Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Henry and Eudora Coleman

Henry Coleman b. 1877, d. 1957, and his wife Eudora "Dora" Markham b. 1877, d. 1948

Dora was my mother's aunt. Dora was the oldest daughter of 15 children and was known by her youngest siblings as Sister Dora.
Photograph given to me from Cousin Jessie Mae Markham.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sentimental Sunday
Long Awaited Grandchildren


Grandma Gertrude was 60 years of age when she first became a grandmother, and she would be a grandmother to just one set of grands. She would have to wait for her fifth of six children to grant her wish.

On each of our birthdays, Grandma would call us to her room and give us pieces of money according to our age. If you were five, you would get five different pieces of money and so on. Her gift was mostly coins but we all looked forward to her counting the pieces of money into our small hands.

Grandma had her first heart attack when she was about 65 years of age, shortly after the death of my grandfather. She left her rural home and moved to the big city, living next door to a daughter Alice, and another daughter Rosie lived on the same street. Grandma lived in a small shotgun apartment with her oldest son Uncle Jr., and my father would leave my mother and three children to live with Grandma while he pursued other interests.

Although grandma was sickly, she often encouraged her grandchildren and would admonish our father to do the right thing. She died at age of 72 years after another heart attack and strokes.

I am two nickles of age and not a grandmother. A recently married daughter has ensured me that I will beat my grandmother's record but it will be real close, and I hope to continue the tradition of counting money into their birthday hands.
The photograph was taken in my grandparents' yard in Hazlehurst, Copiah County, Mississippi in 1957. Standing is the author, Grandma Gertrude Overton Durr and on her lap, author's brother Richard. Photograph is part of the author's collection.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas - 1932

Brothers John and Andre Wise are dressed in the outfits Santa delivered. I love the cowboy assemble. The gentleman worked for the Wise family whose name is no longer remembered. He has his gift in his hand and I wonder what Santa left for him under the tree.

The photograph, taken in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, is from the personal collection of Georgia Wise.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Advent Calendar - Day 15 - Wedding Anniversary

Hubby and I married 31 Years

December Events
Grandma Gert died Dec 01
Husband's Birthday Dec 04
Sister-in-law Rosemary's Birthday Dec 07
Our Wedding Anniversary Dec 15
Sister-in-law Susan's Birthday Dec 25
Niece Hope's Birthday Dec 31
Sister Shirley's Birthday Jan 01

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Advent Calendar - Day 11 - Other Traditions

Uncle Scott's Christmas tradition was unusual because he was and is the only person I knew who did this during the holiday season. When he came to visit, before he knocked on the door he would call out Christmas gift in a loud voice. I don't remember him or anyone explaining the why he did this. A light bulb moment occurred while reading slave narratives. This tradition may have originated during slavery.

"At Christmas time the slave children all trouped to "de big house" and stood outside crying "Christmas gift" to their master and mistress." Amanda McCray of Florida

"If we could manage to say "Christmas gift" to any of the Master's family on Christmas morning before they spoke to us, they would have to give us a gift of some kind." Malinda Discus of Missouri

"De fust one what said Christmas gift ter anybody else got a gif', so of cou'se we all try ter ketch de marster." Charlie Barbour of North Carolina
Ernest Scott was born in 1897. He married my Dad's sister Rosie Lee Durr.
The photograph, taken in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, is from the personal collection of Georgia Wise. The lady in the photograph is unknown.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday (almost) - Alex Adams Family

Alex Adams with his wife, children and grandchildren in front of the home he built in Hazlehurst, Copiah County, Mississippi.
Back Row: Naomi, Beulah, Clark, Letha
Front Row: Alex Adams b. 1859, grandson George (Letha's son), Alice Washington Adams b. 1857, sitting on Alice's lap, granddaughter Lillie (Beulah's daughter)

Naomi's daughter, Hazel Marie Pierce, married my mother's 2nd cousin Paul Scott.
Naomi's son, Julius Virgil Pierce, married my mother's 1st cousin once removed Earnestine Coleman.
Letha's daughter, Estella Williams, married my mother's 1st cousin Emmitt Coleman.
Adams family photograph from the collection of Veronica Ramsey Swift, direct descendant of Alex and Alice. The photograph is dated November 13, 1908. Thank you Karen E. Pierce for sharing.
Naomi Adams Pierce and her husband Henry Pierce
Photograph Courtesy of Nathaniel Thomas

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Mary Bailey

In Memory of Mrs. Mary Bailey
Born 1847
Died Dec 8 1944
Age 97
Gone But Not Forgotton(sp)
Its Our Lost And Heaven Gain

Hickory Block Cemetery
Jefferson County, Mississippi


Daughter of James and Emily Earls
Wife of Wallace Bailey
Mother of: Wallace, Jr., William, Vina, Josephine, Flora, Horace, Greely, Richardson, Pearly, Quitman, Roseanna, Mamie, Willie, Mary, and Emily

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Advent Calendar - Christmas Cards - Day 4

My family loved sending Christmas cards when I was a child. My mother would spend several minutes looking over cards at the local grocery, carefully choosing her three or four cards. Grandma Gert would have her daughter Rosie Lee to buy her a box of assorted cards. My mother would address her own cards and also Grandma's.

