Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Pee Dee River Colony in South Carolina



Map of the Pee Dee River Valley SC
Many who settled in the north central area of the Mississippi Territory and later migrated, sometimes en masse, to the counties formed there after statehood from Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Virginia. came from South Carolina. It is a well-known bit of history that many of those who settled in Attala County, Mississippi and in the surrounding area came there from the Pee Dee River in South Carolina. This area is sometimes called "the low country" or the coastal area because of its proximity to the marshlands of South Carolina.

Recently, while reading a book entitled "Black Indians, A Hidden Heritage," written by William Loren Katz, I found some interesting information about the Pee Dee River area. According to Katz, the story of the Pee Dee River area is quite unique, and he calls it "the first foreign colony on U. S. soil." It seems that Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, a wealthy Spanish official who lived in Santo Domingo on Hispaniola, founded a colony in the area in June 1526. The settlement, Katz says, was founded "six decades before Roanoke Island, eight decades before Jamestown, and almost a century before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock."

Katz believes that De Ayllon's effort was perhaps overlooked for two reasons: first, because most historians prefer to believe that life in the new world actually began when Anglo-Saxons who were British citizens and spoke English arrived; secondly, Ayllon's settlement suffered a tragic fate, including death, disease, and a slave revolt. Although the settlement "failed" in Ayllon's eyes, the inhabitants who survived these tragedies were reborn as a different people in the woods to which they escaped, and according to Katz, they were "not considered a part of the white U. S. heritage."

The two explorers sent to the New World were Captain Francisco Gordillo, who was charged with locating a suitable landing site and with building friendly relationships with the native inhabitants or local tribesmen, and a slavehunter, Pedro de Quexos. Their efforts during the initial landing included capturing seventy Native Americans, free men and women, and taking them to Santo Domingo to serve as slaves.

De Ayllon was not pleased and with the assistance of Diego Columbus, "the Indians were declared free and ordered returned." Spanish records fail to show whether the order was actually carried out.

Sometime later, after his explorers landed on the wrong coast and had to return to Santo Domingo, Ayllon formed another crew and sailed with other Spanish citizens who were his followers and settled near a "great river...probably the Pee Dee."

Sailing from Puerto de la Plata were a total of "six vessels carrying five hundred Spanish men and women, one hundred enslaved Africans, six or seven dozen horses, and physicians, sailors, and Dominican priests." As the ships arrived, the Native Americans who lived in the area took to the woods to escape the newly-arrived settlers. The Spanish colonists had difficulty coping with the climate, growing the food they needed, and adverse living conditions quickly caused uprisings within the colony. The discord that resulted caused many of the Africans to flee into the woods and live with the Native Americans. De Ayllon became ill and died, but he had named his nephew, John Ramirez to succeed him after death.

And thus the Pee Dee Colony, or "San Miguel de Gualdape" grew to be an amalgamation of people, Native Americans, Africans, and those who spoke Spanish as their native language.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Pettus Family - England>VA>ALA>MS


Left: St. Simon and Jude Church, Norwich England

My maternal grandmother was Rosa Mae Pettus. She was the daughter of William Elza Pettus and Lucy Lula Trigleth and was born in Holmes County, Mississippi on August 28, 1908. Rosa Mae was married first to Ralph Ernest Netherland, when she was about 18 years old and he was 41. They had two children, a daughter and a son. Their daughter was my mother.

When my mother was 14 and her brother was 11 years old, my grandparents divorced. A divorce in 1940 must have been quite unusual, even an embarrassment for the couple and their families, especially when the couple lived in a small, rural Mississippi town where everyone likely knew everything about the business and personal lives of everyone else. I am uncertain of the exact reason why my grandparents divorced, but my best guess would be that the difference in their ages eventually "caught up" with them and changed the relationship.


When I was 13 years old, I met my grandfather for the first time ever, when he was near death in a hospital in Jackson, Misssissippi. He died of cancer a few days after my family's visit with him in the hospital. My grandmother had remarried after her divorce in 1940, and her second marriage to Frank Parsons, Jr. had ended about 10 years before Ralph died. She never remarried after Frank Parsons, Jr. died. Mr. Parsons, or "Pa Frank" as we called him, was the only grandfather I knew on that side of the family. A few years after Pa Frank died, Grandma moved to Jackson, Mississippi, and went to work in the nursing department of St. Dominics Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. When she was about 65 years old, she retired and moved near her son in Holmes County. In January 1986, she died peacefully in her easy chair at home near Yazoo City, Mississippi, after driving herself to and from church that morning.

