October Ancestry Challenge – William Thomas Fisher

oct ancestry challenge-001The October Ancestry Challenge 2013 

23 posts/23 days/23 ancestors.

Ancestor #14 – William Thomas Fisher

My 3rd great grandfather was William Thomas Fisher, son of Southy Fisher and Elizabeth Butler. He was born on June 5, 1819 in Alabama, and as far as I can tell from records, he only had three sisters: Martha, Maria, and Permilla.

fisher southyHere is his father’s will:

In the name of God, Amen. 

I Southy Fisher of the county of Lauderdale in the state of Mississippi, of lawful age, and sound and disposing mind and memory, God be praised for it, do hereby make this my last will and testament.

1st  It is my desire that when it shall please God to take, that my body be decently interred.

2nd  It is my desire that my beloved wife Elizabeth Fisher have during her life a negro girl named Harriett, and at her death this said negro girl Harriett is to belong to my belong son William T. Fisher.

3rd  It is my will and desire that my son William T. Fisher shall have all my negroes that I shall own at my death, and which I now own namely Frank, Ned, Harriett, Aggy and Anthony a boy, all slaves for life, and my stock of horses, hogs, oxen, cattle, sheep, goats all my farming utensils, my crop of cotton, corn and small grain either growing or gathered, and all other species of property remaining on the farm, and also my plantation on which I now reside, and all other lands in this and adjoining counties.

4th  It is my will and desire that my Executor whom I shall hereafter name pay my just debts out of the first money that may come into his hands and also that he pay to my daughters, Martha White, Maria Fisher and Permilla Burton the sum of five dollars each as a full and entire interest in my estate.  They having been provided for by a deed of Gift to each of them dated the seventeenth day of April 1855 and duly recorded in deed book letter G. 

5th  I do hereby nominate and appoint my friend Benjamin Y Parke my executor and desire that he may carry out the provisions of my will and to settle up my estate at as convenient and short a time as the law will admit.  In   ——whereof shall —— set my hand and seal the fourth day of June AC 1855.

Southy Fisher (seal) 

 Signed sealed published and witnessed by the said Southy Fisher as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us, who in his presence and at his request and in the presence of each other have with set and subscribed our names as witness here..—-  this fourth day of June AD 1855. 

H.D. Meador, J. Lown, C E Rushing

 (note: Benjamin Parke was the county clerk at that time)


William T. and Ann Elizabeth (Butler) FisherWilliam didn’t marry until the age of 39, and the family story is that he rode to North Carolina, where the family was originally from, and brought back Ann Eliza Butler on horseback. She was 15 years his junior, and Butler was also his mother’s maiden name, so they may have been cousins or something.

After their marriage, William went to Mobile to buy a slave to help Ann in the kitchen. While he was there, he noticed a small black boy with light patches on his skin. He asked the slave traders what they were going to do with the boy, who was about 5 years old. The traders said on their way back, they would throw him overboard to the sharks. William wouldn’t allow that to happen, so he brought the boy home and raised him. The boy’s name was Charlie “Fisher” and he stayed at William’s side even during the Civil War. Charlie drew a pension from the war until his death in 1928.

At the end of the war, William not only freed Charlie, but gave him 80 acres of family land on Fisher Road in Zero, Lauderdale County, Mississippi. Charlie’s descendants still live on the land to this day.

Though William seemed to be a warm and loving family man, he didn’t take crap from anyone, which seems to be a family trait that we’ll discuss more below. William was imprisoned at Mississippi State Prison in Jackson, Mississippi about a year before the Civil War. He was imprisoned for killing a man named McGinnis in his corn crib. It was told McGinnis was stealing, but the underlying belief is that it was a card game gone bad and William caught McGinnis cheating and shot him. William had to sell off a lot of land to pay off the judge and lawyers to try and stay out of jail, but he served time anyway. When the war began, he was release to serve as a Captain.

Here’s a great story (condensed by me) about William’s family and a dispute at The Brickyard in Marion, Lauderdale County, Mississippi.


Aunt Muggie’s Dilemma  

In 1846, Marion was a hub of activity as young men signed up for the militia in hope of fighting in the Mexican War. The Brickyard at Marion was the mustering point.

The owner of the brickyard, S. S. Shumate and his wife Muggie, had a disagreement with a man named Fisher. The reason seemed to be over Shumate’s claim to ownership of the brickyard. On at least one occasion the dispute became heated to the extent that the town Marshal intervened and arrested the participants. They were each fined $1, and for a time the dispute ended.

