Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Images of America - Itawamba County

I am thrilled to announce the publication date for Images of America:  Itawamba County.  This photographic history book, containing over 200 vintage images, will be available for purchase on January 7, 2013.  The Images of America series of books by Arcadia Publishing chronicles the history of counties and towns across the country using vintage photographs that capture by-g0ne times, people and events that help define a community.

The book, which will cost $21.99 plus a shipping and handling fee if mailed, will be available for sale at the Itawamba County Historical Society, or directly from me, or a local retailer, and also online from Arcadia Publishing.  I recently spoke to the Itawamba County Historical Society and was pleasantly surprised to learn from someone at the meeting that the book is already listed on the company's websiteHow exciting!

The book was a pure labor of love, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to meet both old and new "cousins" and learn more about our county.   Hopefully, the book will be both entertaining and informative.  Pre-sales will start soon, and gift cards will be available to give as Christmas gifts.  

E-mail me at ItawambaConnections@gmail.com if you are interested.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Back in the saddle again...

Last Friday was the first time I've been in the records room of a courthouse in a long time, and it was good to handle the dusty volumes and smell the mustiness of pages that haven't been touched in a long time.  By the time the day ended, I had been on all three floors of the Pontotoc courthouse plus the unused and dank basement.   Three record books of the first federal court of Northern Mississippi - held initially in the courthouse at Pontotoc - were uncovered, in varying degrees of condition and each on separate floors of the building.  

I had previously come across a published transcription of the will of James D. "Jimmy Dee" Bowen (read more about him in this previous post), but on this trip I found the will recorded in Will Book 21, Page 20.   The will, dated August 10, 1885, is pretty standard.  Jimmy Dee left his personal and real estate to his much younger widow, Catherine, for use during her lifetime.  If Catherine died or remarried, then Jimmy Dee indicated that his "son D. L. Bowen" was to receive 45 acres of land and the remainder of the estate of to "son F. W. Bowen."

The above is interesting because family history indicates that Jimmy Dee's son "Lane" Bowen died during the Civil War.  Lane was enumerated in the 1860 census as "D. L. Bowen" in his father's household, and there is a record of  an "L Bowen" enlisting on February 20, 1863.   I think that perhaps "Lane" may have been Dulaney or Delaney Bowen because the "Dee" in Jimmy Dee supposedly stood for his middle name Dulaney (or Delaney).

So, the question is... what really happened to D. L. "Lane" Bowen?  I've been unable to find a record of him since the 1860 census, other than the possible enlistment record from 1863.  Either way, the 1870 and 1880 censuses have not turned up a D. L. or Lane Bowen, and I've done a pretty thorough search.  Did Jimmy Dee make the bequest to his son D. L. Bowen, perhaps never believing that he died during the war? 

Another question... is there a connection to the Dulaney family back in South Carolina?  Jimmy Dee Bowen came from Newberry District, South Carolina.  Interesting that his son, William Elisha Bowen, moved to Itawamba County from Pontotoc, around or after the Civil War.  Probably a coincidence but still something that would be neat to figure out. 

It was good to be back in a courthouse record room, and I hope to get back again soon.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

William Barksdale - William Purnell, continued

Following up on the earlier story about William Barksdale, the administrator of the Estate of William Purnell, we have learned that William likely was the guardian of the children of William Purnell: namely, Matthew Robert Purnell, Samuel Morris Purnell, and Martha "Patsey" Purnell Robinson.

William Barksdale gave his power of attorney in 1823, recorded in Lawrence County, Alabama, to William "Roberson" to recover monies due the Estate of William Purnell from the deceased Purnell's service to the United States, probably during the War of 1812 or one of the Indian Wars.   William Roberson/Robinson was likely the son of Matthew Robinson, who earlier in 1819 in Abbeville County, South Carolina, served as bondsman for William Barksdale when he was appointed administrator of Purnell's estate.

In 1826 in Lawrence County, Alabama, William R. Robinson was a bondsman for the marriage of James L. Robinson to Patsey Purnell.   I believe Patsey to be the daughter of the deceased William Purnell.  She and her husband, James, were living next to William Barksdale in the 1830 census in Marion County, Alabama (later the part that became Lamar County).    I believe Patsey's husband James to be the son of John and Elizabeth Robinson, and the nephew of William R. Robinson who signed as bondsman for James and Patsey's marriage license.  William would have signed in place of his brother, John, who died in 1825 in Lawrence County.  Both John and William are likely sons of Matthew Robinson, the oldest known Robinson in my line.

