Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Photograph of Fairchild Beach Cottage - Waveland, Mississippi

"Victorian Cottage, Waveland" circa 1936
During the past few weeks, I wrote a series of posts about Carlotta Nelson Fairchild and her family that included her only child, Christine Nelson Fairchild.  Recently, I located a photo in the online digital collection of the Library of Congress, identifed as "Victorian Cottage, Waveland (MS)" that is believed to be the Fairchild beach cottage once known as "The Myrtles."  The image was taken by Walker Evans, a well-known photographer who worked in the 1930's for an agency of the Farm Security Administration.  According to newspaper archives and his biographies, Walker Evans knew Christine Fairchild and later married Christine's friend, Jane Smith Ninas, formerly married to New Orleans artist, Paul Ninas. It was likely that Evans took the photograph of the Fairchild beach cottage when he accompanied Christine and Jane and Paul Ninas on a visit to Waveland, Mississippi.     

Source:  Photo Collection: Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. Reproduction Number LC-DIG-fsa-8c52054.  Photographed by Walker Evans, 1903-1975.

Friday, January 28, 2011

"The Quiet Game," by Greg Iles - A Book Review

Always on the lookout for books by Mississippi authors, I recently purchased a copy of "The Quiet Game," by Greg Iles, a Mississippi native and an Ole Miss graduate.  Published in 2000, this book is Iles's fourth thriller. Although backdrops for his other books have been cities outside the State of Mississippi, "The Quiet Game," is set in Iles's hometown of Natchez, Mississippi

The central character in the book is a recently widowed Houston lawyer-turned-best-selling-author, Penn Cage, who returns to his hometown seeking solace and a new beginning for himself and his young daughter. Almost immediately after his return, Cage finds himself entangled in events surrounding an unsolved murder that happened in the 1960s, a murder that involved race and politics and had national significance. Cage's involvement in the matter is complicated by his personal and professional relationships with other key characters, some that include secrets that have lay buried for years.

In "The Quiet Game," Greg Iles has woven a story that is both realistic and spellbinding.  His writing style is amazingly descriptive, and his character development leaves the reader with a clear visual imprint of the person and the personality. Not only is the book a story of intrigue with unexpected twists and turns, Iles has seized every opportunity to paint pictures with his words of the beautiful and historic southern town of Natchez, Mississippi, once the territorial capital of Mississippi.

As a family historian and as a person who loves to read about people, places, and things, with a bit of intrigue thrown into the equation, "The Quiet Game," by Greg Iles was the ideal book for me.  And I plan to read more.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mont Helena, Rolling Fork, Mississippi

Photo by Marty Kittrell

Mont Helena
Last Home of Helen Johnstone Harris
Located between Anguilla and Rollng Fork, Mississippi

Built on top of a ceremonial Indian mound, Mont Helena is more than a house or a building:  it is the legacy of Helen Johnstone Harris. Also known as "The Bride of Annandale," Helen Johnstone and her husband, George Harris, an Episcopal minister, built the house to be their retirement home.  Located near Rolling Fork, Mississippi, and situated in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, Mont Helena is a beautiful example of Colonial Revival architecture.  Click here to read more about Helen Johnstone and George Harris and the history of their last home, Mont Helena.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Leflore County Courthouse, Greenwood, Mississippi

  Digital Photo Collection, 2009, Privately Owned by J. Tracy

Leflore County Courthouse
Greenwood, Mississippi

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A New Cousin!

One of the benefits of being a family researcher and a geneablogger is finding new cousins.  In my case, this new cousin, also a geneablogger, found me. Our common link is that each of us is descended from the Pettus family of Virginia. We have already exchanged emails and look forward to following each other's blogs.  It really is a small world, isn't it?

Natchez Court and Land Claim Records

Yesterday, while searching for information about a few of my early Mississippi ancestors, I stumbled upon "The Natchez Court Records, 1767-1805, Abstracts of Early Records," compiled by May Wilson McBee. Published by Genealogical Publishing Company of Baltimore, Maryland, this extensive reference work is a plethora of names and events about life in the Natchez District. Within its 635 pages, McBee's work contains abstracts of "sureties, bills of sale for land and slaves, inventories, appraisals, and wills," information that is invaluable for tracing family histories of early Mississippi and Louisiana settlers.  McBee's book is part one of two books, with the second volume entitled "Land Claims, 1767-1805."  Portions of the volume containing court records can be viewed on Google Books and can be purchased on Land patents that were issued later by the U. S. Government can be viewed on the Official Federal Land Records Site, maintained by the U. S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mystery Monday - Who Are They?

