Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Forrest Lamar Cooper Postcard Collection

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History is digitizing and placing online, a unique postcard collection. The Forrest Lamar Cooper Postcard Collection consists of nearly 4,600 color and black-and-white postcards. Most of the cards in the collection spans the years 1892 to 1927, predate World War I and are concentrated on a theme of Mississippiana. The cards feature scenes of small towns, mineral springs, agricultural and forestry activities and railroads. All of the cards in the collection are identified to some degree and can be accessed through a keyword (description, city, county, state) search on the agency’s website and by subject headings through the MDAH online catalog.

MDAH began scanning these postcards during April 2007, creating preservation-quality, negative TIFF images. These were then converted to web-friendly, positive JPEG images by the Electronic Archives section and made available online.

The MDAH reformatting staff is scanning the cards in the roughly geographical order into which Cooper had arranged them. New images of cards will be added to the site as they are completed, until the entire collection is available online. Images that have been scanned thus far may be searched by keywords or browsed by clicking on the "Browse Collection" link.

Forrest Lamar Cooper began collecting postcards in the early 1970s, when he purchased two old postcard albums in a local antiques store. Cooper used about fifty items that were related to Mississippi subjects as a foundation for this collection and traded or sold the unrelated cards. He has acquired postcards by purchase or trade throughout the state, during extensive out-of-state travel, through correspondence with other traders, and attendance at annual trade shows.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Alabama Maps: An Excellent Research Site That is Much More Than Just Alabama Maps Alone

One of the best map sites online for researchers is Alabama Maps. But there is much, much more there than just Alabama maps on the site. It is truly a world map collection. Alabama Maps is an ongoing project of the Cartographic Research Laboratory, which operates under the auspices of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Alabama. The site contains three sections: the Contemporary Map Index, the Historical Map Archive, and the Aerial Photography Index.

This site includes a digitized collection of selected map holdings from sources including the University of Alabama Map Library, the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library, the Rucker Agee Map Collection of the Birmingham Public Library, the Geological Survey of Alabama, Samford University Special Collections Library, and the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

More than 29,095 maps are included in this online project and in the historical map collection, just for Mississippi alone, there are 232 maps including 32 maps covering the years 1812 through 1859, 36 maps covering the years 1860 to 1900 and 43 maps covering the years 1901 through 1966. Also included in the Mississippi collection are 121 detailed historic 15-minute quadrangle maps from 1921 to 1966.

In the historical collection you can view state maps, regional maps and national maps. A clickable map of the United States takes you to the various state collections and special collections on the site include the American Revolution, the Civil War, coastal navigation charts, coastal topographic sheets, the Mississippi River, the Mexican-American War, national forests, Native Americans, railroads, USDA soil survey maps and World War I.

The site is easy to navigate and contains high quality map images. Take time to discover Alabama Maps, a most excellent research resource.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

18th Annual Mississippi Coast History Week is February 10-16

The Mississippi Coast Historical and Genealogical Society will sponsor the 18th annual Mississippi Coast History Week, February 10th through the 16th. It will be cosponsored by the City of Biloxi.

February 13th will mark the 309th anniversary of the landing of Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. To commemorate this occasion, the Most Reverend Thomas J. Rodi, Bishop of the Catholic Dioceses will celebrate Mass at the Biloxi Community Center on Tuesday, February 12th at 10 a.m.

History Week will feature three days of history with re-enactors dressed in 18th century reproduction French clothing. There will be a presentation on French Colonial soldiers and their contacts with Gulf Coast Indians; a portrayal of the life of an 18th century French lady; and a display of foods that were grown on the Mississippi Gulf coast when the French arrived.

The Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum will have demonstrations relating to the seafood industry. The George Ohr Museum will be doing pinch pots and handing out activity books to the children. The Local History & Genealogy Department of the Biloxi Library will explain the making of Family Tree charts.

This year, the society has invited historical and genealogical societies in our coast cities to join in. The public is invited to attend the presentations at the Biloxi Community Center, 591 Howard Avenue, from Tuesday until Thursday, February 12 - 14 from 9 a.m. -3 p.m. Admission to the events is free.

Fairview School Circa 1905

An outdoor school program at Fairview School, northeast of Fulton, circa 1905. The school principal was Cicero Graham.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Parched Peanuts on a Frosty Winter Evening: A Tasty Hill Country Comfort Food

Fresh raw peanuts slowly parched have been enjoyed by generations of hill country folks in Mississippi. Usually an autumn and winter treat, parched peanuts have been enjoyed at such events as the school fall carnival, football games and area livestock sales, being sold packed in little brown paper bags.

During my childhood, most every farm raised peanuts and most every barn had a burlap sack hanging from a rafter filled with tasty raw dried peanuts.

I suspect most of the farmers around here raised the Spanish group of peanuts including Dixie Spanish and the Runner group including Valencia and Virginia Bunch. Most folks feel these types of peanuts have a good flavor, better roasting characteristics, and higher crop yields.

