Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jesse Alvin Senter

Jesse Alvin Senter

March 27, 1924
Itawamba County News

Local Items
We regret to learn that Mr. Jesse Senter is at Tupelo Hospital suffering from blood poison which is said to have started from a small place on his hand. He is the son of the late T. A. Senter who died while serving the county as Chancery Clerk.

April 24, 1924
Itawamba County News

Mr. Jesse A. Senter, oldest son of Mr. T. A. Senter, former Chancery Clerk of this county, died at his home a few miles north of town the past week.  Mr. Senter was a progressive farmer and one who endeavored to do his duty in the community where he was reared and has always lived.  He was married several years ago to Miss May Dulaney, only daughter of the late A. Dulaney, who served the first district as supervisor toward the later years of his life.  He is survived by his wife and several children and a host of other relatives, including his mother and his grandmother, and a host of friends to mourn his departure.  We are sorry that we will see him in town no more.

May 28, 1924
Itawamba County News

On April 28, 1924, the Death Angel visited our house and called our loving father to a better land.

He was born July 9, 1875, died April 18, 1924 and was buried in Mt. Pleasant cemetery April 19, at 10 a.m., Bro. E. M. Young conducting the service.

He was a quiet and loving father, always ready and even sought the opportunity of emitting that saintly sunshine so soothing to those burdened with life’s toils and cares.  He bore the troubles and cares of life with a fortitude characteristic of those whose highest aim is to do good.  In his last agonies he meekly submitted to Him who giveth and taketh away.  He became a member of the Baptist church in early life.

Father has gone to a better land and home is so lonely without him, but we look forward to that sweet meeting up yonder where we will meet around that great white throne to part no more.

Written by his loving daughter,

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

May Dulaney Senter's funeral - 1951

Below are pictures of the funeral and grave of Nervia Mae Dulaney Senter who died in 1951 and was buried in Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery in Itawamba County.  The successive photographs are particularly revealing and are an interesting contrast to the cemetery and surrounding area today.  They also provide an important historical record.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Nervia May Dulaney Senter

Nervia May Senter was widowed at a young age with nine children, the youngest child being Jessie Bane Senter who was named for her father, Jesse Alvin Senter, and who is seated in her mother's lap, above.  That little girl grew up, married Harlon Wilburn Jamerson, and still lives in the Sandy Springs community of Itawamba County.

May was born February 18, 1883, the only daughter of Alfred "Babe" Dulaney and Lucinda Alabama "Allie" Chilcoat.   "Babe" enlisted at the age of sixteen in the Confederate army, and that makes Jessie Bane Senter Jamerson perhaps the only living grandchild of a Confederate soldier in Itawamba County.  Babe also was a Supervisor of the first district of Itawamba County, while Jessie's other grandfather, Thomas Alfred Senter, served as Chancery Clerk of Itawamba County.

Children of Jesse Alvin and May Senter were (in order of their birth):  Jewell Estelle Senter (married Thomas Rex Dulaney, a distant cousin),  Prentiss E. Senter (married Ruth Johnson), Avis Grady Senter (married Edith Layla Graham), Lawrence R. Senter (died at the age of 17, two years after the death of his father), Victor Ray Senter (married Janna Fae Graham), Hershel L. Senter (married Gola Bates), Judie B. Senter (married R. C. Jamerson), Dessie Wayne Senter (married Trannie Etchel "Pete" Johnson), and Jessie Bane Senter (married Harlon Wayne Jamerson).

Based on the ages of the children, I believe that Prentiss is probably the one on the back row, far left, of the above photograph while his sister Jewell is standing next to him.   The other two boys on the back row are Avis and Lawrence although I don't know which is which.   The two younger boys in the middle row are Ray and Hershel, but again I don't know which is which (or who is who!).   On the left side, front row, is Dessie Wayne and on the other side of her mother is Judie.   Of course, the lap child is Jessie Bane Senter Jamerson who shared this picture of her family with Cousin Don.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas morn

Hope everyone has a happy morning this Christmas Day!

Beck and Fessie Pennington are seen here celebrating Santa's visit to Peaceful Valley on Christmas Eve in 1966 with their granddaughters, Vicky Cowley and Mona Robinson.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Menu - 1956 France

Menu from Army base in Sampigny, France during my parents' last Christmas overseas.  Compare and contrast to yesterday's posted menu from 1938 in Fulton.  Turkey?  check  Dressing?  check   Mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pickles and celery?  Yep, yep. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Real Old Fashioned Christmas Dinner -1938 Fulton

Fulton News Beacon
December 1938
ad for The City Cafe

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas from Luther and Alice

Luther and Alice Moxley sent this Christmas card to their friends and family, probably in the 1960s.   Luther was the son of Henry T. Moxley and Martha Arminta Sibley.   He was born in Itawamba County in 1893 and was a school teacher for a time, until he was called to the ministry.

Monday, December 20, 2010

1915 Itawamba teachers - fourth district

Notice Teachers

On the 3rd Saturday of November the teachers of the 4th district held their first meeting of the present scholastic year with the people of Mt. Pleasant.

H. L. Gillespie was chosen as president, J.F. Friday as vice president, and H. B. Kent as secretary.  It was ordered that the secretary keep a list of the names of the teachers for the fourth district and a record of their attendance at the meetings, the same to be filed with the county supt. at the end of the year.

After completing the organization the regular program was taken up.

Prof. A. M. Graham led the choir in the singing of a beautiful son, after which Rev. T. D. Clark read a selection from the Bible which was followed with prayer by Rev. Green.  Prof. W. G. (C.) Crouch, whose presence and ever readiness to help has always been an inspiration in our meetings forcefully showed the importance of district meetings.

Prof. W. V. Griffin gave some splendid ideas on how to teach.

Mr. Elmer Lessenberry showed splendid mastery of the subject, How to Teach Agriculture.

At the noon hour adjournment was taken in order that those present might partake of the beautiful feast prepared by the good ladies of the community.  After the dinner hour had been pleasantly spent the house was again called to order.  Mr. J. C. Whitehead, one of our most progressive young teachers, led in the discussion on school grading.  Mr. J. F. Friday made a good talk on duties of patrons.  On motion by Prof. Crouch, his advice to the patrons as to their duties was adopted by those present as a guide to secure better results in the schools.

