Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ridley Wills, Haywood County Fugitive

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William Ridley Wills
1898 - 1957

In the early 1920s, a group of fifteen or so writers, poets and literary scholars who were students and faculty at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, came together and, without meaning to, created what became a literary movement.

Eventually, the goal of the Fugitives, as they called themselves, was to shift the world’s perception of southern writers away from mint juleps, slaves in cotton fields and poverty. They wanted to show that writers in the South could produce "intellectual work," particularly poetry, equal to or better than that being written elsewhere in the world. 

Video: In the early 20th century, a coterie of poets
gathered in Nashville, Tennessee, determined
to redefine the way the world viewed the south.

I happened to notice one of those men, Ridley Wills, was born in Haywood County, Tennessee so I did a little poking around to see what I could find out about him.

Wills was born March 4, 1897 to lawyer Asa Mann Wills and his wife, Della Belle Womack Wills, in Brownsville, Tennessee. He was named after his father’s brother, Nashville businessman Ridley Wills, who was the founder of National Life and Accident Insurance Company. 

Of course, I’m always curious if there is a connection to my own family tree.

Ridley Wills’ paternal grandmother, and the inspiration for his father’s middle name (Mann), was Elizabeth Cousins Mann. Through this ancestor, Ridley Wills and I have a minor family connection. Velma Irene Castellaw, a sister of my paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Castellaw Williams, married Abner Bertheer “Bear” Mann who was also a descendant of that same Mann family line. 

I remember well my grandmother talking about Bear Mann and the half-bear, half-man image it conjured up in the mind of a young boy.

Checking the census of 1900, you find Ridley Wills was three years old and living in the seventh district of Brownsville with his older sister, Trousdale, and his parents. The Wills family lived with or next door to the families of Thomas Mann and his son, Vernon Mann so these were likely relatives of Ridley Wills’ mother.

Ten years later, the census of 1910 shows the family was still living in Brownsville and 13-year-old Ridley then had two younger sisters, Harriet and Elizabeth.

On July 25, 1917, when he was nineteen, Ridley Wills left Vanderbilt University, where he was attending college, and enlisted in the Army. According to several sources, Wills was glad to be leaving college and the faculty was glad to see him go.
“In his student days Wills had been an irrepressible journalist and prankster...involved in all sorts of skirmishes and practical jokes. Just before the end of school in 1917, Wills, as one of the editors of The Hustler, had written a column defending a few freshmen who were about to be expelled from school for throwing water on a faculty member from an upstairs window. In his editorial Wills emphasized the difference between such boyish pranks and really serious matters, such as cheating. 
Apparently the authorities did not approve of his defense, and when he left school to join the army, it was with some relief on both sides. When he returned, he was as bright and flippant as ever. 
By virtue of having published a novel he felt a certain authority in literary affairs and accepted as his duty the task of enlivening the intellectual life on the campus." 
Cowen, Louise. The Fugitive Group. Baltimore, MD: J.H. Furst Company, 1959.
In the Army, Wills served as a Second Lieutenant in France and Germany during World War I and was honorably discharged on August 16, 1919.

He then returned to Vanderbilt University where, along with his younger cousin, Jesse Wills, he was invited to become a member of the Fugitives, which had begun a few years earlier.

Wills connected with Allen Tate, one of the leaders of the group and the two quickly became friends. According to an article in The Sewanee Review:
“The two young men at that time of their lives were like twins: charming, witty, arrogant, and not only beyond the class of 1923 but also, they felt, a little beyond the too-serious older Fugitives.”  
Buffington, Robert. High Jinks in Nashville, 1923The Sewanee Review. Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press, Spring, 1979.
Many years later, Tate would recall that Wills was “small, graceful, ebullient, and arrogant, and one of the wittiest and most amusing companions I ever had.”

Just for fun, Tate and Wills produced a book of poems that was a parody of both the Fugitives and of T.S. Elliot's The Waste Land

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The Golden Mean and Other Poemsby Ridley Wills and Allen Tate

They are said to have written The Golden Mean in one night and it was published locally in Nashville in 1923 to positive reviews. A much sought-after book for collectors today, you can have a copy of your own for just $3,500.

Tate, who was a poet, essayist and social commentator, later became Poet in Residence and founded the creative writing program at Princeton University and was Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1943 to 1944.

