Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Friday, August 28, 2009

Netherland Family Reunion

The annual Netherland Family Reunion is scheduled for Sunday, August 30, 2009, in Coxburg, Mississippi. Each year, descendants of William Bailey Netherland and Martha Elizabeth Garrard, and allied family members, including Spencer family cousins, meet in Coxburg near the old family home of the Netherland family of Holmes County, Mississippi. The event is a potluck lunch where family members share their favorite dishes and engage in lively conversation about family happenings during the previous year.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Life in Schrock, Mississippi - 98 Years Ago Today

Today's post is an excerpt from,"The People of Shrock, 1895 - 1922," edited by Attala County native, Duncan C. Covington. The article, written under the pseudonym "Daisy" was originally published on Friday, August 25, 1911, in the Kosciusko Herald, Vol. 12, No. 28.

"Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Stingley spent several days with relatives in Leake County recently. Mr. M. D. James is spending awhile at Hot Springs. Messrs. Joe Shrock and Wirt Williams, Mrs. Mabel Fulmore and Lula Williams attended quarterly meeting at Salem last Tuesday. Several of the young people attended an ice cream supper at Shiloh for the benefit of the church. Mrs. Walter Laureman of Aberdeen is visiting relatives here. Mr. McCauley, a veterinarian from Lexington, was here a few days ago. Mrs. Bertha Ellis of Memphis is visiting her father, Mr. W. T. Clower. Mr. and Mrs. C. L. Dickerson have returned from a trip to Colorado where they spent several days visiting many points of interest. Miss Ida Hearst and Mr. Harvey Hearst went to Goodman Thursday to hear Rev. Holcomb who is holding a meeting at the Baptist church. Mr. E. B. Parker, Sr., Mrs. John Fallen and children, and Miss Estelle Jenkins are visiting relatives in St. Louis. Miss Rossie Hearst is visiting her daughter, Mrs. Burnie Pressly, at Vaughn. Miss Carrie Campbell of Yazoo City visited home folks recently. Mr. Walter Mabry and wife visited at Camden Sunday. Miss Mabel Fulmore, who has been visiting Miss Lula Williams, for her home in Water Valley. Miss Ruby Shrock has returned from a pleasant visit to relatives in Georgetown. Mrs. G. W. Thomas is spending awhile with her daughter, Miss Eula Hammett, at Schlater. Mr. Elmer Dickerson left Monday for Parkin, Arkansas, where he has a position. Miss Lee Davis of Camden is teaching the Shrock School."


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Netherland - Wallis Family Connection

One of the advantages of blogging about family history is that it sometimes allows distant relatives to find each other. And last week, thanks to the fact that Jeannie Wallis Bowser visited this blog, that happened to me.

It all began last Tuesday when I received an email from Jeannie, telling me we are cousins! It seems that she had been searching the internet for information about the Netherland Family and found a photo of the Netherland family on my blog.

The photo Jeannie found and posted here today shows Jeannie's grandmother, Amabel ("Amy") Netherland Wallis holding her father when he was a small child. Imagine my surprise, when Jeannie told me that Amabel and my grandfather, Ralph Ernest Netherland, were brother and sister! Jeannie provided a phone number in her email and asked that I call her. On Wednesday, I did just that. We talked for almost two hours, and Jeannie filled me in on many details about the Netherland family's life that I had never heard.

One of the most interesting outcomes of our cousin-to-cousin phone conversation was that Jeannie told me several things about my maternal grandfather that I never knew. In order to explain why I did not know more about my grandfather, I need to provide some family background. First, Ralph Ernest Netherland was twenty-three years older than my grandmother, Rosa Mae Pettus, when they married. Second, he and my grandmother divorced when my mother was 14 years old and her only sibling, a brother, was 11. My mother's contact with her father after the divorce was limited, and when she married my father less than 5 years later, the newlyweds soon moved out of state where my father was working at the time. Third, I had never met my grandfather Netherland until my parents took my brothers and me to see him at a Jackson, Mississippi hospital in April of 1959, where he was suffering from terminal stomach cancer. Several days later, on April 10, 1959, Ralph Netherland died of the same disease that eventually caused the deaths of five of his siblings.

