Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ring Out the Old, Ring in the New....



And Happy New Year to All of You!

Have you ever thought about the significance of something as simple as a bell? Not only were church bells of old used to announce the time to anyone within hearing distance, bells in general have been used since the earliest of times as a type of alarm, warning those nearby of things that were about to happen, things that were both "good" and some things that were "not so good." The tolling of a bell, even today, may serve as an announcement that a child has been born, a couple has just been married, or that a death has occurred. During medieval times, the simple ringing of a bell was believed to have kept evil spirits away, and it was a common practice to ring a bell at the bedside of the deceased prior to burial. In modern times, bells of all sizes, types and sounds have been used in churches, schools, and other public places. Even our doorbells and the bell that ding-dings in our cars when we don't buckle up have evolved from these early uses of bells as warning or announcement devices.

Today, bells are almost always used in even the simplest of our holiday traditions, both religious and secular. But neither Christmas nor a New Year's wish would be the same without bells.



Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Attala County Memories Receives Proximidade Award

Yesterday, Terry Thornton, of Hill Country of Monroe County, awarded Attala County Memories the Proximidade Award. I feel honored. Thank you, Terry!


Receipt of the Proximidade Award requires the recipient to pass the award on to eight bloggers who exemplify the language stated in the award itself. Each blogger to whom I am passing along the award is the author of a well-written blog that is charming indeed and shows the blogger's investment and true belief in proximity! A list of writers receiving the award is listed below, and I encourage you to visit their blogs and get to know the individuals who write them.

  1. Judy at Genealogy Traces
  2. Laura McQueen at The McQueen Family
  3. Amy at We Tree
  4. Elyse at Elyse's Genealogy Blog
  5. Lisa at 100 Years in America
  6. Julie at Gen Blog
  7. Elizabeth at Little Bytes of Life
  8. Tim at Walking the Berkshires

Monday, December 29, 2008

Attala County Roots Are Spread Worldwide

The year 2008 has been a fantastic year for bloggers worldwide. Not only did our country endure an election, complete with all the subject matter that makes political bloggers think they have died and gone to heaven, but we saw the election of a new President of the United States.

Political bloggers, however, were not the only ones who had an abundance of material to blog about. The year 2008 saw the beginning of an organization for geneabloggers like me, with the inception of a group named "Genea-bloggers on Facebook." Just this past October, Terry Thornton, a native Mississippian, along with another geneablogger known as footnoteMaven, established an organization known as "The Association of Graveyard Rabbits." Members of that organization are geneabloggers who write about all things cemetery-related, including the preservation of cemeteries, unique and different gravestones, the symbols on gravestones, burying traditions, and funeral customs. I am a Charter Member of that organization, as well, and I write three graveyard rabbit blogs, The Graveyard Rabbit of Attala County, The Graveyard Rabbit of Holmes County, and The Graveyard Rabbit of Madison County, sister blogs to Attala County Memories. For me, 2008 has been "The Year of the Blog."

The year 2008 must have been a good year for researching one's family roots. I base this in part on traffic to the Attala County Memories blog. Since I began posting here on July 24, 2008, I have had over 3400 visitors. Some of these visitors were likely just curious, but I believe many of them were seriously searching for information about their ancestors. As I expected, a majority of the blog's readers have come from the eastern portion of the United States, since early residents of Mississippi migrated from the northeast and the southeast. But many other readers are still arriving from all over the United States, and a fair number of readers even live outside the U. S. Our international economy has caused so many people to live in places far distant from their native county, state, or even country, but the common thread remains: they want to know about their roots. Those who continue to search for ancestors who lived in Attala County, Mississippi, prove that Attala County, like so many other early counties in the state, was only one of many places these pioneers called home as they traveled the path we call life.

Today, I thought it might be interesting for those of you who read this blog to see some of the locations of others who read it, as well. This is not an inclusive list, but it is still amazing to me that some locations are so far removed from the State of Mississippi and Attala County. And I continue to be amazed every day.

Readers of this blog are located in: Birmingham, AL, Richmond, VA, Mountain View, CA, Delhi, India, Meridian, MS, Hudson, NC, Albany, NY, Memphis, TN, Nashville, TN, Rome, GA, Cedartown, GA, Tillatoba, MS, Marietta, GA, Doddridge, AR, Bentonville, AR, Rochester, NY, Sunset Beach, CA, Jackson, MS, Tokyo, Japan, San Antonio, TX, Las Cruces, NM, Milton, FL, Gulfport, MS, Miami, FL, Wheeling, WVA, Milwaukee, WI, Humble, TX, Fredericksburg, VA, Louisville, KY, Hawaii, HI, Bogalusa, LA, Sheffield, UK, Austin, TX, Greenville, NC, Houston, TX, Biloxi, MS, Lambert, MS, Montreal, Canada, Des Moines, IA, Loire, France, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, Bremerton, WA, Ogden, UT, Provo, UT, Palatine, IL, Josplin, MO, Cincinnati, OH, Aberdeen, MS, Louisville, KY, Itta Bena, MS, Charleston, SC, Bangkok,Thailand, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Jakarta, Micronesia, Brandon, MS, New Orleans, LA, College Station, TX, Bryan, TX, Natchez, MS, Doddridge, AR, Fort Rucker, AL, Vaughn, MS, Falls Church, VA, Lexington, MS, Burlington, NJ, Kansas City, MO, Philadelphia, MS, Bryan, TX, Bellafontaine, MS, Belleville, NJ, Rotherham, UK, Evansville, IN, Bremen, Germany, Sunnyvale, CA, Wasilla, AK, Madison, MS, Honolulu, HI, Surrey, British Columbia, Papua, New Guinea, Falkville, AL, Mobile, AL, Sarasota, FL, Flagstaff, AZ, Albuquerque, NM, Denver, CO, Melbourne, Australia, Romulus, MI, St. Paul, MN, El Paso, TX, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and Paris, France.

Thank you, Readers, wherever you are, for stopping here for a while. Thank you for your comments, and thanks to several of you who sent Christmas cards. I wish for you all a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year in 2009, and I do hope you will stop by again next year.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas From Our House to Yours


Welcome to our home and Merry Christmas to you all. Take off your coat, and let's visit a while! While 2008 has not been a good year, in general, for the economy of our country, it has been a wonderful year in so many ways for us. We are happy, and we have our health. What more can we ask?

Although we admit to having missed most sunrises (sleeping in is allowed for us retirees), we have enjoyed so many beautiful sunsets, either from our patio in the early evening, or from the golf course during a round of "twilight golf." Also, we have enjoyed some wonderful visits with our families and close friends. We have each continued our other hobbies of buying and selling books and records, doing family research, and taking an occasional road trip to see something new and different.


