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One of my Burris cousins has been very helpful with information about her McCauley clan.

She is descended from Patrick McCauley (1837-1895) and Mary Elizabeth Thoss (1854-1941).

Yesterday, she sent me a photo of the family. On the basis of my guess that Ida May McCauley was about 6 or 7 years old, I'm approximating the photo to have been taken around 1893. The McCauleys were living in Conway Co., AR at the time, and that's where Patrick McCauley died and was buried.

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Top row, L to R: Annie, Will and Linnie
Middle, L to R: Margaret, Patrick, Ollie, Mary E.
Seated in front: Ida May McCauley Burris
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As I work on my family history, I make sure to document stuff about myself.

I've been married five times. To four men, which means I recycled one husband, but I did the time, so I count it.

I was getting ready to do a series of posts going back a few generations for each of my husbands' families.

My first and last husbands are the ones about whose families I know the least. So I started working on the first husband first. We had no children together, and were divorced - very amicably - in 1981. I have not seen or heard from him since the day I called him to tell him I was putting the proposed order in the mail to him for his signature.

As I worked on his tree, I could not for the life of me remember his mother's maiden name. (She died in 2005.) I found his older sister on Facebook, and pm'd her. Have not heard back from her, so this morning, I thought I'd run him through the Ancestry US Public Records indices to see if I could find him and ask him myself.

I found him in St. Charles, MO in 1995. Clicked on that record, and was shocked.

One of the hints for it was the Social Security Death Index. Robert Lee Venable died on 15 May 2011, at the age of 58.

I was totally unprepared for that result. Although we had no contact at all for over 30 years, I was saddened.

That feeling has not left me all day.

I remember Robert as a kind man, with a sense of humor all his own - a man who cared deeply about his family. I was his second wife, and he was nearly 7 years older than I. He had two adorable daughters with his first wife. The oldest would be in her 40s now.

58 is just too young to die.
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Unlike some of my ancestresses undoubtedly did, we don't have a specific wash day here at the cottage.

For the most part, I just eye the sky and look at what is in two laundry baskets. Some days I just feel led to bring some fresh air and sunshine indoors, and sleep under my quilts scented with nature.

Today, I washed the quilts and hung them to dry.

One is a twin sized quilt, hand pieced and hand quilted by my paternal grandmother, Louise Herrington. It is the most recent one of two quilts she made for me before she died. I got it when I was in my early 20s.

It's a split rail fence quilt.
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Earlier this morning, I took the quilt out of the washer and hung it on the line.

And then stood back and looked at it. Some of the pieces have torn in the 35 years or so I've had it. I'm not sure how to repair them, or if I should. The quilting is holding up very well.

As I looked it over, conveniently opened full so I could really see it, I wondered.

Where did she get the pieces she used?
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I know she didn't use new fabric. That would have been scandalous on so many levels - a slap in the face of the frugality that so many of our female ancestors had to practice to run their households.

So I wonder...are Granddaddy's pajamas in there? One or more of her old aprons? Did she ask some of her friends to save scraps for her to use? How long did it take her to lay out these pieces in a way that pleased her eye?
Missing you, Grandma.

I'll see you on the other side.
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Several commenters from Sepia Saturday commented on this photo of my grand aunt, Ruth Balding. Ruth was 23 years old at the time this photo was taken of her in July 1926, at the beach in Santa Monica CA.

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One of the commenters mused that it would be neat to know what Ruth was thinking as she dabbled in the surf.

Of course, Ruth did not record her thoughts on the back of this photo, or any of the others in the album she kept. An album I had no idea existed until one of my cousins clued me in. She made scans of the photos and sent me a CD. We marveled over them on the phone as my cousin read me the labels from the photos in Ruth's album.

The album seemed to be a record of the travels of the Victor Balding family, primarily during the mid to late 1920s and then at the end, some travel in the 1930s, after Ruth had married and left home.

One question I had was - how did the family afford to travel? My remembrances of discussions with my grandmother focused on how tight finances were for the Baldings. Ruth and her father supported the family with their jobs. Ruth lived at her parents's home until she married in 1932 at the age of 29 - contributing her income as the bookkeeper at the Brandon Co. to the good of her family.

