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
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 discovered 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.

Blogger's Note: Jessie Mae Markham, granddaughter of Monroe Markham, shared the oral history concerning Monroe.

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
Son of Richmond Elijah Overton and Jane Furnace

Husband of

Georgia Ann Rockingham Overton
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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday
The Lady Wears the Hat

Sarah Spencer
Born 1911 in Hazlehurst, Copiah County, MS
Daughter of Albert Benjamin Spencer & Mary Brown
Photograph courtesy of Albert B Spencer, Jr.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Amanuensis Monday
Burning Cross Left in Negro Couple's Yard

Mr and Mrs Robert and Lessie Herring

Cheri Herring, the couple's daughter-in-law, shared this newspaper article with me. Below are Cheri's words concerning the incident.

This news story is about my in-laws Robert & Lessie Herring. They had lived in this neighborhood since 1943. The area was and is primarily a white middle class neighborhood. Robert Jr, has told this story to me previously, but this was the first time that I had seen it in published format.

The incident occurred on Saturday, June 29th, 1963. When the cross burning occurred, neighbors came to make sure Robert and Lessie were OK. They were quite upset and wanted to ensure them than no one in neighborhood had any part in this and the police stepped up patrols passed their home. It isn't known if the person who set up the burning cross earlier in the day was the same person who slashed their truck tire later Saturday night. The culprit was never identified. But, there were also never any other incidents. The general feeling at the time was that someone from outside of the neighborhood had learned that a black family lived in this home and was trying to start trouble.

Robert & Lessie remained in this home until their deaths in 1998 and 1999. Their grandson Robert III has owned the home since 2000.

Transcribed from The Seattle Times, June 29, 1963
Mr and Mrs Robert Herring, a Negro couple, of 5513 Kensington Place N, reported to police early this morning that a burning wood cross was implanted in their lawn.

The two foot cross, which had burned itself out, was discovered by Herring as he set out for work at 1 o'clock.

Mrs Herring today spoke without emotion about the incident.

"You start thinking about the people and you can only pity them," she said.

There are only two Negro families in this neighborhood, one moved in recently. We have been here 21 years and nothing like this has ever happened before."

"Oh, there were small incidents when we first moved here but that was long ago. My boy, Robert Herring, Jr., even played on the university of Washington football team."

Herring in the class of 1957, was a halfback.

Mrs Herring said there appeared to be pieces of clothing attached to the cross.

"I don't know who could have done it," she said.

Lessie Hilliard Herring was my mother's cousin. Lessie was the daughter of Archie Hilliard & Lucy Coleman
Photograph courtesy of Cheri Herring.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church

The church is located on Barlow Road in rural Copiah County, Mississippi. It was the church home of my paternal grandmother when she was a young girl. Buried in the church cemetery are members of Grandma Gertrude Overton's kin.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Natural Born Storyteller

The Ancestors Told; The Elders Listened; We Pass it On.

Rosie Lee Durr
My Aunt Rosie was a natural born oral historian. She loved sharing about growing up in rural Copiah County, Mississippi, during the Great Depression. She shared the good, the bad, and the ugly about the people she loved and about herself. She didn't need prodding, she just talked.

Standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes, drinking a cup of coffee, dressed for church with the mink stole around her shoulder, rollers in her hair on the front porch, she would tell stories. A major family event or simple everyday activities would take her back. She remembered the events of her own life and she remembered the stories that had been told to her.

I think my aunt talked because she needed to talk, it was therapy for her. She didn't plan on passing the torch to the next generation but I am so pleased she shared.

Just as Aunt Rosie did, I causally pass memories to my children, nieces and nephews, hoping the names of the ancestors are remember.

Aunt Rosie and her husband Ernest Scott

Thank you, George.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Amanuensis Monday
Professor Phillip D Gullage's Slave Narrative

Professor Phillip Davenport Gullage is the gentleman on the top row. He was the principal of the Brookhaven Colored High School. This photograph was taken in 1931, the last graduating class of the school.

