John Walter Westberry


(WILLIAM CHARLTON3, JOSIAH2, MOSES1) was born May 1860 in Georgia, and died December 31, 1939 in Georgia. He married (1) UNKNOWN CARTER December 05, 1878. He married (2) MARY ELIZABETH GROOVER GRUBER, daughter of JAMES GROOVER GRUBER and ELIZABETH DAVIS. She was born August 1851. He met (3) MARY ANN CONNER Bef. 1920. She was born Abt. 1851 in Georgia.

The Jesup Sentinel, Wayne County, Georgia, Thursday, January 4, 1940.
J. W. Westberry Found Dead Dec. 31 Near Jesup. John W. Westberry, age 80, was found dead in his room at the home his sister, Mrs. M. H. Harper, Route 1, near Jesup, Sunday morning, December 31. It is said that he had been living here with his sister for the past three years. He had been in ill health for the past several months. According to a coroner’s inquest, attributed his death to self-inflicted gun shot wounds. It is believed that ill health was the cause of his act. Mr. Westberry was a native of Tattnall County and lived there until three years ago when he moved here to live. Funeral services were held in Jesup Monday morning at 8 o’clock from the Wayne Funeral Home parlor with further services at Beard’s Creek Primitive Baptist Church at 10 o’clock in Tattnall County. Mr. Westberry is survived by his sister, Mrs. M. H. Harper of near Jesup and other relatives in Tattnall and Wayne.

1900 Census, Tattnall Co, Georgia.
John W. Westberry, May 1860; Mary, Aug. 1851; Haywood Harper, Oct. 1878.

Haywood Harper was a son of Justina, sister of John Walter.
This information will lay to rest the talk that John and Justina did not see each other from 1869 to 1937.

1910 Census, Bulloch Co, Georgia.
John W. Westberry, 49; Mary, 58.
1920 Census, Evans Co, Georgia.
John W. Westberry, 59; Mary Anna, 59.

Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia.
John Walter Westberry was born in Jesup, Wayne County, Georgia in May of 1860. He was the son of W. Charlton and Martha (Bennett) Westberry. After Charlton Westberry’s death in 1862 (Civil War casualty) John’s mother, Martha, left the children with various friends and relatives and moved to Florida where she remarried. John resided with his greatuncle, Isham Bennett and family until he married UNKNOWN Carter on December 5, 1878.

It Is not known exactly when, but circa 1887 John Walter was living in Tattnall County, Georgia, where he and Mary Elizabeth Gruber/Groover, (the daughter of James William and Elizabeth (Davis) Gruber/Groover) had a son and a daughter.

Mary Elizabeth may have used her mother’s maiden name of Gruber/Groover prior to her marriage to Edgar Jones.
In 1900, John Walter Westberry was living in Claxton, Georgia near the location of the present-day Claxton Fruitcake Company with another woman named Mary A, ?, A deed dated January 3, 1920 shows that for $1200.00 John Walter Westberry sold part of this land in Claxton which he had a one-half undivided interest to a man named Easterling. A blacksmith shop on the property was run by John Walter Westberry. John sold his home in Claxton in 1918 to a Mr. Deloach and this home later became known as the Deloach boarding home, and was run by Mrs. Eula Delde DeLoach until the property on which the house stood was sold to the Claxton Bakery Company, Inc. in 1968 by Mrs. DeLoach’s son, Cartha D. DeLoach. The house has since been torn down. Cartha D. “Deke” DeLoach lived in the house and later sold it. Cartha later became J. Edgar Hoover’s trusted Lieutenant. He wrote a book about J. Edgar Hoover (of FBI fame) and has appeared on many television programs and specials about J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Nothing more is known of John Walter Westberry until 1937 when he showed up at the home of Justina “Tiny” Westberry Harper, a sister whom he had not seen since their seperation in 1862.

According to a written diary, John had recently lost his wife. He had asked Tiny if he could move into the little one room house on her property near Jesup. It is also written in this diary: “One Saturday night after the evening meal was over Tiny and John were there alone. John kept getting up, walking back and forth across the room. She asked him what was wrong, but John just said he was nervous. He soon went to the little house to read. As Tiny was preparing for bed she heard a loud sound like a bomb went off. The next morning January 1, 1940, Tiny found John sitting in a chair dead… he had committed suicide with his rifle. An obituary appeared in the Jesup Sentinel on January 4, 1940 and attributed the suicide to “ill health for the past several months.” John is buried in the Beard’s Creek Primitive Baptist Church in Tattnall County, Georgia in an unmarked grave. It is curious to note that John Walter Westberry built his own coffin long before his death and carried it with him each time he moved. Family members remember looking into the windows of John’s tiny house to get a glimpse of the coffin. John was buried in this coffin. A relative, still living in Gardi, Georgia, sewed a cloth interior into the coffin before John’s funeral took place. Some mystery still surrounds John Walter Westberry’s death, with various family members stating that John’s death was a murder and not a suicide as ruled by the coroner in 1939.

I was told by the person that sent the bio to the Pioneers of Wiregrass that the name Roxey Ann Carter is not correct.


i. LEONARD CARTER, b. Abt. 1879, Georgia.


ii. WILLIAM ALVIN WESTBERRY, b. February 01, 1888, Wayne Co, Georgia; d. December 17, 1973, Richmond Co, Georgia; m. VERA LAVADO GRIFFIS, September 18, 1924, Wayne Co, Georgia; b. Abt. 1910.

iii. MARY ELIZABETH WESTBERRY, b. June 1890, Georgia; m. EDGAR JONES.



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