Prof. J. A. Senter in his masterly manner pointed us to higher ideals and told what is expected of rural schools.  The following resolution was adopted:  Resolved, that we the teachers of the 4th district, express to the people of Mt. Pleasant our sincere thanks for the kindness shown us while in their midst and that we extend to them our thanks for their songs, for their interest manifested in our work and for their presence.  We hope that our benefits have been mutual.  After a spirited contest between Cherry Tree, Turon and Lone Star, Cherry Tree was chosen as the next meeting place.  On motion the association adjourned to meet at 10 o'clock the 3rd Saturday in Dec. at Cherry Tree.

The following program will be rendered there:

(1)  Welcome address by J. F. Friday,
(2)  Response by H. L. Gillespie,
(3)  The needs and lack of higher ideals by H. B. Kent,
(4)  School improvement by Elburne Phillips,
(5)  Need of better equipments for schools and how to get them, by J. A. Senter,
(6)  How to get pupils in school, by L. A. Moxley,
(7)  The use and abuse of authority, by Miss Clesty Suggs,
(8)  The art of teaching, by W. G. Crouch.

H. B. Kent, Sec. 

* * *
J. F. Friday - James Franklin Friday
H. L. Gillespie - Houston Lamar Gillespie
W. V. Griffin - Willard V. Griffin
H. B. Kent - Hillard Henry Burrel Kent
W. C. Crouch - William Carter Crouch
L. A. Moxley - Luther Altamont Moxley
J. A. Senter - James Alvin Senter
J. C. Whitehead - Jaudon Copeland Whitehead

* * *
In the early 1900s, teachers throughout Itawamba County held regular meetings within each of the five districts of the county.    Newspapers of the era usually contained minutes of such meetings, as above.  The photograph was shared with Don Dulaney by the Frank Neil Dulaney family.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas - 70s style

Fessie and Beck Pennington are all decked out in their polyester pant suits, ready for Christmas party in 1973.   We will have Fessie, Beck and other Penningtons in our memories as we gather tonight for our annual Pennington family Christmas party.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oakland Normal Institute

Below is a transcription of a community news item that appeared in the Hamilton Free Press on September 27, 1894.  Found at this link, the newspaper transcription was performed by Veneta McKinney.

W. C. Davis was William Columbus Davis, an Itawamba native about whom I've blogged before.  Born in Itawamba County, he moved as a child across the state line into Marion County.  He served as a state representative from Marion County and later was elected Lieutenant Governor of Alabama.

Lila Loyd, a student at Oakland Normal Institute, as mentioned below, was the niece of my great-great grandfather Isham James Loyd.  Her father was Sanford Marion Loyd and mother was Margaret Catherine Stone.   Mittie Senter, another student, was the daughter of Robert Thomas Senter and Malinda D. Priddy, both of old families of Itawamba County.

Jessica Moorman was the daughter of Dr. A. L. Moorman and Mary Ophelia Stone, of Bexar.  Just who Mr. A. W. Kearly was, I don't know.  Maybe someone could enlighten me?

Oakland Normal Institute was located north of Tremont, and a historical marker exists on the spot formerly occupied by the school.  You can read more about ONI at this post by Bob Franks at the Itawamba Historical Society's blog site.

Hamilton Free Press  
    Health tolerably good.
    Sorghum making and cotton picking has begun.
    We were to have had a joint discussion on the political issues of the day between Mr. W. C. DAVIS, of Hamilton, Ala., and Mr. A. W. KEARLY, of Fulton, Miss. the night of the 12th inst, but Mr. KEARLY failed to be present. The cause of the disappointment we don’t know; though the people were highly entertained by an excellent speech delivered by the Hon. Davis.  His speech was a perfect democratic feast.  The people of this community would have been much pleased that Mr. Kearly had been present.  However, the gentleman may congratulate himself on not being present, as we are confident Mr. Davis would have cleaned him up in good shape. He certainly did, and most successfully too, most all the arguments Mr. Kearly was likely to have made.
    Mr. Davis has won from himself in Alabama the name of one of the first and best defenders of its democracy.  He has just won a glorious democratic victory in Marion County and is also doing a big law practice, but he found time to come over into Itawamba and help his many friends to defend the democracy of his former home.  We are very thankful to Mr. Davis for his defense and wish to congratulate him no his grand success in this effort.
    The O. N. J. has had one of its most successful openings, and now pupils are coming in every day.  Among those who have come in are Miss VERA PEARCE, Miss JESSICA MOORMAN and LUCIAN LAWHON, of Bexar, Ala; Misses LILA LOYD, MITTIE SENTER, CORNELIA FILES, and Messrs ELBERT WHEELER, LEE GRAHAM, CARL DEOVERS, and J. M. LITTLE and wife, from different parts of Mississippi.
    We have a most excellent and accomplished young lady for a music teacher, Miss LILLIAN JOHNSTON of Meridian.
    By the way, the new piano will get here next week, and we are anticipating a large music class, as tuition is real cheap only $3.50 per month and use of instrument included.
    The Oakland saw mill will be running in the course of a week or so, and then the Yale post office will be finished also and adjoining room where books and stationary will be kept.  This will be very convenient for the school and neighboring communities who are in want of such articles.
    G. A. HOLLEY, Yale, Miss. Sept 22

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gid and Gaines Robinson - getting around

There are a couple of great little websites for genealogists with family connections to Marion and Lamar counties of Alabama.   Since the courthouse for Marion County burned in 1887, and with it the county's legal records, genealogical research there is difficult. 

It is because of this fire, and another fire at the courthouse in Abbeville County, South Carolina, that I have a brick wall with my Robinson ancestors.  Land records do not exist to examine and extrapolate family relationships dating back to Marion County's formation in 1818.  Because of the dearth of genealogical records, any historical information or document for those counties (Lamar - originally known as Sanford -- was formed out of parts of Marion and Fayette counties in 1867) can be an exciting find.  

