Tag Archives: South Carolina


My father , who is 77 years old today, was impressed with my recent genealogy trip. He never knew the family came from Alabama, he always thought Texas. I explained the route they took so many years ago. From South Carolina, to Alabama and then to Texas.

My tree of Pickens goes from


                                                                                    Patricia Ann

                                                                                  Hershel Harvey

                                                                                  Harvey Hershel

                                                                                   James Harvey

                                                                                       Harvey H

                                                                                      William H




                                                                                 Robert Andrew

                                                                                  Andrew Picon

My dad….

Hershel Pickens Air Force Collage

Daddy and me Christmas 2011




My great-uncle Theodore Jeffers McCall, was an accomplished man. He did have a daring side though..

Barnstormer turned manager

Plant City fondly recalls adventurer Theo McCall

This is a story taken from the local paper in Plant City Florida.

PLANT CITY – The thrill of barnstorming was just a wing tip away for the late Theo McCall.

The young man, who later would manage Plant CIty for nearly 27 years, was looking for adventure.He had attended local schools, worked as a plumber with an uncle in Miami and in the Plant City Fire Department. But, hey, when you’re 24, that’s just a little too tame.So in 1929, McCall sold his roadster and decided to gn barnstorming with his pilot friend, Clarence McArthur.The two bought a World War I “Jenny” and instantly attracted a paying crowd at the Coronet runway. Located in a bumpy cow pasture off Coronet Road southeast of the city, the little airstrip preceded the present airport west of town.Like other barnstormer who traveled rural areas to give dramatic presentations, McCall and his friend sought to bring some excitement to their patrons.McCall would don helmet and goggles and, with the eyes of hundreds of men, women and children upon him, would Inch his way along the wings to a parachute packed on the underbelly of the plane.Slipping his arms into the parachute’s slings, he would pull a slip knot and, amid gasps and screams from those below, drift earthward.His descent was marked, not by smoke, but by a trail of plain cooking flour flowing steadily from a paper hag. Once, when McCall jumped at a Moultrie, Ga., airstrip, the wind was blowing in the wrong direction. He was covered with flour when his feet touched the ground.A woman rushed up to him and exclaimed, “My God, son, are you hurt?” He wasn’t. And he figured each jump was well worth the $25 he received. McCall later would say that collecting that amount. even during hard times, was like gathering golden eggs in a basket.Pilot MacArthur didn’t do too badly, either. He got about $2.50 a person for those brave enough to take a joy ride in the plane.



PLANT CITY’S T.]. MCCALL WAS A MAN OF MANY TALENTS By Plant City Photo Archives & History Center FOCUS Magazine June 2010

Previously we wrote about Mike E. Sansone, after whom one of the City’s recreational parks is named, who was a WWI and WWIl veteran, and who dedicated himself to programs for the community through his work with the American Legion, and to the community’s youth through service with the Boy Scouts of America.

This story is about another impressive man, Theodore Jeffers McCall, who served as Plant City’s City Manager for nearly 27 years, from January 1941 to December 1967.

Born in Ocilla, Georgia, (in Irwin County, about 20 miles northeast of Tifton), October 20, 1905, Theodore Jeffers McCall is the son of Clifford Riley McCall and Maud Jeffers McCall. Clifford was a blacksmith, and in 1913 moved his family to Plant City and established what was to be the last blacksmith shop in Plant City; it was located on Pennsylvania Avenue between Baker and Reynolds Streets.

According to the Bruton and Bailey book on the history of Plant City, Clifford Riley McCall would ride his bicycle to the Methodist Church on Reynolds Street with daughter Mamie on the crossbar and his small son seated behind. They rode from the Sanders farm on Alexander Street, where they lived, east on Haines Street to the church.

Theodore McCall attended local schools, graduating from Plant City High School about 1923. Some of his friends knew him as “Theo”, some called him “Mac”, while others simply knew him as “TJ.” After high school, young Theo left Plant City to work in Texas and also worked as a plumber with his uncle in Miami. Returning to Plant City in 1926 he signed on with the Fire Department as a “fire laddie”, a colloquial reference to the brave young volunteer firemen from the early years.

With the economic collapse of late 1929, McCall and MacArthur decided to end their barnstorming, and Theo McCall returned to Plant City. He joined the Police Department as a motorcycle policeman. He reconnected to many old friends, including school mate Odessa Geer, older sister to Quintilla Geer. Quintilla Geer married classmate James Bruton in 1932, and Odessa Geer and Theo McCall were married in 1933.

McCall’s professional career with the city continued to consume him. He was appointed superintendent of the streets department and later superintendent of the combined sanitation department and jail. In 1939 he was appointed Chief of Police. During this time he was also an active member of the Olin Wright Masonic Lodge, then located on Evers Street at Mahoney,just behind the City Hall, and he was also a member of the Egypt Temple (Shriners). He and Odessa had two sons – James Clifford McCall born in late 1934, and Charles Raymond McCall born in 1937.