The true Valencia peanuts that are popular in the Deep South have a unique sweet flavor that makes these the best tasting peanuts for parching.

The true Valencia peanut production today is primarily in eastern New Mexico now, but they are grown on a small scale elsewhere in the South.

Parching good peanuts is a simple art. Over-parching can be disastrous giving the nut a bitter taste. Personally, I simply preheat my oven to around 500 degrees, spread the peanuts on a baking sheet, place the peanuts in the oven and simply turn the oven off letting the oven temperature completely cool down (usually about an hour or so).

There are several methods online for parching peanuts. Simply do a search on “parched peanuts.” Find a recipe, parch some peanuts and enjoy a simple old-time Southern favorite snack that has been enjoyed for generations!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Library of Congress Photographic Collection at Flickr

The Library of Congress has teamed up with Flickr, the popular photograph sharing site to present more than 3,100 photographs from the library’s collection.

To expand the reach of the library’s extensive photograph collections with a cost-effective method was one of the goals, and the popularity of this new project has exceeded all hopes. Besides providing better access to its collections, this project also allows the public to add tags to images in the collection, describing the photographs.

The initial 3,100 photographs were posted from two of the library’s most popular photographic collections and include only images for which no copyright restrictions are known to exist. The library wants the public to comment and make notes on the images, just like any other Flickr photo which will benefit the research community and the collections themselves.

Included in the photographic offering on Flickr are 1,600 color images from the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information collection and approximately 1,500 images from the George Grantham Bain News Service collection, two of the more popular collections with visitors to the library. All the images displayed on Flickr have high resolution scans.

Visit the Library of Congress Photographic Collection at Flickr and enjoy the vast array of historic photographs. For more information about the collection visit the Flickr Pilot site at the Library of Congress.

Society's 2008 Membership Drive Begins

The Itawamba Historical Society has begun its 2008 Membership Drive. The society depends entirely upon membership dues and donations to fund the operation of The George Poteet History Center, The Gaither Spradling Library and Historic Bonds House Museum.

Each year all the society’s facilities are open free of charge to the researching public. Expenses, including such items as utilities, insurance, postage and publishing take up most all the society’s proceeds and membership is what keeps the society’s work in the field of historic preservation and Itawamba County genealogical and historical studies going.

In addition to providing its facilities in Itawamba County, the society also operates, where Itawamba County research material is offered free of charge to the researching public.

The society invites you to help this worthwhile organization by becoming a member. Membership dues are $25 per year and includes a year’s subscription to Itawamba Settlers, the society’s 56-page quarterly membership magazine.

Additional membership categories are available including Sustaining Membership, Benefactor, Grand Benefactor and Corporate Sponsor.

The society needs your help in carrying out the goals for its twenty-sixth year. For further information about membership in the society, visit the society membership area at

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Conversation Under the Tree

Two Itawamba County farmers discuss events of the day during the winter of 1941. Pictured are Samuel Feemster Riley (left) and Walter Albert Cockrell, his brother-in-law. Samuel Feemster Riley was the son of John Thomas and Amelia Rankin Riley. Walter Albert Cockrell was the son of Henry Calvin and Hattie Pearl Buse Cockrell.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The James Boatwright Crypt at Historic Keyes Cemetery

The top of the James Boatwright crypt in the historic Keyes Cemetery west of the Tombigbee River features inscriptions that have endured the elements for more than 140 years.

James Boatwright was born January 9, 1797 and died in Itawamba County on July 17, 1865. According to the census records James came to Itawamba County after the 1860 census was taken. During the 1860 census year he was enumerated in the Fayette County, Alabama census (Fayette Court House Post Office). The census enumerates him as being 63 years of age, a farmer, and born in North Carolina. Listed in his household are his 54 year old wife Phebe, and children Thomas, James M., Arminda along with a 23 year old farmer by the name of John Wilkins.

Also listed in the 1860 Fayette County census nearby is the Daniel Boatwright family, probably James’ brother.

The 1860 Itawamba County census lists a Lewis Boatwright (age 50 born in SC) already living in Itawamba County with his wife Catharine, and children Sarah J., Thomas, Catharine, James K., George W. and Jasper M. This Boatwright family was living in the Keyes Cemetery neighborhood. Lewis Boatwright entered into a contract with the Itawamba County Board of Police during 1865 to operate a ferry on the Tombigbee River near Van Buren at Bean’s Crossing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Walk of Names

The sidewalks on the town square in Fulton feature brick inscribed with names of Itawamba County residents honoring and memorializing many citizens of the county.

Several years ago during a beautification project of the town square, residents were invited to purchase inscribed bricks to be used in paving the sidewalks as a fundraiser to help fund the town square beautification project.

Today, and for future generations, residents and visitors alike can walk around the town square and view the hundreds of inscribed bricks that memorialize and honor many Itawambians that helped to fund the beautification of the town square.

