James Harvey Pride and Son Dr. William T., A Vintage Vignette

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James Harvey Pride and Son Dr. William T.
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin


There is a large and impressive house owned and occupied by Chuck Bashore today that sits at the end of a private drive off the eastern end of Martin Street behind a gated entrance. The house was built in 1911 by Dr. William Thomas Pride and his wife, Mary Fletcher. Their marriage is mentioned in a book about Dr. Richard Matthew Fletcher, written by his daughter Octavia in the early 1900s. Octavia’s sister, Mary, wife of Dr. William T. Pride, was known to the family as “Tee”. In the census records of 1910 and 1920, Tee is shown as Mary G. Pride, born 1875, whereas William T. Pride was born about 1865. Their firstborn son was listed in 1910 as James W. Pride (age two), but in 1920 he was listed as Wilsey J. Pride (age twelve).

Dr. Pride was one of six children of James Harvey Pride and his wife, Amanda Butler. His sister Emma was the first wife of Madison County Commissioner James A. Watkins. Their father James Harvey Pride was seized by the Union forces along with Dr. Fletcher and Edward Betts following a battle in the town on May 17, 1864. They were taken as presumed spies, to be hanged for supposedly guiding the Confederate forces to eliminate the Union sentries, but a more reasonable Union officer intervened after a time, and the men were released unharmed.

Some accounts state that the parents of James were Wilsey and Rebecca Gray Love Pride. However, Wilsey’s will of 1848 was entered into probate in 1849. The will listed as heirs Wilsey’s widow, Rebecca, and seven children. Specifically named were Mary Jane, Alexander, and Martha as children of Rebecca. The list of heirs also named children by his first wife, who was Eleanor Gray. These children were William, James H., Burton, and Margaret (born 1818, married to John Maxwell). Eleanor was a daughter of William and Eleanor Wardrobe Gray, and she married Wilsey Pride in 1805, whereas Rebecca Love married Wilsey in 1839 in Limestone County. Family trees posted on Ancestry.com show that Wilsey was born in 1783, a son of Burton Pride and Sarah Bizwell. Burton Pride was a son of Thomas Pride, whose ancestry was shown back to the 1600s in Virginia and England, including intermarriages with the Burtons and Fowlers, surnames found as pioneers of Redstone Arsenal lands as well as the immediate Madison area.

James Harvey Pride’s brother, William G. Pride, married Ellen Jane Gray. In the 1850 census of Monroe County, Mississippi, the family of William G. Pride included Nancy Gray, age sixty-five, born in Virginia, so the Pride and Gray families of Madison remained closely connected through the years. James’ son Walter married Katie Garner, and James’ son Wilsey married Katie Mason.

Wilsey fathered another James Harvey Pride, who was born in 1877 and died by 1935. This younger J. H. Pride, grandson of the senior and nephew of Dr. William Pride, was a partner in the firms of Pride & Bradford (drugstore) and Pride & Carter (general store) in Madison, according to the 1905 Alabama Mercantile Book.' He became an attorney, according to the 1929 Alabama Blue Book and Social Register. This nephew of Dr. William Pride married Sallie LeRoy Betts, daughter of Judge Tancred Betts, whose father was Edward Betts of Madison.

Interconnections of the Pride, Fletcher, Maxwell, Betts, Mason, Garner, and Gray families of the Madison area led to some interesting interactions. For example, Amanda Pride, widow of the senior James Harvey Pride and mother of Dr. William T. Pride, had to go to court in Madison County to establish the right to inherit and sell the lands of her deceased husband. Her case was adjudicated by Judge Tancred Betts, a relative. The Pride family history is interwoven with that of Madison, Huntsville, and other locations across the country.

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