Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Sheriff's House

Pictured above is the Sheriff's House in Fulton as it was being torn down during the 1960s. This residence housed the sheriffs of Itawamba County. The last sheriff to live in the house was Walter Wood (term of office - 1924 to 1928). The 19th Century structure stood at the present-day site of the parking lot of the Fulton Home Center on Main Street (old Piggly Wiggly and Walker's Big Star building).

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Birthday Cake and Radio Flyer

Margarita Cauthern Thompson with her Radio Flyer wagon on her third birthday (notice the birthday cake on the wagon). This photograph was taken in the Third District of Itawamba County in the Van Buren Community. She is the daughter of Elvin and Dot Brown Cauthern, granddaughter of Fonzo and Minnie Lee Gardner Cauthern and great grand daughter of Francis Marion and Nancy Neal Galloway Cauthern early Itawamba County pioneers who came to Itawamba County prior to 1860. A special thanks to Margarita Cauthern Thompson for sharing this special photograph with the readers of Itawamba History Review.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Blue Skies Return to Itawamba

Yesterday before sunset I had to snap a photo of the parting clouds over Itawamba County. For the past three weeks, we have had rain and damp weather. Many folks have recorded well over a foot of rain - five times the monthly normal. Thanks to Canadian high pressure that has finally entered the region, we're promised several days of low humidity and evening temperatures in the upper 40s and high daytime temperatures in the 70s. And we're finally getting to see sunshine! Many welcome this beautiful autumn weather.

B-Sharp Music Club in 1922

Pictured are the members of the B-Sharp Music Club during 1922 at Itawamba Agricultural High School. The president was Maurine GAither, vice-president Capitola Brown and Secretary-Treasurer was Ruth Howard. Pictured (front row left to right): Maurine Gaither, Corrine Ballard, Miss Irene McMullin (teacher), Edith Lay, Pearl Graham. (Back Row left to right): Hautie Page, Eva Crouch, Ruth Howard, Odell Pearce, Beatrice Senter, Capitola Brown, Utrinka Collum.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sitting on a Log

Pictured are four young men during 1918. Left to right are: Allie Loden, Fred G. Martin, William Ezel "Zeke" Sheffield (son of Early Jasper and Nancy Lorena Wood Sheffield), Dr. Troy Sheffield. The scene was photographed in the Dorsey community.

Friday, September 25, 2009

An Old Homestead on the Aberdeen & Jacinto Public Road

About thirty years ago I took this photo of the old Hugh and Eliza Gregory house on the old Aberdeen and Jacinto Road north of Walton Cemetery. Located at an old crossroads this home was of log construction. The old home was torn down not long after the photograph was taken.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

In the Grove at White Springs Resort

A political gathering at the old White Springs Resort between Smithville and Fulton near the Tombigbee River ca. 1900. White Springs was one of Itawamba County's earliest resorts and was established well before the Civil War. At one time there was a hotel and cabins near the old mineral springs. Click photo for larger view.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

2009 Historic Natchez Conference Slated for October 8-10

The 2009 Historic Natchez Conference will be held in Natchez October 8-10 and shares the title of the Smithsonian traveling exhibit, Journey Stories, which will be a feature of the conference. The exhibit is produced in cooperation with the Mississippi Humanities Council and co-sponsored by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institution of Southern Jewish Life and the Historic Natchez Foundation.

The Historic Natchez Conference, with all sessions being free of charge, fosters the study, preservation, and appreciation of the history of the Natchez region by providing a forum for established scholars, graduate students, archivists and the general public to share research, resources and ideas. The Conference continues its tradition of highlighting the role of archival collections in researching and interpreting the history of the American South.

The conference is an outgrowth of the Adams County Courthouse Records Project, a public records preservation and research program initiated in 1992 by California State University, Northridge, and the Historic Natchez Foundation, with major funding and assistance provided by the Natchez National Historical Park. Graduate students serve as interns in a comprehensive summer program involving conservation, research, and interpretation of multiple manuscript sources. Most of the student papers presented at the conference are products of that program.

