Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cotton Junction: Teapots to Sweet Spots, Ulysses S. Grant, Providence House and a Discovered Song Book

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Me with Mr. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant at Providence House

(He really does look a lot like Grant. Check this out.)

This week, I had the pleasure of attending the launch of the "Cotton Junction Trail," an event held at Providence House in Jackson, TN. It was a great event for me personally because cotton is such an important part of the history of the south, the trail includes many attractions and restaurants I think everyone needs to explore and it was an opportunity to get to check out Providence House.

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Opening ceremony of the Cotton Junction Trail

The 320-mile long trail is the last of 16 produced by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and is a great way to get people off the Interstate and into some of Tennessee's historic towns, back roads and one-of-a-kind attractions.

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Cotton Junction brochure

Some of the sites you can find on the trail's brochure or on the Web site are places I have visited but there are many others that I plan to check out soon.

The list of spots now on my "Summer of 2012" family bucket list include:

The Cotton Museum in Memphis
Vinegar Jim's in Arlington
Helen's Bar-B-Q in Brownsville
The Arts Co-op in Martin
Green Frog Village Cotton Museum of the South

Tennessee Safari Park in Alamo

The launch of the new trail was held at Providence House in Jackson which I was anxious to see.

One of Tennessee's oldest homes, Providence House was built in 1837 and was relocated to Jackson from Trenton, Tennessee by Clark and Juanita Shaw in the Summer of 2010.

Clark and I share the same third great grandfather, Beverly Williamson and many of our mutual ancestors are buried in the Providence Methodist Church Cemetery for which Williamson donated the land.

During the Civil War's Battle of Trenton, citizens gathered on the roof of what is now called The Providence House to watch the battle unfold. It later became the home of Judge M.M. Neil who served as the Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

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It's located right behind the Shaw family's other attraction and restaurant, Casey Jones Village which is on the Highway 45 By-pass at I-40 exit 80A. If you happen to be in the area, you don't want to miss Brooks Shaw's Old Country Store, Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum, the Wellwood country store, the Shoppes at Casey Jones Village, the Judge Milton Brown Pullman Car, Casey Jones Amphitheatre and the Village Church.

Clark's father, Brooks Shaw opened the Old Country Store in 1965.

I actually ate at the Old Country Store many times as a young boy when I visited my paternal grandparents, Bo and Elizabeth Williams. I remember once waiting for a table with my grandparents (we called them Granny and Daddy Bo) and Granny nudged me with her elbow and whispered, "you know, your people own this." When I asked her how they were "my people," she replied, "I don't remember, I just know they are."

So for many years, whenever I passed the Old Country Store's billboard on I-40, I would make sure whoever I was with knew my people owned it.

Speaking of Providence and Granny, while I was in the area for launch of the trail, I received another really priceless gift from another distant relative, Sonia Outlaw-Clark who is doing a great job running the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center.  We share mutual Outlaw ancestors.

While cleaning out a closet at Providence United Methodist Church, where Granny and Daddy Bo were members the later part of their lives, Bitsy Williamson found an old song book donated by my grandparents. They saved it for me which I know my grandmother would have really appreciated.

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Song book donated by Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Williams

The funny thing about the song book is, while it was donated to their original church, Holly Grove Baptist Church, it was found in a closet at Providence Methodist Church. If you knew my grandmother, who was a pretty big character, you can be pretty certain that when she got mad and left Holly Grove for Providence, she took her song book with her.

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or to check out the genealogy research about my specific family lines, go to Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

Monday, June 25, 2012

I Found Some Family Buried Between Home Depot and Cash Saver Food Outlet

Sunday morning I was up early and climbing around the Patterson branch of my family tree to see what I could find and was surprised to discover one leaf is actually buried between a Home Depot and a Cost Saver Food Outlet that are so close to my house, I can almost see them.

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Bettis Family Cemetery Historical Marker

I have passed the cemetery hundreds of times, and not once have I ever noticed it or the historical marker that sits in front. It's located off Angelus about halfway between Poplar and Mclean. Although I would like to say, "You can't miss it," I have missed it repeatedly for about 15 years.

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Sally Bettis and I

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Inside the Bettis Family Cemetery overlooking the back of Home Depot

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Broken monument to Tillman Patterson Betts

So Sunday afternoon, I went by and photographed it and then went to the library to see if I could find some more information about my distant Patterson relatives buried there.

I’ve been researching the Patterson family for the last several months. The one I connected to my neighborhood cemetery Sunday morning was Sarah Patterson, the daughter of Smith Patterson who was my sixth great grandfather, making her my fifth great aunt.

