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

Colbert County

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.


Precious are the memories…

even if only in the form of a photograph. Lee Murray and Buddy Jackson have shared information and this photo on our shared Murray lines. My third great-grandfather, John M Murray, and his parentage is still a brick wall for all of us researchers. But it seems in the electronic age that more sharing is possible without travel. John M Murray was one of the north Alabamians who joined with Andrew Jackson in the fight with the native Americans in the Creek War (often referred to as the War of 1812). The most famous battle remembered from that conflict is the Battle at Horseshoe Bend.

John M Murray died at Vance’s Station according to his obituary. He was 99 years of age at death. He had survived several wives and had more than one set of children. His last wife was Jane Pierson/Pearson who was much his junior. She drew a widow’s pension from his war experience. One of their sons was named Marshall Winchester Murray. The photo below shows possessions of John M Murray and others that belonged to his son Marshall. The powder gourd, hunting horn, wooden box and shoe repair belonged to John Murray.  The rest belonged to his son Marshall.  The wooden box is cut out of a single piece of wood with leather hinges.  He kept his tax papers in it. This photo of their treasures means as much to me as does the plug of tobacco that was left by my great-grandfather, Levi Murray.

Photo of John M Murray and Marshall W Murray possessions


So there are people other than me working on family history…

and a nice surprise came in my email today. Family researchers on collateral lines to my Murray family are now participating in DNA research as well. One of them sent me this photo of a railway ticket that one of our ancestors bought in 1863. A cousin in Birmingham has the original. It is a ticket that James T Murray purchased in 1863. He died that same year. He died while serving as a  the War Between the States as did his brother-in-law, John Lawrence, He was but 30 years old. He left a wife and five young children, among them a set of twins.

James T Murray was a son of John M Murray who fought with Andrew Jackson in the Creek War aka the War of 1812. John M Murray was my great-great-grandfather on my paternal side. James Thomas Murray served in the same Company during the War Between the States as did the husband of his sister Sarah Ann Rebecca Murray Lawrence (John Lawrence).  John Lawrence died while being held prisoner of war at Rock Island Prison in Illinois. They both died in the year 1863 and both widows applied for and received Confederate Widow’s pensions. Both served as a Private in Co D of the 6th Regiment of Alabama Volunteers, CSA.  James Thomas Murray’s  wife was Jane Wood Dowdle. His children were: Sarah Elizabeth Murray Lawrence 1854 – 1935, John Robert Murray 1856 – 1938, Mary Jane Murray Wood 1860 – 1928  . William Moore Murray 1860-1904, and David Jefferson Murray 1862-1948. Mary Jane and William Moore Murray were the twins.

Photo of an 1863 railway ticket issued to James T Murray

related posts:

https://rememberingtheshoals.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/bang-bang-bang-again/


Are there any photos of the old Hotel…

near Margerum? At one time Riverton was a thriving little community and there was more to the neighboring communities like Margerum than exists today. This is a photo of what used to be the old Post Office but at the time of this photo it was used as an asphalt and limestone company.
Old Margerum Post Office Building


Luke Willis Peebles World War II enlistment record…

Name: Luke W Peebles
Birth Year: 1922
Race: White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: Alabama
State of Residence: Alabama
County or City: Lawrence
Enlistment Date: 6 Dec 1945
Branch: Air Corps
Branch Code: Air Corps
Grade: Private First Class
Grade Code: Private First Class
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for Hawaiian Department
Component: Regular Army (including Officers, Nurses, Warrant Officers, and Enlisted Men)
Source: Enlisted Man, Philippine Scout or recall to AD of an enlisted man who had been transferred to the ERC
Education: Grammar school
Civil Occupation: Barn bosses
Marital Status: Married
Height: 07
Weight: 636

Luther Coleman Peebles World War II Enlistment Record…

Name: Luther C Peebles
Birth Year: 1912
Race: White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: Alabama
State of Residence: Alabama
County or City: Colbert
Enlistment Date: 14 Mar 1942
Enlistment State: Georgia
Enlistment City: Fort Mcpherson Atlanta
Branch: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Branch Code: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Grade: Private
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source: Civil Life
Education: Grammar school
Civil Occupation: Farm hands, general farms
Marital Status: Married
Height: 69
Weight: 140

Elmer Louis Peebles World War II Enlistment record…

but I do not think his height was 99″ or his weight was 996 lbs. There is some serious transcription error here.

