Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wordless Wednesday
General Nathaniel Tillman Family circa 1904

Reverend General Nathaniel Tillman 1880-1947
wife Ada Bledsoe Tillman 1882-1947
son Dewitt Tillman 1903-1978

The family was from Lincoln County, Mississippi.
Maternal cousins married into the Tillman family.

Photograph Courtesy of
Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library
100 S. Jackson St
Brookhaven, MS 39601

Ancestors of Dewitt Tillman

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wordless Wednesday
Brookhaven Colored High School 1931

This is the last graduating class of Brookhaven Colored High School, 1931.
1st Row
Alice Brown, Sudora Davis, Florene Patton, Latrell Sinclair, Elease Francis, Mary Barton, Thelma Phillips
2nd Row
Robert Tillman, Ruth Walker, Lillian Evans, ?, Frances Norwood, Ruby Cupit, Charles Walker, Levi Bracey
3rd Row
?, Anne Newton, Alice Allen, ?, Elizabeth Harvey, Mazie Clark, Curtis Robinson
Last Row
Principal P D Gullage and Teacher, Thelma Pendelton
Photograph Courtesy of
Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library
100 S. Jackson St
Brookhaven, MS 39601

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Flea Market

I love peeking inside of flea markets, antique shops. This is the Mill Town Mall, an antiques and flea market, located in Wesson, Copiah County, MS. Members of my family lived, live in this small town. Wesson was founded during the Civil War in 1864 and was known for it cotton mills that created a fine cotton fabric known as "Mississippi silk." This building was originally a cotton mill. I don't know the age of the store but I like to think the building has changed very little since the days of my mother's girlhood during the 1930s and 1940s.

Lets take a peep inside.

Someone in the future will likely be searching for an image of the man in the oval picture frame.

Every corner is stuffed with stuff downstairs.

Upstairs I saw this table set that reminded me of my childhood table, ours was yellow. I thought about buying it for a split second.

I love stairs, steep stairs.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wordless Wednesday
Lamar Smith and Wife

Lamar Smith and wife Annie Clark Smith
Brookhaven, MS

Lamar Smith, Civil Rights Activist in the Family

Photograph from collection of great grandmother Mary Byrd Markham

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Investigating the Tougaloo Nine

From left are: Joseph Jackson, Jr., Geraldine Edwards, James Cleo Bradford, Evelyn Pierce, Albert Lassiter, Ethel Sawyer, Meredith Coleman Anding, Jr., Janice L Jackson, and Alfred Lee Cook

Myrlie Evers said of the Tougaloo Nine; "The change of tide in Mississippi began with the Tougaloo Nine and the library sit-in." On March 27, 1961, nine students from Tougaloo College entered the main "white only" public library in Jackson, Mississippi, in attempt to overturn segregation. The public library was chosen because it was supported by tax dollars of all citizens. The sit-in, read-in was carefully planned by the students and assisted by Medgar Evers, Mississippi field secretary of the NAACP.

The students first went to the "colored" library and asked for books they knew were not there. They left and went to the larger library for white patrons, quietly entering, searching through the card catalog, sat at tables and wrote notes from reference books.

Mugshot of maternal cousin Meredith Coleman Anding, Jr., one of the Tougaloo Nine.

The police arrived and asked them to leave. The students refused. They were arrested for disrupting the peace under the provisions of a 1960 state law making it unlawful for any member of a crowd to refuse to leave a public place when ordered to do so by authorities. The nine spent over 30 hours in jail, were found guilty of disturbing the peace, fined $100, 30 days suspended sentence.

Former Jackson Municipal Library where Students Protested

The Sovereignty Commission investigated the nine students. Four students were from Mississippi, three from Tennessee, one from Michigan and one from New York. Police departments did background investigations and found that the students had no criminal records as adults or juveniles. Their parents were hard working, people well thought of in their communities and there was no evidence that their parents were involved with the movement.

President of Tougaloo College, Dr Daniel Beittel, was pressured to expel the students. Beittel who was white supported, ensured the safety of his students and refused to expel them. The Commission provided files about the college and Dr Beittel to the Citizens Council to enlist their aid in investigating and shutting down the college. The commission offer the Tougaloo trustee board that "Dr. Beittel be removed from Tougaloo and in return we can pledge that the legislature will take no action on revocation of the charter."

Dr Beittel was forced to resign 25 April 1964. Below is one of the many correspondence concerning Beittel by the Sovereignty Commission.

Each of the nine generated dozens of pages in the Sovereignty Commission's files, some more than others. Evelyn Pierce participated in the sit-in at the Woolworth's counter in Jackson and in voter registration drives and other demonstrations. Her parents received death threats. The other students as well as their parents were intimidated, threaten with job loss and received death threats. At one home, Members of the Ku Klux Klan showed up on horseback.

Most of the students graduated from Tougaloo and became productive members of society. All are alive except Pierce.

Summary - The Sovereignty Commission was a state supported agency charged with preventing desegregation. The practices of the commission were similar to a police state. They were a "watchdog agency." They did detailed investigations to build a file on persons whose utterances or actions on racial issues indicated they should be watched. When African Americans became sick and tired of the way they were being treated, they asserted themselves, became determined to obtain their rights guaranteed in the United States Constitution.

Other articles concerning Mississippi Sovereignty Commission
Mississippi Sovereignty Commission
Informant to Sovereignty Commission
Teachers, Did You Sign Your Statement
Reverend J. W. Johnson "An Agitator"
Tougaloo Nine
Appeasing the Negro
Suspected Members of NAACP

Meridith Coleman Anding, Jr., is the son of Meridith Coleman Anding, Sr., and Nellie Marshall. He is my mother's second cousin once removed.

The Clarion Ledger, Oct 13 2006, Page 1
Sovereignty Commission Online
Civil Rights Movement Timeline 1961 - Tougaloo Nine and Jackson State Protest
Memo, Director, Sovereignty Commission re: Tougaloo College, 13 April 1964, Director's File, Sovereignty Commission Papers, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Document Number SCR ID 1-84-0-8-1-1-1
Who Fired Dan Beittel
Tougaloo Nine Collection - Mississippi Department of Archives and History