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The Berry Family of Augusta, AR

Successful Merchants for 126 Years

by Gary Telford

The Berry Family in Augusta
This photo of the Berry family was taken in the 1930's in front of the Conner and Lottie Stacy home at 4th and Mulberry in Augusta. Pictured are
(front, from left) William Chrisman Berry, Hazel Berry, Permelia Berry, W.C. Berry, Jr., Luther Berry, Zada Berry Grogan,
(center row) Christine Berry Haralson, Helen Jackson Berry, Douglas Berry, Lottie Berry Stacy, Morgan Berry, Horace Berry,
(back row) Kathryn Berry, Conner Stacy, Bob Haralson, Emily Berry, Mary Berry and Ernest Grogan.

This line of the Berry family began with; (1) John Berry born, 1700, and died before March 22, 1771 in Augusta County, Virginia. His wife is unknown. They had a son; (2) James Berry who was born in 1716 in Augusta County, Virginia and married Elizabeth Eleanor Magill, daughter of William Magill. They were married 1737 in Augusta County, Virginia. James died before November 29, 1749 in Ft. Vause, Augusta County, Virginia. They had a son; (3) John Berry who was born 1743 in Augusta County, Virginia and married Jane Campbell, daughter of William Campbell and Mary Byers. John died before August 17, 1786 in Washington County, Virginia. They had eight known children; (4) William B. Berry (II) Hugh, (III) Sara, (IV) Nancy, (V) John, (VI) Thomas, (VII) James, (VIII) Jane Campbell Berry.

(4) William B. Berry was born September 6, 1766 in Augusta County, Virginia and married Elizabeth Duff, daughter of Samuel and Margaret Montgomery Duff. They were the parents of ten known children; (5) Samuel Berry, (II) John, (III) Mary Knox, (IV) Ester, (V) Jane, (VI) John D., (VII) William Campbell, (VIII) Sarah "Polly". (IX) Mary "Polly", (X) Elizabeth "Betsey" Berry. William B. Berry died July 1850 in Washington County, Virginia.

(5) Samuel Berry was born 1799 in Washington County, Virginia and married Sarah Hickey, daughter of William and Rachel Martin Hickey. They were the parents of eight known children; (6) William Campbell Berry Sr., (II) Patrick Cubine, (III) John B., (IV) James Hamilton, (V) Robinson D., (VI) Carson McKise, (VII) Margaret Elizabeth, (VIII) Infant Berry. Samuel Berry died 1844-1850 in Wright County, Missouri.

(6) Major William Campbell Berry Sr. was born December 26, 1820 in Washington County, Virginia and he married Unknown. They were the parents of three known children; (7) (II)William Campbell Berry Jr.. (I) Ellen E. Berry was born August 3, 1846 and married Thomas Booker Roddy, (III) Duffey Berry, was born September 17, 1859 and died April 25, 1915 in Woodruff County, Arkansas and is buried in Augusta Memorial Park Cemetery, section B. Major William Campbell Berry Sr. was a Civil War Veteran He migrated to Forsythe, Missouri and then to Woodruff County, Arkansas. Major William Campbell Berry Sr. died April 3, 1879 in Woodruff County and is buried in Augusta Memorial Park Cemetery.

(7) The family of William Campbell Berry, Jr., came to Augusta as refugees from the carpetbaggers in Missouri. The family lived in Forsythe, MO. where Mr. Berry was born on January 1, 1856. His father, William Campbell Berry, Sr., was county clerk, but resigned to raise a cavalry unit for the Confederates during the War Between the States. He entered the service as a captain and advanced to the rank of Major.

When the Major returned to his home in Forsythe after the war, the carpetbaggers were in control and the family feared for his life. All their belongings were packed and they fled to Springfield. There the father left them and came to Arkansas alone, and the rest of the family prepared to follow him.

William Campbell Berry Jr., then nine years old, rode the lead horse, and the mother and two sisters, Ellen and Duffey, made the long and hazardous trip in a two-horse wagon and an ox cart. It took over a month to make the journey. Major Berry met the family at Chickasaw Crossing, and they settled in the same block where William C. lived at the time of his death. The Major entered the grocery business, which developed into a large furnishing enterprise.

William C. was schooled in Augusta in an old two-story building, where a man and his wife were the only teachers. He told the "Devil Gazette" that the hours were practically from daylight until dark, and "longer if you misbehaved." He told the young reporter that he remembered when the boys were bad the teacher put a bonnet on them and sent them to the schoolmaster to be "attended to." The girls who misbehaved were decked out in boys' caps and sent to the schoolmaster for lectures.

After he finished all the schooling he could obtain in Augusta, he was sent to a boys' school at Lacross, Arkansas.

