Monday, May 30, 2011

Jack & Margaret Kennedy Evans - Itasca Cemetery

Earlier I posted about John Thomas Emerson, grandson of Irvin Lafayette Kennedy, who is buried in Itasca Cemetery, Hill County, Texas.   John Thomas Emerson's aunt, Margaret Drucilla Kennedy, moved to Hill County, Texas with her husband, John Jasper "Jack" Evans.   Jack Evans was the son of Thomas Evans and Henrietta Clayton, Georgia natives who moved to Itawamba County around 1841, settling on land just south of Tremont.   William Evans, brother of Thomas, was my GGG grandfather.  

The graves of John J. and Margaret Kennedy Evans are marked with a single stone, pictured above, that appears of more recent origin.   "Jack" died in 1939, at the age of 90.  His death certificate indicates that he was born at Bexar, Alabama but all of his census records show Mississippi as his state of birth.  This inconsistency is not too unusual for residents of this area, and land records indicate that Jack's parents owned land in both Itawamba and Marion counties.   Margaret, as posted earlier, was the daughter of Irvin Lafayette Kennedy and Martha Selena Meshow.

Jack's father Thomas Evans moved to Hill County, Texas between 1878 and 1800, and died there around 1889.  It is not known where he is buried, whether on private land or perhaps in the Itasca Cemetery in an unmarked grave.  

Jack and Margaret had several children:  Elmer Ward Evans, Martha Lou (married S. W. Cansler), Irvin Lafayette Evans (gravemarker pictured below), Leonard Lewis Evans, (buried also at Itasca), B. N. Evans, Zula Evans (married Floyd Grant, buried Itasca Cemetery), and Johnnie Evans.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Full Circle - Sol J. Wiginton to John T. Robinson to Z. B. Palmer to M. B. Lawhon

First, there was the tombstone of Solomon J. Wiginton that I came across in the Itasca Cemetery in Hill County, Texas.  Then, less than ten days later, I received the Civil War pension records of John T. Robinson which contained an affidavit of Solomon as to John's service in the 10th Alabama Cavalry.  The pension file also had an affidavit from another member of the 10th Alabama, Z. B. Palmer.

When researching Z. B. Palmer, I found this website which included a transcription of a probate record for M. B. Lawhon in Marion County, Alabama dated 1900.   Lordy, at the names!

S. L. Cofield, along with J. M. Shotts, were executors of the will of Merrell Brooks Lawhon, who was born March 1823 and died on October 12, 1900.   S. L. Cofield was my great-great grandfather, Samuel Lewis Cofield.  J. M. Shotts was John McCarty Shotts, brother-in-law of John T. Robinson. 

The Lawhon will references a lawsuit filed against Z. B. Palmer in 1899, the proceeds of which were to be divided among his heirs.  Since M. B. Lawhon never married and had no children, his heirs were his living siblings and the children of his deceased siblings.  A petition filed with the court named, among others, the following next-of-kin which I found of interest:  Z. B. Palmer (apparently the plaintiff was also a nephew), Mrs. Arvilla Young (she was the sister-in-law of my great-great grandmother, Rachel Young Loyd), Gertrude Robison (minor, in the care of her father L(ucian) G(aines) Robison) - via her deceased mother, Ophelia Lawhon Robison), N. L. Lawhon (presumed to be Noah Lucian Lawhon, married to Luna Robinson, niece of John T. Robinson).

Two years ago, on a cemetery tour along the Alabama-Mississippi state line, I took some photographs of the Lawhon Cemetery, a small family cemetery located not far from the Cofield-Cockrell Cemetery.  The first photo, below, is of the grave marker for M. B. Lawhon, 1823-1900.  The last photo is of John Lawhon, Sr., born 1792, died 1873.  Unusual to find a marker of someone born before 1800 in our neck of the woods - not impossible, but not a common find.


Monday, May 23, 2011

John T. Robinson - 10th Alabama Cavalry - Moreland's Regiment

Following up on the previous post about John Taylor Robinson's service in the Civil War....

John applied for a Civil War pension from the State of Alabama which was initially denied due to the fact that his name was not found on the muster rolls of his regiment, 10th Alabama Cavalry.  Upon receipt of affidavits from other war veterans who served in the same regiment - Solomon J. Wiginton, Zebulon Brooks Palmer, and W. J. Donham - the pension board reversed their decision and awarded a pension to John.