What Jeannie told me about Ralph Netherland was priceless information about a grandfather I had never known. As a child, Jeannie often visited her grandmother, Amy, at the old Netherland home place near Coxburg, Mississippi, where Ralph also lived. According to Jeannie, Ralph kept a beehive that provided honey to the family. One of Jeannie's fondest memories was eating hot, homemade bread spread with Ralph's homegrown honey. In my mind's eye, I can see the children eating the treat on the wide front porch of the big old house in the country. Jeannie also told me that Ralph kept a trunk filled with childhood keepsakes, as well as a his grandfather Netherland's Confederate uniform, that he allowed Jeannie and the other grandchildren to look through when they visited. Jeannie also shared with me information about her generation, who married whom, where the families moved when they left Mississippi, their occupations, and where some of them now live.

When our conversation ended, we planned to talk again and promised to continue to share our families' histories. Ironically, I had taken photos of four Wallis headstones when we visited Coxburg Cemetery in May of this year. Now I know how these Wallis family members are related to my Netherland family.

Thank you, Jeannie Wallis Bowser, for finding this Netherland cousin!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Felix - One Contented Cat

The last time I wrote about Felix the Kitten, now Felix the Young Cat, he had just arrived home after undergoing two additional surgical procedures. To bring you up to date, Felix's tail was injured when he adopted us, and his tail required amputation to stop an infection. And a couple of weeks later, he spent some more time at the veterinary hospital, where he was de-clawed and neutered.

Today I am happy to report that Felix has breezed through all three of these procedures and that his purrrrrr-motor is running even more than ever. I actually thought that he might hold a grudge and pout for a few days after he arrived home to recuperate from the last two procedures, but that has not been the case at all. He seems to love his adopted family even more. After a round of booster shots scheduled for next month, Felix will be vet-free for a while, unless some sort of emergency develops. That means he can just focus on becoming a grown-up cat.

In the photo here, Felix can be seen perfecting a favorite sleeping position during one of his many daily naps.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia - A Life in Poems"

Earlier this year, I posted a review of "Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia - A Life in Poems," by Mississippi writer, Patricia Neely-Dorsey. One of Ms. Neely-Dorsey's poems, "Southern Life," invokes so many memories of my home state of Mississippi. Since the poem is one of my favorites, I decided to share it here today with my readers.


If you want a glimpse of Southern life,
Come close and walk with me;
I'll tell you all the simple things,
That you are sure to see.
You'll see mockingbirds and bumblebees,
Magnolia blossoms and dogwood trees,
Caterpillars on the step,
Wooden porches cleanly swept;
Watermelons on the vine,
Strong majestic Georgia pines;
Rocking chairs and front yard swings,
Junebugs flying on a string;
Turnip greens and hot cornbread,
Coleslaw and barbecue;
Fried okra, fried corn, fried green tomatoes,
Fried pies and pickles too.
There's ice cold tea that's syrupy sweet,
And cool, green grass beneath your feet;
Catfish nipping in the lake,
And fresh young boys on the make.
You'll see all these things
And much, much more,
In a way of life that I adore.

By Patricia Neely-Dorsey

For more about Ms. Neely-Dorsey, please visit her website at

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Henrietta Hemingway Gourley Mitchell, Camden, Mississippi

When I last wrote about Henrietta Hemingway, the daughter of Henrietta and William Hemingway of South Carolina, she had married John Gourley on April 8, 1862, the first anniversary of her mother's death. That year must have been one of the most tragic years of young Henrietta's life, for it was the year that she lost their first child, a daughter named Henrietta Rose Gourley, and her husband, who was killed in the Civil War. She was a widow at age 26.

The next record of Henrietta Hemingway is an entry on the U. S. Census of 1880, one that shows Henrietta still living in Beat 5, Madison, Mississippi, near Camden. The household in which she "keeps house," is headed by her second husband, George Mitchell, a 40 year old Tennessee-born farmer. According to the census record, Henrietta was 44 years old, and she and George had six children, Annie, age 13, Susan, 11, William, 8, Joe, 5, George, 3, and Ellen, age 2.

According to the U. S. census of 1900, Henrietta was then a 64 year old widow who lived in the household with her unmarried son, Joe H. Mitchell, age 27, and her 66-year old unmarried sister, Mary Hemingway. Joe Mitchell, his mother, and his maiden aunt still lived near where he was born, in Beat 5 (Camden) of Madison County, Mississippi. Also living in that household was Annie Stewart, a 30 year-old servant. Approximately 15 residences away was a household headed by former Mississippi Governor, William McWillie, a longtime friend of the Hemingway family.

When Henrietta Hemingway Gourley Mitchell died a few years later, she was buried in Kirkwood Cemetery near her mother, her baby daughter, and members of the McWillie family.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Felix the Cat - An Update

This is a photo of Felix relaxing at home with his favorite toy, a piece of iridescent blue nylon rope that once was wrapped around a small play ball. What is not readily apparent in the photo, however, is that Felix has just returned from yet another trip to the veterinarian, a trip that left him without a few more parts of his feline anatomy.

The last time I wrote about Felix, he had undergone surgery to have his tail amputated. The good news is that several weeks later, his tail has completely healed, leaving him with a furry black bobtail less than two inches long. The bad news is that on Tuesday of this past week, Felix was subjected to two additional "procedures," when he was neutered and his front claws were removed.

Awwwrrrrrh, you may be saying.

Yes, it sounds pretty awful, but both procedures were necessary for Felix to remain a housecat, something that he has grown very much accustomed to, I might add!

An unusual thing happened on Wednesday, however, when we brought Felix home. He didn't act as if anything had happened to him. He was just as full of energy as when we left him at the animal hospital on Monday afternoon, something that was apparent as he bounded through the house, making certain everything was just as he left it!

We knew when Felix adopted us that he was one resilient little fellow, and now we know he is becoming one "tuff" cat!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Hemingway Family Migrates to Madison County, Mississippi

When the U. S. Census of 1850 was recorded in South Carolina, William and Henrietta Hemmingway were living in York in the York District of the state. According to the census, William was born in England about 1796, a "plasterer," with assets valued at $1,100. The birthplace of William's 51-year old wife, Henrietta, was also shown as "England." That same census record showed the Hemmingway household also included five daughters, Ann, 26, Helen, 23, Sarah, 19, Mary, 16, and the youngest, Henrietta, who was 14 years old.

In one of his emails to me, Mitchell Sawyer, a great-grandson of the older Henrietta, related this story about his great-grandmother: "My Hemingway ancestors left Duesbury England on the Ship Majestic and arrived in Charleston Harbor in 1829...(they) settled in the Camden, SC area ...."

By 1860, however, the Hemingway family had already migrated to Mississippi. According to the U. S. Census taken that year, the family was living near Canton, the county seat of Madison County, Mississippi. The Hemmingway surname was now spelled with only one "m." Heading the household was William Hemingway, a 63 year-old "painter," with property valued at $1,500, and 51-year old South Carolina-born Dr. Hemingway, a "physician and planter." Absent from the household was Henrietta Hemingway, William's wife and mother of his five daughters. According to her grave stone in Kirkwood Cemetery near Camden in Madison County, Mississippi, Henrietta Hemingway died on April 8, 1860, shortly before the U. S. Census of that same year was recorded.

The five Hemingway daughters enumerated in the 1850 census in York District, South Carolina, were shown on the U S. Census of 1860 as living in the household with their father and Dr, Hemingway. In 1860, Ann, the oldest of the five, was 34 years old, Helen, 30, Jane, 27, Mary 25, and the youngest Henrietta, was 23 years old. Of note was the fact that all five daughters were still unmarried.