My theory about how they were able to travel is connected to Pop Balding's job. In 1904, Victor Balding began working for the railroad as a telegrapher. He advanced to chief telegrapher, and worked for the railroad for 38 years, until his retirement in 1942, just three years before his death.

I think it was likely that, as a perk of Victor's job, he and his family were able to travel by train either at greatly reduced fares, or perhaps, free.
Aunt Ruth has always intrigued me.

I never knew her. She committed suicide on 30 Dec 1959, when I was thirteen months old and living with my parents in Clearwater FL.

How she got to that tragic end from the woman we see above...carefree? thoughtful? pensive? a matter of perspective, one I searched for in a four part series of blog entries I did about Ruth in January 2012.

I don't know if I got it right.
During my childhood, the only perspective I was presented about Ruth came from abrupt endings of adult conversation coinciding with my entrance into the room, and whispers from some of those same adults when they thought we kids weren't listening, as our extended family gathered for food, televised football games and fun.

So even up to the time I started seriously researching Ruth's history to write that blog post series last year, the mental image I had of this aunt I had never met was a picture of a stern, no-nonsense woman in sensible shoes - one with a good head for business, but not much heart for people.

My mental image of Ruth fit neatly with this photo of her - undated, but surely within the period of time she was diagnosed with lymphatic leukemia (now called lymphocytic leukemia) and the time of her death.

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Of course, as family historians know, it is often helpful to look at the big picture, too.

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Ruth with her mother, brother, sister-in-law and nephew, photo taken in Ruth's mother's home.

When I saw that photo, it hit me.

There was the visual image of Ruth's difficult relationship with her family of origin, difficulties that would span decades.
I wish I knew what Ruth was thinking as she played in the surf on Santa Monica beach.

Was she glad for the break from work? From looking after her younger siblings? Did she have more spacious sleeping and living quarters on the train that carried her from home in Little Rock AR to Santa Monica? Did she look forward to adventure on this trip?

I don't know. But I hope that as Aunt Ruth got older, and things got more difficult for her, she was able to reach for her photo album and look back on her youth.

And smile.
See you on other other side, Aunt Ruth.

I have so many things to ask you.
This is an encore presentation of this entry for Sepia Saturday. Head over there for a look at more interesting sepia photographs and post cards.
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Genealogy bloggers have all sorts of reasons for blogging about family history. I blog to get accurate information out on the web about my family. I love it when people find entries through Google or other searches and contact me to exchange information.

I also blog random information about other people's families, often gleaned from photos of people unrelated to me found among my ancestors' possessions, or the lone orphaned photo that calls to me from a rack or plate in a flea market stall. I usually tag those entries with the phrase bits and pieces, if you want to see if I found any of your family photos among mine.
In addition to my own family, I do family history research for four other friends of mine. The links to the results of that research are contained in their online family tree links in the left sidebar of this blog.

One of those families is the Turney family.

And in their case, the reason for this post is much different than usual. There are living descendants of Cleone Ruth Henrichs and Charles Leroy Turney who want answers to questions that have been dogging them literally all their lives. One of them hopes that with this blog entry, someone will have information that will be useful to their descendants.

This post is intended to be captured in Google searches on either or both names. There is some publicly available information already on the web about this couple, but some of it is not factual.
Cleone Ruth Henrichs was born on 29 Jun 1931 in American Falls, Power Co., ID to Myron Jacob Henrichs and Dora Leone Floyd. Ruth had a younger sister.

Sometime before the 1940 census, Ruth's parents divorced. Both parents would later go on to remarry. Ruth lived with her father for a period of time, and as a teenager (possibly shortly after the time of her father's remarriage in 1942) she lived with her mother in Twisp, WA.

A July 1946 photo pictured Ruth (far left) with her mother and maternal grandmother.
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On the 4th of July in 1947, Ruth met the man who would become her first husband, Fred Beeman. (Although he apparently called her Cleone, Ruth preferred her middle name, and that was the name she used on multiple historic documents.) Fred Beeman and Ruth married and had a son together. Shortly after her son's birth, Ruth became involved with the man who would become her second husband, Ronnie Conner. She left her infant son and Fred Beeman at Christmas in 1949.

