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 1985 William Clinton Culpepper

William Clinton CulpepperOn This Day, September 14, 1985, William Clinton Culpepper died.

Uncle Clinton, as he was known to me, was my great uncle, brother of my grandfather. He lived next door to my grandparents and I have many fond memories of his kindness and love and especially his hugs.


culpepper Sam and Annie CulpepperClinton was born in Kemper County, MS on May 11, 1900 to William Samuel Culpepper and Annie Josephine Blanks (photo). He was the eldest of nine children totaling five boys and four girls. His father was a sawyer who followed the saw mill business, gone from home for great lengths of time, so the boys were taught to run the farm when their father was away. I imagine, being the eldest child, most of the responsibility fell to Clinton.

In 1922, when Clinton was 22, he married Miss Eloise Snowden. Following the birth of their two daughters, Eloise came down with breast cancer. For a man who was used to running the family, Clinton took the illness terribly. He put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Eloise survived the illness and Clinton survived the gunshot wound, but he now had a severely reduced mental capacity, and their marriage couldn’t stand the strain. They divorced.

William Clinton Culpepper and Thelma Smith CulpepperIn 1945, Clinton found love for the second time and married Miss Thelma Edna Annie Smith (photo). Again disaster struck. Thelma was diagnosed with breast cancer. Again Clinton put a gun to his head. Again they both survived the disasters. Thelma took care of Clinton for the rest of her life. She died 9 May 1984. Clinton died a year later 14 Sept 1985.

dec 2012 212







They are both buried near Thelma’s parents in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in DeKalb, Kemper County, MS.

Rest in peace, Uncle Clinton. ♥


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On This Day in 1905

On This Day in 1905, my 2nd great grandfather, Andrew Jackson Crane, died.

Jack, as he was known, was born January 8, 1852 to Jeremiah William Crane and Sarah Frances Grimes in Clarke County, Mississippi. He had one brother and three sisters. When he was 21, on December 4, 1873, he married Martha Jane “Mattie” Mercer in Clarke County and had three children: Ella Jane, Minnie Lee, and my great grandpa, Amos Bolivar.

To understand his generation, one must remember Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860, Mississippi seceded from the Union in 1861, and the country went to war. election1860mapJack was an impressionable youth during this period and probably watched many of his neighbors go off to fight with the 37th Mississippi Infantry. One must wonder if he was a frightened young boy, hiding behind his mother’s hooped skirts, or a feisty lad, anxious to grow up and go too. As with most of the South, cotton was the main economy of the area, and railroads had been built during the 1850s to transport it, but in 1864, General Sherman’s troops marched through the area and destroyed nearly everything, including the railroad tracks. Once the war was over, the tracks were repaired, but the farmers no longer had slaves to work the fields and cotton harvests diminished. Somehow, through the next 40 years of reconstruction, the economy grew quickly. Homes began adding electricity, running water, and paved streets. People weren’t driving automobiles yet, as the Model T wasn’t introduced until 1908, but the wagon riders were now subjected to less dust, and the roads didn’t wash away with heavy rains. The population of nearby Meridian tripled from 1870 to 1885, doubled again by 1898, and doubled again by 1906. Jack lived through a horrific childhood of war and change, but in his later years, he witnessed amazing growth and technology. I wonder if the electricity reached his house before he died.

crane a j and wife obeliskJack passed away at the young age of 53 on August 25, 1905 and is laid to rest near his home at McGowan Chapel Cemetery in Harmony, Mississippi. His wife, Mattie, didn’t die until November 28, 1945 at the age of 93. She never remarried.

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On This Day in 1891

On This Day in 1891

My great great grandparents, Joseph Lawson Pickett and Caledonia D Fisher, were married in Lauderdale County, Mississippi.

pickett, joseph lawson sr, son of rt and lucyJoe Lawson was born Jan 1866, son of Robert Theodore Pickett and Lucy Ann Rackley in Alabama. He had four older sisters and four younger brothers, all born in Alabama. Sometime between 1880 and 1890, the family moved to Mississippi. At age 25, he married 21-year-old Callie. They had five boys and one girl: Benjamin Berry (1893-1973 my great grandpa), Robert Elbert (1897-1978), Joseph Lawson Jr (1901-1928), Florence (1902-1990), Mark Joshua (1905-1949), and Clyde (1907-1993). From the stories passed down of the four boys, including moonshine stills, shootouts with local authorities, going to prison for murder, and young Joe Jr. being shot by law enforcement at the age of 27, they were obviously a wild bunch. I don’t know if the parents didn’t discipline the children or if the boys were just uncontrollable. Joe Lawson died at the age of 44 in 1910. The exact date of his death is unknown at this time, but it was after the 1910 census was taken which was April 20th. Callie never remarried.

