Wilson-Mitchell-Gray-Thompson families from Attala & Chickasaw Counties in Mississippi

Honest Jack Thompson

John F.

Somehow I blessedly discovered the website Chronicling America, sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. Chronicling America provides access to information about historic newspapers and select digitized newspaper pages, and is produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

Today’s discovery: the Okolona (Mississippi) Messenger. And a paragraph about John A. “Jack” Thompson (1841-1917), father of Alice Madora Thompson Gray (1880-1907), and grandfather to Annabelle Gray Wilson (1907-2002).

Check out this great newspaper banner:

Okolona Messager cover

And about my great-great-grandfather, who lost part of a leg due to a gunshot wound in the Battle of Franklin (TN) in the Civil War:

Jack Thompson

“In this issue will be found the announcement of Mr. Jack F. Thompson, of Houston, as a candidate for county treasurer of Chickasaw, in the usual form. Honest Jack Thompson is the complimentary way in which his neighbors, and everybody in the county for that matter, refer to him, and it is difficult to imagine any more complimentary identification that could be made of one who is so generally well known and universally respected. Mr. Thompson has served the people of the county in various capacities as a public servant, and in no case has he ever been found wanting. He has served as county treasurer before and will doubtless find all who have supported him in the past only too willing to again confer upon him the honor. As the custodian of the people’s money, Mr. Thompson’s past record is a most excellent guarantee of future reliability, and no one will have the slightest fear but that the charge will be fully kept, in case he is again chosen treasurer. Those who know Mr. Thompson understand that he cannot do much running on foot, but that he will who his ability to pass under the wire at the finish, if his good conduct in the past is taken as a signal, none will doubt.”

Jack Thompson #2

“Jack F. Thompson, of Houston, candidate for county treasurer, was over and with the smiling encouragement of other friends and supporters he met here from various ports of the county did not fail to greet those whom he had not been able to meet before this spring and tell them how much he would appreciate their vote and kindly support. Jack Thompson has the confidence of a large number of the old timers who have watched his course as a public official and always admired his fidelity to the trust.”

Jack Thompson elected

April 25, 1915 in the Okolona (MS) Messenger

April 25, 1915 in the Okolona (MS) Messenger

“The familiar name of Jack F. Thompson will be found in our announcement column as a candidate for County Treasurer. For many years this one-legged Confederate Veteran has been known to the voters of this county, serving in different official capacities at different times. Twice he has filled the office he now asks at the hands of the people and each time to the satisfaction of those who elected him. Other official trusts reposed in him have been equally well executed.

You know this man, you know what he has done heretofore and what to expect of him in the future, why should we say more when nothing we might tell you would add to your knowledge of him or add to your good opinion of his fidelity to duty. He is before you and asks your support on merit and past duties well performed. Remember him when you go to the polls next August.”

This time it appears he was not re-elected.

Jack Thompson not re-elected 1915

Jack Thompson not reelected 2

Two boys and a bus = OUCH

  

  

 Bubba made the mistake of trying to pass the bus on the right side and the skirt of the scooter caught the edge of the pavement and suddenly came to a stop and the momentum threw us out in front of the bus. The bus driver hit the brakes and the right front wheel of the bus was up on my right thigh just above the knee. At first I felt nothing and looked over to see Bubba who was laying between the left front and rear wheels.  Suddenly the pain hit me and I begin to scream.  The bus had stalled and the driver could not get it started so the people got out of the bus.  When I screamed Bubba had gotten up from under the bus and ran to the front of the bus about the same time as the bus passengers were in front of the bus and they all pushed the bus off my leg. 

When we got to the hospital they found Bubba was worst off and took him to operating room first.  All I remember was that Bubba had lost a front tooth and a blood clot in his leg.  As he was coming out of the operating room he was throwing up from the ether they had given him and his mom was trying to catch all of it in hopes he maybe had swallowed the broken tooth.  I had no broken bones just injuries to the muscles.  Took a long time to heal and walk without crutches.   — Billy’s memories, August 2015

Eula Mitchell Adams

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Eulah Mitchell Adams (photo posted by Jim Fullilove)

I’ve stared for a good 15 minutes at this photo I found on the internet. Oh to know the stories behind those eyes. Eula died in 1937 when she was 78 years old, so this photo was likely taken in the 1930s.

She was born on a farm near Burkettsville, Mississippi to Whitman William Mitchell and his wife Alice Jane Davis Mitchell on July 19, 1860, assuming her tombstone is correct (they aren’t always).  It was a Thursday, and probably close to 92 degrees, the average temperature for Attala County in July. Seemingly she was their first and only child for Whitman, a 29-year-old Confederate corporal, was killed in the Battle of Murphreesboro on December 31, 1862 after coming to the aid of his younger brother (and my great-great grandfather) Albert Pierce Mitchell. (more info; see below for family connection)

By 1870, 9-year-old Eula and her mother Alice were living with Whitman’s brother George and his wife Nancy, Alice’s own sister. Alice is listed on the 1880 census as being a teacher.