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by Ridley Wills

Wills published two novels of his own. Hoax (1922) was about a young man from the age of eighteen to twenty-seven and is set in West Tennessee. It was written in New York where he lived after being discharged from the army. His second novel, Harvey Landrum (1924), was written after he graduated from Vanderbilt and is a psychological study of a young man who "tries to hide a sense of inferiority behind a false sense of bravery." The setting of his second novel is Jackson, Tennessee.

When I discovered what books he had written, I immediately wanted them in my collection of novels by West Tennessee authors and I did find them online. Not quite as collectible as The Golden Mean, you can purchase Hoax for $489.95 and Harvey Landrum for a mere $275.00.

A little steep for my book-buying budget but, since I am blessed to live so close to the Library of Congress, I hoped to be able to at least read them there. 

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Harvey Landrum at The Library of Congress
by Ridley Wills

While the Library of Congress did have a copy of Harvey Landrum in their offsite storage facility, the closest copy of Hoax is at the University of Virginia. Guess I’ll save that one for the next college visit with my daughter.

After graduation, marriage to Louella Wilson and a move back to New York, Wills wrote for the New York Herald then launched his own newspaper, The Rye, New York Courier. He wrote a friend back in Nashville, “Our aim is to make an international local sheet of it with literary qualities.” Cowen, Louise. The Fugitive Group. Baltimore, MD: J.H. Furst Company, 1959.

During his career Ridley Wills also wrote for several Tennessee newspapers including the Memphis Press Scimitar and the Memphis Evening Appeal, eventually becoming an associate editor of the Commercial Appeal.

He later wrote for and served as the continental editor of the Cincinnati Star Times

According to Wikipedia, Wills was the father of five children: Andrew, William, David, Tookie, and Thaddeus.

Ridley Wills' father, Mann Wills, and his uncle and namesake, Ridley Wills, established the much-needed Haywood County Memorial Hospital in 1930. 

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Tennessee Governor's Mansion

In 1949, the State of Tennessee purchased the family home of the senior Ridley Wills and it has since served as the Governor's mansion. "Far Hills" sits on 10 acres and features beautiful views from many of the 16 rooms of the three-story home.

Brownsville's Ridley Wills spent the last four years of his life as a patient at the Bay Pines Veterans Hospital in Florida where he also served as the editor of the hospital newspaper. He died on September 8, 1957 and was buried at Bay Pines National Cemetery in Pinellas County, Florida.

Wills' cousin and fellow Fugitive went on to work in the insurance business like his father. In 1969 he established the Jesse W. Wills Fugitive and Agrarian Collection at the Vanderbilt Heard Library. 

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The Fugitive

The Fugitives published 19 issues of The Fugitive magazine from 1922 to 1925 and there were never more than 200 subscribers. Copies of the magazine are extremely rare and each issue is now worth more than $20,000. In addition to copies of the magazine, The Wills Collection at the Heard Library includes more than 1,600 books and monographs by and about the Fugitives and Agrarians, as well as a large collection of the writers’ letters, papers and published magazine articles.

If you happen to be interested in this topic, one article I came across, Pride and Prejudice: The thorny legacy of Vanderbilt's Fugitives and Agrarians, does a great job of exploring this fascinating aspect Southern history and literature.

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

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ralph Lauren ad or vintage Methodist campground photo?

Photo / Elma Ross Library

Camp Pieus at Windrow's Camp Ground

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If you, like the good-looking folks in this photo from the Elma Ross Library in Brownsville, Tennessee, were a good Methodist in Middle and West Tennessee back in the 1930s, you probably attended one of the summer religious gatherings that took place at Camp Pieus which was held each summer at Windrow's Camp near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. And no, that's not how you spell "pious." I'm not sure what the deal was there.

Photo / Elma Ross Library

Camp Pieus at Windrow's Camp Ground

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According to an article written by Kay Horner, the historian of the First United Methodist Church of Murfreesboro, the first religious service took place at Windrow's Camp on August 15, 1812. Many of those pictured here, more than 100 years later, were taking part in a tradition that their grandparents and great-grandparents had begun.

Photo / Elma Ross Library

Camp Pieus at Windrow's Camp Ground

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After this photo was taken, you could've pulled a few of the old-timers aside and they would've shared the stories they'd been told about one camp meeting held in 1820 that ended up lasting more than a week. 300 people "professed their religion" and many of those who became Methodists that week began the First Methodist Church in the new town of Murfreesboro.