Recently I spent some time going through online transcriptions of Marion County newspapers dating from 1893.  These old newspapers were transcribed from their microfilmed images by a volunteer, Veneta McKinney, who has also placed online transcriptions of newspapers from 1875 in Lamar County.  Many thanks to Ms. McKinney for her tireless efforts!

Below is just one example of information I found in the online transcriptions.  You might get lucky too!

The Hamilton Free Press
Marion County, Alabama
Thursday, April 26, 1894

From Detroit:
Messrs. Gid and Gaines Robinson of Bexar were in town Sunday.

Gid was my great-grandfather.  He married Arthusa "Thusie" Evans on November 25, 1894 in Tremont, just a few months after the above "news" was published in the Hamilton newspaper.   Bexar and Tremont were just a few miles apart, with most families of Bexar (including the Evans and Robinson families) claiming kinfolks over the stateline in and around Tremont.   In 1894, Bexar was a thriving little town with several businesses, doctors, a post office and even a hotel at one time.   If the above news article is correct, Gid must have been living in Bexar in 1894, or at the very least he was visiting relatives.  Gid and Gaines apparently were visiting over in the Detroit community in April.

Lucian Gaines Robinson was married to Theodoria Agnes Jane Bishop, who was Thusie's aunt, although Gaines and Agnes didn't marry until 1904.    Gaines was the son of Henry Johnson Robinson and Susan Florence "Sukey" Evans.    Sukey was also Thusie's aunt, on her father's side.  Gaines and Gid were first cousins, and it is easy to speculate that perhaps Gid was visiting his cousin Gaines in Bexar in order to court Thusie who was possibly visiting her Bexar relatives.   Courting was a lot easier away from the prying eyes of parents who were back in Itawamba County!

Monday, December 13, 2010

As True Today as It Was Back Then....

The Hamilton Appeal
Marion County, Alabama
April 17, 1896


    It has been a custom from time immortal for people to delegate power or authority to individuals to meet in council and consult and devise legislation for the benefit and government of the people, but it seems to me that this, like many other things, has grown beyond its sphere of usefulness and instead of being a benefit it has gotten to be a burden.  Don’t understand that I am opposed to legislation for I am not, but I content that we as a nation are being legislated to death.

    When we elect a man to congress or the legislature he must do something to commend himself to his constituents, and that something is generally to try to get an appropriation the proceeds of which will be spent in his county or district.  If successful in this he has accomplished something that will insure this perpetuation in office a the next election.

    Appropriations have gone on from one cause and another until it is said by some writers that we (the people of the United States) are paying a higher tax than any people in the world.  If this is a fact where, oh where is the advantage of living under a republican or democratic form of government?    I have always thought that government which exacted the least tribute from the people for its support was the most desirable government to live under.  When a man sees that his expenses are exceeding his income it looks to me like the reasonable and proper thing for him to do would be to reduce his expenses until his income and expenses will about balance.  But our government, both state and national, takes the other end of the dilemma and says that you are not paying taxes enough, and your taxes must be raised; and that you are swearing lies about the value of your property so we will appoint a commission to raise your own taxation.  There is hardly ever a law passed that is not a diminution of the liberties of the people and in addition to their taxation.  We have gone on legislating and legislating until we have some such law, and it is subject to so many different constrictions and we so often see it fail to mete out justice that people have almost lost confidence in the operation of the law, and this is the cause of so much lynch law a this day and time.  The practice of law has undergone a considerable change.  The time once was when a lawyer delighted to be employed on the side of justice but not so now.  The man who feels that he has the law and justice on his side is not disposed to pay as large a fee as the man who is trying to beat justice, consequently the lawyer studies the side to defeat justice because there is more money in it, and they are too often successful.

    If our legislature met but once in ten years, the people would then learn something about laws they were living under, and know which was good and which was bad, but this everlasting legislation we don’t have time to try a law until it is repealed, and anther enacted. 

We don’t need any more law but less law, and it better understood and better executed.

    I. J. LOYD, Bull Mountain, Ala, April 17

Note:  The above opinion was published in 1896, over one hundred years ago, by my great-great grandfather Isham James Loyd whose portrait is also shown.   Amazing that these same words could be written today and be as appropriate now as then.  It sounds to me as if Isham would have been a Reagan Republican if living in this age.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Card to Queenie and Jim

Christmas card found in my great-grandmother'Queenie Clayton Davis's trunk.  The card would have to date back to 1961 or earlier since Nancy Clayton Welch died in May 1962.  Nancy and Queenie were sisters, both daughters of Nathaniel M. Clayton and Martha A. Bowen.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jamerson Christmas Table

A Christmas table set by Martha McDowell Jamerson in 1963, photo courtesy of Jessie Senter Jamerson, daughter-in-law of Martha and Edgar Jamerson.   Looks like there is more food on the countertop too.  Now that's what I call an Itawamba County feast!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Great-Great Uncle Bud Stewart

Laura Stewart Pennington was my great-great grandmother, and pictured above is her brother Daniel Hugh "Bud" Stewart.   Laura and Bud were the children of Daniel Stewart and Alpha Jane Jackson; two additional children were Lenora and Mary Jane.   Daniel and Jane were both Georgia natives who moved to Fayette County, Alabama before the start of the Civil War.  Daniel died during the war, and his widow eventually remarried to Francis Malloy and moved to the Shannon/Okolona area of Mississippi.   Jane is buried in Pleasant Grove Cemetery near Shannon.

Jane's oldest daughter, Laura, my great-great grandmother, married James J. "Jim" Pennington on December 24, 1879 in the home of her step-father, Francis Malloy.   Around 1890, Laura and Jim moved to southwestern Itawamba County, to the area known as Lost Corner.  They both died an untimely death from "galloping tuberculosis" and were buried in Wiygul Cemetery.

Jane's only son by Daniel Stewart is pictured above.  Daniel Hugh "Bud" Stewart was born in April 1860 in Alabama.   He was married to Peggy Elvira Berryhill, and in the early 1900s they moved from Lamar County, Alabama to Lee County, Mississippi.   Bud farmed and operated a country store just down the road from Pleasant Grove Methodist Church.  The cemetery across the road from the church contains the graves of Bud and Peggy and several of their children.  Bud died in 1931.

