| || Notes for Diannah Hillsman Farrar:|
DIANNAH HILLSMAN FARRAR PRUITT THOMPSON WHALEY"GRANDMA WHALEY"
"Diannah," as she chose to spell her own name, in the many family bibles in which she wrote her name, was named after her fathers' sister Dianah Farrar. Her name at birth may have been "Diana" or "Dinnah" and she chose to call herself "Diannah" later in life. Her great-grandmother was Dianah Hillsman, the daughter of Dianah Bennett. Four of Diannah's granddaughters were named for her.
Diannah Hillsman Farrar was the youngest daughter in the family of Abner Farrar and Catherine Carter.Diannah had an elder half-brother, Richard Arrington, from her mother's first marriage to Richard Stone Arrington. The Farrar family had moved to Carnesville, Franklin Co. Georgia in 1801 from nearby Greenville, South Carolina about five years before Diannah's birth. When Diannah was nearly three years old, in 1809, her grandfather, Thomas Farrar, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, died at her families' home in Carnesville. His obituary appeared in the local newspaper and stated he was a first cousin of President Thomas Jefferson. 1809 was the year President Jefferson retired from public life after two terms as president and numerous other accomplishments.
Diannah's father Abner was a prominent planter in Franklin Co. Georgia and she and her siblings grew up on a large plantation there. Diannah's parents were very good to her. They gave her a good education for the time, and saw to it that she was a well dressed young lady. Diannah's grandchildren heard their parents tell of what a beautiful Southern Belle she was and about the lovely evening gowns she wore. Diannah had red hair and blue eyes, the red hair a trait from her Jefferson lineage. Diannah was also very proud of her Farrar and Carter heritege; especially that she was a first cousin (twice removed) of President Thomas Jefferson through the Farrar line. She grew up hearing many stories about her families' history, back to the immigrant, William Farrar, who was granted land on the James River in Virginia and established Farrar's Island.
When Diannah was 15 years old she eloped with 20 year old Tillman Dixon Pruitt and they were married on February 25, 1822. Her parents never forgave her and there was so much feeling on the part of her parents that Diannah never went back home, not even for a visit. Abner and Catherine Farrar may have felt Diannah was too young for marriage. Tillman's father, Joseph Pruitt, had died when he was four, and Tillman was raised by his mother, Nancy and step-father, Charles Toney, but his uncle Samuel Pruitt III was his legal guardian and executor of his late father's estate. Tillman inherited land from his father's estate when he came of age and in 1820 he and his three siblings drew land in the Georgia Land Lottery, thus establishing a secure start before he married young Diannah.
In the early years of their marriage Tillman and Diannah made their home in the northwest part of DeKalb Co. Georgia, four miles from Cross Keys, northwest of Decatur, where they lived several years, and the first six of their children were born there. The location of the Pruitt farm is now (1975) part of Atlanta and there is a "Pruett Road" within the area.
Former President Thomas Jefferson died July 4, 1826.
Diannah and Tillman's children were given family names often seen in the Farrar and Pruitt lines over several generations. Diannah began her life long tradition of naming babies in the Pruitt/Pruett family by naming her first, a daughter, Catherine Carter Pruitt (1823) after her mother Catherine Carter. Daughter Martha Lucretia Pruitt (1825) is named after Tillman's sister Martha "Patsy" Pruitt. Harriett Elizabeth Pruitt (1828) has the middle name Elizabeth after Diannah's grandmother Elizabeth Howard (mother of Abner Farrar). First son, William Malone Pruitt (1831) was named after Diannah's brother William Malone Farrar, and its also the name of his grandmother, Catherine Carter's, half-brother William Malone, son of Catherine's mother Lucy Marshall and beloved step-father George Malone. Son Joseph Waters Pruitt (1834) is named after Tillman's father Joseph Pruitt. Thurza Shumate Pruitt (1837) was named for Diannah's sister Thurza Farrar Shumate (wife of Benjamin D. Shumate), and also for Diannah's aunt Thurza Farrar (sister of Diannah's father Abner Farrar). Benjamin Franklin Pruitt (1839) is named for Tillman's uncle Benjamin Pruitt (brother of Tillman's father Joseph). Son Jesse Carter Farrar Pruitt (1843) was named for Diannah's brother Jesse Carter Farrar and also for Jesse Carter, the brother of Diannah's mother Catherine Carter. Youngest daughter Mary Marshall Pruitt (1847) was given the middle name Marshall after Lucy Marshall, her great-grandmother (mother of Catherine Carter), and Tillman had a younger half-sister named Mary Toney.
