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.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Celebrating the Fourth of July exploring our family connection to the Star-Spangled Banner

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Graves of Dr. William and Sarah Beanes

My niece and her fiance are visiting us for the week so we decided to celebrate Independence Day with a family road trip to find the grave of Dr. William Beanes. He is a very distant ancestor who played a role in the writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner." His story was one of my very first blog entries back in 2010.

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Although our family connection to Dr. Beanes is distant, it's still a fun way to explore and learn more about our national anthem. Our connection is through the Marbury family in my maternal line:
  • My mother was Shirley Lovelace Williams
  • Her mother was Virginia Brantley Lovelace (1917 - 2007)
  • Her mother was Allie Marbury Brantley (1898 - 1995)
  • Her father was Hardy Joyner Marbury (1872 - 1932)
  • His father was Benjamin Franklin Marbury (1849 - 1884) 
  • His father was Robert Green Marbury (1809 - 1904)
  • His father was John Marbury (1783 - after 1850)
  • His father was Leonard Marbury (1759 - 1839)
  • His father was Francis Marbury (around 1730 - around 1800)
  • His father was Leonard Marbury, Sr. (1708 - 1794)
  • His father was Frances Marbury (around 1663 - 1734)
Two of Frances Marbury's sons were Leonard Marbury, Sr. (my eighth great grandfather) and Luke Marbury, Sr. (my eighth great uncle), who was a Colonel in the Revolutionary War.

Leonard and Luke Marbury are said to have been first cousins of Dr. William Beanes (January 24/25, 1749 - ) and his sister, Elizabeth Beanes (although I have not yet found proof they were cousins).

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The Beanes and Marbury families were very close and Luke Marbury eventually married Elizabeth Beanes.

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Small cemetery containing the graves of
Dr. William and Sarah Beanes

Luke Marbury commanded the Lower Battilion of Prince George County's Militia during the Revolutionary War and he and Dr. Beanes fought together. They both engaged with the Maryland troops at The Battle of Long Island and were among the few soldiers from Maryland who survived. They escaped by “swimming across the sound of Long Island.” 
The Patriotic Marylander, 15.

Dr. William Beanes performed the duties of a physician during the Revolutionary War and was married to Sarah Hawkins Hanson (August 12, 1750 - August 15, 1822). She also has an interesting connection to American History as she was the niece of John Hanson who became the president of the First Continental Congress of the newly-formed United States.

In 1814, during the War of 1812, the British army passed through Upper Marlboro, Maryland, the town in which Dr. Beanes was living. The officers used his home as their headquarters because it was "the best in the village." According to "The Bowies and Their Kindred," the officers described Dr. Beanes as "a man of polished manners and high literary attainments."

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Headstones of Dr. William and Sarah Beanes

After burning the United States Capitol, the British soldiers who were passing back through Upper Marboro heard that Dr. Beanes had led a militia that captured some of the British soldiers who had been looting. They beat him, took him prisoner, and held him on one of their ships.

Because he was held in such high esteem in the community, a group which included Frances Scott Key was sent to negotiate his release.  The British were about to attack Fort McHenry when the group reached the ship and, although the British agreed to release Dr. Beanes, no one was allowed to leave until after the battle ended. It came to be known as The Battle of Baltimore

The rest of the story is well known – how in the dawn’s early light, Key, discovering the American flag still floating over the fort was inspired to write what has become our national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner."

Star-Spangled Banner performed by The Isaacs

As William L. Marbury wrote in an article titled "The Seizure and Imprisonment of Dr. Beanes" in the Patriotic Marylander in 1914:

"If Dr. William Beanes, of Upper Marlboro, in Prince George's County, had not been a rather choleric old gentleman, and at the same time a man who by reason of his character and high attainments commanded in a remarkable degree the admiration and affection of his fellow-citizens, the great war song of the Repoblic, the 'Star-Spangled Banner,' would never have been written."
The Patriotic Marylander, 13.

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Historic markers mounted to the columns at the cemetery.

Finding the cemetery was a little difficult because we weren't sure specifically where it was located. If you decide to check it out, I can now help you. Head to Upper Marlboro and go to the corner of Elm and Water Streets. It sits next to an old abandoned house on which Dr. Beanes' house was originally located.

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Map of Upper Marlboro and the location
of the grave of Dr. William Beanes

Upper Marlboro is a historic town which makes for a very fun visit, especially if you are interested in the Revolutionary War period. 

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Prince George's County Court House

It's the seat of Prince George's County and was first settled around 1695. In addition to the graves of Dr. Beanes and his his wife, you can also explore other historic sites like Darnall's Chance.

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School House Pond, Upper Marlboro, Maryland

You'll also want to be sure to save time to explore School House Pond which is right behind the cemetery. This 12-acre man-made pond includes a boardwalk that's nearly a mile long and is filled with all sorts of wildlife.

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Olde Towne Inn, Upper Marlboro, Maryland

For the ultimate Marlboro experience, be sure to stop by the Olde Towne Inn. We just stumbled upon it and happened to be hungry so we went in for lunch. This is one time when taking a chance paid off. In addition to great food (be sure to order the Maryland crab cakes), the restaurant itself is also a historic site which was recently profiled in "The Washington Post." 

Our little Independence Day road trip paid off big. We found our family connection to the national anthem, hiked along a nature trail, discovered a good restaurant, a spent some family time together; a great day of celebrating our nation's freedom.

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