MS Roots

November 26, 2011

Don’t Shoot, Aunt Thelma!

Filed under: Hathorn,mississippi family history,Prentiss,Uncategorized — by tmailhes @ 3:51 am
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This is Robert Hathorn’s story.  

There are some things that you need to know about my grandma to appreciate this story.  She lived with her two sisters off an unpaved road in the middle of nowhere.  She went to bed at 11:30pm just after the Johnny Carson Show on weeknights and at 10:30pm on weekend nights just after the News.  There was a storage room in her carport that held tools, a freezer and a container of gasoline.  She owned three guns – a .22, a .38 and sawed-off double-barreled shotgun.  And she was an excellent shot.

So on to cousin Robert’s story…

It was late, late round about two o’clock.  I didn’t have enough gas to make it home so I pulled in to Aunt Thelma’s.  I cut off the car lights and eased the car down the road to just in front of the carport.  I walked up into the shed, turned on the light, got the gas can and walked out.  Didn’t think nothing about it.

I’m putting the gas in the tank and BAMM!  Let me tell you, I hit that ground.  I felt the hot wind whirling round that bullet. I’m laying there in the gravel.  You know wasn’t nothing but sand and rocks in front of the carport.  I got a mouth full of sand and I’m trying to talk to her. Another crack.  BAMM!  This time that bullet skidded across the roof of the car.  

I got my breath and I yell, “Don’t shoot, Aunt Thelma!  It’s me, Robert.  It’s me, Robert.”  I’m calling her y’all and praying at the same time.  

Then I hear Aunt Christine.  “Shoot him, Thelma.  I’ll drag him under the carport.”  My right hand to God, Aunt Christine said that.

I’m still talking telling them it’s me.  Aunt Thelma says, “Stand up boy!”  I get up with my hands up.  My legs just a shaking.  Aunt Thelma and Aunt Christine standing on that side porch with hedges.  None of them got their glasses on.  Aunt Thelma holding that double-barreled shotgun on me like she in the movies, man.  You know she held that gun high up against her shoulder.  I’m just praying there’s enough light she can make me out.  

Finally, she drop that gun down and laugh.  “Boy, that’s a good way to get killed.”

Aunt Christine starts walking in the house and turns around and says, “Scaring folks in the middle of the night.”  I’m thinking I’m the one shaking and can’t get my hands down.  Let me tell you the next time I needed gas in the middle of the night,  I pulled over and slept in the car.  I waited till first light and rang the doorbell.

 

August 8, 2011

Memories of Papa

I speak with my cousin Comel Hawthorn (she is a Hathorn who married a Hawthorn) about once a month to catch up about family in Prentiss, MS.  I share information that I have found on the family and more often than not she tells me that whatever I’ve found can’t possibly be right.  Today, I got her good!  She is waiting for me to send this information to her and has told me that her retired sister will  follow up on research.

The information – A Freedmen’s Bureau Contract listing our 4th great-grandmother being given one acre of land by N.C. Hathorn along with 4 other adults and 1 dependent adult.  The dependent adult was Sanco Hathorn, enslaved son of N. C. Hathorn.  The other adults all mulattoes would also take the name of Hathorn.  I told Comel about my conversation with the 3rd great-granddaughter of N.C. Hathorn and that everyone knew that Sanco was his son.  The location of N.C. Hathorn’s other enslaved children was not known.  I told her that the other children may have been those listed in the contract including our Myhalia Hathorn.

Comel was silent before saying, “I don’t know if the other children will say this, but I was always a little scared of the way that Papa looked.  His hair was what you would call wavy.  And his eyes were light colored.  Hazel, I guess we would say now.  Though I think they were green.  He had light skin lighter than your Aunt Elna who looked most like him.  We didn’t associate with White people when I was growing up so one day when a White man came over to talk to Papa about something.  I asked if that man was kin.  He looked more like Papa than anyone else.  I was told to hush up because that was a White man.  But he looked like Papa – same coloring, same hair, same eyes.  I wonder if we ain’t related to those White Hathorns?

