Black History Honorees
Cynthia Stubblefield Walker
and granddaughter of
Janie Marie Westmoreland Stubblefield
By Cynthia Stubblefield Walker – daughter of Tobias Stubblefield and grand-daughter of Janie Marie Westmoreland Stubblefield
There are many things to love about history. One important fact about history is that it tells a story. something to be We look at it through our rearview mirrors to learn from and move forward. I honestly admire my ancestors who suffered so much at the hands of their oppressors and yet persevered greatly.
Tobias “Tobe” Iverson and Nancy Jane (Cavil Spiller) Westmoreland
Tobias “Tobe” Iverson Westmoreland was born a slave around 1833 somewhere in South Carolina. His mother was possibly, a woman named Eliza Westmoreland. According to the information Tobe gives on his 1867 Voter's registration, they were brought to Danville, Texas, around 1850. Although Tobe takes the name of Tobias Westmoreland, it is not known who brought him to Danville, Texas. After emancipation, Tobe remained in Danville, Texas, and worked as he did in slavery as a blacksmith and a farmer. Because of the skills he learned in slavery including the ability to read, he was able to preserver.
In 1868,Tobe first purchased a parcel of land for $350.00 cash, in Danville, Texas. This included his blacksmith shop. In 1870 he moved to Willis, Texas, and purchased a lot facing Waverly Street. Here he built his home and operated his blacksmith shop as well. According to family stories, Tobe purchased or helped purchase the original Colored Cemetery (later renamed Rose Haven Cemetery) shortly after locating to Willis, Texas. Unfortunately, he was only 45 when he dies in 1878 having experienced freedom for a mere thirteen years. His burial place is in the original portion of the Rose Haven Cemetery in Willis, Texas.
Nancy Jane Cavil (Spiller) Westmoreland, Tobe’s wife, was born in 1841 to slave Jane Cavil Spiller, who was born in 1825, in Virginia. Although Nancy was brought to Danville, Texas, by her owner Preston Spiller, who inherited her in 1830 from his father, George Spiller, she was a slave in the Spiller household in Old Waverly, Texas.
According to the 1870 census, Tobe had three children prior to his union with Nancy. Their names were Hannah Westmoreland born 1857, John Westmoreland born in 1859, and William Westmoreland born in 1861. After his union with Nancy, a fourth child, Mary Adeline Westmoreland, was born in 1874, and lived with her aunt Patsy Henry. Everyone else lived with Tobe and Nancy in Danville.
The union between Tobe and Nancy bore five known children, John Bell Hood, born in 1865, Charles Herndon born in 1867, Mariah Janie born in 1869, Benjamin “Ben” born in 1873, and Tobias “Tobe” Verland Iverson Westmoreland, born in 1875.
Nancy Jane Cavil (Spiller) Westmoreland was born in Virginia. My grandmother, Janie Marie Westmoreland Stubblefield, knew she was related to the family that brought her to Texas. Thanks to Ancestry DNA profiles, we now know which of the Spiller brother’s likely father her and her siblings. Her siblings were Margaret born in 1837, while Jane was only twelve years old; James and Alexander born in 1842; Emely born in 1843 (not fathered by a white person); and William born in 1844.
Nancy’s mother’s story is not unique. As we all know, slaves did not have rights and although Jane was under twelve at the time of her initial rape, it did not stop there as evident by all the children she bore at the hand of her oppressor. Although this behavior was legal and common, what a person did to their slaves, be it rape, molested, and in Jane’s case suffer at the hands of a pedophile, it is amazing how other slave holders tolerated and justified this as acceptable treatment for one’s property. The unfortunate fact is many felt as though my ancestors did not comprehend what was happening to them or their children. Preston Spiller owned Jane, but he did not father her children. That deviant behavior, according to Ancestry DNA, was left to his brother, J.M. Spiller. However, that does not give Jane’s owner a pass, because he had to be aware of what was happening.
Until Tobe's death, Nancy was a homemaker. After Tobe’s death, Nancy and her daughter, Mariah Jane, worked as domestic servants in Galveston, Texas at the home of John Hibbert. Nancy died in 1890 at the age of 49 and is buried in Willis, Texas, in the Westmoreland family plot in the original neglected section of Rose Haven Cemetery.
One of Nancy Cavil Spiller's sisters, Margaret, married Ben Holland. Her brother named James “Jim” Spiller later changes his name to James “Jim” Cavil. William is taken to Mississippi during slavery and remains there afterward.
After their father's death, it is not clear what happens to Tobe’s children born prior to his union with Nancy, however Nancy’s children, Ben and Tobe lived with their aunt Ella (Emely) and Lucius Deary in Willis, Texas for short time before Ben dies and Tobe is taken to Hearn, Texas with is sister Mariah. J.B. Hood lived with his uncle Jim Cavil, and it is not known where Charlie lived. Adeline lives with an uncle in Jasper, Texas.
