John Hadley, son of Benjamin and Elizabeth
Kenderson (Kennelson, Kinnison) Hadley, was born September 15, 1820 in North
Baldwin County, Alabama, near Seven Miles Springs.
As John's father and mother had died when he and his brothers and sisters were quite young, he had to become self-reliant at an early age. He worked on a farm for awhile, and by the time he was a teenager he was a rider for the U.S. Pony Express for a Mr. Ward Taylor, who contracted the route. John continued with the Pony Express for nine years, during which time he and one of his brothers pooled their money and built up a sizable herd of livestock. They then went into the livestock business full-time.
John Hadley married Nellie Johnson in 1848. She was born in Georgia, August 22,
1814, and moved with her family to Baldwin County, Alabama as a young child.
John and Nellie had the following children:
2. Thomas - born 1850/52 - died before 1860
3. Mary - born 1853
4. John II - born 1855
5. Joseph - born 1857
6. Otis - born 1859.1
John and Nellie sold 200 acres of land March 31, 1852.2 On February 5, 1862, John sold 320 acres of land for $100 in Confederate money.3 It is possible that this latter sale was to provide his young family while he was serving in the Civil War. A family history records that John I served in the Civil War, but no records have been discovered.
The 1860 Census for Alabama lists the following:
Nelly Hadley - 41 - F - Birthplace: Georgia
Elizabeth Hadley - 41 - F - Birthplace: Alabama
Mary Hadley - 7 - F - Birthplace: Alabama
John Hadley - 5 - M - Birthplace: Alabama
Joseph Hadley - 3 - M - Birthplace: Alabama
Otis J. Hadley - 9½m - M - Birthplace: Alabama4
John Hadley II married Sara Cruitt, probably around 1875. They had the
2. Thomas Johnson (18 March 1876 - 04 July 1951) - married Sarah Elizabeth (Lizzy) Kinsey (1880 - 1938)
3. Sallie (05 June 1879 - 25 December 1928) - married William Bernard Simmons
4. Joseph William (25 January 1881 - 08 April 1927) - married Elizabeth (Bessie) Simmons
The listing of brothers and sisters of John Hadley I, and their children, are included for two reasons; 1) to help any of these kin to tie into their genealogical line, if they so desire, and 2) to recognize the movement of the family. (Some even changed their name from Hadley to Lindsey because of the feud with the Bryars and McGill families.) Joshua, Ben's son from his first marriage, Jesse and William all moved to Texas long before the feud erupted. James M. Hadley and his two eldest sons were the Hadleys who were involved in the shooting of Greenberry Bryars and his two sons in 1873. They were found guilty of manslaughter and appealed to the Supreme Court of Alabama. The Supreme court ruled that the verdict be upheld. Somehow, the entire James M. Hadley family had moved to Texas while awaiting the appeal verdict. In 1877, when the verdict was handed down, James went to Florida and changed his name to Thomas Lindsey. He took his two oldest sons, James, Jr. (Marion Lindsey) and Jesse (Jasper P. Lindsey). The three agreed not to return or reveal their original names until after the last was deceased (probably by written communication). The father, James, died October 28, 1890 in Delmore County, Florida. It's interesting to note that the estate of Ben in Richland Ponds was sold October 15, 1890 and that the Lindseys received their share via an attorney in Texas. The sons James (Marion Lindsey) died March 7, 1920 and Jesse (Jasper P. Lindsey) died in 1927. The Supreme court records have a lot of details about this case and this information has dispelled much of the rumor and legend about this affair. Frankly, the Hadleys were not completely innocent, but it does appear that the Bryars initiated the armed conflict and it was they who had wrongful possession of Hadley sheep, not vice versa. It would appear that the Hadleys shot in self defense but the proceedings clearly show that the judge had it in for them and they were railroaded. This feud caused bitter feelings for many years to come. The only son of Ben Hadley left in northern Baldwin county after this affair was Simon Hadley. Almost all of the Hadleys from northern Baldwin county today are descended from this Simon Hadley. In 1894, John William Hadley, son of Simon was shot and killed by the McGills. He apparently took a couple of them with him. His brother, Simon Dude Hadley was shot in the hand but escaped on horseback.
