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.

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