Photo / Elma Ross Library

Camp Pieus at Windrow's Camp Ground

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If you were curious about the history of the camp, someone would have introduced you to Frank, John and Luther Windrow, all who were there that day. Descendants of old John Windrow himself, they had heard first-hand about the passion he had for the camp.
“John Windrow was a rare specimen of a truly eccentric but generous man. He was not satisfied with simply giving the ground and building material for the encampment, but was in the habit of cultivating a patch of cabbage to give the tent-holders every year. He kept his own stock off his wheat and oat fields, after harvest, that the grass might grow large and thick for the horses of persons persons from a distance during the camp meeting.”
History of Methodism in Tennessee, Volume Two, John Berry McFerrin, 1886

While I question the wisdom of giving cabbage to a bunch of people who are about to spend a day in a tent together, I appreciate the sentiment behind it.

According to notes on the back of the photo, also there that day was Chief of Police Walker, Leslie Moody, Margaret Chambliss Burton, Joe Moody, Joe Cobb, Elizabeth Hargrove, Sadie McClish Williams, Frank Williams, Lillian Reed, Edith Nunn, Louise Taliaferro and others.

The original early-1800s revival meetings at the camp took place outdoors in the late summer and offered a much-needed break from the difficulties of carving out farms and towns and settling a new part of the country. The camp meeting was a time for them to discover or renew their faith, spend time with their friends and neighbors and find out what had been going on in the world around them.

Photo / Elma Ross Library

Camp Pieus at Windrow's Camp Ground

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By the time this photo was taken in the 1930s, the camp meetings were primarily continued as part of tradition as there were many churches in the area and revival meetings took place indoors.

Today, there is a church and cemetery at the site. A few years ago, blogger Noel Tabor took a drive and unexpectedly ended up at Windrow's Camp Ground. She shared a few photos, including the one below, on her blog.

Photo / Noel Tabor

Plaque on Church Windrow's Camp Ground

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The plaque on the church at Windrow's Camp Ground reads:
“In 1812 four acres of ground were donated by John Windrow for a camp ground. On this historic spot services of worship have been held continuously for more than one hundred-fifty years. Methodist circuit riders have preached to tens of thousands of people, and between three and four thousand conversions have taken place here. It was from this sacred place that through prayer and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit power from on high was given for the founding of the First United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro in 1820. To God be the glory and to his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ!”

Photo / Elma Ross Library

Camp Pieus at Windrow's Camp Ground

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Returning to the photo, I'm struck by how their upscale 1930s clothes, stylish haircuts and blank stares combine to create what could be a Ralph Lauren print ad today.

Those Tennessee Methodists really knew how to take a good picture.

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

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Haywood County's first entrepreneur, Hiram Bradford

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Since today is Thanksgiving, a time when families gather together to express gratitude for their blessings, I wanted to share this photo of a family found in the genealogy archives of the Elma Ross Library in Brownsville, Tennessee. It was taken, I assume, as they were preparing for a formal portrait in front of their home. I love the commotion that seems to be taking place as they try to get situated for the photo. The gentleman to the far left looks like he just wants the whole thing to be over as he stares off into the distance, finishing his cigarette.

Of course, I immediately wondered who this family was.

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From what is written on the back, we know the photo was taken 90 years ago in September 1924 at "The Old Bradford Place" which was "five miles west of Brownsville."  These are very likely some of the descendents of Brownsville’s first entrepreneur, Hiram Bradford.

Bradford was born January 2, 1797 in Granville, North Carolina to Benjamin J. Bradford and Polly Smith Bradford. Eventually, the family settled on the Columbia River in Stewart County in Louisiana. As a young farmer in East Feliciana Parish, Hirum Bradford supplemented his income from farming by trading horses and mules. He traveled much of the undeveloped Indian country to the west of Louisiana and became familiar with what would eventually become West Tennessee. He saw great opportunity in the rich soil around the Forked Deer River. In 1826 he heard they were planning to auction off lots in a town that was being named Brownsville.

Bradford’s early years as a settler in Haywood County is mentioned in one of my favorite old books, “Old Times in West Tennessee,” written by Joseph Williams in 1873. If you enjoy West Tennessee history, you should add this to your library. You can get a free digital copy here or purchase a hardcover book on

Williams wrote:
“Familiar with the rich virgin lands west of the Tennessee river, he resolved on fixing the future place of abode in Haywood. Learning the day fixed for the sale of lots in Brownsville, he gathered together his accumulations, with which, and his cotton crop of ten bales that season, he went to New Orleans and bought him a stock of goods, ordering his family to be ready on the bank of the river for the boat as she came up…He was among the first on the ground, when the sale of lots began, and bid off the first lot, No. 1, situated on the corner of the Public Square and East Main street, south side.”
Bradford had brought along two men who worked for him (probably slaves) and assigned them the task of cutting down the oak tree that stood on the lot he had just purchased. They cut the wood from the tree into the slabs with which Bradford built Brownsville’s first general store. Later, he used the money he made from the store to build Brownsville’s first hotel.

