people in various areas.Ananias (Nias) Fells (various spellings include Fell, Fells, Feld, Felts, Felds and Fels) married Rhoda York on July 29, 1870 in Dallas County, AL. by Minister Sampson Anderson.At the time of their marriage, Rhoda was the mother of King & Nancy and baby Hannah was 4 months old.The 1870 census was done in August, and listed Hannah’s age as 5 months old.Further collaboration of King, Nancy and Hannah being stepchildren to Nias is evidenced on the 1880 census, where the previous named three children are listed as “Pool” i.e. stepchildren.
Ms. Rhoda York is the daughter of Mary Ann & Daniel York.She was born between 1847-50 (due to the inconsistent ages listed on census records).Rhoda’s siblings include; Hannah (Moore), Carrie (Rodgers), Dovie (Anderson), Lucy, Wesley, Daniel J. jr. and Josephine.The York family is residing next door to Rhoda’s husband in 1870.
Rhoda is recorded as being the mother of 14 children and 9 of them living according to the 1900 census.Ananias made a living by farm labor. The names of all the children are; King, Nancy, Hannah, Malinda, Dora, Hezekiah, Anthony, Richard, Lucy, and Edward.I’ve not been able to account for the other four children that Rhoda is stated to have given birth to.
As with other African American families, The Fells took an interest in church/God.Farming didn’t consume the family, because they always made time to worship and be there even for extended members of the family.The Israelite M.B. Church was built in 1893 by various members of the Fells family (Anthony& Ed Fells, Rance Beulah.) and others in the community.Israelite was drawn out of the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church.When the church was first organized, it had only five members.Those five members were Rev. Sampson Dillard, Deacon Jim Coleman, Deacon Elbert Dillard, Deacon Nias Fells, and Deacon Sam Dillard.The men in the family took the job as deacons as serious as they did farming, being diligent and hard working.Hezekiah a.k.a. Kiah, was a preacher at the Corncob Baptist Church in Brown Station.As previously stated, Kiah is a son of Nias & Rhoda.
Children of Nias & Rhoda Fells
King is the first born of Rhoda & Nias Fells.He is found on the 1870 of Dallas County (Athens Beat) with his parents and on the 1880 census of Martin Beat as a stepson of Nias Fells.King was born around 1864 near the end of slavery.
King is thought to have relocated to Mississippi.King’s sister Nancy named her son (King Gates) after him.
Nancy a.k.a. Nannie GATES
Nancy Fells married George (Gus) Gates in AL.The couple had the following children; Mary, King, Rhoda and an infant son listed on the 1900 census.According the census, they were married in 1884.Nannie was the mother of 6 children, with 4 still living in 1900.The Gates family was a few houses down from Nannie’s sister Hannah Dumas in 1910.In 1920, Nannie’s nephew Daniel Montgomery was listed in the household as their grandson.Daniel’s mother was Lucy, the youngest sister of Nannie.
As with most other families of the area, Gus & Nancy (Nannie) listed their occupation as farm labor.Gus was born in Alabama, as was his mother, but his father was born in North Carolina.There was at least a twenty year gap between Gus & Nannie.It was a common practice to find the husband older than the wife.
King married Pauline and relocated to Chicago.King had a daughter named Mary (named for his sister).He died in June of 1969.For whatever reason, King did not return to Alabama for the funeral of his mother and contact was lost.King worked in the steel mill.
Mary Gates married Rance Beulah (son of Sally & Moses).Mr. Beulah built the Beulah School in Orrville, which was in operation in the 50’s.Rance & Mary had three children (Eliza, Carrie, Sonia, Queenie and Rance Jr.)Rance Sr. died June 9, 1949.From Carrie, descendant surnames are Rankin, Patterson, McGee, Johnson, Nelson, Hastie, Sanders, Cross, Bennett and Hamilton.Queenie’s lineage include; Wright & Simpson.
Rhoda was born 12/24/1902 and married a man by the name of Ed Taylor. She had no children.Rhoda died in Bronx, NY on 2/29/1992.
