Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tornado picture found - Alice V. Moxley

The tornadoes that struck Mississippi and Alabama and Tennessee on April 27 unleashed and released hundreds, if not thousands, of family photos and mementos.    A page was set up on Facebook as a clearinghouse for these lost articles, and several photographs have been reunited with their owner.  This particular photograph, while identified, has not been discovered by its original owner.    Here's a link to the Facebook page that contains the found photographs and related information.

Mrs. Alice V. Moxley, wife of Luther A. Moxley, was born Alice Victoria Stanphill, daughter of John William Stanphill and Araminta Williamson.  Along with her husband Luther, Alice served as a minister in the Church of God of Prophecy.  In the 1930 census, both Luther and Alice were listed as ministers.

1930 Census
Warren County, Tennessee
Third Civil District
L. A. Moxley 36 MS AL AL minister, Prostestant church, married at age 21, war veteran
Alice V. 27 MS AL MS, minister, church
Elmer A. 5 MS son

This family is actually enumerated twice in this census.  The handwriting is different for each one, and both indicate that Alice Moxley was a minister.  The second enumeration for Alice reads "minister and pastor."

Luther's sister was also named Alice.  She was my husband's GG grandmother, married to Thomas "Bunt" Dulaney.

Monday, June 27, 2011

William Gray Woodard family

This photograph of the William Gray Woodard family was shared with me by Fay Wood, William's great-granddaughter, following a post about Susan Woodard Senter.  Susan and William were siblings, children of Jesse Woodard and Sarah Partin.   Both Jesse and Sarah were born in North Carolina, Jesse about 1808 and Sarah about 1817.    Sarah may have been sister to Gray Partin Sr. ..... note that she named one of her sons William Gray Woodard.

William Gray Woodard was born June 8, 1851 in Itawamba County and died October 14 1920 in Yell County, Arkansas.  He married Sarah Francis Guyton on September 26, 1872 in Itawamba County.  Pictured with William and Sarah in the above photograph are their three youngest children, from left:  Grady Miles, Myrtle, Audie Bell.  Fay's grandfather, John Henry Lee Woodard, is not pictured here.

Fay is trying to determine the parents of Jesse Woodard.  If anyone has any information, please get in touch with me and I'll send it along to Fay.    I also have an interest in this family:  Jesse's daughter, Isabella Jeanette Woodard, married Joseph Potts, brother of my GGG grandfather, Jesse H. Potts.   The Woodards and Pottses appear to be in different corners of the county, with Jesse Woodard up around Mud Creek and Jesse Potts down around Carolina.   All help appreciated.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Take me back to the Southland.....

Ever have a song just stuck in your head?  I've had that recently.   Several years ago, Mike and I heard a song on public radio... actually two songs played back to back.   A renewed interest in bluegrass brought the song(s) to mind.    Both are very touching, very sad songs that will send chills down your spine or put goosebumps on your arms, especially when played together.  

I'm reminded of George Washington Warren, son of S. John Warren and his second wife, Sarah Robinson, who was Mike's GGG grandfather (his great-grandmother Laura Bertha Warren Dulaney's grandfather).  G. W. Warren served in Company F, 24th Miss. Infantry, otherwise known as Cummings Grays after M. C. Cummings, who organized the company out of Itawamba County volunteers.  Company F was commanded by a fellow Itawambian, Captain B. F. Toomer.  
 Post Options
After serving in battles at Corinth, MS; Cave Hill, KY; Murfreesboro, TN; and Chickamauga, GA, George W. Warren's luck ran out.  On November 24, 1863, he was captured at the Battle of Lookout Mountain, subsequently sent to a Union prison at Louisville, Kentucky and later transferred to the newly-opened Rock Island POW Camp in Illinois where he died on December 20, 1864.  POW records indicate he died of phtheris pulmonaris, a fancy term for consumption, also known as tuberculosis of the lungs.  Most likely, it was pneumonia that killed George Washington Warren.

For additional information about a Confederate's soldier's experience at Rock Island Prison Camp, you can read this first-hand account written by Charles Wright.    Hunger, meager clothing, and poor living conditions contributed to many unnecessary deaths.  Disease was rampant; a smallpox epidemic killed over 600 prisoners in just three months.   George died leaving a wife, the former Margaret Digby, and two small children, Nancy and John Ed Warren.

The first song is Legend of the Rebel Soldier, written by Charlie Moore and popularized by the bluegrass band The Country Gentlemen in 1971.   Below are the words, but you can hear the song on You Tube here at this link.

In a dreary Yankee prison
Where a rebel soldier lay
By his side there stood a preacher
Ere his soul should pass away
And he faintly whispered: Parson
As he clutched him by the hand
Oh, parson, tell me quickly
Will my soul pass through the Southland?

Will my soul pass through the Southland
Through the old Virginia grants
Will I see the hills of Georgia
And the green fields of Alabam?
Will I see the little church house
Where I pledged my heart and hand
Oh, parson, tell me quickly
Will my soul pass through the Southland?

Was for loving dear old Dixie
In this dreary cell I lie
Was for loving dear old Dixie
In this northern state I die
Will you see my little daughter
Will you make her understand
Oh, parson, tell me quickly
Will my soul pass through the Southland?

Then the rebel soldier died

We had a difficult time finding the second song, probably hindered by the fact that we didn't know the title, which eventually was discovered to be Rebel's Last Request.  This song was written by Mississippi native and Grammy winner Carl Jackson who was born in Louisville, appeared on the Grand Ole Opry as a teenager, and later played the banjo with Glen Campbell's band.  Itawamba fiddle player Carl Grissom told us that he had played with Carl Jackson, and that he recalled that Jackson had kinfolks from over around Kirkville and Marietta. 

