Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Landlot Porter's Presence in Mississippi

According to early state and territorial census records, Landlot Porter and four other Porter males, John, Joseph, William, and Shadrack, were residents of Mississippi before statehood. Most researchers agree that William Porter, who married Gracy Lawson in Franklin County, Mississippi, on January 29, 1826, was the son of Landlot Porter and his wife, Winnie Palmer Porter. Since William Porter, who is buried in the Fortson-Porter Cemetery near Siwell in Hinds County, Mississippi, was already the father of adult children when he died in 1834, it is likely that he was born before the Porter Family migration to the Mississippi Territory ever began.  Porter family researchers also seem to agree that Landlot Porter was the son of Edward Sanders Porter and Mary Jeter of Union County, South Carolina.  In fact, Edward Turner Porter, enumerated on the U. S. Census of 1850, son of William and Gracy Porter, was most certainly named for his Porter great-grandfather.

According to U. S. General Land Office Records, Landlot Porter acquired 80.64 acres of land in Hinds County, Mississippi, described as Section 9, Township 5 North, Range 1 West.  This acquisition of land in Hinds County places Landlot Porter near the location where William and Gracy Porter lived during the same time, and also near the location of Fortson-Porter Cemetery where Landlot was later buried.

Sources: Mississippi Marriages, 1826-50 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 1999. Original data: Dodd, Jordan R, et. al.. Early American Marriages: Mississippi; accessed November 30, 2010. U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: United States. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records. Automated Records Project; Federal Land Patents, State Volumes. Springfield, Virginia: Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 2007; accessed November 30, 2010.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday's Poem - "Eternal Echoes" by Mattie J. T. Stepanek

Eternal Echoes

Our life is an echo
Of our spirit today,
Of our essence
As it is,
Caught between
Our yesterday
And our tomorrow.
It is the resounding
Reality of who we are,
As a result of 
Where we have been
And where we will be,
For eternity.

By Mattie J. T. Stepanek
Written in the Spring of 2000

From the book "Journey Through Heartsongs"
Published by VSP Books
Alexandria, VA

Friday, November 26, 2010

Porter Family in Mississippi - Part 1

As a descendant of the Porter family in Mississippi that migrated first from Pennsylvania to South Carolina, through Alabama, and finally to the Mississippi Territory, I have found my own Porter family's history very difficult to trace.  My paternal grandmother, Lelia Porter Branch, first told me when I was young, that her father, John James (J.J.) Porter, was "Black Dutch" from Pennsylvania and that he was descended from one of three brothers who arrived in the Mississippi Territory about 1800.  She did not know the name of the brother from whom her father descended.  In my research, I have found that what my grandmother told me was fairly accurate, since early territorial census records show Landlot, Shadrack, and John Porter living in Adams County, Mississippi.  Available land records establish that Landlot (Lancelot) acquired land in the Mississippi Territory in late 1804, with Shad (Shadrack) Porter witnessing the transaction.  

No. 1914, Claimant: Lancelot Porter, 24 September 1804. Witness: Reuben Mayfield, 22 January 1805. Certificate D-161 issued 16 December 1806, Miss Ter., Adams Co., Homochitto River. Purchased from Thomas  Aldridge the right of preference as claim by ad Aldridge in Feb 1803, when he cleared a parcel of land, made a brush fence and planted corn, also peach trees and in 1804 Lancelot Porter settled sd place and cleared 3 acres and is now living on it.Miss Ter., Adams Co.// Thos. Aldridge, of sd county, for $500 in hand paid by Lancelot Porter, of sd county, sells all right of occupancy on land on south side of Homochitto River, on June 1804. Wit: Hiram Downs, John Scarlett, and Shad Porter, proved before the Board, 10 Sept 1805.

Armed with this early census and land ownership information, I began a research saga that extended to several counties in Mississippi, and one that is still ongoing.  During the next few weeks, I plan to post what I know about various Porter families that lived in Adams, Attala, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Hinds Counties. 

