Sunday, May 31, 2009

Napoleon Bonaparte Johnson - final chapter

You may remember reading about Napoleon Bonaparte Johnson who was killed by his runaway mule when his foot got caught in the mule's gear, dragging 'Bonie' to his death. The first post about the incident can be read here while a follow-up post appeared here that included a moving tribute written by Bonie's widow, Texie, about her husband (click on links). Recently, I was sorting through some photos and found yet another photograph. Below is the family of Napoleon Bonaparte Johnson at his grave in Pine Grove Church of Christ Cemetery.

From left to right:
Texie Wheeler Johnson with children Olema, Vonzie,
Hubert, Cloaciel, and Ruby.

Here is the family in the U.S. census for 1920 and 1930:

1920 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Clay precinct
Napoleon B. Johnson 30 MS MS MS farmer
Texas 29 MS MS MS
Olema 8 MS daughter
Ruby 6 MS daughter
Cloaciel 1 yr 10 mo MS daughter

1930 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Beat No. 5
Oakland and Fulton Road
Bonie Johnson 40 MS MS MS farmer, married 20 years
Taxie 40 MS MS MS
Olema 18 MS
Ruby 16 MS
Coacile 12 MS
Hubert 10 MS
Vonzie 4 MS

Bonie and Texie's daughter, Ruby, married Bonnie Burl Mills, my husband's great-uncle on his father's side. Bonie Johnson was a first cousin to James Nathan Johnson, my husband's great grandfather on his mother's side. Aunt Ruby (cousin Ruby?) is still living.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Joseph Morgan and Malissa Sheffield

Following the death of his first wife, Susan Annie Olive, in 1910, Joseph W. Morgan remarried, to Nancy Malissa Sheffield, believed to be the daughter of Henry Pink Sheffield and Polly Ann Clayton. As you can probably tell from the above picture, Malissa was much younger than her husband, by thirty years. The couple was married in February 1911, and they had one daughter, Effie, born in 1913, who was married to Walter Lee Dulaney, the son of Henry Davis Dulaney. Joseph "Joe" Morgan died in 1919 at the age of 70 while Malissa was 89 years old when she died in 1967.

I found a widowed Malissa Morgan with young Effie in the 1920 census for Itawamba County:

1920 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Towary's Store
Malissa Morgan 41 MS MS AL widowed
Effie 6 MS GA MS

Interestingly (at least to me), Malissa and Effie were living next door to the Owens family near Mud Creek 'up the North Road'. Cousin Randall Owens was a mere six months old child in his parents' household next door. If you remember the map from a previous post, the North Road connects the county seat of Fulton with the communities of Ryans Well, Lake Itawamba, Mud Creek, Sandy Springs although Mud Creek really no longer exists, having been pretty much covered up during the building of the Tenn-Tom Waterway.

Thanks to Jeannette Dulaney for sharing the photo with Don Dulaney.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer Vacation

School's out and Memorial Day is over. Wondering what to do for your summer vacation this year? Below are some suggestions - just a few of the places visited by Beck Pennington during her lifetime. We used to joke that Beck's middle name was "Go" because any time a trip was planned, her suitcase was packed and ready to go. Rebecca Davis Pennington was born in Itawamba County in 1916, and she passed along her love of travel to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Jamestown, Virginia

Grand Canyon during her "Western Tour"

Cape Hatteras 1983

Savannah, Georgia 1995
with sister Lizzie Lee

Cherokee Indian Reservation
North Carolina

Entertaining the crowd at
The Grand Ole Opry, c 1976

You may recognize the gates of Graceland in Memphis.

Plains, Georgia
Carter Worm Office

Gulf Shores in 1995
with sister Lizzie Lee, right
The sisters were 79 and 78 years old

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Where is that?

A recent query to this blog asked the question, where is Peaceful Valley, and although I appreciate the eloquent response of Arvel, sometimes a map can be helpful. Itawamba is somewhat square, and the Tombigbee River runs north to south, dividing the county into eastern and western halves while Highway 78 splits it into northern and southern parts.

Peaceful Valley is located in the southeastern quadrant of Itawamba County, along the road that connects Cardsville with the Carolina and Evergreen communities. The blue arrow on this 1891 map indicates the approximate location of Peaceful Valley. Son Webb's Store used to be the community's epicenter, and a sign at the store once proclaimed "Welcome to Peaceful Valley, Where the Roses Never Fade." Peaceful Valley is home to many descendants of the Sloan, Pennington and Potts families.

