Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bexar tornado in 1924

Newspapers are a wonderful source of information and often an underused research tool by genealogists.  I found the following death information about my great-great grandfather, Samuel Lewis Cofield's, first cousin James Lewis Cofield.  The Cofield cousins, Sam and Lewis, were grandsons of Thomas Nathan Cofield and among the very few Cofields who left Randolph County, Alabama in the late 1800's for western Alabama.

The newspaper article, dated May 29, 1924 was abstracted by Bob Franks and published in the Spring 2010 issue of Itawamba Settlers magazine.   For my purpose, I have only included the portion referencing the Cofield family.   On Monday evening, May 27, 1924, a tornado struck the community of Evergreen in western Itawamba County, killing one and destroying many homes and businesses.  Damage was also done at Van Buren and James Creek before the tornado moved on across the state line at Bexar, Alabama.

"At Bexar, Ala., Mrs. Lewis Cofield was killed and Mr. Cofield and his son and grandson were hurt.  Mr. Cofield is mail carrier on Bexar Route 2 which comes into this county and supplies mail to quite a number of people.  John Akers and some of his people are said to have been severely wounded.  Several bridges between there and Hamilton are said to be gone, and one bridge between Bexar and Tremont is gone, so that communication is almost cut off from Bexar.  Several residences are said to have been blown away in the Bexar community."

James Lewis Cofield was the son of Cosby Vina Cofield and Nancy Ann Harden, Georgia natives who moved to Randolph County, Alabama.  Lewis may have been the only sibling to move across the state to Marion County. His wife who was killed in the tornado was Ellen Cato Cofield, a second wife, and I show that they had children named Bessie, Cicero, Walter and Prince.  

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Daniel James Clayton chair - 100 years later

Last month, Sharon Clayton Hood, granddaughter of Albert Anderson Clayton and Martha Welch, came to Itawamba County to meet and visit with some cousins and to see the lands of her ancestors.  Don Clayton, grandson of Albert's brother John Allen Clayton, was kind enough to open his home and serve as host for Sharon along with her husband, my mother (granddaughter of Albert's sister, Queenie Victoria Clayton Davis) and myself.   Above, Don is showing my mother a chair crafted by Daniel James Clayton, who was an uncle to Albert, John Allen, and Queenie and their siblings.

Daniel Clayton died suddenly in 1913, and his obituary in the Itawamba County News reported that "Mr. Clayton was a good citizen ... and he has made hundreds of chairs, quite a number of which will be good for years yet to come."   That prophecy was clearly true as nearly 100 years later, Daniel's chairs are still around.   Don indicated that he had four or five of these chairs made by his great-great uncle.

Itawamba County News
May 4, 1911
Mr. D. J. Clayton, who makes a good white oak chair, and his son, who live near Tilden, were here Monday.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mavis Maxine Pennington Roberts

In loving memory....
Mavis Maxine Pennington Roberts
daughter of William Hugh Pennington
& Ethel Dee Sloan

born November 17, 1923

married to James Phillip Roberts

died January 24, 2011

Aunt Maxine sneaked out on us last night when she passed away peacefully at the age of 87.  She had been in poor health for several years but it seemed that each time we thought her time had come, she rallied and lived on.  Last night however she sneaked out on us even after the doctors indicated she was improving enough to be discharged home.  She did it her way, as always.   

Before leaving, she enjoyed a Saturday evening in her hospital room with little sister Tootsie.  It was a game of wits, and the big sister won this last time.  Tootsie tried her best to convince Mac to swallow her pills, to leave her IV alone, leave her gown alone, allow the respiratory therapists to do their job, get her to eat etc.   The nurses thought Maxine was sweet, very cooperative, but as soon as they left the room, Maxine would cut her eyes at Tootsie as if to say 'you won't get off this easy.'  And the game was on.   Finally, around 2 o'clock Maxine closed her eyes as if asleep.  Tootsie relaxed and fell asleep but jerked awake quickly just a few minutes later when the nurse walked in and found Maxine with her IV out, gown up, blood everywhere, but with a sly, satisfied smile on her face.  It was the battle of the sisters one last time.  Maxine won.  Tootsie lost.  

