Saturday, February 25, 2012

Vintage Haywood County Photos

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front row: Jess Williams, Bobby Williams (my Dad),
Whit Smith, Billy Castellaw
second row: Frank Reid, Bobby Castellaw,
Joe Christmas, J. C. Castellaw
back row: Lyle Reid

I received some great photos this week from one of my Haywood County cousins, Roland Reid. I love it when I get photos like this. It's about as close to traveling back in time as we can get and these photos include members from several branches of my family tree. In addition to the Reid family, also  included are the Williamson, Williams, Watridge and Castellaw families, among others.

Above is a great shot of my Dad, Bob Williams (the little kid in the middle), his brother, Jess Williams (to my Dad's right), and many of their cousins. I'm not certain of the exact location but it was taken someplace in the Holly Grove or Providence community of Haywood County around 1946.

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Providence Sunday School Class, 1942

I've written in this blog in the past about how my ancestor, Beverly W. Williamson, donated the land for the Providence Methodist Church and Cemetery and how, years later, my grandmother, Elizabeth Castellaw Williams helped raise money for that church by sewing.

Above is a photo of many of the members of that church in 1942. Looking at this photo you can almost hear Jimmy Dorsey. Actually, if you click play on the video below, you can literally hear Jimmy Dorsey while you look at the photo.

The young man in the foreground is Lyle Reid who was Roland's uncle. To Lyle's right is another brother Frank. The girl leaning against the doorway on the far right is Jessie Mae Reid who married Edward Levi Castellaw. Next to her is Pauline Reid who married Basil Snider.

Directly behind the two young Reid boys are their parents, Willie and Jo Williamson Reid (he in the striped tie and she in a hat). When I was a young boy, more than 30 years after this photo was taken, Jo Reid was a widow, living across the road from my grandparents and she joined my grandmother and I many times on fishing excursions to ponds around Haywood County.

If you know any of the other people in the photo, let me know. I would love to identify more of them.

Update 3/17/12

Thanks to my distant cousin, Sonia Outlaw-Clark, we've identified a few more members of the Providence Sunday School class. If you know of others, be sure to email me.

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You can turn Jimmy Dorsey off now because we are headed further back in time...

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l to r: Malcolm Robert Castellaw, Aaron Sammy Castellaw
and James Francis Castellaw, 1916

These are three of the sons of John Frank Castellaw who was a brother of my great grandfather, Bob Castellaw. When this photo was taken, Malcolm was five, Sammy was two and James was eight.

I was always curious about Sammy. Once, after seeing his headstone in the Holly Grove Baptist Church cemetery, I looked him up. He was killed in action during World War II on January 30, 1945 near Colmar, France.

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Headstone of Aaron Sammy Castellaw in Holly Grove Cemetery.

Jean Mann included his obituary in her book about Holly Grove Cemetery:

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"Military services for Sgt. Aaron S. Castellaw were held at Zion Baptist Church near Brownsville, September 16 at 2 o' clock. Sgt. Castellaw was killed overseas January 30th after 9 years service in the army. He had been overseas six months at the time of his death. Sgt. Castellaw was born December 6, 1914. He is survived by his wife; mother, Mrs. Agnes Castellaw of Bells; four sisters, Mrs. W. C. Baily, Mercer; Mrs Jack Stewart, Bells; Mrs. George Yearwood, Alamo; Mrs. Finis Watridge of Brownsville; three brothers, Tommy and J. F. of near Brownsville and Malcolm Castellaw of Bells and other relatives. Burial was at Holly Grove in Haywood County."
According to, Sammy's brother Malcolm also served in the army after enlisting on April 16, 1941 in Oglethorpe, Georgia. Malcolm died in Nov 1976 and the oldest brother in the photo, James Frank, died 27 Feb 1989.

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Photo taken at Pin Oak Lake in 1992

The eight children of Willie and Jo Williamson Reid

front row, l to r: Pauline Reid Snider and Jessie Mae Reid Castellaw
back row, l to r: Joseph Roland Reid, Frank Reid, Noel Reid,
Lyle Reid. Terry Reid, and Russel Reid

In addition to joining my grandmother and I on fishing trips, Jo Williamson Reid was the aunt of my grandfather, Bo Williams. Jo's sister and Daddy Bo's mother, Janie Williamson Williams, died when my grandfather was only four, and I didn't really even know of her existence until I began doing genealogy research.