However, sometime later the Fishers again appeared at the brickyard. This time they were armed. The Shumates and the Fishers were armed with Flintlock weapons, each a single-shot gun, which took time to load and fire.

When the Fishers made their presence known at the brickyard, one can imagine the hurried preparation of Muggie and her husband to meet the challenge. When prepared, they stepped out into the brickyard and fired.

When Muggie and Shumate stepped out to confront the Fishers, Muggie had two guns, Shumate had one. Apparently, each of the Fishers had a single gun. Muggie was the first to fire and her shot “cut down old man Fisher.” One of the Fisher boys, William, fired at Muggie and missed. Muggie discarded her empty gun, picked up her second gun and fired again, this time dropping William Fisher. Muggie’s husband, terrified by the fighting, immediately dropped his weapon and fled.

Muggie, furious with Shumate for his cowardice, picked up his unfired weapon and shot him down. This was, perhaps, not the wisest choice of targets, since at least one Fisher continued to hold a charged weapon. This remaining Fisher aimed and shot, killing Muggie before she could reload her weapons. 


William and Ann had eleven children, including my 2nd great grandmother Caledonia Fisher who married Joseph Lawson Pickett. The Pickett clan wasn’t much more peaceful than the Fisher clan. You can read about a Pickett gunfight here.

fisher william thomas headstone, callies fatherWilliam died May 13, 1882 at the age of 62. Ann died January 13, 1910 at the age of 75. They are both buried at Fisher Cemetery in Lauderdale County, Mississippi.fisher ann eliza butler fisher headstone


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.

A to Z Challenge – P is for Paternal

Blogging from A to Z April 2013 Challenge

P is for Paternal

I write sooooo much about my mother’s ancestry line. On her side, I have five grandfathers who fought for the Confederacy, two who fought in the War of 1812, two in the Revolution, and Irish and English ancestors dating way, way, way back. I seldom write about my father’s line, so I thought P should stand for Paternal and I should blog about my daddy’s side.


My father was Andrew Frank “Andy” Crane Jr. (1940-1994). He was born in MS and died in TN.


Daddy headstone

My grandfather was Andrew Frank Crane Sr. “Frank” (1903-1979). He married Margaret Azalea Pickett (see Pickett Family below).

Grandpa and Miss Crane

My great grandfather was Amos Bolivar Crane (1881-1959). There are still a lot of men named Bo in the Crane family. Amos married Mary Elizabeth “Minnie” White and her family was from Tennessee and North Carolina. I see a lot of Tennessee/NC mixtures in my tree. The state line must have been blurred for a long time.

crane amos bolivar

white mary elizabeth minnie white cranemaggie white, minnie crane, frank crane, Laura Catherine Morrow White, nannie white, sis narcissa

The woman holding the baby is Minnie White Crane, and the baby is my grandpa Andrew Frank Crane Sr. The woman in the middle is my great great grandma Laura Catherine Morrow White.

My 2nd great was Andrew Jackson “Jack” Crane (1856-1905). He married Martha Jane Mercer, whose grandmother was a Windham. I have the Mercers traced back to 1500 England. They came to America about 1650. The Windhams are traced back to 1665 Virginia, but with a name like Windham, I’m sure they came from England.

crane a j and wife obelisk

crane martha jane mercer

My 3rd great was Jeremiah William Crane (1828-1860). He married Sarah Frances Grimes. Her family, the Grimes and the Pettibones, came to America from England in the late 1600s.

My 4th great was Jeremiah Crane (1781-?) born in Georgia. He married Mary Polly Weldon. The Weldon family came to America from England in the mid-1600s.


My paternal grandmother was Margaret Azalea Pickett (1919-2005). I have the Pickett line traced back to 1591 England. They came to America around 1600. Some settled in NY and MI, others moved south. I was born in MS and now live in MI. I find it funny that generations later I ended up where my some of my ancestors settled. Maybe I’m not supposed to be in the South.