I loved when they would place the cards on the table deciding who would get which cards. Grandma would be sure to send all of the same cards from her assortment because she wanted to be sure she didn't send the same card to the same person the next year. Any cards left from a set would be given to us children to give to teachers.

Going to the mailbox this time of year was a pleasure. We would argue about which one of us would go get the mail. My mother would need to finish a chore, wipe her hands before she would sit to open her cards. Grandma would open hers immediately. The cards were so pretty: candy canes, Santa, nativity scenes, Mary and the baby, Christmas trees. Some cards had a note and some had money instructing my Mom to buy us children something special.

I enjoy sending cards and like grandma I usually buy a box of assortments, following her ritual of making sure I use all of a set. This year I broke my tradition and purchased a box with one design. My Christmas card list is declining. I will mail about a dozen this year, mostly to older cousins and friends I have lost contact with over the years.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Hope Trunk


For the 100th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, I decided to write about a family heirloom, my grandmother’s trunk.

Second great grandmother Alice Demyers Overton Usher raised many of her grandchildren including my grandmother, Gertrude Overton Durr. A forced sexual encounter resulted in pregnancy for Grandma Gert and if the family stories are true, Grandma Gert probably suffered with depression after the birth of her first child with no husband. Grandma Alice told her she couldn’t stay shut up in the house and that the first man to come along who wanted her, she would marry him.

Grandma Alice presented her granddaughter Gertrude with this trunk. It was a hope trunk, a hope in marriage. I never knew what was in my grandmother’s trunk when she married my Grandfather Mike Durr in September 1919. I would guess there was a quilt, bible, flour sack towels, pretty embroider pillow cases, a cup or two, and whatever they could gather for a new household.

When Grandma Gert died in 1967, her daughters decided that her oldest granddaughter would receive her trunk, that granddaughter was me. I hope to someday pass it on to a granddaughter

Friday, November 26, 2010

Blogging Works

Lillian Merchant Williams
September 26, 1918 - October 21, 2010

One of my purposes for a genealogy blog is to make contact with cousins unknown to me, to increase the family tent. I was pleasantly surprised when cousins Julia Williams Thomas and Angela Thomas contacted me after seeing a post on this blog concerning their direct ancestor Memphis Merchant. My great grandfather Monroe Markham and Memphis' mother Catherine Markham Scott were siblings.

Julia and Angela shared a photo of their mother and grandmother Lillian Merchant Williams, shown in the above picture, who was the daughter of Memphis Merchant.

I am looking forward to meeting these new cousins. Blogging works!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Darkis Goodwin vs Joseph Goodwin

Rubia Earnestine Goodwin Brown Powe
Granddaughter of Joseph and Darkis
1st Cousin of my Mother

Darkis married Joseph Goodwin about 1855 according to the customs of slavery and entered their freedom as a married couple in Copiah County, Mississippi. They didn't have a dollar to their name but manage through hard work to acquire about 600 acres of land and a well stocked supply of farm animals. Joe purchased his first land in 1869, 80 acres from Wesley L. Ainsworth for $500.

Descendants of Joseph Goodwin say he was a mean and cruel man. He had several intimate relationship with women outside of the marriage, which produced several children. He also required that the women who lived on his land submit to sexual intimacies with him. Darkis's divorce records appear to support those assertions naming two women, Martha Jenkins and Caroline Jones, as his concubines.

In 1891, the marriage fell completely apart. Darkis was about 50, she had given birth to eleven children and she had endured hard work, leaving her physically unable to provide for herself. Joe was ready to dissolve the relationship, forcing Darkis from the home by beating her unmercifully and threatening to kill her with an ax. She fled the home, never to return.

Darkis was now penniless and homeless. She realized that she and the children had worked just as hard as Joe for what they had obtained. She sought the courts for relief.

The land was legally title to only Joe, so, she would not receive relief in that area. The courts granted her $50 temporary alimony and all her legal fees would be paid by Joe. The courts recognized the couple's marriage based on Article 22 from the Mississippi Constitution of 1868.
Sec. 22. All persons who have not been married, but are now living together, cohabiting as husband and wife, shall be taken and held for all purposes in law as married, and their children, whether born before or after the ratification of this Constitution, shall be legitimate; and the Legislature may, by law, punish adultery and concubinage.
Joe and Darkis' children were: Elizabeth "Lizzie," Josephine, James, Lydia, Dinah, twins Cora and Dora, Joe, and Albert. The last four children were minors at the time of the divorce. Darkis were given custody of the twins and Joe received his sons, Joe and Albert.

My mother's aunt Alice Marshall married, Joe and Dorcas's son, James.

Joe died sometime between 1893 and 1900, Dorcas died in 1918.

