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Early Masters Family in Alabama


by T. Euclid Rains Sr.

     George Washington Masters came from Anderson County, South Carolina
about 1850 to the Sand Mountain region of Alabama with his wife "Sally"
Burris.  They settled near what is now Hopewell Community, on the forty
acres where the Dalrymple Cemetery is situated.

     On the night before their leaving South Carolina, Sally Masters 
composed and sang a song.  It is recorded that she sat in the middle of
their huge living room and played the guitar and sang.  The song reflects
her concern upon going to a strange new country and the leaving of her
friends there in Anderson:

       Yes my native land I love thee, All thy scenes I love them Well.
       Friends, Connection, happy country can I bid you all farewell?

       Home thy joys are passing, lovely joys no strangers heart can tell.
       Happy home indeed I love the, can I, can I, say farewell?

       Scenes of sacred peace and pleasure, Holy days and Sabbath bells.
       Richest, brightest, sweetest treasure, can I say a last farewell?

       Can I leave thee here and go to heathen lands to dwell?
       Yes for the love of the cause I can bid you all a last farewell.

     George Washington Masters, or Washington as he was called, was a
Baptist preacher and was active in both spiritual and social affairs for
the period of his residency in Alabama.

     In about 1853 Benjamin Franklin Masters, Washington's son, built a
one-roomed log cabin which was located at the Five Five forks between
Whiton Community and Hopewell.  This cabin was originally about twenty feet
wide by thirty feet long.  It is possible these dimensions are too large
but not much. Twelve children were born in this log cabin which was cut
from logs with a broad ax.  It was heated by a fireplace - where all of
the cooking was done. There were two rooms built later on the original
cabin - these of sawed lumber.  This cabin has served as a dwelling,
a church, a grist mill house where the crushing of feed was done - - it
was an all round mill house and it has served as a barn for the storage of
hay.  When the Masters family used this cabin, they used the attic for
sleeping quarters.  Ella,  a daughter told me that she used to climb a
hickory rung ladder to her bed at night.  When I stand in multi-chambered
dwellings today, I wonder just how this large family, as did all the
pioneer families, got by.

     Benjamin Franklin served in the Civil war as a Sergeant in the 9th
Alabama Cavalry under Wheeler in the Army of Tennessee.   Jesse, Wilburn
and Jasper also were in the Civil war on the side of the Confederacy.

     There is a story about George W. Masters who remained home during the
Civil War.  His son, Benjamin left behind a horse that was "man shy" for
the use of his wife Nancy.  He reasoned that a man shy horse would be
harder for a man to take from her or to steal.  This horse could be worked
and ridden only by a woman with success and the desired consequences.  The
Tories, as they were called, came and took the horses one night.  They made
their way toward the town creek high falls.  There is a rock shelter upon
the south side of the bluff above the falls which is called the "Goat 
Shelter" where the thieves camped for the night.

     Washington was not too young a man but felt that he should do
everything he could to recover the horse for his daughter-in-law.  He then
followed them under the cover of the darkness and in the woods he slipped
up close enough to learn about them.  He got above them in the bushes and
began to shout like he was talking to a squad of men locating them in
different positions and having them advance, of course leaving them an
escape route.  He knew the "Tories" lived in constant fear of being
ferreted out by superior numbers and he felt that he could scare them away.
"Come on, Come on, let's Kill'em all" he said and as he had figured the
Tories escaped through the loop-hole he had left for them.  He got
Elizabeth's horse and went home unmolested, returning the horse to it's
owner at the Five Forks.

     The Tories were outlaws and lived out of reach of the compulsion of
either the North or the South, deriving their living by making what was
called cedar kits (water buckets or foot-tubs), but mostly by stealing and
pilfering and taking in open daylight from the old men and women left
behind during the Civil War.

     Benjamin helped organize and build the New Harmony Baptist Church, and
was a deacon of that church for many years.  He also served as the first
church clerk.  When they were clearing out for the building of the church
and while they were cutting the logs, Benjamin Masters laid his coat on a
brush pile.  When they later were burning off and cleaning up they did not
for some reason notice the coat.  When they did discover the coat it was
too far gone.  Today we would think nothing of losing a coat but I'll bet
the loss of this coat was a sacrifice.  This was in 1877.  New Harmony was
organized in 1872 but was not instituted until 1877.  He was a great worker
in this church.