As settlers poured into the area, more cotton was planted and harvested, and Bradford saw the potential for what would become Brownsville’s first gin. Many credit Bradford’s gin with the increase of Brownsville’s population from 200 in 1823 to more than 5,000 by the end of the 1830s.

Williams wrote, “Few men lived so long and blameless a life as Hiram Bradford, enjoying the fruits of a well-earned fortune and an honorable name, all of which he left as a noble heritage to his surviving family.”

Hyram Bradford died August 27, 1862 at the age of 65 and was buried in what is now referred to as the “Bradford Family Cemtery.” It’s said to be located at Highway 54, off Thomas Lane which is about five mile west of the town of Brownsville. I assume this is very near the location of the house in the photo above.

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Thomas Lane and Highway 54, Haywood County, Tennessee

There are several clumps of trees in that area that could be covering a cemetery so I plan is to try to find it the next time I’m back in Tennessee. If anyone knows where it is, let me know.

Hiram and Polly Bradford had many children. One of their sons, Alsey High “Asa” Bradford, was four years old when his family first moved to Brownsville. As a young man, Bradford initially worked for his father helping to manage the family businesses but later recorded in his journal that he enjoyed “the estimable privilege of tilling the soil as a planter.” Source

By 1860, Bradford owned 1,850 acres valued at $20,000, which he farmed with his thirty-one slaves.

During the Civil War, he held numerous positions working his way up to Colonel, Commander of Hillard’s Tennessee Legion and Confederate Post Commander in Knoxville. After the war, he continued farming until his death on August 6, 1906. He was buried in Brownsville’s Oakwood Cemetery. Source

Another son, Hiram Scott Bradford, was also a Colonel in the Civil War and his bust can be seen in The Haywood County History Museum.

I know the approximate location of the house and possible heritage of the family, but who specifically were these people preparing for that 1924 photo?

Looking at the 1920 census, one possible suspect family could be that of Laura Bradford (age 63). She was the head of household and living with her were:

Alsey H. Bradford, age 26
Katherine Bradford, age 21
H. Victor Bradford, age 4 years and nine months
Alsey F. Bradford, age 1 year and four months.
Unusual for the time and place, Laura's occupation is listed as a fire insurance agent. She was a daughter of Colonel Alsey High Bradford and it appears she never married. In the 1900 census, Laura is living with her widowed father, two of his sons (Hyram C. and Alsey F.) and their families which included Alsey H. Bradford who was six at the time.

So it's certainly possibly that twenty years later, this 1924 photo is of Laura Bradford and others in her family including her nephew, his wife and their children. 

Although I would like to spend a little more time today researching the Bradfords, I would rather go spend time with my own family gathered here in Arlington for Thanksgiving!

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or to check out the genealogy research about my specific family lines, go to my Haywood County Line Genealogy Website. Purchase a signed copy of my book "The Forgotten Adventures of Richard Halliburton" here and receive a free Richard Halliburton bookmark, while supplies last.

Monday, October 13, 2014

More old photos from Haywood County

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Charles Steele, Roy Jr. Simpson, Blondell Taylor, Maurice Earl Steele
Gene Smith, Mary Grace Kerr Edwwards, Betty Castellaw Ross
Marian Booth Warren, Maxine Lovelace Stewart, Evelyn Castellaw,
Mable Duffy (possibly), Jesse Thomas White and Bobby or
Billy Waddell (they were twins).

When I was back home in Tennessee for the Lovelace Family Reunion, Fay Booth McAbee brought along a couple of photos to see if anyone could identify anyone pictured. We figured out a few at the reunion but for the rest, I turned to Facebook. Several of my Facebook friends (and real world cousins) either knew some of the people in the photo or printed it and shared the photo with parents.

I've added the names of those who have been identified. If you know any of the others, please email me.

Maxine Lovelace and Evelyn Castellaw, who are in the photo on the right, were both my first cousin, one times removed. Maxine was born in 1926 and Evelyn in 1929. If they were 18 or so in this photo, it must have been taken around 1945.

