Friday, August 31, 2012

Minnesota's story

What happened to Minnesota, daughter of Jemima Robinson and David M. Purnell?  Before the contact by Dean Howell Page, the last known record was of Minnesota living with her grandparents, Henry J. and Catherine Robinson, during the 1900 census.

According to Dean, her husband's aunts, with whom she spoke, recalled her as Minsy.   Her full name was Easter Catherine Elizabeth Minnesota Purnell.  She was apparently named for her grandmother, Linia Catherine Emerson Robinson, and her great-grandmothers, Easter Robinson Emerson and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown) Robinson.  Easter is a family name that goes back to South Carolina, and probably to Scotland.  Easter (namesake of Easter Robinson Emerson) is believed to be the wife of Matthew Robinson, the father of many of the Robinson men found in early Marion County, Alabama and Itawamba County, Mississippi.  She was the daughter of James Liddell and Easter Porter, both thought to be Scots-Irish who came to Maryland or Delaware from Scotland and migrated down into Virginia and then Abbeville District, South Carolina.  Easter was the Scottish pronunciation of the name Esther, thus you will often find it both ways.

In the 1910 census, Minnesota was 32 years old and single, living with the family of her aunt, Sarah E. Purnell Robinson.  Minnesota's father, David M. Purnell, was Sarah's brother. Sarah was married to John E. Robinson, son of David Matthew Robinson and nephew to Minnesota's grandfather, Henry J. Robinson. (Note:  This is a different John E. Robinson from the one married to Rachael Reed Emerson.)   In the 1910 census household, Minnesota was listed, or transcribed, as Misnus Powell.

In the 1920 census, I never would have found her although she was right under my nose!  Minnesota married around 1913 to Harrison Brown, and their only child, Viola, was born a year later.  Harrison and "Easter M." (her name in the census record) were living next to my great-great grandfather, Samuel L. Cofield, between the Shottsville and Bexar communities.   Further, Harrison Brown's World War I draft registration card indicates that he was employed as a farm worker by Sam Cofield!  (The Cofields were my grandmother Pearl's family while my grandfather Luke was a Robinson -- two unrelated families.)

A bit more digging turned up Minnesota's obituary, as extracted and posted on the Itawamba County genforum website.  Minsy died in 1957 and was buried in the cemetery at Shottsville.  Her daughter, Viola, married Dewey Gullick and lived most of her life near Tremont.  Viola and Dewey were members of Asbury Methodist Church, and they are buried in the church cemetery.

And that, my friends, is the rest of Minnesota's story.  As I've often said, genealogy is like picking at the loose threads of a quilt.  Sooner or later, if you pull at enough threads, the quilt will unravel to show what's underneath. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jemima's story

Sometimes the person you've been looking for has been right there under your feet all along.

A few years ago I put together the marriage of Jemima C. Robinson and David M. Purnell, using census records and the Purnell-Clouse family Bible.   Jemima, who went by the nickname Mima, was the daughter of Henry J. Robinson and Linia Catherine Emerson.  With her marriage to David M. Purnell, there was sort of a trifecta of families.  The Robinson, Emerson and Purnell families were all closely associated in the early 1800s in Marion County, Alabama and earlier back in Abbeville District, South Carolina.  All three are direct lines of mine although Jemima, David, Henry and Linia are not my direct descendants.

David M. Purnell was the nephew of my great-great-great grandfather Samuel Morris Purnell.  Henry J. Robinson was the supposed brother of my great-great-great grandfather John E. Robinson, while his wife Linia Catherine Emerson was the daughter of John E. Robinson's sister, Easter.  Easter's husband was George Emerson, and I believe - but have no proof - that George was the father of John's wife, Rachael Reed Emerson, from a marriage before Easter.

The Purnell and Robinsons intermarried a few times.  My great-great grandfather, George Emerson Robinson, son of John  E. and Rachael, married Charlotte Purnell, the daughter of Samuel Morris Purnell and Sarah E. King.  Samuel's sister, Martha Ann "Patsey" Purnell, married James L. Robinson, very probably a brother to John E. Robinson and Henry J. Robinson.

