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

Posts tagged “Remembering the Shoals

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.

Our forefathers worked hard to make a living for their families…

and the cotton mills in northern Alabama and southern Tennessee allowed them to do just that.

This is a photo of Laurel Hills Cotton Mill Workers, Laurel Hill, Lawrence County Tennessee

People Who Worked At Laurel Hill Cotton Factory Taken From 1880. Transcribed Lawrence Co. 
Census 12th District.

Name Age Page No. In Census Job title
Absolom 21 262  
Brewer, Ada 11 263  
Brewer, Araminta 12 263  
Brewer, Henry 14 263  
Brewer, James 19 260  
Brewer, M. F. 13 263  
Brewer, Malissa 19 259  
Brewer, Margaret 34 263  
Brewer, Mary J. 18 264  
Brewer, Rachel 15 263  
Brewer, Sarah E. 13 263  
Brewer, Sophronia 21 263  
Brewer, Thomas 16 263  
Brewer, Wade 15 259  
Bullion, Charity 38 263  
Corcoran, Alice 12 264  
Corcoran, Florence 16 264  
Corcoran, Henry 23 262 (Weaver)
Corcoran, John 10 264  
Corcoran, Patrick 59 264  
Corcoran, Sallie 14 264  
Corcoran, Thomas 28 264  
Corcoran, Willis 9 264  
Couch, Angie 27 265  
Couch, Emily 35 265  
Cox, Eddie 18 264  
Davis, Elizabeth 15 263  
Davis, Jeff             18 263  
Fife, Georgia A. 28 263  
Fife, Hannah 25 263  
Fife, Lidia 19 263  
Gordon, John A. J. 10 262  
Gordon, Leona 12 262  
Gordon, Matilda 19 262  
Green, Jane 40 263  
Hall, Fannie 38 263  
Holloway, David 14 262  
Holloway, Delila 8 262  
Holloway, Mary K. 10 262  
Holloway, Sarah E. 12 262  
Jones, Clark 29 261 (Cotton Mfg.)
Jones, W. C. 32 261 (Cotton Mfg.)
Laughter, Florence 16 264  
Laughter, Sterling 19 264  
Lee, Allie 17 265  
Lee, Dora 10 265  
Lee, Hardy 7 265  
Lee, Lidia A. 13 265  
Lee, Mary J. 15 265  
Lee, Sallie 11 265  
Martin, Jennie 19 265  
Massey, Rhoda 27 265  
Morton, Samuel 35 265 (Carder)
Mosley, Jo. 25 264 (Machinist)
Norman, James 28 262 (Waggoner) ??
Partridge, Thomas 21 264  
Riley, John 25 264  
Simpson, Evan 18 262 (Weaver)
Simpson, Jackie 13 262 (Weaver)
Staggs, Clarenda 16 265  
Staggs, Eb 51 264 (Watchman)
Staggs, Emilene 16 265  
Staggs, Fredonia 25 263  
Staggs, Jane 23 265  
Staggs, Martha 21 265  
Staggs, Mary 26 265  
Staggs, Meridy 24 265  
Staggs, Thomas 15 265  
Styles, Laten 47 264 (Boss Weaver)
Wesley, John 29 261 (Blacksmith) ??
Wilson, Moses 50 261 (Waggoner) ??
Wooley, William 15 265  

There were 400 people that lived on Laurel Hill. 80 worked in the cotton mill.
Compiled by Lawrence Archives, Lawrenceburg, TN, February 2011. By Wayne Austin via Mary Bob McClain.

A farewell to comrades…

by General Joseph Wheeler was published in the Florence Times Newspaper on 21 September 1900. General Wheeler was bidding his comrades farewell in the conflict of the War Between the States.


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

Whatever happened to the passion of the people…

Lawrence County Courthouse, Courthous...

Lawrence County Alabama Courthouse in Moulton, year 1880.

it used to be there even before government education and control was rampantly destroying the fabric of our country. I can remember even as a child how very few if any had anything for gubment help of any kind except antipathy, even down to the safe keeping of the votes and the location of government buildings.