Darkis fought for what was rightfully hers and won.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sidney's Five Sons - United States Colored Troops

Lamar Smith and wife Annie Clark
Lamar is a grandson of Jacob Smith

Jacob Smith and Sidney Mitchell sacrificed sons to the Civil War. Sidney Mitchell gave birth to eight children, five of whom were sons. All five of their sons served with the United States Colored Troops. Sidney and her children were slaves on the John Mitchell Plantation in Union Church, Jefferson County, Mississippi. Sidney's husband, Jacob Smith, lived on the Dougald McMillan Plantation, a neighboring plantation, near Caseyville, Copiah County, Mississippi.

Susie Mae Smith Scott
Granddaughter of Jacob Smith

Jacob's descendants married into my maternal family.
Jacob's granddaughter Susie Mae Smith married my mother's 1st cousin once removed Walter Scott.
Jacob's great grandson Robert Smith married my mother's 2nd cousin Magdalene Scott.

Listed below are the five sons of Jacob and Sidney who served with the Colored Troops.

1. William - born about 1836 was a member of Union Church Presbyterian Church. He was received and baptized 20 November 1853. William served with Company G, 58th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry. William was married, wife's name unknown. He died during service.

2. Anderson - born about 1838 "ran away to the Yankees," enlisted with Company G, 58th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry in Natchez, Mississippi, on 17 September 1863. He died 24 January 1864, at the Post Hospital in Natchez of small pox and dysentery. He left two wives, Hannah and Betsy, for the Pension Board to decide which woman was the legal wife. Both women had one surviving son with Anderson and both remarried. Betsy's son Jacob was declared Anderson's son and entitled to his father's pension.

3. Bluford - born about 1840 enlisted 25 August 1863, at Natchez with Company G, 58th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry. He was the lone survivor of the five brothers. He was discharged 30 April 1866, at Vicksburg. He married Harriet and the couple had several children. Bluford made claims for a pension based on injury to hip and back. Claims of 1893, 1894, 1896, 1898, were rejected on the grounds that he was not disabled for manual labor in a pensionable degree. The poverty stricken Bluford died about 1898 in Natchez.

4. Willis - born about 1842 enlisted 30 August 1863, at Natchez with Company A, 6th Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery. He died 11 July 1864, of a stomach hemorrhage in the Regimental Hospital in Natchez.

5. Daniel - born about 1843 served with Company G, 58th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry. He died in the army.

Sources:
Dougald McMillan's Slaves
John Mitchell's 1852 Deed of Gift
Anderson Mitchell Federal Military Pension Records
Bluford Mitchell Federal Military Pension Records

Photographs Courtesy of James E. Scott

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Church Record Sunday - Hickory Block Church

The charter members of Hickory Block Church were first members of Union Church Presbyterian Church of Union Church, Jefferson County, Mississippi. The Union Church Presbyterian Church (UCPC) records contain the names of several African American slaves who were members of the church. The servants' names are on church membership records where they were accepted by examination and baptized into the faith.

The first African American member recorded was a man named Jimes who was admitted September 24, 1824. The last recorded servant member was Perry who was received on October 23, 1864.

What happen to the servant members of Union Church Presbyterian Church after the Civil War? They established a church called Hickory Block which is one of the oldest churches established by African Americans in Jefferson County.

The following is what is revealed in the UCPC records concerning the former servant members.
MARCH 13, 1871
"Where as there are a number of names on our church roll of persons who have been absent for years without making any application for a letter and have been entirely lost sight of by the church and further there are appearing on our church roll the names of 56 colored members who have entirley drawn off from us, never assemble or worship with us and have been regularly reported. Therefore, it was ordered by the Session that the names of all those who have been absent, both white and colored, be dropped from the roll and no more be reported as members of this church until they have their membership renewed."
Miss Lottie Warren, one of the members of UCPC wrote, "It was by their request that they meet unto their own church "HICKORY BLOCK," which church still carries on their Christian work."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Atty Whalum

Atty and Hagar Nevils Whalum, Unknown Grandchild of the Couple
Photograph Courtesy of Christopher Whalum
Direct Descendant of Atty and Hager


Atty Whalum aka Eddy Mitchell was born about 1837 in Jefferson County, Mississippi on the John Mitchell Plantation. He was the son of Henderson Whalum and Mary Mitchell. Atty served with the 6th Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery.

Atty's Headstone
The Singing so Beautiful

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Church Record Sunday - The Singing so Beautiful

Union Church Presbyterian Church of Jefferson County, Mississippi, was organized in 1817. The main building was built during the 1850s.

Church services were held once a month. On that Sunday two services were held, one for the whites and later in the afternoon one was held for the slaves. The singing of the slaves was said to be so beautiful that the people of the village would come outside to hear the singing.