Rebel's Last Request was recorded in 1984 by The Bluegrass Cardinals, and unfortunately it is not in a format for downloading.  Mike did find the LP album on E-bay, and you can listen to the song on You Tube here.

Eighteen sixty-three was an awful place to be
I never thought I'd make it out alive 
But a dying man's request
Helped me pass the rugged test 
And see the end to eighteen sixty-five 

He called me to his side 
and just before he died 
This Rebel soldier made it clear to me
That his one last desire 
Before his soul it did retire 
Was to return home and there forever be 

Take me back to the southland 
Mississippi is my home 
Let me rest with those green fields above me 
Never more shall I roam 

So I dug a shallow grave 
marked the spot where he was layed 
By a nearby lonesome weeping willow tree 
And in case I lost my knife 
Or another took my life 
I carved those final words he said to me  

Take me back to the southland 
Mississippi is my home 
Let me rest with those green fields above me 
Never more shall I roam 

Eighteen Sixty-Five and I made it out alive 
So I returned to fill his final plea 
But I found no body there Just a feeling in the air 
And a change of words upon the willow tree

He's gone back to the Southland 
Mississippi is his home 
He now rests with those green fields above him 
Never more shall he roam

 G. W. Warren died, for loving dear old Dixie, in one of those dreary Yankee prisons.  He never made it back to the Southland, and along with nearly 2,000 of his fellow Confederate soldiers, he rests instead under the green fields of Illinois.

Statistics from the Civil War

Interesting statistics from the Civil War, startling even, at least to me.  Stephen Ambrose, in his book To America, Personal Reflections of a Historian, provides the following statistics:  "...for the Confederacy 94,000 battle deaths, 164,000 killed by disease, and 194,000 wounded; for the Union, 110,000 battle deaths, another 225,000 deaths by disease, and 275,000 wounded."   I had just assumed that the South bore the brunt of casualties from the war.  Just in my family of ancestors, there was a great-great grandfather who died during the war, Jesse Potts (disease, Richmond VA), another was wounded at the Battle of Corinth (George Emerson Robinson), and W. T. Bishop, my great-great-great grandfather, spent two years as a prisoner of war in various Union prison camps as one of the Immortal 600.   I figure that most everyone in the South can claim ancestors who were Confederate casualties of the War Between the States; it just never really occurred to me that likewise, my Northern counterparts could claim a similar number of ancestors with casualties from the War, if not more.   In the South, we've probably overdone the memorializing of the war dead while in the North, there has been too little recognition of the soldiers who fought to keep our country united.  

I'm enjoying Ambrose's book, which was published the same year he died, 2002.  You may remember that he wrote Band of Brothers, and is largely responsible for the D-Day Museum (now World War II Museum) being located in New Orleans.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

William Jasper Robinson- MS to ARK

Born in 1840-1841 in Itawamba County, near Tremont, William Jasper Robinson moved to Prairie County, Arkansas around 1855-1860.   His parents were William and Jane Robinson, both South Carolina natives who moved to Marion County, Alabama and Itawamba County, Mississippi.   This photo of William Jasper Robinson appeared in the Itawamba Settlers magazine several years ago, submitted by his grandson Ken Robinson, now deceased.   Although I never met or corresponded with Ken - he died before I got hooked on genealogy - I have found his trail of queries across South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi.  It was gratifying to learn that Ken and I were on the same page, so to speak, as to our Robinson heritage.  Ken and I both believe that our Robinson families connect back to Matthew Robinson who fought in the Revolutionary War from Abbeville District, South Carolina and who later moved to Lawrence County and Marion County, Alabama.

There is scant information about Jasper's parents, pretty much all we know comes from census records which indicate William was born around 1815 in South Carolina, and his wife Jane also was born in South Carolina, around 1824.     Another clue found in the 1850 census record is William's neighbor of Thomas E. Robinson, believed to be his brother.  By 1860, William and Jane appear to have died because their obviously orphaned children were living with Thomas E. Robinson in Prairie County, Arkansas.   The families also lived in Itawamba County some time in the 1840's, based on the birth places of the children given in the later censuses.

In 1850, William, his supposed brother Thomas, and their respective families were living in Marion County, Alabama.  Based on the names of their neighbors, it appears that they lived in the Pine Springs area (near Detroit) of present-day Lamar County.    A biographical sketch of Thomas's son in the 1889 history of Lonoke County, Arkansas (formerly part of Prairie County) indicates that Thomas was "of Tennessee" and moved to Alabama with his parents at an early age, moved to Mississippi in 1855, then to Arkansas.   The Tennessee reference is interesting, and supports the theory I have that our Robinsons migrated from South Carolina to Franklin County, Tennessee where several families lived for a few short years (probably 1818-1822 or so) before moving on to Alabama.  Thomas E. Robinson's middle name was Ellis, as evidenced by the 1880 census which shows him as Ellis.  There was at least one other Thomas Ellis Robinson, born 1844 in Itawamba County, the son of Matthew W. and Anna Liddle Robinson.  And there were at least three other Thomas E. Robinsons of Itawamba County who were part of our extended Robinson family and whose middle name may have been Ellis.

