(This is research for a law school paper – not my family line)
Delving into the family history of “the murdering wives” had been fascinating. Clarice Covert was born Clarice Barksdale, daughter of Robert Laurent Barksdale. Robert Laurent Barksdale was the son of Robert Tombs Barksdale. He is the topic of today’s blog post.
Robert Tombs Barksdale was born on a farm and raised himself up to high society in Georgia. He graduated from the University of Georgia (where he was in the Kappa Alpha Fraternity), served in the GA state legislature, was an attorney and a civil engineer. His daughter, Clarice (the aunt and namesake of Clarice Barksdale Covert) was a great societal favorite after making her debut and a popular guest in Atlanta society. She is mentioned often in the society columns in Augusta, Atlanta, Macon, and the surrounding areas. Her wedding 10 Jun 1905 was announced in the Atlanta Journal as a major event. It was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Toombs Barksdale, so it must be assumed that the home was quite grand. The Ocala Banner, in Ocala, FL, announced that her cousin, Miss Johnnie Liddon, was leaving for Augusta where she would be maid of honor at the wedding. The groom was also a society type. The Augusta Barksdales were most certainly upper-crust.
Robert Tombs BARKSDALE was born 12 Apr 1848 in Warren County, Georgia (date of birth from his son’s passport application, The History of Warren County, GA and from Robert Tombs Barksdale’s grave site info). His father, Thomas J. Barksdale, was a farmer in Warren County, GA in the 1850 Census. His mother’s name was Susan, age 22. He is found at the age of 12 with TJ and Susan Barksdale in the 1860 Census. In the 1870 Census, the household includes TJ and Robert T., but Susan is missing. There is a Fanny, age 24, and a Minnie, age 1. Perhaps Susan died and Thomas J remarried and had another child. Robert T. Barksdale is listed as 22 and as having no occupation. We do know that Robert graduated from the University of Georgia in 1869.
From The History of Warren County, Georgia 1793-1974 (published 1976 by Warren County History Committee, “Graduated University of Ga., 1869. Studied law under Judge E. H. Pottle of Warrenton. Admitted to bar in 1880.” We also know that he served one year in the State Legislature. From the same book, “List of Representatives to the GA Legislature from 1794-1968. Robert T. Barksdale is listed on p.79.” He served from 1878-1879.
He is found in the 1880 Census in Warren County, Ga. with wife, Annie W. (Annie Wallis O’Hanlon) and daughter Ethel C. (Clarice was her middle name and was the name she went by – she is the aunt of Clarice Covert), age 1. His occupation is listed as Lawyer. Robert and Annie were married in 1848 (per the 1890 Census).
In the 1890 Census, the family is found in the City of Augusta, GA. and Robert’s occupation is listed as Civil Engineer. From The History of Warren County, “Wife, Annie Q. Hanlon of Macon, one daughter, Clarice, and one son, Robert. Col. Barksdale retired from practiced of law. Moved to Augusta, Ga., and became a Civil Engineer.” In the household with the family was Annie’s mother, Kathlene O’Hanlon. Ethel C. (daughter) is 11 and Robert L. Barksdale (father of Clarice B. Covert) is 9. The Kappa Alpha journal, Volume 18 refers to him in this paragraph, “Robert Toombs Barksdale (Gamma) is a living corpse, and is not dead as reported in the last catalogue. He is a civil engineer at 951 Greene street, Augusta, Ga.”
I did note that Robert Tombs Barksdale is referred to in the book as Col. Barksdale. It is possible that he served in the Confederate Army as he would have been 13 when the war began and 17 when the war ended, but it is unlikely he could have achieved the rank of Colonel. The title was probably honorary (I have found that to happen often in those days – people of prominence were often given “titles” that they had not earned). I did find a Robt Barksdale on the Muster Rolls of Capt. W.M. Campbell’s Company, Meade’s Cavalry, enlisted 1 Oct 1864, Madison County, Alabama. This could be our Robert Toombs Barksdale, but that will probably prove to be impossible to verify.
Robert Toombs Barksdale died of a cerebral tumor 3 Sep 1905 and is buried in The Magnolia Cemetery, Augusta, Georgia (source: Augusta, Georgia Gravesite Search, Augusta City Government). His wife, Annie, is buried there as well, though she outlived him by over 30 years. His daughter, Clarice Barksdale Anderson is also buried in Magnolia Cemetery, as is her husband, James Allen Anderson.