MS Roots

December 2, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Holiday Foods

The Hill family loves to eat. The holidays only gave us an excuse to gorge ourselves without guilt.
There were the holiday get-togethers. These were small events where we usually had ribs and macaroni and cheese with a variety of snack foods. I liked these little parties because my mom made my favorite party food – shrimp dip with crackers.
Then there was the Christmas Day Meal – Turkey, ham, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, black-eyed peas and cabbage with those pre-lined rolls. The desserts were my mom’s specialty – Mexican wedding cookies, German chocolate cake, banana pudding and egg custard. (Egg custard is my least favorite dessert of all times)
My Birthday – I was born on Christmas so in order for me to feel like I wasn’t missing a birthday just because it was Christmas, I had a birthday cake. This was usually something with lots of frosting and candy flowers and chocolate ice cream.
Just thinking about those days, makes me feel over full. Today we still enjoy eating but we have fewer parties and fewer gorging opportunities. That probably has something to do with the fact that my husband and I don’t cook.

September 18, 2011

Evidence Should Direct Research

As I put the final touches on my presentation for the AASIG meeting, I was preparing my conclusion slide and there were bullet points about handling sensitive information. I felt, though, that something was missing. This presentation was also about the research process. In my efforts to find my grandfather’s family, I searched the same records over and over again because I was looking for what should have been there based on family tradition. I didn’t let the evidence lead my research.

My first mistake in the process was the initial family Bible entry. My grandmother had written that the parents of LC Hill were John Lacy Hill and Rosie Sampson. On the next line she had written her parents as James Wright and Sallie Seals Wright. Notice the difference in the notation? I didn’t until later. I should have questioned the difference in the name of the wife. As I looked over other of my grandmother’s records, a married woman is always written with her maiden and married name. In the case of a cousin born before his mother’s marriage, his mother is listed with only her maiden name and the full name of the father. I didn’t pick up on grandmother’s subtle way of saying that there was not a marriage.

In my census research, I was so caught up in looking for an intact Hill family, that I didn’t look for individuals. Had my initial census search involved an individual rather than a family unit then I wouldn’t have missed the 1900 census showing Rosie Sampson living in the home of John Lacy Hill.

In the end, I of course realized that there were two families of John Lacy Hill one legitimate and one illegitimate. I added to my presentation that researchers must be unbiased in their research and in their conclusions. Yes, some family traditions may be proven inaccurate. However, the truth is far better for future generations than continually perpetuating misconceptions.

January 1, 2011

2011 Research Goals – The Hill Predicament

I have thought for a long time today about what to do with the Hill family research. It became clear very early that my present day HILL family was actually the SAMPSON family in 1900 and 1910. When my grandfather married my grandmother in 1925, his name was recorded as L C HILL not L C SAMPSON.

The question that has nagged me has been at what point did the children of Rosie SAMPSON decide that they were changing their last name? All five children, John, L C, Gothie Lee, Mary B. and Diana would use the name HILL for the rest of their lives. Their children and their children’s children are HILL to this very moment.

The Outside Children – My father used this term when I discovered that John Lacy HILL, his grandfather, was actually married to Ellen EDGAR and not this grandmother, Rosie Lee SAMPSON. He said that his father and aunts and uncles were the outside children meaning that they were born outside the bonds of matrimony. Do I dare study the HILL family? “We should leave this alone.” answered my uncle.

Just Looking – Initial research into the HILL family of Oktibbeha County yielded a few interesting names: Jesse, Ben, John, Roman, Caleb. Interesting. In the early 1980s, my aunt met a woman who told her that her grandfather (John Lacy HILL) had four brothers named Ben, Jesse, Roman and Caleb. We recorded this information in the program guide for the HILL / WRIGHT family reunion. The 1910 Census enumerated the household of Rose SAMPSON with four children, John, L C, Mary B. (the B stands for Bennie) and Jesse.

Tangled – After interviewing several family members, I learned that no one discussed the family history or familial relationships. Quoting my cousin, Joyce, “Back then if someone said they were your cousin, you just said okay. You learned not to ask questions.” I did a little more digging and found separate lives for John Lacy HILL and Rosie Lee SAMPSON. Living in close vicinity up to the 1920s but not connecting in any records so far. “We should leave this alone”, answered my uncle to a question I had not asked this time.

Looking for Rosie Lee SAMPSON – I have decided to let the HILL question wait for a little longer, while I search for Rosie Lee SAMPSON. Where was she from? Who were her parents? Her siblings? Did she really have 7 children and I can only account for 6? Certainly these aren’t incendiary questions to ask.