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When I first began looking for information, I found the above photocopy in the Reese J. Moses-Scallions Genealogy Room at the Elma Ross Public Library in Brownsville, TN. (Be sure and "like" their Facebook Page) It was an incredible find because it enabled me to add Janie and Jo's father, Joe Williamson and their grandfather, Beverly M. Williamson as well as the Dougan and Scoby families to my family tree. The Dougans and Scobys are well-documented Revolutionary War families that I have blogged about in the past.

It's great to get to see Jo and Willie's children and I always appreciate it when people send me photos. If you happen to be hanging off a branch of my family tree and have any old photos, please email me a copy and I can share them here on my blog.

For more, visit my Blog Home Page or the Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Most Famous Person from Haywood County That No One Knows

Photo Source: auctionClick to Enlarge

Richard Halliburton

Richard Halliburton
was a fascinating explorer and writer who was actually born in Haywood County, TN. Around the time of the Jazz Age of the 1920s, he was one of the most well-known adventurers in the world, yet less than 100 years later he is remembered by only a few.

In his lifetime, Halliburton swam the Panama Canal, spent a night on the Great Pyramid of Giza, followed the path of Ulysses around the Mediterranean, descended into the "Myan Well of Death," crossed the Alps on an elephant, and climbed Mount Fuji. Throughout his travels he wrote many best-selling books and became a popular celebrity of his day.

In the Haywood County census of 1900, all eight of my great grandparents were living in Haywood County. Will Williams seems to have been living with his aunt and uncle while his future wife Janie Williamson was 13-years-old and living with her family in the Providence Community. William Day Brantley was three years old and his future wife, my great grandmother Allie Marbury, was only two. Jim Lovelace was living just down the road and was a young teenager at 15 while his future bride, Ruby Fowler, was 13. Bob and Zula Castellaw were already in their early 30s in 1900 and had recently buried an infant daughter.

A few miles away, in the actual town of Brownsville, which is the county seat of Haywood County, a young couple, Wesley and Nelle Halliburton were living as boarders in the home of the family of Richard G. Thomas along with their infant son, Richard who had been born on January 9.

According to this article about Halliburton from the May 2005 issue of "MUS Today," his father moved the family from Brownsville to Memphis hoping to make a profit buying and selling land in Arkansas. They were on the verge of being destitute when the sale of timber on some of Wesley  Halliburton's land quickly turned their situation around and they found themselves quite wealthy.

By 1910, the family had added another son and was living in Memphis. Richard, the future explorer, was 11 and his brother Wesley Jr. was 7. Wesley would die suddenly at 17 after a bout with rheumatic fever. At an early age, the two young sons were taught by Mary Grimes Hutchison who lived with the family and was the founder of Miss Hutchison's School for Girls. Hutchison evidently remained close with the Halliburtons because she is burried in a plot with the rest of the family.
"Richard attended Memphis University School and then left Tennessee to attend Princeton University.
On his fifteenth birthday, Halliburton became ill, withdrew from MUS for a long course of treatment, and never came back. He finished prep school at Lawrenceville Academy in New Jersey, and then went six miles up the road to Princeton...Halliburton ran away to Europe. He told his parents he was going to Brownsville, went to New Orleans instead, sent his parents a telegram telling them not to worry, worked his way across the Atlantic as an ordinary seaman, and then rambled across Europe for the next six months. He came back and finished his studies at Princeton, but Richard had found his calling: he would be an adventurer."
Crum, Carolyn. "Adventurer, Writer, Horizon Chaser." MUS Today May 2005: 18 - 19.

After much editing, his first book, "The Royal Road to Romance" was released and became a huge best-seller which led to more adventures, more books and eventually great fame. He wrote many magazine articles and books and hung out with the most famous writers and movie stars of the Jazz Age. At the time he was as well-known as Amelia Earhart and Earnest Hemingway and was a popular speaker on the radio and at events around the world.