Both Diannah and Tillman were school teachers, among the first in the Decatur area, and gave their children a good education. All could read and write except Harriett. At the time the school term was no more than four or five months long, so they also farmed. The children (five girls and four boys), like any other farm children, worked in the fields and with the farm animals. Diannah was alsoa talented artist, and her specialty was drawing birds with a pen knife in very intricate detail. Some of her drawings still exist (1999) and are treasured by family members. She also had beautiful penmanship and fortunately for future generations Diannah was fond of writing family births, marriages and deaths in many of her children's and grandchildren's bibles. She also wrote poems, some of which were published, and originated many common sense sayings repeated by generations of her family.
Diannah's mother Catherine died in 1832. About 1838 Tillman and Diannah moved to Paulding Co. Georgia into territory recently vacated by the Cherokee Indians, where their eldest daughter Catherine married John Pierson Ponder in 1838. Diannah's father, Abner Farrar, died in 1841 in Marietta, Georgia where he was living with Diannah's brother Jesse Carter Farrar. The Pruitt family is listed in Paulding Co. Georgia in the 1840 census and daughter Martha married George Wilson there in 1843.
Tillman and Diannah Pruitt, plus their daughter Harriett, are listed among the members of the Van Wert Baptish Church in Paulding Co. Georgia from 1844 to 1845. They were received and dismissed by letters recorded in the Van Wert Baptish Church minutes:
September 13, 1844
The Church at Van Wert met in conference. Invited visiting members to seats. Opened a door for the
reception of members and received by Letter T. D. Pruitt and Diannah Pruitt and Susan Adaline Scott as a member of the Primitive Baptist, Polly Burgess as a member of the United Baptist faith, an order that was announced in Caintucky (sic), and James B. Carter and James Hall by Experience, Rytta Lansing, Elizabeth Weatherly and Catharine Childers, John Brookes and Jane Brookes, Martha Ann Morgan and Harriett Pruitt ... Done in conference.
Reverend Thornton Burk, Moderator B. F. Morgan, Clerk
The Baptist Church at Van Wert met in conference. Invited visiting members to seats. Called for acknowledgments, when Brother William M Morgan came forward and offered acknowledgment for getting drunk which was cordially received. Also Brother Jefferson Thomas came forward and offered acknowledgment for getting drunk, which was received. Also a charge was brought by Brother Hogue.
Charges Brother Isaac Roach with drunkenness and gambling and appoints Brethren McWhorter and Hogue to request him to attend the next conference and answer the charge. Then called for miscellaneous business. Brother Tylman D. Pruitt applied for Letters of Dismission for himself and
wife and daughter (Harriett) which we granted. The camp meeting is to commence Thursday evening before the third Sabbath in October. Done in conference.
John Holmes, Moderator B. F. Morgan, Clerk
The full transcript of the Van Wert Baptish Church Minutes 1840-1849, Part 1, copied by Cassandra Robertson Newby is at the Paulding Co. Georgia GenWeb site at:
Creek Indian lands in eastern Alabama had been opened for settlement in 1832, and following their application for Letters of Dismissal from Van Wert Baptist Church in May 1845 Diannah and Tillman moved to Talladega Co. Alabama. The Choccolocco River was a natural barrier between communities in Talladega Co. One day a young man named Ransom Marion Pruett, from across the river, curious to see what was on the other side, rode his horse and swam it across the river and met Diannah and Tillman's daughter Harriett Elizabeth, the " prettiest red-headed girl he ever saw."The Pruett and Pruitt families were unknown to eachother and didn't know enough about their heritege to identify a common ancestor, but discovered that both families had lived in Cross Keys, DeKalb Co. Georgia at the same time before coming to Alabama. Ransom, the son of Ansel Beddington Pruett and Agnes Rebecca Heaton, and the Pruitts' pretty red-haired daughter Harriett Elizabeth, soon fell in love and married in October 1846 in Talladega Co.
