Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Malmaison

Malmaison (French for "House of Sorrow")
Designed and Built for Greenwood Leflore
In Carroll County, Mississippi, by
James C. Harris, Architect

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Leflore Family of Mississippi, Part 3

Greenwood Leflore was born June 3, 1800, the son of Louis LeFlore, a trader, and Rebecca Cravat, was a mixed blood Choctaw, who was educated for six years in Nashville, Tennessee. His education outside the state was apparently influenced and facilitated by his confidant, close personal friend, and mentor, Major Donley. The holder of mail contracts for the Natchez Trace area, including French Camp, Major Donley became acquainted with Louis Leflore and his young son, Greenwood. Apparently, Major Donley saw Greenwood Leflore's potential for leadership, and with the permission of his father, Greenwood traveled to Nashville to live with the Donley family and attend school there.

His early association with Major Donley would have a dramatic impact on the remainder of Leflore's life, beginning with his education and later with his choice of a marriage partner. When Greenwood completed his education in Nashville around age 22, he returned to Mississippi with Priscilla Donley, a daughter of Major Donley, as his wife.
In 1826, Greenwood Leflore became Chief of the Choctaw Nation, Western District, and was later elected Chief of the Choctaw Nation. After his conversion to Christianity in 1829, Greenwood Leflore, along with his followers, often challenged tribal traditionalists led by Mushalatubbee and Nitakechi over religious, economic, and political issues. Leflore advocated education of tribal members and supported the Choctaw Academy founded in Kentucky in 1825, and he opposed additional land cessions.

Most importantly, Greenwood Leflore advocated removal, a policy of Andrew Jackson, believing it would save the Choctaw Nation. It was this policy and Mississippi's state law threatening Choctaw sovereignty that ultimately caused the three district chiefs, including Lefore, to agree to removal as it was outlined in the Treaty of Dancing Greenwood Leflore was ultimately deposed as the last Great Chief of the Choctaws east of the Mississippi River.

Next: Greenwood Leflore, Mississippi Planter and Statesman

Reference Source:

Cushman, Horatio Bardwell, History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians, published by Headlight Printing House, 1899. Original from Harvard University Library, digitized August 15, 2006. Available via GoogleBooks, and accessed on February 26, 2009.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Leflore Family of Mississippi, Part 2

In my recent post entitled "The Leflore Family of Mississippi, Part I," I included details of Louis Leflore's life as a young man. But much can be learned about Leflore and his family from the simple reading of his Last Will and Testament. Because Leflore was involved in the settlement and development of Holmes County, Mississippi, it seems appropriate that his will is recorded in Holmes County Record Book 1, page 1.

Leflore's will, dated October 28, 1833, states the following:

"Considering the uncertainty of this mortal life being of sound mind; memory (blessed by almighty God for the same), do make and publish this my last will and Testament in manner and form following that is to say, First I will to direct that all my land debts be paid out of monies to be raised by the sale of such personal property as I may leave at my death exclusion of Negroes provided the same shall be sufficiently for that purpose but if not sufficient then I direct that so much of my real estate shall be sold as may be necessary to complete the amount required for the payment of my said debts. Secondly, I give and bequeath to my son Forbis Leflore the sum of seven hundred dollars, to my two nephews Stephen Crevat; Placid Crevat each three hundred dollars to my niece Maruyayu (?) Crevat,three hundred dollars to be paid by my executioners within one year of my after my decease out of monies to be raised by the sale of such personal property, Negroes excepted as I may leave at my death if the same shall be sufficient for the purpose after the payment thereout
(sic) of my just debts but if not sufficient there I direct that so much of my real Estate shall be sold as may be necessary to complete the amount requisite for the payment of my said debts the (illegible) above bequeathed. Thirdly I direct that if at the time of my decease a crop of cotton shall be growing on my plantation then my Executioners shall keep my Negroes necessary stock imployed (sic) upon the plantation until the crop shall be gathered prepared for market before any part of my personal or real estate is disposed of or until the month of February next after my decease provided the said crop shall not be soon gathered that during the said month of February my real estate shall be sold a public salevendue (sic) to the highest bidder the terms of sale to be one third part of purchase money to be paid within twenty days after said sale, one third part on the first day of January following the last payment two payments, to be secured by mortgage upon the premeses (sic) two months notice of such sale to be given by publication in two (illegible) public newspapers. Forthly (sic) , I will and direct that my executioners divide all my Negro slaves for life of which I may die prepossessed or leave at my decease unto eleven lots as parcels of (illegible) of nearly as equal a value as may be required being had to family connections. The said divisions to be made at the time of the sale of my real estate as before directed & that upon the decision of said slaves unto eleven equal parcels as aforesaid. The names of my eleven children Greenwood, Benjamin, William, Basila, Jackson, Louisa Haskins, Felicity Long wife of Samuel Long Winnia McGahy Silva Harris. Shall be writing upon separate slips of paper placed in one box then the numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11, shall be written upon separate slips of paper place in another box whereupon one of my said executioners shall commence and draw from the box containing the names (illegible) said children one slip or name at a time same person to be used by my said child shall at the same time draw from the box containing the said numbers on slips as often as often as a name is drawn from the other box until all the names numbers shall be drawn when my said eleven children shall commence in the order of the numbers drawn the second names make choices of the parcels of the said Negroes sukcessfully (sic) it being my will to give the said Negroes to my said eleven children to be divided among them as nearly as possible in equal shears. Fifthly with respect to all the rest residue of my estate property of whatever kind (illegible) give bequeath the same to my said eleven children Viz. Greenwood Leflore, Jackson Leflore, Lousia Haskins, Felicity Long wife of Samuel Long, William McGaley ; Silva Harris, Clarissa Wilson, Isabel Brashers, wife of Vaughn Brashers them theirs alike to be paid over to them by my Executioners or as soon as can be done consisting with the directions herein before after paying all my just debts, funeral charges Exequines (?)of Executing this my last will and testament lastly, I appoint my Son in law Samuel Long and my friend Abraham A. Halsey my Executioners of this my last will an (sic) testament. In testimony (illegible) whereof I have herewith set my hand and seal this 11th day of April one thousand Eight hundred and thirty there.