Our forefathers had spunk. They were well armed. They basically did not mess with anyone and would not tolerate anyone messing with them or theirs. I do not see that spirit today. It seems that America is now all hat and  no cattle. Americans today are all so afraid of not being politically correct. I came across an interesting story from way back in 1893 from Lawrence County, Alabama. It was published in the Vernon Courier, a newspaper in Lamar County. The date of publication was 10 August 1893. The article reads as such:

COUNTY SEAT WAR – A Birmingham Special of the 11th says: News comes from Lawrence county of a red hot controversy which has grown out of the election in that county for the location of the court house.

The court house has always been located at Moulton, which is in the mountainous region away from the railroad. Courtland is a growing town on the Memphis and Charleston railroad, wanted the court house, and as a result of it an election was ordered to be held last Monday to decide the location. The peculiar part about it is that the result of the election has never been determined so far as known, both sides claiming the victory.
The mountaineers rallied to the support of Moulton, while the people residing in the Tennessee valley favored Courtland. The sheriff was favorable to Courtland and the probate judge was for Moulton.
While the sheriff was at Courland yesterday a report reached him that a number of ballot boxes at Moulton had been stolen and he organized a posse and proceeded to that place. On his arrival he and his entire posse were overpowered by a party of mountaineers and placed in jail
When the people of Courtland heard of this a rousing crowd was at once organized and armed and sent post haste to Moulton. It was expected that bloodshed would result when they reached Moulton and attempted to release the sheriff and his posse. The latest report is that the sheriff and his crowd made bond and was released before the Courtland delegation arrived. Excitement is running high in Lawrence and the opinion seems to be that unless the court house squabble is settled serious trouble will result. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, August 10, 1893
It seems that many families in the Shoals area at one time or another either lived or passed through Lawrence County. Many veterans of the War Between the States relocated to the northwest section of Alabama after the hostilities were over. I can just see my large family of Terrys, Peebles and all related families discussing this topic. Funny is it not, how passion for standing up for something seems to have vanished. Those families stood up for what they believed in. If this is in question whatsoever in your mind, then just think upon this. Records and documents, even modern-day technology thinks that the Hillsboro Post Office is at the intersection of Latitude 343813N and  Longitude 0871133W. And it is on the Hillsboro map. However, it was not always located at that exact spot. Just ask those Terry, Peebles and allied neighbors who moved the Post Office in the middle of the night one night long ago so that it would be more conducive to ‘ladies’ patronizing the post office.

We all came from somewhere else first…

Map of Martin County, North Carolina, United S...

before settling in Alabama. At least everyone except the native americans, there were five civilized tribes here before the white settlers. If one researches the modes and trails of travel of the early days, you could almost predict where your family lived in various places before Alabama. That is unless you run into the South Carolina morass.

Edward Balentine is as far back as our limited research got us. He was found on the census records and tax lists in Martin County, North Carolina. Martin County was formed in 1774 from Halifax and Tyrrell counties, Martin County was named in honor of Josiah Martin, the last Royal Governor of North Carolina 1782-1785 and l789-1792. It is in the eastern part of North Carolina, bounded by Beaufort, Bertie, Edgecombe, Halifax, Pitt and Washington counties. In 1779 Williamston, first called Squhawky (or Skewarky), was laid out and is now the county seat. Edward was born about 1725. He was last documented on the 1790 tax list and was aged 65.

We know that Edward had a son named Nehemiah Balentine. Nehemiah was born about 1750 and was in Martin County, North Carolina as late as 1787. Nehemiah and wife Martha had son John Balentine who lived from 1786 to 1865. He was born in Martin County, North Carolina.

Information  from the second edition 2003 book “The Heritage of Lauderdale County, Alabama.” Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc. Pg.99 gave the following information. John and Sarah Culpepper Balentine are first found on 1835 Tennesse State census, 1840 and 1850 Federal census, living in Wayne County, Tennessee.  Both were born in South Carolina, as were their children William Jefferson, 1813; John Harrison (J.H.) 1820; James born between 1815 and 1824;  Sarah 1826; Richard Houston 11 January, 1827; and Benjamin Simmons 1832.

