Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What a fish!

Jesse Wilemon, right, with his son Bill

Jesse was married to Mary Opal Dulaney, daughter of Thomas A. "Bunt" Dulaney and Alice Moxley. He was the son of Jerome W. and Erah Beasley. Looks like the photo may have been taken at Pickwick - that sure was a big fish!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Percy's Speech

Itawamba County News
June 20, 1911

Senator Leroy Percy addressed about as large crowd of people Tuesday as we ever saw assembled here to hear a public speaker.

He was introduced by Hon. W. M. Cox of Baldwyn in eloquent terms, in which were related interesting statistics about the U. S. Senate before and since the war, naming several Senators we have had to represent us, and then said that in his opinion we were never more worthily represented in that body than we are today.

Mr. Percy gave a general account of his work in the Senate, his position on many important questions, and said it took work and not oratory to be an effective member. He gave his views on the race question, and took the position that we will gain nothing agitating this question. He read from Vardaman's paper where he proposed to debate the race question in hand with anybody. Percy said he was willing for his friend Alexander to have that job but that he was anxious to meet him at any place in Mississippi.

He said that Mr. Vardaman or friends boasted that Mr. Vardaman was making a campaign free from personalities, but that in his paper and other papers that are supporting him, Vardaman is waging one of the bitterest campaigns ever known in Mississippi.

His speech was well received by a majority of the crowd and he added to his strength by coming here.

The Dorsey Brass Band rendered several good selections for the occasion.

There were several other candidates here who made their announcements.

* * * * *

Leroy Percy was the last U.S. Senator appointed by the Mississippi legislature. He was selected in 1910 to fill a vacancy and served until his defeat by populist James K. Vardaman in 1912 who used race as a divisive issue in the campaign. Vardaman attacked Percy as an aristocratic planter who advocated progressive race relations and education for blacks. Following his defeat, Percy returned to his law practice and Delta plantation. Vardaman served only one term and was defeated in the next senatorial election.

William M. Cox, who introduced Senator Percy to the Itawamba crowd, was a Ripley native who practiced law in Baldwyn and served in the Mississippi legislature and later on the Mississippi Supreme Court. His son, Allen Cox, was the first U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of Mississippi, appointed by Calvin Coolidge to that position in 1929. Judge Cox took senior status in 1957 and served in that capacity until his death in 1974.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Rara Avis

North of Tremont, along Cotton Gin Road, was a community called Rara Avis. Rara Avis is a Latin phrase that means "rare bird." When early settlers arrived in Itawamba County, there were many colorful birds but unfortunately the birds quickly disappeared. Col. W. L. Clayton wrote in his "Pen-Pictures" column in 1905 about these birds when his family first settled in Itawamba County:

"There was then in this country a beautiful bird in large droves, but which have since disappeared altogether - they were called paraquites, and were a beautiful green, red and yellow color, with very long crooked bills, somewhat like that of a parrot, and they were very much the size of parrots. There (sic) were quite destructive to wheat, oats and rye fields."

The destruction of settlers' crops contributed to the extinction of these unusual birds, but there is also another story involving their demise.

In my files, there is a copy of an article written about Rara Avis. Unfortunately, I did not write down the source of the article nor its author, but it may have appeared in an early Itawamba Settlers publication. If anyone knows of the article to which I am referring, please e-mail me or comment here. The article described the rare birds as being similar to a guinea with "brilliant and variegated" plumage and a call that was "harsh" and "untuneable." According to the author, the birds lived exclusively on a diet of chestnuts. When the chestnut trees were struck by a blight, the rara avis was deprived of their food supply and disappeared along with the trees.

For several years, there was a post office located at Rara Avis which serviced many families in the Tremont area. My great-great grandfather's brother, William Wilkson "Uncle Billy" Robinson was a postmaster when he owned the store at Rara Avis. As Tremont's population grew, a post office was established there and eventually, in 1923, the post office at Rara Avis was closed.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tupelo tornado

Here's another photograph found in Ma Davis's trunk: a picture of the aftermath of the tornado that hit Tupelo on a Sunday evening in 1936. This tornado is said to be the fourth deadliest tornado in U.S. history, killing over 200 people and injuring 700 when it struck Tupelo around 9 o'clock the night of April 5th. Residential areas were hardest hit as the tornado skipped over Tupelo's downtown business district. At least one-third of the city's homes were destroyed. The tornado hit the Bissell community prior to its touchdown in west Tupelo, and after leaving a path of destruction it picked up and re-landed in the Auburn community.

Who took this photograph or why it was kept by Queenie Clayton Davis is not known. Click on the photo for a larger view.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

James Clyde Cofield

Clyde was the older brother of my grandmother, Pearl Cofield Robinson. He was born July 16, 1900 at Hackleburg, Alabama to Mary Marenda "Dollie" Loyd and her husband John Richard Cofield, and he died at the age of 18 at Muscle Shoals.

The photograph of Clyde is encased in a small lapel pin which was found in my grandmother's jewelry case. As a young girl, my grandmother was exposed to death and sadness many times. Her father died when she was three years old, then her mother died just a couple of years later, and her brother Clyde died twenty days before her twelfth birthday.

Clyde, like thousands of other young men during World War I, was required to complete a draft registration card. Three draft lotteries were held, and Clyde barely made the third and final one. He turned eighteen on July 16, 1918 and the third draft registration was held September 10, the first draft that included eighteen year-olds.

The registration card completed by Clyde showed that he was employed by the American Nitrate Company at Muscle Shoals in Colbert County, working as a waiter. His grandfather was listed as next of kin in Bexar, Alabama. A description of Clyde indicated that he was of medium height and medium build with blue eyes and brown hair and no physical disabilities.

Each county in the United States had a local draft board, and Clyde's draft registration card was stamped by boards in both Marion and Colbert counties. The registration was usually held on just one day, starting early in the morning and often ending late at night. Whistles, church bells or canons were used to signal the start of registration. Some towns held parades and patriotic speeches.