Back to Jemima C(atherine?) Robinson - as I said, I figured out that she married David M. Purnell.  The Purnell-Clouse Bible indicates that David married on December 16, 1873 but doesn't list his wife's name.  The Bible does indicate that David had a son born September 11, 1874, named Henry Johnson Purnell, and that David died on August 18, 1875.    The 1880 census shows Jemima Purnell widowed and living with her parents, along with a five year old son, Henry J., and three year old daughter, Minnesota.

1880 Census
Marion County, Alabama    Beat 3
Henry Robinson 60 SC blank blank   farmer  (born 1820)
Catherine 58 AL SC SC
Jemima Purnell 24 AL  daughter, widowed
Easter A. 16 AL  "paralysis"
Henry J. 5 AL  grandson
Minnesota 3 AL  granddaughter

In the 1900 census, Henry and Catherine have only Minnesota in their household, and there's no sign of Jemima or Henry J. Purnell.  I assumed they had died.  After all, why would Minnesota be living with her grandparents if her mother were still living.  Plus, Catherine indicated that she had had two children born with none living in 1900.  Case closed.

Until.... a few days ago when I was contacted by a Keith family researcher about a Mima C. Keith, wondering if perhaps she was the same as Jemima Purnell Robinson.    It turns out that Jemima remarried, to James M. Keith, shortly after 1880, and they had five children together before Jemima died around 1896, probably from giving birth to her last child.   James M. Keith married again very shortly after Jemima's death because his wife in the 1900 census indicates she had been married for two years.   This would also explain why Minnesota Purnell was living with her grandparents in 1900 - her mother was dead, and her stepfather had remarried.

Thanks to Dean Howell Page, and her curiosity about her husband's family, a new connection has been made.  I've learned that Jemima is buried in the cemetery at Shottsville Methodist Church in Marion County -- her gravestone is pictured above.  Without Dean's help, her e-mails to me, and her phone calls to her husband's elderly aunts, we might never have made the connection.  It's nice to have Jemima's story completed.   After all, we are distant cousins from three different families.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Who is this?

Unknown Couple

This photo was brought to the Itawamba County Times in the 1960s, for copying, by Mrs. Curtis Graham, whose given and maiden name was Clifford "Sis" Hughes.  She was the daughter of Joseph Leonard Hughes and Ophelia Rebecca Webb.  Her husband, Curtis, was the son of John W. Graham and Mary Ann Roebuck.  I'm thinking that this couple is either her parents or his.   There is something familiar-looking about this photo, as if I've seen it before.  Does anyone recognize the couple?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hello, again!

Many thanks to those of you who wrote to inquire about the lack of blog posts the past year (cannot believe it has been a year!).  It is heartwarming to know that there are people other than my immediate family who actually read this blog.   Last fall was a busy time - actually the whole year was busy - and it was time to take a break from the blog.  I can only point my finger at Michael Luke Mills, our precious grandson.   Luke has been an absolute joy to get to know over the past eighteen months since his birth, and it is his fault that the blog has suffered from a lack of posts!

Luke can't take the full blame, however, as there has been a book in the works.   A photographic history book of Itawamba County is set to be released by Arcadia Publishing during the early part of January.  I started on the book last spring and sent it off to the publisher just a couple of weeks ago.  

Now, if I can just remember all of those things that crossed my path over the past year, when I thought "that would make a cool blog post."  ;)

Here's one of those moments - a trip this summer to the Wolfe-Mills Cemetery, nestled in the beautiful, yet isolated, Clinch Mountains of Hancock County, Tennessee.   Three generations of Millses, descendants of John Mills and Alley Coffey, stood on ground that once was part of the Mills family.   John and Alley's grandson, William Orville Mills, left Tennessee as a young boy, traveling with his family to Posey County, Indiana.  Orville, who later joined the McKay family as they made their way from Indiana back to Itawamba County, married Samuel McKay's daughter Telitha and created a new generation of Millses who would call Itawamba home.

The small cemetery near Treadway contains the marked graves of two of Orville's uncles, Hiram and John, and it is believed that John and Alley are buried here in unmarked graves. 

And so, on a warm day in June, homage was paid to the place of Orville's birth, where his journey began and the connection to Itawamba County was started.