Friday, February 29, 2008

Miss Ollie's Leap Year Card from Itawamba County: 1912

This illustration is from a post card mailed in Itawamba County during 1912 to Ollie Gregory from her beau.

Leap Year has been the traditional time in past times that a woman could propose marriage to a man. It is believed this tradition started in Ireland during the 5th Century. The first documented evidence of this practice is during 1288, when in Scotland, a law was passed that allowed women to propose marriage to their man of choice during that year. If a man declined the proposal the law stated he must pay a fine. That fine could range from a kiss to a pair of gloves.

Happy Leap Day!

Source: Leap Year Traditions from Marriage

Itawamba Settlers Spring 2008 Issue Scheduled for March

Itawamba Settler’s Spring 2008 issue is now in production and should be delivered to the printers late next week with an expected mailing date around the third week of March.

This issue contains quite a few interesting articles including a feature article and photographs about Elvis Presley’s Itawamba County ancestors and cousins, an article about Unionists in Itawamba County during the Civil War era, the George Shumpert Estate Depositions that tell an interesting story of hiding cotton during the Civil War, a transcription of the New Salem Church Deed from 1840 (this deed predates by ten years, the earliest known one to exist before), Itawamba County Masonic Records from the 1880’s, Itawamba County Board of Supervisors minutes from the 1880’s, old Itawamba County newspaper abstracts, several old county photographs, and much more.

Itawamba Settlers is the quarterly membership magazine of the Itawamba Historical Society and is in its 27th year of publication. For further information about the magazine, including a full contents index back to 1982, visit the society’s Quarterly Magazine area of the society’s website.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

An Early View of the Village of Mantachie

This scene was probably photographed during the late 1800's or shortly after 1900. The view of Mantachie is looking north from the corner of the Tupelo Road and Saltillo Road (present-day Hodges Drive and Church Street).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

An Afternoon Visit Under the China Berry Tree During the 1930's

Pictured is Amelia Rankin Riley (seated left) in front of her home enjoying a visit with her Cason cousins. Standing behind the woman seated (right) is Erin Cockrell Riley, Amelia’s daughter-in-law (wife of Samuel Feemster Riley). The scene was photographed during the 1930’s in the New Chapel Community west of the Tombigbee River.

Amelia Rankin Riley was born January 16, 1859 in Itawamba County, the daughter of Ethelburt Rankin and Mary Jane Cason. She married John Thomas Riley on January 22, 1884. Amelia was the older sister of Congressman John Elliott Rankin who represented Mississippi for several terms.

Erin Cockrell Riley was born August 2, 1915 in Itawamba County, the daughter of Henry Calvin Cockrell and Hattie Pearl Buse. She married Samuel Feemster Riley (born May 22, 1890) during the 1930’s.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Another View of the Itawamba County Court House

Pictured above is a view of the north entrance to the Itawamba County Court House. The scene was photographed around 1900. The 1852 Federal style structure was built during ca. 1852. The building featured a copula topped with a weather vane. Fulton historian, Zereda Greene, who moved to Fulton with her family during 1900, once wrote: “For many years, when we would be washing, long before the advent of the washing machine, water heaters, etc., we would check the weather vane on top of the courthouse to see the direction the wind was from before we built the fire around the washpot, then build the fire on the side the wind was from so it would blow under the washpot.”

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Jerry Brown Arts Festival is March 1-2

Take time to visit Itawamba County’s neighbors to the east at the upcoming Jerry Brown Arts Festival in Hamilton, Alabama.

The Jerry Brown Arts Festival (JBAF), a juried arts exhibition heading into its sixth season in neighboring Marion County, Alabama will be held March 1-2 in nearby Hamilton.

The Jerry Brown Arts Festival was created during 2003 by the city of Hamilton and the Hamilton Area Chamber of Commerce and during 2004 the festival was coordinated by individuals with an interest in developing the arts festival into a multi-county venture.

With assistance from the Hamilton Chamber Board members, the 2004 festival more than doubled in artists and festival visitors. At the conclusion of the 2004 event the Jerry Brown Arts Festival moved into the hands of the newly formed Northwest Alabama Arts Council, Inc. This organization serves the four-county region of Franklin, Lamar, Marion, and Winston counties. The JBAF, and the NWAAC, are both funded in part by the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

Held at the E.T. Sims Recreational Facility in downtown Hamilton, this popular arts festival features amazing art from the region, entertaining music, excellent Southern food and old fashioned down home hospitality.

Marion County, Alabama and Itawamba County, Mississippi have many ties that bind – from cultural identity to ancestral connections. Take time to discover the best that the beautiful hill country of the region has to offer by attending the Jerry Brown Arts Festival in nearby Hamilton.

For further information about the festival, visit the festival website.

Logo Credit: Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Google Books Affords Easier Access to Many Old Obscure Books

Some of the most fascinating sources of information for researchers come from old and obscure volumes of books usually housed in libraries’ special collections. Once, many of these rare and obscure books could only be accessed by visiting a library, as they are not usually a part of the general circulating collection.