Many thanks to Bud's great-grandson, Paul Armstrong, for sharing the photograph and information with me.   I am trying to find out more information about Bud and Laura's father, Daniel:  his CSA regiment, service and place of death.  I also need information about Bud and Laura's sisters, Lenora and Mary Jane.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Amazing Grace

 In the age of the internet, information comes from many different sources.  Above is a photograph of the headstone for the grave of the first child of William Hugh and Ethel Dee Sloan Pennington.   A Find-A-Grave contributor contacted Cousin Bobby Gene about this grave marker that was found in Pine Grove Cemetery in Monroe County, Mississippi.   We knew that there was a child of Hugh and Dee who died as an infant, but the whereabouts of the grave was unknown even to her siblings. Searches for the grave in the past had been unsuccessful.  Until now.  Thanks to the Find-A-Grave contributor, my mother and Aunt Tootsie recently drove to the cemetery and found the grave site.  Aunt Tootsie was able to view the grave of her sister, a grave that once was lost to us but now is found.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A tribute to a good man

Randall Lowell Owens died this week, and Itawamba County lost a good man.   Cousin Randall was born June 8, 1919 in the Mud Creek community of northern Itawamba County.  He was the second child born to James Alfred Owens and Effie Eugeana Johnson; his sister, Dovie, was the oldest of their four children.  Born after Randall were his brother Marquis and sister Catherine.

Randall joined the Army's Air Corps in 1942 following the bombing of Pearl Harbor the preceding December.   After several weeks of training in airplane mechanics at Keesler Field on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Randall was specially selected to join pilot's school in Texas.   In December 1942, the Fulton News Beacon reported that two "aviation cadets" from Itawamba County graduated from the pre-flight school in San Antonio:  Randall L. Owens and Royce H. Franks.   Unfortunately a severe bout with malaria prevented Randall from completing the rest of his pilot training, and he spent many months in the hospital.

Mike's earliest memories of his flat-topped, square-shouldered cousin were from the Johnson family annual reunions in the early 1960's.  Randall had a playful smile and delighted in telling stories about mules and outlaws and kin-folk from the turn of the century and even earlier.  He was a kind man with a keen wit and genuine love of the good people who lived up the "North Road."  And he was a stout Republican who never failed to give President Roosevelt full credit for shutting down his father's saw mill in the Depression.

Randall was a precocious child who listened to the old ones as a child and was a link to the lore and myths of the early settlements of old Itawamba.  Much of our past passed with him in his death. 

Goodbye old friend.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Grandmother of John Claudus Todd

John Claudus Todd was married to a daughter of my great-great grandfather Jackson Samuel Sloan, Alvie Retha Belle Sloan.   Alvie Sloan Todd married John Claudus Todd about 1903, and they had seven children together before her untimely death in 1925.  The 1920 census indicates the family was living in Beat 3, Itawamba County, and based upon the previous 1910 census and John C. Todd's draft registration card for World War I, the family appears to have been living in Itawamba County from 1910 until 1920.  Below is the 1920 census which is absent a son, John A., who was born about 1910 and died as a child before 1920:

1920 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Beat 3 (same neighbors as previous census, doesn't appear to have moved from Carolina)
John C. Todd 39 AL GA AL farmer, owns home
Alvie R. 38 MS AL MS
Sammie L. 15 MS daughter
Akeliss 14 MS son
Malissie L. 8 MS daughter
Bee M. 6 MS son
Effie O. 4 MS daughter
Robert A. 1 yr 5 mo MS son

Alvie Sloan Todd died in 1925 and was buried in Carolina Cemetery in Itawamba County, after which time John Claudus Todd moved to Jefferson County, Alabama where he died in 1971 at the ripe old age of 90. 

So, who is the woman in the picture?  She is Elizabeth Diadema (Trout) Morris, wife of John R. Morris.   Their daughter, Missouri Palestine Morris, married Jonathan Criswell Stokely Todd, and it was their son John Claudus Todd who married Alvie Retha Belle Sloan.

Elizabeth Diadema Morris was born in Georgia in 1825 and died in Fannin County, Texas in 1895. 

Many thanks to blog reader Sue of Chilton County, Alabama.  Sue has many connections to Itawamba County through the Spearman and Jamerson families in addition to Christian, Lesley and Rankin families and others.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Augusta Etoie Sloan Armstrong

Augusta Etoie Sloan, known as Gus or Gussie, was born December 2, 1896, the youngest child of Jackson Samuel Sloan and Malissia Caroline Potts.  She was a beautiful woman and quite vivacious, I'm told.   Although born in Itawamba County, she lived most of her life in Monroe County where she moved with her husband, Joseph Walker Armstrong.  Gussie and Joseph had twelve children together; their daughter, Nettie, attended the recent Sloan Reunion and shared several old photographs with us.  Many thanks to her for her generosity.

Below is a snapshot of my grandfather, Fessie Pennington, with his Aunt Gus, made at the annual Sloan Christmas Party in 1984.  Fessie died of complications from surgery for lung cancer in January, and Gus died the following December.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Granny Sloan

Malissia Potts Sloan, i.e. Granny Sloan, is pictured here with her grandson, Granville Armstrong, who was the son of Joseph Walker Armstrong and Augusta Etoie "Gussie" Sloan.   Named after his grandfather, Granville was born November 28, 1920, and he died December 1984.  The photograph is courtesy of Granville's younger sister, Nettie, who shared them at the Sloan Family Reunion.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Granny and Granpa Sloan


Some of the best photographs to come out of the Sloan Reunion held last month in Peaceful Valley were those of the older generation of Sloans.   I always feel fortunate when a single photograph turns up of one of my ancestors who was born just prior to the Civil War, so  I was tickled when the above picture was shared by Nettie Armstrong Calhoun at the reunion.  In the photograph are:  Malissia Potts Sloan (Granny) and Jackson Samuel Sloan (Granpa) with their grandchildren: Ann Sloan, daughter of Luther Sloan, and Granville Armstrong, son of Augusta "Gussie" Sloan Armstrong.  Luther and Gussie were the youngest children of Jack and Malissia Sloan.
Since Ann Sloan was born in September 1921 and Granville in November 1920, it would appear that this photo was made in early spring of 1922.    Looks like some land clearing was going on at the time.  Also, look at the big hands of Jackson Sloan.

