Friday, October 31, 2008

Pine Grove Church Bell Tower

The bell tower of Pine Grove Baptist Church is photographed on a sunny autumn day. This historic church is one of the first African American churches in Itawamba County founded shortly after the Civil War by freedmen. This church building and the adjacent large cemetery is located on former land of Dr. Christopher Hussey on the old Aberdeen and Jacinto Public Road in southwestern Itawamba County.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Courthouse Dogwood

A dogwood tree on the west side of the Itawamba County Courthouse displays vivid autumn colors today. The last few mornings we have had a heavy frost and during the next several days, autumn's colors should peak in Itawamba County.

The Allen Shumpert Monument in Wiygul Cemetery

The Allen Shumpert monument in historic Wiygul Cemetery in the Carolina Community is an example of the many ornate monuments found in this old cemetery. The cemetery is named for the Wiygul family, early Itawamba County settlers of the area. The first members of the Wiygul family came out of neighboring Monroe County during pre-county days of the early 1830's, living with the Chickasaw Indians.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Harvesting Soybeans Near Boguegaba Creek

A field of soybeans being harvested near Boguegaba Creek in southwestern Itawamba County was photographed yesterday morning.

An Autumn Scene

Leaves have started turning in Itawamba County and with the past two frosty mornings, autumn's colors should be at their peak shortly throughout the hills and hollows of the countryside. The above scene was photographed on Monday and shows a scene looking south on Deer Hills Road near Boguefala Creek in the southwestern part of the county in the Carolina Community. The rural road was covered with fallen leaves.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Old Shumpert Plantation Cemetery

A large pedestal monument near the entrance to the old Shumpert plantation cemetery in southwestern Itawamba County reflects the sun filtered through the dense woods on a cold autumn day. This old cemetery contains dozens of 19th Century monuments and was established on the plantation’s hill land near the main house east of the flat cotton lands west of the ridge.

The Shumpert plantation consisting of 1,440 fertile acres along Boguegaba Creek (the SW ¼ of Section 7, Township 11, Range 8, the SE ¼ of Section 6, Township 11, Range 8, the N ½ of Section 6, Township 11, Range 8, the NW ¼ of Section 18, Township 11, Range 8 and all of Section 12, Township 11, Range 7) was the home to George Shumpert, his wife Rhoda Conwill, sons, and thirty-two slaves. The Shumpert family had settled in Itawamba County coming from Newberry District, South Carolina shortly after the county was organized.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Old Plantation Ruins Above Twenty Mile Creek

The Walker House built by John Walker, which was built well before the Civil War was a combination plantation home, grocery and ordinary that was operated by the Widow Walker until well past Reconstruction days. The ruins of the old home are still standing less than a mile west of Walker Levee Bridge. John Walker, who was born June 19, 1799, died on his plantation in Itawamba County on March 15, 1860, and Catherine, his widow, died on August 18, 1885. Both are buried in the old nearby Gilmore Chapel Cemetery. For further information about the Walker Plantation, visit the earlier post, The Old Walker Plantation Above Twenty Mile.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Preserving Old Traditions: Liberty Cemetery in Southwestern Itawamba County

One of the largest old cemeteries in southwestern Itawamba County is Liberty, west of the Tombigbee River. Located below the New Chapel community, the cemetery is just north of the Monroe County line. Established around 1870, a unique feature of this large cemetery is the fact that it is scraped. The practice of scraping cemeteries is rare during modern times and today it is extremely rare to find a fully scaped cemetery in the county. In scraping a cemetery, all vegetation is removed from the land, leaving the bare earth. In most scaped cemeteries like Liberty, the graves are mounded with dirt. The practice of scraping cemeteries was popular during the 1800’s in the Deep South. It was thought that vegetation growing on a grave was disrespectful to the dead. Folks would scrape vegetation from their home yards as well as their graveyards. An interesting history of scraping graveyards can be found in the chapter The Southern Folk Cemetery in Texas from the book Texas Graveyards: A Cultural Legacy (Terry G. Jordan, University of Texas Press, 1982).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ferguson Family Photographs

The Ferguson family of Itawamba County had large farming operations in the Ozark community west of the Tombigbee River. These two photographs were among a larger collection donated to the society by Janie Comer of Fulton. Coming from the estate of Letha Ferguson Comer, Janie's mother-in-law, the collection includes interesting scenes including portraits and school groups from the Ozark area.

