Friday, November 19, 2010

Augusta Etoie Sloan Armstrong

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

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

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Granny Sloan

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

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Granny and Granpa Sloan


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

More to come.... 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lester C. Mills aka L.C. Owens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 12, 2010

Talitha McKay Mills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Samuel and Permelia McKay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sloan Children - youngest four

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sloan Children - in person and portraits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dick & Ellen Sloan

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dick Sloan family

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

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

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

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

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

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