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Allen School, 1890s

This photo came from the genealogy room at the Elma Ross Public Library in Brownsville, Tennessee. It was taken in the 1890s at the school in the Allen Community of Haywood County. Notes on the back of the photo indicate the school was located close to where Russell Kirby's house is today.

The photo was given to the library by Lawrence Cobb who ran a grocery store located near my maternal grandparent's house. A recent blog post included a photo of the gas pump from Mr. Lawrence's store and a post from February 25, 2011 included a photo of Mr. Lawrence and others cleaning up the Cobb family cemetery.

I quickly recognized Mr. Lawrence's father, Sim Cobb, in the photo in the upper left.

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Simeon Amherst Cobb

Sim was a small man who weighed only 150 pounds but his small stature didn't keep him from fighting in company L of the Seventh Tennessee Calvary in the Civil War. He married his third wife when he was 63 and she was 32 and it caused quite a stir at the time since she was younger than two of his children. They were married 24 years and had four children together. 

Sim was a brother of my second great-grandfather, William Thomas Cobb.

Part of Sim’s diary is included in Joe Cobb’s book. From his diary, I know Sim spent a great deal of time with many of my ancestors including William Cobb, Tommie Rawls, J.C.W. Cobb, Sam Marbury, Sarah Elizabeth Steele, Daniel Watridge, Tinie White, Martha Watridge and others.

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This last photo also came from the Brownsville Library. Although he isn't related to me, I liked the photo so I thought I would try to figure out who he was.

On the back is written, "Our boy when he was a cadet of the Memphis Military Institute." It was in an envelope with a faded photo of a man named W.J. Rutland and on his photo was written, "60 years, Aug 31st 1916."

After a little looking around online, there's a good chance that the man in the faded photo is William J. Rutland who was living at 196 Exchange Avenue in Memphis in 1920. He was married to Ada C. Rutland and had a son named George W. Rutland who was born in 1882. It's possible "our boy" is their son, George W. Rutland. Of course, that's just a guess but I'm posting the photo in case it's helpful for someone researching that family line.

I have some more old Haywood County photos I'll be sharing in the coming weeks.

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

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Did you know the author of the best-selling book of the 19th Century once spent the night in Stanton?

My dad has a new gig as the pastor of the Stanton Baptist Church. This historic church is located in Stanton, Tennessee, a small town in Haywood County. As a fan of old churches, I was anxious to check it out. A few weeks ago when I was back home, we took a little detour on our way to the Lovelace Family Reunion and I got a personal tour from the new pastor himself.

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Pastor Bob Williams in front of
the First Baptist Church of Stanton, Tennessee

In the mid-1850s, Joseph B. Stanton purchased the land that is now the town of Stanton. After he used his considerable influence to make certain the Memphis and Ohio railroad came through Stanton, the town began to grow and prosper. According to the Heart of the Tennessee Delta, A Historical Guidebook to Haywood County, Stanton's daughter was the one who subdivided the lots and really developed the town.

One of Stanton's early claims to fame occurred during the Civil War. A few days before the famous battle of Shiloh was fought, Union General Lew Wallace stopped in Stanton with his army and spent the night. Sporting a killer goatee, he was on his way to reinforce General Grant at Pittsburgh Landing, on the bank of the Tennessee River.

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General Lew Wallace

After the war, Wallace was appointed Governor of the New Mexico Territory and U.S. Minister to the Ottoman Empire. He was the author of several novels including Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ which was one of the best-selling novels of the 19th century. When it was published in 1880, it knocked Uncle Tom's Cabin off the top of the chart of best-selling American novels and it stayed there until 1936 when Gone with the Wind took its place.

(For a really interesting article about Wallace, check out "The Passion of Lew Wallace" on

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A little Stanton history from the 1887 "History of Tennessee"

As more families continued to move to Stanton, a small Baptist church in the town of Wesley also decided to settle in the new community. As Stanton grew, Wesley fell so they moved where the action was. In 1868, they built a church on the spot where the current one stands today.  

My dad gave me some information that some of the members had written for the 150th anniversary of the church in 2002. It included the fact that the original building had two front doors--one for men and one for women. They also sat on different sides of the church.

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Historic photo of First Baptist Church of Stanton, built in 1912 

In 1912, the original Stanton Baptist Church building was torn down and the current church was built. The new building includes Doric columns and some really nice Gothic windows. Grant Wood would be right at home.

