Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Bearden Widow Sought Justice

Sheriff Is Defendant in Unusual Lawsuit

Biloxi, June 1.-(AP)

One of the most interesting damage suits on the docket of the federal court, which opens here Monday, and the first of its kind filed here, is that of Jeannie Mae Bearden, her mother-in-law and her children, against Martin Brister, sheriff of Lincoln county, and the U. S. Fidelity and Guaranty Co., surety on his bond, in which plaintiffs seek $10,000 damages for the killing of Stanley Bearden, head of the household by a mob in Brookhaven, June 28, 1928.

It is alleged the killing was due to the negligence and misfeasance of the sheriff.

The case resulted in a nonsuit after the plaintiffs, before trial, announced they desired this step to be taken.

Nonsuit is a ruling by the judge in a lawsuit either when the plaintiff (the party who filed the suit) does not proceed to trial at the appointed time or has presented all his/her/its evidence and, in the judge's opinion, there is no evidence which could prove the plaintiff's case. A nonsuit terminates the trial at that point, and results in a dismissal of the plaintiff's case and judgment for the defendant.

Daily Clarion Ledger
Jackson, Mississippi
Sunday Morning, June 2, 1929
Page 1
Microfilm Number: 28876
Microfilm found at Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Encyclopedia of American Law:
nonsuit. (n.d.) West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. (2008). Retrieved August 31 2016 from

Thank You, Nona

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Denounce Lynching
Chamber of Commerce Goes on Record as Opposed to Mob Violence

An argument over a debt of six dollars between James Bearden and Caby Brynes quickly escalated, ending in the deaths of two brothers, James and Stanley Bearden who were lynched by mob violence on 29 Jun 1928, in Brookhaven, Mississippi.

Caby Byrnes was born`22 Jul 1897, son of William Reese Byrne and Laura Criscoe, all Mississippians. He and his family remained in Brookhaven after the lynchings. Caby was the proprietor of an auto repair shop, his wife Mary Ford Byrne was the bookkeeper for the business. The couple had at least two children, Virginia and Caby, Jr. The senior Caby died 16 Sep 1955 and is buried in the Rosehill Cemetery, Brookhaven, MS.

The following paragraph was published in the second printing of the local newspaper since the lynching of the brothers. There is nothing like green power, money, to make folk repentant.

W. D. Davis, the President (Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce) referred to the terrible affair of June 29, when the law was trampled under foot. He spoke of the affair with feeling, both of the deed itself and its consequences on the actors themselves, on society and on the good name of the county for law and order.

The 1930 and 1940 Federal Censuses for Lincoln County, MS
Findagrave - Rosehill Cemetery
The Lincoln County Times
Brookhaven, Mississippi
Thursday July 12, 1928
Page 6

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

Mob Violence Results in Death
of Two Negroes Friday Night

Brookhaven, Mississippi

Two negroes, Stanley and James Bearden, brothers were taken from the Lincoln county jail early Friday night and lynched.

There had been threats of the impending action throughout the afternoon and the sheriff, failing in his efforts to secure a guard of militia, had under him only a handful of deputies who were unable to offer any effective resistance to the large and well armed mob. No shots were fired by the officers defending the jail, only pleas and some physical resistance being offered. Starting at about dusk, and despite the pleading of several of the city's most respected and worthy citizens, among others, Rev. P. D. Hardin, W. D. Davis, Hon. J. A. Naul and Hon. T. Brady, Jr., the mob worked about an hour on the door of the jail, to which the sheriff refused to turn over the keys, and finally came out with two negroes, one of whom they soon discovered was not wanted. They then returned and managed to find the other, James Bearden, who was hiding in the rafters of the jail.

Both negroes were then taken to the Old Brook Bridge and James, in the sight of his brother, was strung to a small nearby tree and shot to death. Stanley was then taken back to Brookhaven and dragged through the streets of the city and through the negro quarters by a truck which was followed by a possession of other automobiles. Leaving the city the party proceeded several miles north and hung what was left of the mutilated body of Stanley Bearden to another tree.

Parts of the large crowd of men, women and children who had gathered at the courthouse to see the lynching followed the cars either to Old Brook or to the point north of town, and viewed the indescribably revolting spectacles to be found at those places.

