Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fessie survives kamikaze attack and largest naval battle in world

Fessie Pennington participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf , the last great naval battle of World War II as well as the largest naval battle ever fought anywhere. On the first day of battle - October 24, 1944 - the USS Reno spent most of the day assisting the USS Princeton, as noted in an earlier post. The following day the light cruiser rejoined the task force under the command of Admiral William F. Halsey and proceeded to engage the Northern Force of the Japanese Navy at Cape Engano, the final battle in the Gulf of Leyte. At the end of the three day conflict, the task force had destroyed 3 Japanese battleships, 2 light carriers, 1 large carrier, 10 carriers and 11 destroyers.

Fessie served as a gunner's mate, responsible for feeding ammunition to the anti-aircraft guns while the gunner shot down enemy planes. After the war he spoke about seeing the eyes of Japanese pilots as they swooped down upon the ship. They came close enough for Fessie to see the grimaces on their faces, and once he had to take over the firing of the gun when the gunman of his turret was wounded.

The Japanese increased their use of kamikaze planes to counter their diminished air strength. Prior to World War II, kamikaze, or “divine wind,” was a relatively obscure world and referred to the typhoon that sunk a Mongul fleet in its attempt to invade Japan in the 13th century. Following the war, however, nearly everyone knew what a kamikaze pilot was.

One of the first recorded kamikaze attacks of World War II took place on the USS Reno. In the waters off Formosa, on October 14, five planes converged upon the cruiser at the same instant. One of the planes never waivered from its course, crashed into the fantail of the ship, skidded across and then exploded on the USS Reno’s main deck, badly burning six seamen.

The USS Reno survived the kamikaze attack and survived the Battle of Leyte Gulf but faced even larger challenges in the days ahead.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

USS Reno and USS Princeton

Itawambian Fessie Pennington served as Seamen Second Class with the USS Reno, pictured here as she comes to the aid of a sister ship, USS Princeton, on October 24, 1944, the first day of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The USS Princeton had been hit by a kamikaze plane and suffered extensive damage. Five times the Reno pulled alongside and rescued men from the Princeton, braving heat from the fires that were raging on the ship. During one rescue attempt, the Princeton crushed one of the Reno's gun mounts.

Another light cruiser, the USS Birmingham was ordered to assist the Princeton, but efforts to save the ship were in vain as fires continued to burn and reach the cache of torpedo warheads. A huge explosion erupted just five hours after the initial hit, and 903 sailors were killed, most of them on board the Birmingham which suffered extensive damage itself. Finally, orders were given to scuttle the Princeton.

Papaw recalled the tragedy several years later in the safety of his living room. A destroyer, the USS Irwin, was called upon to torpedo the Princeton after it was determined that the ship could not be saved. The first torpedo fired by the Irwin missed the Princeton entirely. So did the second one. When the third one was fired, it ran true for several yards toward the Princeton before making a U-turn back toward the Irwin. Papaw showed us with his hands how the erratic the torpedo was and said that the Irwin had to outrun its own torpedo. His own ship and others had to manuveur violently to evade the errant torpedo.

After two more torpedoes missed their mark, the USS Reno was assigned to destroy the damaged carrier. The anti-aircraft cruiser fired two torpedoes into the Princeton, triggering a huge explosion that was set off by the carrier’s 70 tons of explosives. The USS Princeton disappeared into the sea in about 45 seconds, but it provided a lasting memory for Fessie Pennington back home in Peaceful Valley.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sailor Fessie

Fessie Manuel Pennington
c 1944

My grandfather was thirty-one years old with a wife and three young daughters when he walked to Fulton from his home in Peaceful Valley to enlist in the Navy on February 2, 1944. Fessie was home on break from his work in the shipyards of Mobile, Alabama. By the end of the month, he was in Navy "boot camp" in Bainbridge, Maryland and by mid-May Fessie was in the Pacific participating in airstrikes against Japanese strongholds.

I can't help but wonder what went through his mind as he traveled by train and bus, and then later by ship, to places he had never seen or ever thought about seeing. Our country asked a lot of men like Fessie . They left the comfort of their homes and families, experienced the atrocities of war, and returned home to business as usual to pick up their lives right where they left off.

Like many other mothers, Ethel Dee Sloan Pennington, had more than one son to worry over during World War II. In addition to Fessie, his brothers Gaylord and Frelon also fought in the war.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Many Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

Image from Currier & Ives, Printmakers to America

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fisher and Nora

Fisher D. Johnson and
Nora Thornton Johnson

Fisher's nephew, Randal Owens, told us that Fisher's middle initial stood for "Demarcus" which is probably correct since Fisher's son Julius has a middle name of Marcus.

As for Nora's name, it was actually pronounced Norie. Cousin Randal has a story about her name too. Seems she and Fisher got into an argument with Fisher implying that Nora wasn't as smart as he was. Nora said, well you're so smart you didn't even know my real name when we got married. What is your real name, Fisher asked. Toliethel, she replied. Fisher, who apparently had quite a wit, said, "Well, if I'd known your name was Toliethel, I wouldn't have married you."