Thanks to Google Books, thousands of these old and valuable volumes are made available to researchers online through the Google Books collection. Entire books in the public domain, many published during the 19th Century, can be viewed online and even downloaded in their entirety in Adobe PDF format and the vast array of books in this collection is astounding.

These fully searchable books are coming from a host of prestigious libraries taking part in the Google Books project, including Columbia University, Cornell University, Harvard University, the New York Public Library, Oxford University, Princeton University, Stanford University, University of Virginia, University of Michigan and a host of other institutions.

This project makes it easier for researchers to find books and resources that they would not find in other ways such as those items that are out of print. Just a minute sampling of rare Mississippi volumes in this digital collection includes such works as J.F.H. Claiborne’s Mississippi as a Province, Territory and State (1880), Mississippi by Robert Lowery and William McCardle (1891),History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians by H.B. Cushman (1899), Lloyd’s Steamboat Directory and Disasters on the Western Waters by James T. Lloyd (1856), Mississippi Scenes or Sketches of Southern and Western Life and Adventure by Joseph B. Cobb (1851), The Chickasaw Nation by James Malone (1922) and Recollections of Mississippi and Mississippians by Reuben Davis (1890).

To search the thousands of old and valuable downloadable books in the collection, simply visit the Advanced Search page, and after entering your search criteria, click the “full view” radio button. A search of the collection can be narrowed by entering a date of publication range, publisher information, author and title in the appropriate fields.

Take time to discover what Google Books can offer. It will be time well spent for the astute genealogical and historical researcher.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Rev. Thomas D. Clark: The Day His New Model-T Truck Met the Fence Post

Photograph: Rev. Thomas D. Clark and wife Ella Spence posing in their Model-T truck.

Henry Ford built the first automobile that most every person could afford. It was a reliable and easy to repair vehicle when it did break down. All over the country folks were buying this new auto, nicknamed the “Tin Lizzie.” And as the auto became cheaper to build, the prices dropped accordingly until it reached a low price of $260 during 1925.

With the advent of the Tin Lizzie, the horse and buggy days of Itawamba County were numbered. Many farm families across the county began saving their money and buying automobiles..

Rev. Thomas D. Clark was once such farmer who was also a Methodist minister. He made the long trek by wagon to Tupelo from eastern Itawamba County to purchase his long-awaited Model-T truck, although he had never driven an automobile before. The salesman who sold him the truck gave him a quick lesson on how to drive and probably instructed him how to stop the vehicle as well.

Unfortunately Thomas didn’t remember the stopping part of the cursory lesson. When Clark turned north off the old Bankhead Highway east of Tremont to return to his farm on the old dusty road, he passed his son’s farm. His grandchildren had been waiting and watching in the farmhouse yard with eager anticipation, wanting to catch a glimpse of their grandpa pass in his shiny new truck. Hearing the mechanical sounds of the engine off in the distance invading the silence, the excitement grew, but as Clark and his shiny new truck neared the house, he passed right by without even looking or waving to them. He quickly tipped his hat and kept right on driving full speed ahead with his complete thoughts on operating this modern piece of machinery, while leaving his grandchildren in a dusty cloud.

A few minutes later, when he finally made it to his farmhouse, he continued to drive around the house three times, trying his best to recall the quick lesson dealing with stopping the truck. Failing to recall that part of the quick driving lesson offered him by the salesman in Tupelo, he finally ran the truck into a solid cedar fence post. That stopped the truck just fine and didn’t damage his Tin Lizzie one bit. Trucks were built better then.

Adapted from an article by society member Nelda Clark Reeves that appeared in the June 1984 issue of Itawamba Settlers magazine, the quarterly membership magazine of the Itawamba Historical Society.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sans Hats and Shoes: Resting in the Shade

An unidentified group at rest in the shade of trees near a fence during the late 19th Century. It is thought this scene was photographed on a farm near the Tombigbee River.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gryder’s Store on Fulton’s Town Square: A Business During the 1880’s

The John S. Gryder family appears on the 1853 state census of Itawamba County. He and his wife, Sarah Ann Carroll Gryder had no children at this time. By 1860 this family lived in the Verona vicinity. The family included two children: William C. (2 years of age) and John J. (3 months of age). John S. ran a mercantile business in Verona.

During the Civil War John S. served in Company C (Town Creek Rifles) of the Confederate army. After the Civil War the family moved to the 9th precinct of the Third District of Itawamba County. They lived about three miles south of present-day Peppertown in the vicinity of Mantachie Creek.

In 1865, a son, James, was born and in 1868 another son, Lee was born. After the war until about 1879, John S. farmed the rich bottomlands of Mantachie Creek. During 1880 John S. and his family resided in the town of Fulton, where he began a mercantile business. John’s son, William C. married Minnie Stribling of Fulton during 1882. During September of 1883, a son named Freddie Lee was born, but died during July of 1884. A marble monument marks the grave in the old section of the Fulton Cemetery. John Gryder’s other son, Robert Edgar Lee, married Lulah Elliott of Tupelo and was listed as a retail clerk during the 1900 census of Tupelo. The 1910 Lee County census lists him as a drygoods merchant in Shannon. William C. and his family are listed in the 1910 Lowndes County census as living on 6th Street in Columbus. His occupation was traveling clothing salesman.