Back to Jasper.   He married first, Sarah Ewell, with whom he had a son named William Ellis Robinson.   Jasper next married Mary Elizabeth Lee, daughter of John Lee and Adeline McVey, and they had six children together.   Jasper served in the Civil War, and according to his grandson Jasper died September 1, 1903.  He is buried in Whitley Cemetery in Lonoke County, Arkansas.  Whitley Cemetery is one of the most peaceful cemeteries I've found.  Mike and I found this cemetery, and Jasper's grave, on a trip home from Arkansas in 2006.   The CSA marker for Jasper indicates that he died in 1892, but this is incorrect.  The 1900 census shows he and his wife living in Lonoke township of Lonoke County, Arkansas.

I'd love to hear from anyone who can provide information about brothers William and Thomas, their wives, or any of their children.  Here are census records for them.

1850 Census
Marion County, Alabama
Same page as Thomas E. Roberson:
W.B. Roberson  33 SC  Farmer  (born 1817)
Jane S.S. 26 SC
William J., 10 MS,
John H, 8 MS
Narcissa C. 6 MS
Francis J.  5 AL
Sarah E. 2  AL
Jonathan G. H. Motly?, 2, M, AL

1850 Census
Marion County, Alabama
Beat 3
Thomas E. Roberson 35 SC    (born 1815)
 Prissilea 38 SC           
 William H. 10 AL                                                                  
 John J. 8 AL
 Sarah E. 6 MS
 Thomas E. 3 AL
1860 Census
Prairie County, Arkansas   Caroline township
T. E. Robinson 51 SC  farmer  1800/600
Persilla 45  SC
William H. 19 AL
John J. 17 AL  (this is another Jasper - John Jasper)
Sarah E. 13 MS

Directly underneath the above household, in a separately enumerated dwelling, in this order:
Thomas 8 AL
Peter F. 5 MS
William J. 19 AL  (this is William Jasper)
John H. 17 MS
Francis J. 12 MS  (female)
Sallie M. 10 AL
David M. 8 AL
Martha 5 MS
L. B. Mitchell 32 KY  doctor  100/1000

The 1860 is a real puzzler for this family.   In the second dwelling, the older children appear to be the children of William B/R Robinson, Thomas's brother.   Where are their parents?  Why do Peter and Thomas, supposed children of Thomas Ellis Robinson, appear to be living in the second dwelling?  Who is the Dr. Mitchell of the household?  It appears he owns the property ($100 value of real property).   The second dwelling is shown under the name of Thomas, age 8.  He is the first person listed under the dwelling number.     Neighbors are not familiar and do not indicate Mississippi or Alabama as place of birth.

By 1870, the part of Prairie County in which the family was living in 1860 had become part of Pulaski County.  Little Rock is located in Pulaski County.

1870 Census
Pulaski County, Arkansas   Caroline township
T. E. Robinson 60 SC  farmer  1600/550   (born 1810)
"Leo" Robinson 60 SC  female  "k. house"
Peter F. 13 MS 

Lonoke County was created in 1873 from parts of Pulaski and Prairie Counties, and this is where we find the family in the 1880 census.   What became northern Lonoke County was part of Prairie County in the 1860 census, became part of Pulaski Couny in the 1870 census, and finally Lonoke County by the 1880 census.

1880 Census
Lonoke County, Arkansas   Lonoke township
Ellis Robinson  68 SC SC SC  farmer   (born 1812)
Prisilla 73 SC SC SC 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mary Bowen Brown

Mary M. Bowen was the youngest child of William Bowen and Rebecca Wesson.    She was born on January 5, 1847 in Tennessee while her parents were enroute from Cleveland County, North Carolina to Itawamba County, Mississippi.  In January 1866, Mary married Thomas Jefferson Brown, son of J. William and Sarah Brown.  The 1880 census finds the couple living next to her parents, but by the turn of the century the couple had moved to Arkansas.

1880 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
5th Supervisors District
Living next to her parents, William and Rebecca Bowen
Thomas Brown 38 AL AL AL farmer
Mary Brown 33 TN VA AL
William Brown 13 MS
Sarah Brown 10 MS
George Brown 7 MS
James Brown 4 MS
Mary F. Brown 1 MS

1900 Census
St. Francis County, Arkansas
Telico township
Thomas J Brown 56 AL AL AL farmer,born Dec 1843, married 35 yrs
Mary M Brown 53 TN VA NC, born Jan 1847, 7 children, 6 living
James D Brown 24 MS AL TN, born May 1876, farm laborer
Mary F Brown 20 20 MS AL TN, born June 1879
Lillie B Brown 16 16 MS AL TN, born Feb 1884
Clifford O Brown 13 MS AL TN, born Oct 1886
Summer M Blalock 48 GA GA GA, boarder with family, born Nov 1851, schoolteacher

A great-granddaughter of Thomas and Mary Brown shared this photograph of Mary Bowen Brown with me, and she indicated that her great-grandparents left Itawamba County in 1891, via a covered wagon train, for Caldwell, a small railroad town north of Forrest City in St. Francis County, Arkansas.

Records for Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church in Itawamba County show that Thomas Brown joined the church by letter in July 1870; he was an active member, serving as a delegate many times to association meetings (early records indicate that this church was originally Primitive Baptist).   In 1883, T. J. Brown was appointed to talk to Bro. Mabe Roberts about some fighting, and was also appointed to serve as a delegate along with W. H. Bowen and J. Y. Bowen to a union meeting.  Early records indicate that Mt. Pisgah was originally a Primitive Baptist church but adopted the beliefs of Missionary Baptists around the turn of the 20th century.   Bowens, Bookouts, Webbs and Chamblees appear to be among the dominant families of the early Mt. Pisgah church.

When the family moved to Arkansas, Thomas and Mary Brown helped organize Caldwell Baptist Church of Christ ('Baptist Church of Christ' was a designation that usually meant Primitive Baptist or Hardshell Baptist beliefs).  Their names are included on the church's first membership roll dated September 1900.