One important record that ties the Purnell and Robinson families together is a Bible that belonged to a daughter of Matthew Robert Purnell (another question - was Matthew Robert Purnell named for his grandfather Matthew Robinson - could his mother have been Matthew's daughter, thus the reason for Matthew Robinson serving as bondsman in 1819 when William Purnell's estate was opened for probate?).   The Bible of Harriet Jane Purnell Clouse, daughter of Matthew Robert Purnell and his wife Anne, was in the possession of her granddaughter Harriet Jane Clouse Moyers in 1965, and although old and faded, a transcription of the written records within the Bible has been published.

Harriet Jane Purnell married John Clouse on February 15, 1855.  Although the Bible doesn't indicate it, John Clouse is thought to be the son of Elijah Clouse and Jane Barksdale.  The releationship of Jane Barksdale to William Barksdale is as yet unknown.  Jane Barksdale Clouse was born in North Carolina, as census and newspaper records have indicated.

In her Bible, Harriet Jane wrote that her father "Mathew R. Purnell" was born January 11, 1811.    In addition, "Samuel M. Purnell" was born June 7, 1812; "Marthy Ann Robison" was born January 22, 1810; and Ann Purnell was born October 31, 1812.  Matthew, Samuel, and Martha Ann "Patsey" were siblings, children of the deceased William Purnell.  Ann Purnell was the wife of Matthew Robert Purnell; her maiden name is unknown.

Harriet's Bible further records that William Barksdale , Sr. was born December 6, 1793.   The birth is consistent with the birth range found in the 1830 census household for William Barksdale in Marion County, Alabama.  The Bible also states that William Barksdale died May 19, 1856, age abt 63.   Unfortunately, I've been unable to turn up a census record anywhere for William Barksdale in 1850, a record that would surely provide additional clues.   Another entry in the Purnell-Clouse Bible is for William Barksdale, born November 28, 1837 - presumably the son of William Barksdale, Sr.   The last entry for a Barksdale in the Bible is for Nancy Barksdale, born Jan. 1810.  Was Nancy a second, younger wife of William Sr. and the mother of William born 1837?  If she was the daughter of William, Sr. then that would mean William Sr. fathered Nancy when he was sixteen, possible but how probable?   Finding that 1850 census record would be most helpful.  I think I'll give it another try.  It's probably been transcribed as Parksdale or some other odd name so I will have to be creative.

Thank goodness for Harriet Jane Purnell Clouse's Bible!  Her written records from over 150 years ago have helped sort through and put relationships together.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bettye Sue Stone Woodhull, 1931-2012


Bettye Sue Stone Woodhull passed away at her home this evening.  Please say prayers for Ron and their three sons as they grieve the loss of a wife and mother.  Bettye was a dear friend.   We "met" over the internet in 2006 and very quickly became e-mail buddies.  In 2010, Mike and I were blessed to meet Bettye and husband Ron in person (and beloved dog Cricket too!) as they made an extended trip to Alabama to visit friends and family, stopping in Oxford on their way back home to Texas.

Bettye had an incredible memory.  Thanks to Bettye's amazing ability to recall even the smallest details from her childhood, I have a wonderful collection of stories and information about Bexar, Alabama in the 1930s and 1940s.  When I asked Bettye once about her gift of memory, she said that she first realized she was gifted in that way when she quoted the preacher's sermon and scripture almost word for word on the way home from a Sunday evening revival meeting in Bexar when she was about eight years old.  Her grandparents were astounded, she said.
In addition to sharing family connections, Bettye and I shared a love for the now extinct town of Bexar.  When I asked questions, Bettye gave me the answers and a whole lot more about the once thriving community that was home to so many of my people and hers.   Bettye was a gifted writer, putting her memories into words that helped me "see" the people and places of her youth.  I'll be forever grateful to her for making Bexar come alive once more.  Bettye's remembrances of Uncle Lucian, Granny Kate, Cousin Gertrude, Aunt Agnes and others are true treasures.

The doily pictured above was embroidered by Bettye's great-grandmother, Susan Florence "Sukey" Evans Robinson.  Sukey was the sister of my great-great grandfather, John T. Evans, and she married Henry Johnson Robinson, the younger brother of my great-great grandfather George Emerson Robinson.   Tell them all hello for me in Heaven, Bettye.

William Barksdale - William Purnell

The Purnell family line has been a brick wall for me with many missing pieces.   My great-great-great grandfather Samuel Morris Purnell came from South Carolina as a little boy, apparently part of a migration from Abbeville District that included my Robinson and Emerson families as well as other related lines such as Kennedy and Stephenson (Stenson).

