Zach Davis McWhorter

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ZD McWhorter 1897 - Click on the front or back for a larger view.

  This link is to the a web page at Cox-Brothers.ORG that has some grand stories about our ancestors.

  The paragraphs below are lifted from the McWhorter Story called "The Square and the Compass"  John N. Cox put these stories together.


My great-great-grandfather, Abbott Milton McWhorter was a physician in the small town of Gaylesville, Alabama, about fifty miles south of Chattanooga, TN, during the latter half of the 19th Century. He had been born in Carroll Co., GA on May 11, 1828. On July 13, 1851, he married his childhood sweetheart, Mahala Jane Davis. Mahala Jane was the daughter of Jesse Davis, who was Jefferson Davisís cousin. Her mother, Mahala Harris, was a full-blooded Indian. She named her daughter Mahala, her tribeís word for powerful woman, to remind her daughter of her heritage. (SEE NOTE BELOW)

After serving as the postmaster of Villa Rica, Carroll Co., GA, Abbott Milton attended Atlanta Medical School and graduated in 1857. With his wife and children, Abbott then relocated to Gaylesville. On March 9, 1862, Abbott Milton and Mahala Jane had their fifth child and third son, Zach Davis McWhorter.

When Mahala Jane was pregnant with Zach Davis McWhorter, she wrote her fatherís cousin, Jefferson Davis, asking his permission to name her child after him if he was a boy. Jefferson Davis wrote back agreeing to her request, but reminding Mahala Jane that his first wife, Knox Taylor, was the daughter of Zachary Taylor. Because Knox died after less than three months of marriage, they never had any children. Jefferson Davis indicated that if his first wife had lived long enough to bear a male child, they would have named him Zachary Taylor Davis. Jefferson then requested that Mahala Jane name her yet to be born child after Zachary Taylor rather than himself. Of course, when the child was born and it was a boy, Abbott and Mahala Jane acceded to Jefferson Davisí request named him Zach Davis McWhorter.

Included with the letter that transmitted Jefferson Davisí response to his cousinís request, was a gift for the expectant mother: an 1854 U.S. three dollar gold piece. Mahala Jane converted this gold piece into a pin, which she wore with pride for the rest of her life.

NOTE: We have been informed by our cousin, Dora Jean Rattray Hill, that this may not be entirely correct. Her records indicate that Mahala Harrisí parents were Augustine Harris (1765 -1803) and Lucy Haynie (1768 - 5/23/1852). Her records further indicate that Augustine Harrisí parents were Stephen Harris and an unknown woman. She reports that it was always a family story that when Lucy Haynie married Augustine Harris, her parents, John Haynie (12/31/1745-1820) and Mary Saunders (1744 - abt. 1790) never spoke to her again, perhaps because she had married a man who was half-Indian. Under this explanation for how the name Mahala came into our family, Mahala Jane Davis was named for her mother, Mahala Harris, who was in turn named for her Indian grandmother, Mahala, who was the previously unknown wife of Stephen Harris and mother of Augustine Harris. While my version the story is simpler, Cousin Dora Jeanís version is imminently more plausible and the only real response I can offer her is to paraphrase the words of Giles Martin found elsewhere in this collection, ďAnother perfectly good story ruined by a damned genealogist.Ē

NOTE: About the name.  My father Zach Davis Cox was named after his maternal grand father Z. D. McWhorter.  Dad told me that his mother Winnie Eugenia McWhorter Cox gave him the name Zachary Davis McWhorter Cox after his grandfather.  The name Zachary was shortened to Zach by Z. D. McWhorter.  An alternate spelling of this name is Zack (with a 'k').  When I go through the documents in my wallet I find that some are spelled with an 'h' and others with a 'k'.  When I joined the US Navy in 1965 there were of course many pages of paperwork to be signed and I recall being asked to look them over and make sure all the information was correct, I said everything was correct except that I spelled my name with an 'h' not a 'k'.  The fellow who asked me to check the papers then asked:  "Have you ever signed a legally binding document before?".  When I said no he said, "Well your name is now spelled with a 'k'!".  (ZDC-JR).

NOTE: About the gold piece.  In the original story, John wrote above, the gold piece was identified as two and a half dollar gold piece, but as you can see it is actually a three dollar gold piece.

This Page Last Update Wednesday, November 15, 2006 20:56:31 -0500