Ruth became pregnant with the first child she would have with Ronnie Conner - a daughter named Beverly - before her first divorce was final. She and Ronnie Conner married, and had another child, a son named Robbie. By August 1956, Ruth had another daughter with the surname Young. One of the things unknown to Ruth's surviving children is the full identity of that child's father.

And it was during this period of time that Ruth met Charles Leroy Turney.
Charles Leroy Turney was born on 31 Jul 1935 in Hickman Co., KY to Lee William Turney and Sarah Elizabeth Owen. He was the eldest son of three documented children born to Lee and Sarah Turney.

Charles Leroy Turney, 26 Sep 1956.
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Not much is known about Charles Turney's childhood. All the history his children have about him seems to begin and end with the turbulent relationship he had with Ruth Henrichs - a relationship that lasted in some form for nearly the rest of both of their lives.

When Ruth married Charles Turney, she brought three children to the marriage. She and Charles had six children together, born from 1958 to 1968. One of those children, a daughter named Deborah Louise, drowned at the age of 8, six months before the last Turney child was born. Two of their sons died as adults.

But somewhere along the way, first Robbie, and then his sister, Beverly Conner, disappeared. That's disappeared as in, one day each of them was there, and the next day they were not.

It is possible that this photo of Charles Leroy Turney, and all three of Ruth Henrichs' children from previous relationships, may be one of the only pieces of documentation that little Robbie Conner ever existed, as he "disappeared" at a very young age.

Photo taken in October 1956 at an amusement park in Long Beach, CA. Robbie Conner (born in 1953) is at left, Charles Turney is holding Ruth's infant daughter from her most recent relationship, and Beverly Conner (born October 1950) is at right.
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One of the other known facts about Ruth Henrichs and Charles Turney is that they divorced in California in February 1966.

But they got back together again, and went on to have another child. They also changed the family surname to Conner, with Charles completely adopting the new identity of James Allen Conner. The family moved multiple times to multiple states.

Why? The surviving children know what they were told and what they've heard. Although suspicions run high, none of the stories they've been told have been proven - or not.

Among other questions, one looms the largest.

What happened to Robbie and Beverly Conner?
If you have any information to share, you can reply to this entry or email me at sharpchick13 at hotmail dot com.
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Thanks to the fastidious nature of my grandaunt, Ruth Balding, I have some photos with identification, and ~gasp~ even dates.
Ruth playing in the Pacific ocean, July 1926
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My grandmother's handmade bathing suit
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Granduncle Linky Balding and an unnamed gal friend
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Ruth and her husband, Walter Nathan Brandon
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Grand uncles Marvin and Linky Balding at Santa Monica pier, 1926
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This is a Sepia Saturday post.

Head over there for more wonderful old photos and postcards.
ETA: I've received several comments from people about the first photo of my grand aunt, Ruth Balding.

I've written a follow-up about that photo alone, here.
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Three years ago, my dad took a DNA test to see if we could resolve the "who's-the-daddy" issue for our most distant Burris ancestor, William Burris, born about 1782 in North Carolina (we think North Carolina was his birth place, as our oral family history for the past four generations has told us that.)

When we got the results, Dad also consented to me entering his results in the Burris surname project at Family Tree DNA.
From time to time, I get emails noting matches to Dad's DNA on 12, 25 or 37 markers. I have already identified two other men who have 37 marker matches to Dad, and have corresponded with them by email. It seems we are all stuck in the same generation with our earliest known Burris ancestor.

I think the guys back one more generation must have been brothers or first cousins.

Today I took a look at a new feature on FTDNA. The DNA test results maps for Dad.

12 marker matches
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25 marker matches
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37 marker matches
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So what am I going to do with this information?

Starting with the 37 marker matches, I am going to contact one man - the one in Somerset England. The guy in Ireland has his information marked private, which irks me, because the main point of all this is to find relatives.

Our family lore says William Burris' ancestors were Scotch-Irish.

Oh well. Gotta start somewhere.
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And Shakin' the Family Tree is three years old.

I wonder if I'll be due for a fussy toddler?
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Jasper and Julia Herrington house, Clark Co., AR
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George W Burris Jr. house, 8th and Crittenden, Arkadelphia, Clark Co., AR
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Jo Desha and Maxie Williams house, Russellville, Pope Co., AR. Original construction.
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First addition
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Last addition
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George W Burris Sr house, Russellville, Pope Co., AR. 500 Glenwood, after the family moved to town from the farm.
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This is a Sepia Saturday post.

