Friday, November 15, 2019

Thomas Drayton Poore

The Poore Family—Thomas Drayton Poore, wife
Nancy Louise (Martin) Poore, daughter
Beulah C. Poore, older son Edron Poore, and
younger son Cary Evans Poore.
Photo shared by Jennifer Williams Colton.
The 52 Ancestors theme this week is “poor man.”

Last weekend, I looked in the family tree to see if I had anyone with the name Poor and found Beulah C. Poore. I did a little research and then remembered the theme was poor “man,” not woman. Before I changed course, I found a newspaper article about her father, Thomas Drayton Poore that piqued my interest so decided to keep it in the family. I’m glad I did! Thomas had an interesting story to tell.

Thomas Drayton Poore, son of Samuel Evans Poore and Mary Ann Bennett, was born on February 8, 1862 in the White Plains community of Anderson County, South Carolina. There were 13 children born to this family—Sarah Frances Poore, Mary Elizabeth Poore, Savilla Ann Poore, William Lander Poore, Thomas Drayton Poore, Hugh Dean Poore, Julia Elvenia Poore, Anna Dean Poore, John W. Poore, Ruth Della Poore, George Bennett Poore, Ada D. Poore, and Ida Venie Poore.

Thomas’ connection to me is a distant one in my Holland line—father-in-law of 2nd cousin 2x removed. The connection goes through my 2nd great grandfather’s (Leroy Thomas Holland) brother, Elijah Major Holland. Elijah had a daughter named Matilda Armathine Holland > Matilda’s son was James Furman Geer > James’ wife was Beulah C. Poore > Beulah’s father was Thomas Drayton Poore. We have no common relative.

On August 25, 1870, eight-year-old Thomas and his family lived in the Williamston Township of Anderson County, South Carolina. His father had real estate valued at $300 and a personal estate of $160. Thomas’ mother was keeping house. His three oldest sisters—Sarah, Mary, and Saville—were working on the farm. There was a 12-year-old black male named Elijah Owen working on the farm.

On June 22, 1880, Thomas and his family were still living in Williamston. His father was a farmer and his mother keeping house. Thomas had not attended school during that census year and was unable to read or write, along with his parents, and most of his siblings.

Thomas married Nancy Louise Martin, daughter of Jacob Calloway Martin and Margaret Louisa Ritchey on November 16, 1882. The ceremony was held at the Martin family home in Williamston and was performed by the Rev. G. M. Rogers. Thomas and Nancy had nine children—Beulah Corine Poore, Edron Gary Poore, Cary Evans Poore, Ida Dean Poore, Lula D. Poore, Furman George Poore, Thomas Kieffer Poore, Zora May Poore, and Mary Sam Poore. Thomas and Nancy lived with her parents near Williamston “for a number of years.”

The Poore family suffered a loss on April 12, 1895 when daughter Lula was born and died. Lula was laid to rest in the White Plains Baptist Church Cemetery in Anderson County, South Carolina.

Thomas and Nancy moved to Westminster in 1900, which is where the census enumerator found them on June 12, 1900. The enumerator did not list an occupation for either of them. Nancy was however, enumerated as having had eight children, seven of which were living. Thomas and Nancy had been married for 17 years at this point. Beulah, Ida, and Furman were attending school. Both Edron and Cary were attending school but were also working as farm laborers. Thomas, Nancy, Beulah, Edron, Cary, and Ida were all able to read and write. While Furman was attending school at age five, he was just learning to read and write. They became active in their community and the Westminster Baptist Church. Thomas served as a Deacon for many years.

On January 15, 1908, a joyous occasion occurred when daughter Beulah married Furman Geer, a “popular driver of the Ligon hose wagon of the fire department.”

Thomas, a farmer and real estate dealer, was well known and respected in his community. On April 11, 1908, suffering from a throat condition, he started to lose his voice. By December 18, he was unable to talk at all, not even a whisper. Thomas “had been a public speaker, and for many years had been accustomed to sing in the church, his tones being unusually strong and clear.” The doctors, unable to help Thomas, told him his voice loss was due to “a case of nervous indigestion that had been troubling him for a long time.” Thomas’ voice loss would last for three years.

By April 26, 1910, Thomas and his family had moved to the town of Westminster in the Tugaloo Township of Oconee County, South Carolina. There were five children still living at home—Ida, Furman, Thomas, Zora, and Mary. Thomas was a farmer on the home farm. Furman was a salesman in a general merchandise store.

