Visions of Vernon: Vernon Parish's Founding Families, Jones – Kerr

Published 12:31 pm Saturday, August 28, 2021

Floyd Jordan

William Keel

Mary Keel Cryar

Jones – Jones is America's fifth most common surname with 1.4 million. In Vernon Parish fourteen Jones family members purchased or homesteaded 27 parcels containing 1,800 acres in the townships of Monks Hammock, Cypress Creek, South Ft. Polk Garrison, Sabine River, Evans, Simpson, Caney, Haddens, and Hornbeck. It is one of the most decentralized surnames in Vernon Parish with six townships having only one Jones homestead.

The founding father of the Jones families in Monks Hammock was Mordecai Jones, Sr. (GA 1807 – LA 1880). He was born to Seaborn Jones (GA 1788 – GA 1864) and an unnamed Cherokee Native-American. He married Nancy Self (AL 1817 – LA 1902) in 1836 in Autauga County, Alabama. Mordecai came to present day Vernon Parish between 1836 and 1840. He purchased 120 acres in 1860 in Monks Hammock. His wife Nancy claimed 160 acres in 1903 (a year after she died) in the same township. Son Henry (LA 1861 – LA 1954) claimed forty acres in 1890 and 160 acres in 1902 in the same township and 160 acres in 1896 in Hornbeck. It's unclear why he had three homesteads. Mordecai and Nancy are buried in Beech Grove Cemetery in Burr Ferry. Henry is buried in Pisgah Cemetery in Toro in Sabine Parish.

The second Jones family was "headed" by Thomas Jefferson Jones, Sr. (GA 1840 – TX 1928). He was the son of Benjamin and Lydia Huff Jones of Georgia. Thomas married Laura Love (GA 1845 – TX 1895) in 1874 in Georgia. Thomas or his son, Thomas Jefferson Jones, Jr. (TX 1875 – LA 1934), claimed 160 acres in 1893 in Haddens' township. His wife Eda Cain Jones (LA 1880 – TX 1975), claimed 120 acres in 1900 on the Sabine River. Thomas, Sr. and Laura are buried in Mt. Sinai Cemetery in Sabine County, Texas. Thomas, Jr. is buried in Beech Grove Cemetery in Burr Ferry. His wife Eda is buried in Forest Park Cemetery in Harris County, Texas.

A third Jones family was "headed" by Cyrus Hezekiah Jones (GA 1837 – LA 1912) and Indiana Parr Jones (MS 1840 – LA 1924). Cyrus married Indiana in Greene County, Mississippi in 1868. He was the son of John and Vasti Ashley Jones of Georgia. In the Civil War Cyrus served in Co. F, 7th TN Cav. Regt. (Duckworth's) as a captain. He homesteaded 160 acres in 1900 on present day Ft. Polk. Cyrus and Indiana are buried in Cryer Cemetery in Pickering.

A fourth Jones family was African-American Samuel (LA 1870 – LA 1926) and Anna (LA 1887 – Unk.) Jones. Sam was the child of Vincent and Isabella Jones. He claimed 160 acres in 1897 in the Cypress Creek community west of Rosepine. Anna claimed 160 acres in 1909 in the Caney community. Sam is buried in Garden of Memories Cemetery in Leesville. Anna's burial is unknown.

A fifth Jones family was headed by African-American Glasgow (FL 1820 – Unk.) and Ellen (FL 1836 – LA 1916) Jones. Glasgow and Ellen formed a partnership (Group # 48) and claimed 160 acres in 1895 in Evans. Glasgow's burial is unknown. It's unclear why Ellen is buried in Cooper Cemetery in Pickering.

A sixth Jones family was headed by African-Americans July (FL 1850 – Unk.) and Hasty (LA 1841 – Unk.) Jones. July claimed 160 acres on Cypress Creek west of Rosepine in 1885. Their deaths and burials are unknown.

The seventh and final Jones family was led by African-American Nathan (LA 1868 – LA 1943) and Lucy Moses (LA 1870/71 – Unk.) Jones. As a sawmill worker Nathan claimed eighty acres in Simpson in 1906. He is buried in Garden of Memories Cemetery in Leesville. Lucy's burial is unknown.

Two Jones can be found in government records. In Vernon Parish Dr. Finas Pleasant Jones (TX 1867 – LA 1946) served as coroner in 1900 and sheriff in 1916. According to military records,

Daniel Francis Jones (AL 1838 – AL 1862) of Co. K, 19th LA Inf. Regt., also called the Anacoco Rangers, died of disease in 1862 in Greenville, Alabama.

Jonker/Junker – Antoine Jonker/Junker is a mystery. He purchased four lots (3, 6, 11, and 12) of land on the Sabine River in 1844 and 1848 containing 177 acres in T1N, R11W, Sec. 17. Antoine shared the section with Timothy Burr. According to history, he was a Dutch ferry operator employed by John Baptiste LeComte, who is considered the first European property owner in present day Vernon Parish. LeComte received two leagues square of land containing 23,507 acres on July 31, 1797 on the plains of Lianacucu, which is known as the Anacoco Prairie. The ferry location is called Burr Ferry today. Antoine's death and burial are unknown.