Rosa Mae Pettus Netherland Parsons had been a nurse for most of her adult life. During my mother's early years, she provided "home" nursing visits and often stayed overnight with people in the community who were ill. My mother learned to take care of the house and cook for herself and a younger brother at an early age. I never knew any other family members with the Pettus last name. But what I have found out from research about the Pettus family who emigrated from England to Virginia in the early 1600's is in this post.

The earliest Pettus ancestor I found was John Pettus, born circa 1530, who married Joan Dethick, in Norwich, England, on October 29, 1548. Their children were Sir John Pettus, born circa 1550 in England, and Thomas Pettus, born circa 1552, near Norwich, England. I was unable to locate a spouse's name for Sir John Pettus, but I did find that Thomas Pettus was married to Cecily King sometime after 1588, and he died in June 1620. John Pettus, the father, died on January 12, 1596 and is buried in Norwich at St. Simon and Jude Church cemetery.

It appears that Thomas Pettus is likely my direct Pettus ancestor. He and Cecily King Pettus had a son named William Pettus, Esquire, born circa 1583 in London, England. William Pettus married Mary Gleane, born circa 1585, on December 21, 1607 in London, England. Mary died on July 27, 1631, and William died in 1648. Their son was Colonel Thomas Pettus, who was born in 1610 in Norwich, England. Colonel Thomas Pettus married Elizabeth Durrant, born circa 1615 near Williamsburg, Virginia in 1645. Colonel Pettus died in 1662, and Elizabeth died a number of years later. They had one child, Captain Thomas Pettus, who was born in 1646 in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was married first to Elizabeth Dabney, born circa 1644, and second to Mourning Glen. Captain Thomas Pettus and Elizabeth Dabney Pettus had four children, Dabney Pettus, born circa 1680, John Pettus, born circa 1683, Stephen Pettus, born circa 1685, and Elizabeth Pettus, born circa 1687. Captain Pettus died in 1698 near Williamsburg, Virginia, and Elizabeth Dabney Pettus died several years later.

The old Pettus townhouse is still standing on Elm Hill Street in Norwich, England. Large lettering across the second story can be read easily through a magnifying glass. The first line reads "Thomas Pettus, Gent. of Norwich. 1506." The next line reads "Thomas Pettus, Sheriff of Norwich 1566, Mayor 1590." The last line reads "Sir John Pettus, First Knight of the Family, Mayor 1608."

Near the old Pettus house is Saints Simon & Jude's church and cemetery, where many Pettus tombs and memorial tablets can be seen, and the Norwich guide books call one of these tombs "the sumptous tomb" of the "first knight of the family."

According to my research, I found that Dr. William Jerdone Pettus of Charleston, South Carolina spent some time in England around the turn of the century, and with the help of a genealogist, found the identify of the Pettus emigrant from Norwich to Virginia in 1637. In 1890, Dr. Pettus wrote:

"The name is extinct in England since the death of the 6th Baronet, Sir Horatio Pettus, July 31, 1772. I saw his tomb in Rackheath Church. The last female Pettus in England was his daughter, Charlotte, who married John Richard Dashwood and died in 1804. "

According to Miss Lucile Pettus of Washington who also visited Norwich, a wonderful portrait of Sir John Pettus, Mayor of Norwich, hangs in the Guild Hall there. Several other portraits are owned by Pettus family descendants who still live in the Norwich area and are on display in their private residences.

The research conducted by Pettus family historians has verified the Pettus family was prominent during the times of Elizabeth, James I, Charles I, and Charles II. Members of the family fought under Prince Rupert, according to a book written by Sir John Pettus in 1670 and entitled a "History of Mines." Sir John wrote the book while he was serving as the Royal Commissioner on Mines. He also served as a member of Parliament for 12 years, and whe wrote a book in 1660 entitled "Pettus on Parliament."

