Monday, December 31, 2012

Watch Night
Richmond and Jane Furnace Overton

...shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free...
Emancipation Proclamation
January 1 1863
Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Richmond Elijah Overton
Born About 1856
In 1863, he was a slave on Hezekiah G D Brown Plantation
Near Hazlehurst, Copiah County, MS

Grandpa Richmond was the only child of Dave Brown Overton and Alice Demyers. Grandpa did not remember his father who left the plantation following Union troops, never to return home. Grandma Alice wrote poignant letters to the Pensioners Board requesting a pension for herself and son. During slavery, Richmond was trained as a carpenter. It was said the master saw his intelligence and knew an extar dollar could be made.

Richmond married Jane Furnace who was born about 1860 in Mississippi. Census records indicate that HGD Brown may also be the slave owner of the Furnace family. Richmond and Jane had about 10 children. Jane died about 1902, Richmond died in 1928.

Richmond and Jane were my father's maternal grandparents.

Watch Night
Washington and Mary Hardgraves Marshall

...shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free...
Emancipation Proclamation
January 1 1863
Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Washington and Mary are the oldest of the great grandparents at Emancipation. Washington was born about 1822 in Virginia, Mary his wife about 1839 in Mississippi. Four of their 15 children were born in slavery. Washington told his children the sad story of being sold from his siblings and parents in Virginia. He wanted his Mississippi family to know that they had family in Virginia.

The names of the Virginia family did not survive to me. The first time I visited Virginia, I remembered what was told to me and softly whisper to Grandpa Washington that I was home.

Washington and Mary are my mother's paternal grandparents. Both were deceased when she was born.

Watch Night
Mary Jane Byrd Markham

...shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free...
Emancipation Proclamation
January 1 1863
Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Mary Jane Byrd Markham
1855-1937
In 1863, she was a slave likely in Franklin County, MS

Mary Jane Byrd Markham was born about 1855. At the end of the Civil War, she was motherless, homeless and alone. My great grandfather Monroe Markham knowing Mary was alone made the decision that she would be his wife. Although Monroe's parents James and Marilda Markham separated during the War, his parents and siblings remained in the same general area.

The first of Monroe and Mary's 15 children was born in 1872 and the last one was born in 1903. They remained together until death.

Monroe and Mary were my mother's maternal grandparents.

Watch Night
Celebration of Freedom

...shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free...
Emancipation Proclamation
January 1 1863
Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Monroe Markham
1852 - 1932
In 1863, he was a slave on the David Buie Plantation
Caseyville, Copiah County, MS

There are no stories passed down to me concerning the arrival of freedom for my enslaved family. Through research, I have discover they gradually took freedom as the days of the Civil War grew into years. Most of my people lived between two major towns the Federal troops captured, Natchez and Vicksburg, MS. Some fled to the Union occupied towns once they heard the news and became freedom fighters, some followed Union troops when they came near the plantation, some remained on the plantation. Joe Buie was on the same plantation in Caseyville, MS, with my great grandfather Monroe Markham. Joe Buie said, "De Yankees stop at our house all de' time. We got right use to 'em, an dey din bothah us much."

Three sets of my great grandparents were born into slavery. Monroe Markham, a maternal great grandfather, was born about 1852. He was still dressed in a shirttail toward the close of the Civil War. A shirt tail was a one piece home made shirt that young slave boys wore up to between 12 - 16 years of age. Monroe remembered the Yankee soldiers passing by the plantation near Caseyville. He was sitting on the fence when one of the soldiers asked him who was his master. Monroe replied, "Prentiss Buie". The soldier told Monroe he had better get back to his master before he shot him. Monroe jumped off the fence and ran back to his Mama as fast as he could.

According to oral history, Prentiss Buie who was born in 1850 was given Monroe when they both were young boys. Prentiss was the last surviving son of David Buie. If emancipation had not occurred, Prentiss would have been the family's slave owner. Monroe married, raised a family of 15 children on the same land where he was enslaved. He died in 1932.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent Calendar - Day 11 - Other Traditions

First Posted December 11 2010

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.

Tombstone Tuesday
Overton Couple


John Evans Overton, Sr
1882-1958
Son of Richmond Elijah Overton and Jane Furnace

Husband of


Georgia Ann Rockingham Overton
1885-1970
Daughter of George Rockingham and Eliza Doats
Both buried at Mount Olive MB Church in Copiah County, MS

John and Georgia were the parents of Monroe, Leroy, Dora, and John Jr

John was the brother of my paternal grandmother, Gertrude Overton Durr

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Advent Calendar - Christmas Cards - Day 4

Repost from December 04 2010

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.

Tombstomb Tuesday
James Farley


James "Jim" Farley
Born About 1840, Died 15 Feb 1937
Son of John Holiday
Husband of Fannie Grant
Father of Henry, James, Luella, George, Melissa, and Rankin
James Farley's daughter Luella married Charles Davis who was my 3rd great grandmother Peggy Demyer's grandson.
Photographs from Find a Grave - Hunters Cemetery

Monday, December 3, 2012

Confederate Body Servant Application
Valuable Tool for Genealogy Research

Mississippi has nearly 2000 applications of men seeking pensions who served as body servants during the Civil War. The application potentially answers the crucial question, who was the last slave owner for African American researchers, and provides the descendants of the soldier the detail of who provided services for the soldier during the War.

The pension program in Mississippi began in 1888, including pension for body servants who had sustained a disability due to the War that prevented them from manual labor. In 1892, indigent servants who were not able to earn a living were included.

Applicants applied to their pension boards in the county they resided. This was a local process, it was likely one member of the board knew the applicant or the soldier he had served. Pension boards used the information from the application to verify service. Occasionally a member of the soldier's family signed the application to assist the applicant with receiving his pension.

This is the information retrieved from James Farley's applications, dated 18 Aug 1916 and 09 Sep 1929. Farley resided near Hazlehurst, Copiah County, MS, a resident of Mississippi all of his life. He served beginning in 1861 or 1862 through Surrender. He was near Gainsville, Alabama at Surrender. Farley was never wounded during service. He served as a cook to Thos A Holliday who was in Co E, 4th Miss Cavalry. The commanding officers were Captain Sim Ramsey and Colonel Forest Wilburn.

Having the name of the soldier leads me into slave research. In a brief search, I found that Thomas A Holliday owned 3 slaves per the Copiah County, MS, 1860 Slave Schedule. His mother Mary owned 11 slaves in 1860. Additional research will be done on the Farley and Holliday families.

If you have southern roots, check to see if you have a family member or an individual from your family's community who served as a body servant. These applications are held by the State Archives where your ancestor applied.

James Farley's Application
Body Servants
4th Mississippi Cavalry
The Holliday Families of Copiah County, Mississippi