Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thomas Minyard Monument

The Thomas Minyard monument is found in the old Hopewell Baptist Church cemetery in western Itawamba County. Hopewell Baptist Church, located north of the old Keyes Cemetery and east of the old antebellum post office of Woodlawn, was established during the early 1840's. Several old 19th Century roads intersect near the church and during the later 1800's this community and post office was known as Abney.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Mary Francis Underwood Grissom Portrait

Mary Francis Underwood was born March 29,1847, the daughter of Sevier Underwood and Charlotte Yeager (the daughter of Augustine Yeager and Margaret McGlathery). Sevier Underwood and his family were early settlers of Itawamba County settling south of the Natchez Trace in northwestern Itawamba County having come from Morgan County, Alabama.

Sevier Underwood was born May 4, 1806 in Anderson County, Tennessee. He was the son of John and Susanna Underwood. John Underwood served as sheriff of Anderson County, Tennessee from 1801 until 1812. Sevier died in Itawamba County on December 6, 1865. The Underwood’s were early settlers of eastern Tennessee having come across the mountains from North Carolina.

Mary Francis Underwood married Columbus Lafayette Grissom (born June 14, 1848, the son of Henry Grissom and Julia Johnson) in Itawamba County. Mary Frances Underwood, known as Fanny, died in Itawamba County on February 17, 1929 and was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in the Ratliff Community.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Gavel Has Been Silent for 172 Years in Peaceful Valley

One may wonder where Itawamba County’s governmental business took place before the establishment of Fulton during July of 1837, Itawamba county’s seat of government.

On February 9, 1836, the Mississippi Legislature divided the land secured from the Chickasaws into counties. On February 14, 1836, the Legislature appointed commissioners in each of the ten newly created counties to get the counties organized. The commissioners appointed for Itawamba County were James Rowland, William Coats, Lewis Gideon and David Walker. As instructed by the Legislature, these commissioners called for an election and five men were elected: James Spears Bourland, Alfred G. Lane, John Beene, S.S. Spearman and Eliba Allen. These men were known as the Board of Police.

The first Board of Police minute book has been missing for decades but thanks to the Works Progress Administration history project of Itawamba County, that question is easily answered. During the 1930’s, a transcription of the first entry in the first volume of Police Court records was published in those WPA records. These are valuable records from when Itawamba County was basically still a wilderness. Below is a transcript of the first entry from this long-missing first record book:

Itawamba County Board of Police
September Term 1836

Present: Alfred G. Lane, James S. Bourland, John Beene and Samuel S. Spearman, all members of said board. It was thus ordered that the court do now proceed to its organization whereupon James S. Bourland, Esq., was elected president of said board. Ordered by the court than an election be held at the following place on the first Monday and Tuesday in November next to wit: at the store house of Elisha Thomas, at the store of Mr. Thomas for the purpose of electing elders to vote for president and vice-president of the U.S., a judge of probates, a sheriff, a circuit court clerk, coroner, county surveyor, county treasurer and county ranger, and one representative for the county. Ordered that Lewis H. Gideon be appointed clerk pro-tem of this court until there be a clerk election and on the third Monday in October next, meeting again at the house of James S. Bourland.

From reading this first entry it is evident that county business was taking place in the home of James Spears Bourland, west of the Tombigbee River below the yet to be established old river port town of Van Buren. The election mentioned in the above record was held in the store house of Elisha Thomas, who has been listed as one of the first merchants of Van Buren.

The Board of Police were empowered by the Legislature to select the site of county government, which was to be in the center of the county, if a suitable location, and to acquire this location either by purchase or donation.

A deed recorded in Deed Book 1, Page 53, shows that a Chickasaw sold Section 25, Township 9, Range 8 East to Kenneth Clark, John Miller and Robert Miller, land speculators living in adjoining Pontotoc County. They, in turn, donated 50 acres of this land to the Board of Police for the site of county government on July 17, 1837. The new site of county government was named Fulton and by 1838 lots were being sold in this new town and a log court house was built. From late 1837 to the present, Fulton has continously been the county seat of government.

