On This Day in 1852

A quiet life. An almost uneventful life. A nondescript life.

On this day in 1852, Martha Jane “Mattie” Mercer was born to Amos Windham Mercer and Amanda Sylvester. She was somewhere in the middle of a dozen kids, 8 boys and 4 girls. Her father was 52 years of age when she was born. Her mother was 23. Hmmm. The family made their home in Clarke County, Mississippi, and Mattie lived her entire life there.

At the age of 21, she married Andrew Jackson “Jack” Crane on 4 Dec 1873 and had three children: Ella Jane 1874, Minnie Lee 1878, and my great grandpa Amos Bolivar 1881.

There is nothing outstanding in the genealogy records – no loss of large numbers of family members due to war or disease, no records of still-born infants, no legal records of incarceration, no newspaper clippings, no higher education, nothing out of the ordinary. It seems she lived a quiet life in the same small town she was born into.

After 32 years of marriage, her husband died in 1905 at the age of 53. The subsequent census records show she lived with her daughter Ella, where she remained for the rest of her life. She never remarried. She died at the age of 93 on 28 Nov 1945.

She is laid to rest at McGowan Chapel Cemetery in Clarke County, Mississippi, just down the road from her home. Even her tombstone is nondescript, only referring to her at Mrs. A. J. Crane.

Rest in peace, Grandma Mattie.

mercer martha jane mattie mercer

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On This Day in 1899

On This Day in 1899, this cute little girl was born to Thomas Gilbert Lafayette Keene and Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Brown. I’ve written about her before as she was one of my favorite people in the whole world. She was my great grandmother, and I had her in my life until I was eighteen years old.

Earl Vandorn and Eula KeeneEula Ouida (WEE-duh) Keene Pickett was born in Lauderdale County, Mississippi and lived there her whole life. She had an older 1/2 sister from her mother’s first marriage and two older biological sisters. She also had two older brothers and one younger brother (shown in the photo), and she had a brother who died as an infant before she was born.

At the age of 17, she married Benjamin Berry Pickett. The Pickett clan was a wild bunch, caught up in moonshine stills, run-ins with local law enforcement, as well as a shoot-out with a revenuer (tax collector) over a moonshine still that landed her husband in jail for a time.



I didn’t know much about her life when she was alive – the Keenes didn’t speak much of the past – more on that later – but as I started looking at that side of the family through ancestry research, I found her to be quite fascinating. She had a son at the age of 18 and a daughter at the age of 19 (my grandmother). Life seemed to be going along as expected.

At the age of 22, things began to turn sour.

In September of 1921, he father died. She was six months pregnant with her third child. In December she gave birth to a daughter and named the child Fleta Clarice after her 1/2 sister. Though fourteen years apart, the two sisters must have had a great relationship, as a few months before, Fleta had a daughter and named her Eula.

Seventeen months later, Fleta Clarice died of pneumonia. They held the funeral in their living room.

pickett fleta clarise headstoneThe 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. 

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

This was the same year of the bloody shoot-out with the revenuer, but I’m not sure if that incident happened before or after her infant and her sister died. I’d hate to think of Eula enduring those tragedies without her husband by her side. I know he was eventually released from prison and came home, but I’m not sure if he was home by 1926 when Eula’s mother passed away.

These tragedies helped me to understand why she was such a woman of faith. Sometimes you just don’t have anything else to hang on to.

Okay, I promised some family background on the Keenes. In 1859, her father was the last born to Green Keene and Sarah Tabitha. He had an older brother and three older sisters. In the 1860 census, the Keens also had grandpa Gilbert Keene and aunt Elizabeth Keene living with them. By the 1870 census, Thomas was eleven and living with his aunt Elizabeth and two of his sisters. Somewhere between the 1860 and 1870 censuses, his parents and his grandfather had died. In the 1880 census, he was living with his married sister Martha, her husband, and their three children, as aunt Elizabeth had died. In 1887, his sister Martha died. I always found it interesting the Keenes didn’t discuss the past, but in Thomas’s case, he may have been too young to remember his parents or his grandfather. It seems every adult who took care of him died, so maybe he didn’t see any point in dwelling on the past or the sadness. I’m thinking Eula inherited that trait from her father.

In September of 1936, she received the phone call every parent dreads. Her son had been involved in an automobile accident and on the verge of death. He was nineteen.

Eula Keene Pickett with Howard and AzaleaThe 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.