Professor Gullage's Slave Narrative

Prof. Phillip Davenport Gullage was born Simpson County Dec. 16th 1854 the community of Gum Springs on plantation of Mr. Will Gullage. At the age of 11 until 1872 he resided in Rankin County. His early education was received in Hazlehurst and Brandon and later attended summer normal schools at Tougaloo, Miss. He began teaching in 1877, at Little Rock, 7 miles from Hazlehurst. In 1891 he came to Brookhaven as Principal of the negro High School which place he held for 42 years. Owing to his advanced age he was replaced by a younger man but since has been teaching an adult class of the W.P.A. program. Gullage has been a very outstanding negro in his line of work. Very instrumental in securing Summer Normals for negroes in Brookhaven.
Slave Narratives - Mississippi - Federal Writers Project

On a previous post, those in the photograph were identified.
Photograph Courtesy of
Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library
100 S. Jackson St
Brookhaven, MS 39601

Professor Gullage was the son of Wisdom Gullage and Parthenia Reed.
Professor Gullage married Martha J Overton 26 Dec 1878 in Copiah County, MS.
Their children were: Queen Esther, Newaline, Blanche, Claudius, Dewitt, and Luther.
Queen Esther married Inzeay "N Z" Jones, 04 Jun 1914, in Lincoln County, MS.
Blanche married Beny F Smith, 20 Mar 1912, in Lincoln County, MS.
Professor Gullage died, 02 Jan 1943, in Chicago.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday
Brick Tombs

Hunters Cemetery is in the Smyrna Community in Copiah County, MS. Entombed are siblings, Melinda E Winston 1898-1982, Timothy Ora Winston 1908-1993, and Timothy's wife Erma Bernice Miller Winston 1911-2000.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Interest in Your Community

John Robert Bryant
During Reconstruction, Cousin Robert Bryant worked as an election manager. He was interested in the welfare of his community, was a successful farmer, and owned a good home. He reared a family of good citizens and he believed in education. It was required that at least one manager on an election committee be a Republican. Cousin Robert was of the party of Lincoln. However, his ticket was often intercepted, and was always found to be for the Democratic candidates.

Today, when I cast my vote, I will be thinking of Cousin Robert and the ancestors.

Robert was the son of John Coleman Bryant and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bryant. Robert was born about April 06, 1850, and raised in Veto, Franklin County, MS, on the John McDaniel's farm where he, his mother Elizabeth and siblings were slaves.

Information from Slave Narrative of Robert Bryant
Photograph Courtesy of Joyce Coleman Johnson

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Three Intersecting Plantations

My father's maternal side of the family were slaves on these three intersecting plantations in Copiah County, MS. The slave owners were related and slave marriages were formed among the plantations.

Peachy Ridgway Taliaferro owned (yellow)Spring Hill Plantation. At the time of Peachy's death in 1852, he owned over 90 slaves. Peachy's daughter Mary Peachy Taliaferro married Hezekiah George David Brown who owned (blue)Lucky Hit Plantation. HGD Brown enslaved 46. Edwin Burnley, cousin to Mrs HGD Brown (Mary Peachy Taliaferro). HGD, owned (pink)Somerset Plantation. Per the 1860 Copiah County slave schedule, Burnley owned 60 slaves.

Map courtesy of Beverley Ballantine

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wordless Wednesday
John Archie Smith with Grandchildren

Proud Grandfather John Archie Smith, Sr
Son of Jacob and Elizabeth Hart Smith
with Grandchildren David Lee Pendleton and Delores Marie Pendleton

John Archie Smith lived near Hazlehurst, Copiah County, MS.
Photograph Courtesy of Linda J Pendleton

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Burials at Lucky Hit Cemetery

If all you have is circumstantial evidence when researching for the slave owner of ancestors, anything you discover can be a clue to add to your mound of evidence. I came across a few death certificates that list the burial place as Lucky Hit for a few members of my father's maternal family. The suspected slave owner, Hezekiah George David Brown, settled at Lucky Hit Plantation after his marriage.

