My great grandfather was Marion Cockrell. His sister was Nancy Cockrell Thornberry, who was born during 1870 in Clay County, Alabama. They were the children of Elam Cockrell (born May 16, 1822 in Johnston County, North Carolina, died November 4, 1889 in Itawamba County) and Carolina Devaughn (born 1824 in Georgia, died in Itawamba County).
During the early 1870's several Cockrell families of the Clay County, Alabama area wanted to move west to better land. They were like thousands of southern families after the Civil War who wanted to leave their war-torn country to seek a better life in the newer country to the west. In 1873 a group of Cockrell families left their homes in the Clay County, Alabama area to begin their search for a better life. In this group of several families were Elum Cockrell, along with his wife, Caroline and their children, John, Marion, James M. Duff, Jordan and three year old Nancy. Along with Elum's family were Elum's daughter, Jane, with her husband, Benjamin East and their one year old daughter, Lula and Elijah Cockrell with his wife Jane, and one year old son, Billy. The families loaded their wagons with their furniture and personal possessions and headed west across Talladega Mountain. After crossing the Coosa River they crossed Shades Mountain and Red Mountain and traveled through Jefferson, Walker and Marion Counties in Alabama before ending their 200 mile journey in Itawamba County, Mississippi in the New Home Church community east of Fulton. By 1900 the family had purchased a farm west of the Tombigbee in the Centerville Community. It was here on November 24, 1887 Nancy Caroline married James P. Thornberry. Nancy Caroline lived out the remainder of her life in the Centerville community where she reared a large family. During the 1950’s Nancy Caroline was named by The Itawamba County Times newspaper as Itawamba County’s Citizen of the Year for a lifetime of charitable work done in the community. Nancy Caroline died in the Centerville community during 1964 and was buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery.