Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mrs. Alma Hood Johnson

Alma Hood Johnson is pictured here on her 47th birthday in February 1936, in this photo shared by Lisa Wheeler Chapman, Alma's great-granddaughter. Although the children in the photograph are not labeled, I suspect they were Alma's younger children James and Louise, who would have been about 8 and 10 years old respectively, plus a couple of grandchildren.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tricycle Wreck in Fulton

May 13, 1943

Kelly Wade Prestage Injured in Fall

Kelly Wade Prestage, six year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Gaddis Prestage, was rushed to Community Hospital, Tupelo, Tuesday morning. Kelly Wade was riding his tricycle and was making a turn when he fell off the sidewalk in front of the C. C. Harrison home. The latest report was that he had a broken jaw bone and two of his teeth knocked out, but was resting well as could be expected. This little fellow is one of Fulton's most loved children and he has a host of friends who regret to learn of his accident and wish for him an early return home.

* * * * *

It is interesting to note that just as Kelly Wade was one of county's most loved children, he was also one of our county's most loved adults.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Comer's Market

This advertisement appeared in the December 31, 1931 issue of the Fulton News Beacon. Not only does it contain interesting facts about the cost of grocery items in 1931 in Itawamba County there is some good information for the genealogist. If you are a Comer family descendant (and I know a few!) then the advertisement tells you when the store opened and where it was located. It is very likely that Comer's Market was the forerunner of Comer Meat Packing Company in Aberdeen.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Joshua & Margaret's marriage record

Another marriage record found in the St. Clair County courthouse was between Joshua Hood and Margaret Johnson, ancestors of many Itawambians (as well as great-great grandparents of Elvis Presley!). Margaret was the daughter of Simeon and Martha Johnson while Joshua's parents are still a mystery, although I believe them to be James Hood and Margaret Somerville. Some researchers have indicated that Joshua was the son of Rev. William Hood and his wife Elizabeth Quinn, but my research has led me to conclude that is not the case. One of the records I wanted to see in the courthouse was Joshua's marriage record to see if perhaps Rev. William Hood had solemnized the ceremony. He didn't. According to the above record, Joshua and Margaret were married on December 20, 1849 by Evan Wilkins, Justice of the Peace.

I'm still pursuing leads to determine who Joshua's parents were, but unfortunately nothing turned up on this research trip that could give us an answer. We did find some deed and court records for James Hood that need to be analyzed, and some other Hood marriage records may provide clues as yet, but there are still many missing pieces to the puzzle.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ross Collins Robison, 1913-2010

A dear friend, cousin, and former Itawambian passed away Tuesday in Hernando. Ross Collins Robison was born December 1, 1913 to Carlton McKindrey Robison and Mary Myrtle Harbor, the middle child of five boys. He and his siblings grew up barely east of Tremont on land that his mother inherited from her father, Talmon Harbor. According to Ross, his Granddaddy Harbor's house stood where the Canup house now is, and Ross's family lived just down the hill along the old Bankhead Highway. As a little boy, Ross first attended school which was held then at the Tremont Methodist Church, where his family worshiped, and when the new grammar school was built he went there. After graduation from Tremont High School in 1932, Ross headed to Starkville for Mississippi A & M College. The first picture, above, is of a young Ross at college.

Ross was named after Ross Collins, a congressman from south Mississippi who frequently made stops at the Robison house during his travels to and from Washington. Ross's mother provided room and board for travelers through the area, and Congressman Collins enjoyed the Robison hospitality as a regular visitor.

All four Robison brothers received their degrees from Mississippi State University (Ross, Ray, Roy and Ruble; Rex, a fifth brother, died at age 10). It was at college that Ross met the love of his life, Lucile Stewart McCann, of Gulfport, who predeceased him in 2005. Ross obtained his master's degree in dairy science and later became head of the dairy farm operation at Mississippi State where he was instrumental in developing processes for the making of ice cream and cheese. In 1948 Ross and Lucille moved to Hernando where he served as county agent for DeSoto County and was in charge of developing the dairy industry to meet the growing need for milk and dairy products for the Memphis area.

Ross and I met in October 2006. After uncovering his wife's obituary during some research earlier that fall, I realized that Ross was still living, found his address, and wrote him a letter. He immediately called me, and we had the first of several delightful conversations. Cousin Lucy, pictured above with Ross, rode with me to Hernando for a visit with Ross and his children. Ross's great-grandfather was John E. Robinson, my great-great-great grandfather. That's one connection we share. Another connection is through the Evans family. Ross's grandmother, Martha Evans Harbor, was a sister to my great-great grandfather John T. Evans.

For his 96th birthday this past December, Ross was honored at his church with a celebration. Lucy and Sue (my cousins) and I drove up for the occasion and were pleased to see Ross in good health and spirits. According to Nancy, Ross's daughter, her father had a series of unfortunate health events in the last couple of weeks from which his body couldn't recover although she said his mind was upbeat and forward-looking even to the end. Nancy said he was looking forward to a game of Rook tonight. What? Ross played Rook, I asked? Sure, Nancy replied, her father could really show out in a game of Rook. An avid gardener, Ross already had tomato seedlings ready for planting on his patio garden.