Mystery Photo
Family Photo Collection Privately owned by J. Tracy
I found this mystery photo among other photos, mostly of family members, in my deceased grandmother's photo album.  The problem is that I have no idea who these people are, nor do other family members who have seen the photo.   Based on clothing the boy is wearing, the photo appears to have been made in the 1950's.  The man appears to be wearing a priest's collar, but to my knowledge, our family has produced no priests.  I have posted the photo here today hoping that someone who sees it may be able to help me find a family for it.  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Every Life is Worth Remembering" - Unclaimed Persons

The title to today's post contains a quote from Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak. You may recall Ms. Smolenyak as the professional genealogist whose well-known tracing of Michelle Obama's roots made national news.  An author and co-founder of of RootsTelevision, Ms. Smolenyak is also the founder of a group that seeks names of relatives of unclaimed persons. According to Ms. Smolenyak's definition, unclaimed persons are "people who go to their graves with no family to claim them."  Staffed by several hundred family research volunteers who are located throughout the country, members of the group "team up" with coroners and function as "research detectives" as they attempt to locate family members of unclaimed persons.  More about how the group was founded and specific details about its mission can be read in this article written by Ms. Smolenyak. Additional information about Ms. Smolenyak's work and how it has assisted the Lackawanna County (PA) Coroner's Office, appears in an article published in today's issue of  Scranton, Pennsylvania's The Times-Tribune.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Surname Saturday

It has been quite a while since I have posted the surnames that I am researching.  See my list below, showing state through which these families migrated before settling in Mississippi.  Also included are county names in which family members settled.  If you are researching any of the names below, I would like to hear from you - maybe we are related!

Atwood (NC>GA>AL>MS) Carroll and Madison Counties 
Baldridge (PA>NC>GA>TN>MS) Adams, Claiborne, Carroll, Madison
Baskins (NC>GA>TN>MS) Carroll
Branch (VA>NC>TN>MS) Attala, Leake, Hinds, Marion, Madison
Coggins (GA>AL>MS) Holmes, Yazoo
Fenner (NC>SC>GA>AL>MS) Adams, Claiborne, Liberty
Garrard (VA>NC>SC>GA>AL>MS) Holmes, Leflore
Gibson (VA>NC>SC>TN>MS) Adams, Claiborne, Calhoun, Carroll, Monroe
Lyles (SC>GA>AL>MS) Holmes, Yazoo
Meriweather (VA>KY>TN>GA>AL>MS) Calhoun, Tallahatchie, Carroll, Leflore
Netherland (VA>KY>TN>GA>AL>MS) Adams, Liberty, Lincoln, Holmes
Pettus (VA>NC>GA>TN>AL>MS) Holmes, Yazoo
Porter (PA>VA>NC>SC>GA>AL>MS) Adams, Hinds, Madison, Attala
Ragland (VA>NC>SC>GA>TN>AL>MS) Adams, Hinds, Attala, Holmes
Trigleth (VA>NC>GA>AL>MS) Holmes, Yazoo
Williams (AL>MS) Monroe, Calhoun

Friday, January 21, 2011

Newspaper Archives and Census Records: Reconstructing An Ancestor's Life

As a seasoned family history researcher, I can say from experience the use of genealogy research sites and online databases has never been better than now. And with all sorts of new technology designed especially for family researchers becoming available every day, online genealogy research in 2011 and future years will see drastic improvements. 

I first began my foray into online family research in 1997, when was still relatively new, and when was not yet available. Actually, my very first trek on the genealogy trail took me to the Family History Center at the local LDS Church, where I searched the International Genealogy Index (IGI) and requested the loan of microfilmed copies of several books and various records located in Salt Lake City.  The information I received during that first visit, and from a later review of the microfilmed documents I had requested, was enough to get my own family research off to a fantastic start. I will be forever grateful to volunteers at that Family Research Center who were not only expert researchers themselves, but were so willing to help a novice like me. That was fourteen years ago, and technology has definitely changed the research world.  Now anyone who has an internet connection, which is practically everywhere, and a PC, laptop, MacBook, notebook, i-phone, or similar device, can make use of all sorts of websites and databases that contain a mind-boggling amount of family history data.

During the past two weeks, I wrote a series of posts that began when I found the name Carlotta Nelson Fairchild on a grave marker in a cemetery in Goodman, Mississippi.  The Fairchild part of the name is what peaked my interest, since two of my children have Fairchild ancestors in their family trees. Interestingly, initial research for a possible connection to Fairchild names that I already knew suddenly took me in a totally different direction.  Once I learned that Carlotta had married someone from New Orleans, I wanted to know more.  And it was with little more than articles from newspaper archives (the Times-Picayune, in this case), census records, and references in an online book or two, that I was able to reconstruct and write about Carlotta's life and the lives of her huband and children.

The most amazing part of this project were the details revealed in newspaper articles, specifically the society pages of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Not only did the articles chronicle a plethora of parties and other social events, they often provided in-depth details about engagements, marriages, births, and christenings. Without information available in the newspaper articles, discovering details about Carlotta and her family members would have taken months, if not years, to find. In fact, some of the very personal information revealed in those articles might have been available only through interviews of individuals who knew the family well, a task that would have been impossible so many years later.