A short while afterward the bodies were taken in charge by Hartman's undertaking establishment and brought back to Brookhaven, preceding which an inquest was held. The corners jury, composed of B. B. Boyt, E. P. Martin, J. C. Martin, George Stanley, R. C. Douglass and Tom Crawford, pronounced James Bearden dead from gunshot wounds inflicted by parties unknown and Stanley Bearden dead from being dragged behind an auto driven by persons unknown.

James Bearden, whose wife died about a week before his lynching, is survived by one child and Stanley is survived by a wife and two children.

The trouble which lead to the lynching commenced late Friday morning when Caby Byrnes insisted on payment of a $6 bill which James Bearden owed him. Mr Byrnes had tackled Bearden for the bill earlier in the day and Bearden had promised to see about it right away. After awhile he returned followed in a few moments by his brother Stanley. In discussing the bill further it is understood that Bearden became extremely imprudent whereupon Mr. Byrnes hit him in the face with his fist.

In the meantime, Byrnes, who happened to be passing near, noticed that his brother was in danger and rushing to the scene hit James Bearden with the flat side of a shovel just after the negro struck Caby Byrnes on the head with a piece of iron, knocking him to the ground. Stanley Bearden then got into the fight and opened fire on Claude Byrnes, one bullet striking him in the shoulder and another piercing one leg breaking the bone and entering the other.

Deputy Sheriff Charles Brister who reached the scene just then, arrested James Bearden without much trouble and took a shot at Stanley Bearden as he made escape through the back of the repair shop in front of which the fight occurred. Archie Smith and Alfred Day, at their work in a barber shop near by, came out during the shooting to assist the Byrnes's in their fight with the negroes with the result that Stanley Bearden fired a shot at both of them, luckily with bad aim.

After making his escape through the back of the shop a crowd chased him up the railroad several blocks until he turned and ran to his home near the Cotton Oil Mill. During the chase several persons started to head the fleeing negro off but were dissuaded by the sight of the automatic pistol he was flourishing and firing.

After the crowd arrived at Bearden's house volley after volley of bullets were exchanged between the officers and the fugitive until the latter weak from wounds was brought from the house, gun still in hand. He was rushed to the county jail where Dr. Frizell, after examination, stated that despite five wounds he was not desperately hurt.

How do the brothers connect to my family tree?
The brothers are not related to me but their family does connect to my family tree.
N Z Robinson's first wife was Essie Bearden, a sister to the brothers.
N Z Robinson's second wife was Ada Elnora Markham.
Ada's father was John Markham, a brother to my grandmother, Alice Markham Marshall.

Article transcribed from The Lincoln County Times, Brookhaven, Mississippi
Thursday, July 5, 1928, Page 1
Microfilm Number 30703
Microfilm found at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Actual Newspaper Article

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

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Bearden Brothers
Deaths by Mob Violence

The horror of the brothers' deaths first came to my attention from this blog post, A Brookhaven, Mississippi, Lynching, where the author shares his father's memories of the lynching. I had not heard of the lynching but was curious to learn more about the two brothers.

They were the sons of John Bearden and Doshia/Dosie/Docie McGowan. Both brothers were born and raised in Lincoln County, Mississippi. The family roots were also in Lawrence and Pike counties, MS.

A detailed newspaper article of the brothers' death will follow this post.

James Bearden

James was born, 10 Feb 1903. He is not seen in the census records with his parents under the name James. I suspect he may be known as Pearlie by family. He could not read or write, worked on the farm his father owned and for Samuel Abrams who owned a grocery store. In 1910, he was 8 years of age; 1920, 18 years. He married Eliza Robins, daughter of Will Robins, in 1923. She died, 18 Jun 1928, a few days prior to her husband's death of tuberculosis of the lungs. The couple had one child.

James owed Caby Byrnes a $6 bill, which is what sparked that day's event. James died, in front of his brother Stanley, from gun shots wounds, supposedly by parties unknown.