Yes, Ross was a true Robison and Itawambian. I miss him already.

Davis sister found

One of the findings during the recent research trip to St. Clair County, Alabama was the marriage record of William L. Findley and Susana Z. Davis. When I spotted the names in the marriage index book, it crossed my mind that "Susana" could be my Susan Zilphia Davis, daughter of Jesse and Elvira Davis, and sister of my great-great grandfather James William Anderson Davis. She was listed as eight-year old "Ziffy" in the 1850 census household of her parents and as eighteen-year old "Susan" in their 1860 household. Beyond 1860, I had no idea what happened to her. Now I do.

The marriage record for Susanna Zilphia Davis, who was named for her grandmother Zilpha Harris Davis, was recorded in the St. Clair County Marriage Book directly under that for her sister, Amanda Elvira Davis who married Richard Alverson. Apparently, the sisters obtained their marriage license on the same day, November 6, 1865, and were married on the same day, November 9, 1865, by the same person, Matthew Lee, Justice of the Peace. (Cite: State of Alabama, St. Clair County, Marriage Records 1865-1866, Page 92)

After finding the marriage record, I then found the couple living in Itawamba County in the 1870 census under "Finley" and in Marion County under "Findley", next to her brother Samuel M. Davis, in the 1880 census. After the 1880 census, I do not know what happened to William and Susanna Zilphia. They census records do not show that they had any children. The couple likely died before the 1900 census, or perhaps joined a migration to Texas. I'll have to keep my eyes open for a possible burial record in Marion County. Meanwhile, I'm glad to have the information about Zilphia.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Alabama research

It was a hard two days' worth of research in Jefferson County and St. Clair County in Alabama, but good things came from it, probably more than we realize even at this point. The first day was split between the Jefferson County courthouse (first picture), specifically the probate office where the land, marriage and estate records are housed, and the Special Collections Library at Samford University (second picture). We were able to obtain copies of actual records related to the Dulaney and Martin families who lived in northeastern Jefferson County in the 1810s and 1820s.

Seeing the actual records helped us clear up some confusion. One of the land records for Thomas Dulaney had previously been abstracted by one person and transcribed by another. An abstract is a short-hand version of a document while a transcription should be the exact wording. The transcription of this particular record indicated that Thomas Dulaney was deceased in 1826 while the abstract did not mention that fact, and there was another abstracted record that indicated Thomas was alive in 1827. The confusion came from the fact that the transcriber interpreted the word "did" as "de'd" or deceased. The dot on the "i" was not an apostrophe in an abbreviation of the word deceased. This was an important lesson on why viewing the actual records is absolutely necessary.

Samford University has a great collection of Baptist records, probably the best collection in the state of Alabama. We only touched the tip of their holdings. In addition to Baptist records, the library also has a great collection of other books and family files that would be of interest to all genealogists. Mrs. Elizabeth Wells, librarian, was a tremendous help and resource and made our time there much more productive with her knowledge of the library's collection.

The second day was spent in Ashville, one of two county seats for the county of St. Clair. The other county seat is over the mountains in Pell City, probably a more familiar name for most of us. Ashville lies in Jones Valley, a valley that is flanked by two parallel mountain ridges, both of them being the tail-end of the Appalachian Mountains. The old courthouse at Ashville is in the middle of a renovation as you can tell from the last picture. A new courthouse is across the street and houses the county's oldest records. Although some time was spent in the courthouse, most of the time was spent in the Ashville Museum and Archives, a very nice facility for a town the size of Ashville. Mrs. Simpson is the hostess and librarian of the archives; she amazed us with her recall of the many families whose information was buried inside the many books of their collection. She just kept pulling out books that we never would have thought to look inside.

As with any research trip, upon return it takes a while to sort through and analyze the information that has been gathered. I'll be posting some of it in the days and weeks to come. A special thanks goes to my husband, Mike, who is great to have in the courthouse because he can sniff out the most illusive records, as he proved once again on this trip. In addition, he was a patient chauffeur and sounding board.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

L. B. Davis homeplace

In this aerial photograph shared by Melissa White Harwell, you can clearly see the Leon Burg Davis homeplace and farm that was located south of Fulton. To the rear of the house is the shop where Uncle Burg kept his road graders, trucks and other equipment for use in his responsibilities as Supervisor for the Fifth District of Itawamba County, a position he held for three terms. The Burg Davis home is gone, but today you can see where it used to be along Highway 25 South, next to the Fulton Medical Clinic and across from the Fred's Shopping Center. The small house in the bottom left of the picture may still be standing.

Click on the photograph to enlarge it, and you can spot a small figure crossing the field between the two houses. Perhaps Aunt Emma?

It is hard to imagine that this location would have been out in the country during its time since today it is a busy part of town. Uncle Burg and my Pa Davis were brothers, sons of J.W.A. Davis and Annaliza Morrow. See previous days' posts for more information on this family.