Visitation is Wednesday night at Senter Funeral Home in Fulton, and funeral services will be held Thursday at 11 o'clock.  Burial will be in the Hillcrest Masonic Cemetery.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Four Generations of Moxleys

Renee Hillis recently shared this photograph of four generations of Moxleys.  The two younger boys in the middle are brothers Owen William Moxley, Jr.(left) and Henry Austin Moxley (right).  Their father is Owen William Moxley, Sr., left, and the man holding Henry Austin Moxley in his lap is their grandfather, Henry Minus Moxley.   The older gentleman seated far right is Thomas Austin Moxley, the father of Henry Minus Moxley and the son of Henry T. Moxley and Martha Arminta Sibley.

Thomas Austin Moxley was born March 23, 1872 in Franklin County, Alabama, and married Martha Jane Dulaney, daughter of John T. Dulaney and Mary Guess.    Although T.A. and Martha Jane lived in Itawamba County most of their lives, their son Henry Minus Moxley moved to Louisiana where several Moxley descendants live today.  

Many thanks to Renee for sharing the photograph.  Her grandparents were Henry Minus Moxley and Georgia Lauderdale.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Becky Senter

Susan Rebecca Woodard Senter

Itawamba County News
April 11, 1911
Social Gleanings
We regret very much to note that Mrs. T. A. Senter has pneumonia fever, this being her second siege during her life.

Itawamba County News

February 6, 1913
Mrs. T. A. Senter and daughter, Miss Alice, have been spending several days with her sick daughter, Mrs. Ab Dulaney, and Mrs. Senter has also been sick during her absence.  But both she and her daughter are now improved.

Itawamba County News
February 4, 1915
Local Column
Mrs. T. A. Senter and her daughter, Alice, it is said intend to soon move to their old place with Mr. Ab Dulaney.  Mrs. Charlie Senter has returned to live with her father, Mr. T. A. Dulaney.  They have the sympathy of a number of friends here in their bereavement.

* * *
Rebecca Woodard Senter was the daughter of William Jesse and Sarah Woodard.  She married Thomas Alfred Senter on January 12, 1873, and they had eight children, including the following who have been featured in previous posts:  Jesse Alvin Senter, Oma and Tommy Senter, and James Robert Senter.

Thomas Alfred Senter, Rebecca's husband, died while serving as Itawamba County's Chancery Clerk in early 1915.  T.A. and Rebecca's son, Charlie, died a few days after his father.  Charlie's death from pneumonia left a young widow, Vona D. "Vonnie" Dulaney, daughter of Thomas Aron Dulaney and Alice Moxley.  Charlie and Vonnie had only been married a short six months.

Becky Senter died in 1934 at the age of 77.  She is buried at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Clayton marriages: father and son

Here are a couple of Clayton marriages from Itawamba newspapers.   My friend and cousin, Don Clayton, enjoys old newspapers as much as I do, and these are clippings of his parents and grandparents' wedding announcements.  The first news clipping comes from the Itawamba County News and announces the marriage of Shellie Lee Webb to John Allen Clayton, youngest son of Nathaniel M. Clayton and Martha A. Bowen.  The next image is from the Fulton News Beacon and announces the marriage of the oldest son of Allen and Shellie Lee, Howard Hayes Clayton to Pauline Smith, daughter of Locke Smith and Mable Perry. 

April 11, 1912
Clay News
About 3 o'clock Sunday P.M. the home of Mr. and Mrs. Dave Webb was graced with the marriage of their daughter Miss Shellie Lee to Mr. Allen Clayton.  We wish for them both a happy life.

May 21, 1942 issue

Monday, January 17, 2011

West Sisters, Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church

Ella Lee West Tucker
Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church
Minutes 1907-1916

As abstracted by Virble Booth

August 1910
On the 5th Sunday in July and the week following, a series of meetings were conducted by Eld. J. T. Robinson, Wylie Jarrel and G. A. Senter, J. F. Benson and G. W. Guntharp.  On Thursday, an opportunity was offered for membership.  Sisters Bettie Brown, Nancy Chilcoat and Bro. Hollis Brown.  On Wednesday at 11, Will Jarrel was received and at night J. G. Brown and Alva Chaney were received.  Thursday at 11 o'clock Mrs. Ellie Tucker and Mittie West were received.   All except Miss Ellie Tucker were baptized Friday at 10 o'clock.

