Ancestry – or Why I’m So Jacked Up – Great Great Grandparents (mom’s side)

My Great Great Grandparents on my mother’s side were:

Joel Bluett Culpepper and Mary A “Mollie” McFarland

William Henry Blanks III and Martha Lettie “Mattie” Carpenter

John Francis Burke and Nancy Didama “Damie” Spencer

John Thomas Howington and Florence J Smith


Joel B Culpepper and Molly McFarland

Joel B was born in Clarke Co, MS in Jan of 1847.

At the age of 17, he was active in the Civil War and was a member of Company K, 63rd Alabama Infantry. He was captured by Federal Forces and held as a prisoner of war at Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island until the end of the war.

After his release, he returned to Choctaw County, Alabama and married Mollie in 1870 and had 6 children: Mary Eudora, William Samuel (my great grandfather), Joseph Floyd, Rev Andrew Bluitt, a son who left home early, and a daughter who died young. Some were born in Sumter County, Alabama and some in Alamoucha. (See photos below of Mary Eudora, Joseph Floyd and Andrew Bluitt. See partIIa for photos of William Samuel.)

From Culpepper Footprints on the Sands of Time by Jean Culpepper Smith:

When Miss Minnie Dorrough, a retired school teacher of Sumter County Public Schools, was asked if she remembered the Culpepper family, she replied: “Yes Maam, I remember Mr. Joel Culpepper, he lived about two miles up the road from us. He worked in the saw mill business with Mr. Bill Woodall. He left this community and moved out beyond Meridian to Collinsville. Also, I remember two of his sons, Sam and Floyd. Sam came back and visited one Christmas. He had quite a romance going with a girl in the community, Ella Yarbrough.”

After Mollie’s death in 1908, Joel B lived with his children until he entered Beauvoir (1910), where he lived until his death.

Joel B. Culpepper died at Beauvoir in Biloxi, MS. He is interred at Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Kemper County, MS. He entered Beauvoir Soldiers Home under his rights as a Confederate soldier on April 7, 1910 at the age of 65 and died there on November 11, 1911.

Picture below: Daughter Mary Eudora and her husband Will Saterfiel.  Front row l to r: Dewey Oliver Saterfiel, Will B Saterfiel, Mary Eudora Culpepper, baby Alma, Joel B Culpepper. Back row l to r: Evie Mae Saterfiel Hodges, Indeola “Necie” Saterfiel Byrd, Willie Carlos Saterfiel, Adie Joseph Saterfiel . Joel B, Will B and baby Alma are buried at Zion Cemetery, Kemper Co, MS. All others are buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in Lauderdale, MS.

Side note: I ordered my grandparent’s marriage license from Lauderdale County, MS, and the name of the witness was “D.O. Saterfiel!” Dewey Oliver Saterfiel was my grandfather’s cousin. I often forget that these people actually knew each other. 🙂

Family notes: Evie married George Hodges, son of John Wesley Hodges and 1st wife Mary Etta Davis. Adie, married Mary E Hodges, daughter of John Wesley Hodges and 2nd wife Hulda Ethridge. Willie, married Carrie Hodges, daughter of John Wesley Hodges and 3rd wife Mary Ann Moore. Lots of Hodges/Saterfiels in that family. Baby Alma only lived to be 4 years old: Jun 1907-Feb 1912. Father Joel B entered Beauvoir shortly after this photo. After Will Saterfiel’s death in 1925, Mary Eudora married George Watson in 1929.

Joseph Floyd: Joseph Floyd married Ora Wedgeworth and had 8 children.

2 of Joseph Floyd and Ora’s children: Ruth Jewel and Charles Emmet

Ora’s parents: Howell “Hobby” Wedgeworth and Martha Morrow (Martha’s brother, David Morrow, married Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Rodgers. She was one of the 5 orphans of James Rodgers who died of typhoid in 1862. She was niece of Mary Ann Rodgers.)

Rev Andrew Bluitt and wife Ollie Kitrell. They had two children, both boys.

Andrew Bluitt’s sons, Louis Curtis and William Obie.


