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).
Newsflash 1: Yesterday I discovered that there is another Mitchell brother — John A. Mitchell, son of Albert Washington Mitchell and Susan Cone Mitchell. He was their 4th child. He died in 1859 at the age of 19. He is also buried in Attala County, Mississippi but not in the Shady Grove Methodist Church cemetery with his parents. John is buried in the Liberty Chapel Cemetery (Methodist) in Ethel, Mississippi (see his Findagrave record).
Newsflash 2: This Mitchell family — parents Albert W. and Susan Cone Mitchell — lived in Henry County, Georgia before moving west to the Kosciusko, Mississippi area. The majority of the offspring of Albert (born in South Carolina) and Susan (born in New York) were born Henry County, which is south of Atlanta:
- Whitman William Mitchell (1833-1862) – killed 31 December 1862 during the Battle at Murfreesboro, TN. He was hit by a cannon ball while attempting to aid his younger brother Albert Pierce Mitchell who had been severely injured. He was 29 years old.
- George Fellows Mitchell (1835-1914)
- Lucy A. Mitchell (1837-1918)
- John A. Mitchell (1840-1859)
- Albert Pierce (or Pearce) Mitchell (1842-?) — maternal grandfather of L.A., Roy Sr, Frank and Willie Wilson
- Benjamin Franklin Mitchell (1846-1864) — killed during the fighting around Atlanta in August 1864 and may be buried in Atlanta’s beautiful Oakland Cemetery.
- Charles Robert Mitchell (1848-1895)
Their last child, Cornelia B. Mitchell, was born in Pontotoc County, Mississippi in 1851. So sometime between 1848 and 1851 the family traveled about 350 miles west, a trip that likely took 10 days or more.
Now to find out why they left Georgia, why they chose Mississippi, and the route they likely traveled.
This Wilson-Gray family has been in the United States for about 300 years. Most of our ancestors were farmers in South Carolina, North Carolina or Virginia in pre-Revolutionary War times. The most recent immigrant member of the family that I’m aware of is Lucy Granville Penn (1673-1719). Lucy was born in Gloucestershire in southwest England, near Wales. Lucy is the grandmother of John Penn, our cousin who signed the Declaration of Independence (see earlier post). Specifically:
Leona Mitchell Wilson (1868-1930), mother of brothers L.A., Frank, Roy and Willie, was the daughter of Albert Pierce Mitchell (1844-?), the son of Albert Washington Mitchell (1810-1881), the son of Nimrod Mitchell Jr (1779-1837), the son of Mary Elizabeth Penn Mitchell (1746-1818), the daughter of Joseph Penn (1717-1774), the son of Lucy Granville Penn (1673-1719). I don’t know when or how she came to Colonial America…yet.
If you are a member of this Wilson family you are related to a signer of the Declaration of Independence, albeit a bit indirectly.
How are we related? It’s a long story:
I’ll begin with Wilson brothers L.A. (1890-1962), Roy (1894-1968) , Frank (1899-1981) and Willie (1902-1948).
Their mother was Leona A. Mitchell Wilson (1868-1930), pictured above.
Leona’s father was Confederate veteran Albert Pierce Mitchell (1844-?) of Attala County, MS.
Pierce’s father was Albert Washington Mitchell (1810-1881), born in Laurens District, SC.
Albert’s father was Nimrod Mitchell Jr. (1779-1837) of the Abbeville District, SC.
Nimrod’s mother was Mary Elizabeth Penn (1746-1818) of Caroline County, VA.
Mary Elizabeth’s father was Joseph Penn (1717-1774). Joseph’s brother Moses Penn (1712-1759) and wife Catherine Taylor Penn were the parents of John Penn (1740-1788), a representative to the Continental Congress for North Carolina.
Frank Mitchell Wilson and his bride Ruby Dobbins were married in Richton, MS on Sunday, October 17, 1920. They had been married 60 years when he died of emphysema in 1981.
Frank’s parents were newspaperman William Ransom Wilson (b. July 23, 1867, d. March 12, 1912) and Leona A. Mitchell Wilson (b. May 1, 1867, d. 1930). He was their 7th child (of 8). Frank grew up with four brothers: older brothers L.A. and Roy, and younger brother Willie. Four other siblings died before the age of 3: Hattie, Pierce, Claudie and Earl.
What do you remember about Frank & Ruby? I’d love to know.
[Updates are in blue – 3/24/2011]
Anna Belle Gray Wilson — Anna was her maternal grandmother’s name; Belle was her father’s sister (Belle Houston). He must have been close to her; after his wife Alice died, Lott and his two older children, Tip and Edna) went to live with Belle and her family. Infant Anna Belle went to live with her mother’s parents.
Nancy Edna Gray Trussell – Nancy was her paternal grandmother’s name (Nancy Morehead Gray), who died a few years before she was born. Edna might have been one of her great aunts (Edna Jane Gray).
Thompson (Tip) Everett Gray — Thompson was his mother’s maiden name.
Lott Dulin Gray — Father of Anna, Edna and Tip, he was likely named for his father’s younger brother, Lott Dulin Gray. Dulin was their mother’s maiden name (Demaris Dulin Gray).
Lemuel Albert Wilson (Sr.)— Born July 29, 1890, L.A. was named for his father’s youngest brother Lemuel who had died at age 19 a few months before (April 17, 1890; buried near his father in the Kosciusko City Cemetery). Albert was his maternal grandfather’s name (Albert Pierce Mitchell, a Confederate veteran) and his also great-grandfather’s (Albert Washington Mitchell) name.
Frank Mitchell Wilson — Haven’t found a connection to Frank. Mitchell was his mother’s maiden name.
Roy Leon Wilson (Sr.)— Haven’t found a connection to Roy. Leon is perhaps short for Leona, his mother’s name.
Willie Arnold Wilson (Sr.) — Willie was what his father was sometimes listed as in census records. Haven’t yet found a connection to Arnold.