John and Sarah were listed on the 1860 census with son William J. Balentine’s family, in Cypress Inn, Wayne County, Tennessee. John apparently died between 1860-1870, Sarah died between 1860-1879; both probably buried in Wayne County, Tennessee. Their burial sites are unknown.

William J. Balentine married Sarah Ann Darby on 21 September, 1835 in Lauderdale County, Alabama. They lived in Cypress Inn, Wayne County, Tennessee on the 1840,1850 and 1860 census, and then were in  Waynesboro on the 1870 census. Their children were born in Wayne County:  James H., 11 October 1837; John William, 1840; Phillip Selvey, 25 November 1841; William J., 1844; Eliza C., 1846; Samuel D., 1849; Richard H., 1853; Benjamin Simmons, 1857; David M, 30 November 1858 and Elizabeth, 1862.  William and Sarah were still in Wayne County, Tennessee on the 1860 census; likely both died and were buried there, places unknown.

James H. Balentine married Elvira Cooper, daughter of Stephen Cooper, on 25 February 1857, in Lauderdale County, Alabama.  Their children: William, 1858; George, 1860; James (Jimmy Hawker) Wesley, August 1862; Sidney Cedric (Sidney Hawker), April 1869; Sarah E, 1872 and Leander S, 1879; all born in Wayne County, Tennessee.  James H. and Elvira were on 1870 census in Lauderdale County, Alabama. Their burial sites are unknown.

James (Jimmy Hawker) Wesley Balentine married Amanda E. Balentine, daughter of Phillip Selvey and Sarah E. J. Vickery Balentine, circa 1884, with these children: Walter Zebedee, 03 Spetember 1885; Velma; Clyde (Candy), 19 September 1891. William Clarence, June 1893; Hattie M., May 1895; Dona (Donie), May 1898; Lee (Dovie), 1903 and Amanda E buried at Pine HIll Cemetery, Lauderdale County, Alabama.  Walter Zebedee Ballentine married Jeanette (Jennie) Ayers, born 07 January, 1884 to William H. (Billie) and Lydia Ann Gargis Ayers; at Pruit Plantation in Colbert County, Alabama on 26 January 1908.  They started housekeeping at Cypress Inn, Wayne County, TN. where the following children were born:  Mary Ida, 11 July 1909; Walter D, May 1911-died 1912; and Paul Jackson, 01 January 1913.  The family moved to the Crooked Oak area of Colbert County, Alabama; where more children were born:  Dennis Fleet, 03 December 1916; William Wesley, 20 August 1919; Mollie Mae, 28 December 1921; Nellie Cole, 20 May 1923 and Margie Denette, 28 December 1925.  Zebedee died of a heart attack 07 February 1940.  Jeanette lived a long, active life; she died 27 November 1976 in Decatur, Morgan County, Alabama; where she lived with daughter Mary Ida Ballentine.  Mary Ida Ballentine married John Bea Mayfield on 13 October 1923 in Tuscumbia, Colbert County, AL. Their children all born in rural Leighton were: John Reed, 21 July 1929-died 04 October 1988; Anne Thomas, 20 June 1931; Camilla Cecile, 01 May 1933 and Betty Jean, 29 January 1940.

In a family newsletter covering the Balentine family Melissa Jason Carpery writes this:

There are many Balentine Family Descendants alive today in the Stone County area and world wide because of a brave husband and wife. They traveled the mountains of Tennessee, waded the Mississippi River, and found their way to the hills of the Ozark Mountains near Onia, Arkansas over one hundred and twenty two years ago. I would like to introduce my Great Great Great Grandparents to you.Benjamin Simmons Balentine was born in Wayne County, TN, August 11, 1833, to John Balentine and Sarah Culpepper.  He was their youngest child. On December 22, 1855Benjamin married Melissa Elzura Erdine Sport in Lauderdale County, Alabama.  Melissa was born September 1839, in Lauderdale County, Alabama, to James Sport and Catherine Baxter.  Children of Benjamin and Melissa are:1. William “Bill” Joseph Balentine, born October 31, 1856 in Lauderdale County, Alabama; died May 23, 1939 in Stone County, Arkansas. He married Mahulda Jane Branscum June 6, 1880 in Stone County, Arkansas.