Descendants of those singers married into my family and they continue the tradition of gospel singing.
The Jonestown Crusaders Gospel Group
Seated: Nathaniel Johnson, Jr., and Nathaniel Johnson, Sr.
Standing: Joe Johnson and Philip Johnson

The senior Nathaniel's 1st cousin twice removed Atty Whalum, an infant slave, was baptized 17 May 1840, at Union Church Presbyterian Church.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Catherine Markham Scott

In Memory of Cathern Scott
Feb 10 1862
July 24 1948
At Rest
Zion Chapel Cemetery
Caseyville, Lincoln County, Mississippi

Catherine was the daughter of James and Jane McCray Markham
Wife of James Pearlie Scott
Mother of Memphis Merchant, Robert Scott, Frank Scott, Walter Scott, Philip Scott, Pearlie Scott, Jr., Estelle Scott Crossley, and Sallie Scott

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Meeting and Researching with Art Thomas
Slave Owner Descendant

Photograph is of Art Thomas, 3rd great grandson of William D. Coleman, and Nathaniel Thomas, 4th great grandson of John Bryant standing in the Robinson Cemetery, Jefferson County, Mississippi.

Art Thomas replied to an old query I left on Jefferson County MSGenWeb site inquiring about Neil McCormick. Art and I corresponded, he writing about his family history and I about the research projects I was working on.

William Coleman, Sr., was Art's 3rd great grandfather. After Coleman's death, Neil McCormick was named as guardian of Coleman's minor children and the family slaves. One of Coleman's daughters married McCormick. Several of my female relatives married the sons and grandsons of Cupit Coleman born about 1811. Art and I started working together because both families shared the Coleman surname.

Art mailed William Coleman's documents pertaining to his slaves. We went through the list and did not find a connection to my family. I was 95% sure of the slave owner of Cupit Coleman and was confident of the slave owner of Cupit's wife and children. We knew Coleman was not the last owner of Cupit and his family, maybe, he was a previous owner.

Art shared a story about one of William Coleman, Sr.'s slaves, John Bryant. John was a body servant to William, Jr., during the Civil War. According to Art's family oral history, John Bryant rescued a wounded William Jr., from the battlefield, nursing him to health and returning him home. Art said John had been buried near William, Jr.

Cousins Nathaniel Thomas, James Scott and I were researching Nathaniel's 4th great grandmother Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bryant. We had hit a brick wall with Lizzie as we could not get information on Lizzie previous to 1880. I shared with Art the little we knew about Elizabeth and as far as we knew she didn't have a son named John and we did not know the name of her husband. In 1880, Lizzie, head of household, was living with her children and grandchildren, and her deceased daughter's son and husband, Bryant Coleman and Dock Coleman.

While I am corresponding with Art, Nate and James are corresponding with Anthony Neal, husband to one of Lizzie's descendants. Anthony shares with us the slave narrative of one of Lizzie's sons, Robert Bryant. In the narrative, Robert said that his father John Coleman was the slave of Neil McCormick. Robert's mother was the slave of John McDaniel. I realized that the family had at least three different surnames they could have used in the 1870 census.

In their 1870 Lincoln County household, the family was using the surname McDaniel: Jno McDaniel, 75, and Elizabeth, 65, with their children Robert, Emily, Martha, Amanda, and grandchildren Simon and Minerva. Based on Robert's slave narrative, John McDaniel's 1857 Deed of Gift, records of William Coleman, and the census records, we knew John McDaniel was also John Coleman.

The question for us became was John Coleman of the slave narrative also John Bryant of the oral family history? We knew that William Coleman's probate records named a John and that John was under the guardianship of Neil McCormick. We have a bill of sale of one of McCormick's slaves but did not have a complete listing of the eight slaves he owned per the 1860 Jefferson County slave schedule. We needed to know if McCormick owned a slave named John before we could conclude our John was John Bryant. McCormick died after slavery ended, his probate records or will would not include the names of his slaves.

I decided to check my favorite research documents, the Civil War pension records. There was an Elizabeth Bryant named as a dependent in the Civil War pension index to a Daniel Mack. I decided to order the pension file, hoping that Elizabeth was the one I was researching, indeed, she was. Daniel Mack was John and Elizabeth Bryant's son. The Civil War pension records clearly stated Elizabeth Bryant's husband was John Bryant and he had been a slave of William Coleman.

Art invited the cousins and me to visit him, which we accepted. We met on a cold raining January morning at Art's home in Meadville, Franklin County, Mississippi. We were warmly greeted, felt at ease as though we were buddies visiting after a long absence. We exchanged documents, chatted for awhile before going to visit John Bryant's burial site.

John Bryant
Age 75 Years
Epitaph - "Farewell John Bryant, Tho Lost to Sight to Memory Dear"

John Bryant was buried in the Coleman - Robinson Cemetery located in Jefferson County near the Franklin County line. It was off a gravel road used by lumber companies. When we visited, the cemetery had been cleared enough for us to walk comfortably, a quite, peaceful setting. John was buried a short distance from the others. We were grateful to Art for helping us to discover an ancestor we didn't know.

