Saturday Snippet – STUCKEY’S LEGACY

unnamedWhile writing The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge, the main character came across a young boy. The boy ended up being nearly as creepy as the main character, and I received tons of emails asking me to elaborate on the boy’s life. No one is that creepy without having some sort of lurid past. So, I penned Stuckey’s Legacy. The boy’s name is Levi, and he is a dark character. Creepy doesn’t quite describe him…

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The starlit night was perfect for a romantic walk, and it would have been pleasurable to stroll the streets for a while in the balmy night air, but Levi had more immediate plans for his escort. He marched her to the nearest hotel and checked in under the name Thomas Stuckey.

“I thought your name was Joe.” The girl giggled as she entwined her arms in his.

“It is Joe, but I don’t want to put that on the hotel register.”

They kissed as they staggered up the stairs, laughing all the way up to their room on the top floor of the three-story hotel.

Following their lovemaking session, Grace lay in Levi’s arms and listened to him tell her all about the fancy people he was going to be friends with on Jekyll Island, about Cornelius Bliss’s death, and about the New Year’s Eve Gala tickets he’d found when he broke onto Mr. Pulitzer’s yacht.

She rolled over onto her stomach, crossed her arms across his bare chest, and looked at his face. Her blonde ringlets danced across her face and he softly pushed them from her temple.

“You’re really quite pretty, you know that?”

She blushed. “Then why don’t you take me with you?”

“Oh, that’s out of the question, dear. I’m going to meet wealthy society people, and I don’t think you’ll fit in.”

“Well, what makes you think you’ll fit in?” she teased.

“Don’t you think I’m one of them?” Levi frowned.

“Mister, I grew up in the Charleston Orphan House. I know a poor orphan when I see one.”

“Well, I never lived at the Charleston Orphan House, but it’s true I’m an orphan.”

She looked at him like a lovesick schoolgirl and waited for him to elaborate.

“I was orphaned years ago. My father was a drunk. He killed my mother right in front of me when I was eight years old.”

Grace gasped.

Levi continued. “He strangled her after he caught her fooling around with a man from up the road. He murdered both of them in a fit of drunken rage.” Levi looked away from her and stared at the ceiling.

“I’m sorry. You probably loved her very much, huh?”

“I don’t know. I thought I did for a long time, but my father pounded into my head that my mother was not worthy of my love. She was a whore.”

Grace grinned. “Well, I’m a whore. It’s not all bad.”

He looked at her with surprise. He didn’t think of her like that, but it was true. “I guess you are, aren’t you?”

“What happened to your father?”

“I killed him,” Levi said flatly and looked back at the ceiling.

After a few uncomfortable seconds, Grace giggled. “No, really, what happened to your father?”

He looked her in the eye. “I killed him.” He paused to watch her expression and was satisfied with the look of fear in her eyes.

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Stuckey’s Legacy is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.

On This Day in 1848, 1859, 1879, 1917, 1939, 2010

There are some days in my family tree that have far too many events attached to them. There won’t be a death or birth or marriage for the weeks prior and following, but on one day, they all stack up. Very strange. December 10th is one of those days.

On Thisblanks martha lettie carpenter Day in 1848, my 2nd great grandmother was born. She was Martha Lettie “Mattie” Carpenter. She was born to Mary Ann Rodgers and Rice Benjamin Carpenter. Her father died during the Civil War when she was only fourteen. The story is written in Okatibbee Creek. Mattie married William Henry Blanks III, and they had seven children, six being girls. (photo Mattie Carpenter Blanks)

On This Day in 1859, my other 2nd great grandmother was born. She was Nancy Didama Spencer, and she was born to George Washington Spencer and Nancy Virginia Holdcroft.

On This Day in 1879, my 2nd great grandparents wed. The above Nancy Spencer married an Irish immigrant named John Francis Burke. They had six children and twenty-seven grandchildren.