More to come.... 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lester C. Mills aka L.C. Owens

The youngest son of Orville and Talitha McKay Mills was Lester C. Mills, born in December 1894.  He would be the little boy on the right in the above picture with his older brother Oscar.   Up until today, the last record I had for Lester was his World War I draft registration which showed his residence and place of birth as Marietta in Prentiss County (formerly Itawamba).  The registration card showed that he was single and employed as a railroad laborer out of Corinth, Miss.

The family story handed down about Lester is that he ran with a wild gang that was involved with bootlegging and counterfeiting, possibly even murder.    The story goes that Lester had to leave town to avoid being arrested and that he escaped by hiding in a wooden barrel full  of molasses.   The unusual part of the story has Lester taking his wife's surname of Owens. Supposedly, his wife was Ruth Caver Owens, and after their marriage, Lester and Ruth settled in the Mississippi Delta where they raised their family.  Legend also has it that Lester had a friend named Kenny Wagner who was in prison, and Lester would take supplies to Kenny at the prison.  This story about Lester came from his nieces, Marie and Midge, daughters of Lester's brother, Henry Edward Mills.   Mike's aunt Vera Mae has also talked about "one of those boys" who "got in trouble" and "ran off and changed his name."

Fast forward.   I've been looking for records of Lester for the past several years, unable to find him in the 1920 or 1930 census.   Last night I gave it another try, and bingo, there he was.... in 1930, living in Washington County (where Greenville is located) in the Mississippi Delta.   He was indeed listed as an Owens, and I'm pretty sure it is Lester because of (1) his initials were L.C. (2) his wife was Ruth (3) his brother-in-law living with him was Bill Caver (4) his age was consistent with his known year of birth.  

I had missed him in previous attempts because the Owens surname was incorrectly transcribed as Owers.   It seems that (my subscription search engine for censuses) may have employed foreigners in their transcription process.  Surnames that are obvious and familiar to us - such as Owens - become incorrectly transcribed as Owers.   Frustrating for sure, and the only way I found Lester was by performing a search for all men living in Mississippi in the 1930 census with a birth year of 1894 and with a last name of Owe*.   The asterisk was used as a wildcard and thus returned Owers as well as Owens.

Back to Lester.  I think I found him in the 1920 census too, living in Grenada County, precinct of Holcomb, with wife Georgia Ruth.    He was listed as L.C. Owens, 23, and she was  Georgia Ruth, 14. The next census in 1930 shows him also as L.C. Owens, 34, and she was Ruthie, 24.   Children in 1930 were W. L. (son, 8), Lonnie (daughter, 6), Willie L. (son, 4), and Ruby (daughter, 2).  His occupation in 1920 was farmer and in 1930 he was an overseer.

What is really interesting about Lester's story, aside from taking his wife's name, is his connection to Kenny Wagner (found also Kennie or Kinnie Wagner).  Kenny was born in Scott County, Virginia and called Kingsport, Tennessee home while Lester's father, Orville Mills, was born just below Scott County, only a few miles away in Hancock County, Tennessee.  Coincidence?  Probably. 

Kenny was a notorious criminal, well-known throughout the South for his skill with a gun.    It is said that by the time he was 24 years old, he had killed at least five men, including law enforcement officials in Tennessee and Mississippi.  He was imprisoned several times and escaped several times, becoming somewhat of a cult hero with songs, ballads and even a book written about him.

Kenny Wagner spent several years in the penitentiary at Parchman in the Mississippi Delta, about sixty miles from Greenville in Washington County.  Perhaps the story is true about Lester taking supplies to his friend there.  Kenny was made trustee at the prison and given great liberties.  According to the book "Kinnie Wagner Story", Kenny was allowed to leave the prison on weekends to round up escaped convicts, as long as he reported back on Mondays.

Kenny lived for a while in Corinth which is where he and Lester Mills possibly hooked up. Corinth, in its location just under the Tennessee state line in northern Mississippi, was a magnet for criminals involved in bootlegging, gambling, robbery along with prostitution and murder.  Some of this criminal element later become known as the Dixie Mafia, or the State Line Mob, and the infamous sheriff Buford Pusser lost his life fighting these gangsters.

I can't wait to see where Lester C. Mills/Owens is living in 1940 when that census comes out. Interesting story, don't you think?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Talitha McKay Mills

Talitha McKay, daughter of Samuel and Permelia, met William Orville Mills when the McKay family was in Posey County, Indiana.   It is believed that Samuel moved his family from Itawamba County to the safety of Indiana  during the Civil War.   Posey County is located in the extreme southern tip of Indiana, just across the river from Kentucky, and it would have been one of the closest areas to travel to escape the Civil War in the South.

The 1870 census for the McKay household included a 24 year old Orville Mills, who was widowed, and his son William, age 3.  Orville, who was born in Tennessee, had been married to Lydia A. Moit, a daughter of William Moit and Lucinda Armstrong.  Lydia died in 1869, probably from childbirth with a second child, leaving Orville with a young son to raise.  It is not known how Orville came to live with the McKay family, but it was providential for the hundreds of Mills descendants in northeastern Mississippi.   Perhaps it was through church, or a community event.

Orville became smitten with the McKay's oldest daughter, Talitha.  No marriage records exist for a marriage in Posey County, Indiana for Orville and Talitha, and it is likely that the couple married on the way back to Itawamba County, Mississippi.    Some census records for their oldest son, Henry, indicate that he may have been born in Tennessee while the rest of their children were born in Mississippi.

Millard Mills, grandson of Orville and Talitha, told my husband that "Arvil" came from the "Wabash" area of Illinois and that he "rode a load of logs" to Mississippi.  It is highly possible that Orville and the McKays could have traveled via a flatboat of logs.  Posey County is bordered by the Wabash River to the west and the Ohio River to the south.  Both of those rivers were highly navigated and used as a common source of transportation.   If Orville and Talitha had gone back to Hancock County, Orville's birthplace in northeastern Tennessee, then they could have easily reached Mississippi by traveling down the Holston River to the Tennessee River at Knoxville, then south and westward along the Tennessee River to McNairy County just above the state line in Tennessee and not too far from Marietta, Mississippi.

