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!


This post is brought to you by On This Day: A Perpetual Calendar for Family Genealogy

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

This post brought to you by “On This Day,” a perpetual calendar for family genealogy.

Witch Dance

I’ve been working on a new book called Witch Dance. I went down to the real place and took this photo at a nearby location…

bynum mounds photo

Here’s what my amazing book designer came up with, using MY photo. He’s awesome.



Just south of Tupelo, Mississippi on the Natchez Trace lies a place of mystery called Witch Dance.

When Thomas and Margaret Speedwell took their twins to Witch Dance for a weekend camping trip, they never imagined they would be pulled into a vortex of witchcraft, tragedy, and karma. One of the girls goes missing; the other won’t say what happened on the other side of the hill.

The tragedy pulls together a cast of characters from Margaret’s childhood and beyond – Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians, Toltec ancestors, the extinct Hopewell tribe.

With the help of a childhood friend, a concerned newspaper reporter, and visions by a strange old woman, a two thousand year old mystery begins to unfold, uncovering missing children throughout generations. Who is taking them? Could it be the infamous witches of Witch Dance?


Here’s an unedited snippet…unedited being the key word there. You, my friends, are the very first to get a sneak peek! 🙂


Emily and Sarah squealed as they raced each other toward the pair of small hills that sat at the edge of a field. No tree or bush grew on top of the mounds. They were simply two barren knolls of smooth earth, offering neatly manicured grass and clear views of the surrounding land. These hills, historically known to be the ancestral burial grounds of the Hopewell Indians, are today known as the Bynum Mounds, a minor tourist attraction on the Natchez Trace Parkway.

The six-year-old girls raced to the hills as fast as their legs would run. This was nothing new. They raced everywhere. They’d done so since before they learned to walk, crawling faster and faster to beat the other to the prize at the end of the race. Born mere minutes apart, they held the typical sibling rivalry, vying against each other for the prized possession, the favorite toy, or the brightest crayon. But, their favorite competition was racing to the next spot, always endeavoring to be in the lead.

Margaret and Thomas Speedwell had driven down the Natchez Trace from Nashville for a long-overdue getaway with their girls. They arrived yesterday, excited for their weekend camping trip at a place just north of the Bynum Mounds—a campground called Witch Dance.

Witch Dance sounded like a fun place to spend the weekend. It sported an elaborate history, rumored to be the place where witches held their eerie rituals and ceremonies. Legend has it that witches danced around bonfires, and where their feet touched the ground, no grass ever grew again—even until this day. The sign at the entrance stating the legend about the witches was a popular place for souvenir photos by the people who frequented the site – families, ghost hunters, and the curious. The Speedwell family didn’t come down for a ghost hunting expedition. This weekend was simply a chance for Margaret, Thomas, and their girls to shed the stress of their everyday lives and have a little fun.

“I wish they wouldn’t run ahead like that,” Margaret grumbled from the parking lot.

“It’s okay. Let them run,” Thomas replied. “We can see them from here.”

Thomas sensed his wife’s tension, marked by a crease of concern peppering her forehead. He gently reached for her hand as they strolled from the parking lot toward the mounds, following their daughters. The lack of shrubbery and trees made it easy to keep an eye on the girls, but the clear line of sight didn’t help Margaret relax.

“But they always run; through the grocery store, the playground, the parking lot. I’ve scolded them a million time, but I can’t get them to stop racing, no matter the punishment for disobeying.”

Thomas squeezed her hand. “You should let them run as much as they want. Someday they’ll win medals in track or become world-class cross-country runners.” He chuckled softly, attempting to lighten her mood.

Margaret puckered her brow. Thomas knew his carefree tone of voice wasn’t going to make her concerns disappear. He knew she wanted her girls to be proper ladies, not sweaty athletes.

He felt her stiffen when they heard Emily shriek and they both watched the girls run up to the top of one of the hills.


