Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mad Men of Color

L to R: McKinley Winfield, Leroy Shephard and James Shephard
Leroy Shephard married paternal cousin Dora Overton.

I love the way my dapper Dans are dressed and groomed. They look like they walked off the set of Mad Men, all clean shaven with their white shirts, thin ties, suits, and hats.

Photograph courtesy of Shelia Easley
Taken in the 1960s, Detroit, MI

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Brick Makers of Windsor

Standing amidst the picturesque Windsor ruins, you can't help but think of the grandeur of the Old South but I also think of those who were enslaved, the nameless brick makers who labored with no payment.

Smith Coffee Daniell, II, per a newspaper article, vast holdings included 800 slaves. He was a property owner almost without peer in the Deep South. At one time he owned 21, 789 acres of land - much of it in the finest farming belts of the state: 400 acres in Attala County, 1440 in Bolivar, 800 in Carroll, 3211 in Claiborne, 1040 in Issaquena, 1500 in Leflore, 3440 in Sunflower, 3440 also in Washington and 6510 in Louisiana. According to Daniell's will, he asked that overseers be hired for his three plantations in Louisiana.

1860 Slave Schedules for Smith C Daniell II
PlantationNo. of SlavesCounty
-150Claiborne County, MS
Locustwood164Tensas Parish, LA
Brierland107Tensas Parish, LA

Smith was an only child whose wealth was partially built on inheritance from his parents and in-laws. His father's estate in 1836 equally divided Negroes, lands in Mississippi and Arkansas Territory to Smith Daniell and his mother Priscilla Skinner Daniell.

Catherine Freeland Daniell, Smith's wife, inherited 44 slaves upon her father's death. The slaves were divided by what appears to be family groups. Listed below are their names. There must be a brick maker or two among this list.

Jim Smothers, Patsey, Pricilla, Ned, Little Jim, Cordelia, Little Patsey, and Rachel

Elisha, Julia and Bill McIntosh

Grigg, Kate, Henry, and Jacob

Henry Thomas, Abram, Susan, Nancy, and Jim Green

Bill McAllister, Hannah & child, Mary

Manuel Dorman, Sally & child and Alex

Old George, Rachel & child, Little George, Eli, John, Bob, Hetty, Bedley, and Mirley

Priscilla & infant

Thomas Freeland's Claiborne County Probate Records - 1857
Smith Coffee Daniell, Sr.'s, Will - 1836
Smith Coffee Daniell, Jr.'s, Will - 1862
Vertical File - Smith Coffee Daniel II
All records found at Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Heard Four Shots

Hystercine Gray Rankin was ten years old when she heard four gunshots while retrieving water from the pond. She thought it was hunters in the woods but the shots heard had killed her father. Denver Gray had been murdered by the owner of the land where he was a tenant farmer. Gray laid in the road until the log truck came to pick him up.

Quilting was taught to Hystercine by her maternal grandmother. Hystercine was recognized for her quilts by the National Heritage Fellowship. She used quilt making to capture her experiences growing up in rural Mississippi. Below is a scene from the day of her father's funeral.

"The day of my father Denver Gray's funeral was also the day we left Union Church. My Grandmother, Alice Whalem, moved us to the Blue Hill community To live with her father, Joe January, who was born a slave and later bought 100 acres of the land he was a slave on, and built a very large house there in 1890. He died in 1941 I moved in 1946, when I married Ezekiel Rankin, a staff sargent [sic] in the US Army. My Grandmother died in 1943 and my Mother Brothers And Sisters continued to live with my great uncle Lovie January My Mother Laula Gray died in 1950 of Cancer." Hystercine Rankin
The Full Quilt

Newspaper Account of Denver Gray's Murder
Farrell Humphreys Killed Negro Monday

Surrendered to Sheriff and Released on Bond to Await Grand Jury Action

Mr. Farrell Humphreys who owns and operates a farm property on Highway 20 about 15 miles east of Fayette shot and killed a negro tenant on his place about seven o'clock Monday evening, April 3, The negro, Denver Gray, about 38 years of age, and Mr. Humphreys had been having tenant and landlord differences for several days prior to the difficulty that resulted in the killing.