How did Clyde come to be employed at Muscle Shoals, about sixty miles away? In late 1917, ground was broken for the first of two nitrate plants in Colbert County. The following August construction started nearby on the Wilson Hydroelectric Dam. Construction on these facilities created a population boom in the area. By August 1918, over 20,000 workers were employed, and it was estimated that it took nearly 80,000 people to keep the workers working. Although wages were high, labor shortages occurred due to the poor living conditions and housing shortages. Clyde was probably drawn by the unheard-of wages of 30 cents per hour and the idea of doing his patriotic duty.

Construction proceeded at a high pace. Over 230 permanent structures were erected, 165 miles of sewer lines and 685 miles of electric cable were laid. Homes for the workers were built. Housing and feeding the 20,000 workers were a chore. Twenty-three mess halls served more than 24,000 meals per day, and it was probably at one of these mess halls that Clyde initially worked for the company. He didn't stay employed as a waiter, however, since his death certificate completed one month after the draft registration indicated that he was employed as a "seal keeper" at the nitrate plant.

In October and November of 1918, the influenza epidemic reached Muscle Shoals. The crowded living conditions at the facilities mimicked those of soldiers' camps and thus were ripe for the spreading of the influenza virus. At that time, medical science was ignorant of the existence of viruses or how diseases were actually spread. At the Muscle Shoals facilities, nearly 8,000 people fell sick and unknown numbers of construction workers were buried on the construction site. This strain of influenza was unique in that it struck healthy robust young men particularly hard as opposed to the usual victims: the young, elderly or sickly population.

Clyde died October 10, 1918. His death certificate shows the cause of death as lobar pneumonia. This was the typical end-effect of the deadly virus. The lungs of victims were usually found filled with fluid, literally drowning them to death. Clyde died exactly one month after completing his draft registration card, at the ANC Hospital, a facility erected on site at the nitrate plant. He was barely eighteen years old. The war ended a month later on November 11, 1918.

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Daisy Morrow and first man"

This photograph was found in Ma Davis's trunk, and on the back is written "Daisy Morrow and first man." I don't know which woman in the photo is Daisy Morrow or who the other people are. Daisy was Pa Davis's first cousin. Her father Tobe was brother to Annalizer Morrow Davis, the mother of James Kelly Davis (Pa).

I found the following obituary abstract online at the Itawamba genforum site:

"Mrs. Daisy Greenslade of Kaufman, Texas, died Jan. 19, 1972 in the Baylor University Hospital in Dallas, Texas. She was 54. She is remembered as the former Miss Daisy Morrow. Funeral services were held in Kaufman."

The writing on the back of the photograph is puzzling. What does it mean "first man" - did Daisy have an earlier marriage?

Daisy was married to Milton Greenslade. Her death certificate indicates that she died of viral pneumonia and was buried in Kaufman Cemetery. She was born November 21, 1918 in Itawamba County.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Green B. Thornton 1822-1892

With the Thornton family reunion coming up this weekend, it is only appropriate to say a few words about Green B. Thornton. Green is the earliest known ancestor of the Thornton clan of northern Itawamba and southern Prentiss counties. He was born November 17, 1822, probably in Georgia, and died January 14, 1892 in Prentiss County. His full name is probably Greenberry, but I hesitate to label him as such since I've not found that name for him anywhere, but his middle initial definitely was "B".

Green's parents are a mystery. It is one of those brick walls that we encounter although usually not this quick in most of our family lines. Complicating matters is that I've only found Green in the 1870 (Itawamba) and 1880 (Prentiss) censuses although I know he was in Mississippi in 1850 and 1860. I've spent hours looking for him so if anyone has better luck than I have, please let me know about it.

Green served in the Civil War under Col. Aaron Hardcastle, enlisting in Itawamba County on November 3, 1863 in the Third Battalion, Mississippi Infantry, Company D. His company originally was part of the 33rd Regiment but was later reorganized under the 45th Regiment. Some online records indicate that Green enlisted in Company B in Choctaw County, but after viewing the muster rolls at the National Archives I know this is incorrect information. His widow's pension application in Prentiss County indicates that he was discharged in April 1865 in Atlanta.

Green was married to Mary whose last name may have been Dunlap, based on family information passed down through the years. In her application for Green's Civil War pension, Mary indicated that they were married in 1851.

The Thorntons lived along the Itawamba-Prentiss line. Deed records in Prentiss County show that Green and Mary owned the land where the Pleasant Valley Cemetery is located today, and it is in this cemetery that they are buried. Green's marker, held together in the picture above, is broken in half while Mary's marker is missing altogether. I don't know what happened to her marker - thankfully, it was listed in an earlier listing of the cemetery so we know it existed. Plus, her descendants are aware that the marker once was there.

Below are the census records I've found for Green and Mary. Note that the two records have conflicting information as to their places of birth. It sure would be nice to find them in another census. Based on answers given by their children in subsequent censuses, I believe that Green was probably born in Georgia and Mary in North Carolina although at least one child indicated in one census record that Green was born in Florida. All of these answers likely have some truth in them. Green probably did spend some time in Florida, and the couple probably also lived in Alabama at some time, maybe as children.