McQuiston Advertisement in the Verona Times: 1866

A business card advertisement advertising the legal services of attorney William Clark McQuiston appeared in an 1866 edition of the Verona Times newspaper in Itawamba County. The Verona Times was published and edited by M.L. Rogers. Verona became a part of the new county of Lee during 1867.

William Clark McQuiston was born during 1834 in Kentucky, the son of William McQuiston (born 1803 in South Carolina, died February 28, 1857 near Aberdeen, Monroe County) and Malinda Clark (born 1804 in Tennessee). The McQuiston family had moved to Monroe County during the 1840’s establishing a plantation in the prairie region of the western part of the county called Prairie Lea. After the death of Malinda Clark McQuiston, William married Sarah Sophia Holden on May 1, 1845.

William Clark McQuiston is listed as a lawyer and student at the University of Mississippi during 1853 and during the 1860 census year, he was enumerated in the town of Okolona in Chickasaw County where he was listed as a lawyer, 26 years of age, with wife Bettie (age 16) and daughter Mary, 6 months old.

According to the advertisement above, William Clark McQuiston was practicing law in Fulton during 1866. By the 1880 census he is listed in the Perry County, Mississippi census in the town of Augusta.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Shumpert Plantation Cotton Receipt: February 28, 1854

Click image for higher resolution view.

During antebellum times, up-country cotton was grown in Itawamba County with some of the larger plantations of the county being situated in the southwestern section of the county west of the Tombigbee.

During 1853 the George Shumpert plantation consisting of 1,440 fertile acres along Boguegaba Creek (the SW ¼ of Section 7, Township 11, Range 8, the SE ¼ of Section 6, Township 11, Range 8, the N ½ of Section 6, Township 11, Range 8, the NW ¼ of Section 18, Township 11, Range 8 and all of Section 12, Township 11, Range 7) was the home to the 63 year old George Shumpert, his wife Rhoda Conwill, sons and thirty-two slaves. The Shumpert family had come to Itawamba County from Newberry District, South Carolina shortly after the county was organized.

The above receipt for cotton grown on the plantation during the 1853 season was from the commission merchant firm of Toomer and Bates at Number 11 Commerce Street in Mobile. Toomer and Bates served as the agent for Alex Short, a 43-year-old Mobile, Alabama cotton broker. Cotton was shipped from the plantations in Itawamba County on flat boats via the Tombigbee River downstream to Mobile.

According to the receipt dated February 28, 1854, George Shumpert’s family sold 27 bales of cotton to Alex Short for the sum of 8 and 3/8 cents per pound. With a total of 13,812 pounds, he received a total of $1,156.75 for the cotton. Taken from this amount were fees for flat boat freight, wharfage, weighing, drayage, storage, mending and the commission agent’s commission.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Rowena Catherine Crayton Bill From Cates and Jopling: 1866

Click image for higher resolution view.

Rowena Catherine Crayton was the daughter of Hiram Crayton and Lucinda Carter. The Crayton family owned a sizeable plantation above Twenty Mile Creek near Donivan Creek west of the Tombigbee River before the Civil War.

Rowena Catherine was born during 1852 on the Crayton plantation and received her education in Fulton at the Fulton Female Academy. Pictured above is a bill for merchandise she bought when 14 years old in Fulton while attending the academy, from the merchant firm of Cates and Jopling.

Purchased were a lady’s hat, belt, linen handkerchief, spool of thread, 2 yards of jackonet*, a pair of shoes and a veil for the sum of $11.95. Rowena’s mother had died during the 1850’s and on September 17, 1857 her father died. Her brother-in-law, William Doric Tynes, and her older sister, Elizabeth Crayton Tynes, were assigned as her guardians by the courts in Itawamba County.

After Elizabeth died in 1874, William Doric Tynes married Rowena on September 27, 1874. Rowena died on November 25, 1880 and was buried in the Kirkville Cemetery.

*jackonet is an Anglicized version of the French term jaconet, which is a soft, closely woven cotton fabric, originally made in India, generally glazed and used for dresses and children's clothes

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Sheffield House and Grounds in Fulton on a Cold Winter Day

On a cold January day the solitude of the old Sheffield home and grounds in Fulton is a quiet oasis in the center of town.

The old Sheffield estate in the old section of the town of Fulton is one of the beautiful older homes of town. The place was originally owned by Dr. James and Anna Rogers Walker. Dr. Walker came to Fulton immediately after the Civil War where he practiced medicine and was elected as the Itawamba County Circuit Court Clerk for multiple terms. His daughter, Anna Rogers Walker married the young Itawamba County attorney Isaac Lewis Sheffield and they built this house on the Walker land in Fulton.

Isaac Lewis Sheffield was born December 25, 1887 in Itawamba County. He was the son of Isaac Judson and Frances McBride Sheffield and the grandson of John and Sarah Margaret Pharr Sheffield. John Sheffield’s parents, Everett (born 1790 in Moore County, North Carolina) and Susannah Hare (born 1787 in North Carolina) came to Itawamba County during the 1830’s where they settled west of the Tombigbee River.