Head over there for more wonderful sepia memories.
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I was going back through some photos to link to my GEDCOM when I ran across this one.



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Isabelle Jane Herrington and brother, Benjamin Thomas Herrington. Photo circa 1945

I looked to see what I knew about this great grand aunt of mine. Not much. I figured I needed to try and flesh her out - make her more real to me.

The photo was a decent beginning.
Several frustrating hours of internet searches gave me more on Isabelle Jane Herrington.

Like she hardly ever - not even in legal documents - was called either Isabelle or Jane.

She was Belle.

The hours of searching also blew up part of the oral family history. Belle Herrington was not married first to a man named Boyd Thomason in 1909.

Because in the 1920 census (I could not find the 1910), Belle Herrington was Belle Jones, and she had two children living with her - a daughter named Ethel and a son named Thomas. Belle said she was a widow, working as a servant in a hotel. The family lived in Sparkman in Dallas Co., AR.

Given Belle's son's name - Thomas Jones, I began to wonder if his father's name was Boyd Thomas Jones, or Thomas Boyd Jones.

In the 1930 census, that hunch got stronger.
Part of the oral family history had it that Belle married in 1927 for a second time to S L Lockridge.

That was closer. Her new husband's name was Smith Louisa Lochridge (with an H not a K), and Belle and her son, Thomas B Jones (shown as Smith's step-son) were living in Seminole, Seminole Co., OK.

In 1940, I found Smith and Belle Lochridge living with Eythel Jones Jones and her husband, Orvel James Jones, along with their three children in Weleetka, Okfuskee Co., OK, where Belle Herrington died and was buried in 1973.

Smith Louisa Jones died in Miller Co., AR in 1941, and was buried in Oakland Cemetery, Fordyce, Dallas Co., AR. That may have been to have his grave closer to his children from his first marriage.
I never heard anything about great grand aunt Belle Herrington as I was growing up.

But I also never heard my maternal grandmother, Addie Louise Herrington, say anything about the Herringtons who stayed in Grant County, either - the children of Hardy Holmes Herrington and Martha J Cummings. These were Belle's paternal aunts and uncles, like Mary Emeline Herrington, married to Uriah Poss. Or Belle's paternal uncle, Jasper Lee Herrington, who married Sarah Elizabeth Frances Poss.

The only Herringtons I heard about as a child were the ones who lived in and around Malvern (Hot Spring Co.) and Arkadelphia (Clark Co.).

So now, I wonder why.
Anyone with information about the father of Eythel and Thomas B Jones, please contact me, either by commenting to this entry, or you can email me at:
sharpchick13 at hotmail dot com.
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I've used Personal Ancestral File (PAF) For. Ever.

As of July of this year, it is no longer supported or updated.

So I knew I'd inevitably have to bite the bullet, and get new.

I went with RootsMagic 6.

My GEDCOM imported beautifully, and all my html links appeared to have survived intact.

Thought I'd try out the ability to attach images from my computer or flash drive.

That failed miserably.

So for posting of photos - I upload to Rootsweb and not the LDS website - I'm back to attaching photos from Photobucket using the html link.

PAF had the same flaw. I suspect my photos would display wonderfully if I uploaded my GEDCOM to the LDS site.

The jury is still out on how much of an improvement there is. RootsMagic already uses more keystrokes on individual records than PAF did.

And then, all my Southern and Missionary Baptist and Presbyterian ancestors would come haunt my ass when they were baptized as Mormons. Plus, we have that nasty massacre of some of my Wharton kin (and the permanent injury to others) at Mountain Meadows, UT on what some historians have called the first 9/11.

So, thanks very much for the offer,

Now, I'm wondering if the much touted ability of RootsMagic to create files to publish to web pages will work for posting blog entries here, OR...only on the LDS website.

We shall see.
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Paul Chapin was the fourth of five children born in Erie Co., PA to Lucius Milo Chapin and Viola Marinda Bayle.