Descendant surnames include; Rankin, Patterson, McGee, Johnson, Nelson, Hastie, Sanders, Cross, Bennett, Moore, Williams, Wright, McMillon, Drain, Clark, Hamilton, Wright, Simpson, Tower, and Lovett
Hannah Fells-Montgomery - Dumas
Hannah’s first husband was Joseph Montgomery.Hannah had John Piggee/Pigues prior to marrying Joe Montgomery.By Montgomery she had the following children; John, James, Betty (married Lazarus Bulah), Katie, Louiza.According to the 1900 census, Hannah’s husband Joe preceded her in death.
In 1880, Hannah & Joseph Montgomery were residing in Lowndes County, Whitehall town of Alabama.The following children were added to the Montgomery marriage; James, Betty, Katie and Louiza.Upon the death of Mr. Montgomery, Hannah relocated back to Dallas County in 1900 with her young children.Hannah didn’t live far from Oliver & his then wife Rose in 1900.Miss Hannah later married Oliver Dumas in 1907 and gave birth to their son Anthony (Andy). Hannah’s marriage to Oliver was her second and his third.The 1920 census shows Oliver as being divorced, while Hannah seems to have disappeared from this particular census year.However, by 1930 Hannah resurfaces in the household of her son Andy Dumas.
Descendants include Montgomery, Tolbert, Allen, Moppins, McEwen, Griffen, Moore, Cole, Hatchett, Hennigan, Barnes, Andrews, McCreer.
Malinda Fells Born in 1875.Appears on the 1880 census.
Dora Fells Born in 1876.Appears on 1880 census.Anthony named his youngest daughter after her (Callie “Dora” King).
Hezekiah was commonly known as “Kiah”.Kiah was an illiterate, but learned Baptist preacher.He lived in Brown Station in Dallas County, AL.The preacher was married a total of three times.His first wife was Daisy (Dezie).On the 1900 census, Kiah is listed with his wife Laura and their children (John and Fannie).Other children are Isaac, Frank, Alfred and Edna.Ethel Braxton (wonder if there’s any connection to Toni Braxton???) was also married to Kiah.According to the 1930 census, a daughter named Willie is listed with Kiah & his wife Ethel.Kiah died 3/1963.Minister Kiah was stout, jet black, double jointed, average height man, who looked African in appearance.Prior to their marriage, Kiah & Laura had a son name Eddie James Brown.Being double jointed seems to be a trait that was passed down to son and grandson.
Preacher man Kiah was somewhat of a ladies man, as well as being a bit on the shady side.He allegedly lost one of his legs due to being shot at by the police for stealing & reselling animals.Kiah preached at the Corncob church in Dallas County.
Alfred married Lena Orr (Lena died in 1973), Edna married Lewis Chisholm.
John married Georgia Carson, Fannie died April 1925 in Dallas County, AL.
Richard is found on the 1900 census with his parents.Richard apparently had a very short marriage, because on the 1910 census is listed as a divorced man.However, not everyone bothered to formally obtain a divorce, many just moved on about their merry way.Nothing is known about him or if there are/were any descendants.He is also thought to have relocated to MS.
Anthony was born in 1879 according to the 1880 census of Dallas County.He was a man that preferred the married life.Anthony was commonly referred to as “Andy”.
Andy was first married at the age of 23 to Minerva Webster.The first two children born were Charles & Eddie.On the 1920 census, Amanda, Sarah, Corene and Callie had been added to the family.After the death of Minerva, Anthony married Paralee Hunter.
According to the 1930 census, Anthony Jr. is listed in the household of Anthony & Paralee.Mr. Fells’s third wife was Bird Chisholm and his fourth & final wife was Ella Hines
Anthony and his youngest brother Eddie were married to sisters Minerva & Emma Webster.Thus their children are double related.
Mr. Fells was a small boned man of dark complexion, while his wife Minerva was fair skinned due to her West Indian ancestry.Most of the Fells children were good dressers even though they were hard working sharecroppers.Anthony died of a heart attack in May of 1948.