Although the newspaper archives provided much of the substance for my posts, census records definitely made up the foundation for my research. Initially, I searched census records available for Mississippi on for "Carlotta Nelson" and "Carlotta Fairchild" , beginning with 1900 and continuing through 1930.  When I came up with nothing, I opened up my search to include census records for all states.  Bingo!  Carlotta Fairchild was shown on the 1910 U. S. Census record for New Orleans, Louisiana, where she was living with her husband and his adult children in a household that had five servants. I was both surprised and amazed that Carlotta, the daughter of Danish immigrants, whose father was a dry goods merchant in the tiny turn-of-the-century hamlet of Goodman, Mississippi, was a society matron living in the Garden District of one of the Old South's grandest cities. Although I had found nothing to connect Carlotta Nelson Fairchild to the Mississippi Fairchild family that I was researching, I knew at that moment that Mrs. Louis Howes Fairchild had a story that needed to be told.

The rest of Carlotta's story appears in previous posts on this blog.  If your haven't already read the story, I invite you to do so.  The introduction to this series of seven posts can be found here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Christine Nelson Fairchild - The Men in Her Life

Seventh and final in a series of posts about Carlotta Nelson Fairchild and her family.  Today's post is about Christine Fairchild, daughter of Carlotta and Louis Fairchild.

As the youngest daughter of Louis Howes Fairchild, Christine Nelson Fairchild in 1912 was born into a life of privilege.  But it is doubtful that she knew just how privileged her life was until she was much older.  As the only child born to her mother, and as the youngest child of an aging father, Christine was likely indulged by both parents. But then her father died in 1918, Christine's life changed in a number of ways.  According to the U. S. Census of 1920, it appears that Christine's mother, a New Orleans society matron, was working and had two boarders residing in her rented home. But once the succession of the estate of Louis Fairchild was complete, the Fairchild family, including Christine, once again became part of the New Orleans social scene.  Without a doubt, Christine's early education at the Newcomb School and later at Sophie Newcomb College, brought her in contact with other young women and their families who would influence Christine's life.  

One of these young women was Jane Smith, a classmate of Christine's at Sophie Newcomb College.  Jane's interest in art and photography meshed with Christine's interest in architecture, and both young women became involved in the New Orleans arts scene. At some point, Jane became an art student at the new and trendy Arts and Crafts School, where a well-known artist and newcomer to New Orleans, Paul Ninas, was an instructor.  Jane's association with Paul Ninas would begin a relationship that eventually led to their marriage in 1933. During this same period, Christine was accepted by the architecture school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.).  
Although Jane was now married with a husband and Christine was attending school in Boston, Christine's visits home during holidays and the summer allowed her to maintain her friendship with Jane Smith, which now included Jane's husband, Paul Ninas. A fourth individual soon would be added to this friendship when New York photographer, Walker Evans, arrived in New Orleans.

In the early 1930's, as the nation suffered the effects of the Great Depression, the U. S. Government saw a need to record, in paintings and photographs, the economic and social conditions of individuals living throughout the United States and in particular, poverty-stricken residents of the rural South. And it was Walker Evans who was hired to complete the photography portion of the project. When Evans was sent to New Orleans to photograph conditions in that area, he was told to contact Paul Ninas.  At his first meeting with Walker Evans at a local restaurant, Paul Ninas brought along his wife, Jane.

Soon after his arrival in New Orleans, Jane and Paul Ninas, Christine Fairchild, and Walker Evans became close friends.  According to at least one biographer, Walker Evans was immediately attracted to Jane Ninas and soon invited her to accompany him to photograph rural areas within a day's drive of New Orleans.  Paul Ninas did not seem to mind, partly because he was busy with his art school and his own art work, but largely, it was alleged, because he may have had a mistress, his wife's friend, Christine Fairchild. Although Christine may have been involved with Paul Ninas, she continued to see other men, including at least one named Freedie von Helms.

The four friends spend many hours together, both in New Orleans and in Waveland, Mississippi, at the Fairchild beach cottage.  Although Jane Smith and Walker Evans may have already fallen in love, those who were close to them during the time have said the two managed to maintain a platonic relationship. But after Evans completed his project and had returned to New York, the two continued to correspond.  Eventually, Jane left Paul Ninas, moved to New York, where she and Walker Evans were later married.

In 1938, Christine Fairchild graduated M.I.T. with an architecture degree.  Fairly soon, the new architect would be back in the South, living in Mobile and doing architectural work on defense housing. Although Christine was back near family and familiar surroundings, her base of friends had changed during the years she was away in Boston. Jane Smith was now Jane Ninas Evans, having married her long-time paramour in 1941. 

Little information is available about Christine's association with Paul Ninas, if there was one, after she returned to the Gulf Coast area. What is known is that Paul Ninas remarried, on July 1, 1942, to Grace Chavonne, a union that produced one child, a daughter named Paula.  

Later that summer, Christine Nelson Fairchild was married to Paul David Magriel, son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Louis Magriel, of Southampton, Massachusetts.  At the time of their marriage, Magriel was serving in the United States Army and working as the art director at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. The ceremony took place on the morning of August 15, 1941 at Christ Episcopal Church in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, with the Rev. Warwick Aiken, Rector, officiating. The bride, who had no attendants, wore a dress of pale pink linen, a large white hat, and carried a bouquet of summer flowers. Her groom's only attendant was Charles van Buren Gresham. An informal buffet luncheon followed at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard K. Nicholson, the bride's half-sister and her husband.  Later that day, the newlyweds left to honeymoon at Weyanoke Plantation, near St. Francisville, Louisiana, owned by the Towles family.