Author's Note:  If you are descended from Landlot, Shadrack, or John Porter who settled in the early Mississippi Territory and have stories or photos that you would like to share here on this blog, please contact me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving and Pass the Cornbread Dressing

Today, I would like to wish all my readers a Happy Thanksgiving.  For most of us, that means a day spent with family and friends, gathered together for a meal (and some football!) that signifies thankfulness for not only food and the necessities of life, but for our most precious gifts - each other. 

If you currently live in the South, or if you have lived in the South and are now transplanted elsewhere, before all the turkey and the football, there is cornbread dressing.  In our family, the recipe for this staple Thanksgiving dish has been handed down for generations.  My mother, whose recipe I make, says she learned to make the dressing from my dad's Great Aunt Stella, who learned to make it from her mother, my great-grandmother Claudia Baldridge Branch. The source of the recipe gets fuzzy past that point, but attributing it to Granny Claudy makes the recipe at least a century old.

Besides being an "heirloom" recipe, what makes this cornbread dressing special?  For me, it is the aroma and taste created by the just-right combination of celery, onion, sage, and thyme.  Nothing says dinner is almost ready quite as much as the aroma of cornbread dressing baking in an oven from which good ole Tom Turkey has just been removed! 

So that's what I will be doing tomorrow.....making that heirloom recipe for some family and friends.  And while I am making the cornbread, chopping the celery, and dicing the onion, I will be giving thanks for so many, many things - family that makes me happy, friends who make me smile, food, shelter, and clothing, and all the many other blessings that God has bestowed upon me ~ including all of you, dear readers, who continue to follow my blog.  

Now go and enjoy the cornbread dressing!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

William Porter, Sr. and Gracy Lawson Porter of Hinds County, Mississippi

In recent weeks, I have written posts about descendants of John W. Ragland and Elizabeth Smith Ragland who lived in Hinds County, Mississippi during the mid 1800s.  Included among those posts were several about the family of Robert W. Ragland, one of the couple's sons, who married Sarah Jane Porter.  A review of the U. S. Census of 1850 recorded in Hinds County, Mississippi, showed that Sarah Jane (Porter) "Raglin" was the 21 year old wife of "R.W. Raglin," an "overseer," and the mother of a one year old daughter named "Laura." 

But just who were Sarah Jane Porter's parents?  Various bits of information available indicated that William Porter, Sr., a large landowner in Hinds County, and Louisa Anastacia Porter were her parents, but it was not until I reviewed a copy of William Porter's will and the will of his wife, Gracy Porter, that I could validate this relationship as fact

Gracy's will, probated in Hinds County court in November 1855, indicates that Gracy and William had at least two children together, Edward Turner Porter, and Sarah Jane (Porter) Ragland.  Also, both wills provided evidence that Gracy had been married before her marriage to William Porter.  Probated during the October 1834 term of Hinds County Court, William Porter's will includes bequests to his step-sons, William H. Lawson, Isaac Lawson, and John S. Lawson, and to a step-daughter, Mary Ann D. Lawson.  Since William's son, William Porter, Jr., was named administrator of his father's estate, and a daughter, Julia Ann Chrisler, received a bequest in his will but not in that of his wife, it seems likely the two were children from a previous marriage. Although Sarah Ann Porter, about four years old at the time of her father's death, was not identified by name in her father's will, William's reference to his "minor children," must have included Sarah and her brother, Edward Turner Porter.

Witnessed by Richard C. Drone, C. H. Gibbs, and George W. Gibbs, Gracy's will was probated during the November 1855 term of Hinds County Court. In her will, Gracy provided for a son, Edward Turner Porter and a daughter, Sarah Jane Ragland.  The fact that Sarah Jane Ragland is named in her mother's will, probated in 1855, indicates that Sarah's own death must have occurred between that year and 1860, when Robert W. Ragland was shown as a widower on the U. S. Census recorded that same year.  Gracy's will also included a provision for ".....children by (her) first husband," identified in the document as John Smith Lawson, William H. Lawson, Isaac Lawson, and Marian D. Stovall.  