MS Cemetery 052

Her father was Benjamin Berry Pickett (1893-1981). There is a book called “Thunder at Meridian” by Hewitt Clarke that relates a story of a 1923 bloody shoot-out between some moonshiners and a tax collector. One of the men went to prison for killing the tax collector. That was Grandpa Ben. You probably didn’t want to mess with him and his brothers. (Note: My grandmother said the story wasn’t true, but she was four at the time, so how much of the truth did she really know?) Ben married Eula Ouida Keene. I haven’t been able to trace the Keene family at all, but her mother’s family was the Browns. I traced them back to 1775 Georgia. Her grandpa, William Lafayette Brown, was a sharp-shooter in the Civil War, guarding the railroad bridges in Chunky, MS. He was captured and escaped. He allowed himself to be captured a second time to help others escape. He/they did. He had a bounty on his head for the rest of the war. The Browns were married into the Hamrick, Clearman, and Dollar families who have all been in America since before 1700. All came from England except the Hamricks, who were from Germany. (photo: Eula and Ben about 1970.) For more about Ben and Eula click here.

Pickett Ben and Eula Pickett

pickett ben and eula headstone

Ben Pickett’s mom was Caledonia Fisher (wife of Joseph Lawson Pickett). I haven’t been able to trace the Fishers back past 1700, because every generation has a Southy Fisher with a kid named Southy and umpteen grandchildren named Southy. North Carolina has more Southy Fisher records than the sky has stars. Too confusing for me to figure out.

pickett, joseph lawson sr, son of rt and lucy

pickett, caledonia d fisher, wf of joe lawson sr

I still have Fisher cousins living on Fisher land in MS, and they have tons of stories about my 3rd great grandpa William Thomas Fisher and his escapades during the Civil War. He married Ann Butler. There is a story that he went down to New Orleans to get her a slave woman to keep the house. While he was there, he saw a young black boy and asked the slave traders what they were going to do with him. They told him they would throw him overboard for the sharks on the way back. He took the boy home and raised him as his own. The boy stayed by his side during the Civil War and fought for the Confederacy. William gave the boy forty acres when he set him free, and the boy’s family still lives on the land to this day. Note: Yeah, William’s dad was named Southy and his son was named William Southy. Ugh. (photo: William Thomas Fisher and Ann Butler on their wedding day.)

MS Cemetery 056William T. and Ann Elizabeth (Butler) Fisher

Just for kicks, here’s my great great great great grandpa Southy Fisher!

fisher southy fisher headstone

Well, that’s it. Not as interesting as mom’s family, but some good stories nonetheless. With all these English ancestors, I feel the need to go have a cup of tea.

Coincidental Dates (cue Twilight Zone music)

For you genealogy buffs: Do you see the same dates over and over when you work on your family tree?? I always see the same four dates – the birthdays of my kids, my birthday, and my wedding anniversary. Note: I NEVER see hubby’s birthday, my mother’s birthday, or any other family date. Only Feb 5, Oct 12 and 31, and Nov 19.

Strange? Yes.

I figured since I have absolutely nothing to do (sarcasm) I will compile all the strange dates.

February 5

My son’s birthday

My aunt’s birthday, Bobbie Jean Culpepper McQueen

My cousin’s birthday, Judy McQueen

My cousin’s birthday, Carolyn Burke Goss

My mother’s wedding anniversary, Linda Faye Culpepper

October 12

My daughter’s birthday

My great great uncle’s death date, James Rodgers

My great great great grandfather’s birthday, William Henry Blanks II

My third cousin’s birthday & death date, Claude Wesley Gardiner

My great great uncle’s birthday, Thomas Culpepper

October 31

My anniversary

My grandfather’s death date, Benjamin Berry Pickett

My father’s death date, Andrew Frank “Andy” Crane Jr.

My great great grandparent’s anniversary, Martha Lettie Carpenter and William Henry Blanks III

November 19

My birthday

My great great grandmother’s birthday, Sarah Elizabeth “Betty” Brown Keene

My great uncles birthday, Howard Pickett

I’ve heard stories of people re-incarnating in groups and around dates. I find the concept curious, but I have no convictions about it either way. I do, however, find it interesting that my dad’s Grandma Pickett has all of the Oct 31 and Nov 19 dates in her family. The people listed are her mother, husband, son, grandson, and great granddaughter (me).

That’s weird that my birthday and anniversary all coincide with dates on my dad’s side of the family.

I also find it oddly curious that my mother has my kid’s (Feb 5 and Oct 12) birthdays repeated over and over in her family. Those listed are her sister, two cousins, niece, two great uncles, great great grandfather, grandson, and granddaughter.

That’s really, really weird that my kid’s dates are all on my mom’s side.

