Homes of the Culpepper Saga

Culpepper_1In celebration of my upcoming April 10th book release, “I, John Culpepper,” I’m posting bits and pieces about the people and places you will read about in the Culpepper Saga. The four-book saga is based upon my 10th great grandfather, and most of the names and locations are real. The first three blogs about the story are available here, here, and here. This blog is about the homes John spent time in between 1606 and 1634.

Our hero, John Culpepper, was born into a very wealthy family. He was born at Greenway Court in Hollingbourne in the county of Kent. His family moved away when he was only five years old, but he eventually returned to the home when his brother Thomas married and set up house there. In the book, the old house drug up a lot of feelings and memories of John’s childhood that he had long forgotten. The home is still standing and is privately owned today.


From the age of five until he went away to law school, John lived at Astwood Court in Feckenham in the county of Worcester. The home originally belonged to his great uncle Martin and was left to his father. John’s mother died in the house when John was just a child. The home is still standing and is privately owned today.


As a young boy John spent many summers at his grandfather’s estate of Wigsell Manor in Salehurst, Sussex. The 600-acre property was the stuff boy’s dreams are made of. The home is still standing and is privately owned today.

great wigsell


John’s uncle Sir Alexander Culpepper owned Leeds Castle in Maidstone, Kent. Alexander inherited the house through his wife Mary, the widow of Sir Anthony St. Leger. In 1552, the house was granted to the St. Leger family, and following the Culpepper ownership 1632-1710, it was transferred into the Fairfax family through marriage. It was built in the early 1100s and was once the home of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. It is now open to the public as a tourist attraction. You can visit Leeds Castle’s website here.





52 Ancestors #13 Ina Inez Burke Culpepper


This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small, and this week’s theme is “different.”

My grandmother died March 1, 1975

Meridian Star

March 4, 1975 

Mrs. Ina Culpepper

Services for Mrs. Ina Inez Culpepper, 60, were to be held at 10 a.m. today at Stephens Funeral Home Chapel, Revs. Roger Leggert and Charles Davis officiating. Burial was to be in Liberty Cemetery, Newton County.

Mrs. Culpepper died Saturday in a Meridian hospital. She was a member of First Pentecostal Holiness Church.

Survivors include her husband, Earl W. Culpepper, Meridian; two daughters, Mrs. Bobbie McQueen, Meehan, Mrs. Linda Hegwood, Utica, Mich.; two sisters, Mrs. Ellen Scarbrough, Houston, Tex., Mrs. Myrnis Howard, Meridian; three brothers, Willam Otho Burke, James Otis Burke, and E. O. Burke, all of Duffee, and four grandchildren. 


Mamaw and Papaw with grandkidsIna was my maternal grandmother. She was born in 1915 to Mary Elizabeth Howington and John Patrick “Pat” Burke. Her Howington side was English and Choctaw Indian. Her Burke side was English and Irish. She was the eldest, with four little brothers and two little sisters. One of the boys died as an infant, but the rest of her siblings outlived her and are listed in her obituary. Her mother also outlived her by two years, but for some reason, is not listed.

At the age of 21 in 1936, Ina married Earl Culpepper and had two daughters, one in 1938 and one in 1944. She worked as a seamstress at Burnley Shirt Factory in Meridian, MS and could sew anything just by looking at it in the store for a few minutes. She was a fabulous cook, a quiet woman, and she loved her four grandchildren. The little girl in the photo is me. :)

We always celebrated her birthday on February 9. Her tombstone says February 9. Her death certificate says February 9.

Her birth certificate says February 8. It was signed on February 8. It was filed in the state of MS on February 8.

burke Ina Inez Burke headstone

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

2a2I admit it. I went left. I took a turn off some road in downtown Lollypop Land and got lost in some weird place, and I hated every minute of it. This week, I read the original “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum.

I’ll say up front that you can get lots and lots of these classic tales for free on Amazon. Well, that’s where it all started.

I’ll also say that I don’t understand how the hell this was ever transformed into such an amazing classic film. The book is atrocious. I’m not going to say anything more. If you haven’t read it, pick it for yourself, and let me know what you think.

Here’s the Amazon link – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz



Katherine St. Leger – Culpepper Saga

Culpepper_1This is the third installment about the people and places in my upcoming series, The Culpepper Saga. You can read the first and second installments here and here.

Katherine St. Leger’s relationship to the Culpeppers is a little hard to explain, so bear with me. She was born in 1602 and was the daughter of Warham St. Leger who was a ship captain and sailed on expeditions with Sir Walter Raleigh. Since her father was absent most of the time, she lived with her grandmother, Mary St. Leger, and her step-grandpa, Alexander Culpepper.

