Monday, December 29, 2014

William Millsaps Discharged Rachael Rice

Former slaves transiting to freedom made labor contracts with land owners. Those labor contracts had rules expected to be honored by the freedmen. If one of the rules was broken, the laborer could be dismissed without pay.

For impudent, profane or indecent language to or in the presence of employer, manager or the families, quarreling, fighting, stealing, disobedience, willful neglect of duty, quitting work without permission and offenses of the like serious character, the laborer will be carried before a Magistrate or other proper officer, for punishment all expense, loss of time, &c., will be charged against the laborer. In all cases of dismissal or voluntarily quitting plantations, the laborer forfeits all unpaid wages, and his family or dependents will be dismissed at the discretion of the manager.
Freedmen's Bureau Labor Contract Rules

Rachael Rice worked for the prominent Copiah County Millsaps family. She was to work for shares of the crops produced. Rice probably signed her contract with William Millsaps in early January 1868 , and when she was dismissed had worked about eight months. Millsaps gave Rice a blow to the head which required medical attention from Millsaps' son-in-law, Dr Robert Jacob Durr. Rice lost her job after she told Dr Durr who abused her.

Here is how Rice's case was described in the Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records.
Aug 24 1868

Rachael Rice (col) lives with Wm Milsaps about 20 miles from B'haven near Pleasant Valley Church (P. O. Pine Ridge, Copiah C.) states she has been working with him for shares crop this year, (5 hands in all) were to have 1/4 corn & 1/2 cotton, he was to furnish land, ?, & c, & furnish them in rations. __ Milsaps has now discharges her because she informed his son in law - Dr Durr M has struck her on the head last June with a stick. __ She was obliged to tell Dr Durr as he was attending her for the results of her blow & asked her what started it with Milsaps.

How does Rachel Rice connect to my family?
Rachel Rice does not connect to my family.
The doctor attending Rice was the son of Michael Durr, the slave owner of my 2nd great grandfather Josephus Durr. According to the 1860 Simpson County Slave Schedule, Michael Durr owned 62 slaves, his son Robert Jacob owned one slave.

Mississippi, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872," images, FamilySearch (,1078469104 : accessed 29 December 2014), Brookhaven (subassistant commissioner) > Roll 12, Register of contracts, Jun 1865-Oct 1867 > image 74 of 101; citing NARA microfilm publication M1907, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Sheriff took the Old Man's Cow

Photograph Courtesy of Wikipedia

Confederate money was worthless, the Confederate government and economy was ruined. Rebuilding required money, tax every head of household including the newly freedmen.

Freedman Samuel Jackson was born between 1796-1804. He didn't own much to be taxed except for the cow, a couple of dogs and maybe a gun. Without warning, he was asked to pay his taxes or the cow would be auctioned. Sam lost his cow, likely a good source of milk and butter, and the sheriff got himself a cheap cow.

Here is how it was recorded in the Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records.
Sam Jackson (col'd) 70 years old lives in Copiah County (Mississippi).

July 10th Jessie Thompson Jr, Deputy Sheriff came to Sam's house and took his cow for which Sam had paid $30 for taxes. Sam said he could borrow the money to pay his taxes and would have it there in ten minutes but Thompson would not wait but put the cow up for sale. No one them but one or two negroes who told Deputy Sheriff they had no money and could not bid. He said he must sell her. So proceeded to bid himself and knocked her down to himself at the sum called for in the tax bill ($7.81) and drove her off. The tax receipt given to Sam is for 2 dogs and 1 gun? and $1 for levy in all $7.81. The man is to old to be liable for poll tax.

How does Sam Jackson connect to my family?
Sam Jackson's granddaughter Susan Jackson married Pedro Demyers.
Pedro Demyers was the son of John T Demyers and Mary Hart.
John T Demyers is my 2nd great grandmother Alice Demyers Overton Usher's brother.

Mississippi, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872," images, FamilySearch (,1078469104 : accessed 18 December 2014), Brookhaven (subassistant commissioner) > Roll 12, Register of contracts, Jun 1865-Oct 1867 > image 68 of 101; citing NARA microfilm publication M1907, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Monday, December 15, 2014

George and Rhoda's Daughters

Annie and Mary Thomas

Annie and Mary Delphia Thomas were born during the 1890s to George and Rhoda Buie Thomas near Caseyville, Lincoln County, MS. Rhoda died between 1896-1898 when her daughters were young, leaving them to be raised by their father and his kin. Annie married William Hooker. Their son James Edward became the first African American sheriff in Lincoln County, MS. Mary went to Louisiana and the family lost contact with her.

Photograph Courtesy of James E Scott

How do the sisters connect to my family?
Their brother Alex Thomas married Roxanne Smith.
Alex and Roxanne's daughter Ida May Thomas married my first cousin once removed James Monroe Markham.
Alex and Roxanne's daughter Rosanna Thomas married my granduncle Samuel David Markham

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lincoln County's First Black Sheriff

James Edward Hooker aka J. E. Hooker was born in Lincoln County, MS, on 04 Dec 1918, to William Hooker and Annie Thomas. He was the grandson of Civil War veteran George Thomas. He married Farrie Smith. The couple's children were: William, Johnson, Charles, Ella, Mary, and Elease.

He retired from the Lincoln County Sheriff Department after serving 20 years as the first black sheriff for the county.

J. E. died 12 Aug 2002, buried in Scott Cemetery, Caseyville, MS.

Photograph Courtesy of Nathaniel Thomas

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday
Clark Sisters

They are the Clark sisters born in Jefferson County, Mississippi during the 1890s. They remind me of my paternal grandmother.

Photograph Courtesy of Nathaniel Thomas

Monday, December 1, 2014

Pleasant Valley Methodist Church
Erected 1840

Excerpts from Edwina Burnley Memoirs

Pleasant Valley Methodist Church is located in rural Copiah County, MS, near Hazlehurst. The church is in a peaceful setting surrounded by trees. The last few posts were about the Baker family who were owned by Edward Burnley. He married Maria Louisa Baxter of New Jersey, in 1852. Maria Burnley was a member of this church.

"Two years later, she wore for the first and only time in her life, a sunbonnet to the church at Pleasant Valley. When she was going down the steps, Mr. Gilmer said, “Miss Baxter, may I introduce Col. Burnley?” Col. Burnley was an ardent and persistent wooer and finally was successful."

"Ma was a Methodist, a member of the Pleasant Valley Church."

The church had a slave gallery that spanned the rear wall. It was removed long ago. Maybe, my people passed through those doors: Demyers, Furnace, Overton, and Usher.

"I remember seeing Cousin Melissa Taliaferro, (She was a daughter of Edwin R. Brown, married to Cousin Henry Taliaferro at Pleasant Valley Church wearing a pale blue silk ruffled to the waist, very low neck and short sleeves, showing her plump white shoulders, and such a big hoop skirt she could hardly get in the church door."