* * *
Itawamba County Times
April 11, 1946
Reunion Is Held in L. B. Davis Home

The L. B. Davis home was a scene of gaiety Sunday, April 7, with all nine children together for the first time in over four years. The children are: Mr. and Mrs. Hubert Grissom, Martha Ann, Sarah, Wayne and Judy; Mr. and Mrs. Doyle Davis and Benny, Mr. and Mrs. Leon B. Davis, Jr. and Stacy, Mr. and Mrs. Julian T. Davis and Pat, Miss Mary Anna Davis of Mobile, Ala, Kathleen, Frank and Joe Davis.

The visitors were Mrs. Lel Grissom and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Wiygul and Patsy.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Annaliza Morrow Davis

Annaliza Morrow was an Itawamba native, born in the county on the eve of the Civil War on February 10, 1861. John, her father, volunteered and served until the end of the war in 1865, missing most of Annaliza's toddler years.

Although I usually refer to her as Annaliza, there are indications that her name could have been Anna Eliza, which was informally shortened to Annaliza. Census records reveal that she also went by the name of Liza, which in "Itawamba-speak" gets pronounced Lizer. However, "Annalizer" is how I've heard her name called.

Annaliza was apparently well-beloved by her family, church and community. Here are some glimpses into her last years, found in the Itawamba County News.

October 7, 1915
Sulphur Springs
Mrs. Billie Davis, who has been sick for quite awhile, is better we are glad to say.

January 29, 1926
Woman's Missionary Society Remembers Mrs. Bill Davis
The woman's Missionary Society represented by Mrs. B. M. Pearce, Mrs. R. L. Senter, and Mrs. C. A. Dozier, presented Mrs. Billy Davis with a basket of luscious fruits one afternoon the past week. Mrs. Davis has been an invalid for several months and has not been able to attend the meetings of her society.

May 6, 1926
Mrs. Davis Improves
Mrs. Bill Davis, who has been very low for the past several days has improved greatly at this time. Mrs. Davis is suffering from a cancer from which relief has not been obtained by an operation. We hope that she will continue to get better. Mrs. Long of Saltillo was here with her this past week. Her other children, who live near here, are constantly with her at times.

May 26, 1926
Mrs. Liza Davis Passes Away
Had Suffered with Cancer for Several Years,
Treatment Proved Only Temporary Relief

Mrs. Bill Davis, who lived south of Fulton one mile, answered her last summons Monday of this week when death took her spirit away from this material world. Mrs. Davis was about 69 years of age and a woman well loved by everybody who knew her. She has suffered much for the past few years with a cancer of the breast. She had sought relief by operation and treatment but only death could relieve her physical sufferings.

Mrs. Davis was a Christian woman, having professed Christianity and joined the Baptist church when 20 years of age, two years after her marriage. She was born in October 1861, and married to Mr. Bill Davis at the age of 18. Eight children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Davis, all of whom survive her. There are five sons, Messrs. Jim, Jesse, Burg, and Dew, who live here, and Mr. John Davis of Birmingham, Ala., and three daughters, Mesdames. Anna Long of Saltillo, Lan Spencer, and Hettie Mason of Fulton.

Mrs. Davis was the daughter of Aunt Mary Morrow who died about a year ago, and was the sister of Messrs. Tobe, Luke, Charlie, and Bill Morrow and Mrs. S. M. Roberts. All of her children were present at her funeral services which were held at the Fulton Baptist Church Tuesday morning at ten o'clock.

Rev. H. T. Vaughn conducted the service and interment was had at the Fulton cemetery following the services. A lovely floral offering was offered in memory of the deceased by her many relatives and friends. We sympathize with the bereaved in the loss of a christian mother, wife, and a sweet character.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

J.W.A. and Annaliza Davis

Annaliza Morrow Davis
and husband, James William Anderson Davis

A marriage license was issued to Wm. A. Davis and Miss Anna Eliza Morrow on Saturday, October 25, 1879 in Itawamba County. They were married the following day by W. P. Reeves, and stayed together for nearly 47 years, until Annaliza's death in 1926.

A year after their marriage, J. W. A. - or Billy, as he was known - and Annaliza bought from Pleasant Cates 100 acres southeast of the small town of Fulton. On the map, this land is located right about where the Timbers Subdivision is today. The deed references the tract of land that lies east of the "South Eastern Road" which is most likely the road we know as Wiygul Street, where it runs into Country Club Road.

Five years later, Billy and Annaliza bought another 80 acres, again from Pleasant Cates, located below their current property. If you know your Fulton geography, you know that this land pretty much encompasses the entire Fulton Country Club property. I'm sure that Billy and Annaliza probably had cows grazing on what eventually became the club's golf course.

The 1908 Itawamba County News included an entry on September 2 that indicated "Mr. W. A. Davis, who lives a mile south of Fulton, had a very severe chill Monday but has improved." My topo map shows that it is about a mile's distance from the courthouse in Fulton to the southern end of Wiygul Street.

