Glasgow, GA, now Thomasville, GA in Thomas County was the home of the Gants before they moved to Florida.
Fannie Sanders, also from Thomas County GA, was the daughter of Bryant (born in North Carolina)
and Cherrie Sanders (born in Thomas County GA). In 1870, they were reported to have eight children Rance,
Jonah, Fannie, Simon, Rachel, Nettie, Peggie, and Rebecca. Peter was the son of Robert and Glasy Gant*. The
name was reportedly McGant. Glasy is shown in the 1870 census as a widower with 4 children, Ellis, Peter,
Henrietta and Sam. Fannie Sanders and Peter Gant were only one year apart in ages, and were born in 1854
and 1853 respectively. They were married in Thomasville, Georgia about the year 1873 and had four children:
Charlie, Leona (Laura), Maggie and Essie Mae.
After moving to Florida and serving as the fourth pastor for the Galilee church, research has failed to place Peter
or Fannie in the census in Florida after 1900. However, during and after he served as pastor of Galilee he
organized the St. Johns Baptist Church in Lakeland, Florida, and served as their pastor for 22 years. Fannie died
in Polk County in 1918 at the age of 64. Peter died in Highlands County in 1926 at the age of 72.
Charlie Gant, born in 1874, is the first child and only son of Peter and Fannie Gant. After moving from
Thomasville, GA to Ft. Meade, FL, he married Isabel Simpkins. They lived in several other cities including
Lakeland and Bartow, where he worked for a while in the phosphate mines, and finally to Avon Park, FL where he
work at the crate mill. In 1930, while Charlie was settled in Avon Park, Isabel moved with her granddaughter,
Claritha Jones, daughter of Bernice Gant Boatwright, to Bradley Junction, FL. They later joined Charlie in Avon
Park. The three children born to Charlie and Isabel were James, Bernice and Thelresa.
Leona Gant, as she is listed in the above census, is Peter and Fannie Gant’s first daughter, born in Thomasville,
GA in July of abt. 1883. The concern with the name Laura is that it is not found in any census, other than those
of 1900. Additional research is required in this area because of the missing 1890 census, but this census
appears to be a spelling error. The person that is shown in family records and that shows up later is Leona Gant,
also born abt. 1883. This information, along with our Sims family bible (the bible owned by Thomas and Maggie
Sims) indicates that Laura is Leona Gant. And, it is documented that Leona Gant Boyd was a Gant, and she was
the mother to Wilhelmina and Ivory Boyd. Leona was our first schoolteacher. She taught in a private school in Ft.
Meade, FL in 1900. It is believed that Leona died when her son, Ivory was young, because Ivory is shown in the
1910 and 1920 census living with his Aunt Essie Mae Gant McWhite.
Ivory was born in 1906, in Ft. Meade and later moved to Cabbage Grove, FL where he worked in a log camp as a
steel worker at the age of 24.
Elic and Mahaley had several children. However, those known to us are Laura, Josephine, Thomas and Pinky.
When the Sims family moved from Alabama to Ft. Meade, Mahaley and Isaac moved with them. The family
continued to blend and contribute to the Ft. Meade community, and to grow by marrying others from Homeland,
Lakeland, Lake Wales and Bartow, FL as well as from Ft. Meade. The crate mill, phosphate and turpentine
business employed many of the Sims family members, but eventually they moved off to the other surrounding
cities all within a 20 to 30-mile radius.
Thomas traveled wherever he could to find work, and to work in a sawmill or crate mill. Interestingly, he is listed
in the 1900 census as a boarder with other sawmill workers in Franklin County, Florida (Apalachicola) at the
same time that he is listed as a boarder in the Gant household. In Ft. Meade, Thomas worked as a fireman, a
woodchopper as well as one who performed odd jobs.
In 1896, he and two of his brother in-laws, Paul Young and Caleb Howard are listed as three of Ft. Meade’s few
black registered voters. Because of his ability to make great strides for himself, his family and his community;
and the influence he had in the community, he was chosen to provide his opinion about the church
The second daughter born March 25, 1887, in Thomasville GA, to Peter and Fannie was Maggie Rebecca Gant.
Maggie was a very small woman in statue, but she had so much inner strength and was extremely helpful in
serving her church and community. She was a recipient of the Avon Park Citizen of the Week award for the role
she played as founder of the Missionary Campaign.
She married Thomas Sims November 23, 1903, in Ft. Meade, FL when she was 16 years old, and gave birth there
to seven of her thirteen children in Ft. Meade. She was among Galilee Missionary Baptist Church’s first six
members. One of Maggie’s favorite bible verses was I Corinthians 7:2-3, “Let every man have his own wife and let
every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also,
the wife unto the husband”.
She and her seven children moved with her husband to Lake Wales, FL
where another sawmill job was waiting, and where they gave birth to
another son, Barney. They lived in Lake Wales for only 2 years before
moving 22 miles south to Avon Park, FL, where her remaining five children
were born, where she move her church membership to St. Mark Missionary
Baptist Church, and where she lived for the next 60 years.
Maggie, Mama or Sister Maggie, as she was now called, was a 5 Star
Mother. President Roosevelt wrote her a letter of appreciation to her for
sending at least five (she sent six) of her then seven sons to serve in the
United States Armed Forces to fight in World War II.
A woman of few, if any, harsh words, she had a special way of earning
respect and getting her point across. In respect for their mother, though
most of her adult children smoked, they would not smoke are even play
cards in her presence. When her oldest daughter, Ruth tired of snuffing
out her cigarettes whenever she heard that her mother was coming (they
usually had a lookout), she told Mama that the doctor order her to smoke.
Mama replied, “Well, he must have ordered all of ya’ll to smoke”.
In later years when her grandchildren had played or rode their bicycles
most of the day in the hot sun, she would call out to them, “come on in now,
and let those bicycles rest”. As much as her grandchildren protested that
the bicycles weren’t tired, she would not relent and they all had to come and
sit on the front porch of 916 Castle St. for a quite a long while.
She died on November 30, 1981 in Sebring, FL.
The last child born to Peter and Fannie Gant was Essie Mae.
She was born in 1892, also in Thomasville, GA. After living in Ft. Meade,
FL for a while, she moved with her parents to Lakeland, FL where she met
and married Henry McWhite. They didn’t have children of their own, but
when Essie Mae’s sister Leona died, Henry and Essie raised Ivory from the
time he was 8 or 10 years old.
Henry and Essie Mae continued to reside in Lakeland, where Henry worked
in the turpentine industry as a stiller.
It is believed that Ivory, like his mother Leona, may have died at an early
age, as it is not possible to research the census after 1930, and family
members who are old enough to remember Ivory, and who lived in Ft.
Meade in the early 1950’s don’t remember him.
Wilhelmina Boyd Barnes
Wilhelmina married William Wright Barnes and had three sons, a set of twin boys,
Herman and James and a younger son, Robert. After living for a while on Ashley
St. in Tampa, FL, Wilhelmina moved her family to New York City, New York, where
she and her son Robert Barnes became very well known for their beautiful