Can you see Melissa trying to get through one of those doors in her big hoop skirt? Can you hear the rustling of her skirt?

The Brown and Taliaferro families owned members of my family. The Sinclair family was owned by the Joseph Brown family, and the Winston family owned by Peachy R Taliaferro. My 2nd great grandaunts Margaret Demyers Sinclair and Mary Peachy Demyers Winston married into those families.

Edwina Burnley Memoirs

Sunday, November 30, 2014

So Proud of Edmund Baker

Farming Near Tupelo, Mississippi
Photograph Courtesy of Library of Congress

I am so proud of Edmund Baker fighting to get his children returned to him. Baker contracted for one year, in 1866, for his minor children to labor on the land of John H Davis. Once the year had expired, Edmund expected his children to return home. Davis refused to return the children because he said the children did not want to return to their father and the children had made contracts to remain with the Davis family. All three children were under the age of 21 years and could not make a legally binding contract. Baker's attorney sought the help of the Freedmen's Bureau with the case since the Mississippi courts refused to return the children to their father.

The Civil War brought devastation to the area where my ancestors lived. They lived in small villages, towns between Union occupied Natchez and Vicksburg. The Federal armies took what they needed from the farms and in some cases destroyed what they could not take. Southern Commissions depositions, letters, federal pension depositions, slave narratives gave accounts of the military actions in the area. All that was left, hidden or had been squirreled away was what the folks had for survival.

I can imagine my people discussing the future. I know they dreamed of owning land, land to make their living. They were skilled in making the land prosperous for their former masters and I am sure they looked forward to working for self. There was plenty of work in an agriculture economy and they were to be paid for their labor.

Edmund Baker was born about 1810 in Kentucky, described as a mulatto, His wife Mary was described as a large woman and very religious. The couple was not seen in the census records living together. In 1870, they were living as next door neighbors on the Somerset Plantation. Edwina Burnley wrote in her memoirs that Edmund was the only slave who never left the plantation.

Two of Edmund's three children had returned home by 1870, Wilson and Elijah. Julia who should be about 18 is not with the family. She may be married, dead or left the area. Elijah married Lucinda Smith in 1873 and settled in Lincoln County, MS. Wilson married Betsy and remained in Copiah County, both became farmers. The 1900 census is the last census for Edmund Baker. He was a widower living alone tho Mary the mother of his children was still alive. Mary was alive in 1910, no record for her in 1920.

Wilson died August 15, 1919 in Copiah County of dropsy. His was the only death record found for the family of five.

I hope the descendants of Edmund Baker discover his story so his name can be remembered.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Davis Responds to Baker's Plea

John Henry Davis responded to Edmund Baker's letter. Baker was requesting Davis return his children and pay him for their one year service on Davis' farm.

Gallatin April 23rd 1868

Dear Sir

Yours of the 22nd inst. has been duly received. And I now hasten to respond. You wish me to state whether I have in my service the minor children (Elijah, Wilson and Julia) of Edmund Baker, freedman, and if so to explain by what authority I hold them and why their father is not permitted to remove them and receive pay for their services. I will simply state that Wilson is not in my possession or employment but has contracted and lives with Dan Brown. That he does not prevent Julia's father from having her. But deserves her to go. And told her to go. And that the father took her twice and she would not remain with him. That Elijah is over twenty one years of age and so swore in a trial between me and his father before the Probate Judge of this County. And also swore that he did not wish to remain with his father. But preferred staying with me.

Your respectfully,
J. H. Davis


1860 Copiah County Federal Census
Mississippi, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872," images, FamilySearch (,1078468007 : accessed 14 Nov 2014), Brookhaven (subassistant commissioner) > Roll 11, Registered letters received, Nov 1867-Aug 1868 > image 121 of 265; citing NARA microfilm publication M1907, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Edmund Baker's 1867 Plea
Give Back My Children
and Pay Me

Photograph Courtesy of Library of Congress

Edmund Baker's attorney writes a letter to the Freedmen Bureau detailing Baker's failure to receive remedy in the Mississippi court system. Baker contracted, in January 1866 with John H Davis, for his three minor teenage children to work on Davis' farm. Davis refused to give Baker his children at the end of 1866. According to the contract between Baker and Davis, one fourth of what was cultivated on the Davis farm in 1866 was to be given to Edmund Baker. Davis did not abide by the contract.

As of January 1866, Elijah was about 17 years, Wilson was about 15, and Julia was about 13 years, per the 1870 and 1880 censuses records.

Gallatin, Miss
Dec 4th 1867
To The Office of the
F. B. & R - Brookhaven Miss


In the year 1866, Baker contracted with one John H Davis (wittiness by his written contract) that his minor children - Elijah, Wilson, and Julia ? work upon the lands of Davis & c - and should receive as compensation one fourth part of the products of the plantation as cultivated for the year 1866.

The cotton was ginned by Capt Hezekiah Brown and the first five bales weighed as follows 428, 490, 462, 520, and the last two bales (seven in all) weighed 840 lbs - leaving Edmond Baker share (1/4) - 682 and a half lbs - ginned cotton of which Edmond has received only one bale weighing 410 lbs leaving a balance of 272 and a half lbs, which at the price of cotton sold for last January should have paid Edmund Baker between $90 and $100 dollars.

Davis gave Baker only about 30 bu of corn. Davis gathered the corn for his stock, and for his bread from the fields before it was gathered - allowing Baker nothing for the part so consumed by Davis.

There was fodder and hay gathered, and some peas but Davis allowed Baker nothing for these things. And after allowing Baker 30 bushels of corn afterwards claimed it, and refused to let Baker have a single bushel.

At the close of the year 1866, Davis and his son John Davis, together refused to let Elijah and Julia leave their place, and when Baker came to move them to his house, the said Davises, ? off the father, and with threats forbid Baker to come on their premises again. Afterwards the older Davis agreed that Edmund Baker might secure his daughter Julia (for whom Baker for particular reasons felt much anxiety) but the younger Davis threaten to kill Baker if he did not immediately leave the premises without his daughter.

He the younger Davis claimed to have hired Julia by a contract with herself and the older Davis claimed to retain Elijah by a similar contract.

At the time that Baker went to Davis after his children with a wagon to move them and their affects, Simon Ruffin, Dick Overton, Ned Smith, Edwin Ruffin, freedmen went with him, they all being with Baker at Col Burnley's (their former owner) and Davis having sent them word to come to him to hire for the next year and that he would pay one of them $20 which he owed him.

After the Davises had refused to let Baker have his children, as above stated. I directed Baker to make affidavit before the clerk of the circuit court and get the writ of habea corpus issued and Baker came to Gallatin for that purpose, which when the Davises found out, they came before the county court and prosecuted Baker and all the men who were in his company for criminal conduct in coming upon the place.