"Hezekiah married Mary Peachy Taliaferro (born March 3, 1831) in a wedding that must have been planned well in advance with many attendants, including two sisters of Jefferson Davis. Hezekiah was 24 and Mary Peachy Taliaferro was 16 when the wedding took place on December 23, 1847, and was a major social event in plantation life of that day. After Christmas he returned to Annapolis and, as a married man, he was allowed to resign honorably, to the delight of Mrs. Taliaferro who urged the young couple to live with her at "Spring Hill" near Hazelhurst. His declining this invitation was a masterpiece of diplomacy and they settled at "Lucky Hit", a nearby plantation."
From Research Notes of Suzanne Brown
Today, Lucky Hit Cemetery is nonexistent. I contacted descendants of Hezekiah George David Brown and they have no idea where cemeteries are on the Brown property. Was Lucky Hit the burial place of former slaves on HGD Brown's plantation or was it a cemetery established after slavery ended?

Virginia Williams/Taylor Demyers - buried at Luckey Hit 18 Aug 1930
Virginia was born to Hardenia about 1850 in Copiah County, MS. Virginia and family were slaves on Somerset Plantation, a neighboring plantation to Lucky Hit. Virginia married John T. Demyers, my paternal grandmother's granduncle.

Albert Brown Spencer - buried at Lucky Hill 07 Apr 1927
Albert was born to John Spencer and Mary Trueheart (Hart) 05 Aug 1858, likely in Copiah County, MS.

Pedro Spencer - buried at Lucky Hitt 17 Apr 1927
Pedro was born to Albert Brown Spencer and Mary Brown in 1904 in Copiah County, MS.

Felix Williams - buried at Lucky Hit Cemetery 06 Mar 1923
Felix was born to John Weldon Williams and Emma Demyers about 1859. John Weldon Williams was a slave of Joseph and Elizabeth Rice Brown who were the parents of HGD Brown. Weldon was allotted to HGD Brown after his mother's death in 1855.

Felix is a nephew of the above Virginia, and a cousin of Pedro's wife Emsley.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday
A. C. Markham

A. C. Markham, the Child
1911 - 1977
Son of John Markham and Abbie Harris
Husband of Ophelia Smith
Father of Rosalyn Markham
The adult is unknown.

A. C. is my mother's second cousin once removed.

Photograph Courtesy of Willie L Robinson

Monday, October 8, 2012

Amanuensis Monday
Almarinda Kinnison Shaw's 1865 Letter

The Civil War changed Almarinda's world, her husband died in 1864 and the emancipation of the slaves. She was a member of the slave owning class. Nathaniel Kinnison, her father, owned 91 slaves, her husband Albert Shaw owned 27 slaves and her mother-in-law Mary Shaw owned 55 in Jefferson County, MS.

This letter was written to her mother-in-law Mary Shaw. Almarinda wrote of her frustrations with the Federal troops, freedmen, and her loneliness.

June 23rd /65

Dear Mother,

Primus and Abe arrived safely at my home wednesday night. I thank you very much for the things you sent me. Only way of my ever repaying you for your kindness is the love I feel for you & your family. There is scarcely a minute in the day but of what I am thinking of my darling husband. but seldom I feel any liveliness about me unless I have very lively company. Oh that dreadful dreary blank feeling I have when I am all alone. No one to go to for advice or assistance when I have my little troubles. but there is no use murmurring We cannot alter anything by it. My neighbors have been kind which helps to console me somewhat. We are suffering very much for the want of rain. I am afraid the corn will be and short. we planted no cotton. it was as much as Mr. Beal could do to get the negroes to half cultivate the corn. The Provost Marshal was here last week making contracts with the negroes. He would not let me give the women but one dollar a month & the men three dollars. I had made a contract with them previous to his coming giving them the highest government price, only for a month. I could scarcely get them to stay with me without turning off Mr. Beal. Before I would feed & clothe a parcel of lazy negroes & have to pay them such high prices & have nobody to make them work. I would turn the last one of them off, They acted like they were crazy until the provost marshal had a chat with them. he told me not to allow any looks of impudence from them to report it to him & he would come out here if he had to walk every step of the way & he would staighten them so they never would look sour again. I would like to have had him for an overseer during the war.