An examination of the Mississippi State and Territorial Census Collection, 1792-1866, reveals that Gracy Porter, a 56 year old female born in Virginia, was living in Hinds County, Mississippi in 1850.  The head of the household was Gracy's son, E. (Edward) Turner Porter, a twenty-two year old farmer, and his 18-year old wife, Ann. 

According to notes included on a listing of those buried in the Fortner/Porter Cemetery on the Hinds County MSGenWeb site, William Porter, the son of Landlot Porter and Winnie Porter, was born in 1779 and died on September 9, 1834. He and Gracy were married on January 29, 1826 in Franklin County, Mississippi. Also included in the notes is information that Gracy Porter, whose death occurred on September 30, 1855, was born about 1792/94 in Virginia and was first married to James L. Lawson.  

Next:  Porter Family's Beginnings in Mississippi

MSGenWeb Site (Hinds County, MS), Wills, Estates, and Probate, and Cemeteries, accessed online on November 23, 2010 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.  Accessed online on November 23, 2010.  Mississippi State and Territorial Census Collection, 1792-1866 [database on-line].  Provo, UT, USA; Operations Inc. 2007.  Original data:  Mississippi State and Territorial Censuses, 1792-1866.  Microfilm V229. 3 rolls.  Heritage Quest. Accessed online on November 23, 2010.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Descendants of Adam Ragland

When I last wrote about Adam Ragland, a son of Robert W. Ragland, he was the head of a household near  Eden, Yazoo County, Mississippi,  where he lived with his second wife, Mandy, and their two young daughters, Lucy and Elizabeth.  According to the U. S. Census of 1910, Adam was a farmer, and he and Mandy had been married about 12 years.  Although the relationships have not been proven, it is likely that Mandy is Mandy Travis, a sister of Adam's deceased first wife, and the 18 year old female living in the Travis household in Holmes County, Mississippi, where he and Adam Ragland, Jr. were enumerated on the 1900 U. S. Census. Adam Ragland, Jr. was not shown as a resident of his father's household in Yazoo County, Mississippi in 1910, nor have I yet been able to locate him living elsewhere. 

Also, in 1920, I was unable to find Adam Ragland, Sr. enumerated on the U. S. Census in Mississippi.  Nor was I able to locate Mandy Ragland or their daughters, Elizabeth Ragland and Lucy Ragland. Adam may have died before 1920, and his widow, Mandy,  may have remarried.  Since Elizabeth and Lucy would have been 17 and 20 years old in 1920, possibly they had already married and were enumerated with different surnames.

The U. S. Census in 1930 shows Adam Ragland, the son, living in Beat 1, Humphreys County, Mississippi, probably near the town of Belzoni.  The fact that Adam Ragland is not identified as Adam Ragland, Jr. lends credibility to my belief that Adam Ragland, Sr. likely died before the U. S. Census of 1920 was recorded. Adam's household in 1930 included his wife, Beatrice, age 28, and four daughters, Mary, age 9, Jessie, age 8, Melisa, 4 years old, and Augusta, age 4 months.  The only son listed in the household was Adam Ragland, a 6 year old, and the third Adam Ragland born in Mississippi since the mid-1800's.  Also enumerated in the Ragland household was a 17 year old laborer named Irvin Honeycup (sic).  All members of the Ragland household were identified by the racial identification code of "Neg."  A review of the Social Security Death Index showed that Adam Ragland, the 6 year old, was born in January 6, 1924 and died March 21, 2003, in Humphreys County, Mississippi.

Adam Ragland, son of Robert W. Ragland, was proud enough of his name that he handed it down to his son, who, in turn, shared it with his own son. And I have no doubt the name "Adam" lives on today in this family.  

