The Conaway Family History
My Great-Grandfather on Father's Side
Levin Conaway was among the earliest settlers of Delaware. He settled in Sussex County on a very large tract of land, containing 9,000 acres, as head of a party of Pioneers. All this vast tract of land subsequently became his own property. On this vast estate he reared his family, consisting of one daughter and two sons, Curtis and Selby. The daughter's name I do not remember. Grandfather married a lady by the name of Piper, who was distantly related to Honorable John Quincy Adams the sixth president of the United States. Her given name I have forgotten. She died in Sparta, Georgia about the year 1803 or 1804. She and Grandfather Curtis brought three children with them when they arrived in Sparta, Hancock County, Georgia. The names of their children were William, Levin, Selby, Elizabeth, and John, my father.
My father, John Conaway, was born in Sparta, Georgia, Sept. 14, 1804. Soon after his birth, Grandmother died. My Grandfather, Curtis Conaway, then moved from Sparta to Putnam County, Georgia, in the year 1804 or 1805. Here in Putnam County, about three miles Northwest of Eatonton, on Gladys Creek, near where it empties into Little River, without the help of a second wife, Grandfather, after whom I was named, reared his family.
In the year 1817 or 1818, Grandfather Curtis Conaway sold his plantation in Putnam County to the Hon. John A. Cuthbert, then a member of Congress, and removed to Newton County, Virginia, near the village of Covington. Between the years 1825 and 1830 Grandfather Conaway died and lies buried at Holly Springs Church, seven miles south of Covington, Georgia, on Covington and Jackson Road.
About the time of Grandfather's death, my father, John Conaway married Miss Lydia Hand, daughter of William Hand, of Newton County, Georgia. To this union were born eight sons and four daughters. It is proper to remark here that all eight of these boys did service in the Confederate Army and one of them gave his life for the "Lost Cause" and another of them was maimed for life. A son-in-law also surrendered his life in the same cause.
John and Lydia Conaway's children were named Louisa, William Henry, George Washington, James Madison, Curtis Adams, John B., Willis Marion, Martha Jane, Thomas Jefferson, Sarah Frances, Charles McDonald, Mary Ann, and Sophronia. Of this large family, only four of the once happy company remain to this day. The survivors are: Curtis Adams, Charles McDonald, Martha Jane, and Sarah Frances. All of the deceased, while living, were active members of some branch of the Church of Christ. It is worthy to note here: if either of the eight sons of my father and mother ever swore an oath, or won or lost at a game of chance, or drank to excess, the writer never knew it.
My Grandfather on My Mother's Side
William Hand, my grandfather, came from Western North Carolina, where Mother was born, and while she was yet a little girl. About all that Mother could recall was some incidents along the long journey to Georgia in the years of 1812 and 1813. My mother was born February 7, 1807. Grandfather Hand had seven daughters and two sons. His death occurred on the road, between the forks of Jackson and Monticello, about one mile from Henderson's Mill on Alcooy River. He was thrown from a horse and killed outright. Grandmother Hand, as I remember her, was one of the quietest and sweetest women I ever knew. All of her children and grandchildren loved her ardently. She lived some thirty or thirty-five years after Grandfather's tragic death.
Grandmother's children all did well for themselves and the people among whom they lived. One of the sons was a useful minister of the Gospel in the Missionary Baptist Church. Grandmother Hand died in great peace in Alabama, at the age of eighty years, or upwards.
My Parents, as I Recall Them; My Father
My father, John Conaway, if he could have had the best educational advantages the schools of that age afforded, would have been an active and aggressive politician. Even as it was, he more than held his own in any contest for political prestige. He grew up in an age of intense political and ecclesiastical controversy, and he was up to both great questions with all his power.
Father always lived on good terms, socially with his neighbors and was loved and esteemed by all who knew him.
When the Civil War broke out, Father was what was called a Union Man and favored fighting for the rights of the South in and not out of, the Union. He yielded to the deluge of sentiment against him and furnished eight boys for the army.
Father spent many of his last days at his home in Coosa County, Alabama, where he passed peacefully away, surrounded by my mother and several of the children, on Jan., 5, 1871, in his 68th year. All his children honor his memory.
My mother, Mrs. Lydia Conaway, was born in Western North Carolina, on Feb. 7, 1807. She was, to me at least, one of the noblest women I ever knew. She cared for her large family of eight boys and four daughters, doing all the sewing and knitting with her own hands. For several years before her death, her eyesight was very poor and she could do nothing but knit socks for her sons and her grandsons.
On the night of Dec. 8, 1882, about 9 o'clock P. M. Mother passed suddenly to her reward in Heaven. At the time of her death she was seventy-five years of age. I had been absent from her thirteen years, and when within ten miles of her on my way to see her, the Death Angel suddenly took her away from us.
How well Mother performed her lot in life, has been told in the lives of her sons and daughters who rise up to call her "Blessed." I think I hear her sweet voice, when she said to me, "Go, my son, on the noble mission to which God has called you and make full proof of it."
The foregoing statements concerning the Conaway family have been gathered from tradition, chiefly, and not from history. Somehow, with our family, as with hundreds of other, no historical records have been kept. This records has been made at the urgent solicitation history of the family from being entirely lost. The writer is the only living man who can reproduce it.
This brief history should not close without special mention of the death of my precious wife, who died in great peace at our home in Cobb County, Georgia, on Nov., 28, 1910. Also, the death of my sister, Mrs. Martha J. Lecroy, who died in peace at her home in Coosa County, Ala. April 19, 1911.
Thus it will be seen that myself, brother C. J. Conaway, and one sister, Mrs. Sarah F. Stone, are all that remain of the once large and happy family of twelve children. And now within only a few weeks of the anniversary of my 77th birthday, I lay down my pen, having done the best possible to give a true history in brief of my family ancestry, omitting as I think I should do, the mention of any praiseworthy acts or merits of the humble biographer.
Signed: Curtis Adams Conaway Smyrna, Ga. Dec 4, 1911