Are They Connected?

I’m currently working on investigating more Koonce families of Dothan, AL.  There has turned out to be quite a cluster of Koonce’s there and there are several other researchers seeking to learn if there are explicit connections. The four African-American family groups of particular interest right now are:

a) Elizabeth Koonce was born abt. 1842 in Dothan, AL.  To date, I have primarily worked on the family of her son Eugene who migrated to nearby Seminole County, Georgia and  Leon & Wayne counties in Florida.

b) Henry Koonce was born about August 1854, likely in Dothan, AL and died between 1910-1920. His wife was Elizabeth was from Jackson County, Florida.  Henry& Lizzie were living in Jackson County by 1900 and their descendants populate that area, with a few branches migrating up to New Jersey.

c) Maliki Koonce – was born Oct 1879 in Alabama – it seems he too was from near Dothan, AL as in 1900 and 1910 he and wife Lizzie and their family are in Cowarts, a community just outside Dothan.

d) Clopton Koonce – born abt. 1854 in Alabama – descendants believe he and wife Sarah are from Gordon, AL, which is not too far away from Dothan. By 1900 were living in Jackson County, Florida.

The challenge is trying to find connections between these four families.  Are Henry (b) and Clopton (d) related? Both have descendants named Hosea and Clopton has a son named Henry.  Maliki (c) also has a son named Hosea.    I am fascinated by this and the research continues!


Koonces of Henry County, Alabama

In my last post about Jeffrey Wayne Koonce,  I pondered the question of trying to figure out which white families his family may have been associated.   Jeffrey’s ancestors, Henry Koonce & Elizabeth Ellis were from Alabama and migrated to Malone, Jackson County, Florida.  I knew there some white Koonce families near there in Alabama and I’ve revisited my database to figure out whom.

This is a map of the area which I’m about to discuss:

John Franklin Koonce (1801-1859) was a pioneer of Henry County, Alabama having moved there in 1819.  He and wife Susan (from Georgia) would have 8 children and become established citizens in the community.  Their sons Jefferson S. Koonce & William C. Koonce became rather prominent as well.  William in fact was a druggist up in Abbeville (see it at the top of the map?).

I checked the 1850 and 1860 slave schedules for Henry County.  In 1850, John F. Koonce owned 24 slaves and Thomas Battle Koonce , his 3rd cousin, owned 33 slaves.  In 1860, I only found Thomas with the slaves.  When I checked black families in the area in 1870 and 1880, I saw many that were born in Georgia.  This is not surprising given that Susan’s family was from Georgia.

The descendants of John Fordham Koonce, as well as their likely former slave families,  then spread out to Cottonwood, Cowarts, Gordon, & Columbia, Alabama.

I’ve not found a specific association yet, but Jeffrey Wayne’s ancestors were in Jackson County by 1900, near the Malone area later on in the early 1900s.  Also, Henry & Elizabeth had a son named Jefferson Koonce, also – same as the family who lived around 30-45 miles away.   I am beginning to think there may be some association here.

Additionally, a niece of Jeffrey’s has informed me that their oral history passed down through the generations states that their ancestor Henry was actually white. In the 1900 and 1910 census, he is enumerated as black and mulatto respectively.  She sent me a picture of Henry’s son Sidney (Jeffrey’s grandfather) and you can definitely tell that Sidney is of mixed heritage.  She also informed me that the family tradition states that at some point, Henry changed the spelling of his name from Koontz to Koonce.

All of this provides more research clues, so more to come as I have time.

Update on Jeffrey Wayne Koonce

In my last entry I posted about fallen Vietnam Veteran Jeffrey Wayne Koonce.  His brief bio was sent to me by J.P. Koonce and as a first step to finding out more about him, I decided look for an obit.  I posted on the Union County, NJ forum for newspaper suggestions and was directed to a website New Jersey has set up for a state memorial of Vietnam Veterans.

On the memorial page, is this picture of Jeffrey Wayne

On his memorial page his siblings are named and that was enough for me to find out more about his family and trace his Koonce line back three more generations to his great-parents Henry Koonce & Elizabeth Ellis of Jackson County, Florida.  Henry was born about 1854 in Alabama.  Geographically, Jackson County is near Houston County, Alabama where I know offhand there were several white Koonce families.  Is there an association between Jeffrey Wayne’s ancestors and these other Koonce families?  Perhaps time will tell.

To see the descendants of Henry & Elizabeth as I have gathered to date,  click here. Remember that the names are hyperlinks to their individual pages.