Children of Dennis Lindsey (1794-1836) and Jane Brooks: Sarah Brooks Lindsey Speake (1818-1889) — Biographies of James B. Speake

As the last posting also noted, James represented Lawrence County in the Alabama legislature in 1870-1, 1871-2, and 1876-8, and served as county Superintendent of Schools. His and Sarah’s sons Henry Clay and Daniel Webster Speake were judges, about whom a number of biographical statements were published. James’s public service and his distinguished sons also caused James himself to be commemorated in a number of biographical statements. In this posting, I’ll share those that I have.

James Edmond Saunders, Early Settlers of Alabama

In his 1899 book Early Settlers of Alabama, James Edmond Saunders, who knew James B. Speake personally, includes the following biographical notice of James B. Speake, whose surname Saunders spells as Speak; this notice is included in Saunders’s remarks about James’s father-in-law Dennis Lindsey and Dennis’s father Mark Lindsey:

James Edmond Saunders, Early Settlers of Alabama (New Orleans, 1899), p. 123

Saunders had previously published this biographical account in an article entitled “Early Settlers of Lawrence County” in the Moulton Advertiser newspaper on 16 December 1880.[2]

Thomas McAdory Owen, Dictionary of Alabama Biography

A brief biographical notice of James B. Speake is also in Thomas McAdory Owen’s Dictionary of Alabama Biography, vol. 4 (Chicago: S.J. Clarke, 1921), p. 1605.[3] This source also contains biographies of James’s sons Daniel Webster and Henry Clay Speake, both of which have biographical information about their father. Note that Owens’s biography of Henry Clay erroneously speaks of the community in Lawrence County in which the Speakes lived as Oakdale, rather than Oakville.

Thomas McAdory Owen, Dictionary of Alabama Biography, vol. 4 (Chicago: S.J. Clarke, 1921), pp. 1604-1605

A.G. Copeland, Alabama Enquirer

In a reminiscence he published on 17 October 1889 in the Decatur newspaper Alabama Enquirer, A.G. (Anderson Guinn) Copeland speaks about James B. Speake.[4] We’ve mentioned this article before in discussing Fielding Wesley Lindsey and David Dinsmore Lindsey, uncles of James B. Speake’s wife Sarah.

A.G. Copeland, “Reminiscences of Morgan County, No. 3,” Alabama Enquirer (17 October 1889), p. 3, col. 4.

S.W. Barbee, Moulton Advertiser

An article entitled “Old Lawrence Reminiscent” by S.W. (Simeon W.) Barbee in the Moulton Advertiser newspaper on 16 February 1909 contains a memorial of and tribute to Speake by Barbee, who had been his pupil at Oakville.[5] 

S.W. Barbee, “Old Lawrence Reminiscent,” Moulton Advertiser (16 February 1909), p. 1,
col. 3-6

A previous posting about David Dinsmore Lindsey, uncle of James B. Speake’s wife Sarah, discussed the preceding article by Barbee.

Several months before Barbee published his February 1909 reminiscence of James B. Speake, he had published another “Old Lawrence Reminiscent” column on 25 August 1908, in which he talks about the influence James B. Speake had on him as a teacher, an influence that resulted in Barbee’s becoming a teacher.[6]

S.W. Barbee, “Old Lawrence Reminiscent,” Moulton Advertiser (25 August 1908), p. 1, col. 2-3

Jourd White, Moulton Advertiser

On 7 October 1914 in a column entitled “Beginning the Day, Jourd White’s County,” the Moulton Advertiser paper published the following information about James B. Speake, in response to a recent statement about Speake that had appeared in the Mobile Register. The Advertiser column contains the Register statement, noting that it had confused James B. Speake with his son Daniel Webster Speake, and that it also erroneously stated that he came to Alabama from Virginia and had been an army colonel in Virginia.[7]

Jourd White, “Beginning the Day, Jourd White’s County,” Moulton Advertiser (7 October 1914), p. 2, col. 3-4

Obituary, Moulton Advertiser

An obituary of James B. Speake is in the 25 September 1890 issue of the Moulton Advertiser.[8]

Moulton Advertiser (25 September 1890), p. 3, col. 1. 