U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 about Elmer L Peebles

Name: Elmer L Peebles
Birth Year: 1909
Race: White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: Alabama
State of Residence: Alabama
County or City: Lawrence
Enlistment Date: 10 Jun 1943
Enlistment State: Alabama
Enlistment City: Fort McClellan
Branch: No branch assignment
Branch Code: No branch assignment
Grade: Private
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source: Civil Life
Education: Grammar school
Civil Occupation: Farm hands, general farms
Marital Status: Married
Height: 99
Weight: 996

World War II enlistment record for James Arlander Murray…

U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 about James A Murray

Name: James A Murray
Birth Year: 1923 [he was born in 1924]
Race: White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: Alabama
State of Residence: Alabama
County or City: Colbert
Enlistment Date: 12 Feb 1942
Enlistment State: Georgia
Enlistment City: Fort Oglethorpe
Branch: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Branch Code: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Grade: Private
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Army of the United States – includes the following: Voluntary enlistments effective December 8, 1941 and thereafter; One year enlistments of National Guardsman whose State enlistment expires while in the Federal Service; Officers appointed in the Army of
Source: Civil Life
Education: 1 year of high school
Civil Occupation: Semiskilled welders and flame cutters
Marital Status: Single, without dependents
Height: 67
Weight: 140

The obituary for Armour Pritchett Barron’s brother…

James (Jim) Pritchett

Funeral services for Jim Pritchett, 24, who died with pneumonia Saturday, April 4, 1931, at a naval hospital at Hampton Roads, Va., where he was an Aviation Machinist Mate 3rd Class, U.S. Navy.

The young man was stricken with pneumonia and succumbed before his father, M.E. Pritchett, reached his bedside. Mr. Pritchett accompanied the body to Linden Wednesday, where burial services were conducted at the Old Linden Cemetery by the Rev. J.C. Phares.

The deceased was a member of the Linden Baptist Church. Active pall bearers were three brothers-in-law, Messrs. Eugene Wynne, John Perkins, Thurston Barron and three boyhood friends, Kimbrough Baty, John Love Wade and Jack Barley.

Surviving besides his father, M.E. Pritchett, and a step-mother, Mrs M. E. Pritchett are two brothers, “Toby” Pritchett of Hampton Roads, Va. and Ev Pritchett of Linden; five sisters, Mrs John Perkins of Anniston, Mrs. Eugene Wynne of Theodore, Ala., Mrs. Thurston Barron of Gadsden, Ala. and Misses Toinette and Tolitha Pritchett of Linden; a half sister, Mary Elizabeth Pritchett,and three half brothers, William Clarence, Henry McDaniel, and Wallace Pritchett of Linden; a grandfather, Mr. James Pritchett of Boligee.

Source: Mrs. G.W.Cuninghame’s (Miss Evie’s) old scrapbookfrom the early 1900s.


Hood Cemetery, where are you?

Looking down Union Avenue. Memphis, TN

English: Looking down Union Avenue. Memphis, Tennessee. Lange, Dorothea, photographer. CREATED/PUBLISHED 1937 June. NOTES Title and other information from caption card.

This was the question on my mind for a number of decades. I knew some of my Vandiver family had been buried in Hood Cemetery and had spent considerable time researching for it. I had the information that included Hood Cemetery, near Warren. It was quite the goose chase.

