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

Colbert County

Lest we forget the least of these…

Obituary for Fred Walter Bradfordthat may have been down on their luck in hard times, the names of those in the Colbert County Almshouse enumerated as part of the 1920 Federal Census by Melvin H Elkins from the 29th to 31st of January in 1920 will be included here.

The Almshouse, or Poor House as many called it, was in the Camp Smith area of Colbert County; in District: 0013. There was a lot of shame that stigmatized those who were in a circumstance to warrant housing and care in such a facility. But, truly back in those days, if it was necessary to be in an Almshouse, one really needed the help and were likely elderly and sometimes without family to look after them.

Fred W Bradford was the keeper of the Almshouse in 1920. Some give his middle name as Washington while others give his middle name as Walter. His obituary gives his name as Fredrick Walter Bradford; his parents were David Washington Bradford 1836-1866 and Julia Jarmon Bradford Grey 1844-1900.

Fred Walter Bradford married four times. His first marriage circa 1885 was to Nancy Caldona Tharp. They had the following known children: Fredrick Washington Bradford 1892 -1957, Callie Fredonia Bradford 1896, Julia Dovia Bradford Cantrell 1887 – 1973, Ida Virginia Bradford Stonecipher 1889 – 1928 and Massie L Bradford 1897.

His second marriage in 1901 was to Louvicey Lindsey. They had the following children: Willie E Bradford 1905-1935, William S Bradford 1906. There may have been other children.

His third marriage in 1908 was to Sarah Josephine “Josie” Duncan Sledge. Her first marriage was to Thomas Ervin Sledge (son of William Henry Sledge, grandson of Macklen Sledge). Two Sledge children were from her marriage to Thomas Ervin Sledge: Thomas Grady Sledge and Bessie Ernestine Sledge Green. Fred Walter Bradford and Josie Duncan Sledge Bradford had the following children: Lillian g Bradford born and died 1909,  Johnie E Bradford 1911, and Walter L Bradford 1914-1952. Josie Duncan Sledge Bradford died in 1931.

The fourth marriage for Fred W Bradford was in 1936 to Odell whose last name is not known. Fred W Bradford died in 1947 and she is listed as his wife in his obitary

Thomas Grady Sledge and Mamie Hand Sledge lived beside his mother and stepfather on the 1920 census. The age of Grady was 18 and his young wife’s age was 15. Next to them was the Colbert County Almshouse of which Fred W Bradford was the keeper. Listed in the household of Fred W and wife Sarah J Bradford were sons Willie E Bradford age 14, Johnie E Bradford age 9, Walter L Bradford age 5 and Fred’s stepdaughter Bessie Sledge age 19 and single.

Those listed as living at the Almshouse were:

Darty, Bill – age 55, married, born in Georgia;

Darty, Sarah – age 66, married, born in Alabama;

Sharp, Callie – age 81, widowed, born in Georgia;

Briley, Fronia – age 70, single, born in Alabama;

Shield, Julia – age 60, widowed, born in South Carolina;

Clovel, Ada – 64, widowed (naturalized and immigrated 1865), her spoken language is French, born in France;

Marony, Alt – age 38, widowed, born in Alabama;

Stidham, Wesley – age 71, married born in Alabama;

Walter, Will – age 60, single, born in Arkansas;

Birnlsadde, James – age  75 , born in Alabama, and

Shaw, Henry – age 76, black, married, born in Tennessee.

Most of those inmates of the Almshouse do not have a surname that I am familiar with in our Shoals area. Perhaps some of their descendants are searching for them.

Here is an excellent example of why our children need to…

be taught cursive writing in school. Lt Levi Casey issuing orders to troops during the Revolutionary War. This document is the actual handwriting and signature of Lt Levi Casey issuing an order to his soldiers during the Revolutionary War. It is dated 7 Aug 1782. Levi Casey rose in rank from Colonel to Lieutenant to Brigadier General during his tenure in the Revolutionary War. He was one of the reknown OverMountain men as was David Crockett.

Br General Levi Casey served terms as a House of Representative and then had been re-elected Senator but did not get to serve his last elected term because he had a massive heart attack and died Feb 1807. He was first interred at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, DC and in circa 1832 he was re-interred in the Congressional Cemetery.

His widow, along with her Duckett nephew came to Alabama before 1820 and settled in Lauderdale County, Alabama in the community of Rawhide. She, some of her children, and other relatives are buried in the Casey Family Cemetery on what used to be her property.

I desire you will draft or other ways order one third of your company to hold themselves in readiness to march by the fifteenth of this instant to the Cherikees you are to provide flower/flour for sixty days provisions for each man and two good beef cattle and as pack horses a[re] not to be had would recommend that each man take horse and that one half carry forward and the other half act as horsemen and change as they can agree or be ordered and any that have not any horses of their own you are to impress in the bounds of your own company you are to collect all the swords you can and put them into the hands of the men.

August [symbols] 7th 1782                                                                                                                Cap [symbols] Saxon

I am ____and hum [symbols]
(take this to mean your humble servant)
Lt Levi Casey

Official Orders 7 Aug 1782

Official Orders 7 Aug 1782

Vandivers of Colbert County…

James Henry Vandiver and Nancy Emma Pennington Vandiver
  • James Henry Vandiver and his wife Nancy Emma Pennington
    James Henry Vandiver born 20 Sep 1869, died 15 Oct 1952 Colbert County, Alabama. His wife, Emma Pennington Vandiver born 23 Oct 1875 and died 5 Nov 1967. They are buried at Vandiver Hollow Cemetery in Colbert County, Alabama.

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?


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


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