The first Gryder store in Fulton went under the name of Gryder and Son with the partners being John S. and his son William C. By the mid-1880’s the father had retired and William continued business with a new partner – S.R. Stribling, his brother-in-law, and with a new name – Will Gryder and Company.

The above bill of sale from Gryder and Company was dated March 13, 1884 and was for the account belonging to Col. D.N. Cayce of Fulton.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Fulton Bank Opening Day: 1921

The Fulton Bank opened it door’s during 1921. Located near the corner of South Cummings and Main streets on the town square, this scene was photographed shortly after opening day. Pictured are bank officers and employees Jaudon Copeland Whitehead, Sergeant Prentiss Howard and Alfred Richard. Senter.

Jaudon Copeland Whitehead was born January 14, 1892 in Bexar, Marion County, Alabama, the son of A.M.L. and Lucretia Wiggington Whitehead. On October 28, 1919 he married Lela Bernice Toomer, the daughter of William M. and Mary Frances Spencer Toomer, in the Clay community of Itawamba County.

Sergeant Prentiss Howard was born April 19, 1868, the son of Dr. Martin Whitford and Martha Angeline Barnes Howard of Fulton.

Alfred Richard Senter was born June 6, 1889 in Itawamba County, the son of John Joel and Celia Ann Dulaney Senter. He married Maudena Sheffield, daughter of John Henry and Mittie Moore Sheffield during 1916.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Excellent Free Resources for Mississippi Researchers Sometimes Found in Unlikely Places

There is a plethora of free resources that can help Mississippi genealogical and historical researchers. One agency that has produced some excellent publications – both traditional print and online, is the Mississippi Secretary of State.

The Mississippi Blue Book has been around a long time. Officially known as the Official and Statistical Register, the Division of Education and Publication publishes this massive 748-page book. The entire book is online as a single download in a PDF file format (an 11 megabyte download) or available in sections. This book contains all types of information about the state and is profusely illustrated with images and maps.

Of particular importance to researchers is the 114-page County Government section that contains detailed information about each of Mississippi’s 82 counties including a brief history of each county’s organization, how the county was named, a county location map and a complete address book of all political divisions of the county. This can really come in handy when trying to obtain copies of old documents from a particular county.

By statute this book is published in the year following the Presidential Election. Visit the Mississippi Secretary of State online to download or view the 2004-2008 edition of the Mississippi Blue Book. There is also an excellent interactive presentation about the book on the site.

Another entertaining and educational publication at the Mississippi Secretary of State site is the 36-page Mississippi Souvenir Booklet. This beautifully illustrated volume (a 5.7 megabyte download in PDF format) contains information about Mississippi including an excellent historical timeline. Like the Blue Book, this booklet can also be downloaded in sections and is also available as an interactive presentation.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Old Patton Family Cemetery: Remnants of the old Patton Flats Plantation

The old George Washington and Catherine Reed Patton monument hides behind tall field grass on a cold autumn morning in eastern Itawamba County.

In Section 28, Township 9 South, Range 10 East, the old Patton family cemetery is all that is left of the old George Washington Patton plantation. Located on flat “high ground” between Gum Creek, Cypress Creek and Bull Mountain Creek in eastern Itawamba County, George Washington Patton of Itawamba County received a Federal land patent to the land on October 6, 1840.

George Washington Patton was born June 25, 1809 in Williamson County, Tennessee, the son of Samuel Boyd Patton (born August 15, 1784 in South Carolina) and Sarah D. Stephenson (born 1790 in Pendleton District, South Carolina).

Patton moved with his family south to Jonesboro, Jefferson County, Alabama where he married Catherine Reed (born May 26, 1811 in Tennessee) and later immigrated to Itawamba County, living out the remainder of his life here. Children of George Washington and Catherine Reed Patton included: Elizabeth A. who was born May 6, 1835 in Walker County, Alabama. The remainder of their children, all born in Itawamba County, were Sarah Emily Jane (born November 13, 1838), Mary A.C. (born November 14, 1839), Thomas Lemuel (born 1841), John W. (born July 15, 1843), Millie K.A. (born July 27, 1845), James M.M. (born 1847) and Louisa Eleanora (born May 18, 1850).

George Washington Patton died on his farm on September 23, 1877. His widow continued to live on the farm until her death on May 30, 1898.

Photography by Bob Franks

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sula Phillips Betts’ Ornate Monument in the Old Fulton Cemetery

Click image for larger resolution view

Sula Phillips was born November 15, 1865 in the town of Fulton, the daughter of Judge Eli Phillips and wife, Irena E. Collins. Eli Phillips was a store clerk in Richmond, west of the Tombigbee River during the 1840’s and early 1850’s before he moved his family to Fulton during the later 1850’s when he was elected probate judge of the county. He was later elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives and also served as the mayor of Fulton and elected to the position of justice of the peace.

