Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Friday, January 24, 2014

Old Country Store
Learned, Mississippi

Last summer, the husband and I were out for a leisure drive. We saw a street sign that read Learned. Neither one of us had been there before, so, we decided to take the road never traveled and came upon this store in a small Mayberry-ish like village. I believe the faded sign above the store reads Gibbs and Sons. The store was built in 1892 and is located in Learned, Hinds County, Mississippi. It is about 20 miles west of Jackson.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Andrew Gustavus - Part 2

A few weeks ago, the photograph of Andrew Gustavus was identified. In a previous post, I wrote about how we discovered his name. You may read about it here.

Andrew was born about 1856, the son of James Gustavus and maybe Sarah Macon. He was a success at farming and got himself a wife, Lucy Watson. The couple married, 03 Feb 1885, in Copiah County, MS.

They had two sons, one was deceased by 1900. Their remaining son was Joe, born about 1887. Thomas Moore, a 26 years old nephew, was in the household and he along with Joe helped with the farming. The family was still farming in 1910; Joe was out of the household and a niece and nephew was in the household, eleven years old siblings Jack and Josie Scott.

Andrew was 67 years old in 1920. His wife Lucy died during the spring of 1915, Joe was grown and gone, and farming alone was likely too much for Andrew. He left the rural community near Heaths Store and moved to town, to Hazlehurst. Rachel came with Andrew to town or maybe he met her there. According to census records, they were man and wife in 1920.

The 1920 census listed his occupation as a farmer working his own account. Andrew is still a farmer, in 1930, but he is now a worker; by 1940 the occupation line is blank. Per the oral history, Andrew lived behind Miss Nell Harris, which the census records of 1930 and 1940 support.

Nell Harris was the daughter of Lewis Bingaman Harris and Lucy Ella Rice. Lewis died in 1891, leaving his wife Lucy to raise a family of five daughters and one son.

Andrew lived in the rear of this house in the woods.

Lucy Ella Rice was the older sister of Elizabeth Macon Rice. Elizabeth married Charles Adams Taliaferro. Charles and his father Peachy were the slave owners of a branch of my paternal family members.

By 1940, Nellie was in the house alone with a couple of lodgers. Andrew was a widower since the 1930 census. I saw one record where Nellie died about 1961. I don't know when Andrew died but I know he lived beyond 1943.

I was hoping Andrew was connected to my Durr family, my father's paternal family. Surprisingly, he is connected to my father's maternal family, a nice surprise.

The lady is Nellie Harris in her home.

Lucy Gustavus' Death Certificate, Andrew's Wife
Photographs Courtesy of Georgia Wise

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Christmas Gentleman Identified
Andrew Gustavus

We believe we know the name of the distinguished, dignified African American man in photographs with a Christmas gift in his hand shown on this blog during the Christmas season. I do community research and the name is already on my family tree.

A few years ago, Georgia Wise and her family shared pictures of the gentleman. On the above picture, he is standing with two small boys adorned with their Christmas gifts. One of the boys is Georgia's father who remembered they called the man Uncle Gus. In December 2013, he remembered the man's full name was Andrew Gustavus.

Looking over the emails from Georgia, I learned Andrew was born during slavery and he told the young boys tales of eating from a trough.

Memories of the Trough from the Slave Narratives
"Ebry day dar wus a big pail uf milk put in a big trough in front uf mammy Lit's house, under a shed, fur all uf de little black chilluns ter eat wid bread in it. Ebry one uf us hed er spoon en we wuld dip in ter it en see who culd git the mostern. Mammy Lit wuld beat me ober de head en tell me not ter be so greedy en eat it all frum de udders." Barney Alford of Mississippi

"Mrs. Sartin had a long wooden trough constructed just outside the kitchen door in which was placed "pot-likker", milk, and a generous portion of cornbread in a pulverized state. About the middle of the morning Mrs. Sartin would walk to the negro quarters, and have all the little negroes who ranged in age from 1 to 8 rounded up like so many small animals."
Harry Bridges of Pike County, Mississippi

"There was a long trough about a foot deep in Grandma May's house. This she filled with buttermilk and broke up corn bread in it. Each child that was big enough to stand was given a cockle shell to get their something to eat out of the trough." Mollie Edmonds of Mississippi

Andrew was born about 1856 in Mississippi per the census records. In 1870, he was 14 years old living in the household of his father James Gustavus, a farmer. James and his family plus two adult sons and their families were living as neighbors.