Mr. Humphreys gave himself up to the Sheriff's office, waived preliminary hearing and was admitted to bail to await grand jury investigation. Several witnesses are reported to have seen and heard all that passed between the two men at the time of the shooting.

The Chronicle has heard no detailed statement of the trouble that caused the tragedy.

Denver Gray was the son of Walter Gray and Gaule Williams. He was born March 27, 1905, near Union Church, Jefferson County, Mississippi. He married Laula Meeks/Mix, daughter of Alex and Alice January Whalum.

Sources: The Fayette Chronicle, April 7, 1939, Page 1
Hystercine Gray Rankin

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

E. M. Ross' Letter ~1867
All Our House Servants Left Us

Members of the Daniell family pose on the steps of "Retreat," home of the Freeland family. On the front row is Dr Williams, who married the widow of the builder of Windsor. Next is Smith Coffee Daniell, IV, Katherine Freeland Daniell Williams, Aunt Lizzie. On the back row are Priscilla Daniell Magruder, Thomas Freeland Daniell, his daughter Katherine Crane Daniell.

Elizabeth Magruder Ross writes another letter to Sue encouraging the family to use their land for farming. She complains about the free Negroes and their wages, and that all the house slaves left including Charity and Abe who were mentioned in previous letters. She informs Sue about the well being of Smith Coffee Daniell's family. The children are maturing and the rumor that Daniell's widow is to remarry is not true. Smith's widow did remarry on 21 Nov 1868 to William G Williams.

Direct your letter Care of Mrs C. S. Daniell
July 9th 1867

My Dear Sue

Your welcome letter was received one month after it was written; it remained unansered (sic) longer than I entended (sic); I had a good deal of sewing to doo (sic) at the time I received it, and have just got through.

I was very glad indeed to hear from you all once more. hope you have entirely recoverd (sic) by thise (sic) time. your hair of course will grow out as thick as ever, and may come out curly. I have often seen it the case. I am glad you and your Sister are so well employed. I hope you will be successful in your undertaking, and trust, you will prosper in every thing you undertake, so that you may make useful and happy women. If your Brother is industrious and enerjetic (sic) and perfers farming, I think he could hire sufficient hands to put all of the land in cultivation, and he could overlook them and keep them at work, -for they will not work with out. I think by perseverance and industry, he will be able to make and ample support, and live comfortably. he can raise his one meet (sic) and corn and vegetables; he can make mony (sic) by his Orchard and garden, raising fouls and selling butter. I think a farmer's life is much the happiest life. I think your Mother would be much better satisfied at her one (sic) home. We find it hard to get along with free Negrows (sic), have to pay them such high wages and get very little work out of them. we hardly make enough to pay expences (sic).

All of our house servants left us, one hundred and fifty of our Negrows (sic) never left us. Charity Fleet and Abe left several years ago I do not know what has become of them.

I am sorry Mr Brown has acted so as to cause dissatisfaction; I use to like him so much, and thought him such a good man; I hope all will turn out for the best, and you may find him to be and honest man.

Cove is not married yet. I think she is very hard to pleas (sic). She is living withe (sic) her Sister, helping her to take care of her Children. Cecilia was hre (sic) a few days ago she looks well, has three fine Children lost two beautiful little Boyes (sic).

What you heard about Catharine is not so, I do not think she has any idea of getting married. She does nont (sic) believe in Widows marring (sic0 again Pris is nearly as large as her mother and Tom is almost grown in size. they have a vacation at this time. Pris will go to New Orleans in the fall to complete her french and musick (sic).

You did not say any thing about your Grand Father's family; when you write let me know what has become of them.

Let me know what has become of Mr Andrew I would like very much to hear from him.