The negroes are not satisfied but they are afraid to say anything. I have taken the oath. will have to take another so I hear. an oath to sustain the emancipation proclamation. I do not care one cent if the negroes are free very little more than I do now for I do just as much work as my negro woman about the yard. If they do anything a little extra, they are so tender thay lay up sick. I could not get them to spin any scarcely. well I thought I would see if I could learn to spin. I carded my own rolls & spun four five cut hanks in four days and it was very nice thread. That proved to me that they idled off their time for none of them spin much more. I have been at it every since the war commenced. I cannot bear the idea of raising up my children with a parcel of negroes. they will do all in their power to ruin them. I am sending Clarence & Nannie to school. Clarence and little Buddy have both been sick but are well now. some of the negroes are sick. My health is very good. I sometimes feel quite feeble but I work that feeling off, did not give up to it. You spoke of my making another bill & sending it to you. The most that I shall want will be clothing for my children. ? domestic bleached. I do not know if it is worth while to bother you, for I shall want to carry some cotton to Natchez in the course of a month & I could go in myself. I do not like to take such a little price for cotton so long as I can do without selling. I will not sell. I must get flour anyhow & some coffee, flour is worth twenty dollars a barrel in Brookhaven. Calico fifty cents a yrd, coffee 45 cents. everything very high. The yankees are continually passing often stop, they try to do as they please whenever they come into the yard. I made some of them terrible angry one day, they marched into the kitchen & Belle was dishing out the milk to about a dozen of them, without ever asking me a word. I made her stop giving it them. it made the Yankees terrible angry. I think I might have done wrong, but how can anybody take everything submit to them & the negroes too. how can anyone do it. I get angry every time I see one of them come in. They try to make us feel humble and dependent on them.

Tell --- see me. I -- not be satisfied with any excess. I am very much obliged to you for the carriage. Mr. Beal says he can fix it up nearly as good as ever. I can take my children with me whenever I go from home. I stay at home on their account. My buggy is so small I never like to take them all at a time & I do not like to them without some white person to watch over them. I will close my letter for my sheet is full nearly. give my love to all & a large portion yourself. Clarence sends love to you & says he will never forget his good Pa.


Almarinda was born 09 September 1835 in Jefferson County, Mississippi and died 01 October 1869 in Lincoln County. She was the daughter of Nathaniel Kinnison, Jr., and Lydia Stotts. She married Albert Shaw, son of Thompson Breckenridge Shaw and Mary Shaw. Almarinda and Albert had two children; Clarence b. 1859 and Albert b. 1863.

Shaw Family Papers - Special Manuscript Collections - Folder One - Z/2205.000/S
Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Church Split
St John Missionary Baptist Church

I wish I knew what this church split was about. Did they disagree about doctrine, pastoral leadership, worship style, money, moral scandal, etc.?

The churches are located in the same rural community, less than a city block separates the two churches. Demyers kin are members of the church and are buried in the churches shared cemetery.

Wesson, Copiah County, Mississippi

Old St John

New St John

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wordless Wednesday
Anna Lou's Children
circa 1920

Standing - Mary, Charles and John Neal
Seated - Robert Neal
They were the children of Charles Elbert Neal, Sr., and Anna Louise Houseworth

Mary's son married a cousin of the family.

Photograph Courtesy of Anthony Neal, Sr

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday
Sallie Demyers

Sallie DeMyers
b. Nov 10 1842
d. Oct 5 1942
Buried in St John Community Cemetery
Wesson, Copiah County, MS

She was the wife of Lawrence Demyers

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday
Tommy and Irene DeMyers

Thomas (Tommy) Demyers, Sr
born about 1876 in Copiah County, MS
Son of Lawrence and Sallie Miller DeMyers

Arena (Irene) Johnson
born about 1878 in Copiah County, MS
Daughter of Lewis and Jane Williams Johnson

Tommy was my paternal grandmother's 1st cousin once removed.

Photograph Courtesy of Sonia DeMyers Cheatham

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mr and Mrs Anding

This probably was not a planned photograph. They look as though they tolerated the photographer. It is lovely to have their images to put with their familiar names.

