Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday
Unknown Woman

She worked for the Taliaferro family near Hazlehurst, Copiah County, MS. I would love to know her name.

Photograph courtesy of Beverley Ballantine.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday's Obituary
A Well Known Negro Passes Away

Eli Hilson, Sr., who had lived in Lincoln County for over 40 years and was a familiar figure to a great many of The Leader's readers, died at the home of his son in McComb City on Dec. 20th, at the advanced age of 92. Before the war Eli belonged to the Weathersbys, of Amite county, and was a faithful and trusted servant of his old master and his family. He raised five sons and five daughters in this county, all of whom survive him except Eli, Jr., who was murdered in Dec 1903. He was thrifty and industrious and up to a few years ago when he became enfeebled by age, always made a good living for himself and family and enjoyed the confidence and respect of his white neighbors. For the last four years, he lived with his children. The body was brought from McComb to Brookhaven and buried in the church yard at Mt Olive, near which the old man lived for so many years.

Eli Hilson's burial is at Greater Mount Olive MB Church of Brookhaven, MS.
Direct descendant Carolyn Betts is standing in front of church

Eli Hilson's grandson Stanhope Harris married maternal cousin Luella Markham.
Eli was born about 1820 in North Carolina per census records. He died Dec 20 1904.

Newspaper article from Brookhaven Leader, Jan 04, 1905, page 4.
Photograph is courtesy of Carolyn Betts.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Baby came in the Black Bag

Happy 50ieth, James
You had the same patch of gray as a newborn.

1963, what a year!

In 1962, we had moved from the first home I remember to my Aunt's and from there to my grandmother's and then again just a door away to the other side of a double shotgun apartment we shared with grandma. When the new year arrived we were settle, as settle as we would be for the next few years. The moving had interrupted my schooling and I was finally back in school repeating first grade. School was comforting for me.

My mother usually helped me off to school. On the morning of March 18 1963, mama was in pain. She was in labor with her fourth child. Mama combed my hair and grandma made grits for breakfast and told me when I returned home from school, I would have a new baby brother or sister. What did mama's pain have to do with a baby?

I can remember being sad and I burst into tears in Mrs Woodward class. She assured me that everything would be okay. I walked home excited to see my new sibling. The only problem was that the baby had not arrived.

Sarah Guice, the midwife for the community was attending my mother but there was a problem, the baby was not position correctly for delivery. The family was busy discussing getting medical attention for my mother and the conversation got ugly. My father had abandoned the family and they felt it wasn't their responsibility to take care of Albert's problems.

Someone found my daddy and a doctor was summoned. I was busy peeping through keyholes and windows trying to understand what I didn't understand. I saw the doctor come up the steps with the black bag and saw him standing over my mother's bed. Soon after the doctor's arrival, which could have been just minutes or hours, I heard the cry of a baby. I had a moment of revelation, babies came in black bags.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wordless Wednesday
Otelia Watson Dixon

Daughter of Frederick and Cora Watson
Wife of Lonnie B Dixon, Sr
Mother of Lonnie, Jr., Frances, Roy Lee, John, and Ora
Otelia connects to my family although we are not related.
Her daughter Frances is married to my cousin Jerry Durr
Otelia's sisters Celestine and Arzetta married brothers Thallious and Rayfield Markham, cousins of mine.

Photograph shared by Lauren Dixon, granddaughter of Otelia.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Amanuensis Monday
Ellis Freeman - Traffic Death

Hit and Run Truck Sought after Fatal Accident to Negro

Ellis Freeman, 71, negro janitor with the Mississippi Baptist Board for the past 27 years was fatally injured early Tuesday morning when struck by a hit and run truck.

Freeman was discovered lying on the ground at North Mill and Fortification streets by police who had been summoned to the scene. Although completely paralyzed and bleeding severely, Freeman was able to give police a few details of the accident.

He said he was en route to work when a truck driven by a negro and occupied by several negroes came along, hitting him. He was knocked to the ground and the wheels of the truck passed over his body.

The truck did not stop but drove away hurriedly. The injured negro was rushed to a local hospital where he died a few hours later. The truck had no tail light and a tarpaulin arched over the back.

Freeman's home is at 173 West Fortification Street and his death was the fourth traffic fatality for the city this year.

Ellis was the son of Pat Freeman and Sophia Irving/Irwin
Husband of Ellen McDaniel
Father of Cora, Daisy, Barbara, Garfield, James, Douglas, Susanna, Luberta, Estell, and Mandy
Per census records, he was born about 1862, likely near Caseyville, then Copiah County, MS

Ellis was a relative of cousins.

Article from Jackson Daily News
September 25, 1945

Monday, March 4, 2013

I've Known Shotgun Houses

Most of the first thirteen years of my life was spent in a shotgun house. A shotgun house has one room leading into the next without a hall way. Opening the doors at each end of the house allows for breezes to circulate throughout the house in hot climates. The style can be traced from Africa to Haitian influences on house designs and is recognized as an African American contribution to American architectural styles.

I don't remember my first shotgun home. Here I am as a baby with the first shotgun in the background. This was in Copiah County, MS, in 1956.

My parents left Copiah County when I was about 2-3 years of age to live in Jackson, MS. Working with pulp wood was hard labor and the pay was too low, my father decided to move to Jackson where he could find factory work.

The first shotgun I remember was similar to the ones below. We lived in a single unit of a row. I think there were about six in a row and ours was in the middle of the row. My memories of this home include a Christmas tree and a baby doll, going to the store to get an orange soda to mix with castor oil to heal a bad cold, learning the alphabet, leaving home to cross railroad tracks to go to school, and eating spaghetti.

My father began to have financial problems and could not pay the rent. We left the single unit to move in with my dad's sister, Aunt Alice, in her single unit shotgun. I think we all slept in the front room, my parents and then three children ranging from six to 2 years.

I don't know if Aunt Alice got tired of having five additional people in her space but we moved again to live with my paternal grandmother and uncle in her side of a double barrel unit. I can remember us all sleeping in the one bedroom. Grandma had a bed in the front room and Uncle Junior slept in the kitchen. When the family on the other side moved out, we, meaning my mother and us children moved to the other side. My father gradually moved out to be with the other family he had created. Grandma's shotgun was similar to the one below, except there was one long porch connecting both sides instead of two porches.

The shotguns below are apart of the historic Farish Street District. The city of Jackson hopes to create an entertainment district similar to New Orleans' Bourbon Street or Memphis' Beale Street, filled with restaurants, night clubs and various other entertainment venues. These shotguns will be refurbished, rented to visitors who will happily pay fees too high for the working poor for which the units were originally made to house.

We moved for more space and home ownership from the last shotgun house when I was a few months shy of my fourteenth birthday. The houses of my youth were destroyed by fire or bulldozed for new housing.

History of the Shotgun House

Images of Shotguns