Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005
Founding family a large one when city was born; few descendants remain in area
Newit Vick, Newitt Vick, Newett Vick… No one knows exactly how the founding father of Vicksburg spelled his name. It’s spelled differently in historical documents, family Bibles, city street signs and even his gravesite on Oak Ridge Road.
But one thing Judy Jones knows for sure is that she’s related to him. The connection is six generations back, but she can trace it.
Email newsletter signup
Jones and her niece, Tracey Phifer James, are thought to be the only direct descendants of the Rev. Newit Vick left in this old town of Vicksburg.
“He’s my fourth great-grandfather through my mother’s side,” Jones said.
Jones and James sat with Gordon Cotton, curator and director of the Old Court House Museum, to trace their family lineage.
“My mother knew all of this. I just wish I had found out more about it when she was alive,” Jones said.
Her mother, Mary Jo Brickell McCary, died in 1994, but she organized the first Vick family reunion in the 1970s. The reunion now has grown to include descendants of Newit’s four brothers, as well, Jones said.
Jones and James are directly related to Hartwell Vick, the first-born of 13 children of Newit and Elizabeth Clark Vick.
“Hartwell was actually the first postmaster of Vicksburg,” Cotton said.
Through genealogy research, Cotton discovered he, too, was kin to Jones.
“My grandmother many greats back was the older sister of Elizabeth Clark,” he said.
The Vicks, originally from Virginia, came to Warren County from Jefferson County in 1812 after a tip from Newit’s nephew, Foster Cook, that there was land ready to settle.
“We actually could have been named Cooksville or Cooktown since they found the land first. But before even the Cooks found it, there was another family called Bay that took an interest in the area, but then changed their minds. We could have been Baytown,” Cotton said.
Another interesting fact – Newit Vick’s brother, Burwell, founded the town of Nitta Yuma in the Mississippi Delta, Cotton said.
Newit and Elizabeth Vick already had 11 children when they settled here – Hartwell, Sarah Claree, Ann, Mary Tirzah, Martha, Eliza White, Lucy Watkins, John Wesley, General William, Matilda Louisa and newborn Amanda Maria.
Although Emily Franklin was born in 1815, the only Vick child whose birth was recorded in Warren County was Newit Holmes Vick, the family’s youngest, born in 1819.
Newit and Elizabeth Vick both died on Aug. 5, 1819, most likely from yellow fever, Cotton said.
“Martha was 19 when the youngest was born. She never married and helped rear the younger ones after their parents died,” Cotton said.
Hartwell married Sylviah Clark Cook, distantly related to both of his parents.
“The relation is unclear, but they were related,” Cotton said.
And this is where the branches of the family tree appear to cross.
Hartwell and Sylviah’s daughter, Mary Elizabeth Vick, married her cousin, Pleasant Harte Cook, who was also her mother’s cousin. Pleasant and Mary Elizabeth Cook’s son, Newit Henry Cook, married Mary Olive Smith.
Newit and Mary Olive Cook’s daughter, Eva Eloise Cook, married Cleveland Brickell.
Cleveland and Eva Brickell’s daughter, Mary Jo Brickell, was Jones’ mother. She married Robert McCary and gave birth to two daughters, Judith and Betty Jo McCary.
Judith married John Jones, and Betty Jo married Pete Phifer and gave birth to two daughters, Tracey Phifer James and Shannon Phifer Holbrook.
“This is the end of the line in Vicksburg as far as we know,” Cotton said.
Although confusing, James said learning the Vick lineage has made her more interested in genealogy.
“It’s neat to look in this book and find relatives’ names who I recognize,” she said.
“It makes me want to find my mom’s old book and read some more,” James said.
Jones said she’s interested in further researching the family tree.
“I want to read more about the other children rather than just my connection,” she said.
Cotton said other families around Vicksburg and possibly even the governor of Mississippi might be related to the Vick family. John Wesley Vick outlived three wives – one being Anna Maria Brabston and one being Catherine Ann Barbour.
“There’s no telling who all might be related to them. That’s why I love genealogy,” Cotton said.