Monday, November 30, 2009

Three of a Kind

Aron Dulaney, Trannie Wilemon and Nate Dulaney

Aron and Nate were both sons of Richard Nathaniel "Dick" Dulaney and Mattie Moxley while Trannie was their third cousin and son of William R. Wilemon and Minerva J. Hood. Looks like the fellows are posing with boutonnieres on their shirts.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

"Most Interesting Couple"

June 18, 1908
Itawamba County News

"The most interesting couple which has ever come under our observation were married at the Methodist parsonage, Marietta, Miss., on Tuesday p.m., June 9, 1908.

The bride, Miss Lou Nabers, of near Kirkville, Miss., resembled a little queen. The bright face, calm expression, and self composure with which she seemed so richly endowed revealed to those who witnessed the solemn ceremony's character of the rarest type. She was interesting - being only 4 feet, 8 inches in height.

The groom, Mr. J. M. Burnett, though smaller than the bride, only measuring 4 feet, 2 inches, was possible no less interesting. He had that congenial look that manly expression so characteristic with all true Americans.

Their departure from this parsonage was made soon after the ceremony. They boarded the evening train at Baldwyn for Bristol, Tenn., a thriving city, where Mr. Burnett is engaged in the mercantile business.

May the pathway of this little couple be stewn with flowers of th emost fragrant kind and may their lives be so useful that they will ever merit the care of Him who doeth all things well."

Sam S. Sargent

Friday, November 27, 2009

Table of Plenty

Thanksgiving 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

For most of us, Thanksgiving is a day of gathering with family and giving thanks for the blessings we have received over the past year. In Peaceful Valley, the day is also synonymous with deer hunting. Used to be, the opening day for deer season was the day of Thanksgiving, but this year the season opened up last Saturday. We usually have a noon meal so that the hunters can take a mid-day break and get back into the woods. This year will be no different: dinner will be served at Aunt Tootsie's at noon tomorrow and I'm looking forward to traditional Pennington fare, including Tootsie's baked ham. Beck is no longer with us, but her coconut cake will probably make an appearance via the hands of her daughter Jo Ann, and her dressing will also be reproduced, probably by daughter Jean. Good eats for sure!

Here is a scene from the past - Fessie got a nice-sized whitetail deer that year. Wonder if that is the same deer whose head peered down from the Pennington living room wall for years and whose nose always sported a red foam ball at Christmas, a la Rudolph?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Itawamba Coon Hunters

These photographs provided by Terry Wilemon are a wonderful glimpse into a favorite pastime of Itawambians - coon hunting. Even I have been on a coon hunt or two in the hills of Itawamba County during my lifetime! Obviously, these men were pros as evidenced by the number of coon tails they have collected. Dewey Napoleon Johnson, who is Terry's uncle, is standing to the left in the top and bottom photos.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sharing Cousins

Sisters Mauvilla Williams and Mary Williams, shown here, were daughters of Randolph Henry Williams and Mittie Ann Johnson. Randolph and Mittie had five daughters in all: not pictured are Ora, Cora and Mauveline. Mauvilla and Mary were the youngest two.

Terry Wilemon recently shared some wonderful photographs of his mother Coster Johnson's family. Although Terry could identify most of the people in the photographs, he directed Don to Mary Williams Dulaney who is the little girl pictured in the above photograph. Mary is now 88 years old but she very quickly and easily identified the remaining photos. When she got to this one, she exclaimed "why that's me!" Wasn't she cute with her necklace and boots?

Mary is the widow of Clastel Dulaney, the son of Charlie C. Dulaney and Zora Hood. Because the Johnson, Dulaney and Hood families are involved, there is a three-point connection between my husband and Mary. Mary's mother and my husband's great-grandfather James Nathan Johnson were first cousins, both descendants of Itawamba settlers Stephen Johnson and his wife, Harriet Caroline Pierce. Mary's mother-in-law, Zora Hood, was a first cousin to my husband's great-grandmother, Alma Hood. Mary's husband, Clastel Dulaney, was third cousin to my husband's great-grandfather, Jim Dulaney.

Don't you just love Itawamba connections?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Edwin Eugene Gray

Edwin Eugene Gray was one of two sons born to Agnes Mae Robinson and her husband, George Edwin Gray. Edwin's younger brother was George Casey Gray. Their mother Agnes was the half-sister of my great grandfather, Gideon C. Robinson.

Edwin was born on November 19, 1910 in Tampa, Florida. Apparently, the family had moved to Florida due to the health of George Gray. I found the following excerpt published in the February 29, 1912 issue of the Itawamba County News: "Mr. G. E. Gray returned from Florida today where he has been for the past few weeks on account of his health. He is preparing now to go to Florida to make that his future home." However, the family did not stay in Florida; they returned back to Itawamba County to live.