But late this summer, I began a new hobby - blogging. And life has not been the same since! I began this blog to have a place for writing about my own family history and our ancestors who have lived in Attala County since the 1800's. Around mid-October of this year, I was invited to join The Association of Graveyard Rabbits, and before long, I had become a Graveyard Rabbit for three counties, Attala, Holmes, and Madison. Writing all four blogs has been both interesting and rewarding. I do hope that you like reading the posts as much as I like writing them. If you are already reading my blogs, thank you for doing so. I not only challenge you to continue reading, but I encourage you to send me your pictures and stories for posting here in 2009.

Since this blog is primarily about Memories, today I would like to share with you a few memories of ours, using ornaments on our Christmas tree that remind us of Christmases past.


This was a covert shot of me and the Christmas tree, taken by my HoneyBunny as I placed the last package under the tree before the first of our family gatherings took place over the weekend. Our family is no different from most these days in that we usually have more than one gathering to work around celebrations our children have planned with their spouses' families.

Terry Thornton, Founder of The Association of Graveyard Rabbits refers to his tree as one that grew in a polyester forest somewhere in China. Like Terry's, our tree "grew" in that same forest. It is a tree of convenience - that pretty much sums it up. The tree is pre-lit, it needs no water, doesn't shed needles, and it lies dormant in a box in the garage between Christmases. The only problem is that if the three sections of the tree are not plugged together in the right places, the lights won't light up. So it usually takes more time to make the lights work than it does to decorate the tree. This year we hit a bit of luck, and all the lights came on at one time. But we love the way it looks after the decorating is complete, and the lights are all twinkling.



One of my favorite things to do at Christmas is to decorate the tree. I absolutely love placing each ornament on the tree, reserving the best places for the ornaments that hold a special meaning. Two of those ornaments are the ones pictured below. The heart is symbolic of love - love that we have of God, for each other, and for our family and friends. Christmas is not Christmas without love. The other ornament is a tiny bell, decorated with shamrocks, a Belleek treasure my HoneyBunny brought back from Ireland some years ago, when he added Ballybunion to his "played list" of well-known golf courses. For him, the Ballybunion course is second only to St. Andrews, the mecca of all courses for most golfers. For me, the bell's tiny tinkle reminds me of the Bell Choir in the church where my children grew up that performs such beautiful music before Midnight Mass each year.




The two ornaments shown here each have unique meanings as well as special memories. The twin angels with bugles are one ornament given to me by my children when they were still young. They always knew the gifts that would pull my heartstrings, and this was one of those gifts that still does just that. The tiny pair of golf shoes, decorated in red and green, are special to my HoneyBunny. Not only does it remind him of his best golf score each year (this year a 74 last month on our home course, a par 72), but it also reminds him that weather before and after the Christmas season prevents him from playing as many rounds as he would like. The pair of shoes remind me of just how many pairs of real golf shoes he owns. And he told me earlier this month that he thinks he needs another pair, adding that most of his golf shoes fit him just fine, unless he is walking the course!


The picture of this beaded Christmas Nativity star does not do it justice. Just like the stars that shone over the manger in Bethlehem that Christmas so very long ago, it seems to twinkle each evening during Christmas. Every year, I add a special ornament to our collection, and I added this one about ten years ago.
The ornament here is one of my two favorite birds. But what makes it memorable is that it is the only Christmas ornament that I ever made, a product of an unsuccessful ceramic class, like the ones many of us took during the 1970's. With no chips and with its color still unfaded, the cardinal appears to be in flight and occupies a place near the top of the tree.



Our ornament collection would not be complete without the moose. This fun and unique Christmas moose, made of delicate mercury glass, was given to us by one of our daughters. Needless to say, she has a slightly wicked sense of humor, and it shows in her selection of this ornament! We've had somewhat of a problem with keeping the moose's rear end from facing outward into the room.




The gingerbread man here is an original work of art made by our youngest daughter when she was about ten years old. That year for her was the year of crewel work, counted cross-stitch, and needlework of any type. It started with a Christmas gift of a "beginner's kit," and by the next Christmas, we had all been gifted with at least one hand-made treasure, including this one. I was so proud of her!



Without a doubt, the ornaments that are the most sentimental for me are those made by my children, and two of them are pictured here. Each ornament is a reindeer made of old-fashioned clothespins, a tuft of cotton for a tail, and a red dot for a nose. The result of a family project during Christmas of 1982, each ornament bears the name of the child who made it. There is even one made by someone named "Mama."



No tree in our household would be complete without the Christmas angel gracing its top. This particular angel holds a candle in each hand and lights the way, hopefully, for many more Christmases to be celebrated and enjoyed.


I hope each of you have a Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year. Please stop by to visit again.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Priceless Piece of Heirloom Art

Last Wednesday, I wrote a post that included a poem written by Laura McQueen and Emily Stringer, granddaughters of Anne Hughes Porter. The poem had originally appeared on the McQueen Family blog as a tribute to Mrs. Porter on her 75th birthday. Gracious southern lady that she is, Mrs. Porter thanked me for posting the poem and her picture and followed up with a Christmas card, sent as an email, that included a picture of a lovely piece of handmade art.
This piece of artwork is actually a jeweled Christmas tree, handmade by Cadman and Anne Porter, designed primarily from pieces of costume jewelry that once belonged to family members. Some other sentimental items were used, as well, including the button from the hat that was part of the "going-away" outfit worn by Mrs. Porter when she and Cadman Porter were married over 50 years ago.


A picture of this sentimental Christmas tree, compliments of Anne Hughes Porter, is included below.






The jeweled Christmas tree was created on a completely black background and was then framed. The result is a beautiful piece of original artwork, a collage of sparkling jewels, but it represents more than what the eye beholds - it represents a labor of love by two people who have preserved precious memories of those who wore the jewelry used in its creation.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

She is......Ganne.

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a family blog wonderfully developed and written by Laura McQueen, aptly entitled The McQueen Family. Laura's blog contains beautiful pictures documenting the activities of her husband and children, other family members, and her friends. As I read through Laura's well-written and entertaining blog, I found a post about her grandmother, "Ganne," as she is known to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The post contained birthday wishes to Ganne on the occasion of her 75th birthday that had occurred earlier this year. Included in the post was a poignant poem written by Laura and her sister, Emily Stringer, as a loving tribute to Ganne. Reading that poem immediately brought tears to my eyes. I felt as if I already knew and liked Laura's "Ganne" simply by reading the poem. A link to Laura's post that contains the poem and a picture of Ganne can be found at http://themcqueenfamily.blogspot.com/2008/09/gannes-birthday-wishes.html.