Pictured above is a hunting party. The following is written on the back of the photograph: "This is the party I was hunting with and the buck we got. That is Ola’s husband (third person from left) by me (second person from left)” On the sign of the small building the following can be seen: "Miramonte Supply Station, Chas. Meinzer." This scene was probably photographed in Colorado during the early 1920's. The James Ferguson family is enumerated in the 1900 census of Itawamba County as living in the Ozark community. Included in the enumeration are: James Ferguson (born May 1833, married 40 years, father of 3 children), Eliza (born July 1838, wife), Laura (born August 1874, daughter), Ola (born June 1880, daughter), P.M. (born May 1871, son, married 1 year, no children), Maud (born December 1881, daughter in law), Jennie (born February 1891, granddaughter), and Carroll (born September 1894, granddaughter). Nearby is the Will G. Ferguson (son of James) family. Living with this family is George McCanless (hired hand, born June 1844). His portrait is shown above. Some of the Ozark community Ferguson family members moved to the Wolfe City, Texas area, according to some old newspaper clippings in the collection.

Shortly before 1920 Will Ferguson built a home in the town of Fulton on South Cummings Street where the family lived. From childhood days I remember the large old home with a wide verandah. Will Ferguson and his wife Allie Cobb were the parents of Letha Ferguson Comer. She was a founding member of the Itawamba Historical Society. I will be publishing more interesting photographs from her collection. The society would like to thank Janie Comer of Fulton for sharing these interesting photographs.

Friday, October 24, 2008

New Online Association Formed For Cemetery Studies

Itawamba Historical Society member and benefactor Dr. Terry Thornton of Fulton has created a new online association of fellow genealogical and historical research bloggers called The Association of Graveyard Rabbits. Membership in this online organization has been tremendously successful with more than twenty-five researchers and bloggers joining the association within the first week since it’s creation.

According to Thornton, articles posted to the association members’ blogs relate to cemeteries, grave markers, burial customs and information relating to burying grounds and specific gravestones. “Collectively we can add tremendously to the growing body of information so vital to the community of genealogists and family historians who depend heavily upon information recorded in cemeteries and upon grave markers,” Thornton says.

This association promotes only the historical importance of cemeteries, grave markers, and the family history to be learned from the study of burial customs, burying grounds, and tombstones. The social end of the association is from getting together in the blogosphere with a group of like-minded individuals all promoting the study of cemeteries, the preservation of cemeteries, and the transcription of genealogical and historical information written in those cemeteries.

The society applauds the efforts of Thornton with this noble endeavor. Be sure to take time to discover The Association of Graveyard Rabbits – a new online research tool!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Van Buren Historical Marker

Tuesday afternoon I stopped by the site of the old river port town of Van Buren, west of the Tombigbee River. Van Buren was one of Itawamba County's earliest towns. It was from this river port that much of antebellum Itawamba County's cotton was shipped to Aberdeen. For further information about this historic town site visit the following earlier posts:

Old Van Buren Village Deed: 1843
Van Buren: Itawamba County’s Old River Port Town Revisited

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Remembering Cat Head Biscuits and Sah’ghum Molasses

Yesterday I was out of the office until early afternoon and upon returning to my office I was greeted with a nice big jar of fresh-prepared Itawamba County sorghum molasses sitting on my desk (pictured above). Coming from a farm in the beautiful hills of northeastern Itawamba County, it was a cherished and much appreciated gift from nature's bounty indeed.

There’s nothing quite like sorghum molasses. Corn syrup simply doesn’t even come close to the wonderful aroma and unique taste of this delectable treat. That special gift waiting for me on my desk instantly brought back heartwarming memories of times gone by, growing up in the rural hills of northeastern Mississippi.

There’s plainly nothing like waking up on a chilly autumn morning to the treat of big cat head biscuits hand-fashioned with cold buttermilk, flour and a portion of lard. And the best way to eat those cat head biscuits hot out of the oven is split open, with a generous portion of melting butter on each half topped with a good drizzlin’ of sweet sah’ghum molasses. Now that’s living indeed.