On This Day in 1917, my great aunt Minnie Ellen Crane was born, baby sister of my grandfather.

culpepper Sam and Annie CulpepperOn This Day in 1939, my great grandfather William Samuel Culpepper died. He was 66 and suffered from hypertension. He married Annie Josephine Blanks, daughter of the above Mattie and William Henry Blanks. So Annie’s husband died on her mother’s birthday. (photo of Sam and Annie)

On This Day in 2010, my great aunt Myrnis Burke died at the age of 76. She was my grandmother’s little sister. She was a granddaughter of the above Nancy Spencer and John Francis Burke. She died on their wedding anniversary.

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Saturday Snippet – STUCKEY’S BRIDGE

Stuckey's cover_webThe Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge is based on folklore surrounding the real 1850s Stuckey’s Bridge in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. I heard the tales my whole life and was drawn to write a story about the man locals refer to as Old Man Stuckey. He cracked me up in his impatience, but he was still an evil and creepy character. Here’s a bit of the way his brain worked.

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“Wha…what’s going on?” The woman jerked and sat up. “Who are you?”

He poked the rifle into her ribs harder. “Where’s your money?”

The woman didn’t fight back. “In…in the coffee pot in the wagon.”

“You got any jewelry?”

“What? No, we don’t…”

He spoke louder, his impatience building. “Do you have anything worth money?”

“Only the…” She looked at the rifle. “Only the gun you’re holding.”

“Don’t move,” he said as he stomped back to the wagon and climbed in to search for the coffee pot.

A few moments later, the woman unexpectedly appeared at the back of the wagon, pointing a trembling six-shooter at Thomas. “Get out!” she screamed, tears streaming down her cheeks.

Without thinking twice, he spun around and shot her point-blank in the chest with the rifle, killing her instantly.

She collapsed to the ground with a thud. He sighed and turned back to his job at hand, and soon located the coffee pot in the bottom of a box, covered with threadbare dishcloths. He took the money out of the pot and crammed the bills into his jacket pocket.

He climbed down from the back of the wagon, removed the gun from the dead woman’s hand, and said, “Too bad you didn’t stay put. Why don’t you women ever learn to do as you’re told?” He shook his head in exasperation. He shoved the six-shooter into his waistband and moved quickly through the dark woods toward to his waiting horse. He rode most of the night, and as the sun rose hot and red on the horizon, he stopped to count his take. “Fourteen measly dollars, a rifle, and a six-shooter.” He grimaced. “I’m getting too old for this.”

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The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.

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On This Day in 1893

On This Day in 1893, Mary Elizabeth Howington was born to John Thomas Howington and Florence J Smith in Mississippi. She was the first born to the union, followed by three sisters and four brothers.

burke JP and Mary howingtonShe and her younger sister Julia married Burke brothers, both in November 1912. Mary Elizabeth was 18 and married John Patrick “Pat” Burke and had seven children. Julia was 16 and married David Edmund Burke and had eight children. (photo is Pat and Mary)

john thomas howington florence j smith marriage recordThere have been family stories of one of my grandmothers being a full-blooded Choctaw Indian. In all of my research, I could never find any records for Mary Elizabeth’s mother, Florence, other than her marriage record which states she was 16 years of age. I believe Florence Smith is the Choctaw Indian my family speaks of.

burke Mary Howington Burke headstoneMary Elizabeth remained in the small community of Newton County, Mississippi her entire life and died at the age of 83 on 7 July 1977. Her husband died in 1958. She never remarried. She is laid to rest at Liberty Baptist Church with her husband and children.

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On This Day in 1911

On This Day in 1911, Amos Bolivar Crane Jr. was born to Amos Sr. and Minnie White Crane in Mississippi. He had three older siblings: Frank 8 (my grandfather), Horace 6, and Evelyn 1. There would be two more children to follow: Tommy and Minnie Ellen.

seated from left Tommy, Amos Sr, Minnie, Amos Jr, Minnie Ellen. Standing Toots Peterson, Evelyn, Horace, Horace wife, Frank, WillieAmos is seated to the right of his mother in the front row. The names left to right front row: Tommy, Amos Sr. Minnie, grandchild in lap, Amos Jr, Minnie Ellen. Left to right back row: Friend of Evelyn’s, Evelyn, Horace, Horace’s wife, Frank (my grandfather), Frank’s 1st wife Willie.

baaef72c-9c81-4cc3-9ee6-213bca036f0fcrane, amos bolivar jrAmos was in the United States Navy. This photo was taken in the 1930s at the San Diego Naval Training Center. He died at the young age of 29 on 22 Nov 1941 and is buried at Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Zero, Lauderdale County, MS with his siblings. His parents are buried at McGowan Chapel Cemetery in Harmony, MS. He never married.