Sources: Social Security Death Index [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday's Poem - A Psalm of Life, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A Psalm of Life
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What the Heart of the Young Man said to the psalmist

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
"Life is but an empty dream!"
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real!  Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal.
"Dust thou art, to dust returnest,"
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Finds us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating,
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,--act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing
Learn to labor and to wait.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Random Acts of Culture

According to their website, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, with the assistance of local partners, plans to produce 1,000 Random Acts of Culture over the next three years.  Locations planned for the events are the cities of Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, N.C.; Detroit, Michigan; Macon, Georgia; Miami, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Jose, California, and St. Paul, Minnesota. Two of these events occurred recently, the first on October 27, 2010, featuring the Opera Company of Philadelphia  at Macy's. Most recently, on November 13th, Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale surprised audiences in San Jose, California.  

A video of each of these spontaneous performances can be viewed on the Random Acts of Culture website. Be sure your speakers are turned up! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Story of Adam Ragland

Finding Adam was simple.  He appeared first on the U. S. Census of 1870, living in the household with Robert W. Ragland, and five other children, Bettie, Turner, Sarah, Louvega, and Lucy. Earlier posts have discussed Robert's children born during his marriage to Sarah Jane Porter, who apparently died prior to 1860.  In 1870, however, three additional children, Louvega (9), Adam (6), and Lucy, four years old, resided in Robert's household.  All three of the younger children have been identified as "mulatto." Since relationships were not shown on the 1870 census, it is impossible to determine the true relationship of any of the five children to the head of the household, but the name "Raglin" is written only once for all who resided in the household.  To the researcher, this observation appears to indicate that everyone enumerated in the household shared a common surname.  It is important to add here, that no wife was recorded in Robert's household in either 1860 or in 1870.

But who are the parents of Louvega, Adam, and Lucy? Was Robert their father??

A review of the U. S. Census of 1880 found R. W. Ragland, then 53 years old, enumerated as the head of a household in Beat 3 of Holmes County, Mississippi.  His household included a wife, P. A. Ragland, age 33, a 7-year old child named Julia Miles, Adam, 14, shown as Robert's son, and Lucy, 13, identified as his daughter. The race of Ragland and his wife, along with Julia Miles, most likely his step-daughter, was shown as "W," while Adam and Lucy were identified with the code "Mu" for mulatto. The fact that Lucy and Adam continued to live in Robert Ragland's household, even after he remarried and moved to another county, coupled with the fact that they are identified as his children on the census, confirms what the census a decade earlier could not.  No further information is available about the full name of Robert's wife, nor details that would shed light on the relationship of Julia Miles to either Robert or his wife. I suspect, but cannot prove, that Julia's was P.A.'s daughter and that Robert's wife's name before their marriage may have been P. A. Miles.

A search of the U. S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules Index on provided information about P. A. Ragland's death.  According to that source, P.A. Ragland, a 33-year old Holmes County housewife, died in April of 1880.  The cause of her death was "consumption."  Seventeen years later, Robert W. Ragland died on October 13, 1897.  Buried in Harland's Creek Cemetery near Coxburg, a Holmes County community, the inscription on Robert Ragland's grave stone simply states "age 74 years." 

The next source of information about Adam Ragland is the U. S. Census of 1900 recorded for Holmes County, Mississippi, where Adam Ragland is enumerated as a resident of Beat 4.  Adam, by then 34 years old, resided in a household headed by March Travis, a 61 year old black male. Adam Ragland's relationship to Travis is shown as "son-in-law."  Also residing in the household with March Travis is his North Carolina-born wife, Sophia, age 54, two adult children, Walker, 30, Mandy, age 18, and Adam's 17 year old son, who is also named Adam. The census record shows the younger Adam Ragland's relationship to March Travis to be that of "grandson." Interestingly, the racial designation of Adam Ragland and his son, Adam, like the other individuals residing in the Travis household, was shown as "B" for Black. 

Twenty years earlier, the elder Adam Ragland, evidently the son of Robert W. Ragland, a white man, had been identified on the U. S. Census as "Mulatto."  