Sometime after the 1880 census was taken, 50-something Alice married Confederate veteran David Lewis Brown, a widower with two children.

In 1885, Eulah married William Smith “Sonny” Adams. They had four daughters – Willie, Mae Allie, Julia Ann, and Brownie – and one son,  named Whitman William Adams after the father Eulah really never knew. Like his grandfather, Whitman was a war hero. He earned a silver star  in World War I for going behind enemy lines in France to bring back someone he thought was wounded.  He went on to name his son Whitman William too.

Miss Eula is buried in Shady Grove Methodist Church Cemetery,  the same burial location of her mother, her stepfather, her paternal grandparents, Albert Washington Mitchell and Susan Cone Mitchell, her daughter Brownie Cone Adams Carson, and several other members of her extended family.

I think she looks like actor Chaz Palminteri, don’t you?

I found a photo of her mother. She’s quite the stylish lady.

Alice Jane Davis Mitchell Brown

Alice Jane Davis Mitchell Brown (1830-1907)

Family connection: Willie Arnold Wilson (1902-1948) was the son of Leona Mitchell Wilson (1868-1903). Eulah was Leona’s first cousin; their fathers, Whitman William Mitchell and Albert Pierce Mitchell, respectively, were brothers.

1000 Words

Cornelia Bethany Mitchell Ratliff (1841-1942)

Cornelia Bethany Mitchell Ratliff (1841-1942)

Why sit for a photo with an expression like this on your face? What thoughts were swirling around in her head? Why does she looks so angry and hard?

As the saying goes, “A picture is worth 1000 words.” Since I came upon this photo* a few days ago I’ve been pondering what some of those 1000 words might be.

I have so many questions! Here is what I know about her.

Her maiden name was Cornelia Bethany Mitchell, the 8th child of Albert Washington Mitchell and his wife Susan (Cone), both in their early 40s. At Cordelia’s birth in Attala county, Mississippi in 1841, her siblings ranged in age from 3-18 years old. She had only one sister, Lucy (Lucy Ann Mitchell Duncan Galloway). A photo of an elderly Lucy shows a similar facial expression (see below).

If you are directly related to me, we are kin to Cordelia on the Wilson side. Cornelia’s brother, Albert Pierce Mitchell (1842-?)fathered Leona Mitchell Wilson (1868-1930), who was the mother of Frank, L.A., Roy and Willie Wilson (1902-1948), husband of Annabelle Gray Wilson (1907-2002) and father of Billy & Barbara Ann.

At least four of her brothers fought in the Civil War as part of the 30th Mississippi Infantry, Company D “Dixie Heroes”. Whitman and George were corporals; Pierce and Franklin were privates. Only George and Pierce returned home. (Details in another post). She would have been about 11 when they went off to war.

After the war (1868), Cornelia married William Pinkney Ratliff. He was 21. She was 17 with an 8th grade education.

Their first child was stillborn the following year (1869) and apparently was not given a name. Their second child was born in early 1871. Sadly, Willie F. Ratliff died 19 months later. They are buried in Liberty Chapel Cemetery in Ethel (Attala county), Mississippi.

Cornelia had 11 more children over the next twenty years; 6 girls, 5 boys. They all survived to adulthood. It appears that one of her sons, Paul Grady Ratliff, learned to fly in Pensacola, Florida in 1917 and became a member of the Royal Air Force during World War I.

By 1920, she was listed as a 68-year-old widow living with son Albert, a 32-year-old bachelor farmer, in Cherokee, Texas, pop. 250. Interesting, because her husband William didn’t die until 1927. Also, William is shown as a divorced farmer of 72 living in Arkansas. It seems they divorced sometime between 1910 and 1920.

In May 1927, Cornelia’s husband died in Arkansas and was brought back to Mississippi for burial. Cornelia is not listed in his obituary (below).

In 1940, she was 88 and living with her daughter Sudie and her family. She died two years later, in 1942, and was buried next to her ex-husband in the Springdale Cemetery in the McAdams community of Attala county, Mississippi.

And lest we think Cornelia was just having a bad day when the above picture was taken, the photo below proves otherwise. That’s her sister, Lucy, on the right.

Cornelia Mitchell Ratliff, ca. 1940

Cornelia Mitchell Ratliff, ca. 1940

Lucy Mitchell Duncan Galloway (1837-1918)

Lucy Mitchell Duncan Galloway (1837-1918)

W.P. Ratliff obituary

W.P. Ratliff obituary

* These photos were posted on Ancestry.com in 2008 by Ed Ratliff (Cornelia) and in 2010 by Stopwatch (Lucy).