Also residing in the Hemingway household were three other males, Frank Hemingway, a 20-year old and Edwin Hemingway, 16 years old, likely Dr. Hemingway's sons, and John Gourley, age 31, a "farm laborer."

In April of 1862, approximately two years after Henrietta Hemingway's death, her daughter, Henrietta, married John Gourley, the 31-year old who was enumerated in the Hemingway household in 1860. In late 1862, not yet three years after her mother died, Henrietta Hemingway Gourley, lost two more loved ones, her baby daughter, Henrietta Rose Gourley, and her new husband, John, who died in a Civil War battle at Fredricksburg, Virginia.

Next: The Hemingway Family - The Next Generation

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Hemingway Family - South Carolina to Mississippi

Recently, I communicated with a reader of this blog, Mitchell Sawyer, about one of his ancestral families, the Hemingway family, that migrated from South Carolina to Madison County, Mississippi. I first learned about the Mississippi Hemingway family from Mitchell earlier this year when he provided me with name of some of those who are interred at Kirkwood Cemetery near Camden, Mississippi, in Madison County. The name of Henrietta Hemingway, one of Mitchell's ancestors, was among those names, and Mitchell was kind enough to provide the copy of Henrietta that is seen here today.

Photograph provided by Mitchell Sawyer

Although I am not certain, It is likely that the Hemingway family and the family of former Mississippi Governor William McWillie knew each other before they ever left South Carolina. The idea that the two families had a relationship is supported by a family story handed down throughout the generations. According to Mitchell Sawyer, this story relates how McWillie's wife is said to have styled his Hemingway grandmother's hair before her wedding.

The fact that many families living in the Camden, Mississippi area during the mid to late 1800's had lives that were intertwined is not unusual. The community was a small, rural one, fairly close to Kosciusko, but somewhat remote from the larger towns of Yazoo City, Lexington, Greenwood, and Jackson, all miles away. It seems reasonable to assume that children of families who live in close proximity would marry someone who lived nearby. In fact, this assumption follows a cardinal rule of family history research, one that states eligible men and women meet and marry because they know and live near each other. And that was exactly what happened in the case of the families of Camden, Mississippi and numerous other places throughout history.

Starting tomorrow, I hope you will join me here as I tell the story of Mitchell Sawyer's ancestors, the Hemingway Family of South Carolina and Mississippi.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Faces of Felix the Kitten

In the early evening of Friday, July 11th, a little black and white kitten scaled the brick wall behind our backyard and claimed us as "his humans." It was apparent he had not eaten for some time, probably for several days, so we fed him salmon that was on the grill that he likely smelled when he scaled the fence. The friendly little kitten was so small and waif-like that I estimated his age to be about 10 weeks. In addition to seriously needing food, his tail was damaged and would require the attention of a kind vet. It didn't take long to decide that we wanted to keep our new furry friend, and we named him Felix.

The next day, I made an appointment for Felix with the local vet so that he could begin treatment on his badly infected and hairless tail.

This is a photo of Felix as we are about to leave for his first appointment with the vet. He is quite the traveler and liked his short car trip in my old straw purse. Little did he know what would later happen as a result of that visit.

First, the vet advised me that Felix weighed 3.7 pounds, not much for his age of 4 months (according to the vet's expert estimation.) Although the vet announced that Felix was otherwise healthy (negative feline leukemia test, etc.) she recommended amputation of his tail. We agreed to the surgery, and two days later, Felix came home from the animal hospital with six blue stitches, a blue vinyl Elizabethan collar, and a very short tail, much like a bobcat's tail, only without fur. He wasn't very active for the first twenty-four hours, but even surgery didn't change this tough kitten's spirit and his playfulness. He is one resilient little survivor!

Felix recuperates in his favorite spot on the patio, my chaise lounge. In this photo, he can be seen convalescing in the sun! Although he looks comfortable here, he much prefers his new comfy cat bed inside the air-conditioned house that we share with him.