The red arrow is the approximate location of the Ryans Well community in northern Itawamba County. Ryans Well is east of the Tombigbee River, and here is where you will find Johnsons, Jamersons, Thorntons, Senters and others. The epicenter of Ryans Well is marked by its former schoolhouse, now the area's community center.

Hope this little geography lesson helps, and thanks for requesting it! This map (without the arrows) can be found here at the Itawamba County Historical Society's website. Check out this website for more information about the communities of Itawamba County.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pine Forest School - 1906

I came across this old photo while cleaning out some files, and it appears to have been given to my husband by his great-great aunt, Sederia Johnson Griffin. You can see where he marked his aunt's location on the front row in the photograph (you can click on the photo to enlarge it). Coincidentally, I also had a newspaper clipping from when the same photograph was published in the Itawamba County Times. Actually, it was the same photograph, but a much better version of it appeared in the Times. The photograph for the newspaper was provided by Chester George, a former student who is pictured in the photo and who identified each and every person in the 1906 photograph of the Pine Forest School.

Pine Forest School was located 'up the North road' in Itawamba County, on land owned by the Griffin family. When consolidation came along in the 1920s, the school was moved to Ryans Well. John Scott was the teacher at the school and later married a sister of Fisher and Sederia, Bettie Johnson. John and Bettie Scott were parents of well-known teachers Lillian and Trillian Scott as well as Burnell and Camille.

According to the published photograph and identification by Mr. George, Nora Thornton is pictured on the back row, sixth from the left. I've enlarged her image from the photograph, below. Nora was 15 years old in 1906.

Mr. George also identified Fisher Johnson, Nora's future husband, in the photo, but I believe that he has mis-identified him. The boy that Mr. George identified as Fisher is on the third row and appears to be about 8 or 9 years old, but Fisher was 16 years old in 1906 and most likely pictured on the back row with the older students. I've identified the most likely candidate to be Fisher and have enlarged his photo below. Note that I cannot be certain that either of the enlarged photos actually belong to Nora and Fisher, however, I see resemblance of their daughter Glader in Nora's photo while the ears and the mouth of the young man pictured below appears to belong to those of an older Fisher.

Oh, and Mr. George correctly identified Sederia Johnson in the photograph - she's seventh from the left on the front row. Sederia married Walter Griffin, son of John Harvey Griffin and Mollie Sisk. She lived to be almost one hundred years old, dying just three months and four days shy of her 100th birthday in 1999.

If anyone is interested in the the Pine Forest photograph along with a copy of the one that appeared in the Times along with identification of the students, just e-mail me and I'll gladly forward them to you. The school was full of Johnsons and Jamersons with a smattering of Underwood, Crawley and others.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

40 days and 40 nights .....

.... seems like it has been raining at least that long. Drought shouldn't be an issue this summer and fall across the south as the radar of late indicates that no area has been spared. During rainy periods such as the ones we've experienced lately, the Creek (aka English Branch) has a strong tendency to overflow its banks as it backs up from from a flooded Tombigbee River. In earlier times, before the waterway, even the waters of the Tombigbee would creep up to the house. When the creek starts rising, it is time to put the furniture up on cans of soup and peaches, just in case it makes its way into the house. Fessie didn't need the Weather Channel (oh, but he would have loved watching it!) to tell him when to make preparations.

It may be time in Peaceful Valley to make a list of two of everything in preparation for an ark (Mike said don't forget the bees).

Below are some photos taken through the years that show flooding on the Pennington farm.

Jo Ann in driveway, May 1970

Betty Jean in boat in front yard, March 1955

Beck, Peewee, and Jo Ann during a winter flood

Boating in the yard, January 1974
Mona and Kirk

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Memoriam

Frelon Jury Pennington, Soldier

There is probably not another day more fitting than today to remember Frelon Pennington, a veteran of World War II and brother to my grandfather, Fessie Pennington, another World War II veteran.

Uncle Frelon was born May 10, 1917 in Itawamba County to Ethel Dee Sloan Pennington and her husband, William Hugh Pennington. The Penningtons lived in and around the Carolina and Peaceful Valley communities.

Frelon enlisted in the Army in July 1940. During World War II, he served as a member of Company H of the 30th Army Infantry Division where he fought for the freedom of our country all the way through Algeria, French Morocco, Tunisia, Sicily, Naples, Anzio Beach, Rome, Southern France, Rhineland and Central Europe. When he walked into Nuremberg, Germany on V-E Day in May 1945, Frelon was one of only nine members left in his company. For his service, he received several medals including the French Cross of War, or Croix de guerre with palm, awarded by the French Army for heroic deeds in combat.