For more information about old-time sorghum mills in Itawamba County, see the post, Autumn's Sights, Scents and Tastes in Itawamba County, published during September of 2007.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Liberty Grove

Liberty Grove church and large cemetery is located in the southeastern corner of Itawamba County. Pictured is a view of the old church the congregation restored a few years earlier. A modern church structure is located near the old church building. This Liberty Grove community proves to be one of the county's beautiful rural scenic areas.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Scarecrows on the Town Square

This morning coming to town I noticed the town square had been transformed into autumn scene. Every October, local agencies, civic clubs and school organizations decorate the town square in Fulton with scarecrows. Pictured above is just a small portion of a classroom scene produced over the weekend by the local high school’s DECA organization. This scene is one of several around the towns square.

New Shelving for Society's Library

The society's Gaither Spradling Library has been growing and during the past year, the society simply ran out of room to display research material. This month the society installed new library shelving on the east wall of the research room. This new shelving has enabled the society to publicly display the massive journal collection. The society receives quarterlies from many genealogical societies and this new shelving will enable the society to shelve the collection. Other work has been done in the George Poteet History Center, headquarters of the Itawamba Historical including the installation of new furniture in the Gordon McFerrin Assembly Hall, where monthly meetings are held. All work of the society depends entirely upon membership dues and donations, and the society would like to thank all the supporters of the organization who make our work easier in preserving and promoting the rich history and heritage of Itawamba County.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Samuel Feemster Riley During August of 1890

My uncle, Samuel Feemster Riley, is pictured happily posing on a wicker verandah chair shaded from the hot Mississippi sun with a white parasol, at the old family homeplace, New Chapel Farm. Born on May 26, 1890, he was the son of John Thomas Riley and Amelia L. Rankin. He was the grandson of John Thomas Riley (born 1808 in South Carolina, married Elizabeth Williams) and Ethelbert Rankin (born 1824 in South Carolina, married Mary Jane Cason). Both his maternal and paternal grandparents came to Itawamba County, Mississippi from South Carolina during the 1830’s settling in the southwestern part of the county near the Monroe County line establishing farms along Shoaf and English creeks.

This post is a part of the Seventh Edition (Oh, Baby!) of Smile for the Camera – a Carnival of Images, hosted by footnoteMaven at Shades of the Departed.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hick’r Nut Harvesting on a Chilly Autumn Morning

Early this Saturday morning I ventured into the woods on a mission to find some hick’r nuts. Known as a hickory tree, most folks around here call them hick’r nut trees. It was a cool autumn morning with the temperature in the 40’s, so it was the first time this season I’ve donned a flannel shirt. It wasn’t long before I came upon an old hickory tree and the ground was covered with fallen nuts in their thick woody husks. I easily gathered a small-sized paper sack full of bounty.

In the olden days the hickory nut was a tasty treat, often a substitute for walnuts (to me the shagbark hickory nut tastes similar to the walnut). I’ve often heard my grandparents say a three-layer hick’r nut cake was a special treat. During those days hickory was also a prized wood used for tool handles, wheel spokes and the like. And hickory was also a preferred type of wood for smoke curing meats. However some species of the tree produce a nut that is bitter.

I’ve now displayed my small bounty of de-husked hick’r nuts in a bowl on the fireplace hearth, right next to a big orange pumpkin I received from a local farmer last week. There’s something about nuts and pumpkins that simply bring an aura of the autumn season into the home.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Self-Publishing With Blurb – Part II

Back during August I read an interesting article called Blurb! Excuse Me! at footnoteMaven discussing a company called Blurb that offers self-publishing. I decided to give it a try, as I always wanted to produce a book of Itawamba County scenic photographs. As I enjoy layout and design, I downloaded the company’s software from their website and played around with it for a few days. The software is extremely easy to use and features many templates for different types of books. You can use the templates or be creative designing your own pages. Before long I had compiled a little 40-page book of photography I titled A Place Called Home: Itawamba County, Mississippi. I uploaded the book’s layout to the company, placed an order for two paperback editions for proofing and they immediately gave me an expected date of shipping.

