Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Sheriff took the Old Man's Cow

Photograph Courtesy of Wikipedia

Confederate money was worthless, the Confederate government and economy was ruined. Rebuilding required money, tax every head of household including the newly freedmen.

Freedman Samuel Jackson was born between 1796-1804. He didn't own much to be taxed except for the cow, a couple of dogs and maybe a gun. Without warning, he was asked to pay his taxes or the cow would be auctioned. Sam lost his cow, likely a good source of milk and butter, and the sheriff got himself a cheap cow.

Here is how it was recorded in the Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records.
Sam Jackson (col'd) 70 years old lives in Copiah County (Mississippi).

July 10th Jessie Thompson Jr, Deputy Sheriff came to Sam's house and took his cow for which Sam had paid $30 for taxes. Sam said he could borrow the money to pay his taxes and would have it there in ten minutes but Thompson would not wait but put the cow up for sale. No one them but one or two negroes who told Deputy Sheriff they had no money and could not bid. He said he must sell her. So proceeded to bid himself and knocked her down to himself at the sum called for in the tax bill ($7.81) and drove her off. The tax receipt given to Sam is for 2 dogs and 1 gun? and $1 for levy in all $7.81. The man is to old to be liable for poll tax.

How does Sam Jackson connect to my family?
Sam Jackson's granddaughter Susan Jackson married Pedro Demyers.
Pedro Demyers was the son of John T Demyers and Mary Hart.
John T Demyers is my 2nd great grandmother Alice Demyers Overton Usher's brother.

Mississippi, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872," images, FamilySearch (,1078469104 : accessed 18 December 2014), Brookhaven (subassistant commissioner) > Roll 12, Register of contracts, Jun 1865-Oct 1867 > image 68 of 101; citing NARA microfilm publication M1907, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Monday, December 15, 2014

George and Rhoda's Daughters

Annie and Mary Thomas

Annie and Mary Delphia Thomas were born during the 1890s to George and Rhoda Buie Thomas near Caseyville, Lincoln County, MS. Rhoda died between 1896-1898 when her daughters were young, leaving them to be raised by their father and his kin. Annie married William Hooker. Their son James Edward became the first African American sheriff in Lincoln County, MS. Mary went to Louisiana and the family lost contact with her.

Photograph Courtesy of James E Scott

How do the sisters connect to my family?
Their brother Alex Thomas married Roxanne Smith.
Alex and Roxanne's daughter Ida May Thomas married my first cousin once removed James Monroe Markham.
Alex and Roxanne's daughter Rosanna Thomas married my granduncle Samuel David Markham

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lincoln County's First Black Sheriff

James Edward Hooker aka J. E. Hooker was born in Lincoln County, MS, on 04 Dec 1918, to William Hooker and Annie Thomas. He was the grandson of Civil War veteran George Thomas. He married Farrie Smith. The couple's children were: William, Johnson, Charles, Ella, Mary, and Elease.

He retired from the Lincoln County Sheriff Department after serving 20 years as the first black sheriff for the county.

J. E. died 12 Aug 2002, buried in Scott Cemetery, Caseyville, MS.

Photograph Courtesy of Nathaniel Thomas

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday
Clark Sisters

They are the Clark sisters born in Jefferson County, Mississippi during the 1890s. They remind me of my paternal grandmother.

Photograph Courtesy of Nathaniel Thomas

Monday, December 1, 2014

Pleasant Valley Methodist Church
Erected 1840

Excerpts from Edwina Burnley Memoirs

Pleasant Valley Methodist Church is located in rural Copiah County, MS, near Hazlehurst. The church is in a peaceful setting surrounded by trees. The last few posts were about the Baker family who were owned by Edward Burnley. He married Maria Louisa Baxter of New Jersey, in 1852. Maria Burnley was a member of this church.

"Two years later, she wore for the first and only time in her life, a sunbonnet to the church at Pleasant Valley. When she was going down the steps, Mr. Gilmer said, “Miss Baxter, may I introduce Col. Burnley?” Col. Burnley was an ardent and persistent wooer and finally was successful."

"Ma was a Methodist, a member of the Pleasant Valley Church."