Fires at both the Abbeville District, South Carolina courthouse and the Marion County, Alabama courthouse created a big gap in the record history of most of my maternal and paternal lines, including the Purnell family.

One record that survives in the Abbeville County courthouse is an 1819 probate record for William "Parnal".   William Barksdale was appointed administrator for Purnell's estate, with Matthew Robinson and John Burnett serving as his bondsmen.  

In 1823, William Barksdale and Matthew Robinson were in Lawrence County, Alabama.  Both men went to the courthouse on the same day - October 13th - to record power of attorneys.  The record filed by William Barksdale noted that he was the administrator of the Estate of William Purnell who "died in the service of the United States."   Barksdale gave William (yes, another William!) "Roberson" his power of attorney to recover $48 due the estate from the United States.  

It seems then that William Purnell may have died in the War of 1812 although no service record has been found for him in the abstracted records for that War (Virgil White compiled an extensive index of names from the War of 1812 pension files.).  Neither have I found a record of William's service in any of the Indian Wars (sometimes referred to as "Old Wars").   When I posted a query to the War of 1812 genforum site, the following response was received from an expert in this area:

"Many estates were not settled until long after the war ended, in fact, Congress had to pass the Settled Accounts Act of 6 April 1838 in order to get heirs to receive their benefits.  The accounts settled in this act are called 'the lost pensions.'   55,000 accounts were settled under this act going back to the Revolutionary War.  Parnell could have died in the First Seminole War, 20 Nov 1817 to 31 Oct 1818.  Finding his service recod would prove this theory.  There is a pension index for the wars between the War of 1812 and the Civil War.  I do not have a copy of this list.  Maybe Parnell is listed in this index."

"It appears that William Parnell died during the War of 1812 while serving with the South Carolina militia probably from disease or injuries and not from wounds. If he was serving with the US Army then the heirs would have been entitled to both the half pay and the land bounty. Since the administrator had to pick one or the other benefits, then William served in the militia. He served as a private since the heirs received the minimum of $48 per year which was the rate for the heirs of privates."

 Alas, I've checked all printed pension lists for Parnell, Purnell, and Pernell and other various spellings of the surname and have come up empty.  I also requested a record look-up from the National Archives for William Purnell in the "Old Wars, Indian Disturbances" records, but no luck there.

Even though I've yet to uncover records of William Purnell's service, the two probate records have yielded important information and, at the same time, created more questions.

Who was William Barksdale, and why was he the appointed administrator of William Purnell's estate?  What was his relationship to the Purnell family?   He may have been the brother of William Purnell's widow.  Or was he married to William Purnell's sister?  Possibly, Barksdale could have married Purnell's widow.

William Barksdale was listed on the 1830 census for Marion County, Alabama.  The census record indicates William was born between 1790 and 1800, which would put him as a contemporary of the deceased William Purnell.   The Barksdale household had two boys, age 15-20, who I believe to be Samuel Morris Purnell and his brother, Matthew Robert Purnell.  Next door was the household of James L. Robertson who was probably the same "James Robison" who married "Patsey Purnell" in Lawrence County, Alabama on October 18, 1826.

The following census of 1840 is interesting in that the households of Morris Purnell and William Barksdale are enumerated next to each other.  But.... the household of William Barksdale does not show an adult male, only two males age 5-10.  In addition to the young boys, there were five young females and one female age 30-40.  Did the census taker forget to make a mark for William?   Who were the young children in the household?

I've searched high and low for William Barksdale in the 1850 census but have been unable to locate a household for him.   

In 1860, there is a 68 year old Annie Barksdale living in the household of Matthew Robert Purnell, presumably the widow of William.

More later on the Bible records that helped tie these families together.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Minnesota Purnell Brown

Thanks to Dean Howell Page for sharing the above picture of Minnesota Purnell Brown, pictured front right.    You can read more about Minnesota at this blog post from a couple of weeks ago.  Minnesota was the daughter of Jemima C. Robinson (see Jemima's Story) and husband David M. Purnell.

Pictured with Minnesota are her daughter, Viola Brown Gullick (front left), and her half-sister Myme Arveston Desmona Keith Page.  In the back row are Flossie Lindsey Page and her mother Pearl Hughes Lindsey.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stories of William Ephraim Wiygul, part four (conclusion)

(Note:  If you've wandered onto this web page by benefit of a web browser, please be aware that this is the fourth of a series of web posts.  Go back to the beginning.)