Jesse and eight children went to McCullough County, Texas. William and his five children went to Montague County, Texas. Neither Jesse or William changed their name, as they were not involved in the feud, and their descendants continue to bear the Hadley name. In an appendix are the family charts of the children of Ben Hadley and their family information including children and marriages. It is hoped that anyone seeking a Hadley ancestor will be aided in their pursuit.5
In 1882, John I bought a section of land about ten miles south of what is now Foley, Alabama. (Section 16, Township 6, Range 4 East). In addition to this 640 acres he also purchased 160 acres on Blackwater River in southeast Baldwin County. His son, John II, had purchased land (640 acres) in 1880 for $825.00. (Section 16, Township 7, Range 4 East).6
During 1882, they built homes on their properties and moved the families south, near what is now Foley. The move of his share of livestock to his new home must have been somewhat difficult as the distance was approximately 50 miles, most of which was dense virgin forest land. One document states they lost only two head of cattle in the move.
John I was 62 and Nellie 63 years of age when they made their move to south Baldwin County. The reason seems clear for their action. John and Nellie were devout Christians and they wanted their only surviving child and his wife to raise their children in a different environment than the feud ravaged, violent areas they left behind.
John II decided to return to North Baldwin County for a visit and died, or was killed, while there. It was reported that he had been killed while racing a horse and struck his head on a limb. He was buried within a few hours after his death. He had been buried in the Seven Miles Springs Cemetery and it is believed that his grave lies by that of his grandfather, Benjamin.
Sometime after the death of his son, John I purchased beautifully ornamented iron grillwork to encircle his son's grave site. He, along with his young grandson, Thomas, transported the grill work by horse and wagon and they installed the fence. It is intricately cast; the gate has a lamb, dove, and the name Hadley. The huge lock is still intact at this time (1998). Inside the beautifully fenced grave site lies only the graves of John II and his premature child that his wife gave birth to upon arrival immediately following her husband's death. Sarah Cruitt Hadley, wife of John II, and her four children were taken to the home of one of her kin's people. (Cruitts in Escambia County, Alabama in south Baldwin). John I and Nellie were heart broken. The reason they had moved to their present home had proved futile. They had lost their only remaining child, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. It is claimed that the dear old man went a long time without speech. Eventually his wife, Nellie, reminded him that they were old and had substantial material possessions. She suggested that the relatives be notified on all sides that unless the daughter-in-law and grandchildren were returned home, no inheritance would go to any of them or their families. It is reported that they were returned soon after the announcement. The reason can only be inferred. They lived with John and Nellie until the youngest child, Joseph, was 18 years old.
An interesting note is that John Hadley was determined that his grandchildren should receive as much education as possible. As there were no schools, public or private, he employed a young man with some college training to teach the grandchildren. The teacher was Mr. Shomo Lambert. After a period of time, John then helped Mr. Lambert pursue his profession. For many years Mr. Lambert devoted his professional career to upgrading Negro education in Alabama. He was State Supervisor of Negro education in the State Department of Education in Montgomery, Alabama until his retirement.
After the children had reached maturity, Sarah Cruitt Hadley remarried. Her second husband was David Staples. Sarah C. Hadley Staples died March 20, 1939. She and her second husband are buried beside each other in Wynn Cemetery, Summerdale, Alabama.