Who was Antoine Junker? Historian W. T. Block from Nederland, Texas took on the almost impossible task of listing all steamboat and ferry workers on the Sabine River. He listed Wilson A. Junker. "A" in Wilson's name was probably Antoine. A check of records gives many possibilities. According to 1831 immigration records, Anthony Junker arrived in New Orleans in 1831 on the ship Lord Cochrane from London, England. Death records recorded two Antoine Jonkers in Louisiana, both in New Orleans, one in 1874 and the other in 1889. The 1874 death was born in 1850 in France. Perhaps the 1889 death was Antoine from Jonker's Ferry

Jordan – The Jordan surname claimed twenty parcels of land containing 1,160 acres from 1884 to 1918 in Pickering, Hicks, present day North Ft. Polk Garrison, and Leesville.

There are two seemingly unrelated Jordan founding fathers in Vernon Parish, Henry A. Jordan (MS 1800 – AL/LA 1860) and Hardy Jordan (NC/GA 1798 – LA 1882). Both came to present day Vernon Parish from Mississippi.

Henry married Mary Roberts (AL 1803 – LA 1843). He did not homestead land in Vernon Parish, but his son, James "Jim" Franklin James (MS 1839 – LA 1920) did. Jim came from

Mississippi settling in Newton County, Texas before coming to Vernon Parish in 1882. He married Martha Phelps (LA 1847 – LA 1930) in Newton County in 1870. Jim's sons John S. (TX 1871 – LA 1928) and Edwin (TX 1879 – LA 1957) settled in Pickering and Hicks in 1898 and 1906.

The second Jordan family was led by Hardy Jordan (NC/GA 1798 – LA 1892) and his wife Ellender Sutton Jordan (GA 1806 – LA 1882). Hardy's parents were Lemuel C. (Unk. 1770 – MS 1845) and Mary Sutton (Unk. 1780 – MS 1836) Jordan. He married Ellender Sutton (GA 1806 – LA 1882) in Lawrence County, Mississippi in 1821. Hardy and his family arrived in present day Vernon Parish in about 1860. Hardy's family members settled in Pickering, Leesville, and on present day Ft. Polk.

One Jordan has died in our nation's wars. Floyd Allen Jordan (LA 1918 – DEU 1945) died in Germany four weeks before Germany's surrender. He is buried in Margraten, Netherlands. Floyd has a memorial in Cooper Cemetery in Pickering.

Jowers – The founding father of the Jowers family in Vernon Parish was Jonathan (SC 1803/04 – AL 1861). He moved from South Carolina arriving in Henry County, Alabama between 1820 and 1827. From there he moved to present day Vernon Parish arriving in about 1860. Jonathan married three times to Rachel Brock (1809 – 1838) in 1827, Vida B. Vickers (1818 – 1849) in 1839, and Rebecca Vickers (1814 – 1880) in 1850. He claimed eighty acres in 1860 on Flactor Creek in Simpson's township. Jonathan's son, Jeremiah (AL 1831 – LA 1870), claimed 120 acres in the same year in the same section.

According to past research, Jonathan returned to Alabama and died in 1861, but no burial could be found. Jeremiah died in Louisiana in 1870, burial unknown.

Six of Jonathan's sons served in the Civil War, two died. His first born child, Jacob (AL 1830 – LA 1861) died at Camp Moore in Tangipahoa Parish of disease. He is buried in Camp Moore's Confederate Cemetery. His fifth child, James (AL 1836 – MS 1862), died at Camp McLaurin in the Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi on June 12, 1862. The year of his death should be 1863. The Battle of Vicksburg was May to July, 1863. His burial is unknown.

Joyce – The founding father of the Joyce family was Rev. Christopher C. Joyce (LA 1858 – LA 1904). He was the son of Green Berry (GA 1827 – LA 1914) and Jane Keziah McGowan (MS 1840 – LA 1899). Rev. Joyce married twice to Tame ___ in 1879 and Frances ___ in 1900. In 1860, 1870, and 1880 he lived in Ward Three of Natchitoches Parish. In 1900 he lived in Ward Six of Vernon Parish as a farmer. In 1901 Rev. Joyce homesteaded 120 acres on Comrade Creek on Lewis Road off of LA HWY 465. His son, Green T. Joyce (LA 1879 – Unk. 1903) homesteaded 120 acres in 1903 in the same section. Daughter Frances K. Joyce Marler (LA 1882 – LA 1968) homesteaded 160 acres in 1905 on VP Rd. # 68 on Comrade Creek. Rev. Joyce is buried in Pine Island Cemetery in Simpson. Green's and Frances' burials are unknown.

Kay – Twenty-seven Kay family members purchased or homesteaded 47 parcels of Vernon Parish land containing 3,040 acres from 1860 to 1912 in Anacoco, Caney, Hawthorne, Haddens, Kurthwood, Burr Ferry, Hornbeck, McInnis Cemetery community, and present day North Ft. Polk Garrison.

