MS Roots

June 26, 2011

That’s My Mama’s Land

Filed under: Uncategorized — by tmailhes @ 2:19 am

My dad is a wonderful storyteller because you never know when he is kidding. As a young man, he had a heat stroke which paralyzed the lower left side of his face. He has always worn a mustache so that you can’t tell that his whole mouth isn’t moving when he talks. He also received shrapnel to the upper left side of his face during Vietnam so his left eye was left in a permanent squint. All this makes my dad look very serious all the time. You just never know if he is kidding or not.

This is the story he told when I asked about his mother’s family – the WRIGHTs

We all worked in the cotton fields of my mama’s aunt. She was a mean old woman that we all called Aunt Joe. I know that wasn’t her real name but I can’t remember what it was. Anyway, we worked picking her cotton and she would pay my mama and us kids for working. She also had a store that sold planks and other candies and damned if she didn’t make us pay for the stuff too. Then she had a big pear tree and wouldn’t let us have any of the pears off the tree.
Well, I was a bad kid and didn’t do half the stuff I was told to do and didn’t care that I was going to get a beating. So one night, I’m out doing what I want to do and I hear my daddy talking to my mama about Aunt Joe’s land. My daddy said that it wasn’t right that we were working land that my mama had as much a right to as Aunt Joe. That was all I needed.
The next day after picking cotton for a while, I went to Aunt Joe’s store and took a candy plank and walked out of the store. Aunt Joe was screaming and coming after me. I wheeled around and said “I can take what I want. That’s my mama’s land too!” Aunt Joe stopped and walked back to the store. There were plenty people standing around the store. Church folks.
That evening Aunt Joe came to our house and told my mama and my daddy what I did. Daddy gave her money for the candy and walked away. Aunt Joe started yelling at him and Daddy said, “I paid you for your candy.” That was all he said. After Aunt Joe left, my mama beat the Hell out of me. That was the only beating I think she ever gave out. Like I said I was a bad kid.

Mattie Wright was my grandmother. Her parents were James “Mann” Wright and Sallie Seals. James Wright’s mother was Annus McBride. Annus McBride married John Wright after 1880 (after James’ birth). Even though, James Wright’s death certificate lists John Wright as his father, I can’t verify it. Maybe that’s the reason Aunt Joe felt that the Wright’s land was hers alone.

June 15, 2011

The Hill Files to Nowhere

Filed under: family history,Hill Family,Oktibbeha County, MS — by tmailhes @ 8:10 pm
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I have come to the end of the research that I can do from home regarding the Hill Family. I have so many relatives that have given me their stories and I have come to the conclusion that we don’t know anything about our family.

The Hill Surname – My grandfather was born L C Sampson (according to the 1910 Census). His delayed birth certificate and SS5 letter record his name as L C Hill. His mother, Rosie Sampson, didn’t marry his father. Was there a (in)formal adoption? Is there an official name change document out there somewhere? Is our last name, Hill? I don’t know. My relatives don’t know. Regardless of name, I moved on.

Dina Hill’s Obituary – My great aunt Dina passed away last year. She left written instructions for her obituary. It listed her father as Elijah Harris and her mother as Rosie Sampson. It also listed a brother named Sampson Harris and a sister named Lacy Harris. Who are these people we all wondered. We questioned each other and thought maybe she was confused at the time of her death. Now I know that we are the confused ones.

Jesse Hill – The patriarch born in Virginia. When did he arrive in Mississippi? Where are the other Hills? Is there something in the names he chose for his sons – Romulus and John Lacy?

Now, I wait for a day that I can spend in the archives in Mississippi. I’ve looked at marriage records and death certificates. What can I try next?

June 5, 2011

The Mailhes Family to Date

Filed under: France,Mailhes,New Orleans — by tmailhes @ 9:55 pm
Tags: , ,

Firmin Mailhes Draft Card


My husband often complains that I never write anything about his family history. Saying that our children need to know about both sides of their family. The sarcastic part of me says, “Well Mr. Mailhes, looks like you have some writing and researching to do!” But the family history addict says, “Oooh, something new and shiny!”
From my mother-in-law, I have recorded the following information:
Firman Mailhes was born somewhere in France. The story is that he came to America with a young bride who died. He returned to France and married her sister. Those two came to New Orleans and started the Mailhes family. Grandma (Aline Mailhes) didn’t speak English. As a child, I spoke French as I learned it from Grandpa. When I went to LSU and took French, I was asked all the time what I was saying. It turns out that whatever French Grandpa spoke, it wasn’t the French they were teaching at LSU! I dropped out of French.
They had two twin sons – one was either born blind or became blind. I don’t remember which one. He lived in a small apartment behind our house. We grew up on Poland in the 9th Ward. (I love the way, she says 9th – “nighnt”)
I often wonder if we were French at all. Of all the people that I grew up with, I never met another person named Mailhes. Maybe it’s one of those things where the name is misspelled.