As Felix grew stronger (and fatter!) he ventured into the flower garden. In this photo, he is carefully watching butterflies visit the summer lantana. Later, he chased a few young grasshoppers in the garden before taking another quick "catnap."

This photo shows Felix waking from his quick nap. The look you see here is his response to my call to dinner inside. We consider ourselves very lucky that Felix adopted us, and Felix shows us his love and appreciation with the constant hum of a contented kitten's purr.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Chapman Levy - Camden SC>Camden MS

Several months ago, I received an email from Mitchell Sawyer, one of my Mississippi readers, regarding a post I had written on my other blog, Cemeteries of Dancing Rabbit Creek, about Kirkwood Cemetery. Located near Camden in Madison County, Mississippi, the cemetery is named for "Kirkwood," the family home of former Mississippi Governor, William McWillie. The cemetery is the burial place for members of McWillie's family and those of several allied families.

In his email last March, Mitchell told me how he had located the cemetery in 2008 and had initiated a clean-up project that was later completed by the Madison County Board of Supervisors. In a subsequent email on April 9, 2009, Mitchell was kind enough to send me photos of the cemetery and of one of his Hemingway ancestors buried there. Thanks to Mitchell, I learned that Kirkwood Cemetery is actually a part of the old St. Philip Episcopal Church grounds, and its official name is St. Philip Episcopal Churchyard.

Along with the photos of his own ancestors, Mitchell included a photo of another Camden resident who is buried near the McWillie Family, that of Chapman Levy, whose picture is shown here.

Chapman Levy (1787–1849)
Artist unknown, ca. 1835
Watercolor on ivory
Gift of Thomas W. Crockett in honor of Loraine Crockett
Jewish Heritage Collection
College of Charleston Library

Recently, after I was contacted by another reader who may be a descendant of a Levy family member, I began searching for the origins of this family. With some assistance from Mitchell, I found a wealth of background information about Chapman Levy. According to available resources, Chapman Levy was born on July 4, 1787, the son of Samuel Levy, a merchant, who was born circa 1762, and Sarah Moses Levy, date of birth unknown. Research indicated that Samuel Levy's family was one of a small number of Jewish families that resided in Camden, South Carolina during the early 1800s. According to the book, The Jews of South Carolina, written by Barnett Abraham Elzas Abraham and published by Lippincott in 1905, Levy served as an officer in the militia during the War of 1812, became a successful lawyer, businessman, and later a politician, when he represented Kershaw County, South Carolina in the state house and senate.

Levy married his first wife, Flora, who died in 1822 after only five years of marriage. He remarried in 1823, this time to Rosina, Flora's sister, but that marriage ended early, too, when Rosina died in 1828. According references researched, Chapman Levy's father, Samuel, died about 1842 in South Carolina, but the date of his mother's death was not found.

Chapman Levy died in 1845 and was buried in Kirkwood Cemetery. But why was he buried among families named McWillie, Anderson, Hemingway, and others? The answer to this question became crystal clear, when I found during my research that Chapman Levy, former Governor McWillie, and their families knew each other in South Carolina before migrating to Mississippi. I found that McWillie and Levy, both lawyers, also had a common military background, each having served in the War of 1812, and had been business associates in Camden, South Carolina, as well. According to available resources, this friendship continued after the two men migrated to Madison County, Mississippi. Their association included a business relationship, as well, when Levy served in McWillie's administration during his term as Governor of the State of Mississippi.

More about Chapman Levy's life and political career can be read here.


Sawyer, Mitchell, Personal emails, with photos, to the writer, dated March 20, 2009, April 1, 2009, and April 9, 2009.

Elzas, Barnett Abraham, The Jews of South Carolina, from the earliest times to the present day. J. B. Lippincott, 1905 - Google Books, accessed on August 5, 2009.

The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, accessed website and its link to Southern Jewish Communities: South Carolina/Camden, August 6, 2009.

Rosengarten, Theodore and Rosengarten, Dale, A Portion of the People: Three Hundred Years of Southern Jewish Life, Google Books, accessed on August 6, 2009.