J. T. Robinson, Mod.
S. T. Graham, Clerk

Mittie Dell West

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mystery: Michaux - Meshow - Machow

There is an intriguing mystery involving the wife of Irvin Lafayette Kennedy.   Various researchers show her to be Salina (sometimes Selina, Selena).  No disagreements there, however her last name is shown variously as Machow or Meshow which actually could be an Americanized version of Michaux, a French surname.  This is not a name that shows up in Itawamba or surrounding counties... rather unusual, in fact.

My interest in this Kennedy family is due to their close connection to my Robinson ancestors.  Since I am at a brick wall with my great-great-great grandfather John E. Robinson, born 1808 in South Carolina, died 1896 and buried at Mt. Pleasant Methodist Cemetery near Tremont, any and all clues are important.   In the 1850 census, there is a 77 year old Josiah Kenida, born in South Carolina, living in the household of my John E. Robinson.  What was his connection to the Robinson family?  Several Kennedy families moved from Abbeville District, South Carolina to Marion County, Alabama (and later to Itawamba County, Mississippi) just like the Robinsons.   In 1825, Josiah Kennedy along with Matthew Robinson served as bondsmen for the executors of the estate of John E. Robinson's probable father, who was also named John.   John E. Robinson's probable mother, Elizabeth, may have been a Kennedy.  It is also interesting to note that John E. Robinson named a daughter Martha Selena - could she have been named after Martha Selena (Meshow) Kennedy?

Josiah Kennedy received an 1834 grant for land in Marion County, now located in Lamar County near the Detroit-Pine Springs area.  Several Robinson men as well as other Kennedys also received land in this area.   It appears that Josiah Kennedy, Matthew Robinson and others moved from Lawrence County, Alabama in the late 1820s to what was then southern Marion County.  Later, in 1832 when the Chickasaw Indians ceded their lands in north Mississippi and extreme northwestern Alabama, including land that became Itawamba County as well as a sliver of land that eventually became western Marion County, many families - again, including the Robinsons and Kennedys and other affiliated families - moved into the newly opened land when the Indians were removed in what has become known as the Trail of Tears.

An interesting side note is that there is also a record of Josiah Kennedy receiving a land plat for 76 acres on the Little River and Penny's Creek in Abbeville County, South Carolina.   Matthew Robinson also owned land on the Little River and Penny's Creek.   John Ervin was noted to be a neighbor of Josiah Kennedy on this land plat, and one must wonder if the surname Ervin could be associated with the use of the name Irvin in later generations of Kennedys.

Back to Salina Meshow/Machow/Michaux.  She married Irvin Lafayette Kennedy in Hardeman County, Tennessee in June 1834, based on a marriage record that exists in that county.  I believe that Irvin Lafayette Kennedy's father was the Josiah Kennedy who was living with my John E. Robinson, but this is only conjecture on my part.  Irvin Lafayette Kennedy did name a son Josiah Kennedy.  Irvin's daughter, Nancy, also named a son Josiah K. and Josiah is a name found frequently in this family.

Salina and Irvin lived most of their married life in western Marion County, Alabama.  I lost track of them following the 1870 census until I came across a biography of Lucius Quincy Stone, Tremont native and son of John Henry Stone.   L. Q. Stone's biographical sketch in the 1917 Official and Statistical Register of the State of Mississippi indicates that he was married to Lydia T. Kennedy of Rara Avis, daughter of Irvin Lafayette Kennedy and Elmina L. Lockridge of Shottsville, Ala.  The bio goes on to say that Lydia was the granddaughter of Irvin Kennedy and Martha S. Machow of Charleston, S.C. and that both Irvin and his wife moved to Peoria (Hill County), Texas where Irvin died.  