The City of Plant City at that time did not have City Manager-Commission form of government, and a city commissioner functioned as city manager with no additional compensation. In 1939 Alvin Hinson held this position and McCall was appointed to serve as Hinson’s assistant. By January 1941 this changed and the city commission appointed Theodore Jeffers McCall to the full-time post of City Manager. The city budget was approximately $150,000, and the population was just under 5,000.

At that time the City Hall was at the corner of Collins and Mahoney and housed almost all of the municipal services – including police and fire departments, and housed a court room on the second floor. There was a separate “lockup” and a small water department. Theo McCall was dedicated to his work for the city and its people; he knew the workings of every department and thought nothing of working side-by-side with other city employees – whether in a ditch or at a desk. He was a hands-on guy. You would see him everywhere, with his signature straw hat, and usually a coat and tie. His schedule was full and city staff and city residents knew they could call him at any time – and they did.

McCall worked for nearly 27 years as City Manager, retiring in December 1967. During that time the city grew from a population of about 5,090 to 17,000, it doubled in square miles, constructed more than 60 miles of paved streets and miles of sidewalks. The city saw growth with numerous buildings and businesses, with the formation of the Industrial Expansion Committee of 100, organized to bring in light industry; they also solicited the Hillsborough Aviation Authority for land for an industrial park, and they began construction of the .$1.6 million industrial waste-treatment plant. McCall also drew the floor plans for the new City Hall at Wheeler and Mahoney, and the floor plans for the two new recreation centers, which are now the Planteen and the MLK Rec Center.

In 1954 the Jaycees presented McCall with their Good Government Award, only the second they had presented. He has received recognition for his years of service from the International City Managers Association and the Florida City Managers Association. The Suncoast Girl Scout Council honored McCall for his assistance in securing their permanent location at Mike Sansone Park.

In November 1967, at the announcement of his retirement plans, the Plant City Courier editorial said this of Mac McCall:

“McCall stood by ready to help. He is that kind of man – kind, considerate, helpful, fair, and just. Above all he toiled, worked, and planned for the good of Plant City. “

On June 2, 1971, the city commission dedicated a park in the middle of the downtown business district to “Mr. Plant City”. McCall Park was expanded, made over and rededicated in 1998. It is the center of much of the downtown activities in Plant City. Theodore Jeffers McCall left this life on June 20, 1980, and is buried at Oaklawn Cemetery in his beloved Plant City. Odessa Geer McCall, June 8, 1906 – April 15, 1990, rests adjacent to Theodore.

Sources: Quintilla Geer Bruton and David E. Bailey, Jr., Plant City; Its Origin and History, Hunter Publishing Company, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 1984. The Tampa Tribune, Panky Glamsch, 1961, Panky Snow,

12/26/1994, The Tampa Times, 10/2511966, The Courier, 10/27/1966, Plant City Photo Archives “Oral History Project” 2009, Edith McCall Fountain, and Plant City Photo Archives & History Center photographic collections.


I have been searching…….

for that elusive bit of genealogy that would make my family interesting. Did I have Patriots in my family? Yes, several, and have seen the grave of one ( Alexander Ewing ) of them in Pennsylvania. Did I have plantation owners? Yes, and would love to visit the lands of these former plantations. Were there notable men and women? Indeed, in several states, from South Carolina to Alabama. Perhaps, more I have yet to discover.

But, where is the dirt? I have found little. One usually strives to keep those things covered. I have only found one record of any scandal. A great-uncle that was connected to The Ku Klux Klan, proud of that I am not. Yet, in the mid 19th century and into the mid 20th century, this was common. He lived in Texas, and when his obit was posted, it stated that he had ” the ceremonies of the Ku Klux Klan”. What kind of ceremonies could they dispense at a funeral? That particular side of the family were not slave owners, nor did they ever have enough land that they would have owned a plantation. I guess he just believed the way he did for his own reasons.

I have an interesting story my great-aunt Edith told me of Henry Ford visiting her father’s blacksmith shop in Plant City. Offering him a job metal working for the trucks he was building.. This would have been somewhere in 1920’s. Clifford McCall and family moved there between 1915-1920. So, the time works out right. My great-grandfather owned a blacksmith shop and made tools, knives for friends and yard implements.

So where are the moonshiners, stories of indiscretion, felons and ne’er do wells? I will keep searching for that skeleton someone has harbored away to be found when all is forgotten.




Sullivan in my family comes from my paternal grandfather’s side. My great grandmother Alice Davidson was the daughter of Mary Lumia Sullivan. Granddaughter of Dunklin Sullivan the senator. I see the names Dunklin and Lumia ( Lumley ) carried through the family quite a bit. The family came from South Carolina, to Alabama and then to Texas.


Hewlett Sullivan

My 5th great grandfather
Birth 28 Dec 1763 in , Charlotte, Virginia, USA
Death 11 Jul 1830 in Dunklin, Greenville, South Carolina, USA

Hewlett Sullivan

Hewlett Sullivan’s son was Dunklin Sullivan.