The Pettus family became prominent citizens of the Virginia Colony and the State of Virginia, and ruins of the old Pettus Plantation can still be seen along the James River near Williamsburg. As plantation lands had been "farmed out" with tobacco crops during the years following the American Revolution, members of the Pettus family left to settle other parts of the colonies. Some traveled to lands to the west and to the south that had been opened up for settlement in the late 1700's. Some of these family members migrated to the area of the country that became known as the Deep South and settled first near Huntsville, Alabama, in the area now known as Limestone County. One of the landmarks of Alabama, the Pettus Bridge, where photographs taken during the years of desegregation in the South have now been seen around the world, was named for the family that I am proud to call my ancestors.

And then they moved to Mississippi.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Getting to Know Me, Getting to Know Attala County Memories


I am new to blogging. Actually Terry Thornton's blog, Hill Country of Monroe County, was the inspiration for my blog, which I developed in mid-July of this year. I had "googled" Monroe County, Mississippi for sources of information about my great-great-greatgrandparents near Aberdeen, Mississippi in 1843 and had found Terry's blogspot. A blog seemed an appropriate venue for posting much of the results of family research I had completed and compiled over the past ten years about several family lines. My original plan was to write a book, but after I saw the number of geneabloggers out in cyperspace and their apparent successes with dedicated readers, I decided to update my thinking about how to present the results of my family research.

For this blogging event, Terry asked for the best of the best of our articles - articles that have been previously published and are still available online. I chose the three posts shown below.

1. "James T. Buck and His Bicycle" found at
http://attalacountymemories.blogspot.com/2008/08/james-t-buck-and-his-bicycle.html

I think this post is my "brightest ,"because it was written about an unconventional news reporter who used a non-traditional approach to write about everyday people and everyday things.

2."What Would You Save?" can be found at http://attalacountymemories.blogspot.com/2008/09/what-would-you-save.html


This is my "breeziest" post, because it addresses a somber set of possibly serious circumstances in a somewhat lighthearted manner.


3. "James and Eileen Netherland Branch Celebrate 63 years of Marriage" found at
http://attalacountymemories.blogspot.com/2008/08/james-and-eileen-netherland-branch.html.

I believe this is the most beautiful post that I have published online, because it is about my parents and their unique courtship, written from my heart.

I invite readers of Attala County Memories to get to know more about southern history and culture by reading my blog and getting to know the people, their circumstances, and their challenges as settlers in early Mississippi.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Ghosts of our Ancestors


A few years ago, after I became aware that I had a Gibson great-great-great grandfather, I began searching for Gibson ancestors. Little did I know how much information I would find about this family.

Much of what has been written about the Gibson family in America concerns this family's biracial roots, beginning in Virginia and continuing in its migration through North and South Carolina and on into Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana. My Gibson ancestor was born in South Carolina about 1799. His name was John P. Gibson, and I still have not found the names of his parents. But along the research road, I found many interesting books and published articles about biracial and multiracial heritage in the early years of this country. One such article included "The Free State of Jones", written by Victoria E. Bynum and published by the University of North Carolina Press. Chapter 1 of the publication begins with an interesting quote of Sam Dabney, from James Street's "Tap Roots," published in 1943.

"We can't boast of our ancestors because when we get started talking about our families, out jumps the ghost of a pirate or a cousin of color."

A reference to America's rich racial heritage, contained in Victoria Bynum's book mentioned earlier in this post, states that racial sentiments in the South "evolved over a period of three centuries." She states that "by the 1840's, claims of Indian, Iberian (Spanish), or Mediterranean (Moorish) ancestry, defended one's whiteness against race-based laws and social harassment." Gideon Gibson, a "light-skinned slaveholder of partially African ancestry" and a member of South Carolina's Regulator Movement, is mentioned in this publication as a person who exemplified how racial identity was often "fluid" and "even negotiable in some cases." Bynum goes on to say that "many of Gideon Gibson's descendants, migrated west in search of whiteness as well as lands." We know this is true, since many of the descendants of Gideon Gibson, Jacob Gibson, and Jordan Gibson who ended up in the state of Mississippi prior to the Civil War have been well-documented in the state histories of Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, and even the history of Methodism in Mississippi. We know, too, that regardless of whether a person was labeled as a Mulatto, Mestizo, Mustee, Melungeon, Creole, Cajun, Redbone, or similar names denoting something other than an "all white" ancestry, racial "mixing" has occurred throughout American history, and not only in the South Carolina backcountry and other states commonly known as "The South." Class-consciousness was very real in the society of the 1800's, and it became common for those who lived in the colonies, including North and South Carolina prior to migrating farther west and south, to portray their ancestors as aristocratic patriots and slaveholders. The fact was that many of their "aristocratic" ancestors were Regulators, itinerant preachers, and even Tories.