Photograph by Bob Franks

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Tattered Old Hill Country Civil War Service Discharge Paper Reflects a Family Story

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William Franks always kept his Civil War service discharge paper, neatly folded and secured in his old wooden camel-back trunk until the old soldier died in Itawamba County on a cold December day, two days after Christmas during 1911. Today that fragile piece of paper illustrates the story of the trials and tribulations of a young native son and family of the hill country of Alabama and Mississippi during the dark days of war.

William Franks was the son of Lemuel Franks (born 1795 in North Carolina, died during 1858 near Pikeville, Marion County, Alabama) and Huldah Jane Gann (born 1810 in Tennessee, the daughter of Samuel Gann and Sarah White).

During the Civil War, while living near old Pikeville in Marion County, twenty-year-old William Franks enlisted, like several of his neighbors, with Company A of the First Alabama Cavalry of the United States Army on December 15, 1862 at Glendale, Mississippi, along with his brothers, James, Peter and Jeremiah. His tenure of service was for one year.

He was mustered into service on December 31, 1862 at Corinth, Mississippi. He was listed as present on all muster rolls during his tenure. During November of 1863 he was listed as in detached service at the refugee camp at Corinth and was entered on the mustered-out roll dated December 22, 1863 at Memphis, Tennessee.

His military medical records show that he was treated from February 27 to March 31, 1863 for rubeola (measles) and from April 8 to April 17, 1863 for pneumonia at the General Hospital in Corinth. Earlier on February 5, 1863, William's older brother James, died in the army hospital at Corinth and just two weeks later, his brother-in-law, Enoch Cooksey died in the same hospital. Both had died from an outbreak of measles among the troops.

For the first few months of service, the First Alabama Cavalry was headquartered at Glendale, Mississippi. They were largely engaged in successful scouting and foraging expeditions in northern Mississippi and Alabama owing to their acquaintance with the area.

In early May of 1863, Brigadier General Grenville M. Dodge in a report to Major General Stephen A. Hurlbut praised the First Alabama Cavalry for bravely charging Colonel Phillip D. Roddy's Confederates at Bear Creek with unloaded muskets. Colonel Florence M. Cornyn, who had been closer to the men than his Brigadier General, was less complimentary in his report: "I ordered a charge by the First Alabama Cavalry, which I am sorry to say, was not obeyed with the alacrity it should have been. After charging to within short musket-range of the enemy, they halted for a cause I cannot account for, and the enemy escaped into the woods..."*

What Cornyn probably didn’t understand was the possibility of when these young men came into musket-range of the Confederate forces they could see the enemy face to face. Is it possible that it came home to them that they weren't fighting some unknown enemy but possibly friends, neighbors, fellow citizens and in many cases members of their own families?

During the remainder of 1863 the main body of the First Alabama Cavalry remained in the Memphis, Tennessee area recuperating. From time to time, a regiment, a picked patrol or a company of this unit was sent out on reconnaissance expeditions, sometimes skirmishing with Confederate cavalry patrols.

After leaving the United States service in late 1863, William Franks walked back to Marion County, Alabama, where his wife Margaret Caroline McGowan and young son, James W., were living. His brother-in-law, sister and nephew had all died during the war (Enoch Cooksey, Sarah Franks Cooksey and James W. Cooksey) leaving two young orphan girls. The two orphan nieces, Sarah and Cynthia Cooksey moved in with William’s family.

Times were grueling in the war-ravaged hill country of northwestern Alabama and northeastern Mississippi during this time. William once said people were literally starving during those desperate times. It was also dangerous times for Unionists in the area. Several Unionists had been hanged and shot and more than thirty homes burned.**

William gathered his young family, along with his two Cooksey nieces, and made the long trek through the woods and roads without shelter or food to Union controlled Corinth where more than 100 Unionist families from the hills had gathered and then on to Memphis, Tennessee where the family boarded a Mississippi river boat with the other families headed for Cairo, Illinois. The story has been handed down for generations that aboard the river boat, the young orphan Sarah Cooksey became ill with smallpox and died. During the middle of the night the “dead boat” came with the authorities and took her body away. Cynthia Cooksey, her sister, always hoped that they properly buried her but rumor was they cremated her body with many others to keep the epidemic from spreading.

William Franks and his family lived in or near Cairo, Illinois for four years and about 1868 moved back to Marion County, Alabama where they lived for about two years. The family then moved to McNairy County, Tennessee where William’s other brothers' families had relocated. The Franks brothers were quite familiar with the McNairy County area being that they were stationed in nearby Corinth, Mississippi during the recent war. The Franks families continued to live in McNairy County, Tennessee until about 1879, when the brothers moved their families to Itawamba County where their Franks cousins has lived since 1836.