pickett, caledonia d fisher, wf of joe lawson srCallie was born 12 Jul 1870 to William Thomas Fisher and Ann Eliza Butler in Mississippi. She had six older siblings and four younger ones, totaling six boys and five girls. Her father was a Civil War soldier and owned quite a bit of land in the Zero Community near Meridian. He was just as much a character at those Pickett boys. Perhaps that’s why Callie liked Joe so much. Callie’s father was in jail at the start of the Civil War for shooting a man over a poker game, but they released him so he could go fight. Having children born in 1860, 62, 63, and 65, I’m not sure when or where he actually fought. A portion of Fisher land was designated as Fisher Cemetery, holding the remains of many Fisher and Pickett descendants, but Joe and Callie are both laid to rest down the road at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Meridian. She died 26 Aug 1931. Her obituary in the Meridian Star Newspaper is as follows, but notice the marriage year is different, probably told to the paper by a member of the family. I have the Lauderdale County Marriage Records transcribed which say, “1891, Marriage Book 2, page 368.”

Mrs. Caledonia Fisher Pickett, 61, died Wednesday at 4:30 a.m. at her home on Rt. 3. She was born and raised in Lauderdale County and in 1889 was married to the late Lawson Pickett. She was a member of the Zero Methodist Church. She is survived by one daughter, Mrs. Florence Harper; four sons; Ben, Elbert, Mark, and Clyde Pickett; one sister, Mrs. Ada Purvis; three brothers, Thomas, Jeff, and Jim Fisher. Funeral services will be held from Pleasant Hill Methodist Church Thursday at 3:30 p.m., the Revs. J.W. Ramsey and Ed Grayson officiating. Interment to follow in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery. Active Pallbearers: Lester Walker, Earl Dawes, George Gay, Charlie Molpus, Dan Covington, and Dan Rolling. Honorary: Martin Miller, C.S. Dearman, John Robinson, Ed Culpepper, Elmer Brown, and Monroe Sims.  ~Meridian Star

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On This Day in 1828

On This Day 1828

August 15, 1828 was the birthday of my 3rd great grandfather, Rice Benjamin Carpenter.

Rice was born to Benjamin Carpenter and Nancy Rice. He was the eighth of ten children, the first five born in North Carolina, and the last five born in Mississippi. When he was 17 years old in 1846, he married my 3rd great grandmother, Mary Ann Rodgers. The Carpenter and Rogers families lived near each other and Rice and Mary Ann had grown up together.

Jolly family bible pg2Rice and Mary Ann had five children: Martha Lettie (my 2nd great grandmother 1848-1933), Benjamin Hays (1850-1929), William Travis (1854-1856), Charles Clinton (1858-1890), and a son with the initials MF (1862-1863). As you can see by the dates, William Travis died at the age of two, and MF died as an infant. His full name is not known, but his initials are written in the family Bible, as you can see on the bottom of the first column in the photo.

Rice and Mary Ann set up house on land they got from Mary Ann’s father, but sometime around 1860, they sold the land and moved to the town of Marion Station in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, to open a general store. Abandoning the farm so Rice could become a merchant was probably their way of starting over after losing their first son. The excitement of a new life was not long-lived, however. In February of 1862, with Mary Ann eight months pregnant, Rice signed up for the 41st Infantry Regiment, the Cole Guards, and prepared to fight in the Civil War.

port-hudsonOn 31 December 1862, his company found themselves in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (only 25 miles from my house) where they met the Union troops head-on at the Battle of Stones River. As you can see in the Port Hudson News, the newspapers were reporting a successful campaign for the Rebels, but Rice was not so lucky. He was killed in the very first charge. Rice’s son MF had been born March 12, 1862. In February of that year, Rice had signed up to fight, but is shown as absent until May. Perhaps he did get to spend time with his youngest son.

On the 150th anniversary of the battle, 31 December 2012, I visited the Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro. The man there told me the battle that took place on 31 December actually happened about two miles up the road in what is now a golf course.

dec 2012 407The Confederate Circle was established at Evergreen Cemetery in Murfreesboro in 1890, and in 1891 all of the remains of soldiers from local areas were re-interred in a mass grave there. Of the 2000 soldiers buried in the Circle, about 90% are unknown or not recorded in the records – one being Rice Benjamin Carpenter. He left behind a grieving widow and three children ages 14, 12, and 4.