While Eula’s family grew to include a son-in-law, two grandchildren, and eventually six great grandchildren, over the years, she lost everyone from her youth. Her brothers died in 1939, 1947, and 1960. Her sisters died in 1964 and March of 1981. Her husband died in 1973.

She died 3 Oct 1981 and is laid to rest in the Fisher family cemetery in Zero, Mississippi with her husband and her children.

Happy birthday, Grandma! ♥

Pickett Ben and Eula Pickett

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On This Day in 1828

On This Day in 1828, my 3rd great grandpa Jeremiah William Crane Jr was born.

He was born March 17 to Jeremiah William Crane Sr and Mary “Polly” Weldon in Alabama. He was the last of eight children who were born between 1798 and 1828. And, yes, they were celebrating St Patrick’s day around the world on that day. Places like New York and Boston were already hosting parades.

But, I stray from the story…

ted-states-1812-05-1812-06.pngDuring the turn of the century in Alabama, the Creek Indians were in the middle of a civil war, as well as fighting off the white men who were encroaching on Indian territory. The War of 1812 in the North was a fight between the British and the Americans, battling over waterways and trade routes. The War of 1812 in the South was between the Americans trying to expand their newly formed nation and the Indians who were armed by the British. The Mississippi Militia was formed across the Mississippi Territory to battle the Indians. At the time the Mississippi Territory encompassed all of Mississippi and Alabama. Alabama didn’t become a state until 1819.

In 1830, the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed and was the first step in the removal of the Indians from the area. The American government began selling parcels of land quickly to get the area settled, and people soon began moving west from Alabama into Mississippi. At the time of the treaty, Jeremiah was only two, but his family had certainly witnessed great war and great change before he came along. His father had actually enlisted and served in Carson’s Regiment in the Mississippi Militia in 1814, but he only served for two months.

I assume things in the area calmed down a bit by the time Jeremiah became a man. I don’t have an official record of his marriage, but he was married to Sarah Frances Grimes, who was about four years his senior. They had their first child, a daughter whom they named Francis, in Alabama in 1847. Jeremiah was 18.

The whole family moved across the border into Mississippi during the next year, and this is where Jeremiah and Sarah’s second daughter, Emily, was born in 1848. Their third child was a son, George William Crane, in 1850, and all were residents of Clarke County, Mississippi in the 1850 census.

In 1852, they had my 2nd great grandfather Andrew Jackson “Jack” Crane, and in 1856, a daughter, Jerry Elizabeth.

After the birth of Jerry Elizabeth, there are no further records of Jeremiah.

The 1860 census shows Sarah living alone with the children- Francis, Emily, GW, Jack, and Jerry, but there is no husband listed. Above and below their names on the census are many of Jeremiah’s brothers with wives and families, and Jeremiah’s parents. They are all listed as farmers. Next to Sarah’s name, the occupation space is blank.

I don’t know what happened to Jeremiah, but he died somewhere between the ages of 28 and 32. The 1860 census states his wife was now 36 and his children were between the ages of 4 and 13.

Whatever happened to him, I hope he’s resting in peace.

Happy birthday, Grandpa Jeremiah William Crane!


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On This Day in 1836

On This Day in 1836 my 3rd great grandmother Sarah Ann Elvira Dollar was born.

Don’t you find the name “Dollar” to be a little strange? Well, her father was Ambrose Dollar, her grandfather was Reuben Dollar who came to America from Wales and fought in the Revolution, and her great grandfather was Edward Dolier – probably French Doh-lee-AY or Irish D’Olier. Either one of those makes more sense than Dollar.

Sarah Ann’s mother was Jemima Clearman, whose father was Jacob Van Clearman, whose father was John William Clearman from Germany.

Well, that’s just a crazy European mix, isn’t it?

Let’s go back to her dad’s side for just a moment. This is the transcription of the sworn statement of Dr. J.M. Dollar, the great grandson of Reuben Dollar.

betsy-ross-flag-usa-united-states-of-america-americaGause Texas, August 4th 1913
This is to certify that my great grandfather Reuben Dollar told me of fighting in the Revolutionary War when I was a boy. He came from Wales and fought in the war. He returned to Wales and was disinherited by his father for having fought against the British Crown. After which he returned to America and settled in Edgefield S.C. He died in Miss. in 1858 at the age of 113 years.
Signed J.M Dollar
State of Texas:
County Of Milam:
subscribed and sworn to before me this August 4th. 1913
J.R. Fraim, Notary Public, Milam co. Texas

I find these old records fascinating!!