Thomas did not let his voice loss stop him from attending church. He was a “member and officer” at the “Baptist church in Westminster.” On February 7, 1911, a Baptist missionary named Rev. S. E. Stephens, assisted by Rev. F. G. Lavender, was holding a lengthy revival service. During a prayer service, Thomas “wrote on a slip of paper a request that prayer be offered for him that God would give him grace to bear his affliction.” Prayers were offered “that it might be God’s will to restore to him his voice,” … “but if it was not for the glory of God that it be removed that their brother might be given grace to bear it to God’s glory and praise.” After the prayer service ended, the congregation of 400 people sang a hymn. To his surprise, Thomas found that he was able to sing, loud and clear, and he ran to the front of the church. He asked the congregation to sing two songs, “Nearer, My God, to Thee” and “Praise God, from Whom All Blessing Flow” and he loudly joined in the hymns.

Word spread through town and, in fact, the country, about his sudden voice restoration. Thomas’ story was reported in at least Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Michigan, Tennessee, California, Kentucky, Mississippi, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland, Colorado, and Washington, D.C. Fearing people wouldn’t believe what had happened was true, on April 2, 1911, Thomas submitted a written statement, or an “affidavit,” testifying to the events that had taken place. He wasn’t the only person to submit an affidavit. His physician, Burt Mitchell, M.D., did as well. Dr. Mitchell was well aware of Thomas’ health issues (an attack of neuralgia and the nervous indigestion) and his voice loss. Dr. Mitchell knew of the prayers offered and the voice restoration and determined that it was due to Thomas’ faith in God. Rev. Lavender, the pastor of the church, also submitted an affidavit testifying “that he was present at the service when Mr. Thomas Drayton Poore’s power of speech was returned to him; that the return followed four especial prayers offered in behalf of Mr. Poore.” Rev. Lavender felt that Thomas’ “return of voice was a direct answer to these prayers.” It was truly a miracle.

Thomas' story made the front page news in many cities  throughout the United States

In August 1911, Thomas went back to Anderson and was expected to visit White Plains Baptist Church where he would most likely talk about his experience. The Anderson Daily Mail wrote about him on August 4, 1911:
… In speaking about his health today, Mr. Poore says that he has grown stronger and heartier every day since his voice was restored. At no time since last February has he felt his voice weaken, and to-day he talks better than he did before his voice left him nearly four years ago. Mr. Poore has received a hundred or more letters from people from all sections of the United States inquiring about the miracle and asking him to vouch for the newspaper accounts. One magazine in California has published a detailed account of the restoration of his voice in answer to prayer.
Mr. Poore is 47 years of age, and is pleasantly remembered in Anderson County where he has a host of friends. He was kept busy today shaking hands with former acquaintances and receiving their congratulations. He is a man of means, having acquired considerable property, and has now retired from active business.
Family papers that were in the possession of Louise Poore Williams revealed Thomas’ thoughts on the matter, in his own words as published in the Tribune on February 7, 1914:
Three Years Ago (written by T. D. Poore), Westminster, S.C., February 7, 1914.
Mr. Editor of Tribune and Readers of Same: 
Three years ago today, in our meeting in the Baptist church, God saw fit to give my voice back to me, after special prayer was made on my behalf, and I began to sing and to talk and to give God the praise for the blessings that I have received. And I am still praising him today. 
The protracted services three years started on January 31, at night, with our then pastor, Rev. F. G. Lavender assisted by Rev. S. E. Stephens, doing the preaching. Bro. Stephens is a great preacher and has great faith of God. He is now doing a great work in China, of which I am glad. In the meeting three years ago many were drawn closer to God. Twenty-seven were added to the church by baptism. 
Today I think of the many changes that has come to us in the three years just gone—I say short, for it seems so short. Some have moved from us into other fields. Bro. Lavender, our pastor at that time, is among the number, and we hear he is doing great work. And some have stopped attending services with us that were with us then. And some have gone to their reward. Bro. C. E. O. Mitchell, who was superintendent of our Sabbath school at that time, is in this number. He enjoyed greatly being in this meeting and rejoiced when he saw me so blessed. He often spoke of this glad day, which was a great day with many. 
The day I speak of was the day before my birthday, and we were all so over-joyed that we forgot all about my birthday. So, tomorrow is my birthday, which brings me to 52. Here I stop and study for a moment. What is my greatest desire? Here it is: To see the old saved now, before they are called away. Sad, sad, to be old and in sin, and Jesus saying, Come and be saved. Lost man, won’t you come and be saved? Will you?
To honor their mother, Mary Ann Bennett Poore, the Poore family held their first family reunion at the home of Venie Poore Atkins in Sandy Springs, South Carolina in May 1914. It took all morning for the approximately 100 guests to arrive, including all but two of her children, her grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The family enjoyed a large dinner and speeches by both Thomas and S. B. Sullivan.

