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.
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.
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.
* These photos were posted on Ancestry.com in 2008 by Ed Ratliff (Cornelia) and in 2010 by Stopwatch (Lucy).
Robert Cowan Hughes was 10 when his mother passed away.
He was 19 and a merchant, perhaps with his older brother James, when he and his 60-year-old father, Singleton, enlisted in the Calhoun Rifles (Co. E) of the 2nd Mississippi Infantry. The date was May 1, 1861, about two weeks after the attack on Fort Sumter. He was mustered in Lynchburg, Virginia on May 10, 1861.
Update: He was discharged on July 8, 1861 due to “protracted sickness & constitutional weakness.”
Update: Robert reenlisted on March 22, 1862 at Guntown, Mississippi, just three days before his older brother Thomas Singleton Hughes was killed in battle. Thomas is buried in the Confederate plot of Crown Hill cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Robert was 21 when he was wounded and captured at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.
And Robert was just 22 when he died died eight months later (March 1, 1864), one of 12,000 prisoners at Fort Delaware, probably as a result of the harsh winter conditions at the island camp. Update: Hospital records show that he died of hepatic disease (liver disease) and dropsy (abnormal collection of fluid in the tissues or body cavities causing severe swelling).
He is buried in Finn’s Point National Cemetery near Salem, NJ, one of the over 2,500 prisoners who died while imprisoned at Fort Delaware. [Read about the harsh conditions at this camp: http://www.destateparks.com/park/fort-delaware/civil-war/camp-trail/index.asp]
His brother James had died of typhoid at age 39 two years before (1861). He was a merchant before the war. James is buried in the Old Bethel Cemetery in Bethany, Lee County, Mississippi.
Sadly, Singleton Hughes outlived all of his sons and two of his three wives. He lived to be 80-something.
Note: If you are a descendant of Annabelle Gray Wilson (1907-2002), Robert Cowan is a your 2nd/3rd/4th great uncle.
His sister is Mary Francis Hughes Gordon (1831-1919; dressed in black and sitting in the photo below)
the mother of Anna Harriet Gordon Thompson (1859-1915),
the mother of Alice Madora Thompson Gray (1880-1907),
the mother of
Annabelle Gray Wilson.
Fort Delaware Society – http://www.fortdelaware.org
Constitution Society – http://www.constitution.org/csa/ordinances_secession.htm
Second Mississippi Infantry Regiment – http://www.2ndmississippi.org/2nd_miss_part_1/CoE/CoE13.html
Smithsonian’s Civil War timeline – http://www.civilwar.si.edu/timeline.html
2nd Mississippi Infantry wiki by FamilySearch – https://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/2nd_Regiment,_Mississippi_Infantry
In genealogy, following only the mother-daughter connections in your ancestry is called your umbilical genealogy.
For the female descendants of Anna Belle Gray Wilson, it looks like this:
R & A, daughters of →
Robin, daughter of →
B.A., daughter of →
Anna Belle Gray Wilson (1907-2002), daughter of →
Alice Madora Thompson Gray (1880-1907), daughter of →
Anna Harriet Gordon Thompson (1859-1915), daughter of →
(This is where it gets fuzzy; more confirmation needed)
Mary Francis Hughes Gordon (1833-after 1919) daughter of →
Nancy Catherine Devall Hughes (1800-1851), daughter of →
Elizabeth Hill Devall (1775-?)…
Mollie Gray was the oldest daughter of Coleman C. Gray and Nancy Moorhead/Morehead Gray. She was born in Chickasaw County, Mississippi and died of acute indigestion in February 1929 while living with her younger brother Robert Benton Gray in northeast Texas. (Click here for more about Mollie’s siblings)
Her younger brother Lott Dulin Gray, father of Annabelle Gray Wilson, would pass away the following year.
Sadly there is no tombstone for Mollie, perhaps a sign of the time (Depression). Amazingly, a metal marker still stands. She is buried in the Itasca Cemetery in Itasca, Texas.
[Source: Our Wilson Ancestors and Relatives, a typed document given to me by Roy L. Wilson, Jr. Author unknown although he wrote “From M.F. Gordon” on the corner.]
…When [the] Civil War came, Joel Fowler Wilson was 31 years old and the father of 7 children. Three more were born during the war. Ministers were exempt from military duty but many volunteered as soldiers, Chaplains, and hospital commissioners. Those who did not go to war had to support themselves by farming or teaching. Many were destitute but did what they could to minister to the sorrowful and suffering. Our ancestor was numbered with those who stayed at home and served in that capacity.