Anyway, back to Sarah Ann…

pickensShe was the 6th born of 8 children, half boys, half girls. She was born March 11, 1836 in Pickens County, Alabama. Pickens County is right on the Mississippi border, and at some point between 1840 and 1850, the family moved west to Mississippi. At the age of 17, on October 6, 1853, she married William Lafayette Brown, Jr. in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. Keep in mind, the above Patriot grandfather was still alive until 1858 and died in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, so he might have been living with them. If not living with Sarah Ann and her husband, at least with a nearby family member.

Sarah Ann gave birth to her first child at the age of 18, James Floyd Brown in 1854. He was followed by John Ambus Brown in 1857, Angeline Brown in 1859, William Harrison Brown in 1860,  Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Brown in 1862, Warren Brown in 1865, Franklin Carlton Brown in 1867, Charles Berry Brown in 1871, Pinkney Earlie Brown in 1874, and Martha Catherine Brown in 1877.

Do you notice anything strange about those birth dates?

Page 1When the Civil War broke out in 1861, her husband was about 25 years old. Yes, he went to fight for the Confederacy. As a matter of fact, he was a sniper who guarded Mississippi bridges in the area. At one point, he was captured by the Union. He escaped. He went back and allowed himself to be captured again to help others escape, which he/they did. After that, he had a bounty on his head for the rest of the war.

It doesn’t look like the war or the captures between 1861 and 1865 stopped him from visiting home at least a few times. Obviously he stopped by the house long enough for some hanky panky. The girl born in 1862 was my second great grandmother. Her birthday is the same day as mine, November 19.

One thing for sure, these people didn’t back down from a challenge! I look forward to doing more research on the Dollars and Clearmans very soon.

Sarah Ann died in Mississippi July 18, 1915 at the age of 79.

Happy birthday, Grandma Sarah Ann!!

brown william L and Sarah A at goodwater cemetery

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Pretty Sure I Was Abducted By Aliens

Day after day, every morning is the same routine.

After I get out of the shower, I wrap my hair in a towel. I apply deodorant and face lotion. I get dressed, dry my hair, plug in my curling iron, apply my makeup while it’s getting hot, then curl my hair and add earrings. Aaannnd, I’m off! Twenty minutes, tops.

Here’s what happened this morning!

I did all the above, just as I always do it, in the same order, without waiver, just like every other day!

I went to work and caught up on a couple hours worth of items leftover from yesterday. I then joined a conference call that spanned a dozen people over five states. If you’re not familiar with WebX, someone on the call will be the presenter and share their computer screen with everyone else.

During this time, I realized I had been so busy all morning, I had neglected to use the restroom. You know, if you get stuck in a situation where you can’t go to the bathroom, it makes you have to go all the more! Well, I was the presenter in this WebX conference and couldn’t leave – not even for a minute! And this was a TWO HOUR presentation.

FINALLY, we ended the call and I sprinted to the restroom.

Upon washing my hands in front of the mirror, I looked up, and to my horror, I saw my pale, bare, makeup-less face. Nope, not one little swipe of blush. No eyeliner. No mascara. No lipstick. What the H E double L was going on here???

My hair was curled. My earrings were on. Did I not look into the mirror this morning to do those things? Where I would have seen my makeup’ed face? And certainly noticed the lack of said makeup?

Wait! If my hair was curled, what was I doing for the five minutes it took for my curling iron to warm up??

I can’t figure this out.

I came out of the restroom and told my co-worker, “I forgot to put on eyeliner this morning.”

To which she replied, “Yes, I noticed that right away.”

“WHAT?! And you didn’t say anything???” (May be on the hunt for some new coworkers.)

The only explanation I can figure is I was abducted by aliens this morning for about five minutes.

Either that, or I’ve lost my ever-lovin’ mind, and I refuse to believe that is true.


Everything I Need to Know, I’ve Learned from SpongeBob

Every morning I get ready for work while listening to SpongeBob playing on the television in the other room. No, I don’t have little kids. I turn it on for my dogs. Hush. Dogs like TV.


(SpongeBob SquarePants image property of Nickelodeon)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m in love with that square little piece of sunshine, and I’ve learned quite a bit from him. I think I may have zeroed in on everything one needs to know to be happy in this lifetime from that crabby-patty-flippin’ sponge.

