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Selma in My Family History

February 7, 2015 , , , ,

I have the Confederate army records of my 2nd great-grandfather, William Ellison Taylor. Both he and his father in law applied and received Confederate pensions in Texas late in life.  They came from the vicinity of what is now Selma, Alabama.  The new movie about Selma has intrigued me although I have not seen it. I was alive to witness those events, and my mother’s family had a long history in Selma about which I recently learned.  In fact, my 3rd great-grandmother owned a large tract of land in Old Town, Dallas, also known as Cahawba.  She moved there from Georgia with her husband when it was the county seat, and maybe when it was still the capital of Alabama.  It was a happening river port with a large warehouse.  The area is now an archeological park with ongoing restoration projects.  Elizabeth lived through the Civil War in Alabama, then moved to Texas with her son and extended family.


Old Town

Old Town




Elizabeth Langley (1790 – 1885)
is my 3rd great grandmother
Thomas Armer (1825 – 1900)
son of Elizabeth Langley
Lucinda Jane Armer (1847 – 1939)
daughter of Thomas Armer
George Harvey Taylor (1884 – 1941)
son of Lucinda Jane Armer
Ruby Lee Taylor (1922 – 2008)
daughter of George Harvey Taylor
Pamela Morse
I am the daughter of Ruby Lee Taylor

Elizabeth was born in South Carolina and died in Texas.  Her husband died before the Civil War.  She obtained a land patent from the BLM.  She sheltered her family there during the war.

When the Armer family arrived in Waller, Texas they bought land with gold, then donated some of it to found the Shiloh Baptist Church, where Elizabeth is buried.  I always wonder why they had gold since the men in the family were working in the service of the Confederacy, for Confederate money.  When it became worthless the family must have had some tricks up the sleeves, or been able to sell the Alabama land for gold.  They executed the move in oxcarts.  They went to an area known for cotton farming, but I don’t think they grew cotton.  In fact, the records do not reflect that the Armers owned slaves before the war.  They were part of Confederate society, but either too poor or too religious to own slaves.  In Texas they were preachers and subsistence farmers.

Elizabeth Langley, Texas

Elizabeth Langley, Texas

The parallel between what happened during Elizabeth’s life and the Civil Rights march in 1965 is striking.  This story comes from the informative Facebook page of Cahawba:

In Gen’l James Wilson’s autobiography, he wrote that after meeting with Gen’l Forrest at Cahawba (after the Battle of Selma), they parted ways, and he returned to Selma then crossed the Alabama River and headed his Federal troops toward Montgomery. Here’s what he had to say about the enslaved African Americans that started to follow him: ” a great number of fugitives from the surrounding country flocked into the town and our march to the eastward had hardly begun when it became apparent that new crowds were following us, which made vigorous measures necessary for getting rid of them. The rear guard could keep them behind, but could not prevent them from taking the “ROAD TO FREEDOM.” Wow! The goosebumps started forming when I realized that this ROAD TO FREEDOM was exactly the same route that marchers for voting rights took exactly 100 years later! I can’t think of a better example of Selma’s tourism tag line, “Civil War to Civil Rights.”
FYI. Gen’l Wilson eventually organized, armed and equipped the able-bodied men and found them valuable additions to his force.

This is an amazing story and not a coincidence.  I had not planned to go to Alabama again in my life, but now that they have put so much effort into uncovering the history of my 3rd great-grandmother’s lifetime in this place, I might need to visit.  They specialize in birding, which is pretty cool.  Visitors can participate in guided bird outings.  Civil War to Civil Rights is a very interesting subject, still in progress.

What do you think?

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That’s quite a piece of history she lived through. .
During that time period, land and gold were the primary valued things…… and the land would have been sold for gold bec everything else had little value. The roads across the south and the north.. were established routes for travel… for a very long time.
The march through Selma by MLK and supporters would have been down the most widely used road in the area.


Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

February 8, 2015

4 notes

  1. Stories or Scenes? #ROW80 | mermaidcamp reblogged this and added:

    […]  There is a lot of water and low land on their route, and roads were not established everywhere.  Elizabeth Langley must have been full of stories by the time she died at age 96.  I have no pictures of her, but her […]


  2. #Weekendcoffeeshare Time Travel | mermaidcamp reblogged this and added:

    […] of the personal dramas of my ancestors.  I have been thinking about the role that Selma, Alabama played in my mother’s ancestry.  Her ancestors lived there and some fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.  They were a […]


  3. #ROW80 Plots for Poems | mermaidcamp reblogged this and added:

    […] Elizabeth Langley, who lived through the Civil War near Selma, AL, then moved to Texas after the war […]


  4. #ROW80 Plots for Poems | mermaidcamp reblogged this and added:

    […] Elizabeth Langley, who lived through the Civil War near Selma, AL, then moved to Texas after the war […]


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