An interesting bit of history that I also discovered during my research was the story of Dr. Walter Ashby Plecker, a small-town doctor who became the registrar of Virginia's Bureau of Vital Statistics in 1912. Dr. Plecker became known as the impetus for the passage of the Racial Integrity Law in 1924, commonly referred to as "Plecker's Law." The law became Virginia's infamous "one drop" statute, and its language created two racial categories, "pure" white and everybody else. Dr. Plecker had allied with John Powell of the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America and had begun to wage an all-out war against the mixing of the races, one of which was a push for "ancestral registration."

According to J. David Smith in "The Eugenic Assault on America: Scenes in Red, White, and Black," Virginians were reluctant to comply with the idea of "ancestral registration," even though the state had passed the first anti-miscegenation law in 1662, when "passing" as white may have been rather commonplace and proof of racial purity was difficult to obtain.

Plecker's method of identifying racial impurity was to compile a list of family surnames that were "known" to be "mixed." The list was by Virginia county and the names of the "racially mixed" families who lived in these counties, and is shown below:

Amherst: Pumphrey (Migrants to Allegheney and Campbell) Adcock (Adcox), Beverly (this family is now trying to evade the situation by adopting the name of Burch or Birch, which was the name of the white mother of the present adult generation), Branham, Duff, Floyd, Hamilton, Hartless, Hicks, Johns, Lawless, Nukles (Knuckles), Painter, Ramsey, Redcross, Roberts, Southwards (Suthards, Southerds, Southers). Sorrells, Terry, Tyree, Willis, Clark, Wood

Bedford: McVey, Maxey, Branham, Burley (see Amherst)

Rockbridge: (migrants to Augusta), Cash, Clark, Coleman, Duff, Floyd, Hartless, Hicks, Mason, Mayse(Mays), Painters, Pults, Ramsey, Southerds (see Amherst), Sorrell, Terry, Tyree, Wood, Johns

Charles City: Collins, Dennis, Bradby, Howell, Langston, Stewart, Wynn, Custalow(Custaloo), Dungoe, Holmes, Miles, Page, Allmond, Adams, Hawkes, Spurlock, Doggett

King William: Collins, Dennis, Bradby, Howell, Lanston, Stewart, Wynn, Custalow(Custaloo), Dungoe, Bolnus, Miles, Page, Allmond, Adams, Hawkes, Spurlock, Doggett

New Kent: Collins, Bradby, Stewart, Wynn Adkins, Langston

Henrico and Richond City: (see Charles City, New Kent, and King William)

Caroline: Byrd, Fortune, Nelson (see Essex)

Essen and King and Queen: Nelson, Fortune, Byrd, Cooper, Tate, Hammond, Brooks, Boughton, Prince, Mitchell, Robinson

Elizabeth City and Newport News: Stewart (descendants of Charles City families)

Halifax: Epps (Eppes), Stewart (Stuart), Coleman, Johnson, Martin, Talley, Sheppard (Shepard), Young

Norfolk County and Portsmouth: Sawyer, Bass, Weaver, Locklear (Locklair), King, Bright, Porter

Westmoreland: Sorrells, Worlds (Worrell), Atwells, Butridge, Okiff

Greene: Shifflett, Shiflet

Prince William: Tyson, Segar (see Fauquier)

Fauquier: Hoffman (Huffman), Riley, Colvin, Phillips, (see Prince William)

Lancaster: Dorsey (Dawson)

Washington: Beverly, Barlow, Thomas, Hughes, Lethcoe, Worley

Roanoke County: Beverly (see Washington)

Lee and Smyth: Collins, Gibson (Gipson), Moore, Boins, Ramsey, Delph, Bunch, Freeman, Mise, Bolden (Bolin), Mullins, Hawkins - Chiefly Tennessee "Melungeons"

Scott: Dingus (see Lee)

Russell: Keith, Castell, Stillwell, Meade, Proffitt (see Lee and Tazewell)

Wise: (see Lee, Scott, Smyth, and Russell Counties)

As the Registrar, Dr. Plecker had the authority to change various forms of registration required in Virginia, including birth certificates and marriage records. Since he exercised this authority and changed or added to the documents as he saw fit regarding racial makeup, the process of alteration became known as "pleckerizing."