Today the original county seat of government located in the Van Buren-Cardsville area of southwestern Itawamba County, also known as Peaceful Valley, has long been silent. It has been 172 years since the hammering gavel opening the first sessions of the county’s Police Court has been heard in this rural historic river community.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Walk in the Winter Woods

Today is a foggy cool day in Itawamba County, Mississippi. Finishing my chores early, I decided to take a walk in the woods. Walking the steep hills and valleys of Itawamba County is a treat during the winter months. It is amazing the amount of green still coloring the landscape. The dense winter woods are also full of squirrels, birds and deer. My trek into the winter woods on a mild winter's day was a special treat. There's nothing like the solitude of the woods, where the only sounds are those of nature.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Traditional Sounds of the Season

This morning the sounds of the dulcimer are being heard through the halls of the Itawamba County Courthouse.

The mountain dulcimer has an important part in the musical heritage of Itawamba County, one of Mississippi's northeastern hill counties, nestled in the foothills of southern Appalachia.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Dinner at the City Café: 1939

The City Café on the town square in Fulton during 1939 advertised its Christmas Dinner. On the menu was Baked Turkey, Oyster Dressing, Giblet Gravy, English Peas, Celery, Stuffed Olives, Cranberry Sauce, Plum Pudding, Ambrosia, Cake, Milk and Coffee. According to the advertisement the City Café was operated by J.E. Dulaney, Jr., E.O. Hale, Kenneth Hale and Miss Azlee Dulaney.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fulton's First Service Station

The Sinclair station was located south of Main Street at the corner of Main and Clifton streets. The station was operated by Escar Mattox. Pictured above is possibly a 1923 Studebaker automobile at the pumps.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Circus Comes to Town: 1939

A circus advertisement from 1939 advertises the Haag Bros. Circus coming to Fulton on Tuesday, October 10, 1939. The tent was set up near the Fulton Grammar School and two shows were held - a 2 p.m. matinee for school children for fifteen cents and that evening the regular show with tickets costing 25 cents and 50 cents.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter Issue of Membership Quarterly Journal Nearing Completion

The finishing touches are being put on the Winter 2008 issue of Itawamba Settlers magazine, the quarterly membership journal of the Itawamba Historical Society. This issue promises to be an issue packed with Itawamba County, Mississippi history and family information. The 2008 annual index is currently being produced which will be included with the Winter 2008 issue. This edition should be published later this month with the quarterlies being mailed to the 2008 membership shortly thereafter. Included in the Winter 2008 issue are the following items:

Henry Hankins Portrait
Mills-McKay Family of Marietta
F.J. Johnson Biography
John C. Lisenby Biography
Captain W.R. Bounds Biography
The Terry Wiygul Gravestone: Fulton Cemetery
The James Spears Bourland Monument
The Levi Galloway Gravestone in Keyes Graveyard
Lieut. Ezekiel P. Gardner Monument in Bourland Cemetery
Jacob O. Ingle Biography
Itawamba County News Abstracts: 1911
William M. Ewing Biography
Samuel H. Smith Biography
Martha Eudoxie Rayburn Portrait
Nancy Caroline Cockrell Thornberry Portrait
Early Itawamba County Graveyard Monuments
Itawamba County Police Court Minutes: 1866
David William Owen Biography
Arthur C. Horton Biography
Gravestone Iconography
A List of Cemeteries in Itawamba County
Ridge Cemetery in Northeastern Itawamba
George McCanles Portrait
Charles N. Burgess Slave Inventory
Christopher C. Weaver Biography
E.R. Deason Biography
J.M. Duncan Biography
Dr. George W. Martin Biography
Ozark School Group Photograph
A Widow’s Son: The Eugene Clifton Monument
Liberty Cemetery in Southwestern Itawamba County
The Story of Two Civil War Veterans

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Foggy Days

We've been having foggy, damp and cold days and nights lately. Pictured above is the old "tin-man" water tank just off the town square in Fulton on such a foggy cold day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Lone Star Drinking Saloon: 1866

Pictured above are minutes from the Itawamba County Board of Police from February 19th, 1866 licensing the opening of the Lone Star Drinking Saloon in the village of Fulton (click image for larger resolution view.) The minutes read: “On reading and filing the petition of James O. & Wm. Franklin praying a license to retail vinous and spirituous liquors in the house known as the “Lone Star Drinking Saloon” in the town of Fulton in said county, it appearing to the satisfaction of the court that said petition contained the names of a majority of the legal voters of said corporation of Fulton and there being no objections to their granting the same, it is therefore ordered by the court that the prayer of said petitioners be granted on their entering bond as required by the statute and otherwise complying with the laws in such case made and provided.”