Anthony’s descendants include; Lowe, Williams, Rawls, Wilks, Jones, Fells, Anderson, Wallace, Harris, George, Smith, Pittman, Briggins, Acoff, Coosa, Gardner, Welch and Robinson.
Lucille Fells MONTGOMERY-BENNETT
Lucy is the baby girl (born in 1886) of the Fells family.It seems to be the first & last born children that often stand out the most in families.Lucy definitely was unique.She married young to a Mr. Joseph Montgomery and had several children by him.Those children are Joe Jr., Daniel, Sarah, and Mary Jane.Lucy was a very controlling lady, which was often the reason why she resided from place to place.Lucy often went to stay with her brothers Richard & Eddie, while her children were being reared by other members of the family.
Ms. Lucy later married George Bennett, a man that had been married before and had other children (Charlie, Henry, Willie, Martin and Ada).Lucy & George had Ida Mae & Walter.George provided Lucy with some measure of financial stability. Ms. Lucy loved to dress and travel. A granddaughter of Lucy’s; Mrs. Geraldine Barker of New York, recalls her grandmother as having “good hair”.Like her brother Anthony, Lucy was a petite person.Upon the death of her late husband George, Lucy was left a home, which has remained somewhat in the family.
Mrs. Bennett’s oldest son Joe Montgomery later took his stepfather’s surname of “Bennett”.This was supposedly done to prevent him from being mistaken for his father who had gotten into some trouble.All of Joe’s children were born with the Bennett surname, although Joe was married in the Montgomery name.
Lucy died April 14, 1953 in Mobile, AL.At the time of her death, Lucy had been residing with her daughter; Mrs.Sarah Williams in Mobile, AL.Mrs. Lucille Bennett is buried in the Millhouse cemetery in Safford, AL.
Lucy’s descendants include; Bennett, Williams, Henry, Morehead, Steen, Ashley, Brooks, Cloud, Carriger, Grisham, Martin, Hill, Johnson, Patterson, Nation, Brewster, Wells, Dumas, McClinton, Quinn, Jackson, Webb, Woodson, Watson, Culliver, Oliver, Mitchell, Kimborgh, Swait, Flowers, Smith, Crowell, Stallings, and Avery.
Eddie is the baby boy of the Fells children.He was born in April of 1887 in Dallas County, AL.Eddie grew up to be a tall, dark skinned man.He has been described as a caring, patient and hard working man.Ed was a sharecropper, plus he killed hogs for other people as well as making & selling homemade syrup to provide for his family.According to a granddaughter of his, Leanna Chishom, Eddie disliked his original name of “Sallen” (or something similar to that), so he took the name of “Eddie”.
Aside from the usual occupation of farming, both Eddie and his older brother Anthony were employed with Southern Pacific Railroad.During the brothers employment with the railroad, they met the Webster sisters Minerva & Emma.Minerva & Emma were the daughters of Amanda (McKellar) and Daniel Webster.Daniel was the son of Matilda Holman, a former African slave lady and a British man by the name of Daniel Webster.Amanda was the daughter of Harriet.
The complete Webster family consists of; Minerva, Emma, Mattie, Amanda, Daniel, Samuel, and Sarah.(1900 census of Dallas County, AL. & 1910 census of Mobile County, AL.)The 1870 census of Dallas County, AL. shows the McKellar family.They are listed as mulattoes with mother Harriett, and the following children; Thomas, Rum, Minerva, Sarah, Amanda, and Mary.Daniel Webster’s other siblings from his mother include; Callie (Dillard), Martha, Elizabeth, Edgar, Monroe, and Mary Holman. (1870 census of Dallas County, Al.)
In getting back to Ed Fells, Ed & Emma were married in 1907.They are the parents of Julius, Mattie, Adalee, A.C., Emma, Rhoda and Creola.Ed’s mother Rhoda resided in the household in 1910 (see 1910 census).Sometime after 1920, Emma died and Ed later married Ms. Carrie Williams.Carrie took over being a mother to Ed’s young children as well as caring for some of his grandchildren.Although Carrie provided care for her stepchildren to the best of her ability, in the eyes of some she treated some of her step children & grandchildren differently according to the shade of their skin.Ed Fells died March 7, 1949 from an enlarged heart.Shortly after Ed’s death, Carrie married a Mr. Hatcher and continued close ties with her stepchildren & grands.