A search of the 1880 census does indeed turn up a widowed M. S. Kennedy living in Hill County, Texas with her daughter, Margaret Drucilla Evans, and her son-in-law John Jasper "Jack" Evans.  The 1925 death certificate of Meg Kennedy Evans gives her mother's name as Celena (no maiden name, unfortunately!) and place of birth as Charleston, S.C.

Meshow and Machow definitely could be a version of the French Michaux, and that is where it gets interesting!   A well-known French botanist, Andre Michaux, spent ten years in Charleston, 1786-1796, and is credited with importing the camellia, crape myrtle and mimosa trees to North America.    Andre Michaux died in 1802, before Salina's birth, but perhaps there is some connection.  Andre's son, Francois-Andrew Michaux, remained in America and followed in his father's footsteps as a botanist, traveling in the Carolinas and Tennessee.  The name is certainly an intriguing clue.

I'd love to hear from descendants of the Kennedy-Meshow family.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Martha Selena Robinson Lindsey

July 13, 1911

Tremont News
Mr. Tom Lindsey of Shottsville, Ala., visited Mr. and Mrs. L. A. Lindsey last week.

* * *
A couple of days ago I posted a newspaper tidbit about Caroline Green, daughter of John E. and Rachael [Emerson] Robinson.  Above is a news item published in 1911 in the Itawamba County News newspaper about her sister, Martha Selena Robinson, who was married to Largus A. Lindsey in February 1885.  Largus and Martha, who was a twin to Moran Parthenia Robinson, the youngest children of John and Rachel Robinson, did not have any children. When Martha died in 1923, Largus, who was several years younger than his wife, remarried to Clemmie Gullick, and next to Ellis Clayton Ridings.  Here is Largus and Martha in the 1910 census.

1910 Census 
Itawamba County, Mississippi 
Largus Lindsey (transcribed Sindray) 43 AL AL AL  farmer   married 23 years
Martha  56 AL TN SC  married 23 years, 0 children, 0 living

I suspect that Martha Selena Robinson was probably named after Martha Selena (Meshow/Machow/Michaux) Kennedy and will post more later.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Enon Primitive Baptist Church

Early 1960s dinner on the ground
Enon Primitive Baptist Church
Kodachrome slide by James L. Robinson

Itawamba County News
July 13, 1911
Cardsville News
There will be an all-day singing at Enon 5th Sunday in July in both old and new books.  Everybody invited to come.  Dinner on the ground.

[Note:  I think I probably have sung out of both the old and new books!]

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tragic Death by Cow

July 6, 1911
Mr. W. S. Bolen went through here Monday afternoon to be at the burial of his aunt Mrs. Bob McKay, who lived near Greenwood, and was hooked and killed by a cow Monday morning.  The hands had goen to work and on returning to dinner and missing her, found her as described above, and it is thought that the serious calamitiy occurred early that morning.

* * *
Mrs. Bob McKay was Fronie Bell Oswalt, married to Robert Franklin McKay, the son of Hugh Jackson McKay and Matilda Josephine Reece.  Bell Oswalt McKay was the daughter of John Oswalt and Sarah C. Sherrill.  In 1910, Bob and Bell McKay were living in District 4 of Itawamba County as evidenced by the census record below.  W. S. Bolen was the son of Nancy McKay and Daniel Jack Bolen-Bolin.

1910 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
District 4
Bob McKay 39 MS MS U.S. farmer, married once, married 19 years
Bell S. McKay 35 MS MS MS, 7 children, 6 living
Carry 17 MS daughter
Effie 16 MS daughter
Alphouse 11 MS son
Harmon 8 MS son
Elsie 7 MS daughter (should be son)
Valena 1 MS daughter

Monday, January 10, 2011

Caroline Robinson Green

Elizabeth Caroline [Robinson] Green was the daughter of John E. Robinson and Rachael Reed Emerson, born February 9, 1840 in Alabama.    She married Jacob D. Green about 1863, probably in Alabama, and they had six children:  Sarah Jane Sallis/Silas, Texanna May, Rachael (never married), Archileas Moorman Green (merchant in Amory), Mary Maud Dickinson, and John Denton Green (doctor in Smithville and Noxubee County).