William Henry Blanks III and Martha Lettie “Mattie” Carpenter

William was the son of William Henry Blanks II and Nancy Narcissus Young. He was the last born of seven children.  He was born in Georgia in 1846 and shows up in the Lauderdale Co, MS census in 1850 at the age of four. He married Martha Lettie “Mattie” Carpenter on 1 Nov 1867 in Lauderdale Co at the age of 21. They had 6 girls, including my great grandmother, Annie Josephine Blanks Culpepper (see part IIa for pictures and stories).

Martha Lettie “Mattie” was the daughter of Mary Ann Rodgers and Rice Benjamin Carpenter. She was the first born and only daughter of 5 children. At the age of 14, her father was killed in the Civil War at the Battle of Murfreesboro in Tennessee on 31 Dec 1862.

Her father’s sister was Harriet Carpenter. Harriet married William Eades Jolly and had 5 children. At the end of 1862 and beginning of 1863, Typhoid Fever ran through Lauderdale Co, MS and wiped out many of the residents. Harriet was one of the fatalities. (Mary Ann’s youngest son, Martha Lettie’s baby brother, was also a fatality.)

In 1864, Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter and her brother-in-law, William Eades Jolly, married. They had 3 more children. Martha Lettie’s cousins were now her 1/2 siblings, and her uncle William was now her step-father.

Martha Lettie and William Henry are buried at Hickory Grove Cemetery in Laurel, Jones Co, MS. William died at age 74 in 1922 of senility and chronic bronchitis; Martha died at age 84 in 1933 of cerebral hemorrhage.


John Francis Burke and Nancy Didama “Damie” Spencer

John Francis Burke was born in 1847 in Ireland. He is seen in the 1880 MS census living with his wife, Nancy Spencer, and her parents and siblings. Family members say John was a red-headed Irish immigrant, and the 1880 census says he was born in Ireland. Through family stories, he is said to have stowed away on an American-bound ship at the age of 15. He was found by the Captain enroute and was told that he could not be taken back to Dublin. He said, “If I wanted to go back, I would not have stowed away.” He was let off the ship in Miami in 1862. I am still looking for records from 1862 to 1880.

Nancy Didama “Damie” Spencer was the daughter of George Washington Spencer and Nancy Virginia “Jennie” Holdcroft. There are no records of her middle name being Didama, but family members say she was called Damie, a few census read Nancy D, and her maternal grandmother was Martha Didama Gross. Her tombstone reads Nancy Jamie. She was a doctor and road around the countryside side-saddle taking care of her neighbors.

There was a story from my mother that her grandmother was a medicine woman. She said it was Mary Howington’s mother, but as it turns out, it was Mary Howington’s husband, John Patrick Burke’s mother.

John Francis and Nancy Damie married in 1880 and had 6 children, the oldest being my great grandfather, John Patrick (see part IIa for pictures and stories). The oldest, John Patrick, and the youngest, David Edmund, married sisters, Mary and Julia Howington, respectively. John Francis Burke and Nancy Didama Spencer Burke; children John Patrick Burke, George Washington Burke, Kathleen Burke McGee, David Edmund Burke, and daughter-in-laws Mary Howington and Julia Howington and their parents are all buried at Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery in Duffee, Newton Co, MS, along with various grandchildren and great grandchildren, and other Howingtons. Other children, Robert Emmett Burke and Nina Virginia Burke are buried elsewhere. I have not researched John Francis Burke in Dublin, Ireland as of yet, but through family, I was told that his siblings are named the same names as his children, so when I research him, I should be able to find something.


John Thomas Howington and Florence J Smith

John was born in MS in 1853 to James C Howington and Amelia Elizabeth Smith. He was the 6th born of 12 children. In 1892, at the age of 39, he married Florence J Smith. They had 10 children, my great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Howington, being the oldest (see part IIa for pictures and stories).  Mary and second born, Julia McKenly Howington, married the Burke brothers, as mentioned above.