     There were two coal mines on Town Creek Bluff, north of New Harmony
where blacksmiths were to dig their coal for their shop work.  Benjamin
took his six year old son Andrew Pickens "Pick" Masters with him about 1858
to dig coal in the mine just below negro George Burns home.  A huge rock
fell on poor little Pick and Ben F., had to suffer the unbearable grief of
carrying little Pick out from under the bluff - - dead.

     During and before the Civil war the people on Sand Mountain went to
mill for corn meal at Wesson's mill on the Wills Creek near Collinsville
about twenty miles away.  One man would go to the mill for the whole
settlement.  During the Civil War my great grandfather had gone to the mill
for his neighbors and himself in the Asbury Community.  He was Josiah
Rains.  He had to pass the Benjamin Masters cabin at the Five Forks.  As he
was returning with the sacks of corn meal he happened along the road by
Elizabeth Masters just as some of the Tories were killing one of her sheep.
They forced Josiah Rains at gun point to haul them and their dead bloody
sheep to a spring of water near his home at Asbury where they had a feast
and revelled all night.  Next day he went back up the Five Forks and
apologized to Ben's wife but she saw the incident and understood that he
could not help doing what he did.  There was no law enforcement, for Sand
Mountain was split between the North and South.  Sympathizers and spies for
both sides were everywhere.

     This brief history is a summary of several letters and a taped
interview with T. Euclid Rains, Sr..  Mr. Rains is recognized as an
authority on the early Masters as well as many other pioneer families who
settled the Sand Mountain region of Alabama in the mid 1800's.  Without the
benefit of sight, Mr. Rains has committed all of his information to memory.
In 1989 he was serving in the State House of Representatives, Dist. 26 from
Dekalb and Marshall Co., Alabama.

     I questioned Mr. Rains concerning the 1853 date he remembered as being
the time in which Benjamin Franklin Masters built his house at the Five
Forks.  What dates he lists are simply what he actually remembers -- dates
which he has talked about and been handed down through the years.  The
actual date has since proven to be 01 Feb. 1858 when the deed to his property was 
written.  Family legend mentions deeds being recorded on "sheep's skin" which
may be the case for the original homeplace of George Washington Masters.

     The following deed can be found in Dekalb County, Vol. 37 of Deeds, Page 23.


     Certificate No. 19301:   WHEREAS, George W. Masters, of Dekalb County,
     Alabama., has deposited in the General Land Office of the United
     States, a certificate of the Register of the land office at Lebanon,
     whereby it appears that full payment has been made by the said George
     W.  Masters, according to the provisions of the Act of Congress of the
     24th of April, 1820, entitled, An Act making further provision for the
     sale of the Public lands for The south half of the South West quarter
     of section One, and the East half of the South East Quarter of section
     two, in Township eight, of Range Five, in the district of lands
     formerly subject to sale at Lebanon, Now Centre, Alabama, containing
     One hundred and Fifty Nine acres and eighty six hundredths of an acre.
     according to the official plat of the survey of the said lands,
     returned to the General Land Office by the Surveyor General which said
     tracts have been purchased by the said George W.  Masters Now Know Ye,
     that the United States of America, in consideration of the promises,
     and in conformity with the several acts of Congress, in such case made
     and provided, have Given and Granted, and by these presents Do Give
     and Grant, unto the said George W.  Masters, and to his heirs, the
     said tract as described:

     To Have and to Hold the same together with all the rights, privileges,
     immunities, and appurtenances, of whatsoever nature, thereunto
     belonging, unto the said George W. Masters, and to his heirs and
     assigns forever.  In Testimony Whereof, I, James Buchanon, President
     of the United States of America, have caused these letters to be made
     patent and the seal of the General Land Office to be hereunto affixed.

     Given under my hand, at the city of Washington, the first day of
     January, in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and Fifty
     Nine and of the Independence of the United States the eighty third.

                                   By The President.  James Buchanon

                                            by T. J. Albright.  Secretary

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