Descendants include; Fells, Wiggins, Mayes, Denson, Williams, Goldsby, Johnson, Jackson, Taylor, Tolbert, Glover, McGowin, Gardner, Green, Martin, Everett, Montgomery, Thrash, Riley, Shervington, Swain, Jones, Washington, Sellers, Suttles, Hudgen, Price, Brown, Gordon, Bonner, Chisholm, and Thompson.
Welcome to the Grandchildren of Nias & Rhoda Fells
The grandchildren are according to the birth order of the children of Nias & Rhoda.
Mary Gates daughter of Nancy Fells & George (Gus) Gates was born December 1887.She married Rance Bulah Sr. and had the following children: Eliza, Carrie Rankin-McGhee, Sonia, Queenie Wright, Rance Jr.Mary’s husband Rance Bulah Sr. was born in June of 1884 to Mose Sr. & Sallie Bulah in Dallas County, AL.He is one from a family of 10 children.Rance Sr. built the Bulah School, which was in operation during the 1950’s.Mary a.k.a. Mae did domestic work.Rance Sr. died in June of 1949, while “Mae” died in September of 1954.She was preceded in death by two daughters, Eliza & Sonia.Lazarus, a younger brother of Rance’s, married Betty Montgomery.Betty & Mary “Mae” were maternal first cousins.When many of the McGhee’s left AL., some dropped the “h” from their surname and began using the “McGee” spelling.
King Gates was born May 20, 1892.He married Pauline and had at least one child, a daughter by the name of Mary.Prior to leaving AL., he worked in the Dolomite Coal Mines.King & his small family relocated to Chicago, IL.Mr. Gates died in February of 1969 in Chicago, IL.
Rhoda Gates was born December 24, 1902 in Dallas County, AL.Rhoda was named for her maternal grandmother Rhoda Fells.Although this young lady was married twice, she had no children.Her second husband was Ed Taylor.Mrs. Taylor died February 29, 1992 in New York.
James Montgomery is a.k.a Jim is the son of Hannah Fells & Joseph Montgomery.James married Carrie Bulah, the daughter of Mose & Sallie Bulah.Jim & Carrie had the following children: Frank, John, Mose, Jimmy, Leroy, Prince, and Betty Jones.
Betty Montgomery was born January 15, 1894 in Dallas County, AL.She was married to Lazarus Bulah, who preceded her in death.The couple had no children.Prior to her, Betty made her home with her niece Betty Jones (daughter of James & Carrie Montgomery).Betty died June 26, 1983.
Katie Montgomery was born in 1896 and married Ernest Mobly.The Mobly’s family consisted of Lizzel Ranson, Betty Mobly, Ernest Jr., Lawrence (LB), Annie Rider, Otis Mobly & Eula (Doll) Ward - (twins), Eveline Woods, Kate Ward, and Adell Mobly.
Louiza Montgomery – daughter of Hannah Fells & Joseph Montgomery.
Anthony (Andy/Son) Dumas is the youngest child born to Hannah Fells & Oliver Dumas on April 10, 1908 in Safford, AL.Andy was a deacon at the Israelite Baptist Church as well as a treasurer.Son Dumas as he was commonly called married Queen Johnson.To this union, 14 children were born, four of whom preceded him in death.Mr. Dumas was employed as a security guard prior to his death.Andy Dumas died March 22, 1988 in Marion Junction, AL.All of his children, including those born outside of the marriage are; Geneva Rice, Ruth Tolbert, James Dumas, Alice Allen, Robert Dumas, Maple Moppins, John Dumas, A.J. Dumas, Rosie Griffin, Queen McEwen, Daisy Moore, Susie Cole, Tommy Dumas, Melvin Hatchett, Donald Barnes, Ethel Hennigan, Mary Hennigan, Edna Andrews, and Bea McCrear.