Leonteen Coleman Anding
Daughter of James Coleman and Mary Ann Markham

Walter McDaniel Anding
Son of Steve Anding and Eliza McDaniel

Photograph Courtesy of Lisa Lee
Photograph taken about 1959.
Leonteen was my mother's 1st cousin once removed.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Amanuensis Monday
John McLaurin's Response Concerning Sick Ned

Slave Coffle, Washington, DC, 1819
Image from Library of Congress

John McLaurin responded to Duncan McArn who had written him in January 1836, concerning Ned, a sick slave. McArn thought he had purchased an "unsound negro" from McLaurin. Read Duncan McLaurin's Letter Concerning his Newly Purchased Slave, Ned

March 04, 1836

Dear Sir,

Your letter was received but not read in due time. It was taken out of the office by a namesake of mine who lives in the country. I am very much surprised at its contents. If the boy NED was unsound when I sold him, it certainly was not known to me nor to any person acquainted with him. That he had had the fever and ague is a fact which I told you of before you purchased him but that does not make a man unsound. We are all liable to fevers and when the fever is on delirium . If he has taken a disease which may prove dangerous in consequence of exposure on the journey or from any other cause I regret it very much, but I cannot think that I am to blame for it.

I do assure you, Sir, there was nothing about him which indicated unsoundness as far as my knowledge extended, nor was the least intimation of the existence of such a thing given me, by him or any other person.

If you had called at John C. McLaurin’s as you promised me you would, you might have got him and the other boy off your hands at a profit. I wrote him you would call and he was ready and anxious to buy them. You not stopping there was a disappointment to him as well as to me. I wished him to have them. He knew the negroes well. I shall be sorry if you lose by the purchase, but if you do, it cannot be my fault and I feel unwilling to pay for any accident that has happened to the boy (which lessens his value) since I departed with him.

I give you my word if he had been an unsound negro I never would have offered him for sale. If he was here today in the same condition as when he was taken away, he would bring more money then you paid for him.

I hope before this time that he has recovered his health and will do you good service.

Write me on receipt of this and let me know if the boy is getting better.

Respectfully yours,
J. M. McLaurin

Ned traveled from Fayetteville, NC, to Fayette, Jefferson County, MS, with slave traders and Duncan McArn who purchased him. It is likely he was in the company of other slaves who were a part of a slave coffle

Slave Coffle - A coffle was a convoy of slaves, mostly chained or roped together. The average coffle consisted of between 30 and 50 people. Men were placed in front, followed by women without children, children who were able to walk, and lastly, women with infants and small children who had to be carried. Major traders would have as many as 300 people. Determine by the destination, traveling 20 - 25 miles per day, the trip could take several weeks.

McArn (Duncan) and Family Papers, Collection Number: Z/1487
Collection may be seen at the Mississippi Department of History and Archives
African American Migration Experience - The Domestic Slave Trade

Monday, September 3, 2012

Amanuensis Monday
Duncan McArn's Letter Concerning the Health of Ned

Ned was purchased in Fayetteville, NC, by Duncan McArn of Union Church, Jefferson County, MS, from John McLaurin. McArn felt he had received an "unsound negro."

Mississippi, Franklin County
January 05, 1836

Dear Sir,

I take the present opportunity to inform you that the negro boy Ned which I purchased of you is certainly not a sound and healthy negro agreeably to your bill of sale to me which warrants him sound in body and in mind.

I would have written you sooner on the subject but while on the road I had no opportunity and since I got back I have been engaged until the present. I had the company of two traders from Fayetteville on to Georgia and the other to Montgomery, indeed there were two in company with me to Montgomery.

One of them advised me to go back with him after we had traveled a few days and after we were convinced that he was unsound but the rest agreed with me in opinion that it was impossible for me at that time consistent with my interest to go back with him. He had the third day fever and ague* regularly on the way and in bad weather every day. The first fever he had was on the second day after we left Fayetteville but that is not the worst. He had a constant and regular cough which I have no doubt is consumption. He was feeble and weak, not able to make a day’s travel much less to render any assistance on the road. Indeed, I have had to sit up with him at night, he being crazy with a scorching fever. But why need I go to detail, his cituation(sp) you no doubt are better acquainted with his condition than I am. Those gentlemen that I before adverted to are witnesses of his infirmities to.

