Friday, October 31, 2008

How about a roof with that preaching?

Bourland Cemetery -

This cemetery has a covered meeting area for its decoration day and other occasions.

(No) More Dinner on the Grounds

Not sure if this table is still being used for dinner on the grounds. It is located at Bourland Cemetery, not too far from Enon Primitive Baptist Church. Maybe it is used on decoration day?

Dinner on the Grounds

Writing about Enon made me hungry. And that made me think of the photo. This picture was taken in the early 1960s, probably around 1961 or 1962, well before the lunchroom was added on to Enon Primitive Baptist Church. And well before the indoor plumbing (toilets), I might add.
This photo was taken by my father and was originally a slide. I've recently undertaken a project of converting all of his slides to digital images.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fall colors at Bourland Cemetery

With fall upon us, here are a couple of scenes from a 2006 visit to Bourland Cemetery in southern Itawamba County. The huge tree in the top left photo is a white oak that towers over the cemetery. As its name suggest, Bourland Cemetery is home to several Bourlands, but there are also Rutledges, Wardlaws and Pennington buried here too. My great-uncle Gaylord Pennington married Orva Rae Rutledge, and as noted earlier my great-aunt Tootsie Pennington (his sister) married Clarence E. Wardlaw. Both Orva Rae and Gaylord, and Uncle Clarence are buried in Bourland Cemetery.

Bean Cemetery

This large old tree anchors Bean Cemetery in southern Itawamba County. Although I have no direct ancestors buried in this cemetery, my family is tied to it in so many different ways. Most of the people buried here were members of Enon Primitive Baptist Church. In fact, the cemetery is also known as Old Enon Cemetery due to the fact that the church was originally located here. My mother's people are long-time Primitive Baptists, and although they were not founding members of Enon, they've shared their bench time with Wardlaws, Beans, Thompsons and others over the years, names found on most of the gravestones in this cemetery.
Today there are pine seedlings throughout the cemetery, but once upon a time - like many other cemeteries - it was kept without a blade of grass among the graves.
Getting to this cemetery was an adventure a couple of Sundays ago. More later about that afternoon.

Sunday Afternoon - Joy Riding Takes on a New Meaning

Our mission for the afternoon was to check out the area where our Pennington ancestors had originally settled upon their arrival in Itawamba County. James J. Pennington and his wife, Laura, brought their family here from Lamar County, Alabama. James bought land in Lost Corners along the Monroe-Itawamba county line in the 1890s. Unfortunately, he and Laura died prematurely from tuberculosis and along with them many of our family's stories and history. Pictured in the ATV is my mother, Betty Jean Pennington Robinson, great-granddaughter of James and Laura. With her is my Aunt Tootsie, formally known as Clara Nell Pennington Wardlaw, granddaughter of James and Laura.

Recent clear-cutting of timber on this property has made the roads impassable even for four-wheelers, but we had fun trying. We tried but couldn't get down to the tract believed to have been owned by James and Laura Pennington. The afternoon wasn't a total loss however as we made our way to Bean Cemetery for a look-see. Also along on the afternoon's adventure were Stephen Wardlaw, Dorothy Wardlaw, Pat Gilmore, my husband Mike, daughter Rebekah and her friend Steven.

Wardlaw Family Connection

Remember when I said that although I had no direct ancestors buried in Bean Cemetery, my family was connected to the cemetery in many different ways? Well now, in addition to my family's connection to Enon Primitive Baptist Church and its original site at the present location of Bean Cemetery, there's another connection here. The Wardlaw family has been connected to mine for many generations. Clara Nell Pennington, who is my great-aunt Tootsie, married Clarence E. Wardlaw. And as mentioned before, the Penningtons and Wardlaws have long attended church together at Enon. Plus, the 1900 census finds them as neighbors when Aaron and William Giles Pennington, brothers to my GG Grandfather James J. Pennington, were living next door to Charles W. Wardlaw, Clarence's grandfather.
The tombstones above belong to Samuel McCulley Wardlaw and his wife, Jane. Samuel and Jane moved their family to Itawamba County from Georgia between 1840 and 1844, based upon the birth places given for their children. Researchers indicate that Samuel was born to William Wardlaw and his second wife, Margaret McCulley, in Gwinnett or Harris County, Georgia. The Wardlaws appear to have been Scotch-Irish, arriving first in Pennsylvania and then following the usual route south through Augusta County, Virginia and later to Abbeville District, South Carolina before spreading west. Samuel's tombstone provides us with a birth date of July 4, 1805 and a death date of May 10, 1877 while census records tell us he was born in Georgia.