Cousin Jim Spencer shared with me this week, a copy of The History of First Baptist Church, Fulton, 1909-2009, written by the church's history committee. We both were surprised to learn that W. A. and Anna Eliza Davis were charter members of the First Baptist Church when it became organized on October 29, 1909. The couple transferred their letters of membership from Sulphur Springs Church, a church that I know nothing about but would love to learn more. In 1912, J. W. A. Davis along with A. D. Graham and M. C. Benson, acting as Trustees on behalf of the Fulton Baptist Church, purchased a lot upon which the future sanctuary would be built, and where the church would remain until moving in 2001 to its new building south of Fulton.

In 1924, the county newspaper included the following statement, "Mr. Tobe Morrow and family have recently moved to his father's old home, and Mr. Jas Davis and family moved to the home that was occupied by Mr. Morrow." I don't know if Mr. Jas [James] Davis was James William Anderson Davis, or his son and my great-grandfather, James Kelly Davis. Tobe Morrow was J.W.A.'s brother-in-law, and Tobe was moving to his "father's old home" probably because his mother, the former Mary Caroline Ford, was ill. She died later that year at the age of 85. Her daughter, Annaliza, died two years later in 1926 at the age of 65.

James William Anderson Davis was born at Cropwell in St. Clair County on October 28, 1858. He was 76 years old when he died of "influenza and myocarditis" on March 6, 1935, and was laid to rest next to his beloved wife in the Fulton Cemetery.

I'm quite proud to finally have this picture of Billy and Annaliza, my great-great grandparents. It was shared with me, and you today, by another cousin, Melissa White Harwell. Thank you, Melissa. The picture was probably taken 1925, definitely before Annaliza became too ill with cancer, on their front porch. Annaliza is holding what appears to be a newspaper, and Billy has a book in his hand. It seems to me that my great-grandfather, J. K. Davis, took his looks from his mother as he very much resembles her in this picture.

Somewhere, there must be an earlier photograph of Billy and Annaliza. Melissa earlier shared a photo of their sons, taken about 1901 or so, which I posted at this link. Surely there is a similar picture of the daughters of the family, as well as photos of Billy and Annaliza, and perhaps the entire family together. Hopefully, one will turn up!

Friday, March 12, 2010

John Dulaney of Baldwyn

Dulaney family plot
Baldwyn Masonic Cemetery

John Dulaney was one of the three original Dulaney brothers who came to Itawamba County in the early 1830's. He, along with brothers Alfred and Gilbert, were among the first settlers in the county. Surveyor field notes indicate a settlement by John Dulany in northeastern Itawamba County in during the 1833 survey, however, sometime between 1860 and 1870, John moved from this area and settled near Baldwyn in present-day Lee County, although it was probably still Itawamba County at the time of his move. No one seems to know why he moved away.

Don Dulaney has been digging in the courthouse in Lee County and discovered several land records for John Dulaney. Maybe once all of the land records have been collected and analyzed, we can come up with a theory about John's move. It appears that John owned land all around the town of Baldwyn, but the most likely spot for the Dulaney homeplace is an area just south of Baldwyn. John deeded an interest in 160 acres to his son, John P. Dulaney, in 1878, and this acreage was located in Section 14, Township 7, Range 6, south of Baldwyn. A check of the topography map for this area indicates that it is located just east of Highway 45 , along the Okeelala and Campbelltown creeks, with excellent farm land. This spot has my vote for the John Dulaney homeplace.

In addition to the above described property, Don found other land records that show John Dulaney, along with his son James M. Dulaney and grandson Thomas A. "Bunt" Dulaney, owned land in Section 27, Township 7, Range 7 in Lee County. Section 27 borders Itawamba County and includes very good bottom land of Twenty-Mile Creek. It was odd to find that James M. and his son Thomas variously owned some of this land since they lived "across the river" in the Mt. Pleasant community in northeastern Itawamba County, but a look at the topography map shows this to be prime farming property too.

The picture with this post is of the Dulaney family burial plot at the Masonic Cemetery in Baldwyn. In addition to John and his second wife, Martha Patton Dulaney, there are graves here of John and Martha's sons, John P. and William A. Dulaney. The is one large tombstone in the middle of the plot with the name "Dulaney" across its top, but John P. Dulaney has the only gravemarker that has the surname spelled with an "e." Old John's gravemarker has him as "John Dulany."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Germ-free water for all!

Fulton News Beacon
June 11, 1931
Local Happenings

Nearly a hundred houses in Fulton have installed water and most of them sewers also. It is very convenient when once started, and the water is free from all germs.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


After several postponements, it appears that finally a trip to St. Clair County, Alabama will be made next week to check out the local records for the Dulaney and associated families who moved from Alabama to Itawamba County in the 1830s. In preparation for the trip, which will involve only a couple of days of research (all we could squeeze in), I've been trying to get organized and familiarized with the families that lived there during the 1810s and 1820s. Family legend indicates that Thomas Dulaney, father of the three Dulaney brothers who came to Itawamba County, died and was buried in St. Clair County.