Now sir that I have made a simple statement of facts and what I know and believe. I will now only say that in making that trade, I took you to be a high minded honorable gentleman. I therefore took you at your word and you certainly sold me that boy for a sound and healthy negro. Now in as much as he is not what you sold him to me for, I only hope you for a reasonable deduction in his price. I want nothing but what is equitable, right and just.

I would here further observe that I would rather we would settle it ourselves. I think it would be better for us both. It will at least save cost. Do not think hard of my ? for I insure you that I do not do it to hurt your feelings. I do it in order that I may not be misunderstood and because I believe that all matters are easier to settle when fair and candid statements are made.

Please write me as soon as you receive this and let me know what you indend(sp) doing in this matter. I wish you to be frank and candid with me as I at least try to be with you.

Direct your letter to Malcolm Post Office, Jefferson County, Mississippi.

Your friend,
Duncan McArn

Ague -- the recurring fever and chills of malarial fever
Consumption -- Tuberculosis

Duncan McArn was born on 14 February 1810. He moved from North Carolina to Jefferson County, MS, around 1835. McArn taught school in neighboring Franklin County during the first five years of his residence in MS. He married Catherine Torrey of MS on May 9, 1844. McArn soon began cultivating cotton on a plantation near Fayette, Jefferson Co., and he established business outlets in Natchez and Rodney, MS, and in New Orleans. He died 24 Feb 1875 in Jefferson County, MS

McArn owned members of my maternal family, the Sartin family of Jefferson County, MS.

Source: McArn (Duncan) and Family Papers, Collection Number: Z/1487, Box 1
Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday
Football Champions 1939

Alexander High School Football Team - Big 8 Champions 1939
Brookhaven, Lincoln County, Mississippi


Left to right - front row - George Evans - trainer, Earl Dickson, J.C. Blackwell, Willie McDaniel, Lamar Lenoir, John Dow, Mack Smith - trainer

2nd row - Leroy Wilson, John Collins, Joseph Levi, Leander Wells, Willie McGee, David Crump, James Crump

3rd row - Robert Wesley, Edward Spencer, Frank Cook, David Smith, Murray Crushon, Roscoe Brown, Jack Evans, Charles Hunter, Robert Green

4th row - Coach Robert Wolf, H.E. Brown - trainer, James Albert Davis, Robert Johnson, Sterling Culver, Gerald Smith, J. May, E.W. Wesley, Woodrow Coleman, Robert Green, Tommy Hill - trainer, and Head Coach C.N. Buchanan, and J.W. McDaniel, J. E. Smith

Photograph Courtesy of Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library
100 South Jackson Street
Brookhaven, MS 39601

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mrs Willie Spencer Celebrating 102 Years

Cousin Beverly sent me this article she found on one of Ancestry's public family trees, The Powells of Butler County Alabama. I have Spencer folk on both my paternal and maternal lines and both lines are from Copiah County, MS. Beverly is a member of my paternal line and she was curious if Mrs Willie Spencer was connected to our tree. According to the public family trees, Mrs Willie was the daughter of Henry Jeff Fair and Bettie Harrison. I didn't recognize Mrs Willie's name but did recognize her husband's name, Ellis Spencer.

Aunt Ada Markham married Ernest Spencer, Sr., 23 Feb 1914. Ellis and Ernest were brothers. They were the sons of Lewis Spencer and Emaline Smiley. Copiah County is a small world.

Ernest Spencer, Sr.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Anding Family
A Classic 1960s Photograph

Children of Walter McDaniel Anding & Leonteen Coleman
The couple had 13 children.
James, Meredith, Mildred, Thelma, Douglas, Aileen, Donald, Mary, Reginald, Annette, Gregory, Tina, and Walter Jr.