For more information about the conference, including the complete program, visit the conference website.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Tour of the Itawamba Historical Society Facilities in Mantachie: Part 5

Editor's Note: Terry Thornton, a member of the society's board of directors, has been giving a tour of the society's facilities in Mantachie over the past few days through text and photographs. Below is the fifth and final part of his tour.

In one of the areas of the museum still to be developed is stored part of an auditorium's canvas stage cloth or a theatrical backdrop of painted cloth (pictured above) --- with many of the local hand-painted advertising signs on the canvas still as bright and as colorful as ever. I was charmed by the painted ads --- and hope that the museum will determine a way to display this large piece so that others may enjoy it. The theatrical backdrop was done after 1922 if information from the ad pictured above is correct and once hung on the stage in the Mantachie School auditorium.

No museum with a collection of artifacts from early rural America would be complete without a spinning wheel. The Bonds House Museum has a spinning wheel upon which no doubt countless hours of spinning produced countless miles of yard. These devices so necessary to households just a few generations ago have always fascinated me.

Large metal pots for outside and fireplace use are displayed at the Museum. The small cooking pot on the bottom shelf far left is commonly called a "spider" and was used for hearth cooking over many decades in the history of the nation. The little three-legged pot could be used in the fireplace for cooking everything from stews and soups to chickens and dumplings or even used for baking. One of the items on my "bucket list" is to bake biscuits on the hearth using a spider. First I've got to get a hearth.

The artistry in this quilt is both pleasing to the eye and inspiring. That so many small pieces of fabric could be cut and assembled by hand-piecing into all these various elements and then combined into a quilt top was a labor of love for someone years ago. Then the quilter(s) took over and fashioned a quilt from that top using thousands of small quilting stitches to join the top, the batting, and the lining together --- and those lines of stitches added even more to the overall pattern and geometry of the work. This quilt is charming.

At the Museum are displayed a variety of tools and metal artifacts --- from broad axes to horseshoes to a set of scales and the peas used to measure weights as well as dozens of other items. The object at the top right of this pictures is commonly called a set of "cotton scales" and was used to weight cotton as it was picked and collected for ginning. The scale had two surfaces upon which to measure weights --- one side of the scale required a small "pea" (shown hanging from the scale) to determine fairly light objects. The opposite side of the scale required a larger "pea" (shown just below the scale) to measure heavier loads. The scale had a top hook which could be attached to a secure limb or timber and the object to be weighed could be attached to the scale's bottom hook. Both are visible in this picture.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Tour of the Itawamba Historical Society Facilities in Mantachie: Part 4

Editor's Note: Terry Thornton, a member of the society's board of directors, will be giving a tour of the society's facilities in Mantachie over the next several days through text and photographs. Below is part four of his tour.

The Bonds House Museum has a variety of every-day objects used by earlier residents of Itawamba County. From high-topped lace-up ladies shoes to textiles of many differing types, the museum offers a up-close look at objects from our past.

Lovely shoes from yester-year could make a fashion statement even today are shown above.

Although the Bourland Family was in Itawamba County by 1836, it is not known when or where this textile treasure (shown below) was produced. Hand woven of various dyed threads, the Bourland coverlet is an excellent example of weaving and dying. The un-dyed background threads are probably cotton and the colored threads are probably wool --- blue dye was often made from Indigo and the resulting color was named "Indigo blue" whereas the red is called "Madder red" which was obtained from a dye extracted from the berries of the Madder plants (Common, Wild, or Indian Madder). Of course other plants may have provided the pigment for the red dye used in this coverlet.

This type of bed cover was sometimes called a "coverlid." In most cases, coverlids were woven on a simple overshot loom using solid colored or un-dyed cotton threads with dyed woolen threads. When linen threads were used instead of cotton and woven with wool threads, the resulting fabric was called "linsey-woolsey" which is often of finer threads than those used in coverlids.