Alfred Fells is the son of Hezekiah Fells and Fanny Dillard born Nov. 30, 1905 in Safford, AL.After attending Tuskegee Institute, Alfred relocated to Detroit, MI. for better employment opportunities.In October of 1947, Alfred married Brucie Mae Mathis.To this union two sons were born, Alfred & David.In 1967, Mr. Fells retired from Wayne State after 23 years.Alfred Fells Sr. died April 20, 1989 at the Henry Ford Hospital.He was preceded in death by his wife Brucie on Nov. 9, 1972.
Charles Fells is the first child born to Anthony & Minerva (Webster) Fells.He was born June 24, 1906 in Dallas County, AL.In December of 1928, Charles married Adlee Martin.To the union of Charles & Adlee, 15 children were born.These children consists of ; Minerva Lowe, Tim (Sonny)Fells, Callie (Lillan)Williams, Elizabeth(Dot)Rawls, Maggie(Hun)Wilks, Rosa(Tang)Jones, Amanda(Lump)Mack, Charles Jr.(Butler)Fells, Juanita(Lue)Fells, Robert Fells, Cleveland(Tump)Fells, Edna Weatherall, Delores(Tina)Fells, Ernest(Scoop)Fells, and Atlee(Lee)Clark.In addition to the 15 children that he & his wife had, six grandchildren were also reared by Charles & Atlee.Those grandchildren are Ola Welch, Charlie, Derrick, Ethel, Kenneth and Carolyn.Mr. Charles Fells died January 16, 1984 at the Medical Center Hospital in Selma, AL.
Eddie Fells Sr. was born August 8, 1908.In 1930, Eddie married Mary Williams.The children of Eddie & Mary consisted of ten children Eddie(Bud) Jr., Lucy(Peach)Anderson, Johnnie(Douche)Fells, Eulalia(Red)Fells, Flora(Doll)Fells, Joe Louis Fells, Albert, King(Peg)Fells, Eloise(Weezy)Fells-Wallace, Rum McKelley Fells and one stepdaughter Lula.Mr. Fells died March 21, 1968.
Amanda Fells was born July 21, 1910.Although she married and had children by Richard Harris, the love of her life was Johnny Lee William with whom she also had children by.The names of all of her children are; Anthony (Bro)Fells named for her father, Richard(Lil buddy) Harris Jr., Charles(Boot)Harris, James(Mutt)Harris, Arthur(A.C.)Fells/Wms, and Jeremy(J.C.)Fells/Wms.Mrs. Amanda Harris died February of 1979 in Orrville, AL.
Sarah Fells is the fourth child born to Anthony & Minerva Fells.She was born January 8, 1912.Sarah married Amos (Dock) George.To this union were born; Susie Bell Smith, Queen Keith, Bertha (Bird) Pittman, Carrie George, Michael (Bo) George, Donald (Big One) George, and John Amos George.Mrs. Sarah George died January 1, 1948.
Corene Fells is fifth in line.She was born May 13, 1913.Corene married Billy Briggins, and added 10 children to their home.The children are; Walter (Bud), Willie “Ann”Harris, James, Lester, Billy Jr., Corine, Sarah Acoff, Mary Lee (Cynthia), Edward (Bruth), and Johnny Briggins.At the time of this book, Corene resides in New York.
Callie Fells is the baby girl of the family of Anthony & Minerva.Her name is from Callie (a maternal great aunt-Callie Dillard) and Dora (her paternal aunt-Dora Fells).She was born July 21, 1915.Her first husband was Lawrence Gardner, with whom she had her only child Cleveland (Lil Sonny) Gardner.Callie (a.k.a. Honey) later married Lester King.They celebrated 50 plus years of marriage prior to her death on May 24, 2002.
Joseph (Joe) Montgomery was born January 10, 1909 to Lucy Fells & Joseph Montgomery Sr. in Safford, AL.On December 24, Joe married Rosie Sanders in Perry County, AL.The two met while Joe was employed at a sawmill.By the time their first child (Willie Mae) was born, Joe had begun using his stepdad’s surname of “Bennett”.The rest of the children include; John Albert, Isiah, Bertha Daniels, DeLois Bennett, Robert, Francis Spencer, Daisy Wells, and Doris Grant.Mr. Bennett died July 29, 2000 in a Birmingham hospital.
