by Robert Tait Ervin III

Robert Hugh Ervin, my great-grandfather was born September 11, 1822 at Coal Bluff, Wilcox County, Alabama, and died January 11, 1875. His grandparents were Colonel John Ervin, of Marion County, South Carolina, who commanded the Britton Neck Regiment of Marion’s Brigade in the Revolutionary War and Jane Witherspoon. His father, Samuel Ervin, was born in South Carolina July 6, 1776, and in 1810 migrated to Baldwin County, Mississippi Territory. Samuel established a large plantation in Baldwin County near St. Stephens. After the death of his wife, Harriet Keith Ervin, in South Carolina, their three children, Amelia, Samuel James and Harriet Keith joined him. Prior to 1820, Samuel moved to Coal Bluff and on July 11, 1820, married Mary Ann (Eades) Gullett, elder daughter of Captain John Eades and Jane Fee. Robert Hugh Ervin, the only child of this union, was four months old at the death of his father on January 26, 1823. His mother, Mary Ann Ervin, married Dr. Squire G. Grayson April 9, 1825 and she died August 21, 1831. Robert Hugh was raised by Dr. Grayson. Robert Hugh attended the Medical School of Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky from 1840 to 1842 and received a Doctor of Medicine degree in 1842. He became a prominent physician in Wilcox County, and successfully operated his sizeable plantation at Coal Bluff.

On January 5, 1848, Robert Hugh Ervin married Sarah Asbury (Tait) Rives, at Dry Forks Plantation. She was the granddaughter of Charles Tait, the first U.S. Federal Judge in the Mississippi Territory and Nancy Ann Lucas Simpson, and the daughter of James Asbury Tait, a large plantation owner, and Caroline Elizabeth Goode. Sarah was born September 1, 1826 and died March 13, 1905.

The children of the couple were:

Albert Goode – b. Sep 20, 1848 – d. Feb 9, 1941 - m. Elizabeth Cumming

Walter Eades – b. Nov 25, 1849 – d. Feb 11, 1851

Jennie Fee – b. Mar 24, 1851 – m. Dr. William Cassin Larkin

Aurora Roberta – b. Mar 18, 1853 – d. Feb 3, 1928 - m. Huriosco Austill

Caroline – b. Nov 23, 1854 – d. Jan 27, 1922 – m. Anderson John Phillips

Leila Grayson – b. Dec 23, 1856 – d. Nov 28, 1934 – m. Dr. Arthur Shaw McDaniel

Mattie Beck – b. Dec 3, 1858 – d. Nov 21, 1944 - m. John Wales Pharr

Samuel James – b. Nov 27, 1860 – d. Feb 22, 1917 - m. Madison Coate McWilliams

Robert Tait – b. May 27, 1863 - d. Oct 24, 1949 - m. Frances Patterson Pybas

Robert Hugh and Sarah Ervin built and lived in a fine, large home, which was constructed by a master builder named Montgomery, who also built the Old Burford home. The Ervin home and its contents burned in the 1870’s. Sarah and her children then acquired "Countryside" from Sarah’s brother, Robert Tait. This 6700 square foot house was built in 1855 for Robert Tait by Henry Cook, and remained in the Ervin family until 1991, when it was sold to William R. Phillippi.

In 1853 Doctor Ervin was elected to the State Legislature from Wilcox County and retired from medicine, to manage his plantation and to be active in political affairs. In 1856 he was elected Grand Master of the Masons for the State. In 1861, at the start of the Civil War, he was appointed First Lieutenant in the Alabama Mounted Rifles and under the command of General Braxton Bragg, participated in Battle of Shiloh. In 1863 and 1865, he represented Wilcox and Dallas Counties in the State Senate. In 1872 he was again elected from Wilcox County and served as President Pro Tem of the State Senate until his death in 1875. He was given much of the credit for the settlement of the State debt, which had accumulated during the reconstruction period after the Civil War. After the Civil War, Robert Hugh Ervin continued in political affairs, operated his plantation, and also opened and operated a cotton brokerage business in Mobile.

Sources: Family records and official documents.


6 September 1999 | 12 September 1999
May not be reproduced in whole or part without permission of the author.
© 1999 by B.J. Smothers. All rights reserved.