It would be most interesting to hear a textile expert's assessment of this coverlid, to learn the types of thread from which it is woven, and to hear an explanation of the probable source of the dyes used in its manufacture.

Many homes throughout the South had a reed pump organ (shown below) in the parlor. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, salesmen traveled over the nation selling parlor organs on an installment plan. One such organ's paperwork (original contract and receipts for all of the monthly payments) was the subject of part of the first Internet article I ever researched and posted. That organ is probably similar in style and price as this one pictured from the Bonds House Museum.

That research showed that in December 1909, the Walls family of Kentucky contracted with R.J. Bowen and Brothers, Pianos and Organs, Winston-Salem, N.C., to purchased a Putnam Organ style 650 No 46211 for $65.00. The Walls agreed to pay $10.00 down and $15.00 every three months until paid in full. The Walls paid a total of $67.30 for their parlor organ --- and made the final quarterly payment of $12.30 on February 23, 1911. Here is that article called "Miss Lizzie's Trunk" (in three parts).

Although I don't know the company nor the seller of the parlor organ pictured from the Bonds House Museum, I have little doubt that it sold for about the same price as the one studied in Kentucky. More research is needed on the Itawamba County Mississippi parlor organ.

According to Marilyn Leary, the Society's Librarian and tour guide at the Museum, this large wall hanging of painted cloth showing the many flags of the Confederate States of America (shown below) is one of the most studied objects in the collection. Marilyn identified this item as being in the top three most discussed and viewed by visitors to the museum. This photograph does not show all of the flags or the labels in a readable size --- but many visitors to the Bonds House Museum will find the parade of Confederate flags of interest.

The Great Seal of The Confederate States of America (shown above) is also displayed at the museum. A large image of the Seal of the Confederacy in color shows George Washington on horseback surrounded by a wreath of plants. Those featured plants are Southern crops --- cotton, tobacco, sugar cane, corn, and wheat. The motto, Deo Vindice, means Under God, Our Vindicator. February 22 is the day of Washington's birth and the date when Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as President of the Confederate States of America.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Tour of the Itawamba Historical Society Facilities in Mantachie: Part 3

Editor's Note: Terry Thornton, a member of the society's board of directors, will be giving a tour of the society's facilities in Mantachie over the next several days through text and photographs. Below is part three of his tour.

One of the most interesting artifacts I found at the Bonds House Museum was a Friendship Quilt from the early 1930s. That quilt brought back memories of numerous ones I recall my mother and my classmates' mothers making as fund-raisers when I attended Hatley Elementary School in nearby Monroe County in the 1940s.

At Hatley School, a quilt block pattern would be sent home to each student's mother who would piece together one quilt square from her fabric scraps and add names or other embellishments. The squares would be gathered up and sewn together to make a quilt top and the quilt top assembled with a batting of carded cotton and a lining. The quilt would be placed into a quilt frame and whoever was in charge of the friendship project would call a quilting bee. Numerous hands would then quilt the top, batting, and lining together using tiny delicate quilting stitches that were most often arranged in amazing geometric patterns. When the entire quilt was quilted, the raw edges were bound with a binding material, usually thin strips of bias cut fabric which matched the top. When finished the quilt would be raffled off and the proceeds used in a well-received fund-raiser for the school.

Such activities were also done to raise money for church projects or for other community projects.

But the Friendship Quilt at the Bonds House Museum is more than just an example of this genre of quilts --- it is a historical document. The museum's quilt was made in the 1930s by members of the Mantachie Methodist Episcopal Church South. For ten cents, residents could pay to have their name embroidered into the quilt which was raffled off. Funds were raised in two ways --- the selling of chances to win the quilt and by the ten-cents-per name charge for those who wished to have their name on a quilt.