2.Mary Minerva Balentine, born April 25, 1858 in Wayne County, Tennessee; died October 13, 1958 in Stone County, Arkansas.  She married James Franklin Woody December 7, 1881 in Stone County, Arkansas.

3. Richard Houston Balentine, born December 18, 1859 in Wayne County, Tennessee; died June 19, 1951 in Arkansas.  He married Sarah “Sallie” A. Branscum October 5, 1879 in Stone County, Arkansas.

4.Benjamin Simmons Balentine, born July 23, 1862 in Wayne County, Tennessee; died May 20, 1960 in Arkansas.  He married Laura M. Anderson December 21, 1884 in Searcy County, Arkansas.

5. Harriet C. Balentine, born November 1865 in Wayne County, Tennessee.  She married Asa B. Lawrence.

6.John James Balentine, born December 19, 1867 in Wayne County, Tennessee; died January 21, 1957 in Stone County, Arkansas.  He married (1) Malinda Louise Branscum May 13, 1888 in Stone County, Arkansas. (2) Elizabeth Jane Sartin October 18, 1915 in Stone County, Arkansas. (3) Abbie Conway September 13, 1947 in Stone County, Arkansas.

7. Solomon “Daniel” Balentine, born March 1869 in Wayne County, Tennessee; died October 1, 1931.  He married Olivia Sarah Vaughn April 7, 1889. 

8. Nancy Ann Balentine, was born October 7, 1873 in Wayne County, Tennessee, died September 4, 1911.  She married V.E. Altaffer January 23, 1900, Stone County, Arkansas.

9. Ladasky “Erdine” Balentine, born October 8, 1876 in Alabama, died June 13, 1949.  She married William Rankin Ramsey August 19, 1894 in Big Flat, Arkansas. 

10. Amanda Ioney “Maudie” Balentine, born November 20, 1883 in Stone County, Arkansas, died November 1, 1911.          

It is difficult to determine the exact year that Ben and Melissa moved to Stone County, Arkansas.  In 1870 they are in Wayne County, Tennessee and in 1880 they are in Stone County, Arkansas.  It looks like they moved from Wayne County to Alabama between 1873 and 1876.  Because in the 1880 Stone County, Arkansas Census taken June 2, it states that their daughterNancy was born in Tennessee and 6 years old and their daughter Daska was born in Alabama and 3 years old.  So they probably moved sometime after Daska was born in 1876.Some contradictions of when Ben and his family moved comes from information in interviews with some of John James Balentine’s (Benjamin and Melissa’s son) children and grandchildren.  The story is that the family moved when John was five years old, which would make it about 1873.  Also another interview with Ollie Woody Gilbert says that her mother Mary Balentine (Benjamin’s daughter) walked behind the wagon the whole way from Wayne County, Tennessee when the family moved to Arkansas carrying her little brother on her back.  The only little brother this could have been would be Daniel who was born in 1869.  The problem with John and Ollie’s account is that the 1880 Stone County, Arkansas Census shows that Nancy was born in Tennessee in 1873 and that Dasky was born in Alabama in 1877.  Ladasky Erdine is listed in the 1900 Stone County Census and states again that she was born in Alabama.  Another story in the family says that Ben and his family moved in the fall of 1878.  So they could have left anytime after Ladasky was born in October of 1877.  As you can see the exact time when they arrived in Stone County is not not an easy thing pinpoint.     A little bit of geography explanation may help in explaining some of the movement of the family.  Wayne County, Tennessee and Lauderdale County,  Alabama are border counties and people moved from county to county and state to state in farming year to year.  Thus they did not pay much attention to county and state lines.[Census records are notorious for having a lot of mistakes; the information was only as accurate as the informant’s actual knowledge and the census takers spelling and degree of error free writing]     

