James McCollister (b. circa 1824 in Chester Co. SC)

It seems like every family genealogy has some mysteries. In the A-05 line, there are a few. One is James McCollister (McAlister).

I recently got an email from J A McAlister, known for his co-administration of the McAlister DNA project on Family Tree DNA, and his intense

interest and research on genealogy clues. J A got a tip from Arkansas regarding one James A McAlister in Prairie County. J A shared that tip with me,

resulting in an interesting look at census records and marriages, starting on July 19, 1849.  On that date, James McCollister married Eliza A McWherter

in Lincoln County, Skinem, Tennessee. James and Eliza show up in the 1850 census in Lincoln County. But they disappeared in 1860, that is until J A

found out they might have been in Arkansas! William McCollister married Verlinia McWherter, sister of Eliza A. A case of brothers marrying sisters!

The McWherter girls were the daughters of George A McWherter (VA, 1789) and Polly Deadman (GA, 1788), reportedly a full blood Cherokee.


In the Prairie County Census, James is listed as head of house, a farmer, born in SC and twenty six years old. Listed as spouse is Eliza A,  

housekeeper, born in Georgia, twenty one years old. Listed as children are M A,(female) nine years old, David, five years old, and Mary J,

three years old. No luck finding James in the 1870, ‘80, or ‘90 (ha) census. My unproven theory is that James died sometime after the 1860 census,

and before the 1870 census. I am still looking to find Eliza A somewhere in either Georgia, Arkansas, or Texas those years.


Fast forward to 1900.  In that year’s census, there is found one David A McAlister, at Justice Precinct 5, Falls Texas. David, aged forty four,

is married to Victoria A Spicer, aged twenty nine or thirty,( both numbers are on the census), from Arkansas, and has the following family: Lilly M,

eleven years old, Thomas A, ten years old, Rosa P, six years old, Hollis, four years old, and Sallie O, one year old. Since Lilly M was eleven, it seems

logical that David married sometime before 1890, perhaps 1888 or 1889.  He would have been about thirty three years old. Moving on to 1910, the

census, Justice Precinct 7,  Johnson County, Texas shows:  Mrs V A  McAlester, aged thirty nine, with Lilly, aged twenty one, Allen

(Richard A above) aged twenty, Rosa, aged sixteen, Halley (Hollis) aged fourteen, Sallie, aged ten, Fred, aged nine, Jewell, aged three, and one

Cristly Vancleave, aged two listed as an orphaned child. So somewhere between 1900 and 1910, David A, husband died.

In the 1920 Census, Justice District 1, Dallas County, Texas, we find Lilly M McAlister, aged thirty one, listed as head of household, along with

Rose P Huey, aged twenty six, Arthur Huey, aged twenty six (brother in law), Hollis L, aged twenty four, Fred, aged eighteen, and Jewell, aged twelve.

Apparently Victoria, the mother, has died, or remarried. In the 1930 census, perhaps a coincidence, we fine one Fred McAlister, aged twenty,

married to Ruth, in Little Rock Arkansas. Today in the Dallas area, there are McAlisters descended from Claude Frederick McAlister and

Maureen Ruth Martin. There was a Martin family in Arkansas near DeWitt, Arkansas in the 1930 census, not too far from the McAlisters’

childhood home. There is also an SSDI death record for a C McAlister, born May 1901 in Arkansas, and died 1983 in Dallas, TX. 

There are some family researchers who think that Fred is Claude Frederick.


So, as a summary of all this (and as a theory), James came to Tennessee from South Carolina, moved to Arkansas, and raised a family. James

apparently died before 1870. The remaining family moved to Texas, for reasons unknown. By 1930, the mother of the family, Victoria (Victory) is no

longer found, and the remaining members are living in Dallas, Texas. Finally, one of the family goes back home to Arkansas, marries, and eventually

(after the 1930 census) returns to Texas to raise a family there.


So there are many questions regarding this quick census study, the main one being that the James and Eliza married in Lincoln County are the same folks

in the Arkansas 1860 Census. Admittedly, that’s a big leap of faith! All the circumstantial evidence lines up. But besides the census information, that’s it.

The second leap is that David, aged five in 1860 in Arkansas, is the same David, aged forty four in Texas. Again, all the circumstantial evidence lines up. 

But, are there some Arkansas and Texas McAlisters out there that can verify or refute this theory. Please let me know!


PS to this article (5/22/2010). Today I spoke by telephone to one Maurine McAlister in Dallas. She confirmed that David Alonzo McAlister is

her husband Claude Frederick JR McAlister’s Grandfather and that James A McAlister in Arkansas was David A’s father. She said that James had a

brother, Samuel, in Tennessee, which reinforces the family tradition that there were six children from Andrew McCollister.


Victoria Spicer died in 1914 and is buried in Texas. Victoria is the daughter of Benjamin Franklin Spicer, of Arkansas via Tennessee.