I'm not sure if Toliethel was Nora's real name. Most records, including social security, show only Nora, but the 1930 census lists her as Nora E. Maybe her name was Nora Ethel?

Fisher was a playful, fun-loving character in contrast to the serious-minded Nora.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mother and Child c 1935

This photo is not the greatest, but it is one of the earliest photographs of Glader Johnson Mills.

Love the hat.

She is pictured with son Paul who was born in June 1935.

Lewis Millard Mills

Millard Mills with
an unknown baby, probably
a younger sibling.

Uncle Millard was a sweet, gentle person like most Mills men. He was the oldest child of Jesse Thomas Mills and Onady Randolph, born January 24, 1905. Since Millard looks to be about 8-10 years old in this picture then it is possible that the baby could be Clinton, Burl or Herschel, his youngest siblings (just guessing).

Millard married Syble Johnson, daughter of Fisher D. Johnson and Nora Thornton, on November 6, 1927. When he died on February 8, 1991 he was buried in the cemetery at Jones Chapel outside of Nettleton, Mississippi where he had lived and worshiped for many years.

There is something about Millard in this photo that reminds me of my husband's boyhood photos, not too surprising since everyone says that Millard and his brother Henry looked a lot alike.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mary Elizabeth Griffin Thornton

Mary Elizabeth "Betty" Griffin Thornton
surrounded by some great-grandchildren

Betty Thornton is pictured here in front of a school bus operated at Ryans Well by Lawrence Taylor, her granddaughter's husband. This photograph was taken in the early 1940s, and I'm going to attempt to identify the children pictured in it. If I have mis-labeled anybody, please let me know. That's Kenneth Taylor in Grandma Thornton's lap. He is the son of Lawrence and Dorothy Johnson Taylor. His brother, Alvie Gene Tayor, is standing in the front row, far right.

The little girls on the front row are Margie Mills, Vera Mae Mills, and Judy Mills.

Standing in the rear are Ruby Mills, Charles Mills, Etoye Johnson, Eldred Mills, Paul Mills and Buster whose last name I do not know.

Etoye Johnson actually is a granddaughter, not a great-grandaughter, being the youngest child of Nora Thornton and Fisher D. Johnson. Margie, Judy, Ruby, Charles and Eldred are children of Millard Mills and Syble Johnson while Vera Mae and Paul belong to Henry Mills and Glader Johnson. Millard and Henry Mills were brothers who married sisters Syble and Glader.

Grandma Thornton was born July 30, 1857 to James C. Griffin and Sarah E. "Sallie" Evans. She married John T. Thornton, son of Green B. and Mary Thornton, on December 23, 1874. Betty died May 2, 1952 and is buried at Sandy Springs Cemetery.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Two Robinson Men

Lawrence Evans Robinson, front, with Mautimer Robinson. Although Mautimer was four years older than Lawrence, he was Lawrence's uncle. This picture was likely taken before the two young men were drafted for World War I. Lawrence didn't return from the war, instead he died in France in 1918.

Lawrence Evans Robinson was born October 13, 1896 and died November 16, 1918. Mautimer Dewitt Robinson, Sr. was born October 1, 1892 and died March 31, 1975. Both men were raised at Tremont which is where this photo was most likely taken. Mautimer was married to Annie Maye Stone, daughter of William Gayland Stone and Mary Pearl Evans. Annie Maye was my first cousin, twice removed, through the Evans family, while Mautimer was my great-great uncle through the Robinson family. A double connection to this family!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Has anyone seen one of these lately?

Broadhead Skink
aka "Scorpion"

At one time, the woods of Itawamba County were filled with reptiles such as this Broadhead Skink. In a 1905 article written by Itawamba native W. L. Clayton, the reptile was referred to as a "scorpion" and described by Clayton as being as big as eighteen inches long with a "blood red head." Clayton also noted that they could make a sound like the "barking of a small dog" and could "jump out of a tree like a squirrel." When Clayton was a little boy, around 1840-1845, the reptiles were common, but in 1905 he lamented that they were extinct.

It is believed that Clayton was referring to a Broadhead Skink. A University of Georgia website indicates that these skinks are sometimes called scorpions and mistakenly thought to have venomous sting. Broadhead skinks are not extinct although perhaps the skinks that Clayton saw were of a different, larger variety that are now extinct.

How would you like one of these to drop out of tree on you?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I. C. A. Northington - murdered by Tories?

Among the Cofield gravemarkers in the Cofield-Cockrell Cemetery are three tombstones that belong to the Northington family. It is good that they rest in such a peaceful place since they supposedly died a violent death.

Buried here with I.C.A. Northington are his wife, Arminda, and daughters Mary and Cederah.