I finally found it when I asked Aunt Gene Murray Slaton where her grandparents were buried. She was a little over ninety years of age at the time. She was alert and sassy. She still drove and she liked speed. I admired her. Aunt Gene died in April of 2008 at the age of 98.

Alrighty then, it was Hood Cemetery also known as Feathers Chapel Cemetery, near Warren. But this Warren was in Tennessee.

Tyree Glass and Mary Vandiver Glass moved to Somerville, Tennessee as he was a railroad man and he went there to work at the railway station or on the railroad trains. He had worked at the Tuscumbia railway station and then at the Decatur railway station before moving to Somerville to work on the railway station in Memphis. You just must read the article about Tyree Glass and his first wife; a link to this article is at the end of this writing. It is a fascinating read. Mary Vandiver was his second wife.

They took my great-great-grandparents on my father’s side with them. The family had lived at Stouts and Saints Crossroads in what was Franklin County but is now Colbert County for almost forever. Ryland O’Bannon Vandiver was known as Riley Vandiver and his name is sometimes given as Ryland Bannon Vandiver.  Matilda Clementine Allen Vandiver was called Clemmie. Along with the Glasses came Riley and Clemmie Vandiver’s  youngest daughter Walker Vandiver. They resided in Somerville, Fayette County, Tennessee, not far from Memphis where the railroad was located.

I had always felt a lonley twinge in my heart about Miss Walker Vandiver and Miss Evaline Casey. Walker Vandiver was on my paternal side of the family and Evaline Casey was on my maternal side. Neither ever married, and that would seem to make for a very lonely life. Neither have a marked grave. Neither have much to document that they ever lived and breathed the air God provides to everyone.

There were three daughters born to Riley and Clemmie Vandiver. There was daughter Mary E Vandiver who married Robert TYREE Glass as his second wife. There was daughter Minnie E Vandiver who married Sidney NEWT Hunter.  [Newt Hunter's father Ambrose D Hunter served in Co K of the 35th Alabama Regiment during the War Between the States] And there was Lou Ella Vandiver, beautiful Lou Ella Vandiver who married Levi Murray. They were my paternal great-grandparents.

There is one photo of Evaline Casey and mother gave me a good description of her before she left us in 2007. But no one ever shared any information about Miss Walker Vandiver. Walker Riley Vandiver, the youngest daughter of Riley and Clemmie Vandiver lived with her parents all her life and removed to Somerville, Tennessee with them and her sister and brother-in-law. There she lived. There she died. It was just this day that I discovered a tidbit of information about her.

That information came in the form of her death certificate. A copy will follow below. It gave her whole name as Walker Riley Vandiver. It could be supposed that they gave her the Riley name after her father and that there were no sons, but there is no way to know where the Walker name originated. There was a mistake on the death certificate as it states that her mother was Matilda Hurst. Well, it is just a little mistaken since that was not her maiden name. Her maiden name was Matilda Clementine Allen. Her first marriage was to a Hurst. It has not been ascertained what his first name may have been as there are several who could fit in that spot as far as the little information goes to date. It is believed that he was killed during the War Between the States or died shortly after. She had two sons by the Hurst husband, John H Hurst and Arthur Hurst. Matilda or Clemmie as family called her, secondly married to Riley Vandiver.

Rest in peace Miss Walker Riley Vandiver. She died in Somerville, Tennessee and lies at rest at the head of the gravemarker for her parents at the Feathers Chapel Cemetery near Warren in Fayette County, Tennessee. The cemetery is just a pleasant drive from the Shoals area. There is not even a bump now where her body was placed. It is like she never existed.  No pictures. No stories. No memories except for those like me who are willing to turn over heaven and earth to know their family. But, wait, the saddest part will come at the end with the photos of Riley and Clemmie Vandiver’s gravemarkers that are the only thing that would indicate where Miss Walker Riley Vandiver is buried.

Miss Walker Riley Vandiver's death record.

Miss Walker Riley Vandiver’s death record.