Daniel Montgomery was born August 25, 1911.His first marriage was to a lady named Carrie.His second marriage to Lola Jackson gave him two children whom are Daniel Jr. and Geraldine Barker.Stepchildren that were raised as his own are; Emma, Sophrone, Marie, and Barbara Jean.While residing in Mobile, AL. he operated a small grocery store.As a young boy, Daniel was raised with his Aunt Nancy & uncle George (Gus) Gates according to the 1920 census.Daniel relocated to the state of New York in 1963, where he and Lola raised their family of six.Mr. Montgomery was active in his church.Daniel died May 21, 2001 at the White Plains Hospital in NY.
Mary Jane Montgomery is the daughter of Lucy Fells & Joe Montgomery.She relocated to Detroit, MI.
Sarah Montgomery is the first born daughter of Lucy Fells.She was married to Robert Williams and made her home in Mobile, AL.Her children are; Helen McClinton, Thomas Williams, Lefranc Williams, Veronica Quinn, and Vera Jackson.Sarah died shortly after her brother Joe Bennett.
Walter E. Bennett is the son of Lucy Fells & George Bennett.Walter was born August 27, 1927 in Perry County, AL.Due to a misunderstanding, his original name was recorded as Milton instead of Walter.He married Doris McGee and had the following children; Geraldine(Webb), Doris(Mitchell), Walter Jr., Teresa(Tate), Edwina(Swait), Tommy Bennett and three others; George Bennett, Rose Kimbrough, Percy Bennett/Avery.Walter served in the U.S. Navy. Other avenues of employment were as a taxi man, a packer at the Packing House in Omaha, and as a shoe shiner at the airport in Omaha.Mr. Bennett died January 3, 1971.
Julius Fells is the first born of Ed Fells Sr. & Emma Webster.He was born in 1907.Julius married Katherine Hall and had the following children; Walter, Levi, Willie James, Missouri Bonds, Emma Jean Wiggins, Arthur Fells, and Julius Jr.Julius worked in the coal mines, and was a heavy drinker.Julius Sr. died January 14, 1974.
Mattie is the first girl child born to Ed & Emma Fells.She was born August 4, 1911.Her first husband was Clarence Goldsby with whom she had her children by.Her children are; Eddie & Delia Mae.Mattie second marriage was to Ike Hill.Miss Mattie was named for her maternal aunt Mattie Webster.Mrs. Mattie Goldsby-Hill died January 30, 1957.
Atlee is the third child born to Ed & Emma Fells.Atlee was born February 7, 1914.She was married to Eddie Tolbert.Atlee had Eddie Lee Tolivar and Beatrice Glover.Her nickname is “Sweet”.
AC is the second & youngest son of Ed & Emma.He was born January 31, 1915 and died September 3, 1986.No children were born to him.
Emma was know as “little sister” in the family of Ed & Emma.Emma was born September 2, 1916.Ms. Emma married Alexander Washington.Emma’s children are; Charles Fells, Alex Washington, Alfred Washington, Joseph Washington, Minnie Hudgens, Dorothy Bonner, Armide Price, Arthur Washington, Betty Sellers, Herman Watson, Otis Washington, Aubrey Washington.Emma Washington died February 1986.
Rhoda was named for her paternal grandmother; Rhoda Fells.Rhoda married Ernest Chisholm.Rhoda is the mother of Leana Chisholm and Autherine Thompson.She also had two preemies that died young.
Creola is the baby of the Ed & Emma clan.She was born in 1920 and died in 2005.Creola married Arthur Gardner.These two had a tribe consisting of Emma Green, John Gardner, Annette Jones, Catharine Black, Gladys Ash, Arthur Jr., Mattie Bell Thrash, Carrie Martin, Eddie Lee Everett, Curtis Gardner, Cherry Montgomery, Ulysses Gardner.