1870 Copiah County Census of Gustavus Family

James married Sarah Macon, 30 Apr 1874, in Copiah County. Sarah is probably a second wife and not the mother of Andrew. There is an eight year gap between Andrew and the next child in the household.

Andrew's father, James, was described as a brick mason on the 1880 census. Father and son were neighbors. Andrew was living in the house with his sister Nancy and her children. All members of the family indicated their birthplace was Mississippi. In the previous census, James and Sarah listed their birthplace as South Carolina.

Andrew and his father were both listed on the 1880 agriculture schedule as farmers, both renting the land with their own tools. Andrew rented 25 acres from William L Shelby near Heaths Store in rural Copiah County, Mississippi. Andrew had a mule and horse, 3 calves were born. He raised pigs and chickens. He made 50 lbs of butter, grew corn, cotton, Irish and sweet potatoes. Andrew's farm was productive.

Did Andrew remain a farmer, marry, have a family? To be continue on next post.

Wordless Wednesday Christmas 1920s II

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday
Lawrence Simes 1818-1880

In Memory
Lawrence Simes
There is Rest
In Rockingham Co. Va
April 15, 1818
In Copiah Co. Miss
April 11, 1880
His words were Kindness, his deeds were love
His spirit humble, he rests above.

Buried at Spring Hill Plantation Cemetery
Copiah County, MS

Picture Courtesy of Beverley Ballantine

Obituary of Peggy Sims, Lawrence's Wife

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

52 Weeks #1
Sallie B Williams 1915-2002

I never met Sallie B Williams but her obituary helped to confirm family connections. Two weeks ago a fellow researcher shared with me a picture of Sallie who reminds me so much of my paternal grandmother. This picture was taken on her front porch in Nov 1999, near Hazlehurst, MS. Sallie is my 2nd cousin twice removed.

Sallie's Obituary
Services for Sallie B Williams of Hazlehurst held at Mt Olive MB Church with burial in the church cemetery.

Miss Williams, 86, died Feb 11, 2002, at Hardy Wilson Memorial Hospital. She was born in Copiah County on May 5, 1915, to Hillard Williams and Johnnie Williams. She attended Copiah County schools.

Preceding her in death were her parents; her brothers, H C Williams, Homer Williams, Hillard Williams, Hooker Williams, and Percy Williams; and her sisters, Laura Ellis, Louise Williams, and Carrie Lee Williams.

She is survived by her sister, Virginia Thornbar of New Orleans; and a host of nieces and nephews.

Obituary from Daily Leader Newspaper
Brookhaven, MS
Feb 13, 2002
Photograph courtesy of Beverley Ballantine.
Interview of Sallie B Williams

I am participating in Amy Johnson Crow's, blogger of No Story to Small, Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. "The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor."

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Interview of Sallie B Williams - 1999

The House of Sallie's Childhood

Daughter of Hilliard Williams
Interview: November 1999
Across the road from the entrance to Spring Hill
Present: Carol Murff Oates, Georganne Murff Johnson, Beverley H. Ballantine

Blogger's Comments

Sallie B Williams was the daughter of Hilliard and Johnnie Overton Williams. Sallie was born 05 May 1915 in Copiah County, Mississippi. She died 11 Feb 2002 in Hazlehurst, Copiah County, MS.

The interviewers are the descendants of Peachy Ridgway Taliaferro.

BB: How long have you been living here?

SW: Been livin’ here all my born days.

CO: How old are you?

SW: I’m 83 years old.

SW: Yes’m I knew the Taliaferros. Miss Betty Taliaferro.
Elizabeth "Betty" Macon Rice Taliaferro was the widow of Charles Adams Taliaferro. Betty was born in 1846, died in 1931. Charles' father was Peachy Ridgway Taliaferro, a slave owner of my family.

CO: She must have been pretty old when you knew her.

SW: Miss Pearl – her daughter – Miss Pearl took her out in the automobile. Miss Balmayne, Miss Edwynne (pronounced EdWeen), Miss Fay, and another one named Miss Josephine was the nurse.
The children of Charles and Betty Taliaferro were: Mariella, Bessie Pearl, Balmayne, Sarah Frances, Charles Jr., Edwynne, and Josephine.