Upon his discharge in August 1945, Frelon returned to Itawamba County but the tug of military life pulled him, and he re-enlisted in 1946, this time in the Air Force where he served until his retirement. While in the Air Force, Frelon participated in "Operation Redwing" in 1956 which involved testing of the atomic bomb in the Bikini Islands. After retirement, Frelon lived in the U.S. Soldiers Home in Washington, D.C. where he died on August 27, 1988.

Soldier Pennington

Home on leave, pictured with niece
Brenda Kay Pennington

Desk job

Frelon hoisting a glass with fellow servicemen

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fisher and Nora

It has been a while since I've posted a photo of Fisher Johnson and his bride, Nora Thornton. According to Fisher's nephew, Randall Owens, Fisher had quite a sense of humor. "He would tell you something funny, and then it would be a few moments before it would sink in and then you would see the funny part of it." Nora, usually more serious-minded, was a perfect counterpart to her jokester husband. Fisher and Nora had been married about sixty years when Fisher died in 1971.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Update on Tucker-Dulaney post

This photograph appeared on the Itawamba Connections blog earlier this month, and the men were identified as Elvis Tucker and Jim Dulaney. I was half right. Jim Dulaney is pictured on the right, but the other gentlemen in the photograph is Monroe Tucker, not Elvis. Monroe was the father of Elvis Tucker - which makes more sense because Monroe was born in 1889 while Jim Dulaney was born in 1891. Thanks to Ricky Beasley, great-grandson of Monroe Tucker, for the proper identification.

Monroe's daughter, Jettie, married Jim Dulaney's little brother Woodrow. It was related to me that the man pictured with Jim Dulaney was Jettie's brother Elvis, but it was actually her father.

Monroe Tucker married Alsie Belle Dulaney (she descended from a different Dulaney brother-Alfred- than did Woodrow who was from John!), and they had the following children: Jettie, Elvis, R. C., Burgess, Albon, Ester, and Martha. I remember Martha well as she was the mother of my good friend from school, Julia Wallace.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Graduation Wishes

There are many graduation ceremonies being held around Northeast Mississippi tonight and tomorrow. Best wishes to all graduates. This card was given to my mother in 1954 upon her high school graduation from Itawamba Agricultural High School.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bill Gould and his Circle H Cowboys

circa 1949
Bill Gould, pictured rear in cowboy hat, with his band,
the Circle H Cowboys.

Bobby Gene Pennington was a young teenager when he toured and performed with the Circle H Cowboys. Still in high school at the time, Bobby Gene would get up early in the morning, drive from Smithville to Tupelo, perform with the band on its radio show on WELO, then drive to school, arriving a bit late but with the school's full knowledge and permission. He is standing third from the right in the photograph.

Carvel Lee Ausborn was another member of the band, also from Smithville. He became known as 'Mississippi Slim', toured the country with various other bands, and even joined the Grand Ole Opry. Both Carvel and Bobby are cousins of another well-known Smithville native and performer, Rod Brasfield.

The lady in the photo is Ruby McKinley, and other known members in the picture are Clint Ausborn, John Digilo, and Theron Taylor.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pennington Laundry Room

What an exciting occasion it must have been when Beck got her first washing machine. The appliance was conveniently located behind their house in the shed adjacent to smokehouse. Wonder what ever happened to that old machine? Momma, do you have any stories or memories to share?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Unknown Boys

Doice Dulaney shared the above photo with Don Dulaney recently, and we are hoping to find out the identity of the young boys in the picture. They look like Dulaneys to me, at least the little one does. Anyone know who they are?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Easter Ann Wiginton, 1846-1916

Easter Ann was the daughter of John E. Robinson and Rachael R. Emerson. She was born April 26, 1846 in Marion County, Alabama and married Isaac Riley Wiginton about 1866. Isaac's parents were James Wiginton and Ursula Ballard.

Easter is a derivative of the name Esther, or Ester. I believe that the Scotch-Irish pronunciation of Esther must be Easter. Such pronunciations of given names and surnames have caused many variations in spelling. For instance, Stephenson was a fairly common Scottish name which evolved into Stenson and Stinson in America, based upon how it was pronounced by the Scotch-Irish. Easter appears to be one of those names.

Easter was likely named for her aunt, John's sister, Esther Robinson Emerson, whose name also is sometimes found as Easter. There is also a story that Easter Ann was born on Easter Sunday and died on Easter Sunday.

Like so many of the families that lived in the area, Easter and Isaac moved to Hill County, Texas, sometime between 1880 and 1900, probably attracted by the cotton that was being grown there. At one time, Hill County was one of the largest cotton-producing counties in the state of Texas. The 1910 census finds them living on Henderson Street, in the Hill County town of Itasca.