Later, Paul and Christine Magriel moved to the East Coast, where they lived first in Washington, D.C. and eventually New York and in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Paul was a successful author and art collector.  Their marriage produced two sons, Paul Magriel, Jr., a well-known author, backgammon, and poker expert, and Dr. Nicholas Magriel, a sarangi player and teacher.  Paul Magriel, Jr. named one of his sons Louis Fairchild Magriel, in honor of his paternal and maternal grandfathers, who were both named Louis. 

Christine Nelson Fairchild Magriel's life was indeed one of privilege.  The granddaughter of Danish immigrants and the daughter of well-bred parents, Christine lived through many changes to the world in which she was born.  In 1986, she died in Provincetown, Massachusetts, just four years before her husband's death. 

"Privilege is an immoral and unjust thing to have. But if you've got it, you didn't choose to get it, and you might as well use it." - Walker Evans.  

Sources:, U.S. Census of 1920, accessed online January 18, 2011.
Times-Picayune.  Archived newspaper archives, 1900 - 1945.  Accessed online January 17 - 19, 2011
Walker Evans, by James R. Mellow.  GoogleBooks, accessed online on January 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Felix, The Library Cat

Monday, January 17, 2011

Christine Fairchild: Life Without Father

The sixth in a series of posts about Carlotta Nelson Fairchild, a native of Goodman, Mississippi.  Today's  post chronicles the early life of her only child, Christine. 

Although the years immediately after her husband's death in 1918 were most certainly a difficult time of transition for Carlotta, her young daughter, and her adult step-children, life continued on.  One might think that Louis Fairchild's widow and his adult children would have been at odds over the division of his estate, it appears that everyone weathered the unexpected events of his succession and the Fairchild family remained intact. This is evidenced by the eventual sale, fostered by the family and a close personal friend, to sell the Lee Circle property in 1919, for a figure exceeding $100,000, to the developers of the YMCA.  And reports of the many weekends and weeks-long summer vacations that family members spent together, primarily at the Fairchild cottage in Waveland, Mississippi, also show a sense of solidarity that likely was strengthened by the grief they all shared.  

Once Louis Fairchild's estate was settled, his widow and children seemed to resume at least some of their usual involvement in the New Orleans social scene.  Still unmarried, Hazel and Marguerite Fairchild often were mentioned as guests at parties and weddings, and at least once, the two women traveled to a Michigan resort for the summer where they visited with friends there. Edmund Fairchild, Louis Fairchild's only son, now married, continued to live in New Orleans where he operated one of the city's thriving automobile dealerships. He and his wife later became parents to Edmund Fairchild, Jr.

Without a doubt, Carlotta must have been busy raising her young daughter without a father, but she still maintained contact with members of her Nelson family still living in Holmes County, Mississippi.  One such contact came in the form of a visit she and Christine made to Goodman, Mississippi in June 1921, to attend the wedding of Carlotta's niece, Charlotte Nelson to Harold I. Randby of Chicago. As a member of the wedding party, Carlotta served as Charlotte's matron of honor, while 9 year old Christine was flower girl.  Carlotta's young nephew, Morris Fairchild Nelson, accompanied Christine down the aisle as ring bearer.  The wedding took place at the Methodist church in Goodman, Mississippi, and a reception followed at the bride's home.  Among those who greeted guests at the door of the reception was Carlotta's sister, Rena.  Local guests assisting at the reception included Mrs. J. D. Powers of Shelby, Mississippi, Mrs. Hal Donald, and Mrs. E. F. Noel of Lexington.

Back in New Orleans, Christine attended the Newcomb School, where she was an avid student and later played high school volleyball.  As a young woman, Christine often made trips with her mother to the beach cottage in Waveland, Mississippi, and in the latter part of the 1920's, it appears that Carlotta's primary place of residence may have been on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  The social pages of the Times-Picayune confirm that Carlotta continued to maintain the friendships of many she had known in New Orleans, where the names of those individuals were mentioned as house guests of Carlotta at her home on the beach in Waveland. 

In 1930, the U. S. Census recorded for Massachusetts, enumerated 18-year old Christine Fairchild living in Boston in the household of her mother, Lotta N. Fairchild, a 56 year old widow. Their residence at the time was shown to have been a dwelling on Commonwealth Avenue, and Carlotta's occupation was shown as "nurse."  Whether Carlotta was actually working at the time is unknown, but the amount of her assets ($125,000) shown on the census indicate she was a wealthy woman by 1930 standards. Besides Christine, two other  females, Eliza Aldrich, a stenographer, and Hazel Weld, a student, both 18 years old and likely friends of Christine, were present in the household at the time the census was recorded.  

Little is known about why Carlotta and Christine would have been living in Boston or exactly how long she remained there. At least one report in the social pages of the Times-Picayune, however, indicated that Rena Nelson, Carlotta's sister, was a resident of Boston around this time. But Rena's name did not appear as a member of Carlotta's household, and a subsequent search for her on the 1930 census found no record.  