Proof?  I don’t know if we’ll get it.  I just don’t know if there is any document out there that will tell us the reason that N.C. Hathorn chose 5 adult slaves to give an acre of land after Emancipation.

July 3, 2011

Preparing for interview with Grace Nell Hathorn

Filed under: Hathorn,Holloway Family,mississippi family history,Prentiss — by tmailhes @ 2:47 pm

This week, I will be visiting family in Prentiss, MS and will have the opportunity to speak with my Aunt Nell. She is not really an aunt, but the widow of my 2nd cousin, Toxey Hathorn. I remember her from my childhood as a beautiful woman. She was short and slender and had the most beautiful black, black hair that was always wound into a bun at the nape of her neck. She and Toxey had 13 children.
I am trying to find the most important questions to ask her and have come up with the list below. I know my Dad and my brother will there telling me to leave her alone so I won’t have much time!

1.) What were the names of your parents?
2.) Where did you live?
3.) Where were you and Toxey married? (I have a lot of marriage records, but I really don’t know if anyone was married in a church or if you just went to the JP.)
4.) Do you remember Thelma’s (my grandma) first husband, Eddie Johnson?
5.) What happened to him?
6.) Do you remember Papa’s (my great-grandfather) brothers and sisters? (I have my list to confirm with her. Estus Hathorn is the unknown. I remember his son, Buster, was called a cousin. However, I don’t know if Estus was a brother or a cousin himself.)
7.) Do you remember Bill and Harriet Hathorn? (my 2nd great-grandparents)
8.) What did they look like?
9.) Do you remember John and Anna Holloway? (I believe we are related to the Holloway family, but my family says no)
10.) Why were they living with Bill and Harriet?

I’m very excited about my trip and will give a follow-up and pictures from the field!

May 15, 2011

Dinner with James

I was very excited this evening to have dinner with my cousin, James. It was great to be able to speak with a fellow family historian. He shared some wonderful stories with me and I could just hear my mom and grandmother saying those things. It was nice to know that they hadn’t changed from the time he knew them to the time that I knew them.

James is the grandson of my great-grandmother’s brother. He is also the nephew of my great-uncle’s wife. His father’s sister married my grandmother’s brother. I think that makes us double cousins?? We are both not sure about that.

James, however, was able to solve one mystery for me. I remembered a set of twins from my childhood. They were adults when I was born. I remember them because of their names – Big and Lil. I didn’t realize at the time that those were nicknames. I have asked older cousins in the past what their actual names were and had always gotten the same response, “I don’t remember”. James was able to tell me that they were named Rufus (Big) and Rascus (Lil). Both names are derivatives of Rucus, our uncle.

We talked about the families, about their love of laughter and their love for each other. They seemed never to grow tired of one another. We talked about hoping to pass this knowledge of the importance of kinship and laughter to our children.

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.

February 4, 2011

Finding Focus – Arthur and Idella Hathorn, The Beginning

One of my goals for this year is to write a narrative sketch of Arthur and Idella Hathorn, my maternal great-grandparents. Thanks to the weird north Texas winter storm, I have had four days to organize my thoughts and find focus for the project. I have decided to focus on the beginning of their lives together

The Near Beginning
1910 Federal Census, Beat 1, Jefferson Davis County, MS
Arthur Hathorn H M B 24
Married for 5 Years, Renter, Working, Own Account, Farmer
Farm Schedule #49
Idella Hathorn Wife F B 23
Married for 5 Years, 4 births, 4 children
Clara Hathorn D F B 4
Flucor Hathorn S M B 3
Irma Hathorn D F B 2
Rucus S M B 6/12

The Location
Jefferson Davis County was formed from parts of Covington and Lawrence counties in 1906. The county seat is Prentiss, MS. Prentiss is a rural agriculture community.

The Time Period 1900 – 1920
The Hathorn family would have lived in the midst of the Mississippi’s Jim Crow system and frequent epidemics. Death from disease and lynchings would be a part of life. During the first 20 years of their marriage, the Hathorns would experience WWI and the First Great Migration.