Firmin Mailhes, 1908


I was able to share a ship’s manifest with my husband’s family showing that in 1908, Firmin Mailhes, born in France, entered New York on his way to New Orleans. It doesn’t look like he is traveling with the sister of a dead wife, but that is a question of research.

Have you had his hearing checked?

Filed under: Mailhes — by tmailhes @ 2:17 am

When was his hearing checked?

Snow Day, February 2011

I finally was able to print and mail some pictures to my mother-in-law in New Orleans. She called to say how beautiful the children were and how she couldn’t wait for our visit this summer. I knew that she was going to ask if we’d had Gideon’s hearing checked. I was happy to report that we had.
My mother-in-law is deaf. She “hears” with powerful hearing aids and lip reading. She lost her hearing at 8 years old. Her uncle lost his hearing in childhood and her older son lost his hearing in adulthood.
It seems that the loss of hearing runs in my husband’s family. Through the genetic draw of cards, it has affected my mother-in-law around every turn.
Though, I doubt you would ever know she was deaf if you met her out and about. Before meeting my mother-in-law, my husband told me to always look her when I was speaking because she needed to read my lips. After speaking with her for a few minutes, I doubted that she was deaf at all! I was not completely convinced until one day my husband dropped a glass behind her and shouted an obscenity. She didn’t flinch and he touched her gently so that she was aware of the broken glass not a foot behind her.
My mother-in-law often joked, when we complained of being tired with a newborn in the house, that we should just turn our hearing aids off! She is very funny about her hearing loss. She is also very concerned about her grandchildren’s hearing. She always asks when was the last time that they had their hearing checked. She collects articles about coping with hearing loss…just in case.
Through research of my husband’s family, I have identified at least one person that has suffered hearing loss in each generation since the family came to the US in the mid-1800s.

May 30, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History – Secrets

Filed under: 52 Weeks Personal Genealogy and History — by tmailhes @ 4:23 am
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What secret shall I divulge? A good one is the non-secret that I am an ornithophobe. I am afraid of birds.

I blame the television show, “Little House on the Prairie”. In an episode, Laura finds a bird’s nest and gets to watch baby birds hatch. I thought this was a good idea. So the next day, I climbed a tree and found a nest. The mother bird found me and pecked and scratched the top of my head repeatedly. As a mother, I understand. As a child and adult, I am still terrified.

The degrees of ornithophobia vary greatly. I have a fairly mild form. I can talk about birds and watch birds in movies and on television. I can walk outside and not give much attention to them. It is the sound of flapping wings and the close proximity of them that gets to me. If I’m sitting and bird perches near me then my heart races and I have to move immediately.

My friends and family always make a point of telling me their “close encounters with birds” stories. A few days, ago my husband texted me with “You wouldn’t have been able to get into the car today because a bird was on top!” He was correct. I wouldn’t have been able to get into the car with a bird on top.

I tell my girls that mommy is just being silly and refrain from pulling them away from our neighbor’s parakeet’s cage. After all, one ornithophobe per family unit is enough.

May 16, 2011

Agreement with Freedmen made by T.L.H. Caraway

I was very excited today to have unlocked the secret system of the Freemen’s Bureau Labor Contracts located at the Central Dallas Library. I created my very own index using the index from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. It was a time consuming process, but in the end it was all worth it. After searching through two rolls in Dallas, I was able to match Dallas #49 to Mississippi #2574. All I had to do from there was to count to the correct contract number.
Here are my results:

Agreement with Freedmen made this 7th day of September 1865 by and between T.L.H. Caraway and Jerman & his family and Amanda of Covington and State of Mississippi;…In testimony whereof the said parties have affixed their names to this agreement on the day & date aforesaid and for the purposes specified.
Names Ages Wages
Jerman 33 Food & Clothing
Marinda 30 Food & Clothing
Hariet 11 de
Amanda 21 Food & Clothing

Harriet is my 2nd great grandmother. Jerman and Marinda are my 3rd great-grandparents. I will be searching probate records for a mention of Caraway or Loflin in the surrounding counties.

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.