Next door to the large church building is the Stanton Masonic Lodge and School.

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The Greek Revival building was built in 1871 by the local Masons as the school for the local children.

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Stanton Historic Marker

Stepping into the church really is like going back to the 1950s. From the original vintage pews to the light fixtures and ceiling fans, it's one of the most well-maintained old churches I've been in. 

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Very little has been changed since it was built in 1911. The old stoves that heated the church with coal have been replaced with gas heaters and the old kerosene lamps that were mounted to the walls were replaced with electric light fixtures.

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Originally, a large Gothic arch framed an alcove in which the preacher would delivery his sermon each Sunday. In 1954, it was made into the baptistry and a pulpit was installed for the preacher.

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If you live near the town of Stanton, you should go check it out one Sunday. Yes, the building is amazing but I can also highly recommend the preacher!

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

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Anderson Grammar School in Brownsville

I was recently back in Tennessee for a week and got to spend some time looking through the archives in the genealogy room of the Elma Ross Library in Brownsville. I'm usually in a hurry when I'm there so it was fun to have a few hours to check things out. 

The late Reese Moses, along with many others, have archived a large number of maps, documents, books and microfilm relating to the history of Haywood County and the families who live there. One box that contained a number of very old photos was particularly fun to look through. I always search for individuals who possibly show up in one of my family lines and the school photo below included two potential ancestor's names among those written on the back: Jack Castellaw and Earl Williams.

The children in the picture look a lot more like the stars of The Little Rascals than The Grapes of Wrath so I had already assumed these were city kids. They don't look like they just came in from chopping cotton. Thanks to my friends on Facebook, I found out this photo was taken at Anderson Grammar School on Main Street in Brownsville. The school has since burned down.

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Brownsville Elementary School

Many thanks go to the person from the past who took the time to write the names on the back of the photo (apologies for any misspellings).
Front row, l to r:
Jimmy Moore, Betty Nell Haynes, Jack Castellaw, Dotty Cook, ?, Beverly Herring, Louis Sellari, Bill Drumwright, Charles Faulkner, Thelma Klyce, Carolyn Whitten, O.C. Timbes, Billy Grantham
Second row, l to r:
Myra Jo Thornton, Ruth Elder Moses, Burn Drake, ?, Mary Head, Willette Shaw (teacher), Mary Ann Ragland, Earl Williams, Walter Duffery, Jack Harwood, Jr.
By tracking down a few of those listed, I can determine most of these children were born between 1924 and 1926 and they look to be around age eight to ten so I assume the photo was taken mid-1930s.

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Jack Moody Castellaw

That helped make it easy to identify Jack Moody Castellaw who was born July 3, 1925.

Jack was the son of Lloyd Moody Castellaw and Lavenia Jones Castellaw,
the grandson of Thomas Jefferson Castellaw and Helen Moody Castellaw,
the great-grandson of Jeremiah Fletcher Castellaw and Mary Aurella Blaydes Castellaw and
the second great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson Castellaw and Mary Elizabeth Cole Castellaw.

His second great-grandparents were my third great-grandparents, therefore he and I are second cousins, two times removed.

It's hard to believe I've been blogging this long but back on Nov. 27, 2010, I wrote quite a bit about Jack's grandparents migrating to Texas and then back to Haywood County. After returning, they built a house across from Holly Grove Baptist Church and the school that was on the corner of Poplar Corner and Dr. Hess Road. They were also members of that church and he was a magistrate.

Jack Moody Castellaw grew up and married Laura Elizabeth Martindale. She had children when they married and it does not appear that they had any additional children. She worked for Union Planters National Bank and they were members of Cherokee Baptist Church. She died at the age of 77 in 2002 and he died at the age of 84 in 2010. They were buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Brownsville.

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Earl Williams

The other young man that was possibly a distant relative was Earl Williams. My uncle's name was Jesse Earl Williams so I was hopeful there would be a possible family connection. After a little research, it seems likely that Earl was the son of Henry Williams. According to the census records, in 1935 Earl was in the third grade and lived around the corner from the school on Cooper Street along with his brothers, Orville and Eugene. There was no mother listed in the home and Earl's father was a bricklayer and was born in Kentucky. So Earl and I are not likely from the same family line.

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Class at Anderson Grammer School

There was another photo from the same school. The only person identified is the teacher, Grace Russell.  Sadly, Grace died on July 10, 1936 at just 38 years old so I know the photo was taken at least before then.