Various census records have placed other Dulaney kin in St. Clair County, as well as in nearby Talladega and Benton/Calhoun Counties. Surprisingly, however, it seems that the familes are found most often in Jefferson County. Thomas Dulaney acquired and sold land in Jefferson County during 1825 to 1827, and his wife's name, Rhoda, appears on the 1823 member roll for the Cahawba Baptist Church, later the First Baptist Church in the town of Trussville. Trussville is primarily in present-day Jefferson County but also spreads into neighboring St. Clair County. One of Thomas Dulaney's sister married a Truss (of Trussville!) and Thomas and Rhoda's son, John, was married in Jefferson County. So, instead of two days in St. Clair, one day will instead be spent in Jefferson County.

When researching any family history, it is important to understand the current environment during the time of your research. If you're lucky, the county lines only changed once, or maybe twice. Once Itawamba County was formed in 1836, its boundaries stayed the same for thirty years, until 1866 when Lee County was formed out of parts of Itawamba and Pontotoc counties. Then, in 1870, a narrow band of land across the northern border of Itawamba County was given to Prentiss and Tishomingo counties, but since that time, no other changes have been made to Itawamba's borders.

That's the official version of changes to our county's borders, but unfortunately there are other situations that may cause your ancestor to show up somewhere other than Itawamba County. An early, incorrect survey caused the border between Alabama and Mississippi, along the Itawamba and Monroe county lines, to be wrongly included in the state of Alabama. The confusion persisted for several years, and when it came time for the census, parents often didn't know if their children had been born in Alabama or Mississippi. Also, consider this: there were no "Welcome to Mississippi" signs in those days! I've also found some Itawamba ancestors included in the Monroe County census even though they lived in Itawamba County - the census taker didn't know the difference.

Still, contrast Itawamba's border history with that of the area where the Dulaneys lived in St. Clair and/or Jefferson County in Alabama, and your head will get dizzy. The area went back and forth between those two counties three times, and some of St. Clair was taken to form Benton County and Etowah County. Benton County later changed its name to Calhoun and gave some of its land back to St. Clair. Etowah gave some of its land back too. I've found Dulaneys in all of the above counties, and it is hard to know if they did a lot of moving or if the lines moved around them. The moral of the story is that you have to look in all the places in order to gain a complete collection of records. I suspect when all is said and done, we'll be able to take a compass and form a few-miles radius, and within that circle will contain the majority of the early Alabama Dulaney families, regardless of what county they may be found in over the years. In addition to the Dulaneys, we'll probably find Martins, Hoods, Johnsons, Minyards, and others.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Depressing Times

July 16, 1931
Local Happenings

Mr. Quitman Dulaney's store at Dulaney Branch on road No. 25, north of here, was gone into on Friday night of last week, and most of his groceries were stolen and carried away. They were perhaps carried away on a truck and no telling how far they went.

November 12, 1931
Store Robber

Mr. B. C. Bourland's store near Van Buren was robbed of much of the merchandise on last Sunday night. The robbers entered through a window which they left open. The goods were taken from the boxes and it is thought carried off in a truck.

A store at Mantachie and one further up the road near Centerville were recently robbed, and the goods carried away.

Perhaps it would pay a merchant to sleep in his store or fix some way to do away with robbing. It is bad enough to sell goods on a credit and fail to get pay for all the goods, but when they just go in and carry goods off a merchant can't last long.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Williams Family

Yesterday's post was of the Alex and Annie Williams family. Above is a picture of Alex with his parents and a couple of his siblings. From left: siblings Janie (probably Malinda Jane), Alex, and Randolph with their father, James A. Williams, and mother, Milla (Milley) Patton. Both James and Milley are said to be buried in Chamblee Cemetery - Don, have you made it that cemetery yet?

1900 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
James A. Williams 56 AL AL NC farmer, born Nov 1843, married 31 years
Mila R. 55 MS TN TN, born July 1844, 7 children, 7 living
James E. 21 MS born Dec 1878
Randolph 18 MS born May 1882
Malinda 15 MS born July 1884

Not included in the census household was daughter Victoria, who died in 1901 and was married to Hiram Lee, as well as sons Thomas and Alex.

Mrs. Mary Williams Dulaney, daughter of Randolph Williams and Mittie Johnson, shared the picture and identified the family.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Alex and Annie Williams c 1905

I am intrigued by the several photographs found of Itawamba families during this era (circa 1900-1905) that have a similar background. There are many such photographs in my collection, of unrelated families scattered all over the county, posed in front of a log structure with tree branches behind and around them. Most of the time the branches are of pine, but occasionally one will have branches with oak leaves.

Has anyone else noticed this?

Would this be a traveling photographer, and the log structure be the home of the family? My guess is that the photographer came up with the idea of using branches to provide somewhat of an artistic backdrop, as a way of obscuring items that might be distracting in the photograph (oh, but wouldn't we be interested in those items!). Or maybe, there was a community location, perhaps a church or school, where the photographer was situated for a day, and the families traveled to him for their photographs?