The following is the last of four serial posts.  The July 2, 1986 edition of the Itawamba County Times contained a collection of stories that were written in November 1925 to his grandchildren by William Ephraim Wiygul, one of the earliest settlers in Itawamba County.  Wiygul's written recollections were transcribed by his great-granddaughter, Joana Y. Swanson, exactly as written by Wiygul. 

(as continued)

I am now going to tell you a Bare Story that is about my Grate Granfather Mayfield, which was Gramma Wiygull's father.  He was an old man thin and was a criple.  He come up to visit Granpa and Gramma, so they wanted to Shoe him a good time.  So Granpa got Judge Boland and they went a bare Hunting.  Boguefalaw Bottom was full of Cane and Large Cane at that.  So they put Granpa Mayfield just a cross the Creak East of Bro. Ikes.  Granpa has shoed me the Place lots of times whin Him and I would be fishing.  It was in the Fall of the year and they Put him in an old Pon that had dried up, where they felt like the old Bare would Run.  Granpa Mayfield was not a stout Man and was a Criple but he Killed Bare and Killed him with a Small Pocket Knife.  Stop Now and guess how he Killed him with a small pocket Knife -- and it was a verry large Bare....

Judge Boland twok the Dogs and went up to the Bottom to Make the Drive.  Granpa went out about two Hundred yards East of Granpa Mayfield.  So Judge Boland Did not go Moore than one half mile till the dogs Jumped a Big Bare.  So here came the Bare right Down the Creek and passaed Boland and He Shot at him and wounded him Pritty Bad.  But the Bare kept Going Down the Bottom.  So he run into the Dried Up Pond where Granpa Mayfield was Standing.  So he Shot at him and Hit him.  The Bare fell but swone got up and went right on Down the Slue.  So Granpa just as Soone went to Loading his Gun.  He Put his Powder in his Gun and Paper Wad -- there was the Bare right there -- So he did not have time to put his Shot in.  So he run his hand in his Pocket and got his Knife and Droped it in the Gun.  The Old Bare had got Close enough till he Rared up on his hind feet to Grab Granpa so he through his gun against the old Bares Brest and shot his Knife Clear through the old Bare and Killed him Dead.

These things I am Telling you I remember Just as well as if Granpa was a live and had told me last week.  Whin Granpa told me these storeies I was about eight and ten years old and he Shoad Me where they Happened.  It was about one mile above where we lived.  Granpa, Judge Boland and three other Men -- I have forgot there names -- They all made there arrangements to meet at a Certin Plac eon a Certin day (Granpa has shoad me the Place ) about Day (break).  So by Daylight they were all There.  They Made them up a fire.  They used Flint Rocks to start there fire, as they had no matches then.  So they got there fire started to fix there Brecfasta.  So three of them Desided they would walk around a little.  So they walked off East and got about Two Hundred yards to the edge of the Hills.  They came to a washed out Ditch, but struck a log that had fell across it.  So they Crossed over it and on they went.  But they Did not go fare till they saw a big old Indian Man coming Down hollow walking Pritty fast.  So they startid back as they had nothing to fite the Indian with and they new he had his Tomahawk (what we call a hatchet) and a Buaknife.  The old Indian begain to Run.  So did they.  They Run till they got to the Ditch but Missed there Log.  The one in frunt Jumped the Ditch allright.  The next man Jumped but was not as good a jumper as the first.  He jumped as far as he could but he was luckey - he grabed some weads and Grass and pulled out.  The third man was a man gitting a little old, Granpa said.  So he fell back in the Ditch.  By that time the Indian was right at the Ditch.  So the older man startid running Down the Ditch looking for a place he could Get out.  The Big old Indian running right along by him on the bank of the Ditch after him.  There had binn a Big old Hollow tree standing on  the bank of the Ditch But it had fell Down.  Granpa said it was a verry large tree and there was room for the old Indian to run between the Mouth of the old tree and the stump -- (now here it comes) -- Just as he went to run between the Stump and the Mouth of the old Hollow tree out Jumped a verry large Momma Bare out of the old hollow log.  The man that was running from the old Indian heard an awful racket and he looked back and saw the Indian and the old Bare fighting.  The old Bare was standing on his hind feet and had his fore legs Raped around the old Indian and was Biting him all he could.   The Indian as Fighting the old Bare with his Tomahawk and Buey Knife.  But the Man in the Ditch Did Just Like You or I would have done -- he kept running, but he did no but a little till he found a place that he could get out of the Ditch.  So out he got.  Whin he got out he could see the camp fire so he never stopt to see how the Bare and Indian come out.  Whin he got to camp he told his crowd about it.  So they all got there gunes and started with the Man leading them to the Place.  So whin they got there They found the old bare and the Indian both Dead.  The old Indian had killed the old Bare with his hatchet and knife and the old Bare had tore the old Indian up with both mouth and forePaws and they was both Dead.  So they crossed the ditch and looked in the Hollow of that old tree and there they found Two little Bares.  The man the old Bare had saved by killing the Indian got the Two little Bares and carried them home with him and raised them till they was about groin and he thin turned them Loose in the Bottom and Granpa said that man would never kill another Bare after that.  They left the old Indian and Bare there on the Bank of the Ditch for the Buzzards.

