Saturday, January 31, 2009

Three Sons - Second World War

My great-grandmother Ethel Dee Sloan Pennington had three sons fighting in World War II: Fessie M. Pennington (my grandfather) and his younger brothers Gaylord and Frelon. If you've been reading this blog for a while you probably remember Fessie's naval adventures in the Pacific Theater of the war. Gaylord fought in the Pacific too but was in the Army instead of the Navy and was with the troops that recaptured the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Frelon saw action in Europe, lots of action. He was a career soldier, joining the first time around in 1940. Frelon fought in some of the most intense battles of the war, beginning in Northern Africa and up through Italy, France and into the Rhineland.

Needless to say, Ethel was worried about her boys. Never mind that they were grown men, two of them with families and children of their own, she was a born worrier. Some might say that she worried herself to death. She died in September 1945 just after the war ended. Although son Frelon was home at the time, she didn't get to see her sons Fessie and Gaylord return from the war.

The banner pictured above was provided to families who had someone serving in the war. Ethel's banner had three stars to signify the service of her three sons, and the banner was displayed proudly for all to see.

Friday, January 30, 2009

McKay Siblings- Joseph and Talitha

Brother and Sister:

Talitha and her brother Joseph. They favor, don't you think? Note the high forehead, long neck and the orbits of the eyes. It's not my imagination, is it?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dr. William Alfred Sloan

William Alfred Sloan
I've been doing a bit of research lately on my Sloan ancestors who arrived in Itawamba County after the Civil War, settling in the Peaceful Valley community in the southern part of the county. Like many of my ancestors, they merely moved from just across the state line in Marion and Lamar counties in Alabama. Prior to Alabama, they were in South Carolina. Possibly they stayed a while in Georgia, or Tennessee, before arriving to Alabama in the mid-1830s. I really don't know, at least not yet.

Samuel Sloan, born about 1780 in South Carolina, is the earliest known ancestor of this branch of the Sloans. In the 1850 census for Marion County, Alabama he was indicated to be a cooper which is fairly unusual for any of my ancestors during that time, as most had occupations as farmers like most of the males of the rural South. A cooper was someone who made or repaired wooden barrels or casks, kegs. Samuel's son, William, was the Sloan ancestor who came to Itawamba County. William's son, Jackson Samuel Sloan, owned land along the Tombigbee River between old Van Buren and Barrs Ferry, actually just up from the Barrs Ferry landing.

According to the census records, Samuel, William and Jackson Sloan - three generations - were unable to read and write as were most of their families. What is really remarkable however, is that William Alfred Sloan, the fourth generation and son of Jackson Sloan, graduated from the University of Nashville Medical School (now Vanderbilt Medical School) in 1907. Alfred was born in 1884. He attended the local school at New Bethel in Itawamba County, then school at Oakland Academy, before going to Nashville. The photo above is of Alfred in his cap and gown following his medical school graduation when he was 22 years old. Not only was he smart, he was a good looking fellow too.

Following graduation, Alfred returned to Itawamba County to practice medicine for a short period of time before marrying Effie Lewis, daughter of John B. Lewis who once served as sheriff of Monroe County. Alfred and Effie moved to Amory where they had a family of six children before Effie's untimely death in 1928. Alfred then moved to Caledonia in Lowndes County and set up a practice there before 1930. Unfortunately, Alfred himself was beset with serious medical conditions that necessitated his withdrawal from the practice of medicine. He died in 1952 and was buried in the Amory Masonic Cemetery.

Alfred was my great-great uncle, brother to Ethel Dee Sloan Pennington.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Joseph Marion McKay and family

Joseph M. and Nancy C. McKay Family circa 1899

The above photo was taken about 1899 in what was Indian Territory (Chickasaw Nation) but today is Love County, Oklahoma. Isn't that a beautiful family? All girls except for one boy. Joseph married Nancy A. Shurbet in January 1876. Like the McKay family, the Shurbet family lived along the Itawamba-Prentiss county line near Marietta. In fact, Nancy's sister Mattie married a cousin of Joseph McKay's, James Norman McKay, and Nancy's brother Zadeus married another McKay cousin, Julia.

About 1890, the McKays, Shurbets and a host of other families left Mississippi for Texas and Oklahoma. Many of these families wound up in Indian Territory around the present day town of Thackerville. Joseph and Nancy were part of that wagon train.

Joseph was the son of Samuel A. McKay and his wife Permelia Caroline Ables, and his sister Talitha was my husband's great-great grandmother.

Joseph was born November 11, 1850 in Itawamba County. I've found land records for his father Samuel that indicated Samuel received a land patent dated 1851 for land located in extreme northeastern Itawamba County. At some point, probably following their return to Itawamba County from Indiana following the Civil War, the McKays wound up further west in the county in the area around Marietta and Kirkville.