And in the process, the Friendship Quilt of Mantachie is a historical document of names written in embroidery on cotton fabric of numerous local residents from about eighty years ago. Below are photographs of a section of the quilt followed by a close-up picture of one of the quilt squares.

I did a quick census search for the six names shown in the image above using the Lee-Itawamba County Library's access to Heritage Quest. Here is a summary of what I found:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Ezra Sandlin: Listed on the 1920 Itawamba County Census as living in Cardsville, Beat 3. In the household are Ezra, a farmer age 26 born in Mississippi and his wife Mary A. Sandlin age 21 born in Mississippi.

  • C.B. Camp: Could this be Charles B. Camp listed in the 1910 census of nearby Monroe County Mississippi? More research is needed rather than just a quick look for C.B. Camp.

  • A.S. Kirksey: Listed on the 1910 Mantachie Precinct on Cotton Gin and Marietta Road. In the household are A.S., farmer age 37 born Mississippi; his wife Mollie age 30; son Gordon age 10; daughter Vivian age 8; son Kermit age 6; son Elvin age 4; and daughter Burnice age 3/12ths all born in Mississippi.

  • Ronald Pearce and Ruby Pearce --- I could not sort out the Pearce family of Itawamba County using just a quick search at Heritage Quest. More research is needed.

  • Rev. A. E. Sandlin: Listed on the 1920 Cardsville Beat 3 Census of Itawamba County as Augustus E. Sandlin, farmer age 59; wife Margaret E. age 64; daughter Allie J. age 30; granddaughter Ann Nell age 8; and grandson Bradford age 6 all born in Mississippi.

I cannot image the wealth of family history this quilt can tell --- and I hope to get permission from the Itawamba Historical Society to inventory and publish all of the names on the quilt.

Friendship quilts are treasures especially when they contain so many names as the one at the Bonds House Museum.

Remember that the Bonds House Museum is located at the corner of Church Street and Museum Drive in Mantachie, Mississippi. The museum is open to the public free of charge Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Tour of the Itawamba Historical Society Facilities in Mantachie: Part 2

Editor's Note: Terry Thornton, a member of the society's board of directors, will be giving a tour of the society's facilities in Mantachie over the next several days through text and photographs. Below is part two of his tour.

In typical farm-house design, the Bonds House has porches. The shade of the porches, abundant windows, high ceilings, large attic, and shiny metal roof helped cool the house in those years prior to electric fans and other cooling devices.

The foyer of the Bonds House Museum viewed through the front screen door creates a muted image of Marilyn Leary, Society Librarian who was the Guide on this tour of the house.

One of the most interesting artifacts in the collection is the Itawamba County jail door from 1852. This iron jail door was in use from 1852 through 1937. It now hangs in the Bonds House Museum.

"The Times" art deco metal sign that once adorned The Itawamba Times building in Fulton since the 1940s now graces one of the walls in the museum's Delmus Harden Archives. The Itawamba County Times continues to be published as "the only newspaper in the world that cares anything about Itawamba County"!

Several printer trays and old-fashioned newspaper block "print/type" are found in the Harden Archives at the museum. I was interested in the two exclamation marks shown below.

Vintage typewriters are also displayed in the museum.

Monthly Program Meeting Slated for Tuesday Evening, September 15

On Tuesday evening, September 15, the Itawamba Historical Society will hold its regular monthly program meeting. The special program will be a presentation by Thomas Childs on the water springs of northeast Mississippi’s hill country. Childs is a long-time attorney in Itawamba County and served as the Board of Supervisors attorney for several years. He was also a member of the faculty at Itawamba Community College. An active community leader for many years, he was elected by the citizens of Itawamba County as Citizen of the Year. He owns a mineral springs in neighboring Tishomingo County where he has manufactured and marketed bottled spring water.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the George Poteet History Center with a light dinner followed by the program. The public is invited to attend. The George Poteet History Center is located at the corner of Church Street and Museum Drive in Mantachie.