In 1911, a widowed Caroline was likely living with her son in Smithville, where he is shown as living in the 1910 census.  In 1920, Caroline was living with her daughter, Texanna, in Amory, where Texanna's husband, John May, was a merchant. 

Caroline died in 1925 and was buried in Mt. Pleasant Methodist Cemetery near Tremont, where her gravestone is shown above.   Her younger brother, my great-great grandfather George Emerson Robinson, is also buried there, having died in 1907.

Itawamba County News
June 29, 1911
Tremont News
Mrs. Caroline Green of Smithville visited relatives here last week.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Momma!

Betty Jean (Pennington) Robinson
Born on this day, delivered by her grandmother
Queenie Clayton Davis
when the doctor didn't arrive in time.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tombigbee River Slough - Peaceful Valley

This was a perfect winter day to snap photographs of the cypress swamp in the Tombigbee River bottom. No snakes to worry about, although maybe an alligator or two could have been hanging around. It has been dry the past few days, and without standing water, the swamp was fairly accessible with boots. I'm hoping that one or two pictures will be suitable for enlarging and framing.  

The trees are either bald cypress or pond cypress, or a mixture of both; they are easily confused.  Based upon the small dead leaves I saw on the ground, these trees could very well be pond cypress.  Several of the trees had small, reddish brown, olive-shaped fruit, which Mike's Uncle Earnest Johnson recognized as belonging to the Black Tupelo Gum tree.   Both the black tupelo gum and the cypress trees grow in swamps, and both have bases that are swollen or flared.

Click on an image to see a larger picture.  Hope you enjoy them as much I do.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Winter Scenes from Peaceful Valley

I like this picture of the rough lumbered corn crib with the ancient tree beside it. Lots of texture in this photograph.   Beyond the tree you can see the levee that holds the "catfish pond" that Fessie had built in the late 60s.

Porch on Fessie and Beck's house, flanked by old nandina bush with winter berries.  The house was built during World War II while Fessie was away serving in the Navy. The porch facing north was added later to replace an original porch on the west side of the house.

English Branch, and site of former grist mill, just a few yards from Fessie's house.  Click here for a previous post about the English family and this small creek that's a tributary of the old Tombigbee River
Fessie's barn with black walnut trees growing in Fessie's former watermelon patch south of the barn.  That white blur is our dog Rupert who seems to think every click of the camera should include him.  He is barely out of view in the other photos, and yes he swam the river slough, twice, and waded through the creek.
Tombigbee River slough, full of bald cypress trees and knobs. This is the only time of year you would want to walk through this swampy place, but it is beautiful year-round.  I have been itching to come here in the dead of winter to take pictures.

 Another view of Fessie's barn, this time from the north with sawtooth oak planted in the foreground.

Tombigbee River with brambles and briars along its banks.  High water marks on the nearby bald cypress trees show the flood stages of the old river.

No telling how old this tree is.  A forestry expert couldn't positively identify it; he called it a hybrid oak, a mix of the various oak trees found on Fessie and Beck's farm An old houseplace used to stand nearby; it's been long-gone.   Dusk was settling in when I captured the last rays of the sun in the wintry western sky.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Letters from Elizabeth Clayton Britts

 The following two letters were written by Elizabeth Clayton Britts to her mother and brother in 1889.  It appears that Elizabeth was living in Fayette County, Alabama when she wrote the letters, not too far from Itawamba County, yet Elizabeth apparently hadn't seen her mother at least since the birth of her son Wesley in 1882 or 1883.  I haven't been able to locate Elizabeth or her family in the 1880 census and can't find them in any of the subsequent censuses either.  Also can't find anything about the sons Wesley and Asberry (Asbury).

In the second letter, to her brother Nathaniel M. Clayton, Elizabeth tells him to tell "Mat" hello.  Mat refers to Martha A. Bowen, first wife of Nathan, who died in 1892.

Published in Itawamba Settlers, Fall 1992
Submitted by Sundra Malcolm of Eugene, Oregon

May the 28, 1889
Fayett Courthouse, Ala.

