Saturday, December 31, 2011

Road Trip to Herbie Town

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Herbie and Marie Adams with my father, Bob Williams

Yesterday, my Dad and I headed to Crockett County near Alamo, TN to search for some graves of our Johnson ancestors. We found what what we were looking for, which I'll share another day, but we also had a lot of fun hanging out some friends of his at a place called Herbie Town.

Located near Alamo, off Highway 54 on Gibson Wells Rd., Herbie Town is the creation of Herbert and Marie Adams.

If Alice fell down the rabbit hole and woke up in a John Wayne movie, this is what she would find.

Herbert and Marie, who have been married 63 years, have spent 40 years turning their backyard into a museum of early 1800s culture but with the twist of Herbie's unique sense of humor manifested in the art he creates with iron, wood, and anything he can get his hands on.

"Found art" is everywhere in Herbie Town. From a riding lawn mower created by combining an old push mower with a bike to furniture created using pieces of antique farm equipment melded to scrap metal and wood, literally everywhere you look, you see something interesting.

Here are a few photos I took during our visit.

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Welcome to Herbie Town

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Have Fun!
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Herbert Adams in his Workshop
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Found Art Christmas Tree

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Horseshoe Rocking Chair

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Knives Made from Railroad Spikes

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Riding Lawnmower

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View of Herbie Town from Second Floor of Saloon

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Walking Stool

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Inside an 1800s Cabin

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Livery Stable

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Sideways Rocking Chair with Cup Holder
and Magazine Rack

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Iron Chickens

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Men's and Women's

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John Wayne Courage Quote

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Giant Chickens

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The End

Visit my Blog Home Page or the Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Let's Go to the Big Star

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I hope newspapers survive.

Not just the group of journalists, editors and photographers (and ad sales people) who gather and report the news in an official capacity, but the actual presented via ink on paper. For me personally, that hope is not so that I can find out whats going on in my community and around the world because I get that from my ipad or by going online.

To be honest, I have not actually read a newspaper, other than at my mother's house, in many years. It makes my hands feel dirty and the size is weird. Think about how strange it is that newspapers are so tall and wide. You have to spread them out on the floor and lay on top of them or hold them up with your arms straight out. It's just awkward to me.

The main reason I hope actual newspapers survive is so people can continue to clip out articles and put them in envelopes and boxes and place them in attics so that long after they have passed away the articles can serve as a resource for those researching family histories.

I don't think people print out and save online articles like they do actual newspaper clippings.

I went through a box belonging to my late grandmother, Virginia Lovelace, and pulled out a few of the articles she had clipped and saved. All these articles are from The Brownsville States Graphic.

The one at the top is from when she won $500 in the "Let's Go To The Races" promotion at the Big Star in Brownsville. She won because her horse came in first but she would be the first to tell you it wasn't gambling because "no purchase was necessary." Plus, she was a Southern Baptist and gambling was right up there with drinking in the list of things you definitely don't do. I can remember her mother, Mama Allie, not liking the fact that we played Monopoly because we used dice. I guess it was hard to explain why a bunch of kids sitting around throwing dice and passing money back and forth in my grandmother's living room was not gambling. Just to be sure we could keep playing, we hid the whiskey.  

I do wonder how this whole racing concept was pulled off though. I looked online a little and it seems the races were all filmed on 16 mm and then copies of the race were sent to the affiliate stations and tickets were distributed to participating grocery stores to give to customers. According to one person, more winning tickets were sent to stores where business was down to help drive customers.

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Uncle Hobert Lovelace
was my grandfather, Guy Lovelace's brother. I never knew that he and Aunt Carolyn went to London. They ran Hobert Lovelace and Sons Store in Brownsville and must have won the trip through a contest with one of their suppliers.

As a kid, they always seemed to me to be a little more sophisticated than the rest of us. They had a piano and fancy oil paintings and furniture that seemed more English than what I was used to. Now I know it was probably because they had been to London.