I forgot to Write a Bare story that happened after he moved up to where Alfert Now lives.  Alfret sayes he can remember Granpa telling about the same bare story.  Granpa always seamed to Injoy Telling it better than any of the others.  My Father thin was about 7 years old.  It was Summer and they slept with the Frunt dore opin.  So they went to bed one night.  Father slept in the Middle - a little Boy.  After nine o'clock Gramma heard something turn the water barrel over that she had settling under the Drip of the home to ketch water to work with.  She called Granpa and waiked him up and said, "Alfert, Something has turned my water Barrel over!  Get up and go see about it."   He said, "It is an old Bare and I dont want to go out there."  So they laid on the frunt barander and in a minuet it come in the dore of there roome.  Granpa said in a whisper, "Nancy, dont Say a word, nor dont Move."  The Moone was shining Bright.  They see and here him walking around in the roome.  After a little he Laid Down int he roome and lay there a few minets and got up and walked out.  Just as soone as he got out Granpa got to the dore and shut it and locked it and never opined it any moore until daylight Next Morning.  "I would have done the Same thing, wouldin you?"


Part One - click here
Part Two - click here
Part Three - click here

Friday, September 7, 2012

Stories of William Ephraim Wiygul, part three

(Note:  If you've wandered onto this web page by benefit of a web browser, please be aware that this is the third of a series of web posts.  Go back to the beginning.)

The following is the third of several serial posts.  The July 2, 1986 edition of the Itawamba County Times contained a collection of stories that were written in November 1925 to his grandchildren by William Ephraim Wiygul, one of the earliest settlers in Itawamba County.  Wiygul's written recollections were transcribed by his great-granddaughter, Joana Y. Swanson, exactly as written by Wiygul. 

(as continued)

 Uncle Wiley Burdine that settled there Close to New Chappil -- we own the Place now or Part of it -- his wife Stud in there frunt Porch and Countid Sixty four Dear Pass her home one Sundy Eve going South.  That will convince you there was a few Dear here whin this Country was first settled.  Uncle Wiley Burdine Come here in about 1855 or 6.  He was a Methodist Preacher.  I herd him Preach Lots of times whin I was a boy.

Judge Boland and Granpa went a Dear Hunting one day and they would Never be verry far apart but what they could here each other if he Shot.  They Never Would Shoot on a hunt like that unless it was big Game.  So if One shot the other would go to him.  So Judge Boland Come up on a verry Large Dear with a verry heavy head of horns and shot him and the old Dear fell appearantley Dead.  Judge Boland said he done something theat he never did before in his life whin he was hunting big game.  Those old hunters never Moved whin they Shot till they Lodid there Gun.  Judge said that time, and he did not no why, but he went up to the Dear without Loading his Gun.  Whin he got to the Dear, he was Batting his Eyes.  So he new if he tryed to Load his gun the Dear would Git him.  So he Grabed the Dear by the hind legs and the Dear Jumped up.  So he got his hatchet out of his Satchel But he could not use it and hold the Dear.  So the Dear kicked the Hatchet out of his hand.  He said he went to work thin to get his Buyey Knife out of its Seabert and Drectley he got it out but Could not use it enaught to hert the Dear Bad.  So the Dear kicked it out of his hand and he never did find it.  He said he new if he turned him Loose he would wherle on him and kill him and Just before Judge Boland give out Granpa run up and Put his Gun to the side of the dear and shot him.  So Judge Boland the Dear fell over -- the Dear was dead and Judge Boland almost.  Granpa said it was a Cold Freezing Morning But he said the Judge was Just as wet with sweat as if he had jumped in the Creek.  Granpa said whin he Shot the Dear the Ball just Grazed the Back of his head but he did not go Deaper than the skin.