What’s even more strange is that I would think of this today – the anniversary of my grandma’s death. RIP Mamaw.

burke Ina Inez Burke headstone

Ancestry – or Why I’m So Jacked Up – The 3rd Great Grandparents 3&4

The great great great grandparents…continued. (This would be #3 and #4 of 32 great great greats. This may take a while.)

The last Ancestry post was about mom’s side, so in fairness, here’s one about dad’s side.

My paternal great grandparents, whom I knew and loved dearly, were Ben and Eula Pickett. This entry is about Ben’s grandparents.

Robert Theodore Pickett and Lucy Ann Rackley

Robert Theodore (3rd great grandfather) was born in Alabama on 2 Feb 1836 to Daniel L Pickett and Amelia Ferrill. He was the last of four children, because his mother died in 1836 or 1837. At that time in history, I would suspect she died shortly after 2 Feb 1836 due to complications of childbirth, but I have no proof. His father re-married in 1838 – a woman named Harriet Elizabeth Wilson. Daniel and Harriet had one child, and following Daniel’s death in 1851, Harriet married Miles Linton and had six more children. (My aunt also married a Linton, and if I did the research, I am positive I would find that her Linton was a descendant of Miles, making them not-so-distant cousins. Lauderdale is not a very big county. 🙂 )

Robert Theodore married Lucy Ann Rackley in Choctaw, Alabama in 1860 and shows up in the census there through 1880. All of their children were born in Alabama, but at some point, the entire family moved to Mississippi. If you don’t know, the 1890 census was burned up in a fire, so it is not available to us to research and hunt for clues. I know the family was in Mississippi by 1891, when the youngest daughter was married there. All except the youngest son are buried at Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Zero, Lauderdale County, MS. The youngest son died in Sicily Island, Louisiana and I do not know where he was buried, but he is not at Pleasant Hill.

I have photos of all of their headstones and most of their death certificates, but I won’t bore you with them.

Only Robert and Lucy’s…

The only photographs I have of any of the children are the youngest son, Rev. Robert Tilden Pickett 1876-1947 and his wife Lilian Price 1877-1962. They married in June of 1904, three months before his mother’s death.

Aren’t they gorgeous?? (photos from the library of my cousin, Fran Pickett)

The other children were:

Sarah Elizabeth “Sally” 1859-1930

Margaret Madelene “Maggie” 1860-1924

Amelia Elizabeth “Betty” 1863-1924

Annie Mariah 1864-1912

Joseph Lawson 1866-1910 (my 2nd great grandfather)

Lloyd Daniel 1866-1936

Joshua H 1870-1933

Nathan Brightling 1872-1954

Two things strike me about the above dates: 1. Joseph and Lloyd couldn’t possible be born in the same year. One was born in Jan and one in Feb, so someone put the wrong birth year on the headstone. I have neither of their death certificates. 2. Maggie and Betty both died in 1924. According to their death certificates, which I have, Maggie died on June 26th of cancer and Betty died on August 28th. That must have been a difficult year for the siblings.

Also, only one of the four girls married – Annie Mariah. She married James Henry Fisher Sr. James’s sister, Caledonia D Fisher, married Joseph Lawson Pickett – the above mentioned 2nd great grandpa. “Callie” and “Joe” were the parents of my great grandfather, Ben Pickett, mentioned at the beginning. So, a Fisher brother and sister married a Pickett brother and sister. I know who my 2nd great and 3rd greats are, but I still have to stop and think about that for a minute. Annie Pickett Fisher and Callie Fisher Pickett make me stop and scratch my head every time.

Lucy Ann Rackley (3rd great grandmother) was born in Alabama on 6 Aug 1834 and died in MS on 8 Oct 1904.  Her father was Anthony Rackley and her mother was Julia A Johnson, and she was the youngest of their 6 children. Her parents were born in North Carolina and Virginia respectively, and both died in Alabama, though I am not sure when or why they moved there. Her mother died in 1860 and her father died just after 1880. Perhaps that is when the family decided to move to Mississippi. Fortunately for her, none of her children died before her, and her husband outlived her by 10 months.

Rest in Peace great great great grandma and grandpa…

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

Paternal Great Great Grandparents.