I have decided to start writing even though, there are some questions that need to be answered.
1. Who are Idella’s parents and where is she from?
2. When and where were Arthur and Idella married?
3. How old was Idella?

I have ordered Idella’s death record. Hopefully that will provide the leads to fill in the other questions quickly.

December 29, 2010

2011 Research Goals – Mahala

Filed under: african american genealogy,Covington County, MS,Hathorn,Prentiss — by tmailhes @ 2:56 pm

Mahala (Haley) HATHORN caught my attention early in my research. She is my 3rd great-grandmother listed in a tiny community of other freed slaves named HATHORN living in Holliday Creek, Covington County, MS. Mahala is one of the three women enumerated as mulatto HATHORNs in the 1870 Census. My goal is to complete her story.

What I have:
Census records (1870 – 1920) She is shown as being married to Isaac HATHORN. She is shown as having had 5 children (Zana, Ann, LD?, William and Matilda). In the 1900 census, the children are out of the house and there are 2 grandchildren (Anna HOLLOWAY and John HOLLOWAY) living with Isaac and Mahala. In the 1920 census, Mahala is living with John HOLLOWAY and his wife Mabelle WHITE.

Freedman’s Bureau Labor Contract (June 2, 1865) The labor contract is for 6 months of work for N.C. HATHORN in exchange for food of “good and sufficient quality”, shelter, necessary medical care and an allotment of land for gardening purposes. The group of laborers are Dorry?, Mahala, Lucy, Calvin, Jane Racheal, Bertro and Ann. Dependents are Sanco, Henry, Willis, Jack and Easter. (Lucy and Jane are the two other mulatto women listed in the 1870 census in the Holliday Creek community).

What I may have:
Death certificate – I found a 1924 death certificate for Myhalia HATHORN in Jefferson Davis County, MS. The name and the place of death are in line with the known information about Mahala. However, her age is listed as 52. Mahala would have been in her 80s at the time! The informant is listed as William HATHORN. William is my 2nd great grandfather. The burial is Pleasant Grove Church. A trip to Prentiss, MS is in order.

Next Step:
Cluster genealogy – I will begin researching the plantation owning HATHORNs and the others listed on the labor contract.

Deadline: – December 1, 2011

December 23, 2010

Thriller Thursday – They come to say their good-byes

Filed under: Covington County,family history,Hathorn,Prentiss — by tmailhes @ 2:15 pm
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I spent at least a month each summer with my grandmother, Thelma Hathorn, and her two sisters, Elna Hathorn and Christine Hathorn, in the tiny town of Prentiss, MS. As a teenager, it was very boring. Cable television didn’t reach that far. But when I was young, it was great. There were trees to climb, fields to wander through, watermelon to eat from the vine and tons of cousins to play with. I even had fun picking cucumbers!
The nights, however. The nights were always scary. There were no street lights. Just darkness and nothingness.
I would sleep with my great-aunt, Christine, in her big bed and would snuggle up close to her. I was sure that the fierceness that the tiny woman expressed during the day would protect me through the night.
I was about 6 years old when I began to doubt if this was true.
Flucor Hathorn, the sisters’ brother, died in 1977. I don’t remember his face or the sound of his voice. I only remember the night he passed.
I was sleeping next to Christine when my grandmother let out a painful sound. Not a scream. A loud wail. I was immediately awake and so was Christine. She hurried across the hall to my grandmother’s room. My Aunt Elna was hurrying across the hall as well. She was saying, “Who is it? Who is it?” I sat alone in the darkness, frightened. I listened to their crying and started to cry myself.
Aunt Christine came into our dark room and told me to bring my covers down to the living room. The house was awake, but quiet. I curled up on the sofa and watched as the three of them made breakfast in silence. My Aunt Elma even made teacakes. It was still dark outside.
I can’t remember how long we sat there. It seemed like hours. Finally the phone rang. It was Flucor’s son. Uncle Flucor had passed away in the night. My grandmother said that she was on her way over to sit with his wife. She said, “Flucor told me to sit with Nannie Mae.”
Though I could not express it at the time. I knew that something had happened. Something strange.
As my brothers grew and spent summers with my grandmother, they witnessed these episodes of knowing. We never talked about it.
Except once. When my grandmother passed away. My brothers and I were in her kitchen packing her things away. My brother, the practical, said that maybe we should let Nanny know that we are okay and that she didn’t need to visit us or anything like that.
We all agreed and together we said, “Nanny, we love you. You don’t need to visit us.” We laughed at our silliness. But I was glad we said it out loud.