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His many other adventures and books that followed included "The Flying Carpet: Adventures in a Biplane from Timbuktu to Everest and Beyond" in which Halliburton hired pioneer aviator Moye Stephens in 1931 and set out to circle the world in an open cockpit biplane named The Flying Carpet. "The Glorious Adventure: Through the Mediterranean in the Wake of Odysseus" recounted his journey through the Mediterranean in the shadow of Odysseus and in his final book, "Seven League Boots" he shared his adventures dining with Emperor Haile Selassie in Ethiopia, interviewing the infamous assassin of Czar Nicholas II in Russia, trying to sneak into the forbidden city of Mecca, and riding on an elephant over the Alps in the tracks of Hannibal.

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Movie poster for a film on which Halliburton
provided commentary and b-roll in 1939.

Envious of the movie stars of the day like friends Rudolph Valentino, Douglass Fairbanks, Sr.  and Ramon Novarro, Halliburton participated in a movie, "India Speaks." He spoke at some of the screenings at Radio City in New York and provided some commentary and acted in a few scenes that were actually shot in Hollywood. The movie was not well-received and no known prints of it exist today.
"It was produced, or rather assembled, by Walter Putter, who, after collecting a generous footage of scenes made in India, engaged Richard Halliburton, author and adventurer, not only to deliver a running microphonic comment but also to assume the role of the harassed hero who pops up during several melodramatic incidents which were photographed in Hollywood.

Although there is no denying the interest of the authentic scenes of 'the land of drama and romance,' it is somewhat disconcerting to be called upon to believe what the screen voice is saying at one moment and then appreciate that in the next breath one is listening to a fanciful escapade. It is a mixture which does not "jell," even though Mr. Halliburton refers to the travelogue as a photoplay."
Hall, Mordaunt. "India Speaks" New York Times. 8 May 1933.
While Halliburton did make a large amount of money, his bohemian lifestyle and taste for adventure was expensive to support and he spent even more than he made.

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Photo Source: The Orange County Register, 14 May 2011

Shortly before his death, he commissioned William Alexander Levey to design and build a house in South Laguna Beach, CA called "Hangover House." The name came from the fact that it was built on the edge of a cliff. It was recently purchased for 3.2 million and the new owner plans to preserve the home which is in disrepair. You can check out a great slide show of photos from inside the former Halliburton home here.

By 1939, he needed money badly so he planned an adventure that would assure him lots of press coverage and another best-seller. He planned to sail across the Pacific in a traditional Chinese ship he designed himself and named the Sea Dragon. He and his crew planned to depart from Hong Kong and arrive to great fanfare in San Francisco during the World's Fair.

On March 23, three weeks after they left Hong Kong in the rickety ship, the voyagers found themselves battling a typhoon and, after sending a radio message to a passing liner, the 39-year-old Halliburton and all 14 of his crew members were never heard from again.

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My girls and I at the Halliburton family plot at Forest Hill Cemetery

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Headstones of Wesley Sr., Nelle, Wesley Jr. and Richard Halliburton
and Mary Hutchison in the Halliburton family plot at
Forrest Hill Cemetery in Memphis.

Halliburton was declared dead on October 5, 1939 by the Memphis Chancery Court. His empty grave is at Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis at the Halliburton family grave site.

In 1945 some wreckage identified as a rudder and believed to belong to the Sea Dragon washed ashore in California.

A production company called Sunflower Circle Productions is currently planning a documentary film series about Halliburton and, in 2014, they plan to launch the Sea Dragon 2 which will complete Halliburton's attempt to cross the Pacific. They even have a Facebook page.

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Halliburton Tower at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN

If you happen to find yourself at Rhodes College, head to the Special Collections Reading Room where there are seven glass cases that hold a collection of letters, books and over 900 pages of news clips and photos of Halliburton. There is also a bell tower on the Rhodes campus called Halliburton Tower, that was built in his memory by his parents and dedicated in 1962. Outside the tower is a plaque with an inscription that reads in part, "He flew too close to the sun."

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Historic marker in Brownsville, TN erected in 2008 by
The Haywood County Historical Society and others.