The Civil War saga of William Franks and his young family of yeoman farmers is but one solitary story of the hardships faced by thousands of others – both Confederate and Union, during the dark days of the war in the beautiful hills and hollows of the Mississippi and Alabama hill country, and that tattered fragile military discharge paper has survived as a small piece of William’s story for 145 years.

*The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 1 - Volume 23 (Part I), page 253

**Moore, Frank, The Rebellion Record: A Diary of Ameican Events, with Documents, Narratives, Illustrative Incidents, Poetry, Etc., Volume 6, G.P. Putnam, New York, 1863, page 400

For further information about the First Alabama Cavalry, visit the First Alabama Cavalry United States Volunteers website.

The above is an abridged version of an article appearing in the Spring 2008 issue of Itawamba Settlers magazine.

Itawamba County Officials Circa 1884

The above group portrait of Itwamba County's elected officials was photographed at the front entrance to the Itawamba County courthouse around 1884. The group probably included five county supervisors (front row), five justices of the peace, five constables, a clerk of the chancery court, clerk of the circuit court, county surveyor, county ranger and sheriff and deputies.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Elizabeth Hinton Green Portrait: circa 1862

Elizabeth Hinton was born during 1812 in Johnston County, North Carolina. She was the daughter of Jacob Hinton (born 1768 in Johnston County, North Carolina, died during 1835 in Campbell County, Georgia) and Mary Bradford (born 1770 in Georgia). She married John Green (born 1802 in Johnston County, North Carolina) and the family moved to the Carolina-Richmond area of Itawamba County at an early date.

Her children included: Wiley (born 1832), Malachi (born 1835 in Alabama), George William (born September 9, 1837), James I. (born 1840), D. Ransom (born August 5, 1844 in Itawamba County), Mary A. (born 1850 in Itawamba County), General Washington (born February 12, 1852 in Itawamba County and Sarah C. (born January 5, 1855 in Itawamba County).

Elizabeth’s grandparents were Malachi Hinton (born about 1740 in Chowan County, North Carolina) and Sarah Wimberly (born in Edgecombe County, North Carolina).

Elizabeth’s husband was the son of John Green and Welthya Moore. John Green and Elizabeth Hinton are buried in the old Carolina Cemetery in southwestern Itawamba County.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Hill Country Cotton Farmer with His Best Friend ca. 1932

Samuel Feemster Riley is photographed with his favorite English spaniel during the early 1930’s. Sam Riley was a cotton farmer in the New Chapel community who enjoyed quail hunting with his dog when not working in the fields. He was born May 26, 1890, the son of John Thomas Riley (born September 22, 1856 in Itawamba County) and Amelia Rankin (born January 16, 1859 in Itawamba County). John Thomas Riley was the son of John Thomas and Elizabeth Williams Riley. The elder John Thomas Riley immigrated to Itawamba County from Edgefield District, South Carolina during the 1830’s. Amelia Rankin was the daughter of Ethelbert and Mary Jane Cason Rankin, early Itawamba settlers.

Samuel Feemster Riley married Lizzie Eron Cockrell, the daughter of Henry Calvin (son of Marion Albert and Elizabeth Gillentine Cockrell) and Hattie Buse Cockrell (daughter of Thomas and Mary Gassaway Buse) of Itawamba County.

The above scene was photographed in front of the old Riley homestead that was established near the fertile bottomlands of Shoaf Creek in southwestern Itawamba County during the 1830’s.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

J.H. Spradling & Co. General Store Invoice From Memphis: 1900

James Spradling operated a general store northeast of Mantachie near the old Barnes Schoolhouse during the 1890’s until the 1920’s. Above is an old invoice found in the store ledger from J.T. Fargason and Co. of Memphis, wholesale grocers and cotton factors. The 1900 Shelby County, Tennessee census shows Jas. T. Fargason as age 65, living on Beale Street in Memphis with his wife, son, son in law, daughter, three grandchildren and four servants. His occupation was listed as “cotton and spices.”

Noted on the invoice written during 1900 were ten pounds of pepper, one dozen four-ounce bottles of turpentine, one dozen bottles of castor oil and 250 shotgun shells.

The old store ledger is housed in the society’s Gaither Spradling Library at the George Poteet History Center in Mantachie.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

William Duke Monument in Northeastern Itawamba County

The remains of the old William Duke monument are located near the old Duke Flats in northeastern Itawamba County. Located in a very remote area on Mud Creek, the engraved tablet was once inlaid on top of a marble crypt in the old cemetery. William Duke came to Itawamba County shortly after the formation of the county during the late 1830’s where he received patents for over 3,000 acres of land west of Salem Church along Mud Creek. He was elected to the Mississippi Senate during 1841 representing Itawamba County. There are several graves in the old remote cemetery including members of the Browning, Cromeans, Nelson and Conwill families.