Judge Boland and Granpa Bare Hunted to Geather Lots.  Whin they went Bare Hunting they usuley carried there Bare Dogs with them and would go Down or up at the Bottom about two or three Hundred yards apart.  They were hunting one Morning and got after a Bare and run a short Distence and tread him.  Granpa shoed me the tree lots of times.  It was a large hickery about 4 feet through and about one Hundred feet to the first limbs.  Three big limbs Groad out from the same place so it made Three forks - so whin they got to the tree there was a verry large Bare Laying in the fork of the tree.  Judge Boland Shot at him with his rifel but the Bare did not Move.  Granpa then shot and he stile did not Move.  They shot him fore or five times but he never moved.  So Judge Boland said to Granpa Alfert, "I am going to Clime that tree -- that bear dont Move, he must be dead."  So he went and Cut him a Stick about Two foot long and Pulled off his coat and Shoes.  He could not reach around the tree, but he used his stick and Clom that tree to the bare and found the bare dead.  So he pushed him out and they found that Judge Boland Shot him through the hard (heart) the first shot.  Mr. Boland was a verry Stout Man -- I remember him well.  Do you recon we have got a young man in our Country Now that could do what Judge Boland did?  I doubt it very much.

Not long after they took the above hunt they went again and Got after a bare about a Mile above where Bro. Ike Wiygul now lives.  They had three Dogs.  One of them was a Small Dog but both of them Love the Small Dog verry much.  He was a verry fine Bare dog.  So they took Down the Bottom after the Bare.  So Granpa and Judge Bolalnd twok Down the Bottom ater them about three Hundred yards a part as they Did not know which way the Bare would go whin he would turn to go back up to the Bottom.  So right Close to where they Killed the other Bar in the tree, The Dogs Baid the Bare.  (Granpa has shoed Me the Spot where it was.)  Boland went up to where they had the Bare Baid and Shot him and wounded him.  He was (a verry large bare).  So the Dogs closed up on him whin the Judge Shot him.  There little faverite little Bare dog got a little two Close to the bare and the old Bare caught him and had his fore legs Raped around him and was Biting him.  The Judge said he new that the Bar would Kill there little dog before he Could load him Gun.  So he run up and grabed the Bare by his hinds legs.  Granpa was about 2 or 3 Hundred Yards west of him, but Just as Soone as the Gun fired Granpa Broke and Run to where Judge Boland was.  He soone got to where he Could see Boland and the Bare.  He said that was one time he did the Best.  He run up and Put him Gun against the Side of the Bare and Fired.  The old Bare fell over Dead and Judge Boland fell over Perfectly Exhausted.

[End of Part Three, go to Part Four]

Part One - click here
Part Two - click here

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Stories of William Ephraim Wiygul, part two

(Note:  If you've wandered onto this web page by benefit of a web browser, please be aware that this is the second of a series of web posts.)

The following is the second of several serial posts.  The July 2, 1986 edition of the Itawamba County Times contained a collection of stories that were written in November 1925 to his grandchildren by William Ephraim Wiygul, one of the earliest settlers in Itawamba County.  Wiygul's written recollections were transcribed by his great-granddaughter, Joana Y. Swanson, exactly as written by Wiygul. 

(as continued)

I am now going to tell you some Bare Stories that my Granfather and Father told me whin I was just a boy.  For the woods was full of Bares, Wolves, Dear, wildcats, but not verry many Panthers.  

As Granpa was Moving his Family from Cotton Gin to where he lived and died, he was coming through Flat Woods Just North of Bigby.   There was no small Timber nor no bushis but there were lots of it covered with Sage Grass and Gramma Sean the Sage Grass shaking.  She said to Granpa Alfert, "What is that shaking that Sage Grass?"  Granpa said to her, "Now Nancy you watch and I will sho you."   So Granpa Hollowed and there were Four Big Bares rared up on there hind feet and the Fartherest one wasent one hundred yards from them.