A huge thanks goes out to Mary Brown Spivey who shared this information about her ancestors and Itawamba County roots.    Mary's great-grandmother, her namesake Mary, was my great-grandmother's (Queenie Victoria Clayton Davis) half-great aunt.  

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church and Cemetery

Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church is located on Mt. Pisgah Road, just off Nita Lake Road and close to Clay-Tilden Road in eastern Itawamba County.    You can't see the cemetery from the road, but it is located behind the church.  It is a small cemetery; a few graves are marked with only stones, and the other graves belong primarily to Bowen, Bookout and Lyle families.   I took the above photographs about eighteen months ago.

Be aware that there are two Mt. Pisgah churches in Itawamba County.  The other church is located north of Mantachie in western Itawamba County.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bus Routes - 1943

 Fulton News Beacon
February 25, 1943   

You could hop on a bus at Dulaney's Store (This might have been T.A. 'Bunt' Dulaney's Store -- he died in 1941? ) and an hour later, arrive at Banner.    There must have been quite a bit of commerce between Fulton and Red Bay, to warrant a bus route.  Pretty interesting to see the bus stops, wonder if there was similar service to other parts of the county by other bus lines?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dollie's children

Hunter Stone, son of Ruby Costa Cofield and her husband Hugh Cowden Stone, shared this photograph of the children of John and Dollie Loyd Cofield.  My grandmother is the little girl in the middle.  The typewritten caption included with the picture was added by Hunter to identify the children.  Pauline, the youngest child of John and Dollie, was not yet born when the photograph was made so this dates it to late 1908 or early 1909.

I wish the quality of the image was better.  Unfortunately it is a scan of a photocopy, but nonetheless I'm happy to have the picture.   Before my daddy died in 2005, he told me to be sure to contact his first cousin, Hunter Stone, to get information about the Cofield family - Hunter was known as the family historian.  It wasn't until the following year that I called up Hunter one evening at his home in Florence, Alabama.  We exchanged e-mail addresses and soon I had an 80 year old e-mail buddy.   Hunter eagerly shared all of his Cofield research and family information, and in return I shared what I had learned about the Loyd family.    Hunter died in 2009.  I will always be grateful that Daddy urged me to give Hunter a call.   He was a sweet person.
Children of John & Dollie Loyd Cofield - minus Pauline who was not yet born
Ella Pearl Cofield, age 2-3

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dollie Loyd Cofield

Dollie's real name was Mary Marenda Loyd, the youngest child of Isham and Rachel Young Loyd.   She was born January 11, 1877 north of Shottsville on the Loyd family farm near Bull Mountain Creek in Marion County, Alabama.  My great-grandmother died when she was only 35 years old, leaving behind five orphaned children, the oldest being not yet twelve years old.   Pearl, my grandmother, was only five.

Dollie married John Richard Cofield on September 10, 1899.  The following April, John received his dental degree from Birmingham Dental College, and when the census taker (Dollie's brother-in-law, John L. Shotts) came 'round that summer he found the young married couple living with Dollie's parents.  Their first child, James Clyde, was born that July. Within a couple of years, John and Dollie had moved to Hackleburg in northeastern Marion County where John opened a dental practice, and by 1904, the family was in Haleyville where John died in 1910.

Dollie Loyd Cofield died March 29, 1912.  Her grandson, Hunter Stone, told me that his mother always said that her mother (Dollie) died of a broken heart following the death of her husband.   Officially, Dollie's death certificate indicates that she died of pellagra which is a rather odd diagnosis for Dollie.

Dollie died in 1912 when much about pellagra was misunderstood.   First reported in 1902, pellagra is a disease manifested by skin lesions, diarrhea, depression and sometimes dementia.   Patients are said to "waste away." Many cases were misdiagnosed as I suspect Dollie's was - she certainly would have been wasting away, and depressed, if she was mourning over the death of her husband less than two years earlier.  She may also have been suffering from an undiagnosed cancer or other illness.

In the rural South in the very early 1900's, pellagra reached epidemic proportions with high rates of morbidity.  Doctors blamed the disease on an unknown toxin or germ, believing it to be an infectious disease.  Not until 1915 was the link made between pellagra and diet, although several more years would pass before the lack of niacin was found to be the causative factor.

Pellagra is a nutritional disease caused by a deficiency of Vitamin B, or niacin.  Although pellagra can be caused by a metabolic disorder, the disease is usually related to a diet highly dependent upon corn.   Overwhelmingly, pellagra was found among the rural poor in the early 1900's.   Reliance upon corn and corn products (cornbread! grits!) combined with a diet lacking in fresh fruit and vegetables as well as meat, especially in winter months, made most Southerners at risk for pellagra.  The availability of milled flour after the Civil War also played a role since most of the vitamins were removed during the wheat milling process.  After the Great Depression, commercially packaged white flour was enriched with niacin.  Pellagra was essentially eradicated by 1960.

After her death, Dollie was buried next to her beloved John in the Cofield-Cockrell Cemetery near John's family home north of Shottsville.  She was survived by five children:  Clyde, Ruby, Louis, Pearl and Pauline, along with both her parents, a brother Luther, and two sisters, Millie Frances Shotts and Louella Clemontine Davis.  Dollie's young daughters went to live with Dollie's sister-in-law, Vannah Cofield Harbor, in Tremont while her sons moved in with their grandfather, Sam Cofield.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Remembering John Richard Cofield

John Richard Cofield died 101 years ago today.
Husband of Mary Marenda Loyd ("Dollie")
Father of Clyde, Ruby, Louis, Pearl and Pauline
Brother of Vannah Harbor and Mary Emeline Goggans
Son of Sam Cofield and Zilpha Cockrell Cofield
My great-grandfather

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Davis-Loyd Family of Bull Mountain

Newly found "old" pictures are like Christmas presents, and lucky for me, I get to enjoy Christmas year around!   Cousin Jim Shotts shared this photograph with me earlier this year, along with some others that I will post later.  The photo is especially neat because it connects both my maternal Davis and paternal Loyd lines -- the only known connection between my mother's and my father's families. 