I hope you will come and see me as soon as you can it will give me much pleasure to see you. I would like to visit you all again if I ever should get money enough to travel on. I am afraid I never will I cannot find the receipt for the money I let Tenly have. if he is not honest enough to pay me you cannot make him. if you should succeed in getting it just inclose (sic) it in your letter when you write I will not trouble you about getting any thing. I believe I have said every thing I can think about.

Give my love to your Mother and Susan. I think of them often and wish them well my love to all that ask for me; let me know what has become of Mrs Worthington Sisters

I remain with love E. M. Ross

Windsor 1830-1969 - Vertical File - SF/Windsor 1830-1969 - Picture found in this file.
Ross (Elizabeth Magruder) Letters - Z/1480.000/F/Folder 1
Letter and picture found at Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

E. M. Ross Letter ~ 1867
No One to Protect Us

The Civil War is over but the sting of defeat is fresh. Elizabeth Magruder Ross writes to a nameless niece about the devastation of war on Windsor, the death of Smith Coffee Daniell and his four children since the completion of the house.

Smith Daniell has in his 1860 household Eliza Ross, 55 years of age, born in Maryland. In this letter, Ross refers to Daniell's wife, Catherine, as Sister. I have not seen anything in the census records that supports they were siblings, maybe, it was a term of endearment.

January 25th 1867

My dear Child

Seeing your likeness to day prompts me to undertake my long neglected duty: though sevelal (sic) months have passed, since the reception of your most welcome letter. I have not forgotten that it ought to have been enswered (sic) long ago but plead as usual my extreme dislike, to writing; time passes away so rapidly that it seems to be but a few days since I received it. I was delighted to hear from you all once more; I had almost dispaired (sic) of ever hearing from again.

Sad changed have taken place in the last six years. Smith Daniel and four of his little Children have died, only six of us left, my Sister Catherine, Pris, Tom, and little Smith who was born six months after his Fathers (sic) death. We had no one to protect and fight for us during the war: the anxiety and trouble we passed through is pass (sic) discription (sic), all of our property taken from us, one hundred and sixty five horses and mules taken from us, three steame (sic) gins, three thousand bals (sic) of cotton burnt at one time. Our hous (sic) searched about twenty times; Grant made this his headquarters for two days and then made our house a Hospital. Had between (sic) foure (sic) and five hundred wounded in the house at one time they would not suffer us to leave the house; aloud (sic) us four rooms in the third story.

Our cook, cookes (sic) our meals out at her house, and brough (sic) it in a waiter from day to day until they left here, The smell from their wounds was very offensive we could hardly bear it. They made our yard their burying grond (sic). If we made any complaint, they would threaten to burn our house, so we had to bear it patiently.

We feel thankful that our house and lands have been saved to us we can rent out or lease our plantation so that we will be able to live comfortably.

I loaned Tenly one hundred dollars about seaven (sic) years ago, he promised to pay me back again when he got able; I wish you would try and collect for me. If you can get it I will let you know in my next letter what I wish you to get for me with it. I am very sorry to hear that your Mother’s health is not good. When you answer this letter you must tell me some thing about all the family how you are getting along.

What has become of Susan? Is her Father living yet? If you doo (sic) let me know. I would like to hear some thing from all our old neighbors (sic), how they are getting along. Particularly Mr Brown.

You did not say who Olinsker had married I would like to know. Let me know how many Children Josephene (sic) has, give my love to them all when you see them, and to all that ask for me.

Let me know how your Grand Fathers family are getting along. You must take time and write me a long letter. You can write a great may (sic) things that would be interesting to me, whilst I have nothing to write that would be interesting to you.

I have not written for so long a time I have almost forgotten how. You must overlook all mistakes.

Give my love to your Mother and all the family I remain with much love your

Affectionate Aunt E. Ross

Ross (Elizabeth Magruder) Letters - Z/1480.000/F/Folder 1
Letters found at Mississippi Department of Archives and History.