Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cora Wilder Bowen and little Lillie

from the Pontotoc Sentinel:

Mrs. Cory A. Bowen, wife of Walter Bowen, passed quietly away at their home three miles north of town Sunday morning, March 14, at 10:10 o'clock. She was an invalid for nineteen years but bore her afflictions patiently, at all times trusting in the Lord for help. On April 25, 1913, she underwent a serious operation at the Baptist hospital, Memphis, returning there the following January for treatment which proved somewhat beneficial, but did not result in complete restoration. However, she was grateful for the partial relief and rejoiced in her improved condition and was the sunshine of the home she so much loved.

Her last illness was of a month's duration when she received the tenderest ministrations of husband, children and physician and the skilled nursing of a daughter-in-law, Mrs. Victor Bowen. The patient sufferer expressed appreciation of all the kind attention shown her, the visits and solicitous inquiries of friends concerning her health. She talked often of death during her illness and assured her loved ones she was prepared and ready to go when the Lord should call her. Perfectly conscious to the last she told those around her that she was dying, offered a beautiful prayer, tenderly bade her devoted husband good bye and gently fell asleep.

The funeral was held Monday noon at Oak Hill church which was filled with sorrowing relatives and friends. Rev. Henry West conducted the service in a feeling way, making a telling example of the life and patience of Jobe - how he endured to the end and was saved. Interment followed in the cemetery close by. She was laid near a little daughter Lillie, who, at the age of twenty-two months, died in the year 1906. Lovely spring flowers were laid on the newly made mound by those who loved the sleeper.

The deceased, a daughter of the late L. R. Wilder, was born Feb. 11, 1874, in Pontotoc County, near Bethel church, and had just passed her forty-first birthday. She professed faith in Christ at the age of twelve years and united with the Baptist church at Cherry Creek, but afterwards transferred her membership to Oak Hill. She loved church worship and the family alter was another sacred place always dear to her heart.

Corry Wilder was married to Walter H. Bowen Feb. 18, 1892, and to this happy and congenial couple were born five children, four of whom are living, Victor, Drue, Mary and Edd, and a daughter-in-law, Lizzie Lavona, who constitute the household now so sadly bereft by the absence of its most cherished member. To them and other relatives, THE SENTINEL extends sincere condolence.

Published: The Sentinel, Pontotoc, Mississippi March 25, 1915
Source: Pontotoc County Pioneers, Winter 1981 issue

Itawamba connection: Cora's husband, Walter, was the first cousin of Amanda Bowen Johnson, wife of John Norman "Jack" Johnson of the Mud Creek community of Itawamba County. Walter's father, Thomas Lake Bowen, and Amanda's father, William Elisha Bowen, were brothers. Although William Elisha moved to Itawamba County following the Civil War, pretty much the rest of his family stayed in Pontotoc County. Cora Wilder Bowen was the daughter of Leander and Elizabeth Wilder.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Janie Williams

Mrs. Mary Williams Dulaney shared this photograph with Cousin Don Dulaney of her great-aunt Malinda Janie Williams, daughter of James A. "Jim" Williams and Milley Patton. This is a wonderful photograph, full of details. Notice the pine limbs that have been stood up against the house for a backdrop as well as the small branch held in the hand. Tree limbs or branches were a popular item for photographers to use; you may have noticed them on other photographs posted here. The window appears to be boarded up - is the house abandoned? Look at the stones used for the foundation of the house. And what about that umbrella or parasol?!

Janie's siblings were Thomas, John Alexander "Alec", Victoria Catherine, James Eli, and Randolph Henry Williams. Randolph was Mrs. Mary's grandfather.

Janie was born in July 1884, according to the 1900 census. Unfortunately, I don't know who she married - or if she even did - or when she died. Maybe someone else can fill in these blanks.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rev. Sion Blythe

John Dulaney and Margaret "Peggy" Martin were married on March 16, 1826 in Jefferson County, Alabama by Rev. Sion Blythe. From this marriage, nine children were born - five in Itawamba County - before Peggy's death about 1848.

Sion Blythe was a pioneer settler and Baptist preacher. A biographical sketch of Rev. Blythe indicates that he was one of the first preachers in north-central Alabama. He was called the "reluctant preacher" because when he moved into the area from South Carolina, he tried to conceal the fact that he was a minister. As the story goes, he built his log cabin and settled down to be a farmer, instructing his wife, "I am not known here as a preacher, and if you will keep it secret, I will endeavor to conceal myself, and not let the people know that I ever attempted to preach; and perhaps this will be well, as I still have my doubts on the subject." The secret got out, however, and in 1817 Sion Blythe organized Mt. Zion Baptist Church in St. Clair County, Alabama, possibly the earliest church in the county. In 1821, Rev. Blythe and nine members organized the Cahawba Baptist Church in neighboring Jefferson County, Alabama. He remained with that church until 1833, and died of a fever in 1835.

Interestingly, John and Peggy's first child, Elizabeth, was married to Daniel Blythe, son of Lemuel Blythe, in Itawamba County on January 4, 1849. However, there does not appear to be a family connection between Lemuel and Sion, at least none that researchers have found.


Jefferson County, Alabama
Marriage Book 1
Page 94
Number 528
March 16, 1826
John Dulaney to Margaret "Peggy" Martin with the consent of James Martin, her father.

Alabama Baptist by Matie Loue Teague Crow
A history of the rise and progress of the Baptists in Alabama, by Hosea Holcombe

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Catawba Baptist Church

First Baptist Church
Trussville, Alabama
formerly Cahawba Baptist Church

On October 6, 1827, Warren Truss executed "for the natural love I have for the worship of God and the Cahawba Baptist Church" a deed for land where the the "Cahawba meeting house now stands." The deed was witnessed by Uriah Dulaney and John Nash. The Cahawba church was first organized in 1821, and its minutes indicate that Rhoda Dulaney was on the membership rolls in 1823. From these church records, we can assume that the various Dulaney families were living in Jefferson County by the early 1820s, in the area now known as Trussville and part of the greater Birmingham metropolitan area. Trussville was named for a couple of brothers who established a grist mill on the Cahaba River to serve the many settlers, including the Dulaneys, who flocked to the area following the War of 1812 and the subsequent Indian treaties that opened up land for white settlement.