Jesse Abner Davis, seated to the left, was the son of Samuel McGee Davis and Emily Jane Lacey, named for Samuel's father, Jesse, although he went by the name of Abner .  Abner and my maternal great-grandfather, James Kelly Davis, were first cousins.  Samuel McGee Davis lived along the Mississippi-Alabama state line, earlier in Itawamba County and later over in Marion County, Alabama which is where Abner was born.  By contrast, Samuel's brother, James William Anderson Davis, my great-great grandfather, moved to Fulton, raised a family, and is buried in Fulton Cemetery.

Abner was a U.S. Deputy Marshall, serving northwestern Alabama.

Louella Clemontine Loyd, known as Ella to family and friends (her nickname was Love), was the daughter of Isham James Loyd and Rachel Caroline Young.  My paternal grandmother, Ella Pearl Cofield Robinson, was named for her Aunt Ella.   Ella and Abner married in 1893, and they had one child, a daughter Myrtle, pictured above in her father's lap.  Myrtle married Oscar Lochridge, and the 1920 and 1930 censuses find them living in Itawamba County - in 1920 in Wiginton Precinct, and in 1930 on the road to Vina, Alabama.  

Standing behind Abner and Ella are two women:  Mary Marenda "Dollie" Loyd (left) and Ora Avery (right).     Dollie was my great-grandmother, the youngest child of Isham and Rachel Loyd who was nearly six years younger than her sister Ella.   I don't know who Ora Avery is, and neither does Jim who owns the original photograph.  Is Avery a last name, or a middle name, for Ora?  There are some Avery families that lived in the Bull Mountain vicinity so perhaps Ora belongs to one of them... would love to hear from somebody who recognizes the name.

Dollie married John Richard Cofield, and they had five children before their untimely deaths in 1910 (Richard) and 1912 (Dollie).  Dollie was said by her daughter, Ruby, to have died of a broken heart.

Below are some newspaper items about Abner and Ella.

Hamilton News Press
November 29, 1893 
Married - At the residence of the bride's father, at Bull Mountain, on the 22nd instant, MR. J. A. Davis and Miss Ella Loyd. The Free Press wishes the young couple a long life of uninterrupted bliss.

Hamilton News Press
December 13, 1893
Mr. J. A. Davis who recently married the estimable daughter of our esteemed friend, Mr. I. J. Loyd, of Marion County, located to Russellville on the 30th ult.  Mr. Davis is an energetic young man of good business qualifications.  His good lady is one of Marion’s fairest daughters.  We wish them a pleasant and profitable journey through life. - Hustler

Hamilton News Press
April 18, 1895
Miss Dollie Loyd, a charming young lady of Bull Mountain, is visiting her sister, Mrs. J. A. Davis, at this place.

Hamilton News Press
June 6, 1895
Mr. and Mrs. I. J. Loyd, of Bull Mountain, are visiting their daughter, Mrs. Ella Davis, who is sick at this place.

Hamilton News Press
January 24, 1896

Deputy Marshal J. A. Davis, of Bull Mountain was here this week.

Deputy Collector. W. L. Cole and Deputy Marshals Jas A. O’Rear and J. A. Davis made a raid five miles west of Hamilton on last Wednesday, capturing two hundred and fifty gallons of illicit whisky.  The whisky was found concealed in a ditch about forty yards from the residence of H. W. Palmer.  The officers hired a wagon and team from Mrs. Palmer, and brought the whisky to Hamilton, where it was stored in the office of Commissioner D. N. Cooper.  A thorough search on the premises was made to find the still but no copper was found.  Palmer says the whisky was made from chemicals and not from a distillery.  He was given a trial yesterday before Commissioner Cooper and held to bail in the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars, which he promptly gave.

Itawamba County News
March 5, 1908
Rara Avis news
Mr. Abner Davis of Haleyville, Ala., is moving into our dear old county of Itawamba. 
Itawamba County News
May 24, 1910
Rara Avis news
Mrs. Ella Davis and daughter Miss Myrtle of Bexar were among friends Saturday and Sunday.  Miss Myrtle  spending a week with her grandmother.
Many old newspaper abstracts from Marion County newspapers, painstakingly transcribed by Veneta McKinney, can be found at this link:   Old newspapers can provide wonderful Christmas presents too!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

John Henderson Bowen photo

John H. Bowen photograph - 
presumed to be John Henderson Bowen 1822-1881, 
son of William and Martha Bowen.  

This digital image was shared with me by Mary Spivey, a descendant of William Bowen and Rebecca Wesson.  Since John died in 1881, the original photograph was likely a tintype.  Note the pink tinted cheeks... something often found on these old photos.

Monday, June 6, 2011

John Henderson Bowen 1822-1881

John Henderson Bowen was the oldest son of William and Martha Bowen, born May 5, 1822 in Virginia; he died November 25, 1881 in Itawamba County, Mississippi.

