The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Colbert County

Researching a name like Narmore…

ought to be easy, right? You would think so, and the further back you go the easier it gets because all the variations in spelling seem to dissolve into one – Narramore.

My great-grandmother was Mollie Normour or Naremore or Narmor or Narramore. I started researching her in earnest any number of times, but each time was more frustrating than the last.

Actually there are other misspellings of the surname, but I forget the others. Listen, my children, for you are going to hear (or read) of the tragedy visited upon six of the most helpless of them all. And, it relates to the Narmore (and variant spellings of the same name) descendants everywhere.

I was researching the family of Narramore which connected to my Narmore lineage. Every minute since I discovered this unthinkable event, I have worried over these six little ones. Your line of Narmore’s may not even be connected with this line, but the story is a tear jerker at any rate. Get a tissue, you will wad it up, I promise you.

First, let us target the only happy part of the tragedy. In 2002, August 4th to be exact, a granite memorial marker was placed and dedicated to the six Narramore children in the Riverside Cemetery in Barre, Massachusetts. The ceremony was attended by approximately three dozen. In the audience was the town historian, members of the Barre Historical Society, local politicians, and the Massachusetts Secretary of State. The six precious souls were laid to rest in pauper’s graves without even a gravemarker. The group gathered to remember the six slain children . The crowd dignified the existence of these six little souls with the gathering and placed a fitting memorial marker to document their short little lives. Two musicians played a flute duet for the occasion.

On 21 March 1901 in Coldbrook Springs, sometime in the early afternoon, Lizzie Naramore killed her six children one by one. She began with the oldest and proceeded one by one to the youngest child. One by one she banged and chopped these precious souls to an unrecognizable condition using a club and an ax in the kitchen of the family home. She then, took a knife to slice her throat, but the cut was not severe enough to cause death.

Elizabeth Ann “Lizzie” Craig Narramore  made a plea of guilty in Worcester Superior Court to the murder of her eldest child, daughter Ethel Marion Narramore, age 9. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Mrs. Narramore was sentenced to life in the state hospital in Worcester. After serving a short five year sentence in the asylum, on 30 November 1906, she was decreed to be sane and released.

I have done considerable research on this family and their forebears. Elizabeth Craig Naramore was a native of St. Andrews, New Brunswick, which is in Canada. Promotions for the area say that “everything about our town is special, including our status as a National Historic District, one of the oldest and loveliest in the Maritimes. St. Andrews is a treasure trove of beautiful architecture, unparalleled scenery and rich marine life; and our streets remain steeped in turn-of-the-century charm”. St. Andrews sounds like a place one would hesitate to leave.

At the age of 19 she met and married Frank Lucius Narramore, born in Winchester, New Hampshire, but of Baldwinville, Massachusetts. It appears her friends and family were opposed to the match. Frank and Lizzie married 25 Oct 1890 in Templeton, Massachusetts. The couple removed to Coldbrook Springs, near the town of Barre in central Massachusetts.

Mrs. Naramore was described as a hard worker and a loving mother. Husband Frank Narramore, who worked at the nearby Parker Lumber Company, was a well paid worker but also dependably undependable, abusive, and a womanizer. While Frank wasted the money he earned, Lizzie and their six children lived in poverty.

The children were young. These angels’ names were:

Ethel Marion Narramore, age 9;

Charles Edward Narramore, age 7;

Walter Craig Narramore, age 5;

Chester Irving Narramore, age 4;

Elizabeth Narramore, age 3; and

Lena Blanche Narramore, age 12 months.
A  little distant in time, but  before the massacre, Lizzie reached out to the Overseers of the Poor in Baldwinville for assistance. When the overseers visited the Narramore home they determined that the Narramore’s situation was dire to the extreme. Because of the dilapidated condition of the home and the absence of food for the children or family, the decision was made to take the children away from the parents. Five of the children were to be placed with foster families and the youngest, an infant, would be sheltered at a poorhouse in Holden, Massachusetts.