If you’ve never watched the show, do yourself a favor and tune it. Here’s what you’ll learn:

  1. Wake each day with a smile on your face.
  2. Find a job you love to do and do it to the best of your ability.
  3. Have a very good friend, preferably one who lives next door.
  4. Have a pet. It makes life so much better.
  5. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  6. Don’t feed into other’s negativity.
  7. Don’t believe what others say about you, even when they say it to your face.
  8. Always be kind.

I think that sums it up! Life according to SpongeBob. Have a lovely day, my friends!

(SpongeBob SquarePants show cast from Nickelodeon)



Agitations of a Writer: Grammar, Content, and Dog Stealing

All writers and editors live in a constant state of frustration. Each and every blog, social media post, newspaper article, etc. are filled to the brim with incorrect grammatical phrases, punctuation errors, and badly written content that make us shake our collective heads. We usually grit our teeth and walk away, but today is not that day. My writer and editor friends will surely feel my pain, and I hope the rest of you get a kick out of the frustration that lives in the mind of a writer. Disclaimer: For you PETA-type people out there, don’t get your dander up. This post is not about dogs. If the subject was purple Chevys, I would have written the same thing.

I read the following letter on a forum a while back. As a writer, I’m agitated by the grammar. The more I look at it, the more I’m frustrated by the content. I copied and pasted it exactly as it appeared, and I have wasted my entire morning ripping it to shreds writing a blog about it.


found_collar_black2__33877.1362773206.1280.1280_2“I have a community question, that needs to be anonymous.

There is a dog running around my street that is severely malnourished, to the point that you can see every single bone in ther body, and they have other dogs in small pens in their backyard. I have gotten the one wondering in my back yard with a bowl of food and water. Where can I call that isn’t a high kill shelter? I believe the dog is considered an aggressive breed, but he is the sweetest thing ever.” – Anonymous Liker


While this letter is probably written by a good-deed doer, and I am all for rescuing neglected and abused animals, the post has many issues one simply cannot overlook. Grammar is the least of its problems.

“I have a community question, that needs to be anonymous.” 

There’s no need for a comma in this sentence. Why would a question need to be anonymous? Oh, you meant the person asking the question wishes to remain anonymous. Oh.

“There is a dog running around my street that is severely malnourished, to the point that you can see every single bone in ther body, and they have other dogs in small pens in their backyard.”  

Where does one even start? This is a run-on sentence with two topics – the dog and ‘they.’ “You can see every single bone” is an exaggeration. It is not possible to see every single bone unless you’ve dissected the dog, in which case we have another problem. We understand the dog is skinny, but this exaggeration leads us to believe that nothing else you’ve written here is completely true either. I’m going to ignore the “their” typo, but who is “they” in the last part of the sentence? I’m thinking you mean your neighbors? Wait! If you know this is your neighbor’s dog, why don’t you take him home? Hang on to that thought for a moment.

I have gotten the one wondering in my back yard with a bowl of food and water.

1005-alternate-1-440x400Is this a different dog? Do you have THIS dog in your possession? This sentence has me wondering how you knew this dog was wondering. Was he sitting on your back porch in the pose of The Thinker? Oh, you meant wandering, as in roaming around. Why didn’t you say so? Was he carrying a bowl of food and water with him? (…which would probably be TWO bowls, but that’s neither here nor there.) Did you mean YOU had the bowl (singular) of food and water? I’m so confused.

(photo credit: Rodin’s Thinker, National Gallery of Art, exhibiting how I’m feeling at this moment.)

Let’s continue…

“Where can I call that isn’t a high kill shelter?”

I understand the question, really, I do, but I don’t understand how over thirty people responded to the original post with phone numbers and names of shelters, and not one person noticed that the writer had STOLEN her neighbor’s dog. The wish to remain anonymous now makes more sense.

I’ll mention the obvious here. This was posted on a forum, using the Internet, which has “The Google” as my elderly friend calls it. Just look up a number.

There should be a dash between high and kill as this two-word adjective (see what I did there?) is describing the shelter.

“I believe the dog is considered an aggressive breed, but he is the sweetest thing ever.” 

Finally, a sentence written correctly, but after the exaggeration and the fact that you’ve stolen your neighbor’s dog, I’m not inclined to trust your judgment. I may want to imagine you sitting next to a malnourished Rottweiler, but what I envision is a busybody old lady with a dirty poodle on her lap.