Rest in Peace, Grandpa Rice.

Shameless plugs:

Mary Ann’s story is told in my book Okatibbee Creek.

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On This Day in 1890

On This Day in 1890, my great great grandparents were wed.

plaque in Lauderdale Co Court House in MeridianThomas Gilbert Lafayette Keene was born 20 Apr 1859 to Green Keene and Sarah Tabitha Keene and grew up in Mississippi. According to records, I believe his parents died during the Civil War. He is shown living with them in the 1860 census, along with his siblings John (1849-) Martha (1851-) Minerva Ellen (1852-1914) and Mary (1855-). He was only an infant. In the 1870 census, he and his sisters are shown living with a woman named Elizabeth Keene (not married) and an 80 year old man named Gilbert Keene. I believe this is his aunt and his grandfather who is Gilbert senior. There is also a Gilbert junior in an earlier census born in 1815.

He more or less disappeared from records until his marriage in 1890, and the next record of him is the marble plaque that is in the Lauderdale County Court House in Meridian, Mississippi showing him as the County Treasurer 1904-1907. (For you “Stuckey’s Bridge” fans, check out the top name – JR Temple, Sheriff.) Later census records list TGL as a member of the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors, also as a farmer and a Justice of the Peace. He died 26 Sep 1921 and is buried next to his wife at Oak Grove Baptist Cemetery in Bonita. His death certificate lists no parents.t g l keene headstoneTGL Keene death cert




brown william lafayett bible







Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Brown was born 19 Nov 1862 (my birthday also) to William Lafayette Brown Jr and Sarah Ann Elvira Dollar Brown in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. (Right is the transcribed family Bible.) There were ten children in her family, seven boys and three girls, one of whom died at birth. Five of the children were born just before the Civil War began, and her father was a sharp shooter guarding the railroad bridges at Chunky, Mississippi, so her mother was home with a handful of children under the age of eight at the start of the war. When her father returned from the war, the next child was born in 1865. They wasted no time!

At the age of 18, Bettie married John Thompson 16 Nov 1881 and had one daughter, Fleta S (1885-1923). I don’t know what happened to Mr. Thompson, but in 1890 Bettie married TGL Keene. They had seven children: Eunice Tabitha (1891-1964) Isaac (1893-1894 infant who is buried near his parents) Essie Mae (1895-1981) Ernest Grady (1895-1947) Benjamin Blaine (1898-1960) Eula Ouida (1899-1981 my great grandmother) and Earl Vandorn (1901-1939). Bettie outlived her husband by five years and died on 18 Jul 1926 at the age of 63. Brown Sarah Elizabeth Bettie Brown Keene

TGL and Bettie lived in the Tunnel Hill area until 1910, when they show up on the census records as living in Meridian.

Happy Anniversary TGL and Bettie!


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On This Day in 1861

On This Day, April 12, 1861, Fort Sumter, South Carolina was shelled by the Confederacy. This marked the start of the Civil War.

SumterPreviously, on February 4th, a convention of seceded states met in Montgomery, Alabama and formed the Confederate States of America.

On March 3rd, Confederate General Beauregard took command of the troops around Charleston Harbor, surrounding Fort Sumter.

By April, the fort was running low on rations. President Lincoln (only president for a month at this point) told them he would re-supply and instructed them to hold the fort.

On April 11th, General Beauregard demanded Union Major Robert Anderson evacuate the fort, but he refused. He was warned if he did not evacuate, the fort would be fired upon at 4:30 a.m. on April 12th.

When the evacuation did not happen, as promised, General Beauregard commanded the men to open fire on Fort Sumter. Fortunately, there were no casualties on either side, but the fort had no option but to surrender.

At 2:30 p.m. on April 13th, Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort.

flying confederate flag on april 14The Confederate flag was raise over Fort Sumter and a 100-gun salute to the flag was planned, but a gun discharged prematurely, killing Union Private Daniel Hough. He was the first casualty of the war.

The war produced over one million casualties with between 650,000 and 850,000 Americans giving their lives. They died fighting their own countrymen and left behind as many grieving parents, widows, and children. These Americans gave their lives to save the United States they knew, whether it be Union or Confederate. As Americans, we have a duty to honor their memories and to get it right. God forbid, we ever divide and do it again.


(shameless plug: I wrote this post in honor of my new book On This Day. It’s a perpetual calendar/journal/record book. If you’re a genealogy buff, you HAVE to get this book to keep track of your ancestor’s special dates. Check it out here.)