About two weeks later I was pleasantly surprised when my two paperback editions were delivered to my home. The company definitely delivered on what they advertise on their website – bookstore-quality books that look professional and polished. And I am simply amazed at the short turnaround time from submission of the completed layout to delivery of the finished product.

After designing a dust jacket, replacing a few photographs, changing the typeface of the book and adding an additional 40 pages, I then ordered a hardbound copy of the little coffee table book. I was pleasantly surprised when the hardbound, 80-page photography book arrived. The book I produced with their software, featuring around 100 photographs, can be previewed (the dust jacket and first fifteen pages) on the Blurb bookstore website.

The potential is great for such online self-publishing companies in the area of family and local history. With companies like these, researchers can easily self-publish quality books relating to their genealogical studies or local history. Other ideas for publishing include family photograph albums, and family cookbooks. And such personal books can make wonderful family gifts around the holidays.

Hauling Bales of Cotton From the Gin to the Railroad ca. 1917

Pictured above is a postcard of Tupelo, Mississippi entitled “The way we do things in Tupelo, Mississippi.” The postcard was mailed to Jessie Davis Moore while he was in military service during World War I, from his brother Audie Ellis Moore. Showing a wagon loaded with cotton bales the handwritten note reads: This is the way we may do it next fall, only on a smaller scale. A.E. Moore”

Fifteen-year-old Jessie Davis Moore is listed in the 1910 Itawamba County census as living in the Greenwood community with his parents, Charles D. and Lizzie Simmons Moore. Jessie was the grandson of Samuel Branch Moore, a native of North Carolina who came to Itawamba County during the early 1840’s. Samuel Branch Moore (born February 21, 1808, died December 2, 1898, buried Keyes Cemetery) married Frances Jane Galloway in Itawamba County on April 20, 1842. She was the daughter of early Itawamba settler, Levi Galloway.

Jessie Davis Moore, born March 2, 1895, married Fannie Lee Loden in Itawamba County on September 20, 1925. She was the daughter of Jeddeah Buckston Loden and Emma Sheffield.

The society would like to thank Brenda Moore Franklin of Oxford for sharing this unique postcard, and several other family heirloom photographs, with fellow Oxford resident Mona Mills and the society. A special thanks to Mona Mills for scanning the collection.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Hint of Autumn is in the Air

A sassafras tree is beginning to display autumn colors in the hills of Itawamba County. With cool evenings and mild afternoons, the leaves are beginning to turn giving a vivid display of reds, oranges, yellows and browns.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ten Wagons of Cotton

The thirty-one year old farmer entered the Fulton Bank on a cool Mississippi November morning during the fall of 1947. The lanky young man, dressed in his Sunday-best clothes consisting of a white starched shirt and khaki work pants nervously sat on the wooden chair waiting his turn to talk with the banker. His name was finally called and he was quietly ushered to the cluttered desk of the bank president.

”Sit down, son,” the banker said as his eyes surveyed the young farmer from beneath his banker’s visor. “What can I do for you?”

The timid young farmer told the banker his mission and dream. He had found a 73-acre farm east of Mantachie Creek and on that land he wanted to plant cotton and start a family. The kind banker busily scribbled on his notepad the entire time the young man talked. The young farmer expecting the worst, but hoping for the best, desperately needed the $1,500 to purchase the land and modest farmhouse. Looking up from his notepad to the young farmer, the banker asked curtly, “Who’s your papa?” “Thomas Walker Franks, sir” the young farmer replied. After a little more scribbling on the note pad, he tore the sheet from the pad and handed it to the nervous young farmer. “If you have one ounce of your dad in your character, then this is a secure loan,” announced the banker as he secured the loan with a handshake, instructing the young man to take the note to the teller to get his money.

That $1,500 loan at the Fulton Bank was the end of a long and often difficult personal journey – a journey than many in the hills of rural Itawamba County had endured for way too long, beginning back during 1929.

The Great Depression hit Itawamba County swift and hard. With a lack of money, many farms throughout the countryside were lost due to foreclosures and tax sales, forcing many families into the sharecropping system. It was hard times, but the thrifty hardworking citizens of Itawamba County endured. During the years of my youth, my dad told me many stories of the Great Depression in Itawamba County, Mississippi – simple stories of hope and survival.