Although Carlotta and Christine apparently lived in Boston for an undetermined period of time in 1930, both women were certainly back in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf coast area during the next few years.  Most accounts of Carlotta's social involvements indicate she may have returned to Waveland, Mississippi, where she lived in the Fairchild beach cottage while Christine was attending Sophie Newcomb College.  Located on the campus of Tulane University in New Orleans, Sophie Newcomb was a school for women. By most accounts, Christine was an excellent student and was a member of Phi Beta Phi.  And it was while Christine was a student at Sophie Newcomb that she met Jane Smith, a young photographer and artist who had grown up in Wisconsin.  Christine's aspiration to become an architect and Jane's artistic aspirations became the common ground for their eventual involvement in the city's fast growing arts community.  And it was in that environment, while Jane was a student at the newly established Arts and Crafts School, that both women would meet Paul Ninas.

Next:  The Men in Christine's Life

Times-Picayune. Archived newspaper articles, 1920 - 1940, accessed online Jan. 17, 2011 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002. Year: 1930; Census Place: BostonSuffolkMassachusetts; Roll: 946; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 607; Image: 91.0.  [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002. 
Accessed on January 18, 2011 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Louis Howes Fairchild - 1849-1918

This is the fifth  in a series of posts about the life of Carlotta Nelson Fairchild, born in Goodman, Mississippi in 1874.

According to most accounts, Louis Howes Fairchild was still very much involved in business affairs, at least in his successful automobile business, until he was over 65 years old. An article published in the Times-Picayune newspaper on March 16, 1916, confirms that he already had a health problem, when it reported his retirement from Fairchild Auto Company, citing his health was "a factor."  This means that Fairchild had been ill for more than two years before his death occurred on November 22, 1918. Although Fairchild's death may have been anticipated by the adults in the family, it still would have been a tragic event for the entire Fairchild family, especially for young Christine.  Barely six years old when her father died, it is likely at the time that she did not fully understand the finality of her father's death.

Death was not a stranger to the Fairchild family in the early 1900s. Mary Winnemore Fairchild, Louis's first wife, had died in 1905, and Lydia Fairchild (Mrs. Edward Turner Howard) had become a young widow when her husband died unexpectedly in New York after an appendectomy.  And on August 12, 1912, one of the couple's daughters, Blanche (Mrs. Sidney Johnston White) died in New York, where she had become ill while vacationing in Belle Terre, Long Island, with her husband and sisters, Lydia, Hazel, and Marguerite.

Although Louis Fairchild was effectively retired when he died, he still owned investment properties and likely had retained some type of interest in his lucrative automobile business. But without a copy of his will or "succession," as it is known in Louisiana legal terms, it is difficult to know how solvent Louis Fairchild was at the time of his death.  An indication of Fairchild's financial standing, however, is the fact that properties he owned at 902, 904, 906, 908, and 912 St. Charles St., and a 2-story garage located at 632 St. Joseph St. were scheduled to be sold at auction in late 1919.  The Notice of Auction, published in the local newspaper, cited "Succession of Louis H. Fairchild" as the reason for the auction.  All real property included in the auction, excepting one parcel, was community property that had been purchased during his first marriage to Mary (Maggie) Winnemore.  The one parcel, however, had been purchased prior to his second marriage.  This information indicates that Carlotta, as his second wife, would not have had an interest in the real property owned by her husband, with the possible exception of their personal residence and maybe the Fairchild beach cottage located in Waveland, Mississippi. With little or no ownership interest in Louis Fairchild's estate, the year following her husband's death must have been one of financial insecurity for Carlotta.

The first evidence that Carlotta's life was undergoing a transition in the years after Louis Fairchild's death is shown in the U. S. Census of 1920, conducted in the City of New Orleans.  According to the information included in that census, Carlotta was a 46 year old widow, the mother of an 8 year old daughter, Christine, who headed a household on Calhoun Street.  Carlotta and her daughter lived in a rented house on Calhoun Street, one they shared with two "boarders," a 39 year old mother named Margaret Moll and her daughter, 22 year old Margaret Moll.  Carlotta's occupation was shown to be that of "trained nurse," in a "private home."  Carlotta's life, it appears from the census record, was indeed unsettled, since it appears she had to seek employment after her husband's death.

Next:  Life Without Father

Source:  Year: 1920;Census Place: New Orleans Ward 14, OrleansLouisiana; Roll: T625_624; Page: 24A; Enumeration District: 247; Image: 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Time-Picayune. Archives newspapers, 1900 - 1918.  Accessed online January 13, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

"Gary Walters Delta Dreamin'" - Scenes of the Mississippi Delta

Published by Quail Ridge Press
“The most beautiful things on Earth cannot be seen nor touched, but are felt in the heart,” says Gary Walters, a Jackson resident who is also a well-known watercolor artist.