Before the authorities were able to take her children away Lizzie made  preparations  and then killed them one by one and then tried to kill herself. She survived the suicide attempt though there was a cut to her throat. Lizzie Narramore made a plea guilty to the murder of her oldest child Ethel Marion Narramore. There was never  a trial  for the murders of the other children.

Elizabeth Naramore was committed to the state mental asylum. After her release she left central Massachusetts to work as a clerk in a Boston department store, returning once in 1907 to visit the graves of her children. Frank Naramore left Barre after the children’s funeral and the subsequent trial of his wife. There are reports that he was never heard from again; and for sure the townspeople likely never wanted to  hear from him again. In hindsight, he was in plain sight. In 1930 he was a roomer, at age 67, in the household of Charles H Voller with Voller’s  wife, and two daughters. They lived on the last house on Congress Street in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1931 he was in the city directory in Worcester and listed as a carpenter. He died in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1936, but no grave-site has been found.

At the funeral for the children, the Reverend Charles Talmage, pastor of the Barre Congregational Church, gave an impassioned speech which placed the blame for the situation squarely on Frank Narramore as an abusive father and the community at large for turning a blind eye to all but criminal home situation for those six precious souls. I don’t know, but I do fairly believe that I would have taken an ax and a club to a no good for nothing husband rather than my precious kids.

Below is the newspaper article about it in the Arizona Republic; published 22 March 1921.

 

How many whacks with an ax and club did Lizzie deliver?

How many whacks with an ax and club did Lizzie deliver?

References:

Arizona Republic, Article: “An Insane Mother Sacrifices Her Offspring”, daily newspaper, front page, 22 March 1921.

Bradford L. Miner. (2002, June 30). A final tribute ; Six slain children will be forgotten no longer. Telegram & Gazette,p. A1. Retrieved 18 July 2014, from Massachusetts Newsstand. (Document ID: 130795151).

Bradford L. Miner. (2002, August 5). A town bears witness ; Barre memorial honors six slain children: Telegram & Gazette,p. B1. Retrieved 18 July 2014, from Massachusetts Newsstand. (Document ID: 146878981).

 

 


A 1930 Isbell family reunion photo…

shows descendants of Levi Isbell at the 1930 family reunion at the Isbell home on Main Street, Albertville, Alabama. The home was later demolished but stood on the court house square across the street from the court house. Levi Isbell was the brother of our James Isbell. Levi Isbell married Sarah “Sallie” Birdwell and James Isbell married her sister Elizabeth Birdwell. James and Elizabeth Isbell are my third great-grandparents on my Murray line. The Murrays who married Isbells moved from around Paint Rock and Larkinsville in Jackson County, Alabama sometime between 1865-1870 to Colbert County, then Franklin County, Alabama.

1930 Isbell Reunion at home of Levi Isbell


Peebles and Box family photos

This photo montage of Box and Peebles family members is wonderful.


Another reflection of our past…

this is a 1933 photo of the Sheffield, Alabama downtown area.

Photo of downtown Sheffield Alabama in 1933


Sometimes the little bit you do know makes you want to cry…

about someone.

This is the emotion evoked when one thinks back on Fannie Tolbert. Fannie Tolbert was born 2 March 1908. On the 1910 census her age is given as 6; there are other discrepancies in the birth year of other children on the same census record. The information on official documents is only as accurate as the person giving the information.

Fannie Tolbert was the eighth child of nine known children born to Elizabeth Anna Garth Rachel Matilda Terry Tolbert and husband Joseph Calvin Tolbert. The Tolbert name was originally spelled Talbert, which would denote tallow or candle maker. Over the decades it has many variant spellings to include Tabutt, Talbot, Tolbut, Talburt, etc.

After so many years researching and trying to locate Fannie, her whereabouts is now known. And I ponder as to whether the family ever knew what became of her.  I am pretty sure that my grandmother Drue Tolbert Peebles, her sister, never knew and that fact might have brought her comfort now. She always called her Sister Fannie.

Fannie Tolbert married first to William POLK Peebles. Polk Peebles was a brother to my granddaddy, Robert Duncan Peebles. Tolbert sisters married Peebles brothers.  Polk and Fannie had two girls. Mother talked of them often and had a high regard for the two sisters. She called them Red and Bobbie. Their names were actually Pauline and Louise Tolbert. At some point Fannie and Polk Peebles divorced, but no record has been found to date, but had to be prior to 1920.