Edwin served in World War II: Fulton News Beacon - January 1943 - Our Boys In The Armed Services. "Ready to begin their basic training course at Fort Knox, Ky., are: Pvt. Efford Lee Johnson, Pvt. Cecil Raymond Wilson, Pvt. Edwin E. Gray and Pvt. Archie A. Christian."

Edwin was married to Mary Ruth Brasfield of Smithville, and they had two sons. He died on June 3, 1982 and was buried at New Bethel Church Cemetery in Smithville.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Back from War

The Johnson boys were back from war in this photo taken about 1945 or 1946. Fisher and Nora Johnson were proud of their sons who very ably served their country during World War II. Kneeling are Adron and Earnest Johnson and standing behind them are Vonnie, Donnis and Julius Johnson.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Four Generations

Four generations are pictured here at the Evans homeplace south of Tremont. Seated are Pa and Ma Evans - John Thomas Evans and Elizabeth "Bettie" Bishop Evans - and standing behind them is their grandson, Lawson Robinson, and their daughter, Thusie Evans Robinson. The children in the photograph belong to Lawson and his wife, Lucille Hathorn: Guy Hathorn Robinson is being held by his father, and Evagene Robinson is being held by her great-grandmother.

Lawson's youngest daughter, Lucy, shared this photograph with me. It was probably taken in 1928 just after the birth of Lucy's sister Evagene. Pa Evans died the following year in December.

Lucy remembers her father telling her that as a young child he pulled on Pa Evans' whiskers and played with Pa's gold watch. J. T. Evans was very proud of his grandson's love of learning, and in his store he would place his young grandson on a barrel and have him show off his spelling abilities for the customers.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sloan Siblings and a Cousin

A smile came to my face when I saw this picture. There are not too many photos of Clara Nell Pennington as a young girl, and even fewer of her in a dress! Yet, there she stands, front left, in this photograph of Sloan siblings.

Tootsie, as everyone calls her, is the daughter of Hugh and Dee Sloan Pennington and my great-aunt. She grew up in Peaceful Valley surrounded by her Sloan cousins, and it was at a recent Sloan family reunion that Lee Sloan shared this picture of his family. Pictured on the front row with Tootsie are her cousins Una (who this month, at the age of 90-something, shared some of her life experiences with students at IAHS) and Grace, along with Una and Grace's mother, Dora Ridings Sloan. On the back row is Troy Newton who married Johnnie Sloan, and sisters Dorothy and Afton, also daughters of Dora and John Gainey Sloan. Not pictured here are brothers Acqulis, Johnnie, and Shirley ("Squire") Sloan.

The Sloans were and are musically gifted. Tootsie has fond memories of hearing the Gainey Sloan family play music on their front porch. Someone would whistle a tune and after a short time listening, others would join in with their instruments. Tootsie could sit on her front door steps and hear their music from just down the road.

Gainey was Dee Sloan Pennington's brother, and the two siblings lived within shouting distance of each other in Peaceful Valley along with other siblings and their families: Luther, Zadie, and Cliff. Today, only Dee and Zadie's grandchildren live in the area and few signs remain of the many Sloan households that populated the little holler at the foot of Burdine Hill.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Johnson Family

Verdie Mae Johnson is standing in front of a Howard Johnson's sign in the 1960s. Verdie, the daughter of Nathan Johnson and Alma Hood, was probably wondering if perhaps there was some family connection with Mr. Howard Johnson.

The Howard Johnson motel chain was started in the 1950s by Howard Deerling Johnson who had found success in his native Massachusetts with his "28 flavors" of ice cream in the 1920s and later with a chain of family restaurants in the 1930s. By 1954, Howard Johnson's company had 400 restaurants in 32 states, mostly franchise operations. Building on this success, the company opened its first "motor lodge" in Savannah, Georgia. The distinctive sign that Verdie Johnson West is standing in front of became a familiar site for many Southern families during their motoring vacations. It was a special treat in the 1960s to stay at a Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge, or it's competitor, Holiday Inn. I'm sure many Itawambians remember trips to Memphis or to the beach in the 1960s that included a stay in one of these motels.