Why the lack of official records of John T. Robinson's Civil War service?  I suspect that part of the problem lies with the late enlistment.  By 1864, when John enlisted at Smithville, the war had been dragging on for four years.  At the war's beginning, record-keeping was much better.  Morale was high, and everything was 'by the book,' but as time went on, there was a break down in official processes.

Repeated defeats at Vicksburg, Gettsyburg, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga in the last half of 1863 had decimated the Confederate Army, and the remaining troops were constantly being re-organized and re-shuffled under different names which can be confusing when trying to research an ancestor who served in the war.

The 10th Alabama Cavalry Regiment was commanded by Colonels Pickett and Powell but John T. Robinson's pension record indicates that he served under a different Colonel - Colonel Moreland, apparently Colonel Micajah D. Moreland, of Tishomingo County, Mississippi.   From what I have read, many Alabama regiments were not numbered but went by their commander's name.  Moreland's Cavalry seems to have been a separate unit from the 10th Alabama Cavalry.    Someone with more knowledge of Alabama regiments of the Civil War may be better equipped to sort out these units, but it seems that Moreland's Cavalry was a regiment that was attached to Col. Phillip Dale Roddey's 4th Alabama Cavalry, as was the 10th Alabama Cavalry.  Moreland's troops participated in battles at Brice's Crossroads and Tupelo, and surrendered at Citronelle, Alabama.

Apparently many of Col. Moreland's companies were organized in Northeast Mississippi, which is consistent with the fact that Private John T. Robinson enlisted with an Alabama regiment in Smithville, Mississippi.  In his pension application, John named his captain as "Captain J. F. Chaffin" who probably was Jackson Florida Chaffin, an Itawambian who left for Arkansas after the war and later moved to Waldrip, McCulloch County, Texas where he died in 1929.

Members of Moreland's Regiment were discharged at Iuka, Mississippi in May, 1865.  John T. Robinson's affidavit states that he was "sick and unable to go to Iuka to get a parole, and this is why I have no parole."

John Taylor Robinson was the oldest son, and fourth child, of John E. Robinson and Rachael Reed Emerson Robinson.    He was born May 8, 1842 in Marion County, Alabama, and his younger brother, my great-great grandfather, was born two years later.    After John's death in 1929, his widow, Mahala, applied for his war pension, and her application states that she and John were married at Shottsville on October 2, 1870.  Shortly thereafter, the couple moved to Itawamba County where they lived from 1870 to 1882 (again, as stated in the application) before moving back across the state line in Marion County, Alabama.  

John and Mahala had eight children:  Louella, Austin Lanier, Carlton McKindry, John Garvin, Chester Ardell, Bunyan Lavert, Bulah Guy, and William Clenton.   Interesting, up until just last year, John and Mahala's grandson, Ross Robison, was still living.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Solomon J. Wiginton - witness on behalf of John T. Robinson

Recently I came across information that indicated John Taylor Robinson, brother of my great-great grandfather George Emerson Robinson, had fought in the Civil War.  Not too surprising, you say, since John was born 1842, the perfect age for service in the war.  But the family story that has been handed down, at least through George's family as recounted by his grandsons, is that older brother John was sickly and therefore was unable to serve in the war.  The story is that George, who enlisted at the age of 18, was supposedly sent by his father in place of his older brother.

John T. Robinson, and later his widow Mahala Jane (Shotts, daughter of Lovid McKindry Shotts), drew a Civil War pension from the State of Alabama.  When I discovered information about this pension, I sent off to the Alabama Archives for detailed records.  Turns out, there was some truth to the family story.  An affidavit dated 1914 and signed by J. T. Robinson states that he "first joined the Confederate army in 1862, joining the infantry, but I was sickly then and the captain of the company allowed me to go back home, as I was unable to do service."   Unfortunately, the name of this early regimental unit and company is not given in the pension record.   John further states in his affidavit that he re-enlisted two years later at Smithville, Miss. in February, 1864, joining Company E, 10th Alabama Regiment.

So yes, John was sickly, but he did serve in the war.  Or did he? 

The pension record contains a notice dated 1913 that John T. Robinson was ineligible for a pension due to his name not being found on the rolls of any company of the 10th Alabama Regiment.    It was up to John to prove his service ... which he did by providing witnesses who could vouch for his war service.  Among others, Solomon J. Wiginton, of Itasca, Hill County, Texas!  The very same Solomon whose gravestone I recently photographed in the Itasca Cemetery!  How coincidental is that!