Walker Vandiver was born in Franklin, now Colbert County, Alabama in the Saints Crossroads community in January of 1880. She moved with her parents and sister’s family to Somerville, Fayette County, Tennessee after 1910. She never married. She died 9 April 1946 in the community of Warren in Fayette County, Tennessee. She is buried on the ‘Vandiver” side of her parents’ gravemarker in Hood Cemetery in the Feathers Chapel community of Fayette County, Tennessee. She lies in an unmarked grave.The following photos are of the gravemarkers for Riley and Clemmie Vandiver at Feathers Chapel aka Hood Cemetery near Warren, Tennessee. The first time I visited there was with my aunt Alice Murray Thompson and Sue Murray Burden. The markers were in very bad shape at that time. The material they were made from was  not granite as it may have been sold as, and was crumbling from the bottom in the elements. The second time I visited there and took these photos, the deterioration was even more concerning. Chunks of the gravemarkers were gone. And all those who would have cared and taken care of repair or replacement are gone now. Sad. Sigh.

Photo of gravemarker for Riley and Clemmie Vandiver 76799175_131649593514

Miss Walker Riley Vandiver who died 9 April 1946 is buried on this side of her parents’ gravemarker in an unmarked grave.

Related articles: A tragedy, a tragedy… https://rememberingtheshoals.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/a-tragedy-a-tragedy/


So far away but so near in function…

were the kitchens of the plantations in our area of northern Alabama. Or at least the Pond Springs Plantation and the Cunningham Plantation seemed very far from each other in the horse and buggy days. One commonalty of the two plantation homes were their kitchens.


Pond Springs Plantation,  also known as the Joseph Wheeler Home, Hillsboro, Lawrence County, Alabama

The three houses now on the property include a dogtrot or double log cabin possibly built before 1818, a somewhat later two-story Federal-style house (1830′s), and the main wing built around 1872.

This photograph by Alex Bush, 1935 shows the kitchen at Pond Springs located in Lawrence County, Alabama in the Wheeler Basin community was typical of the kitchens of many plantations. Pond Springs originally was owned by the Hickmans who apparently sold their interest in the plantation, known as Pond Spring, to Colonel Benjamin Sherrod, partner in the initial kitchen at pond springspurchase of the property.

Colonel Sherrod was born in Halifax County, NC, migrated first to Georgia, then about 1818 settled in Alabama where he established several cotton plantations throughout the Tennessee River Valley. Sherrod’s own home, Cotton Garden, was located north of the nearby town of Courtland, and it appears that his eldest son, Felix, and his family lived at the Pond Spring place.

The owner of more than 300 slaves, Benjamin Sherrod was an early Alabama tycoon, with extensive and varied business interests. He also served as chief promoter and stockholder of the Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur Railroad, one of the earliest west of the Appalachians.

The Pond Spring plantation passed from Sherrod’s son, Felix, to a grandson, also named Benjamin Sherrod. In 1859, Benjamin married Daniella Jones of nearby Caledonia plantation, and at the time of his premature death in 1861, the plantation became Daniella’s. Daniella (known as Ella) Jones Sherrod, born in 1841,  was the daughter of Richard Harrison Jones and his wife, Lucy Early, who was the daughter of Georgia Governor Peter Early. The Jones family had moved from Georgia to Alabama in 1822.

After Benjamin Sherrod’s death, Daniella returned to her parents’ home. Caledonia, where in the fall of 1863, she met General Joseph Wheeler while he and his troops camped near the Jones home. They were married following the War in 1866. Wheeler moved his family to New Orleans after the War Between the States for four years, then relocated back at Pond Springs where they raised their family of children.


Cunningham Plantation, now known as Barton Hall, located near Cherokee in Colbert County, Alabama

This reproduction of a drawing by Harry J. Frahn, 1937 of the plan of the kitchen at the Cunningham Plantation in Colbert County, Alabama seems typical of plantation kitchens of that day.