John was born between 1795 - 1805. He died of kidney and heart disease 05 Apr 1875.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

1936 Letter - From Hallie to Prential

Hallie Buie wrote this letter to her sister Prential Buie Rew. They were the daughters of Prentiss and Emma McRae Buie. Prentiss was the last slave owner of my great grandfather Monroe Markham. Just between the gate posts, Monroe maintained a relationship with the David Buie family until his death in 1931. Monroe b. 1852 was given to Prentiss Buie b. 1850 when they were both young children.

Hallie mentioned my granduncle Samuel Markham in this letter. Samuel was Monroe's son. Samuel was born in 1898, died in 1981.

The old home was the Buie family ancestral home. David’s father, Neil Buie, Sr., formerly of Robeson County, North Carolina, was one of the earliest pioneers of the Natchez District. Neil, Sr. was listed on the Natchez District Census of 1810. Neil, Sr., lived near an area later called Union Church, Jefferson County, Mississippi. Neil, Jr., arrived in the Caseyville, Copiah County, Mississippi, area about 1822 where he entered a homestead of 160 acres of land and in 1825, twenty-five more acres. In 1840, Neil, Jr.’s son David Buie carried his bride Jane McLaurin to the home which had been built there. Another home was built there in 1856.

----------------------

The Old Home
July 21, 1936

My Dear Prential,
The box came alright, thank you. I know you are wondering how I get things done. Well, I have found out that is all right for Samuel Markham to come down here, he has a corn field rented from Estelle and comes to get their corn to have ground. I just don’t know what they could do without him. I hope you will not mention this--he has a mail box and if we need him for anything we drop him a card and he comes right over. He lives on the Adams place. His house is located about a mile from this one. He charges ten cents for bringing things from Mr. Smith’s and twenty cents from Lamar’s, charges for the time and not the size of the package, large or small the same price, he certainly is nice about it. He just happened to come along the day the box came. he said, “Dat box aint hebby.” You forgot that I put some things in a smaller box, the smaller one is the one that has the shoes in it that I need now. I hate so bad to trouble you again, and Robert too, I saw that he got the package off; but I really would like to have those shoes.

I am not sure what is best for me to do, but the doctor was very positive about my getting to as cool a place as possible, and this is the coolest place I have found and it seems alright with the girls; so I think I shall stay through August and perhaps a part of Sept. then go to your home and stay till time to go to Scarritt to school. Miss MacKinnon said that she wants me to come to Scarritt for one term.

Lamar came Sunday afternoon and drove me about over the new high-ways. They are not paved but are good wide graveled roads. There is a C. C. C. camp two miles from Caseyville down toward Cousin Dan Buie’s old home, I saw that. We came back by Bethel, it took us some time to find the graves. Lamar said he would have Avinor fix them up this week and that he has some brick he is not using he would put around so we’ll know. I just feel like going on and getting some kind of stone and letting the other children pay what they will on it, its just a shame for those two to be unkept.

There is a wagon passing out in front, Oh! there is another one, white people, seems strange.

But I am enjoying the quite, the doctor said that my nerves need rest, it seems that I need a rest from people.

Lamar is so anxious that I take dinner with them Sunday, I am going he is to come for me, I hope it won’t rain, Katie also insisted that I come.

The preacher came here and invited me to make a talk at Bethel on Sunday morning or afternoon, its the first day of the meeting and they are having dinner on the ground; of course I had to say that I could not do it.

Lamar says that he is going to Brookhaven Thurs. or Friday and will come by for me. I want to see Dr. Thompson about my teeth, then I can make more definite plans, after knowing how long it will take him to do the work that is necessary.

You asked about my cooking arrangements, Estelle put a stove in the little room, the pipe is stuck out the window. Toast and crackers is all I can eat in the bread line, so I don’t have to bake anything, and Samuel and Lamar have so far kept me well supplied with food. Only I wish I could get fresh milk, though I have learned to do on can milk in Korea. I am getting on fine, being lazy and resting.

Give my love to Robert and thank him for letting me know that he welcomes me to his home for a time of rest.

Much love, thank you too,
Hallie

Letter received from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History
Buie Family Papers
Series Z Nos. 115 or Z/1115.000/S
Box 3
Folder--Prential Buie 1936

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pieces of Memories

A childhood memory can be so vivid that the memory seems to have happen yesterday. Other memories are fragmented, a piece here and there, and you can't be sure if it is real to your own memory or if you remember because you remember what was told to you over and over. My paternal grandfather Mike Durr, Sr., died in 1960 when I was four years old. I have two memories connected to him, one the days following his death.

I remember his casket in my grandparents’ front room near the wall across from the fireplace, people coming and going, noise and silence. There is a vague memory of getting out of bed, seeing my grandmother sitting near his casket in a kerosene lit room. I remember people dressed in black and grandma's black hat. I remember the church where his funeral service was held, a white wood frame building resting on blocks and the church steps. Grandma held my hands as we walked up those steps. In my memory the steps were huge and it took effort to step up.