Sarah was the sister of my fifth great grandfather, Young Patterson. She and I are connected through my maternal line:
Young Patterson was the father of James Patterson
who was the father of Sarah E. Patterson Fowler
who was the daughter of Ruby Fowler Lovelace
who was the mother Guy Lovelace
who was the mother of Shirley Lovelace Williams
who was the mother of me.
Sarah was born in 1750 likely in Prince George County, VA, moved with her family as a young girl to Granville Co., NC and then married William Bettis in Franklin Co, TN.

According to deeds and land transactions, William and Sarah sold their farm near the Patterson family in Granville, NC around 1798 and migrated first to Washington Co., GA then, around 1805, to Wilson Co., TN

In 1819, a group that included William and Sarah Patterson Bettis, along with their sons Tillman “Till,” John and James and Sarah’s brother, Drury Patterson, and his son, Thomas, migrated to Tennessee to help settle the area that would become Shelby County. Drury Patterson and Sarah Patterson Bettis were the siblings of my fifth great grandfather, Young Patterson, who remained in Guilford Co., NC.

It’s thought the group was headed to Texas, stopped at the bluff of Memphis and heard about the new opportunity for securing large amounts of land in the area. Some of the group stayed in the area on the bluff of the Mississippi River while others in the group continued on to Texas.

William and Sarah Patterson Bettis had named their son Tillman Patterson Bettis after Sarah's side of the family.

The city directory for Memphis in 1855 stated that Bettis and the other settlers “came to Memphis in 1818 to await the ‘opening’ of the land office and the survey of the country for the procurement of land.”

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Article about The Bettis Family Cemetery, 1972

According to an article by Paul R. Coppock, a Commercial Appeal reporter who wrote articles on the history of Memphis for many decades, the group also included four of Till and Sally Bettis’ children.

“Tillman Bettis, sometimes known as ‘Till,’ was a person of considerable standing in early Memphis. He and his wife, with four children, came to the bluff soon after the signing of the Chickasaw Treaty of Oct. 19, 1818. They waited for months for the survey to be and the land office to be opened."

The cemetery is all that remains of the land the group settled. It extended all the way from Poplar to Union, and from McNeil almost to Cooper.”

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One old book I found in the library had some interesting information about Till. It also happens to be the book with one of the longest titles I’ve ever seen: “The History of the City of Memphis, Being a Compilation of the Most Important Documents and Historical Events Connected with the Purchase of its Territory, Laying off the City and Early Settlement Also The "Old Time Papers” by James B. Davis

It's available free online and is a great book about the history of Memphis. There is a great story about Till on page 304.

According to Davis, Till was “rather on the free-and-easy order, fond of his glass, his friends and a good joke; took the world easy and seemed to care but little about the opinions of others…generally unconfiding…a strong whig…and a devout Presbyterian.”

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File on Tillman Patterson Bettis at The Memphis Public Library

In another document I found in the library, at an event at Buntyn Station in Memphis on July 25, 1867, Col. Jesse H. McMahon gave a historical address and included Till Bettis:
“The first white female child born in Shelby County Tennessee, was Miss Mary Bettis, now the excellent fellow citizen William Pittman of Bray’s Station. She is the daughter of Tillman P. and Sallie (Carr) Bettis, being the sixth child and now herself the mother of seven children. I trust I may find an excuse for this personal allusion to private history in the fact that Tillman Bettis and his good wife in their own personal characteristics and in the characters of their sons and daughters have left a name familiar as household words in Memphis and Shelby County that is a synonym for incorruptible integrity and all those qualities that make up the composition of good men and good women and in this reunion of the “Old Folks at Home” I have the right to speak of them with honest pride to the stranger folk that may be your guest. May their names and memories be prolonged to the remotest generations.”
Several sources state its doubtful Mary Bettis really was the first white child born in Memphis but, once you get something like that tacked onto your personal brand, you should go with it.

Till and his first wife Sarah “Sally” Carr had nine children together and Sally died after the birth of the ninth. He headstone in the cemetery is though to be the oldest in Shelby Co.

Their children were William Talbot, Ann L., Drury Lyon, Salina, Lucy L., Mary Jane, Martha, Tillman Carr and Sara Carr.

After her death, Till married a widow, Sallie Harkleroad Gribbin, who already had two children from her previous marriage. Together, they had seven more: Samuel, Shelby Alexander, Elizabeth “Betsy,” Anderson Carr, John Claiborne, Nathanial Anderson and Virginia Caroline. Sallie died 3 Aug 1860.

Tillman died at his home on Union Ave. in Memphis on 6 Feb 1854.

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"I worry about the future of the cemetery, as its
significance becomes diluted with each generation."