CO: That’s right. She went and nursed people’s children for them. And my daddy came as a little boy. He was about – Josie B’s son was Billy Gordon and my daddy was Tolly Murff and he came here and spent his summers, too. He was about Billy Gordon’s age. And her daddy [pointing to Georganne Murff Johnson] was Harvey Murff; he was a little bit younger.

SW: Taliaferro Murff. And then the baby boy was named Harvey. (pronounced Hahvee)

GJ: That was my daddy and they lived down there.

SW: Yeah, they lived down there him and his wife.

BB: What do you remember about any of them?

SW: One of them sold – Miss Balmayne and her sold.

BB: They sold the place.

SW: Sewed. Made different things for people.

BB: Oh, they would sew things with their hands and sewing machine?

SW: Yes, ma’am. Miss Balmayne and Miss Edwynne.

BB: And who did the garden? That was Balmayne, wasn’t it?

SW: Miss Balmayne did the garden.

CO: She won the state contest for that garden.

SW: Yes, she had a garden. She raised chickens and turkeys.

CO: Do you know the Christmas family? There’s another cemetery over there at Spring Hill.
The Christmas family were slaves of Peachy Ridgway Taliaferro on Spring Hill Plantation.

BB: Who are the Christmas people? Why would they be buried over there?
I recognized three Christmas men and a wife named within the probate records of PRTaliaferro. Richard "Dick" valued at $1000 and his wife Leanna valued at $1100, and Albert valued at $1000, given to Peachy's daughter Sarah Frances. Ben valued at $1300 was given to Peachy's eldest son Richard. I believe Ben and Albert were the sons of Dick and Leanna.

SW: They’s buried over there when I was younger.
There are two headstones with the Christmas surname in the Spring Hill Cemetery. Albert and Irene Christmas's daughter Arlosia E born 1878, died 1901; and Ben Christmas born 1841, died 1889.

CO: Did they live on Spring Hill?

SW: Un-uh. They lived on their own place, but buried over there. Spring Hill was they family cemetery.

BB: For the Christmas. Was there ever a Dick Christmas?
Yes, Dick Christmas was named in PRTaliaferro's probate records. Richard Christmas served with the 5th Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery. Ben Christmas served with the 50th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry. Albert Christmas served as a body servant to Calvit Roberts who was a son-in-law of PRTaliaferro.

SW: I don’t know. There could’a been.

BB: One of the stories was that during the war times, the civil war times, that Dick Christmas buried the silver in the pond. Nobody told you anything about that?

SW: No, nobody told me anything about it.

CO: Can you come and sit down? Are you gettin’ tired?

[We all sit down and BB goes to get camera]

CO: Did your daddy build this house?

SW: No, he didn’t build this house.

CO: Whose house was this?

SW: This was a lady that he stayed with. His uncle’s house.

CO: What was his name – the uncle’s name?

SW: John Demise. And his wife was named Virginia Demise [voice too far away]. This old house my momma stayed when she was a girl. Her mother raised my momma. [Voice too far away – but she says something about grandaughter.
John Demyers was the son of Tom and Peggy Demyers. John was born about 1839. He married Virginia Williams/Taylor. Virginia was born about 1850 to Hardenia Williams. John and Virginia raised Johnnie Overton, Sallie's mother. I don't know the names of Johnnie's parents. Johnnie was first seen in the Demyers' house in 1900 as a 15 year old.

CO: She raised her own grandchild as her daughter.

SW: And my daddy come in - and his uncle made him stay here he’s out runnin’ off on they momma. He didn’t like his stepdaddy. He’d see him in the road and my daddy’d say he made us come Come in here, come in here you naughty boy. Go yonder and ask my wife if she got
Hilliard Williams was Sallie's father. Hilliard was born about 1864 to John Weldon Williams and Emma Demyers. By 1900, Hilliard is in John T Demyers' household and thereafter. John T Demyers was Hilliard's uncle.

CO: So that’s the way your mother and your daddy got to know each other?

SW: And they got married.
Hilliard Williams and Johnnie Overton married 18 Dec 1901 in Copiah County, MS.

CO: And a few years later they got married.