My dad was a young man of 18 years when the president came by train to the hills of northeastern Mississippi during the depths of the Great Depression. It was a big day for the entire area. Farm families from miles around made the journey to Tupelo in automobiles and wagons to see Mr. Roosevelt. My dad and his brothers left home before daylight, walking the entire distance to Tupelo, ten miles away from their tenant house on that chilly November Sunday morning in 1934 simply to see and hear their president.

He often recalled how the town was packed with thousands of citizens from all over hills and valleys of the area – young and old, men and women, farmers and town workers, black and white. My dad climbed a tree with other young boys so he could catch a glimpse of Mr. Roosevelt as he spoke. It was on that day the president told my dad and the thousands of other northeast Mississippi citizens congregated near the train station: “And yet today I see not only hope, but I see determination and a knowledge that all is well with the country, and that we are coming back.” It was then my dad and his brothers made the unanimous decision to help their family any way they could. The sharecropper strikes had been taking place in the Arkansas Delta. Many young men and families were leaving the hills of northeastern Mississippi, heading to Arkansas for seasonal work with picking cotton. My dad and his brothers left with such a group, spending a month in the cotton fields of the Arkansas Delta picking cotton for seventy-five cents a day.

Throughout the Great Depression years, my dad, like many others, survived simply by a strong determination and will, along with much needed work provided by the Works Progress Administration. Throughout Itawamba County, public projects were developed putting local citizens to work and providing much needed money. My dad helped dig the Mantachie Creek canal, straightening the old creek alleviating flooded croplands and also worked with building modern brick community schools.

As World War II came along, and the country was coming out from under the Great Depression, my dad left the beautiful hills of Itawamba County to serve his country in time of need. In coming home from war, he found times much better in his native northeast Mississippi yet times were still quite hard. Two years after coming home from war he found that 73-acre farm for sale and decided that piece of land was the chance he was looking for.

After buying the farm, with assistance from the Fulton Bank and the GI Bill offering low interest loans, he attended the veterans’ trade school at the local college during his limited spare time. Planting cotton the following spring, he and my mom worked hard throughout the summer all the while hoping and praying for a good cotton crop. After much sacrificing, and back-breaking work tilling the soil, the cotton crop proved to be a huge success. I always remember my dad telling the story of hauling their cotton off the farm heading for the nearby cotton gin in Mantachie during the fall of 1947.

For an entire week he and my mom spent long hours from dawn until dusk, picking cotton and hauling wagonloads of the fluffy white commodity to the gin. Uncle Billy Cockrell lived out on the main road to Mantachie and kept a detailed note of the number of wagon trips my dad had made to the gin that week. Finally on the last day of harvesting, as he hauled the last wagonload of cotton to the gin Uncle Billy yelled to my dad from the shaded porch of his house “Well you have your place paid for now!” My dad, with an aching back, sore fingers and dirty clothes from hours in the field, just grinned and tipped his hat, never slowing down. He held within him a strong feeling of self-accomplishment knowing that tenth wagon of cotton had paid the loan note in full. He had honored his dad’s name as well as his own. This land was theirs now, and this crop was the young couple’s entirely – all produced by the sweat of their brow and nothing to “share” as a tenant on someone else’s farm. It was a good feeling indeed.

Today sitting on the front porch of my house the remnants of the old farm remain to the west. Viewing that same old road the young farmer traveled with his ten wagonloads of cotton sixty years ago, these old stories come back to me. I know through my dad’s stories told to me while growing up, I received one of the best educations money simply cannot buy. I learned that a person might lose what they have, or hold little in the way of material possessions - but they can always keep their name and dignity. I also learned that many times, just a gentle push or a helping hand is all that is needed to pick someone up, getting them on their feet again during times of struggle and need. To me, these are nothing but simple yet essential life lessons.

The above post was submitted for Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty.

Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Professor and Mrs. Greene Edgar Sheffield During the 1920’s

Calvin Ritter of Monroe County has shared the above photograph with the society. Greene Edgar Sheffield was born December 23, 1888 in Itawamba County, the son of William Jessie and Mollie Duvall Sheffield. He attended Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Mississippi State University) from 1912 to 1916 and taught a couple of years before entering the service during World War I. He was in the 79th Division of Infantry and fought in the Battle of Argonne Forest in France. He was discharged in 1919. During 1922 he married Thessel Little (1895-1965) of Amory in Monroe County. She was the daughter of James Elliott and Emma Catherine Little.

He is best known locally as being the superintendent of Itawamba Agricultural High School from 1923 until 1940 and taught at Itawamba Junior College from the time of its organization in 1948 until 1958 when he retired. He was a life-long educator having taught schools at Pine Ridge and Milland (below Natchez), Smithville, Fulton, McNeil (in Pearl River County), Coldwater, Potts Camp and Hamilton. It was estimated that he taught more than 6,000 pupils throughout Mississippi during his long career. He was a lay minister of the Methodist church having been ordained during 1926. Greene Sheffield, known as “Mr. Greenie” by his pupils, died in the Methodist Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee on November 6, 1959. He was buried in Hillcrest Masonic Cemetery in Fulton.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Story of Two Civil War Veterans

In old newspapers many interesting family stories can be found. One such newspaper story I found from 1910 involves two elderly veterans from the Civil War – one was Confederate and one was Union, and both were long-time neighbors here in Itawamba County.

The Confederate veteran was Isaac Hood. Isaac Hood (born during May of 1838 according to census records) brought his family to Itawamba County from Alabama, settling in the Van Buren and Cardsville area around 1873. He is found on the 1880 and 1900 census records of Itawamba County and is found on the 1860 and 1870 census records of Jefferson County, Alabama.

Records show he served in Company C of the Third Alabama Reserves. The Third Alabama Reserves was organized during the summer of 1864. Stationed at Mobile, it served in General B.M. Thomas' Brigade, District of the Gulf. During February of 1865, the unit was ordered to Selma. Six companies were assigned as guard duty at the post of Cahaba, and during March was attached to General Clanton's command. It was reported to be at Montgomery during April, and during May was included in the surrender of the department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana.

The Union veteran was Peter Franks, my great great uncle. Peter Franks (born during 1843 in Marion County, Alabama, the son of Lemuel Franks and Huldah Gann) came to Itawamba County during the late 1870’s, settling just west of the Van Buren area near Ballardsville. He is found in the 1860 and 1870 Marion County, Alabama census records and the 1880 and 1900 Itawamba County census records.

He served with Company A of the First Alabama Calvary of the United States Army. For the first few months of service, the First Alabama Cavalry was headquarted at Glendale, Mississippi. They were largely engaged in successful scouting and foraging expeditions in northern Mississippi and Alabama oweing to their acquaintance with the area. Two companies of the First Alabama Cavalry were attached to Colonel Abel D. Streight in his famous charge across Alabama against Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forest which ended in a battle near Gasden, Alabama. In October, 1863 the First Alabama under the command of Colonel George E. Spencer, a force of about 650 men, was ordered to move out ofCorinth toward Columbiana, Alabama. It's objective was to destroy the railroad from Line Station to Elyton. However, about 40 miles out of Glendale at Jones' Crossroads (present-day Red Bay, Alabama), the regiment was attacked by 2000 Confederates.

During the remainder of 1863 the main body of the First Alabama Cavalry remained in the Memphis, Tennessee area recuperating. From time to time, a regiment, a picked patrol or a company of this unit was sent out on reconnaissance expeditions, sometimes skirmishing with Confederate cavalry patrols.

So one may ask what these two veterans – one Confederate and one Union, have in common besides being sons of Alabama, and long-time neighbors here in Itawamba County?

The newspaper notice from the April 14, 1910 edition of the Itawamba County News reads: “Last week two old men and old soldiers died who were residents of the third district. Isaac Hood, an old confederate veteran died Wednesday and was buried at Enon Thursday. Same day, Peter Franks, a union soldier died and was buried at Keys Cemetery. Their death and interment occurring the same day.