I.C.A. Northington was born in 1821 in North Carolina. His family came to Alabama around 1836, settling around Sipsey Creek in present-day Lamar County. This is where I.C.A. and his wife, Arminda C. Lockridge, were living when the War Between the States broke out. The Northingtons supported the Confederancy and somehow incurred the wrath of Union sympathizers. The family of Andrew Jackson Northington had their home and livestock destroyed. I.C.A. Northington took his family and fled north to the secluded Bull Mountain hills near Shottsville, hoping to escape the hostilities. Unfortunately, a band of Tories found the family and murdered them.

True story or not? I found the story in a couple of different publications, most notably Lamar County, Alabama, A History to 1900 by Rose Marie Smith. The date of death on I.C.A.'s tombstone is January 19, 1863 while the date of death on his wife and daughters' tombstones is August 8, 1863. So if the tombstones are correct, the family did not die together. Of course, we've all seen instances were tombstones were wrong. What is true, however, is that the people of Marion and Fayette counties (Lamar was not yet a county) were sharply divided over the war, and these sentiments often led to violence. It truly was a civil war, brother against brother.

I.C.A.'s tombstone has the following inscription: "God in his wisdom has recalled, though the body moulders here, the soul is safely in heaven." Arminda's tombstone appears to read the same. Three surviving children were raised by family members, including a son Henry who is buried at Mt. Pleasant Methodist Cemetery in Itawamba County.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Dangerous Work

This photo was taken June 18, 1918. Private Primire, of the 199th Squadron, was killed when, according to Jesse Moore, the cadet fell from the hanger. I'm not sure if the word cadet refers to the man or the aircraft.

What a piece of history that Jesse captured for us!

Dangerous Work

According to Jesse Davis Moore's handwritten note on back of this photo, it was taken on April 24, 1918 in England. His notes indicate that two men were killed after the plane fell about 500 feet.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

199th Aero Squadron, World War I

Jesse Moore is pictured on the front row, far left. On the back of the photo, Jesse wrote that it was taken in England. He also listed the names of the pictured soldiers as well as their hometowns, giving his own name as "Pvt. Moore, Dorsey, Miss."

Jesse Davis Moore, Aviator

Pictured at right is Jesse Davis Moore, an Itawambian who served in World War I with the 199th Aero Squadron. This photo was taken January 12, 1919 near Verdon, France.

Aero squadrons were initially part of the U.S. Army, organized under its Aviation Section, there being no such thing as the Air Force at that time. The first aero squadron was formed in 1913 - talk about cutting edge technology, when World War I broke out in 1914, there were no military aircraft anywhere in the world. The U.S. jumped into the conflict in 1917, but it wasn't until the following spring that it actually entered the battle zones of the war. By November, the war was over. Still, in that short period of time, the aero squadrons had downed 756 enemy aircraft and 76 enemy balloons, and Itawambian Jesse Moore played a part in those statistics.

One can just imagine what young Jesse Moore saw and experienced during his war-time service in the ground-breaking aviation branch. Actually, we don't have to imagine too much because Jesse left several photographs, now in the hands of his granddaughter, Brenda Moore Franklin, formerly of Frog Level, Itawamba County, Mississippi and now living in Oxford. Thanks to her for sharing.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Golden Eagle Syrup

Am I the only one who didn't know that Golden Eagle Syrup was a product of Fayette, Alabama? Like many Itawambians, we were raised on Golden Eagle Syrup. A jar remained on the table in my grandparents' kitchen year-round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, along with salt, pepper, and pepper sauce. I have fond memories of Mama's fried chicken with biscuits and Golden Eagle Syrup. A dollop of butter was placed on the plate, and the rich syrup was mixed in with the butter until creamy. Then the hot biscuits were swiped into the syrup mixture for eating with the crispy fried chicken.

Yesterday while doing some research in a genealogical library, I came across a 1969 Sesquicentennial newspaper published by the Broadcaster in Fayette County, Alabama. This publication has great photos and great information, and as I was flipping through it, a headline caught my eye, "Golden Eagle - A Giant Among Local Industries." The syrup, which is a mixture of corn syrup and honey, was developed by Mr. and Mrs. V. S. Patterson right there in Fayette in 1928. At the time the article was written in 1969, Mrs. V. S. "Lucy" Patterson was president of Golden Eagle Syrup Manufacturers, the only syrup plant in Alabama that was completely air-conditioned.

After reading the article, I got to wondering if the syrup was still produced in Fayette. Yep, it is. According to the official website at, "The Pride of Alabama" is still produced in downtown Fayette, in the same location since 1944. Unfortunately, the Patterson family had to sell the business in the 1980s due to health reasons, but it is still family-owned and locally produced. Now, excuse me while I make a beeline to the store to get some chicken and Golden Eagle Syrup.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thomas Alfred "Bunt" Dulaney

Thomas Alfred Dulaney and his wife, Alice, are pictured on their porch with their granddaughter, Vida Dulaney and her husband, Floyd Wilemon. Thomas Alfred was nicknamed Bunt because of an accident which severed his thumb. His wife was Alice Moxley or Maxey.