The large antebellum Phillips house in Fulton was located at the corner of West Wiygul and South Cummings streets on the town square (present-day site of S & W Pharmacy) facing south. The late Zereda Green, Fulton historian, once wrote: “I remember Mrs. Phillips for her pretty flowers, hollyhocks and other flowers back of the house at the edge of the garden and orchard and the two large continuously blooming white rose bushes on each side of the walk at her doorway. She kept a pair of scissors hanging on a nail in the hall and on leaving, she always cut a bouquet of roses and gave us.

On December 21, 1884 Phillip’s daughter, Sula married Malachi Cummings Betts, the son of Egbert Green Betts. Sula’s sister, Belle, married Albert Cummings Betts, Malachi’s brother.

Malachi Cummings Betts ran a Fulton dry goods store with his father and brother.(see blog posting for February 16, 2008 for further information about the Betts family). Sula Phillips Betts died in Fulton on February 20, 1890 and was buried in the Fulton Cemetery. Sula and Malachi Cummings Betts had one son, Charles. The Sula Phillips Betts tombstone reads:
Our Loved One
Wife of
M.C. Betts
Nov. 15, 1865.
Feb. 20, 1890.
God in His wisdom has recalled
The boon His love had given.
And though the body moulders here
The soul is safe in Heaven.

Photography by Bob Franks

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Betts and Sons Store: A 19th Century Fulton Business Landmark for Nearly 60 Years

Click image for larger resolution view.

Egbert Green Betts was a long-time merchant in Fulton, opening a store at the corner of Main and Cummings streets during the late 1840’s. He was born during February 1826 in North Carolina and died during 1904 in Fulton. On September 5, 1850, he married Harriet Roberts in Fulton. Harriet’s mother was Martha Cummings Roberts, the sister of Malachai Crawford Cummings, considered the father of Fulton who lived at Sunny Dell, his estate north of Cummings Creek about one mile north of the town square in Fulton.

Betts was a captain in Company G, 10th Mississippi Regiment (the Fulton Guards) during the Civil War and was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh. The large two-story antebellum Betts home was located on South Clifton Street in Fulton (near the present-day site of the Fulton Church of Christ).

The Betts dry goods store was a Fulton fixture for nearly 60 years during the 1800’s. After the Civil War, two of Egbert Green Betts’ sons – Albert Cummings Betts and Malachi Cummings Betts, joined the firm that became Betts and Sons. By 1910 Albert Cummings Betts had moved to Amory in Monroe County, where he owned a hardware store and Malachi Cummings Betts is listed in the Tupelo, Lee County census as a grocery clerk.

The above bill of sale was dated November 15th, 1886 and was for items bought by Doctor Newnan Cayce of Fulton.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Martha M. Kirkland Ratliff Monument

Click image for larger resolution image.

Martha M. Kirkland Ratliff, the wife of George Ratliff, was born in Morgan County, Alabama April 8, 1821. She was the daughter of Daniel (born March 22, 1783 in Spartanburg District, South Carolina, died December 10, 1863 in Morgan County, Alabama) and Elizabeth Parker Kirkland. Her husband, George Ratliff was born December 22, 1813 in Warren County Kentucky. He was the son of James (born March 15, 1767 in Calvert County, Maryland) and Jane Ritchie Ratliff. George died February 11, 1862. George Ratliff and Martha M. Kirkland married December 30, 1837 in Priceville, Morgan County, Alabama

George Ratliff, and his brother David moved their families to Itawamba County around 1840 from Alabama and were founding members of Mantachie Creek Baptist Church (now Mantachie First Baptist Church) during 1843.

The Ratliff community in Itawamba County, north of Mantachie is named in honor of this family. Both George and Martha M. Kirkland Ratliff are buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery north of Mantachie in the Ratliff community.

Photograph by Bob Franks

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Miss Ollie’s Whimsical Valentine: 1912

Click image for a higher resolution view

Eighteen year old Ollie Gregory of Itawamba County received this valentine from a young boyfriend who lived on a nearby farm for Valentines Day 1912. This whimsical valentine, when turned upside down, gave the rest of the message.

Ollie Gregory was the daughter of Hugh (born March 17, 1858 in Itawamba County, son of Hugh and Nancy Turner Gregory) and Eliza Comer Gregory (born August 24, 1863, the daughter of Simpson and Nancy Baldwin Comer). The Comer and Gregory families came to Itawamba County from the Goshen Hill area of Union County, South Carolina.

Miss Ollie never married and lived on the Gregory family farm north of Walton Cemetery west of the Tombigbee River her entire life.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Early Itawamba County Deeds Featured in Society’s New Online Publication

As part of the society’s long-term efforts of placing Itawamba County research material online, the society has published a 47-page book containing the first property deeds of Itawamba County. The deeds were recorded in the courthouse from 1836 through 1839 and were transcribed from the original deeds in the Itawamba County Courthouse. Also found in the publication is a brief history of the early days of the county as well as a tutorial on plotting Itawamba County Deeds. The publication is fully indexed including a Chickasaw name index, a slave name index with associated surnames and a full name index. The book (671 kb download) is in PDF format. To view the book, simply go to the society’s special publications section and select the book, Early Deeds of Itawamba County.