None of the other children are identified so if anyone knows who any of them are, please let me know.

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

King William County Courthouse

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Hanging with a BFTA (Benjamin Franklin Tribute Artist)
at Colonial Williamburg

My family and I just returned from Williamsburg, Virginia where we enjoyed the traditional "colonial" tourist experiences at Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown along with the rides at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA and the history of The College of William & Mary.

Being a fan of historic road trips as I am, and still trying to sort out that possible family connection with the college, it was a fun experience and we all learned a thing or two. However, one of the more interesting discoveries took place on the way home when we took a shortcut to avoid some of the notorious I-95 traffic.

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Historic Marker at King William County Courthouse

We stumbled across the King William County Courthouse. Originally constructed in 1725, it's the oldest courthouse still being used in the United States. Prince William County and the surrounding area was once part of the land used by the Algonquian tribes and led by Powhatan, the father of Pocahontas.

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In addition to being the oldest courthouse, it's also said to be the oldest public building in use in Virginia.

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When we returned home, I spent a little time online and learned the building was built of brick laid in Flemish bond and is considered one of the best examples around of colonial masonry still in existence.

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In the middle of the lawn is a Civil War monument dedicated "to our soldiers of the confederacy."

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Commemorative plaque dedicated to Henry Fox

In 1702 Henry Fox and Richard Littlepage donated two acres for the courthouse and Fox later became the first sheriff. According to "Genealogies of Virginia," the home of Fox and his wife, Anne West, was a plantation called Huntington on the Mattaponi River. Although the original location of the house is known, no remnants remain and even the tombstones in the family graveyard are gone. Fox may be gone but he is not forgotten. A commemorative plaque was placed at the courthouse by his descendants at the 250th anniversary celebration of King William County on April 27, 1952. 

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

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Haywood County History Museum

I was recently working on a project and needed a little Haywood County, Tennessee history lesson so Sonia Outlaw-Clark helped arrange an afternoon at the Haywood County History Museum with Lynn Shaw, the official county historian. Sonia runs the must-see West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center just off Exit 56 in Brownsville and we also share several mutual Haywood County ancestors.

I wasn't sure what to expect at the Haywood County History Museum but left blown away.

Of course, it helped that I was exploring my own personal heritage about which I have an obvious interest, but anyone fascinated with the history of West Tennessee could spend hours exploring the rooms of the museum.

Open since 1991, it's operated by the Haywood County Historical Society and is managed by volunteers. Below is just a small sample of what's inside.

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The Haywood County History Museum

The museum is located at 127 N. Grand Avenue in Brownsville in a building that was originally the Brownsville Baptist Female College. It later became the Haywood County High School.

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Previous graduating classes from Haywood County High School

As you enter the second floor of the museum where the actual artifacts are on display, you can check out framed photos of graduating classes from the high school. I recognized many family friends and relatives, including my own parents.

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My mother and father, Shirley Lovelace and Bobby Williams
(center left and right) in their Haywood County High School senior pictures.

Sports has always been an important part of the culture and history of Brownsville, Tennessee and is well-represented in the museum with photos, newspaper articles, and actual artifacts from generations of Haywood County athletics.

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Sports Memorabilia at the Haywood
County History Museum

Yes, Haywood County is the home of Tina Turner and Sleepy John Estes but it's also where Tony Delk and Rockey Felker learned to play.

During his career, Delk was a professional basketball player and a college assistant coach. He was team leader of the 1996 University of Kentucky Wildcats team that won the 1996 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. After college, he played for seven NBA teams over ten seasons and he's currently the president of the Taylor Delk Sickle Cell Foundation.

Felker was the quarterback of the 1974 Mississippi State University football team which defeated North Carolina in the Sun Bowl and is currently director of player personnel for Mississippi State.

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1929 Haywood Highschool Basketball Team

Top row, l to r : Robert Smith, Leslie Cain, Clarence Berson
Glen Scott, and Charles Sherman
Second Row, l to r: Marshall Mulherin, Milton Wilson, unknown,
and Joe Mulherin
Bottom row, l to r: John Chambers, Jr., John Woodson Keathley,
Bob Berson, and Craig White

The young Haywood County High School players in this photo look like they could have been hitting the court last week. However, if any of these players were alive today, they would be a little over 100.