Although there are only a couple of markers recognizable in the cemetery today, according to multiple articles and sources, those known to be buried in the Bettis Family Cemerery are:

Drury Lyon Bettis
21 Aug 1814 – 9 Apr 1854

Martha Bettis
30 Apr 1822 – 1839

Thomas A. Bettis
Son of T. C. (Tillman Carr) and E. J. Bettis
10 Jul 1845 – 1 Aug 1846

Sally Bettis
First wife of T. P. (Thomas Patterson) Bettis
23 Dec 1784 – 19 Jun 1826

Tillman P. Bettis
6 Oct 1788 – 6 Feb 1854
Erected by W. T., J. C. and N. A. Bettis, A. L. Harkleroad, M. J. Pitman, and S. C. Horne, Sons of T. P. Bettis.

Daniel Hankleroade
15 Jan 1803 – 5 Apr 1845
(son of Till’s second wife, Daniel married his stepsister, Ann)

Margaret Harper
Died 1855
(mother-in-law of Till’s son, Tillman Carr Bettis)

Samuel Bettis

And there are thought to be many, many more buried under the mound leading up to the cemetery.

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Article from April 4, 1969 stating Sally Bettis'
headstone is oldest in Shelby County, TN

For many years, the cemetery was part of the family farm but as time marched on and the population of the city moved east from the river, the farm was subdivided and sold off and eventually, the area around the cemetery became part of the Covenent of the Good Sheperd. The nuns farmed the land as a community sprung up around them.

As the area was developed in the '60s by the Montesi and Beltz families, a Montesi’s supermarket was built next to the little cemetery. A Zayre Department Store was then built close by. Eventually, the names of the stores changed, one was torn down and a new Home Depot was built in its spot.

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Today, Home Depot owns the land and has committed to keeping the cemetery mowed and taken care of. As you can see, since the article in 1969 was first published, the large headstone has been split in half and even more of the headstones are missing.

Hopefully, the little cemetery that pays tribute to the Bettis family will remain for many more years. The next time you're headed down Angelus to CashSaver, stop and check it out.

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or to check out the genealogy research about my specific family lines, go to Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

More About the Family of Nora Castellaw Hilburn

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Source: Peggy Anderson

l to r: Children of John and Nora Castellaw Hilburn; Edith, age three,
Thomas, less than one, and Carrye, age seven.

After doing a little research for the blog entry I wrote a while back about the siblings of my great grandfather, Bob Castellaw, I was able to connect with a descendant of his sister, Nora Castellaw Hilburn. Peggy Anderson, who is Nora's great granddaughter was able to correct some information and provide some family photos of Nora's family. She was also able to let me know that her limb of the family tree has always been certain my great grandmother's middle name was "Miranda" rather than "Marianna" as it appears in some places.

Above is a photo of Nora's children.

Nora Castellaw was born 12 Nov 1878 to Thomas Jefferson Castellaw and Nancy Miranda Johnson Castellaw. She was the last of nine children born (six lived beyond infancy) to my second great grandparents. My great grandfather, Bob, was ten years old when she was born. Nora's father, Thomas, died when she was just four months old.

In 1897, Nora married John T. Hilburn who was from Atlanta. Their first child was a boy, Benjamin Franklin Hilburn, who did not live beyond birth. The following year, the couple had a daughter, Mable Lorine Hilburn. Eventually, they had seven children in addition to Mable; Dora Belle, Herman Lawrence, Carrie Loise, Edith Katheryn, James A. and Thomas Jefferson, who was obviously named after Nora's father.

By 1920, the family was living in Bartlett which is a community just outside of Memphis.

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l to r: Bob and Zula Castellaw, John and Nora Castellaw Hilburn
and Zach Fletcher Castellaw

Nora died tragically on 29 Nov 1941. Nora's daughter, Edith, and her husband, Howard Beloate were Christmas shopping and returned to find Nora being carried away in an ambulance.  She had been burning leaves or garbage and her dress caught fire.

The neighbors reported to the family that, even though she was burned all over her body, Nora stood up and insisted on walking to the ambulance.  She only lived about six hours after arriving at the hospital.

All her children were in Memphis at the time except her youngest son, Thomas Jefferson Hilburn. He was in the military and was unable to return home until one week after her burial in the cemetery at Holly Grove Baptist Church in Haywood County. His older sisters, Dora Belle and Edith, took him from Memphis to Holly Grove to see her grave and, according to them, it was raining and he knelt in the mud of her fresh grave and cried inconsolably.

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Source: Peggy Anderson

Herman Lawrence Hilburn, WWII (Son of John and Nora)

According to military records, John and Nora's son, Herman, enlisted in the Army on 30 Sept 1942 at Ft. Oglethorpe, GA when he was 38. At the time, he was a resident of Arkansas, single with no dependents and was working as a shipping and receiving clerk.

