Thursday, September 22, 2011

Abner and Irene's Stew Recipe

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Abner "Bear" and Irene Castellaw Mann in September 1961
The blog post on Haywood County stew a few weeks ago generated a lot of messages and emails. One of my favorites was from my cousin Sandra whose grandmother, Irene Castellaw Mann, was a sister of my grandmother, Elizabeth Castellaw Williams.

You look at your kids and assume that their grandchildren will know each other but that isn't necessarily the case. Sandra and I only met because we are both interested in genealogy and share the same great grandparents, Bob and Zula Watridge Castellaw. Sandra was the cousin who helped get all the Castellaws together for the Castellaw reunion last year at Holly Grove Baptist Church in Haywood County, TN.

She remembers her grandparents, Abner and Irene Mann, making Haywood County stew in a huge black pot on a fire built in their backyard.

I really like the photo of her grandparents she sent me because they look like extras on the set of "The Andy Griffith Show."

Sandra's mother took the recipe they used back then and created one we city folk can use since it only uses one chicken instead of 18.
Haywood County Stew

12 ears corn - cut off cob and grind up (not young corn)
10-12 tomatoes peeled and chopped
1 large onion chopped
1 large green pepper chopped
10 medium pods okra
2 medium white or red potatoes chopped
Salt, pepper, sugar to taste (enough sugar to reduce tomatoe acidity)
1 baking hen - cook til falls off bone - then pull meat from bone
3 lb. roast - cook til falls apart - then shred
(save all broth from meats)

Put onions, pepper, potatoes and okra in meat broth - start to cook - add shredded meat - then add tomatoes and corn. After this comes to a boil, stir constantly or it will stick. Turn down to medium heat and cook 45 minutes to an hour. If mixture becomes too thick, add hot water.
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Sonia Outlaw-Clark's family's stew
Another distant relative I recently met, Sonia, sent me an invite to her family's Haywood County stew where they actually still use squirrel meat. I couldn't go but she posted some photos on Facebook.

Sonia also does a great job as Director of West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center. Be sure and check it out the next time you are close to Exit 56 on I-40. As proof that Haywood County is a small town and everyone is related, Sonia's grandmother, Bernice Mann Outlaw was Abner Mann's older sister.

For more about the Castellaw family, visit their page on

Saturday, September 17, 2011

42nd Jim and Ruby Lovelace Family Reunion

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The third Sunday in September has been the Lovelace Family Reunion for a number of years now.

This is the gathering of the ancestors of Jim and Ruby Lovelace. It's now held at the home of my Great Aunt Carolyn Lovelace. She and my Great Aunt Marie Lovelace, who is about to turn 90, are the last two of the original family members who initially began the reunion.

I asked Aunt Marie today about how the reunion got started.

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Aunt Marie Lovelace

"When Poppa died, we said we want to continue gathering but we didn't want it to be on Poppa or Mama's birthdays. I bet a lot of people here have forgotten that his was the 25th of September (1885) and Mama's was the 12th of August (1887). Back then, Poppa's children always met on his and Mama's birthdays and then at Christmas time, Momma would cook and have her children to her house and then we always met but we especially got together during their birthdays."
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Jim Lovelace in chair with l to r: Hobert Lovelace, Blanch Lovelace
Guy Lovelace (my grandfather), Marie Lovelace and Jack.

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Aunt Marie Lovelace with her father, Jim Lovelace

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Standing l to r: Ovid, Homer, Marie and Blanch
Kneeling l to r: Jack, Hobert and Guy (my grandfather)
I need to ID the little girl

Since he died on March 3, 1968, 16 years after his wife Ruby, I am assuming the first reunion was held the following year. At one time they were held on Sundays and I remember attending even as a really small kid. At that time, it was held at the home of Uncle Hobert and Aunt Carolyn.

Before then, I can remember a few of the reunions that were held at the Haywood County Penal Farm since one of my uncles was the sheriff.

At today's reunion there were a lot of Jim and Ruby's second and third great grandchildren. Bo Greenway was the youngest ancestor at the reunion.

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Bo Greenway
Hopefully, the tradition will continue for many more years to come.

For more information about the Lovelace family, visit their page on

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lillie Overton Lovelace at Lakeland

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Lillie Overton Lovelace, 1962
I was really happy to receive a batch of great photos from Joe Lovelace in Texarkana, Arkansas this week. Joe’s grandfather, William Wilbert “Will” and my great grandfather, James Luther “Jim” Lovelace were brothers.

My favorite photo is of Will’s wife, Lillie Overton Lovelace at Lakeland on July 8, 1962.

Lakeland was sort of an amusement park that had opened north of Memphis the previous year. It never really had the elements to compete with Disneyland but, for a lot of people around my age now, it offered, among other things, our first skyride. We might not have gotten to ski in Memphis but we did get to glide over a field.

79-year old Lillie was not really dressed for an amusement park in the Midsouth in July and she looks hot and a bit like she is ready to head back to Haywood County.