On January 2, 1920, Thomas and his family lived on North Maine Street in Westminster. Mary was the only child left at home. Thomas was a manager on a general farm.

By April 9, 1930, Thomas, Nancy, and Mary had moved to Simpson Street in Westminster. The census enumerator noted that Thomas was 20 and Nancy 15 when they first married. Thomas was a farmer and Mary a saleslady in a dry goods store.

On November 16, 1932, family and friends gathered at the Poore home to celebrate Thomas and Nancy’s golden anniversary—50 years of marriage. The home was decorated in a gold theme of fall flowers. A buffet dinner was served that “with a few changes was a duplicate of the one served at the wedding 50 years ago.” After dinner, guests enjoyed two wedding cakes—one an “immense heart-shaped wedding cake in three tiers, elaborately decorated and tapped with a miniature bride and groom” and a second cake “containing the traditional bridal emblems.” Guests received “small cards bearing the dates in gold and tied with gold ribbon.”

Thomas Drayton Poore and his wife Nancy Louise Martin Poore
on their 50th wedding anniversary. The Greenville News
ran a story about their anniversary celebration which included
this photo on November 27, 1932.
(Photo shared by Jennifer Williams Colton.)

Thomas’ son Kieffer died on January 26, 1934. The Louise Poore Williams family papers revealed that Kieffer “was a Baptist minister until his health began to fail him. When driving through Kewanee, Mississippi, he ran into the back of a wagon pulled by horses. Kieffer was killed instantly when the tongue of the wagon penetrated his car.” He was buried at Shorts Baptist Cemetery in Sumter County, Alabama. Another son, Furman, died on March 13, 1935. He was buried at East View Cemetery in Westminster, Oconee County, South Carolina.

By April 25, 1940, Thomas had moved once again, this time to Wins Street in Westminster. All of the children had now left home. Thomas and Nancy were enumerated as having an elementary school education with the highest-grade completed by Thomas being the sixth grade and Nancy the fifth grade. At the age of 78, Thomas was working a full 40-hour week on the farm.

Thomas’ son Edron died on March 21, 1942. He was buried at Westminster Memorial Park in Westminster. Thomas’ wife Nancy died at home in Williamston on March 15, 1944. The doctor’s handwriting on Nancy’s death certificate is very hard to read but I’m able to decipher two of the five lines listed as cause of death. One was arteriosclerosis, a “thickening, hardening, and loss of elasticity of the walls of arteries” according to Wikipedia. The other was myocardial degeneration, which means she had heart issues. Nancy was buried at East View Cemetery in Westminster, Oconee County, South Carolina on March 17. Revs. H. M. Fallaw and N. J. Stansell officiated. The family barely had time to recover from Nancy’s death when Thomas’ daughter Beulah died of chronic nephritis on May 12, 1945 at the age of 61. She was buried the next day at East View Cemetery in Westminster. And less than one year later, Thomas died at his home in Westminster at the age of 84 on April 18, 1946 of a cerebral hemorrhage due to hypertension. He was survived by one son and three daughters; two brothers and two sisters; 19 grandchildren and one great grandchild. His funeral was held on April 21 at the home of Rev. W. S. Crommer, who performed the service. Rev. Crommer was assisted by Revs. H. M. Fowler and W. M. Major. Thomas was buried at East View Cemetery in Westminster. I’ll note that Thomas’ death certificate records his death date as Thursday, April 18, however, the newspapers recorded his death date as Friday, April 19, the same date you’ll find on his tombstone.

Partial view of Thomas' death certificate showing the dates

An interesting piece of information from the Louise Poore Williams family papers revealed that “Thomas Drayton Poore dreamed that the undertaker would part his hair on the wrong side. This dream seemed to bother him and he conveyed this concern to Mary Sam Poore and Ida Dean Poore Moore Bottoms. When the daughters first viewed the body of their father, they realized that the dream had become true as their father had said it would.”