After the war, Herman returned to Bartlett, TN and lived in a small house on his sister Dora Belle's property which was also next door to their other sister, Edith. Herman smoked a pipe, worked for the Fruehauf Trailer Company and never married.

Peggy remembers him watching TV each night with her grandparents after eating his meals with Dora Belle and her family. He was also referred to as the "candy man" because he always kept candy on hand to share with the children of the family.

He died 25 March 1985 in Shelby County, TN at the age of 85 a short time after having a stroke.

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Source: Peggy Anderson

Edith Hilburn Beloate (daughter of John and Nora) with children
Nora and James Howard Beloate taken around 1940

To me, Nora Castellaw's daughter, Edith, looks a lot like an RKO studio movie star in the above photo. Edith married Howard M. Beloate and they raised their children in Bartlett, living next door to her sister Dora Belle.

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Source: Peggy Anderson

Nora Joy Beloate Williams (the little girl in the white dress above) and children,
David, Kathy in Nora's lap, Peggy and Ann on Easter Sunday, 1959

Edith and Howard's daughter, Nora married a Williams and they had four children. This looks a lot like my own Easter Sunday morning photos.

So Peggy (sitting in the chair playing with her sister in the photo above) and I share the same second great grandparents and our great grandparents were siblings. It's funny because you think of your own sibling and you assume that your great grandchildren will know each other when its much more likely, especially today, they will never even meet.

Fortunately, thanks to social networking, those with mutual descendants like Peggy and I can connect online and share genealogy information with each other and help connect with others from the same family lines.

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

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Leprosy in Paradise

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Kalaupapa photo exhibit in the lobby of
Honolulu City Hall

I was just in Hawai'i for work and, while waiting in the lobby of Honolulu Hale (or city hall), I came upon a photo exhibit that was really inspirational. It made me aware of a group of people honoring their ancestors who, for many generations, were exiled to an island called Kalaupapa because they had contracted leprosy.

I knew of leprosy in the Bible but really thought that was something that occurred long in the past. I didn't realize there were people in recent decades, and even a few still today, who have to deal with the effects of the disease. The photos were so compelling because they showed victims of leprosy today.

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Photos of Kalaupapa residents disfigured by leprosy

As soon as I returned home, I looked it up and discovered the first documented case of leprosy in Hawaii occurred in 1848 and began spreading rapidly.  By 1866, when my ancestors were cleaning up after the Civil War, leprosy victims in Hawaii were being forced to an isolated island called Kalaupapa.
"Folklore and oral histories recall some of the horrors: the leprosy victims, arriving by ship, were sometimes told to jump overboard and swim for their lives. Occasionally a strong rope was run from the anchored ship to the shore, and they pulled themselves painfully through the high, salty waves, with legs and feet dangling below like bait on a fishing line. The ship's crew would then throw into the water whatever supplies had been sent, relying on currents to carry them ashore or the exiles swimming to retrieve them." Source
In 1873 a Catholic priest named Father Damien de Veuster began living among the leprosy victims and helped them build a community despite their illness.

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Father Damien de Veuster

A quick google search brings up lots of information about Father Damien and even a trailer for a 1999 movie. After sixteen years of caring for the people in this leper colony in paradise, he contracted and died of the disease. Today, he is considered the spiritual patron of outcasts.

In the 1940s, leprosy, which is now known as Hansen's disease, was put in remission by the development of drugs that fight the disease and those who contracted it who are still living are no longer contagious.

Kalaupapa is now a national historic park where many families in Hawai'i can reconnect with a grandparent or relative once considered "lost." Only a handful of former residents still live in the colony but by choice rather than being kept there against their will, as many were in the past.
"It is a place where past suffering has given way to personal pride about accomplishments made in the face of great adversity. It is a place where we can reconsider our responses to people with disfiguring disabilities or illnesses. It is a place where the land has the power to heal - because of its human history, natural history and stunning physical beauty." Source
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Photographer Wayne Levin installing one of his photos of Kalaupapa today
I have since learned that the photo exhibit I stumbled upon is titled Ka 'Ohana O Kalaupapa: E Ho'ohanohano a E Ho'omau and features 100 historical and contemporary photos of the residents of Kalaupapa and their family members along with scenes from Kalaupapa.

The more recent photos were taken by Hawai'i photographer Wayne Levin, a longtime Kona resident, who began taking photos of the residents of Kalaupapa in 1984. He also produced a book, "Kalaupapa: A Portrait" which is now out of print.

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or check out my Haywood County Line Genealogy Site.