The founding father of the Kay family was Elijah Lentine Kay (SC 1802 – LA 1850). He was the son of John Pinkney (SC 1775 – SC 1817) and Sarah Trotter (KY 1779 – SC 1833) Kay. Elijah married Aletha "Letha" Moss Morse (SC 1808 – LA 1865) in 1824 in Edgefield County, South Carolina. He came to present day Vernon Parish from South Carolina between 1839 and 1846.

Elijah did not homestead any land but wife, Aletha, and sons Pinkney (1829 – 1885), Drury (1831 – Unk.), Toliver (1832 – 1918), Pickins (1834 – 1918), Elmore (1838 – 1914), and Solomon (1839 – 1905 claimed land in Anacoco and Caney.

One Kay family member has died in our nation's wars. Horace B. Kay (LA 1918 – BEL 1945) of Ward Three died in Belgium in the Battle of the Budge. He is buried in Pine Hill Cemetery in Standard.

Keel – The Keel family claimed ten parcels containing 680 acres in the communities of Cypress Creek, Cottonwood, and Neame from 1885 to 1911.

All Keels in Vernon Parish trace their family history to Hansel (SC 1803 – LA 1884) and Elizabeth Lewis (GA 1810 – LA 1890) Keel. Hansel married Elizabeth in 1830 in Early County, Georgia. He came to Louisiana from South Carolina stopping in Georgia and Alabama, arriving in present day Vernon Parish between 1852 and 1855. According to records, he served in the War of 1812 in Cpt. William B. Blackshear's Co., but was denied a pension. In all enumerations Hansel was a farmer. He did not homestead any land, but wife Elizabeth, sons William (1835 – 1913) and John (1840 – 1920), and grandson Ephraim (1882 – 1961) homesteaded 520 acres in the Cypress Creek community between Rosepine and Knight. Fifth child Francis (1843 – 1920) claimed 120 acres in Cottonwood in 1896 and grandson James homesteaded forty acres in Neame in 1905.

Two Keels have died in our nation's wars. In WW I Joseph Allen Keel (LA 1895 – FRA 1918) died in France in an accident, body unrecovered. He has a memorial in Belleau, France at the Tablets of the Missing. The other Keel was David L. Keel (LA 1931 – KOR 1951) who was killed in action in Korea in 1951. David is buried in Old Cypress Cemetery in Rosepine.

Keller – Hermon (DEU 1850 – LA 1937) and Delilah LeBleu (LA 1851 – LA 1923) Keller formed a partnership (Group # 50) and homesteaded 160 acres in 1890 on Rockie Branch Road on Rocky Branch in the Johnsonville community. Hermon was born in Saxony, Germany in 1850. He married Delilah, who was the daughter of Arsene LeBleu (1820 – 1875), before 1877. They had two children together, Mary Ida (1877 – 1962) and Sarah Lula (1879 – 1959) Keller. Hermon was enumerated once in 1880 as a Ward Four, Vernon Parish farmer. Delilah died first in 1923 and Hermon died second in 1937. Both are buried in Smarts Chapel Cemetery in Leesville.

Kemper – The founding father of the Kemper family in Vernon Parish was William Nathan (LA 1837 – LA 1890) and Leander Phillips (MS 1842 – MS 1918) Kemper. William was the son of John Moore (LA 1805 – TX 1866) and Sena Hunter (TN 1819 – TX 1880) Kemper of Texas. William and Leander married in Lake Charles in 1860. William was enumerated in 1850 as a thirteen year old in St. Mary Parish and in 1880 as a 43 year old Sugartown blacksmith. William, wife Leander, and son Nathan (LA 1875 – TX 1939) homesteaded land in Vernon Parish. William and Leander formed a partnership (Group # 55) and claimed 160 acres in 1890 in downtown Leesville. Son Nathan claimed 160 acres in 1900 on Sandy Hill on LA HWY 10.

William is buried in Old Leesville Cemetery. Wife Leander is buried in Bogue Chitto Cemetery in Lincoln County, Mississippi. Nathan is buried in Cunningham Cemetery in Hardin County, Texas.

Kerr – The founding father of the Kerr family was Joseph Franklin Kerr (TX 1862 – TX 1947). He was the son of John Byrd (SC 1807 – TX 1894) and Nancy McMahon (AR 1820 – TX 1891) Kerr. Joseph married Florence Smith (TX 1871 – TX 1960) in 1891 in Orange, Texas. He moved often living in Newton County, Texas in 1880, Burleson, Texas in 1910, and Vernon

Parish in 1900, 1920, and 1930. In 1911 he served as Kerrville's postmaster in Newton County. His jobs were farmer and mill worker except in 1910 when he was a hotel manager.

In Vernon Parish Joseph homesteaded a lot of land on the Sabine River in T1S, R12W, Sec. 24, acreage undetermined. The lot was on Old River Road west of Evans.

Joseph and Florence are buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in DeRidder alongside children Walter (1894 – 1972), Effie (1899 – 1985), Homer (1892 – 1938), and Homer's wife, Addie (1898 – 1960).

This article originally appeared on Leesville Daily Leader: Visions of Vernon: Vernon Parish's Founding Families, Jones – Kerr