Drawing of the kitchen of Cunningham Plantation.These kitchens both, at Pond Springs and at the Cunningham Plantation, include a bedroom, presumably for the cook and her family. Thus confined, the cook was never relieved from work as she faced constant demands from the main house. John White, a former slave from Texas who lived in a kitchen- quarter, remembered that his proximity to the Big House made him a frequent target of his owner’s temper.

English: Cunningham Plantation (Barton Hall), ...
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This is a 1930s photo of the WMSD radio station tower located in Sheffield, Colbert County, Alabama.

WMSD radio tower 1930s


No one knows, no one cares…

no one even remembers many who are buried in unmarked graves. As I live and breathe with every day there comes to my attention more that are buried and forgotten. There are some souls who work hard to remind the world at large that these people walked the earth at one time, just like you.

One of the historians from the Shoals area, Billy Joe Sledge, evidently collects records for those who have not been remembered and whose graves are even lost for the most part. To the point, he has many death records of those who

Photo of the gravemarker for Pink Prentiss Prenticeworked at the nitrate plants in the Shoals area. There seem to be many souls buried in one mass grave on TVA property on the TVA Reservation. For some the only record of their life may be the Alabama Deaths 1908-1974 kept on file at the state level. One of these caught my eye and I did a little further research. That one is Pink Prentiss, who at the young age of 20, lost his life after being admitted to the Air Nitrate Hospital in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. That was the year of the Spanish Flu just after the close of World War I.

John Pinckney Prentice was a tall young man with a medium build, brown hair and eyes as described in a 10 September 1918 WWI draft registration record. His parents were Zachariah F (called Zachy) Prentiss/Prentice  (1873-1950) and Annie Bell Smith Prentiss (1878-1943).  Siblings of Pink were: Lawrence Prentiss, Wade Prentiss, Irene Prentiss Grisham, Otto Prentiss and Murray Prentiss.  We thought it  likely young Pink was buried in a mass grave on the TVA reservation At Muscle Shoals Alabama. A little research proved differently.

There is a monument for Johney Pink Prentiss at Oak Hill Cemetery in Blackland Mississippi. It has a different birthdate, but the info written in the memorial seems to be talking about the same person. Is this an actual grave, or a memorial grave for the same man? Johney Pink Prentiss Memorial?

Grandparents of Pink were: John W Prentiss 1854 – 1928 and Pheba Blaylock Prentiss 1853 – 1933; and  Thomas Smith 1855 – 1891 and Annie E  Goudy Smith 1861 – 1891.  Great-grandparents were: Zacheriah “Zack” Prentiss and Nancy Elizabeth Must Prentiss who dies in 1910. Zack Prentiss died in 1880.

John W Prentiss was born in Shelby County, Alabama. Family notes read that John and wife Pheba, who married in 1873,

English: Large electric phosphate smelting fur...

English: Large electric phosphate smelting furnace used in the making of elemental phosphorus in a TVA chemical plant in the Muscle Shoals area, Alabama. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

separated sometime between the years 1900-1903 for reasons unknown. They are buried in different cemeteries. They had a large family of children, among them, Zachy F Prentiss.

Great-grandparents were: Zacheriah “Zack” Prentiiss 1813- 1870/1880 and Nancy Elizabeth Muse  1822 – 1910. Zack Prentiss was born in Sevier County, Tennessee and Nancy Elizabeth Must Prentiss was born in Alabama, likely in Shelby County. Most all the famiy lived in Mississippi and are buried there. Zack and Nancy Prentiss had a number of children. Two were named for presidents: James Madison Prentiss and Thomas Jefferson Prentiss. Another was named Henry Clay Prentiss but the family called him Harry.

Great-great-grandparents were: James Prentiss 1793 – 1863 and Margaret Pierce Prentiss 1798 – 1862.

Great-great-great-grandparents were: Zachariah Prentiss and Isabella Galloway Prentiss.