Not forgotten by the town of his birth, the above historic marker in Brownsville commemorates Halliburton's life and notes that, "his life touched many people around the world."

For more, visit my Blog Home Page or the Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Haywood County Drag

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Caption from the "Brownsville States Graphic"
NUPTIALS HEADLINERS - Playing top roles in the femaleless
nupital ceremony performed at Holly Grove Consolidated School Friday night.
left to right, were Carlyle Williams, bridesmaid; Abner "Bear" Mann, bride;
Everett Wateridge, groom; Curtis Williams, ringbearer; "Sonny Boy" Williams best man;
and Lloyd "Bo" Williams, officiating minister.
(Photo by Charles Worley).

My cousin Sandra sent me this photo from "The Brownsville States Graphic" that features my grandfather, Bo Williams as a minister (looking a bit like Charlie Chaplain) and her grandfather, Bear Mann as a bride. While I don't think my grandfather spent much time in a pulpit, I am pretty sure her grandfather spent even less time in a dress.

I guess this is what they did before they had the internet to keep them busy.

I actually have the large version of the photo and it's interesting because, in addition to being a group of men dressed as women in a school lunchroom, it's also the first photo of my mother and father together.

My father is the kid in the lower left of the photo wearing a black shirt and looking at the camera. My mother is sitting next to him. That was more than 62 years ago.

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Update on 2/16/12: More people identified thanks to Jan Outlaw whose mother had written as many names down as she could remember:

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But, I would like to get more of them identified so if you know any of the people in this photo, please let me know by email or facebook message me and I'll add their name.

For more, visit my Blog Home Page or the Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tweets from @Sim Cobb about #Life in 1875 with @Billy Booth

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Sim Cobb, far right
In 1888 with other members of the Haywood County
Fifth District School Commission, Ichabod Herring and Mr Rooks

Photo from Nicholas Cobb Descendants by Joe Cobb

I have been researching the family of my second great grandmother, Lena Booth.

To me, one of the most rewarding parts of genealogy research is finding the information that uncovers your ancestor's humanity. It's always fun to start out with nothing more than a name and slowly see a real person begin to emerge.

I am very grateful that Joe Cobb included the diary of Simion Amherst "Sim" Cobb in his book "Nicholas Cobb Descendants, Neighbors and Relatives." Sim was a close friend of Lena Booth's father, Billy Booth and one of the sons of my fourth great grandparents, John Hardy and Harriet Castellaw Cobb and a brother of two of my direct descendants:
William Thomas Cobb
1833 - 1898
Married to Elizabeth Temperance Outlaw, 25 Jan 1866
Father of Mary Etta Cobb Brantley who was the mother of Henry Day Brantley, one of my maternal great grandfathers.

Mourning Adeline Cobb
15 Mar 1838 - 30 Aug 1876
Married to Daniel Washington Watridge, 28 Nov 1877
Mother of Zula Zera Watridge Castellaw who was the mother of Elizabeth Williams, my paternal grandmother.
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Sim Cobb with his daughter Ida, left
and niece Nora, right in 1891

Photo from Nicholas Cobb Descendants by Joe Cobb

Sim was physically a small man who weighed only 150 lbs at his heaviest. He fought in Company L of the Seventh Tennessee Calvary in the Civil War and later married his third wife when he was 63 and she was 32. She was younger than two of his children when they married but they were together 24 years and had four children.

Sim spent a great deal of time with many of my ancestors including W.C. Cobb, Tommie Rawls, J.C.W. Cobb, Sam Marbury, Sarah Elizabeth Steele, Daniel Watridge, Tinie White, Martha Watridge and many others in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

One misconception about farm life during that time was that is was somewhat lonely and filled with isolation. After all, they had no internet to facilitate their social networking, right? It turns out there were social networks before the world wide web.

Below are just some of the, I mean entries that included W. G. "Billy" Booth in Sim's 1875 diary. At the time, Sim was 35 and Billy was 59.
3 Jan 1875 – Sunday, in the morning at S. E. Steele; went home and fed, then went to W. G. Booth; went from there to S. E. Steele and returned home; cloudy all day, moderately cold; W. G. Booth was with me at night at home until eight o’ clock.