Mississippi in 1940

Ancestry.com created different infographics that creatively display each state and what life was like in 1940. (Click here to view the infographics all of the 50 states plus Puerto Rico). Click on each graphic to see it larger.

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A Soldier’s Burden

Magazines: I like ’em. Particularly new-to-me and/or regional publications. Last year I discovered and immediately subscribed to Garden & Gun. Bought a few gift subscriptions too. I posted about my discovery on Facebook, which spurred a neighbor to not only subscribe to the magazine but to order as many back issues as they had available.

When in the Asheville, NC airport a few days ago I found Our State: Down Home in North Carolina. Here’s another magazine I think you’ll like, Kathy.

Why am I posting about a regional magazine on a family history blog? There is an article in the August 2012 issue of Our State that details the physical burden a Confederate soldier carried. As author Philip Gerard stated, “Every soldier must carry his part of the war to the great staging grounds and then help to assemble it.

For readers of this blog — who may be descendants of Jack Thompson or his brothers, of Pierce Mitchell or his brothers Whitman, George, and Ben, of Coleman Gray, Singleton Hughes, his sons Robert, Thomas, and James — this article helps us picture the burdens they bore.

________________

The Burden of War 
by Philip Gerard
Our State: Down Home in North Carolina
August 2012 issue

The weight men carry nearly leaves them limp underneath their sacks. But there is only one way to shed that weight, and the price for that is far worse that shouldering the load...[click here to read more]

________________

Read the entire series of articles published to date: Civil War Series. Articles include:

  • A General’s Fatal Anger
  • A War of Songs
  • Battle of the Bands
  • Caught Between Blue and Gray
  • Baptism by Blood

Mary Caralyn remembers

[Reposted from Ancestry.com. Mary Caralyn was the half-sister of John F. “Jack” Thompson of Houston, Mississippi and grandfather of Annabelle Gray Wilson. The Burgesses are not part of this Wilson-Gray line; James Burgess married widow Nelly Harris Thompson, mother of Mary Caralyn Burgess, John F. “Jack” Thompson, and several other children.]

The author of this story is Leon Burgess, son of Limuel Lafayet Burgess, grandson of James Burgess, great grandson of James W. (Preacher) Burgess and great great grandson of John M. Burgess of Chickasaw Co., MS. “I need all the help to fill in the Burgess family gaps, and names or corrections where an error has been made. Leon Burgess, Gulfport, MS.”

Submitted by Leon Burgess, to The Chickasaw County Historical and Genealogy Society, for publication in “A History of Chickasaw County, Mississippi, Volume II.” Undated. Article #F202, Burgess, John W. Pioneer: an excerpt.

_____________

Mary Caralyn (Caroline) Burgess Hargrove

Mary Caralyn, the sixth child of John W. Burgess, in her memoirs recalls this family history. “I was borned 29 May 1849 in Chickasaw Co., MS. My father was John M. Burgess who with five children whose mother had died moved from Tenn. to Miss. in the early 1840’s. My mother [Nelly Harris Thompson] was borned in South Carolina about the same time as my father. She was a widow with six children four boys and two girls. One of her sons was the Rev. R. W. Thompson. Mr. Burgess and Mrs. Thompson married and to this union was borned two girls. I, mary Caralyn, and my sister Lucinda Elendor, who also married a Hargrove.

“I think I know some of the hardships that the common poor people suffered in the Civil War times. My mother died when I was twelve (1861). This and the Civil War deprived me of a chance for an education. I know what it is like to card cotton, shin, and weave by the light of a pine knot. We died our thread with bark and indago before weaving it into cloth. We wove the cloth for our best clothing and work clothing too. For pleasure we girls would sing as we worked at night. One time a “bunch” of Confederate soldiers came by while we were making “hominy”. We had a big pot and needless to say, they enjoyed it. From time to time we would see the Confederate soldiers hunting for deserters or out to trade for new mounts and supplies. Most of the soldiers were nice, now and then some of them would take from us.

Lucinda Ellendor Burgess Hargrove

“We lived six miles from Houston (Thorn). That is as close as the “Union” soldiers ever came. Nevertheless, when we heard they was in the area, we hid all stuff in logs and stumps and drove the stock in the bottom. Four of my half brothers served in the army Condederacy, two lost legs [John F. “Jack” is one of them] and one died from the measles [Thomas].

John F. “Jack” Thompson

“At the age of 14, I joined the Baptist Church. The preacher was “Uncle Jimmie Martin”. (Authors note: what was his connection to the Burgess or Hargove family?) In 1870, we moved to Hamburg, TN. We would visit the Shiloh battlefield and pick up lead bullets and minie balls. It was easy picking, a few had to be dug. There was still soldiers sleeping on the battlefield.”

Mary Caralyn died 23 Feb. 1935 at age 86. [of apoplexy/stroke]

Death certificate for Mary C Burgess Hargrove


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