It wasn't verry long after Granpa settled in his Little Hut till he bought him a hog from the Indians, and She found some little pigs about 150 yds from the house in an old Hollow Tree that had fell Down.  One Night About Good Dark, he heard the old Sow Making an awful racket.  So he got him a pine torch and went off Down there.  Whin he got there he saw that the Old Sow was having an awfull Fight with a Grate Big Wolf.  The wolf was trying to ketch him a pig.   But Granpa ran him off and went back to the house and got him a Basket and told Gramma what he was going to do.  So he went back down there and Got the Pigs and put them in the Basket - there was about five - and got the Old Sow to follow him.  Whin he got to the house with them he Made a good bed for them right in the Chimney Corner.    A good warm bed under the edge of the house.  So the old Sow and little Pigs went to bed all right.   Next morning, Just before day, Gramma woke him up and told him that Something was after the Pigs so he Jumped up and got out of there.  The old wolf grabed one of the Pigs and ran off with it.   He run back into the house and Put on his cloths and went to an Indian Neighbor and borried his dog and the old Indian went with him.  The old dog struck the trail.  Just as soone as he got to the house.  The old wolf tun right up the Bottom about a Mile still Holding to his Pig.  He turned and come back Down the Creek but held to his Pig untill he got back in about Three Hundrid yards of where Granpa killed him, right close to where the Old Log was where he first found the pigs.

In a little while after that, Judge Boland Moved into Itawambe.  What give him the name Judge was in 1836 Whin Itawambe was made a County and he was elected one of the Bord of Supervisors and he was then elected President of the Bord.  He and Granpa was the only white People in that Part of the Country for quite a Little while.  So they Did quite a lot of hunting together.

Granpa and Judge Boland went a Dear Hunting one day and Desided to run and race and See which one Could kill the Most Dear.  Granpa killed five.   Judge Boland killed Six.  Whin they would kill a Dear they would stop and skin his Hames and cut them off and hang them up on a lim of a tree.  Whin they quit that eavning they went back and got all there Dear hames and carried them home.

I have heard my Father tell what I am going to write.  He had been sick in Bed for several days.  Granpa Desided to go down in Boguefalaw Bottom a Dear Hunting and he carried his old dog - Something he did not do oftin - and he told Paw if he would go down and Stand close to the Spring He might get a Shot.  Paw then quite a young man and was weak from being sick.  But he wint and took his stand.  So in a little while Granpa and old Dog Jumped a Big Dear.  Granpa shot at him and wounded him but he could still run, so he run up to where Paw was standing.  Pa shot at him but Slightley wounded him.  Paw said the old dear Truned his hare all the wrong way and Bowed up and Made for him.  He said he was standing right at a Gum sapling - about six inches through, about 15 feet to the first lim.  I have heard Pa say lots of times, as weak as he was he did not believe he could have clom that saplin at all if it had been for the stimulating effect that Dear had on him.  That Dear Staid around there for a little bit, So Granpa Come up and Killed him.   He was a fine Large Dear.

[End of Part Two, to be continued]

MY NOTES:  Although Wiygul's written stories are filled with misspelled words and other obvious grammatical errors, it is important to understand that in those early days on the frontier most people wrote phonetically and not much attention was paid to punctuation.  For his day, and having grown up in a very rural environment, Mr. Wiygul was apparently very well educated and his writing should not be judged against present-day standards nor should it be a reflection of intelligence.    Indeed, a large number of people could not read or write at all, as indicated by the early census records.   

Part One - click here
Part Three - click here
Part Four (conclusion) - click here

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Stories by William Ephraim Wiygul, as told in 1925

The following is the first of several upcoming serial posts.  The July 2, 1986 edition of the Itawamba County Times contained a collection of stories that were written in 1925 by William Ephraim Wiygul, one of the earliest settlers in Itawamba County, to his grandchildren.  Wiygul's written recollections were transcribed by his great-granddaughter, Joana Y. Swanson, exactly as written by Wiygul.  

Since I found the information written by Wiygul to be very interesting, I'm sharing it with you in hopes that you do too.  I believe that the collection of stories was also printed in an issue of Tombigbee Country magazine a few years ago.

November 11, 1925     Page 1 at High Noone

I am 67 years old today.  I am going to write some things that I have hird my Granfather and Father tell about the first settling of this Country and What they had to contend with.  My Grate Granfather was born in Germany and the onley Child that was borne to his Parents.  Whin he was about 18 years old he run away from his parents and come to America.  He got here about Two years before the Revolutionary ware and Fought under Washington through the ware.  After the ware he come to Tinace (Tennessee) and Married.

I have herd Granpa Say what his Mothers name was I can't remember it.  Granpas Fathers name was Hinry Wiygul.   He settled in Murry (Maury) County and Intered and bought quite a lot of land.  Murry County is now considered of the richest, if not the richest county in the State.  