It is said that Easter fell sick out in Texas and wanted to come home one last time, but she died on the train coming back home to Itawamba County. Easter is buried in Mt. Pleasant Methodist Cemetery near her parents and siblings. For her grave, Isaac made the very tall, obviously unique, monument pictured below. Isaac eventually went to live with their son Quinton in Texola, Oklahoma, and when he died, his body was brought back home to be buried next to his wife.

Easter Ann Wiginton
Apr. 25 1846
Apr. 5 1915

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sanford Marion Loyd, 1836-1907

Sanford M. Loyd was born in Lincoln County, Tennessee in 1836. The younger brother of my great-great grandfather Isham James Loyd, Sanford and his eight siblings moved to the Pine Springs area of present-day Lamar County, Alabama around 1842 or 1843 with their widowed mother, Charity.

Sanford married Margaret Catherine Stone, daughter of Tilmon Stone and Elizabeth Boyd, on February 17, 1859.

In May 1862, Sanford enlisted in the Confederate Army in Monroe County, Mississippi. He was captured in Vicksburg in 1863 and discharged in 1865. In a letter dated September 25, 1862, brother Isham, who was serving in the same Confederate unit as Sanford, wrote home: "Sant is not doing well." In another letter to his wife, dated October 15, 1862, Isham noted "I saw Sant day before we left Baldwin. He was right sick and I never heard anymore of him until about 2 days after the fight, I happened on him right in the road. He had been able to make the rounds." Upon Sanford's capture at Vicksburg, he signed an oath. "I will not take arms against USA."

Below is Sanford's confederate marker at his grave.

In the 1900 census, Sanford can be found in Itawamba County, occupation "potter." When he applied for his civil war pension in 1904, he indicated that he was living in the Whitney community and working as a potter when his health allowed. [Sanford was brother to William Payne Loyd who lived in Itawamba County and patented his pottery grave markers.]

Sanford died in 1907 and was buried in Ebenezer Cemetery near Red Bay, Alabama. Catherine, Sanford's widow, applied for his pension in 1908 while living near Rara Avis in Itawamba County, not far from Ebenezer Cemetery. She later moved to Red Bay to be near her daughter, and died there in 1920.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Digging the upper lake

Around 1970, Fessie decided to build a couple of catfish ponds. Although such ponds are quite commonplace now, back then they were somewhat of a novelty. Over in the Mississippi Delta, farmers were just beginning to convert their cotton farms into catfish farms, digging up the rich alluvial soil to create catfish ponds. Fessie had made several trips to the Delta visiting our family in the 1960s when we lived in Greenville, and apparently he noted the gradual conversion of several farms there. That must have been where he got the idea to build his own catfish ponds.

Pictured below are Beck and her daughter Jo Ann in the upper pond, after digging but before the water was added. What an exciting day it was! Jo Ann even wore her swimsuit for the occasion! A smaller pond was built just below this one, and it is closer to the Pennington house.

The ponds have provided many hours of entertainment for young and old. Both of my boys caught their first fish there, although by that time the catfish were pretty much gone and the pond was stocked with bass. The ponds have been home to ducks and geese, and both cows and goats have drank from its water. Fessie even streaked one day along the upper lake's levee, but that's a story for another day!

The bottom photo is more recent, taken in the early 80s, from the levee on the upper pond. You can see the log cabin in the background that we moved there in 1976 to take advantage of the lovely setting. That's also a story for another day.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Aunt Agnes

Bettye - this one is for you!

This photo was among the collection of photos found in Thusie's trunk at her death in 1952, Thusie being Arthusa Parneshia Evans, my great-grandmother. Written on the back of the old photograph, in the handwriting of Thusie's son Lawson, is "Aunt Agnes Robinson before 1900, Mama Robinson's cousin married Poppa Robinson's cousin."

The 'cousin' in the picture is Theodoria Agnes Jane Bishop, actually Mama Robinson's (aka Thusie) half-aunt, who was married to Lucian Gaines Robinson. Lucian was the son of Henry Johnson Robinson and Susan Florence Evans and was first cousin to Poppa Robinson (aka Gideon) who was the son of George Emerson Robinson, Henry's brother. Agnes was the daughter of William T. Bishop and his second wife, Sarah Adeline Johnson.

Aunt Agnes was over thirty years old when she married for the first time, to Lucian whose first wife Ophelia Lawhon died in 1897 after three years of marriage. Lucian and Ophelia had one daughter, Gertrude, while Lucian and Agnes had no children together.