Alexander Culpepper had no children and married the St. Leger widow when he was thirty-three years of age. She was quite a bit older than him and was probably already done birthing children by then. That being said, Alexander loved his step-granddaughter, Katherine, and raised her as if she was his own, actually naming her as his daughter in his will.

When Katherine was twenty-six years old, she married Thomas Culpepper, Alexander’s nephew. Thomas was the son of John Culpepper, whom we call Johannes in the book because there are way too many Johns. Johannes was Alexander’s brother. Johannes had two sons, John (our hero) and Thomas. Thomas married Katherine. Did you catch all that?

Katherine and Thomas grew up as cousins, but they really weren’t. Try explaining all that in a book. Go ahead. I dare ya. You’ll have to read the book and see how the heck I did it. :)

So, now that you have a slight grasp on who Katherine is, here’s a snippet from the first book, “I, John Culpepper.” Thomas and John are very close, but John has always felt Thomas was their father’s favorite. Maybe he’s right.


Following their marriage, Thomas and Katherine moved into Greenway Court, and a month later, they invited the entire family to visit. Johannes and Ann, Cicely, Frances and James, John and Mary, and Uncle Alexander gathered at the estate. At the conclusion of the first family supper in their new home, Thomas tapped on the rim of his glass to get everyone’s attention.

“Katherine and I are so pleased that you all could join us in our new home. We trust you all had a pleasant journey getting here, and please know that you are welcome to stay for as long as you like. We invited everyone because we have some news.” He gestured for Katherine to stand by his side, and after she did, he continued. “We would like to inform you that Katherine is with child and we are expecting the first Culpepper grandchild.” Thomas beamed like a ray of sunshine, and Johannes was the first to rise and pat his son firmly on the back.

“Thomas, Katherine, we are overjoyed by this news, and let me be the first to wish you a healthy son.” Johannes raised his glass and the gathering followed his lead.

From across the table, John watched the interaction between his brother and his father, and he wondered if he would have received the same hearty congratulations if it were him announcing the arrival of the first grandchild. He glanced at Mary and found her staring at him. He smiled faintly, but he knew she could read his face and by the way she cocked her head, he knew she recognized something was amiss.


“I, John Culpepper” will be released April 10, 2015.

52 Ancestors #12 William Henry Blanks (plural)

52ancestors-2015This ancestry challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small and the theme for this week is “Same.”

 That being said, may I present…

My great great grandfather William Henry Blanks III

blanks william henry III

William III was the son of William Henry Blanks II and Nancy Narcissus Young, and the grandson of William Henry Blanks I and Jane Hill. Seeing a pattern here?

The Blanks family’s American roots date back prior to 1660 Virginia. I’m not sure where they immigrated from. William the elder was born in Virginia in 1755. He was a captain in the NC militia during the American Revolution. He died in Greene Co, Georgia in 1823 at the age of 68. Greene County is in the middle of the northern part of the state, and in 1800, was on the border of Creek Indian land. The War of 1812 saw a lot of fighting between the Americans and the Creek. What in the world possessed these people to live on such a wild frontier?

William II was born in Georgia in 1800 and was a young boy during the War of 1812. He died in Mississippi in 1859.

William III was also born in Georgia in 1846 and shows up in the Lauderdale Co, MS census in 1850 at the age of four.  Note: In 1830, the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed, giving the Choctaw and Creek Indian land, now Alabama and Mississippi, to the Americans. This is why we see such a migration to the area between 1830 and 1850. Land was cheap and the gov’t wanted to get it settled. Anyway, William III was the youngest of seven children and was only 11 when his mother died and 13 when his father died, leaving everything to him and his 16-year-old sister Nancy. I can only imagine how emotionally damaging those deaths were for him at that young age.

MISS0066D_Confederate-Pension-applications-Blake-Bolls-1900-1932_00202William III served the Confederacy in the Civil War under the command of John Cochran in Lauderdale County, MS. He enlisted in 1862 and was still in active service at the close of the war in 1865. On Oct 31, 1867, he married Martha Lettie “Mattie” Carpenter in Lauderdale Co, MS. He was 21. She was 19. Mattie’s father was killed in the war in 1862 when she was only 14, so she knew all too well how hard it was to lose a parent. I assume that was one of the deep connections William and Mattie shared. William and Mattie had 6 girls: Ida, Ada, Annie, Sarah, Ora, and Velma, and I heard there was a boy, John, who died as a small child, though I have no paper trail of him, only verbal history.


blanks william henry blanks III death certWilliam III died in 1922 at the age of 74 of senility and chronic bronchitis.