Verdie was 98 years old when she died earlier this year, and at the time of her death, she was the oldest member of East Fulton Baptist Church. Verdie married late in life, to Alfred West, who preceded her in death. Her sister, Pearl Johnson Dulaney, was my husband's grandmother, and they were two of ten children, the other Johnson siblings being: Claude, Troy, Euple, Telsie, Hollis, Louise, Mazietta and James.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mother and Daughter

Noma Davis DuBoise had this photo in her collection of family pictures that she recently shared with me and my mother. I've titled it Mother and Daughter because it is a picture of Queenie Victoria Clayton Davis and her daughter and my grandmother, Rebecca Davis Pennington. Looks like they are shucking some ears of corn. Queenie must have been visiting the Pennington farm that day since she and her daughter are standing by the Pennington smokehouse. I'm struck by how much my grandmother looks like her Aunt Lizzie Lee Davis Spencer in this picture. Oh, and look at Queenie's feet - she's barefoot!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Henry Pennington - South Carolina to Alabama

Henry Pennington was born in South Carolina about 1812-1815 and died in Lamar County, Alabama about 1888. He never made it to Itawamba County, but his sons did and thus began a connection of many generations of Penningtons to Itawamba County. When Henry died, he was buried on his land that was located between Sulligent and Vernon, but unfortunately the family's land was lost following his death.

I can only speculate, but courthouse records indicate a promissory note in the amount of $97.03 was issued by Henry on January 23, 1885 to W. L. Morton & Co. Advertisements in the Vernon newspapers from the 1880s show that Dr. W. L. Morton owned a drug store there. It was a common practice for physicians to acquire land by taking a deed of trust from patients unable to pay their bills. A $97.03 medical bill would have resulted from a significant medical service.

Following foreclosure on the family's land in 1889, all four of Henry's sons moved to Itawamba County where they are found on that county's tax rolls in 1890. In addition to James, there were sons Greenberry, Aaron and William Giles Pennington who moved across the state line into Mississippi, although William Giles did not stay in Itawamba County - he returned to Alabama. The Pennington brothers lived in the Lost Corners area of southwestern Itawamba County.

When Henry's grandson, Lamar Pennington, was still living, back in the early 1980s, he took my mother to the "lost" and overgrown gravesite of Henry Pennington, and with my father's help, they cleared and cleaned off the burial ground. Three graves were revealed and found to be covered with a thin layer of crumbling concrete in which someone had long ago written the names of Henry, his first wife Susan Jane Lusk, and a granddaughter Docia Guyton. Not too long ago, the Lamar County Genealogical and Historical Society erected a monument and surrounded the grave site with a wire rope to protect it from machinery and future intrusions.

Henry Pennington
Born 1812
Died Oct(?) 1888

Docia Guyton

Susan Jane Pennington

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Time for Another Fish Picture ...

.... this time from the Davis and Pierce families. Looks like it was a lucky day for fishing! Just look at those catfish! In the middle of this crowd of folks and fish is Lizzie Lee Davis Pierce, and she looks thrilled with the day's catch. Standing on the right is her husband, Yancy A. Pierce, and between Lizzie Lee and Yancy is Ethel Langley Davis, Lizzie Lee's sister-in-law who was married to Elby Davis. The couple on the left are Pierces, but I'm not sure of exactly who they are, possibly Yancy's brother and sister-in-law.

The photograph was undoubtedly taken by an Itawamba County Times photographer. It looks to me as if the fishermen drove up to the rear of the Times building in Fulton with intentions of getting their picture made. Notice the trunk of the car open in the background?

So many of Itawamba's citizens found their way over the years to the Times offices in downtown Fulton to have their picture taken with fish they caught, snakes they killed, cabbage they grew, and deer they killed. Such photographs really captured an era, and kudos belong to Delmus Harden and his staff at the Times who patiently took photographs of Itawambians with dead animals or monster vegetables and then published those photographs in the newspaper. I'd be willing to bet that every Itawamba family has one or two such photographs tucked away in drawers or closets.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pearl's first class

I've been intrigued by this photograph for some time. Obviously, this is Pearl Cofield's first class, but where did she teach? That's been the question since I came across the photo of my grandmother a few years ago. Pearl Cofield received a teacher's certificate from Blue Mountain College in 1928, and the State of Mississippi issued her a license that was valid for three years. But where did she teach? I thought I would find the answer at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History when I searched the microfilm holdings at their very nice facility in Jackson, but nothing turned up there. Then, yesterday at the Itawamba County Library, I found a compilation of Itawamba County schoolteachers prepared by Wendall Brown, and there was my answer. For the 1928-1929 school year, Pearl Cofield was one of eleven teachers who taught school at Tremont. Her sister, Pauline Cofield, was listed as teaching at Kirkville that same year.

Since Pearl's name was not listed as teaching the following school year, I assume that she only taught that one year. She married my grandfather, Luke Robinson, on December 27, 1929, and shortly thereafter the State of Mississippi changed its licensure requirements to require additional coursework which Pearl never completed.