The 1880 census finds Joseph and Nancy in Prentiss County, District 4, probably living just above the Itawamba-Prentiss line. By the 1900 census they were in Indian Territory (Oklahoma), "west of Red River" in present day Love County which borders the state of Texas. Before the year was out, Nancy died in December after giving birth to her daughter Cornelia who died just a few days later. They were buried at Mahota Cemetery near Thackerville in Love County. Joseph moved to New Mexico where we find him living in the 1910 census with his son John and young daughters. He must have gone back to Oklahoma however, because he died at the age of 61 in Walters, Cotton County, Oklahoma on March 25, 1912 from Bright's Disease. He was buried at Elm Grove Cemetery in Walters.

1900 Census
Indian Territory

Chickasaw Nation
Township 8 South, Range 2 East
West of Red River
Joseph McKay 50 MS SC AL farmer, rents, born Nov 1849, married 25 years
Nancy C. 38 MS NC AL, born Aug 1861, 11 children, 11 living
Caroline W. 23 MS born Oct 1876 (Caroline Winifred)
Viola 21 MS born Oct 1878 (Viola Jane)
Cora E. 18 MS born Mar 1882 (Cora Eunice)
Mary D. 14 MS born Jan 1886 (Mary Demoun)
Martha B. 12 MS born Apr 1888 (Martha Bell)
Margie 10 MS born Mar 1890 (Jimmie Marjorie)
John 8 TX born June 1891 (John Joseph)
Alma T. 6 IND Territory born Jan 1894 (Alma Tiphena)
Fannie M. 4 IND Territory born Mar 1896 (Fannie Mae)
Febbie L. 1 IND Territory born Nov 1898 (Phoebe Lou)

All of the family enumerated above are in the photograph. Another daughter, Della Ann McKay, is not pictured in the photo, probably married at the time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Day at the Zoo in 1961

Three Generations James Luke Robinson
James Kirk Robinson
Luke Lee Robinson

My daddy, my brother and my grandfather during a visit to the Memphis Zoo in August, 1961. You can just make out the cigar that my grandfather is holding with his left hand, and I bet that the hat that my father is holding actually belonged to my grandfather. A hat and a cigar were Luke's trademarks. My father was an only child, and Kirk his only son. We tried to leave Kirk with the monkeys that day, but it was a no go. Just kidding, Kirk! I was only four years old at the time and unfortunately have no memories of the day. Momma, can you add to the story?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Beck's Fried Chicken: follow-up

When we last left the post about Beck's fried chicken, our mouths were watering. At least mine was, so nothing would do but to fry up some chicken this weekend using Beck's "recipe." Let me first say that I cannot and do not fry chicken or much of anything, not because of some notion of "eating healthy" but because I've never had the confidence to do so and because I didn't really need to know how to fry chicken since I was surrounded by a family of women who could fry it and fry it well. Later, out of desperation, my husband "stepped up to the plate" and became the designated chicken fryer of our family. His fried chicken drummies are much in demand during tailgating season as well as the rest of the year. So there's my up front confession.

How did the chicken turn out? For a first time attempt, not too bad actually. The chicken was really salty so next time I'll know to decrease the amount of salt used, but not by too much. If you like salty food, then you probably would have loved this chicken. The first few pieces fried up too dark, I guess due to the heat of the oil being a bit too high. But otherwise, I'm pleased. If you are trying to identify the various pieces of chicken, below, you'll be confused. I did NOT buy a whole chicken to cut up, but the pre-cut whole chicken that I bought had two, monster-sized chicken breasts so I cut those in half. Added to the fry batch were some chicken tenders to stretch the meal.

How did the chicken compare to Beck's? It really didn't, close though, and maybe I can work on that.

Below, the chicken frying in the pan. You can tell I probably got the oil a little too hot at times.

In addition to the fried chicken, we had butter beans, creamed corn, turnip greens, slaw, cornbread and pear salad - a true Southern meal. The complete meal is pictured below for the three children of mine that missed it. Sorry. In a nod to Itawamba County connections, the creamed corn was served in a bowl that belonged to Ma Davis (Queenie Victoria Clayton Davis) while the turnips rest quietly in a bowl that belonged to my grandmother, Pearl Cofield Robinson.

My husband is the cornbread baker in the family too. Am I lucky or what? Below is the cornbread that he prepared for our meal, and he probably won't be pleased to see that I made a picture of it and posted it here. He misjudged the time, and when he first dumped out the pan of bread it wasn't done yet. So it went back into the pan and back into the oven for a few more minutes. It still tasted great!

Fessie and Sissy, the Amazing Coon Dog

Sissy was a coon dog, perhaps Fessie's all-time favorite dog. She was a blue tick hound with some Walker hound mixed in. A hound dog for sure. Fessie was once offered $500 for the dog, but he refused to take it. And this was in the early '50s! Sissy's reputation was widespread - everyone knew about Sissy and what an amazing coon dog she was. Dr. Pegram came from Tupelo for coon hunts with Fessie and Sissy in Peaceful Valley. In fact, just about every weekend, a crowd of folks showed up for a coon hunt.

Sissy's reputation grew when she won the annual "coon on a log" competition one summer at the Sportman's Club in Fulton. She won it again, and again. That's when the $500 offer came to Fessie, and he turned it down. Within a month, Sissy was stolen. Fessie never saw her again.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Update on Mules

I forgot to give a hat-tip to Don Dulaney for the photo of Jim Dulaney with his mules. Jettie Dulaney, widow of Woodrow Dulaney (who was Jim's brother), provided the photo to Don. Don has been taking time out of his busy schedule to visit with several older relatives who have been very gracious in sharing their time, photos and stories with him.