The church had a slave gallery that spanned the rear wall. It was removed long ago. Maybe, my people passed through those doors: Demyers, Furnace, Overton, and Usher.

"I remember seeing Cousin Melissa Taliaferro, (She was a daughter of Edwin R. Brown, married to Cousin Henry Taliaferro at Pleasant Valley Church wearing a pale blue silk ruffled to the waist, very low neck and short sleeves, showing her plump white shoulders, and such a big hoop skirt she could hardly get in the church door."

Can you see Melissa trying to get through one of those doors in her big hoop skirt? Can you hear the rustling of her skirt?

The Brown and Taliaferro families owned members of my family. The Sinclair family was owned by the Joseph Brown family, and the Winston family owned by Peachy R Taliaferro. My 2nd great grandaunts Margaret Demyers Sinclair and Mary Peachy Demyers Winston married into those families.

Edwina Burnley Memoirs

Sunday, November 30, 2014

So Proud of Edmund Baker

Farming Near Tupelo, Mississippi
Photograph Courtesy of Library of Congress

I am so proud of Edmund Baker fighting to get his children returned to him. Baker contracted for one year, in 1866, for his minor children to labor on the land of John H Davis. Once the year had expired, Edmund expected his children to return home. Davis refused to return the children because he said the children did not want to return to their father and the children had made contracts to remain with the Davis family. All three children were under the age of 21 years and could not make a legally binding contract. Baker's attorney sought the help of the Freedmen's Bureau with the case since the Mississippi courts refused to return the children to their father.

The Civil War brought devastation to the area where my ancestors lived. They lived in small villages, towns between Union occupied Natchez and Vicksburg. The Federal armies took what they needed from the farms and in some cases destroyed what they could not take. Southern Commissions depositions, letters, federal pension depositions, slave narratives gave accounts of the military actions in the area. All that was left, hidden or had been squirreled away was what the folks had for survival.

I can imagine my people discussing the future. I know they dreamed of owning land, land to make their living. They were skilled in making the land prosperous for their former masters and I am sure they looked forward to working for self. There was plenty of work in an agriculture economy and they were to be paid for their labor.

Edmund Baker was born about 1810 in Kentucky, described as a mulatto, His wife Mary was described as a large woman and very religious. The couple was not seen in the census records living together. In 1870, they were living as next door neighbors on the Somerset Plantation. Edwina Burnley wrote in her memoirs that Edmund was the only slave who never left the plantation.

Two of Edmund's three children had returned home by 1870, Wilson and Elijah. Julia who should be about 18 is not with the family. She may be married, dead or left the area. Elijah married Lucinda Smith in 1873 and settled in Lincoln County, MS. Wilson married Betsy and remained in Copiah County, both became farmers. The 1900 census is the last census for Edmund Baker. He was a widower living alone tho Mary the mother of his children was still alive. Mary was alive in 1910, no record for her in 1920.

Wilson died August 15, 1919 in Copiah County of dropsy. His was the only death record found for the family of five.

I hope the descendants of Edmund Baker discover his story so his name can be remembered.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Davis Responds to Baker's Plea

John Henry Davis responded to Edmund Baker's letter. Baker was requesting Davis return his children and pay him for their one year service on Davis' farm.

Gallatin April 23rd 1868

Dear Sir

Yours of the 22nd inst. has been duly received. And I now hasten to respond. You wish me to state whether I have in my service the minor children (Elijah, Wilson and Julia) of Edmund Baker, freedman, and if so to explain by what authority I hold them and why their father is not permitted to remove them and receive pay for their services. I will simply state that Wilson is not in my possession or employment but has contracted and lives with Dan Brown. That he does not prevent Julia's father from having her. But deserves her to go. And told her to go. And that the father took her twice and she would not remain with him. That Elijah is over twenty one years of age and so swore in a trial between me and his father before the Probate Judge of this County. And also swore that he did not wish to remain with his father. But preferred staying with me.

Your respectfully,
J. H. Davis


1860 Copiah County Federal Census
Mississippi, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872," images, FamilySearch (,1078468007 : accessed 14 Nov 2014), Brookhaven (subassistant commissioner) > Roll 11, Registered letters received, Nov 1867-Aug 1868 > image 121 of 265; citing NARA microfilm publication M1907, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.