We should leave this alone.

April 24, 2010

Surname Saturday – Jacobs

Sometimes reading carefully is all it takes.

This week, I was able to enter the information from the 1870 census into my software program for the Hill family of Oktibbeha County, MS.  At first glance, I was sure that it read Jessie Hill/M/B/23 with 5 children in the household.  After carefully reading, I could clearly tell that the household extended to include Rida Jacobs/F/B/32, Betsey Jacobs/F/B/55 and Calib Jacobs/M/B/65.

This “new” information provided a possible maiden name to Rina  shown as Jessie’s wife  in the 1880 Census and has just added a new surname my search files!

My goal for the remainder of the month is to search for the last slave owner of  Jessie Hill and Rida/Rina Jacobs.  It will involve making a list of all households near the family both black and white from the 1870 census.  Secondly, I will cross reference the white families with the 1860 slave schedules and slave contracts from the Freedman’s Bureau.  Lots of work, but very excited about it.

April 7, 2010

The Mysterious Mr. Hill

I have only two memories of my grandfather, L C Hill.

I remember being a very small child with my cousins in a rose garden.  Grandfather Hill appeared and yelled, “You, chaps, get out of Miss Matt’s roses!”  I started to cry and he yelled again, “Miss Matt!  Miss Matt!”  My grandmother came over and picked me up saying, “It’s alright, Mr. Hill”  She let me drink one of her special glass bottle Cokes kept in a refrigerator in the carport .

I remember his funeral and holding tight not to my parents, even though I was really scared, but to my grandma because she was crying.

On the journey to find my grandfather,  I haven’t learned much.  I joked with my father recently that his father may have been a time traveler appearing in the census record only in 1930 and in two moments in the mid 1970s.  What I have learned has been confusing because it is contrary to our oral tradition and written notes in the family bible.

I am even more determined now to find out who was the mysterious Mr. Hill.

The Cooperative Creamery, State College, MS

I was very excited to receive my grandfather’s Application for a Social Security Number a few days ago.  It listed his mother, Rose Sampson, and his father, John Lacy Hill.  It also listed his current employer (1937) as the Cooperative Creamery Association of State College, MS.

I asked my dad if he knew anything about the Creamery.  He told me that the Creamery made milk products from the milk of local dairy farms.  He also said that his dad worked at the creamery until his retirement in the mid 70s.  My dad hadn’t realized that his father had been working there since at least 1937!

My dad remembers that his father would load and unload milk trucks and unload pallets of ingredients. His most important job was starting up a large machine that acted as the churn for cheese.

There were times when no one else could get the machine to start and there would be a knock on the door asking L.C. to come to work a little early that morning.  If that knock came on a Monday there would be a familiar yell down the hall, “Miss Mattie, bring me a onion”  L.C. was a hard drinking man on his weekends so he needed to sleep late on Mondays.  According to my dad, my grandfather would eat a whole onion while walking the five miles to the Creamery and work the rest the day.

I have been searching for information or an actual photo of the The Creamery Building, but have had no luck so far.  If anyone has an ideas, I would love to hear them.

March 21, 2010

Sentimental Sunday- She’s Up to Something

This is my mother, Abelene Graves

“She’s up to something” – this is perhaps the only thing that my father and my grandmother agreed on prior to my mother’s death in March 1990.

My mother was born Abelene Graves on 11/21/1949.  It was soon realized that she was not like everyone else.  She was smart to the point of my grandmother’s exhaustion always wanting to know why.

To my grandmother’s dismay, my mom wanted to attend Jackson State University more than 60 miles away from home and live on campus.  My grandmother agreed on one condition that she would pick up my mother every Friday after classes and she would spend every weekend in Prentiss, MS.  Imagine how hard it was for my parents to date.  My dad said that a date was sitting in my grandmother’s living room watching t.v. with the family.  My grandmother would tell him to leave about 10pm and walk him to the door.  He would wave good-bye to my mom. They eloped in 1970.

My mom caused another uproar after her elopement when she changed her name to Toni.  She had always felt that Abelene was not a good name for her. She had been named after her father, Abraham.

It wasn’t only inside the family that my mom was “up to something”.  In the mid 70s, she cut her hair into a short fro and was the talk of the office in which she worked.  Later, she grew out the fro and dyed her hair honey blonde and then changed it to a bright auburn.

I remember that she was always doing something new from welding abstract sculptures to painting watercolors of magnolias.  There was a corner in kitchen that was always filled my mom’s latest hobby.

It has been 20 years since her passing, but our family is filled with stories about a mom that was sure that she could do anything.

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