Andrew Jackson “Jack” Crane and Martha Jane “Mattie” Mercer

William Thomas White and Laura Catherine Morrow

Joseph Lawson Pickett and Caledonia D “Callie” Fisher

Thomas Gilbert Lafayette Keene and Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Brown

Jack and Mattie married in 1873 in Mississippi. They were both born in Mississippi in 1852. Jack died in 1905 with Mattie dying 40 years later in 1945. She did not remarry after his death. They were the parents of 3 children: a girl in 1874, another girl in 1878 and a boy in 1841 (my great grandfather Amos Bolivar Crane). They are buried at McGowan Chapel Cemetery in Harmony, Clarke Co, MS with all three of their children and spouses.

I do not have any information on William Thomas White and Laura Catherine Morrow, except that they were both born in the 1840s, he in MS and her in AL. They were married in 1867 and had 13 children, with my great grandmother Minnie White Crane being the 10th.

Joseph Lawson Pickett and Caledonia D “Callie” Fisher were born in 1866 in AL and 1870 in MS, respectively. They were married in Aug 1891 in Lauderdale Co, MS and had 5 boys and 1 girl, the eldest being my great grandfather, Benjamin Berry Pickett. They are both buried at Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church Cemetery in Zero, Lauderdale Co, MS. He died in 1910 at the age of 44 and she in 1931 at the age of 61.

Thomas Gilbert Lafayette Keene and Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Brown were both born and died in MS. Strangely enough, with a name like TGL Keene, I can find very little information on him. This is about the only thing I have on him. It is a marble plaque hanging in the Lauderdale County courthouse in Meridian Mississippi, showing him the county treasurer 1904-1097.

plaque in Lauderdale Co Court House in Meridian

I do, however, have plenty of information on Bettie Brown. She first married John Thompson and had a daughter, Fleta S. Thompson, in 1885. I do not know what happened to John Thompson, but she then married TGL in 1890 and had 7 children, the 2nd dying at 6 months of age, the 6th being my great grandmother, Eula Ouida Keene Pickett.

Bettie’s father was William Lafayette Brown Jr, who served in the Civil War as a sharp-shooter, guarding the railroad bridges in Newton County, MS from destruction by the Union troops. He was captured and escaped. He allowed himself to be captured again to help others escape, which he/they did. This was in 1862 when Bettie was born. Her birthday is 19 Nov 1862. 100 years to the day before my birthday, 19 Nov 1962.

Below is a transcript of the Brown family Bible.

TGL and Bettie are buried at Oak Grove Cemetery, Meridian, Lauderdale Co, MS.

Bettie was one of 10 children. Below are her brothers, Franklin Carlton and William Harrison (with wife Mary).

Stay tuned for 3rd Great Grandparents (mom’s side) and the story of the Carpenters and Rodgers who fought through the Civil War and suffered through typhoid running rampant through their community. Or, you could just read my upcoming novel Okatibbee Creek which tells the story of Mary Ann Rodgers’ ordeal in vivid detail. It will be available at Amazon in Dec 2012 in paperback and kindle. (…shameless plug)

Side note: Mary Ann Rodgers’ brother, Wilson Rodgers, died in the Civil War in 1864 and his widow, Sarah Jane Graham Rodgers, eventually remarried. She married Lofton Evans Fairchild. (That is on my mom’s side.)  Lofton’s brother, George W. Fairchild, married the above Fleta Thompson, daughter of Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Brown and her first husband John Thompson. (That is on my dad’s side.) I think that makes me my own cousin 14 times removed. 🙂

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

My father was a Crane.

His dad’s parents were Amos Bolivar Crane and Mary Elizabeth “Minnie” White.

His mom’s parents were Benjamin Berry Pickett and Eula Ouida Keene.

They will be mentioned in this post in that order.

Amos Bolivar CraneMy great grandfather Amos Bolivar Crane.

My great grandfather was born 11 Nov 1881 in Mississippi and died 9 Nov 1959 in Mississippi. That was a few years before I was born, so I did not know him.

He was the son of Andrew Jackson Crane and Martha Jane “Mattie” Mercer. He had at least 2 siblings, both sisters, and he married Mary Elizabeth “Minnie” White on 10 Aug 1902 and had 6 children, 2 girls and 4 boys (including the oldest, my grandpa Frank Crane). “Bo” is still a popular name in the Crane family.

Below: Amos Bolivar Crane’s headstone at McGowan Chapel Cemetery, Lauderdale Co, MS

Mary Elizabeth Minnie White CraneMy great grandmother Mary Elizabeth “Minnie” White

Minnie was born in 1884 in Mississippi and died there in 1964. I was born in 1962, so I’m assuming I knew her at some point. She was only 79 when she died and may have been around when I was an infant.