Orville was described by his grandson Millard as being a "tall, black-haired, big man."

Family lore also includes a tale whereby Orville and Talitha married and apparently did not have his son William Samuel with them.  Orville was unhappy so Talitha "rose one morning and dressed before Orville woke, saddled a horse, and sought out the child.  She found him playing along a fence row and took the boy to his father."  [Source:  Bobbie Conner]

Talitha and Orville had eight children together, including my husband's great-grandfather Jesse Thomas Mills, born February 12, 1881.   They settled on Donovan's Creek, a tributary and one of the headwaters of the Tombigbee River, in what is now Prentiss County but along the Itawamba County line.  Deed records place Orville and Talitha owning land just south of Gilmore's Chapel Methodist Church. 

When her parents and siblings moved to Texas, and later to Oklahoma, Talitha stayed behind in Mississippi.  She was the only child to do so and likely never saw her parents again after their departure in 1889.  Talitha died on January 4, 1911, apparently from a brain tumor at the age of 57.  Her younger sister, Minerva, died of a similar tumor when she was the same age.

Talitha was buried in the Marietta Methodist Church Cemetery with a tombstone that reads "In life beloved, In death lamented."  Orville died five years later and was buried next to her.  In addition to their sons Henry and Jesse, mentioned above, they also had Manerva, Elias Madison or "Lish", James Orville, Katie B., Oscar Burdine, and Lester C.   There were also three children who died and whose names are not known.   For an earlier post about the family, including a family photograph, click here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Samuel and Permelia McKay

This photograph has been around for a while, and I don't know why I haven't thought about posting it before now.  My husband Mike obtained it long before I started doing genealogy research, and the couple was identified to him as Samuel and Permelia McKay, his GGG grandparents.  The younger man standing behind Samuel and Permelia was identified as their son Bill.   Lucretia Scott, a McKay descendant from Oklahoma who is now deceased, shared the photograph with my husband several years ago.

The McKays moved to northern Mississippi from South Carolina, probably sometime between 1840 and 1845.  Samuel, who was the son of William and Jane McKay, was born about 1826 in South Carolina.   Just where in South Carolina is unknown at this point.  Samuel's father William was born about 1788 in Ireland while his mother Jane, maiden name unknown, was born about 1794 in South Carolina.

Samuel McKay married Permelia Caroline Ables on January 21, 1847 in Itawamba County.  Permelia was the daughter of Joseph Ables and Mary Patton, and she was an Alabama native, born about 1827.  Her sister, Mahala, married Michael McKay, an older brother of Samuel.   The Ables surname can be found as Abels, Abel and Able.  It is thought that Joseph was born in Abbeville District, South Carolina and was the son of William, born 1781.   Joseph and Mary left Itawamba County and moved to Winn Parish, Louisiana along with others of their family, and several of their descendants can be found there.

Samuel received a land patent issued July 22, 1851 for 159 acres located in the Southwest Quarter of Section 27, Township 7, Range 10 East.  Interestingly, this is very close to where his descendant Vera Mae Mills Holcomb lives today in  the hills of northeastern Itawamba County.    The 1850 census indicates that Samuel and Permelia were living next door to her parents and that Samuel owned real estate valued at $80.  His occupation was listed as "miller."   The family apparently moved from this location because ten years later, in the 1860 census, Samuel and Permelia with their six children were enumerated as being part of a district that included the post office at Guntown in what was then still Itawamba County.  Likely, they were living near Marietta in present-day Prentiss County.  

Children listed in the 1860 household of Samuel and Permelia were:

William F., age 12
Joseph, age 10
Talitha C., age 8
Martha J., age 6
Mary E., age 3
Minerva C., age 7 mos.

As far as I know, these were the only children of Samuel and Permelia.

By 1870, the McKay family were living in Posey County, Indiana.  Yes, Indiana!   It is thought that perhaps the McKays did not support the Confederate cause and moved to a neutral territory to avoid the conflict.  Posey County is located at the southernmost tip of Indiana, just across from the Kentucky state line, and it would have been one of the closest areas to reach if one was wanting to get out of the Confederate South.   Many families of Northeast Miss. and Northwest Ala. believed that succession from the United States was unnecessary and thus did not support the subsequent war; those that felt this way were often harassed (or worse!) by supporters of the Confederancy.   Additionally, Samuel and Permelia had two sons that could have been conscripted into the Confederate army if they had stayed in Mississippi.   

The area around Marietta, where the McKays were most likely living before the Civil War and where they returned to after the war, was a hotbed of activity during the war.  Corinth fell into the hands of Union troops in the fall of 1862 after being under siege since April when the Battle of Shiloh was fought a few miles away.  The retreating Confederate army had troops scattered throughout northeastern Mississippi, and the towns of Marietta and nearby Baldwyn received a lot of traffic as troops moved between Confederate bases at Ripley and Iuka.  In addition to the Confederate troops who took needed supplies from the local residents, Union soldiers also made scavenging raids down from Corinth and Tennessee.  It was an awful time in our region's history.

Whatever the reason for Samuel and Permelia's move to Indiana, the decision was an important one, genealogically speaking, for Indiana is where their daughter Talitha met her future husband, William Orville Mills.

Several years ago when my husband began asking his great-uncles about the Mills ancestry, he found out that his great-great grandfather "Arvil" Mills was from "Wabash" in Illinois and rode a "flatboat of logs" to Mississippi.  When I picked up with the story a few years ago, this was all we knew.  Imagine our surprise to find a 24 year old "Orville" Mills living with the Samuel McKay family in the 1870 census of Posey County, Indiana.   They were living just a stone's throw across the Wabash River from Illinois and only a few miles from the Ohio River across from the state of Kentucky.  You can probably surmise that the trip to Mississippi two or three years later involved a log flatboat.   Amazing where bits and pieces of family lore can lead you!