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Front row, l to r: Lucius Milo Chapin, Viola Marinda Bayle
Back row, l to r: Nora E.(Chapin)Church, Samuel N. Chapin,
Paul E. Chapin and Adda G.(Chapin) Wager.
Photo taken 15 Mar 1904, and courtesy of Brit Wager.

Paul had diabetes. Although sometimes people struggle these days with their diabetes, rarely is it a death sentence within three years of diagnosis, as it was for Paul. He died while in a diabetic coma.

Unfortunately for Paul, the era in which he lived meant diabetes very often was a killer.

In the early 1800s, science had progressed enough to understand that elevated sugar in the urine of affected individuals was a signal that they had the disease. Treatments varied over the first three quarters of the 19th century. By the 1880s, periodic fasting and starvation were the norm.

German medical student Paul Langerhans first identified islet cells in the pancreas in 1869. In 1889, Josef von Mering and Oskar Minkowski removed the pancreas of a dog and voilà! — instant diabetes. Scottish endocrinologist Edward Sharpey-Shafer made the leap in 1910, suggesting that the pancreas secreted an “antidiabetic” chemical, which he dubbed insulin. (Sourced to this website.)

But it would not be until 1922 - too late for Paul Chapin - that Canadians Frederick Banting and Charles Best injected their purified pancreatic extract into a young boy suffering from juvenile diabetes. His health immediately improved. The following year, the first commercial preparations of bovine insulin appeared. (Source: Id.)
My tenth cousin in my Chapin line, Brit Wager, often collaborates with me on our Chapins, and provided me with information about the manner of Paul Chapin's death, as well as the photos that appear in this post.

Paul's obituary, courtesy of Brit Wager:
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Paul Chapin Dead
Mr. Paul Chapin died at the home of his sister in Model City, N.Y. last Monday morning. Mr. Chapin had been in poor health for about three years but was taken worse in October and went to Model City at that time. His ailment was diabetes. Mr. Chapin was 25 years of age and leaves to mourn his death a wife and little daughter, who have the sympathy of a large circle of friends. His funeral will be held from the home of his father, Mr. L. M. Chapin, who resides on the Murray road north of town, this, Friday afternoon at one o'clock, and interment will be made in Evergreen Cemetery.

Paul's daughter, Doris (as an adult), with her mother, Mary (Edwards) Chapin, undated photo
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You can leave virtual flowers on Paul Chapin's Find a Grave memorial, here.
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Twenty farmers pledged their support for the extension of the electric power line through the Hopewell and Economy communities at a meeting held at Hopewell church Wednesday night. The proposed line will start at the C L Davis store on Highway 105 and the main line will extend to Burnett Cove with the laterals tapping nearby residences and covering a total of approximately eight miles. County and home agents were present and explained the advantages of electricity on the farm and in the home. Excerpted from The Atkins Chronicle, 28 Oct 1938.
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As I discussed the trip described in this post with Curtis, he mused aloud about one of the things he noticed in my description.

Wonder why so many little churches with cemeteries behind them?

I think there were probably multiple reasons. Minimally, two.

These were African American sharecroppers and later, tenant farmers. The only vehicles they had access to, they drove for the white landowners. You had to walk everywhere to get what you needed.

What we would call neighborhoods today were the communities of yesterday. Each one had its church and a place to bury its dead.

Availability of land had to factor in...the white landowners had a vested interest in donating loaning land for those uses. It kept the workers on-site.
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Earlier this week, I went to Phillips County, Arkansas in search of two cemeteries.

That search turned out to be for three cemeteries. I located two of them, and got into one.

But I couldn't have done any of that if not for the help of some very kind people along the way.
I started in West Helena, at the funeral home that handled the burials of three members of the William and Emma McCarroll family - William, Emma, and son-in-law, Josh Martin, Sr., husband of their daughter Mary McCarroll.

I thought I was looking for two cemeteries. I had already spoken by telephone with a very helpful man who remembered the cemeteries on the death certificates - Howe Plantation and Zion Traveler, both in Phillips County.

When I got to Jackson and Highley Funeral Home, however, I found that the funeral home records said Emma McCarroll was buried at Zion Hill Cemetery, also in Phillips County.

The man at the funeral home told me that Howe Plantation was at Wabash, where the granary is now. He said Zion Traveler was at Mellwood behind a church of the same name. That made sense, as Josh Martin, Sr.'s death certificate said he lived at Wabash, and Emma and William McCarroll's certificates said they lived at Mellwood.