William Duke was born July 4, 1766 in Laurens District, South Carolina, the son of Major Duke and Elizabeth Drury. Around 1790 he married Jane McLaughlin. William Duke was enumerated in the 1820 Franklin County, Alabama Federal census, the 1830 Marion County, Alabama Federal census and the 1840 Itawamba County Federal census. William Duke died in Itawamba County on August 29, 1847. Children of William Duke included: James, John, Charles, William Henry, and Wiley.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Maud Lee Sheffield Watson Portrait

Maud Lee Sheffield, born on January 10, 1882 in Itawamba County, was the daughter of Charlie Davis and Dora Ann Moore Sheffield. On November 25, 1900 she married John Alfred Watson, and died December 6, 1914 in Mantachie.

Charlie Davis Sheffield was born August 6, 1861 and died November 2, 1934. He was the son of John and Elizabeth J. Sims Sheffield. Dora Ann Moore was born November 18, 1863 and died November 30, 1943. She was the daughter of William Hugh and Eliza Ann Walker Moore.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Dr. Newman Waldrop Nanney House in Mantachie: 1913

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The photograph above shows Dr. Newman Waldrop Nanney’s newly constructed house located on Church Street south of the Methodist Church in Mantachie during 1913. Pictured with Dr. Nanney are his wife Vivian Alora, and children Sybil and Halovee. Dr. Nanney and his family are listed in the 1910 census in Mantachie living on the Mantachie and Tupelo Public Road, and in the 1920 census the family is living in Verona, Lee County. During the 1930 census, Dr. Nanney is listed in the Fulton census as living on Robins Street with his wife Vivian and children Sybil (teacher at the high school), Halovee and Ruth.

Dr. Newman Waldrop Nanney was born March 1, 1880 in Itawamba County and died during 1937 (buried in Fulton Cemetery). On December 3, 1905 he married Vivian Alora Ballard (born February 4, 1887, the daughter of Thomas Coggins and Sarah Elizabeth Cooper Ballard) in Itawamba County. He was the son of John Uriah and Sarah Jane Christian (daughter of Thomas F. and Mary Christian) Nanney and the grandson of John Howard (born December 5 1823, died before 1870) and Susan Carroll Nanney.

Dr. Newman Waldrop Nanney was the great grandson of Uriah Holland (born January 17, 1799 in Rutherford County, N.C., died August 25, 1875 in Itawamba County) and Mary McCarty Nanney, early pioneers of the newly organized Itawamba County during 1836, coming to this region from Lauderdale County, Alabama.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

County Range Books Offer a Wealth of Information About Land Transactions

The General Land Office records online is a very valuable resource to researchers offering data and images of land patents in the United States. Researchers must remember, however, that because a person received a patent to land, doesn’t necessarily mean they moved to the land. There were many land speculators who purchased from few, to a vast number of parcels in the old Chickasaw cession lands of Mississippi with the sole intent of reselling the lands at a later date for a profit.

A most interesting set of record books in the county courthouse is the set of Range Books. There are six land ranges in old Itawamba County (ranges 6 through 11 east of the Chickasaw meridian). Ranges in Itawamba County are six miles wide and run west to east. Each of these ranges have 5 townships (six miles tall) starting with Township 7 in the northern part of the county and going through Township 11 in the southern portion of the county. The square formed by the intersection of a range and a township is an area six miles square, containing 36 sections of land (a section is 1 mile square).

The old range books are sectioned by townships. For instance Range Book 6 will have 5 sections, one for each township. Each page in the book represents one section of land and on each page, there are four columns representing the four quarters of the section (northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest). At the top of each column is the land patentee’s name and date. As land was sold in each section, the deed reference along with buyer’s name was denoted in the appropriate column on the appropriate page and in the appropriate range book . These books give an excellent account of the changes of ownership of a particular parcel of land.

In researching land records in Itawamba County, don’t forget the old range books – they offer a wealth of information relating to land transactions in Itawamba County.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Logs Being Transported to the B.H. Baine Lumber Yard in Fulton: ca. 1923

Larger Resolution Photograph

Shortly after 1920 the lumber industry saw tremendous growth in Itawamba County. The Kilpatrick family of Carrollton, Alabama and Gibbs family from Hardin County, Tennessee opened mills at Fulton. One company, the B.H. Baine Lumber Company opened a mill in Fulton. Pictured above is a view of hardwood logs being hauled from the Tombigbee River bottom lands headed for the mill in Fulton around 1923. B.H. Baine had moved to Houston in Chickasaw County, Mississippi from Tennessee where he operated a mill there before opening his Fulton operation.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Itawamba Settlers Winter Issue Received From Printer

The Winter 2007 issue of Itawamba Settlers magazine, the quarterly membership journal of the Itawamba Historical Society was received from the printers yesterday and the society processed the bulk mailing today. The magazine should be in the mail tomorrow to all the 2007 society members. This issue includes the annual surname index.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Abel Stephens Portrait