A review of the U. S. Census of 1910 found Adam Ragland, Sr., living with his wife of twelve years, Mandy, age 37, near Eden, in Yazoo County, Mississippi.  The census shows that Adam and Mandy were the parents of two daughters, Lucy, 10 years old, and Elizabeth, 7, both certainly named for two of Adam's sisters.  

Next:  What Happened to Adam's Son?

USGenweb, (MS), List of Burials in Harland's Creek Cemetery, compiled by Dudley Rinicker; accessed online November 16, 2010.
Jackson, Ron V., Accelerated Indexing Systems, comp.. U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules Index [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1999. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry Operations Inc., 2006; Year: 1880; Census Place: Beat 3, Holmes, Mississippi; Roll: 649; Family History Film: 1254649; Page: 149D; Enumeration District: 6; Image: 0720.ear 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006. Year: 1910; Census Place: Eden, Yazoo, Mississippi; Roll: T624_764; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 91; Image: 1010.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"For Our World Campaign"

I received an unexpected pleasure today when I logged onto this blog - a comment from Jeni Stepanek!  If you read a poem I posted here on Sunday, November 7, 2010, you may recall the name "Stepanek." The poem was entitled "For Our World," by Mattie Stepanek, who is Jeni's son.  Although I have already published Jeni's comment on the November 7th post, I am re-printing her comment here, as it contains information about the "For Our World Campaign" that Jeni began this fall. It is my hope that other bloggers will take part in Jeni's campaign to share Mattie's poem with the world.

Jeni said: "Thank you so much for sharing this poem on your website. I began a "For Our World Campaign" this fall, with hope of having this poem published on websites and bulletin boards around the world by the 10th anniversary of 9/11/2001. Mattie believed that we should seek to rebuild, rather than seek revenge. This poem is a gentle, yet powerful reminder, of the choices each of us can make for our world, and for peace." 

Jeni Stepanek ("Mattie's mom")"

Thank you, Jeni, for your comment and for your effort to share Mattie's moving words with others!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Descendants of Robert W. Ragland, A Study of the U. S. Census of 1870

Earlier this week, I posted information about the family of Robert W. Ragland, a brother to my paternal third great-grandmother, Winiford Ragland Branch.  In that post, I wrote that Robert's wife, Sarah Jane Porter, who he married in Hinds County, Mississippi, had died, and Robert, age 32, and his four daughters and one son named Turner were living in rural Attala County. Robert's occupation was shown as "farmer."  Since the Ragland household, as it was enumerated on the U. S. Census of 1860, did not include a wife or an older female, it appeared that Robert had not remarried. Based on this information, I decided to locate Robert on the 1870 U. S. Census to see if he eventually remarried and had additional children.  

Before I can go on, I must preface the rest of this post with a statement about the U. S. Census of 1870. Each U. S. census has had specific objectives for capturing certain information about the citizens of this country, and the U.S. Census of 1870 was no different.  Since that census was the first U. S. Census recorded since the abolition of slavery, one in which all citizens, including those who had been former slaves, would be enumerated together, one of its objectives was to identify the race of the individuals enumerated. The census form included a column for recording one of five codes listed on the form itself, including "W" for White, "B" for Black, "M" for Mulatto, "I" for Indian, and "C" for Chinese. No one knows for certain exactly how the determination of race was made, whether it was a "self-identification" process prompted by the census taker's question, or whether the census taker simply made a visual determination based on skin color and/or certain physical characteristics. And without a doubt, census takers may have recorded racial identity information without input from those who were enumerated. 

An examination of the U. S. Census recorded in 1870 for Attala County, Mississippi, found R. W. "Raglin" a 45 year old white male as the head of a household living in Beat 4 of Attala County.  Interestingly, Robert Ragland and his family lived just three residences away from the household of his sister, Winiford, and her husband Edward Tillman Branch, as well as a household where Joseph Arthur Branch and Edward T. Branch, both still unmarried, lived. 