Benjamin’s family came to what is now known as Stone County in a covered wagon and waded the Mississippi River. The family homesteaded at Hickory Grove, which is located between Onia and Big Flat. In an interview with Lilly Shipman, Benjamin’s Granddaughter, she describes some details about the family.  “The children grew up working  hard on the family farm to stay alive and to make a little extra money. They worked from sunrise to sunset six days a week and rested on Sunday. This left little time to go to school. Any schooling they received was at home.”  Benjamin was a farmer and is described as being “Black Dutch.”  Benjamin grew up in Wayne County, Tennessee, a short distance west of Cypress Inn. His parents, John Balentine and Sarah Culpepper, came to Wayne County in the late 1820’s or early 1830’s from South Carolina.

They were in their early forties in age, and already had a large family. In the 1840 Census of Wayne County, Tennessee, Benjamin’s father John is listed with three boys and one girl living at home; one boy is between five and ten years old (assumed Benjamin Simmons), one boy is between ten and fifteen years old (assumed Richard Houston), one boy between fifteen and twenty years old (assumed J. H.), one girl between fifteen and twenty years old (assumed Sarah ) and a female between forty and fifty years old (assumed Sarah Culpepper Balentine). The 1850 Census for Wayne County, Tennessee lists: Sarah , age 24, and Benjamin , age 18, living with their parents John , age 65, and Sarah age 64. John is a farmer and is listed as blind at this time. Sarah (John’s wife) is listed as not being able to read or write. It is told in family stories that John was known to have the nickname “One Eyed John.”  

The 1880 Stone County Census lists Benjamin as the head of household and 47 years old. His occupation is a farmer with his wife Malisa as keeper of the home and 40 years old. The other household members are: son William , age 23, born in Alabama, single, and working the farm; son Benjamin , age 17, born in Tennessee, single, and working the farm; daughter Harriet , age 15, and single; son John, age 12, working the farm, and son Daniel , age 10, working the farm.     We know that Benjamin could write his name because his signature is found on a bond for marriage license for his son Benjamin Simmons Balentine, Jr. in Searcy County, Arkansas, on December 19, 1884.    

Benjamin is listed in the 1900 Stone County Census living with his wife Malissia A and daughter Amanda I It states that they had been married for 44 years  and that both of Ben’s parents were born in South Carolina.  Benjamin has not been found on a 1910 census so it is presumed that he died between 1900 and 1910.  Benjamin is buried in the Pordue Cemetery at Onia, Arkansas.  Benjamin’s stone is a cement slab in the ground that reads as follows “Ben Balentine-Father of John Balentine.” 

With all that background information under our belt, now our attention turns to Richard Houston Balentine, son of John and Sarah Culpepper Balentine.  He was born 11 Jan 1827 and died 19 Mar 1882 in Wayne County, Tennessee. Dick Balentine and Mary A Cooper were married in Lauderdale County by John McCorkle, Justice of the Peace on 11 Mar 1846. Of their many children we will follow son Richard Houston Balentine who was born in Wayne County in August of 1855. He married Belizabeth Jane Jennie D Dulin who went by the initials “BJ” although some researchers do give her name as Elizabeth.  They married in Wayne County 16 October 1881; Richard was 26 at the time of the marriage.