The Bible record of John's brother, W.D.S. Bowen, indicates that John married M.Z.E. Putman on August 29, 1847, while a Bible belonging to John's son shows that John married Zinnie E., daughter of Elias C. Putnam and Nancy, on the same date, in Shelby, North Carolina.

John and Zinnie were enumerated in the 1850 census in Cleveland County, North Carolina, but by 1860 the couple were in Itawamba County.   Zinnie died on November 30, 1866, and John remarried, to Mary Susan Tarver on February 21, 1868.

The graves of John and Zinnie are lost to us although we know the approximate location;  they were buried on family property located west of Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church.   Unfortunately, the family cemetery was bulldozed - apparently by accident - after the property was sold.  John Henderson Bowen's broken tombstone was later found where it had been pushed down a hill.   I was able to photograph John's grave marker which is in the possession of a Bowen descendant who still lives in Itawamba County.   Maybe one day other markers will turn up.

John and Zinnie had the following children:

William H. M. Bowen, married Mary Jane Tucker, died Itawamba County
Elias Alexander Bowen, married Rachel J. Hurst, moved to Arkansas and later Oklahoma
Emily J. Bowen, married Ephraim Johnson
John M. L. Bowen, died as infant in Cleveland County, North Carolina
Martha A. Bowen (my GG grandmother), married Nathaniel M. Clayton
Henderson** Roberts Bowen, married first Susan "Sallie" Lawson, second Mary Susan Elizabeth Fikes, died Itawamba County
Nancy Victoria Dulaney, married Alfred Elias Dulaney, died Sevier County, Arkansas
James Y. Bowen, married Sallie W. Rogers, died Itawamba County
Sarah E. Bowen, married Robert Franklin Smith
C. E. Bowen, gender unknown, died as small child

Apparently, John and his second wife did not have any children, or if so, they are not known to me.

Some descendants indicate that John was a minister, and that appears to be true.  Records show that John H. Bowen registered as a member of the clergy, Missionary Baptist faith, on January 23, 1866.    John may have served as minister for Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, or its predecessor church.  The minute books for Mt. Pisgah are full of Bowen names, including those of John's children and brother W.D.S. Bowen during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  On my to-do list is to find 1987 copies of Itawamba Settlers magazines that contain transcriptions of the earliest minutes of Mt. Pisgah (back to the 1870s) to see what references there may be to my GGG grandfather.

I also need to determine whether or not John H. Bowen served in the Civil War.   Records show a J. H. Bowen serving in the Company H, 2nd Regiment, Miss. but I don't know if this is the same as my John Henderson Bowen.  John would have been close to 40 years old when the war started.   His brother, W.D.S.Bowen, was an officer in the Miss. Cavalry.

** The name of Henderson Roberts Bowen is intriguing.  In the 1850 census, a Henderson Roberts is enumerated a few households away from John Henderson Bowen and his family.  What is the connection?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Jimmie Lunceford - Marker Dedication

It was a very hot and humid Saturday in Fulton for the Jimmie Lunceford marker dedication in front of City Hall, but by all accounts everyone was pleased with the event.  There is some serious discussion about the possibility of a local music festival in Lunceford's honor, and hopefully this will come to fruition.   The Itawamba County Development Council and the Lunceford Committee did a great job in planning the event and was commended by Alex Thomas, program manager for the Mississippi Blues Trail Commission who was in town for the ceremony.  Following a warm welcome by Shawn Green, and an original poem written and read by poet Patricia Neely-Dorsey, my husband Mike gave a delightful and entertaining speech about our county's musical heritage and Alderman Hayward Wilson spoke regarding the Jimmie Lunceford legacy.   Although the Itawamba County-born Lunceford lived only 45 years, his innovative style of music has made a huge impact throughout the world.  He was widely successful during his time, and big band leaders such as Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman credited Lunceford as being one of the best in the business. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Census Information - Jimmie Lunceford and family

1900 Census
Itawamba County, Mississippi
Pleasanton precinct
Riley Lunceford 30 MS NC NC, farmer, can read and write, owns farm, born April 1870
Idella Lunceford 17 MS MS MS, can read and write, born Jan 1883, married 3 months

[Neighbors in the 1900 census were several black Tucker and Warren families.   Pleasanton was a voting precinct/community located northeast of Fulton.]

1910 Census
Oklahoma County, Oklahoma
Choctaw township
James Lunceford 41 MS MS MS farmer, owns home, married 10 years, second marriage
Della 28 MS MS MS, wife, married 10 years, first marriage, 2 children born, 2 children living
Nelson 8 MS MS MS son [this is James Melvin]
Cornelius 5 OK MS MS son

1920 Census
Denver County, Colorado
City of Denver
James Lunceford 41 MS SC SC janitor for private family, rents
Ida 35 MS MS MS wife
Melvin 17 MS MS MS son
Cornelius 15 OK MS MS son

1930 Census
Trumbull County, Ohio
City of Warren
James Lunceford 27 MS MS MS crate maker for drinking fountain, owns home worth $3000
Ida 44 MS MS MS  wife
Junior 8 CO MS MS son

1930 Census
Shelby County, Tennessee
City of Memphis
Jimmy Lunsford 27 MS MS MS teacher in county school, boarder in home of  James Moody

Honoring Jimmie Lunceford: Itawamba-born

   The Itawamba County Board of Supervisors has declared Saturday, June 4th, as Jimmie Lunceford Day to honor the Itawamba-born Jazz great.  James Melvin Lunceford was born June 6, 1902, the son of Itawamba natives James Riley Lunceford and Idella Shumpert.

