Samuel Dawson Grimes – oldest citizen of the county at 110?

My 4th great grandfather was Samuel Dawson Grimes. The line from me to him is my father Andy Crane, my grandfather Frank Crane, my great Amos Crane, my 2nd great Jack Crane, and my 3rd greats Jeremiah Crane and Sarah Frances Grimes.

I haven’t researched my Crane side very much, and certainly haven’t ventured into the wives on that side of the family, but today I found something pretty interesting.

Grandpa Grimes was born around 1757 in North Carolina. There are a few records indicating he participated in the American Revolution, but I haven’t been able to verify that (yet). He married Darcass Wall in 1788 and the two had seven children. At some point, the family moved to Brundidge, Pike County, Alabama, where he died in 1857.

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Since I don’t know his exact birth date, I find the following interesting. It’s from Find A Grave.

A newspaper article from the Troy Independent American, published on 22 April 1857, as transcribed by Susie K. Senn in her book “Newspaper Abstracts from Pike County, Alabama 1855-1861”:

The Oldest Man in Pike – Samuel D. Grimes, aged 110 years, and the oldest citizen of this county, died a few days since at his residence. Mr. Grimes enjoyed almost uninterrupted health up to a year or so before his death. For a great part of his life he was a member of the Baptist Church, and died as he lived, an honest, upright citizen and Christian. 

110??? Wow! That’s pretty considerable for the times.

I also found his probate records – all thirty hard-to-read handwritten pages. He seemed to be in debt to various local gentlemen, including the local merchant for the purchase of a pair of shoes, a handkerchief, five yards of cotton, and eight yards of calico for $3.45, which was used to “spruce up” his negro woman. His indebtedness was just over $1100.00, and his belongings were auctioned off for $98.00, most being bought by his grown children including his rifle for $1.30. There must have also been a sizable amount of land, as the debtors were paid and there was still plenty to leave to his children and his twenty grandchildren.

The 1840 census shows two adults in his household who couldn’t read or write. It also shows one slave, whom I assume is the “negro woman” mentioned above.

The 1850 census mentions that he is currently 93 years old, living with his daughter, so I think when he died in 1857 he was only 100, but the reporter from the Troy Independent American wasn’t very good at “cipherin’.”

union springsGrandpa Grimes is laid to rest in Union Spring Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery in Brundidge, Pike County, Alabama, where the 2010 census says the population is just over 2000 people, 33% living below the poverty line. I can imagine how small and poor it was in the 1800s when Grandpa Grimes lived there.

Ina Inez Burke’s birthday?

earl culpepper and ina burkeMy grandmother, Ina Inez Burke Culpepper, was a warm and wonderful woman. We always celebrated her birthday on February 9, her death certificate lists her birth as February 9, her tombstone is chiseled February 9. Imagine my surprise when I received her birth certificate stating she was born at 10:00 pm on February 8!

ina burke birth cert

She was born in Mississippi in 1915 to John Patrick “Pat” Burke and Mary Howington Burke. She was the eldest of seven children, one dying as an infant. She grew up with three brothers and two sisters.

marriage license earl culpepper and ina burke

She married Earl Culpepper at the age of 21 on 1 Aug 1936. The union produced two daughters and four grandchildren. (The little girl is me!)

earl, ina, and grandchildren

Ina was a great cook and a professional seamstress, working at Meridian’s Burnley Shirt Factory. She spent many hours teaching me to sew when I was small. I was too young to get under her feet in the kitchen and still regret not being able to make biscuits as good as hers.

She died in 1975 of complications of aortic valve replacement. I always thought she died at the age of 59, but now I wonder if she was only 58.

She is laid to rest at Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery in Newton County, Mississippi, not far from where she was born.

burke Ina Inez Burke headstone

 

 

Saturday Snippet – Catherine Culpepper

The following is a rough draft of my current work-in-progress, The Culpepper-Fairfax Scandal. Catherine Culpepper is nineteen years old, and her rich father, Lord Thomas Culpepper the baron of Thoresway, has just died. For two decades, he had been living in London with his mistress and had left everything to the mistress in his will, but Catherine’s mother had the will suppressed. This scene takes place at the probate hearing at Westminster.  Thanks to her mother, Margaretta, and her uncle Alex, Catherine inherited nearly everything.