December 19, 2010

Sunday’s Obituary: Ella Rose (Nell) Hathorn

In Loving Memory of Ella Rose (Nell) Hathorn
August 27, 1942 – January 29, 1996
Ella Rose Hathorn was born August 27, 1942 in Covington County, MS to the late Johnny and Viola Sullivan.
Ella Rose united with Friendship Baptist Church at an early age. She attended the Covington County Schools.
She married the late Mr. James Hathorn in 1963. She later attended the Mt. Harmony and Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Churches. She worked at H&P Sales and Groceries and Polk Meats for many years.
She was called home on Monday January 29, 1996. She is preceded in death by her parents: Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Sullivan; one brother: Ellis Sullivan; her husband: Mr. James Hathorn.
She leaves to cherish in loving memory John L. Fairley, two sons: Le John Fairley and Richard Lee Winters; one daughter: Kemeka Fairley, all of Prentiss, MS; five sisters: Georgia Simmons of Jackson, MS, Johnnie V. Joshua, Christine Brewer of Prentiss, MS, Brenda Jones and June Harris both of San Jose, CA; four brothers: Marcellus Magee of Chicago, IL, John Magee of Gulfport, MS, Willie Sullivan of Hazelhurst, MS and Robert Sullivan of Prentiss, MS; four aunts: Myrtle McLaurin of Milwaukee, WI, Mattie (John) Mayes of Springfield, MA, Mae Helen Powell of Chicago, IL, and Tina McLaurin of Gulfport, MS; one uncle: Sonny McLaurin of St. Petersburg, FL; her mother-in-law: Mrs. Lola Fairley of Prentiss, MS; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

August 18, 2010

Marriage Records and Surprises

Filed under: Hathorn,mississippi family history,Prentiss,Uncategorized — by tmailhes @ 3:16 am

I was very excited when the library called to tell me that the microfilm from the LDS library was in.  I had requested the colored marriage records from Jefferson Davis County 1939 – 1954.  I was sure that I was going to find my grandparents marriage records and hopeful that I would find records for my great – aunts, Elma and Christine.

I looked immediately for Abraham Graves, my grandfather, and found nothing.  I then scanned the brides’ names just to see if I could find my two aunts.  And there was the name – Thelma Hathorn.  My grandmother’s name.  The groom was Eddie Hugh Johnson.  The record showed that on 15 February 1947 Thelma Hathorn, daughter of Arthur Hathorn of Prentiss, MS, married Eddie Hugh Johnson, son of Jim Johnson of Mendenhall, MS.  My first surprise – my grandmother had a first husband!? Still waiting on a call from the cousins to see if anyone remembers this or if this something that has been conveniently forgotten.  I have yet to find the marriage record for my grandparents.

I continued scanning the brides’ names and found my two great-aunts.  Elnora “Elma” Hathorn married Joe Burkhalter on 1 March 1949.  She was 26 and he was 55.   The age difference was amazing because the vast majority of couples in the records were only 2 or 3 years apart in age.

Christine Hathorn married Mack Durr on 18 August 1951.  She is listed as 25 years old and he is 26 years old.  But my great-aunt was born about 1916, she would have been about 35 years old at the time of the married.  I wonder if his age had been miscalculated as well?

Upcoming interviews will focus on these three men.  If my grandmother was married in 1947, when did she marry my grandfather and have my mother and uncle between 1948 and late 1949?  Why did Elma marry a man twice her age?  Did Christine knowingly marry a man 10 years younger? And what happened to the marriages? Death? Divorce?

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