A Mississippi Blues Trail marker will be unveiled at the Fulton City Hall at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow with live Jazz music presented both before and after the unveiling.  My husband, Mike, will deliver a short keynote address.  Scott Barretta, research coordinator for the Mississippi Blues Trail, will be on hand for the ceremony also.   Scott was instrumental in getting the marker for Itawamba County after conversations with Mike about Lunceford's connection to Itawamba.    If Scott's name sounds familiar to you, it is because he is the host of Highway 61 Blues program Saturday evenings on Mississippi Public Radio.  Scott, who recently published a book, Mississippi: State of Blues, was for several years the editor of Living Blues magazine and is widely considered an expert on Blues music and culture.  

And now, for your reading pleasure, here is an article that Mike wrote for the Red Bay News about Jimmie Lunceford and some of his fellow Itawambians.
JAZZNOCRACY   by Mike Mills
The line between Alabama and Mississippi, not to mention the line between Itawamba, Franklin and Marion Counties, is often blurred, if not down right confusing.  Some of the early settlers in Red Bay thought they were in Mississippi and some of the Tremont folk thought they had settled in Alabama.  And no doubt some folk around Bexar thought they had found Texas. The citizens of these neighboring communities share much in common. Black-eyed peas and cornbread are a staple in our diet.  We all know a home grown tomato properly sliced and peppered and put on white bread smeared generously with mayonnaise is the best thing either side of the Tombigbee. We all cook with Sunflower Self-Rising Corn Mill and sop our biscuits in Golden Eagle Syrup. And we share a regional proprietary claim to the First Lady of Country Music, Tammy Wynette,  formerly known as Tammy Pugh, and of course born near Tremont in Itawamba County,  Mississippi. 
Much has been written about Tammy Wynette’s share-cropper beginnings near Tremont.  Another prominent former share-cropper in Itawamba County was Miss Rosella Presley,  from out East of Fulton.  According to local sources, Rosella sometimes frequented an Itawamba business establishment known as The Linger Longer where she may have made acquaintance with the father of one or more  of her 10 illegitimate children.  She never married. Her grandson, Vernon Presley, was born in Fulton,  but later moved to the Shakerag community in East Tupelo. He was the father of the King.  As in Rock-N-Roll.  An art form.  (See the internet web-site The Kin of Rock and Roll.)
Tammy and Elvis made it to the top of their chosen art forms with little education, much determination, and a lot of talent.  I love both of them as entertainers.  And respect each for the gifts they gave the world. 
One would suppose Itawamba County ought to be satisfied with being the seminal ground for the King of Rock and the First Lady of Country Music.  But no.
A  young fellow named James Melvin "Jimmie" Lunceford was born in the Evergreen community in Itawamba County in 1902. According to noted Itawamba historian Bob Franks, Lunceford’s people were initially well to do landowners in the African American community of Palmetto East of Fulton where his grandfather owned 150 acres off the old Warren plantation. The young Jimmie may have played in the red dirt hills drained by Bull Mountain Creek and Dulaney Branch. Little Jimmie went on to lead one of the greatest jazz bands of his day. He would be known as the King of Syncopation. 
Jimmie’s people found a way for him to attain a higher education at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. (While there he dated the daughter of W.E.B. Dubois, a prominent black philosopher and founder of the NAACP.) He majored in music and mastered many instruments.
After graduating from college, Jimmie began teaching music at Manassas High School in Memphis where he organized a group of his students into a band called  The Chickasaw Syncopators.  This group later evolved into Jimmie Lunceford’s Orchestra which scored big in 1934 at the Cotton Club in Harlem.  The band became known for a two-beat swing and polished showmanship and gained a national reputation. For ten years they were the top attraction at the Apollo Theatre where the band was known as The Harlem Express. His songs have been described as sophisticated, cheerful and boisterous. Major hits include White Heat, Jazznocracy, Rhythm is Our Business, In Dat Mornin’ and Swingin’ Uptown.
In his day, Jimmie Lunceford from outside Fulton, Mississippi was bigger than his contemporaries, Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. Glenn Miller, who borrowed from the Lunceford style, said,  “Duke Ellington is great, [Count} Basie is remarkable, but Lunceford tops them both.”  (Quote from Determeyer's excellent Lunceford biography, Rhythm Is Our Business, 2006.)  Unfortunately Jimmy has not enjoyed the lasting fame of many of his contemporaries. His full potential may not have been reached since he died an early death in 1947 when he collapsed  while signing autographs in Seaside, Oregon. He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis. 
A tip of the hat for this piece must go to Rubye Del Hardin who wrote about Jimmie in the 1960’s;  to Fulton musician and author Bob Gilliland who more recently published a piece about him in Itawamba Settlers;  and to Oxonian Scott Baretta who prevailed upon the powers that be to finally establish a Jimmie Lunceford marker on the Fulton Courthouse grounds.
And to bring it on home as they say in the music business, what do we make of a few sections of hilly land East of Fulton which  not only grow lush Kudzu and stout Mimosa trees but which also produced some of the finest entertainers in America?  Well I think if you or your daddy ever ran barefooted in the sandy red ditch banks of an Itawamba gravel road, or if you got baptized or went skinny dipping in Dulaney branch or if you ever tasted the ice cold waters of Bull Mountain Creek (either straight or improved with local corn products), then you have the makin’s of mastering an art form yourself.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Coleen Cummings Robinson, 1914-2011

       While this blog was on hiatus this spring, we lost a special member of the Robinson-Cummings family.  Aunt Coleen Robinson died March 20, 2011 at the age of 97.    She was born Coleen Tamsie Cummings on January 21, 1914 in the Ratliff community of Itawamba County to Walter C. and Tamsie Mitchell Cummings.  As a young girl, she moved with her family to Clay County where her father owned and operated a saw mill near Old Waverly on the Tombigbee River.  The Great Depression caused the saw mill to shut down, and the Cummings family moved back to Itawamba County to the house that Walter Cummings had originally built for his family in 1924.  