Several other special online publications are in the works by the society and will be forthcoming in the society’s online archives during 2008.

In addition to developing the online archives, the society also publishes Itawamba Settlers magazine, owns and operates Historic Bonds House - Itawamba County’s museum of history, the George Poteet History Center and the Gaither Spradling Library. The society’s work is totally dependent upon generous membership dues and donations. To join the society and help with the preservation and promotion of Itawamba County’s rich history and heritage, visit the membership area of the society’s website for detailed membership information.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Aberdeen on the Tombigbee: During April a Beautiful Destination Opens Its Historic Doors

Springtime in Mississippi is definitely an enchanted season - azaleas and wisteria put on their showy colors of purple, white, and crimson while the warm air is lightly permeated with the delicate scent of fragrant jasmine. Springtime also means pilgrimage in Mississippi. It is during this special season that many of the state’s historical towns and their homeowners show genuine Southern hospitality as they open their majestic historic homes to the world.

One such Mississippi event is Aberdeen’s Southern Heritage Pilgrimage. This year the 33rd annual pilgrimage in Aberdeen, located on the Tombigbee in neighboring Monroe County downriver from Fulton, will be April 4-6.

Well before the Civil War, Aberdeen became one of the busiest ports in the state where upland cotton was shipped downriver to Mobile. Most all of Itawamba County’s cotton was shipped from Van Buren, Cardsville and Ironwood Bluff to nearby Aberdeen on flatboats, eventually destined for the Mobile cotton market.

Founded in 1835 by Robert Gordon and chartered in 1837, the city of Aberdeen boasts an abundant eclectic collection of historic properties. This year’s pilgrimage will feature nine of those beautiful historic homes including Lenoir Cottage. Holliday Haven (1850), Bella Vida (1879), Harrison-Phelan House (1839), Sanders Place, Miss Quilla (1897), The Old Homestead (1852), The Magnolias (1850) and Painted Lady (1885).

Numerous events take place in Aberdeen during pilgrimage weekend including quaint carriage rides, a proper afternoon tea at beautiful Greenleaves, the Pilgrimage Tea Room Luncheon, a pancake breakfast, a 5K Run/Walk, historic cemetery tours, the Aberdeen Antiques Symposium and the unique and entertaining comedy “Life in a Small Southern Town” at the historic Elkin Theatre in downtown Aberdeen.

Take time to discover beautiful historic Aberdeen on the Tombigbee during pilgrimage season this spring. For detailed information about the 2008 Aberdeen Pilgrimage, including ticket information, special events, and detailed information about the featured houses, visit the Aberdeen Pilgrimage website.

About the Photographs

Built in 1850 by planter, Dr. William Alfred Sykes, The Magnolias (top) is an excellent example of late antebellum townhouses built in the Upper Tombigbee region.

The "crown jewel" of the many elaborate Victorian mansions which once lined Aberdeen's Silk Stocking Avenue, Bella Vida (bottom) has survived to reign supreme on Franklin Street.

Photographs used with permission from the Aberdeen Visitors Bureau.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dr. Oscar Copeland Monument in Northeastern Itawamba's Historic Salem Church Cemetery

The Dr. Oscar Copeland monument located in the Copeland section of the old Salem Church Cemetery in northeastern Itawamba County is one of several large ornate monuments found in this old cemetery’s Copeland section.

Dr. Oscar Copeland was the son of Dr. Thomas and Alice Combs Copeland. Dr. Thomas Copeland owned farms in northeastern Itawamba county and in Lauderdale County, Alabama well before the Civil War (see Volume XXVII No. 2 Summer 2007 issue of Itawamba Settlers for more information about Dr. Thomas Copeland).

Dr. Oscar Copeland, later in life purchased additional lands in northeastern Itawamba County and became perhaps Itawamba’s largest landowner by 1920. He had considerable holdings in Itawamba and adjoining Tishomingo counties and in neighboring Alabama. Below is a transcript of his death noticed that appeared in the January 17, 1924 edition of the Itawamba County News:

Dr. Oscar Copeland Dead

Dr. Oscar Copeland, who lived in the corner of this county, near Red Bay, Ala., died Monday night. He had been in bad health for several years. He was somewhere around 60 years of age.

Born and reared in the piney woods near Salem church, he had become one of the most wealthy men in this section of the county. He practiced medicine for several years in the early part of his life, and with the start he thus secured he began to buy land. When any one wanted to go to Texas many years ago they would always go to Dr. Copeland and get the money for their land.

Most of the land he purchased was bought by people going to him and wanting to sell. He is also a big land holder in Tishomingo County and owns a great deal in Alabama.

Most of us with his means and vision would have done as he did in his dealings.

He made a trip to the Holy Land several years ago and intended to write up his trip and have it published, but we don’t suppose he ever wrote it.

He was a friend indeed to those he liked and made no pretense of admiring those he did not like. That was his disposition, and he could always be placed on any proposition. The last time we talked with him, he told us about losing half a million dollars in a land deal, and we told him he had made enough to do him as along as he lived, and he said he liked to make money anyway.