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Today, my mother, Shirley Lovelace Williams, is a citizen. In 1946, she was a "Citizen of Tomorrow." She is the third one over in the middle. From what I have read, similar to "Lets Go to the Races" this was another brilliant way to part people from their money in a time and place where there wasn't much of it. In an article in the February 28, 1963 "Arthur Graphic Clarion" the writer states that 61 local families took their children to be photographed for the series and 120 children would appear in the newspaper.

"Herb Farny, the photographer, has been taking children's pictures for newspaper series since 1931. He covers about 40 states every year and maintains a residence in Florida. He works with Woltz Studios of Des Moines, Iowa, in international company. Farny, who is a semi-professional magician, was sorry he didn't have more time to perform tricks for the children."
I wonder what percentage of the parents purchased the package of photos they must have been selling. I also can't help wonder why they didn't just call Farny a professional magician rather than "semi-professional." What does it take to go pro in the photographing magician field?

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In 1977 my father, Bob Williams, who had worked in various lay positions in many different churches, felt led to become an actual minister. He and my mother sold everything they had, loaded the few things they kept, including my sister and I, in a U haul and headed for Texas where he attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Looking back, it must have been a really big deal for my extended family because, until then, very few on either side had moved further than Memphis or Jackson. 

His mother, Elizabeth Castellaw Williams' was proud he was a minister but hated to see him leave the area. She was such an interesting character I could write a whole book just on her. I have here her copy of "Nicholas Cobb Descendants", a book written by Joe H. Cobb that includes a lot of history of Haywood County. It's a great resource and my grandmother has made several corrections and additions regarding our family throughout the book. In the back she has written:
"On March 1992 the 22nd day Bobby Williams preached a sermon for the spring revival Sunday morning and Sunday night. I did not attend but my prayers were with him. Went to Providence (church) as I felt my place was up there. I pray to God he is being led by his Lord."
So I guess you could say she was proud but worried. And by writing it in the Cobb book, she was making sure he was part of Haywood County least in this copy.

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My mother's first cousin, Phil Lovelace, was one of the two sons of Uncle Hobert and Aunt Carolyn above who were headed to London. Phil and his wife Sandra and their son Shey went to Texas about the same time as my family, also to attend seminary, so we spent a lot of time together.

I have heard my father say he didn't think he could have made it without Phil and they remain close friends today. Eventually, both returned home and pastor churches in Haywood County.

Visit my Blog Home Page or the Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Lena Booth Marbury's Friends List

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Lena with Daughters

l to r. Allie Marbury Brantley, Lena Booth Marbury
and Mable Marbury Jackson

I've been researching the Booth family and preparing to upload what information I have to my site and Christmas at my mother's house presented a good opportunity to find an interesting "Booth" document I thought I remembered being among the things my grandmother, Virginia Brantley Lovelace, saved.

It only took a few minutes to find what I was looking for: the guest book from my second great grandmother's funeral on October 8, 1949. Sarah Evelena "Lena" Booth Marbury was 81 when she died. Lena was my grandmother's maternal grandmother. Lena's daughter was Allie Marbury Brantley whose daughter was Virginia Brantley Lovelace whose daughter was Shirley Lovelace Williams who was my mother.

The names assigned to grandmothers by their families seem to make them more personal for me. My mother is called "Name" by my children while my grandmother, Virginia, was "Grandmama." Her mother, Allie, was "Mama Allie" and my mom says she remembers Lena was called "Gran-may-mee."

Sadly, by the time she died, Lena had buried her husband and three of her four children; her husband, Hardy Joyner Marbury, died in 1932 at the age of 59, her son Dennis Love Marbury died in 1927 at the age of 34 of cancer, her daughter Price died in 1933 of cancer at the age of 38, and her daughter Mable died in 1942 at the age of 41.

My great grandmother, Allie, was her only surviving daughter and Lena lived with her family.

Before I jump right to the funeral, here are the only photos I have of of her. They all seem to have been taken in the early to mid 1940s. I would love to get my hands on a few earlier ones so if you happen to have any, please let me know.