A mention in Laura's poem that Ganne was a member of the Attala County Historical Society also caught my attention. I knew now that she lived in Attala County and was a member of the historical society there. And I still did not know Ganne's "real" name. But reading the poem had made me want to know more about Ganne and to share Laura's thoughts and feelings contained in the poem with those of you who read Attala County Memories and The Graveyard Rabbit of Attala County.

So, I didn't waste a minute in contacting Laura at the email address shown on her blog, told her how very much I had enjoyed reading her blog, including the poem, and asked if she would grant me permission to re-print the poetic and pictorial tribute to her grandmother on the Attala County Memories blog here. Laura promptly emailed me and graciously granted permission to do so. She even supplied me with another very nice picture of her lovely grandmother.

It was only in Laura's email this morning that I found out that "Ganne," is actually Anne Hughes Porter, pictured below, the author of a well-known publication about a place in Attala County, Mississippi, a book entitled "A Place called Sallis."


Anne Hughes Porter
Kosciusko, MS

Anne is also known well in Attala County, Mississippi, and elsewhere, as the individual who compiled a listing of those who are buried in Attala County's many cemeteries. I first heard about Anne's books about ten years ago, when I initially began my genealogy journey at our local LDS Family History Center. I feel fortunate that I have "chanced upon" Anne once again, this time through her granddaughter, Laura, who certainly shares "Ganne's" genes!

Below you will find a re-print of Laura McQueen's poem honoring her grandmother, Anne Hughes Porter, on the occasion of her 75th birthday:

She Is…

She is a collector.
Of Hummels and postcards and books.
Of toothpick holders and L.V.’s folk art.
She is a teacher, and although retired, you are sure to learn something when in her presence.
She is a saver. She is a pack rat, an eater-of-leftovers, a coupon-clipper, and one who freely accepts (and often requests) the senior discount.
She knows how to create her own parking space.
She says things like, “Woo Ooh!” and, “I love you a bushel and a peck,” and, “Wonder who lives here.”
Her yard is colorful with its day lilies and yard art.
She cheers for the Whippets, the Bulldogs, and sometimes, to our dismay, even the Rebels.
She is proud to be an American and flies her flag with honor.
She is true Mississippian with her magnolia tree and syrupy sweet tea.
She has a sweet tooth. You won’t find her without chocolates or mints in her purse. Her candy dish is full of M&Ms or gumdrops and there’s Neapolitan ice cream in her freezer.
She is a member, and often a leader, of groups like DAR, Cameo Society, Attala County Historical Society, Twenty-first Century Club, Little Garden Club, and Colonial Dames.
She likes things from south of the border – from chalupas and chimichangas to her favorite game, Mexican Train.
She is a “cook who cares.” She makes special treats like cocoons and "goop". She leaves the cherries out of Emily’s fruit salad; Laura’s chicken spaghetti is topped with extra cheese; and Andrew knows he can have fresh blueberries or sweet potato casserole on request.
She is up-to-date with the latest technology (if you don’t include the cell phone). Our email in-boxes are always full of interesting forwards and “personal notes”.
Her hometown is "A place called Sallis."
She is at home in Kosciusko and has great memories from Monticello and Indianola.
She is a preserver of history who has researched and written historical accounts of her hometown, her church, and her favorite organization.
She has a new room full of memories.
She has nimble fingers that quickly type, beautifully play piano, and sweetly tell “face stories.”
She is full of energy and her house is always fun. With wind-up tub toys, phone calls to the library for story time (“Hang up the phone now please.”), a yellow bicycle-built-for-two, a tree to climb, and a closet full of toys and books from decades passed.
Her sleepovers bring back sweet memories of the fold-out couch with feather pillows, stories about Duke told in a voice unsurpassed by the most famous storytellers, her silky pajamas, and cold cream good-night kisses.
She decorates for every holiday on the calendar.
She has two Christmas trees: one dedicated to family and one to the state she loves.
She wears brooches and pins, and her necklaces are works of art.
She wears socks with a ball, clip-on earrings, and a ring shaped like a butter tray. (Actually, she hasn’t worn it in quite some time…it’s just sitting in her jewelry box…maybe she should let someone wear it…someone like her second-born granddaughter who has admired it since she was very small.)
She likes a good game. She is a Wheel of Fortune fan, follows high school and college sports on the radio and TV, and has a weakness for entering contests.
She is a traveler who prefers taking the scenic route (i.e., the Natchez Trace).
She has many opinions. Sometimes she doesn’t even have to state them aloud. You can tell what she’s thinking with one look at her face – the higher the eyebrows, the stronger the opinion.
She is a celebrity. She makes regular appearances in the Star Herald.
She believes in the power of prayer and prays for her friends and family by name each day.
Three generations share her name.
She is a friend, a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother.
She is our Ganne.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Burrell Family

I just posted a picture of the gravestone of Mrs. B. J. Burrell, wife of O. R. Burrell, on The Graveyard Rabbit of Attala County blog. I have been unable to locate other information about these individuals. Census records beginning in 1870, show that Burrell family members have consistently lived in the Camden Community, near the Attala and Madison County line, and very close to Good Hope Baptist Church Cemetery where Mrs. Burrell is buried.

If anyone reading this post knows how O. R. Burrell is related to others with this last name, in either Attala County or in Madison County, please leave me a comment here or contact me at the email address shown in my profile here on the blog.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Mid-Mississippi Library in Kosciusko

I have been to the library in Kosciusko a number of times during the past ten years, and I have even written here on one occasion about the quality and amount of reference materials and the personal assistance provided by individuals who work in the library.

Those research materials and that personal assistance provided by library staff are exactly the things that make the Genealogy Reference Room at the Kosciusko library one that tops similar areas in some of the larger libraries that I have visited.

One of the staff members at the library is Ann Breedlove. Because Ann loves genealogy research and therefore enjoys her work, she is a wonderful asset to the Mid-Mississippi Library in Kosciusko and a jewel for those who conduct research there.

Thank you, Ann Breedlove!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Traditions

This post was written for the Carnival of Genealogy, 61st Edition, which has "Christmas Traditions" as its theme.

Our Christmas-related activities, "after children" were many and varied over the years. They changed somewhat every few years because of the children's ages and where we lived at the time. But the ones I call "traditions" were started when our family was young, and they never changed. Some were influenced by our own upbringings, but the ones that meant the most actually started when the first child was born.