In the trial, somehow the judge of the county court found a verdict against all of them and sentenced them to pay a fine of $10 and costs, and committed them to jail in case the money was not paid...

Afterwards, Baker the present summer, did get a writ of habeas corpus issued, for the detention of his two children Elijah and Julia, by the Davises. And in the trial, the certificate of Col Burnley, their former owner, as well as the oath of Baker their father was given in evidence that they were under the age of 21 at the time

The Davises did not attempt to ? this evidence as to the girl Julia, but they did as to Elijah. Still the court (that is the Judge of Probate) gave a decision against Baker, so that Davis carried the children of Baker home with him and has yet contray to the efforts and wishes of their father

These are all the facts in the case as I understand them and I think that they demonstrate that great injustice has been done to the rights of Baker under the laws of Mississippi and that you have properly ? and jurisdiction of this whole matter. Baker was at great expense and loss of time. tried to get justice under the laws, but as I think failed signally.

I should state that the boy Elijah is very simple and is subject to a sort of spams or fits and is easily made subservient to designing parties.

The records of the court here - the County court - show that the statement I have made as to the proceedings is correct, and the contract, and evidence of Baker, and the mother of the children, and that of Colonel Burnley will show the minority of the children.

You would do me a favor by not divulging to the Davises or their friends that I have written to the Freedman's Bureau on this subject as they would excite a great prejudice to my injury.

? very respectifully
D. W. McRae of the firm
MaRae & Lanikin?
Attys & C

Edmund Baker is not related to me. He lived on Somerset Plantation with some of my family members.

Mississippi, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872," images, FamilySearch (,1078468007 : accessed 12 Nov 2014), Brookhaven (subassistant commissioner) > Roll 11, Registered letters received, Nov 1867-Aug 1868 > images 10-14 of 265; citing NARA microfilm publication M1907, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Baker Family of Somerset Plantation

Edwina Burnley Memoirs, written by Edwina Burnley and her sister Bertha, described life on the Somerset Plantation near Hazlehurst, Copiah County, Mississippi.

The owner of Somerset, Edwin Burnley, arrived in Mississippi with his brother Hardin in 1832. Somerset consisted of about 2300 acres of land, 1100 acres were in cultivation, and plenty of slaves to work the plantation. Burnley married his third wife Maria Louisa Baxter of New Jersey in 1852.

Edmund Staten Baker was a slave on the Somerset Plantation. Baker likely knew my people who were on neighboring Lucky Hit and Spring Hill Plantations. The owners of the three plantations were connected through kinship or marriage.

Researching Edmund has also revealed that Overton families, Overton is one of my direct surnames, were slaves on the Somerset Plantation.

Baker was born about 1810 in Virginia. He was the driver of a team of oxen, about six yokes, that he had well trained. His wife was Mary, a woman described as a tall, very black and a very religious. The couple had several children: Elijah, Wilson, Julia, Octavia, and Sylvester.

Elijah was the only child of the couple mentioned in the memoirs. He was born about 1848. Apparently, Elijah was a little sluggish when it came to being a waiter. His regular job was to stand against the wall and pull the rope that kept the fan moving to drive away the flies. One day when there was extra company for dinner, Elijah waited the table. When Burnley asked Elijah to pass a hot potato, he picked it up with his hands, tossing the potato from hand to hand before he asked his master to take the potato because it was burning him. Elijah never appeared in the dinning room again.

Soon after the dinning room incident, the overseer of Somerset was conscripted and Elijah went to the War with the overseer. Per the 1860 Copiah County census, Urban Buffkin was the overseer of Somerset. They both survived the War.

Next: After the War, Baker hires his children out.

Edwina Burnley Memoirs
1860 Copiah County Slave Schedule

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday
James Lynch

James Lynch was Secretary of State during Reconstruction, and held other positions of honor. He died December 18, 1872. At the time, he was the only African American in the history of Mississippi that ever laid in State in the capitol.

After remaining in his coffin two days in the rotunda of the capital, he was buried with great ceremony. A handsome monument for which the State of Mississippi paid in part, was erected over his grave.

Funeral Obsequies of James Lynch The late Secretary of State was interred from the Captiol yesterday. The funeral oration was delivered by the Rev Mr McDonald, and the remains were escorted to the grave bt the State authorities, the city authorities, Hope Fire Company No 3 (colored) of Jackson, United States Fire Company No 1, (colored) of Vicksburg, the Friendly Brothers, (colored) of Vicksburg, a delegation from Vicksburg Fire Company No 2 (colored) and a large concourse of colored people.

James Lynch was buried in the Greenwood Cemetery, Jackson, Mississippi.
His monument reads 'True To The Public Trust".

James Lynch, Mississippi's Secretary of State During Reconstruction

Source: Subject File for James D Lynch - File found at Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Monday, October 20, 2014

James Lynch
Mississippi's Secretary of State
During Reconstruction

Lynch, Jas (1870 U.S. Census) Mississippi, Hinds County, Jackson

I came across James Lynch, an interesting figure during Reconstruction in Mississippi while researching the surname Lynch in my family.

James Lynch was born in Baltimore in 1838. He was the son of a slave woman, and his father was a white merchant and minister. James became a preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Illinois and Indiana. He married in 1860, and moved to Philadelphia, where he edited a Methodist newspaper. During the War he followed Sherman through Georgia as a missionary to freedmen. In 1867, he came to Mississippi to preach and teach. He also entered politics soon after his arrival, working fervently toward black voter registration.

Lynch was elected Secretary of State. By all accounts, he was an effective political speaker and administrator. He also served on a three man board of education, administering sixteenth section lands, which had been poorly managed. He developed Rust College in Holly Springs, which was run by the Northern Methodist Church.

He failed to gain the nomination for Congress in 1872, losing to John Roy Lynch, not related. Apparently stories of alcoholism began to surface, and blacks lost faith in him.

He died December 18, 1872, at the age of 34 of Bright's Disease. He was buried at the all white cemetery in Jackson, Greenwood Cemetery.

Source: Subject File for James D Lynch - File found at Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Added a Steeple to Providence Baptist Church

Providence Baptist Church
HWY 28
Copiah County, Mississippi

Providence was one of the churches my paternal family attended in rural Copiah County, Mississippi. My branch of the family left the area beginning in the early 1950s. The church was mentioned often and they would go back when they could, especially for funerals. Stopping by for a quick visit to a place where change is slow, is comforting now that the family members of my youth are gone.

Improvements have arrived at Providence. A steeple has been added and there is a new tin roof and porch, and fresh paint. The building looks more like a church and is easier to notice on the rural highway. I suppose my paternal aunts and uncles would like the new look and the grandparents wouldn't recognize the place.

