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

Category Archives: Memories

This is a memory book completed by Anna Belle Gray Wilson, circa 2000. She died in 2002.





 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

[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

Thompson Everett “Tip” Gray was born on a Tuesday the week before spring in 1905 in Chickasaw County, Mississippi. He was the second child and only son of  Lott Dulan (sp) Gray and his wife Alice Madora Thompson Gray. His mother died a few months after giving birth to his younger sister Anna Belle (Annabelle Gray Wilson). Tip was 2 years old and his older sister Edna (Nancy Edna Gray Trussell) had recently turned 6.

During Alice’s illness or perhaps upon her death, Tip and Edna and their father moved in with one of his older sisters, Belle Gray Houston, and her family. Baby Anna Belle was taken in by her mother’s parents, who still had several children at home. The siblings would live in separate households for seven years until their father married Lessie Baine, a stepmother they did not remember fondly.

In 1985, Tip died several weeks before his 80th birthday. His ashes were scattered beneath the Turner Oak in Greenwood Memorial Park, Fort Worth, Texas. [During the Civil War, early Fort Worth settler Charles Turner buried gold under this tree on his farm rather than purchasing Confederate notes. This gold was later used to provide financial aid to Fort Worth during the reconstruction period.]

Tip’s widow, Sabella, kindly sent me a letter about 10 years ago about her beloved husband (transcribed below):

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“…Tip was a wonderful person and a good husband. His only fault was he loved to gamble, but I must admit, hard to beat.

I met Tip in Corpus Christi Texas in late summer of 1937 – He was manager of coffee co that territory, seemed lonely, and we fell in love.  Just before our planned wedding date the company transferred him to West Virginia. He stayed there about a week, quit his job and returned. we married March 26, 1938. We went to Houston, Tx and he started working for Real Silk Hosiery Mills out of Indiana – direct selling – men and women clothing. The coffee co offered him a good deal and we moved to Tyler, Texas in 1941.

He again went back with Real Silk, transferred to Texarkana with them as manager. Within a year he was transferred to Harlingen, Texas and we stayed there until he went to the Navy in Dec 1942 – to boot camp in San Diego and then to Aviation Mechanics school in Norman, Oklahoma. Then Olathe, Kansas. Then Miami, Florida – then Kingsville, Texas. All the while he worked on Navy plane. He never went to sea. We bought a small mobile home, and I was able to be with him the whole time.

After war he went back to work for Real Silk as manager of Ft Worth Tex territory. There we stayed until his death in 1985. He was cremated and ashes scattered in a garden at Greenwood Cemetery in Ft Worth.

His hobbies = He loved golf, cards, hated the beach, we traveled a a lot in the U.S., took cruises, and enjoyed life and each other.

His favorite food – seafood – and apple pie = He was very patient until I learned to cook.

Never lost his temper – very gentle, shy in a way. Loved selling – loved me and I still miss him…'”

In 1969, Ruby Thompson Woodruff wrote  a letter to her niece Anna Belle Gray Wilson that included dates of birth and death of the Thompson siblings. Click to see each page larger.



Ruby Thompson letter -  pg 4

Page 4 of Ruby's letter

[Ruby Thompson Woodruff was the great-aunt of Anna Belle Gray Wilson. When Anna came to live in her grandparents’ household as an infant due to the illness and eventual death of her mother, Alice Madora Thompson Gray, Ruby would have been about 10 years old.]

I am Ruby Thompson’s oldest grandaughter. She married James (Richard) Wayne Woodruff and they migrated to the Central Valley in California in the early 1930’s. Eventually, not being able to conceive, they adopted an eleven month-old baby girl, whom they named Patricia Lorraine. “Patty” was to be their only child, as they were in their mid-thirties when she was adopted, and they were deemed too old to be able to adopt any more children. Patty grew-up and married and had 3 daughters. Grandmother and Grandfather could not have possibly spoiled us more!

Wayne and Ruby eventually built a “Sears house” (ordered from the Sears Catalogue!) in Corcoran, California. Their home was small, but always emaculate and their yard was the envy of (and source of “starts” for) the entire town. At some point of which I was too little to remember, they donated a huge, blue spruce out of their yard to become the city Christmas tree.

Grandmother worked as a telephone operater for the phone company and Grandfather worked as a lineman for the power company. Ruby and Wayne were also very active in the Methodist Church for many years. I remember Grandmother having so many knacks: for sewing, knitting, crochetting, cooking, canning, baking, playing Bridge, Canasta, and playing DoubleSolitare and Chinese Checkers with me for hours on end. Her rose garden began the Corcoran Hospital’s rose garden when the hospital expanded. Her camillia bushes grew taller than their one-story roof top.

Both of Grandfather’s thumbs were green as well. He grew vegetables and fruits all over their back and side yards. This included the big, tall, beautiful, watermelon-red poppies. They were actually community favorites, decorating weddings, funerals and whatever else the Ladie’s Auxillary at the Methodist Church had in mind. Everyone was so sad when the County Shariff had to ask Grandfather to stop growing them.

Grandfather died in Corcoran and my mother sold their house and moved Grandmother to a very nice retirement home in Fresno, where she was then living. All of them are now buried in the Corcoran Cemetery. I hope that we will be able to keep in touch! cdq…

Home of Alice & L.D. Gray, ca. 1907

Home of Alice & L.D. Gray, ca. 1907


I found this postcard among some papers and photos Anna had given me. I wondered if it was her parents’ house so I wrote and asked her. Anna’s response is the last letter I received from her before she died in June 2002. She was 95.

“…I wish Edna was here to tell you about these early days of my family – she was old enough when our mother died to remember her very vividly. [Edna, Anna’s oldest sibling, was 6 years old when their mother died] This house is where we were living when my mother became ill and was moved to our Aunt Bell’s house [L.D.’s older sister, Belle Gray Houston] and died there. I was taken to my maternal grandparents’ and as you know lived there until I was seven. My father, Tip and Edna lived at Aunt Bell’s until he remarried. We visited back and forth but hardly knew we were brother and sisters – at least it was very confusing to me. My father had the grocery store and supplied both households. Back then, my grandfather grew everything on the farm so about all they needed from the store was sugar and flour, both bought by the barrel. We had apples all winter from the orchard – they were stored in a big box filled with sand – they were delicious, peaches were dried and other fruits canned. I don’t know how my grandmother did all she did and make all the clothes for the family. She never too tired or busy to read to me. I don’t think my father, Edna and Tip ever went back to this house…”

Alice Madora Thompson Gray (1880-1907)

Alice Madora Thompson Gray (1880-1907)

Lott Dulan Gray (1874-1930)

Lott Dulan Gray (1874-1930)


Anna's letter