One of the things we always did was to put up a "real" tree, usually a Frazier fir. As we moved, the height of ceilings in our houses changed. And when we finally landed in Texas in 1985 and built a house that had a family room with a very high ceiling, we began purchasing a taller tree, usually something that was about 10-12 feet in height. It became a family event to select the "special" tree from one of the many Christmas tree lots that lined the major streets leading to our surburban neighborhood. But it was a "parent" event to get the large tree home on the top of our vehicle and inside the house when we got home. 

Placing the lights on the tree in the early years was always an "adult" task. And as soon as the lights were in place, the children began clamoring about who would be "next" to climb the step ladder to hang their special ornaments on the tree. When the tree was all decorated and the lights turned on, we started a fire in the fireplace (whether it was cold outside or not!) and sipped on hot chocolate with miniature marshmallows on top, sitting quietly for a few moments to admire in awe the advent of another Christmas season.

Another tradition involved driving around the week before Christmas to see the Christmas lights in our development and others nearby. In Texas, homeowners' associations take displays of Christmas lights very seriously, and some residents try to outdo their neighbors by having their rooflines, trees, and yard displays decorated by lighting professionals. One of these developments continues its lighting tradition, started about 20 years ago now, with red lights outlining the driveways and walkways that are bright enough to make you think you are nearing the East/West runway of DFW airport! Strategically placed throughout the neighborhood are painted and lighted storyboards that tell in pictures and words the story of "The Night Before Christmas....in Texas, that is..." It was great family fun then and now, and the children, even after they became teenagers, never seemed to tire of reading the story of Santa Claus in his "buckboard" and cowboy boots, making his rounds to deliver gifts to all the children in Texas.

One of my own family traditions growing up in Mississippi was a Christmas Eve gathering of our family which ended with eating fruitcake and drinking egg nog. For the adults in the family, the egg nog may have been laced with rum or with some good old Kentucky bourbon. Don't ask me where they bought it back then....liquor was illegal in Mississippi until 1966.

But the fruit cake and eggnog tradition was not one that ever took hold in my own family after I had children. They did not like either eggnog or fruitcake. But we simply replaced those holiday items with ones they did enjoy, such as Christmas cookies, lots of Hot Chocolate, and spicy, mulled apple cider, stirred with a cinnamon stick. More often than not, we enjoyed watching a family Christmas movie together, or when the children were younger, we read Christmas stories and listened to Christmas carols, always ending with the ever popular, "Silent Night."

Until the children were teenagers, we allowed them to open one gift, and one gift only, to settle some of the anticipation that grew increasingly greater with every day leading up to Christmas morning. Christmas morning always came early in a household where five children had been waiting for weeks for this day. After they descended on the gifts, we enjoyed a big, homemade breakfast, that usually consisted of French toast, waffles, or pancakes, with Canadian bacon or little smokie sausages, and juice.

Attending Christmas Mass was always a part of our Christmas tradition, but as the children grew older and could stay up longer, we began going to Midnight Mass, something that became a very special time for all of us. We especially enjoyed the singing of Christmas carols and a performance by the Bell Choir that began thirty minutes before the start of Mass. One of the many memories I have of my children growing up was the first time we attended Midnight Mass, when one of my sons expressed amazement at how few cars were on the streets of our surburban city at 11:30 p.m. I don't think he had ever been up that late in his young life. Little did he know at that moment how many times he and his brothers and their friends would be out at 11:30 p.m. as teenagers driving on those same streets.

As the children have grown older and some now have families of their own, they have started some of their own special traditions that emulate the ones they remember from childhood. Sometimes, when we are lucky, they include us. But what is important is that family traditions continue to overlap the generations and take with them the special memories of Christmas when we were "growing up."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday - Part of the American Dream?

In addition to being a "National Day of Listening," today is more commonly known to merchants throughout the U.S. as "Black Friday." Let me tell you that where I live, today was not only "Black Friday," it was a stormy Friday, with lots of cold rain.

My honey left for his part-time job shortly after 7 a.m. to fend off the 8 a.m. shoppers. Actually, today's 8 a.m. opening was a "late" opening, considering that two large, local stores actually opened at 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., and their parking lots were full to the max by 9 a.m. I saw on an early morning news show that hundreds of shoppers had "camped out" overnight, wearing heavy jackets, stocking caps, and gloves, outside one of the major "big box" stores that sells electronics. I chose to sleep in.

The thunder, lightning, and rain began early in the morning, but it did not keep me from falling back to sleep for a few extra minutes of "snoozing." It felt good. And it made me thankful that I don't have to get up at 5:30 a.m. and drive 15 miles to the nearest train station to travel 15 more miles, with 13 stops along the way, to get to a tall building in a large and crowded downtown area by 8:30 a.m. Sometimes I can't believe that I made that commute, and several similar ones in different locations, for over 30 years.

Today's shopping adventures by thousands of sale-seekers made me wonder about what our ancestors who lived during the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century would have thought about our world's focus on materialism such as that exhibited today. I think it goes without saying they would not believe what happened along the way as we pursued the American dream.

To most of us, myself included, the lives our ancestors lived seemed so difficult and hardship-driven. But their lives, though difficult and without conveniences, were less complicated in some ways that what we know today.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving - Preserving Family History Today

Besides being thankful for all the blessings we have, Thanksgiving is a perfect time and place to become more familiar with our extended families. If you are fortunate enough to still have older family members around you today, take this opportunity to talk to them. Ask them about their ancestors (yours, too!) and the communities they lived in. Ask them if they have pictures you haven't seen and see if they will give you copies. Get them to tell you about the people they knew growing up and the schools and churches they attended. If they served in the military service, have them tell you what they remember about it, and ask about what they did for a living when they were young. You will be preserving a part of your own history, and your life may be impacted by what you hear.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

National Day of Listening - November 28, 2008


This invitation appears on the website, http://www.nationaldayoflistening.org/.

"November 28th has been designated the National Day of Listening by StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving oral history. This Thanksgiving, StoryCorps asks you to start a new holiday tradition—set aside one hour on Friday, November 28th, to record a conversation with someone important to you. You can interview anyone you choose: an older relative, a friend, a teacher, or a familiar face from the neighborhood."

Oral history has long been a useful and valuable tool in genealogy circles, and recording formal oral histories has become more widely-used in recent years because of the ease in using hand-held recorders and video cameras to document the spoken memories of our families' patriarchs and matriarchs.