In 1870, Elizabeth (enumerated on this census as "Bettie"), Turner, and Sarah, now 19, 15, and 14, no doubt children born to Sarah Porter Ragland, resided as they had in 1860 with their father.  However, Robert's household included three additional children, Louvega (9), Adam (6), and Lucy (4), all born since the U. S. Census of 1860 was recorded.  Since "Louvega" is such an unusual name, it is possible the name was an incorrect transcription of "Louisa," the name of Robert's late wife's mother and the grandmother of his older children. (This is supposition, however, since Sarah Porter Ragland's relationship to Louisa Lawson Porter, has yet to be verified by the writer of this blog.)  

While Bettie, Turner, and Sarah, like their father, were identified on the census as "White," the racial identity of each of the younger children, Louvega, Adam, and Lucy, was recorded as "M,"  the abbreviation for "Mulatto." Although relationships were not identified on the 1870 census, all six children were listed under Robert's surname, incorrectly shown on this census as "Raglin." Again, like the 1860 U. S. Census, no wife, older female relative, or an older unrelated female, was enumerated in Robert's household. 

The composition of Robert W. Ragland's household on the U. S. Census Record of 1870 raises two important questions: Who was the mother of Louvega, Adam, and Lucy?  And were they biological children of Robert W. Ragland? 

Watch for a future post in which I hope to answer these questions.

Census Year: 1870; Census Place: Beat 4, Attala, Mississippi; Roll: M593_722; Page: 122B; Image: 248; Family History Library Film: 552221. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans' Day - Poppies Are For Remembrance

Digital Photography Collection 2009 - 2010
Privately owned by J. Tracy
Today we honor and say thank you to this country's brave men and women who have served and currently are serving in our military forces here and abroad. Especially today, we remember those who gave their lives while fighting for the freedom that continues to make our nation strong. As a result of my family research, I now know that serving in this country's military forces has been something that my own ancestors took very seriously. And that tradition has continued into the current generation, including two of my sons who served their country proudly in the United States Air Force. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Photograph from Digital Photo Collection - 2009 - 2010
Privately Owned by Janice Tracy

Radio Station Near Greenwood, Mississippi

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ragland - Porter Marriage

In an earlier post, I wrote about Robert W. Ragland, one of Winiford Ragland Branch's brothers, who was married to Sarah Jane Porter on March 24, 1848.  As I mentioned in the post, some Ragland family research has shown that Sarah Jane Porter was the daughter of William Porter, Sr. and Louisa Anastacia Porter, William's second wife whom he married on January 29, 1826. My own research, at least so far, has not validated this information.  In fact, my review of the transcription of the will of William Porter, Sr. found no provision for a daughter named Sarah Jane. More about this relationship later.....

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Ragland Sons

John W. Ragland and Elizabeth Smith Ragland were the parents of four sons: John W., Jr. (1808), Arthur S. (1811), William J. (1825), and Robert W. (1826).  Arthur Ragland, for whom my paternal great-great-grandfather, Joseph Arthur Branch, was named, died in 1845 and is buried in Palestine Cemetery near Raymond, Mississippi. Although Arthur may have had a wife and children, I have not yet found that information.

According to the U. S. Census recorded in 1850 for Hinds County, Mississippi, William J. Ragland, a planter by occupation, was the head of a household that included Mary M., 27 years old, and four children named Josaphine (age 8), Benjamin F. (age 6), Rebecca A. (age 4), and Winferd Ragland, age 2.  Likely, "Winferd" was named for William's sister, Winiford Ragland Branch, my paternal great-great-great-grandmother. Although Mary was shown to have been born in South Carolina, William and each of their four children were born in Mississippi. To date, I have been unable to locate William J. or his wife and children on an 1860 census record. Look for more about William and his family in a later post.

