The Lister, or Lester Family

(by James A. Bell)

The writer's grandmother, on his father's side was Martha Ann Lister. I remember her very well, and she always pronounced her maiden name as though it had the spelling "L-i-s-t-e-r." In October 1971 I had an opportunity to search census records for her home county, Barbour County, Alabama (I remember she said many times that she was born halfway between Louisville and Clio, in Barbour County, Alabama). In the 1850 census I found her family listed, except that I know two of the older brothers she often mentioned were evidently already gone from home; these were William and Thomas (Tom). The family as listed in the 1950 census:

Joshua Lister Age 46 Born in South Carolina (Father of the Family)
Dianna Lister Age 38 Not his first wife #
Crawford Lister Age 16 Believe he was killed or died in Civil War
Caroline Lister Age 15  
Mary Lister Age 14 Mary married Needham Hudson; they had daughter Mattie, who married Hugh McInnis
Martha Lister Age 13 She married Joseph Blythe Aulston Bell; they had two children to love; see below)
Cleopatra Lister Age 12 ** She married a Johnson and John Brown Bell; had daughter by 1st and son by second)
Elizabeth Lister Age 11  
David Lister Age 10  
Sarah Lister Age 9  
Washington Lister Age 8  
Marion Lister Age 7  
Celia Lister Age 6 Some mention of her in letters but do not know who she married
Jane Age 4 Jane married a Tew and descendants may live around Enterprise, Ala.

Martha was born Dec. 23, 1835, so she was actually a year older than was shown since the census was taken before her birthday in 1850; she had 6 children but only Martha Emily (called "Emma") and James Alexander lived. "Emma" married John Carney and had a large family; last lived at Toxey, Ala., buried in Brightwater Cemetery. James Alexander Bell born October 18, 1867, was the writer's father. Martha was the last child of her mother who was Martha Beasley.

Cleopatra, called "Cleo" lost her first husband; her second marriage was to John Bell, a brother to Cleo's half-sister Martha's husband. Cleo and John Bell had at least 3 children but only Alexander Nelson Bell lived to have a family. John Bell had been married before and had older children, but his first wife had died in Choctaw County, Ala.

Martha had a half brother called "Frank" who named a son Washington. I simply ask: Could Frank's other name have been Washington, sone there is not a Frank listed in the census record?

Dianna may very well have been Joshua's third wife, because some of the the descendants who remained in South Central Alabama said she was married three times. It is known that he had at least two more children; Hettie, who also married a Tew, and John, born 1851, who went to Texas and had several children. There could have been others older than those listed and already gone. William, the oldest and not listed, married a Barber, I believe, and lived in South Choctaw County, Ala., had 1 daughter, Cleo, who married a Cauley and lived near Bladon Springs, Ala. Tom married Melisse "Lester" so far as is known, but the 1850 census showed "Lister" and that is the way Grandmother pronounced it. Tom Lester may have descendants around Jackson, Miss., and Frank Lester may have descendants in Bartow, Fla., bearing the "Lester" name. I many times heart Grandmother mention: William, Tom, Crawford, Mary, and Cleo. - Martha was living with her brother William in Choctaw County, Ala., at the time of her marriage on Sept. 7, 1858; she lived to July 12, 1919 and is buried in Brightwater Cemetery; her son, James Alexander Bell, is buried there also.

Andrew Lister was the only "Lister" in South Carolina in 1790, possibly the grandfather of Joshua Lister.

By James A. Bell, Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738, November 30, 1971

Web page by Kevin Davidson, a descendent of Mary Lister and Joseph Blythe Aulston Bell.