Don said that Jim Dulaney usually called his mules Ider and Jim (yes, Jim, after himself). Jim was a mule trader and owned lots of mules.

I guess you could say that this has been Mule Week. First, the photo of the Robinson family with their mules, and then the photo of Jim Dulaney with his mules. The mule was the real "workhorse" of the Itawamba County farm, and were one of the most valuable pieces of property owned by families. In researching, I've come across dozens of chattel deeds where farmers would put their mules up for collateral in exchange for money to buy seeds and other necessities for making a crop.

A farming man in Itawamba County likely spent more time with his mule than he did with his wife and children. He learned to be wary when dealing with mules because, according to William Faulkner, "a mule will labor ten years willingly and patiently for you, for the privilege of kicking you once." Hat-tip to my husband for providing the Faulkner quote. I am not nearly as well-read.

Jim Dulaney with his mules

James Henry "Jim" Dulaney was a native of the Mt. Pleasant community of Itawamba County. The son of Thomas Alfred "Bunt" Dulaney and Alice C. Moxley, Jim was born April 22, 1891. He married Laura Bertha Warren, daughter of John Ed Warren and Sarah A. "Sallie" Holcomb in 1912. The 1930 census captures the family:

1930 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Beat 5
Highway Road 25
Living near his parents, Thomas and Alice Dulaney:
Jim Dulaney 39 MS MS MS married at age 22, owns house
Bertha 40 MS MS MS married at age 23
Vida 17
Lurch 15 (this is Lawrence)
Elgar 13
Melvin 10
Vada 8
Lester 5 (known as "Leck")
Clester 3 (known as "Cotton")

Not yet born was their son and last child, Clarence. He was born in 1931.

Jim was a rascal. In his later years, he was put in the nursing home in Fulton where he kept a goat tied up out back. He died January 1, 1985 at the age of 93. Bertha preceded him in death by almost twenty-five years, dying on April 14, 1976. She was born December 19, 1889. Both Jim and Laura are buried with generations of their ancestors at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Cemetery.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dora Vera Randolph m Ellie Hood

This is one occasion where my husband's paternal family married into his maternal family. Let's make this a bit more complicated, shall we?

Dora Vera Randolph was my husband's half-first cousin, twice removed, on his father's side.

Ellie H. Hood was my husband's great-grand uncle, on his mother's side.

Now before you think I'm a mathematical whiz (or just plain crazy), let me tell you that my family tree software does the calculations for me. Sometimes it can be a fun tool to use, like with this situation.

Anyway, Ellie Hood married Dora Randolph. Ellie was the son of Harrison H. Hood and Lydia Minyard. Dora was the daughter of Jefferson Davis Randolph and Katherine Sherrill. Jefferson's father was Henry Randolph, of recent blog posts. It is just speculation on my part, but I believe that Mike's Aunt Vera Mae may have been named for Vera Randolph, who was Vera Mae's father's first cousin.

Okay, now that's enough confusion for everyone. Let's get to the photograph.

Far left is Henry Moses Randolph, Dora's brother, who was born about 1910. All I know about Henry Moses is that he was living in Corinth in 1946, the location given in his brother Elvin's obituary that year. Next to Henry is his brother-in-law Ellie Hood and his sister Dora Randolph Hood. The two tots are not known but are most likely Ellie and Dora's children. The woman to the far right is Ellie's mother, Lydia Minyard Hood, who was the daughter of Thomas and Martha Minyard.

Ellie died in 1975, and Dora died in 1999. Both are buried in Hillcrest Memorial Cemetery outside of Fulton.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Robinson family with mules, circa 1914

Some of you may recognize this photo from the cover of the fall issue of the Itawamba Settlers magazine. The date is about 1914, and the location is Tremont. Later, the Robinsons "moved to town" to land which was then located just outside of the town of Fulton but now is the subdivision that encompasses Farrar Drive and Mimosa Drive.

Pictured far left in the photo is Gideon Casibay "Gid" Robinson. Holding the white mule is his son, Luke Lee Robinson, my grandfather. Next are Louis Gideon and then Buddy (Lowrey Marlin), big sister Jewel and big brother Lawson with the suit coat. Thusie and her younger sister, Lily Evans, are pictured next, and rounding out the photograph on the far right is the oldest child of Gid and Thusie, Lawrence Evans Robinson, who died from influenza during his service in World War I.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Beck's Fried Chicken

A once familiar site - Beck standing in front of her stove in her house in Peaceful Valley. Pictured with her is my mother, Jean. Looks like they may have been frying up something for supper, maybe some chicken?

