October Ancestry Challenge 2013 – Eula Ouida Keene Pickett

oct ancestry challenge-001

The October Ancestry Challenge 2013 is 23 posts in 23 days (Monday through Friday) about 23 ancestors. It’s still not to late to join us. Come on, you can catch up.

Ancestor #4 – Eula Ouida Keene Pickett

eula and benOne of my favorite people in the whole world was my great grandmother Eula Ouida Keene Pickett. She was my devoted pen pal while I was growing up (as we lived in different states), and I still have many of her cards and letters in my scrapbooks. I spent every summer with her as a child and remember gathering chicken eggs, watching her sew quilts, and staying far away from her nasty little chihuahua who was blind in one eye and would bite you if you got too close.

She was the daughter of Thomas Gilbert Lafayette Keene, an upstanding business man who served as Treasurer of Lauderdale County, MS from 1904-1907, and Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Brown, daughter of a Confederate hero who was captured by the Union army and escaped, then allowed himself to be captured again to help others escape, which he/they did.

She was born 18 March 1899 and was the sixth of seven children totaling three girls and four boys. She also had an older half-sister from her mom’s first marriage.

Eula married Benjamin Berry Pickett in Lauderdale County, Mississippi in 1916 at the age of 17. They had 3 children: Howard, Azalea (my grandmother), and Fleta Clarice.

Eula’s older half-sister, who was also named Fleta, was 14 years her senior, and the two had a special relationship. In 1920, Fleta had a daughter and named her Eula, and in Dec 1921, Eula had a daughter and named her Fleta Clarice. While Eula was six-months pregnant with Fleta, her father died in Sep 1921. If that wasn’t hard enough to endure, on 8 May 1923, baby Fleta Clarice died of pneumonia. She was seventeen months old.

MS Cemetery 053The Meridian Star, May 8, 1923

 Fleta Marie (Clarice) Pickett Born: December 1, 1921 in Lauderdale County, MS 

Died: May 8, 1923 in Lauderdale County, MS 

Fleta Marie (Clarice) Pickett Fleta Marie 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. 

I find it interesting that they held the funeral in the living room.

A month later on 23 June 1923, Eula’s sister Fleta died at the age of 38.

thunder at meridian1923 was NOT a good year for the family. Eula’s husband Ben and his brothers were involved in a bloody shoot-out with local law enforcement over a moonshine still. A revenuer (tax collector) was killed, and Ben was sent to prison for murder. This story is in a book by Hewitt Clarke called Thunder at Meridian. BTW, my grandmother Azalea was outraged by the book and said none of it was true. Then again, she was four at the time, and I’m sure the grown-ups did not tell her the all the gory details. I personally spoke with Mr. Clarke in September 2013 and he said he got that story from interviewing Clyde Pickett (Ben’s little brother) in Zero, MS and pieced the rest together from newspapers and court records.

Keep in mind, all of this occurred before Eula’s 25th birthday.

I don’t know how long Ben was in jail, but I know he served his time and was eventually released.

On September 2, 1936, Eula and Ben receive the phone call all parents dread: their 19-yr-old son, Howard, had been in an auto accident. According to his obituary, following a tire blow-out, the car rolled several times. Howard had internal injuries and did not regain consciousness. He died the following day.

MS Cemetery 054The Meridian Star, September 5, 1936

Howard Benjamin Pickett 

Born: November 19, 1917 in Lauderdale County, MS 

Died: September 3, 1936 in Newton, MS 

Howard Benjamin Pickett, 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Berry Pickett of Meridian, who was injured in an automobile crash near Newton on Highway 80, died in a Newton hospital late Thursday. Miss Hazel Brasfield, 15, also of Meridian, remained in a critical condition Friday morning. Pickett, who was said to have been driving the automobile when it crashed at 5 a.m., received internal injuries. He never regained consciousness. Miss Brasfield is suffering from a crushed thigh. Other occupants of the machine were Jim Edwards, Billy White, Neva Ezell, Jack Ward, and Geneva Burt, all of Meridian. All were slightly injured but were able to return to Meridian soon after the accident. Pickett is said to have rented the automobile from a 630 taxi driver at 7 a.m. Wednesday, stating he intended to go to Jackson. The crash occurred when a tire blew out, causing the machine to leave the highway, overturning several times before striking a stump. Funeral services will be held at 4 p.m. Friday from the Eight Avenue Baptist Church. Surviving are his parents: Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Berry Pickett and one sister, Azelea Pickett, all of Meridian. The Rev. Ed Grayson and Rev. Blanding Vaughan will officiate at the funeral. Interment will follow in Fisher Cemetery.

MS Cemetery 050My great grandma Pickett was a very strong and devoutly religious woman. The more I learn of her life, the more I understand why she was that way. Ben’s mom was a Fisher, so Ben and Eula and their three children are all buried in the family plot at Fisher Cemetery in Zero, Lauderdale County, Mississippi, which is still maintained by the Fisher family.

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10 responses to “October Ancestry Challenge 2013 – Eula Ouida Keene Pickett

  1. I remember when my great grandfather Gant passed away and the family kept the body in their living room until the funeral. People would stop by to pay their respects during the day and some of the family would stand ‘wake’ over him at night. I will start on the Gant’s, probably toward the end of next week. I still have several Beam’s I want to write about. 🙂

    • I guess they didn’t have “funeral homes” back in the day, so the obvious choice for a funeral was the family home. Being decades away from it, it now seems strange. I would almost think there is some kind of regulation or law against it now.

      • There probably is regulations and laws against it. I think in my great grandfather’s case, it was being poor and having no insurance. He passed sometime in the 1960’s. I’m sure there were funeral homes then.

    • I only knew 3 of them as a small child, and sadly, I wasn’t old enough to sit and talk with them about their lives. Such a lost opportunity. I guess that’s a lesson to us to speak to the young ones about ourselves.

      And, it is my pleasure to host this challenge. I’m enjoying it immensely!

      • I agree. I’ve joined a memoirs group were I live (even though I hope to still add many decades, lol), with this thought in mind. I never asked my grandparents the questions I wish I had! If they had a memoir, my husband’s side has a few, I could have learned so much.

  2. Pingback: October Ancestry Challenge – William Thomas Fisher | a day in the life of patootie

  3. Pingback: 52 Ancestors #4 Bettie Brown | a day in the life of patootie

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