Of course, Rhoda Thrasher Dulaney eventually wound up in Itawamba County with her sons John, Alfred and Gilbert, where she died around 1867. She is believed to be buried in Mt. Pleasant Methodist Cemetery although it is possible that she could be buried in the Baldwyn area where her son John was living at the time. Rhoda's strong Baptist roots and faith were instilled in her son John whose obituary indicates that he had "fixed principles of honesty" and that he was a member of the "Old Baptist Church."

Uriah Dulaney, one of the witnesses of the land deed to Cahawba Baptist Church, was Rhoda's brother-in-law.

Priscilla Dulaney, one of Rhoda's sister-in-laws, was married to James Truss, a Baptist preacher who was the son of Joel Truss. Priscilla and James were members of Cahawba Baptist Church, and later James became a missionary, preaching at several churches in the Coosa River Association before moving to Texas. Priscilla and James also spent some time in Pontotoc County, Mississippi during their migration West, and I can imagine that they probably stopped for a while in Itawamba County to visit their Dulaney relatives there.

At some point in the history of Cahawba Baptist Church, its name was changed to First Baptist Church. Today, it is one of the larger churches in Trussville. The picture of today's church, above, was snapped during a spring visit to the area. As you can tell, the church has grown a great deal since the Dulaneys worshiped there.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sarah Ann "Sallie" Purnell

In a quiet little cemetery just outside of Corinth in Alcorn County is the grave of my great-great-great grandmother, Sarah Ann "Sallie" Purnell, mother of Charlotte Ann Purnell Robinson who is buried at Mt. Pleasant Methodist Cemetery in Itawamba County. I stumbled upon the location of her grave during a trip to New Orleans, of all places. With some free time on my hands, I headed to the New Orleans Public Library and its genealogy section. There, in Volume 7 of Mississippi Cemetery and Bible Records, I found her name in the index and was stunned to discover that she was buried in Alcorn County. The last record I had of her was the 1880 census in which she was living with her husband, Samuel Morris Purnell, in the Moscow community of Lamar County, Alabama. Both Sallie and Samuel were enumerated in the household of their son, Marion Sampson "Sam" Purnell and his wife Mollie Rayburn.

1880 Census
Lamar County, Alabama
Moscow (formerly part of Marion County) Township 13 Range 15
Marion S. Purnell 26 AL GA SC farmer
Mollie C. 25 MS MS MS
Alma Ann 2 MS AL MS
Alice 1 MS AL MS
Samuel M. 68 "father" GA SC SC farmer
Sarah A. 68 "mother" SC SC SC
Morris Coleman 10 black male "boarder" MS

Sallie may have been a King prior to her marriage to Samuel, based on a handwritten family tree that was given to me by Aunt Coleen Robinson.

How did Sallie come to be buried in Alcorn County? The only clue I had was that her son apparently lived in Alcorn County because his daughter, Rayma, was indicated by descendants to have been born in 1887 in Alcorn County. I can only speculate at this point, but it appears that the Purnell family, who had moved to Hardin County, Tennessee prior to the Civil War, possibly to escape the hostile atmosphere between hard-core Confederates and Union-loyalists in Northwestern Alabama, had lived for a time in Alcorn County before returning to Alabama by 1880. Since Sarah Ann Purnell's granddaughter, Rayma, was born in 1887 in Alcorn County, the family must have moved back to the area after the 1880 census. Sarah Ann died in 1890, and since there is no grave marker for her husband Samuel in Lebanon Cemetery, I believe that he likely died in Alabama and Sarah had moved with her son back to Alcorn County following Samuel's death.

Sarah's tombstone reads:

Sallie Ann
wife of S. M. Purnell
b. Oct. 14, 1812
d. June 19, 1890

Hers is the only Purnell marker found in the cemetery. Her grave is surrounded by McCalister graves, including a Louise McCalister born in 1865, but I've been unable to find a connection between the Purnell and McCalister families. Perhaps something will turn up in the future. It is somewhat sad that my great-great-great grandmother appears to be buried all alone, without kinfolk around. If you are in the area, please stop by to say hello.

From Corinth take Highway 72 West to CR 738 and turn right. Go to 4 way stop sign and turn right onto CR 750. Go about 1/3 mile. The cemetery is on right but there is no sign. There are well over 100 people buried here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Early Melon

Fulton News Beacon
July 2, 1942

Early Melon

Mr. "Jack" Alverson, who lives a few miles north of Tremont, was here Friday of last week, June 26th, and said that he pulled a ripe water melon on Thursday of last week, and brought one Friday to Mr. Casey Gray who lives in Fulton Friday of last week. These are the first ripe melons we have heard of this year in this section.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Harrison Hoods abound...

Did Joshua H. Hood actually name three of his sons Harrison? Let me elaborate further. Joshua Hood and Margaret Johnson were married in December 1849 in St. Clair County, Alabama and moved to Itawamba County around 1854. Joshua's middle name is said to be Harrison, but I've not found evidence to support that. His tombstone at Mt. Pleasant only has his initials: J. H., and census records do not indicate anything other than the name Joshua. Was his middle name Harrison? Maybe someone with better information can provide the answer.

Joshua and Margaret had thirteen known children: 11 sons and 2 daughters. It appears that three sons may have shared the name Harrison.

The couple's second-born son was William Harrison "Buck" Hood, or at least Harrison has been ascribed as his middle name - I have no proof. Census records do indicate that his middle initial was "H". Was he really William Harrison Hood? He named a son Harrison. William is believed to be buried at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Cemetery in Itawamba County, his grave marked by a simple, homemade concrete stone, along with his wife and daughter Sallie.

Then, there is the fifth son of Joshua and Margaret: Harrison H. Hood. What did his middle initial "H" stand for? His tombstone indicates his name as Harris H. Hood while his census record indicate Harrison, and the 1908 school census for Itawamba County lists him as H. H. Hood. I think it is a sure bet that his name was Harrison.