1870 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Township 9
Green Thornton 45 AL farmer 200 real estate/300 personal property
Mary 38 AL
Margarett 19 MS
John 17 MS
George 15 MS
Biddie 12 MS
Martha 8 MS
Charles 3 MS
(only Thornton in Itawamba County in 1870)

1880 Census
Prentiss County, Mississippi
4th Supervisor's District
G. B. Thornton 55 GA GA GA farmer
Mary 46 NC NC NC
Martha 16 MS
Charles 11 MS
Ira 8 MS
Marietta 6 MS
Willie 3 MS
Neighbors: Kizer, Gann, Wright

Children of Green and Mary:

Margarett Priscilla, b 1851, married William C. Gann
John T., b 1853, married Bettie Griffin
George Washington, b 1856, married Mary Jane Gann
Biddie Ann, b 1861, married Jasper Greenberry Franks
Martha A., b 1864, married James Elbert Pounds
Charles M., b about 1865, married Susan A. Shackleford
James Ira, b 1870, married Mary Della Unknown
Mary Etta, b 1873, married John Henry Morgan Schoggen
William Henry, b 1876, married Olar Burton
Fannie, b 1888, died as infant

I would love to hear from descendants of any of these children of Green B. Thornton and especially would love pictures!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Another Brick Store

Itawamba County News
September 3, 1925

Fulton To Soon Have Another Brick Store

Another brick store building will soon be erected and added to Fulton's list of modern store houses. Gaither Bro. have awarded a contract to Mr. Ed Reifers for the building of a twenty-five feet fronting brick store on the lot just south of their present store.

Gaither Bros. will reserve the back part of the building for storage room and will rent the front of the building. Several persons have inquired about renting the store. The building will begin at a very early date.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nathaniel M. Clayton

Oh boy, this is a good picture: Nathaniel M. Clayton standing in front of his log cabin south of Fulton, in the Tilden community of Itawamba County. If you have been following the Clayton genealogy, you will remember that Nathan was the son of Thompson and Patience Malinda Clayton.

Nathan was married first to Martha Bowen, daughter of John Henderson Bowen and Zinny Putman. They were married August 24, 1873 by W. A. Smith and had twelve children together before Martha's untimely death at the age of 44. One of those twelve children was my great-grandmother Queenie Victoria Clayton, who was born in 1883 and obviously named after Queen Victoria, reigning monarch of England. After Martha's death in 1892, Nathan remarried to Mattie Elizabeth Reed, daughter of William Washington Reed and Mary Jane Tallant, and they had two daughters, Elzora and Jennette. By all accounts, Mattie was a much beloved step-mother to Queenie and her siblings.

Nathan started out farming on land he purchased near his father, land located today just off the Tilden-Nita Lake Road. Within a few years however, he moved a bit further west when he bought land along the Tombigbee River between Beans Ferry and Tilden. Some of this land is under the Tenn-Tom Waterway, but some of the Clayton property remains in the possession of Nathan's descendants today. It was here that Nathan and Martha made their home and built a typical dwelling for that time, a log cabin dog-trot that Queenie and some of her brothers and sisters were born in. The log cabin is still standing, in fairly good condition considering it is over 120 years old.

Nathan and his brother Daniel were both woodworkers, famous for their straight-back chairs with cane bottoms. The Claytons were also known for their watermelons.

Nathan died September 30, 1908. He worked in the cotton fields during the day and died in his sleep during the night. Mattie got up as usual to cook breakfast, and when he didn't get up from bed, she went back to check and found him "sleeping the blessed sleep from which none ever wakes." Nathan was just 60 years old, and his death was a surprise to his family. The following notice appeared in the Itawamba County News:

"Mr. Nathan Clayton, who lived near Tilden, was found dead in bed Wednesday morning. It is said that he had not been subject to heart trouble and had not been complaining, having done a good day's work the day before he died. He was about 60 years of age, had done a great deal of hard work during his life, was very much admired by a large circle of friends, and his death a shock to the entire community. The News deeply sympathizes with the bereaved family."

Nathan's middle name has been found as Merida and also as Meredith. This name puzzled me a bit until some research turned up a probable source for this name. It is believed that Nathan's mother was the daughter of Meredith Brashears. Land records in Spartanburg County reveal that Meredith Brashears is found variously as Merida, Meriday and Meredith. Nathan's middle name could have come from his supposed grandfather.

Don Clayton, great-grandson of Nathan, shared this photograph of Nathan with me and my mother. Thank you, Don, for the hospitality, pictures and information!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tobe Lee Morrow

Tobe Morrow was a brother to Annaliza Morrow Davis, my great-great grandmother. Their parents were John and Mary Ford Morrow, and their siblings were Maggie, Will, Charlie, Luke, Minnie and Tom.

Tobe was married to Della Umfress, believed to be the daughter of Ben Umfress, and they lived south of Fulton in 1910 on the "Fulton-Amory Road" also known as Highway 25 today.

1910 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Fulton-Amory Road
Tobe L. Morrow 32 MS AL TN farmer, married 5 years
Della 25 MS MS MS 2 children, 1 living
Bernice 3 MS dau

1920 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Beat 5
Tobe L. Marrow 42 MS MS TN farmer
Dessie M. 5 MS daughter
Della 35 MS MS MS wife
Daisy 1 MS

Itawamba County News
June 18, 1914
Tilden News
Mrs. Tobe Morrow and family were the guest of Mr. B. F. Umfress and family Saturday and Sunday.

Itawamba County News
Jan. 3, 1924
Mr. Tobe Morrow and family have recently moved to his father’s old home, and Mr. Jas. Davis and family moved to the home that was occupied by Mr. Morrow.

Below is Tobe's obituary, as found abstracted on the Itawamba genforum website. His Texas death certificate was found online at, and it indicated that Tobe died of "terminal pneumonia." The certificate showed that he had been in Texas for a couple of months although his usual residence was Fulton, Miss.

Tobe Morrow, 75, died Aug. 8, 1951 at the Hall DeFleming Hospital in Kaufman, Texas while visiting his daughter, Mrs. M.E. Greenslade of Kaufman and his son, John Lee Morrow of Ft. Worth.

Services were at the Fulton Baptist Church with burial in the Union Grove Cemetery.

Survivors include two daughters, Mrs. Rodney Richardson of Fulton, and Mrs. Milton Greenslade of Texas; one son, John Lee Morrow of Ft. Worth; one brother, Charlie Morrow of Texas and one sister, Mrs. Stark Roberts of Amory; eight grandchildren.