So I thanked him for his time, and set out from West Helena to Wabash.
I found the granary with no problem. There were a gazillion pickup trucks parked around it, and not a living soul in sight.

There was also no sign of a cemetery. Since it was getting close to lunch time, I decided to head on down Highway 44 to Elaine, where there is always fried chicken and fish at Robert's One Stop.
Around here, we call southeast Arkansas lowlands the delta. The mighty Mississippi River alternately meanders and roars along the eastern border of Arkansas. You have to cross the Mississippi River to enter our neighboring state of Mississippi.

The farm land is rich and fertile - a planter's dream. A white planter's dream, that is. For black Arkansans in Phillps and surrounding counties, working the land started out as slavery.

Then came sharecropping, which was just slavery by any other name. Whether a sharecropper paid cash rent on the front end, or crop rent after the harvest, he was still just scraping by. The guy who was making the big bucks was still the white plantation owner.

By the mid 1930s in the southern United States, sharecropping had largely been replaced by tenant farming. And although tenant farming was anticipated to enable tenant farmers to earn a decent living, you can't tell that in the Arkansas delta. (Sharecropping was still the predominant way of farming for black Arkansas farmers until the early 1950s. Arkansas has always been reluctant to give up its institutions.)

Tenant farming is still alive and well in Arkansas, but large corporations leasing land have contractual protections and insurance against crop loss not affordable by most individual tenant farmers. In the Arkansas delta, individual tenant farmers still pay crop rent, - 25% to 50% of the value of the harvest to the landowner.
It was a meeting of black sharecroppers from Elaine on 30 Sep 1919 that precipitated what has been called the deadliest racial confrontation in Arkansas history. (Source: The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture)

The sharecroppers were attending a meeting of the Progressive Farmers and Household Union in a church about three miles from Elaine. They wanted better payment for their cotton from the white plantation owners who dominated the area.

The sharecroppers had posted armed guards outside the church to prevent their meeting from being disrupted and to try to keep the white plantation owners from gathering intelligence.

There is bitter disagreement about who fired first, but two white men - one of whom was a deputy sheriff for Phillips County - died. By the following morning, lynch mobs of anywhere from 500 to 1,000 white people from Phillips and surrounding counties, as well as across the river in Mississippi, converged on Elaine. Hundreds of Elaine's black citizens were slaughtered. The Governor sent 500 battle ready troops from Camp Pike to help quell what was being called an "insurrection" of black residents.

The 1919 massacre nearly devastated Elaine. In 1920, the town population was 377. In 1970 - the period of time my friend lived in and remembers Elaine - the population had swelled to 1,210.

The last forty years have not been kind to Elaine. In 2010, the population was 636. There is ample visual evidence of its decline.

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Photo taken from Highway 44, looking toward Main Street, 9 Oct 2013

A very sweet woman at Robert's One Stop waited on me at lunch time. I went to the back of the line to wait for her, and asked her about the location of the cemeteries. She said she didn't know, but if anyone did, it would be the mayor. She sent me around to the only bank in Elaine to talk to the mayor, who works there.

As a general rule, Southerners of any color are polite and hospitable. That's why it took me aback that of all the people I'd spoken to and asked directions from so far that day, the white mayor of Elaine never came out from behind her teller cage to talk to me. (She, one other teller and I were the only people in the bank.) Some of the African Americans were curious as to why a white woman was looking for obscure black cemeteries - That's a black cemetery, you know? - but they were all very cordial and welcoming.

She didn't know where the cemeteries were. She did, however, know the real "go-to" woman in Elaine.

Mrs. Viola Watson.

From the time I knocked on Mrs. Watson's front door, until I left a couple of hours later, I had a delightful time.

She knew exactly where the cemetery at Howe Plantation was. (Apparently, once I got to the granary, I zigged where I should have zagged.)

She also knew exactly how to get to Zion Hill Cemetery (she has a cousin buried there), and asked me doubtfully, Honey, are you down here by yourself? What are you driving? (She was right about that. There's not a road down in there, but there are two ruts. I've told Curtis that he is going to come with me with one of his four wheelers, because I am going to find that cemetery. I also told him we should call on Mrs. Viola Watson while we are there. She knew his parents.)