Next, the ninth child of Joshua and Margaret: Joshua H. Hood, Jr. who went by the nickname of Josh. His tombstone at Mt. Pleasant has his name as Joshua Hood with no middle initial, but at least one census record gives his middle initial as "H". If Joshua was named after his father, and his father's middle name was Harrison, then it stands to reason that Joshua Jr. had a middle name of Harrison although I've not found other evidence to support this.

Why use the name Harrison for several sons? If Joshua Hood Sr. was the son of James Hood of St. Clair County, Alabama, and if Joshua did have a middle name of Harrison, it would be odd because there was another, older son of James named Harrison. Was it a family tradition to use Harrison as a name multiple times in the same family?

The use of the name Harrison is important in itself. DNA testing, though not an exact science just yet, has indicated that the Hoods who came through St. Clair County, Alabama (and some of them to Itawamba County later) do not descend from Tunis Hood yet it is interesting to note that Tunis Hood Sr.'s wife's name was Elizabeth Harrison. Harrison is used as a given name in multiple generations of the Hoods who came from St. Clair County.

If there are descendants of the William H. Hood and Joshua H. Hood, Jr. who have Bible records or other records that indicate that these men did indeed have the middle name of Harrison, I would be interested in hearing from them.

Oh, and if someone has thought that perhaps the "H" stood for Henry.... well, Joshua and Margaret's last son was named Richard Henry Hood!


Monday, June 21, 2010

"Relocated" churn

While on a recent trip to Kingsport, Tennessee to visit kinfolk, Mike and I had an hour or two to kill and decided to visit a local antique mall. We always keep an eye out for churns that were made locally in our little area of the world, but still we were surprised when we came upon this Davis & Son Number 3 churn in northeastern Tennessee. After forking over the $85 asking price, the churn has now made it "back home" to Mississippi. The Davis & Son pottery operation turned out churns and other crockery and stoneware during the 1930s. Although the mark indicates Smithville, Miss. I believe the actual pottery site may have been in Itawamba County, or at least close to the county line. Smithville would have been the nearest post office.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Poplar Springs Cemetery

"Vague road"

"Abandoned cemetery"

Rupert* and I made a good attempt at finding the grave of William Reid in the Poplar Springs Cemetery in Pontotoc County. The directions found at the Pontotoc County Rootsweb site were good, and I even found the "vague road" that the cemetery is located along, but they weren't kidding when the cemetery was described as abandoned. I could see the chain link fence, or part of it, that surrounds the cemetery, but no headstones could be seen. Of course, I didn't get too close because of the possibility of snakes. Rupert and I walked about 1/2 mile to get to the cemetery, down the "vague road", and the thought of snakes never left my mind. By the time we got back to the car, we both were panting and had a tick or two, but no encounter with a snake.

William Reid was the father of Joseph Reid, grandfather of Harriet Reid Bowen (wife of William Elisha Bowen and daughter-in-law of Jimmy Dee Bowen, see previous day's post), great-grandfather of Amanda Bowen Johnson, and great-great grandfather of Fisher Johnson of Itawamba County. I think that will help most of you with his identification. William fought in the War of 1812; his pension application filed in Pontotoc Chancery Court in 1871, indicates that he served as a guard "first at Headwells Point Then at Bulls Island Then at Charleston Thence Saints Johns Island" and that he was discharged March 20, 1815. The application further states that upon his return from war, William married Martha Perry on January 13, 1818. Sometime around 1844, William and Martha moved from South Carolina to Mississippi, along with their only son, Joseph Reid, and his wife, Philadelphia Littlejohn Reid. Joseph and Delphia's daughter, Harriet, married William Elisha Bowen.

Poplar Springs is located just under the Union County line, in Pontotoc County, and it once was a thriving little community with a post office and at least one church. The Bowens and Reids attended the Poplar Springs [Primitive] Baptist Church up until July 26, 1873 when they asked to be dismissed from the roll to "arganise" at the "Bush Arbor." Although I don't know for certain, I believe they were organizing a Methodist church just down the road which was named Bethel Methodist Church. Church historians indicate that Bethel was organized in the early 1870s.

William Reid's grandson-in-law, William Elisha Bowen, was described as a "strict moralist Methodist" by his daughters. Amanda Bowen Johnson, his oldest daughter, was quoted as saying, "Poppy broke every bite of bread we children ate." He started out in the Primitive Baptist faith, however, as the minutes for the Poplar Springs church for its August 1872 session indicate that "Brother W. E. Bowen Reported him self for uncristian (sic) conduct onthe Saboth." Brother Bowen's name was later included on the list of members who asked for "dismision" to organize at the Brush Arbor.

As for the Poplar Springs Cemetery, it is hard to believe that it is abandoned and grown up since over 60 people are buried there, including many Caldwells, Browns, and Leathers. What a shame. I would be willing to help clear the cemetery off when the snakes quit crawling.

* Rupert is our dog, a Wheaten Terrier mix called wheatable (wheaten terrier mixed with any other breed). Cousin Don Dulaney couldn't make this cemetery visit since he was off researching in Lincoln County, Tennessee.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

James D. Bowen (Jimmy Dee)

Bethel Methodist Church

Bethel Cemetery

J. D. Bowen, 1807-Aug. 26, 1885

J. D. Bowen, Kathren Bowen, Ellen Bowen Whiteside gravemarkers

Recently, while perusing old copies of the Pontotoc Pioneers, a publication similar to our Itawamba Settlers magazine, I came across a listing for the graves at Bethel Cemetery, located northeast of Pontotoc. Lo and behold, there was a J. D. Bowen listed, born 1807*, husband of Kate. Could this be James D. Bowen, who was married to a second wife named Catherine? After checking the dates against the information on James D. Bowen in my family tree database, I concluded that indeed it was one and the same.

For all of you Bowen descendants from northern Itawamba County, James was the father of William Elisha Bowen of the Mud Creek community. There were at least two sets of Bowen families in Itawamba County, and I refer to them as "his and hers" - his set being my husband's set of Bowens who lived up around Mud Creek, and "hers" being my set of Bowens from another William Bowen who lived close to the Clay-Tilden Road. They are completely two different families.... one from South Carolina (his) and one from North Carolina (hers).