So now we know. Pearl is standing to the right of her students in front of the school building at Tremont.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Funeral of Mary Elizabeth Lester Johnson

Terry Wilemon was kind enough to share these photos of his grandmother's funeral in 1940. Mary Elizabeth Johnson was the daughter of James Isham Lester and Sarah U. Gaither, and she married Napoleon A. Johnson, son of Stephen Johnson and Harriet Caroline Pierce, on January 13, 1880. They had nine children: Minerva Caroline, Mittie Ann, Bettie, Omie, Arvilla, Evie, Dewey (the only son!), Coster and Ollie. The photographs below are rare in that they show the funeral from beginning to end and demonstrate burial customs and practices during the mid-20th century in Itawamba County. Mary was buried at Pine Grove Cemetery, on land that she and Napoleon had donated to the Pine Grove Church of Christ many years earlier.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My, how time flies!

Seems like it was just yesterday that you were running away from home!
Happy Birthday, Rebekah!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Coster Johnson

What a cute little girl she was! Coster was the daughter of Napoleon A. "Poley" Johnson and Mary Elizabeth Lester. You may remember another Napoleon Johnson who was killed when he was drug by a mule (read about it here). Boney was the son of William Albert "Billy" Johnson and was named after his Uncle Poley.

Coster was born June 27, 1900 so it would appear that the photo below was made about 1903 or 1904. She was married to Everett Linwood Wilemon, and they had two children - Terry and Jerry Wilemon. Terry shared this photograph and others with Don Dulaney. Thanks, Terry!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Alberta Chilcoat Senter, graveside

Here is another photograph shared by Alan and Jeannette Dulaney. Alberta Senter is standing by her husband's grave at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Cemetery. Alberta was married to James Robert "Jim" Senter and was the daughter of Benjamin Patton Chilcoat and Nancy Lou Beasley.

Jim Senter died December 5, 1945. He was the son of Thomas Alfred Senter and Susan Rebecca Woodard.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Patience Matilda Clayton

The weekend yielded a great cemetery find. While in East Tupelo on Saturday with my mother, it occurred to me that we were in the neighborhood of Priceville Cemetery where siblings of my great-great grandfather Nathaniel M. Clayton are buried. Some time back, I had looked up the location of the cemetery and made a mental note to check it out if I was ever in that area. After a wrong turn, we finally found the cemetery, and it was larger than expected. Luckily, there were two of us to track down the graves of the Clayton siblings and in short order, they were found. Buried here are siblings Matilda, Hamilton Brooks, and Noah T. Clayton. Noah was pastor at the Priceville Baptist Church, across the road from the cemetery, at the time of his death.

Most of the Claytons of this family are buried at Union Grove Cemetery in southern Itawamba County, including my great-great grandfather Nathaniel M. Clayton, but several of the Claytons that moved to Lee County are buried at Priceville Cemetery.

The surprise? I found the grave of my great-great-great grandmother, Patience Matilda Clayton. I had no idea that she was buried at Priceville Cemetery. The last record of her is the 1880 census in which she is living with her husband and children in Itawamba County, and I just assumed that she and Thompson, her husband, died and were buried in Itawamba County. Imagine my surprise to find a gravemarker for her in this cemetery in Lee County! Now we know her date of death, and although her sons Daniel and Nathaniel apparently stayed in Itawamba County, it appears that the rest of the family moved to the East Tupelo area, including Patience. We still do not know when or where Thompson Clayton died, but it seems likely that he died between 1880 and 1886 and is probably buried in an unmarked grave on the family land in Itawamba County. Next order of business, however, is to search the land deed records of Lee County.

The marker for Patience Clayton only includes her initials, but it references her as "wife of Thompson Clayton" and gives her age as 60 years on her date of death, July 26, 1886. Isn't it odd that three Clayton siblings, her children, were known to be buried at Priceville but her burial place had not been reported until now?

Patience was also the mother of Elijah Clayton, who moved back to Itawamba County where he became the owner of the White Springs Resort in Itawamba County. She was also the great-grandmother of Delmus Harden, owner and editor of the Itawamba County Times. Patience's other children were Eda, Elizabeth, Malissa, Quilla and Evaline.

Below, my mother is pictured at the grave of her great-great grandmother.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Rutha Orear and Hollis Prestage

This couple has been identified as Itawamba natives Rutha Orear and Hollis Prestage. That is quite a snappy looking automobile they are posing in front of. Notice how the doors are opened on either side.

Rutha was the daughter of Walter and Minnie Jamerson Orear while Hollis was the son of John A. and Minnie Dell Senter Prestage. As far as I know, Rutha and Hollis were just friends - they each were married to someone else.

Thanks to Alan and Jeannette Dulaney for sharing the photo.