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Four Generations

l to r: Virginia Brantley Lovelace, Bobby Lovelace
Allie Marbury Brantley and Lena Booth Marbury
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l to r: Guy Lovelace, Virginia Lovelace holding Bobby Lovelace,
a Marbury cousin, Cordillia Lovelace Jacocks, Betty Brantley Sullivan (looking left),
Lena Booth Marbury, Allie Marbury Brantley and Willie Brantley

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Lena Marbury's death certificate
According to her death certificate, Lena died of "Myocardial Degeneration due to Interstitial Nephritis" meaning a kidney disorder led to her heart failing or, in other words, she got really old and everything stopped working.

Her death certificate also shows she lived in district five of Haywood County in the Holly Grove community and her "length of stay in this place" was "life." Her father was listed as Billy Booth and her mother was "unknown White (It was Mary Elizabeth 'Eliza' White)." Her doctor was Dr. Hess who was everyone's doctor in the area at that time and American Funeral Home in Brownsville directed the service.  The date of burial was October 8, 1949 and she was buried at Holly Grove Baptist Church.

It's interesting to look through the names of those who attended her funeral service. It's like a 1940s version of her Facebook friends list except she never got to accept their friend request.

Those who attended her funeral have last names that show up throughout my genealogy research in the Haywood County area and include: Williams, Lovelace, Castellaw, Watridge, Joyner, Cobb, Brantley, Marbury, Overton, Outlaw, White, Williamson, and of course, Booth.

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I'll soon have the Booth family information uploaded on my site but the family line of her husband (which goes back to Alfred the Great, by the way), Hardy Joyner Marbury can be viewed here.

Visit my Blog Home Page or the Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Keeping Up with the Johnsons

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The area of Crockett County, TN where Charles Randell Johnson and
then many of is children were born, farmed and died.
Inset is an illustration of where many of them are buried.
The upper right corner is the town of Alamo, TN.

It took a few months but I finally got as much information as I could gather about the Johnson family uploaded to Charles Randall Johnson was the father of Nancy Mariana Johnson who was the mother of Bob Castellaw who was the father of Elizabeth Williams who was the mother of my father, Bob Williams.

Charles, who was born in North Carolina, was living in Haywood County by 1830. He and his wife, Margaret Louisa Wood lived all their married lives in the Johnson Grove area near Alamo, TN. Many of their children stayed there in the area and, like Charles and Margaret, are buried there. During the holidays I plan on visiting the area to see what I can discover.

Next, I would like to figure out who Charles Randall Johnson's parents were.

I have a couple of options for tracking down that information. The first possibility is that one of Charles Johnson's ancestors has his Bible or any information he wrote down himself.

He was quite wealthy, had a large amount of land with lots of slaves, donated property for the local church and, in the census of 1860, a school teacher from Pennsylvania named William Newland was living in his household. To me, that indicates he valued education enough to provide housing for someone brought to the area to teach for a while.

It also seems likely Charles could read and write and could possibly have had a family Bible in which he would record the births, deaths and marriages of family members.

Charles, a widower for a couple of years at the time, died on April 14, 1864 at the age of 61. Most likely it was sudden since he did not leave a will. However, the court's division of his property left no doubt about which of his children were living at the time and could possibly have been given his Bible or other papers that might have a clue as to his parentage.

It's a long shot but perhaps someone still living in the Haywood or Crockett County areas knows one of his ancestors?

If you know any of these people or their descendants, please let me know.

The living children of Charles Johnson at the time of his death were:
Anna Elizabeth Johnson
She was the oldest daughter so she is the most likely candidate for having been given the Bible. She married Leonidas Davis Whitaker and they farmed the land they inherited in the Johnson Grove area. Anna died in 1883 at the age of 53 while David died in 1889 at the age of 62.

The children of David and Anna Johnson Whitaker were Mary Louis, William, Charles R. Sarah C. Columbus Sidney (pictured below), and Leona Adaline. David and Anna are burried in the Castellaw Cemetery in Johnson Grove near Alamo, TN in Crockett County.