The Dulaneys were among the first white settlers to Itawamba County. Bunt's grandfather was John Dulaney who, along with his brothers Alfred and Thomas, moved into Itawamba County just after 1830, buying land ceded by the Chickasaw Indians in 1836. Most, if not all, of the Dulaneys in Itawamba County today are descended from one of these three men.

Thanks to Don Dulaney for sharing the photo with us.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Let me count the connections!

Children of Morman Bonaparte and Leona Kate (Robinson) Stone, from back right: Leon, Leo, Lecil, with Florence pictured center front. Leo died from whooping cough not long after this picture was taken. Morman and Kate lived at Bexar, Alabama.

My connection to this family? Let me count the ways! Kate's father, Henry Johnson Robinson, was brother to George Emerson Robinson, my gg-grandfather. Kate's mother, Susan Florence "Sukey" Evans, was sister to John Thomas Evans, my gg-grandfather. Kate's brother, Lucian Gaines Robinson, was married to Theodoria Agnes Jane Bishop, daughter of my gg-grandfather William T. Bishop. Morman's Uncle Carroll Stone was married to Moran Parthenia Stone, sister to George Emerson Robinson, my gg-grandfather. Morman's Aunt Missouria Elizabeth Stone was married to Luther Loyd, brother to Mary Malinda "Dollia" Loyd, my great-grandmother.

Many thanks to Bettye Woodhull, granddaughter of Morman and Kate Stone, for sharing this photo.

Boy, are we connected! As Bettye said, if we keep digging up ancestors, we might discover that we are half-sisters!

Morman Bonaparte Stone and Leona Kathryn "Kate" Robinson Stone

This photo was taken by their granddaughter, Bettye Stone Woodhull, on the occasion of Morman and Kate's 50th wedding anniversary on November 26, 1949. Bettye took the photo using her mother's old Kodak box camera. The anniversary cake was purchased from a Winfield bakery by Bettye's father, Leon.

Morman and Kate are pictured in front of their home in Bexar which was purchased from Ophelia Stone Moorman, widow of Dr. A. L. Moorman, sometime after Dr. Moorman died which was in 1922. The house was originally built in the 1850s and acquired by the Moormans much later. It was the Moorman family that added a front room to the house, a room that Bettye remembers quite well.

There were four windows in this room, with two of the windows having deep window sills, perfect for little girls to crawl up and play in. According to Bettye, she loved to play in these "window seats" which were duplicates of the ones found in Dr. Moorman's office. She remembers being told that the front room had been used as a "play room" for Dr. Moorman's daughters, Jessica (born 1884) and Corrine (born 1891), and this further intrigued Bettye. All of the windows and doors had heavy, carved rope moulding. The tall ceilings (12-14 feet) had a stenciled motif while the lower walls were covered in dark wood paneling.

Thanks to Bettye for sharing her memories and the photo. These are such important things to preserve.

Morman Bonaparte Stone was born April 26, 1879 to John Henry Stone and Amanda Clementine Wiginton. He died February 19, 1953. Leona Kathryn "Kate" Robinson was born May 11, 1880 to Henry Johnson Robinson and Susan Florence "Sukey" Evans. She died January 19, 1967. Both are buried at Bexar Methodist Church Cemetery.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cofield-Cockrell Cemetery

The Cofield-Cockrell Cemetery in nearby Marion County is a small one and like many older cemeteries, not easy to get there. It involves parking and walking. That said, it is well worth seeking out. The handful of graves are situated in a small copse of trees. Moss covers several graves that are marked only by plain stones; these graves are said to belong to a black family. The only graves with substantial markers are those of the Cofield and Northington families. More about the Northington family later.

I'm not sure why the cemetery is called Cofield-Cockrell (sometimes found Cockrell-Cofield) since there are no headstones here for anyone named Cockrell. Sam Cofield's wife was Zilpha Cockrell, daughter of Tobias and Abigail Cockrell, and I've speculated that perhaps they are buried here in unmarked graves. (FYI: A couple of Tobias's brothers, Jordan and Elum, lived across the state line over in Itawamba County.) Zilpha's obituary from 1900 indicates that the cemetery was formerly known as Shady Grove.

Unfortunately, this is one of those cemeteries that will require regular maintenance to prevent it from being overtaken by the surrounding woods. Cousin Hunter Stone has been responsible for most of the upkeep in recent years. Hunter's mother was Ruby Cofield Stone, daughter of John R. and Dollia Cofield. Ruby grew up in Tremont and married Hugh Stone.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Not a great close-up but maybe you can see some of the detail on the grave marker for John R. Cofield.