Change is good.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Freedmen's Bureau Labor Contract - 1865
James R Godbold

List of Freedmen Residing on James R Godbold's Plantation
in Franklin County, Mississippi
Oct 7th 1865

Silvester Crossley47male2/3 whiteJames R GodboldWoodside
Louisa Crossley46womanblackdo do do
Andrew Crossley11male1/3 white" " "
Kate Benton45womanblack" " " "
Jane Crossley22docopper" " " "
Mathew Benton11boydo" " " "
Missouri Benton16dodo" " " "
Hannah Benton7girldo" " " "
Charlotte Pettis18womando" " " "
Jeni Pettis1/2girldo" " " "
Robeson Monan28manblack" " " "
Clorinda Monan21womando" " " "
Joseph Monan1/2boydo" " " "
Silvy Dixon32femaledoDeparted fromthe place
Clorinda Dixon7dodo" " " "
Therisa Dixon4docopper" " " "
Davidson Dixon2maleblack" " " "
Harriet Morris34femaledo" " " "
Patsey Morris6dodo" " " "
Elec Morris4maledo" " " "
Elizabeth Morris1femaledo" " " "
Nora Morris1dodo" " " "
Betty Morris48dodo" " " "
Isabelle Morris13dodo" " " "
Mary Morris7dodo" " " "
Rose Wells45dodo" " " "
Macdaniel Wells15maledo" " " "
Jinney Wells9femaledo" " " "
Racheal Guthrie22dodo" " " "
Will Guthrie3maledo" " " "
Harrison Guthrie1doyellow" " " "
Source: Record Group 105 - NARA Microfilm M1907: Records of the Field Offices for the State of Mississippi, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands 1865-1872
Roll #35
Natchez Office - Registry of Freedmen, August to October 1865

Monday, September 29, 2014

Happy 103rd Cousin Allie Mae

Allie Mae Markham Moncrief
Born September 29, 1911
Allie at her 100th Celebration

Allie is my 1st cousin once removed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday
Thomas and Luisa Crossley

Thomas Silvester Crossley
Born 1819 - Died June 4 1899

Luisa Crossley
Born 1830 - Died July 12 1900

Pleasant Grove M. B. Church Cemetery
Smithdale, Amite County, Mississippi

Photograph Courtesy of Nathaniel Thomas

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Time Line for Crossley Family Named in
Lewis Weathersby's Will

Pleasant Grove M.B. Church
Crossley Family's Church
Smithdale, Amite County, Mississippi

1843 Jul 05 - Lewis Weathersby's will was signed on this date bequeathing the slave family in trust to his son Lodwick Weathersby. Thomas and his wife Lucy and their children Matilda, Sylvester, Andrew, and Dicey were to be given land, house and other provisions. The couple two daughters, Matilda and Dicy, were to be purchased by their parents for $300 each so they could tend to their parents in their old age.

Lewis' sons Lodwick Weathersby and Hatton Weathersby, and friend James M Smiley were appointed executors of his will.

16 Sep 1843 - Lewis Weathersby died.

1843 Nov- Lodwick Weathersby died.

1846 Mar 26 - Lodwick's widow Elphanie Obier married John Martin. Elphanie and John became guardians of the minor children of Elphanie and Lodwick.

1846-1847 - Lodwick's siblings, with the exception of Hatton, asked that the Negroes remaining in their father's estate be sold. Various petitions were presented to the courts concerning the property of their father Lewis Weathersby.

Hatton Weathersby, the guardian of the slave family, tried to have his father's wishes fulfilled but lost in the courts because he could not prove meritorious service. The section of Lewis Weathersby's will concerning the slave family would not be executed.

1849 - The six slaves who were to be freed were now a part of the estate of Lodwick Weathersby who had died without a will. Lodwick's daughter Missouri Ann and her husband James R Godbold complained how her mother and her mother's new husband had handled her father's estate. Missouri wanted her father's estate divided among his children.

The Crossley family were separated into lots to be given to Lodwick's children. Yellow Thomas and his wife yellow Lucy were given to Virginia Ann; yellow Sylvester went to Missouri Ann; yellow Andrew, Matilda, Dicey, and Dicey's child Leland were given to Solomon C Weathersby.

1855 - Virginia Ann Weathersby died without a will. The court divided her estate, which included Thomas and Lucy who were described as Old Tom and Old Lucy valued at $500 together. Thomas and Lucy were given to Virginia's brother William Weathersby.

Oct 1865 - Sylvester (Thomas and Lucy's son) and his wife Louisa and their son Andrew were named in the Freedmen Bureau Labor Contract on the Woodside Plantation of James and Missouri Weathersby Godbold.

1870 - The Crossley family was living in Summit, Lincoln County, MS.

A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your African American Roots
by Franklin Carter Smith and Emily Anne Croom
The Slaves of Liberty, Freedom in Amite County, Mississippi 1820-1868
by Dale Edwyna Smith
Amite County Chancery Court Records, Case Number: 4588, Lewis Weathersby
Amite County Chancery Court Records, Case Number: 4598, Virginia Ann Weathersby
Freedmen's Bureau Labor Contract of James R Godbold
Mississippi Department of Archives and History
National Archives
Photograph Courtesy of Nathaniel Thomas

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lewis Weathersby Couldn't Prove Meritorious Service

Siblings James Pearly Crossley and Mazie Crossley Robinson
Children of Nathaniel Crossley, Sr
Grandchildren of Andrew Crossley
Great Grandchildren of Sylvester Crossley
Great Great Grandchildren of Thomas and Lucy Crossley

Lewis Weathersby tried to emancipate six family members of one slave family prior to his death in 1843 but was deterred by the laws of Mississippi, which required the consent of the legislature upon proof of meritorious service.

Meritorious manumission could be granted to a slave who distinguished himself by saving the life of a white master or his property, inventing something that a white slave master could make a profit from or snitching on a slave rebellion. The laws of Mississippi specified that the owner had to cite some meritorious service by the slave as the ground for his petition.

Lewis Weathersby did not prove meritorious service; manumission for the family was denied. Lewis did not give up on emancipating the family, parents Thomas and Lucy, and their children Matilda, Sylvester, Andrew and Dicy. He made provisions in his will for the family to be nicely situated, offering them quasi freedom which his heirs saw as emancipating the family, circumventing the decision of the Mississippi legislature.

Between the state of Mississippi protecting the institution of slavery, deaths, and the greed of the family, the portion of Lewis Weathersby's will concerning the family was never fulfilled.

How are the siblings connected to my family?
The siblings' mother was Estella Scott Crossley
Estella Scott was the daughter of James Pearly Scott and Catherine Markham.
Catherine Markham Scott and my great grandfather Monroe Markham were siblings.