Polk Peebles married a second time to Hortensia “Teanie” Terry. That marriage took place 21 November 1927 at Leighton, Colbert County, Alabama. They had several children: Dorothy Jean, Dwight,  Linda, Lou Ella, William Thomas, Cleora “Cleeter”,  Linnie Dee, Coleman Lee, Floyd, Doris Ann, and Beverly Joan.

It seems that no one today can add any info on Fannie or what became of her.  Both of her daughters have passed on. Fannie married a Henry Chastain the second time. Her death came at a tender age. She was just 30 years 8 months and 16 days old at her death on 18 Nov 1938. Her death certificate proves a heartache for family and friends.

Fannie Tolbert Peebles Chastain died at Lookout Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee of her own hand. She was poisoned with bichloride. Verification that it is Fannie Tolbert Chastain comes from information extracted from her death certificate:

Name:Fannie Chastain

Spouse:Henery Chastain

Father:J C Tolbert, born Alabama

Mother: Lizzie Terry, born Alabama

Birth:abt 1908

Death:18 Nov 1938 in Chattanooga, Hamilton, Tennessee; she died in the am

Death: suicide in the city at a hotel

She was under a doctor’s care from 2 November to 18 November 1938. That brings to mind, was she suffering from a terminal disease or other ailment? She was buried 20 November 1938 in Memorial Cemetery in Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee. The only Memorial cemetery found in Chattanooga was Chattanooga Memorial Cemetery. A memorial in her honor has been placed on Find-A-Grave online.

Tennessee, Deaths and Burials Index, 1874-1955 verifies the info give in the death death certificate in Tennessee.

Name: Fannie Chastain
[Fannie Tolbert]
Birth Date: abt 1908
Age: 30
Death Date: 18 Nov 1938
Death Place: Chattanooga, Hamilton, Tennessee
Gender: Female
Marital Status: Married
Father’s Name: J C Tolbert
Mother’s name: Lizzie Terry
Spouse’s Name: HeneryChastain
FHL Film Number: 1876868

Photo of the death certificate for Fannie Tolbert Chastain


Old photos are real…

treasures. No matter their size or condition, they are real treasures that can not be replicated.

Here is a real treasure for those who are descendants of the Box family.

Photo of Miles PINKney Box and unknown man


Harry Peebles…

seems to have been very loved. There was a memorial published in a local paper that looked like an obituary, but read more like celebration of his life. Wouldn’t it be lovely if everyone could be this well thought of after death?

Harry was one of Maj and Willie Viola Casey Peebles’ children. He was the fifth child and the third son. His siblings were: Robert Duncan Peebles 1898 – 1973, William POLK Peebles 1900 – 1975, Georgie Marie Peebles 1902 – 1982, Lena Preston Peebles 1904 – 1978, Infant Peebles 1909 – 1909, Elmer Louis Peebles 1909 – 1982, Luther Coleman Peebles 1912 – 1997, Jennie Peebles 1914 – 2006, Katie Rebecca Peebles 1918 – 1984, Earline Peebles 1920 – 1997  and Willis Lucas LUKE Peebles 1922 – 1982.
Photo of Harry Peebles and Bessie Terry Peebles


The Rolling Store…

was a part of my mother’s childhood in Colbert County, Alabama. There used to be a store at the corner of Wilson Dam Road and 6th Street. There she and her siblings would take an egg and get penny candy. Or the Rolling Store would come by and an egg would be traded for penny candy. If you look around the 10:00 minute mark you will see the Murphy Brothers Rolling Store that used to traverse the roads in Lauderdale County. This story is among those of the Great Depression:


An Ode to family of my childhood…

is in order. News in the most recent of days send me back into time. Back to a time growing up in Sheffield, Alabama was like living in a Norman Rockwell painting. Good days. Good times. Big family.