Pallbearers were nephews: Clearace, Arlie, J.B., Oren, Gene and Walter Morrow.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

William Pascal Thornton

I love this photograph of William Pascal Thornton and his mule. The mule was a central character to life in early Itawamba County. Many photographs taken in the early part of the 1900s included the family mule, such as this 1914 photo. Eventually though, the family car replaced the mule in family photographs. The mule was no longer necessary for transportation, and tractors eventually replaced mules in the fields. Willie's granddaughter, Laura, provided this photograph (thank you!), and she said that to her knowledge Willie never owned a car or had a driver's license. He loved to fish and could fish for hours at his fishing hole in the Twenty Mile Bottom.

Willie was married to Beulah Ann Stanford, and the 1930 census-taker found the Thornton family living on the "Jay Senter" Road in northwestern Itawamba County.

1930 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Beat 2
Jay Senter (Jacinto) Road
Willie P. Thosten 38 MS MS MS farmer, married at age 21
Bula A. 36 MS AL AL, married at age 19
Cecil R. 17 MS farm laborer
Troy A. 15 MS farm laborer
Rubel M. 12 MS daughter
Paul L. 6 MS son
Eva L. 4 MS

Willie's sister was Nora Thornton Johnson, my husband's great-grandmother. The siblings were just two years apart in age, with Willie being the older of the two. Nora was 88 years old when she died in 1979, but Willie lived to be 100 years old! He died in 1989.

I understand that the Thornton family reunion is usually held every 4th Saturday in September at the Ryans Well community center. That means it is coming up soon! The Itawamba Thorntons descend from Green B. and Mary Thornton, who were Willie's grandparents. Green and Mary are buried in the Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Prentiss County, just across the border from Itawamba County, on land that was once owned by Green.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Clayton brothers

These five brothers were the sons of Thompson and Patience Malinda Clayton. The Clayton family, which also included six daughters, moved to Itawamba County between 1864 and 1866 from Alabama. As far as I have been able to determine, Thompson and Malinda moved here without other family members - no parents or siblings. Thompson bought land in Section 23, Township 10, Range 9 in eastern Itawamba County.

Nathaniel, my great-great grandfather, was the oldest son, born in 1848 in Georgia. He is pictured far left in the photograph. In fact, the brothers are lined up, left to right, according to their birth order: Nathaniel, Daniel, Elijah, Brooks and Noah. Brooks moved to Lee County, near Tupelo, and is buried in Priceville Cemetery. Noah, who was a Baptist minister, was pastoring Priceville Baptist Church at the time of his death and is also buried in that cemetery. The other brothers are buried in Itawamba County.

Marilyn Leary was very kind and generous to provide this photograph to my mother when she found out that my mother's grandmother was Nathaniel's daughter. Cousin Rita retouched and removed the crease lines from the photograph to provide the image you see here. Thank you both for your generosity.

I'll post more on each of the Clayton brothers later.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mary Ford Morrow, 1839-1924

A couple of months ago, I found this picture and obituary in the 1925 Itawamba County News and was absolutely thrilled. The find was especially pleasing since I had not been looking for it at all!

Mary Ford Morrow was the daughter of George Ford and Nancy Middleton, and the wife of John Morrow. She is my great-great-great grandmother. Interestingly, although I have a picture of Mary, I do not have one of her daughter Annalizer Morrow Davis, my Pa Davis's mother. I would dearly love to have a photograph of Annalizer and her husband, J. W. A. Davis.

The obituary below omits a son, William Andrew Morrow.

January 1, 1925

Mrs. Mary Morrow died at her home here Sunday night about midnight. Aunt Mary, as she was affectionately known to many of us, had been very feeble for several years before her death and for the past few weeks had been confined to her bed. She would have been 86 years of age on the 5th of this month.

She was the widow of Mr. John Morrow, who died here in 1900. They both had lived near Fulton since childhood. Mrs. Morrow was born in Tennessee but her family came to this county when she was a child.

She leaves no brothers or sisters, but is bereaved by the following: Mrs. Analizer Davis, Mrs. Minnie Roberts, and Mr. T. L. Morrow, who live near Fulton, Mr. Luke Morrow of Florida, and who had been with his mother for several days before her death, and Mrs. Maggie Dabbs and Charlie Morrow of Texas, who were unable to attend the funeral. Also she had one son, Mr. Tom Morrow, who is deceased.

She had been a faithful member of the Methodist church for many years. Her remains were laid away in the Maxcy church cemetery Monday morning by the host of relatives and friends who came to pay their sincere respects.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

John Gainey Sloan

John Gainey Sloan was born in the Cardsville community of Itawamba County on September 23, 1881. He was the son of Jackson Samuel Sloan and Melissa Carolina Potts.

Uncle Gainey was a country veterinarian. Although he received no formal training, he studied medicine under his brother, Alfred, who was a medical doctor educated at Vanderbilt. Gainey was known throughout southern Itawamba County as someone to call on when your farm animals or pets needed medical care. And sometimes, when a doctor was not available, Gainey was asked to provide care for people too. On at least occasion, he was called upon to deliver a baby.

On April 11, 1909 Gainey Sloan married Dora Belle Ridings, the daughter of W. W. and Martha Ridings, and they had eight children: Martha, Edgar Acqulis, Johnnie, Una, Shirley or "Squire", Grace, Dorothy and Afton.

Uncle Gainey died October 20, 1950 at his home in Peaceful Valley.