During the reconstruction years the Wilson family lived through a time of deprivation, hardship and struggle common to all of Mississippi and the south. By the year 1870 the population of the county of 14,776 persons. The farm census for then and for ten years later revealed that most farmers relied on oxen and mules as beasts of burden and the idea of a tractor has not as much as entered the mind. Little was known of erosion control, rotation of crops, or even fertilization so gradually the top soil washed away and the land became less and less profitable. Thus many people moved on to Texas looking for better opportunities, including some of the older children of Joel Fowler Wilson.
In about 1895, because of Ellender’s health [his wife, Ellender Caroline Coker Wilson], our ancestors also moved to Texas . the move proved to be an unfortunate one for Ellender had tuberculous (sic) and she did not improve. The following is the last letter she wrote to her daugher (sic) (this writer’s paternal grandmother), Victoria Wilson Patterson. [Transcribed as typed, except I added paragraph breaks for easier reading]
My dear child; I will try to answer your dear letter received yesterday. Oh Victory you dont know how glad I was to here from you but ______ you was not well. i never do feel a well hour. My health has ben so bad I could not write atall. i am so nervous at times i cant hold anything long at a time. I am alone. Your Pa [Joel Fowler Wilson] has ben preaching over three weeks. I am not able to go with him. He comes home twice a week to see how I am.
i was very sorry Walter [Victoria’s oldest son] was suffering so bad with risings [boils]. Jimmie [James Bennett Wilson, who later married and was divorced from his brother William’s widow Leona] and family has ben here and staid two weeks. Lelia’s [Jimmie’s wife] is some better than it was. Willie [William Ransom Wilson] and Leona and Alvy Griffin [possibly Albert, son of Isabella Wilson Griffin] is gone to Fannin County. Ben gone too weeks. Went through the country about one hundred and twenty miles. They went to Sister Nancy. Alvy has not stade with me any. He has been working with the boy on the farm. We didn’t have anything for him to do.
i can get someone every night to stay with me. Sometimes the children comes but they have a bad chance. Bobby [Robert Best] was here yesterday, said Sue [Susan Ann] was coming one day this week. i don’t think they will ever go back to Mississippi. Bob did get dissatisfied a while. It rained so much they lost all their oats and part of their cotton. It ruined them. It made them all feel bad. They say there never was more corn maid and cotton is a great deal better than they expected and they are all getting along very well.
I got a letter from Lizzy [Elizabeth Vashti Wilson] last week. They was all well except Pearl. Her health is not good and has not been all the year. i hope to get better now. i have a new medicine that has helpt me more than anything i have taken but Victory nothing will ever cure me. i have the worse cough you ever saw anyone in your life have.
Well you asked me if Pa was coming back to Mississippi. He cat leave me and my health is so bad i cant go. i will let you know if i get worse off. Some of the children will write to you. Tell Walter to write to me. You write often. Fairwell dear child.
Ellender Coker Wilson died in Joshua, Texas on April 11, 1896 and was buried in the Caddo Cemetary (sic). Following is a copy of her obituary written by her son, Rev. Dixon Lewis Wilson — Kosciusko Star Herald, April 20, 1896. [See photo below]
…After his wife’s death Joel Fowler Wilson returned to Attala County, Mississippi where he remained active in church live until a short while before his death. He died on May 24, 1898 at the age of 68.
MANY thanks to my now-deceased second cousin Roy L. Wilson Jr. for sharing his work on the Wilson family history with me.
Joel Fowler Wilson and his wife Ellender Coker Wilson begat many children, one of his younger children being my great-grandfather William Ransom Wilson. Joel lived in Attala County, Mississippi (Kosciusko) but ventured west to Joshua, Texas (south of DFW) to visit his son Isom. His beloved wife died and is buried there. Click on photos to see them larger.
This is the text of his obituary in the May 27, 1898 issue of the Mississippi Farmer (page and article image at bottom):
- All that was mortal of this grand man was laid to rest in the city cemetery here Wednesday after the funeral service at the Baptist Church by Rev. W.H.H. Fancher of French Camp. Joel Wilson was born in Georgia 18??, married in Yellowbusha (Yalobusha) co 18??, ordained as a Baptist minister 1856. He had long resided in this county, and few men were better known and he was universally like by all denomination and people who knew him. Not only (to?) the Baptists was he a faithful minister, but the county a useful citizen. He moved to Texas a few years ago and his beloved wife was called to her heavenly home. He returned to Attala county last year and resided with his son Rev. Dixon L. Wilson near Sardis where he died Monday, May 23, 18??.
[Photo and obituary courtesy of Roy L. Wilson, Jr., 1921-2008]