Interment will be Thursday at Salem Cemetery, the family burying ground. He is survived by a brother, Dr. Jas. Copeland of Red Bay, and many other relatives and friends. Truly he will be missed in that country where he has always been known.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cansler and Warren Bill of Sale for Mary Walker’s Wine, Smoking Tobacco and Medicines: 1872

Click image for larger view.

A bill from the Fulton firm of Cansler and Warren shows Mrs. Mary Walker of Fulton purchased a bottle of Tarrants Seltzer, a bottle of Mother Nobles Syrup, a bottle of port wine, one-half pound of smoking tobacco, one box of mustard and one paper of powdered elm during June and July of 1872. Owned by Thomas Green Cansler and Dr. Napoleon Bonaparte Warren, the apothecary was located on the town square of Fulton from the 1860’s through the 1870’s and was a wholesale and retail dealer in drugs, medicines, chemicals, fine liquors and tobaccos.

Thomas Green Cansler was born January 7, 1838 in Carroll County, Georgia, the son of Phillip and Eveline Smith Cansler. He was a Methodist minister, large landowner and owned the Moscow Flouring Mills in nearby Lamar County, Alabama. On September 8, 1858, he married Celinda Jane Stone at Tremont. She was born February 8, 1841, the daughter of Dilmus Johnson Stone and Parmelia Ann Bethany. Thomas Green Cansler died in Hillsboro, Texas on March 17, 1913.

Dr. Napoleon Bonaparte Warren was born on April 10, 1834 in Limestone County, Alabama, the son of S. John Warren and Sarah Robinson, early settlers of Itawamba County. He owned a large farming operation in northern Itawamba and southern Tishomingo counties. Dr. Warren never married but adopted the sons of the Widow Hood (Robert Jefferson, George Burlon and Jack). His brother, Charles, was the first sheriff of Itawamba County. Dr. Warren died on January 14, 1903 and was buried in the Marietta Cemetery.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Northeast Mississippi City Receives National Honor

The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Columbus in Lowndes County one of its 2008 Dozen Distinctive Destinations. Since 2000, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has annually selected communities across the United States that offer cultural and recreational experiences different from the typical vacation destination. From dynamic downtowns and stunning architecture to cultural diversity and commitments to historic preservation, the selected destinations boast a richness of character and exude an authentic sense of place.

The birthplace of prize-winning playwright, Tennessee Williams, Columbus is home to three National Register Historic Districts that boast an impressive 676 properties. While other cities were ravaged during the Civil War, Columbus was a "hospital town," leaving the antebellum and Victorian homes-along with their contents-spared. Tours of these architectural gems abound. Whether taking a guided walking tour or winding through the scenic area by car, visitors are able to experience 19th century living first-hand. Attractions include Waverley Plantation Mansion, a National Historic Landmark and one of the most photographed homes of the South; Friendship Cemetery, the site of the first Memorial Day celebration in 1866; and the Mississippi University for Women, the oldest public college for women in the United States and home to 23 National Register properties.

Founded in 1821 on the banks of the Tombigbee River, the town thrives on its rich heritage and Southern charm. Columbus offers an extraordinary mix of history, natural beauty and culture. Its revitalized Main Street, bustling with family-owned businesses, treasure-filled emporiums and culinary delights, is endlessly appealing and pulsates with the rhythms of the blues.

Proud of its rich African American heritage, Columbus also offers tours of landmarks that showcase the remarkable impact the African American community has had on the city. The itinerary includes churches, universities and homes. From Catfish Alley, a central business district for African Americans during the late 19th century to Concord CME Church, one of the oldest churches in Columbus dating back to 1867, and the Robert Walker Home Site, where Walker was trained as a butler and went on to become the first African American to own and operate a hotel, this tour celebrates the lasting legacy of the accomplishments achieved by those, who despite oppressive times, prevailed and prospered.

Photographs: Tennessee Williams Home (1875) and Interpretive Center. The home also serves as the Mississippi Welcome Center (top). The Weeping Angel monument for Reverend Thomas Cox Teasdale. Rev. Teasdale was the only individual to obtain a document carrying the signatures of both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis (bottom). Photographs courtesy of the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau

Friday, February 8, 2008

Fulton Dance Group Circa 1925

click image for larger resolution view

This Fulton dance group was photographed in front of the Itawamba Agricultural High School around 1925. The group was probably young dance students from a Fulton dance school posing before a dance recital.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Miss Zereda's House in Fulton

The home that sits at the corner of East Hill and North Cummings streets in Fulton has been known for years as the Zereda Greene home. Zereda Greene was an Itawamba County historian who wrote a series of articles in the Itawamba County Times during the 1960’s called These Things I Remember. She moved into the house with her family, when four years old during 1901 and lived there until her death during 1989. Zereda’s father was a blacksmith and coffin maker in the town of Fulton and her mother owned and operated a millinery shop west of the courthouse.