When I discovered that the Bethel Cemetery is about a mile off of Highway 9, I realized that we had been unknowingly passing by the grave of my husband's great-great-great-great grandfather for years on our many trips between Oxford and Itawamba County. The next day, on my way to Peaceful Valley, I turned off of Highway 9 (just before Endville), to the left, drove about a mile, and found an old white church with a cemetery across the road that contained the graves of several Bowens. James D. Bowen's grave is located pretty much in the middle of the cemetery. He seems to be one of the oldest persons buried there, being born in 1807*. Next to his grave was the grave of his second wife, Kathren, as it is spelled on her tombstone, "wife of Jim" and his daughter, Ellen, who married a Dr. Whitehead, it is said.

James was born in South Carolina, as we know from the census records. Itawamba descendants refer to James as "Jimmy Dee" but apparently he was known as Jim too. The middle initial "D" is supposedly for "Dulaney" or "Delaney." Although I've never seen a source given for information, Bowen descendants much older than I (and long gone) have quoted Dulaney as the middle name. One of James' son, Thomas Lake Bowen, named his son Delaney W. Bowen and he is listed in the 1900 census as living in Itawamba County. James himself may have named a son Dulaney or Delaney, as census records include an 18 year old "D. L." in his parents' 1860 household. One Bowen descendant indicated that "Lane" died at the battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. I'm still working on locating information to support these statements.

Among all of my husband's ancestors, the mystery surrounding Jimmy Dee Bowen is perhaps the most intriguing. It has been said that he lived on a ship until he was twelve years old, and could not walk on land upon his arrival in America. It has been said that he was of Italian ancestry and that perhaps his name wasn't really Bowen. It has been said that he arrived in Pontotoc County by way of New Orleans, having left a ship that sailed there and following a horse all the way up to Pontotoc. It has been said that upon the death of his first wife, he went to Rome, Georgia and married a Catherine (Kathren) Walker, a lady he knew prior to his first marriage. It has been said that his first wife was a Carlisle, but also said that she was a Lake.

These stories apparently came from Jimmy Dee's granddaughters, Amanda Johnson, Willie Taylor, and Mary Jane George, all daughters of William Elisha Bowen who moved to Itawamba County, married and raised families there. These granddaughters, who handed down the family stories to their children and grandchildren, would most definitely have know their grandfather since they were in their twenties when he died in 1885. In fact, their grandfather outlived their father by seven years.

The census records tell us that Jimmy Dee was born in South Carolina, as were his first five children. Sometime around 1850, the family left South Carolina because they show up in Pontotoc County in the 1860 census. I've tried and tried to find them in the 1850 census, but to no avail. If the family was in transit most of that year, moving from South Carolina to Mississippi, then it would have been hard for a census taker to find them. Or, perhaps, the family traveled by boat from South Carolina to New Orleans and then made their way north to Pontotoc County. Who knows!

Some Bowen researchers believe that James D. Bowen was from Newberry District, South Carolina, and supporting this statement is an 1840 census for a James D. Bowen in Newberry. The census record is a close fit for the ages of the family and the sex and number of children we would expect to find in 1840. His first wife's surname is a source of controversy. The descendants of son William Elisha Bowen believe that Elizabeth's maiden name was Carlisle, which was the reason for Elisha naming a son Elisha Carlisle. However, the descendants of Elizabeth's son Thomas Lake Bowen believe that Elizabeth's maiden name was Lake, and indeed there was an Elisha Lake enumerated in the 1800 census for Newberry who was old enough to have been Elizabeth's father. Buried in the Bush River Quaker Cemetery in Newberry County is a Thomas Lake (born 1797), Jane Lake (born 1777), Rebecca Lake (born 1795), Thomas John Lake (born 1827), Elizabeth R. Lake (born 1809), Elisha J. Lake (born 182?) and Elijah Lake (born 1768).

Elizabeth Lake/Carlisle Bowen died between 1860 and 1870. Kathren, second wife of James, died after 1910.

* 1807 is listed as year of birth on tombstone, but all census records point to year of birth as being from 1811-1814.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Another death by mule story....

Oak Hill Cemetery
Pontotoc County, Mississippi

Long-time readers will remember the story of Napoleon Bonaparte "Bonie" Johnson who was killed in 1931 after being dragged by a mule with his foot caught in the gear. Here is another accident - in Pontotoc County - of a similar nature. Joe Clayton was the grandson of Ransom Clayton and quite possibly connected to the Claytons of Itawamba County (see earlier posts on the subject).

Pontotoc County Pioneers
Spring 1980 issue
page 114

"The Advance" - Published on Friday's, Pontotoc, Mississippi

May 5, 1913
Tuesday afternoon, late, Joe Clayton, who lived about seven miles northeast of town, was killed in a most horrible manner. He had been plowing and it seems he'd started to the house when the mule threw him and his foot becoming entangled in the gears which he was unable to extricate and when found was dead, being mangled and bruised frightfully. When he failed to come home at the usual time, his oldest boy was sent to look for him and found him dead with his foot fastened in the gear and the mule still running with him, but almost run down. Besides his wife, he leaves several children, the youngest being only six weeks old and many relatives and friends. His remains were interred in the Oak Hill Cemetery, yesterday.

* * *
I've been to Oak Hill Cemetery and thought I found all Claytons and Bowens buried there. Perhaps I overlooked Joseph R. "Joe" Clayton's tombstone, or maybe he is buried in an unmarked grave. Joe was the son of James Clayton and Susan Catherine Greene.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tomato Time!!

Mary Opal Dulaney Wilemon

My daughter-in-law, Jada, was showing me their tomato plants last week. This is their first attempt at a garden, and from the looks of it, they should have all the tomatoes, cucumbers and squash they can eat. It's nice to see another generation of tomato-growers in the family.

Can't believe it is almost tomato time in Mississippi although the high temps the past few days should have told me so. You probably won't believe this, and I sorta hate to confess it, but I don't eat tomatoes. Never have. The nearest thing to my eating a tomato would be ketchup or spaghetti sauce. Sad, isn't it? My brother doesn't eat tomatoes either so the only thing I can figure out is that our parents force fed us tomatoes as babies and we never got over it. Or maybe our parents each had a recessive gene for dislike of tomatoes, and Kirk and I got both of those genes.