Recently, Aunt Jo gave me the recipe for Beck's fried chicken. I guess you can call it a recipe - there was nothing really special to it although I identified three possible major points. First point, the chicken must be adequately salted. Beck salted her chicken in her sink. She didn't use black pepper to season her chicken unless the chicken was being fried for breakfast, then pepper was added. Otherwise, just salt and nothing else. There was nothing special about the coating - just plain ole flour, any brand will do. Beck saved her empty flour sacks to shake the flour around the chicken pieces, but if not available, she used regular brown paper sacks. Jo said that although Beck used to use lard for frying chicken, later on she just used vegetable oil, any brand, no special kind. Second major point, the oil must be really hot. Beck used a regular cast iron skillet in which to cook her chicken, and the oil was really hot when she added the chicken although it would be turned down shortly thereafter. So obviously having the oil the right temperature is key. Third point, the skillet was covered while the chicken was being fried. And the chicken was turned often, every couple of minutes or so. Check it and turn, check it and turn, recovering the skillet each time. That's it. Beck's fried chicken. I told you there was nothing really special about it. Why is it so hard to duplicate?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Walter & Tamsie Cummings

Yesterday's post was of two young girls, Lizzie Lee Davis and Doris Cummings. This is a photo of Doris' parents, Walter and Tamsie Cummings. Walter and Tamsie's families strongly discouraged their marrying due to the fact that they were cousins. In addition, Tamsie's father died from tuberculosis and it was thought that she might also die from the disease. Tamsie and Walter's relationship was frowned upon, and relatives advised them that their children wouldn't be "born right" if they married. And so Walter left for Texas in order to put some distance between them. It didn't last, however, and after a while, Walter came home to Tamsie, saying, "Tamsie, if our children are idiots, we'll just raise them." They had eleven children, all of them "born right," including my smart and beautiful great-aunt Coleen Robinson who is 95 years old today.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lizzie Lee Davis and Doris Cummings

Lizzie Lee on the right, Doris on the left.

These two young girls were best friends, their two families living close to one another along Highway 25 south of Fulton.

Lizzie Lee (pronounced Lizlee) was my great-aunt, and years later Doris's sister, Coleen, would become my great-aunt when she married L. M. Robinson, my grandfather's brother.

It looks like the girls are standing on a railroad track.

1930 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Beat 5, Fulton and Smithville Road #25
James K. Davis 46 MS AL MS farmer, owns home, married age 20
Queeny V. 46 MS AL MS
Wood R. 17
Rebecca 14
Lizzie L. 13

living nearby:
Walter C. Cummings 55 MS MS MS, millwright at saw mill, owns home, married age 24
Tamsy O. 50 MS AL MS
Capitola 28
Eola 23
W. C. Jr. 18
Coline 16
Dorris 12 MS

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mills Family Reunion - 2007 and 2008

In 2007, several descendants of Jesse Thomas Mills and Onady Randolph traveled to Heber Springs, Arkansas to attend a reunion of the descendants of William Orville Mills and Talitha Caroline McKay, Jesse's parents. This reunion brought together long-lost cousins in a chain of events that began with an e-mail correspondence with another Mills descendant, Bobbie Connor, and ended with fellowship in a picturesque setting in the mountains of Arkansas. Pictured above are the Mississippi cousins who traveled to Arkansas, and with them is Bobbie Mills Connor (front, far left) who organized the reunion.

In 2008, the reunion was held in Marietta, Mississippi not far from where Orville and Talitha are buried in the Marietta Methodist Church cemetery. The oldest person in attendance was Marie, Orville and Talitha's granddaughter, who was 91 years young.

Pictured below is my husband Mike with Bobbie Mills Connor. Bobbie is the daughter of Henry Edward Mills and his wife, Oma Lee Evans. Henry and Oma Lee left Itawamba County for Arkansas in 1933, but they both returned before their deaths and are buried in Kirkville Cemetery in Itawamba County.

Orville Mills and Talitha McKay

Power of the internet, part two.

Actually, this should be part one because it happened first, but let me explain. As the previous day's post indicated, the pen and ink drawing of Henry Randolph and Rachel Fowler was delivered after my post about their daughter, Onady Randolph Mills, appeared on this blog. Amy Randolph Hill, a great-granddaughter of Onady's brother Allen, saw the post and contacted me to see if I was interested in the drawing of Henry and Rachel. I definitely was, and before long, Amy e-mailed the image to me. What a wonderful example of how technology is bringing families together again!

The above photo is of the parents and siblings of Onady's husband, Jesse Mills. We had searched long and hard for a photo of Orville when a couple of years ago, out of the blue, Bobbie Mills Connor, a fellow researcher living in Arkansas, recent internet acquaintance, really nice person, and descendant of Orville, said she thought she had a photo of the couple. When it arrived late one night around midnight, I awoke Mike, and it was like Christmas at our house! The photo you see above has been professional retouched as it was in bad shape, but there is no doubt that is our Orville and Talitha. Again, it came to us through the power of the internet.

Along with the photo came new relationships with a whole lot of Arkansas and Missouri cousins, descendants of Orville and Talitha's children who moved to those states in the 1920s and 1930s. In 2007, along with several other Mississippi cousins, we attended the Mills Family Reunion at Heber Springs, Arkansas during Labor Day weekend. In 2008, many of the same people gathered at the city park pavilion in Marietta, Mississippi for another Mills Family Reunion. Isn't technology wonderful?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Henry Randolph and Rachel Fowler

Lo and behold, the power of the internet. After seeing my post about Onady Randolph Mills, another Randolph descendant contacted me about a pen and ink drawing of Onady's parents in her possession. Amy Randolph Hill, a great-great granddaughter of Henry Randolph, provided the above image, and needless to say, I am thrilled to have it!

