Dr. Isaac Fox Deloney, A Vintage Vignette

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Dr. Isaac Fox Deloney
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
May 26, 2010

Deloney Street is a mostly forgotten name in Madison. The street was named for Dr. Isaac Fox Deloney. Today it is known as Arnett Street, the name was probably changed about a hundred years ago, sometime after Dr. Deloney moved to Ednaville, Texas, in 1885. However, before he moved, Deloney had several significant impacts on the town. For example, in 1873 he sold Lot 33 to the Methodist Church now on Church Street for $5. That church became the center of activities in the town for decades afterward.

Isaac's parents were Edward Brodnax Walker Deloney and Margaret Bonner Fox. The family lived in the New Hope area when Isaac was born in 1830. In the 1840 census they lived in Lawrence County. In the 1850 census the family was in Franklin County, Alabama, under the surname “Delona.” Postings on Ancestry.com indicate that Isaac had three sisters and seven brothers. Yet, he apparently never married nor had children of his own. The Ancestry data shows that Deloney, similar to most of us, was related to a number of U. S. Presidents and First Ladies, as well as famous actors, authors, and outlaws. Deloney roots have been traced back to English and French kings and nobles. These include English king William the Conqueror, born in 1024 in Normandy, France, a full twenty-nine generations back from Isaac.

In the census of Madison County in 1870, Isaac Deloney was listed as being a cotton broker, yet he was known to have been a physician before 1857. In that year he treated pioneer Abraham Beadle, his wife, his mother-in-law, and his slaves. Beadle's probate records show that Deloney made six visits to Beadle's house in 1857 (the year Beadle died), and for those visits plus the medications Deloney charged the estate $9.00. Deloney was a graduate of Tulane University, his specialty given as “allopath.” The 1880 census lists Deloney as a physician living in the home of Lawson and Celeste Comer Clay. Lawson was the youngest son of Governor Clement Comer Clay and his wife Susannah Claiborne Withers, both of whom lived in the Madison area in their early lifetimes, before their marriage. The 1900 census records show Isaac Deloney living in Newburg, Franklin County, Alabama. Before his death at Leighton in 1923, the census of 1920 listed Deloney in Tuscumbia, living alone at age 89. He was shown as “single” in every census and according to Ancestry.com postings.

The records of Dr. Deloney's life here include 1867 Chancery Court Case 689, which detailed a complaint against Deloney and Ferdinand L. Hammond, who became a Probate Court judge. After being summoned, both men failed to appear in court on the appointed day. Therefore the court decided against them in favor of Robert S. Spragins and William Weeden. While living in Madison, Dr. Deloney purchased considerable land and many town lots. These holdings included original town lots 6, 40, and 42 plus 41 acres northwest of the town's historic district. Deloney obtained these parcels by public auction held at the courthouse in 1868 to liquidate the estate of James Clemens, Founder of Madison. Clemens died in 1860, after beginning to sell town lots here in 1857. His son and executor (U. S. Senator Jeremiah Clemens) died in 1865, and the Clemens estate was probated for years afterward to settle with creditors and to equitably distribute the assets among many inheritors.

As one of his final Madison involvements, Dr. Deloney came back to this county in 1902 to testify about Bettie Turner's will that had been entrusted to him in 1879 for safekeeping. He lost it during his moves, but a draft of the will was presented for probate by Annie Wiggins Sanders. Sanders was a niece of William Dunn, Madison's first railroad depot agent and a physician. Bettie Turner was a Black servant of Dr. Dunn for years. Dunn had given Turner a house and Lot 23 at Front Street's intersection with Sullivan Street. When Turner died with no known heirs, the draft will (witnessed by Dr.'s Dunn, Harris, and Deloney) became the controlling instrument to pass the property back into Dunn's family.

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