During the 1800’s the county Board of Police (present-day Board of Supervisors) was the governing body of the county. This elected body held court each month and their many duties included licensing all types of businesses (taverns, inns, saloons, and ferries).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Remains of the Julia Fielder Oliver Clifton Monument

The remains of the Julia Fielder Oliver Clifton (the daughter of Joseph Oliver, Jr. and Esther Ann Ellis) monument located in the old Fulton Graveyard is located in the Clifton family section of the old cemetery. She was the wife of Itawamba County merchant and planter Wilie D. Clifton. The old monument reads:

Our Mother at Rest
Julia F. Oliver
wife of W.D. Clifton
Born New Bern, N.C.
August 19, 1819
married Willie D. Clifton August 17, 1841
Departed this life at Tupelo, Miss.
December 15, 1879


Monday, December 15, 2008

The Old Bankhead Concrete Highway

A view of the old Bankhead concrete highway is seen looking east toward the Mantachie Creek bottomlands west of Wood Road in western Itawamba County. There are many segments of this old road that can still be traveled in Itawamba County. For further information about this old highway, see the article, The Old Bankhead National Highway Built Through Itawamba County.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Remembering Frugality

The other day I enjoyed a conversation with a local friend. We were discussing our childhoods in Itawamba County, Mississippi and how times have changed – especially in the area of frugality. Both of us were raised in typical middle class homes yet our parents practiced frugality in all aspects of their lives – and that frugality rubbed off on the children. It was simply a time of “waste not –want not” and “a penny saved is a penny earned” type of living.

Times were drastically different growing up in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s around these parts. Most of our parents had survived The Great Depression and through that experience, always knew the value of a dollar and crafty ways to stretch that dollar as far as possible.

It was a time when our moms saved used aluminum foil. Called “tin foil” by the folks in rural northeast Mississippi, the used foil would be rinsed with water, dried, neatly folded and placed in a special drawer in the kitchen. It was a time when every glass jar was saved – from the mayonnaise jar to the pickle jar – those glass containers were washed and put away for future use. The brown paper sacks from the local grocery store were saved. Many of those sacks were cut, opened up, and used as coloring paper for us kids using our Crayola crayons. Kites were made from week-old newspapers and sling-shots were made from a tree branch and rubber from an old auto tire inner tube.

It was a time when kids would collect soda bottles and get paid a penny for each bottle at the local market. Redeeming 100 of those bottles would buy a jumbo bag of plastic toy soldiers at White’s Store in town providing months of entertainment and fun. Thirty-five of those redeemed bottles would buy you a Saturday afternoon matinee double feature at the New Dixie Theater complete with a soda and candy bar.

It was a time of make do with what you had and fix what was torn or broken. Patches on jeans, mended socks, and trips to Tallant’s Shoe Repair Shop with the painted motto on the window greeting visitors with “We don’t preach but we save soles” were a part of everyday small-town life. Everyone in the household was taught when you leave a room, you turn off the light and doing such was just second nature.

It was a time when most everyone had a small garden – even families living in town. Home canning was the norm – not the exception. And nature’s bounty was enjoyed by all. Some of the best eating was wild muscadine jelly, blackberry jam and dried fruits from local apple and peach trees. There was nothing more sumptuous than a grandmother’s warm spicy apple pie made from home-dried apples, taken from the oven and served with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Perhaps it’s time to return a little frugality to our daily lives. Living with that same type of “waste not – want not” attitude that was instilled in us from a simpler era in times past would not be a bad thing in today’s world.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Terry Wiygul Gravestone in the Old Fulton Graveyard

The old Fulton gave yard dates back to the early 1840’s and served as the burial grounds for the town of Fulton throughout the 19th Century. This cemetery contains hundreds of gravestones memorializing many of the early residents of the town. One such monument is the Terry Wiygul gravestone.

