|James Andrew Harvey, of Perry County, Mississippi (son of Peter Ivy Harvey), had a business
arrangement, a bad one it proved, with one of the infamous Copeland clan, which finally
wound up in a shoot-out. James A. Harvey was wounded and died a few days later. In order
to keep this secret from the gang, the body was taken at night to a distant cemetery and
buried between two graves.
A few days later, Peter John, the young son of James Andrew Harvey and his wife, Laura Hall,
was missing. Laura’s family and relatives and friends thought the Copeland clan had taken
Peter John in revenge of the death of one of their number.
Left with only her young daughter, Mary Ann Harvey, Laura grieved the loss of husband and
son. Later Laura married Elijah Sherrod Byrd. They were blessed with two sons and several
daughters over the next eighteen or nineteen years.
By 1857 the law of the land had captured the member of the Copeland clan who had killed J.
A. Harvey. On October tenth, James Copeland was hanged at old Augusta. Records name
Elijah Sherrod Byrd in a long list that witnessed the event. Family tradition says he took
along his stepdaughter, Mary Ann Harvey.
Then along came the 1860’s and the War Between the States. Some service men from Perry
County met with a Harvey soldier from Georgia. He told them he had lived in Perry County
when he was a child, but he had no family there because they had all been killed by the
Copeland clan. The Perry men then asked him what was his full name. When he replied
Peter John Harvey, they said, “Your mother and sister were well and okay when we left
home and you have a stepfather and step brothers and step sisters.”
After their service time, the men returned home and Peter John Harvey was reunited with
his family. He lived in Perry County in his early years and Hancock County later. He married
Missouri Wheat, former wife of Robert Fornea and daughter of Joseph Wheat and Elizabeth
Peter John Harvey told how his Grandfather had taken him, riding his horse. They rode
many days stopping over nights. One night the grandfather had barred the door of their
room and told Peter John not to answer the door or open it. He slipped out the window and
was gone a long time. The relatives figured this incident was during the time a man and wife
were mysteriously killed. They had offered a great deal of money for someone to kill James
The grandfather educated Peter John at Georgia’s military academy. He served as 1st
Sergeant, Co. D, 39th Alabama Infantry Regiment during the War. Peter John Harvey (1845 –
1916) second married Emily Jane Stewart (1852 – 1904) who was daughter of Hampton S.
Stewart and Sarah Ann Bourne. They had eleven children.
This story of the Harveys was told by Mary Lois Cowart Nix (1915 – 1999), a granddaughter of
Peter John Harvey, to her Stewart cousin, Lena Mae Stewart Amacker (born 1906) whose
mother-in-law was a daughter of Laura Hall Harvey and Elijah Sherrod Byrd.
|The Kidnapping of Peter John Harvey
Lena Mae Stewart Amacker
|Mary Anne Hammond very kindly shared this account of the kidnapping
of Peter John Harvey. It was written by her mother, Lena Mae Stewart
Amacker. The story was related to Mrs. Amacker by a granddaughter
of the son of James Andrew Harvey, Peter John's father.
|The Notorious Copeland Gang
Historic Byrd's Chapel Methodist Church
Pearl River Index
My G-Grandfather's Attice