I first met Gary Walters when we were in junior high school, where he was already a talented and promising young artist.  Ironically, our junior high art teacher was a man named Louis Walsh, with whom Gary would later study at Hinds Junior College. A Christian artist, Gary has been married for over 40 years to the former Joan Douglas, with whom he has four grown children.  One of their sons, Jacob, is a well-known Mississippi artist, too.  After receiving a Bachelor and a Masters degree from Mississippi College, where he studied with Dr. Sam GoreGary taught at the Clinton, Mississippi school, as well as at Mississippi State University, Hinds Community College, and Belhaven University.  Over the past 35 years, Gary has also taught numerous workshops and has had many one man shows featuring his watercolor works that exhibit unique color and light.  

Known as Mississippi’s premier watercolor artist, Gary's works are included in public and private collections throughout the United States and in several foreign countries. He has also received several noteworthy awards for his artistic labors of love, including being named in 1993 as Art Alumnus of the Year at Mississippi College.  In 2009, Gary was recognized by the Mississippi Senate for bringing honor to the state through his painting and his book, “Gary Walters Delta Dreamin'" published in October 2008 by Quail Ridge Press.  Just last year, on September 11, 2010, Gary was honored by the Deer Park (TX) Education Foundation, when he was inducted into the Felton F. Waggoner Hall of Fame.

"Gary Walters Delta Dreamin'" includes scenes from the Mississippi Delta that feature the characteristic color and light that make his art work so unique. To someone like me who has roots in the Mississippi Delta, the scenes depicted in the book bring back many memories of my childhood in a place where our lives were so dependent on nature and hard work.  For those who are less familiar with the Delta, its history and its culture, Gary’s art work provides beautiful visual insight into a way of life that previously could only be experienced.

To view the galleries of Gary Walters and his son, Jacob Walters, click here. Gary can also be found on Facebook, and an interview conducted by Walt Grayson of WLBT television in JacksonMississippi can be viewed below.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Christine Fairchild - Daughter of Carlotta Nelson and Louis Fairchild

This is the fifth in a series of posts about Carlotta Nelson Fairchild and her family.  Today's post is about her daughter, Christine.

Christine Fairchild, born in New Orleans on October 30, 1911, was likely named for her maternal grandmother, Christiane Frederikkson Nelson.  She was the first child born to Carlotta and the eleventh child fathered by Louis Fairchild.  Although her father's first marriage to Mary Winnemore Fairchild had produced a total of ten children, only six had lived to adulthood, five daughters and a son. With Christine's birth, Louis now had seven living children. At the time of her birth, Christine's father, as a member of the New Orleans Cotton Exchange and the New York Cotton Exchange, was able to provide his family security and many of life's comforts.  And it is almost certain that Christine, as her mother's only natural child and her father's youngest, received more than her share of her parents' attention.  

Archives of the social pages of the Times-Picayune, the New Orleans newspaperoffer extensive insight into Christine Fairchild's young life.  At least one trip to Goodman, Mississippi, to visit Carlotta's relatives who still lived in that area, was reported in those pages. Although their mode of travel was not mentioned, it seems likely that Christine and her family would have ridden the Panama Limited, a "premier all-pullman train" whose northbound route made stops in Mississippi between New Orleans and its destination of Chicago.  Since Christine's maternal grandmother lived until 1917, it seems certain the young girl would have become acquainted during these trips with the woman for whom she was named.  Also living in Holmes County, Mississippi during this time were Florena ("Rena") Nelson, Christine's unmarried aunt, and her uncle, William J. Nelson, and his family.  Back in New Orleans, Christine and her extended family of half-sisters, a half-brother, and their respective families, often enjoyed summers spent at "The Myrtles," the Fairchild's beach cottage in Waveland, Mississippi, sometimes spending as much as two months at one time.

But in 1918, tragedy struck the Fairchild family when Louis Fairchild, then a 69 year old father of seven, died after an extended illness. Married to her husband for slightly less than ten years, Carlotta Nelson Fairchild became a widow with a seven year old daughter. 

Next:  "Life Without a Father"

Times-Picayune, Archived newspaper artiles, 1900 - 1920, accessed online Jan. 11, 2011

New York Times, Archived copies of newspaper articles, 1910 - 1918, accessed online Jan. 11, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Meeting the Returning Troops

Source: Digital Photo Collection 
Privately owned by Ashley Padget Rennie 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Carlotta Nelson Fairchild - A New Life in New Orleans

This is the fourth in a series of posts about Carlotta Nelson, a daughter of Danish immigrants who was born in 1874 in Goodman, Mississippi.  

Carlotta was first married to R. E. Anderson, a man who was eleven years her senior, on June 17, 1897 in Holmes County, Mississippi.  As far as I can determine, the marriage produced no children and ended when Anderson died in 1901. According to his tombstone in the Nelson family plot in Hillcrest Cemetery in Goodman, Anderson was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. Based on family customs during that time period, it is likely that Carlotta's marriage to Mr. Anderson was an arranged one.  