So for one who died so young, there was a long legacy in family history that goes from Jamestown Virginia, to Sevier County Tennessee, to Shelby County Alabama, through Muscle Shoals Alabama, and on  to Prentiss County and Tippah County, Mississippi.


Old photos and old memories…

what a combination. This is an old photo of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Someone online referred to this studio and the town being out in the sticks and was incredulous that ‘stars’ would have recorded there. I wonder where they were from.

Fame Recording is in the photo. There is a car wash. A convenience store appears on the left. Does anyone remember the names of the businesses? This was a trip down Memory Lane.

Photo of Muscle Shoals, Alabama decades ago.


Sometimes you just happen across history…

as is the case with this posting by a 1964 graduate of Colbert County High School, Wayne Austin. I just don’t understand why I remember all these people when I was so very young way back then.

Hatton Elementary School, 1957, (East), Colbert County Alabama

HATTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 1958 Graduation of the 6th Grade.
Hatton School was located about 10 miles east of Muscle Shoals Alabama on what was then known as Second Street. A new school building was built around 1970 after integration and the old rock building used for programs such as Head Start. [Wayne Austin 1/25/2004]

Hatton Elementery School 1958 Teachers and Administrators. East Colbert County Alabama.
Left to Right: Sue Striet, Principal from about 1924 to about 1961; Eileen Striet, Teacher of 1st & 2nd grades, Mrs. Simpson, Teacher of 3rd & 4th Grades, Mrs. Earl Gamble teacher of the 5th & 6th Grades. All of the above teachers were related except as far as I know Mrs. Simpson. She came from the nearby Shoals area in the mid 1950s to teach there. Mrs. Gamble and Eileen Striet were probably sisters and Sue was related someway from the previous generation probably the mother of Eileen and Sue. They lived in the Brick Presbyterian Church Community and are all buried there in the church yard cemetery today Feb 2004. In some sense these ladies were a part of the old south tradition that resulted from the large farmer land-owner culture. They were descendents or married into the descendents of the old Striet place and the historic Presbyterian Brick Church families of the area. The Striet place was an 1800s farm located one mile to the south of this school and has a unique Civil War history. Story goes that this large old antebellum home was spared by the federals because there was a star on the upper crest of the home. The federals used it as a hospital instead of burning it. The old home stood for many years being occupied by the ancestors of the Striet ladies above who preceded earlier families going back well into the early 1800s. It finally collapsed under its own weight from neglect and ruin beginning about 1955. Today parts of the home lie decaying on the ground.

Hatton Elementary Graduation from the 6th grade 1958. Wayne Austin is standing and reading the Gettysburg Address when he should have been quoting it. He (I) can well remember that I had it memorized. The paper was probably a reflection of shyness and a method of hiding from the crowd. Left to right: others; Jim Peden (back); Gloria Davenport (front); Sam Aday (back row), Billy Chaney (front); Wayne Austin (Standing); Joan Rutherford seated in front and partially blocked by Wayne; Truman Collier (front & deceased), Rodney Hamby (back & completely blocked behind Truman); Betty McGregor (front); Cathy Ledlow (just to the right behind Betty, deceased).

Mrs. Earl Gamble presenting award to Gloria Davenport; Left to Right: Sam Aday (back), Billy Chaney (front, deceased),
Joan (Rutherford) Bogle (front), ______(behind Joan), Truman Collier (front) Rodney Hamby(behind and just the left of Truman), Gloria (Davenport) Johnson (excepting award or grad. certificate) and Betty McGregor (seated), Mrs. Earl Gamble making presentation. Notice in these photos how attentive these little kids in the audience are whom I am unable to identify from the back of their heads. It is like some major event worthy of their full attention.