The original section (front) of the home was built circa 1849 by Robert O. and Louisa Maupin. Robert was a Fulton attorney and his wife Louisa operated the Fulton Female Academy, a boarding school located near the corner of Main and South Cummings Street, two blocks south of the home. The boarding school taught the young daughters of many planters from southern and western Itawamba County including the Whitesides, Dabbs, Standifer, Crayton and Lindsey families.

Zereda Greene once wrote about the old home “My grandmother, Jane Whitesides, her sister, Katherine Whitesides and Miss Dessie Wiygul…were among the pupils..My grandmother said that my home was being built then, that the teacher would take the girls walking, they would come to the new house, walk over the sleepers, etc. and note the progress being made. Aunt Katie’s granddaughter has a sampler embroidered by Aunt Katie when she was here in school and it carries the date 1850. As Aunt Katie married in January 1851 and my grandmother in January, 1852, we know that the house was built before that date.

Below is an abstract from the 1850 Itawamba County Census:

Page 438
Town of Fulton
Robt. O. Maupin: 35, Attorney, Virginia
Louisa: 36, Tennessee
Martha Lindsay: 20, Student, AL
Sarah Johnson: 17, Student, AL
Emily Johnson: 15, Student, TN
Samantha Glover: 16, Student, SC
Frances Dabbs: 17, Student, MS
Ruth Standifer: 17, Student, GA
Mary Welborne: 17, Student, MS
Anna Welborne: 15, Student, AL
Anna S. Stovall: 14, Student, TN
Sarah Hankins: 15, Student, AL
Mary Lindsay: 12, Student, AL
Malissa Burgess: 15, Student, AL
Vernna Warren: 13, Student, KY

House Photographed February 6, 2008 by Bob Franks

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Another Historic Town Square Building Gets New Lease on Life

The old brick building at the corner of Main and South Gaither streets on the Fulton town square has a new owner and houses new businesses.

Lily’s Café and J & T Company are two new businesses located in what is known as the old Gaither Building. Joshua Toomer first purchased this commercial lot on March 16, 1840 just two years after the town was established. Toomer ran a mercantile establishment on part of the lot.

During 1852 when Itawamba County’s second courthouse was built, the brick used in the construction of the Federal style building were fired on this lot by a Mr. Wright. The lot was later purchased by the Gaither family where the firm William Gaither and Sons operated a general store. It has been said the building was bricked when the Itawamba County Agricultural High School was being built below the town under the hill.

Lily’s Café features tasty homemade breads and sandwiches, soups, coffees and other beverages including fruit smoothies. Diners can enjoy their meal in an eclectic atmosphere of bright designs, retro furnishings while listening to and watching Delta blues music videos on the wall-mounted LCD television. J & T Company is an art gallery and antiques business that shares space with the café in the large brick structure that offers a wide variety of art, antiques and collectables.

The Itawamba Historical Society welcomes these new businesses to Fulton’s historic town square and applauds the owners’ efforts at restoring part of Fulton’s historic district.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Documentary: Black Mississippians Who Shaped Our History

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History presents Black Mississippians Who Shaped Our History, a thirty-minute video tribute to a few of the many black Mississippians who have made significant contributions to the state’s history, airing Thursday, February 28 at 8:30 p.m. on Mississippi Public Broadcasting. MPB will also stream the program on its website in February.

The video was written and produced by the Department’s Museum Division as a substitute for the tours of the Old Capitol exhibits and Hall of Fame during Black History Month, when special attention is given to African American subjects. Schools are invited to record the video for later classroom use. Additional airing dates and times will be announced later. Teachers may obtain enrichment activities and evaluations accompanying this program from the MDAH website at:

The Fulton Shoe Repair Shop ca. 1930

Pictured above is David H . Beard at work in his shoe repair shop on North Gaither Street off the town square in Fulton. The scene was photographed probably during the late 1920’s or early 1930’s.

David Haygood Beard was born in Tishomingo County on August 1, 1884, the son of J.B. and Sarah A. Beard. During the early 1920’s Fulton saw its largest boom in growth and prosperity until that time due to the timber industry being developed. At that time several saw mills opened in Fulton creating many new jobs for Itawamba County. The Fulton Shoe Repair Shop was one of the new businesses that opened during this economic boom of the early 1920’s.

The Fulton Shoe Repair Shop was a Fulton landmark for many years under different ownerships displaying the slogan “We Don’t Preach But We Save Soles” and generations of Itawamba County residents had their shoes repaired in this little shop.

Monday, February 4, 2008

New Salem School ca. 1940

New Salem community is in southern Itawamba County between Fulton and Smithville. This view of the community school is thought to have been photographed during the early 1940's. The school was closed during 1954 during a consolidation of county schools. The front part of the building was divided into two rooms by a folding partition, which could be taken down for events such as cakewalks. There was a stage at the left end.

A special thanks to Lionel Stegall of Smithville for sharing this photograph with the readers of Itawamba History Review.


Mississippi Politics: Scott Campaign Button from 1907

In going through an old family trunk this weekend, I came across an old Mississippi political campaign button promoting Charles Scott for Governor of Mississippi. The metal button has Scott’s portrait on a bale of cotton.

After finding the old campaign button it was time to research the man Charles Scott.