Oh God: how mysterious and how strange

My great-grandfather was John Richard Cofield whose tombstone is pictured here. Both he and my great-grandmother, Dollia Loyd Cofield, died while quite young, leaving five small orphans one of whom was my grandmother, Pearl Cofield Robinson.
John and Dollia (pronounced Dollie) were both raised in the Bull Mountain area of Marion County, near the Itawamba County line. Dollia's parents were Isham and Rachel Loyd whose pictures were posted earlier on this blog. John attended Birmingham Dental College where he received his degree in 1900, and shortly thereafter the young family moved to Hackleburg, and subsequently to Haleyville, where John practiced as a dentist. As you can tell from his tombstone, John died in 1910 when he was 35 years old. Family lore indicates that it was kidney disease that killed him. His obituary provided that he had been suffering for two years before his death, and the doctor treating him said that in his thirty years of experience he hadn't witnessed anything like it.

John and Dollia are buried in the Cofield-Cockrell Cemetery near Shottsville in Marion County. This cemetery is located not far from the old Cofield homeplace, presumably on what was land belonging to Sam Cofield, John's father. John has a beautiful stone marker that depicts various church steeples at the top with an open Bible. The inscription on the marker reads, "He has gone from his dear ones, his children, his wife & Sam, he willingly toiled for, and loved as his life. Oh God: how mysterious and how strange are thy ways, to take from us this loved one in the best of his days."

Although I can't say for certain, I believe that Isham Loyd, John's father-in-law, wrote this poignant verse.

Dollia died a couple of years later in 1912 with an official cause of death listed as pellagra (that's a post for another day!) but her daughter Ruby said it was from a broken heart. After Dollia died, the five Cofield orphans were divided up. The two boys went to live with their grandfather Sam Cofield while the three girls moved to Itawamba County to live with their aunt, Vannah Cofield Harbor, who lived at Tremont. My grandmother was not quite six years old at the time of her mother's death, and I've often wondered about the impact such a tragedy had on her and her siblings.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Man of Strong Convictions, they said

Isham James Loyd and Rachel C. Loyd are buried at Newburg Cemetery in northwestern Marion County. Their marker reads "Their words were kindness, their deeds were love, their spirits humble, they rest above."

Newburg Cemetery is a tiny cemetery located along Highway 19.

Isham's obituary in the Marion County newspaper reads as follows:

"On last Sunday night at the home of his son Luther Loyd in South Hamilton, Isom J. Loyd passed to his final reward. He was born on January 23, 1831, and died November 7, 1915. He was married to Rachel Young on October 12, 1858. He leaves three children, Luther Loyd, Mrs. J. L. Shotts and Mrs. J.A. Davis, and several grandchildren. Mr. Loyd lived the greater part of his life on his farm on Bull Mountain, but after the death of his wife some years ago he has spent most of his time in Hamilton with his son and daughter. Mr. Loyd was a man of strong convictions on all subjects, and could always give a good reason for the faith that was in him. To the bereaved relatives of the deceased, The News extends words of sincerest sympathy.

Funeral services were held at Newburg Church in the presence of a large crowd of sorrowing relatives and friends on Thursday."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

Found this postcard today while browing through some antique and flea market shops in Pensacola, Florida. From World War I, the postcard reminded me of my great-uncles who died while serving their "Home and Country" during that conflict. Lawrence Evans Robinson and James Clyde Cofield both died of influenza during the epidemic that raged through the armed forces during World War I. Clyde died in October, and Lawrence in November, 1918. Many more soldiers died from influenza than they did in combat.

Dr. John Haynes Young - brother to Rachel Young Loyd

John Haynes Young was born in Monroe County, Mississippi in 1849 to William A. Young and Elizabeth C. "Bettie" Evans. The Young family lived near present-day Splunge, just across the state line from the Pine Springs area of what was then Marion County, Alabama but is now Lamar County. They settled there in the 1830s, arriving from Kentucky but there is some thought that the Youngs were in Abbeville District, South Carolina before Kentucky.
According to Dr. John H. Young's biographical sketch that appeared in the 1892 publication "A Memorial and Biographical History of Johnson and Hill Counties, Texas," he studied medicine under Dr. A. L. Moorman of Bexar, Alabama and subsequently attended the University of Louisville and the Kentucky School of Medicine. Upon completion of his coursework in 1878, he returned to Alabama where he practiced medicine in Lamar County until 1886 when he
moved to near the Itasca community in Hill County, Texas. He died there in 1929.

1880 Census Lamar County, Alabama
John H. Young 30 MS KY AL physican
Harriet L. Young 18 AL AL AL wife
Rufus B. Cody 21 boarder, attends school
Thomas Betts 14 servant, works on farm

1900 Census Hill County, Texas
John H. Young 50 MS KY AL born Oct 1849, widowed, physician
Hattie 19 AL born Sept 1880
Maud P. 17 AL born Nov 1882
Momie E. 15 AL born July 1884
Bessie C. 14 AL born Feb 1886
Lizzie A. 12 TX born Mar 1888
Henry G. 10 TX born Jan 1890
Wanona B. 9 TX born Feb 1891
Chester G. 7 TX born Nov 1892
John D. 5 TX born Nov 1894
Etta Nichols 26 single, boarder AL AL AL born Feb 1874 (This must be the same Etta who was the wife in the next census, below.)