The McKay family, along with Orville Mills, returned "home" to Mississippi around 1876, settling again in the area around Marietta.  The 1880 census shows Samuel and Permelia with a five year old grandson, Thomas, born in Indiana, in their household in Itawamba County.  In 1889, at the age of 67, Samuel moved again, with all of his children -- except Talitha McKay Mills who remained with her husband and family in Mississippi -- to Texas.  A wagon train of several families in the Marietta area made the trip, including Adairs, Shuberts, Tablers, Gatlins, and others.  Descendants of the McKay families that moved west indicate that Samuel and Permelia went to Caldwell County in southern Texas where they lived for only a couple of years before moving yet again, this time to Indian Territory in what is now Love County, Oklahoma, over three hundred miles away.

In the History of Love County, Oklahoma Lucretia Scott wrote that "Sam" and Permelia died in Thackerville, Love County.  Sam died after an apparent heart attack following a round of cutting wood, sometime between 1894 and 1900.  He was supposedly the first person buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery, located across the road from his wood-cutting activities.  Permelia was later buried beside him.  Neither of their graves are marked with tombstones.  The cemetery has been described as having a beautiful  country setting, atop a hill, surrounded with the sounds of cows mooing and birds singing.   Seems like a peaceful and well-deserved resting place for a couple with South Carolina roots, an Itawamba County marriage, and eventful lives that took them from Mississippi to Indiana, back to Mississippi, and then west to Texas and finally,  Oklahoma.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sloan Children - youngest four

Here is another cropped picture of the Sloan family, this one featuring the four youngest children of Richard and Ellen Potts Sloan.    Check out the original, full photograph of the Sloan family here and of the other children here.  
Continuing with the before and after theme, you can compare the originally scanned version of the photograph against the edited version provided by Cousin Rita.  Since the original photograph was missing a corner, Rita had to create a face for young Ogal Alton Sloan using his siblings as a guide.  She did a great job, don't you think?

Pictured above are:  Pallie W. Sloan, Roy Medford Sloan, Roberta Lavell Sloan, and Ogal Alton Sloan.

Pallie is an odd name, and at first I was convinced that her name was actually Pollie instead.  But census records consistently show that she was Pallie with an 'a'.  Pallie was  born in 1898 and married about 1918, and although most census records indicate that her husband's name was Bardie, my records show his name was Ellie Vardaman Kendrick, son of George Milton Kendrick.   In 1930 the couple was living on Highway 25 in Itawamba County with their nine year old daughter Maureen.  It is believed that Pallie and her husband moved to George County in southern Mississippi though I've found no death or burial records for them there.   Their daughter (and perhaps only child), Maureen, married James E. Davis and they are buried in Moffett Cemetery in George County.

Roy Medford Sloan was born in December 1901.  A death certificate in Texas indicates that he was living in Houston when he died there in 1932; this record also indicates he was married to a woman named Neta and that he was a disabled veteran.  Unfortunately there was no information as to cause of death.  Una Sloan Newton, who compiled much information on the Sloan family, reported that Medford joined the Navy as a young man.  

Roberta Lavell Sloan, known as Bertie, was born in May 1900.  She married William Chester Fowler in 1923, and they had two known sons, Harold and William Chester Jr.   Bertie died in 1966, and an abstract of her obituary indicates that she lived most of her life near Nettleton in Monroe County. 

The youngest child of Richard and Ellen was Ogal Alton Sloan who was born in April 1907.  He was known as O.A. or Alton, and newspaper clippings I've found indicate that he was a gospel singer and attended New Bethel Church.   In his sister Rebecca's 1971 obituary, Alton was shown as living in Kansas City.   Una Sloan Newton reported that Alton and his wife, Estelle (Hood), moved to Emporia, Kansas during the 1940s while Florida death records indicate that Ogal Alton Sloan died in Brevard County, Florida on October 28, 1985.   He and Estelle had at least two children:  Aubrey and Mary.

If anyone has further information on the children of Richard and Ellen Sloan, I would appreciate if they would contact me. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sloan Children - in person and portraits

From the original photograph of Richard & Ellen Sloan's family, posted here, I cropped out the portion shown above.   Cousin Rita worked her usual magic and cleaned up the scratches and spots found on the originally scanned image (bottom).   

The three children pictured are, left to right: Rosa Lee Sloan Berryman, Richard Gaston Sloan, and Rebecca Sloan Attaway.  

Rosa married Alfred Louis Berryman when she was 30 years old, and the 1930 census shows the couple and their daughters, Helen and Olena, living on Pine Grove Road in Monroe County.    Rosa died in 1969 and is supposedly buried in Liberty Cemetery near Nettleton.  Not much more than that is known about Rosa.

There is also not much known about Richard Gaston Sloan.  He was 33 years old in the 1930 census, still single and living at home.    My notes indicate that he was later married to Mary Evelyn Patterson, and social security death records show that he died in Kansas City, Missouri in 1973.  I don't know if he had children or not.

Rebecca, whose nickname was Becky, was 28 years old when she married Claude Attaway in 1922.  Becky and Claude lived near Nettleton with their two sons, Reed and Ruble.   Ruble was killed in the Philippines during World War II.  Like her sister, Becky is buried in Liberty Cemetery.   

The large portraits propped up on the porch behind these three children are of Dick and Ellen Sloan's oldest two children:  Roman Fred Sloan and Minnie L. Sloan, who were  already married at the time of the photograph.

Roman Fred Sloan was married to Clara Pearl Ridings who was the daughter of William and Martha Ridings and a sister to Dora Belle Ridings who married John Gainey Sloan.  Thus, Gainey Sloan and Roman Sloan were first cousins who married sisters.   Shortly after their marriage in 1911, Roman and Clara moved to Texas where they raised their family of seven children.   They are buried in Small Cemetery near Edgewood in Van Zandt County, Texas.

Minnie L. Sloan, the oldest child of Dick and Ellen Sloan, married Clifford Rayburn in March 1910.  The census for that year shows that the couple were living with Clifford's parents in the Bounds Crossroads precinct (where the Rayburns also lived in the 1900 census).   Anyone familiar with the geography of Itawamba County will wonder how these two met since Bounds Crossroads is near Red Bay, Alabama in the northern part of the county while the Sloan family lived in the southernmost part of the county.  Not only distance, but the waters of the Tombigbee River separated the families.  This would also explain why Minnie was not present at the family photograph in 1914.

