[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, 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.
“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].
“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]
Since today is the 150th anniversary of the start of the War Between the States, I am publishing a quick post about those in the Wilson-Gray family who served in the military during this dark time in American history. As you may recall, this civil war began on Friday, April 12, 1861 when Confederate artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter, just off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. Although many of our ancestors lived in South Carolina during Revolutionary War days, most moved west in the following decades.
There are no Union soldiers in our direct line that I’m aware of. We have several who served the Confederacy, none of whom were slave owners as far as I know.
Wilsons — Joel Fowler Wilson was the patriarch. He was 31 and the father of seven when the war broke out. Three more children were born between 1862-1865 making it unlikely that the Reverend served in the military at this time. However, his eldest sons Dixon L., Isom A. and Joel L. were old enough to have possibly served. More research needed.
Albert Pierce Mitchell and his brothers Whitman, George, and Ben served in the 30th Mississippi Infantry, Company D (Dixie Heroes). He was injured severely in the jaw during the Battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. His older brother Whitman came to his aid and was killed. Pierce was sent to a confederate hospital in Marietta, Georgia. On 24 November 1863 he was captured at the Battle of Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Tennessee and was imprisoned in Rock Island Barracks, Illinois. He was exchanged on 28 March 1865 and sent to Camp Lee near Richmond, Virginia. He returned to Attala County. (Read more about his brothers’ military service in an earlier post. [Albert Pierce Mitchell’s daughter, Leona Mitchell Wilson, is the mother of L.A., Roy, Frank, and Willie Wilson]
Grays — Annabelle Gray Wilson’s father, Lott Dulin Gray, and most of his siblings were born during or after the war but their father, Coleman C. Gray, might be the C.C. Gray listed in the National Park Service’s Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System among the soldiers in Perrin’s Battalion – Company H, also known as the Chicksaw Rangers, and/or the 8th Mississippi Calvary – Company E, also from Chickasaw County. Coleman might have had a brother, Lott (Lod) D. Gray, that also served. Much more research is needed.
Thompsons — Annabelle Gray Wilson’s maternal grandfather, John F. “Jack” Thompson, lost a leg in battle. His wooden prosthesis, shaped like a fork without the middle tine, is still in the family’s possession. I believe he was a member of the 31st Mississippi Infantry. Again, more research is needed.
I’ve started a virtual cemetery on find-a-grave.com that contain photos, transcriptions, locations, etc. of the Wilson-Gray family graves.
- Prospect Methodist Church Cemetery (Houston, MS) — including, Coleman C. Gray and his wife Nancy Morehead (Moorehead) Gray, their children Lott Dulan Gray, Belle Gray Houston, and Lenore Gray Sims, and Lott’s first wife Alice Madora Thompson Gray.
- Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery (Houston, MS) – including John F. “Jack” Thompson and his wife Anna Gordon Thompson, and their 10 year old daughter Annie Pearl, plus what is likely his first wife and their daughter Mary.
- New Albany (MS) Cemetery – William Ransom Wilson and his wife Leona A. Mitchell Wilson.
- Oakridge Cemetery (Clarksdale, MS) – Willie A. Wilson and his wife Annabelle Gray Wilson.
- Shady Grove Church Cemetery (Kosciusko, MS) – Albert Washington Mitchell and his wife Susan Cone Mitchell.
- Kosciusko (MS) City Cemetery (old section) – including Joel Fowler Wilson and his sons Dixon and Lemuel, also Frances Hines Mitchell Harper.
- Lee Memorial Park (Tupelo, MS) — Nancy Edna Gray Trussell and her husband James Earl Trussell.
- Caddo Cemetery (Joshua, TX) — Ellender Coker Wilson, wife of Joel Fowler Wilson, her son Isom Alexander Wilson.
- Greenwood Memorial Park (Fort Worth, TX) – Thompson Everett “Tip” Gray. Note: Tip was cremated and his ashes were scattered beneath the Turner Oak; there is no marker.
- Rose Hill Cemetery (Fort Worth, TX) – John Coleman Gray
- Masonic Cemetery (Pilot Point, TX) – Joseph Quitman Gray
- Ridge Park Cemetery (Itasca, TX) – Robert Benton Gray
- Itasca Cemetery (Itasca, TX) – Mollie Gray (metal marker)
(CLICK ON PHOTOS TO SEE FULL-SCREEN)
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…”