Skip to main content

Jones and Callaway Family Papers

Identifier: MSS-3031

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the lives of the Callaway and Jones families in Cuthbert, Georgia; Geneva County, Alabama; and Lake City, Florida. The collection includes letters that document the extended Jones family’s everyday lives and relationships with each other.

The collection primarily centers on J. Epps Jones Callaway. Letters between her and John Callaway range from 1860-1862, with the bulk being in 1862. The letters cover their courtship and marriage in 1860, and pick up again in 1862 when he is serving in the Civil War with Georgia’s Smith Legion. These letters, in which she addresses him as “sweetness,” provide information about her life at home and his with the cavalry. A letter from June 1862 includes his commentary on medical conditions in camps, and in his letter on November 20, 1862, he describes a “demoralized” atmosphere among soldiers. At least once during this time she travels to visit him, taking their infant with her. Their letters stop days before his death on December 28, 1862. His service took him through Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

Epps did not marry again. The rest of the letters that Epps received and wrote show her business dealings on her and her son’s behalf as a widow, as well as personal letters with friends and family. The Callaways owned some land in Georgia and Florida. It is important to note that at times some letters are addressed to Mr. Epps Callaway, although these were most certainly intended for her.

As the collection includes material from the antebellum South, researchers will find information about enslaved persons scattered throughout letters and other documents. John A. Jones’s partial farm journal from South Carolina for the years 1845-1846 provides detailed information about the enslaved persons' work, food, clothing, and illnesses. Numerous persons were mentioned, including Eliza, Brutus, John, Mariah, Harriet, and Nelly.

The collection includes a number of written materials including poems, journals, school notes, and perhaps speeches. The subject matter of these varies greatly. Several attributed to Eppes Callaway are about death.

The collection includes 160 photos and about thirty negatives. Only a few photographs of people are identified; they are not Jones or Callaway family members represented in the rest of the collection. Most images are of men, women, and children. Most of the photographs are in very poor condition.


  • 1845-1940
  • Majority of material found in 1860-1900

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Due to the nature of certain archival formats, including digital and audio-visual materials, access to certain materials may require additional advance notice.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are responsible for using the materials in conformance with United States copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright claimants in collection materials. Copyright for official University records is held by The University of Alabama. The library claims only physical ownership of many manuscript collections. Anyone wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of literary property rights or copyrights. Please contact Special Collections ( with questions regarding specific manuscript collections. For more information about copyright policy, please visit: Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal implications, for which the University of Alabama assumes no responsibility.

Biographical Note

The primary families represented in this collection are the Jones and Callaway families who lived in Cuthbert, Georgia; Samson, Alabama; and Lake City, Florida.

J. Epps Jones Callaway is the central figure in a large portion of this collection. She was born around 1840 in South Carolina, to John H. and Mary A. Jones. By 1860, according to the 1860 Census, they were living in Cuthbert, Randolph County, in southwestern Georgia. Epps, as she was known, was the middle child. Her older sibling was named either Martha or Matt Emma—letters were often addressed to and by her as Matt Emma, M. Emma, and M. E. The youngest child was John J. Her father’s occupation in the 1860 was harness maker. He was a farmer when he lived in South Carolina.

Epps Jones and John M. Callaway married in December 1860. John Callaway was a merchant from Lexington, Georgia. Epps had one child, John D. (Johnny), born on August 7, 1861. John joined the Confederate Army in 1862 and served in Smith’s Legion. John M. Callaway died on December 28, 1862, in a skirmish in Pine Knot, Kentucky. By 1870, Epps and Johnny lived with her mother, Mary, in Cuthbert. Epps and Johnny moved to Lake City, Florida, in the early 1870s. Epps appears to have lived there the rest of her life. Around 1874, her sister, Matt Emma, also moved to Lake City. Epps Callaway lived until at least 1909 but had died by 1920.

John D. Callaway lived in Lake City. The 1900 Census identifies him as a real estate agent.

Matt Emma Jones was born on August 31, 1841. She later married James Paxton Jr. and had at least one child. She was a schoolteacher. She died on November 6, 1874, in Lake City, Florida. Letters in the collection indicate she had an extended illness. Their child may have died around 1886.

John J. Jones was born on December 10, 1845. He married Sara Crozier in 1867; she may have been known by Sallie. He was a schoolteacher. He and Sallie lived in Georgia and Samson, Geneva County, Alabama. They had at least eight children. Three of their daughters were named Emma, Effie, and Epps. One of his younger children was Lena, who was born around 1892.

Other Jones families also lived in Geneva County and are represented in this collection, including John A. and Marguret Jones. The exact relationship between the John J. Jones and John A. Jones family is unclear, although there does appear to be a familial relationship.

Sources:, John J. Jones, Memorial ID:148305741, John A. Jones, Memorial ID:105123347, Luna Cornelia Jones, Memorial ID:105123448


1.04 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Family papers containing letters, a farm journal, and writings of members of the Jones and Callaway families in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida


Gift of Wade Hall, 2011


To provide faster access to our materials, this finding aid was published without formal and final review. Email us at if you find mistakes or have suggestions to make this finding aid more useful for your research.

Processing Information

This collection was a gift of donor Wade Hall, who collected and donated materials relating to Alabama and the South. The materials arrived in a considerable state of disarray and in poor condition. Most letters and documents were folded and appeared to have been tossed into a box. Most were very dirty. A few items were so severely damaged that their content was illegible; the archivist disposed of these.

The first person to work on the collection foldered the Civil War letters and placed photographs in protective sleeves. The majority of photographs are in very poor condition; additionally, only a few are identified.

After reviewing and sorting the materials, I identified the creators and was able to name the collection. Epps Jones Callaway, her son Johnny, her siblings (John J. Jones and Matt Emma Jones Paxton), and John’s daughter Lena were the primary creators and central agents of the collection. Other family members, including John’s daughters Effie and Emma, are also creators and subjects, albeit not as significant.

Epps Callaway created or received most of the materials. I chose to arrange her materials more carefully and with attention to detail. I arranged the materials she created and received in separate folders.

Even though I did spend more time on the arrangement of Epps’s materials, researchers will need to make their own decisions regarding the originality or intent of a number of materials in the collection. For example, Epps appeared to have written drafts of letters; when I could quickly determine that a letter was a draft I removed it from her outgoing letters folder and placed it with other drafts. As these were judgments I made, it is quite possible that some letters might be mislabeled as drafts. Epps also kept a number of her writings; I did not investigate whether all of these were original or if she was recording her favorites. In some cases they were clearly original: she wrote a poem to her sister after her sister died.

The other materials were arranged according to author or creator when it was easy to do so. Materials whose creator was not easy to determine were grouped by type or function. Therefore a number of folders contain notes, poems, and other items simply labeled as "writings."


Guide to the Jones and Callaway Family Papers
Donnelly Walton, 2023
April 2016; major revision, 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266