Florence was born about 1876 in Newton Co, MS. I am having trouble finding much on her. I think she was a Choctaw Indian. In 1830, when the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed, the Indians either moved to Oklahoma or changed their names to assimilate into the white, European culture. I think her father changed their names to Smith. Therefore, there are no records of her or her family before her marriage on 1 Aug 1892. Her age is listed as 16.

John Thomas and his parents are buried at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery in Newton Co, MS. Florence is buried next to him in an unmarked grave.

Stay tuned for Part IIIb(dad’s side) and Part IV showing how almost an entire generation was wiped out by war and disease.

Ancestry – or – Why I’m So Jacked Up – part IIa (mom’s side)

The Great Grandparents.

My mother was a Culpepper.

Her dad’s parents were William Samuel Culpepper and Annie Josephine Blanks.

Her mom’s parents were John Patrick Burke and Mary E Howington.

They appear on this page in that order.

My great grandfather William Samuel Culpepper

Sam was born in Alabama in 1874 and moved to Mississippi in his late adolescence. In early 1899, he was living at Tucker Springs.

At age 23, on May 14, 1899, he married Annie Josephine Blanks (1877-1961) of Lauderdale Co, MS and had 9 children.

From Culpepper Footprints on the Sands of Time by Jean Culpepper Smith:

Annie says, “Sam was really a handsome man with rosy cheeks, dark curly hair, and teeth as white as pearls.”

Jewel Culpepper Lowrey says, ” Yes, I remember good times at uncle Sam’s. I remember once when we were visiting and uncle Sam and Papa (Floyd) robbed a big bee tree. They brought a huge pan of honey back to the house.”  Charles Culpepper says, “Yes, I remember that pan of honey. I ate my fill and I don’t think I have ever been sicker.”

Sam was a sawyer and followed the sawmill business, sometimes being gone for weeks at a time. The family lived on a farm and the children were taught how to run it. He was said to be a strict but loving father. He enjoyed making music and he had a harmonica and a pump organ.  In his old age, the grandchildren would work the pedals for him while he played the organ.

Sam died in 1939 at the age of 65. His death certificate states he died of cerebral hemorrhage caused by hypertension.

Below: Sam and Annie

Note the webbed feet: Sam and Annie’s son Earl Culpepper married Ina Burke (my grandparents). Ina’s mother was Mary Howington, married to JP Burke. I didn’t know a lot about the brothers and sisters of my grandparents when I first started on this journey, so imagine my confusion when I found in Annie’s obituary that her daughter Zeffie Culpepper (my grandfather’s little sister) was listed as Zeffie Howington.  Whoa! Wait! What? Howington?? Grandpa and Grandma just collided.

Let’s go back for one second and make a flow-chart. Sister’s Mary and Julia Howington married brothers JP and David Edmund Burke. Mary and JP had a daughter, Ina (my grandma), who married Earl Culpepper (my grandpa). Earl’s little sister, Zeffie, married Mary and Julia’s little brother, Melton. Imagine me trying to explain to my aunt that her Uncle Melton was also her momma’s Uncle Melton.  Scoring update: Burke 2. Culpepper 1. Howington 1. However, Julia and David Edmund had two daughters who married two Scarbrough brothers, so the scoring update should read: Burke 2. Scarbrough 2. Tied.

(There is also a story that the Scarbrough brothers spent time in jail for stealing fur coats for their girlfriends. That makes me giggle.)

Ok, nevermind…back to the Culpepper/Blanks side…

My great grandmother Annie Josephine Blanks

Grandma Annie was born in 1877 in Louisiana.  She appeared at the age of 3 in the U.S. Census in Lauderdale Co, MS and lived there until her husband died in 1939. At some point following his death, she moved to Mobile, Alabama with her son Freddie Lee and his wife Katie. She died in Alabama in 1961 and is buried in Lauderdale Co, MS. That was about a year before I was born, so I never knew her. 😦

Below: 3 of her 9 children (l to r) Frank, Clinton and Fred

(There is also a story of Clinton, the man in the middle in the above photo. In 1922, he married a woman named Eloise and had 2 daughters. Eloise was diagnosed with breast cancer, and Clinton thought he could not live without her, so he put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Amazingly, he survived the gun shot wound and his wife survived the cancer, but the marriage didn’t survive the stress, and about 10 years later he re-married. He married a woman named Thelma, who was later also diagnosed with breast cancer. He again put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. He again survived the gunshot wound, but now had the mentality of a child. He could take care of himself and cook a little, but his speech was severely impaired. Thelma also beat her battle with cancer and took care of Clinton for the rest of her life. She died in 1984. He died shortly after in 1985.)