My cousin Betty Bassham Porter was found lying on the floor in a coma in her apartment. She was not responding. So right this minute her family is sitting with her waiting for the transfer to hospice. It has been determined that she had a stroke and will not survive. Betty was born in Sheffield, lived in Tuscumbia and Sheffield.  In the 1950s her mother remarried and they moved to Dallas, Texas. The family moved to Arkansas, with some of them migrating to Missouri, mostly in the Springfield area.

The photo montage below is my tribute to a beloved cousin. Family.

Betty Bassham Porter

A little Sheffield, Alabama girl.

 Betty Bassham Porter

Betty Bassham Porter

Family is forever


That Menefee man in Tuscumbia…

English: "The Fall of the Alamo" by ...

“The Fall of the Alamo”  painting

was John Southerland. But his brother George Southerland was business owner and then in partnership with John in Tuscumbia; and their father, John Sutherland is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Tuscumbia. John’s nephew, William DePriest Sutherland attended LaGrange Military Academy before heading to Texas and his name is mentioned in numerous accounts of the events.

The Fall of the Alamo is widely documented that any prominent name associated with it was bound to be accounted for and documented as well. Dr John Sutherland is also associated with The Scrape in Texas history. An account of the fall of the Alamo is written by a granddaughter of John Southerland. Below is a reprint of the copy found at tamu.edu:

The Fall of the Alamo
By Dr. John Sutherland
©1936, The Naylor Company, San Antonio, Texas.

Written in 1860 and now published for the first time an authentic account of that tragic event in the history of Texas compiled from facts known to the author and supported by evidence of others who were witnesses to the siege and fall of the Alamo together with a sketch of the life of the author by his grand-daughter — Annie B. Sutherland.

Sketch of the Life of Dr. John Sutherland

Dr. John Sutherland was born in Virginia May 11, 1792 on Dan River near the site of the present town of Danville.His father Captain John Sutherland, or Sutherlin as the name was then called, was an officer in the Revolutionary War. Of sturdy Highland Scotch descent, his forefathers emigrated to America in the early days of its history.Captain John Sutherland with his family, following the westward trend of emigration, moved from Virginia to Tennessee in 1805 and settled on Clinch River, where he kept a ferry known as Sutherland’s Ferry. At the age of young manhood, John Sutherland, Jr. went to Knoxville where for several years he clerked in a store for a man named Crozier. Later he became a partner in the firm.

Photo of Dr John Sutherland

About 1824 he moved with his family to Decatur, Alabama, where for a time he was president of a bank. After a short time he moved to Tuscumbia, Alabama, and entered into the mercantile business with his brother George. They traveled on horseback to Philadelphia and Baltimore where they bought their merchandise, which was hauled in wagons to Tuscumbia. About 1827-28, through unfortunate business ventures, the firm became financially embarrassed and in 1829 closed up its business.

In December of that year George Sutherland moved to Texas and settled on the Navidad River at a place now in Jackson County. During the winter of 1829-30 several other related families emigrated to Texas and settled in Austin’s Colony, taking out grants of land and establishing homes under the liberal colonization laws governing Texas.

Meanwhile the subject of our sketch remained in Tuscumbia, practicing medicine under the old Thompsonian System. He continued the practice of medicine through the succeeding years of his life, and in the 50’s, when cholera swept through the Southern States, he distinguished himself by discovering a cure for that dread malady, whereby he never lost a case not already in the last stages of the disease. Dr. Sutherland freely passed his great discovery on to other doctors for the relief of suffering humanity.

In December, 1835, Dr. Sutherland, Captain William Patton and several others visited Texas with a view to settling on lands which the Mexican government offered as an inducement to settlers to make homes in Texas.

Arriving at San Felipe they took the oath of allegiance to the new government. They then proceeded toward San Antonio. Meeting General Sam Houston, then in command of the Texian forces, he advised them against going on to San Antonio, saying that he had ordered all troops to fall back east of the Guadalupe River.

The party however went on to San Antonio, arriving there on the 18th of January, 1836. The accompanying account of the “Fall of the Alamo” by Dr. Sutherland gives his connection with that tragic event in the history of Texas.