Henry was born October 12, 1836 in Georgia, the son of James Randolph and Nancy Saunders/Sanders. Along with his parents, and grandfather Isaiah Saunders, and a slew of aunts and uncles, he moved to Old Tishomingo County between 1850 and 1860. The families settled near the Hickory Plains post office in what later became Prentiss County. Best I can tell, this was somewhere between Jacinto and Marietta.

Remember, at one time, the area that included Marietta was included in Itawamba County. When county lines were redrawn in 1867, this sliver of northern Itawamba became part of newly formed Prentiss County.

Rachel was Henry's third wife. His first marriage is believed to have been to Frances Cochran as there is an August 1865 marriage record in Old Tishomingo for H. Randolph to Frances Cochran. This date may have been transcribed incorrectly however (I haven't seen the original document) since Henry and Frances' son, Jefferson Davis Randolph, was born in 1861, and another marriage record exists in Itawamba County for an April 1865 marriage between Henry and Eliza (Elizabeth) King, his second wife. Henry and Elizabeth had three daughters: Nancy Ella, Georgia, and Mattie.

Henry married Lucinda Rachel Fowler in 1875 in Prentiss County. She was the youngest child of Posey Fowler and Mary Anna Gotcher (sometimes Goocher) who arrived before 1840 in Itawamba County from Perry County, Alabama where they were married in 1833. Land deed records put Posey Fowler in the Ozark-Marietta area. In fact, Posey served as a trustee on behalf of the Methodist church upon receipt of land for the church, the legal description of which indicates the church to be the Marietta Methodist Church of today. The 1860 census shows Posey to be a wagonmaker. He died about 1887.

Henry and Rachel had seven known children: Genevia, born about 1877, married Robert Bishop; Leah, or perhaps Sarah, born about 1879, no further information; James Madison Randolph, born in 1880, married to Frankie Unknown, and was living in Tishomingo County in the 1930 census; Onady, born 1882, married Jesse Mills; Henry Chatman Randolph, born 1885, married Modenia Sherrill, lived along "North Road" in Itawamba County; Hickman Randolph, born 1889, several wives, moved to Georgia; Allen Randolph, born 1890, married Ora Lee Warren, moved to Nettleton area.

Rachel died before March 1895 because a marriage record exists for Henry Randolph to Mary Ann Rogers for that date. Rachel is believed to be buried at Gilmore Chapel Cemetery but no marker exists. She was born about 1857.

In 1903, Henry married a fifth time to Tennie Collum, although she possibly was Tennessee, widow of Hiram D. McCollum. There may have been a sixth marriage as well since the household of his son Allen included a step-mother by the name of Katie in the 1920 census.

Henry died March 17, 1914 and was buried at Gilmore Chapel Cemetery. No burial spots have been identified for any of Henry's five wives.
Thanks so much, Amy, for generously sharing Henry and Rachel's picture with us. What a treasure!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Spelling Bee Send-Off

The young man in the suit and snazzy white dress shoes is my husband. As the winner of the county spelling bee in 1968, he represented Itawamba County in the Mid-South Spelling Bee sponsored by the Memphis Press-Scimitar. He came in third in the mid-south region, and I'll leave it to you to remember or figure out what word was mis-spelled to eliminate him from the competition. A few years earlier, Wayne Thrash, another Itawambian, actually made it all the way to the national competition in Washington, D.C. after winning the Mid-South Spelling Bee.

Mrs. Thornberry, who was the eighth grade English teacher and spelling coach at Fulton Junior High School, deserves a lot of the credit for the success of her spelling bee pupils. Every Friday, in each of her classes, she would hold mini spelling bees in which students would line up along the wall and spell. Mrs. Thornberry could identify potential champions this way, but she also kept her eye on the younger students from lower grades who performed well in the annual county bee. The county spelling bee was a big thing, held in the Fulton Grammar School auditorium in the early spring, usually in front of huge crowds. If one of Mrs. Thornberry's students won, and one usually did, then he or she had hours of additional work and study ahead of them. Mrs. Thornberry stayed after school with the winner, drilling them over and over with increasingly difficult words.

My spelling has always been merely adequate, and with the days of spell-check and computerized word processing, it has gotten me through, but I will always credit Mrs. Thornberry for my ability to diagram sentences, probably another lost art. Her fudge was pretty good too.

Pictured with Mike in the send-off in front of Fulton Junior High School is his teacher and spelling bee coach, Mrs. Euple Thornberry (rear), and students, left to right: Jack Cowart, Lisa Kilpatrick, Mike Dozier, Becky Jones and Phillip Moore.