Before the Notary Public of Hill County, Texas, in October 1914,  Solomon J. "Saul" Wiginton stated that he was 69 years of age, residing at Itasca.  Saul said that he formerly lived in Marion Co., Alabama, and that he knew J. T. Robinson "who now lives in Marion County, Alabama, and knew him during the war.  Said J. T. Robinson and I were both in Company E of the 10th Alabama Cavalry, C.S.A., and I knew him in said company.    Said J. T. Robinson joined said Company E at Smithville, Mississippi, sometime in the early part of the year 1864." 

Another witness was W. J. Donham, a resident of Covington in Hill County, Texas, who stated on oath that he served with J. T. Robinson in Company E, 10th Alabama Cavalry.  William Jefferson Donham was a former resident of Marion County.   Zebulon Brooks Palmer also provided testimony that he served with J. T. Robinson in the 10th Alabama Cavalry.  Palmer said in his affidavit that he had known Robinson all of his life, "we were reared together" in Marion County, and that he remembered "very well" when John joined Company E, sometime "about the month of February, 1864, at Smithville, Mississippi, while we were encamped there, and he remained in the service in the said company until the close of war."

The proof provided by the affidavits of these three Civil War veterans was enough for the Board of Pension Examiners to grant John Taylor Robinson his pension, which he received until his death in 1920 at the age of 77 years, and which his widow received until her death in 1933.

More about John T. Robinson in another post.

Oh, and there is no proof that John's brother, George Emerson Robinson, was sent in his brother's place to fight in the war.   George was 18 years old in 1862 when he enlisted, certainly of age to volunteer on his own.  It wasn't until later in the war that a conscription draft was instituted, and pressure was put on non-enlisted, able-bodied men to enlist in the Confederate army. 

You can read more about George Emerson Robinson at these previous posts:
George Emerson Robinson
Charlotte A. Purnell, 1846-1873 (first wife of George E. Robinson) 
George E. Robinson - his second family
George Emerson Robinson - old homeplace

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Young family - Itasca Cemetery

Dr. John Haynes Young, along with his second wife Luvenia Harriet Davis Young, are buried in Itasca Cemetery, Itasca, Hill County, Texas.    During a recent visit to Texas, which included a detour to Itasca for lunch and cemetery browsing, their graves were photographed.   Just last month, in Fulton, I was honored to meet a descendant of John and Harriet who was in the area for research.

Dr. Young was the brother of my great-great grandmother, Rachel Caroline Young Loyd.  You can read more about him in earlier post.   John and Rachel were children of William A. Young and Elizabeth C. "Bettie" Evans, who lived near Smithville in Monroe County.  I am not sure exactly where the Young family lived, but it had to have been close to the state line and very close to Pine Springs and Detroit in present-day Lamar County.  When William Young died, he was buried in Lee Cemetery over in Lamar County.   My great-great grandmother, Rachael Young, met and married Isham Loyd who lived near Pine Springs in Alabama.

In addition to Dr. John H. Young, his brothers Reuben and William Dixon Young also moved to Hill County, Texas although William later moved to Oklahoma.

John married first to Helen Davis, daughter of Micajah Davis and Lavenia Ray  of Lamar County, Alabama.  (These Davises are not part of my Itawamba County Davis family.)  When Helen died just months after their marriage, John married her younger sister Harriet Luvenia Davis.  Harriet and John had nine children before Harriet died following the birth of their last child in 1894.    For his third wife, John married Mary Etta Nichols who was about 25 years younger and apparently outlived him, but I can't find a death or burial record for her.  She was living with the Young family in the 1900 census, listed as a 26 year old unmarried "boarder" in the household and probably serving as a nanny for the widowed physician. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Isaac Porter Wiginton & Eula Jane Emerson - Itasca Cemetery

Isaac Porter Wiginton was the nephew of Solomon Jones Wiginton who was featured in yesterday's post and who also is buried in Itasca Cemetery.   Isaac's parents were Isaac Riley Wiginton and Easter Ann Robinson who moved to Hill County, Texas after 1892 but returned to Itawamba County where they are buried at Mt. Pleasant Methodist Cemetery.    Recently, Shaun Rogers provided me with copies of some of the earliest records of Mt.Olive Methodist Church in eastern Itawamba County (on Cotton Gin Road) which included a baptism record for Porter Wiginton, son of I.W. and E.A. Wiginton, who was baptized Nov. 5, 1892 by Rev. J. W. Raper.