The impact of this finding on my research was that two of my family lines were included on the list, Gibson and Porter. What it really meant was that I had much more research to do.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Blues Blog








Sundown at Stovall Plantation
Clarksdale, Mississippi

On Friday, my husband and I started a new blog about the blues. Since we are avid collectors of "everything blues," we decided to name the new blog just that, "Everything Blues." The first post discusses the beginning of blues as an American music form, and future posts will continue to trace the history of the music and to provide information about upcoming festivals and events. We also plan to write posts that feature various artists, many who originated in Mississippi, along with information about their lives and their music.

Please visit us at http://www.bluesofthemississippidelta.blogspot.com and let us know what you think.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What Would You Save?

A recent post by Terry Thornton at his Hill Country of Monroe County blogspot inspired me to write the following post. You can read Terry's daily posts at
hillcountryofmonroecountry.blogspot.com. Thanks, Terry!

During the past few days, we have all seen the devastation and flooding caused by hurricane Ike in the coastal areas of Texas and Louisiana, where many people have lost their lives, their livelihoods, their homes, and their personal belongings. The most unfortunate situation, other than actual lives claimed by the hurricane, is the fact that some of the people affected by flooding on Galveston Island do not know when they can return to their homes.

Although we are well removed from the effect of recent hurricanes, we did have some personal concern during this last storm, since one of our daughters and her family live in Houston, Texas. Fortunately, our daughter's husband is a Houston policeman, and he was very well-informed about what the city expected after the hurricane's landfall. Based on their location, a zip code northwest of downtown Houston, and the storm results anticipated there, our daughter and her family were encouraged not to evacuate before this storm.

She and her husband had carefully planned for the days after the storm's arrival by having on hand an ample supply of drinking water and food that could be kept without refrigeration and prepared without a stove or microwave, since power outages were anticipated for an unspecified number of days. One of the keys to their preparedness was that they had an adequate amount of planning time.

But what if you didn't have time to prepare to leave your home? And you had only an hour or less??

So, my husband and I started a discussion about what we would want to save if we had only thirty (30) minutes advance notice for leaving our home, knowing that nothing would be saved, except what we could take with us. The type and amount of items that we would take with us would be very different, we decided very quickly, and would vary according to the amount of notice time we had and the type of emergency situation that was imminent.

We also decided, up front, that a house fire, a home invasion, or a terrorist attack would be situations where we would just want to make sure we got out of the house safely.

My husband's first response was that he would want to save our two cars and my jewelry, before he forgot that insurance would cover the jewelry. Next on his list was were our golf clubs. I reminded him that he should probably make sure he has his wallet and his car keys. He added that I should make sure that I have my purse, all my credit cards, and my makeup.

At that point in time, my husband's logical thought process and knack for planning kicked in, and he thought about more important, sentimental items, such as our wedding picture and albums of family photos, along with a few framed diplomas, certificates, and awards. A hearty discussion followed, and he said that he would definitely want to take our signed Kinky Friedman books and other memorabilia from Kinky's race for Governor of Texas a couple of years ago, along with several of his collectible golf clubs and a few special golf balls. I added that I would take along a copy of Eudora Welty's book, "Delta Wedding," given to me by my grandmother and signed by the author during her time as Writer-in-Residence at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS.

My husband then decided that he would definitely save save a bottle of expensive French wine, good until the year 2025, that he is saving for a "special occasion."

And so the discussion continued. Our 30 minutes of hypothetical preparation time for leaving the house was almost up, and we didn't even have the list completed.

Now what would you take? Choose any amount of preparation time you want........I would love to hear from you.

And we will continue to keep the hurricane survivors and their families in our thoughts and in our prayers.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

John P. Gibson - was his father also John?

Where was John P. Gibson living before he married Margarett J. Williams on January 3, 1843 in Monroe County, Mississippi? This has been a burning question that has plagued my family research efforts for way too long.

Yesterday, however, I may have made some progress in the search. According to another researcher's information, Joseph L. Gibson, John's relative in Monroe County, Mississippi, may have owned some land in Lincoln County, Tennessee. According to this information, Joseph L. Gibson deeded a parcel of that property to a son-in-law before he died. So I decided to search U. S. Census Records for Lincoln County, Tennessee.

