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