Photograph Courtesy of Lisa Lee
They are 2nd cousins to my mother.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Happy 79th, Mama

Alzheimer's disease continues its destructive path.
Although you don't remember me, I remember you.
You are loved, precious Mama.
Happy 79th birthday.

Photograph taken in 1995 at my brother's wedding.
Canton, Madison County, MS

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Committed to Poor House

Photograph Courtesy of Library of Congress

Too often medical treatment for mental illness requires a middle man, the judicial or court system. I can still remember the rattling of keys, closing and opening of bars, police officers with guns on hips, and going before the judge when we sought treatment for our then 16 year old daughter. Treating severe mental illness requires placement in a facility. The court is to ensure that the individual's personal liberty is not violated and to protect the public.

In June 1913, a hearing before the Chancery Court was held for cousin Lena Mae Durr to determine if she was insane by six citizens of Hazlehurst, Copiah County, MS. It was determined that she was insane and she was to be placed in one of the State Lunatic Asylums but because no beds were available she was to be placed in the local Poor House.

A poorhouse was a government-ran facility for the support and housing of dependent or needy persons, typically ran by a local government entity.

Here is a description of the place Lena Mae was sent.

COPIAH COUNTY-Dirty one-story buildings in which the sick, insane, epileptic, feeble-minded, and diseased live and sleep' together; three generations of the same family live in one room; everything filthy, vermin on beds and persons; no sanitation, no modern conveniences. But two meals a day served, morning and noon; food insufficient.
From The American Poor-farm and Its Inmates, by Harry C. Evans

Lena Mae had a short stay. She was ordered to the Poor House on the 21 day of June 1913. She died 27 Sept 1913 of pellagra which is a vitamin deficiency disease most commonly caused by a chronic lack of niacin in the diet. A few of the symptoms of pellagra are: insomnia, mental confusion, diarrhea, red skin lesions, and eventually dementia. In affluent societies, a majority of patients with clinical pellagra are poor, homeless, alcohol-dependent, or psychiatric patients who refuse food.

Lena Mae was buried on the Poor Farm.

Lena Mae Durr was my father's 2nd cousin. She was the daughter of Emanuel and Mary Durr.

Conditions of Poor Houses in Mississippi

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday
Two Brothers - Same Name

This is their first meeting, circa 1980s

Left - Albert Spencer
Born 1917 in Copiah County, MS
Son of Albert B Spencer and Mary Brown

Right - Albert Spencer
Born 1927 in Copiah County, MS
Son of Albert B Spencer and Hannah Jones-Gary

Photograph Courtesy of Albert Spencer, Son of Albert on the Left

My 2nd great granduncle John T Demyers had a relationship with Albert on the left's grandmother Mary Trueheart that produced one child, Petro Demyers.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Amanuensis Monday
John T Demyers' Will

I, J T Demyers, a resident of the county of Copiah, Sate of Mississippi, being of legal and of sound and disposing mind and memory, do make and declare this to be my last will and Testament, revoking any and all others heretofore made by me.

Item 1st. I direct that any and all legal & just debts be paid out of any money that I may have on hand on hand at the time of my death which I want paid as soon after my death as possible without any inconvenience to the executor, which I expect to name in this my last Will.

Item 2. I will and bequeath to my beloved wife Virginia all of my property both real and personal, including all the money if any I should have at the time of my death, after the fulfillment of Item 1st of this my Last Will. It being understood that this property shall only be given to my said wife for her life.

Item 3rd. I will and bequeath that at the death of my said wife Virginia that what property then left of my estate both real and personal shall go to my son, Isah(sp) Demyers, Hillard Williams, who is my nephew, who has been with me many years and served me as a son, and to my two grandchildren Mangold Lee and Meredith Lee, being the sons of my daughter Mandy Lee who is dead who I want to have a one third interest in any and all of my estate after the death of my wife Virginia and the other two-thirds value of my estate shall be divided equally between my son Isah(sp) and my nephew Hillard if they be living and if they or either of them be dead, then their part if any shall go to their legal heirs.