We’ll make due with a painting of Catherine until I can get a proper book cover made. :)

LadyCatherine

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When the proceedings ended in Catherine’s favor, Margaretta and Alex attempted to whisk Catherine from the courtroom, but they were met at the door by a crowd of enthusiastic well-wishers and more than a few gentlemen of questionable intentions. Catherine had just inherited more wealth than she could ever dream of. Not only saw she now the sole owner of Leeds Castle, she also held manors and lands in Sussex and Essex, and was one-sixth owner of the proprietorship of the Virginia Colony. The crowd’s din grew as they attempted to get closer to the wealthy heiress. Pushing and shoving toward her, people reached out to touch her, to take her hand, to gain her attention and her favor. When the family emerged from Westminster, Alex hailed their coach, but when he turned back for Margaretta and Catherine, they had been separated from him by a sea of bodies. Margaretta reached for her daughter’s hand to pull her through the crowd, but their fingers were inches away from each other’s as Catherine was pushed back by the crowd, away from the protection of her mother and their waiting carriage.

“Catherine!” Margaretta called.

Catherine heard her mother’s call but couldn’t see her over the heads of the people surrounding her. She attempted to turn, but a growing throng of people blocked her way. Someone was standing on the hem of her gown, stifling her movement, lest she rip her skirts. Her mother called for her a second time. Her heart began pounding as she heard the panic in her mother’s voice and suddenly realized she might be in a dangerous situation. The crowd was growing riotous, pulling at Catherine’s clothing and her hair. Her honey-colored curls fell to her shoulders as her hairpin was snatched from her head, taking with it a handful of hair. She cried out for her mother, for her uncle, for anyone to save her from the melee. It was then that she felt a strong arm around her waist and another under the back of her legs.

“I’ve got you,” he whispered in her ear.

She was scooped into the arms of a savior. She buried her face into his shoulder as he pushed his way through the crowd toward the waiting carriage. When she was gently placed onto the seat in the carriage, she smoothed her hair from her face and lifted her eyes to look at her uncle. But her savior wasn’t Uncle Alex.

Before her stood a striking man whose brown eyes bore into her own, his dark curls falling over his brow, his full lips begging to be touched. Their eyes locked as if time stood still. He then nodded to her and quickly closed the carriage door, disappearing into the crowd.

Uncle Alex yelled for the driver to make haste, and the carriage sped away from the scene, the wheels bouncing on the rough cobblestone street.

 

Tuesday Travel – Old San Juan

san juan

 

Here’s one of my favorite places – Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. The walled city dates back to the 16th century, so it’s loaded with historic treasures to explore.

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fort2Castillo San Felipe del Morro, built in 1539, sits guard over San Juan Bay, and on the other side, Castillo San Cristobal guards the land.

Castillo San Cristobal

sorullitosThe old city with its cobblestone streets seems to have a lot of Spanish influences, but I also felt a bit of Italy in the architecture (Naples, in particular.) This was all until I got to the food. Sorullitos won my heart and made me want to stay. Sorullitos are a cheese-filled deep-fried sweet corn bread, and I could have eaten a dozen of them. They reminded me of a South American treat.

I didn’t make it to the Cathedral of San Juan, where Ponce de Leon is buried, so I’ll have to go back again someday. Cheers to Old San Juan!!

pina colada

 

Happy 223rd Birthday!

Rodgers Hays Sr

Hays Rodgers Sr was my 4th great grandfather. He was born in Greene Co, Tennessee in February of 1793 to James Rodgers and Elizabeth “Elly” Hays. (Elly was the heroine of my book “Elly Hays.”) Hays was Elly’s eldest son and he had at least ten siblings. Just before the War of 1812 began, the family moved from Tennessee to the Mississippi Territory, today known as Clarke Co, Alabama. Alabama didn’t become as state until 1819.

Page 11814 – When Hays was 19, he and his brother, Absolom, signed up for the Mississippi Militia and were assigned to Captain Evan Austill’s company of volunteers in Major Sam Dale’s Battalion to fight against the hostile Creek Indians. Hays remained in the Militia until October 1818, but was only called out once for a two-month tour. Today, I am a member of the United States Daughters of 1812 under his patriotism.

On December 11, 1816, he married Marey Ann Scott, who was from Georgia.