No information is available about what Carlotta did after her first husband's death, or where she lived.  It is possible that she left Holmes County after her husband died, although I have been unable to find information that fills the gap between 1901 and 1909 when she married Louis Fairchild. Without that information, it is impossible to know the sort of life Carlotta lived during the years she was married Anderson or during the eight years that followed his death.  But one thing was certain, Carlotta's new life as Mrs. Louis Howes Fairchild was destined to be very different from her life in Holmes County, Mississippi.

When Louis Fairchild and Carlotta Nelson Anderson married on June 8, 1909 at Trinity Church, Fairchild already was a well-established businessman and civic leader, working as a "cotton broker" at the New Orleans Cotton Exchange.  During the halcyon days when cotton truly was "king," one can safely assume that Fairchild's position produced ample income to live a privileged life in the Crescent City. 

Archived copies of Times-Picayune society pages provide much insight into the life of the Fairchild family during the early half of the 1900s. Louis Fairchild's daughters, well-educated and properly introduced to New Orleans society, had many friends and were frequent guests at parties and weddings. Lydia, the oldest of Fairchild's daughters, had served as Queen of Mardi Gras and later had married her King Rex, Edward Turner Howard, a wealthy philanthropist with deep New Orleans roots.  According to an article in the New York Times, the marriage of Queen Lydia and King Rex (Edward) was the only time in New Orleans history that a Mardi Gras Queen had ever married her King.  

Another daughter, Mary H. Fairchild, had been married to her husband, Leonard K. Nicholson, for about four years prior to her father's marriage to Carlotta. In November of 1910, just a few months after Louis and Carlotta celebrated their first wedding anniversary, Hazel, the youngest Fairchild daughter, was presented as a debutante to New Orleans society.  That same fall, Edmond, Louis Fairchild's only son, married his bride.   

In 1910, the Fairchild family lived in a residence located at 916 St. Charles Street, now St. Charles Avenue, a long street that runs from downtown New Orleans through what is known as the "Garden District."  The Fairchild house was located near Lee Circle, within a short walk of the New Orleans City Hall, Carondolet and Baronne Streets, and the bustling businesses and stores of turn-of-the century downtown New Orleans. Nearby, at 700 St. Charles Street, Louis Fairchild and his son, Edmond, owned and operated Fairchild Motor Car Co., Inc., a thriving local automobile dealership

By 1912, the New Orleans cotton market was booming, automobile sales were growing, and Carlotta was pregnant with Lou. According to available information, Louis Fairchild also owned large brick residences at 902, 904, 906, and 908 St. Charles Street, a two story parking garage at 632 St. Joseph Street, and a summer beach house at Waveland, Mississippi. 
is's child.  Life was good for the Fairchild Family.

Next:  A New Fairchild Daughter

Source: Times-Picayune.  Archived newspaper copies 1900 - 1940.  Accessed online on January 11, 2011.
New York Times. Archived news articles, Accessed online January 11, 2011.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Carlotta Nelson Marries Louis H. Fairchild

According to available records, Carlotta Nelson Andersen, 35 years old, married Louis Howes Fairchild, a 60-year old widowed father of six, on June 8, 1909, at Trinity Church in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was a second marriage for both.  Although I have been unable to locate the full name of Carlotta's first husband or details about the marriage, available records indicate that she was a childless widow at the time of her marriage to Mr. Fairchild.  Carlotta's new husband was a well-established New Orleans cotton broker, who had been married over 30 years to his first wife, Mary Winnamore Fairchild, before she died in 1905.

The U. S. Census recorded in 1900 in New Orleans, shows Louis and his first wife, Mary, living in a residence on the corner of Camp and Prytania Streets. The Fairchild household at the time included five children, Blanche, 20, Mary,18, Edmond A., 15, Hazel, 12, and Margaret, 9, three servants, and Mr. Fairchild's widowed mother and aunt. Servants' names and their listed occupations were Winnie Williams, "Cook," William Randall, "Butler," and Adaline Wilson, "Maid." In 1910, one year after Carlotta's marriage to Mr. Fairchild, the U. S. Census shows that she was living in a household headed by her husband, in a residence located on St. Charles Avenue, now the center of what is known as "The Garden District."  The Fairchild household in 1910 included three of Louis's adult children, Edmondo Fairchild, 25 years old and an automobile "merchant," Hazel Fairchild, 19, Margerite Fairchild, 22, and five individuals identified as "servants."  The names of these five servants were Mary Albert, 40, a "Dining Room Maid," Caroline Nelson, 27, a "Cook," Eleonor Bassford, a 20-year old "House Girl," Henry Righnes, 20, a "Chauffer," and Thomas Johnson, 33, a "Yard Man." Although Louis Fairchild's assets were not shown on either the 1900 or 1910 census records, it is evident that Carlotta had married a very wealthy man.

Next: Carlotta's Life in New Orleans
Sources: 1900; Census Place: New Orleans Ward 12, OrleansLouisiana; Roll: T623_575; Page: 26A; Enumeration District: 120. Accessed online January 9, 2011 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006. Accessed online January 9, 2011.