May 1, 2011

Surname Saturday – Thompson

I am working on finding the family of my 3rd great grandmother, Mahala Hathorn. I decided to try to locate the other people listed with Mahala on a Freedmen’s Bureau Labor Contract in the 1870 census.

Living a few houses down from Ike and Mahala Hathorn was Reddick and Jane Hathorn. This Jane Hathorn was a close match for the Jane listed with Mahala on the Labor Contract. Two children Zana (also the name of Mahala’s daughter) and Rich are listed as living in the household.

I searched for the Reddick/Jane Hathorn household in the 1880 census with no luck. I widened my search to the entire state of Mississippi and then to the nation. Had the entire family been wiped out? I searched the 1900 and 1910 censuses – nothing. Then I got frustrated. Then I got creative with my search criteria.

I found the family. The Reddock/Jane Thompson household. Still listed in the household were Rich and Zana. They were Thompson now. Five other children had been born in the 10 years between the two censuses. Did any of them ever know that they were once Hathorn? I left a note for future researchers who may be wondering how the Thompson family suddenly appeared in 1880.

Tomorrow, I’m so happy to be heading out to the library. I have the Hathorns and the Thompsons and the Griffiths and the Lowes and the Loflins and the Draughns to research – trying to figure out how we all fit together.

April 17, 2011

2011 Genealogy Goal #2 – Mahala

My second genealogy goal this year was to take one step back past 1870 for the Hathorns, namely Mahala. I had followed her through the census with various names, a range of ages and fluctuating races. She was recorded as Haley, Holly and Mahala. Her birth year was recorded from 1830 to 1843. Sometimes, she was listed as Black and sometimes she was mulatto. But she there from 1870 to 1910 with a family that I could document.

Last week, I began preparing to research the community of Hollidays Creek as a slave owning community. I had two clues that may lead me to the former owner of Mahala and decided to follow what I had. My first clue was the chosen surname of the family – Hathorn. There were Hathorns listed in the 1860 slave schedule for the near vicinity of Hollidays Creek. My second clue was a Freedmen’s Bureau Labor contract dated 1865 between N.C. Hathorn and several freedmen. The freedmen were listed as follows:

Laborers:
Gerry – 24; Mahala – 22; Lucy – 21; Calvin – 18; Jane – 15; Rachael – 14; Bertro – 12; Ann – 11
Dependents:
Sanco – 26; Henry – 6; Willis – 5; Jack – 4; Unreadable; Easter – 1

The name Sanco stood out for me for two reasons – 1) He was listed with the children and 2) I had seen his name in my review of the 1870 census. Further research found him living in 1870 and 1880 with the family I had identified as the possible slave owners of Mahala. He was also listed in a family tree on ancestry.com. His father was named as N.C. Hathorn. I immediately contacted the owner and received the response below:

Hello. I will be happy to tell you what I know about Sanco. I am not sure of birth or death dates, so the birth date is from the census, and I have really guessed at his death. In 1870 he was living with his half brother, Samuel Baskin Hathorn and they were about the same age. In 1880, he was living with his half sister, Sarah Hathorn & husband James “Jim” Clark. These were my G Grandparents. Apparently, Sanco always knew who his father was and after the Civil War, he refused to leave. My knowledge of him comes from my grandfather, Grover Cleveland Clark, who called him what all the family called him, “Uncle Sanco”, and they knew his story. He lived in the house with them and helped with house chores and Sarah’s children. Remembering the stories my grandfather told of him, leads me to think that he was a “childlike” person. He would get mad about things and expected to go everywhere with the family and to be treated as family. Once he was not envited to a wedding and he was so mad about it. They brought him some of the wedding cake and he would not eat it. He said “I don’t want no old cold cake”. My grandfather would tell this and laugh and laugh.

I never heard anything about a girl friend or relationship, so do not know if he had children. I do not think he ever lived away from the Clarks. As with many Hathorns, he had horrible arthritis and crawled on his knees in later years, unable to walk. ( Sarah also had arthritis and was an invalid, bed-ridden for some years before her death.) They said he used two long cow leg bones for crutchs as they were the right length for him. That was one of the things my Grandfather told–Uncle Sanco would hit them with the bones if they misbehaved, so they tried to stay far enough away to avoid being “disciplined” with the bones. From all that I heard, he really loved Sarah and looked out for her.

After this email, I am now more inspired to research Mahala and our kin. I can’t make any claims now as to the relationship between Mahala and Sanco and the Hathorns and the others listed in the labor contract, but I know that it can be figured out with some work and guiding voices like this one!

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