The next year, on August 31, 1847 Tillman died at the age of 46. The location of his grave is uncertain.Tillman and Diannah may have moved back to Georgia shortly before his death or he may have died in Talladega or Clay County, Alabama. The oldest cemetery in the area is Shiloh Baptist Cemetery in bordering Clay County. Today there are many unmarked graves there. Tillman is said to be buried beside his daughter Catherine's husband, John Pierson Ponder, who died in Talladega County.Widowed Diannah 41, was left with their six youngest children still living at home; William 16, Joseph 13, Thurza 10, Benjamin 8, Jesse 4, and baby Mary. Probably soon after Tillman's death Diannah and the younger children moved back to Paulding Co. Georgia where daughter Martha Wilson still lived with her growing family.
Eldest daughter Catherine Ponder had been widowed the previous year while pregnant with her sixth child. Catherine soon married Elijah Wilmins Pruett, the brother of her sister Harriett's husband Ransom Pruett. The marriage was a tragic mistake for Catherine's family. Elijah Pruett was cruel to Catherine's children, causing them to run away as soon as they could make their own way. Diannah's twin grandsons Berry and Perry Ponder (Catherine's eldest children, then under ten years old) escaped and ran away one day when Elijah made them carry heavy bags of corn to their Grandpa Ponder's mill three miles away. Elijah and his brother Drew (Drury Owen Pruett) searched for the boys, followed by their Grandpa Ponder who hoped to help his grandsons. Berry and Perry arrived separately at the same time at the safe haven of Diannah's farm.
Diannah's eldest son William Malone Pruitt may have delayed marrying to help his mother and siblings after Tillman's death. The family, headed by Dianna Pruitt age 44, are listed in the 1850 Paulding Co. Georgia census. Elijah Pruett's abusive behavior worsened and Catherine decided to leave him and take the children to Diannah's farm in Paulding Co. Georgia about 100 miles away. Catherine slipped off without a cent of money and managed to travel about 15 miles per day with her children, who each carried all they could. They had a hard time and often had to beg for the nights lodging, but reached the safety of Diannah's farm and the family. Eventually, Elijah Pruett came with another man to help beg for the return of his wife. Catherine agreed to give him another trial.
Diannahmoved to Winston Co. Mississippi, where four of her children married between 1854 and 1860. In 1857 Diannah Pruitt is shown leasing land from her brother, William Malone Farrar, in Louisville, Winston Co. Mississippi. William's first wife, Mary Elizabeth Micou, had just died in 1857, and Diannah, by that time, had been a widow for ten years. William leased Diannah the land for $10 for as long as she did not remarry. Diannah 54, is listed in the 1860 Winston Co. Mississippi census with assets of $200, and living with sons Joseph and Benjamin, and their young wives Mary Jane Catlege and Melinda Blanton, also son Jesse and daughter Mary. Daughter Thurza and her husband, William McMillan Catledge, were very close neighbors. The four youngest Pruitt children each married into the neighboring Catledge family. Youngest daughter Mary married Elijah Catledge about 1862, and lived in Alexander Co. Illinois until the mid 1870's; and youngest son Jesse married Martha E. "Susie" Catledge about 1863 in or near Winston County.
All four of Diannah and Tillman's sons served in the Confederate States Army during the Civil War. Also serving were grandsons Perryman and William Farrar Ponder (Catherine's sons). Son Joseph Waters Pruitt died in 1863, due to illness a few months after being discharged, at his home in Winston Co. Mississippi, leaving a young widow and daughter, Martha Dianne, named after his mother. Daughter Thurza Catlege's husband also died during the war. Fortunately, sons William, Benjamin and Jesse survived. All of Diannah and Tillman's surviving children eventually moved west to Texas headed by son William Malone Pruitt, who had first traveled to east Texas in 1857 to establish a farm, and then sent for his wife Martha and two children to join him the next year.