Why had I not found this before? Lincoln County, Tennessee and Monroe County, Mississippi are not that far apart. I knew I might be on to something here, so I forged full steam ahead and checked out U. S. Census records for Tennessee, for 1830 and for 1840. I was pleasantly surprised.

According to the U. S. Census taken in 1830, John Gibson was enumerated in Lincoln County, Tennessee. He was between 70 and 80 years old. Another male, between 30 and 40 years old, was included in that household. Also present were three females under twenty years old, and another female, between the ages of 70 and 80. In 1840, the household only included the two oldest individuals. The second male in the household in 1830 was likely my John Gibson. Since John P. Gibson was over 44 years old when he married Margarett J. Williams, it was likely his second marriage. The three females living in the household in 1830 may have been three underage daughters from his first marriage. It is possible that he and his daughters lived with his parents until each daughter was married, and then he married a second wife. I also noted a Williams household several houses away on each sentence. Possibly, Margarett was related to this family. Another significant bit of information was the name "Zebie Gibson" that appeared two houses away from John Gibson's household on the 1840 census. Was this John's son, or was it John's brother.

I believe that Zebie may be just the name I need to link John P. Gibson to the rest of his family.

And the search for John P. Gibson's family continues.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Gibson Family - Blurred Racial Lines

As I wrote in an earlier post, my research into the Gibson family, even from the beginning, has directed me into areas that discuss blurred racial lines. Some of the first material I found that mentioned the Gibson family of South Carolina was contained in a PBS Frontline special that profiled "blurred racial lines of famous families."

The Gibson family was included in this PBS Frontline material, because a number of genealogists have attempted to trace the ancestry of two recent U. S. presidents to the South Carolina Gibson family. Another source of information, included in the Frontline special background materials, was a reference to Winthrop Jordan's book, "White Over Black." In this book, a published doctoral thesis, Jordan mentions Jacob and Joseph Gibson, who are identified as a son and a grandson, respectively, of Randal Gibson. According to Jordan's book, as well as other sources of information I have reviewed and written about, Randal Gibson was a descendant of the South Carolina Gibson family, a family of colour that migrated from South Carolina to Mississippi, Kentucky, and Louisiana.

Another source of material that discusses the likely ethnicity of the Gibson family is the work of Paul Heinegg, Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware." This work lists surnames by area or location, and can be found at http://www.freeafricanamericansofcolor.com/.

According to Heinegg's book, which was also mentioned in the PBS Frontline special, the Gibson family likely descended from Gibson Gibson, born in the mid-1600's to Elizabeth Chavis. Gibson and Chavis are both surnames that can be found among "core surnames" of a controversial and widely-researched "tri-racial isolate" group, known as Melungeons, that lived in the Southeastern portion of the United States. More can be read about the this group at http://www.melungeons.com.

In June 1977, Erique Eugene Gildemeister drafted the results of his research about the racially mixed people of South Carolina, entitled “Local Complexities of Race in the Rural South: Racially Mixed People in South Carolina.” (B. A. thesis, Board of Study in Anthropology, State University of New York, College at Purchase, Purchase, New York, 1977.) Gildemeister's thesis discusses the various groups of people who lived in South Carolina, including those who were of African and Indian descent.
One conclusion drawn by Gildemeister seems to be that blurring of racial lines between whites and other people who have varying degrees of darker skin, or "mixed-blood", regardless of the specific type of ethnic ancestry, may have enabled the latter over time to be accepted as "white."

Still, I have no pictures of any relative who bore the surname Gibson, so I don't know that I will ever know the true ethnicity of my Gibson ancestors. But at this point, the case for their mixed-racial heritage seems to be a fairly strong one.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New Blog at ClarionLedger

Effective yesterday, this blog will be posted at http://www.clarionledger.com/, under the name Mississippi Memories.

From the ClarionLedger front page, just go to the "Blogs" list, about half-way down the page and to the far right. Look for the picture of the magnolia and click on the link. I hope to see you there.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Genealogist's Prayer

So far on this blog, I have posted information about my paternal lines, the Branch, Porter, Baldridge, Meriwether, and Gibson connections. I have posted very little yet about the Netherland family, my mother's family, nor the Williams family of Alabama and Mississippi, from which my paternal great-great-great-grandmother Margarett J. Williams descended. I still have much research to do and even more writing to document what I already have and what I hope to find.