Eula Jane was the daughter of John T. Emerson and Alice Louella Mead, who are also buried in Itasca Cemetery and were featured in an earlier blog post.  

Interestingly, both Isaac Porter and Eula Jane were cousins.   Porter's grandfather, John E. Robinson (my GGG grandfather) and Eula's great-grandmother, Easter Robinson Emerson,  were siblings.   In fact, Isaac Porter Wiginton's mother was Easter Ann Robinson who was named for her Aunt Easter Emerson.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Solomon Jones Wiginton - Itasca Cemetery

Solomon Jones Wiginton was born December 23, 1845, and census records indicate either Mississippi (Itawamba) or Alabama (Marion) as his place of birth.  His parents were James Wiginton and Ursula Ballard who are both buried at Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church Cemetery near Tremont.  Thus, here is yet another Itawamba-Itasca connection.

Wiginton is also found spelled as Wigginton. 

Solomon's first wife was Elizabeth Jane Robinson, daughter of David Matthew Robinson and Annise Kennedy.   David was probably the brother of my GGG grandfather John E. Robinson.  Annise was the daughter of Josiah Kennedy and Eugenia Trippet (maybe Triplett?).   After Elizabeth's death in 1889, Solomon moved with his children to Hill County, Texas where he later remarried and where he died in 1921.    Pictured above are the grave markers for Solomon and his second wife, Mary Taylor.

Elizabeth Jane Robinson Wiginton is buried at Shottsville Methodist Church Cemetery, and her tombstone can be viewed at Find-a-Grave.

Another Robinson-Wiginton marriage was between Solomon's brother, Isaac Riley Wiginton, and Easter Ann Robinson, daughter of John E. Robinson and Rachael Reed Emerson, my GGG grandparents. Isaac and Easter moved from Itawamba County to Hill County, Texas where they are found in the 1900 and 1910 censuses.  Easter, a Scots-Irish pronunciation of Esther, became ill and wanted to "come home" one last time.  Supposedly, she died on the train coming back to Itawamba County.  You can read more about Isaac and Easter at this  Itawamba Connections post from 2009.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Aunt Jo - Biscuit Queen

One of the most exciting events that happened while this blog was on hiatus was Aunt Jo's participation in McDonald's annual biscuit making competition.  Customers have long raved about Aunt Jo's biscuits at the local McDonald's in Fulton, and in March her biscuits competed against those of other biscuit-makers at the regional bake-off in Birmingham.  Aunt Jo's biscuits were among the best of those presented that day, and she became a local celebrity when news of the competition hit the newspapers in both Fulton and Tupelo.

Congratulations, Aunt Jo!   We know you make wonderful biscuits, and now everyone else does too.  And if you've ever had a piece of her caramel cake, well, you've tasted a bite of heaven!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

John Thomas Emerson - Itasca Cemetery, Hill County,Texas

The grave marker for John Thomas Emerson was photographed last week in Itasca Cemetery in Itasca, Hill County, Texas.  John Thomas Emerson moved from the Shottsville area of Marion County, just across the state line from Tremont, to Hill County sometime before or around 1890.  

John Thomas Emerson was the son of John R. (some believe the 'R' stands for Robinson) Emerson and Nancy Jane Kennedy.   Several Emerson, Robinson and Kennedy families moved to Hill County, Texas after the Civil War.   These families lived in and around the Shottsville-Bexar-Tremont area along the Mississippi-Alabama state line.

John R. Emerson was the son of George Emerson and Easter/Esther Robinson.   I believe that George Emerson was a brother to the John Emerson who lived in the Carolina community of Itawamba County, both men likely were sons of Thomas Emerson/Emmerson who migrated from Goochland County, Virginia to Abbeville District, South Carolina.  Just before 1810, there was another migration from South Carolina to Franklin County, Tennessee, and that is where it is thought that George Emerson met and married Easter Robinson, probable daughter of John and Elizabeth Robinson.  Later, George and Easter moved to Lawrence County, Alabama and then finally to Marion County.  They are said to be buried at Shottsville Methodist Church Cemetery, in unmarked graves.