She wasn't sure exactly where Zion Traveler Cemetery was, except it was at Mellwood, behind a church of the same name. She told me if I stopped at the store at Mellwood, anyone in there should be able to tell me exactly how to get there.

I left Mrs. Watson's house and made my aborted attempt to find Zion Hill Cemetery. Then I cruised on down Highway 44 to Mellwood.

I had a sinking feeling as I went into the store and saw the two white women behind the counter. They were friendly enough, but they sent me back up the highway toward, but not into, Elaine with very specific directions about how to get to Zion Traveler Cemetery. (Okay, now two black folks, each of whom are older than both of you combined, have told me unequivocally that this place is at Mellwood. Um hmmm...)

I found the cemetery. It was St. Peter Cemetery. The elderly man clearing brush gave me a brief history of the church and cemetery. The church had been torn down before it fell down.

I took photos of every gravestone I could see. Everyone deserves to be remembered.

He also said Zion Traveler Cemetery was at Mellwood. Behind a church of the same name.
I was running out of daylight, and had no four wheeler with me. So I headed back to Wabash to find the cemetery on Howe Plantation, because I really wanted to find that one.

This time, I was determined to find someone to ask. I parked in front of what looked to be a caretaker's house, but the only one who answered my knock at the door was a dog with a low throaty growl. I skeedaddled back to the car.

Drove around the granary for a couple of minutes, marveling that no one had come round to ask me what the hell I was doing.

Then I saw him. A man putting gasoline in a four wheeler. (No, I did not heist his four wheeler.)

Maybe I walked up to trotted toward him just a tad too fast. Or maybe it was my joyous, Yay! A real live human being!

In any event, he took a step back as he said, "Okay...yeah..."

I told him what I was looking for. Not unkindly, he asked me the same thing I had heard for most of the day. That's a black cemetery, you know?

We stood shoulder to shoulder as he pointed down a road that bisects the granary to a little white dot in the distance. The sharecroppers' church. Behind it was the cemetery. He said his parents were buried there. He also said there were many more unmarked graves than graves with stones, because the people around there were so poor.

He told me the cemetery was part of what is known by the local residents as Howe Plantation. The plantation was owned by Jimmy Howe. I asked him how many acres. He told me to turn around in a circle, and look as far as my eyes could see.

When I got home, I did some research on Jimmy Howe, son of Otis Wilson Howe and Harriet Virginia May, and grandson of Wilson Herrick Howe.

African American sharecroppers in and around Wabash worked the plantation fields until the early 1950s. Due to poverty of sharecoppers, many were buried (as well as their family members) in a field behind the sharecoppers' church.

I thanked him, and set off down County Road 433, where the pavement soon gives way to gravel. I stopped at the church first.

 photo church.jpg

As you walk across the cemetery, it is fairly easy to see the evidence of unmarked graves, some of which have holes from shifting soil and disintegration of wooden coffins.

 photo IMAG0375.jpg

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Crops encroach to the very edges of some graves.

 photo wideangle.jpg

Someone must have loved her very much, as they made a homemade stone for her grave. I think her name was Mariah Washburn, but I can't make out any dates that may have been on the stone.

 photo MariahWashburn.jpg

I created Howe Plantation Cemetery on Find a Grave.

I didn't find a stone for Josh Martin, Sr. I wasn't expecting to, but was strangely disappointed anyway.

You can leave a virtual token for Curtis' great grandfather on his Find a Grave memorial.

Everyone deserves to be remembered.
dee_burris: (Default)
While scrolling through reel after reel of microfilm at the Arkansas History Commission earlier this week, I found the following - and nothing more on either event after these snippets.


Hope, April 17 - (AP) - A man and a woman identified as Elwood Hatch, 41, and Mrs. Pansy Dobson Curtis, 26, were found fatally shot about noon today in a tourist cabin on the west edge of town, Hempstead county sheriff Frank Hill reported today. The Helena World,
Tuesday, 17 Apr 1945.


Bud Parks, Helena white man, was in the county jail today facing a charge of first degree murder in connection with the death last January 11 of Mack Alexander, aged negro, on the highway north of Walnut Corner.