Diannah moved from Mississippi to Texas before 1865. Diannah is said to have married again while living in Mississippi to a Mr. Thompson, but to date the marriage record of Diannah to a Thompson has not been located. (It is certain she did marry a Thompson however because when she married a third time in 1874 her name on the marriage record is given as Diannah Thompson). In Upshur Co. Texas Diannah lived with her son Jesse and the neighboring farm was that of son William Malone Pruitt, "Red Bill", and his wife Martha Ann Daniel. Martha died in 1867, leaving six children. Bill was remarried to Melissia Cook, a 34 year old spinster, in 1868. Bill and Melissia had only one child of their own, a son born on April 6,1869. The baby was so small they all thought he would surely die. Diannah wrapped up her tiny grandson and laid him on a pillow in a box, and carried him back across the field to Jesse's farm to show everyone the tiny little baby. John Ruben "Rube" surprised them all and thrived.
Diannah was listed in the 1870 census of Upshur Co. Texas with her son Jesse Carter Farrar Pruitt's family as "Dianer Pruitt 64."She lived most of the time with her youngest son Jesse, who married three times and had 15 children, but often visited and stayed with other family members. Daughter Harriett and husband Ransom Marion Pruett and their whole family arrived in Hopkins Co. Texas from Alabama after a 27 month trip by wagon in 1870 and they rented farms with their eldest son John Perry Pruett and his family. Tragically John Perry became ill and died shortly after getting his own place, leaving his wife, Mary Jane Parrish, alone with their three children. In the fall of 1873 daughter Harriett 45, with daughter Serena Almantha, fled their home never to return to alcoholic husband Ransom M. Pruett.Ransom had long had a drinking problem during which times eldest son John Perry could manage his father and protect Harriett. But John Perry had died and Ransom's drinking problem worsened. Harriett and Mantha 20, left the younger children and went to John Perry's widow Mary Jane, the only kin they had nearby. Harriett lived with different relatives for the next few years until son Francis Marion married and provided his mother a permanent home. Harriett's younger children stayed with Ransom for a while but each in turn left as soon as they could manage on their own. Both of Diannah and Tillman's daughters, Catherine and Harriett, who had married two of the Pruett brothers, had difficult troubled marriages with them.
Diannah's daughter Martha and her husband, George Wilson, had also come to Texas in the 1860's living in several different counties including Fannin and by 1865, Hunt County. By 1868 Martha and George moved to Hopkins Co. Texas. Their family is listed in the 1870 Hopkins Co. census along withwidowed Thurza Catlege (Diannah's fourth daughter) who was living with them. Martha and George moved again, to Montague Co. Texas, and arrived there on December 24, 1873. Diannah also came to Montague County and, at age 68, married there for the third time on December 6, 1874 to James D. Whaley. Little is known about James D. Whaley but after this marriage Diannah was always known as "Grandma Whaley."
From the time she came to Texas Diannah liked to be close at hand for the births of babies in the family so she could name them. She recorded the newborn children's names in their family bibles along with all the other family births and she wrote her own name "Diannah H. Whaley" and her birthdate, May 19, 1806, in each bible as well. Many of her grandchildren were given her lovely bird drawings as gifts and some still survive. Very special to Diannah were family pictures. She had several Tin Type portraits and family pictures which she kept safely stored in a small red velvet photo album with a locking clasp. In one of the portraits taken of her, Diannah posed holding the red velvet photo album in one hand, with her other hand over her heart. The precious red velvet album is now (2000) in the possession of great-great granddaughter Virginia Beckham Carroll.
Two pairs of Diannah's grandchildren married eachother. Frances Caroline Pruitt, the daughter of son William, and Francis Marion Pruett, the son of daughter Harriett, fell in love, and over parental objections married in 1875 despite being first cousins. Diannah is said to have named at least the first six of their children: Mary Louiza, Oscar Farrar, Dora Belle, Luna Adolphus (male), Virgil Ethel (male), and Oda Marion (male). She may also have named Elvin, who was not given a middle name, and chose the initial F. as an adult, and Pearl, born in 1892. Serena Almantha Pruett " Mantha", daughter of Harriett, was married in October 1878 to her first cousin, Perryman Lafayette Ponder, son of Diannah's daughter Catherine. He was 12 years older and a widower twice over with nine children.
In 1880 Diannah is listed twice in the census in both Upshur and Camp counties. She is listed as "Dianah Whaley", age 74, in the household of her son Jesse Carter Farrar Pruitt in Upshur County, and also at the bordering farm of her eldest son William Malone Pruitt and family in Camp Co. Texas, listed as "D. Whaley, age 74."