1910 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Cardsville precinct
John G. Sloan 29 MS AL MS farmer, married 1 year
Dorah B. 28 MS MS MS

1920 Census
Monroe County, Mississippi
Boyds Precinct, Pleasant Grove Road
Gainey J. Sloan 40 MS MS MS farmer
Dora 28 MS MS MS
Marthey 8 MS
Aquila 7 MS son
Johnnie 5 MS son
Una 3 MS daughter
Shirley 3 mo MS daughter (should be son)

1930 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Beat 3
Fulton-Barrs Ferry Road
living next to his parents
John G. Sloan 49 AL AL MS farmer, rents, married at age 27
Dora B. 43 MS MS MS
Martha C. 18 MS
Edgar A. 17 MS
Johnnie R. 15 MS son
Una I. 12 MS daughter
Shirley 10 MS
Helen G. 8 MS
Dorothy J. 5 MS
Afton I. 3 MS daughter

A big note of thanks goes out to my Sloan cousins who shared this photo and many others at the recent Sloan reunion as well as to Cousin Rita who retouched the photograph.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pennington 'man stuff'

Fessie's "pocket" watch and hunting club pin
Fessie's father Hugh's snuff tin, coin purse and pocket knife

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Claytons of Spartanburg

As noted in a previous post to this blog, I believe that the Thompson Clayton found in Itawamba County belongs to the Claytons of extreme northwestern Spartanburg County. Thompson was likely the son of an elder Thompson Clayton who lived along Motley's Creek and Easley's Creek close to the border with North Carolina. Other Clayton men who lived in this area were Gowen Clayton Jr., Gowen Clayton Sr., Sampson Clayton, Augustus Clayton, Ransom Clayton, Solomon Clayton and others. These names are found on deed records together, signifying a close connection to one another although the exact relationship is as yet unknown.

Augustus Clayton was a well-known Primitive Baptist preacher who served several churches in northern Spartanburg and Greenville counties, including Holly Spring Church where Thompson Clayton is found in the record book as a member of the constitution committee in 1834 and Sampson Clayton joined as a member in 1846. Augustus, also found as Austin and Augustine, moved to Kentucky about 1810.

There is another, younger Augustus Clayton found in Spartanburg County. His name appears in deed records as a witness or as an adjacent landowner to Thompson, Ransom and the others. This Augustus left South Carolina between 1843 and 1846 . In the 1850 census Augustus was in Gilmer County, Georgia (formed out of Cherokee) notably with a 19 year old son named Thompson and a 4 year old son named Nathaniel.

Sampson Clayton moved to Cherokee County, Georgia before 1850 to what eventually became part of Forsyth County. He is found in Division 15 of Cherokee County in the 1850 census, as is the younger Thompson Clayton, Jr. who later moved to Itawamba County. Although the two men were not shown as living next to each other in the census record, it is significant that they are found there together. Also in the same county and division is a similarly-aged Seward Clayton although Clayton researchers indicate that Seward is connected to the set of Claytons that lived around Mooreville in extreme western Itawamba County, now Lee County.

Ransom Clayton is found in the 1830 census living next to Sampson in Spartanburg County (Sampson named a son Ransom). Ransom moved to Pontotoc County, Mississippi before 1850. Records show that he sold his land in Spartanburg County in 1835 in a transaction witnessed by an Augustus Clayton (not the one who moved to Kentucky, but a namesake), moved to Alabama, and then to Mississippi around 1845. Ransom witnessed an 1830 deed of conveyance from Thompson Clayton (Sr) to Augustus Clayton for land on Motley Creek.

Gowen Clayton, Sr. is the old man of the bunch, possibly the father of some or all of these men. I believe him to be the father of Thompson Sr. since the two men are found practically side by side in several census records, along with Gowen Clayton, Jr. Gowen Sr. and Thompson also owned land adjacent to each other according to deed records.

Solomon Clayton has been indicated to be the son of Gowen Clayton, Jr. Gowen Jr. and Solomon Clayton, unlike some of the other Clayton men, stayed in Spartanburg County.

More research is needed to determine how these Clayton families connect. Hopefully, if I keep picking at the threads, the puzzle will unravel. The research get confusing when you realize that there were another Sampson and Solomon Clayton, brothers born in Tennessee, who were of the same age and lived in the same area of Alabama as some of our Claytons. How do they fit into the picture? Maybe time will tell.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thompson Clayton

There were several different sets of Clayton families in early Itawamba County. Perhaps the most well-known is the family of Col. W. L. Clayton, lawyer and Civil War veteran, who lived in the area around Mooreville in what became part of Lee County. Another set of Claytons lived in and around Tremont along the state line, part of the Middleton Clayton line. I'm familiar with this family as Middleton's daughter Henrietta married Thomas Evans, brother to my GGG grandfather William Evans. Another set of Claytons lived south of Fulton near Tilden, and it is this family that I am concerned with today.

Thompson Clayton moved to Itawamba County from Alabama about 1865, based on the birthplaces given for some of his children. He was born about 1820-1825 in South Carolina, probably Spartanburg County, and lived for a spell in Cherokee County, Georgia before moving with his wife and children to DeKalb County, Alabama around 1858. Thompson was married to Patience Malinda, who was born about 1825 in South Carolina. These facts are known.

Deed records in the Itawamba County courthouse indicate that Thompson bought land in 1867 from Elizabeth Harrison and in 1870 from M. C. Cummings. This land today is located west of Nita Lake Road, about half-way between Highway 78 and Highway 25 South. Thompson farmed the land with the help of his sons. He and his wife died sometime between 1880 and 1900, the last record of them being the 1880 census. I do not know where they are buried, probably in an unmarked grave on their property.

Census and family records show the following children for Thompson and Malinda:

Nathaniel Merida
Elijah Davis
Eda J.
Hamilton Brooks
Matilda Tabitha
Noah T.
Daniel James

The rest of the story about Thompson Clayton is pure speculation, however it is based on strong information. I believe that our Itawamba Thompson belongs to the Claytons who lived along Motley's Creek (sometimes Motlow) in northwestern Spartanburg County in the late 1700s and early 1800s. His father was likely the elder Thompson Clayton who owned land there and is found in the early census records. The elder Thompson is also found in the church records of Holly Spring Baptist Church of Christ, a Primitive Baptist church. Today, the cemetery of this church is filled with Claytons and Brashears. Thompson Sr. died 1840-1841. The names of his wife and children are not known - as yet.