Mary Opal Wilemon was the daughter of Thomas "Bunt" Dulaney and Alice Moxley. Aunt Opal was married to Jessie V. Wilemon, and they had four children: Pug, Bill, Susie Mae, and Grady. From the looks of it, Aunt Opal sure knew how to grow tomatoes... those are monsters and would make several mayonnaise sandwiches... if you had the genes that would allow you to enjoy them!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

1956 Ryan's Well 8th Grade Class

This photograph, in the possession of Jessie Bane Senter Jamerson and shared with Cousin Don Dulaney, is of the 8th grade class at the Ryans Well school in 1956 with the occasion being the class play "Autograph Anne." Later that year, the class held its graduation in the Wesley Chapel Methodist Church (located next door) since the school house burned down in February. Class roll, as indicated (and spelled) on back of the photo: James Author Montgomery, Shirley Jeanette George, Doris Jean Adams, Shirley Jeanette Engle, La Rhue Jamerson, Betty Lou Johnson, Mitzi Kathryn Blaylock, Hilma Sue Owens, Chester Norris, Robert Norris, Rodger Johnston, Dorothy Hughes, Principal Mr. L. S. Patton, Carolyn Oswalt, Betty Faye Moore, James Lee Umphress, Elizabeth Griffin, Billy Wayne Hood, Paul Wade Spencer.

Click on the photo for a better look.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

James S. Clayton family

Ransom Clayton's grandson was James S. Clayton, son of James Eriel Clayton and Susan Catherine "Katy" Green. Pictured below is James S. Clayton with his mother, Katy Green Clayton (left), and his wife, Emma Watts (right). The occasion was a family reunion in 1923, as evidenced by the large crowd in the second photograph below. Debbie Hunter, a great-granddaughter of James S. and Emma Clayton shared this family photograph with me, along with a wonderful numbered key to the photograph. Debbie does not know who has the original photograph or who did the identification and drawing. You can click on the photographs for a better look.

As discussed in an earlier post, Ransom Clayton possibly was the brother of Thompson Clayton who moved to Itawamba County in the 1860s. Thompson's granddaughter, Queenie Victoria Clayton Davis, was my great-grandmother. Several researchers are trying to gather additional information about Ransom Clayton and his descendants, who lived in Pontotoc County. If you have information to share, please contact me at the e-mail address provided in the left side-bar of this page.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ransom Clayton 1806-1890

Ransom Clayton is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Pontotoc County, Mississippi. The cemetery, located behind Oak Hill Baptist Church, is just off Highway 9 between Sherman and Pontotoc. Ransom's ancestry is somewhat of a mystery. He has been claimed by some researchers to be the son of Charles Collier Clayton, but I do not think so. I believe that he is the son of Thompson Clayton Sr. or one of the other Clayton men of Spartanburg, South Carolina. While Charles Collier Clayton and his sons lived near present-day Mooreville in what was then Itawamba County, now Lee County, Ransom Clayton was in Pontotoc County. There is, of course, the possibility that there were two Ransom Claytons in the area but that doesn't seem too likely.

Ransom first shows up in the records of Spartanburg County, South Carolina in 1830 when he witnesses a deed for Thompson Clayton, probably his father or uncle. He is also enumerated in the census for Spartanburg County that year, with a wife age 15-20 and a young male under age 5 in his household. Next door to Ransom was a similarly-aged Sampson Clayton. In 1835, Ransom bought 50 acres of land from Thompson Clayton, and the transaction was witnessed by Sampson and Matilda Clayton. Later that same year, Ransom sold the land, and apparently moved to Alabama.

If Ransom was the son of Thompson Clayton, Sr. then he could possibly have been a brother to my Thompson Clayton, Jr. who moved to Itawamba County in the 1860s. Of course, all of the relationships of the Spartanburg Claytons have yet to be proved. I am only assuming at this point that the younger Thompson Clayton was the son of the elder Thompson Clayton, but what we have learned so far seems to point to that conclusion.

Some researchers indicate that Ransom Clayton had a son named Sampson, which if correct, connects Ransom with the Sampson Clayton of Spartanburg and later in Georgia. Also, this same Sampson Clayton named a son Levi Ransom Clayton. Too many coincidences.

Where Ransom lived in Alabama is still a mystery since he cannot be found in the 1840 census. After selling his land in Spartanburg in 1835, the next time we find Ransom is in Pontotoc County, Mississippi with wife Matilda Phillips Roach and two step-sons. Seems that Ransom's first wife died, and he remarried. After Matilda died in 1871, Ransom married for a third time to Susan Weaver, also a widow.

One of Ransom's sons indicated that he was born in Calhoun County, Alabama in 1835 although no record has turned up yet for Ransom in that county, which actually was known as Benton County in 1835. Ransom's second wife, Matilda, was a young widow with two sons enumerated in the 1840 census for DeKalb County, Alabama so it would appear that Ransom landed in DeKalb County at some point after 1840. Maybe more research in these areas will turn up additional information. If anyone has additional information to share, please e-mail me at the address shown on the left sidebar.

Some Spartanburg Deed Abstracts:

Deed Book V
Page 647-648
Aug 10, 1835
Thompson Clayton of Spartanburg Dist. to Ransom Clayton, for $50 sold 50 acres of land more or less, it being a part of a tract originaly granted to Goodjoint. Border: Easleys Creek. Witness: Sampson Clayton, Metilda Clayton. Signed Thompson Clayton. Witness oath by Sampson Clayton 3 Sept 1835 to John Grogan JP. Rec 21 May 1836

Deed Book W
Page 105
Sept 2, 1835
Ransom Clayton of Spartanburg Dist. to John Grogan Jr. Esq, for $80 sold a tract of land originally granted to Goodjoint. Border: Easley Creek. Witness Augustus Clayton, D. A. Bowling. SIgned Ransom Clayton. Witness oath by Augustus Clayton 25 Oct 1835 to Jn. Martin JP