Charles Scott, an attorney, planter and businessman from Rosedale in Bolivar County ran an unsuccessful bid for Mississippi governor during 1907 when Edmond Favor Noel was elected. Scott’s platform for the governorship of Mississippi included a state program to encourage Italian immigration to Mississippi.

Scott was a close friend of LeRoy Percy of Greenville in Washington County. Born on November 7, 1847 in Mississippi, he died on October 26, 1916. He married Malvina Yerger, daughter of Colonel Alexander Yerger of Washington County on March 10, 1870.

Scott came to Bolivar County during 1868-69 as a young lawyer and became very successful in business and planting. He was the owner of Scott Manor, which was considered at the time to be the “showplace of the Delta.”

Sunday, February 3, 2008

1921 Tentative Schedule of Recitations: Itawamba County Agricultural High School

Click Image for Larger Resolution View

Itawamba Agricultural High School opened during the fall of 1921. The above schedule of classes was published in the booklet, Itawamba County Agricultural High School Announcement: 1921-22. Faculty and staff members included J.R. Fewell, principal and agriculturist, R.A. Scott, Agriculture; Juanita C. Ray, home science and arts; Minnie Mobberly, English and Latin; Mrs. J.R. Fewell, history and English; T.A. Oliphant, Science and Athletics; A.B. Johnson, mathematics and commercial work; Irene McMullan, music and Kate C. Taylor, matron.

This 36-page booklet was a student handbook that covered all aspects of student life at the boarding school in Fulton. The society has digitized this publication and placed it online in the society’s digital archives. For a fascinating look at student life in Itawamba County nearly ninety years ago visit the society’s Special Publications section to view this 36-page booklet in addition to many other special publications of the society.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Portrait of an Itawamba County Confederate Soldier

This old tintype portrait belonged to the Ethelbert and Mary Cason Rankin family and descendants of southwestern Itawamba County. Although unidentified, the photograph could be a portrait of John H. Cason, the son of Braxton (son of James and Mary Deal Cason of Abbeville District, South Carolina) and Elizabeth Harris (daughter of John and Milly Stanfield Link Harris of Abbeville District).

John served in Company C (Town Creek Rifles of Itawamba County) of the Second Mississippi Regiment and was killed at the Battle of Second Manassas in Virginia during August of 1862.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Notes on Researching the Itawamba County Federal Decennial Census Schedules

Good census research is one of the foundations of genealogical studies and it is always wise to have an in-depth understanding of the census-taking mechanics of the particular census being studied.

For instance, the 1850 census of Itawamba County contains two census districts – District 6 and District 7. The town of Fulton was in District 7. It is evident that western Itawamba was located in District 6 and eastern Itawamba was located in District 7. The line between the two districts could have possibly been the Tombigbee River.

The 1860 census of Itawamba County was enumerated by communities and villages. The following locations were used: Bexar, Bigby Fork, Campbellton, Carrollville, Cummingsville, Fulton, Guntown, Marietta, Mooresville, Oak Farm, Ozark, Pleasanton, Plantersville, Priceville, Richmond, Ryans Well, Saltillo, Smithville and Tremont.

This 1860 Itawamba County census is quite confusing as it appears the enumerator skips between communities. For instance, in browsing through this census, a page or two may be an enumeration of the Carrollville community, then the next few pages may be Marietta or Richmond, then several pages later, the researcher will return to Carrollville again. It is simply like a shuffled deck of cards. It has also been noted by some researchers that ancestors are listed in a community who never lived in that community. So there appears there can be major problems with the enumeration order of the 1860 Itawamba County census. For a detailed study of this situation see the Volume XXV Number 2 (Summer 2005) issue of Itawamba Settlers magazine for the article Integrity of the 1860 Itawamba County Census.

The 1870 census contains only one census district – Fulton. Regardless of where the enumerated family lived, Fulton P.O. was always given as the location. So in this census always remember because the page lists Fulton P.O. as the location, does not necessarily indicate that the enumerated lived in or even remotely near Fulton.

It is always important to view the actual assistant marshals’ instructions for a particular census to fully understand the census process for that particular census year. For instance, during the 1850 census part of the instructions about enumerating household residents reads: “The name of any member of a family who may have died since the 1st day of June is to be enumerated as if living, but the name of any person born since the 1st day of June is to be omitted.” According to these instructions, if the enumerator visited a household on July 20, 1850 and your ancestor had died on May 10, 1850, the deceased ancestor would be enumerated as if still living. If a child had been born in the household on June 10, 1850 and the enumerator visited the household on August 1, 1850 the child would not be enumerated.

An excellent well-illustrated guide to the decennial censuses complete with questionnaires and instructions for each census is the publication, Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000. This 140-page publication is in PDF format and available from the U.S. Census Bureau. This free publication can be downloaded in segments. The segment containing pages 5 through 96 deals with questionnaires and instructions given the enumerators from the 1790 census through the 1990 census and is a 3.07 megabyte download. This section is chock-full of detailed information about the 19th Century census taking process and is an important resource for genealogical researchers well worth the download time.