This photograph is of the James Alexander Williams-Nancy Annie Johnson family, and I would date it around 1905. J. A. Williams was named for grandfather, Alexander, and was called Alex (or Alec or Ellick). His wife, Annie, was the daughter of North Carolina natives Stephen Johnson and Caroline Harriet Pierce. The Williams and Johnson families lived next to each other in eastern Itawamba near the Gum community.

The pretty daughter standing in the rear is Alex and Annie's daughter, and first-born child, Cleo. The two young boys are twins, Allen Shelva and George W., who were born in 1903, and the little baby is Melvin, born about 1905. Here is the family in the 1910 census, living in the Providence community of Tishomingo County:

1910 Census
Tishomingo County, Mississippi
Providence precinct
Ellick Williams 36 MS AL AL farmer
Annie 33 MS NC NC
Cleo 14 MS daughter
Allen S. 7 MS son
George W. 7 MS son
Melvin 5 MS son
Lillie M. 1 MS dau

Not long after this census was taken, the family moved to Arkansas where several more children were born. Alex and Annie both died near Pine Bluff in Jefferson County, Arkansas. Annie lived to be 95 years old at her death in 1968. Her oldest brother, John, my husband's great-great grandfather, was born in 1853 in Wake County, North Carolina. He was 55 years old at his death in 1907. Other than John, most of the Johnson siblings lived to be in their 80s and 90s.

The niece of Alex Williams, Mary Williams (Mrs. Clastel) Dulaney, shared this photograph of her uncle and his family. I had the good fortune to meet Ms. Mary a couple of weeks ago, and she is one of the nicest folks in Itawamba County. Such a sweetheart. I think she and Cousin Don have been spending a lot of time together.

Friday, March 5, 2010

John Morrow, post-war years

When John Morrow returned from the war, in 1865, he had been gone for four years. His wife, Mary, and three children - including
my great-great grandmother Annaliza - were waiting for him.

After his return, John and Mary had five more children, not including two children who died and are not known to us.

Here is the family in the 1880 census (Annaliza had already married):

1880 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
5th Supervisors' District
John "Monow" 55 TN TN TN farmer
Mary 41 TN TN TN housewife
William 21 MS (William Andrew J.)
Margaret 26 MS (Maggie)
Thomas 11 MS (John Thomas)
Charles 9 MS (Charles Boyd)
Lucas 6 MS (Luke)
May 4 MS (Minnie May)
Lee 2 MS (Tobe Lee)

R. G. Dun & Co. Mercantile Agency's Reference Book lists John Morrow as a wagonmaker and carpenter in Fulton. He was a farmer as well.

In 1875, John purchased 100 acres of land from Mrs. M. A. Cain, and topographic maps indicate that this land today is located along Highway 25, from about Smith's Furniture to L & R Grocery. At the time John bought the land, it was considered well south of the town of Fulton.

Civil War service records provide us with a more personal glimpse of John. We learn that he had blue eyes! and a florid complexion (red, rosy)! He was probably of average height for that time, standing at 5' 10". From a genealogical perspective, we learn that he was born in Dallas County, Alabama, which gives us a clue when it comes to searching for his ancestors.

"I certify that the within named John Morrow a private of Capt. J. B. Tucker, Co. H 28 Regt of Miss. Vols (Cavalry), born in Dallas County in the State of Alabama, age 40 years, 5 feet 10 inches high, florid complexion, Blue eyes, and by occupation when enlisted a farmer, was enlisted by H. W. McAllister at Aberdeen, Miss. on the 20th day of March 1862 for a term of three years." Lieutenant T. C. Cain, Co. H, 28th Miss Cavalry

It is believed that John was the son of John Morrow, Sr. of Chester County, South Carolina, and his wife, Margaret Boyd, but I have not verified this. John Jr.'s 1850 census household does include an elderly couple, John and Margaret, both born in South Carolina.

John and Mary Ford Morrow are both buried at Maxcy Cemetery near Tilden. Mary's grave does not have a marker, but her obituary in the 1924 Itawamba County News indicates that she was buried there.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

John Morrow, CSA

John Morrow was another Civil War soldier from Itawamba County, and he is buried at Maxcy Cemetery, located on private land near Tilden. John, my great-great-great grandfather, was born in Dallas County, Alabama on October 27, 1823 and died at the age of 76 on September 6, 1900 in Itawamba County. You can read about his wife, Mary Caroline Ford, in a previous post.

John served in Company H of the 28th Regiment, Mississippi Cavalry. This company was raised in Monroe County and was known as "Tucker's Company" after its captain, J. B. Tucker, but the 28th Regiment contained soldiers from all over the state of Mississippi. Records show that John Morrow enlisted at Aberdeen, in Monroe County, on March 20, 1862, and according to his wife's pension application, he served until the end of the war, in 1865.