The census of 1890 shows John I owning a flock of 5,000-7,000 sheep, 820 cattle, hogs and horses. John and Nellie, along with Ben Hadley's other heirs, sold off their inheritance to the Richland Ponds and the Benjamin Hadley tract on October 15, 1890. John and Nellie's share was $21,500. The transaction was with William M. Carney of Escambia, County, Alabama, for a total of 640 acres and was recorded December 21, 1890. These quit claim deeds in Escambia County, Florida also include deeds to Mr. William M. Carney from Simon and Caroline Hadley, Simon of Baldwin County, Alabama and Jesse Hadley of McCollock County, Texas, and the heirs of William Hadley of Montague County, Texas: John and Paravine (?), William and M.S., Sam and Elizabeth, Ben, and Mary and J.T. Sanders. Also in a separate deed, Jesse and Phoebe Hadley of McCollock County, Texas, finally from Falls County, Texas, Jacob Grasoo as power of attorney for the children of James Hadley. It is assumed that these were the surviving legal heirs of Benjamin Hadley in 1890.7
Nellie died Dec. 23, 1899. She is buried in Wynn Cemetery, Summerdale. Alabama. John Hadley died May 17, 1907 and is buried by his wife. One source of documentation that helped to link John I and Ben to North Carolina, was an entry on John Hadley published in the Memorial Record of Alabama, 1890. It is reprinted here verbatim:
"John Hadley, stock grower of South Baldwin County, with post office at Swift, was born in Baldwin County, Alabama, in 1820. He was early employed as a farm hand and while yet a young man rode United States Express for nine years, under Ward Taylor, after which he gradually went into stock business in company with his brother, and in that manner did business for a number of years. He took part in the late war, after which he continued to grow various kinds of stock. In 1882, he bought a section of land where he now lives (Section sixteen, township six, range four, east) and a tract of 160 acres laying on Blackwater river in southeast Baldwin County. He moved his family to this place shortly after purchasing and brought 1,400 head of sheep with him and now owns a flock of 5,000 to 7,000. He also has a fine heard of 820 cattle. He raises hogs, cows and some horses, and also has a herd of tame deer on his premises; he has a number of different wool-growing sheep, amongst which may be found in Merino, the Cotswold, the Southdown and the native sheep. Mr. Hadley was united in marriage September 15, 1848 to Miss Nellie Johnson, daughter of Stephen and Elizabeth Johnson. She was born in Georgia in 1820, and was young when brought to Baldwin County, Alabama where she grew up, becoming proficient in all domestic pursuits of usefulness. She was married in her twenty-fifth year and became the mother of six children, all of whom are now deceased, born in the following order; Elizabeth, Thomas, Mary, John, Joseph, and Otis. John reached maturity and married Miss Sarah Cruitt, whose four children were in the following order: J. Cruitt, John T., Sarah F., and Joseph W., all of whom find a comfortable home with Mr. Hadley, their grandfather, and are also receiving a liberal education. Early in life, the wife of Mr. Hadley united with the Missionary Baptist church and has lived a good and consistent life ever since. In coming to her present home she left many kind friends and church going people with whom she was loath to part. She is now in her seventy-third year, and enjoys comparatively good health. Mr. Hadley is a son of Benjamin and Elizabeth (Kenelson) Hadley. Benjamin was a native of North Carolina and took part in the War of 1812. He was a farmer by occupation. He was married in North Carolina and emigrated south in 1818 and settled in Florida, which was later taken in as Baldwin County, Alabama, and subsequently moved to north Baldwin County, near Montgomery Hill. He there bought a farm and became one of Baldwin county's progressive farmers and stock growers, and prominent as a Whig. His death occurred in 1826. His father was killed by the Tories in Revolutionary times. The mother of Mr. Hadley was a native of Mississippi, where she spent the early part of her life. She was married in her twenty-fifth year and was Mr. Hadley's second wife and had seven children, five boys and two girls, five of whom still survive. The mother's death occurred in 1822. John Hadley was thrown upon his own resources early in life and has made all that he now owns by careful investments and good management; his mode of life is primitive, yet he is surrounded by plenty and has everything to supply his few wants. His house is in the great sheep range of Alabama in the heart of the forest, with neighbors few and far between."
Photo and text courtesy of John W. Hadley