Agnes and Lucian lived in Bexar where Lucian owned and operated a "dry goods store" according to early censuses.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dee & Jennie Wilemon

Pictured above are Itawamba natives Alford "Dee" Wilemon and Sarah Virginia "Jennie" Strawbridge, who were married in May 1886. Dee was the son of George W. Wilemon and Sibbie Dulaney while Jennie's parents are not known to me. I've been unable to find Jennie in a census household prior to her marriage.

Here are Dee and Jennie in the 1910 census:

1910 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Alford D. Wildman 45 MS U.S. U.S., married 24 years
Sara V. 39 MS MS MS, 4 children, 4 living
Ida L. 22 MS
William R. 20 MS
Ellis D. 10 MS
Lula P. 4 MS

Ida Lee married Jesse Lauderdale while her brother William married Leona Tucker. Pearl and Ellis both married Dulaneys: Pearl to William Quitman Dulaney and Ellis to Ophelia Dulaney. You may remember previous posts that indicate close relationships between the Wilemon and Dulaney families. Ophelia Dulaney was the daughter of John A. Dulaney and M. Alice Hood while Quit Dulaney was the son of Alfred Thomas Dulaney and Martha Jane Beasley.

Thanks to Romie and Dorothy Wilemon for sharing the photo.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Backyard Menagerie

Louis Cofield with his son, Richard, in their backyard at 1326 Lombard Street in Baltimore, Maryland. According to Richard, who provided this photograph, Louis had a plan to raise rabbits for their fur, but Christina, Richard's mother, was not pleased and so the plan never came to fruition. Richard said he doesn't know what happened to the rabbits! The photo was taken about 1946.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

John Louis Cofield - 1925 Diploma

John Louis Cofield was born February 9, 1904. After the death of first, his father, in 1910, and second, his mother, in 1912, Louis went to live with his grandfather Sam Cofield. Louis was orphaned a third time as a boy when his grandfather, who also served as his guardian, died in 1920 when Louis was sixteen years old. This followed the death of Louis's older brother in 1918. Records show that upon Sam's death, Louis requested the Probate Court to appoint Nancy Cofield, Louis's step-grandmother, as his legal guardian. The Letters of Guardianship filed August 20, 1920 with the Judge of Probate indicate that Louis had a minor's estate valued at an estimated $750. On September 25, 1925, Nancy Cofield Sanderson was formally discharged as legal guardian of Louis upon his reaching age 21. The Final Settlement of the guardianship reveals funds were expended for Louis to attend school in Florence, Alabama and Newnan, Georgia. The school in Georgia was the Southern Telegraph and Railway Accounting Institute from which Louis graduated in 1925.

Above is a picture of Louis's diploma, given to me by Louis's son Richard who lives in Baltimore.

Louis was a brother to my grandmother, Pearl Cofield Robinson.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Another visit to the spring....

I forgot when I posted about the spring at Beck and Fessie's that it had been featured in a 1987 article of the Itawamba County Times. Above is the picture that accompanied the newspaper article of Beck taking a drink of cold water from the spring. I can just picture the cup she is drinking from - it was red aluminum with a slight fluted shape. There was always a drinking cup left at the spring for passers-by. For a long time, the vessel of choice was a small, green juice glass that came from an oatmeal box. That glass now occupies a place of honor on a shelf in my kitchen.

"Before we got electricity, we did our washing out at the spring with lye soap." Beck is quoted in the article as saying. "We had to keep the milk in the cold water there, and we had a place just below the washing hole where we would kill hogs." She recalled how she would fetch water from the spring to take to Fessie when he was working in the garden as well as how in later years Fessie would rig up a rubber hose to snake across the road to water their vegetable garden. "We always had real good gardens," she said.

In the article Beck said that she didn't know how long the spring has been there, that it has always been on the property. When Fessie installed the pump, he "dug out a hold in soapstone to the pump in and we've never had any trouble with it. It doesn't even freeze in the winter."

"It's the best-tasting water ever found."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Recycled Wishes

Here's one way to recycle - a Mother's Day card from the 1960s,
from me and my brother Kirk to our mother,
Betty Jean Pennington Robinson.
Hope you have a good day today.
Stay dry!
Love, Mona

Saturday, May 9, 2009

George Emerson Robinson

George Emerson Robinson
January 22, 1844
June 20, 1907

George E. Robinson was born in Alabama, either near present-day Shottsville in Marion County or near Pine Springs in what was then Marion County but today is part of Lamar County. George's father, John, moved along with several other Robinsons and affiliated families from Lawrence County, Alabama around 1828 to the Pine Springs area, and then at some point John moved to the Shottsville area. Other Robinson families moved into southern Itawamba County around Hopewell, Splunge and James Creek.