Interestingly, Clifford Rayburn also had a sister named Minnie, and she married Ebenezer Clifton Sloan, a brother of Gainey Sloan.   Again, this was a situation of first cousins marrying siblings.   If anyone knows how they met, I'd love to hear about it.

Minnie and Clifford Rayburn were found in 1920 living near her parents in the Cardsville (Peaceful Valley) precinct although it is my understanding that they moved to Greenwood, Mississippi sometime after 1930.  They are buried in Itawamba County, however, in Wiygul Cemetery.

Other children of Dick and Ellen Sloan that are not shown in the cropped photograph (see original post) were Pallie W. Sloan, Roberta Lavell Sloan, Roy Medford Sloan and Ogal Alton Sloan.  I'll have a later post about them.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dick & Ellen Sloan

Richard Curtis "Dick" Sloan and Ellen Potts Sloan,
circa 1914 

Dick was the son of William and Caroline Sloan while his wife Ellen was the daughter of Jesse H. and Frances "Fannie" Potts.  Ellen was named after her father who died of disease in Richmond, Virginia during his service in the Civil War.   Upon his enlistment in March 1862, Jesse and Fannie were expecting their ninth child, and when she was born, she was named Jessie Sisley Minerva Ellen Potts.   According to Una Sloan Newton, Sloan family historian and Ellen's great-niece, the family called the young child Ellen and Sisley, and gradually the other names were dropped as the years went by.  Ellen died in 1918, about four years after this picture was made, and Dick later remarried to a widow of the community, Mrs. Mary Elizabeth (Attaway) Hood.

Dick and Ellen had nine children together while Dick and his second wife "Ella" had one son, Ogal Gaston Sloan.  Ogal, who is still living, was named after two of his half-brothers:  Richard Gaston Sloan and Ogal Alton Sloan. 

The children of Dick and Ellen were double first cousins to the children of Dick's brother, Jackson, whose wife Malissa Caroline Potts was Ellen's older sister. 

Thanks to Cousin Rita for fixin' up this photograph for me!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dick Sloan family

The wonderful old photograph above was brought to the recent Sloan Family Reunion by Katherine Sloan Conwill, daughter of Ogal Sloan, and granddaughter of Dick Sloan whose family is pictured above.    Below is an edited version courtesy of Cousin Rita (thanks, Rita!).   Without the "clutter" of tears and scratches, the image and the people in the old photograph are much easier to "see" although I confess that I find that the spots and tears add so much character.

The house in the photograph was torn down several years ago, and another home rebuilt in its place, still being used.   You can still see the old lumber and beams from the original house that were used in the construction of the "new" home.   Dick Sloan lived in the Peaceful Valley community (Cardsville was the post office address) along what is now known as the Carolina-Van Buren Road. 

This 1914 photograph is of Richard Curtis "Dick" Sloan and his family by his first wife, Jessie Ellen Potts. Dick, the son of William and Caroline Sloan, and  Ellen, the daughter of Jesse H. and Frances "Fannie" Potts, had nine children.  When Ellen died about four years after this photograph was made, Dick later remarried to a widow in the community, Mrs. Mary Elizabeth "Ella" Attaway Hood.  Dick and Ella had one son, Ogal Gaston Sloan, named after two of his half-brothers.

Left to right, pictured are:  Rosa Lee Sloan (Berryman), Richard Gaston Sloan, Rebecca Sloan (Attaway), Pollie Sloan (Kendricks), Roy Medford Sloan, Roberta "Bertie" Sloan (Fowler), Ogal Alton Sloan, Dick and Ellen Sloan, and Dick's sister Elizabeth "Babe" Sloan who never married.

Only seven children were present for the photograph, but if you have sharp eyes you will have noticed the portraits of the two missing children.   These portraits, propped up on the porch behind the family, are of Roman Fred Sloan and Minnie Sloan (Rayburn), the oldest children who by 1914 were married and living away from their parents.   Sweet how they were remembered and included in the photograph.  Also, notice the items that have been brought out of the house onto the porch for the background of the photograph, as well as the family's two puppy dogs!

The children of Dick and Ellen were first cousins to the children of Dick's brother, Jackson Sloan, who was married to Ellen's older sister, Melissa Caroline Potts.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sloan Reunion in Peaceful Valley

Display by Barbara Blake, granddaughter-in-law 
of Zadie Sloan Blake

Photographs of Sloan descendants

Clara Nell "Tootsie" Pennington Wardlaw,
daughter of Ethel Dee Sloan Pennington

Dorothy Sloan Pennington, daughter of 
John Gainey Sloan, looking over photographs

Close to 100 people (give or take a few!) attended the Sloan Family Reunion held in the Peaceful Valley community on a bright and sunny October afternoon a couple of weeks ago.  Descendants of William Sloan gathered on Saturday for a wonderful day of food and fellowship at the Blake Greenhouses on land formerly owned by William's son, Jackson Samuel Sloan.    Barbara Blake and Jean Robinson outdid themselves on the planning and decorations for the event, and as usual, the quantity and quality of food provided by Sloan family members was outstanding.   Cousin Don Dulaney generously allowed me to use his widescreen television and computer hookups to provide a slideshow of collected photographs of the Sloan family.   Many folks brought their photo collections, and with my scanner and laptop I was able to add new photographs to my collection.   Several of these "new" old photographs will appear in future blog posts so stay tuned!

Everyone really enjoyed the music provided by several of the Sloan cousins.   Seems like it is just not a Sloan reunion without the music, and it was great to once again have the sounds of musical instruments filling the valley where the Sloans once lived.  If Granny and Granpa Sloan were listening from heaven, they were surely pleased at the sounds they heard that day.

My husband and his tractor pulled a wagon of hay (provided by Steven Wardlaw) filled with folks along for a tour of former homesites, complete with a trip down to the old Tombigbee River.

It was great to meet so many new Sloan cousins and to visit with familiar ones as well.  Wouldn't it be nice if the reunion could be an annual event!