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

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

Captured at Gettysburg (Updated)

Mississippi Magnolia flag (1861)

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.”

Discharge: Robert C. Hughes

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)

Mary Francis Gordon & children

the mother of Anna Harriet Gordon Thompson (1859-1915),

Anna Gordon Thompson (1859-1915)

the mother of Alice Madora Thompson Gray (1880-1907),

Alice Madora Thompson Gray (1880-1907)

the mother of

Anna Belle Gray Wilson (1907-2002)

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

Mississippi’s Ordinance of Secession (January 9, 1861)

AN ORDINANCE to dissolve the union between the State of Mississippi and other States united with her under the compact entitled “The Constitution of the United States of America.”

The people of the State of Mississippi, in convention assembled, do ordain and declare, and it is hereby ordained and declared, as follows, to wit:

Section 1. That all the laws and ordinances by which the said State of Mississippi became a member of the Federal Union of the United States of America be, and the same are hereby, repealed, and that all obligations on the part of the said State or the people thereof to observe the same be withdrawn, and that the said State doth hereby resume all the rights, functions, and powers which by any of said laws or ordinances were conveyed to the Government of the said United States, and is absolved from all the obligations, restraints, and duties incurred to the said Federal Union, and shall from henceforth be a free, sovereign, and independent State.

Sec. 2. That so much of the first section of the seventh article of the constitution of this State as requires members of the Legislature and all officers, executive and judicial, to take an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution of the United States be, and the same is hereby, abrogated and annulled.

Sec. 3. That all rights acquired and vested under the Constitution of the United States, or under any act of Congress passed, or treaty made, in pursuance thereof, or under any law of this State, and not incompatible with this ordinance, shall remain in force and have the same effect as if this ordinance had not been passed.

Sec. 4. That the people of the State of Mississippi hereby consent to form a federal union with such of the States as may have seceded or may secede from the Union of the United States of America, upon the basis of the present Constitution of the said United States, except such parts thereof as embrace other portions than such seceding States.

Thus ordained and declared in convention the 9th day of January, in the year of our Lord 1861.

Source: Official Records, Ser. IV, vol. 1, p. 42.


Caught up in the Revolution

Note: The information below was copied from Ancestry.com. If you are a descendant of Annabelle Gray Wilson, this is how we are related to John:

Annabelle Gray Wilson (1907-2002) — Lott Doolin/Dulan Gray (1873-1930)– Coleman C. Gray (1819-1891) — Hezekiah Gray (~1774-1853) — to John Gray


John Gray and Ailsey Hyatt Gray immigrated to America in 1771 with five  children.

John Gray (1735-1806) was on Duncan’s Creek of Enoree  River, in  what later became Laurens County by 1771.  He obtained a warrent  for 200 acres of land on the south fork of Duncan’s Creek and it was delivered to him in 1773.

Numerous Gray Revolutionary War service records are found in the SC State Archives.  Also, there were several Loyalist Grays, and several John Grays served, but it is fairly easy to identify  which John is which by their associates and localities.  See Revolutionary War folder AA3049 also shown in S.E. S-502.   Descendants have joined NSDAR in Washington, DC on his record.

John Gray’s home was burned by the Tories (Gray Family Journal, 1937). This researcher has heard the story many times: While John Gray was serving as a horseman in the SC Militia, his wife Ailesy came to the time of her fulfilment and her husband came home on leave of absence.  He was tracked there by the Tory band  who were followers of Bloody Bill Cunningham.  They were infuriated because John has escaped into the woods in view of  them.  They entered the house where Ailsey was confined and  plundered it of portable valuables.  They scattered to the four  winds the feathers of the bed, and only gave her enough time to  grab the infant and a satchel of baby clothes.  They then burned the house to the ground.

Ailsey died about 1795, and John married a second time to Rebecca Bishop, sister of Martha Bishop who was later the wife of Jesse Gray.  Both were sisters of Nathan Bishop who married Manima Gray.

John Gray died probably in 1806.  He is reputed to have had a life of integrity, initiative, industry, faith and conviction.

A Family Dispute

 [Many thanks to the unnamed person who shared this information with me on Ancestry.com. Now I know why many of Coleman’s children went to Hill County, Texas]

Demaris Doolin Gray died March 17, 1870 in Anderson County, SC.

If you would like further information on the family at that time, there is a file in the Anderson (SC) Courthouse of a dispute between son Hezekiah H. Gray, who was her heir, and her other children. Of particular interest is the testimony of Edna Jane Gray who stayed with her brother Hezekiah after all the other siblings went to Texas. I don’t know when Coleman and other brothers went to Mississippi.

The dispute seems to be that the others who were away wanted the court to revisit the settlement (in the 1880’s). Edna said that H.H.Gray had had to stay with his mother Demaris when all the others left, so Demaris wanted him to have whatever she had. The court found in H.H. Gray’s favor.

Demaris is listed as “Mary” Gray in the 1860 census (Anderson County, SC). Rebecca Caroline Gray, widow of William Hunter, went to Irene, Texas (Hill County) with her 4 children. You can find her in the 1880 census. She died on October 16, 1890 and is buried at the Salem-Irene Cemetery in Hill County. It is shown online. Hezekiah died October 31, 1920. He was born 18 May 1842. Edna Jane Gray who married Robert Adams Gray, a cousin, (grandfather of Wil Lou Gray) late in life; lived a bit after HH died. She was born April 17, 1839.

Looks like we’re Irish

If you are a member of this Gray family line, you might be interested to know that it looks as though our roots trace back from Mississippi to South Carolina to Ireland. If the research another family historian has done is correct and belongs to our John Gray, we also have another Revolutionary War patriot. At this point, it would be wise to take all of this information with a huge grain of salt.

John Gray B. 1735, Laurens County, SC; d 1806; m.  Ailse Hiatt 1761

He served in the militia as a horseman during 1780-1782.  The Tories burned his house.  At sometime, he was in Sumter’s brigade and was also under Colonel Hammond. John Gray-served in the light dragoons under Capt Samuel Martin, Lt. Col. William Polk, and General Sumter during 1781. John Gray, served as a captain in the militia under Col Winn. Source: Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution.

Roster of Revolutionary Soldiers in Georgia Vol II:

John Gray, B. abt 1735, Laurens Co., SC; d. at the same place 1806; married 1761, 96th Dist. SC, Ailse Hiatt B. SC 1740, Died SC 1787.
He was a Revolutionary Soldier of S.C., served as a member of the S.C. militia and as a Patriot, supplied provisions for the State Soldiers.  His home was burned by the Tories.  (Ref Indents of S.C. Rev. Claims by Sailey, Book R, p. 184, N.S.D.A.R. 171971)

Children: Hezekiah, b. 1763, mar. Demaris Dulin [If this is our Hezekiah, he was the father of Coleman Gray, the father of Lott Dulin Gray, father of our Annabelle Gray Wilson]