It is quite handy to have a speller in the family! If you want to read more about Mrs. Thornberry and spelling bees, check out Twice Told Tombigbee Tales.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Class of 1927 - Tremont High School

There are only two people in this photo that can be positively identified. My grandfather, Luke Robinson, is pictured on the back row, far left. His future sister-in-law, Pauline Cofield, is on the front row, center. In addition, I believe that my grandfather's younger brother, Louis Robinson, is pictured on the back row. The fellow on the far right looks like Louis who was 2.5 years younger than Luke.

This is the 1927 graduating class at Tremont High School, and if anyone can identify the other graduates in this class I would be grateful. You can't go by age alone to identify those pictured in the photo. My grandfather, born in 1906, was three years older than Aunt Pauline, but apparently he re-entered high school after a short break. Based on a conversation with fellow Itawambian and Tremont native, Ross Robison, who now lives in Hernando, the "consolidated" high school at Tremont was a recent addition in the 1920s. Several students, including some of Ross's brothers, finished high school after the new school was completed and the students could go beyond the 8th grade. I suspect this is what happened to my grandfather.

The photo was in my grandparents' possession. I don't know who wrote "Seniors 27" on the border.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


This is one of my favorite photographs. James Luke Robinson and Lucy Lynn Robinson were first cousins, born just three days apart in 1933.

James, my father, was the son of Luke Lee Robinson and Ella Pearl Cofield. He was born August 17.

Lucy is the daughter of William Lawson Robinson and Olive Lucille Hathorn. She was born August 14.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ma and Pa Davis with children

Jim and Queenie Davis, rear middle, with children, left to right:
Clyde, Ruth, Rebecca, Lizzie Lee, and Elby. Woodrow is not pictured.

James Kelly "Jim" Davis and Queenie Victoria Clayton were married January 22, 1903. Jim, the son of James William Anderson Davis and Anna Elizabeth "Annalizer" Morrow, was twenty years old when he married Queenie, the daughter of Nathaniel Clayton and Martha A. Bowen.

Jim and Queenie lived in several locations, including the town of Fulton, but in later years they owned a home just below Beans Ferry. In addition to the children listed below there was a son, Gaither, who died as an infant.

The photo above was likely taken on a Sunday afternoon when the Davis clan would gather for dinner after church.

1920 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Beat 5
James K. Davis (transcribed as Farris) 36 MS MS MS farmer, rents
Queeny V. 36 MS NC SC
William E. 12 MS (William Elby)
Baby R. 11 MS (Baby Ruth)
Clide 9 MS
Woodroe 6 MS
Rebecca 3 MS
Lizzie L. 2 MS

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

IAHS Basketball - 1953

Gayle McFerrin and Jerry Loden were both members of the 1953 IAHS basketball team.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wedding Shower, 1955

Shirley Joyce Dulaney, pictured center, at her wedding shower in 1955. On Shirley's right is her mother, Pearl Dulaney, and on her left is her future mother-in-law, Glader Mae Mills. Shirley wed Paul Mills on July 10, 1955.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Citizen's Handbook on Nuclear Attack

Here's a blast from the past. How many of you remember the emergency drills at school, the ones done in preparation of a possible nuclear attack? Do you remember the films they showed us about what to do in case of nuclear attack? Our generation grew up with the threat of nuclear war - how did we ever grow up to be normal? Or are we?

This 1968 booklet was in my parents' possession.

"If you should hear the Attack Warning Signal -- unless your local government has instructed you otherwise -- go immediately to a public fallout shelter ... or to your home fallout shelter. Turn on a radio ... and listen."

"To avoid injuring your eyes, never look at the flash of an explosion or the nuclear fireball."

"This chapter tells you what supplies and equipment to take with you if you go to a public fallout shelter, and what items you should keep on hand if you plan to use a family fallout shelter at home."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Huey Haynes - Tour Guide

Huey Haynes served as a tour guide for several of us one day back in the 1970s. What year did Elvis die? That was the same summer that Huey took us to his native stomping grounds around Splunge in southeastern Itawamba County. Unfortunately, I can't remember whose grave we were standing around or which cemetery. Maybe someone will recognize it. That's my husband Mike squatting down, and I'm standing off to the right in overalls. Huey is in the middle with his hands on his hips, and that's Rosa Lee Harden Jones (former publisher of the Itawamba County Times and now an Episcopal priest in California) next to him. Her husband, Kevin Jones, took the picture. The young man to the left - I can't remember his name but he was one of Kevin and Rosa Lee's friends.

Mike remembers that Huey took us to the former Raper Springs Resort and showed us where the springs were and the foundation of the building that used to surround the springs. That's more than I remember.

Friday, January 9, 2009

From mother's arms....

.... to the arms of Jesus

This is one of two grave markers found on private property in northeastern Itawamba County recently. The top of the marker is broken off and lies on the ground, but the following inscription is found:

Rutha Viola
Daug of J.L. &
Dec. 29, 1916
Nov. 2, 1918

It appears that little Rutha Viola died during the influenza epidemic. The Holland family can be found in the 1910 census living near Shottsville just across the state line in Marion County, Alabama. Lee Holland, age 21, and Dortha Holland, age 20, both born in Alabama, with daughter Venoner, age 11 months. A death record for Dortha Holland has been found that indicates she died in 1967 in Marion County.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Warren Grave - James, son of Owen and Rebecca

I think that this grave marker belongs to James A. Warren, son of Owen and Rebecca Warren, but I can't be certain. Based on census records, this family is the closest match to the initials and dates found on the marker.