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. T. J. Johnson

Itawamba County News
April 21, 1921
Burntfields News

Mr. T. J. Johnson and Mrs. Johnson were visiting on Brown’s Creek when the big rains came, and being anxious to get home so they pulled out next morning with Henry Hall for a pilot, going all the nigh ways and through fields and country roads until they were near the bridge on Mackey’s creek. A lady came out and told them it was dangerous. Henry says, “We will go on down there and see,” Henry being well acquainted with the bottom. He says, “I think I can put you across safe,” and we crossed the bridge, and we went on some distance through the bottom, splash, splash, and all at once Henry stopped and said: “I think here we will have to swim a piece, and we have nothing to tie our wagon bed down,” So he swam across and I right after him, and we continued our route, splash, splash, until we reached Moore’s Mill, where we took another road to avoid some deep water, and in crossing a ditch on this route my mules went into it a little too fast, and when the wagon went in I went overboard, and looking back as I went down, I saw Mrs. Johnson coming right out on me, I says, “O Lord I am a goner this time,” but she missed me, and the wagon ran over my legs and I went off down the bottom on my all fours like a racking coon to escape the hind wheels running over me. So Mr. Johnson ran two mighty narrow risks, but came out with a game leg and a bad case of sore eyes, but he got home at last, Mrs. Johnson went out on her feet and received a bad jolt, but was not hurt much.

* * * *

Mr. T. J. Johnson was Thomas Jefferson "Bud" Johnson, son of Henry Ellis Johnson, Sr. and Sarah Ingle, while Mrs. T. J. Johnson was Laura Elizabeth Jamerson, daughter of Thomas Jefferson Jamerson, Sr. and Susan Elizabeth Ross. Both Bud and Laura's parents were early settlers in the Mud Creek area of northern Itawamba County. I found the above newspaper item delightful and hope you do too. It is repeated here exactly as it was published; it's a bit confusing to follow because it switches from third person to first person narrative, but I believe that the first person "I" is Mr. Johnson.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Albert & Martha Clayton

Albert Anderson Clayton, 1876-1952
Martha Ann Welch Clayton, 1886-1967

Descendants of Albert and Martha are gathering on this day for a family reunion in Sikeston, Missouri. May God's blessings be with you. Below are newspaper items which appeared in Itawamba's newspapers throughout the years and give us a small glimpse into the lives of the Clayton family.

Itawamba County News
October 22, 1908
Local News
Mr. Albert Clayton of Tilden was here on business Monday

Itawamba County News
June 15, 1911
Social Gleanings
"Mr. Albert Clayton and family of Tilden, visited relatives here Saturday and Sunday."

Itawamba County News
June 18, 1914
Tilden News
Mr. Ellis Welch and family visited Mr. Albert Clayton and family Saturday night.

Itawamba County News
January 24, 1923
Jury List
Fifth District - A. A. Clayton

Fulton News Beacon
February 5, 1931
Pleasant Site News
Mr. and Mrs. Albert Clayton visited her parents Saturday night and Sunday.

Fulton News Beacon
July 2, 1931
Tilden News
Mr. and Mrs. Earnest Dulaney visited Mr. and Mrs. A. A. Clayton Sunday.

Fulton News Beacon
June 22, 1933
Harden's Chapel news
Mr. and Mrs. Albert Clayton and his brother Ted, spent Saturday night and Sunday with Rev. W. L. Doan and family. [My note: Albert's only brother was John Allen Clayton, not sure who Ted could be!]

Fulton News Beacon
June 12, 1941
Local Happenings
Mrs. Earnest Dulaney is spending this week with Mr. and Mrs. A. A. Clayton of Steele, Mo.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Albert Anderson Clayton and sons

Albert Anderson Clayton and his family left Itawamba County for Missouri sometime around 1935-1938. Albert married rather late in life, when he was 34 years old, to Martha Ann Welch, daughter of William Thomas Welch and Mollie Monroe Sanford. Marriage and courting was the last thing on Albert's mind. As the oldest son, he was busy helping his father on the family farm. In the1900 census, Albert was twenty-three years old and enumerated in his father, Nathaniel M. Clayton's, household. Nathaniel was 51 years old in1900, and there were still six children at home for whom he was responsible, including my great-grandmother Queenie Victoria Clayton. I'm sure that Albert was a huge help to his father.

After Nathaniel's unexpected death in 1908, Albert stepped up to take care of the family while at the same time becoming the administrator of Nathaniel's estate. In addition to children from his first wife, Martha A. Bowen, Nathaniel had two small children by his second and much younger wife, Mattie Elizabeth Reed, daughter of William Washington Reed and Mary Jane Tallant. Albert stayed on the family farm until the estate could be settled, which took about two years.

Finally free from family responsibilities, Albert married Martha Ann Welch in 1910. Together, they had nine children: 7 sons and 2 daughters, all born in Itawamba County. Recently, one of Albert's granddaughters contacted me and shared photographs of her grandparents and their family. Pictured above are Albert and his sons, from left to right on the back row: Bill, Ray, Claud and Edgar, and in front: John and James. Not pictured are Albert and Martha's daughters, Susie Mae and Annie Ruth, and son Charles. This Saturday there will be a family reunion for the descendants of Albert and Martha Clayton held at Sikeston, Missouri where I'm sure there will be lots of hugging and good food.

Thank you, Sharon, for sharing with us!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Wishes

Today is Cousin Don Dulaney's birthday, and I'm sure he will spend it in one of his favorite places .... a cemetery! Let's get Don a shout-out for best wishes on this special occasion.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mrs. Thornberry

Mrs. Euple Thornberry died today at the age of 99. Mrs. Thornberry was a long-time Itawamba educator and well-loved teacher. Married to Professor J. Erskin Thornberry, also an Itawamba County educator, she was widowed in 1941. Mrs. Thornberry had no children of her own but was a mentor and "mother" to literally thousands of Itawamba County schoolchildren. As an interesting side note, Mrs. Thornberry taught both my husband as well as Madge Orr Stubblefield, in their seventh grade year. My husband is 53, and I won't divulge Mrs. Stubblefield's age.

Her parents were Rhoton W. Moore and Alice Brown. Her grandfather was Andrew Lafayette "Fayette" Brown, a well-known Missionary Baptist minister of Itawamba County.