Terry Wiygul was born a slave during 1861 in Fulton. Most likely he was a slave of hotel owner, Reuben Wiygul. By 1870 most of the former slaves of Reuben Wiygul were living with Reuben’s son, Tranquilas on his farm just south of town.

Terry Wiygul is found in the 1880 Itawamba County census as living just south of Fulton being enumerated as a laborer with the Lee Stone family. According to Circuit Court records, he married Leanne Stone on September 19, 1886.

In the 1900 census Terry Wiygul (born September 1861) is living in the town of Fulton with his second wife Milly and his two children Hattie and Robert. His occupation is listed as a day laborer. During 1910 he is listed as a farmer on the Fulton and Amory Road and in the same location during 1920 (in his household is his father-in-law, Henry Cummings, aged 70).

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ironwood Bluff Swamp

Ironwood Bluff Road in the southern part of the county was once a busy road connecting Itawamba County lands west of the Tombigbee River with eastern Monroe County and Smithville. Ironwood Bluff was one of the early voting precincts of the county and was abolished by the county Board of Police during 1839. Ironwood Bluff continued being a post office for several years. The Stegall and Burdine families were once prominent families of the community. A ferry was located at Ironwood Bluff on the Tombigbee River and was replaced with an iron bridge by the early 1920's. Today the old road west of the river travels through beautiful bottomland country. Pictured above are cypress knees along this old road west of the river.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

On the Steps of Beauvoir

Members of the Kilpatrick and Yawn families of Fulton pose with relatives on the steps of Beauvoir, the home of Jefferson Davis in Biloxi. This historic home once served as a Confederate veterans’ home. Fannie Lee Limbaugh Yawn served on the board of directors of the old Beauvoir Soldiers’ Home during the 1920’s and Henry Clay Yawn, her husband, served as a state senator and later Mississippi’s State Treasurer. The Kilpatrick family came to Fulton during the early 1920’s from Carrollton, Alabama and were pioneers and developers of the early timber industry in Itawamba County.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Deo Vindice

When I was a kid cast iron markers like the one illustrated above were located all over the cemeteries throughout Itawamba County, but today it is rare to come upon one of these original markers. The iron marker above was photographed earlier this fall in an old remote cemetery of the county.

These markers were originally distributed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to the families of Confederate veterans during the late 1880’s and 1890’s. Hundreds of these markers were sold to United Daughters of the Confederacy, United Confederate Veterans and Sons of Confederate Veterans family members to install on the graves of their departed loved ones who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. These iron markers originally sold for about $12.

They were made of cast iron and attached to an anchor spike. They were hammered into the ground, with the marker resting at ground level. One side of the marker (pictured above) has a laurel wreath and the inscription Deo Vindice (With God As Our Vindicator) and the dates 1861 and 1865.

It was not until 1929, with the passing of Title 38 Chapter 23, Section 2306 by Congress, authorizing the Secretary of War to erect headstones over the graves of soldiers who served in the Confederate Army, that government monuments were generally erected for the Confederate dead. However, earlier during 1906 an act was passed authorizing the furnishing of headstones for the graves of Confederates who died, primarily in Union prison camps and were buried in Federal cemeteries.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Itawamba County's Citizen of the Year: 1951

Pictured is Dr. Fletcher Boren of Mantachie with his wife Beatrice Crawford, receiving Itawamba County's Citizen of the Year Award for 1951. Dr. Fletcher C. Boren was born during 1877, the son of Richard and Elizabeth Boren of the Kirkville community. His wife, Beatrice, was the daughter of Robert and Tempy Crawford. Fletcher C. Boren was a long-time physician of Mantachie, caring for area residents for generations.

Monday, December 8, 2008

An Amber Sunset Over the Town Square

Before leaving the office today on the town square in Fulton, I noticed a beautiful amber sunset beyond the buildings on South Cummings Street. I snapped several photographs with my digital camera, including the one above.