She was the daughter of William Thomas White and Laura Catherine Morrow. She was the 9th child born of 12.

Below: Mary Elizabeth “Minnie” White Crane headstone at McGowan Chapel Cemetery in Lauderdale Co, MS.

maggie white, minnie crane, frank crane, Laura Catherine Morrow White, nannie white, sis narcissaFrom left to right: Minnie’s sister Maggie, Minnie, baby Frank Crane, mother Laura Catherine Morrow White, Minnie’s sister Nannie, Minnie’s aunt (Laura’s sister) Narcissa. Photo is about 1905 and is from the library of my dad’s cousin, Jewel Sims.




Pickett BenMy great grandfather Benjamin Berry Pickett

Though I did not know the Cranes, I did know the Picketts. Grandpa Ben was born in 1893 and died in 1973. He was the son of Joseph Lawson Pickett Sr and Caledonia D “Callie” Fisher. He was the oldest with 4 brothers and 1 sister. He married Eula Ouida Keene in 1916 at the age of 23 and had 3 children: Howard, Azalea, and Fleta Clarice.

There is a book by Hewitt Clark called “Thunder At Meridian,” that is the story of the local Choctaw Indians in 1695, through the white European settlers, and into the 1960’s with the Civil Rights Movement. One chapter is devoted to a 1923 bloody gunfight between the local law and some moonshiners. A “revenuer” or tax collector was killed in the gunfight and the moonshiner went to prison for murder. That moonshiner was my grandpa, Ben Pickett. The book does not say how long Grandpa Ben was in prison, but he served his time and was released.

1923 must have been a very hard year for his wife…

Eula Keene Pickett with Howard and AzaleaMy great grandmother Eula Ouida Keene

Photo: Eula with children Howard and Azalea, mid 1920s, probably ’23 or ’24 by the ages of the kids.

Eula was the daughter of Thomas Gilbert Lafayette Keene and Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Brown. She was born in 1899 in Mississippi. She was my devoted pen-pal as I was growing up, and I still have many, many cards and letters from her.  I also have very fond memories of  spending many summers with her. She had chickens, a new calf every year, a nice garden, and was always working on a quilt. It turns out those quilts were for us great grandchildren. There were 6 of us, and we all received one on our 16th birthday. I still have mine hanging on a wall in my guest room.

Her mother had married her 1st husband at the age of 18 and had one daughter, Fleta. At the age of 27, she married Eula’s dad, TGL Keene, and had 7 children, Eula being the last girl. There were 14 years between Eula and her 1/2 sister, Fleta, and even though Fleta married by 1903 and moved out of the family home,  it is obvious the two had a special relationship.

In 1920, Fleta had a daughter and named her Eula.

In May of 1921, Eula had a daughter and named her Fleta.

The joy of a new baby, however, was overshadowed in Sep 1921 when Eula’s father died. Baby Fleta Clarice, whom they called Clarice, developed pneumonia and died the following Spring on 5 May 1923. Eula’s sister, Fleta, then died a month later on 23 Jun 1923 at the age of 38. This was all at the same time as Eula’s husband being arrested for murder as stated above.  Her mother then died in 1926, and her husband’s baby brother, Joseph Lawson Pickett Jr, was shot and killed by local police in 1928.  All of this before Eula’s 30th birthday.

If things could go from bad to worse, they did. In Sept of 1936, she received the call every parent fears. Her 18-yr-old son had been in an auto accident.  The following is an excerpt from his obituary:

Howard Benjamin Pickett, 18, 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. … Pickett, who was said to have been driving the automobile when it crashed at 5 a.m., received internal injuries. He never regained consciousness. …The crash occurred when a tire blew out, causing the machine to leave the highway, overturning several times before striking a stump.

Eula Ouida Keene Pickett was a very strong woman.  She was deeply religious. She was a kind woman. Now we all know why. She is deeply missed by all who knew her.

Note: I find this interesting. Great grandpa Pickett died 31 Oct. His grandson, my father, died 31 Oct. My wedding anniversary is 31 Oct. Grandma Pickett’s mother’s birthday (my great great grandmother) was 19 Nov. Grandma Pickett’s son’s birthday (Howard) was 19 Nov. My birthday is 19 Nov.