1910 Census Hill County, Texas
John H Young 60 MS AL AL 2nd marriage, physician, gen. practice
Etta M 36 AL KY AL wife, 1st marriage
Maud R 27 AL
Morrie E 5 AL
Elizabeth A 22 TX music teacher
Henry G 20 TX
Maud B 18 TX
Clayton G 17 TX (must be Chester)
John P 15 TX
Johnie Gilliams 27 boarder, dry goods sales lady
Allie Walden 19 servant, private family
Mable Walden 17 servant, private family
Pellie R Walden 1

1920 Census Hill County, Texas
John H Young 70 MS KY AL postmaster
Mary Young 45 AL AL AL
Maud Young 36 AL public school teacher
Momie Young 34 AL public school teacher
Blanche Young 28 TX public school teacher

Monday, November 10, 2008

Isham James Loyd

Isham Loyd was a character. I never met him, of course, but that is the picture I have of the man. He and Rachel had a farm near Bull Mountain Creek in northwest Marion County, Alabama. In addition to a community store, they had a cotton mill, grist mill, flour mill, blacksmith shop, a pottery kiln, and carding factory. Isham was instrumental in obtaining a post office for Bull Mountain and served as its postmaster. He helped build a combination church and school and served as a teacher for the school and secretary for the church board.

He was active politically and a regular contributor of many long articles to the county newspaper, The Marion Herald. His articles were very often quite lengthy and never shy of an opinion. Several articles exist in old bound newspaper records found at the courthouse in Marion County. Two articles from newspaper issues on August 25, 1887 and November 10, 1887 have been found and copied. These articles are primarily diatribes against Wheelers.

Wheelers were supporters of the Agricultural Wheel, a farmer’s organization that believed agriculture represented the wheel that moved the economy. Wheelerism began in the late 1870s and early 1880s in Texas and Arkansas and quickly spread across the rural south. Its roots can be seen in the Grange society movement and its demise in the merger of the Wheel into the Farmers’ Alliance and ultimately the Populist party.

Isham wrote and spoke out against the Wheelers because of perceived failings on several points. First, Isham believed that the Wheelers weren’t being truthful in their claim that they were not a political organization. As he pointed out, had the Wheel been a pure farmer’s organization he would have approved of their efforts. Isham was particularly peeved that Wheel supporters formed alliances with the Republican party, the post-war party responsible, in his view, for high tariffs and oppressive laws. These alliances led to the defeat of many leaders of the Democratic party, a party which Isham felt better represented the poor white farmer of the south. Isham also was suspicious of the farmers’ cooperatives pushed by the Wheelers. These cooperatives purchased goods in bulk and supposedly sold them to its members at discounted prices.

The published articles reflect a well-read man who quotes from different newspapers and articles from across the nation. They indicate he was a student of history and opposed big government. He was a proponent of states’ rights and opposed Federalism, railing against former President John Adams and his alien and sedition laws. The articles also indicate Isham was a man of strong opinion and beliefs and was unafraid to give voice to them. This is a trait found in many of Isham's descendants today.

Isham and Rachel are buried at Newburg Cemetery near their former farm along County Road 19 near Bull Mountain Creek. Rachel died at the age of 74 on December 12, 1912 while Isham was 84 years old when he died November 7, 1915.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Loyd Originals

Pictured here are grave markers that are believed to be Loyd originals. William Payne Loyd and his son William D. Loyd were potters, and they patented this unique grave marker on June 10, 1879. Most of the markers that are found in northeast Mississippi and northwest Alabama were actually manufactured by potters other than the Loyds. Those manufactured by the Loyds have the leaf symbol on the marker. For more on the Loyd markers, see Terry Thornton's blog. Bob Frank's blog has information on the patent that the Loyds obtained for their marker design.
William Payne Loyd was the brother of my great-great grandfather Isham James Loyd. The Loyds were a family of potters. Isham had a kiln on Bull Mountain creek in northwest Marion County, Alabama, right next to the Itawamba County line. Isham and William's brother, Lawson, moved to Winston County, Mississippi where he operated a pottery shop.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fulton Grammar School - circa 1940