Left to right: Johnnie Rutledge, ______ girl unknown, Wayne Austin (front), Jim Peden (back), Gloria Davenport (front), Sam Aday (back), Billy Chaney (front), Joan Rutherford (front), Truman Collier (front), Rodney Hamby (behind Truman not visible), Betty McGregor (front), Cathy Ledlow (behind Betty, unseen). The kids in the audience no doubt contained the other five children of Paul & Ruby Lee (Barlar) Austin. I see the back of the head of Warren the eldest son. His ears stick out at the top and just to his right is probably the younger brother Ernie. One can only see part of he right side of his head. Notice the one little girl from behind who is sitting in a chair without the back support. She is making the best of it by wrapping her arm behind her back to serve as a cushion. This would have been photographed in May of 1958. Photography by the Mother or Dad of Gloria Davenport. The writer received these photos from Gloria via her son Ashley Johnson who digitized them for publication. [Wayne Austin 1/25/2004]

Joan (Rutherford) Bogle making her presentation. Believe the little girl in the back row of the audience who turned around is Amere Austin. If so the little blond gal to Amere’s left is Mary Austin her sister.

Rodney Hamby making presentation.

Betty McGregor making presentation.

Hatton School Building – photo graphically restored to look similar to the old school I remember in the 1950s.
Wayne Austin November 28, 2005.

In another posting, Wayne Austin, gives this report of neighbors near the homestead of his Austin family on Hatton School Road:


From Hatton School going south the first family were the Peden family about 500 yards down on the left coming south. He drove the Hatton School Bus for a number of years. If a student misbehaved in those days he would put them off the bus and let them walk home no matter how far. Yes, yours truly was one of the misbehaving trudgers one time, but only one time, because that is all it took.

Next and almost across the road was the farm of George Oldham. This was a home built probably in the 1890s. In a freak accident George’s wife was run over by a road grader. George was so despondent that he also ended his life leaving this house vacant and after many years fallen down.
Another 200 yards on the right was a frame house that sat next to the road where the son of George Oldham ,Virgil Oldham lived for a time until he built a new house in the Brick Church neighborhood. Hillard & Joyce Hatton lived there for a time early in their marriage.

Next house was a small frame house on the right back off the road. It was at one time an old sharecropper rental residence. The people that live there the longest were the Peden family possibly related to the first Peden family mentioned above. Jim the son was in fifth grade at Hatton Elementary School in 1956. Later Fitz Newson (black) the grandfather (I think) of the star Alabama tight end (Ozzie Newson) and later Pro-football player lived for a time there (Fitz) when times were hard for that family. Next house was the the nice home of the Sam Streit family. At one time the kin of  this family owned the Streit Dairy Products in Sheffield Al. Later the Simmons family owned this home and ran the Simmons Tire company on 2nd street in Sheffield during the 1960s & 1970s. About 300 yards further down the road and across the street was a stately old mansion of about 5,000 square feet with 20 feet ceilings. It was an old Antebellum home they say built in the 1840s.

Next back on the other side of Hatton School Road was the home of the Posey family.  I don’t believe they had any children Charles Ray Posey worked for Robbins tile company on 6th Street in Tuscumbia, AL and he enjoyed all night stints at hunting raccoons using coon hounds.

The next house was on the right was the house displayed above as the Austin house but it actually fronted on Jarmon Lane.
The next family was a black family on the left that I do not remember the surname, but I believe he had two or three young sons.

The next family was the James Family farm. They reared 4 or five children. The father was killed by a drunk driver in a traffic accident at Underwood Crossroads (2nd Street & County Lind Road) about 1951. Albert Streit witnessed that accident and described it this way: “My family witnessed the death of the James family father. .  We were going to church on a Sunday morning and their truck was a about 200 yards ahead of us. The father was riding in the back of the truck, standing up. They were heading west on second street road. As they were turning right to head north a vehicle occupied by a drunk driver came from the south and hit their truck throwing the father out of the truck. They were en-route to the Ford City Baptist Church. 

The children were: 1. Blanton, 2. Paul, 3. Kay and 4. Douglas (Doug), Kay was homecoming queen at Colbert County Hi School in 1962. Members of the James’s family were very personable and talented folks, but they were messy housekeepers. 