In the late 1880's Diannah moved with Jesse and his family to Fox, Chickasaw Nation Indian Territory, where Jesse operated a store in Fox and also farmed. In January 1894 Diannah was visiting her granddaughter and namesake, Mary Diannah "Annie" Knight, eldest child of her son Jesse, in Fox, Indian Territory, and it was there she died at age 87 on January 16, 1894. On the same day another great-grandchild, Ella Salina Pruett (granddaughter of Harriett Elizabeth Pruitt), was born, but Diannah was not there to choose the name. It was also the date of her daughter Catherine's 71st birthday. The date of Diannah's death is recorded in Francis Marion Pruett's family bible as January 1, 1894.
Diannah was buried January 18, 1894 outside the small town of Fox, in what is now Carter Co. Oklahoma, in the old Indian Territory Cemetery called Freeo. It is now abandoned and about 500 yards east of Clinton Owens Road by Choctaw Creek. It cannot be seen from the road. Most of the burials there were prior to Oklahoma statehood. A stone wall was built around Diannah's grave by her son Jesse Carter Farrar Pruitt and Ben Knight, husband of Jesse's daughter Mary Diannah. They hauled two wagon loads of rocks into the cemetery with which to construct the two and one half foot wall because there were no rocks in the immediate area. The grave was marked with a hand carved stone marker bearing Diannah's intitials with birth and death years.
At the time of her death Diannah's surviving children were Catherine C. Ezell 71, Martha L. Wilson 68, Harriett E. Pruett 65, William M. Pruitt 62, Thurza S. Catledge 56, Benjamin F. Pruitt 54, and Jesse C. F. Pruitt 50, and Mary M. Catledge 46.Diannah and Tillman had over 80 grandchildren.
DIANNAH HILLSMAN FARRAR'S strength of spirit still touches her descendants more than 100 years after her death. Diannah lived a long life and had a great influence on the lives of her children and their families. She left an imprinted image on all of her kin that she was a cousin (twice removed) of President Thomas Jefferson, and that the King of England had given a large island on the James River in Virginia to her ancestor William Farrar known as Farrar's Island. She was knowlegeable and proud of her heritage and wanted her descendants to know about their family history. We are all indebted to this wonderful pioneer woman, the matriarch of a large and diverse family, for writing their records in so many of their bibles.
Diannah's original carved stone grave marker reads:
"DHW"(Diannah Hillsman Whaley)
There is a gentleman by the name of W. C. Owens who was born, raised and still (2000) lives on the same place within one mile of the Freeo Cemetery. He was born in 1915, 21 years after Diannah was buried. Daymon Catlege has spoken to Owens several times and asked him about the cemetery being referred to as an Indian cemetery. Owens said he had never heard that. He said that there was a small community located near the cemetery that was named Freeo where there was a cotton gin, blacksmith, store and a few houses. At one time, Owens worked for the county, he mowed and maintainedFreeo Cemetery for a few years. There are four or five graves with a rock walls around them. None have headstones (except Diannah's). Maybe they were the first graves at that location and they built the stone walls before they had a fence around the cemetery. Haskell Pruett reported in his 1975 book "The Pruett Pruitt Family" that Diannah was buried in an "Indian Cemetery" and that "she had a typical Indian burial house at her grave, likely at a request she made before her death. If it ever had a roof, as it likely did, it had rotted away..."There is no factual basis to support Haskell Pruett's theory that Freeo is an Indian cemetery, or that the graves with walls around them were in traditional Indian fashion, or ever had rooves.