Obituary, Huntsville Times Daily

Another obituary of James B. Speake appeared in the Huntsville paper, Times Daily on 3 October 1890. I do not have a digital copy of this obituary. It is transcribed on his Find a Grave memorial page, which was created by David Young. James’s son Henry Clay Speake had moved to Huntsville in 1876, where he was elected judge of the 8th judicial circuit in 1880, a position he held continuously up to his death. He had previously served as Chancellor of the Northern Division from 1874 to 1880.

Huntsville Times-Daily, 3 October 1890

On 4 April 1996 article in the Moulton Advertiser newspaper, Deangelo McDaniel published an interview with James B. Speake’s great-grandson Harold Speake, who was then an attorney in Moulton.[9] This article also includes photos of four of James B. Speake’s sons — Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, James Tucker, and Charles Washington Speake — as well as of James’s grandson Paul Speake and great-grandson John Lee Speake, Harold’s brother. I visited Harold Speake at his law office in Moulton in the 1980s, and at that time, these photos lined the hallway of his office. 

Deangelo McDaniel, “Speake,” Moulton Advertiser (4 April 1996), pp. 1-2

John Knox’s History of Morgan County, Alabama also has biographical information about James B. Speake, noting that he was born in 1803 and died in 1890, being buried with his wife Sarah “near Speake school.”[10]  Knox notes that James was born and educated in KY, and taught at Oakville, where he owned a plantation. He also observes that he was superintendent of education for Lawrence County several times, a member of the constitutional convention of 1865, and active in his Enon Baptist church and Masonic lodge.

According to Knox, “sons and grandsons of J.B. Speake have been noted soldiers, jurists, officials.” Knox goes on to discuss the careers of James’s sons Henry Clay and Daniel Webster Speake, and of Henry Clay’s son Paul Speake, a judge like his father and uncle Daniel. In his 1978 typescript history of the family of James B. Speake discussed in the previous posting, Harold Speake notes that James B. and Sarah Lindsey Speake’s descendants in 1978 included attorneys in Knoxville, Birmingham, Florida, and Moulton, several of these serving on the staff of the state Attorney General’s office, an Auburn University professor, teachers in Lawrence County, a dentist in Decatur, a Baptist minister in Florida, corporation executives in Birmingham, a retired educator in San Diego, and so on.

A previous posting shows the original inventory James and his brother-in-law John Wesley Lindsey compiled for the estate of James’s father-in-law Dennis Lindsey following Dennis’s death. Both men’s signatures are appended to this inventory.

In my next and final posting about Sarah Brooks Lindsey and her family, I will provide some more information about her children by James B. Speake.

[1] In addition to his Find a Grave memorial page, which was created by David Young and has a photo of the tombstone by Find a Grave user Allen J, See Phil Waldrep, Cemeteries of Lawrence County, Alabama, vol. 1 (privately published, Trinity, Alabama, 1993), p. 280.

[2] James Edmond Saunders, “Early Settlers of Lawrence County,” Moulton Advertiser (16 December 1880), p. 1, col. 4.

[3] Thomas McAdory Owen, Dictionary of Alabama Biography, vol. 4 (Chicago: S.J. Clarke, 1921), p. 1605.

[4] A.G. Copeland, “Reminiscences of Morgan County, No. 3,” Alabama Enquirer (17 October 1889), p. 3, col. 4.

[5] S.W. Barbee, “Old Lawrence Reminiscent,” Moulton Advertiser (16 February 1909), p. 1, col. 3-6.

[6] S.W. Barbee, “Old Lawrence Reminiscent,” Moulton Advertiser (25 August 1908), p. 1, col. 2-3.

[7] Jourd White, “Beginning the Day, Jourd White’s County,” Moulton Advertiser (7 October 1914), p. 2, col. 3-4. See also Old Lawrence Reminiscences 6,3 (September 1992), p. 68. In the next issue of this journal, Harold Speake sent in a set of corrections to the incorrect information published in Mobile Register and republished by Moulton Advertiser: see Old Lawrence Reminiscences 6,4 (December 1992), pp. 150-1.

[8] Moulton Advertiser (25 September 1890,) p. 3, col. 1. 

[9] Deangelo McDaniel, “Speake,” Moulton Advertiser (4 April 1996), pp. 1-2.

[10] John Knox, A History of Morgan County, Alabama (Decatur, Alabama: Decatur Printing Co., 1967), p. 126.

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