The grave is located on private property in northeastern Itawamba County, and is only one of two graves with markers although several more graves are believed to be in the area.

J. B.
Son of O. W. and R. E. Warren
Born March 15, 1867
Died Nov. 14, 1901
Too good for Earth, God called him home

Odd to me that the grave marker is adorned with the image of a little lamb when the son was 34 years old at the time of his death. Maybe he was disabled?

The 1880 census has the following household in the First Supervisor's District of Itawamba County:

Owen Warren, 54, black male, born South Carolina
Rebecker, 30, black female, born Alabama
John 18
Mary E. 16
James 13 (I think that this is James A., born 1867 per the headstone)
Samuel 9
Moses 6
Anne 2

I can't find this family in the 1870 census, but some parts of that census is missing for that side of the county. S. John Warren was a large landowner in early Itawamba County. He and his several sons were also slaveowners, and as a consequence there are several black Warren families in the post-Civil war period in Itawamba County.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Beam Boys - Making Music

Sitting, front: Calvin and Carl Beam
Standing, rear: Arnold, Ruble and Ivy Beam

The Beam family in northeastern Itawamba County was a musical one, and on Friday and Saturday nights you could find them 'making music' at one of their homes. Carl Beam was particularly gifted and could play several different instruments. In fact, he played with fiddler Merle "Red" Taylor before Red became famous from his association with Bill Monroe and Hank Williams.

After a long week of farming or sawmilling, the Beams would gather at someone's home, push the furniture back up against the wall to make room for a dance floor, and then start their music. Buck dancing was a popular accompaniment, particularly to the tune of the Chew Tobacco Rag. Coal oil lamps provided low light, and to keep mosquitoes away, old rags were soaked with diesel, tied up and lit.

It was a family affair. Kids were always running around, but they knew better than to run in front of where the adults were sitting to avoid getting hit with an errant spit of snuff or tobacco. After tiring, the children were laid on pallets on the front porch while the music went on.

Carl Beam was sixteen years old in the above photo so that dates it as being around 1931. He was the grandfather of Cousin Don Dulaney, and thanks goes out to Don for sharing the photo and the story, both of which were supplied to him by his mother, Dorothy Beam Moody, and his Aunt Hazel Beam Harnage.

The Beams lived along Highway 25 between Salem and Fairview. Elijah Fiester Beam and his wife, Rowena Brown Lackey, arrived in Itawamba County sometime before 1860 when they are found on the state census. Elijah was born in 1812 in South Carolina while Rowena was a Georgia native, born in 1818. They married in Walton County, Georgia on October 21, 1841.

The musicians in the photo were either a son or grandson of Samuel Thomas Beam, Elijah and Rowena's son who was born in Georgia in 1847 and married Nancy Jane Cromeans in 1875 in Itawamba County.

Samuel and Nancy's son, Calvin Smith Beam, is pictured in the photograph along with his sons Arnold and Ruble. Samuel's grandsons Carl and Ivy are also pictured, and they were sons of Elbert Edgar Beam.

1920 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Copeland's Precinct
S. Thomas Beam 72, born in Georgia, occupation - retail merchant, dry goods
Nancy 62, born in Mississippi

Calvin S. Beam 41, born in Mississippi, occupation - farmer
Elvira 36, born in Mississippi
Arnold, Pearly, Odis and Ethel, children

Edgar E. Beam 39, born in Mississippi, occupation - farmer
Minnie 25, born in Mississippi
Murdy, Mittie, Narcie, Irene, Carl and Ivy, children

1930 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Beat 1
Calvin S. Beam 52, born in Mississippi, occupation - farmer
Elmira 47, born in Mississippi
Arnold, Odis, Ethel, Rubie, Ruble, children

Edgar Beam 50, born in Mississippi, occupation - farmer
Minnie L. 45, born in Mississippi
Meardy, Narcy, Irene, Sally, Thomas, Delta, Willis, children

Cofields move to Haleyville

The newspaper clipping below was found in the centennial edition of the Haleyville newspaper and depicts the location of John Cofield’s dental office, noting him to have been the first dentist of the town. The caption for the photo indicates that John built a frame building and used the space upstairs for his dental office. A restaurant occupied the space below. Today, the location is the site of the Dixie Theater.
The photograph below was taken about 1907-1908 of the John R. Cofield home on Curtis Street in Haleyville. John can be seen on the front steps with son Louis. On the porch is Dollie with Ruby, Pearl and Clyde. Daughter Pauline was not yet born when this picture was made. The house was torn down in the 1970s to make way for development in downtown Haleyville.

Here is a closeup of the above photo. That's my grandmother in the baby carriage.

How tragic that John Cofield was dead within two years, and things would never be the same for the Cofield children. Dollie died two years later, and their five children were raised by relatives. Of course, had my grandmother not been raised by her aunt in Tremont, she never would have met my grandfather, and I wouldn't be here!