During the funeral I sat next to grandma and wonder why she was crying. I remember feeling restless and concerned about my grandmother, looking for my mother who was sitting behind us with my brother and baby sister in her arms. I can remember walking down the steps but nothing more.

I suppose at some point during the day, I took a nap because I remember coming out of sleep in my grandparent's house. My first thought was of grandma crying. Why was she crying? I had to find her, talk to her. I remember looking for her, finding her. She was no longer dressed in black. I asked her why she was crying. I can still see her face, hear her gentle voice. She told me that she was sad because she would never see grandpa again and that she would miss him. I don't think I understood what she was saying to me but I did understand that there was a reason for the crying.

The first picture is the steps to the old church building where grandpa's funeral was held, the second is the new church building.

Grandpa was a member of Mercy Seat AME Church in Copiah County, Mississippi. It was his childhood church. Most of his adult life was outside the church but when old age had its gripe, he went back and was a member in good standing at the time of his death. He is buried in an unmarked grave in the church cemetery.

Friday, October 1, 2010

James Monroe Markham

Cousin James, born in 1897, was the son of James and Anna Culver Markham, husband of Ida May Thomas, daddy of Felix and Earline. He moved to Chicago after the death of his wife in 1922 where he became a Pullman porter. He died in 1985 in Chicago.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Baby Earline


She is the darling baby of James Monroe Markham and Ida May Thomas. Earline Markham was born in 1920. She is the last living member of her family of four. Felix, her only sibling died in 1930.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Ida Markham


Ida Markham
Born Oct 18 1895
Died Oct 10 1922
Zion Chapel AME Church Cemetery
Caseyville, Lincoln County, MS


Ida May Thomas, daughter of Alexander Thomas and Roxanne Smith, married James Monroe Markham. James was my mother's 1st cousin.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Chicken in the Skillet


The posts from Georgia Black Crackers and Finding Eliza reminded me of the memories I have surrounding a chicken meal. Whether it was company coming or going to visit, fried chicken was usually the center of attention. In my childhood home, chicken was a barometer on how well financially the family was doing. When there was no chicken in the cast iron skillet, we knew money was scarce and for a good portion of my childhood that was the way it was. When my father returned home, the chicken came home with him.

My mother was a good cook and like Jesus she had the gift of multiplying. She could take one chicken and make two meals for seven people. One day fried chicken and the following meal, chicken "n" dumplings, chicken pot pie or rice in chicken broth with okra and tomatoes. We children would tease each other when we manage to find chicken in a spoonful of my mother's tasty dishes.

I was a senior in high school when my father discovered I didn't know how to cut up a chicken. Mama purchased whole chickens. My hungry dad displayed a rare moment of domesticity trying to see to it that the chicken was cut up, so, by the time my mother was home she could get busy seasoning and frying but I put a wrinkle in his plans. My mother must have gotten an earful from my dad on the ride home because when she came in she taught me how to cut up the barnyard princess.

She showed me joints, how to separate the leg from the thigh. She made sure I took a piece of the breast when cutting the wing. Two legs, two thighs, two wings, resting in the bowl. Once the breast and back were separated, she showed me how to remove the breast bone and cut the breast into four portions. Backs, necks, livers, and gizzards were sometimes fried and sometimes used to make a broth. Nothing was wasted, we cooked it all.

My twenty something old children love my fried chicken from the cast iron skillet. The above picture shows how they use chicken to entertain friends. It has been a long time since I cut up a whole chicken and I have no plans to teach my daughters or my son the skill. I suppose I am the last of my line to learn.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sickly Felix


Felix James Markham died one day after his 11th birthday per his death certificate. Cousins declare he was 14. He was born with heart disease. The family thought his mother Ida was overly protective, she wouldn't allow the boy to run and play with the other children. He needed fresh air and plenty of sunshine, treat him like any other child was the advice given. After all, the family had seen children born sickly, survive and thrive.

Ida Thomas married my mother's 1st cousin, James Monroe Markham. Ida had one documented stillborn birth before Felix was born. The gossip between the gate posts is that she had several miscarriages, which made her mentally unstable.

Felix was born Feb 14 1919 in rural Lincoln County, MS. His sister Earline followed in 1920. There would be no more children born to this family. Ida died in 1922 due to anemia from pregnancy.

The children's father, James Monroe, moved to Chicago and eventually became a Pullman porter. Earline and Felix remained with their paternal grandparents, James and Anna Markham in Caseyville, MS. Felix developed pneumonia in the winter of 1930, his diseased heart failed. He died February 15, 1930, in his grandparent's home.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Learning to Read for Sunday

Mike Durr, Jr.
1921 - 2004

My Uncle Mike Durr, Jr., never learned to read. He had a great memory for dates and family history. He could add, subtract, divide, and multiply in his head but he just couldn't get that reading thing together even with extra help from dedicated teachers. He didn't hide his illiteracy but used it as a crutch. According to his wisdom, he never married because he could not read.