Stanley Bearden

Stanley was born 03 Dec 1903. Like his brother, he could not read or write and worked on his father's farm and for Samuel Abrams who owned a grocery store. Per the 1910 census records, he was listed as 7 years of age; in the 1920, 16 years. He married Jinnie Mae Banks in 1924. The couple had at least 2 children. Stanley, Jr., was born premature, died the same day he was born in 1926. The couple's daughter Willa Mae was born in 1925, she reached adulthood, died in 1992.

James and Stanley returned to discuss the debt with Byrnes. James was "extremely imprudent" to Byrnes who then hit James in the face with his fist. Fights between the Bearden and Byrnes brothers resulted in Stanley being dragged on the ground at the rear end of a car to his death, again supposedly by parties unknown.

What happen to the family after the brothers' deaths.

The family left Lincoln County after the deaths. Per the 1930 census records, the brothers' father John Bearden was deceased. Their mother Docia was living in LaSalle Parish, Louisiana, with her sons Ogey and Estus. Docia was living with son Estus, in 1940, Hattiesburg, Forrest County, Mississippi. Docie was alive in 1954, living in Hattiesburg.

Marriages of John and Docia Bearden's Children

Ogey J Bearden married Josie May Smith - 20 Mar 1920
Essie Bearden married N Z Robinson - 03 Apr 1922
Minnie Bearden married C F Adams - 24 Feb 1923
James Bearden married Eliza Robins - 07 Mar 1923
Stanley Bearden married Jiinnie Banks - 10 Jul 1924
Estus Bearden married Anna Banks - 14 Nov 1925
Lentille Bearden married Henry Gearing - 26 Aug 1926

How do the brothers connect to my family tree?
The brothers are not related to me but their family does connect to my family tree.
N Z Robinson's first wife was Essie Bearden, a sister to the brothers.
N Z Robinson's second wife was Ada Elnora Markham.
Ada's father was John Markham, a brother to my grandmother, Alice Markham Marshall.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Mary Wears a Hat

Daughter of James & Anna Culver Markham
Wife of Jay Lively & Wallace Young

Mary was born 26 May 1900. The 1900 census records her as a 1 month old baby in the household of her parents, James and Anna Markham, with older brother James Monroe. They were living in Caseyville near Mary's grandparents Monroe and Mary Markham, uncle Grant Markham and other relatives. They were still in the same community by 1920. The family had grown to include Mary and her siblings: James Monroe, Asriah, Bessie, Elizabeth, Theodosia, and Alberta.

The 1930 household of Mary's parents were reduced by three. Asriah died of a accidental gunshot wound on 1 Apr 1923. Mary and brother James Monroe were a part of the Great Migration. The two moved to Chicago where James Monroe was a Pullman Porter and 29 years old Mary was a beauty operator, working in a beauty parlor. In Nov 1930, Mary married Jay Lively.

By 1940, Mary and Jay Lively were listed as lodgers in Chicago. Mary continued her career as a beauty operator and Jay was a porter in a department store. Jay died in Dec 1945. Back home in Caseyville, Mary's father had died, and her mother Anna, sister Elizabeth were living on the old homestead. All of the siblings, except Alberta, migrated from Mississippi.

Mary 2nd husband was Wallace Young. At the time of her death, Mary was using the Lively surname. Mary died 27 Mar 1985, in Chicago.

Photograph Courtesy of Marianne Culver

How does Mary connect to my family?
Mary's father, James Markham, and my grandmother Alice Markham Marshall were siblings.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Eudora Markham Coleman's Record of Funeral

Every document we find on our ancestors can provide additional information about their lives and deaths. Grandaunt Eudora "Dora" Coleman died, 27 Sep 1948, at King Daughters Hospital in Brookhaven, MS. She was married to Henry Coleman who was also the informant.

Dora had burial insurance which paid for a third of the funeral cost. She received a complete funeral at a cost of $335. The family paid $210. She received a casket with an engraved plate but because the services were not itemized, I am not sure which of the other items listed were included.

The funeral was held, 03 Oct 1948, on a Sunday afternoon, 2pm, at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Cousin Reverend Frank James Durr was the clergyman.

How does Eudora connect to my family tree?
Eudora Markham Coleman and my maternal grandmother, Alice Markham Marshall, were sisters.