MS Roots

May 12, 2011

Wednesdays and Barbecue

Each Wednesday, barbecue is served in the cafeteria at work. I have worked there for five years and the Barbecue Wednesday has been in existence for the last three. Today it made me laugh.

I thought about the first family cookout that my husband ever attended with me in Prentiss, MS. Cookouts were nothing special for the Hathorns. We had random cookouts for anywhere from 20 to 50 cousins, aunts and uncles all the time. The men grilled and the women made potato salad, egg salad, green salad, cornbread, baked beans and the desserts. Only water and tea (sweetened of course) were served around the table. There was usually a tree with a cooler under it that held the beer. That was just the way dinner was served in the summer.

I told my newlywed husband that we were going to Prentiss, MS to visit my grandmother and that most likely there would be a cookout. He looked worried. The idea of an interracial couple in a small town in Mississippi didn’t make him feel all warm inside. I told him that he was being ridiculous. The whole trip to Mississippi, he kept asking if everyone in my family knew that he was White and that they were cool with that. I kept saying yes, but he didn’t believe me.

The day of the cookout, my family welcomed him with open arms. He looked a little more comfortable as the day got started but kept his seat next to me and my grandma. My cousin yelled, “Food’s ready, y’all” and a rush of people gathered around the food table with plates. A cousin said to Paul, “Baby, we made you gumbo. It’s not the best, but I think it’s all right.” He thanked her politely, but didn’t move from his seat.

My grandma leaned over to me and whispered, “Get Paul a plate.” I then turned to Paul and said, “Get your plate.” And for the first time since I was a very small child my grandmother pinched me under the table – hard! She whispered again, “Don’t embarrass me. Get Paul a plate.”

Well, with those instructions, what could I do? I got food for Paul and my grandma and myself. My grandma smiled and Paul grinned. I mouthed “Never again” and he laughed. We still talk about that day almost 16 years later when I was disciplined by my grandma as 22 year old married woman.

March 14, 2011

Matrilineal Monday – Thelma and Elna and Christine


My grandmother, Thelma Hathorn Johnson Graves (pictured on the left), and my aunt Elenor “Elna” Hathorn Burkhalter (pictured on the right) were always together. My aunt Christine Hathorn Durr, the third member of this trio, is probably hiding away from the camera. My Nanny and Aunt Elna were the ones out front. They laughed loudly, smoked cigarettes and drank beer. Aunt Christine was quite reserved in contrast. She would rarely speak in public. She never drank beer or alcohol or smoked cigarettes. The youngest three sisters of the Hathorn family. The secret keepers.
As I have embarked on the family history journey, I’ve uncovered bits of the secrets that they kept. But no ultimate Truth to date.
My grandmother had a first husband, Eddie Hugh Johnson. I found the marriage certificate. A cousin told me that she seemed to remember that someone had said that my grandmother had been married once before my grandfather but she couldn’t remember what happened to the man.
My Aunt Elna was married to a man named Joe Burkhalter. Again I found a marriage certificate. Again a cousin says that she seemed to remember a marriage, but she couldn’t remember what happened to the man.
My Aunt Christine was married to a man named Mack Durr. Yes, I found a marriage certificate. Yes a cousin says that she remembered something. This time, however, I found the niece of Mack Durr. A fellow genealogist who was able to give me a little more of the story of this woman with whom I had lived my childhood and adult life through 2008.
Oh, the things they kept!
My latest challenge? Those cousins who remember a little of this and a little of that have asked if I could find their father’s father. This is the big secret of the family. The eldest daughter of Arthur and Idella Hathorn had a son out of wedlock. This son was raised as the youngest child of Arthur and Idella. It wasn’t until he was 65 and applying for benefits that he discovered that his biological mother was his sister.
Of course, my cousins asked my grandmother and her two sisters for the answers. As my cousin says, “Your grandmother and Aunt Elna and Aunt Christine called us everything but the child of God, so that was the end of that.”
I don’t know if we will find the answers, but I’m thankful for the riddles.

December 20, 2010

2011 Research Goals – W. Arthur HATHORN and Idella GRIFFITH

At some point in 1905, 25 year old William Arthur Hathorn married 14 year old Idella Griffith. Why? An obvious answer is that their first child was also born in 1905; however, the age difference is still extreme.
To this union would be born 9 children.
2011 Research Goals
1. Find the parents of Idella Griffith
a. Unable to locate Idella Griffith in census of Covington County, Mississippi or surrounding counties prior to 1910.
b. Idella died in 1962, her death record should still be on file with the Vital Records Office of the Mississippi State Department of Health.
2. Verify her age at time of marriage
a. Unable to locate a Covington County marriage record for William Arthur Hathorn or Idella Griffith.
b. Will check Lawrence County, Simpson County and Marion County for a marriage record.
3. Document birth and death dates for each of 9 children
4. Obtain marriage records for each of 9 children
2011 Research Writing
Complete biographical sketch of Arthur and Idella Hathorn. They will be the beginning or ending of the story of my branch of the HATHORNs in Covington County,Mississippi.

The Toni Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.