After the fall of the Alamo, General Houston sent messages by Dr. Sutherland to President David G. Burnet after which President Burnet appointed him one of his aides-de-camp, sending him a written order 1 to facilitate the retirement of the women and children over Groce’s Ferry to the east side of the Brazos River. Having accomplished this mission, Dr. Sutherland returned to Harrisburg, when President Burnet appointed him his private secretary, which position he held until after the battle of San Jacinto and peace was assured. Then he returned to his family in Tuscumbia, Alabama. In the fall of 1837, having closed up his business in Alabama, he brought his family to Texas, reaching the settlement known as Egypt in December. Next year he built a home on the west side of the Colorado River, four miles from Egypt, where he lived until the fall of 1849, when he moved to what is now known as Wilson County, settling near the Sulphur Springs on the Cibolo River. He was the founder and proprietor and first post master of the little town of Sutherland Springs. A lover of education, he encouraged and supported schools in our pioneer State for his own and his neighbor’s children, and when he had provided his children with the best advantages available here, he sent them off to higher institutions of learning. A devout Christian from early manhood, he gave freely of his substance to the building of churches and the support of the ministry. His house was ever the retreat of the wayfarer and the welcoming home of the homeless and needy. He died at his home at Sutherland Springs, April 11, 1867, at the age of seventy-four years and eleven months and is buried in the Sutherland family lot in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery which was a gift from himself to the town. Over his grave and that of his third wife, his surviving children erected a substantial monument. He died as he had lived, a pioneer, a patriot, a Christian gentleman. This sketch of his life is affectionately dedicated to his memory by his grand-daughter.

Annie B. Sutherland

 

This John Sutherland was one of the sons of the John Southerland who is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Tuscumbia; and the sister of our Agnes Sutherland Menefee. Dr John Southerland married as his second wife a girl from Cherokee, Ann Bryan Lane 1800 – 1840. Their children were: George Quinn Sutherland 1829 – 1869, Levin Lane Sutherland  1832 –  , Jack Sutherland 1838 – 1922 and Margaret Ann Sutherland who was born and died 1840. Next comes an excerpt from a writing about Sutherland Springs, Texas:

One cannot read about, speak about or visit Sutherland Springs, Texas  without running into the name of Dr. John Sutherland. The Sutherland’s ancestry can be linked to castle Dunrobin in the northern most county of Scotland. Very fitting is the Sutherland clan’s motto “Sans Peur” or “without fear.” John was born to a Revolutionary war captain in 1792 in Danville, Virginia. In 1805 the Sutherland family was on the move to Tenessee where John’s father worked on a ferry on the Clinch River. John entered the working life of a store clerk, working his way up very quickly. In 1816 he married Diane Kennedy and moved to Decatur, Alabama. By 1824 he was the president of a bank. The bank failed miserably and in 1826 John and his family moved to Tuscumbia, Alabama to form a partnership in a small merchantile with his brother George. Again John’s business failed, feeling a little beat, George left Alabama and joined Austin’s Colony with an eye to homestead for the both of them. John stayed in Tuscumbia.

 In 1827, John’s wife Diane passed away. John was left alone. Determined to take care of his aging father and daughter, he began attending medical school. He had a facination with treating disease with steam and local herbs.

 John married Ann Bryant Lane, opened a practice in Tuscumbia and was doing well for his family, but Texas called to him. He was again on the move on December 12, 1835. He swore allegiance to Texas and became a citizen. He was joined by his brother George’s son William and headed off to the Alamo to help the sick. While out riding he was injured and could not fight, so Col. Travis sent him to bring help, but he returned too late. Lying among the dead was his nephew William De Trest Sutherland. After the Revolution, John settled in Egypt. Then, his second wife died in 1840. In the mid 1840’s John married his third wife Ann Dickson and in 1849, they moved into present day Sutherland Springs.

 John immediately recognized the powers of the springs and set up shop. Though he did not attain great wealth he did establish the postal service of Sutherland Springs, (coincidentally the longest continuously running post office in Texas). He became Postmaster, Justice of the Peace and opened the first school and platted the townsite, all the while practicing medicine.


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