Mattie died at the age of 84 in 1933 of cerebral hemorrhage.


They are laid to rest at Hickory Grove Cemetery in Laurel, Jones County, MS.

blanks wm III and mattie carpenter headstones

Ursula Woodcock Culpepper – Culpepper Saga

Culpepper_1This post is in place of my usual “Saturday Snippets,” and is the second installment of the background of the people and places in my coming series, The Culpepper Saga. You can read the first installment here.

Ursula Woodcock Culpepper is one of the more sentimental characters in my coming series. She was our hero’s mother, and sadly, is only in the first book, “I, John Culpepper.” She was my 11th great grandmother.

astwoodUrsula was born to Ralph Woodcock, the Alderman of London, and his wife Good Bower in 1566. She was baptized at St. Lawrence Jewry in London on January 27, 1566. Her father’s will describes her as “my daughter Ursula, wife of Solomon Pordage.” Ursula and Solomon married in 1581, when Ursula was a child of fifteen.  Solomon Pordage died September 12, 1599 and his will commended his wife to his kinsman, William Stede of Harrietsham. It was through the Stedes that Ursula met her second husband, John Culpepper of Feckenham. This is John Sr., not our hero John, and in the book I refer to John Sr. as Johannes, as that is what is written on his tombstone.

So, Ursula and Johannes had four children: Thomas, Cicely, John (our hero), and Frances. When the children were small, between the ages of four and ten, the family left their home in Kent and moved to Astwood Court in Feckenham (photo) so Johannes could retire and become a “country gentleman,” but they lived there for less than a year when Ursula took ill and died. She was buried at St. John the Baptist Church in Feckenham on June 2, 1612 as “Ursula, the wife of John Culpepper, Esquire.” She was forty-six years

In the first book in the Culpepper Saga, “I, John Culpepper,” the following is what Johannes thought of his lovely wife. The book will be released April 10, 2015.


Her golden voice was as sweet as an angel’s, and that made him smile. He married her because of her cheerful voice, well, that and her family’s money. The Woodcock family had more manors and lands than the Culpeppers, and the time-honored tradition of marrying heiresses and widows was generally the way the Culpepper men gained their fortunes. But, Ursula had something else about her that Johannes loved. She was kind and warm-hearted with a gentle smile and a soft manner. He had initially been attracted to her by the way she said, “Good morning,” and “Good evening,” and particularly the way she said, “Johannes.” Words floated from her lips as if they were lyrics she was singing just for him. Her voice had a happy lilt that filled his heart the way nothing else did. Today, it made him happy to be home.

He swung the door open wide, entered the lavishly appointed room, and found Ursula sitting up in the four-poster bed, wearing a soft white gown that floated on her petite frame. A stack of pillows rested behind her back and her legs were covered with a brightly colored velvet quilt. Her hair was plaited on either side of her face, cascading softly down her shoulders, and Johannes was momentarily awed by how peaceful she looked. Childbirth agreed with her.

Her expression was one of excitement and anticipation as she held their newborn infant in her arms, and her smile grew more radiant as he approached the bed. “It’s a son,” she offered.


52 Ancestors #11 Thomas Weldon


This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small, and this week’s theme is “Luck of the Irish.”

The early 1500s in Ireland was characterized as “His Majesty’s Irish enemies.” The Irish were repressed by England, yet they managed to maintain their own language, social system, customs, and laws. Undoubtedly, life was hard five hundred years ago as many Irish lived off the land, mostly as shepherds, but if you love the land as much as I do, you might find this the luckiest of lifestyles.

Most of my ancestors hail from England, but there are a few from Ireland. One is my 14th great grandfather, Thomas Weldon, or Veldon as it was originally known. My 4th great grandpa, Jeremiah Crane, married Mary Polly Weldon who was born in Georgia. Her family came from Delaware, via Massachusetts in the early 1600s, and England in the 1500s. The Veldons originally came to Ireland with the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century and settled in “The Pale” which includes the County of Meath, just north of Dublin. Thomas was born in 1480 in Meath and died there at the age of 73 in 1553. I think that’s a considerable age considering the times. Even though his life was undeniably hard, imagine the sites, smells, and sounds he was surrounded by every single day of his life. Below are a few photos of the area as it looks today. I say Thomas Weldon was lucky indeed. 

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