Dear Mother

It is through the tender mericies of God that I am permited to write you again.  This leaves us all well.  I am in better health than I was when you saw me last.  I have two little boys one 6 years old 30 of August named Wesly youngest named Asberry 3 years old 24 of Dec next.  Alferd is tending mill for Mrs. Newton and said that her mother was alive the last letter she got from her.  Alfred sid that he wanted to see you very bad and if you are yet alive he would write to you.  Mother if you are alive yet pleas write to us and let us know where you are and how you are getting along.  I want to see you so bad I can't hardly stand it and if you are alive yet I want to come and see you.  I have got no letters from none of you in long time.  Have wrote several letters to you and have got no letter from none of you yet.  I have a nice garden, have chickens large enough to fri.  I will close this letter by saying I hope to hear from you.

Your devoted daughter,
Elizabeth Britts
To Patience M. Clayton

To Mr. Nathan Clayton
May the 28 1889

Dear Brother,

As I have not heard from you in long time I will write you again.  Have wrote several letters to you all and can get no answer.  This leaves us all well and I hope that this will reach and find you all well and doing well.  I want you to write all about the connections.  Alfred said if you would give him the same offer that you once made him he would come out there.  I want you if mother is yet alive to contrive her letter to her.  I want to know how many children you have.  Tell Mat that I would be glad to see her.  Tell the other children all to write to me.  I want to hear from you all very bad.  We are kneeding rain very bad crops look sorry for the time of year.  Corn is selling at 75 cents bushel from 5 to 6 dollar barrel meat 10 cents pound everything else in proportion.  I will close by saying I hope to hear from you soon.

Your loving sister,
Elizabeth Britts
To Nathan Clayton

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Information on Elizabeth Clayton

While recently browsing through some old issues of Itawamba Settlers magazines, I happened across letters written by Elizabeth Britts in 1889.   I almost kept going since the Britts name was unfamiliar to me, but another name leaped out from the page:  Patience M. Clayton.  Wow!   Excited now, I saw yet another familiar name:  Nathan Clayton.  Double Wow!

The first letter, dated May 28, 1889, Fayette County, Alabama, was from "your devoted daughter" Elizabeth Britts to "dear Mother" Patience M. Clayton, and Elizabeth apparently had not seen her mother for some time.  What Elizabeth didn't know when she wrote the letter is that her mother died in July 1886, probably in Lee County.  Patience's gravemarker at Priceville Baptist Cemetery is pictured above.

Patience M. Clayton, and her husband Thompson Clayton, had ten children, and I had accounted for all of them except Elizabeth, their oldest child.  The last record I had of Elizabeth was the 1870 census when she was enumerated as a single twenty-two year old in the household of her parents in Itawamba County.  I cannot locate her in the 1880 census and have been unable to find her or her husband and sons in later censuses so still I do not know what happened to her - when she died or where she is buried -  unlike the other nine children.

The second letter was written to Elizabeth's brother, Nathan Clayton, from his "loving sister" and has the same date.   Apparently, Elizabeth sent both the letters to her brother and asked him to forward the letter to her mother if she was "yet alive."   Her brother was my great-great grandfather, Nathaniel M. Clayton, and Elizabeth was aunt to Queenie Victoria Clayton Davis, my great-grandmother.

Sundra Malcolm of Eugene, Oregon submitted copies of the letters to the historical society's magazine, and they were published in the Fall 1992 issue.  How she came to possess the letters is not known, and I do not know her connection to the Clayton family.

The letters, though they contain some grammatical and spelling errors, indicate an educated family for the time.  Usually when someone from that generation in the Deep South can read and write, it generally indicates that their parents were literate as well.  Elizabeth was born in South Carolina, probably in Spartanburg County, about 1847, and moved as a young child with her family to Georgia, then Alabama, before locating in Itawamba County.  That many moves in the rural south, fairly typical for the time, on the early frontiers of our country, often did not lead to an educated family, and the fact that Elizabeth could write reasonably well seems to show that she learned from her parents as opposed to in a schoolhouse.   One should also remember when reading old letters that many words were written as they sounded without the importance we place today on correctly spelled words.

Stay tuned.  I'll post the letters tomorrow!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Best Wishes for 2011!