The Brashears family is closely intertwined with the Spartanburg Claytons. In fact, it is believed that Patience Matilda, our Thompson Jr.'s wife, was a Brashears, probably the daughter of Merida Brashears. I refer to her as Patience Malinda because she is found as Patience in the 1850, 1860 and 1880 censuses, and as Malinda in the 1870 census. Merida Brashears has been found also as Meredith and Meriday, and it is believed that Patience Malinda named her first-born son after her supposed father: Nathaniel Merida Clayton. There is no proof that I have found that supports this conclusion however, only strong indications. No Brashears have been determined to have moved to Itawamba County.

More to come on the Claytons.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Afternoon on the porch

Most Itawamba families found themselves outside on the porch or under a tall shade tree on Sunday afternoons. In the days before air conditioning, it was more pleasant to spend the afternoon outside, plus the smaller rooms couldn't hold everyone that had come over for Sunday dinner. Although I don't really know the occasion, it appears that the Johnson family were spending such a Sunday afternoon outside on the porch.

Cousin Glenda shared this photo earlier this summer, and I've only recently gotten it and several others scanned in. The photograph is especially meaningful because it has my husband's grandparents and great-grandmother together. From left to right: Nora Thornton Johnson (it's probably her porch?), seated in front is her daughter Glader, then an unknown male (can someone identify him?), then Glader's husband, Henry. To the right of the porch column is Glader's brother Earnest and his wife Quinnie Mae (Watts), and the others are not known. Looks like there were several others out of sight on the right side of the porch.

Notice the clothesline across the porch with clothespins. You can click on the photograph to view a larger image of it.

Our Pennington family used to have afternoons like this in the summer, and thankfully I've got several photographs of these occasions. Perhaps one day a half-century from now, some great-grandchildren will be analyzing those photos and speculating about our identities and past-times.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sweet Baby James

c 1933

James Luke Robinson being held by his grandmother, Thusie.
Photograph taken on the Robinson farm, located where
Willow Road and Mimosa Drive are today in Fulton.
Look at that head full of hair on that baby!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Itawamba County News
March 23, 1911

Two automobiles of passengers came up last Thursday from Amory to attend the Vardaman speaking.

News has been received that the horse Trannie Young, R.F.D. carrier on Smithville route 4, was driving last Thursday morning soared at one of the automobiles near Tilden, ran through a wire fence, tore up the buggy and both horse and driver received slight injuries as a result of the meeting. He took the mail on horseback.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Nancy Agnes Cromeans Johnson

Itawamba County News
August 24, 1911

In Memoriam
Nancy Cromeans Johnson

The subject of this sketch was born in a quiet little home a short distance from Burnt field church Feberuary 2, 1858. She was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Cromeans and a twin sister of Wm. T Cromeans. While yet a small child her mother was taken away leaving the care of five children to the father.

At the age of eighteen she was married to Henry Johnson. She was an ideal home maker of a serene, affectionate, retiring disposition, was the mother of ten children. Despite the many duties that confront a busy mother, the sick or needy received a goodly share of her sympathy and attention.

She joined the Missionary Baptist church October 1887 (date unclear) and was baptized by Brother Thornley. The vow she took upon her self was fully realized and assuredly kept. She was always a consistent member of her church. She was a victim of that deadly disease tuberculosis. She received the best medical attention available and most affectionate care from a dutiful husband and loving children.

She bore her suffering patiently fully realizing her physical condition she expressed herself as being perfectly ready to go. On the afternoon of August the 1st, 1911, Aunt Nancy lay at the alter of Mt. Vernon church asleep while the choir sang beautiful hymns with Brother Jarrel her pastor officiating. She looked so peaceful. Her brow wore no touch of pain, she was at rest. Dear heart your companion is left alone; his hopes for a happy old age all crushed, his heart all bleeding. The children whose love found full return in the love of mother their arms are aching to clasp your beloved form again, their hearts are yearning for the reunion with you on the other shore. Your brothers long for the touch of your hand and the sound of your voice in loving converse.

I know you can look from the parapets of Heaven and read the yearnings of your loved ones. But I know too, that you do not grieve with them for in the light of eternity a thousand years is but a day and so you can realize that in a little space all your "own" will be caught in the clouds of glory to live with you always. Untrammeled by sorrow, freed from the ills and pains of the flesh you walk the fair fields of Heaven with the step that knows no lassitude. Crowned with the mortalities your brown glows with the light of Heaven. Like the sleeping lilies you have been transformed by the power of ... that her falling of sleep is a transition from a world of sorrow into the light of a fairer day.

Luna Cromeans

[Note that Luna Cromeans was the niece of both Nancy Cromeans Johnson and Henry Ellis Johnson, Jr. Her mother Mary Johnson was Henry's sister, and her father Eli Crockett "Manny" Cromeans was Nancy's brother. Siblings married siblings.]

For more about Henry and Nancy Johnson's family, read here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Children of James M. & Bettie Senter Dulaney

James M. Dulaney and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Senter, had nine children. One son, William, died of croup at the age of four, but the other eight children all lived to adulthood. We've determined that the above photograph is of the Dulaney siblings, and some of their spouses, but I'm not sure about some of the women pictured. On the front row is Thomas Aron Dulaney, known as Bunt due to an accident with an axe in which he cut off his thumb, and his wife Alice Moxley who is seated in the middle.