I lived in the same house with Uncle Junior as a young child and he recognized my love for reading, so, he decided I would "teach" him to read his Sunday School lessons. Before the third grade, I was his teacher and would continue to work with him until I was in high school. Those Hittites, Mobites, Zacchaeus, Zephaniah, etc., would tie a knot in a young reader's tongue. I would read the lesson with my mother before I "taught" Uncle Junior.

He wanted to participate in his Sunday School Class by reading one of the verses from the lesson. We would go through the lesson and he would decide which verse he would read in class. We worked on that verse at least once during the week and again on Saturday night.

On Sunday mornings with bibles and Sunday School books in hand, off to church we went. It was a small church where all classes were in one room. Occasionally, I could hear Uncle Junior telling the teacher which verse he wanted to read and hear him when he read his verse. He would stumble at the same words he stumble with at home, forget the words I felt he knew. His teachers ignored his stumbles and would continue to call on him to read Sunday after Sunday. On many Sundays my student was a star, he would recite his verse near perfect.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hazlehurst Colored School 11th Grade Class


This is the 11th class picture of my Aunt Rosie Durr Scott, my Dad’s sister. Aunt Rosie is the 5th person from the left on the back row. She was born in 1928, the year before the Great Depression in rural Copiah County, MS.

I believe Aunt Rosie was the only one of the five siblings to graduate high school the traditional way. The oldest Uncle Junior didn’t learn to read and he was too embarrassed to remain behind with children who were younger and smaller, so, he quit. Today, he would probably be diagnosed with a form of learning disability. Aunt Alice finished the 8th grade, eager to say good bye to rural life, leaving for the big city of Jackson to complete her education but found marriage instead. My dad Albert went to the Korean War before finishing high school, came home and received his GED paid by the GI Bill. I don’t think the baby, Uncle Ike, finished high school or received a GED.

It was the 1940s and the county had school buses for white children from the rural communities. The children of color from rural communities had to provide their own transportation or live with someone near a high school.

Grandpa Mike’s sharecropping days were over, so, to make a little money he used a horse drawn wagon to take neighbors to town on Saturday mornings. When it was time for Aunt Rosie to go to high school, he asked the folks who had the power to sell him a discarded school bus. Grandpa repaired the bus from monies he received from his other thriving business, bootleg whiskey. This bus was used to take Aunt Rosie, and for a small fee the other neighborhood children to school. He would also use it for his Saturday morning business, which was the real reason his children thought he purchased the bus.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lumber Yard Laborers


Lumber Yard Laborers somewhere in Lincoln County, MS
Photo from the Collection of Cousin James Scott

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Man and his Car

This is a photo of my Dad's first car, parked in the yard of his parents near Hazlehurst, MS. He loved cars. He would pay a car note before he paid the rent. The photo was taken in June 1955.


Here he is sitting in another car eating a doughnut with a carton of milk. The doughnut had to be fresh as he is parked in front of the bakery.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - The Couple



This is another unidentified picture from my great grandmother Mary Jane Byrd Markham's collection.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Sarah Jane Buie



In Memory of Sarah Jane Buie
Wife of Joe Buie
Died April 04 1904
Age 40 years
Zion Chapel A. M. E. Church Cemetery
Caseyville, Lincoln County, MS


Sarah was born about 1862 in Caseyville, then Copiah County, MS. She was the daughter of Henry Israel and Martha Ann Henderson. Her husband Joseph Buie was one of the former slaves who was interviewed by the WPA during the 1930s.

Joseph Buie's Slave Narrative

Monday, August 23, 2010

Madness Monday - Killed His Sister - Part Three

Part One
Part Two

My primary research goal for this family was to find the names of the family in the 1918 newspaper article. Once the true surname was found, finding the family’s documents became easier and the goal of learning their names was accomplished. Finding the documents still leaves me wanting more, the whys, the what ifs, and the wheres. I would like to know why Luther is not found in the 1920 and 1930 census. Did he move, did he avoid the enumerator, did he die? Why the family is not seen as an intact family in the census records? Were things falling apart before the daughter's death? Did the family reunite after the grandmother’s death? Did healing occur within the family?

Hopefully, I will meet with descendants of this family and we can talk of our common ancestry.

Timeline for the Family
Luther Coleman married Eddie Roberts 24 Dec 1905 in Lincoln County, MS.

First child Lula Mae Coleman born 08 Nov 1906
Second child T. C. “Boommie” Coleman born 1908

A 1910 census record for the family was not found.

Third child George Coleman born 01 Jan 1911
Fourth child S. A. Coleman b. 1913
Fifth child Amy V. Coleman b. 20 Sep 1915
Sixth child Willie Coleman b. 18 Jan 1918

The family lost two children in 1918.
Willie Coleman died 19 Jan 1918, premature birth.
S. A. Coleman murdered by brother 21 July 1918.

Luther Coleman, father of the children, registered for WW1, 12 Sep 1918. He named his mother Amie Coleman as his nearest relative, not his wife.

1920 Census – Eddie Coleman, mother of the children, is living with her mother Sallie Smith, and their father Luther was not found. Children, T. C., Lula and George were living with their paternal grandmother Amie Markham Coleman.