Annie was the daughter of William Henry Blanks III and Martha Lettie Carpenter. She was the third born of six girls.  In 1916, her little sister Ora gave birth to her 4th child, William Lenard Bates.

Below: Ora Alice Blanks

Below: Ora Blanks with her husband Shellie Houston Bates and her children, (l to r) Shellie Lamar, Roger Lee, Mary Louise and holding baby William Lenard.

Little William Lenard died shortly after this photo was taken, on 29 May 1917. The family moved to Alabama following his death, but Ora did not recover from the tragedy. She died on 2 Sep 1917 – just over 3 months later. The official cause of death on her death certificate was “Acute Melancholia”. There were also some medical records stating she was having convulsions. I’m not sure what medicine one would take in 1917 to feel better after the death of a child, but whatever it was, it may have killed her.

I had some thoughts that perhaps she overdosed or committed suicide. When I first heard the story, I was very angry for days over the whole situation. I especially felt bad for the small girl in the picture, Mary Louise, who was now 3 years old and without a mother.

As I searched for more answers, I came across a person who seemed to have a lot of information about the family. It turns out this person was Mary Louise’s granddaughter! Mary Louise stayed in Alabama and was raised by her father’s sister in a happy, stable home. She married and had children and live to be 78 years old.

Below: Mary Louise with her maternal grandmother (my great great grandmother), Martha Lettie Carpenter Blanks.

My great grandfather John Patrick “Pat” Burke

The family story was that Pat was a red-headed Irishman, but my Aunt swears she never saw him with anything but white hair. Pat was born in Mississippi in 1880 of an Irish immigrant, John Francis Burke, and Nancy Didama Spencer. (There is a question about Nancy’s middle name. All census records show Nancy D, and her grandmother’s middle name was Didama. There are also elderly family members who swear she was called Didama, Aunt Damie, and Grandma Damie, but her headstone reads Nancy Jamie.)

Pat married Mary Howington around 1914 and had 7 children. He lived in Newton Co, MS until his death in 1958. Their grandchildren in Mississippi still have his fiddle and her pump organ. He played the fiddle for square dances in the Lauderdale Co, MS area every Saturday night.

Note: Pat’s brother, David Edmund, married Mary’s sister, Julia. See above “webbed feet flow chart”.

Below: Pat and Mary Howington Burke

My great grandmother Mary Elizabeth Howington

The story I always heard from my mother was that Mary Howington was a Choctaw Indian. Choctaw’s were from that Alabama/Mississippi area. Howington sounds Indian, doesn’t it?? Mary was born in 1893 in Mississippi to John Thomas Howington and Florence J Smith. I read someone’s blog who was trying to tie her Howington ancestor to the Choctaw Indians also. The problem we are having is that after the signing of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830, the Indians either moved to Oklahoma or changed their names and assimilated into the white, European culture, making them the first non-European U.S. citizens. The blog ended with the writer stating that her cousin said their Indian heritage did not come from their Howington ancestor, but from his wife, who was a Smith.

LIGHTBULB!! Of course the Indians with names like Lou-a-chubbee, I-ath-le-fiah, and Anah-chi-hat-tah would take generic names like Smith to assimilate into the white culture. Duh! I’m such a dork for thinking Howington was the Indian. Anyway, I’m still struggling with proof of Choctaw heritage. Maybe someday I’ll get it figured out.


Stay tuned for Why I’m So Jacked Up part IIb – the great grandparents on dad’s side…moonshine, murder, and more webbed feet.