It is believed that George was named after his uncle, George Emerson, who was married to Esther (Easter) Robinson. Emerson is sometimes found spelled as Emmerson.

It wasn't until after the Civil War that my branch of the Robinsons crossed the state line from Alabama over into Itawamba County. George eventually settled on land just barely over the line near Providence Church north of Tremont although deed records indicate he initially made purchases in other areas of the county. George farmed good bottom land, and the Robinson home place was in a beautiful area along Hurricane Creek. Sometime around 1903, his daughters began nagging him to move closer to Tremont so George sold his bottom land and bought about 160 acres of land for $1,500 from John T. Evans just south of Tremont. John T. Evans was the father-in-law of George's son Gideon.

George undertook the building of a new house much like the one he left behind. It is said that George picked out all of the logs for the house - heart pine with nary a knot in them. Originally, the house was a four-room dogtrot with a detached kitchen but later the dogtrot was enclosed. The house is still standing, although abandoned by its current owners.

The new land proved to be the death of George. With his older sons by his first marriage already well out of the house, and with his sons by his second marriage being too young to be of any real assistance, it fell unto George to do much of the heavy labor in clearing the land. George's grandson, Lowry Marlin Robinson, stated that George's health was weakened by the laborious activities when he died in 1907. Virgie died in 1942.

George is buried alongside his two wives in the Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church Cemetery.

Friday, May 8, 2009

George Emerson Robinson - his second family

George and Virgie with children, c 1900
front row: Laurice, baby Wyatt, Marlin & Mautimer
back row: Octa, Agnes & Luna

Returning home from the Civil War, George Emerson Robinson married Charlottie A. Purnell about 1864 and together they had three sons, one of whom was my great-grandfather Gideon. After Charlotte's death in 1873, George remarried to Virginia Alice "Virgie" Downum, daughter of Hiram and Nancy Downum. By all accounts, Virgie was a wonderful stepmother to the three little boys. In addition to their ready-made family, George and Virgie had eight other children, all but Marvin is pictured in the above photo.

George and Virgie's children were:

Octa, born in 1878, never married
Agnes Mae, born in 1881, married George E. Gray
Luna Ethel, born in 1883, married Veto Shotts
Marvin E., born in 1886, died young
George Marlin, born in 1889, married Ezra Reynolds
Mautimer Dewitt, born in 1892, married Annie Maye Stone
Malburn Laurice, born in 1895, married Wilma Sue Wax
Wyatt Lagrone, born in 1899, married Eva Reynolds

It is a puzzle to me why Marvin is not pictured in the photo. He would have been about 13 or 14 years old at the time. Marvin died in 1908 at the age of 22 years, and his tombstone has the following inscription, "Sleep on dear child, and take thy rest." Perhaps in his parents' eyes, he was still a child at 22, but I wonder if maybe he suffered from some affliction or disability that caused his early death.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Elvis Tucker and Jim Dulaney

UPDATE: The young man pictured to the left in the picture is Monroe Tucker. See here for an updated post.

Wonder where these young men are headed, all dressed up? Or maybe they are already there? Looks like there is a wagon and a buggy in the background, perhaps more? Could be a church gathering? Or a wedding? James M. "Jim" Dulaney is pictured to the left, and the other young fellow is Elvis Tucker. Rudolph Robinson helped Don Dulaney identify the men in the photo. Are you ready for the connection? Jim Dulaney was the son of Thomas "Bunt" Dulaney, and Jim's brother Woodrow married Jettie Tucker, sister of Elvis. Oh, and Elvis and Jettie's mother was Alsie Bell Dulaney, granddaughter of Alfred Dulaney and Rachel McNiece. Bunt was descended from Alfred Dulaney's brother, John, so he and Alsie Bell were cousins of sorts. Let's throw a Hood connection in there for fun. Jettie's great-grandfather was Joshua Harrison Hood, Sr. I can throw in some Senters and Moxleys too, but I think I've gone far enough already. Is Itawamba County the only place where, when you are introduced to a stranger, they ask "now who was your granddaddy"?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fessie Pennington hanging out with the guys

Fessie is second from the right, and Billy Davis is second from the left. But who are the two men on either side of them? Billy was a cousin to Rebecca Davis Pennington, Fessie's wife, and perhaps the other two men were Davis cousins as well.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Old homeplace

On a recent visit to cousin Bobby Gene Pennington's house in Georgia, my mother and Aunt Jo came home with some 'new' treasures, actually old photos from Bobby's collection. Bobby has always been a camera buff with a lifelong hobby of taking and collecting photographs, and he is very generous in sharing them too. What makes this particular photograph special is that you can see a portion of the old Sloan-Pennington homeplace.