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Photo from "roosterphr"

The Columbus Sidney Whitaker Family

l to r: C.C. (Charles) on horse, Marvin beside horse,
Earl with no shoes, Viola Green Whitaker, Winnette in the stroller,
Columbus Sidney Whitaker, Altie and Claude
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Photo from "roosterphr"

Charles Sidney Whitaker
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Photo from "roosterphr"

Charles Sidney Whitaker and probably a grand daughter, Carolyn
David and Anna's son, Columbus Sidney Whitaker, was born Sept. 11, 1860 in Johnson Grove and died Sept 11, 1941 in Gates, TN. I ran across these photos on the page of "roosterphr" on They were so great, I couldn't resist reposting them here.
William R. Johnson
He was Charles' oldest son and was born Dec, 10, 1834 in Johnson Grove. He married Mariah whose last name is unknown. He died June 23, 1887 at the age of 52 in Johnson Grove. Although they seem to have had no children, when his father Charles died, William became the legal guardian of his two youngest siblings, Zach and Louisa.

Margaret Wood Johnson
Margaret was born Feb 1, 1836. Margaret married John Edward Castellaw who was one of the sons of my third great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Castellaw Sr., and his first wife, Mary Elisa.

They were among the original settlers of Haywood County who came from Bertie Co., NC. After his first wife died, T.J. married Mary Cole. Their first son together was my second great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Castellaw Jr. People called him “Tom.” Therefore, John Edward and Tom were half brothers.

Before she died 18 Apr 1879 at age 34, Margaret Johnson had four children with John Edward Castellaw: Mary L., William R., Dicy A. and Joseph Dawson (Joseph's three daughters: Mary, Emily and Josephine each married a different son of Henry Day Brantley, my second great grandfather).

After Margaret died, John, who was 37, then married 19-year-old Mattie Coleman and together, they had four children: James Ebenezer, John Edward, Benjamin Wesley and Margaret. Mattie then died June 12, 1886 at age 35.

On Oct. 25, 1888 55-year-old John married 44-year-old Nancy Mariana Johnson, (my second great grandmother) the widow of his half brother Tom Castellaw and the sister of his first wife, Margaret Woods Johnson. That gave Nancy seven step-children to add to the nine children she had with Tom Castellaw. In addition to being step-siblings, the children were also cousins.

Dicey Johnson
Dicey was born in 1838 and appears in the household of Charles Johnson in 1850 but does not appear in his will in 1864 not in any of the later documents regarding the settlement of his estate so its likely she passed away before her father.

Sallie H. Johnson
She was born in 1838 and married John B. Sanders on November 15, 1862. I have no other info on them.

Charles Randall Johnson Jr.
Born in 1840 in Johnson Grove, Charles married Ida Elizabeth McAlpin on December 25, 1895. I have no other info on them.

Adaline Johnson
She was born 1843 and married Milton B. Midyett. Their children were Zachariah M., Erasmus A., and John E. I have no other info on them.

Nancy Mariana Johnson
She was my second great grandmother. She first married Thomas "Tom" Castellaw then after his death, married his half-brother, John Edward Castellaw. You can read all about her on the Johnson family page and all about her husbands on the Castellaw family page.

Zachariah T. Johnson and Louisa Johnson
The youngest two children in the family, he was born in 1849 and she in 1851. When they were 15 and 13, their father died leaving their oldest brother, Williams R. Johnson, as their guardian.
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Charles R. Johnson's record of payment
from the Southern Claims Commission
The other option for tracking down more information about Charles is through the applications he filled out as part of the Southern Claims Commission process. I posted more info about Charles and that application on a recent blog entry.

Several people who are knowledgeable about genealogy and Civil War records have reviewed the information and assured me that, since he was in fact given a payment, there is likely a folder of information sitting a filing cabinet in the National Archives in Washington. I have applied for the information, now I'll just have to wait and see if they find anything. I am not very good at waiting.

