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,

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.