Also, I have had difficulty in locating John W. Ragland, Jr., born approximately 1808.  Although I did find a John W. Ragland, born in Virginia in 1808, living near Nashville, Tennessee in 1850, further research is needed to determine his relationship, if any, to John W. Ragland, my fourth great-grandfather.

Two issues that most family researchers must deal with when reviewing old census records is the inaccurate spelling of surnames, often recorded phonetically by the census taker, and the  mispelling of names contained in transcribed records.  Searching for Robert W. Ragland on U.S. Census records for 1850 and 1860 found both situations existed. In 1850, R. W. "Raglin" was enumerated on the U. S. Census in Hinds County, Mississippi.  A twenty-four year old "overseer," his birthplace was shown as Louisiana.  R. W., based on his age, birthplace, and the place of his residence, was Robert W. Ragland, son of John W. and Elizabeth Smith Ragland.  According to the 1850 census record, R. W. was the head of a household that included his twenty-one year old wife, Sarah Jane, and a one-year old daughter named Laura. Later research revealed Sarah Jane was the daughter of William and Louisa Anastacia Porter of Hinds County, Mississippi.

In 1860, the U.S. Census record showed Robert "Rogland" living in Attalaville, now an extinct town in Attala County, Mississippi, in a household that included five young children.  The oldest child was Laura, 13, almost certainly the same small child who was listed on the 1850 census recorded in Hinds County.  A second daughter, an 11-year old named Elizabeth, lived in Robert's household in 1860 and most likely named for Robert's mother, Elizabeth Smith Ragland. Robert's other children included  Mary, 9 years old, Turner, age 7, and Sarah, age 5. Since Robert Ragland's household did not include a wife, I believe that Sarah Jane, with whom he lived in 1850, may have died during or shortly after the birth of 5-year old Sarah, probably named for her deceased mother. Since Robert's sister, Winiford Ragland Branch and her husband, Edward Tillman Branch and their children, already lived in Attala County in 1860, Robert may have moved his family from Hinds County to Attala County to be near relatives who could help him care for his children.

A review of the U.S. Census of 1860, Slave Schedules, found that Robert Ragland of Attala County, Mississippi, was the owner of three slaves, a 30 year old black female and two black males, aged 25 and 15.

In 1860, Robert's neighbors in Attalaville included the Burell and Jenkins families, of whom I have written on this blog, along with the family of James M. and Eliza (Walker) Porter, my paternal great-great-great-grandparents in my paternal grandmother's line.

Ancestry.com1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Township 13 Range 4, Attala, Mississippi; Roll: M653_577; Page: 464; Image: 464; Family History Library Film: 803577. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. 1860 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday's Poem - For Our World, by Mattie Stepanek


We need to stop.
Just stop.
Stop for a moment…
Before anybody
Says or does anything

That may hurt anyone else.

We need to be silent.

Just silent.
Silent for a moment…
Before we forever lose
The blessing of songs
That grow in our hearts.
We need to notice.
Just notice.
Notice for a moment…
Before the future slips away
Into ashes and dust of humility.
Stop, be silent, and notice…
In so many ways, we are the same.
Our differences are unique treasures.
We have, we are, a mosaic of gifts
To nurture, to offer, to accept.
We need to be.
Just be.
Be for a moment… 
Kind and gentle, innocent and trusting,
Like children and lambs,
Never judging or vengeful
Like the judging and vengeful.
And now, let us pray,
Differently, yet together,
Before there is no earth, no life,
No chance for peace. 

By  Mattie J.T. Stepanek
September 11, 2001

From the book, Heartsongs 
Published by VSP Books
Alexandria, Virginia

Young Mattie's struggle with a rare form of muscular dystrophy caused him to have wisdom and insight beyond his years.  Although Mattie died on June 22, 2004, his poems about life and death, love, faith, hope, and joy will remain an inspiration to others.  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Swamp Area In Indianola, Mississippi

 Digital Photography Collection 2009 - 2010 - Privately owned by Janice Tracy