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Gas pump from Mr. Lawrence
Cobb's Grocery Store

This artifact also has a personal connection for me. It's the first Stewart and Sons gas pump in Haywood County and was installed at Mr. Lawrence Cobb's grocery store in 1947. It was just down the road from my Lovelace grandparents' house and many times I walked or rode a bike with my aunts, Darlene and Dawn, to his store to get one of those sour, powdery suckers. An avid television watcher, I remember always being struck by how much being in that store made me feel like I was on The Waltons.

Lawrence Cobb was a son of Simeon Amherst Cobb who was a brother of William Thomas Cobb, my second great grandfather. Lawrence Cobb was included in a blog entry from February 2011 that featured photos of a previous Cobb Family Cemetery clean up day.

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The Post Office at Jones Station

Another small exhibit that was really fun to see in person was the Jones Station Post Office. Because of so many family connections, I have blogged about the town and post office many times so it was especially fun to see a bit of it in person.

Many of my Booth and Castellaw ancestors in the late 1800s and early 1900s lived at Jones Station. It was located next to the Holly Grove Community on the north end of Dr. Hess Rd. The post office was opened in 1869.

The exhibit was donated to the museum by Marilyn Booth in memory of Vernon C. Booth who was the postmaster from 1914 until his retirement in 1945 and Olive M. Booth, who was the postmaster from 1946 until it closed in 1953.

Photo/Harrell Clement
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R. A. White and "Doc," 1904

Included in the Jones Station exhibit is a photo of R. A. White in 1904 delivering the mail on his horse, Doc. The White and Booth families became connected through marriage when William G. "Billy" Booth married Mary Elizabeth "Eliza" White in the mid-1850s. They were the parents of my second great-grandmother, Lena Booth Brantley.

Photo/Harrell Clement
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Vernon C. Booth and Jim Watridge, 1904

It's likely the Jim Watridge included in this photo in the exhibit with Vernon Booth, was the son of William Henry Watridge and his wife, Zilpha Elizabeth Castellaw and the grandson of James Watridge, my third great grandfather.

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Official Haywood County Historian, Lynn Shaw

It was especially fun getting to tour the museum with Haywood County historian, Lynn Shaw. He has been instrumental in preserving the history and stories of the county and in the creation of the museum.

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A portion of the Wilmot School

The Wilmot School, named after Wilmot Curlin, was a one-room school house on Estanaula Road in the southeastern part of Haywood County near the border of Madison County. In the list of teachers I quickly recognized several names from my family tree including Mary Bond, Jessie Mae Reid Castellaw and Eunice Joyner. The school closed in 1949.

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Bust of Hiram Bradford sculpted by Tommy Lynn

Of course, the Civil War was a big part of the history of Haywood County. The museum currently includes an exhibit of busts created by photographer and sculptor, Tommy Lynn.

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A reunion of The Bridge Company, C. S. A., around 1900

Another interesting photo that caught my eye was from a reunion of The Bridge Company that took place around 1900. In 1861, early in the Civil War, this company was formed to guard the railroad bridge over the the Big Hatchie River which was very close to Brownsville. This bridge was the primary connection between Memphis and the Confederate army so it was crucial for both supplies and information going back and forth.

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Men of the Bridge Company

The men were mostly older or married so were not among the first to join the actual fighting. They furnished their own horses, uniforms and rations and protected the bridge until the route was no longer used by the Confederates. In June 1862, the men burned the bridge down and disbanded. 

According to a notation with the photo in the museum, an article about the company written around the time of the reunion in 1900 concluded with the lines, "They were well worthy of the honor and respect accorded to veterans of the lost cause."

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Neon sign from the Ritz Theater

Ask my father about the Ritz Theater and he'll tell you about one of the few times his family spent the money to go to a movie theater when he was a boy. The theater had advertised a rare personal appearance by Lash LaRue.

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Lash LaRue

LaRue was a popular cowboy star famous for tricks performed with a whip. Apparently, LaRue didn't bring his A game to the Ritz Theater in Brownsville that day and my Dad remembers being disappointed. At the very least, he had hoped to see the cowboy cut a cigarette in half while in someone's mouth. He had to leave without even getting an autograph.

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An assortment of Haywood County artifacts

I really appreciate all those who worked so hard to preserve the history of the county for future generations. I believe you currently need an appointment to see the museum for yourself and, according to the Tennessee Tourism website, you can get more information by emailing The Brownsville Chamber of Commerce or by calling (731) 772-4883. 

I highly recommend you check it out for yourself if you can.

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