Cumberland Gap

More than 250,000 settlers passed through the 12-mile long Cumberland Gap, a passage way through the Cumberland Mountains that allowed the settlers to avoid crossing over the mountainous region. Until the trail through the Gap was discovered, settlers were faced with a practically invincible barrier both north and south with the Appalachian Mountains and their assorted ridges and chains.

The Cumberland Gap was part of the Wilderness Road that began at the outpost near present-day Kingsport Tennessee; however, the Road's earliest beginnings was as a trail cut by the buffalo that once freely roamed the area. Indians were using the buffalo trail to navigate the mountains when, in 1750, Dr. Thomas Walker "discovered" the gap through the mountains, naming it Cumberland Gap after the Duke of Cumberland. In 1775, Daniel Boone was hired to widen the trail through the Gap to accommodate foot traffic of the settlers. As word got out, folks started pouring through the Cumberland Gap to settle the territory known as "Kentuck." The journey was an arduous one, all on foot or by horseback, but mostly by foot. It wasn't until 1790 that the road was widened to allow wagons. Can you imagine moving to another state by walking and carrying everything you own? Our ancestors were brave and hardy souls.

Today, the Gap is located at the intersection of three states: Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee, and a tunnel takes vehicular traffic through the Gap.
At the start of the old Cumberland Gap there is a small information station, and visitors who wish to hike part of the old trail can do so. No hiking for us, but we did stop to read about the Wilderness Road and Cumberland Gap. Below are metal sculptures that depict the settlers beginning on their journey through the Gap. Remember, these settlers had already walked miles upon miles from their homes in Virginia and the Carolinas by the time they got to the Gap. Walking along with them was their livestock: sheep, cattle, horses etc.

Mike thought that the cattle depicted in the sculptures looked like his Scottish Highland cattle (below). What do you think? Scottish Highlands are an ancient breed of Scottish cattle with long horns and thick, shaggy hair. The breed is especially hardy due to the ruggedness of their native location in the Scottish Highlands. If the (primarily) Scotch-Irish settlers had the cattle of their choice, I'm sure it was the Scottish Highland cattle. Hardy, rugged settlers needed hardy, rugged cattle.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mills Ancestral Home

Continued from yesterday .....

After leaving the small but lovely community of Vardy, we made our way to Sneedville where we just passed through on our way to the other side of the county. After a couple of false starts (but what lovely scenery they gave us!), we found the Mills-Wolfe Cemetery near Treadway in Hancock County. This small cemetery holds the graves of Hiram Mills and John A. Mills, both sons of John Mills and Alley Coffey. Several unmarked graves, at least eighteen have been counted, lie beneath the cool shade of oak, hickory and chinquapin trees, and we feel fairly certain that the bodies of John and Alley Mills lie in one of these unmarked graves. John and Alley's grandson, William Orville Mills, left Hancock County for Posey County, Indiana and after the Civil War, moved to Itawamba County with his in-laws, the Samuel McKay family.

Mike overlooking the valley that served as the Mills ancestral home. His great-great grandfather William Orville Mills was born here, and he died in Itawamba County in 1916, having moved to Mississippi from Posey County, Indiana around 1873. Why did Orville's father and family move to Posey County before 1860? Good question but we've found no answer yet.

Orville's Uncle Hiram's grave marker. Its top half has been broken off and lies a few feet away.

One of several graves marked by a simple stone.

The chinquapin tree in the Mills-Wolfe Cemetery.

Mills-Wolfe Cemetery

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hancock County roots

William Orville Mills was born in March 1846 in what was then Hawkins County, Tennessee but later became Hancock County, and he died in Itawamba County in 1916. Orville is my husband's great-great grandfather. Since we learned about Orville and his heritage in 2005, we have been making pilgrimages of sorts to Hancock County every couple of years. Since Mike's mother lives in nearby Sullivan County, visits to the area serve several purposes. During last week's visit, we drove along the Virginia-Tennessee border to Cumberland Gap and then turned south for a drive along scenic State Highway 63 in Claiborne and Hancock counties.

The county seat of Hancock County is Sneedville, formerly known as Greasy Rock. No one passes through Sneedville unless it is on purpose. Sneedville is not on the way to anywhere, the reason being is that it is situated between two tall ridges, and the shortest and quickest route to anywhere simply bypasses Sneedville. Sneedville itself is unspectacular but once out of town, on any road, in any direction, the scenery is absolutely gorgeous. Orville was probably born on the North side of Clinch Mountain near the community of Treadway where the Mills family lived among families of Wolfe, Cantwell, Tucker, and Cloud, to name a few.

While our destination was Treadway in the eastern part of the county, our approach on this day was from the other side of the county (from the west), and therefore we passed near the Mahala Mullins cabin. Having read about Mahala on our previous visits, we decided a slight detour to the little community of Vardy was definitely in order. Vardy is nestled in a valley between Powell Mountain and Newman's Ridge, just below the border with Virginia. It was settled by the Collins, Mullins, Goins, Gibson and other families whose ancestry is determined to be of Melungeon heritage. Vardy was named for Vardemon Collins, one of the first Melungeon settlers to the area.

In this picture made along Highway 63 the background you can see Newman's Ridge in the distance. This tall ridge slices diagonally across the northern part of Hancock County and separates Sneedville from its western neighbors. Highway 63 is the only road in Hancock County that crosses the ridge, and it is a beautiful and scenic drive, very rural.

Above is a picture of a picture. It's the log cabin that housed Mahala Collins Mullins, reported to be the most famous Melungeon. Mahala, who had twenty children, earned a living by making and selling illegal moonshine whiskey. For years, she confounded legal authorities who came to arrest her with warrants in hand. You see, Mahala weighed over 600 pounds, and there was no way she could be made to leave her house. No door was wide enough, and then just getting her down off the top of Newman's Ridge was problematic. How many men would it take to carry her down the mountain? So the law would destroy what whiskey stills they could find and then leave Mahala laughing at them from her cabin. "Ketchable but not fetchable" was what they said about Mahala.

When Mahala died in 1898, her body, lying in her bed, was boarded up to make a casket which was removed via an opening made through the fireplace. She was buried near her house and near the graves of her husband, John Mullins, and her deceased children.