Today, while reviewing my files and planning out how to present the rest of the family information I already have, I ran across this poem, written by N. Curtis Woods. I thought it expresses the sentiment of so many family researchers, including me, in their efforts to piece together centuries of information about their ancestors.

A Genealogist's Prayer

Lord, help me dig into the past

And sift the sands of time,

That I might find the roots that made

This family tree of mine.


Lord, help me trace the ancient roads

On which my fathers trod,

And led them through so many lands

To find our present sod.


Lord, help me find an ancient book

Or dusty manuscript,

That's safely hidden now away,

In some forgotten crypt;


Lord, let it bridge the gap

That haunts my soul when I can't find

The missing link between some name

That ends the same as mine.

Where Is the Baldridge Family Now?


According to documents reviewed and information found during my research into the Baldrige/Baldridge family history, very few family members remained in Mississippi after the late 1800's. Since the Baldridge family migrated through North Carolina and continued into Tennessee, Alabama, and the Mississippi Territory, it is very likely that some of the Baldridge men took Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek, or Choctaw women as their wives as they traveled along the way. It is also quite possible that some of the Baldridge daughters married men who had Native American ancestry.

When one reviews the people who were enumerated on the Dawes, Chapman, or Siler rolls, many different ethnic backgrounds are represented. It is apparent that intermarriage of people who lived in close proximity to each other, regardless of the area where they were located, was something that occurred frequently during the early 1800's.

Surprisingly, during my early research, I found that Baldridge is currently a more common surname in Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky than in North Carolina, Tennessee, or Mississippi, where so many of my early ancestors lived during the 1800's. Some of these states have significant populations that include Native American ancestry that resulted from the relocation of the Five Civilized Tribes to what became the Oklahoma Territory.

Perhaps Baldridge family members who remained in Mississippi left over time to join relatives in Oklahoma and other states north and west. It appears to be so.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Baldridge Family in Mississippi

Francis Baldridge was born circa 1751 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the son of John and Rebecca Clark Baldridge. He married Elizabeth Turrentine, born circa 1759 in western Pennsylvania, the daughter of Alexander Turrentine. The Turrentine family, like the Baldridge family and numerous other Scotch-Irish families, immigrated to Pennsylvania in the early-mid 1700's and later migrated to North Carolina, as land opened up for settlement there.

Many of the Scotch-Irish families living in Orange County, NC belonged to the Little River Presbyterian Church, and it is likely the Turrentine and Baldridge families attended church there, as well. Francis served as a private in the North Carolina Continental Army and fought in the Revolutionary War. According to records available, Francis earned 24 specie, plus interest, for his service in the war.

Francis and Elizabeth, according to "Methodism in Mississippi," had ten children, five boys and five girls, between 1777 and 1801, with several children being born after they migrated to the Mississippi Territory. Other accounts indicate they may have had eleven or twelve children, with possibly one who remained behind in North Carolina or one or more dying during early childhood. The actual number of children remains somewhat unclear, but the names below are documented in North Carolina and early Mississippi Territory records:

John, b. February 8, 1780, Orange County, NC
Alexander, b. circa 1782, Orange County, NC
Mary, b. circa 1784, Orange County, NC
Deborah Spence, b. circa 1788, Orange County, NC
James, b. circa 1791, Orange County, NC
Francis, b. 1793, Orange Co., NC
Daniel, b. 1797, place of birth is uncertain
Sarah Jane, b. 1799, Jefferson County, MS
Samuel, b. circa 1800

Alexander and Samuel are believed to have served in the War of 1812, possibly in the Mississippi Territory Militia.

Available records indicate that Sarah Jane, Deborah Spence, and James all died in Jefferson County, Mississippi. John Baldridge died in Carroll County, Mississippi and is buried in Enon Chruch Cemetery, near Carrollton, Mississippi.