Birth 27 Feb 1791 in , Greenville, South Carolina, USA
Death 1 Dec 1837 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA
Dunklin SullivanSOURCE: pages, W. Stuart Harris “Heritage of Perry County”, 1991.p31- “Dunklin Sullivan, Perry County’s first state senator, was born in Greenville District, South Carolina, on February 27, 1791. As a child, he moved to Tennessee, where he received a good eduction for that period of time, and began the study of law.
“He moved to Cahawba in 1819, where he practiced law, but moved to Marion early in 1822, where he married Polly Maybry [sic]* on February 3 of that year.
“He served in several public offices – probate judge, senator, and representative.
“He died in Tuscaloosa, while attending a session of the Alabama Legislature, on December 1, 1837.
*fn91- Marriage Book A; Owen IV, p1637 states that Mary Mayberry [sic] was the bride, and that this marriage took place in Centreville, Bibb County. [end Harris quotes]


Built by George Washington Sullivan, son of Hewlett Sullivan and Mary Charlton. The plantation was built in 1847, Laurens county South Carolina. It was uncommon to have a brick home at that time in the location which he chose.

George and Jane were wealthy land owners by 1850 while living in Laurens South Carolina. In 1850 their net worth was $7000 and they owned close to 50 slaves.


How often do you have that one person, that left the family?

I have two. Both, are great grandparents. Neither, to my knowledge, were ever discussed. 

The first…..James Harvey Pickens. Born Aug 13, 1876, died 1934. He is buried with his parents, along with his sister. I find a Jim Pickens in the 1930 census, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He died in Oklahoma.  Is this a coincidence? He is listed as a widower. Not true, because, his wife and three children are now in Florida, in the 1930 census. He had several different jobs, 1900, farm laborer, 1910 furniture store clerk and 1920 laborer, public work. Now, he has a skill in 1930, he is a bricklayer. He left the family when my grandfather was a teen. My grandfather was left to be the man of the house, quit college and raise his siblings. This would have been between 1920 and 1928 by my estimation. My grandfather was born in 1901, his brother , the youngest of three children, in 1917. Whether he left due to hard times, lack of work, a roving eye, no one knows, or ever will.

Here is a family photo, before my great-uncle James Vance Pickens was born.


My other branch, is what started it all. By asking one question of my grandmother, I started an interest that would not stop.

Maude Virginia Jeffers, was my grandmother’s mom. She barely knew her. She was 3 years old when her father Clifford Riley McCall moved her and brother Theo to Plant City. Other family was already there, so I guess this was a comfort. His sister, Annie ( Lena ) Clyde married Charles Addison Gunn, her sister , Mary Alva, married his brother. The Gunns and McCalls were connected!!

Well, Mamie , my grandmother was now in Plant City with dad and brother. Her father remarried a few years later. In 1928, Maude Virginia Jeffers, was now ill. Imagine, not being around your mother all that time, now you are going to the funeral. As a young woman, having just graduated high school.

The telegram that was sent to my uncle Theo J McCall. My grandmother told me they drove two days to get to South Carolina. It is believed Maude married Lee Woodall. I still can not locate exactly where she is buried, even though I have the death record of her burial. It is an old cemetery in Greenville, South Carolina.

Great Grandmother Maude Jeffers McCall

It is difficult to surmise what may have happened in this story too. She died very young, only 43 years old.

Going Backwards

In order to trace your family tree, you have to go backwards. Start at yourself, then to your parents, and if you are fortunate enough to have grandparents, start with them. The grandparents will be aware more times that not, about their grandparents. These would be your great great  grandparents. This is easy enough by asking questions such as names. What was your mother’s maiden name. Where did your parents or grandparents meet? Which state were they born? Simple questions, yes, but, very important in establishing a starting point.

My first question was a simple one, I asked my grandmother what her mothers name was. She told me ” Maude Jeffers” . I never forgot it. At the time I was about 13 or 14 years of age. When I wanted to know about my family, I remembered back to that question. I had my starting point!!

My grandmother had given me my beginning. I had a name, a state where they lived in early childhood, a story about the death of her mother, and lots of questions about what happened to her mother at such a young age. I knew some information about my great grandfather Clifford R McCall. I knew he was a blacksmith while living in Plant City Florida. I knew he remarried, because Nana had a half sister. This would be Edith McCall Fountain. I knew little more than that. I started researching census records in Georgia. I had a book I bought in Plant City, that was written in part by Quintilla Geer Bruton, sister in law to Theo J McCall. It told a story of Clifford McCall and his workshop, the Sanders farm where they boarded and from Aunt Edith a story of Henry Ford paying my great grandfather a visit.

Clifford McCall met Maude Virginia Jeffers in Georgia, in a small town Ocilla. The  McCalls had come from Webster county somewhere in between 1900 and 1910. The Jeffers family had moved from Wilcox county which was neighboring Irwin. Maude’s father was Joseph U . Jeffers and mother was Lilla Boone. The only real story I have is from my grandmother, telling me her mother died very young of a brain tumor. The funeral card says it was pneumonia. I also know that Maude remarried Lee Woodall, that part is a mystery. They lived in South Carolina where she died in 1928. I have yet to find her headstone in the cemetery there.

Maude Virginia Jeffers

Clifford Riley McCall

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