Nancy Jane Kennedy, mother of John Thomas Emerson, was the daughter of Irvin Lafayette Kennedy and Martha Salina Meshow (click here to see a previous post about Martha Salina Meshow).   The Kennedy were also a migrating family from Abbeville District, and there are several descendants of this South Carolina family who still live around along the state line in Itawamba and Marion counties.  Some of the Kennedy family moved to Hill County, Texas also.  A biography of Nancy Jane Kennedy Emerson's niece's husband, Lucius Quincy Stone, indicates that his wife Lydia was the granddaughter of Joseph Kennedy and Eugenia Trippet.  I believe Joseph was the same person as Josiah Kennedy who served as bondsman along with Matthew Robinson for George Emerson who was the administrator of the 1826 estate of John Robinson in Lawrence County, Alabama.  Many descendants of Irvin Lafayette Kennedy and his sister, Annise Kennedy Robinson, were named Josiah.

Nancy Jane Kennedy Emerson's brother, Josiah K. Emerson, moved to Hill County, Texas where he died in 1915.  He is buried in Covington Cemetery in Hill County.

Monday, May 9, 2011


above:  downtown Itasca, Texas
below:  Itasca Cemetery

Itasca is a small railroad town in Hill County, Texas that was settled in the 1880's.  Its growth was fueled by the surrounding fertile soil which was perfect for growing cotton, and cotton was the main attraction for the many families of Itawamba County who left Mississippi for Texas and the promise of new prosperity.   It is really amazing the number of my ancestral families who were part of that migration to Hill County, and neighboring Johnson County - Robinson, Evans, Young,  Bishop, Emerson and others. 

When the cotton mill closed in 1962 after sixty years of operation, the town of Itasca began its decline, and today has a population of around 1,500 people.    

Itasca Cemetery, located across the railroad tracks, has over 4,000 graves, and its markers contain names of former citizens of Itawamba County, as well as Marion and Lamar counties of Alabama.  Many thanks and much appreciation to my husband for his patience while I explored this cemetery searching for familiar names.
Cindy Lou's Homecookin' Cafe is well worth the ten mile drive from Interstate 35, and while in Itasca you can drop by to say howdy and lay some flowers on the graves of some Itawamba connections in the cemetery.   Be sure to take a lot of flowers though!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Betty Jean Pennington Robinson

Happy Mother's Day to my beautiful mother - We love you! 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bexar, Jacinto, Houston and Saltillo

Bexar County Courthouse
San Antonio, Texas

It was an unusually cool May evening last week in downtown San Antonio when I snapped this photo of the Bexar County courthouse with my phone's camera.  Unfortunately, I didn't capture the most beautiful element of the building which is its distinctive beehive-shaped tower.   The courthouse is the largest and oldest continuously operated historic courthouse in Texas.

Bexar County was created in December 1836 in the new Republic of Texas.  Texas had won its independence earlier that year in the Battle of San Jacinto, a decisive battle in which General Sam Houston led his troops to victory over the Mexican army under the command of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.   Just a few months before, Texans and allied American soliders were crushed at the Alamo, a Catholic mission that was surrendered at the end of 1835 during the Siege of Bexar.   Everyone knows the battle cry, Remember the Alamo!

A second war with Mexico took place in 1846 and 1847, following the 1845 annexation of the Republic of Texas as a state of the United States.  Many southerners had family members who served in one or both conflicts.

Itawamba was herself a newly created county in a newly opened part of Mississippi in 1836, and its communities were in the process of being settled.   As many soldiers returned to their homes, and later relocated their families to this new territory, the names of their settlements were often taken from their recent experiences during the war for Texas independence.  

Saltillo, now in Lee County but then in Itawamba, was one of those early communities, and was likely named after the Mexican city by the same name, located just below the border with Texas.   Jacinto (pronounced locally as Jay-Senter), the former county seat of Old Tishomingo, was named for the victorious Battle of San Jacinto.  Bexar (pronounced locally as Bex-Er, which is different from the anglicized version 'Bear' found in Texas today - the 'x' is silent! - or the Spanish version pronounced as BAY-har) is a small community on the Itawamba-Marion county line; it was named for the former Spanish settlement. Houston, over in Chickasaw County, was named for General Sam Houston who led the victory over Mexican troops at San Jacinto.

Can anyone name more connections?