After enlisting, John reported with the rest of the regiment to camp in Jackson where they became organized, and the rest of the year was spent in the Mississippi Delta where the troops were part of an effort to foil Gen. U. S. Grant's attempt to reach Vicksburg via the Tallahatchie and Yazoo Rivers. Gen. Grant had cut the levee to the Mississippi River, flooding the Delta, and he thought that between the flooded Delta, and the rivers, he could get his Union gunboats to Vicksburg. The plan didn't work, for a variety of reasons. Records of the 28th Regiment's activities indicate that a lot of their time was spent in the swampy Delta that fall, and many of the soldiers came down with fevers (probably malaria). Indeed, John Morrow's muster roll shows that he was absent due to sickness from September until May of the following year.

When John rejoined the regiment in May 1863, it was on a 400-mile march from Franklin, Tennessee where it had been engaged in the Middle Tennessee Campaign, to join other Confederate troops under S. H. Starke's Brigade in their attempts to save Vicksburg and Jackson. After the fall of those cities, Meridian became the next target of Union commanders Grant and Sherman. The 28th Regiment participated in a valiant effort to save Meridian from destruction, but Sherman was not to be denied. His path of destruction from Jackson to Meridian was but a forerunner to what lay ahead for the rest of the South, including Atlanta.

In late 1864, Major-General Nathan Bedford Forrest took over as the regiment's commander, as part of Ben Frank Armstrong's Brigade. Under Forrest, the regiment participated in generally disastrous defeats at Murfreesboro, Nashville, Franklin and other places in Tennessee. Escaping from Tennessee, Forrest and his troops attempted unsuccessfully to defend Alabama from the raid of Gen. James H. Wilson.

Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia on April 9th, and President Lincoln was assassinated on April 14th, but both sides were still fighting in Alabama until mid-May, when on May 9, 1865, Forrest surrendered at Gainsville, in Sumter County. Forrest addressed his troops, saying, "You have been good soldiers, you can be good citizens. Obey the laws, preserve your honor, and the Government to which you have surrendered can afford to be, and will be, magnanimous."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

William Elisha Bowen - Civil War Soldier

signature of Wm E Bowen

William Elisha Bowen was born about 1834 in South Carolina and moved to Pontotoc County with his parents, James Dulaney Bowen and Elizabeth Bowen, around 1850. William Elisha married Harriet Amandaville Reid in 1859, and a copy of their marriage license was posted earlier on this blog. Census records indicate that Elisha and Harriet moved to Itawamba County after 1870 although family legend is that they were living near Kirkville before the Civil War broke out. There are stories of Harriet riding by horseback to visit her husband in the war camps near Shiloh. It could be that the family did live for a time at Kirkville, moved back to Pontotoc by 1870, then moved one last time to the Mud Creek community of Itawamba County.

William Elisha Bowen died on August 12, 1878 according to probate records at the Itawamba County courthouse, and he was buried at Mt. Vernon Cemetery. A confederate marker placed at his grave indicates he served in Company C of Johnston's Miss. Infantry; also, the notes of his great-grandson Marquis Owens show that Elisha enlisted on October 31, 1861 in Company C, 1st Regiment, Mississippi Volunteers and was discharged April 15, 1862 at Poplar Springs. However, other records, including those found on microfilm at the National Archives, indicate that Elisha served in Company "G" in the 31st Mississippi Infantry, enlisting April 25, 1862 at either Saltillo, Miss. or Pontotoc County, Miss. (muster rolls variously indicate both places) under Colonel J. A. Orr.

Which is correct? Actually, they both could be. The 1861 enlistment was early in the war, following the South's easy victory at Manassas when everyone thought the war would be quickly won. Those early enlistments were on a volunteer basis, but as the war continued, states used a conscription draft to fulfill their militia quotas. I suspect that Elisha served one term and then re-enlisted. Too, companies and regiments were forevermore being organized and re-organized throughout the war. It can be confusing when trying to determine exactly where and when your ancestor served. I think the 31st Miss. Infantry was part of the 1st Miss. Regiment, at least at some point.

The National Park Service's website provides that the 31st Regiment, Miss. Infantry was organized in March 1862 with Company G being organized in Pontotoc County. In Military History of Mississippi, famed historian Dunbar Rowland wrote, "While this regiment was being mustered in at Saltillo, the men could hear the roar of the cannon at the battle of Shiloh." The regiment was ordered to Corinth in an attempt to hold that city from advancing Union troops following the Confederate loss at Shiloh. After Corinth fell, Elisha and his regiment retreated toward Tupelo where Mr. Rowland wrote that the regiment "was on guard at Twenty Mile Creek until the sick and wounded had been carried past, after which they followed the army to Tupelo." Twenty Mile Creek is near Kirkville, and it is reasonable to think that Harriet Reid Bowen could have ridden a horse to visit her husband in a camp there.