This house was part of the Sloan estate that passed to Dee Sloan Pennington. It was torn down in 1945 and replaced with a smaller, painted wood frame house, and as far as we know, this is the only photograph that shows evens a portion of the original house.

The house and land came to Ethel Dee Sloan Pennington, in 1934 as part of her inheritance from her mother and father. When her mother, Melissa Caroline Potts Sloan, died in 1934, what was left of the Sloan Estate was divided among their nine living children in a unique way. The Sloan property at that time consisted of nearly 400 acres. After being properly surveyed, the acreage was divided equally, according to value, into nine lots. Each lot was color-coded on the survey map and numbered, then each child or beneficiary drew a number. Dee drew
Lot 4, the 48 hours that contained the dogtrot house.

The house, like most dogtrots of the time, was divided down the middle with a wide exterior hallway. This hallway was commonly referred to as the dogtrot, and eventually the name was applied to the house itself. Dogtrot houses are believed to have developed in the Tennessee Valley region of northern Alabama and eastern Tennessee in response to the Southern heat and humidity. The open hallway captured the breezes and became a shaded area in which families could gain some respite from the hot sun. Notice in this picture how high the house sits from the ground, another way to allow breezes to circulate although the lack of insulation in winter months provided for cold floors!

Dogtrots became popular in the rural south due to the fact they could be quickly and cheaply built. Most basic dogtrots were just two log cabins separated by a breezeway and covered with a common roof. Early dogtrots were just two log cabins with a common roof and a space in between. One side, or one room, usually held the kitchen while the other side was the sleeping quarters. The house that Dee Sloan Pennington inherited actually had two rooms on either side of the breezeway.

On the left side of the Sloan-Pennington dogtrot were the two most important rooms - the kitchen and the gathering room - while on the right side of the house were two rooms for sleeping. The kitchen was the hub of the house were most of the daily activities took place. A large kitchen table dominated the center of the room with benches on either side. According to Bobby Gene Pennington, however, the "monster" of the room was a huge, wood-burning store that contained a reservoir on the side for heating water. Another item in Dee's kitchen was the wooden safe that stored and protected food from flies and insects.

I guess by now you are wondering about the folks in the picture. The nice-looking young man is Gaylord Pennington, Hugh and Dee's son, with his wife, Orva Rae Rutledge holding their young daughter, Gary. The photograph was taken in 1936. Orva Rae was the daughter of Henry A. Rutledge and his third wife, Carmella Melissa Booker.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hood Family misinformation

A recent visit to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. turned up a book by Dellman O. Hood titled "The Tunis Hood Family." The book was published in 1960, and is a valuable resource for the ancestry of the Hood family, of which many citizens of Itawamba descend. Thanks to this book, and to the attention the Hood family receives due to its connection to Elvis Presley (Minnie Mae Hood of Itawamba County was Elvis' grandmother), there is a ton of information on the internet and elsewhere about the Hoods. Unfortunately, a lot of the information is just plain wrong as I've recently discovered.

I've spent the past several days researching the Hood family. My husband's great-grandmother was Alma Hood who was the granddaughter of Joshua Harrison Hood, Sr. who moved to Itawamba County about 1854 from St. Clair County, Alabama. The book "The Tunis Hood Family" indicates that Joshua's parents were William and Elizabeth Hood, and that Joshua's siblings were Elizabeth Jane Hood who married a Williams, Hiram Hood, Charles Buren Hood and others. My research indicates otherwise, and I believe that Joshua was actually the son of James and Margaret Hood.

The Hood family has a rich history. Unlike most of our Southern ancestors, the Hoods are of Dutch origin, settling in New York state in the 1600s after arriving from Holland. I'll comment more about their heritage in a later post, but right now I want to focus on the Hoods after they arrived in Alabama following the War of 1812.

Joshua Harrison Hood, Sr. was born in St. Clair County, Alabama on September 13, 1831. The first record we have of Joshua is his marriage in December 1849 in that county to Margaret Johnson, believed to be the daughter of Simeon and Martha Johnson. We find Joshua and Margaret in the 1850 census in St. Clair County, living next to the households of Simeon Johnson and Harrison Hood. This Harrison Hood is too young to be Joshua's father, but could be a brother. No William Hood, supposed father of Joshua, is found in St. Clair County in 1850, or in 1840 for that matter. If William was Joshua's father, we would expect to find him in St. Clair County although it is possible that Joshua was back for a visit with his family, met the young Margaret Johnson, stayed and married her. Entirely possible.