Detail of the James Spears Bourland Gravestone

A detail of the James Spears Bourland monument in historic Bourland Cemetery in southwestern Itawamba County shows the traditional clasped hands (signifying farewell).

James Spears Bourland was a member of Itawamba County’s first Board of Police on which board he served as president. He was born October 19, 1798 in South Carolina. He was the son of Ebenezer Bourland (born ca. 1768 in Virgina) and Abigail Loving and the grandson of the immigrant John Bourland (born Londonderry, Ireland, married Catherine Randolph in Virginia during 1750).

James Spears Bourland married Mary Hudspeth around 1818 and soon removed to Monroe County, Mississippi with her parents. Records show that James Spears Bourland purchased 160 acres of land during 1826 in Monroe County (present-day Amory). He took an active part in the cession of the Chickasaw lands in northeastern Mississippi and by 1836 when Itawamba County was formed, he owned a sizeable farm west of the Tombigbee River (Cardsville community) in the new county of Itawamba. During his lifetime in Itawamba County he served in several official capacities and was known by many as Judge Bourland.

James Spears Bourland died on his farm at Cardsville on November 10, 1877 and was buried in the Bourland Cemetery near his home. His monument reads:

Here Rests the Body of
Oct. 19, 1798
Nov. 10, 1877
Aged 79 y’s 21 d’s
Separation is our lot, meeting
Our hope.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dedication of the Van Buren Historical Marker

During the mid-1980's the Itawamba Historical Society sponsored an application to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for a permanent historical marker at the site of the old river port village of Van Buren on the Tombigbee River. Pictured above is the public dedication for the marker held on a Sunday afternoon. A large crowd of historical society members were present including many citizens from this historic rural community.

The Levi Galloway Gravestone

Levi Galloway was born on October 3, 1784 in North Carolina. He was the son of Matthew Galloway (born Ireland, the son of Tait Galloway and Ann Gibson) and Elizabeth Beaver. When Levi was at a young age, Matthew moved his family to Oglethorpe County, Georgia where Levi married Sinia Scogin (born January 10, 1788, died in Itawamba County on July 9, 1845) on October 10, 1810 (daughter of Elick and Mary Scogin). Levi later removed to Alabama and during the late 1830’s moved his family and slaves to Itawamba County where he settled on a 640-acre farm south of Mantachie Creek, north of Keyes Cemetery. Levi Galloway died on April 20, 1851 on his farm and was buried in the nearby Keyes Cemetery next to his wife Sinia.

Excerpts from the Levi Galloway estate packet in the county Chancery Clerk's office:

The State of Mississippi
Itawamba County
Probate Court June Term AD 1851
The petition of Allen T. Sisk, a citizen of said county respectfully represents to your honor that on or about the 20th day of April AD 1851 Levi Galloway a citizen of said county departed this life as petitioner believes intestate possessed of a considerable personal real estate in said county said personal estate worth about five or six thousand dollars consisting of slaves, stock and farming utensils &c &c. Petitioner is the son in law of said decedent who left no widow or near of kin who is entitled to administration ... petitioner therefore prays that letters of administration be granted unto him of said estate...
Allen T. Sisk

Receipts signed by heirs:
Sarah T. Gillespie and husband Thomas Gillespie, daughter and heir: $614.69 23 Feb 1855; Susannah J. Deskin wife of Washington Deskin, daughter and heir of Noxubee County: $614.69 8th Oct 1855; Mary Ann G. Williams wife of A.O. Williams, daughter and heir of Tuscaloosa County, Alabama: $614.69 8 Feb 1855; Levi B. C. Galloway, son and heir: $614.69 10 Feb 1855; Arabella D. Beacham, wife of Wm. Beachum, daughter and heir: $614.69 26 Mar 1855; N.J. Galloway, son and heir: $614.69 3 Feb 1855

Rec. of A.T. Sisk, administrator of the estate of Levi Galloway, deceased Six Hundred and Twenty Dollars on account of the distributive share of Frances J. Moore, one of the distributees of the estate of said decedent this the 25th day of July AD 1853
S.B. Moore
Frances J. Moore