A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your African American Roots
by Franklin Carter Smith and Emily Anne Croom
The Slaves of Liberty, Freedom in Amite County, Mississippi 1820-1868
by Dale Edwyna Smith
Amite County Chancery Court Records, Case Number: 4588, Lewis Weathersby
Mississippi Department of Archives and History
Photograph Courtesy of Nathaniel Thomas

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Will of Lewis Weathersby

Amite County Courthouse
Amite County Courthouse
Courtesy of J Stephen Conn, on Flickr

The ancestors of my Crossley cousins were bequeathed a quasi freedom, land and provisions in the 1843 will of Lewis Weathersby. The Weathersby heirs were not thrilled with this provision in the will.

Extraction of Lewis Weathersby Will Pertaining to the Crossley Slaves

In the name of God Amen I Lewis Weathersby of the County of Amite and State of Mississippi being of sound mind and disposing memory do make ordain and publish this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former wills and codicils by me made...

15th I give and bequeath to my son Lodwick L Weathersby my faithful servants Thomas and his wife Lucy and their children Matilda, Sylvester, Andrew and Dicy in trust and under the following conditions, "to wit" in as much as the said Thomas and Lucy have served me for several years with great fidelity, it is my earnest desire and I do hereby enjoin it upon my said son Lodwick L Weathersby and that he enjoin it upon his heirs executors and administrators to make the said Slaves Thomas and Lucy as comfortable in life as possible, that he furnish them and their children with a house separate from others, that he provide a horse, farming tools, a small tract of land for their separate use, and that they have suitable time to work the same, and he attend to the sale of their little crops, furnish them with a cow for milk, and two hundred pounds of sugar, and one hundred pounds of coffee yearly, and that in consideration of these things, he require of them reasonable service and should the said slaves Thomas and Lucy at any time be able to raise a sum of money sufficient to compensate said Lodwick Weathersby say three hundred dollars for each, for the services of their daughters, Matilda and Dicy These he shall give to the said Matilda and Dicy to said Thomas and Lucy to serve and comfort, them in their old age.

Amite County Will Records 1818-1848, Vol 1, Pages 248-252, Microfilm Number: 6217
Microfilm found at Mississippi Department of Archives and History
Case Study of the Crossley Family

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

Unraveling Grandma's Paternity Dilemma
Using DNA Tests

Richmond Overton

Paternity issues are complicated. My paternity issue is over a hundred years old, which makes it more complicated. One woman, two men and eleven children are involved. I will concentrate on one of the eleven children, my paternal grandmother.

Three years ago I wrote a post concerning my paternal grandmother's paternity dilemma, Who is the Daddy. Grandma Gertrude's mother died when she was 7 years old and the question of her paternity would not be answered by the mother but by speculating family and friends. Two names were given as grandma's father, Richmond Overton and Elijah Usher.

My grandmother Gertrude Overton-Usher Durr was born between 1893-1895 to Jane Furnace.

I am hopeful my 23andMe DNA test will solve grandma's paternity question. I have four matches linked to my grandmother's family and other cousins are promising to test.

Documents and oral history claim Match 1 is a descendant of Jane Furnace and Elijah Usher.

Match 2 is a third great granddaughter of Peggy Demyers, Richmond Overton's grandmother.

Matches 3 and 4, siblings, are the 4th great grandchildren of Peggy Demyers, Richmond Overton's grandmother.

Matches 2, 3 and 4 are not related to Jane but they match with Match 1.

Looking over our family trees, it appears that Elijah Usher may not be the father of Jane's child, Match 1's ancestor. DNA is pointing to Richmond Overton as my ancestor and also the ancestor of Match 1. I am waiting for other cousins to test before putting the question to rest.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mad Men of Color

L to R: McKinley Winfield, Leroy Shephard and James Shephard
Leroy Shephard married paternal cousin Dora Overton.

I love the way my dapper Dans are dressed and groomed. They look like they walked off the set of Mad Men, all clean shaven with their white shirts, thin ties, suits, and hats.

Photograph courtesy of Shelia Easley
Taken in the 1960s, Detroit, MI

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Brick Makers of Windsor

Standing amidst the picturesque Windsor ruins, you can't help but think of the grandeur of the Old South but I also think of those who were enslaved, the nameless brick makers who labored with no payment.

Smith Coffee Daniell, II, per a newspaper article, vast holdings included 800 slaves. He was a property owner almost without peer in the Deep South. At one time he owned 21, 789 acres of land - much of it in the finest farming belts of the state: 400 acres in Attala County, 1440 in Bolivar, 800 in Carroll, 3211 in Claiborne, 1040 in Issaquena, 1500 in Leflore, 3440 in Sunflower, 3440 also in Washington and 6510 in Louisiana. According to Daniell's will, he asked that overseers be hired for his three plantations in Louisiana.

1860 Slave Schedules for Smith C Daniell II
PlantationNo. of SlavesCounty
-150Claiborne County, MS
Locustwood164Tensas Parish, LA
Brierland107Tensas Parish, LA

Smith was an only child whose wealth was partially built on inheritance from his parents and in-laws. His father's estate in 1836 equally divided Negroes, lands in Mississippi and Arkansas Territory to Smith Daniell and his mother Priscilla Skinner Daniell.

Catherine Freeland Daniell, Smith's wife, inherited 44 slaves upon her father's death. The slaves were divided by what appears to be family groups. Listed below are their names. There must be a brick maker or two among this list.

Jim Smothers, Patsey, Pricilla, Ned, Little Jim, Cordelia, Little Patsey, and Rachel

Elisha, Julia and Bill McIntosh

Grigg, Kate, Henry, and Jacob

Henry Thomas, Abram, Susan, Nancy, and Jim Green

Bill McAllister, Hannah & child, Mary

Manuel Dorman, Sally & child and Alex

Old George, Rachel & child, Little George, Eli, John, Bob, Hetty, Bedley, and Mirley

Priscilla & infant

Here are additional Windsor posts:
The Magnificent House ~ Windsor
Cecilia Beall's Letter ~ 1854 Reunion of Slaves
E. M. Ross's Letter - 1860 Go Without a Servant
E. M. Ross' Letter ~1867 All Our House Servants Left Us
E. M. Ross Letter ~ 1867 No One to Protect Us

Thomas Freeland's Claiborne County Probate Records - 1857
Smith Coffee Daniell, Sr.'s, Will - 1836
Smith Coffee Daniell, Jr.'s, Will - 1862
Vertical File - Smith Coffee Daniel II
All records found at Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Heard Four Shots

Hystercine Gray Rankin was ten years old when she heard four gunshots while retrieving water from the pond. She thought it was hunters in the woods but the shots heard had killed her father. Denver Gray had been murdered by the owner of the land where he was a tenant farmer. Gray laid in the road until the log truck came to pick him up.

Quilting was taught to Hystercine by her maternal grandmother. Hystercine was recognized for her quilts by the National Heritage Fellowship. She used quilt making to capture her experiences growing up in rural Mississippi. Below is a scene from the day of her father's funeral.