Photo by Robert Barbi, Find A Grave member 46889958

I’d like to thank Jennifer Williams Colton for sharing photos and family papers with me. They definitely helped to tell Thomas’ story.


  • “Answer Prayer—The Power of Speech Was Restored to a Man at Westminster, S.C.—Dumb for Three Years,” The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, South Carolina, April 11, 1911.
  • “Comes to Oconee for Bride,” Keowee Courier, Pickens, South Carolina, January 22, 1908.
  • “Dumb Man Cured as Friends Pray: Remarkable Case of Restored Speech Reported,” The South Bend Tribune, South Bend, Indiana, April 12, 1911.
  • “Dumb Man Sings Doxology,” The Tampa Tribune, Tampa, Florida, April 16, 1911. 
  • “Dumb Two Years He Now Sings Doxology,” The Bristol Evening News, Bristol, Tennessee, April 14, 1911.
  • “Mr. T. D. Poore Visits in Anderson,” Anderson Daily Mail, August 4, 1911.
  • “Mrs. T. D. Poore,” The Greenville News, Greenville, South Carolina, March 16, 1944 and March 17, 1944.
  • “Prayer Restores His Voice,” Thinks Man Long Dumb,” The Washington Times, Washington, District of Columbia, April 9, 1911.
  • “Prayers Answered and Man Recovers Voice,” The Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction, Colorado, April 11, 1911.
  • “Restored by Prayer,” Jackson Daily News, Jackson, Mississippi, April 9, 1911.
  • “Reunion of the Poore Family,” Keowee Courier, Pickens, South Carolina, May 20, 1914.
  • “Speech Restored by Prayer,” The Opp Messenger, Opp, Alabama, April 14, 1911.
  • “Thomas D. Poore,” The Greenville News, Greenville, South Carolina, April 20, 1946.
  • “Thomas D. Poore,” The Greenville News, Greenville, South Carolina, April 21, 1946.
  • “Voice is Restored as Friends Pray, The Bedford Daily Mail, Bedford, Indiana, May 20, 1911.
  • “Voice is Restored as Friends Pray,” Escanaba Morning Press, Escanaba, Michigan, May 23, 1911.
  • “Voice is Restored as Friends Pray,” Hopkinsville Kentuckian, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, July 4, 1911.
  • “Voice is Restored as Friends Pray,” Journal Gazette, Mattoon, Illinois, June 21, 1911.
  • “Voice is Restored as Friends Pray,” The Donaldsonville Chief, Donaldsonville, Louisiana, June 3, 1911.
  • “Voice is Restored as Friends Pray,” The Sheboygan Press, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, May 18, 1911.
  • “Voice Recovered After Prayers Are Offered,” Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California, April 9, 1911.
  • Arteriosclerosis;
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( accessed 10 November 2019), memorial page for Thomas Drayton Poore (8 Feb 1862–19 Apr 1946), Find A Grave Memorial no. 66269557, citing East View Cemetery, Westminster, Oconee County, South Carolina, USA; maintained by Jennifer Williams Colton (contributor 47309836).
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( accessed 10 November 2019), memorial page for Edron G. Poore (1886–1942), Find A Grave Memorial no. 121546481, citing Westminster Memorial Park, Westminster, Oconee County, South Carolina, USA; maintained by Dora Brown (contributor 47895331).
  • Personal Poore family papers that were in the possession of Louise Poore Williams.
  • Savilla A. Hiott obituary, The Greenville News, Greenville, SC, May 20, 1937.
  • Shorts Baptist Cemetery, Sumter County, AL, by Sarah Mozingo, June, 1998;
  • Standard Certificate of Death no. 09735, State of South Carolina, Thomas Drayton Poore.
  • Standard Certificate of Death no. 09911, State of South Carolina, Edron Gary Poore.
  • Standard Certificate of Death no. 12778, State of South Carolina, Mrs. J. F. Geer.
  • The Coffeyville Daily Journal, Coffeyville, Kansas, April 18, 1911.
  • The Democratic Advocate, Westminster, Maryland, April 14, 1911.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Tugaloo, Oconee, South Carolina, 1910.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Westminster, Oconee, South Carolina, 1920, 1930, 1940.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Williamston, Anderson, South Carolina, 1870, 1880.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Williamston, Anderson, South Carolina, 1900.

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