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On This Day in 1921

Burying children used to be a more common occurrence than it is today.

On This Day in 1921, Fleta Marie “Clarice” Pickett was born in Lauderdale County, Mississippi to Benjamin Berry Pickett and Eula Ouida Keene Pickett (my great grandparents). She had two older siblings: Howard who was four and Margaret Azalea (my grandmother) who was two. She was named after her mother’s older sister, Fleta. Months before, Fleta had given birth to a daughter and named her Eula. The two sisters, though fourteen years apart, were obviously very close.

Clarice was born into a large family as her father had five siblings and her mother had seven who all lived nearby. Her father’s mother was from the Fisher family, and the Picketts, Keenes, and Fishers were numerous in the area, and still are today. So much so, that they have their own family cemetery on Zero Road called Fisher Cemetery. Even though family cemeteries fell out of vogue in the early 1900s in favor of community cemeteries, Fisher Cemetery is still used today.

At one year and five months, Clarice succumbed to pneumonia. Note in her obituary that the family held the funeral in their living room as was custom in those days. Before the mid-1900s, the family of the deceased prepared, dressed, and displayed their loved ones, and following the funeral, the body was carried out of the house head first. Clarice’s obituary reads as follows:

pickett fleta clarise pickett death certFleta Marie “Clarice” Pickett Born: December 1, 1921 in Lauderdale County, MS
Died: May 8, 1923 in Lauderdale County, MS 

Fleta Marie “Clarice” Pickett, 17-month-old daughter of Ben Berry and Eula Keene Pickett, who reside near Zero, MS, passed away this morning at 4 o’clock. Funeral services will be held from the residence Wednesday morning at 10 o’clock. Interment is to follow in Fisher Cemetery.

 

pickett fleta clarise headstoneRest in peace, little one.

You have not been forgotten.

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On This Day in 1864

carrie mcgavock portrait

Yesterday, November 29, 1864, Carrie McGavock sat on the front porch of her antebellum home, the Carnton Plantation, enjoying a warm afternoon of Indian summer. Suddenly, she witnessed thousands of Confederate troops marching across her 1400 acres, heading directly toward her home. The troops told her a battle was coming and asked if they could use her house as a hospital, and by nightfall, surgeons and medics had arrived and started moving her furniture against the walls to make way for the injured. They took the doors off her outbuildings to be used as cots and operating tables. I can only imagine how nervous she felt, dreading the unknown that was to come.carnton house

 

 

 

 

 

 

On This Day, November 30, 1864

back of Carnton HouseAt 3:30 p.m. the five-hour battle began. Cannon fire shook the house. Bullets drilled holes into the walls of the outbuildings. By the time night fell and the battle was over, hundreds of wounded, bleeding, and dying men had been carried into her home and placed throughout the rooms, in the hallways, on the staircase. Four dead generals lay covered on this back porch. 150 soldiers died in her home that night. The wooden floors are still stained with their blood. The outbuildings still show the bullet holes.

 

The next morning, December 1, 1864

cemetery 1At the first light of dawn, the 750 residents of Franklin, TN began tending the nearly 10,000 Union and Confederate soldiers lying all over McGavock’s property, some dead, some wounded, moaning and crying out for help. Forty-four private homes in Franklin were converted into temporary hospitals.

By 1866, the McGavock’s had seen numerous bodies that had been buried in shallow graves all over the battlefield become unearthed by the elements and the woodland animals. The McGavocks donated two acres of their land to be used as a Confederate Cemetery and properly re-interred the soldiers. Carrie’s husband, John McGavock, and the townspeople cataloged and buried 1500 Confederate soldiers, 500 of whom they could not identify. The Union soldiers were moved to the National Cemetery in Murfreesboro, TN.

 

 

mcgavock confererate cemeteryCarrie McGavock cared for the Confederate cemetery until her death in 1905, at which time it was turned over to the United Daughters of the Confederacy.