"The day of my father Denver Gray's funeral was also the day we left Union Church. My Grandmother, Alice Whalem, moved us to the Blue Hill community To live with her father, Joe January, who was born a slave and later bought 100 acres of the land he was a slave on, and built a very large house there in 1890. He died in 1941 I moved in 1946, when I married Ezekiel Rankin, a staff sargent [sic] in the US Army. My Grandmother died in 1943 and my Mother Brothers And Sisters continued to live with my great uncle Lovie January My Mother Laula Gray died in 1950 of Cancer." Hystercine Rankin
The Full Quilt

Newspaper Account of Denver Gray's Murder
Farrell Humphreys Killed Negro Monday

Surrendered to Sheriff and Released on Bond to Await Grand Jury Action

Mr. Farrell Humphreys who owns and operates a farm property on Highway 20 about 15 miles east of Fayette shot and killed a negro tenant on his place about seven o'clock Monday evening, April 3, The negro, Denver Gray, about 38 years of age, and Mr. Humphreys had been having tenant and landlord differences for several days prior to the difficulty that resulted in the killing.

Mr. Humphreys gave himself up to the Sheriff's office, waived preliminary hearing and was admitted to bail to await grand jury investigation. Several witnesses are reported to have seen and heard all that passed between the two men at the time of the shooting.

The Chronicle has heard no detailed statement of the trouble that caused the tragedy.

Denver Gray was the son of Walter Gray and Gaule Williams. He was born March 27, 1905, near Union Church, Jefferson County, Mississippi. He married Laula Meeks/Mix, daughter of Alex and Alice January Whalum.

Sources: The Fayette Chronicle, April 7, 1939, Page 1
Hystercine Gray Rankin

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

E. M. Ross' Letter ~1867
All Our House Servants Left Us

Members of the Daniell family pose on the steps of "Retreat," home of the Freeland family. On the front row is Dr Williams, who married the widow of the builder of Windsor. Next is Smith Coffee Daniell, IV, Katherine Freeland Daniell Williams, Aunt Lizzie. On the back row are Priscilla Daniell Magruder, Thomas Freeland Daniell, his daughter Katherine Crane Daniell.

Elizabeth Magruder Ross writes another letter to Sue encouraging the family to use their land for farming. She complains about the free Negroes and their wages, and that all the house slaves left including Charity and Abe who were mentioned in previous letters. She informs Sue about the well being of Smith Coffee Daniell's family. The children are maturing and the rumor that Daniell's widow is to remarry is not true. Smith's widow did remarry on 21 Nov 1868 to William G Williams.

Direct your letter Care of Mrs C. S. Daniell
July 9th 1867

My Dear Sue

Your welcome letter was received one month after it was written; it remained unansered (sic) longer than I entended (sic); I had a good deal of sewing to doo (sic) at the time I received it, and have just got through.

I was very glad indeed to hear from you all once more. hope you have entirely recoverd (sic) by thise (sic) time. your hair of course will grow out as thick as ever, and may come out curly. I have often seen it the case. I am glad you and your Sister are so well employed. I hope you will be successful in your undertaking, and trust, you will prosper in every thing you undertake, so that you may make useful and happy women. If your Brother is industrious and enerjetic (sic) and perfers farming, I think he could hire sufficient hands to put all of the land in cultivation, and he could overlook them and keep them at work, -for they will not work with out. I think by perseverance and industry, he will be able to make and ample support, and live comfortably. he can raise his one meet (sic) and corn and vegetables; he can make mony (sic) by his Orchard and garden, raising fouls and selling butter. I think a farmer's life is much the happiest life. I think your Mother would be much better satisfied at her one (sic) home. We find it hard to get along with free Negrows (sic), have to pay them such high wages and get very little work out of them. we hardly make enough to pay expences (sic).

All of our house servants left us, one hundred and fifty of our Negrows (sic) never left us. Charity Fleet and Abe left several years ago I do not know what has become of them.

I am sorry Mr Brown has acted so as to cause dissatisfaction; I use to like him so much, and thought him such a good man; I hope all will turn out for the best, and you may find him to be and honest man.

Cove is not married yet. I think she is very hard to pleas (sic). She is living withe (sic) her Sister, helping her to take care of her Children. Cecilia was hre (sic) a few days ago she looks well, has three fine Children lost two beautiful little Boyes (sic).

What you heard about Catharine is not so, I do not think she has any idea of getting married. She does nont (sic) believe in Widows marring (sic0 again Pris is nearly as large as her mother and Tom is almost grown in size. they have a vacation at this time. Pris will go to New Orleans in the fall to complete her french and musick (sic).

You did not say any thing about your Grand Father's family; when you write let me know what has become of them.

Let me know what has become of Mr Andrew I would like very much to hear from him.

I hope you will come and see me as soon as you can it will give me much pleasure to see you. I would like to visit you all again if I ever should get money enough to travel on. I am afraid I never will I cannot find the receipt for the money I let Tenly have. if he is not honest enough to pay me you cannot make him. if you should succeed in getting it just inclose (sic) it in your letter when you write I will not trouble you about getting any thing. I believe I have said every thing I can think about.

Give my love to your Mother and Susan. I think of them often and wish them well my love to all that ask for me; let me know what has become of Mrs Worthington Sisters

I remain with love E. M. Ross

Here are additional Windsor posts:
The Magnificent House ~ Windsor
The Brick Makers of Windsor
Cecilia Beall's Letter ~ 1854 Reunion of Slaves
E. M. Ross's Letter - 1860 Go Without a Servant
E. M. Ross Letter ~ 1867 No One to Protect Us

Windsor 1830-1969 - Vertical File - SF/Windsor 1830-1969 - Picture found in this file.
Ross (Elizabeth Magruder) Letters - Z/1480.000/F/Folder 1
Letter and picture found at Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

E. M. Ross Letter ~ 1867
No One to Protect Us

The Civil War is over but the sting of defeat is fresh. Elizabeth Magruder Ross writes to a nameless niece about the devastation of war on Windsor, the death of Smith Coffee Daniell and his four children since the completion of the house.

Smith Daniell has in his 1860 household Eliza Ross, 55 years of age, born in Maryland. In this letter, Ross refers to Daniell's wife, Catherine, as Sister. I have not seen anything in the census records that supports they were siblings, maybe, it was a term of endearment.

January 25th 1867

My dear Child

Seeing your likeness to day prompts me to undertake my long neglected duty: though sevelal (sic) months have passed, since the reception of your most welcome letter. I have not forgotten that it ought to have been enswered (sic) long ago but plead as usual my extreme dislike, to writing; time passes away so rapidly that it seems to be but a few days since I received it. I was delighted to hear from you all once more; I had almost dispaired (sic) of ever hearing from again.