Richard Houston Balentine died resulting from a chronic obstruction of the intestine at the spignoid flaxure of the colon on 2 Mar 1917 as a patient in a Nashville hospital. He was 62 years old. This family moved to Cloverdale in Lauderdale County between the 1900 census when they resided in Wayne County, Tennessee and the 1910 census when they were located in the Cloverdale community. According to the death certificate he was interred in Florence, but the name of the cemetery is not yet known.  His obituary states this: Mr R H Balentine, a prominent farmer of the Cypress Inn neighborhood died last Friday at St Thomas Hospital in Nashville where he had been for several days for treatment, and where everything was done that was possible to stay the ravages of an intestinal disease. The body was brought to Florence  Sunday afternoon and was taken to Cypress Inn. On account of high water in the creek there it was impossible to get to the family home, and the funeral services were held at the home of a neighbor, followed by interment in the local cemetery.Photo of the Richard Houston Balentine  family

Mr. Balentine was the father of Mr W B Ballentine, a member of the force of the Florence post office who was called to Nashville on the receipt of the sad news of his father’s death. The deceased is survived by his wife, and eight sons and one daughter. There is record of both BJ and Richard Houston Balentine’s burial at the family cemeterybearing the name Balentine Cemetery in Wayne County, Tennessee.

The known children of Richard Houston Balentine and BJ Dulin Balentine were: Thomas Grant Balentine 1857 – 1919;  Charlie Houston Balentine 1883 – 1965;  William Henry”Will”  Balentine 1884 – 1973;  John Dave Balentine (1888 – 1951); Mary Jane Balentine 1886 – 1902; Robert Larimore Balentine 1886 – 1969; Irvin Balentine born ca 1890; L Annie Balentine 1892 – 1965; and Edgar W Balentine 1894 – 1964.

The line of the family of interest here continues with Charlie Houston Balentine. Charlie was born 24 Sep 1882 at Cypress Inn, Tennessee and died  11 Jan 1965 at Sheffield, Colbert County, Alabama. He and his wife, Martha “Mattie” Ada Vickery had the following children: Elva, sometimes listed as Elsa Balentine born ca 1906, Richard K Balentine 1912-1982; and Mary E Ballentine born ca 1935.

Richard K Balentine was born 6 June 1912 in Lauderdale County, Alabama and died 9 September 1982 in Florence, Lauderdale, Alabama. On the 1940 census his occupation was given as truck driver for as a government worker; his age was given as 27. Richard K Balentine and wife Hazel had two children: Ray Balentine and Carolyn June Balentine. His wife Hazel and daughter June Balentine are also deceased. They are buried at Greenview Memorial Cemetery in Florence.

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

Oh, I am shot…

I exclaimed much to my surprise!!! These were the words uttered by this Tuscumbia resident. In her own words, she tells her story behind this exclamation:

Several years ago when I was working for an Attorney in Tuscumbia, my husband was remodeling the office behind ours and he was taking a break for lunch so he rode down to Sparkey’s with me–I parked, walked to the window and right after me a rat

Photo of Patsy Congleton

Patsy Congleton

her large guy with a really big arm came up behind me in line–a pickup truck pulled up right behind where we were standing and about that time as the old saying goes, “All hell broke loose”–the windows were shattering out of Sparkey’s and when I turned around this big fellows arm was about blown off. My first thought, “Snipers” are shooting    from the woods across the street and I dived into my auto while my husband was starring in disbelief as he had just recovered from a heart attack.

I reached to feel what was wet running down my back and exclaimed, “_ _ _ _”. Oh, ‘I’m shot” Since my husband was about to have yet another heart attack, I drove him home and went to the ER. Does anyone remember Dr. Anderson from Russellville–he happened to be coming through he ER and took care of me–when I arrived Judge Pride Tompkins was there and when I asked him why he was there he said he heard on the radio I had been shot and came to check on me. Can you spell Embarrassment–when Dr. Anderson had the shotgun pellets removed from my back I went back to work hoping no-one else ever heard about this–even my husband would not have believed it if he hadn’t been there. The guy standing behind me was not so lucky, his arm had so many shotgun pellets, they had to leave some on them in and he probably still has them in his arm and as fate would have it, all those would have wound up in the center of my backbone except for the guy who showed up behind me. The incident happened when young twins were exploring their Dad’s gun in the truck; he had left them in the vehicle while he placed his order. Anyway, that’s the story, even if it wound up in two sections.


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