Received of A.T. Sisk, adm. of the estate of Levi Galloway, decd. Six Hundred and Twenty dollars on account of the distributive share of Nancy M. Duncan, as one of the distributees of said estate the precise sum of said distributive share of said Nancy M. Duncan not having been ascertained and a refunding bond having been given to said Sisk administrator... June 7th 1853
Virgel J. Duncan
Nancy M. Duncan

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Cold Sunset on Friday

The side of the county courthouse and a brick wall frame a late Friday afternoon sky. The cold sky over Fulton at 4:30 p.m. yesterday reflected rich hues of blue as the temperature dropped through the 30's.

Lieut. Ezekiel P. Gardner Monument in Bourland Cemetery

Ezekiel P. Gardner was born March 28, 1841 in Georgia, the son of Ezekiel (born 1797 in North Carolina) and Mary (born 1800 in Georgia) Gardner. The Gardner family came to Itawamba County from Georgia during the early 1850’s settling in the Van Buren area where the family operated a plantation next to the James Spears Bourland plantation south of Van Buren. Listed with Ezekiel and Mary Gardner in the 1860 Itawamba County Federal census are the following children (all born in Georgia): Mary B.(age 39, married James Spears Bourland on April 13, 1864 after the death of his wife), Samuel W. (age 26, physician), Jane M. (age 22, married Balus Bourland December 19, 1862), Thomas M.(age 21), Ezekiel P. (age 19) and Caroline (age 17, married John B. Newton on April 4, 1866).

During the Civil War, Ezekiel P. Gardner enlisted with the Confederate army and served with companies G and B in the 10th Mississippi Regiment.

The 10th Infantry Regiment completed its organization in April, 1861, at Jackson, Mississippi. Its members were recruited in the counties of Adams, Claiborne, Lowndes, Itawamba, Warren, Marshall, Madison, and Yazoo. After serving in Florida and fighting at Shiloh, it saw action in Kentucky. Later the unit was assigned to General J.P. Anderson's, Tucker's, and Sharp's Brigade, Army of Tennessee. It took an active part in the campaigns of the army from Murfreesboro to Atlanta, was with Hood in Tennessee, and ended the war in North Carolina. This regiment took 360 men to Shiloh and lost 13 killed and 95 wounded at Munfordville and 8 killed, 70 wounded, and 6 missing at Murfreesboro. For a time it was consolidated with the 44th Regiment and in December, 1863, totaled 476 men and 308 arms. Few surrendered on April 26, 1865. The field officers were Colonels James Barr, Jr., Seaborne M. Phillips, Robert A. Smith, and James M. Walker; Lieutenant Colonels J.G. Bullard, Joseph R. Davis, and George B. Myers; and Majors James M. Dotson and Edward H. Gregory.1

Ezekiel P. Gardner died during Civil War service on February 23, 1863 and was buried in the Bourland graveyard not far from the Gardner plantation.

The Ezekiel P. Gardner Monument reads:

Sacred to the Memory of
Son of Ezekiel & Mary
Who Departed This Life
Feb. 23, 1863
Aged 21 yrs., 10 mos. & 26 ds.
Dear Brother
Thou art gone to the grave
but we will not deplore thee
Though sorrows and darkness
encompass the tomb.
The Savior has passed through
its portals before thee.
And the lamp of his love
is thy guide through the gloom.

1The National Park Service, "Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System" (December 6, 2008).

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Green Swamp During Autumn

Along the lower Boguefala Creek bottomlands of southern Itawamba County are many sloughs and swamps. Many of these are old courses of the old creek that have since been cut off from the present-day creek channel, creating oxbow swamps (one such oxbow pictured above). The emerald-green algae-filled water interrupting the bland autumn landscape on a cold autumn day is pictured above.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A View From Barr's Ferry Road

The above view is looking southward on Barr's Ferry Road. The road leads the visitor from the high ridge to the low river bottom lands where the old ferry was once located. This land was patented by William Standifer during 1839 and during the 1840's the land was sold to David F. Barr from South Carolina (born 1810). This area is located east of the Carolina community. David F. Barr's family is found in the 1850 Itawamba County Federal census with his wife Catherine and sons Andrew J. and Ebenezer F. He operated the ferry crossing during the 1850's and 1860's on this old road that connected the Carolina community with the Smithville area of Monroe County.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Retro Christmas Tree

This week I displayed and decorated my Christmas tree. This year I opted for something a little different – a retro silver tinsel tree that is reminiscent of the aluminum trees from my childhood during the 1960’s. I call my tinsel tree a somewhat monochromatic Christmas tree with the ornaments being all black and the tree’s foliage being silver tinsel.