Sad changed have taken place in the last six years. Smith Daniel and four of his little Children have died, only six of us left, my Sister Catherine, Pris, Tom, and little Smith who was born six months after his Fathers (sic) death. We had no one to protect and fight for us during the war: the anxiety and trouble we passed through is pass (sic) discription (sic), all of our property taken from us, one hundred and sixty five horses and mules taken from us, three steame (sic) gins, three thousand bals (sic) of cotton burnt at one time. Our hous (sic) searched about twenty times; Grant made this his headquarters for two days and then made our house a Hospital. Had between (sic) foure (sic) and five hundred wounded in the house at one time they would not suffer us to leave the house; aloud (sic) us four rooms in the third story.

Our cook, cookes (sic) our meals out at her house, and brough (sic) it in a waiter from day to day until they left here, The smell from their wounds was very offensive we could hardly bear it. They made our yard their burying grond (sic). If we made any complaint, they would threaten to burn our house, so we had to bear it patiently.

We feel thankful that our house and lands have been saved to us we can rent out or lease our plantation so that we will be able to live comfortably.

I loaned Tenly one hundred dollars about seaven (sic) years ago, he promised to pay me back again when he got able; I wish you would try and collect for me. If you can get it I will let you know in my next letter what I wish you to get for me with it. I am very sorry to hear that your Mother’s health is not good. When you answer this letter you must tell me some thing about all the family how you are getting along.

What has become of Susan? Is her Father living yet? If you doo (sic) let me know. I would like to hear some thing from all our old neighbors (sic), how they are getting along. Particularly Mr Brown.

You did not say who Olinsker had married I would like to know. Let me know how many Children Josephene (sic) has, give my love to them all when you see them, and to all that ask for me.

Let me know how your Grand Fathers family are getting along. You must take time and write me a long letter. You can write a great may (sic) things that would be interesting to me, whilst I have nothing to write that would be interesting to you.

I have not written for so long a time I have almost forgotten how. You must overlook all mistakes.

Give my love to your Mother and all the family I remain with much love your

Affectionate Aunt E. Ross

The Magnificent House ~ Windsor
The Brick Makers of Windsor
Cecilia Beall's Letter ~ 1854 Reunion of Slaves
E. M. Ross's Letter - 1860 Go Without a Servant
E. M. Ross' Letter ~1867 All Our House Servants Left Us

Ross (Elizabeth Magruder) Letters - Z/1480.000/F/Folder 1
Letters found at Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

E. M. Ross's Letter - 1860
Go Without a Servant

Elizabeth Magruder Ross writes to a young Susan advising her not to rush into marriage, remain in school for another year, see a little of the world, and to marry well. She mentions Windsor is almost finished, and she would like to visit Susan and her family but does not have a suitable slave for the visit. She mentions Bena's illness. Bena was a nickname for Smith Coffee Daniel's daughter Lavinia.

Smith Daniell has in his 1860 household Eliza Ross, 55 years of age, born in Maryland. Ross' relationship to the family is not explained in her letters.

10 August 1860

Dear Sue,

I was truly gratified my dear child, by the reception of your kind letter, which was received the 20th of July; it was forwarded to me from Rodney, I received one from your mother at the same time, for which I was delighted to receive, and read them with much pleasure.

I feel gratified that you all are anxious for me to visit you again. You must not think for a moment because, I have not written to you, that I have forgotten you.

I will explain to you why your letters were not answered, the one dated the 19th of January, I received just on the eve starting to my Aunts, and Cove promised to answer it for me, and I was under the impression that she had done so until I saw her again. The next one I received a day or two before I was sent for to go home to nurse little Bena, who was very ill, we had to sit up with her four weeks.

After she got better I got Cove to write to you, it was directed to Tee Tee in the care of Mr Brown, Ever since I received your last letter I have been dreadfully afflicted with blood boils I had twenty or thirty on me at this tim (sic); I have as menny (sic) on me at this time, which are quite painful; I do not think I will be able to write you but a few lines. It would have given me unbounded pleasure to have visited you this summer, but I did not like to go without a servant. Charity had two children and Eliza is all the time sick, and I did not like to take one out of the field, to be a trouble, instead of assistance. I hope you do not intend to quit school at this time. I think you ought to go one year longer and when I go to see you I will bring you home with me and let you see something of the world before you get married. I hope you will not think of it before you are twenty years old, that will be plenty tim (sic) to commense (sic) the troubles of life. You must try and get some one that has property for you know you do not like to work much.

We have a splendid house nearly done which will cost over one hundred thousand dollars. When I heard from home last they were all well. Smith Catharine and little Bena Have gone to the Red Sulfer (sic) Springs in Virginia to spend the summer.

Every thing here is parched up for the want of rain it has been five months since we have had any rain to do any good, very little corn or cotton will be made in this county.

When you answer this letter get a larger sheat (sic) of paper and tell me some thing about all of the neighbors (sic)

You have never named Molly Lanhan in any of your letters, what had become of her? Has Mrs. Burn any more Children? I suppose your Mother’s health is entirely restored as you never say anything about her being sick; I hope she will be spared to raise her Children and see them all turn out well. I hope Bud will prove a blessing to her, and make a useful man. He always had such an innocent look. I cannot help thinking he will be a good man if he lives give my love to him and tell him he must study (sic) hard and try and turn out as I hope he will; I daily offer up a prayer in behlf (sic) of you all. Give my love to your mother Susan Sis and kiss the little Children for me remember (sic) me to the servants. When you write let me know when you heard from Andrew remember (sic) me to Mr. Pollac and all that enquire (sic) for me except a large portion for yourself

E. M. Ross

The Magnificent House ~ Windsor
The Brick Makers of Windsor
Cecilia Beall's Letter ~ 1854 Reunion of Slaves
E. M. Ross' Letter ~1867 All Our House Servants Left Us
E. M. Ross Letter ~ 1867 No One to Protect Us

Ross (Elizabeth Magruder) Letters - Z/1480.000/F/Folder 1
Letters found at Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cecilia Beall's Letter ~ 1854
Reunion of Slaves

The letter writer observes the reunion of slaves who apparently have not seen each other for some time. She is surprised and amused at the affection between the slaves. Cecelia Beall wrote this letter to Mrs Ross, March 14, 1854.

I believe Cecelia is in the 1850 Claiborne County, MS, household of Smith Coffee Daniell, future builder of Windsor Plantation. She is listed as Celia Bell, 17 years old female. Celia married Thomas Freeland, cousin of Smith Coffee Daniell, 20 Jul 1854, in Claiborne County, MS.

Dear Mrs Ross,

I write to acquaint you with the safe arrival of Aunt Eliza. They had a very pleasant trip down the river and arrived in Rodney about 10 o’clock Wednesday the 8th of this month. Cousin Smith came out home in the night and Aunt Eliza remained in Rodney with a friend until the next day. Cousin Kate went in for her early on Thursday, and they came out to dinner. I do not see any change in Aunt E. since the last time I saw her. She scarcely recognized (sic) me. I have grown a great deal – and exchanged my sallow complexion for a very ruddy one.