6 Jan 1875 – Wednesday, at father’s; very cold and cloudy; came home soon; went to W. T. Cobb and help him put sills under house; returned home after dinner and split rails; cloudy all day long and cold; James B. Booth (Billy's son) came home from camp Hatchie and took meals at night.

10 Jan 1875 – Sunday, …I went to W.G. Booth and stayed until nearly night, then came home and got wood for the night.
19 Jan 1875 – Tuesday, fair and cold; cut and burned brush in the field; moved W. G. Booth’s fence; John F. White came over in the morning; J. C. W. Cobb and W. G. Booth was with me at night until bed time.

1 Feb 1875 – Monday, fair and pleasant; cut logs and wood; clouded up around 1 o’ clock; Mrs. Booth (Billy's wife, Eliza White Booth) came over in the evening and took supper with us.

2 Feb 1875 – Tuesday, cloudy all day, rained during the day; split some wood and picked up trash in the new ground until dinner; after dinner, went to W. G. Booth and got my spade and worked on shelter by the smoke house.

15 Feb 1875 – Monday, cloudy and cold; burned logs and trash and hauled and put up rails; Pink (Harriett Outlaw) and Agatha ( Mrs. John Hardy Cobb) was here; Bet (his wife) went with them to W. G. Booth; J. E. Lott and W. G. Cobb came down at night to get some castor oil.

24 Feb 1875 – Wednesday, cloudy with some rain and warm; hauled manure in the garden and to the land for the Irish potatoes…caught a rabbit; Mrs. Booth (Eliza) and Lott were here; Ed came.

4 March 1875 – Thursday, cloudy; cut and split rails in the morning; in the evening went to D. W. Watridge (his brother, Daniel Watridge, father of Zula Zera Watridge Castellaw) and J. C. Cobb; Pink and Caroline spent the evening with Bet; Bet was at W. G. Booth when they came.

5 March 1875 – Friday, Friday, cloudy and misted rain in the morning; hauled rails in the morning; in the evening went and got the loom and put it up; split rails; Bet went to W. G. Booth in the evening.

15 March 1875 – Monday, cloudy in the morning; went to W. G. Booth; gubbed sprouts and fixed the water gap (a fence across a stream).

5 April 1875 – Monday; planted corn in the new ground next to W. G. Booth’s field.

2 May 1875 – Sunday, fair, went to Sunday School; D. W. Watridge and family was here and stayed until after supper; W. G. Booth, Willie (William L.) and J.B. (James Bembery) Booth and Mittie (probably Margaret) White was here and Roe Booth (Albert Cicero) also.

15 May 1875 – Saturday, fair; went to church at Zion; stopped at father’s and got dinner; W. C. Cobb and I went to the Risk Grange; E. J. Steele came to see Bet; Bet went to W. G. Booth.

8 June,1875 – Tuesday, fair and cool; Beth went to W. G. Booth; Albert hoed and replanted peas.

27 July,1875 – Tuesday, fair; went to take up hooks; came by John Herring’s and stopped a while; stopped at John White; came home and helped W. G. Booth get out wheat.

14 Sept 1875 – Tuesday, fair; me, Bet and Alice had chills; Mittie (possibly Margaret Booth) and John was here; Caroline White; E. J. Steele, Mag Watson and Mrs. Booth was here during the day; W. C. Cobb and W. G. Booth was here at night til bedtime.

7 November 1875 – Sunday. Cloudy; W. G. Booth came down and took dinner with us; in evening I went to Mrs. White.
It rained. They cut wood. He caught a rabbit. He went to Zion. His neighbor came down to borrow some castor oil. All very simple tasks that seem to not be important but they come together to create an interesting glimpse at the lives of my ancestors.

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Sim Cobb's headstone in the Cobb Family Cemetery

W. G. "Billy" Booth died in Haywood County on 16 Jun 1892 at the age of 76 and was buried at the Holly Grove Baptist Church Cemetery.

Sim's wife, Bet, died in 1890 and was buried in the Cobb family cemetery. He married two more times then died in 1927 at the age of 87 and was also buried in the Cobb family cemetery.

For more, visit my Blog Home Page or the Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.