He attended the University of Arkansas in the first year of its organization. It took a week to make the trip to Fayetteville. First there was a ride by boat to DeVall's Bluff then a train ride to Little Rock on the only railroad in the state. There was another boat trip from Little Rock to Van Buren, and the week's journey was completed by stagecoach from Van Buren to Fayetteville. During his young manhood, dancing was the chief form of entertainment. Some of the greatest fun was dancing on the excursion cotton boats on the White River. "They crowned queens in those days, too," he said as he proudly told of a tournament of horses which he won and so was allowed to crown the lady of his choice as queen. She was Miss Permelia Ann "Speedy" Wilkerson, whom he later married on September 28, 1879. That night he and his queen led the grand march at the ball, but only after her mother saw to it that she had complied with all the wishes of the tournament directors.

When the Gazette reporter asked him what had been the most fun in his younger days, Mr. Berry said, "Dancing in all round dances, quadrilles, or any other type. But I always had a lot of fun and I am glad I did. I still like to see a boy with a lot of life about him."

He remembered a spot which was then at the edge of town and was known as "The Gourd Field." Here gourds for the whole town were grown. Dippers were made of the smaller ones, and the larger ones became lard and soap buckets.

In 1943 only one man was still in Augusta who was there when Mr. Berry first came. He was Bill Moore, a black, three years younger than W.C., and they often met on a street corner and reminisced about long ago experiences. At that time, only four houses were still standing in Augusta which had been there when the Berrys arrived. The town had first been built on the river front, but because the banks washed so badly, the business houses were moved to what is now Second Street.

Epidemics, fires and floods all visited Augusta during his lifetime. One of the worst calamities was the yellow fever epidemic. A steamboat, The Ruth, captained by Milt Harry, came up the river from Memphis and brought the scourge to Augusta. The boat docked at Taylor's Bay for six weeks while the crew was sick and many died. It also took some citizens of the town.

William Campbell Berry Jr. entered business in Augusta about 1877. He retired, but still walked to the store, managed by his son, every day until a short time before his death on March 1, 1946 at the age of 90.

On September 28, 1879, he and his queen, Permelia Ann "Speedy" Wilkerson, were married and started housekeeping in a one-room log home, and a kitchen with a dirt floor. Later a two-story house was built on the same lot. That house burned in 1927, and the present house was built. They lived all their married life on the same lot, and the home is still in a Berry name.

Permelia Ann "Speedy" Wilkerson was born in Woodruff County October 10, 1856, the daughter of William and Matilda Kelly Wilkerson, whose other four children were Ella, Mary, Anne and Berry Wilkerson. Permelia Ann "Speedy" Wilkerson Berry died June 24, 1936, years after her marriage. William Campbell Berry Jr. died March 1, 1946. Both are buried in Augusta Memorial Park Cemetery with other members of the family.

They were the parents of ten children; (8) Morgan Berry 1892-1986 who married first Unknown and second to Ardis Ellen Werner, (II) William Crisman 1880-1958 who married Emily D., (III) Infant son, "Little Brother" 1881-1882, (IV) Douglas 1883-1972 who never married, (V) Etta 1885-1937, (VI) Luther C. 1888-1968 who married Mary J., (VII) Lottie 1889-1952 who married Conner R. Stacy, (VIII) Zada 1895-1970 who married first Ernest Grogan and second Mr. Gish, (IX) Hazel 1898-1961 who never married, (X) Horace Hamilton Berry 1900-1972 who never married.

(8) Morgan Berry of Augusta was the last one of the ten children to die on April 24, 1986 at the age of 90 years. He was a pharmacist and a druggist in Arkansas for fifty years.

There were two grandchildren of William Campbell Jr. and "Speedy" Berry left in Augusta. They were Mrs. R.J. (Christine) Haralson, now deceased, and his only grandson, (9) Morgan William Berry Sr.

For about 126 years there has been a Berry business on Second Street or other locations in Augusta. In 1968 the True Value Hardware store was owned by the grandson, Morgan William Berry, Sr.

Morgan William Berry Sr., is a very prominent and influential business man in Augusta today, who like his ancestors, is actively involved in several successful businesses in Augusta and is well worthy the respect and esteem in which he is held by all who are so fortunate to know him.

(9) (1) Morgan William Berry Sr. married Juanita Louise Brown. They are the parents of three children;
(10) (1)) Morgan William "Bill" Jr. who married Amy Gibson.
(10) (II) Malinda Ann who married Charles Jayhant and they have a son and a daughter; (11) William Jayhant and Eleanor Jayhant.
(10) (III) Kimberly Lynn who married Andrew Smith and they have a son and a daughter; (11) Andrew Smith and Mary Morgan Smith.

This is eleven generations of the Berry Family History, from 1770 to 2003, which has been researched and compiled by Gary Telford, Family Roots Genealogy Research. In talking with Morgan William "Bill" Jr., Berry and his wife Amy Gibson Berry, it is hoped that they will have one or more sons to carry on the Berry name in Augusta, Woodruff County, Arkansas for generations to come.

Published in the Woodruff County Monitor
Wednesday, August 13, 2003