We are all glad to have Dear Aunt Lize with us. But she says everything is changed from what she knew. The old hills hardly look like the same to her and those friends that she knew here are nearly all gone.

Mrs Ross, I wish you could see our forest and gardens. The spring is very far advanced. Nearly all the trees are putting out, and many are already covered with foliage. The peach and plum trees are dropping their blooms. Our garden is very backward, but we have peas several inches high. All the roses are putting out. At Aunt Freeland’s about two miles from here, several rose bushes are in full bloom. Aunt Lize reminded me of a promise I once made you - of sending up some rose cuttings. So few of my acquaintances ever go to St. Louis that I have not had opportunities for sending anything. The boats do not land at Rodney unless taking in passengers, which is very seldom. When Cousin Smith went up I might easily have sent them, and it was just the right season – but indeed it never occurred to my mind atall. I am really sorry to have let such an opportunity slip. I will keep "a strict look out" now, and will not fail to improve the first opportunity.

The servants all seem glad to revisit their friends, but Old Uncle Clinton says “the eatin is different here from what it is there.” There, there are few to eat, and plenty of good food. Here it is quite the opposite. Poor Abe cries until his eyes were nearly put out, the first night he stayed here. I told him if I was him I would’nt (sic) cry for a mother that didn’t care a grot for me.

They all look very familia (sic) to me. You would have ben (sic) highly amused to have seen the meeting between Aunt Letty and our cook – a woman larger than Aunt Letty. They rushed into each other’s arms and hugged and kissed most earnestly. Aunt Letty gave me a very affectionate hug.

I was very sorry to hear of your ill health. It seems that we are never free from some clog to our happiness. Susan Ann used to be the invalid. You must give my love to all of them. Tell Susan & Susan Ann they must write to me sometimes.

Aunt Eliza wished me to say that she was in no hurry to have the things send down, but could wait until the roads are better. She wished you to keep the knives and the castor, as she will have no use for them. She says she will write soon.

Please give my best regards to Mr. Ross and accept for yourself the love and best wishes of

Your sincere friend
Cecilia Beall

Here are additional Windsor posts:
The Magnificent House ~ Windsor
The Brick Makers of Windsor
E. M. Ross's Letter - 1860 Go Without a Servant
E. M. Ross' Letter ~1867 All Our House Servants Left Us
E. M. Ross Letter ~ 1867 No One to Protect Us

Ross (Elizabeth Magruder) Letters - Z/1480.000/F/Folder 1
Letters found at Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Magnificent House ~ Windsor

"The first plantation we came to (on the high ground overlooking the river) was the most magnificent I ever saw. The house could not have cost less than a hundred thousand & perhaps half as much more. It was three stories brick & completely surrounded with a row of massive Corinthian pillars extending from the ground to the roof."
George Smith, a Union Soldier, May 6, 1863

Smith Coffee Daniell, II, built one of the finest, if not the finest house in the Old South during the antebellum era near Port Gibson. Smith was a property owner without peer in the South. Per a newspaper article, he owned 21,789 acres of land in Louisiana and Mississippi, and hundreds of slaves.

Windsor had been built in a period when mansions were a status symbol and each new one outdid the last in grandeur. Smith Coffee Smith, II, was the builder. His father, Smith Coffee, Sr., had come to the area in 1824 as an Indian fighter. He had stayed to become a landowner and farmer.

The house was designed by David Schroeder, who is also credited with having built Rosswood in Jefferson County.

Smith Coffee Daniell, II and wife Catherine Skinner Freeland

Construction of the house started in 1859. The cost of the house was then $175,000. Today's cost would be over $4,000,000. The basic materials, bricks and lumber, were produced on the plantation. Slaves made the bricks and likely the lumber on site, and did the rough work. Artisans from New England were brought in and lived on the plantation for nearly two years of construction.

Iron work for the steps, bannisters, columns, and grill work were made in St Louis, shipped to the site by barges on the Mississippi River to Rodney or Bruinsburg. Marble for the fireplaces came from Italy, Georgia and Tennessee.

The house contained 23 rooms with an above ground basement, two residential floors and an attic. Water for the two bath rooms was stored, cistern fashion, in huge tanks that were under the eaves and beside the fourth floor ballroom. Rain water flowed off the roof into pipes that carried water into the tanks.

A cupola from which the Mississippi River could be viewed was centered on top of the roof.

The house was almost two houses in one. In front was the main portion with columns all around and porches encircling both the second and third floors.

Another house, with columns only along the front and end, was on the back. This held the kitchen on the ground floor, the dining room and pantry on the second floor.

Windows spanned from floor to ceiling in the big rooms and a wide hall ran through the center. The ground floor had a school room, commissary, doctor's office, and storage. On the second floor were two parlors, library, study, the master bedroom, and bath. Third floor rooms were all bedrooms except for the second bath and a sewing room.

Smith Daniell II was to live in Windsor for only a short period, he died 12 Apr 1861.

Windsor barely missed being burned by Grant's army when a guard was shot at the front door, but for Mrs Daniell's persuasive argument that none of the family had anything whatsoever to with it; and during a lesser incident when the army discovered that messages were being sent to Louisiana by light flashes. When officers came up to investigate, Mrs Daniell hid the signal equipment. After the battle of Port Gibson, May 1, 1863, the wounded were brought back to Windsor.

On Feb 17, 1890, the house was destroyed by fire when a careless party goer threw a lit cigarette into trash made by carpenters doing some repairs. All that is left is the picturesque ruins.

Here are additional Windsor posts:
The Brick Makers of Windsor
Cecilia Beall's Letter ~ 1854 Reunion of Slaves
E. M. Ross's Letter - 1860 Go Without a Servant
E. M. Ross' Letter ~1867 All Our House Servants Left Us
E. M. Ross Letter ~ 1867 No One to Protect Us

Windsor Plantation - National Park Service - Drawing of Windsor
Smith (George) and McKenzie (James) Papers - Z/1454.000
Windsor 1830-1969 - Vertical File - SF/Windsor 1830-1969
Papers and vertical file found at Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bethel Presbyterian Church
circa 1845

The original congregation of the Bethel Presbyterian Church started in 1826 under the direction of Dr Jeremiah Chamberlain, constructed this Greek Revival building in the mid 1840s. On the interior, ornamentation is completely lacking. Renovations have occurred over the years and the original slave gallery was removed.

The Buie slave owning families of my Markham family were Presbyterians. They lived in Copiah, Franklin, Jefferson, and Lincoln Counties, MS, neighboring counties to Claiborne County.

The church is located near Port Gibson, MS.