Family Directory

Reunion 2011
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The Making of a Family
            Christopher Columbus was born a Bess in Wilmington, North Carolina, to Amelia Bess on April 15, 1874. He was a small frame man with fair skin (tan in color) and black hair that felt like corn silk. He was mild mannered and always smiling. His father was white (name unknown). Christopher and his brothers, Henry and James, moved in with their sister, Ellen Bess Philyaw, and her husband after their mother’s death. Christopher and his brothers changed their names from Bess to Philyaw after coming to live with their sister.
            Christopher left home at the age of sixteen. He worked in a saw mill in North Carolina. When the saw mill moved, he moved with it to Cobb Town, Georgia. Christopher began to farm and farmed until he became elderly. Christopher was known as a Christian man wherever he went. He was a Sunday School Superintendent for 25 years in Cobb Town, Georgia. He moved to Treutlen County and joined Outlaw Grove Baptist Church, where he served as a deacon and chairman of the church most of the time. He would go to different counties and setup lodges for the Good Samaritan Lodge. Christopher also was a Mason of Prince Hall in Soperton, Georgia.
            Christopher was married four times. He was the biological father of six children and adopted and fostered twenty children. Christopher’s first wife was Maggie Halland of Cobb Town, Georgia. To this union, one daughter was born, Estella Philyaw Woods. His second wife was Ophelia Canady of Cobb Town, Georgia. To this union, one daughter was born, Ida Philyaw Baker. His third wife was Isabelle Jones of Cobb Town, Georgia. To this union, four children were born: Annie Ophelia Philyaw Gillis Greene, David Philyaw, Fannie Philyaw Walker, and Elmer Dell Philyaw Collins. Isabelle caught pneumonia after the birth of her last child. Their house caught afire, and it was raining. Isabelle died when the child was two weeks old. His first and third wives were cousins. His fourth wife was named Lizzie Harnett Pullen Philyaw, born May 15, 1886, in Wrightsville, Georgia. To this union, twenty adopted and fostered children were raised. Even though Lizzie was not biological mother of any children, her life was mothering. If anyone heard of a child or children without parents, they would say, “Take them to Mrs. Philyaw.” Mrs. Philyaw never turned any child away.




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