The aluminum trees from my childhood were first produced in Manitowoc, Wisconsin during 1959 during the height of the ease-of-living space-age era and became an instant hit, with hundreds of thousands being sold and displayed in homes until 1969. The trees later were available in colors other than silver, including green, red, blue and even pink.

The Evergleam aluminum trees produced by the Aluminum Specialty Company of Manitowoc and trees from other manufacturers were locally sold through stores like Ben Franklin and Western Auto and ranged in size from a 2-foot miniature to an 8-foot tall deluxe model.

As it was extremely dangerous to string lights on such metallic trees, there was the color wheel that came in many varieties. The silver tree would be illuminated with these revolving color wheel placed on the floor, changing the tree’s glistening color from reds, oranges and greens to blues, golds and purples. An additional accessory for the tree was a rotating tree stand.

The trees featured a wooden trunk painted silver and bored with many holes for the aluminum branches. The branches were stored in paper sleeves.

Today the vintage aluminum trees are a hot item and highly collectable. With my little non-metallic silver tinsel tree I am paying homage to the silver tinsel trees from my childhood during the early 1960’s.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Logging on the Tombigbee River

This old photograph shows a logging operation on the Tombigbee River in the Ironwood Bluff community of southern Itawamba County.During the later 1800's and early 1900's the logging industry was developed and by the 1920's lumber milling was the major industry in the county.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Ballardsville Farm

A sod farm in the Ballardsvile community of western Itawamba County is pictured on a cold autumn day. During the spring and summer months the large fields of lawn grass are a vivid emerald green.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Morning Sunrise

After a rainy two days, and a foggy Saturday night, the cold north wind started breaking the clouds apart early this morning, revealing a spectacular sunrise in Itawamba County.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Frog Level Swamp

Frog Level Swamp as seen from Van Buren Road. Frog Level is a large swamp located south of Mantachie Creek near the creek's confluence with the Tombigbee River in western Itawamba County. This scene was photographed recently on a cold late autumn day.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Martha Eudoxie Raburn with Daughter Susie

Pictured are two of the early residents of historic Bonds House in Mantachie, currently operated by the Itawamba Historical Society as the county‘s museum of history. Mrs. Raburn appears in the 1880 Itawamba County census listed as Udoxey with her husband, William Greenberry Raburn (died November 9, 1894) and children Franklin, Elvira and Willis. William Greenberry is listed as the Itawamba County Tax Assessor. By the 1900 census the widowed Mrs. Raburn (born July 1856 in Georgia) is listed with her children Jessie F., General, Mattie, Doxie, Bennett and Susie A. During the 1920’s Mrs. Raburn lived with her daughter, Ila and her husband Oscar Middlebrook Younghanse in historic Bonds House in Mantachie.

Martha Eudoxie Raburn was born July 5, 1854 in Gwinnett County, Georgia, the daughter of Jesse and Elvira Davis and died in Itawamba County during 1928. She was buried in Center Star Cemetery in Mantachie.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Greetings: 1908

An embossed vintage postcard from 1908 for Thanksgiving Greetings, printed in Germany shows a Victorian holiday scene. During the Turn of the Century era, postcards were widely used and commemorated such holidays as Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloweeen, Valentine's Day and personal events such as birthdays, weddings and the like.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nancy Caroline Cockrell Thornberry's Portrait

My great grandfather was Marion Cockrell. His sister was Nancy Cockrell Thornberry, who was born during 1870 in Clay County, Alabama. They were the children of Elam Cockrell (born May 16, 1822 in Johnston County, North Carolina, died November 4, 1889 in Itawamba County) and Carolina Devaughn (born 1824 in Georgia, died in Itawamba County).

