The Olliffs*

John Shears Olliff

The earliest Olliffs we can connect our family to is John Shears Olliff. He was born around 1750 in North Carolina then went to Georgia where he raised his family. Although we do not have proof of where his father is from, it is speculated that it was England since most of the Bullock county community at that time was from there. This is Dudley's paternal grandmother's family.

John Olliff, whose last name is sometimes given as Olive, enlisted for 5 years in the American Revolution with the Duplin County, North Carolina Regular Army and Militia as a private. He served 5 years under General Green, Major Fry and Colonel Rhodes. He was in the battle of Eutaw Springs, South Carolina. He received a grant of land in Effingham county, Georgia on January 8, 1793. His pension number is #R7788 and his DAR number is #391944. Proof of his connection to his son Benjamin is in his September 7, 1846 pension ( application was made by his son Joseph ) and estate records dated March 15, 1817. The pension records list the names of six children (Joseph, John, Benjamin, Elizabeth Stanford, Susannah Brooks & Mary Robinson), their spouses and the date of birth and marriage in some cases. His pension record can be found in the book "Abstracts of some Revolutionary War Pensions" by Jeanette Holland Austin. The estate records are filed in Bulloch Co., Georgia. Other sources include "Looking Back" by Dorothy Brannen, and the D.A.R. application of Annie Olliff Kennedy #298171, 1938.

Benjamin Shears Olliff

Benjamin Shears Olliff is the son of John Shears and Johannah Olliff. On September 24, 1815, Benjamin Olliff married Elizabeth Turner of Hancock County, Georgia. According to “History of Georgia,” Benjamin moved to Dooly County, Georgia in 1828, settling in the vicinity of Montezuma where Benjamin was a minister of the Methodist church. Benjamin and Elizabeth Olliff were the parents of eleven children. Benjamin Olliff died on May 14, 1856 in Dooly County, Georgia. In 1860, Elizabeth (Turner) Olliff and her two daughters (Elizabeth and Martha Olliff) were living next to her son, Zadock Olliff, in Brooks County, Georgia. Elizabeth (Turner) Olliff died on April 21, 1862.

William Harvey Olliff

William was born on March 24, 1820 in Bulloch County, Georgia. On July 4, 1846, William Olliff married Eleanor Caroline Tyner of Dooly County, Georgia. Eleanor was born on July 6, 1828 in Georgia and is the daughter of Simeon Tyner and Hester Ann (Southwell) Tyner. In 1850, William and Eleanor Olliff were living next to William’s father, Benjamin Olliff, in Dooly County, Georgia. Around 1851, William and Eleanor Olliff moved to about six miles east of Fort Gaines, Georgia. After several years, William decided that the soil was worn out on his farm and around 1856 he and his family moved about twelve miles further east near Edison, Georgia where they established what was later known as the “Old Homeplace.” William and Eleanor Olliff were the parents of eight children.

Eleanor had already lost two brothers who died for the Confederacy and the draft was extended to men who were sixteen years of age. In 1863, their son Ben was drafted but the family provided information that he was only thirteen at the time (declaring Ben to be two years younger than he actually was). By stating his age to be younger, Ben avoided almost certain service in the Confederate Army in 1864. On July 25, 1863, William Olliff, Sr. was drafted at the age of forty-three leaving his wife and seven children at home to manage on their own. William served in Company “H” of the 22nd Georgia Battalion in General Joseph E. Johnson’s Army. He was sent to the General Hospital in Savannah, Georgia on August 16, 1863 from his duty station at Thunderbolt, Georgia. On December 11, 1863, he was again ordered to the hospital, this time at Whiteville, Georgia. Eleanor must have suffered during this time, as she learned that her brother-in-law, T. J. Carnes had died in Knoxville, Tennessee on November 29, 1863 and that her husband was sick in the hospital. In January and February of 1864, William Olliff, Sr. was sick in quarters at Fort Bartow, Georgia. In late 1864, General Sherman began his purge of Georgia arriving at nearby Savannah on Christmas Day of 1864. William was serving in Georgia during this time frame and was paroled on May 3, 1865. He was shown in a list of the sick of Elliot’s Brigade, Anderson’s Division, Stewart’s Corps.

When William arrived home in 1865, he learned of more tragedy within his family as two of his children (Mary and Joseph) had died of disease on October 20, 1864 and a third had narrowly avoided death. William Harvey Olliff died on September 12, 1888 and was buried in the Wesley Chapel Church Cemetery. This church and its cemetery are located on land donated by Eleanor’s father. After William’s death, Eleanor lived with her daughter and son-in-law, Everett and Hester Bass, at the family “Homeplace” where William and Eleanor had lived for many years. In 1900, Eleanor was living with her daughter, Hettie, in Calhoun County, Georgia. Eleanor died on December 15, 1902 and was buried in the Wesley Chapel Church Cemetery. At the age of 74, Eleanor had outlived five of eight of her children.

George Washington Olliff

George Washington Olliff is the third son of William Harvey Olliff and Eleanor Caroline (Tyner) Olliff. George was born on March 28, 1852 in Bluffton, Georgia. On May 24, 1879, George Olliff married Dannie Arminda Cobb (born April 28, 1863). They moved to Houston County, Alabama where George homesteaded 160 acres between and just south of present day Avon and Ashford. His land patent was issued June 8, 1891. They farmed and raised their eight children there. George died in July of 1938 and Dannie died in June of 1939. Both are buried at Bluff Springs Baptist Church cemetery near Ashford, Alabama.

Jessie Mae Olliff

Jessie Mae Olliff is the daughter of George Washington Olliff and Dannie Arminda (Cobb) Olliff. Jessie was born on October 15, 1881 in Calhoun County, Georgia. She married William Oscar Mendheim (born February 19, 1875 in Henry County, Alabama). Oscar and Jessie Mendheim settled near Ashford, Alabama where they farmed. William and Jessie Mendheim were the parents of fifteen (eleven into adulthood) children. By 1950 they had relocated to Dothan, Alabama. Jessie suffered a stroke in the early 1960's and finally succumbed on September 19, 1964. Both Jessie and Oscar are buried at Bluff Springs Baptist Church cemetery near Ashford, Alabama.

*Thanks to Robert Brooks Casey for some material for this report

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