Item 4th. After having fully explained my wishes in the above items of this my last Will and testament as to the disposition of my estate at my death, and that part of any that should be left at the death of my wife Virginia, who is to have the use & management of what estate that I may leave with the full power to mortgage or sell if she should need to do so, or should see fit to so do, by naming and appointing as the Executor of this my last will Mr T. H. Millsaps of Brown Wells who has always proven to be one of my best friends and a man that I have all confidence in as a man.

And it is my wishes that he be allowed to serve without being required to give bond.

Item 5th. After having heard this my last will read, and being the will that I have directed without any influence from any one and being made as to my feeling as the best interest for those who I have made beneficiaries in this my last will I hereto sign my signature.

This the 3rd day of Dec 1909.

J. T. his x mark Demyers

Having been asked by J. T. Demyers to sign this instrument which purports to be his last will and testament & having seen him sign same after hearing it read, we and each of us in the presence of each other & in the presence of J. T. Demyers hereto sign out names as witnesses to the signatures made by him to this instrument.

This the 3rd day of Dec. 1909 A.D.

Frank Glancy
H. E. Kilpatrick
J. C. Dodds

Wills of Copiah County, Mississippi
Book A, Page 257
Microfilm Number: 8351

John T Demyers was my 2nd great grandmother Alice Demyers Overton Usher's brother.

John T Demyers was born about 1839 to Tom and Peggie Demyers in Copiah County, MS. He was husband to Virginia Taylor/Williams; father to Isaiah, John, Jr., Amanda, Dora, Henry and Willie. John T had a relationship with Mary Hart (Trueheart) that produced one son, Petrol/Pedro/Petro. John died between Dec 1909 - 1910.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday
Aunt Sunaa

This picture was among photos in great grandmother Mary Byrd Markham's collection. On the back of the photograph was written "Aunt Sunaa/Sunny." I have no idea who this woman is. If you recognize her, I would love to know more about her. The photo was likely taken sometime in the 1930s.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Our Cornbread Queen

Mary Markham Wooley McDuffie b. 1882, d. 1938
Daughter of Melvin Wooley and Alice Markham
Wife of John McDuffie
Mother of Rosetta, Ordella, Melvin, Johnnie Mae, and Beatrice

Cousin Mary Markham Wooley McDuffie was the first known woman in our family to use eggs in making cornbread. They say she was a good cook. My mother would make what was called flap jacks by the family. She would use self rising meal and hot water, put spoonfuls in a hot greased cast iron skillet, when browned turn them over and put a lid on the skillet to complete the cooking process. When company was coming, she would use eggs and milk and bake the cornbread in a hot oven.

My favorite recipe for corn bread comes from Sylvia's Family Soul Food Cookbook. This recipe is not for dieters, calorie counting, low fat, no carbs eating folks. I usually half this recipe for my crew.

Sylvia's Steamin' Cornbread
2 cups yellow cornmeal
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup vegetable oil
5 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Grease baking pan
Mix together dry ingredients in one bowl
In large bowl, beat together milk, eggs and oil
Add cornmeal mixture, stir until combined
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Mary was my great grandfather Monroe Markham's niece.
Rest in peace Sylvia Woods, restauranteur and author.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday
Lillie Belle Markham Thomas

Born about 1922
Daughter of Samuel Markham & Mary L Thompson
Wife of Jeremiah Thomas

Thank you Kristin

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Getting to Know Them

Last summer I surveyed the cemetery of Greater New Zion MB Church, hoping to know my paternal family better. I grew up with my paternal family and felt comfortable that I knew a great deal about their family history. Once I began serious research, I realized how little I knew. By the time of my realization, Dad, Grandma Gert, Uncles Junior and Ike, Aunts Anna, Alice and Rosie were all gone. This past week I have met a wonderful group of cousins from my Demyers side of the family. Meeting them has open new opportunities of research I will pursue.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday
Two Men Sleeping

My husband Greg and our grandson Jace
Greg heard me open the door, I told him not to move. He put the goofy smile on his face but I did catch them both asleep.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Morning People

They look like a group who just finish their Sunday School lesson in a church somewhere in Lincoln County, MS.
Photograph courtesy of Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library
100 South Jackson Street
Brookhaven, MS 39601