MS Roots

January 10, 2011

52 Weeks Personal Genealogy and History – The Two Winters of the Hill family

Filed under: Hill Family,mississippi family history — by tmailhes @ 4:43 am

There are two distinct Winters of my childhood. Both are cold and gray and covered in a thin layer of ice taking place in Jackson, Mississippi.

My mother had an aversion to winter. She didn’t like to go outside once the temperature dipped below 50. I always thought this was strange since her fair skin burned easily in the hot sun. But so it was.

Her aversion was passed along to us kids. She would dress us in long johns, heavy sweaters, corduroy pants, thick soled shoes, two pairs of socks, gloves, a hat, wool coat, scarf and a layer of Vaseline before we ever left the house. We were miserable.

My father would shuffle outside to bring in cut wood that my mother ordered for the fireplace. The fireplace drove our dog, Jellybean, crazy. He would sit staring into the blaze and bark each time there was a crackle. My father would then yell at him for barking at nothing. I would ask why we couldn’t just turn on the central heat and my mother would say it was too expensive.

During this Winter, our house smelled of spices and beef stock. My mother cooked and froze batches upon batches of beef vegetable soup. She would freeze the soup in individual and family size containers. If you ever said you were hungry, her ready response was “Heat up some soup”. Yuck! She also prepared what she called spiced tea. As an adult, I discovered that this was an actual drink and not something that she just made up. It is a mixture of Tang and spices. Other kids had hot cocoa and we had spiced tea. Again, yuck!

When my mother passed away, Winter changed.

We used the central heat. Our fireplace was idle and Jellybean laid in front of the hearth waiting for nothing.
Gone were the long johns and wools coats and extra socks and the Vaseline.
There was no soup and no spiced tea.
Just the cold and gray and thin layer of ice.


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.

June 27, 2010

Hill Family Task 1 Completed

Filed under: african american genealogy,Hill Family,Oktibbeha, MS,Uncategorized — by tmailhes @ 3:01 pm

In January 2010,  I thought I would try my hand at genealogy.  My strategy for the Hill Family of Oktibbeha County, MS was to locate my grandfather in the census records.  From there I would have a good idea of the places he lived and the approximate dates of birth for his brothers and sisters.  I was certain that this task would take only a few hours.  How hard could it be?

Hill Family Task 1 took 6 months to be completed.  The results and notes are below.

1930 Federal Census, Oktibbeha County, HWY #12

L C Hill (28) HEAD, Mattie Hill (26) WIFE, Frank (4 1/2) SON, L C Hill (3 1/2) SON, Robert (1 3/12) SON

This was my first find that afternoon in January. Almost everything seemed correct.  Our family bible gave consistent dates of birth for Robert and LC, Jr.  However, my dad doesn’t have a brother named Frank and he is not in the family bible.  Could Frank be Uncle Tommie’s first name or his middle name?

1910 Federal Census, Oktibbeha County, Leola Bluff Road

Rosia Sampson (33) HEAD, John Sampson  (9) SON, L C Sampson (6)  SON, Mary Sampson (4) DAUGHTER, Jessie (6/12) SON

This was the second census record found in March 2010.  I had searched in vain for the Hill Family with no luck.  Then a closer look at the family bible gave the clue – Rosie Simpson was actually Rosie Sampson. And voila! Again, my dad said this wasn’t right because he didn’t have an uncle named Jessie and why was his father’s last name – Sampson?

1920 Federal Census, Oktibbeha County, Black Jack Road

Odie Ratley (25) HEAD, Rosa Ratley  (33) WIFE, John H Ratley (18) STEPSON, L C Ratley (14)  STEPSON, Mary Ratley (10) STEPDAUGHTER, Gothie Lee Ratley (7) STEPSON, Diana Ratley (5) STEPDAUGHTER

In June 2010, an older cousin remembered that Miss Rosie had bought the land on Black Jack Road where my grandfather grew up.  My dad remembered the little house where he would visit Uncle John and sometimes, Uncle Gothie Lee.  The name on the deed – Rosa Lee Ratley.  And here is my grandfather enumerated as LC Ratley stepson to Odie Ratley.

Sampson to Ratley to Hill.  Now there is a story to tell.

June 10, 2010

7 Acres in Black Jack, MS

There is a deed in the Oktibbeha County courthouse  that shows ownership of seven acres of land in the community known as Black Jack.  My dad remembers visiting his Uncle John in a house that used to  sit back up in these woods.  This is where his father, L C Hill, grew up and spent his childhood.

L C Hill was a stern disciplinarian, a hard worker, a hard drinker and could tell a man’s character by the state of his shoes —  L C’s were always well polished.  L C Hill would preach tirelessly to his children about the importance of your family — that they were your refuge in this world.  Yet he rarely spoke of his father or his mother saying only that his father’s name was John Lacy Hill and his mother was Rosie Sampson.  Over the years his two sisters and two brothers would move from Oktibbeha, but would return to see their brother frequently.

And then there is this deed to a childhood home purchased by Rosie Radcliff.

The Federal Census of 1900, showing John Lacy Hill as the Head of his household with his wife Ellen and his daughter.  They have a boarder, Rosia Sampson.

The Federal Census of 1910, showing John Lacy Hill as the Head of his household with his wife Ellen and three children.  Roscia Sampson is shown living a few houses away with a son L C Sampson.

While searching through records in the Mississippi Archives this weekend my aunt said, “No wonder he didn’t talk about these people.  Daddy wouldn’t have approved of this.”  But I think he would have approved of the relationships among his 6 surviving children because they visit each other often and love each other fiercely.

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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