During the early 1870's several Cockrell families of the Clay County, Alabama area wanted to move west to better land. They were like thousands of southern families after the Civil War who wanted to leave their war-torn country to seek a better life in the newer country to the west. In 1873 a group of Cockrell families left their homes in the Clay County, Alabama area to begin their search for a better life. In this group of several families were Elum Cockrell, along with his wife, Caroline and their children, John, Marion, James M. Duff, Jordan and three year old Nancy. Along with Elum's family were Elum's daughter, Jane, with her husband, Benjamin East and their one year old daughter, Lula and Elijah Cockrell with his wife Jane, and one year old son, Billy. The families loaded their wagons with their furniture and personal possessions and headed west across Talladega Mountain. After crossing the Coosa River they crossed Shades Mountain and Red Mountain and traveled through Jefferson, Walker and Marion Counties in Alabama before ending their 200 mile journey in Itawamba County, Mississippi in the New Home Church community east of Fulton. By 1900 the family had purchased a farm west of the Tombigbee in the Centerville Community. It was here on November 24, 1887 Nancy Caroline married James P. Thornberry. Nancy Caroline lived out the remainder of her life in the Centerville community where she reared a large family. During the 1950’s Nancy Caroline was named by The Itawamba County Times newspaper as Itawamba County’s Citizen of the Year for a lifetime of charitable work done in the community. Nancy Caroline died in the Centerville community during 1964 and was buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Miss Mittie’s and Miss Belle’s School at Ozark

The above school group photograph was taken around the turn of the century in the Ozark Community of Itawamba County. On the back of the old photograph mounted on cardboard, the following is written: “Miss Mittie Grissom’s and Miss Belle Senter’s school at Ozark.” The photograph was found in a collection of photographs belonging to the Will Ferguson family. The Ferguson family owned a farm in the Ozark community and moved to Fulton before 1920. The Ferguson home in Fulton was located on South Cummings Street.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Ida W. Moore Monument Mystery

The Ida W. Moore monument in the old Fulton graveyard is an example of the many highly ornate monuments in this old cemetery. This towering monument features a carved marble basket of flowers atop the monument. The base of the monument shows the monument was crafted by R. Miller of Aberdeen, in neighboring Monroe County. To-date I have not been able to find any information about this monument carver, or find any information about Ida W. Moore or her husband Clem C. Moore. There is no Clem C. Moore family listed in the 1850 or 1860 Itawamba County census records that I could find, but from the highly ornate quality of the monument, and its shear size, the family must have been financially successful. The biographical information on the monument reads:

Wife of
Nov. 29, 1836
Oct. 19, 1855

I would appreciate hearing from any reader who has information about Clem C. and Ida W. Moore in Itawamba County during antebellum times or the monument carver, R. Miller of Aberdeen in Monroe County.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mantachie Creek: A Major Tributary of the Tombigbee

Mantachie Creek, labled as Hatchie Pullo Creek on early Chickasaw Cession records is a major water course in western Itawamba County. Beginning just east of the old antbellum Itawamba County town of Guntown (in present-day Lee County) the creek runs in a southeasterly direction several miles before it empties into the Tombigbee River, north of the old river port town of Van Buren. The photograph above was taken Thursday from the Peppertown Road Bridge looking to the west, not far from the creek's confluence with the Tombigbee River. Early maps of the county have the creek spelled Mataches with the name Mantachie in use as early as the 1850's. During antebellum times, some of Itawamba County's larger farms were located along this creek, and today this area continues to be a major agricultural area.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Big Oak Farms on an Autumn Day

Yesterday, being a beautiful sunny cool November day, I enjoyed a nice autumn visit to Big Oak Farms northeast of Mantachie Creek in western Itawamba County. The thoroughbred horse farm is located on lands patented by Henry W. Stegall during 1836. The rolling pastures and colorful trees on this beautiful farm, surrounded by beautiful wooden fencing creates a scenic rural landscape in the heart of Itawamba County’s agricultural area.