When Uncle Buddy and Aunt Coleen moved back to Fulton around 1990, they undertook a renovation of the old Cummings home, modernizing it yet retaining its original look and feel.  Located on Sandlin Road in Fulton, the house is still standing today, still owned and occupied by Cummings descendants.  

One of Aunt Coleen's lillies
After her family and church (she was the oldest member of Trinity Baptist Church), Aunt Coleen most loved her flowers, especially lillies of all kinds although she loved pretty much any type of flower or plant.   She gardened up until 2009 when her failing health, at age 95, prevented her from getting around.  It was with much reluctance and regret that Aunt Coleen gave up her hoe and gardening gloves.   Today, the daylilies that Aunt Collen so lovingly planted and tended are in full bloom and are deserving of a drive-by in remembrance of her the next time I am in Fulton.

Aunt Coleen was very proud of her heritage, and I am so appreciative and thankful that this special woman shared her love of family with me.

2009:  Some of Aunt Coleen's lillies next to her house

2009:  Aunt Coleen, center, with her nieces Lucy & Sue Robinson

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Martha Overby - Rebecca Wesson: Setting the record straight

William Bowen moved to Itawamba County between 1847 and 1850 where he  and his family are found enumerated in the 1850 census in District 7 (name transcribed as William Boron).   Based upon the surrounding "neighbors" of this census (Alfred and Rachael Dulaney, and others) it appears that William lived northeast of Fulton.  Indeed, in the 1860 census, William is indicated to be living near the Pleasanton post office which was located in northeastern Itawamba County.  NOTE:  William Bowen is not to be confused with William Elisha Bowen, my husband's ancestor, who moved from Pontotoc County to the Mud Creek community - a different family of Bowens altogether... as far as I know!  ;)

William's oldest son, John Henderson Bowen, is my great-great-great grandfather who was born in Virginia on May 5, 1822.   In 1850, John and his family were still living in Cleveland County, North Carolina.  Cleveland was a relatively new county, established in 1841 from parts of Rutherford and Lincoln counties, named for Col. Benjamin Cleveland who was a Revolutionary War hero at Kings Mountain.   Cleveland County sits just above the South Carolina state line.

In a family Bible, belonging to William Darden Shelton Bowen, middle son of William, it is written that his mother, Martha, died June 1854 in North Carolina.  W.D.S. Bowen's father, William, is indicated in the Bible to have died April 28, 1888 in Fulton, Miss.  Who, then, was the 46 year old Rebecca who was William's spouse in the 1850 census - the same Rebecca who was also listed as William's spouse in the 1860, 1870 and 1880 censuses?   Martha did not die until 1854, in North Carolina, as evidenced by both the Bible record and her headstone in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery outside the town of Shelby in Cleveland County, North Carolina, near the border with South Carolina.   Rebecca was still living in 1888 when William Bowen's estate was probated in Itawamba County.  They obviously are not the same person.

Information recently provided to me has solved the mystery of Martha and Rebecca.   A descendant of Rebecca and William Bowen graciously shared her research with me, research that shows Rebecca to be the common law wife of William.  William's first wife was Martha Overby who was at least ten years older than her husband; the couple were married December 1817 in Mecklenburg County, Virginia.

William and Rebecca undoubtedly met through William and Martha's oldest child, Emily or "Millie", who was married to Edward Wesson, Rebecca's brother.    Or perhaps, it was the other way around, and Emily and Edward met through Rebecca.  Which ever way the introductions happened, Rebecca (who already had one child out of wedlock) and William eventually hooked up, with their first child being born around 1835.    Eventually, four more children were born to Rebecca and William.  The births of Julia, Catherine, Minerva, and Richard Henry were recorded in North Carolina Bastardy Books and list William Bowen as the children's father.  William was bound by law and obligated to provide for the children.   By 1847, William and Rebecca had left North Carolina together, and their fourth child, Mary, was born in Tennessee enroute to Itawamba County.

Looking back at the 1840 census, there is a William Bowin enumerated in Rutherford County, North Carolina.  The sex and ages of the household members match up with those of William, Martha and their children.   Listed as living next door:  Edward Wesson!   You may be interested to learn that Edward and Millie Wesson were the GGG grandparents of Elvis Presley, while William and Martha Bowen were GGGG grandparents of Elvis.

Martha died in June 1854 as did a couple of her grandsons, both buried near Martha in the North Carolina cemetery.   Following Martha's death, her children - with the exception of daughter Lavinia "Vaney" - left North Carolina and joined their father in Mississippi.    Mary Spivey, a descendant of William Bowen and his common law wife, Rebecca, took the following photographs of the grave of Martha Bowen.  When she found Martha's grave, the headstone had been broken and was embedded in the ground.  Mary and her husband took time out of their busy schedule to dig up and repair the headstones of not just Martha, but also her grandsons!  They purchased Quikrete to reattach the stones, then went back for flowers to decorate the graves!   What an amazing act of kindness from someone not even related to Martha.   Here are the before and after pictures:

If anyone has any information about the burial location of William and Rebecca's graves in Itawamba County, I would appreciate an e-mail.  Interesting that we know where Martha is buried and have pictures, but nothing is known about the final resting place of William and Rebecca.  William's estate was probated in Itawamba County with a final settlement being made in 1891 to his heirs; Rebecca was still living at the time.