Let me invite you to take advantage of this Thanksgiving holiday, when an estimated 40 million people will travel "home" to spend the day with their loved ones, young and old, to spend at least one hour interviewing someone who is older than you about life as they experienced it, "way back then."

I have so many things to be thankful for, not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day. But one of my true blessings in life has been that I have had grandparents and parents who were willing to share their life's experiences, both good and bad, with me. Some of those experiences I have shared with you here on this blog.

This holiday, after you have eaten the turkey and all the trimmings and have watched your team (hopefully!) win, I challenge you to become a "Listener." I know you won't be disappointed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Announcing The Graveyard Rabbit of Madison County

Our Graveyard Rabbit blogs are multiplying, and I am happy to announce that I will be writing yet another one. In addition to "The Graveyard Rabbit of Holmes County", Mississippi blog I mentioned in my post here yesterday, I will be writing about Madison County, Mississippi cemeteries, as well.

I invite you to visit my newest blog, "The Graveyard Rabbit of Madison County," as I travel through the old graveyards there looking for my ancestors and most likely, yours too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

New Graveyard Rabbit Blog for Holmes County, MS

Today I am announcing the birth of another "Graveyard Rabbit," a new addition to a now international group or "bury" of rabbits known as "The Association of Graveyard Rabbits" founded by Terry Thornton, another Mississippian, and a fellow blogger who writes "Shades of the Departed" under the name "footNote Maven." Terry also writes his own blog, "The Graveyard Rabbit of Hill Country." The Association was formed in October of this year, and already it has bloggers who write from many states in the U.S., from Canada, and from England, Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.

On the new blogspot, "The Graveyard Rabbit of Holmes County," I will be writing about old graveyards located in Holmes County, Mississippi, Attala County's neighbor to the west. I hope that you will join me on this journey in search of my ancestors. Maybe you will find some of your ancestors, too, as we travel to cemeteries located in Lexington, Tchula, Coxburg, Ebenezer, and other communities throughout Holmes County.

Welcome to the "rabbit trail!"




Friday, November 21, 2008

Dallas and Sallie Barrett


When entering the gates of Good Hope Cemetery, you will see this marker placed there in memory of George Henry and Lucille Rumbarger Barrett. Good Hope cemetery is just barely inside Madison County, in the community long known as "Camden."

A number of Barrett family members were buried in Good Hope Cemetery over the years. One of these individuals was Grover C. Barrett, who was born August 20, 1887. According to the Woodmen of the World monument that marks the location of Grover's grave, he died on March 5, 1912, when he was "25 yrs 6 mos 15 dys." To date, I have been unable to find this young man on a census record or to determine the cause of his early death.

In addition to Grover Barrett, several other Barrett families are buried in this cemetery. Dallas and Sallie Barrett, whose common gravestone appears here, are two of those family members. Emblems engraved on the weathered and aged gravestone indicates that Dallas was a member of a Masonic Lodge, and Sallie held membership as his wife in the Order of the Eastern Star. As it is in the case of so many couples married for many years, when the death of one occurs, the surviving spouse dies shortly thereafter. According to the dates of death of this couple, Sallie died one month short of the second anniversary of her husband's death.

Gravestone of Dallas O. Barrett and Sallie R. Barrett
Dallas Barrett - born Sept. 23, 1860 b. Jan. 11, 1880
Sallie Barrett - born Nov. 13, 1947 d. Oct. 29, 1949

The U. S. Census taken in 1910 shows Dallas and Sallie Barrett were living in Beat 5, Madison County, and were the parents of four children, Tim, age 17; Henry, age 15, Edward, age 13, and Virginia, age 10. Dallas Barrett's occupation was shown as "farmer." Dallas and Sallie, according to the census were born in Mississippi. The parents of each are shown to have been born in Alabama. It was not uncommon for surnames of those enumerated on census records of long ago to have their names mispelled. In this case, the surname "Barrett" was shown on the census record as "Barret," while the gravestone bears the more conventional spelling of the name.

Another Barrett family living nearby appears on the U. S. Census record of 1910. That household was headed by W. E., a farmer, and his wife, M. E. Their large family included eight children, and their names were K. C., age 20, Curtis, age 19; Benny, age 17; Mac, age 14; Madine, age 12; Andy, age 10; Eugene, age 8; Nancy, age 6; Earl, age 4.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Buffalo Community of Attala County


In the left background of the picture here is a narrow, winding road, made of Attala County's trademark red dirt and clay. This road leads to the Buffalo Church and its cemetery. The turnoff for the church and the cemetery is appropriately named "Oprah Winfrey Road," since the old Buffalo Community near the church was the early childhood home of one of America's most well-known women, Oprah Winfrey.

According to Ed Hutchison in his book "Yesterday," a book about his own ancestors, as well as other families who once lived in Attala County, the Buffalo Community was home at one time to some of the ancestors of at least four well-known individuals. These individuals were James Meredith, O. J. Simpson, Tina Turner, and Oprah Winfrey. Most readers recognize the names and know the stories of O. J. Simpson, Tina Turner, and Oprah Winfrey. But for those who may be less familiar with Mississippi's history, James Meredith was the first Black student to attend the University of Mississippi located north of Kosciusko in Oxford.

A number of books and articles have been written in recent years about the significance of the Buffalo Community of long ago and its rich history of residents whose lineages linked them to ethnic ties with Native American, Black, and Caucasian residents in that area and nearby. Some names of those buried in the Buffalo Cemetery or who had ties to the Buffalo Community are Bain, Bridges, Bullock, Drake, McFadden, Presley, and Walker.

One interesting gravestone in the cemetery marks the final resting place of Love Zinkey Funches Shropshire, who was obviously one of Attala County's oldest residents when she died on May 9, 1980, shortly before she would have celebrated her 101st birthday on October 26th later that same year.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Good Hope Baptist Church


Left: Good Hope Baptist Church, established circa 1851

Last week, we traveled to several places in North Central and Central Mississippi, by way of Memphis, Tennessee. We arrived in Memphis late in the afternoon and stayed overnight. At five o'clock sharp, we began the evening by watching the well-trained and now famous ducks leave the fountain in the lobby of the beautiful and old Peabody Hotel for their penthouse home there.

Later on, we took a ride on the trolley down Main Street and on its Mississippi River Loop trip. After dinner, we walked over to Historic Beale Street, where we admired music notes, inlaid in the sidewalk, that bear the names of many famous blues musicians. Before leaving Memphis the next day, we made a trip out to the STAX Recording Studio/Soulsville USA on McLemore Avenue. Along with walls and walls of famous 45 rpm rhythm and blues records in mint condition, we saw the 1973 peacock blue Eldorado Cadillac with 24K gold-plated trim that belonged to Isaac Hayes. A new exhibit of Otis Redding memorabilia, recently donated by his wife, was also on display. The museum was well worth the trip and the time it took to see everything there.