Emily shrieked as Sarah grabbed the back of her pink shirt, attempting to catch up, but the material slipped from her fingers. Emily stretched her arm back for Sarah to grasp, and they both laughed as Sarah grabbed on and Emily pulled her forward. The curly-headed blondes crossed over the ridge on the top of the hill and began their descent down the other side when they suddenly stopped in their tracks, their eyes wide at the vision looming in front of them.

On a perfect late summer day with a clear blue sky and bright sunshine, a large cloud rested on the other side of the hill. Not a puffy white cloud—more like a menacing shadow. It slowly swirled and circled about a foot above the ground as if some imaginary wind was trying to create a tornado, but there was no wind, not even the slightest breeze. The shape and movement resembled the twister the girls had seen in the movie with Dorothy and Toto, but there was no dirt or debris or witches or houses in the vortex, just blackness.

The girls froze and squeezed each other’s hands. Emily wanted to scream, but she could only open and close her mouth like a fish washed up on a beach. No sound came. It was as if the shadow had sucked all the air out of her lungs. The black maelstrom quickly increased in size and volume as the whirling winds began to howl, starting first as a low hum and growing louder with each passing moment. The hum grew to an ominous sound, simultaneously emitting an ear-piercing shriek and a low agonizing moan. The girls instantaneously released each other’s hands and covered their ears against the painful sounds. The turbulence continued to expand, growing larger and larger as it moved closer to them.

Even with her hands over her ears, Emily thought she heard human voices mumbling something beneath the roar of wind. She narrowed her eyes and cocked her head as if doing so would make the voices clearer. She couldn’t take her eyes off the vortex, but she felt Sarah reach for her arm. Sarah took a step forward, trying to pull Emily forward with her, but Emily pulled back and Sarah’s fingers lost their grip. Emily didn’t want to go forward. As a matter of fact, everything in her gut told her to turn and run in the opposite direction. Run back to her mother, back to her father, back to safety. She sensed a great wickedness in the sight before them, something evil in the whirling darkness. She knew a malevolent presence lurked inside of the shadow. It watched them from the blackness, wanting them to come closer. Sarah grabbed a handful of Emily’s shirt and pulled harder. Emily pulled back again. She turned to run, the pink cotton material of her shirt, again, slipping from Sarah’s grasp. Emily ran back the way they had come as fast as her legs would carry her. She was certain Sarah would follow. Sarah always followed.

The moment she reached the top of the hill, the roaring stopped. The sound of the whirring, the voices, the wind instantly vanished. She saw her parents casually strolling, hand-in-hand, toward the hill. Why weren’t they running? Didn’t they hear the horrible tornado that almost devoured their children? Emily turned around to look for Sarah, but there was nothing behind her but the bright, sunny valley below. The tornado had vanished. There was no sound, no vortex, no Sarah.

Emily collapsed like a rag doll.

Stuckey’s Bridge on the Travel Channel

maxresdefaultThe Travel Channel has a show called Most Terrifying Places in America. They’ve been on for a couple seasons now, and they’ve finally gotten around to the most terrifying place I know of – Stuckey’s Bridge.




I was born in Meridian, Mississippi, near the bridge, and heard the creepy legend of the man locals refer to as Ole Man Stuckey my whole life.

Legend has it he was a member of the notorious Dalton Gang, but he was so evil, he was kicked out. He found his way to Lauderdale County, Mississippi where he opened an inn on the Chunky River.

At that time, the river was used to transport goods and produce down to the gulf. Ole Man Stuckey was known to pace the old bridge every evening at dusk, waving his lantern, and offering travelers a warm meal and a soft bed.

In 1901, the Virginia Bridge and Iron Company began rebuilding the 50-year-old wooden bridge. During the project, they discovered bodies buried on the banks.

The townsfolk were suspicious about the creepy man who ran the inn and rounded up a posse to go find him. The mob took him down to the bridge, tied a noose around his neck, and hung him from the new iron rails of the bridge.

His body dangled over the river for five days. When the sheriff cut him down, he splashed into the river below.