On that Spring day in April of 1910 the small community lost two of its elderly citizens and neighbors – both veterans of the Civil War – one Confederate and one Union. And they were buried on the same day as well in the rural countryside of southwestern Itawamba County.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Swamp Mallow in the Early Sunday Morning Dew

On an early morning walk today I came across a favorite old plant in many Itawamba County gardens. Called Wild Cotton by many locals, the Swamp Mallow is a perennial wetland plant usually found in areas such as swamps, marshes, ponds, ditches and wet woods throughout Itawamba County. A native of the southeastern United States, this plant has showy blossoms throughout the summer and fall and can grow as high as seven or eight feet tall.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Timeless Autumn Scene in the Garden

Early this morning as I was doing some garden chores, the air was cool and damp with the sun not yet over the woods behind my house. A gentle breeze was blowing, creating a shower of falling autumn leaves like colorful confetti at a party. Landing upon the landscape, the vibrant leaves made an interesting scene - especially the stray leaves that landed upon my garden sundial. I couldn't resist capturing the scene with my camera.

Friday, October 10, 2008

An Afternoon Visit

Pictured in front of an automobile are Nathaniel J. and Mary Alice Coker Martin and Robert Sanford and Mary Ann Martin Causey Collum. The photograph was taken in the northeastern part of Itawamba County.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Charles and Sarah Johnson Cleveland Portrait

Charles Anderson Cleveland was born December 20, 1858 in Alabama. He was the son of Thomas Cleveland and Rhoda Holland. He married Sarah J. Johnson in Itawamba County on December 17, 1874. Charles Anderson Cleveland’s father, Thomas Cleveland was born in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama on July 26, 1818 and died in Itawamba County on October 5, 1873. He married first Evoline Sullivan on December 10, 1838 and Rhoda Holland about 1857. Charles Anderson was the first of seven children from the second marriage. The family lived in the First District of Itawamba County in the Pleasanton community (present-day Fairview area).

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A School Scene From Spring 1959

Pictured above is the old Business Building at Itawamba Junior College and Agricultural High School taken during the Spring of 1959. It was the year Alaska was admitted as the 49th state, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill allowing for Hawaiian statehood. It was also the year Darby O'Gill and the Little People, a film based on H.T. Kavanagh's short stories, was released in the U.S. by Walt Disney and The Twilight Zone premiered on CBS. Such musical hits as Stagger Lee by Lloyd Price, The Battle of New Orleans by Johnny Horton and Mack the Knife by Bobby Darin played on the jukebox in the school’s rec hall. The old two-story brick building was built during the early 1920’s as a classroom building for Itawamba Agricultural High School.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Red Buckeye: One of the First Signs of Autumn

Yesterday afternoon right before dusk I was walking along the edge of the woods on the ridge behind my house and came across a red buckeye - one of the early heralds of autumn around these parts. The red buckeye is a small deciduous tree or shrub native to the southern and eastern parts of the United States. During springtime, it’s one of the early bloomers with vivid scarlet spikes of showy blooms. It is also one of the first plants in northeastern Mississippi to transform its leaves into golden yellow hues. The red buckeye is now putting on its colorful show throughout the hills and hollows of Itawamba County.

The plant’s nut, although not edible, has been considered a good luck charm in the hills of northeastern Mississippi for generations. During the olden times, it was quite common for folks to carry a buckeye nut in their pants pocket as a lucky piece and also as a preventative for all types of ailments.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The New Dixie

Just off the town square on South Cummings Street in Fulton was the air-conditioned New Dixie Theater (the old abandoned Dixie was just around the corner on Wiygul Street). It opened during the early 1950’s to replace the original Dixie Theater. On Saturday afternoons the theatre would be packed with kids for the matinee show. During my childhood, it was a place where kids in the small town and countryside could experience wild adventures in far-away places on the silver screen, costing only fifteen cents. I photographed the building before it was renovated into a part of the Pratt Memorial Library.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Yawning for the Camera?

Becky Wiseman of kinexxions will be hosting the 6th Edition of Smile For the Camera – a Carnival of Images. The word prompt for this edition is Funny Bone with readers invited to show a picture that never fails to bring a smile to their face. My entry into the carnival is the above photograph. From the first time I saw the above image many years ago, the photo has always brought a smile to my face. To me, it looks as if the subject was caught yawning the moment the photographer captured the image with the camera.