A Tour of the Itawamba Historical Society Facilities in Mantachie

Editor's Note: Terry Thornton, a member of the society's board of directors, will be giving a tour of the society's facilities in Mantachie over the next several days through text and photographs. Below is part one of his tour.

The Itawamba County Mississippi Historical Society maintains its office, library, and facilities in Mantachie. One of the Society's greatest treasures is the historic Bonds House. Built about 1892, the house served the family of Andrew Bonds who was a merchant and the first mayor of Mantachie. Inside the Bonds House is the Museum of the Itawamba County Historical Society.

The museum is presented in various areas of the house which have the following designations:

  • The James Grissom Foyer (photographs and artifacts from early Mantachie post offices)
  • The Delmus Harden Archives (with emphasis on the county newspaper, The Itawamba County Times, and the Harden family)
  • The George W. Owens Archives (features numerous 19th century artifacts)
  • The Itawamba Historical Society Archives Collection (in three other areas of the house are more than 1,000 additional artifacts from the county's past including Chickasaw Indian artifacts; emphasis on the county's rural history and heritage)

On the lawn of the Bonds House Museum is a gazebo with benches and table and a double swing.

Next door to the Bonds House Museum is the George Poteet Center which houses the Gaither Spradling Library and offices of the Itawamba County Historical Society as well as the Gordon McFerrin Theatre. A full-service kitchen and offices are included within the building. The Historical Society meets at the George Poteet Center on the third Tuesday of each month except December.

The Center, the Bonds House Museum, the Library, and the Society's Offices are open to the public each Tuesday through Friday, 10 AM until 3 PM and at other times by appointment. The Society may be reached by telephone at (662) 282-7664 or by mail at PO Box 7, Mantachie, MS 38855.

In the following four articles are some views from inside the museum --- a few of the fascinating artifacts from Itawamba County's heritage are highlighted in photographs. You are invited on this brief tour of the Bonds House Museum --- and you are invited to visit the museum and the Society's facility at Mantachie. While you are there why not look into membership in the Itawamba County Historical Society? It is one of the largest and oldest county societies in the Hill Country.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Muscadine Harvesting in Itawamba County

Muscadine picking is in full swing in Itawamba County, Mississippi this weekend. This wonderful wild grape's vines hang from the towering trees with the fallen fruit staining the county roads. For generations muscadines mean tasty jellies and jams, hot and buttery cobblers and delicious wine.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wagon Train Out of the River Lowlands

Pictured above is the lead wagon of a wagon train hauling timber out of the Tombigbee River bottomlands on the Fulton & Pontotoc Road (later Bankhead Highway and US Hwy 78)to the sawmill in Fulton. This photograph was taken ca. 1910. Click photo for larger resolution image.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The River Port on a Hot Summer's Day

The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway at Fulton is seen on a hot summer's day. The scene was photographed at Port Itawamba looking south towards the John Elliott Rankin Memorial Bridge.

Fall Issue of Itawamba Settlers Goes to Press

The Fall 2009 issue of Itawamba Settlers is set to be delivered to the printers tomorrow. This issue of the magazine contains several articles relating to Itawamba County, Mississippi history and genealogy. The quarterly 56-page magazine is mailed to the current membership of the society, including more than thirty libraries. For information about joining the society and receiving this quarterly publication, visit the society's website at www.itawambahistory.org. Articles in the Fall 2009 issue include the following:

Beauty's Grave
Cantrell Family Research
Judge William H. Elliott Biography
S.B. Lane Biography
James W. Reagan Biography
William Reagan Biography
Richard J. Reeves Biography
Francis White Biography
A Cauthern Family Portrait
William Doric Tynes Biography
Ruth Boren Photograph
1936 Centerville School Photograph
Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church Minutes
Dr. Sam Nabor's House Photograph
Itawamba County News Abstracts: 1911
A History of Fulton Methodist Church
A History of the Tombigbee Association
A History of the Judson Association
George W. Grissom and His Mule: 1917
Police Court Minutes: 1867