They had four children born to them.  Three Boys and one Girl - Elbert Wiygul, Alfert Wiygul, and Rubin Wiygul - I don't remember there Sisters name.  He Married and Settled in Murry County about the year 1785 and raised his family.  My Granfather was born in the year 1797 and lived there until 1824.  He left there and came South and settled in old Cotton Gin Fort in Monroe County.  He was a blacksmith by trade and a Gun Maker.  In 1826 he married Miss Nancy Mayfield - a sister to Uncle Ike Mayfield.  I dont remember her Fathers Name.  My Father was born in old Cotton Gin in 1827.

In 1832 Granpa Wiygul Desided he would Move up into the wild woods where Itawamba County Now is.  He got him an ox and a sack of something to eat and started on an ox to Blaising out his road wright up the ridge untill he he to where Alfert Wiygul now lives.   It is now a Public Road with verry few changes.  He went back and got his Familey.   Pa was then five years old.   He had a yoke of stears and a Waggon.  He hitched them to his wagon and Put his household Stuff on it.  He was living in Monroe County.  It was a County thin.  In the early fall of 1832 he started.  There was not any Briges thin.  He soone got out of Monroe County into the wilderness where no one lived but Indians.  He got to the end of his road and settled about three Hundred Yards east of where my Father lived and died.  Bro. Ike Wiygul lives there now.   He lived there in an Indian hut about two yeares.  He thin built him a house out of logs where Alfert Wiygul Now lives.  

In a few years after Granpa settled in Itawamba Uncle Ruben Wiygul Moved and Settled where Fulton now is.  Judge Boland, in a short while after Granpa settled in Itawambe, settled about Three miles east of Granpa.   Granpa was the first white Man that settled in Itawambe.  Whin Granpa settled there was no one lived in the County but Indians.  Itawamba was the name of an Indian Chief.  This County was Created Feb. 9th, 1836.  Fulton was Made the County Seat.  Granpa Bought some lands from the Indians and he had to go to Pontatoc to fix his dead and have it put on the record.

[End of Part One - to be continued]

MY NOTES:  Tennessee was not organized as a state until 1790 when North Carolina ceded its western territory, and Maury County was not formally organized until 1807 when it was created out of lands previously belonging to Williamson and Davidson counties.   However, there were white settlers in these areas well before official organization took place.  A marriage record, dated September 9, 1796, for Henry "Wegle" and Rutha Logue exists in early record books of Davidson County, Tennessee.    Although Henry and Rutha both died in Tennessee - Henry between 1820 and 1840, Rutha in September 1860 - their sons "Alfert" and "Rubin" moved south into Mississippi.  Elbert lived most of his life in Benton County, Tennessee.

William Ephraim Wiygul, the author of the above history, was the grandson of Joseph Alfred Wiygul, or "Alfert" as he is called.  Alfred married Nancy A. Mayfield, daughter of Austin Benjamin Mayfield and Susannah Henderson, and it is this couple that moved from Cotton Gin Port in Monroe County to the area that became known as the Carolina community of Itawamba County.  Alfred's brother, Reuben, moved from Cotton Gin Port to the emerging town of Fulton.

William Ephraim Wiygul's father was Ephraim Henderson Wiiygul, who married Elizabeth "Betsy" Conwill on July 3, 1851 in Itawamba County.  

Judge Boland referenced by Wiygul was William G. Boland who in 1841 established one of the earliest post offices in the county, called Boland's, in today's Carolina community near the Conwill-Goodwin Cemetery.  Around 1900, the post office was kept in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jim Wiygul near Wiygul's Cemetery. 

Alfred and Reuben both had large families, and in turn their sons and daughters had large families --  many Itawambians today are descended from these men.  By now, you've probably figured out that Wiygul's Cemetery in the Carolina community was named for this early family of settlers.  

Part Two - click here
Part Three - click here
Part Four (conclusion) - click here

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cousin Bettye

Family and Friends:  It is with a heavy heart and full tears that I ask you to please pray for Cousin Bettye Stone Woodhull who is dealing with both kidney and heart failure.   Doctors have indicated that her heart cannot handle the strain of additional kidney dialysis, and the prognosis is grim.  Please pray that Bettye will stabilize long enough to be able to visit with her family this coming weekend.   

Bettye is very proud of her deep Itawamba roots (Stone, Dyer, Robinson, and Evans families among others), and I am very proud to call her both Cousin and Friend.  Many of you will remember Bettye's many comments on this blog over the past few years as well as comments on other blogs and in discussion groups; some of you may have been lucky enough to meet her in person.  She will be sorely missed.   -Mona