But let's look at the 1840 census to find Joshua as a young lad in the household of William Hood, his supposed father. Since that census only provides us with the name of the head of household and ages -no names- of the household's members, we cannot know for sure where Joshua was living. There is only one William Hood enumerated in the 1840 census for Alabama that has a young male, age 5-10 (Joshua was nine years old), but this William was living in Tallapoosa County and his household contains no other young males. Where would his supposed brothers be living if not with their father? Although it is possible, I don't believe that this household belongs to the father of Joshua Harrison Hood, Sr.

Information from the book and found on the internet indicates that the supposed father of Joshua, William Hood, was a Baptist preacher who moved to Pickens County, Alabama and then to Itawamba County.

Charles Buren Hood is often found as a sibling for Joshua Harrison Hood. In fact, the book indicates that he and Joshua were likely twins. However, Charles Buren Hood himself indicated in a biographical sketch that his father was William Hood, but his mother was Cecilia Quinn. The 1870 census includes a household for William and Celia Hood in Smithville, Mississippi. William Hood was indicated to be a minister. William and Celia can be found in the 1880 census living near their son Hiram Hood, another male purported to be the brother of Joshua Harrison Hood.

Elizabeth Jane Hood, supposed sister to Joshua, was married to Raleigh W. Williams. This couple is enumerated in both Itawamba and Monroe counties in the 1850 census, but the 1860 census shows them at Bigby Fork. As we Itawambians know, Bigby Fork is a long way from Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church where most of our Itawamba Hoods are buried. Opposite sides of the county. Elizabeth Jane Hood Williams consistently indicated that she was born in South Carolin, about 1822. Our Hoods were not known to have ever lived in South Carolina, moving from Tennessee to Alabama before 1820. In 1860, there is a widowed Elizabeth Hood living with Elizabeth Jane and her family, and this Elizabeth Hood has been reported as being Joshua's mother. In my opinion, she is not. Elizabeth Hood and her husband William Hood were living in Pickens County, Alabama in the 1850 census, and both indicated that they were born in South Carolina. Joshua and his bride were across the state in St. Clair County.

I think what has researchers confused is that there were at least two William Hoods, and the information for each has become co-mingled. More research is necessary to better understand the two men and their families. Adding to the confusion is that the Hoods found in Pickens County were not of Dutch ancestry but from Ireland via South Carolina, a different set of Hoods altogether but also with a William Hood among them.

Back to Joshua. Why do I believe that he was a son of James and Margaret, not William and Elizabeth as has been noted by most researchers? If William was Joshua's father, why is he not enumerated in St. Clair County where Joshua was living when he married? Why can we not find Joshua and his purported siblings in William's household in prior censuses? Joshua was living next to Margaret Hood, widow of James Hood in 1850. James Hood had known sons Harrison and James Jr. , and the 1840 census indicates other males in his household, including one that would fit Joshua's age. Joshua named his first born son, James. Joshua indicated in the 1880 census that his mother was born in Georgia, consistent with the place of birth of Margaret, the wife of James.

Dellman O. Hood did a wonderful job in laying the foundation for Hood family research, but some of conclusions have not been updated. Today's technology and ease of access to information provide opportunities to reassess those conclusions and findings. The way the information stacks up today, in my mind at least, Joshua Harrison Hood does not appear to be the son of William and Elizabeth.

There is no doubt that Joshua Harrison Hood, Sr. belongs to the St. Clair County family of Hoods, but the question is whether Rev. William Hood and his wife Elizabeth were his parents, as indicated over and over in family trees and on Elvis websites. Based on my research to date, it does not appear likely. Elvis Presley fans, beware. Not only is the Presley heritage in doubt (that's another story) but the Hood heritage, at least as has been circulated, is as well. If there is anyone 'out there' who is researching this family, and has further information, I'd love to hear from you. My e-mail address can be found on my profile page.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Moxley Family Plot - Bounds Crossroads

The cemetery at Bounds Crossroads has a rectangular area that is marked off by bricks. Within this area however there is only one gravemarker, that of Henry T. and Martha A. Moxley. Obviously, there are other graves within the plot, but whose? During a recent visit with Moxley family members, Don Dulaney was able to determine who else is buried in the Moxley family plot at Bounds Crossroads.

Henry and Martha had three sons who died an early death and were buried in the cemetery: Granville, Melvin and Addison. In addition, Henry's mother, Emily C. Sims Moxley Sturkey, is buried within the brick-lined plot. There may be others, but at least these four family members have been identified as being buried here.