John Bell Hood Westmoreland became a very successful master carpenter in Houston, Texas. Charles Herndon Westmoreland first became certified to teach school for the state of Texas in Bastrop in 1895. He went on the graduated from Illinois Medical College in Chicago in 1903. He became certified to practice medicine in Oklahoma in 1908 and was awarded his certificate to practice medicine in the state of Texas by the State Board of Medical Examiner in 1914. He traveled extensively practicing medicine throughout Texas. Mariah Jane Westmoreland Blakely became a schoolteacher. She taught in Hearn, Texas, and Little Rock, Arkansas, before settling in Chicago in the 1930’s during, “The Great Migration to The North”. Tobe Westmoreland remained in Willis, Texas, where he married and raised his family on a farm of nearly 200 acres.
“Tobe” Verland Iverson and Ruth Ann Anderson (Culpepper) Westmoreland
Tobias “Tobe” Verland Iverson Westmoreland born in 1875 in Willis, Texas. His parents were Tobias “Tobe” Iverson and Nancy Jane ( Cavil Spiller) Westmoreland. His father died when he was four years old. Tobe lived with an Aunt Ella Deary. After his mother died in 1890, Tobe goes to live with another family member, according to his sister Mariah Janie (later nicknamed Big Aunt Janie) who did not treat him kindly. He was often made to eat after that family had finished and never allowed to sit at their family table. Because of this harsh treatment, his sister Mariah came and took him to Hearn, Texas where she lived and worked. Tobe finished school in Hearn, Texas.
On March 13, 1904, Tobe married Ruth Ann Anderson (Culpepper). Tobe had been a hard worker all his life. He and Ruth owned a café in Willis that served fried fish, sweet potato pies, among other items. He was a barber who sold syrup made from sugar cane as well as fruit and vegetables raised on his farm of nearly 200 acres. One of Tobe’s nephews, John Watson Williams, describes seeing his uncle coming to their house to see his sister, John’s mother, Adeline Westmoreland Williams, in a wagon. He was selling all sorts of fruits and vegetables, including watermelon, corn, and tomatoes. John also spoke of his mother, Adeline, walking the five or so miles through the woods to see her brother Tobe when she was well into her 80s.
Ruth Ann Anderson Culpepper Westmoreland finished school in Willis, Texas, before completing her education at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas.
Tobe and Ruth had fourteen children, but only nine would grow to adults. The children that become adults are Verland Hood, Janie Marie, twins Lincile Rebecca “Fat”, and Leslie Janice “Bee-Bee”, Emmie Mae, Charles Tobe, twins Johnnie and Jessie, and Roggie Ruth.
Verland Hood married Lucy Ann Pollard in 1932. They had one son, Verland “Bobby” Westmoreland, Jr. Verland Sr. became a successful carpenter. Bobby owned his own pulpwood transportation company. Lucy Ann Pollard came from a long list of educators and was well an educator herself before owning her own café in Willis.
Janie Marie Westmoreland marries Young Elijah Stubblefield from Point Blank, Texas in 1929. As a young girl, Janie moved to Chicago, Illinois to attend school with her aunt, Mariah Jane Westmoreland Blakely. By the age of 16 she had completed school in Chicago and returned home to teach in Willis. Shortly thereafter, she attended Wiley College in Marshall, where she graduated. She later graduated from Texas Colored University, later renamed Texas Southern University, in Houston, Texas. Janie taught for many years in Montgomery County and has a school named in her honor in her hometown of Willis, Texas. Stubblefield Alternative School on Philpot street. Janie and Young were blessed with five sons: Walter Earl (Delores, Emma), Tobias Eldridge (Carol J. Dotson), Ferman Emmett (Louise), Melvin Raymond (Fannie B. Bookman), and Godfrey Van. Godfrey Van succumbed to pneumonia at the age of two.
Lincile Rebecca “Bee-Bee” marries Conswheeler Tolbert in 1934, they had one son, Gilbert Dean Tolbert (Barbara Ann).
Leslie Janice “Fat”marries James Thompson, Jr. She graduated from Willis Colored High School. They had six daughters: Ruth Ann (Johnson), Sandra Faye (Alonzo Crittendon), Nancy Jane (Donald Jackson), Rita Ella (Richard Woodley, Young), with Gwendolyn and Lincile (DeWayne Martin) remaining.
Emmie Mae Williams marries Orlando Williams. Emmie Mae owned Mae’s Beauty Parlor in Willis for many years. Her children are Orlando Williams, II and Jacqueline Williams.
Charles “Tobe” Westmoreland marries Rose Johnson, the daughter of Chester Johnson.
They have six sons, Charles Tobe, Jr (Helena, Arthur (Betty), Adrian(Ann), Chandler Don (Stephanie), Henry (Anita), and Anthony (Stacy).
The twins Johnnie and Jessie Westmoreland lost their sight at six due to a degenerative eye disease. They were never married.
Roggie Ruth marries Henry Hightower in 1946. Roggie Ruth owned a beauty parlor for many years in La Marque, Texas. They have one daughter, Jennifer.
Tobias Eldridge Stubblefield marries Carol J. Dotson in 1957. They had four children, Tobias E. Stubblefield, Jr. (Sue NeSmith), Sherran D. Stubblefield, Cynthia Stubblefield Walker (Darcell) and Charles “Tony” Stubblefield (Tammy Walker).