Buried next to Samuel in Bean Cemetery is his wife, Jane, whose tombstone indicates that she was born January 3, 1810 and died June 8, 1875. She was born in South Carolina and thought to have been an Austin.
Samuel and Jane attended church at Enon, which was originally known as Enon Baptist Church of Christ. This was not a Church of Christ faith as we know it today, rather the Primitive Baptist churches in those days were typically titled "Baptist Church of Christ." Church records show that Samuel and Jane were admitted by letter of experience in May 1847. Samuel served as a delegate to union and association meetings, and his son George W. Wardlaw served the church as moderator and eventually became ordained as an Elder (preacher).

Church records also indicate that a William Jasper Wardlaw and wife M. H. were granted "letters of dismission" in September 1857. In the census of 1850, we find a William and Hawkins Wardlaw living next to Samuel and Jane. William was most likely their son. In the 1860, he and his family can be found in Bartholomew, Arkansas near Pine Bluff. It is not known what happened to this family after 1860.

Daughters of Samuel and Jane were Mary, Amanda, Martha and Margaret. Their spouses are not known.

Sons James H. and Samuel H. died young without any issue. Both are buried at Bean Cemetery.

Son Charles W. Walker and his wife Susan Francis Jones are both buried in the cemetery as well. The succeeding generations of these Itawamba County Wardlaws are buried at nearby Bourland Cemetery, near the relocated Enon Primitive Baptist Church. The Bourlands are another well-connected family to Enon Church.

Okay, one more connection to Bean Cemetery

Okay, okay. Is this getting old? Here's one more connection that my family has to this cemetery. This time it is through my father's family, the Loyds. My Loyd family left Lincoln County, Tennesse in the 1840s, settling in the Pine Springs community in what is now Lamar County, Alabama. Several Loyd brothers were potters, including my GG Grandfather Isham James Loyd. Isham's brother, William, moved to Itawamba County and set up a pottery shop near Tremont. William and his son created and patented the gravemarker you see above. This gravemarker is a perfect example of their design, and it is unusual to see one still in this great shape, especially because it is a fairly large marker. Because these gravemarkers were made out of clay, they are fragile and most of the ones you find scattered throughout cemeteries in northeastern Mississippi and northwestern Alabama are broken. Even though these markers are over 100 years old, they appear as if newly made. They were an affordable option for families who might not otherwise be able to afford a heavier, concrete marker, and you will find that often families would purchase a marker for a long-deceased relative to mark their burial spot.

See the stamped patent mark on the marker created for Joseph Thompson? The Loyds patented their design and made it available to other potters so this pot could have been made by one of the other potteries the operated in the Tremont-Smithville area. Usually, when the Loyds made their gravemakers, they put a little swirl or leaf pattern in the triangular top of the marker.

Last one, I promise

This will be the last post on my family's connection to Bean Cemetery. Promise. So to recap, there is the connection that the cemetery has to Enon Church, to the Wardlaw family buried there, and to the Loyd markers in the cemetery. There's one more.

Buried in Bean Cemetery is S. L. English and his wife, Hannah. Mr. English was the previous owner to the property which is now owned by my family. This property is located in Peaceful Valley along the old Tombigbee River and was purchased from Samuel L. English by my GG Grandfather Jackson Samuel Sloan. English Branch is a now-small creek that runs through the property, obviously named for the English family that settled there in the early days of Itawamba County.

Above is a picture of S. L. English's tombstone. I don't think he attended church at Enon as his name has not been found in the church minutes, but I've seen Hannah English's name listed as a member at Unity Presbyterian Church over near Richmond. That's quite a ways from Peaceful Valley. Oh, and the marker is broken. It is being held up courtesy of Stephen Wardlaw.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Please follow along with me as I tiptoe into the world of blogging. It's a new endeavor for me, although not the first in our family. Daughter Rebekah created her own blog this past summer while a student at Loyola in Chicago. She seemed to have fun with her blog, and it got me to thinking. Could I do this? How hard can it be? As it turned out, setting up this blog was super easy. The hard part, I'm sure, will be the commitment of time to create the posts.
So what's the purpose of this blog? The title should give it away. I am passionate about my family's connection to Itawamba County and want to share that passion with others. Speaking of passion, there are two bloggers that have inspired me. Bob Franks is a fellow Itawambian with a wonderful blog about our neck of the woods at the Itawamba Historical Society's webpage, and Terry Thornton has an equally wonderful blog covering the history of Monroe County, our neighbor to the south. Please visit them at and
It will be difficult to measure up to those two. But I'll give it a try.