MS Roots

August 21, 2011

Family Reunion 2012

I am working with my cousins to plan our 2012 family reunion.  I am not a big part of the planning process.  My main task is to complete research on the Seals and Wright families back to 1870 and complete a book of some sort that will be available for each family at the reunion.

Because I am prone to disorganization, I am spending the day not only organizing existing information but creating a detailed task list tied to my outlook calendar so that everyday there is a reminder that are things to do.  I am also going to brainstorm about how to best present this information accurately in what seems like a short time (10 months)!

I am very excited that my family has asked me to do this!  It often seems that I discuss the family history more with people outside the family than actual relatives.

No more procrastinating, I’m off to work!

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?

April 10, 2011

Sidetrip through the Griffith Line

Recently, I was able to connect to the Griffith line of my family. For all intents, this line was lost. My cousins even thought that I had the last name wrong and that it was Griffin not Griffith. (The family historian wins!) I began taking notes on this family line using one of my favorite tools – The Freedmen’s Bureau Labor Contracts search tool available on The Mississippi State Archives website. This tool allows you to search labor contracts by Freedman’s name, Planter’s name, Plantation or County.

I was able to find the following information about Icy Griffith in 1865:
Planter: Milton Griffith
Freedmen connected to Icy and Orange Griffith (3rd Great Grandparents)
Icy – 45
Alfred – 15
Isom -12 (2nd Great Grandfather)
Milly – 11
Elvira (Vira) – 7
Lacy (Lucy) – 5
Icy is listed with all of her children from the 1870 Census with the exception of Norvel, who was born free.

From my very brief overview of the census records, I was able to find the following leads for further research:
Icy Griffith- Born in Kentucky (per 1880 census record)
Milton Griffith (planter) – Mother’s name was Icy, parents lived in Kentucky prior to move to Mississippi (per family trees on ancestry.com)

So there is research to be added to my list of research to be done.

April 4, 2011

Finding the Griffiths of Covington County, MS

One of my goals for this year was to complete a narrative sketch of Arthur and Idella Hathorn. They were my great-grandparents. I only have two photographs of them, but the stories of their faith and love of family have provided permanent images in my mind and heart.

Idella Griffith Hathorn was a bit of a mystery. While I knew that she was loved and praised by her daughters and granddaughter as a gentle loving woman. I knew little about her family except that she was a Griffith.

I wasn’t able to locate a family in the census that fit with the age as recorded in the 1910 census for Idella when she was a wife and mother. In the previous census, there was Ida Griffith who seemed too old and Ada Griffith who seemed too young. I wasn’t able to locate a marriage record for Arthur and Idella in Covington County. I ordered Idella’s death certificate and waited.

About two weeks ago, I received Idella’s death record. It listed her parents as Isom Griffith and Mira Smith. The informant was her husband, Arthur Hathorn. She had been listed in the 1900 census as Ida Griffith and that recorded age most closely matched the date of birth recorded on her death certificate. The Griffiths lived a few houses away from the Hathorns and I had seen that record in the census so many times!

I began mapping the Griffith family through census records and checking if any of the records had been saved by anyone else on ancestry.com. The 1900 census record for James Griffith, youngest brother of Idella, had been saved to another family tree. I contacted the owner and found my cousin, James!

We talked about Life…how it keeps going. He had always meant to get back to his small hometown to reconnect with the cousins from his childhood, but Life kept happening. He had attended my uncle’s funeral in 1968, but didn’t make it to my mother’s. He had called her “Sis” his entire life and didn’t know that she was known as Toni. We have made plans to have our families meet in the next two weeks. It will be easy since he lives only 20 minutes away! Life.

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.

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.

December 13, 2010

Mystery Monday – Hager Lowe

I was so excited to quickly find my maternal 3rd great grandmother, Harriet and her family. All I knew about my grandmother’s grandmother was that her name was Harriet. After finding the HATHORN family in the 1870 Census, I scanned the next few families and found Harriet LOFLIN. I was able to verify that Harriet HATHORN had once been Harriet LOFLIN when I received my great-grandfather’s SS-5 application letter. His parents were listed as William HATHORN and Harriet LOFLIN.

I was busily entering my new found information into my database when I took a closer look at the census record. The 80 year old woman Hager LOWE was not associated with the house below her name but with the LOFLIN household. Had I found my maternal 5th great-grandmother?

Is she related by blood to Jerman LOFLIN? Is she related by blood to Marandy LOFLIN POSEY?
Was she actually born in Mississippi as it is enumerated in the 1870 Census? Had she been of the first slaves in the colony established by the French in 1719?

Hager LOWE has presented a challenge to me and I am very glad to work on her story. After having living perhaps 80 years in bondage, she deserves to have her story told.

The Toni Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

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