The three men standing on the back row are brothers John Alfred, James Robert and Daniel Dove Dulaney. Although I can't identify the women exactly, except for Alice Moxley Dulaney, I have some pretty good guesses. The first woman on the back row, left, is likely Willie Lee Woodard, standing next to her husband John A. Dulaney. She favors other photos we have of Willie with John. I think that the woman seated on the right is Sula Brown, wife of Dove, but I can't be sure. She also favors another photograph we have of Dove and Sula. The woman standing in the middle of the back row is likely Mary Ophelia Brown, wife of James Robert Dulaney. Ophelia and Sula were sisters, daughters of Andrew Lafayette Brown and Talitha "Cumi" Stephens.

Another possibility is that one of the pictured women is Mattie Alvaretta Dulaney who was married to Dock M. Brown. Dock was an uncle to Sula and Ophelia Brown who married Mattie's brothers. Mattie was the only daughter still living when this picture was taken. Her sisters Mary Elizabeth and Rhoda Ann died in 1924 and 1925 respectively. Mary Elizabeth was married to James Green "Tobe" Brown. Tobe was Dock's brother. Are you confused? Seems like every time we discuss the Dulaneys, we get confused! If it is not Browns, it's Wilemons, Senters, or Robinsons that are giving us trouble! Let's muddy it up some more..... Rhoda Dulaney married Selby T. Brown.... another Brown! But Selby does not appear to be connected to the other Browns that intermarried with these Dulaney siblings, at least not closely connected.

Some researchers have said that five Brown siblings married five Dulaney siblings, but that is not quite right. Almost though. We have two brothers, Dock and Tobe, marrying two sisters, Mary Elizabeth and Mattie. And we have two brothers, children of Dock and Tobe's brother Andrew Lafayette, marrying two sisters, Sula and Ophelia.

We know that this photograph was taken after 1925, the year when Rhoda Dulaney Brown died. That is because the newspaper at the time of her death indicated that her brother, James Robert Dulaney, came back home from Texas for the first time in twenty years when she took ill and died in February of that year. Therefore, Rhoda and Mary Elizabeth were deceased at the time this picture was made. Another sibling, Richard Nathaniel "Dick" Dulaney, is not pictured here. He died in 1927, and it is likely that this picture was taken after his death. By the way, Dick Dulaney was married to Alice Moxley's sister, Mattie.

It is interesting how just a few months ago we didn't know who these people were in the photograph with Tom and Alice Dulaney, however, the receipt of additional information and photographs have enabled us to identify most, if not all, of those pictured.

Thank you Cousin Rita for restoring this photograph.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fair Days

The county fair used to be a big event in Itawamba County every fall. I don't know when the fair began in our county, but I do remember that even into the 1970s it was still a big deal with blue ribbons given out to homemakers with the best looking jar of pickles, best squash, best canned tomatoes etc. Of course, the main draw was the carnival rides, and during election years, there were always candidates with push cards.

The above illustration was found in the September 3, 1925 edition of the Itawamba County News. The county was gearing up for the fair to be held later that month, and entries were being solicited for items in various categories, including Best Ten Ears of Corn, Best Cotton Exhibit, Best Cornmeal Muffins, Best Jar of Peaches, Best Brood Sow and Litter of any Breed, Best Jersey Cow, etc. This is probably what prompted the above cartoon labeled "Ma's Nightmare."

In addition to the prize exhibits, there was to be a demonstration of tractor plowing. Remember that most farmers were still using mules for plowing in 1925, and tractors were an unaffordable novelty for most of Itawamba's farmer. A tractor demonstration was sure to draw a big crowd.

The article that accompanied the illustration said "We are an agricultural people and are proud of our county. Why not make it better."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mrs. Larkin Taylor, Holiness Evangelist

This notice appeared in the July 30, 1925 edition of the Itawamba County News, and I found it interesting that there was a female evangelist in Itawamba County in 1925. Note that the meeting was to be held at an arbor four miles north of Fulton. Does anyone know anything about this arbor and its location? Lela Pearce told me once that she and her husband, Burton, along with my grandparents, Luke and Pearl Robinson, once attended a brush arbor meeting somewhere north of Tremont, near Red Bay. This would have been much later than 1925 however.

There was a "holiness" movement that started in Itawamba County around World War I. Itawambian Luther Moxley and his wife, Alice Victoria Stanphill, as well as Luther's brother, James Richard Moxley, were prominent evangelists with the Church of God of Prophecy. Luther joined the holiness church in 1919 and rose to be one of its national leaders. Pate's Temple Church in northeastern Itawamba was the local center of this faith although other local churches existed also in Tishomingo County and across the state line in Franklin County, Alabama. The holiness religion not only allowed and promoted women as ministers, but also actively embraced blacks within their churches, something that brought the wrong kind of attention, just one of the causes of many holiness churches being burned down and members being harassed and ostracized. Luther and James Moxley were brothers to Alice Moxley Dulaney, my husband's great-great grandmother.

As to Mrs. Larkin Taylor, I've been unable to find any information on her. There is a cemetery listing for a Mrs. Larkin Taylor and her husband in Lubbock County, Texas but I couldn't say whether or not it is the same person.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

More on the Itawamba courthouse....

Miss Zereda Greene wrote many great columns for the Itawamba County Times in which she discussed various topics of our county's history. They are a wonderful resource, and a collection of her columns can be found at the Itawamba Historical Society. In a couple of her 1966 columns, Miss Zereda wrote about the courthouse in Fulton. She indicated that when the Board of Supervisors voted in August 1936 to remodel the courthouse, the courthouse was noted to have been 87 years old at the time, which means it was built around 1849. As you can tell from the above photograph (note that a door appears to be open on the cupola in the picture!), the courthouse originally had a cupola. Miss Zereda said that the weathervane atop the cupola was used for many years as a guide during washday. Women would check the weathervane to see the direction of the wind before building a fire for the washpot. A fence surrounded the courthouse with a gate in the center of each side that had a chain and weight to keep the gate closed.

Miss Zereda worked in the Chancery Clerk's office beginning in 1920 so she had excellent recall from her time spent inside the building. She remembered that the courthouse had three chimneys on the western and eastern sides, each with a fireplace downstairs and upstairs. There was one hall that ran north to south and at one end was a set of wooden double doors that Miss Zereda indicated stood open all of the time.