Strangely enough, the ghosts around Stuckey’s Bridge today don’t seem to be the victims. The ghost seems to be Ole Man Stuckey, himself. Unexplained lights are witnessed. Footsteps on the bridge and loud splashes into the water below are heard. An apparition of a man walking across the bridge, waving a lantern, is occasionally seen.

28277124_10156046534958326_2362995188662457275_nWe taped the episode for the show last week, and in typical Stuckey-style, there were a few strange occurrences while we were there. A couple phones when crazy for a few minutes. A drone used to take footage of the river and the bridge crashed. We all heard it splash into the water, but when we ran onto the bridge to look over the railing for it, we saw it up in a tree. I wonder what the splash was…

I’ve written three books about the legend (available at Amazon, click here). That’s why they asked me to participate in the show. It was fun to go back home for the day, and I loved being out there again. It’s a cool place and it was a beautiful spring day! I’m very grateful my part of the show was wrapped up before nightfall.



Here’s my cousin dressed up to play the part of Ole Man Stuckey! This picture was taken long after I skedaddled out of there by Stuckey Bridge Canoe and Kayak


Sweet Dreams…

Historic Stuckey’s Bridge to get fresh coat of paint

An historic wooden bridge spanning the Chunky River in Clarke County is getting a fresh coat of paint Saturday because of recent vandalism.

Source: Historic Stuckey’s Bridge to get fresh coat of paint

Stuckey's cover_webThis above story is the bridge featured in my book, “The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge.” 

Egocentric Genealogy


Me.-Center-of-the-Universe-T-ShirtsEgocentric: regarding the self as the center of all things.

As with most people tracing their ancestry, my research and conclusions always revolve around me. How far back? How many generations? Where did my family migrate to and when, and how did I get here?

A few years ago, I had trouble tracing past my maternal great grandmother. (Keep that maternal word in mind for a moment.) She lived in the back hills of Mississippi and didn’t leave a paperwork trail. No census. No education. No land grants. Her family lived on the same land since the 1830s, or maybe even before as there is a Choctaw Indian connection. Members of my family still live on the land today.

A few years ago I found her brother, whom we called Uncle Sug (as in Sugar), and the family opened up. He left a paper trail. I could trace him. I didn’t realize (or care) who he was in my childhood, but now, he became extremely important to my research. He married Aunt Zeffie in 1918. He was 18, she was 13. I imagine him marrying such a young girl because of his raging hormones. He was always a flirt, a sweet-talker, a ladies man, traits I’m sure he didn’t create in his sixties. He was probably always like that.

Okay, stay with me here. The reason I found him was he was listed on my paternal great grandmother’s obituary. Yep, here’s where my family tree stops forking. He was listed as her son-in-law. Aunt Zeffie was my grandfather’s sister. Uncle Sug was my grandmother’s uncle. (This is the point where I had to explain to my mother that her Uncle Sug was also her mother’s Uncle Sug. Welcome to Mississippi.)

Here’s where the egocentric part comes in

Upon finding that info, I always assumed Uncle Sug and Aunt Zeffie met because of my grandparents. I pictured them having cocktails at family gatherings, since my relationship with my grandparents was peppered with numerous family gatherings at their country house. I pondered if other members of the family questioned their attraction. Wouldn’t you wonder why your sister liked some distant relative? I wondered if anyone on either side disavowed their marriage.

This morning, my egocentric view swiftly collapsed into a smoldering pile all around my feet.

I found out Uncle Sug and Aunt Zeffie got married (as stated above) in 1918. Never before have I questioned the years, but my grandparents were both born in 1914. They were both four years old at the time of the wedding.

earl culpepper and ina burkePhoto: In my mind, these are not and have never been little kids. —>>>

The thought of my grandparents knowing each other as children blew my mind. I have always pictured marriage beginning with a young couple meeting in their teens and falling in love. Must be the romantic fairy tales pounded into my brain as a young girl. I can’t emotionally comprehend that more-often-than-not people simply married the best person they could find in their small town. My grandparents had known each other for fifteen years before they got married. Did they like each other the whole time, or did they settle for the best person available? I wish I could ask them, but they’ve long been dead.