This is a great video about Lakeland that brings back a lot of memories if you were lucky enough to have experienced Lakeland for yourself:

Lillie’s husband and the brother of my great grandfather, Jim Lovelace, was William “Will” Wilbert Lovelace. Will was only two years older than Jim so I assume they were close.

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Will Lovelace before 1943
In the Haywood County, TN census of 1900, Will was 16 and living in the very full house of his parents (my second great grandparents), Charles and Nancy Jane Lovelace. Still living at home were his siblings Dora, Jim (my great grandfather), Eva, Ida, Auther, Alice, Lizzie and Zelmer.

On December 23, 1903, Will married Lillie L. Overton.

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The Will Lovelace Family
l to r: Robert Lovelace, Ebbie Lee Lovelace, Buddy Lovelace,
and Lillie Overton Lovelace. Seated: Rabbit. Peabody is not pictured.
Will and Lillie had five children: Peabody, Rabbit, Ebbe Lea, Buddy and Robert.

Will Lovelace died on 20 Sept 1943 at the age of 59 and was buried at Zion Baptist Church Cemetery in Haywood County.

His wife Lillie lived more than 30 more years and died in 1979 at the age of 96.

For more about the Lovelace family, visit their page on

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Finding Aunt Helen Shirley

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Aunt Helen Shirley
Joan, the relative who sent me the photo of my third great grandparents, Thomas A. Lovelace and Quincy Shirley Lovelace, sent me a photo of someone she remembered her mother referring to as “Aunt Helen Shirley.” Her mother had give Joan’s daughter this photo and a table that had belonged to this aunt.

Joan wasn’t certain how exactly Aunt Helen Shirley fit into our family but I love a genealogy mystery that includes a photo so I jumped in to try and figure it out.

This one actually includes two photos since the charm on her broach includes a photo as well.

After a quick search of several genealogy message boards, Web sites and, I was able to find a little more information about the Shirley family. My hunch was that the aunt was possible the wife of one of Quincy Shirley Lovelace’s brothers, if she had any, or possibly a paternal aunt who never married thus keeping the Shirley name.

I ran across several people on message boards searching for more information on Quincy’s parents, Uriah and Unity Shirley but the posts were a decade ago and the emails I sent asking for info came back as no longer valid.

Then, I found a very well done Web site for “The Shirley Family Association.” The whole site is dedicated to discovering and preserving the ancestry information for the Shirley family.

I emailed Ken who immediately e-mailed back and asked a few question. Not only was he able to help identify Aunt Helen Shirley, he helped me fill in many blanks on this branch of my family tree. Even better, Ken created a page on the Shirley Web site that spotlights Uriah and Unity Shirley, my fourth great grandparents.

So who is Aunt Helen Shirley?

First, an interesting fact about Uriah and Unity: Ken points out that Unity’s last name was Wells when she married Uriah Shirley on July 14, 1814 in Muhlenberg Co., KY. However, many years later, one of their sons, Norfleet B. Shirley, named his “Wells half brother” in his will. Therefore Unity was “the Widow Wells” when she married Uriah. She was a young widow since, at the time of their marriage, he was 26 and she was just 20.

Eventually, they would have nine children:
Norfleet B.
Thaddeus C.
Berry J.
James R.
William W.
Lunsford W.
Quincy (my third great grandmother)
John F.
Mary M.
Aunt Helen Shirley was the wife of Thaddeus C. Shirley, the brother of Quincy Shirley.

In the census of 1860, Helen “McCormick” was 24 and living with her parents, William W. and Dorcas Irwin McCormick and her siblings Mary A., and R.B. in Springhill, Maury County, TN (home of Mule Day).

She married Thaddeus on 20 Feb 1866 there in Maury Co. and by 1860, they were living in Haywood County, TN.
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Obit of William Sullivan
While it appears they never had children of their own, they did have a young man named William Sullivan who lived with them since he was three. Dave Parks uploaded this clipped obituary to a page on along with many photos of McCormick family headstones.

Apparently, the writer of William’s obit couldn’t tell a lie…
“Will had his faults, but a better hearted boy never lived. God forgave him and he rests in peace…he was anxious to get well but he had to go.”
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Obit of Dorcas McCormick

Helen’s mother, Dorcas, died March 23, 1876 and her obituary, also uploaded by Dave Parks, included an interesting fact.

“...with her daughter with whom she died having Paralysis of the brain, her mind was almost entirely gone for twelve months, only once during her last illness was her mind clear. She talked then to her devoted daughter, only as a Christian mother could talk.”
Makes you wonder if Aunt Helen Shirley was the writer of both obits since they both have a similar style.
Headstone of Thaddeus and Helen Shirley
in Oaklawn Cemetery in Haywood County, TN

Photo uploaded to by Dave Parks

Thaddeus died on October 30, 1907 and was buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Haywood County, TN.

Helen died in January 1911 and was buried next to her husband at Oakwood.

Mystery solved. Now if I can just find that broach she is wearing, I can figure out who that is too.

You can find out lots more about these and other Haywood County, TN ancestors on