Mr. Rowland's account of the 31st Miss. Regiment indicates that the regiment moved south out of North Mississippi and spent some time in Baton Rouge before returning to Holly Springs to get ready for the Second Battle of Corinth. After an unsuccessful attempt to take Corinth, Confederate troops retreated back to Holly Springs, then fled south to Oxford and Water Valley. The 31st Regiment was ordered into the Mississippi Delta to foil Gen. U.S. Grant's attempts to bring a gunboat to Vicksburg down the Yazoo and Tallahatchie Rivers and through the flooded Delta swampland. At Fort Pemberton, near Greenwood, Confederate troops were successful in repulsing Grant's attempt to reach Vicksburg via the Mississippi Delta. As we all know, however, Grant ultimately did reach and capture Vicksburg, which fell on July 4, 1863. Following the fall of Vicksburg, Union forces took Jackson and were victorious at battles at Champions Hill and Big Black River.

Based on William Elisha Bowen's muster roll records, he was present during all of these battles, collectively known as the Central Mississippi Campaign. There was very little action after the surrender of Vicksburg and Jackson, however, and both sides spent some time reorganizing and exchanging prisoners. The March and April 1864 muster roll indicates that Elisha was absent, "left sick near Old Town, Miss." on the march to Demopolis, Alabama on February 15th, 1864. Further, the muster roll shows that Elisha lost his "mess kit, cartridge box, pouch, waist belt, shoulder strap, 37 cartridges and 41 caps." "Old Town" is the name of a former Chickasaw Indian village in present-day Lee County, perhaps this is where Elisha was "left sick."

This is the last service record I have for William Elisha Bowen, and it is supposed that he was discharged due to illness. However, if he did rejoin his regiment, he saw further action in and around Atlanta and Nashville, then into the Carolinas before war's end. There is evidence to support Elisha's return to his regiment as his grave marker indicates service under "Johnston," likely General Joseph Johnston who commanded the Army of Tennessee, which included the 31st Miss. Regiment by the summer of 1864.

Below is one of the muster rolls for William Elisha Bowen, this one dated May and June, 1863. Note that under the remarks sections, Elisha was appointed Sergeant in November 1862 but was reduced "to rank" of private on February 10, 1863. Note that Saltillo is given as the place of enlistment for Elisha, but I have other muster rolls that give Pontotoc County as his enlistment place. Following the muster roll is a receipt for payment to W. E. Bowen in July, 1863 which includes Elisha's signature. If anyone is interested in copies of the military records I have obtained from microfilm at the National Archives, I'll be glad to share.

Elisha Bowen owned a grist mill at Mud Creek, said to have been built by Mr. Mack Shaw and used by the first settlers of the area. After Elisha's death, the mill was bought by Tom Senter, and then later was owned by Tom Graham. Many baptizings took place near the mill, including those by members of Mt. Vernon Church where the Bowen family worshiped. Today, the location of the mill is under the Tenn-Tom Waterway.

Elisha's daughter, Angeline Amandaville, known as Amanda, was the mother of Fisher Johnson, my husband's great-grandfather.

The Confederate States
To W. E. Bowen, private in Company G, 31st Miss. Regiment
Monthly pay from the 1st day of Nov 1861 to the 25th day of April 1862, being 5 months and 23 days, at $11 per month, $63.80. Commutation for clothing from Nov 1st 1861 to April 25, 1862, $5.00, Total $68.80

I certify that I have endorsed this payment on the descriptive roll of Capt. G. W. L. Fortune Commanding Co. (C) 1st miss. Regiment.
B. F. Fitzpatrick, Capt. & A.Q.M. 31st Miss. Regiment

Received at camp near Morton, Miss. July 28, 1863 of Capt. B. F. Fitzpatrick, A.Q.M., Sixty-eight and 80/100 dollars in full of the above account.
Signed W. E. Bowen
Witness: John McCullough

Monday, March 1, 2010


Itawamba County Times
September 12, 1946

Itawamba Rattler Attracts Attention
Displayed Here on Past Week End

Gordon Sheffield, Itawamba game warden, brought in one of the largest rattlesnakes ever seen in this section this week, that is in some time. The snake measured 5 1/2 feet long, and had 11 rattlers.

One of the local "experts" on rattle snakes said it was a velvet back rattler -- but most people who viewed the snake on display at the local court square, merely shuddered and said, "I'd hate to meet that snake alive anywhere."

The snake was killed by being run over by a car on Highway 25 between Fulton and Smithville near Bull Mountain Creek bottom. Mr. Sheffield picked up the snake and brought it into Fulton.

As always when something out of the ordinary turns up in Itawamba County, someone around has always seen or owned something bigger or more "out of the ordinary."

One man viewing the snake said, "That snake is big, but -- I was going down that same road one day in my car and saw a bigger snake. I stopped my car on top of it and got out to kill the snake, but the snake nearly dragged my car off the levy before I could kill it with a long piece of pipe I happened to have along." He added that it would have been dangerous if his car wheel had not been on top of the snake, for him even to have gotten out of the car. He refused to let his name be quoted in the write-up, but he concluded with, "That's no joke, son."