My egocentric view of my grandparents being the cause of Uncle Sug and Aunt Zeffie’s marriage is totally and completely wrong. As a matter of fact, since my grandparents probably met because of Uncle Sug and Aunt Zeffie, I think that makes me the product of my Uncle Sug’s 18-year-old testosterone. How strange… and a little creepy.

A to Z – Okatibbee Creek

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m writing about history.

O is for Okatibbee Creek. I’ve written about Okatibbee Creek (pronounced oh-kuh-TIB-be) many times as it is the title of a book in my bibliography, but Okatibbee Creek was and is a real place with real people and real history. Here’s one of the stories.



Rodgers, Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter Jolly

She was just a name in my family tree. Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter Jolly. My third great grandmother. 1828-1898. I visited her grave at Bethel Cemetery in Lauderdale County, Mississippi in 2012, and my husband asked, “Now, who is this again?” We sat at the foot of her grave and I told him her story.

She lost her husband, Rice Carpenter, in the Civil War in 1862. How sad to lose the one you love, but hey, it’s war, people die. After he died, she remarried in 1864.

The 1870 census said she married William Jolly and was living with his children, her children, and three children they had together. It was a house-full! But at least their three children were proof they must have liked each other, right? That’s good. So, who was this William Jolly? I looked at his 1860 census. In 1860, he was living with his wife Harriet, their four children, and a woman named Nancy Carpenter who was 69 years of age.

Carpenter? Nancy Carpenter? The only Nancy Carpenter I know is Rice’s mother. Why was Mary Ann’s mother-in-law living with her future husband in 1860?? Were they neighbors? Was Nancy the cleaning lady? I clicked on Nancy Carpenter and saw her relationship to the “head of house” was listed as “mother-in-law.” She was William’s mother-in-law? What??

So, I went back and looked at Rice’s family, and sure enough, his sister Harriet was married to William. Rice died in the war 31 Dec 1862 and Harriet died a month later of typhoid on 30 Jan 1863. Their spouses, Mary Ann and William, brother-in-law/sister-in-law, married in 1864. Well of course they did. They had known each other for many years, hadn’t they?

The more I looked at the Rodgers and Carpenter families, the more I was amazed by the sheer number of family members they lost to war and typhoid. At the time of my research, I remember counting SEVENTEEN, but I’m sure there were many more I missed. I couldn’t wrap my head around that kind of heartache and quickly became impressed with Mary Ann’s strength. Not only was she raising her children alone before she married William, but her brother and sister-in-law died (within days of each other, also of typhoid) and she was raising their five kids. She owned a general store that was probably losing money and customers by the day. The Confederate dollar was shrinking with inflation. There were no men to harvest the farms. Food was short. Hope was shrinking. In October, her father died of typhoid, then her husband in December, in February her infant son died, followed by her mother a month later. How would you react if you lost two or three family members this year? You would probably need Prozac. How would you respond if you lost a dozen? I wouldn’t even be able to get out of bed. Seventeen in one year? I can’t even fathom that.

51-lUHhsD7L._UY250_This is our heritage. These are the strong women we come from. We are the living proof of their strength. We are the survivors. I dug deep down in my heart and soul to tell her story, a story she would be proud of. I wanted her to know that she didn’t endure all of that heartache in vain. I am here. I am her legacy. Her story has been written down to help us realize our own strength. We are the products of our ancestors fortitude and integrity. We are the children our grandmothers fought so hard for, and I want Mary Ann to be as proud of me as I am of her.


Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day. Okatibbee Creek  was the bronze medal winner in literary fiction in the 2013 eLit Book Awards. It was also named as honorable mention in historical fiction at the 2013 Midwest Book Festival.

Lori’s books are available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.