Ancestry – or – Why I Am So Jacked Up – Parents and Grandparents

That title is a total fabrication. In reality, I come from strong, sturdy stock. My ancestors hail from England, Ireland, Scotland, and places of incredibly hardy men and women in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi. I’ve studied my ancestors for about 25 years and have built up quite a collection of information, pictures, certificates and documents. I need a place to put all this stuff. How about here?

Let’s start with mom and dad…

Father: Andrew Frank “Andy” Crane II 1940-1994. Andy was born in Mississippi and died of complication of a pituitary tumor removal in Tennessee at the age of 54. He married my mom in 1960 at age 19. They divorced when I was small, and he married another woman and had 2 sons. I have no full-blooded brothers or sisters, but I do have 2 half-brothers from his second marriage, along with 2 sister-in-laws, 3 nieces and 2 nephews.


Mother: Linda Faye Culpepper 1944-2001. My mother was also born in Mississippi and was 15 when she and my dad were married. She gave birth to  me at age 18. After their divorce, she moved to Michigan with her second husband, dragging me to the snow and ice. She made her living as a nurse. She died in Michigan following a fall from her balcony at the age of 56.



Andrew Frank “Frank” Crane I 1903-1979  and Margaret Azalea Pickett 1919-2006

Frank and Azalea were both born in Mississippi. He died in Mississippi at age 76, and she died at age 87 in Florida while living with her daughter. Grandpa Frank was the strong, silent type. He was quite a bit older than his wife, and as I remember, was already retired when I was small. “Miss Crane” (she would not allow us to call her “grandmother”) was a nurse. I don’t remember much of them due to my move to Michigan. I only saw them on summer vacations, but spent most of my time there with my cousins (who lived next door) and Miss Crane’s mother (who lived next door to my cousins).  Grandpa Frank was married previously and had two boys and two girls in the 1920s and 1930s. He and Miss Crane had one boy and one girl in the 1940s. The girl, my aunt, had three daughters (yes, the cousins who lived next door). Sometime in the early 2000s, my aunt and Miss Crane moved to Florida. Frank is buried in the family cemetery in Mississippi, and Miss Crane has a headstone there also; however, her ashes remain with her daughter in Florida.

Apparently, Ms Crane was not the most “domestic” woman in the world. I heard a story that my mother went to the house and found Ms Crane “mopping” the kitchen floor by using the hose from outside to “wash” it and mopping it out the back door.  😀

Grandpa and Miss Crane

Frank with brothers Horace T. and Thomas Jackson “Tommy”

Earl Wilmer Culpepper 1914-1994 and Ina Inez Burk 1915-1975

“Papaw” and “Mamaw” were both born and died in Mississippi. They married in 1937 and had 2 daughters who were 7 years apart in age. I seem to remember my mother saying there was either a boy stillborn between them or that she was the twin of a stillborn boy. I can’t find any documentation of this, and there is no one left to ask.

My aunt married and had three boys. While my aunt was delivering her third boy, my mother babysat the older two boys. They were 2 and 3 yrs at the time. After spending a week with two toddlers, my mother said, and I quote, “I will never, ever have children.” Nine months to the day after the third boy was born, I was born. Never say never.

Mamaw was a seamstress at the local shirt factory, and Papaw work in the shipping department. She was a fabulous cook, which is what killed her. She died of complications following open heart surgery at age 59. Papaw married a lady from the factory after Mamaw’s death, and we kind of lost track of him after that. He was pretty involved with his new family (the lady had 2 teenage daughters still at home).  He loved to fish and hunt and play his guitar and drink. He died following a stroke at age 80. Mamaw and Papaw are buried next to each other in Newton County, Mississippi.

Story: Not only did Papaw like to fish and hunt, there is also a story that he liked to walk down to the swamp in the dark and catch big frogs. I guess one day when he returned, Mamaw was not happy with him for some reason, perhaps just wondering where he had been. So, to show her what he had been doing, he dumped the bucket of live frogs on the kitchen floor. I can just imagine big frogs jumping around the kitchen.

Papaw and Mamaw

Me and my 3 boy cousins with Mamaw and Papaw

Coming Soon: Ancestry – or- Why I Am So Jacked Up – Great Grandparents

Featuring – The Great Grandparents!! Don’t miss the stories of  the Irishman, the Choctaw Indian, the moonshiner who went to prison for murder, a picture of baby grandpa, and the sad, sad story of the young woman who died three months after her 10 month old son died. Was it suicide, medical negligence, or as the death certificate says, acute melancholia?

Stay tuned…