The subject of the portrait is William F. Waters, known as “Uncle Billy” to the locals in the town of Mantachie here in Itawamba County. William F. Waters was born July 18, 1839 in Georgia. He and his wife Tabitha are listed in the 1860 Itawamba County census in the Ozark community. Subsequent census records show him living in Baldwyn in neighboring Lee County (1870 census), Marietta in neighboring Prentiss County (1880 and 1900 censuses) and at Mantachie in Itawamba County (1910 and 1920 censuses). According to the census records, after the death of his wife Tabitha (died January 29, 1904), he married again. He and his second wife Jane are listed in the 1910 and 1920 census records. William F. Waters died on January 26, 1926 and was buried in the Stephens Cemetery just off River Road east of Mantachie.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Riding the School Bus During the 1920's

A special thanks to Calvin Ritter of Monroe County for sharing this photograph of Itawamba County students posing in front of a school bus in the Carolina community. During the olden days, school buses were privately owned, and the school bus owners contracted their services with the various school districts. Pictured above are (left to right): Murrah Boozer, Virginia Green, Norene ___, Evelyn Wiygul and Irma Patterson. To view a larger resolution image, click on the photograph.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Our Little People

A children’s publication, Our Little People, from the Methodist-Episcopal Church, South was probably used in the Carolina Methodist Church in southwestern Itawamba County.

Published by the M.E. Church, South Publishing House in Nashville, Tennessee, this copy of the little magazine is the April 28, 1895 issue. According to the back page of the publication, the subscription rate was six cents per year for five or more issues to one address. The society would like to thank Calvin Ritter of Monroe County for sharing this interesting collectable with the society.

Vintage Clothing, Patterns and Cloth Donated to Society

Janie Comer of Fulton recently donated a collection of vintage hand-sewn clothing, fabric and clothing patterns from the 1940’s and 1950’s to the Itawamba Historical Society. After cataloging, this collection will be housed in Historic Bonds House Museum in Mantachie, operated by the society. Included in the collection are a 1950’s sundress, a 1940’s skirt and blouse, and a 1950’s pair of slacks. The clothing patterns include a collection of 1950’s women’s and children’s clothing. The clothing material collection includes patterned “flour-sack” material. The society would like to thank Mrs. Comer for her generous donation that will enhance the collection at the society’s county museum of history.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thursday Afternoon Hay Field

An Itawamba County hay field on the south side of U.S. Highway 78 near Mantachie Creek on a Thursday afternoon is a typical autumn scene in the rural countryside.

An Autumn Sunset

An autumn sunset in Itawamba County is ushering in a cool evening with temperatures dropping into the low 50's. Cool evenings have been the norm the last several days in northeast Mississippi. The rich colors of an autumn sunset are a special treat to behold.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Calvin Thomas Boozer's Vin-Ko Photograph

Yesterday I had another pleasant visit with Calvin Ritter of Monroe County. He brought along some wonderful family photographs, books and printed material. A descendant of the old Ritter and Boozer families of Itawamba County, the photograph above is from the collection he shared. The portrait above is that of Calvin Thomas Boozer. He was born March 25, 1873 in the Carolina community of Itawamba County and died August 10, 1896. He was buried in the Shackleford/Boozer Cemetery. He was the son of David Elija Boozer (born June 23, 1849 in Newberry, South Carolina) and Amanda Alice English (born August 21, 1853 in Itawamba County). An interesting feature of the photograph is the advertising on the back promoting the James M. House photography studio in Gadsden, Alabama. The advertising reads:

Carbon Finish
Only 50 Cents per Dozen
How to get Them:
Send any photograph
Well wrapped, to-
Gether with 50 cents.
Also five 1-cent stamps for
Postage and packing. As
Soon as possible I will re-
Turn the Original photo,
With 12 “Vin-Ko” copies,
Same size and finish as
This, charges prepaid to
any postoffice in the world.
Groups same price ___ No
“Vin-Kos” from P___ or
Tintypes. Send your best
Photo Fully Prepaid.
Gadsden, Ala. U.S.A.
Will Never Fade!