Daniel Baldridge was married, first, to Sibbell Forman, on December 19, 1822, in Jefferson County, Mississippi. She was born circa 1800. It is possible that Sibbell died early in the marriage. On March 15, 1832, in Madison County, Mississippi, Daniel married his second wife, Harriett Atwood, born circa 1815. Daniel Baldridge and Harriett Atwood Baldridge had six children. One of their children, Martin Van Buren Baldridge, married Huldy Catherine Smith, born in North Carolina. Martin and Catherine had several children, one of them a daughter named Claudia Mae Baldridge. She married Ed Branch on December 21, 1896, and their only son, Clark Commander Branch, was born on August 9, 1899. Clark Commander Branch was my paternal grandfather. "Granny Claudie," as we called my great-grandmother Branch, died in Goodman, Mississippi and is buried in Hillcrest Cemetery.

More than two hundred years had gone by since the Baldrige/Baldridge family first emigrated from Ireland to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Baldrige/Baldridge Family Moves to NC

Some of the children of William and Janette Holmes Baldridge, when they reached adulthood, moved to western Pennsylvania. One of the sons, Daniel, married someone from the Lancaster area and moved with his wife from Lancaster County to Orange County, North Carolina, about 1770. Daniel later served in the Revolutionary War and was listed in the First Census of the United States in 1790. After John Baldridge died, Rebecca Clark Baldridge, left the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania area with several children who were still considered minors, and joined the Baldridge relatives in Orange County, NC. She later re-married and died about 1823 when she was said to have been been 103 years old, perhaps the mother of 21 children.

Several books have been written that chronicle the Scotch-Irish Baldrige/Baldridge family and their descendants. One particular book, "Our Baldridge Forbears" written by Dr. Chester C. Kennedy, himself a Baldridge descendant, specifically traces the entire ancestry of William Baldridge and Janette Holmes and their descendants from Ireland to Pennsylvania, and their migration into the Carolinas, and on to Tennessee and beyond.

Another of Dr. Kennedy's books is entitled "Francis Baldridge, His Wife, Turrentine In-Laws and Their Families." This book details the lives of Daniel Baldridge and Francis, one of his brothers, and their migration from North Carolina to Nashville, and on to the Mississippi Territory.

Francis Baldridge is shown on original land grand records in the Mississippi Territory dated 1799. The location of the land was near Cole's Creek, near the Natchez Trace, north of what is now part of the Ross Barnett Reservoir. Francis Baldridge would become the ancestor of many Baldridge family members who would be born later in the State of Mississippi.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Balridge/Baldridge Family of Ulster, Ireland

The Baldridge family settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania around 1726 and owned land there until the early 1800's. William Baldrige was born circa 1689 in Ulster, Ireland, the son of Richard Baldrige of Wales. There is no known record of his birth. He married Janette Holmes, the daughter of James Holmes and allegedly Margaret Jane Jennings, on June 16, 1714. They became parents of six children, all born in Coleraine, County Londonderry, Ulster Province, Ireland. Names and possible dates of birth of the children were, John, 1715; Alexander, 1717; Margaret, 1719; Janette, 1721; Elizabeth, 1723; and Michael, May 1726.

Available records vary as to the date, but sometime between 1726 and 1745, the Baldrige family, except for their oldest son, John, emigrated to Little Britain Township in southern Lancaster County. Reportedly, the family arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania aboard the "Queen Margaret."

William and Janette Holmes Baldrige settled between the Octorara Creek and the eastern bank of the Susquehanna River and worked. William was a farmer, and it is believed that Janette was a weaver. Some research conducted by other Baldrige descendants indiccate they may have been members of the Little Britain Congregation of the Presbyterian Church of Lancaster County and the Muddy Run Society.

At some point, Rebekah's parents, William and Margaret Clark, also emigrated from Ulster Ireland, also to Lancaster County, PA. William Clark's Last Will and Testament was executed on May 10, 1763 and filed for probate 11 days later. It is recorded in Will Book "A", Page 219, Official Records of Lancaster County. In his will, William Clark recognizes John Baldrige, his son-in-law.

William Baldrige died on November 25, 1772, in Little Britain Township, and Janette died there reportedly between 1767 and 1773. It is believed they are buried in the church's cemetery, but there are no records to prove this.

John Baldrige, who had remained in far north Ireland when his parents emigrated to America, married Rebekah Clark in 1733, in Coleraine, County Londonderry, Ireland, near where she had been born circa 1720. With three young children, John and Rebekah reportedly sailed to Pennsylvania aboard the "Village Belle," arriving there about 1737. They settled on land located in Martic township in southern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, just a few miles from John's parents.