Monday, January 5, 2009

John Cofield house in Hackleburg, Alabama

After receiving his degree from Birmingham Dental School, John Richard Cofield moved his young family from Bull Mountain near the Shottsville community of Marion County to Hackleburg. According to his grandson and namesake Richard Cofield, John used the buggy in the photo below to make house calls to his patients.

Standing on the porch with John is his wife, Dollie, and children Clyde and Ruby. Based on the ages of the children, I believe this photo was taken about 1902 or 1903. Shortly thereafter, the Cofield family moved just up the road to the growing town of Haleyville where Dr. Cofield opened his office and became the first dentist in the small town.

Below is a closeup of the family on the porch.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

John Richard Cofield, D.D.S.

The signature below of John Richard Cofield was found on the inside front cover of a small, bound black book that was in the possession of his daughter, Pearl Cofield Robinson, at her death. Most of the pages of the small book are blank, but Pearl used the first few pages to write down the birth dates of her parents and siblings and other family members. Carefully folded within the pages of the book were newspaper clippings of various obituaries. The book obviously belonged to Pearl’s father, and he probably wrote his name between 1900 and 1902, after graduation from dental school and while he and Dollie were still living at Bull Mountain. The couple moved to Hackleburg around 1902 so I believe the signature took place before then.

In 1897 John enrolled at Birmingham Dental College in Birmingham, Alabama, one of seventeen freshmen. This college, located at 211-213 Twenty-First Street, was a three-year program and was recognized by the National Association of Dental Examiners. Students were required to attend such courses as Crown and Bridge Work, Chemistry and Metallurgy, and Dental Pathology and Therapeutics. Each course cost $100 plus additional fees for books, dental instruments, and board.

The annual publication of the Birmingham Dental College has been obtained for the years 1898-1899 and 1899-1900. These publications appear to include the names of the students who were enrolled in the preceding session. For example, the 1898-1899 program indicates that John was a freshman for the 1897-1898 session while the 1899-1900 program shows John as a junior in the 1898-1899 session. The college had three classifications of students: freshman, junior and senior (no sophomore).

On April 26, 1900 John R. Cofield received his D.D.S. degree along with nine other graduates in a commencement ceremony held in the Jefferson Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama. The announcement of the commencement and the graduates appeared in the 1900 issue of The Dental Cosmos.

John Cofield was listed in the 1902-1903 Polk’s Dental Register and Directory as a practicing dentist in Marion County, Alabama. See below:

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Fessie and Beck

Goodness, what a fish! You don't see very many of this size today. How much do you think this flathead catfish weighed? The Penningtons plundered many a fishing hole in the Tombigbee River, which was within easy walking distance of their home in Peaceful Valley. There are lots of family stories about the fish caught in the "Big Hole" of the river, and just as many stories about the ones that got away.

Beck was a master fryer - chicken, of course, and pork chops and squirrel - but her fried catfish took the prize. She was liberal with the salt and knew just the right amount of coating for the fish. Sometime in the 1960s, Fessie had a couple of ponds built and stocked them with catfish. From then on, there was a steady supply of fish for Beck to fry. If there were more fish than mouths to feed, Beck froze the fish in half-gallon, waxed milk cartons that she saved for just such purposes.

Most of the time, Beck fried the fish in black skillets on the stove, but for big crowds and special occasions, the fish was fried outside in a big, black cast iron pot over propane heat and under the shade of a big tree. One of the things I remember too is that she and Fessie ate their fish with a mixture of ketchup and yellow mustard, a little of both swirled together on their plates. Add basic slaw, hushpuppies and plain ole french fries and you've got a master meal. I miss those days.

Along with fish, the freezer was usually stocked with deer meat. Beck knew how to marinade venison to prevent it from having a gamey taste. And like her fish, she knew exactly how to season and cook the deer meat. Being the master fryer she was, her fried deer steak was my favorite venison dish. And as long as I am reminiscing, let me add mashed potatoes, butter beans, creamed corn and biscuits to that meal. Another crowd favorite was Beck's chili made with ground venison.

The photo with the deer was made in January 1963. Note the jacket that Fessie is wearing? My son came in the house the other day wearing this jacket, having gotten it from my mother. He was quite proud of it even though the sleeves reached barely beyond his elbows! I think the jacket must have been washed one time too many!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Gardening and taxes......

It's that time of the year. You can always count on receiving IRS tax forms and gardening catalogs in the days following Christmas. Both point toward spring deadlines, but perusing through the catalogs is a lot more fun. In the cold and overcast days of January, it's nice to sit down with paper and pencil and, with the catalogs, plan your spring garden and dream about warm, sunny days. I've done my share of that, as did my father and his mother before me. Below is a drawing I found stuck away in some of my grandmother's gardening magazines and clippings. Pearl Cofield Robinson loved her flower gardens, and irises were among her favorite flowers. Her planting diagram came with a bonus - it was written on the back of my grandfather's stationery from his service on the Board of Supervisors, otherwise I would never have seen his letterhead. The advertisement came from one of her gardening magazines published in 1965.