In the afternoon of Day 2, we began driving south, venturing off the beaten path to stop in Oxford, Mississippi, where the Ole Miss campus had some of the best fall color we saw on the trip. Along the way, we stopped to visit relatives, including my aunt and uncle in Lexington, my oldest brother and his wife, and finally, my parents, who live north of Jackson.

However, when one is a "Graveyard Rabbit," one must always "brake for cemeteries." And that is just what we did, not once, but several times. And we took many pictures that I plan to use on The Graveyard Rabbit of Attala County blog.

Attala County, Mississippi has dozens of family cemeteries, some that are easily accessible on paved roads and located next to churches, but many that require a long, off-the-road trek, sometimes over the creek, across a pasture, and through the woods. Since last week's rain made it less than appealing to hike into the woods, during this trip we opted for visiting cemeteries that were located near paved roads.

One of those cemeteries was the one located next to the church pictured here, Good Hope Baptist Church, established in 1851. The location for the old, but very well-maintained church and its cemetery is atop a hill, surrounded on two sides by deep ravines. The dense foliage seen from the church grounds and the cemetery consists of tall pine trees and large hardwood trees brilliant with their fall colors.

It was there at the Good Hope Baptist Church Cemetery, where my paternal great-grandfather, Edward Arthur Branch, is buried, that we ended our trip. A picture of my great-grandfather's Woodmen of the World tombstone can be found on the The Graveyard Rabbit of Attala County blog site located at http://graveyardrabbitofattalacounty.blogspot.com/.

Buried in the Good Hope Cemetery beside my great-grandfather are two other Branch ancestors, Mattie Allen Branch, who died in 1870, and Mamie R. Branch, who died in 1900. The cemetery gates bear a memorial marker for two Barrett families buried in this cemetery. Along with the Barrett family, Good Hope Cemetery is the resting place for the loved ones of several other families, including members of the Brewer, Cobb, Leslie, Linn, and Parker families.

In the weeks ahead, I plan to write posts about each of the families named above. If you have information and pictures that relate to these families, and you would like for me to include them as part of these posts, please contact me at attalacountymemories@gmail.com.

I hope to hear from you.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Jim Carr and the "Good People" of Attala County



A few weeks ago while reading through Duncan Covington's "The People of Shrock, Mississippi 1895-1922," I ran across an article that was published in the "Star Ledger" newspaper in 1899. My post is about some "good people," perhaps would-be "saints," who helped a person in need long ago. These good deeds involved a number of Shrock residents, including my own paternal great-grandfather, John Porter, and the account of what happened appeared in the August 14, 1899 newspaper column, signed by "Violet."



"There was a sad affair here several days since. Mr. John Porter found a man by the name of Jim Carr in an old cotton house very sick and without food or medicine. He told the neighbors of the poor man's condition, and, being near Mr. Wm. Holley's, he took his buggy and with neighbors help moved him to a cabin on his place and Mrs. Holley sent bedding and made it as comfortable as possible. The poor man lay on his dying bed, among strangers with no kin near and exclaimed: Good people! Good People! They sent for Dr. Anderson and did all they could for him but on Friday his life ended. The people bought his coffin and clothes and laid him to rest in Old Fellowship grave yard. He said he was on his way to work in timber and had no relatives. Peace to his ashes."



Another article that provides some additional information about Mr. Carr appears in the August 11, 1899 edition of "The Mississippi Farmer" (Vol. 3, No. 40.) This article was written by "Daisy" and relates that Mr. Carr, who was "about 45 years old" when he died, had come to Mississippi to "work in the swamp." He became ill after arriving in Attala County and had not been able to work. When Mr. Carr was asked by those who were helping him before his death if he had relatives they should contact, he told them he had no living relatives at all.



Good people. Yes, good people they all were indeed.







Friday, November 7, 2008

"The Baddest White Man in Mississippi"

David "HoneyBoy" Edwards, well-known Delta blues musician from Shaw, Mississippi, mentions Tillman Branch in his 1997 autobiography "The World Don't Owe Me Nothing." One of the references to the man simply known as "Tillman" states that he owned a "whiskey store on Highway 61." This store was actually located on Highway 51 in Goodman, Mississippi, and during the 1950's and until Tillman's death in 1963, the Goodman, Mississippi business was known as "The Long Branch."

Tillman Branch's family had deep roots in Attala County, Mississippi. His ancestors were respected pioneers, descended from old, well-known colonial families of Virginia, but Tillman's business operations were quite different from those who came before him. His businesses existed in the form of "juke joints" located near Tchula in Holmes County and other outlying areas around Attala County. Tchula's location in the place where the "Hills" meet the "Delta" made it the perfect place for these clubs that became peformance venues for blues musicians, such as Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson, and HoneyBoy Edwards, who later became very well-known in their field. Some blues afficianados, such as Junior Dougherty who writes at www.deltablues.net, even believe that Tillman Branch played a crucial, even vital, role in the development of the music form that later became known as the "Mississippi Delta Blues."

Tillman's operation of "juke joints" or "night clubs" was the outgrowth of his alleged reputation as a fairly successful "bootlegger" during the days when local law enforcement seemed to be tolerant of that illegal activity. According to the book written by HoneyBoy Edwards, Tillman also had a reputation for being a womanizer and a "bad man.." and "...all the white folks was scared of him." Rumored reports of Tillman's relationships with women during those years indicate that he routinely ignored local society's racial boundaries that existed at that time and in that place, much to the chagrin of his legal wife and others who knew him.

Although label-bearing hard liquor was not legal in most counties in Mississippi until the late 1960's, it was still easy to find it for sale throughout the state if one knew where to look. And moonshine or "white lightning" was even more available, particularly behind the closed doors of the juke joints. Not only were Tillman's clubs frequented by many blacks who came to drink and to listen to the blues music that reflected events in their own lives, but they were also frequented by white locals who were seeking a lively Saturday night far away from the ever-vigilant eyes of their God-fearing neighbors. It goes without saying that Tillman's businesses existed outside mainstream society of either Attala County, Holmes County, or for that matter, anywhere in the State of Mississippi at that time.