Times-Picayune newspapers.  Digital Archives dated 1900 - 1910; accessed online on January 9, 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

Carlotta J. Nelson, American Born

Carlotta J. Nelson was born on October 10, 1874 in Mississippi to William R. Nelson, and his wife Christiana Fredericka Nelson, both Danish-born. William was born on June 24, 1823, in Frederikshovn, Denmark, and Christiana was born ten years later, on October 30, 1833, at Levenholm Castle, Ronden, Denmark.  Although I have been unable to determine the exact date of the Nelson family's arrival in America, the U. S. Census of 1870 shows that William and Christiana were already living in the Richland Beat of Holmes County, Mississippi.  The Nelson household at that time included William, a 57 year old merchant, Christiane, a 47 year old housewife, and three children, Dorothea, age 12, Florina, 11, and William, age 9.  In 1880, the U. S. Census shows the Nelson family had moved to the Town of Goodman, where William sold "general merchandise." The family likely lived in the business district, since the census record indicated their nearby neighbors included a preacher, a physician, two saloon keepers, and another merchant. The Nelson household in 1880 included five children, six year old Carlotta, Dorothea, 22, Florina, 21, William, 18, and W. L., age 4.  Since Dorothea, Florina, and William were all born in Denmark, it appears that Carlotta was the first member of her family to have been born in America.  

Source: 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc. 2009.  Images reproduced by FamilySearch. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Story of Carlotta Nelson Fairchild - Introduction

This past Tuesday, I posted a photo on Cemeteries of Dancing Rabbit Creek of the grave stone that marks Carlotta Nelson Fairchild's burial place in Hillcrest Cemetery in Holmes County, Mississippi. I photographed Carlotta's headstone while visiting this old cemetery off U.S. Highway 51 North, near the town of Goodman, early last year.  My actual purpose of the trip to Hillcrest Cemetery was to visit the graves of my paternal grandparents and great-grandmothers and to photograph all the headstones of my deceased Porter and Branch ancestors who are buried there.  After I completed what I had set out to do, I walked among the other graves, intrigued by the Confederate section of the cemetery, where many of the community's young men lay buried, and by so many old and unusual monuments. 

As I neared the top of the hill where the earliest burials at Hillcrest began, I immediately was drawn to a family plot that contained the grave sites of members of the Nelson Family. The plot was surrounded by a wrought iron fence, rusty but still in fairly good condition.  Based on the substantial size of the monuments located in the plot, I thought the Nelson family must have been among the more prosperous citizens of Goodman around the turn of the twentieth century. 

But what really caught my eye was the word "Denmark,"  inscribed on the markers, which told me that Nelson family members had been born in Denmark. The fact that someone buried in Holmes County, Mississippi, in the very small hamlet of Goodman, was born in Denmark is significant.  Of the hundreds of thousands of people who migrated through Mississippi during the 1800s in their search for land and new lives, the Nelson family would be in a very small minority of settlers who would have been born in Denmark.  

How and why the Nelson family would have chosen Holmes County and Goodman as a place to settle fascinated me, to say the least, and I wanted to know more.  So I photographed the gravestones of those buried inside and near the family plot, including Carlotta's.  Those photographs led me on a research journey that ended just this week.  I hope you will follow me here as I tell Carlotta's story.

Next:  Carlotta Nelson's Beginnings

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Google Analytics for 2010

Last year was a great year for genea-bloggers and for family history research in general.  Right now, it seems that genealogy is a hot topic everywhere you turn.  Not only is it the subject of several television shows, but family research capabilities are constantly being expanded with an increasing number of new and improved online databases and high tech devices that make successful research faster and easier than ever before. Family history research is no longer "just a hobby," it is becoming an industry itself.  And it is this increased interest in searching for one's roots that caused the readership of my blogs to reach an all-time high this past year, with over sixteen thousand visits recorded. According to Google Analytics, about three fourths of those who landed on my blogs were searching the web for specific names and locations for their own ancestors. And it still amazing to me to see where these visitors originate. Although a majority of the visitors to my blogs reside in the continental United States, others live throughout the world, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Canada, Russia, Netherlands, France, Ukraine, and Australia.  I am both humbled and pleased to think that some of these visitors may have found something on one of my blogs that helped them in their own family research.  

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday's Poem - "Winter's Roads"

Winter's Roads

By Ron Carnell

I cannot speak for all who stem
'Long roads less traveled as their way,
Nor question choices made by them
In days long past or nights long dim
by words they spoke and did not say.

Each road is long, though short it seems,
And credence gives each road a name
Of fantasies sun-drenched in beams
Or choices turned to darkened dreams,
To where each road wends just the same.

From North to South, then back again,
I followed birds like all the rest
Escaping nature's snowy den
On roads I've seen and places been,
Forsaking roads that traveled West.

This journey grows now to its end,
As road reflections lined in chrome
Give way to roads with greater bend
And empty signs that still pretend
They point the way to home sweet home.

But all roads lead to where we go
And where we go is where we've been,
So home is just a word we know,
That space in time most apropos
For where we want to be again.

For even home, it seems to me,
Is still a choice we all must face
From day to day and endlessly,
To choose if home is going to be
Another road - or just a place.