Next on the right across the street were the Crittendon family  who moved there in the mid 1950s. Jerry Lee was the eldest son and  had a few behavior issues as a youngster. He was always getting into trouble with authorities but I don’t recall any major problems with the law. His sister Jo-Ann was just the opposite always in control. I believe there were a young set of twin boys living there in the late 1950s early 1960s. The father was strict and domineering & I don’t recall the name.
Last house was the Grissom family. They lived on the right at the intersection of Hatton School Road and 6th Street. Very friendly folks. The lady was always trading flowers with my mom Ruby.  I do not remember any children from this family. They might have been older.

I do not have a recollection of the black families that lived down Jarmon Lane in the 1950s Except for our neighbors the Cobb family, the balance of them kept to themselves. There was one Jarmon family that had something over 15 kids that lived down that lane.


Does anyone recognize exactly where in Florence, Alabama…

this photo may have been taken?

This is William Roscoe McDougal, son of Annie Mae Hand and William Carroll McDougal. The information with the photo says Florence, AL. The girl with him is possibly Lillian Katherine McDonald who became his wife in 1949. William Roscoe was born 3 October 1929 in Colbert County, Alabama. He died 24 August 2003 in Mishawaka, Indiana.

W R McDougal lived in Colbert County where he was born ; then lived at Woodland in Lauderdale County. Annie Mae Hand is the daughter of James Henry Hand and Welthy Ann Alizabeth Pace Hand. He moved to Indiana after 1949 and lived in Mishawaka, St Joseph County, Indiana until his death. He is known to have been in Indiana as early as 1980, but likely before that. More information on the photo and the people would be welcomed.

James Henry “Jim” Hand and Welthy Ann Hand were also the parents of William Riley Hand. William Riley Hand and Josephine Fleming Hand were the parents of Mamie Louanne Hand who married Grady Sledge.

Photo of William Roscoe McDougal


Do you ever wonder what the military men of the past…

think of what is going on in America today? The Shoals area abounds with men and women who have answered their nation’s call, sometimes during war time. We honor all veterans for their service and for protecting our freedom.

Thomas Franklin Woodis is one of those veterans. He served during World War I. Tom enlisted in the Army 6 March 1918 and was released 21 February 1919. He is first row seated on the right in the photograph. He was a very handsome soldier.Photo of Thomas Franklin Woodis in Army during World War I

Tom was born 4 December 1898 in Colbert County, Alabama. The Woodis family lived in Allsboro. Tom Woodis was the child of Charlie Bud Woodis and Lucy Francis McCaig Woodis. He was in a large family of children. His siblings were John Fletcher Woodis, Joseph Andrew Woodis, Charlie H Woodis, Mary Effie Woodis, William Wesley Woodis, Jessie James Woodis, Shelby L Woodis, Roe Harris  Woodis, and Terry Cohal Woodis.

Thomas Franklin Woodis, 90, Route 2, died Thursday, Feb. 9 1989, at Tishomingo County Hopsital, Iuka, Mississippi, after a brief illness.

In addition to being a veteran, he was a Methodist, and a retired farmer. The funeral was held at Alsboro Methodist Church. Burial was at Alsboro Cemetery near Cherokee, Alabama.

Survivors included his wife, Dora M Turner Woodis, Cherokee; son, Arthur Woodis, Cherokee; daughters, Marie Johnson, Lodi, California, Virginia Smith, Golden, Mississippi; and brother Terry Cohal Woodis, Florence; nine grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren. Son Roe Stanley Woodis died at the age of 48. He was a World War II veteran and was involved in a crash of the Sweat’er Out aircraft during the war.


Another photo from the past…

of a Sheffield couple. This photo is of Lacey King, wife Mary Frances Davenport King and Mary Evelyn King, their first child. Evelyn is an accomplished dulcimer player. She won Most Beautiful Baby contest when she was little.

Photo of Lacey, Frances and Evelyn King


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