If anything is found, it could certainly add a lot of information to what we know about the Johnson family of Crockett Co., TN.

Visit my Blog Home Page or the Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier and the Father-in-law of the Wife of my Third Great Grandmother's First Cousin

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Austin, Texas Courthouse
I was in Austin, Texas this week and on my way to the airport to fly home, I couldn't resist stopping to check out the historic Austin courthouse. Being so far from home, I didn't expect to run into anyone I knew but, the moment I passed through the metal detectors, I looked up and there on the wall was my old friend and fellow Tennessean Davy Crockett.

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Davy Crockett painting in lobby
of Austin, Texas Courthouse
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Davy Crockett painting
by William Henry Huddle
For the last several weeks I have been researching the ancestors of my second great grandmother, Nancy Mariana Johnson (my grandmother, Elizabeth Williams' grandmother) and she grew up in what would became Crockett County which was named after the "king of the wild frontier."

Other than our mutual home state, I actually have two very minor connections to Davy. The first is through Nancy. Her maternal grandfather (who was my fourth great grandfather) was Frances M. Wood who was born in North Carolina in 1777 and was one of the first settlers in Haywood County, TN in an area that would later become Crockett County. He arrived in 1824 with a few others and began farming.

Fast forward 20 years and the people of that community in Haywood County had joined with some of their neighbors who were in Gibson, Madison and Dyer Counties to petition to become their own Tennessee county.

On December 20, 1845 an act by the Tennessee General Assembly stated:
"An act entitled to establish the county of Crockett in honor of and to perpetuate the memory of David Crockett, one of Tennessee's distinguished sons. The act provided that the county should be formed out of the counties of Haywood, Gibson, Madison, and Dyer..."
Those who were selected to help the new county take its first steps included Nancy's brother-in-law, David Whitaker and a neighbor and possible relative Isaac M. Johnson. They kept the Davy Crockett theme going and named the county seat, "Alamo."

My second Davy Crockett connection is through my third great grandmother, Eleanora Harriet Dougan Williamson (wife of Beverly M. Williamson of the Providence community on the Haywood and Madison County lines) who is my grandfather, Bo Williams' great grandmother.

Three of Harriet's first cousin's James Jr., Thomas and Robert (through her father's brother, Revolutionary War hero Major James Dougan) supposedly settled the area of Reelfoot Lake along with the Crockett family. Source Source

Eventually, James Jr. even married Clorinda Crockett who was the widow of Davy's son William.

But the lobby wasn't the only place I found Davy.

A tour of the Austin courthouse was just beginning so I slid into place and joined it.

As we entered the Texas Senate Chamber, I noticed a large painting on the back wall which I correctly assumed was of the battle of the Alamo. Unfortunately, a beam of light from a window above slides over the painting each day as the sun passes over the courthouse. I am not going to tell the good people of Texas what to do with their paintings but I'm pretty sure that's not very good for it.

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Dawn of the Alamo by Henry Arthur McArdle
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Anyway, our tour guide pointed out Davy Crockett who, in the mind of the artist, McArdle, didn't let the fact he had run out of bullets stop him from attacking the enemy. He just beat the crap out of 'em with the butt of his gun. That's how we roll in Tennessee.

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Davy Crockett showing the enemy what Tennesseans
do when they run out of bullets.
I hate to admit it, but although I knew the name and that he wore a coon skin cap, I didn't know much about Davy Crockett until I got home and looked him up.

I remember watching a few reruns of this show and for some reason can sing the theme song:

If you are interested, there is a ton of Davy Crockett info online including a Wikipedia page. You can also download free books about Davy like this one and this one. Yes, I downloaded both.

Finally, I also discovered that the "descendants and kin" of Davy Crockett have their own Web site and a private Facebook group so I do plan on letting them know about my connection so I can get to be a member. After all, my third great grandmother's first cousin married his son's widow. Can't get much closer than that.

Visit my Blog Home Page or the Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.