Fulton Grammar School
Many of you will recognize this photo as being taken in front of the old grammar school in Fulton. When we moved from Greenville to Fulton while I was still in junior high school, I didn't know what a grammar school was, having come from the land of "elementary schools," but I soon caught on. Later, as an adult moving from Aberdeen to Fulton, three of our four children attended school here in this very same building. A new grammar school was recently built, but it is called an "attendance center."
My father is pictured on the front row, second from the right. You can easily see why he was nicknamed "PeeWee," a name that stuck to him through the years over his real name of James even though he didn't stay a peewee. The only other person that I know in the photograph is Wilma Comer Creely who is also on the front row, fifth from the left. I'm not sure what grade this was, probably second or third grade, maybe 1940? Can anyone identify these classmates and teacher?
I've heard from Wilma Comer Creely, and she has identified most everyone in this photo.
Front row: Edward Holiday, Ann Roberts, Jean Betts, Elween Pearce, Wilma Comer, Millie Steele, unknown, Armentha Bourland, David Mattox, Lovie Moore, Peewee Robinson, and Raomi Pearce.
Second row: Galaine Reeves, ? Morris, Noel Morris, Elizabeth Miller, Dot Gaither, unknown, Louise Coker, Betty Jo Tucker, Travis Staub, Pete Miller, and Jo Pierce
Third row: Frank Pearce, ? Morris, ? Shields (not sure), Halivee Dulaney, unknown, Maureen Franks, Romie Wilemon, unknown, Frank Davis, and Otis Ray Wilson
Thanks to Natalie Creely Kline for getting in touch with her mother to get these names. If anyone can identify the unnamed individuals, or if there is a correction, please let me know.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pearl Evans Stone and children

This photo is of Mary Pearl (Evans) Stone and her children, Fred Ray Stone, Annie Maye Stone, and Julia Grace Stone; it was likely taken about 1910 or so. Pearl Evans, the daughter of John Thomas Evans and Elizabeth Ann Bishop, married William Gayland "Willie" Stone in 1897. He died just eleven years later in 1908 at the age of 31.

Annie Maye Stone, their daughter, wrote an important family history of the Stones who settled around Tremont in Itawamba County and Shottsville of Marion County, Alabama. She was married to Mautimer Dewitt Robinson, son of George Emerson Robinson and his second wife, Virginia Alice Downum.

I am connected in two ways to this family - once through the Evans as Pearl was sister to my great-grandmother Arthusa. And again through the Robinsons - Mautimer was half-brother to my great-grandfather Gideon who was married to Arthusa. If I look a little bit harder, I bet I'd find another Itawamba connection.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Johnson siblings

This photo is not the greatest. The images are blurred, and the faces are out of focus, but I really like this picutre. In spite of its imperfections, we get a lot out of it. This appears to be an unplanned snapshot of a happy group of people, in this case siblings. We can see what kinds of clothes they used to wear, how they wore their hair. And although these siblings are not all hugged up, there's a sense of ease and compatibility with each other.
This is another photo found in Glader Johnson Mills' album, and with the help of family members I've identified the siblings. And no, I did not write on the original image or my only copy. I took copies of several old photographs to a family reunion and asked around as to who the folks were in the photos. This turned out to be an efficient way to capture information, and now I've also got photographs that are labeled for future generations. There is nothing more frustrating to me than pictures of unknown family members from generations back.
In case you can't read the writing, the brothers in the back of the photo are Julius, Donnis, Vonnie and Adron. The sisters in front are Etoye, Glader and Syble. Not pictured are siblings Dorothy and Earnest. These were all children of Fisher D. Johnson and Nora Thornton, and I'm guessing that the picture was taken in the early 1950s.

Son Webb's Store - Where the Roses Never Fade

Son Webb's Store was just one of many little country stores that were scattered around Itawamba County. A close-up of the store, left, shows it during a 1974 flood. My Aunt Tootsie said that the store was prone to flooding when the Tombigbee River got out of its banks at Ironwood Bluff. She remembers wading into water in the store. Son and his wife Verna lived in the back of the store, and when the water started rising they would put as much of the merchandise that they could up on blocks.

The store served mainly as a gathering place for the community, a place to buy crackers and a coke and talk about crops and the weather. According to Aunt Tootsie, Luther Reich built the original store and Otis Reich took it over. Otis built a home across from the store that it still standing today, although not in great shape. This home replaced a much older, two story home located on the same property. The Reichs eventually closed the store, and it was re-opened at some point by Son Webb.

Son was not his real name; it was Cullin. The 1930 census shows a Cullin E. Webb, age 27, born in Oklahoma with wife Vernie and a son named J. W. Aunt Tootsie remembers other children as well: Paul Ray, Marcelle and Polly.

The store closed sometime after 1975. What I remember most is a small sign nailed to a tree outside the store. It read, "Peaceful Valley - Where the roses never fade." I'd love to have a good photograph of the store if anyone has one.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Brethren, We Have Met to Worship

Fellow Itawambian Brenda Moore Franklin brought by some of her grandfather's photos and memorabilia a few weeks ago. She and I both live in Oxford now but share a love of our home county. According to Brenda, her grandfather, Jessie Davis Moore, was a packrat when it came to photos and keepsakes, and she got her genes from him. Thank goodness! She has a true treasure trove.