The 1920 census was recorded 04 February 1920. Amy Coleman, the children’s grandmother died one month later on 04 Mar 1920.

1930 Census - Eddie Roberts is living in Lincoln County with two of her daughters, Lula, 19, and Amy, 13.

Per their obituaries, all the children with the exception of George who moved to Texas remained in Lincoln County, MS.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday Madness - Killed His Sister - Part 2

In a previous post, Monday Madness – Killed His Sister I shared a newspaper article about an incident in my family where a brother killed his sister. The newspaper article did not list the names of the children involved, only the father Luther Markham. Based on that article, I had previously searched for information about the family and asked questions of cousins. Nothing new was produced to add to the family tree.

Since I had so little information on this family, I decided to go back and re look over this family to see if I could learn something new. Well, the first task was to see if a death certificate could be found at the Mississippi Archives. I went back to the death index to see if I could find a Markham child who died close to the date of the newspaper article, 25 Jul 1918. Like my previous search, the death certificate for a Markham child was not found.

Knowing that the Markham surname has various spellings and in case I missed one, I decided to look at the index for the month of July 1918, in Lincoln County, Mississippi. Carefully scrolling through the microfiche, I found a death certificate of a five year old girl, dated 21 Jul 1918, who had died from gunshot wound to the chest. To my surprise, her surname was not Markham, it was Coleman.


The murdered sister’s name was S. A. Coleman. Now ain’t that a big help with her name. The death certificate named her parents as Luther and Eddie Roberts Coleman. If Luther is who I think he is, Luther is the son of my great aunt Amy Markham and her husband Anthony Coleman.

My need to document this family will keep me on the research road for awhile. Lets see where it leads.

More to come...

Part Three

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Alice Usher's Letter


Alice Demyers Overton Usher
Born About 1845 - Died 1933

Various records date my second great grandmother Alice Demyers Overton Usher's birth somewhere between 1830 and 1845. I believe she was born about 1845. The oral tradition is that she had a relationship with Dave Overton when she was about 14-15 years of age. This relationship produced her only child, a son, Richmond Overton. Dave Brown Overton left the plantation during the Civil War when his son was to young to remember him, following the Yankee soldiers.

Alice wrote several letters to the Pension Board in Washington, D.C., requesting the pension of the husband she believed served with the Union Troops. Alice could not provide any evidence of Dave's military service. He may have followed the troops and served in a non military capacity or became contraband of the War. If she could have proved Dave Brown's service, Alice would not have qualified as Dave's widow because she was married to Elijah Usher.

Alice started her writing campaign in 1923 and would continue to write through 1931. Here is one of her many letters.

November 21, 1923
Barlow, Miss

Dear Mr Gardner I received your message ok and answering the same my husband Dave Overton or Brown went to the Yankee army and never return enymore I dont no wheater he got kill I never did heare from him eny mo I have one son by him I maried the man by the name of Elijah Usher I have been married about 49 or 50 years as near as I can think I am old and cant rember.

My witeness is Bettie Toliver and Virginier Demyse

From Alice Usher



Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Allie's Education - Getting the Sheep Skin

Cousin Allie received all the education she could in Caseyville. She finished the 8th grade, repeating the grade twice, not from necessity but because she loved school. Allie wanted more education, she knew she didn’t want to stare behind the rump of a mule for a good portion of her life. Anxious to leave the “sticks of Caseyville,” she asked her father for his prayers and his permission because that was all he had to give.

Getting those eight years was difficult. Allie was sickly, sometimes too ill to attend school. Her father had asthma which got worse the older he became. Allie and her siblings had to help with the farm duties which contributed to them not being able to regularly attend school. They persevered. All of her siblings completed high school with the exception of one brother who left school to financially support the family. Two out of the seven obtained master degrees.

After receiving her father’s prayers and permission, Allie moved to the nearest town with a high school, Brookhaven, MS, where she lived with her Uncle Willie and Aunt-Cousin Fredonia, sharing a bed with their daughters Joyce and Willie Mae. Allie would arise every morning to bake a pan of biscuits, fry meat and put on hot coffee. Aunt Fredonia “took in laundry” and Allie would help Fredonia, earning an occasional 25 cents. She was not asked to perform these chores. She came with no money to pay for their hospitality, so, this was her way to give back.

Offered a job to do housekeeping and cooking for a family who had a general store, Allie accepted the position having spent two years with her family. Although it was in the sewing room, Allie had a bed of her own. She was pleased.

The family she worked for was kind to her; they provided what her family could not. The lady of the house would give her “piece goods.” Allie would take the fabrics to her sister Evie who was an excellent seamstress. The pieces of fabrics would be turned into slips, underwear, blouses and skirts. The family not only provided a job, shelter and clothing but they also encourage her to continue with her education.

Allie graduated from high school during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. She would continue on to receive two years of college education through a program of FDR.

Allie’s story continues…

Allie's Birth