But times were changing, although not favorably for Tillman and "juke joints" in general. And one of those changes involved cracking down on "liquor racketeers," according to an article that appeared in Time magazine. The voice of Hazel Brannon Smith, longtime editor of the Lexington Advertiser and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, became instrumental in forcing law enforcement to take a second look at illegal activities previously "overlooked" by local authorities. According to the article, sixty-four indictments were handed down in 1946 alone.

I have found no written proof that Tillman was among those indicted on charges of illegal activities involving liquor, but the end to an era of uncontrolled proliferation of juke joints and the illegal activities that went on inside their doors was coming to an end. Another period in Mississippi, however, was beginning, the era of desegretation, with events, changes, and even human casualties that would alter the course of history in the state and in the country. Tillman Branch, the man called by some as "The Baddest White Man in Mississippi" would become one of those casualties, perhaps even a casualty of his own making, when he was died in 1963 from a gunshot allegedly fired by a black man who reportedly disagreed with his actions toward a woman they both knew.



Thursday, November 6, 2008

Saints and Sinners of Attala County, Part 2

I have been researching the next story in this series for some time, often running into dead ends, and sometimes encountering resistance by some of those who are still living. But today I finally located the final source of information I need for publishing a post about an infamous relative of mine, a man with roots in Attala County and a man with a tarnished reputation. He had no need for a second name - he was known simply as "Tillman."

Some of you who read my posts may have known Tillman. Many of you may have even liked him for the good things he did before he died. Some, like me, may have been related to him. But you may be more likely to be among the many Attala and Holmes County residents who may have only "heard" about Tillman Branch and his life as the owner of "juke joints" in the Mississippi Delta. Some even called him a "bootlegger."

Tomorrow's post will include my story about Tillman.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day 2008

This is a paraphrase of a statement that I heard today that rings true for the 2008 Presidential Election:

We all remember the day that history is made, but what is often forgotten is that history is almost always made in the months, days and years leading up to the event itself.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, it is indeed a historical one for this country.

Monday, November 3, 2008

What is a Yockanookany?

The Yockanookany is a river, one that is spanned by the first bridge crossed by a traveler when entering Kosciusko from the Natchez Trace. It begins in Choctaw County, Mississippi, near Ackerman, and continues on a course that runs through Attala County, near Kosciusko, and though Leake County, where it becomes a tributary of the Pearl River.

The name has always fascinated me, especially since I have never been able to find the meaning of the word. I know it must be of Choctaw origin, based on it similarity to other Choctaw words and its location in the heart of what was once the Choctaw Nation.

The river runs parallel to the Natchez Trace, and it was likely used by Choctaw people and early settlers long ago to travel through what later became Choctaw, Leake and Attala Counties. The earth and its waters, lakes, streams, and the Yockanookany were sacred to the Choctaw people.

The Yockanookany, its waters and its banks, must hold many stories about life among the people who first lived in that rugged country so very long ago.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Diaries of Judge Jason Niles

Much that is known about life in and around Attala County between June 22, 1861 and December 31, 1864, is the result of information contained in a diary kept by Judge Jason Niles. It appears that Judge Niles may have kept this diary to document events and the effect of those events that occurred during the Civil War. But for whatever reason the diary was kept, its pages contain an invaluable and personal account of what real life in Attala County was like during the three and a half year period the diary covers.

Links to excerpts from the diary have appeared on several genealogical websites for over ten years, and I have read through the entries searching for names of my ancestors there. The diary contains a wealth of information about life in Attala County during the three and one half year period it covers, as it was seen through the eyes of one of its most prominent citizens. Entries in the diary detail the travels made by Judge Niles throughout the county, and they contain names and information about his business associates and friends.

The original copy of the diary kept by Judge Niles was given by a family member to the University of Chapel Hill in North Carolina for permanent preservation as part of the university's Southern Historical Collection. A digital copy is available for reading at http://docsouth.unc.edu/imls/niles/niles.html.

Judge Niles died in 1894, just before he was 80 years old. A picture of his grave marker appears today on The Graveyard Rabbit of Attala County blogspot located at http://www.graveyardrabbitofattalacounty.blogspot.com/


Friday, October 31, 2008

Saints and Sinners of Attala County, Part 1: "The Bully Boys"


Ed Huchison, author of "Yesterday," a book about Attala County families, has encouraged me for some time to write about a convicted murderer named Leon Turner and the Attala County murder case that skyrocketed Attala County into the national news in early 1950. I have chosen, until now, to write stories primarily about my own relatives (no murderers included!) and the ups and downs of their personal lives, and sometimes, their deaths.

But today, the day before All Souls' Day, I have decided to write the story of Leon Turner as the first in a series that I am calling "Saints and Sinners." When you finish this article, I am certain you will know who fit which category.

I had never heard the story about the ex-convict and moonshiner named Leon Turner and two brothers, Malcolm and Wendell Whitt, until I talked to Ed about his book. I don't think anyone in my family ever mentioned this tragic event instigated by these three Attala County men. The incident was likely too controversial to discuss at the time, or even more likely, it was one that I was just too young to remember. The initial incident that led up to the later murder began as the home invastion and intimidation of a sharecropper, his wife, and his children was instigated by Turner and his two brothers. Because the incident was triggered by bigotry and fueled by "white lightning," the trio would later be called "The Bully Boys" by a national news magazine.

The murders involved the shooting of four residents of Attala County, Thomas Harris and three young children. The shooters were Leon Turner and his two brothers. From the beginning, the murder, the trial, and the subsequent conviction of the three accused men became controversial. It was an interracial incident that occurred at a time of racial uncertainty in Mississippi in particular and in the Deep South, in general. While violent events involving racial incidents were certainly not rare in Mississippi during those tumultous years, the accused were three white men, the victims were a man and three children, and all four victims were black.

News accounts indicate the Mississippi State Legislature publicly disapproved of the actions of Turner and his two brothers and called for a speedy prosecution of the accused, but the incident apparently "split" many of the residents of Attala County. Allegedly, some residents, including the mayor of the town at the time, called for a day honoring the victim and calling for donations for his wife and survivors left in his household. Other residents who supported the accused men began accepting donations of monies for a defense fund.

Ultimately, justice prevailed when the trial ended in a conviction that became the first in the history of the State of Mississippi in which a white man was convicted of murdering a black man.

The story of this unfortunate event was published in Time magazine and can be read at

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,858555-1,00.html.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Boy and His Hound Dog


Isn't he cute? This picture of my father was taken in the 1920's in Attala County near the old J. J. Porter homeplace. He is standing beside a fairly large hound dog, maybe a "red-bone hound" with the longest ears I have ever seen. My father seems to be reluctantly holding his left hand on the back of the dog. I am certain that my father's male relatives, but less likely his mother, could barely wait until he became old enough to go raccoon hunting with them. Based on the look on his own face, however, I am not sure if he shares those same feelings. He may be just in awe of this huge dog.