The Mahala Collins Mullins log cabin was moved from the top of Newman's Ridge (in the picture, behind the present location of the cabin) below to the Vardy Valley community, with all of the moving and restoration work being done by the Vardy Community Historical Society. The cabin was originally built in the mid-1850s and was home to several different families up until the 1950s. After restoration, many families in the community donated items, and the cabin is well-decorated and outfitted to demonstrate its history. Across the road is the former Vardy Community Presbyterian Church, a beautiful little building that now houses a museum with much information about the community and its schools.

Our visit was made special by the helpful assistance of a couple of volunteers who were there at the cabin, getting it ready for a homecoming day held this past Saturday. My husband, Mike, is seated center, with Mr. Gibson on his right (our left) and David Collins on his left (our right).

Your curiosity about Melungeons may be piqued. Much information abounds on the internet, but the information posted at the Mahala Collins Mullins cabin indicates that although there are several theories about these people, there are no clear answers. Old census records show them as "free people of color" or as "mulattoes" and a popular theory among many Melungeons is that they are of Portuguese ancestry, related to a long-ago ship-wrecked band of sailors. Some folks say that they are from Sir Walter Raleigh's colony at Roanoke, Virginia who mysteriously disappeared around 1560 and lived and intermarried among the Indian tribes further inland. DNA studies seem to indicate a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean ancestry. No clearcut answers have been found, and the controversy over the Melungeon heritage continues, with Newman's Ridge and Vardy Valley being perhaps the most famous of the Melungeon territories.

Mike and I certainly enjoyed our visit to the Vardy community, and if you are ever in the area, might we suggest a leisurely drive from Cumberland Gap to Sneedville via Highway 63, with a side detour to Vardy.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Off they go...

Fessie Pennington with his two oldest daughters ... looks like they are ready to leave for school or some other occasion, matching outfits and all. That's Jo Ann, the oldest, on the left and my mother, Betty Jean, on the right. My mother says that the picture was made when they lived in Smithville, and the building in the background is a smokehouse. I don't think Aunt Brenda was born yet, or she was just a baby.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lawrence Tucker, 1910-1978

Mary Williams Dulaney identified this picture of her first cousin, Lawrence Tucker, who was born January 10, 1910. Lawrence was the son of Thomas "Tommy" Tucker and Ollie L. Johnson. Mary and Lawrence were two of several grandchildren of Napolian A. "Poley" Johnson and Mary Lester, along with Olun Dulaney who is mentioned below as an overnight guest of Lawrence. Velma, Olema, Ruby and Onnie Johnson, and Ival Tucker, were cousins out of Napolian's brothers. Families sure were a lot closer back then, weren't they?

Fulton News Beacon
April 30, 1931
Pine Grove
Mr. Onnie Johnson spent Saturday night with Mr. Lawrncie Tucker.
Misses Olema and Ruby Johnson, Miss Ival Tucker, Mr. Larncie Tucker and Mr. Oliver Mitchell were pleasant dinner guests of Mr. Onnie and Velma Johnson Sunday.

Fulton News Beacon
October 15, 1931
Fulton Route 4
Mr. Olun Dulaney spent Saturday night with Mr. Lawrence Tucker.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

John & Becky Patterson family

John & Rebecca Patterson and Family

John Lindsey Patterson, his wife Alice Rebecca Bourland, and their children, were Cardsville residents of Itawamba County. John's father, Greenberry, was a Georgia native who first settled in Pontotoc County but moved to Itawamba County between 1860 and 1870. The 1870 census for Greenberry Patterson indicates that his neighbors were Bourlands, Wrens and Cautherns - all familiar names found in the Cardsville and Peaceful Valley communities along the western side of the Tombigbee River.

Alice Rebecca Bourland, known as Becky, was the daughter of Robert Hudspeth Bourland, and Elizabeth Hawkins O'Neal, and she was the granddaughter of James S. Bourland, the original Bourland settler of Itawamba County. James S. Bourland, a South Carolinian, and his wife Mary Hudspeth, moved to Monroe County in the 1820s, and when the Chickasaw Cession lands opened up, they bought land in the southern part of Itawamba County near present-day Cardsville. The Bourland family were long-time members of one of the earliest churches in the county, Enon Primitive Baptist Church, which was organized in 1835 and continues to this day.

The photograph of John and Becky Patterson's family was shared by their great-grandson Garry Morris McFerrin of Mantachie. His grandmother, Mary Elizabeth "Bess" Patterson, is the young lady seated in her daddy's lap. Bess married Jury Pennington, and you may remember reading earlier posts about them, most recently about their success in the Plant-to-Prosper Program. Jury was Fessie's (my grandfather) uncle, therefore my great-great uncle.

Standing behind their parents are the twins, and the oldest children, Alice Hardie and Newton Ira, born in 1891. Standing in the middle is their son, Lula Preston Patterson, born in 1898. Another son, Newman, died in 1900 at the age of seven, before this photograph was made. The baby of the family at the time, in her mother's lap, is Rixie Bell. Since she was born in September 1903, this picture was likely made in early 1904. John and Becky's last child, Estelle, was born in in 1908 and thus isn't pictured in the photograph.

A big thanks to Garry for sharing the photograph of his great-grandparents' family!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Vida Chesteen Dulaney

Beautiful young Vida Dulaney

Vida Dulaney was a busy young woman in June 1931! A bit of courting was obviously going on because by November of that year, she became the bride of Floyd Wilemon, her fellow dinner guest on a June evening. Vida was the daughter of James Henry "Jim" Dulaney and Laura Bertha Warren while Floyd was the son of Jerome W. Wilemon and Erah Charlotte Beasley. Vida and Floyd made their home north of Fulton on Highway 25 for many years, on Route Number 2.

Fulton News Beacon
June 22, 1931
Fulton, Route 2

Miss Vida Dulaney spent Monday night with Miss Mamie Senter.
Miss Vida Dulaney was the Saturday night guest of Miss Ovalene Robinson.
Messrs Floyd and Earnest Wileman and Miss Vida Dulaney were dinner guests of Miss Ruby Dulaney, Sunday.