SW: She wouldn’t let ‘em move out of the house. She told ‘em, no you ain’t carryin’ my daughter no where. Her daughter she raised
The couple did remain in the home per the census records. John Demyers died between December 1909 - April 1910. He left one third of his property to his nephew Hilliard who he said he loved as a son.

CO: If you’re going to marry, you’re going to live here, hunh? That’s a pretty old tree. That’s been around a while.

SW: That’s a pecan tree. My daddy put them pecan trees in and Miss Pearl. Miss Pearl Taliaferro ordered trees and had him help her set ‘em out and so she [voice too far away].

CO: Her daddy built it. [don’t know what – something about a little house] [voices garbled - too far away] We have an aerial photo taken from an airplane about 1920 or 1930 and maybe you can look at that and tell us what was what. There are several structures on it, but we didn’t really know what was what.
[At this point only Carol’s voice can be heard. She asks about the pecan trees and if they give Ms. Williams a good crop. She asks who built the new house across the street (answer may be niece’s daughter) Does she come over and see about you?

SW: They ain’t moved out there yet. [a lot of conversation that can’t be heard] Now you’ve got people living here with you.

SW: Yes. [too far away] GJ: Who owned that land where they built the house

End of Transcription

How does Sallie connect to my family tree?
My 2nd great grandmother Alice Demyers Overton Usher's sister
Emma Demyers Williams's son
Hilliard Williams had a daughter, Sallie B Williams

Albert Christmas Confederate Pension Application
Ben Christmas Federal Pension Records
Copiah County Marriage Records
Copiah County Probate Records of Peachy Ridgway Taliaferro
Interview Contributed by Beverley Ballantine
Obituary of Sallie B Williams
Research Notes of Beverley Ballantine
Research Notes of Suzanne Brown
Richard Christmas Federal Pension Records

You might be interested in these posts:
Affidavit in the Case of Harriet Christmas, Ben Christmas' Wife
Copiah County Body Servants List
John T Demyers' Will
Virginia of Somerset Plantation

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Isaiah Demyers, First Born Son

A pecan tree on the land where Isaiah lived.
Photograph courtesy of Beverley Ballantine, Nov 1999

The name Isaiah means "the salvation of the Lord," He was the first born son of parents recently freed. I wonder if the parents knew the meaning of the name. Isaiah was born about 1867 in Copiah County, Mississippi.

His parents were John T Demyers and Virginia Williams/Taylor. Isaiah's father John lived next door to Hezekiah George David Brown per the 1870 census, a slave owner of the family. I believe the Demyers family was first owned by Peachy R Taliaferro. After HGDBrown's marriage to Peachy's daughter Mary Peachy Taliaferro, my family was split and some members went to live on HGDBrown's Lucky Hit Plantation. Isaiah's mother Virginia was a slave on the neighboring Edwin Burnley's Somerset Plantation.

The Demyers' household was filled with people. The couple raised the children of John's deceased sister and two sets of grandchildren. Census records described nephews/nieces and grandchildren as sons and daughters. Isaiah had five siblings but I am sure of only three of their names: Amanda, John Jr., and Dora and the other two may be Henry and Willie.

Isaiah, 10 years old, was listed on the 1878 Copiah Educable Children Lists. Per the census records he could read and write.

John and Virginia Demyers, Isaiah's parents purchased 200 acres of land in Copiah County from S. Kemp in 1890. Isaiah lived with his parents for much of his life

Isaiah married Lizzie Bonner 22 Dec 1887. By the 1900 census, the couple was divorced. Lizze was living alone and Isaiah was in his parent's household. The census record said Lizzie had two children, one living.

Matilda Stackhouse Matthews was living a few doors from Isaiah. She was the widow of Charles Matthews with a young daughter, Maybelle. Matilda and Isaiah married during the Christmas holidays, 24 Dec 1902. The couple had four children: Ellison, Dora, Josephine, and Eula Mae.

The patriarch of the family, John T Demyers, died between December 1909 and April 1910. Per John's 1909 will, he left one third of his property to his only surviving child Isaiah. Isaiah would enjoy the fruits of his parents' labor for just a few years. He died in 1916 of pneumonia.

How does Isaiah connect to my family tree?
My 2nd great grandmother Alice Demyers Overton Usher's brother
John T Demyers had a son who was Isaiah Demyers.

Death Certificate for Isaiah Demyers