Raccoon hunting was a rite of passage for men during that time and in that place. My father was an infrequent hunter, but when we visited his aunt and uncle in Attala County during my childhood, he always participated in the Saturday night 'coon hunt. To me and to my brothers, the sound of a hound dog's throaty bark from deep within the woods was a certain sign of Saturday night success in "treeing" and subsequently the death of an elusive raccoon. It meant, too, that our father might be home in time to tuck us in.

My great-uncle died of complications from Alzheimer's several years ago, and my father's hunting days are now in the past. The woods are less dense, and wildlife less plentiful now, but the tradition and the sport of raccoon hunting lives on.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Conner Cemetery


Earlier this week, I posted a story about Boley Conner and Anne Traweek Conner and her connection to the Porter family of Attala County.
Here is a picture of the Conner Cemetery in Attala County, taken by Natalie Maynor in 2007.
Several generations of the Conner family, well known Attala County residents, are buried in this cemetery.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Railroads to Nowhere and "The Yellow Dog"


Two attempts to build a railroad in Attala County failed, one due to the Civil War, another because of the Great Depression. Yet another was built and survived for a time. It was called "The Yellow Dog."

On March 3, 1852 the Mississippi legislature issued a charter for a railroad that would be built through the cities of Canton, Kosciusko, Aberdeen, and Tuscumbia. Construction began near Canton, Mississippi, but start of the Civil War prevented completion. Later, the charter was amended, and the rights were transferred to the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern Railroad.

A charter was granted in May 1916 to the Kosciusko & Southeastern Railroad to construct a railroad from Kosciusko to Ayers, Mississippi, with a one year completion date specified in the charter. The company had a capitol stock of $35,000, with each share valued at $100. Officers of the company were S. H. Bolinger and B. H. Bolinger of Shreveport, Louisiana, A. L. Franklin of Reeves, Louisiana, and R. N. Steedman of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. This railroad was built and connected with the Illinois Central Railroad that ran between Memphis and Jackson. The new railroad ran eastward, parallel, and approximately one quarter mile south of the Illinois Central line for about two miles. From that point it turned to the southeast and crossed Highways 14 and 19 about one half mile east of their junction, and continued on to Zama, a small community named after A. L. Franklin's oldest daughter, Zama. The purpose of the line was to supply a saw mill across Lobutcha Creek from the community of Ayers. The book, "Kosciusko-Attala History," states that a passenger train, known as "The Yellow Dog," ran on this line.

According to ICC Finance Docket No. 9091, on December 28, 1931, the Kosciusko & Southeastern Railroad Company requested permission to abandon the 16.3 miles of railroad that ran from Kosciusko to Zama. The request stated that construction had been "primarily for the purpose of transporting supplies and materials to the Bolinger-Franklin Lumber Company's lumber mill at Zama and to provide facilities for shipping outbound forest products of that Company."

Also, according to the document, the lumber mill had been sold to W. P. Brown and Sons Lumber Company on June 24, 1924. By 1931, all available timber in the area had been cut, the facility planned to discontinue its sawing operations, and operation of the railroad would no longer be required. The application indicated that passengers had been primarily employees of the lumber company and their families, or they were individuals traveling to the lumber company to transact business. It seemed there was no further need for the operation of the railroad, since the other big crop in the area, cotton, was taken to market in wagons or in trucks.

At that time the railroad ceased operation, Kosciusko had a population of just over 3,000, and the number of people living in Zama was about 150. Closing of the sawmill and operation of the railroad line between Kosciusko and Zama was expected to cause the population of Zama to drop below 50 residents.

On February 15, 1929, another attempt to build a railroad occurred when the Mississippi legislature issued a charter for a line to be built from Kosciusko, Mississippi to Canton, Mississippi, with an extension on to Jackson. The name of the railroad was to be the Kosciusko Railroad. Since the Depression occurred shortly thereafter, and construction had never started, the state legislature revoked the charter several years later.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Conner Family in Attala County


Yesterday, I found this picture of a historic marker for the Conner Plantation, once located in Attala County, Mississippi, and the home of Boley Conner and his wife, Anne Traweek Conner. The lovely picture was taken by Natalie Maynor and is one of many in her beautiful collection of Mississippi photos taken throughout the state. If only I could find a picture of the house that was part of the Conner plantation. I was particularly pleased to have discovered a photo of the historical marker, since Anne Traweek was the first wife of one of my Porter ancestors, Archibald Porter. According to Attala County records, a number of Conner family members are buried in the cemetery. My Porter line is descended from Samuel Porter, a brother of Archibald Porter. As the story goes, when Archibald's first wife died, he went back to Alabama,, where he still had relatives, and married his second wife, Anne Traweek. Anne moved to Attala County, Mississippi, where she and Archibald became the parents of Susannah, named for his deceased wife, and Burwell and Isabella, named for her parents.
Archibald Porter died several years later, leaving Anne a young widow with three very young children. A short time later, Anne Traweek Porter married Boley Conner, a son of Uriah Conner, who had settled with his Maryland-born wife, Rebecca Chappelear, in Winston County, near Louisville, Mississippi, after the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed. According to the U. S. Census of 1850, taken in Winston County, Mississippi, Uriah had already died, since Rebecca was shown living in a household that did not include her husband. 


Over the next dozen or so years, Anne and Boley had a total of thirteen children, including three sets of twins. When their first set of twins were born in 1846, Anne and Boley named them for his parents, Rebecca and Uriah. Interestingly, some years earlier, Anne and Archibald Porter had named two of their children for her parents.


A few years ago, we had the pleasure of staying overnight at Linden Plantation in Natchez, Mississippi, now operated as a bed and breakfast. It is a truly lovely house, with beautiful gardens surrounding it. The house, the gardens, and the big plantation breakfast, served each morning on antique china complemented by old sterling flatware and period sterling pieces, make a guest believe they have stepped back into the days of Scarlett O'Hara. The house with its period furnishings is said to be one of the best examples of Federalist design in the United States. At breakfast one morning, the owner related to us the story of how the doors to Tara Plantation in the movie "Gone With the Wind" were an exact replica of the front door at Linden Plantation, including the beautiful leaded glass sidelights and fanlight.


The Conner family made its mark in Mississippi, both socially and politically. Interestingly enough, some of that same Conner family built Linden Plantation, and descendants of the family have lived there consistently since before the Civil War.