Abel Stephens was the son of Zachariah (born February 8, 1789 in North Carolina, died October 2, 1881 in Itawamba County) and Tabitha Powell (born February 11, 1799 in North Carolina, died August 8, 1872 in Itawamba County) Stephens. Abel was born December 14, 1817 in South Carolina and married Annie Lawson about 1842 in Alabama. The Stephens family settled west of the Tombigbee River around 1844 and owned several hundred acres along the west side of the river where they farmed. Children of Abel and Annie Lawson Stephens included: Tabitha, Samuel M. (married Malinda Durrett), Maning A., Mary Elizabeth (married Isaac Stidham), Milla J., Louisa Genira (married John B. Grimes) and Green Zachariah.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The 1861 William Harvey Keyes Townhouse in Fulton

William. Harvey Keyes, son of Itawamba judge and planter, James Keyes built the home in 1861 at the corner of South Cummings and Cedar streets in Fulton and lived there until 1878 when he moved back to the old Keyes plantation across the Tombigbee River and sold the home to Dr. J.M. Walker. By the 1910 census, he is listed in the census as age 78, living on Green Street in Tupelo with an occupation of “own income.” In 1898 Judge Newnan Cayce purchased the old Keyes house. William Harvey Keyes served in several elected positions in Itawamba County during the 1860s through the 1870s. The house was photographed shortly before it was burned during 1965 to make way for a medical office. Today the Fulton Police Department is located on the lot.

1870 U.S. Federal Census
Itawamba County
Town of Fulton
William Keyes: 38, Circuit Clerk, Alabama
Annie: 34, Keeping House, Alabama
Joseph: 13, Mississippi
James: 11, Mississippi
Wiley: 9, Mississippi
Fannie 5, Mississippi
Perdy: 3, Mississippi
Claud: 3/12, Mississippi
Pleasant Thomas: 50, Drygoods Merchant, Tennessee
William Thomas: 22, Clerk in Store, Mississippi

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Listening to The Storyteller from Mississippi

During high school I was introduced to the wonderful works of Mississippi’s Eudora Alice Welty and from that point on, I have always been a fan of Welty.

Twenty-six years ago I purchased her new book, The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty and today that book is displayed in my bookcase as one of my prized literary possessions.

During the 1930s, Welty worked as a photographer for the Works Progress Administration, a job that sent her all over the state photographing people from all economic and social classes. Sometimes I wonder if that work influenced her writings. She always seemed to be able to create the most colorful yet believable characters.

Her novel The Optimist's Daughter won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973. In later life, she lived near Belhaven College in Jackson and despite her literary fame, she was still a common sight around town. One could greet her at the grocery store, see her on a leisurely walk, or run into her just about anywhere that any other person would go.

Welty once wrote about her literary characters: “I have been told…that I seem to love all my characters. What I do in writing of any character is to try to enter into the mind, heart, and skin of a human being who is not myself. Whether this happens to be a man or a woman, old or young, with skin black or white, the primary challenge lies in making the jump itself. It is the act of a writer’s imagination that I set most high.”

Over the holidays I became re-introduced to many of her colorful characters. I purchased Essential Welty, an audio CD of her short stories Why I Live at the P.O., Powerhouse and The Petrified Man, all read by Welty herself.

Her deep southern accent, soothing as scented talcum and as delicate as a Mississippi tea cake, brought her short stories to life once again for me. Originally recorded during 1956, this collection uniquely tells three of her stories as only she can tell them.

That audio CD now resides in my bookshelf right along with The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty, as a valued addition to my Mississippi literary collection.

Welty quote from the preface of The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, May 1980

For further information about Eudora Welty, visit the Eudora Welty Foundation.

Itawamba Agricultural High School Assembly: 1941

Larger resolution photograph

Pictured above is a student assembly in front of the main school building on the campus of Itawamba Agricultural High School during the winter of 1941. This building was one of the original buildings of the school and faced east towards the the town square on the hill.

Friday, January 4, 2008

First Bridge Across the Tombigbee on the old Fulton to Tupelo Public Road

This was the first bridge constructed over the Tombigbee River on the old Fulton to Tupelo public road, which later became a part of the Bankhead National Highway. During the early days of the county until well after the Civil War this road was known as the Fulton to Pontotoc road.

The first Tombigbee River bridge on this road was approved by an act of Congress on January 18, 1905. This old bridge was located north of what is now the old Tombigbee River bridge on old Highway 78 leading to the Peppertown boat dock on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

Before this bridge was built, the county operated a ferry across the river. One of the long-time ferrymen for the Fulton ferry employed by the county was William Walton. He served in this position through the later quarter of the 19th century well into the early 20th century until this first bridge was built around 1905.

This view of the first bridge was photographed during the late 1930’s after a new bridge was constructed on the new highway south of the old Bankhead Highway. This old Tombigbee bridge was dismantled shortly after the opening of the new highway.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Cased Tintype Portrait of Two Itawamba County Belles ca. 1862

View higher resolution photograph

This old portrait belonged to the Ethelbert and Mary Cason Rankin family of southwestern Itawamba County. After a study of the census records, the portrait is more than likely that of Mary Cason Rankin’s younger sisters.