This photo was part of the collection kept by Jessie Moore, and is a picture of Primitive Baptist preachers, probably taken at a union or association meeting in the 1920s or 1930s. It is not dated. Charles Davis Moore, who was the father of Jessie Moore, was a Primitive Baptist preacher and is pictured on the front row, far right. Minutes of Enon Primitive Baptist Church indicate that Elder C. D.moore was ordained as a minister in July 1912 by the church's presbytery H. A. Rutledge, B. F. Williams and M. C. Hankins. Elder Moore also later served as minister at Pleasant Grove Primitive Baptist Church.
It is not known whom the other Primitive Baptist preachers are in the photo, but a 1921 minutes book of the Tombigbee Primitive Baptist Association ("held with Pleasant Grove Church, Itawamba County, Miss., On Friday before the Fourth Sunday in September, 1921") included the following pastors' names: J. C. Huddleston, G. C. McNeill, M. C. Hankins, D. F. Hankins, B. F. Williams, B. A. Carter and Grady F. McWhirter.

Happy Birthday, Rebekah!!

Rebecca Davis Pennington
holding her namesake
Rebekah Kate Mills

Looks like you got what you wanted for your birthday!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Great Flood of 1974

The first photo, right, shows the flooded Tombigbee River during the Great Flood of 1974. January 1974 is the date stamped on the photo, taken from Highway 25 at Bean's Ferry. The Bean's Ferry road was our usual route to Peaceful Valley from Fulton although flooding often prevented its use. When that was the case, then we traveled a bit further up Highway 25 and took the road across Ironwood Bluff. And when that road was impassable due to flooding, we had to cross the river at Highway 78, turn at Peppertown, and "go the back way" by the firetower because the waters at Frog Level were likely out too. Seems like, during this particular flood, the Tombigbee River was even across Highway 78 up to Davis Ford.

The next photo was taken at Son Webb's Grocery at Cardsville, looking toward Ironwood Bluff. You can see my father's reflection as he is taking the photo. The road leading to Ironwood Bluff was completely submerged as was the road that turns to the right and leads to Peaceful Valley.

The bottom photo is of me and my brother, Kirk, as we paddle around the front yard of my grandparents, Fessie and Beck Pennington of the Peaceful Valley community . This flooding was caused by the waters of English Branch which flows into the Tombigbee River just above Barr's Ferry. We call English Branch simply "the creek" and it still occasionally floods.

Beloved Daughter

Pictured is Vivian Taylor, beloved daughter of Lawrence and Dorothy (Johnson) Taylor. This little girl died from meningitis when she was not yet three years old. The precious photo was taken following her death on March 24, 1936 and was found in a photo album kept by Dorothy's sister, Glader Johnson Mills.

Vivian is buried at Sandy Springs Cemetery in Itawamba County.

Mills Family Reunion - 2008

On Labor Day, the descendants of William Orville Mills and Talitha McKay Mills gathered in Marietta for food and fellowship. Pictured above are most of the attendees. The oldest descendant in attendance was ninety-one year old Winnie Marie Mills, granddaughter of Orville and Talitha. Marie is the daughter of Henry Edward Mills and was married to Charlie Martin who died in 1989.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Mills family c 1938

This photograph of the Mills family was taken about 1938. William Henry Mills and Glader Mae Johnson Mills are posing with their two children, Paul and Vera Mae.
Aren't the children cute?
Henry was named after his two grandfathers - William Orville Mills and Henry Randolph. He was the son of Jesse Thomas Mills and Onady Randolph.
We are not sure where Glader got her name. Surprisingly, I've found another Glader Johnson in the area and about the same age, but her name was spelled Glada Johnson. Maybe Glader Mae was actually Glada Mae, pronounced Glader Mae. Our Itawamba families are prone to put an "er" on most anything. Glader was the daughter of Fisher Demarcus Johnson and Nora Thornton.
Although Henry died well before I met Mike, Glader died in 2007 so I knew her. She was a very sweet person. And multi-talented. She could play piano by ear, having had no formal training, but perhaps her greatest talent - and her legacy - was sewing. Glader made dozens of beautiful quilts many of which are in the possession of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren today. She could crochet and embroider too. I wish I knew what happened to that black and gold crocheted toboggan that she did for Mike one Christmas.

Baptism at Mud Creek, or is it Bennett's Pond?

Pictured at left is a photo taken in the 1930s of a baptism either at Mud Creek or Bennett's Pond in northern Itawamba County. The photo was in the possession of Glader Mills, Mike's grandmother, and was graciously provided to us by Aunt Vera Mae Mills Holcomb, Glader's daughter. Vera Mae indicated that the scene was of her father Henry's baptism. Since providing us with the photo, I've learned that there are several copies out there. Upon showing it to our daughter-in-law, Jada Jamerson Mills, she immediately recognized it as being a framed photo on her grandmother's bedroom wall. This photograph is also displayed in the Sandy Springs Baptist Church fellowship hall.

For some reason, I'm thinking that the baptism took place at Mud Creek, but this conflicts with Glader's Bible, left. Her Bible indicates that her husband William Henry Mills was saved in 1939 at Sandy Springs and was baptized at Bennet's Pond. But note that Glader indicates that she was baptized at Mud Creek in 1934.

So which is it? Glader at Mud Creek in 1934? Or Henry was Bennett's Pond in 1939?

Where was Bennett's Pond?