Sheriff's officers, who arrested Parks at his home, 204 Jefferson street, late yesterday, said that he would also be charged with reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

According to officers, another man, Mohlar Crews, was a passenger in Parks' Plymouth car at the time the negro was run over and fatally injured as he walked along the highway in front of the approaching car. The Helena World,
Wednesday, 18 Apr 1945.
dee_burris: (Default)
And the FAG message board users are not happy.

One is particularly in a snit, and threatening to take all her photos down. (See this thread in The Lounge, and I don't know if you have to be logged in to view it.)

They are using all the symbols on their keyboards to indicate how large their individual snits are.

This thread was locked immediately.

 photo fagacquiredbyancestry.jpg

Here's a news release, posted yesterday by Ancestry.

 photo Ancestryblog.jpg

Jim Tipton didn't let his members know about this - Ancestry did.
dee_burris: (Default)
For the past month, I've been working on the family tree of a dear friend of mine. He is African American, and the going gets tough.

I was helped out immensely by a cousin my friend didn't know he had. She found two of my Find a Grave entries for my friend's grandfather, Josh Martin, Jr., and Josh's mother, Mary E McCarroll Martin. The cousin contacted me, and we have been emailing and texting ever since.

There's a mystery surrounding the gravesite of Josh Martin, Sr. (Josh Martin, Jr.'s father). His death certificate says he is buried on Howard Plantation in Phillips County, AR.
When I first read that, I was dubious.

Josh Martin, Sr. died in 1945 of congestive heart failure while his children were teenagers.

I started researching any place in Phillips County called Howard Plantation. There was no cemetery by that name.

I looked back over the five death certificates I had for the Martins and McCarrolls, and saw that most of the burials had been handled by Jackson and Highley Funeral Home in West Helena, AR.

The ancestors smiled favorably on me. Jackson and Highley is still in business, although they do not have a website.

That was oddly a comfort to me. As I made the phone call, I hoped the voice of an elderly man or woman would answer the phone - someone who had been around Phillips County long enough to remember Howard Plantation, and be able to give me an educated guess as to why my friend's grandfather was buried there. (There was also another cemetery listed on the death certificates of my friend's great grandparents I couldn't find - Zion Travel, also in Phillips County.)
Twenty minutes later, I knew I had found him - the man who not only remembers Howard Plantation, but can give me directions about how to get there. (He also knows where Zion Travel is.)

Apparently, it was pretty common for African American sharecroppers to be buried on the plantation they farmed. Although there are several likely candidates for slaveowners with the surname Howard in Phillips County, right now I only suspect there may also be slave graves on Howard Plantation.

Next Wednesday, I'm going to Jackson and Highley Funeral Home in West Helena to meet and talk with the kindly gentleman who answered my call, and who was so gentle as he tried to let me down easily about the condition of the lands on which so many of my friend's direct ancestors are buried. As we talk, I hope I can get him to reminisce about Phillips County in the first half of the 20th century. I hope he will let me record him.

And then, I will follow his directions about how to get to Zion Travel Cemetery, and Howard Plantation. I want to take photos, even if there is nothing identifiable to see - no gravestones or monuments. Abandoned cemeteries are not new to me.

I want to lay some flowers even so. The history of some of Phillips County's abandoned African American cemeteries needs to be recorded - if possible with a list of some those buried there.

Everyone deserves to be remembered.
dee_burris: (Default)
Genealogy Roadshow, premieres next Monday, 23 Sept on PBS.
dee_burris: (Default)
I have a death certificate for an African American woman who died in 1941 in Chicot Co., AR. The certificate says she was buried at Mt. Grove Cemetery, most probably in Chicot County because the funeral home was also located in Chicot County.

There is no modern day Mt. Grove Cemetery in Chicot County. I've found the following cemeteries in Chicot County with the word "Grove" in them:
Holly Grove, Holly Grove Number 1 and Holly Grove Number 2.

Holly Grove Number 2 appears to be an African American Cemetery, and has very few interments listed on Find a Grave.

Any thoughts or suggestions? The nearest Mt Grove Cemetery is Mountain Grove Cemetery (African American) in Faulkner Co, and given the distance, I just don't think that's it. This was a family of modest means.


dee_burris: (Default)
Dee Burris Blakley

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