Winter of 1818, following the end of his military service, Hays, Marey, and first-born Lewis, moved to Copiah Co, MS (what later became Simpson, MS). He started buying land and farming. Over the next two decades, the couple had a total of 14 children. Some died young, but the final tally of grandchildren was 71!

In 1834, the US Government began selling off land it had obtained from the Choctaw Indians in the 1830 signing of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Hays went to Pine Springs in Lauderdale County before the land was surveyed and built a small cabin overlooking Rogers Creek bottom so he could claim the land the moment it went up for sale. He was a squatter for all purposes.

September 26, 1836 – A deed was recorded for 80 acres in Pine Springs which he bought from the government.

October 1836 – He bought 160 acres next to his 80 acres from John Calhoun. Mr. Calhoun moved to the Martin Community to open a leather tannery.

1839 – He bought 80 acres from Alex McMullen and 80 acres from Jeremiah Howell. He also began buying slaves and producing cotton.

1856 – He was granted public land adjoining his plantation from the US gov’t in payment for his military service.

MS Cemetery 0761857 – He built the “Ole Stennis House” at the age of 61. I took this photo in 2012 when I visited the house.

In 1860, the U.S. Census states Hays owned 13 slaves, a 640 acre (square mile) plantation, 2 horses, 3 mules, 10 cows, 4 oxen, 16 sheep, 60 swine, and $600 in farming instruments, for a total worth of $8400. A person’s total worth did not include the price of the slaves they owned, and most of his wealth was tied up in slaves that were worth more than $1000 each – that’s probably a million bucks in today’s money.

dec 2012 3881862 – When the Civil War began, Hays sent four of his sons to fight. Three never returned. Also, during the winter of that year, a typhoid epidemic hit his family, killing the only son who didn’t go off to war. Fortunately, Hays was not around to witness the deaths of his sons as he was the first in the family to died of typhoid that winter in December of 1862. He was 66 years old. His wife died shortly after him in March of 1863, also of typhoid.

Upon his death in December 1862, he owned 690 acres of land and stock in the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, which sat unattended until the end of the war, and then for more time as they awaited the boys return at the close of the war in 1865. The boys didn’t return. Finally, the property went to probate in 1869 and was sold at public auction on the steps of the Meridian Courthouse to Major Adam T Stennis, hence the name “Ole Stennis House.” The home remained in the Stennis family for 100 years until 1970 when it was bought by the Hover family.

The story of the time of war and Hays’ death is told through his daughter, Mary Ann’s, eyes in my book “Okatibbee Creek.”

Interesting note: The only son to return home from the war was Hays Jr, albeit with an injured, useless arm and a wilted spirit. Since he no longer had a large family in Mississippi, Hays Jr. sold his farm and moved to Alabama to be near his wife’s family. He sold his farm to a man named Tom Stennis. Tom Stennis was a former slave to Major Adam T Stennis.

This story is brought to you courtesy of “On This Day: A Perpetual Calendar for Family Genealogy.”

Gone ’til ’16

Howdy, everyone!

I’m sailing back and forth between NY and Nassau for the rest of the year, so I’m going to take a blogging break and be AWOL until the new year. Have a great holiday season with your family and friends, and I’ll see you in 2016! Holy cow, time moves fast. I remember being in elementary school and calculating how old I’d be in 2000. Now, I’m 16 years older than that. :)

In the meantime, here are some NY/Bahama photos from my last trip down there.

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Good Luck on Friday the 13th – Here’s a FREE book!

Friday the 13th is generally known for bad luck, but today, your luck is good – You can get a FREE copy of The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge through November 17th. If you want to see some real bad luck, check out Old Man Stuckey’s victims.

Click HERE to get your FREE Kindle!

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In 1901, the Virginia Bridge & Iron Company began re-building a fifty-year-old Mississippi bridge. In the middle of the project, they began discovering bodies buried on the banks of the river.

Legend has it, he was so evil, he was even thrown out of the notorious Dalton Gang. Years later, he opened an inn near the river, and on foggy nights, boatmen witnessed him pacing back and forth across the bridge, waving his lantern, offering travelers a hot meal and a soft bed.

Those unfortunate enough to take him up on the hospitality were often never seen again.

To this day, eerie experiences are still reported around the bridge that now bears his name. If you travel down to Stuckey’s Bridge, be careful, for not much else is known about the man locals refer to as Old Man Stuckey…until now.

Click HERE to get your FREE copy!