Mary Cason Rankin was the daughter of Braxton (son of James and Mary Deal Cason of Abbeville District, South Carolina) and Elizabeth Harris (daughter of John and Milly Stanfield Link Harris of Abbeville District) Cason. Braxton Cason was an Itawamba County planter during antebellum times arriving in Itawamba County around 1844 with his family and slaves from Abbeville District, South Carolina where he and Elizabeth had married on December 19, 1833. Braxton Cason was born on March 22, 1811 and died on June 21, 1887. The Cason family plot is located in the old Providence Cemetery at the site of the old Providence Academy in old southwestern Itawamba County (present-day Lee County east of Nettleton). Braxton Cason served at the Mississippi constitutional convention of 1865 immediately after the Civil War.

The Cason plantation was located in extreme southwestern Itawamba County below the New Chapel and old Richmond areas. During the 1860 U.S. Federal census for Itawamba County, daughters in the Cason household were Sarah (age 19), Elizabeth (age 17), Narcissa (age 15) and Louisa (age 13). Living next door to the Cason plantation was Ethelbert and Mary Cason Rankin and their young family consisting of Thomas (age 10), John (age 6), Laura (age 4) and Amelia (age 2).

Located with this cased portrait of two girls is a young man in Confederate uniform, more than likely a portrait of their older brother John H. Cason John served in Company C (Town Creek Rifles of Itawamba County) of the Second Mississippi Regiment and was killed at the Battle of Second Manassas in Virginia during August of 1862.

Photographs courtesy of Wanda Wilburn Rankin

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Pearce’s Stave Mill in the Tombigbee River Bottomlands Southeast of Mantachie

Higher Resolution Photograph of Pearce’s Stave Mill

Pearce’s Stave Mill was located in the Tombigbee River bottomlands southeast of Mantachie west of the river. Owned by Augustus C. Pearce, an early Mantachie landowner, the operation had about twenty workers.

The Pearce families - Timothy Woods (born September 29, 1829, married Susan Jones, died November 10, 1906) and brother Augustus C. (born September 3, 1835, married [1] Jerusha Adeliene West [2] Jane Jamison, died February 10, 1903)., sons of John Madison Woods Pearce and Elizabeth Skinner, came to Itawamba County from Pearce’s Mill in neighboring Marion County, Alabama during the 1860’s, settling in the Mantachie area where they had farming interests as well as operating a general store (T.W. Pearce Company) in the village of Mantachie.

During the later 1800’s until the 1920’s there were several stave mills in Itawamba County with Pearce’s Stave Mill being one. Many of these mills were mobile, and moved around to be set up where the timber was located, as the transportation of cut hardwood timber out of the river bottomlands was prohibitive.

Staves are narrow strips of wood placed edge to edge to form the sides, covering, or lining of barrels and kegs. Stave mills, located in the eastern United States, cut hardwood timber with these operations producing staves only. The staves were shipped to cooperage (a cooper is someone who makes wooden staved vessels of a conical form, of greater length than breadth, bound together with hoops and possessing flat ends or heads. Everything a cooper produces is referred to collectively as cooperage) plants where they were assembled into kegs and barrels.

There were two types of barrels made – slack cooperage and tight cooperage. Slack cooperage was not liquid-tight and was used for nail kegs, cement, and the like. Tight cooperage was liquid-tight and used for such things as meats and liquids.

The saws in the turn-of-the-century stave mills in Itawamba County were powered by steam from boilers. For this reason, the old stave mills were set up near a ready supply of water, such as a small stream or creek. There are several instances in old editions of the Itawamba County News from the turn-of-the-century era where accidents were reported that had happened at the mills and there was always the mortal fear of the dreaded boiler explosion

Stave Mill Sources:

Stave Barrel illustration from Google patents search

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Harriet Johnson Buse Portrait: Early Settler along the Natchez Trace in Old Itawamba

Stacy Harriett Johnson was born on October 28, 1827 in Georgia, the daughter of Arthur and Nancy Woodward Johnson. She came to Itawamba County as a young girl shortly after the formation of Itawamba County with her parents where they settled along the old Natchez Trace near Twenty-Mile Creek in northwestern Itawamba County.

On January 16, 1853 she married William Buse (born 1832 Cherokee County, Alabama) in Itawamba County, the son of Benjamin and Elizabeth Barnett Buse. She was the mother of three sons: David, John Wesley and Thomas. Her husband William, died at an early age.

Stacy Harriett owned property adjacent to the old Stone Chapel Church (present-day Friendship Church) in the present-day Pratts community of Lee County (old Itawamba County) near her Johnson, Barnett and Woodward relatives.

Stacy Harriett Johnson Buse died on July 16, 1897 and was buried in Friendship Cemetery.

Scan of Original Tintype Portrait by Bob Franks