Haskell Pruett, a great-great grandson of Diannah and author of "The Pruett Pruitt Family" book, had searched for the location of her grave for 50 years and not found it by the 1970's as he prepared to publish his book. Assisting and contributing a large portion of the Pruitt family research were cousins Virginia Beckham Carroll and Sheron Reid Darnell (both grandaughters of John Ruben Harrison Pruitt).They visited with Tennie Parlee Pruitt Coaly, age 93, in July 1971, at her home in Ringling, Oklahoma.Tennie gave them a picture of her father Jesse Carter Farrar Pruitt and his brother Benjamin Franklin Pruitt in their Civil War uniforms, and when asked, Tennie knew exactly where Diannah's grave was located!Virginia and Sheron set out to find Diannah's grave on the private property outside Fox, Oklahoma where cattle, then as now, freely roam around Freeo Cemetery. Virginia and Sheron drove the 20 miles from Ringling to the cemetery in a heavy rain storm and needed to ask for directions at a nearby store. As they neared the cemetery the rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun shown in a beautiful glow. They searched the lovely old resting place surrounded by big trees hundreds of years old and consisting of about 120 graves, many with markers dating back to the early 1800's. Sheron spotted the grave; they both felt unable to speak and as though a force was pulling them. Virginia and Sheron believe they were meant to find Diannah's grave and that they had her help and blessing. They took pictures and Virginia soon called Haskell Pruett with their news. He just couldn't believe they'd found Diannah's grave, and drove out there himself almost immediately!
In the 1990's a new headstone was erected at Diannah's grave. At a Pruitt family reunion a collection was taken to purchase the new headstone, and it was placed there by Dolores Chance-Means a descendant of Mary Louisiana Pruitt-Chance; the daughter of Diannah's son, Benjamin Franklin Pruitt.
The new headstone reads:
MOTHER OF 9 BY T. D. PRUITT"
Diannah's grave listed in the Virtual Cemetery @:
ONE OF GRANDMA WHALEY'S POEMS / SONGS:
An old poem handed down in the Pruitt family:
"Old Aunt Dinnah, sick in the bed
Sent for the Doctor
And the Doctor said,
Old Aunt Dinnah, you ain't sick
All you need is
A Hickory stick."
There are numerous gaps in the information about Diannah's life. Nothing, so far, is known about her second husband (Thompson)- when and where she married him or who he really was, and very little about her last husband James D. Whaley. The location of Tillman Dixon Pruitt's grave is uncertain. Did he die in Alabama or Georgia? Did Diannah mark his grave?
1820 (Land records indicate Diannah's family lived in Franklin Co. Georgia in 1820.)
1830 DeKalb Co. Georgia, page 64. In household of husband "Tilman Pruitt", female 20-30.
1840 Paulding Co. Georgia, page 108. There is a listing for "T.D. Pruet" but the ages of family members do not fit Tillman and Diannah's family. May be correct name, but census taker may have copied wrong line of family and ages.
1850 Paulding Co. Georgia, page 61, Family #119. Listed as "Dianna H. Pruitt" age 44, born GA.
1860 Winston Co. Mississippi, page 94/690, Family #609. Listed as "Dianna Pruett" 56, Farmer, born GA.
1870 Upshur Co. Texas, page 139/269, Family #149. Listed as "Dianer Pruitt" 64, Housekeeper, born GA. Listed next to sons William M. Pruitt and Jesse C. F. Pruitt, but her household is listed separately.
1880 Upshur Co. Texas, Family #237. Listed as "Dianah Whaley" 74, born FA VA VA. In the household of her son Jesse Carter Farrar Pruitt.
1880 Camp Co. Texas E.D. 22, page 48/6, Family #45. Listed as "D. Whaley" 74, born GA SC SC. In the household of her son William M. Pruitt on June 3, 1880. The "a" in her surname Whaley is open and also looks like "Wheeley" or "Whuley".
"The Pruett Pruitt Family" by Haskell Pruett, Ph.D.
Virginia Beckham Carroll- biographical information from family interviews, and Pruitt family photographs.
"Some Farrar's Island Descendants" by Alvahn Holmes
"Tillman Dixon Pruitt & Diannah Hillsman Farrar Their Ancestors and Descendants" by Donna Duckworth.
Daymon Catlege for Diannah and Tillman Dixon Pruitt's marriage date as told to him by his grandmother, Martha Dianne Pruitt Ponder Catlege; historical information about Freeo Cemetery as told to him by W. C. Owens; photos he took of Diannah's grave and headstones at Freeo Cemetery.
Autobiographical sketch written by William Farrar Ponder about his childhood.
Montague County, Texas marriage records, Volume A, page 89. Marriage of Diannah Thompson and James D. Whaley on Dec. 6, 1874. --Located by Jerry M. Sullivan