The remodeling of the courthouse in 1936 was financed primarily through the WPA, or Works Progress Administration (later Works Projects Administration). The WPA was part of Roosevelt's New Deal initiative in which millions of unemployed people were put to work building public projects such as roads and public buildings. Itawamba's courthouse was one such project to benefit from the WPA program. During the remodel, which took about a year, court was held in the auditorium of IAHS. Unfortunately, as a result of the remodeling, several books and records were destroyed or lost.

A mere sixteen years later, the courthouse was in need of additional space so another remodeling project was authorized, and in 1952 an annex was erected. Below is a photograph of the courthouse following this remodel. Itawamba's courthouse kept the white stucco look until 1972 when the latest remodeling took place.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Old Courthouse pictures

Click on these pictures to get a better look at the Itawamba Courthouse as it appeared around the early 1900s. The top photograph was taken while facing the courthouse's southeastern corner, from the present-day location of the ICDC building (former site of Senter Funeral Home). Notice the fence that encloses the courthouse building.

The next photograph was taken about the same time. There apparently was an event held on the courthouse grounds, and I would bet it was a reunion of Confederate soldiers. This was a popular event held throughout the South during the early 1900s, usually at a county's courthouse. I've provided a couple of closeups of the scene. The men in this picture appear to be posing for the photograph in their nice suits and hats.

Both photographs were found at the Itawamba County Historical Society's library in Mantachie. You never know what treasures might be found there!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

1944 Masonic Funeral

When Edgar Beam died in 1944, his funeral included a graveyard service by fellow Masons, pictured here as they gathered around Edgar's grave in the cemetery at Sandy Springs Baptist Church in Itawamba County. Notice the men's sashes and aprons. I am not an expert, but from what I understand there is a special funeral service conducted by members of the Masonic fraternity. The service is ritualistic in nature. For instance, the white apron is the "badge" of a Mason and is often draped on the casket or worn by the deceased while the Masons involved in the funeral ceremony wear their own aprons. The aprons are also called lambskins and are symbolic of innocence and the purity of life. In some locales, sprigs of evergreen, which represent immortality, are laid on the casket or grave, and it appears from this picture that Edgar's grave may be covered in evergreen branches. Some lodges also require that a hat be worn by the Masonic attendees as a sign of respect, and the sashes are usually worn by Masons who have attained the special rank of Master Mason. If I've gotten this wrong, please correct me.

Elbert Edgar Beam was born March 2, 1880 to Samuel Thomas Beam and Nancy Jane Cromeans. He was married to Minnie Lou Johnson, daughter of Thomas Jefferson Johnson and Laura Elizabeth Jamerson. Don Dulaney, Edgar's great-grandson, provided the very interesting photograph which gives us a glimpse into funeral customs of an earlier time in Itawamba County.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Operation Redwing

Frelon Jury Pennington was a career military man, serving in both the Army and the Air Force. In 1956 while serving in the Air Force, Frelon participated in the historic Operation Redwing in the Pacific Ocean. He was one of about 10,000 military and civilian personnel, along with a handful of news media, that witnessed Operation Redwing, and Frelon received the above certificate to commemorate the event and his participation. Operation Redwing was a series of tests conducted by a joint task force over several weeks on second-generation nuclear weapons. The tests, which took place in the Marshall Islands near the Bikini and Enewetak atolls, were named after American Indian tribes, thus the picture of the Indian and teepee on the certificate probably due to the fact that some of the explosions were reminiscent of "smoke signals." In 1963, there was a treaty signed by the U.S. that prohibited such nuclear testing and no further tests were conducted.

An explosion of the Seminole nuclear test weapon on June 6, 1956

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Van Davis land, 1764, Newberry District

During the recent trip to South Carolina, I came across some maps that had been created using descriptions contained within early settlers' land grants. These maps are great tools for determining exactly where in present-day South Carolina your ancestor's land was located. Not all land grants have been mapped, but luckily for Itawamba descendants of Jesse Davis (died 1890, buried Providence Cemetery in eastern Itawamba County), the lands granted to Van Davis (Jesse's grandfather) are included in Map 6 of this series.

Van Davis owned land just northwest of present-day Newberry County in South Carolina. This area has been highlighted in the second map. The first map shows the tract of land owned by Van Davis (spelled Davies on the map) in relation to fellow landowners, churches and bodies of water. Since landowners by necessity had to have a source for their water, every land plat or record referenced such water sources and Van Davis's record was no exception. His land grant, obtained below from the South Carolina Archives website, indicates that in 1764 Van Davis received 200 acres of land in the fork of the Broad and Saludy (Saluda) Rivers, lying on a small branch of Indian Creek called Davies Creek. The grant references Berkley County of South Carolina which was one of the official "first counties" of South Carolina. Ninety-six District was formed in 1769 and included the part of Berkley County that held Van Davis's land. Later, Newberry District was formed out of the old Ninety-six District and later still, counties were carved out of the districts. Today, Van Davis's land is in Newberry County.

Van Davis lived here until around 1800 when he and several of his sons moved to present-day Anderson County in what was then Pendleton District, South Carolina. Van was a Baptist in his religious faith and has been credited with being one of the founders of the Bush River Baptist Church in Newberry District. Early church records indicate that it was a Primitive Baptist church. After his move to Pendleton District, Van joined Mountain Creek Baptist Church where church minutes indicate he was ordained as a deacon in 1801. It is believed that he was buried in the cemetery of that church at his death in 1810. His son Jesse Davis, Sr. moved to Gwinett County, Georgia after 1820. Van's grandson, Jesse Davis, Jr., moved to Itawamba County sometime between 1860 and 1870 along with sons James William Anderson Davis, General Lawrence Davis and Samuel McGee Davis.