/s/Louis Leflore

Signed Sealed published and declared by the same above named Lewis Leflore to be his last will and testament in the presence of the person of us who have hereunto subscribed our names as witness in the presence of the Testator.

Wm Parker
W.W. Cherry
J. M Chisum

Friday, April 24, 2009

Froggie's Friday Book Review - "The People of Shrock, Mississippi - 1895 - 1922"

Duncan C. Covington's book entitled "The People of Shrock, Mississippi 1895 - 1922" as seen by writers of local newspapers, is a compilation of Covington family history information and community news. The book was published privately in College Station, Texas, in soft cover form. Duncan graciously provided me with my own personal copy of his book, and I have been amazed with the plethora of information about Attala County people and events contained within its 273 pages.

Included in the book are transcriptions of local newspaper articles about families who lived in or near the
Shrock community between 1895 and 1922. These newsy articles chronicle significant events in the daily lives of the residents of this early Attala County community and provide information about birthdays, engagements, marriages, and deaths. Various community events are chronicled, as well, and allow the reader a microscopic look at the social and economic life in Attala County around the turn of the twentieth century and continuing on into pre-depression years.

Also included in his book is a history of Duncan's own Covington family, told in story and in photographs. While many of the wonderful, old photographs are copies made from originals, some were made from glass negatives owned by the
Covington family and included in the family's extensive collection of family documents and memorabilia. The book's 49-page index contains a list of "the people of Shrock" named in the publication and is a treasure trove of information for family history researchers.

In summary, if you are searching for information about your ancestors who lived or passed through Attala County, Mississippi between 1895 and 1922, I highly recommend Duncan's book as an important addition to your genealogy toolbox. In keeping with his reputation of being a dedicated Attala County native son, Duncan has donated a copy of "T
he People of Shrock - 1895 - 1922" to the Attala County Library in Kosciusko, Mississippi, part of the Mid-Mississippi Regional Library System Library, where it can be found in the genealogy research room.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

T. Carlton Billups IV - April 18, 1915 - April 19, 2009

Mississippians who are old enough to remember pumping gasoline at Billups gas stations may be interested to know that T. Carlton Billups IV, an independent oil operator in Mississippi and Texas, died on April 22, 2009, at the age of 94.

The obituary reprinted here was published in the Dallas Morning News on April 22, 2009. The photograph is a reprint from an abbreviated version of the notice published on the same date in the Tyler (TX) Morning Telegraph.

"T. Carleton Billups IV died peacefully on April 19, 2009 in Dallas, Texas. He was ninety- four years old. Graveside services will be at Friendship Cemetery in Columbus, Mississippi on May 5, 2009 at 1:30 PM with The Very Reverend James F. Carlyle of St. Paul's Episcopal Church officiating. Mr. Billups was born in Columbus, Mississippi, April 18, 1915 to Thomas Carleton and Lenore Hardy Billups. After attending Packard Business School in New York, he had a seat in 1934 on the foreign exchange desk of Termini and Company at 30 Wall Street. He lived in Manhattan with his aunt and uncle, Columbus natives Dr. John D. Richards and Marcella Billups Richards. Dr. Richards taught him the game of polo, and in the years before World War II he enjoyed the sport along the eastern seaboard during one of the game's historic periods. At the onset of World War II, he joined the United States Air Force and served as an instructor pilot in Greenville, South Carolina. He taught student pilots to fly B-25s and was the only pilot at the base to hold a green instrument card. In 1944 his squadron delivered the first A-26 fighter bombers to Belgium via Puerto Rico, Brazil, the Ascension Islands and Africa. Stationed in France and Belgium he flew seven combat missions with the 9th Air Force, 391st Bombardment Group, 575th Squadron. In 1943 he married Betty Wilder of Tyler, Texas and in 1945 joined his father-in-law, Hugh J. Wilder, in the oil business. He enjoyed a long and distinguished career as an independent oil operator in Texas and Mississippi. He was instrumental in establishing the Norphlet as a productive formation in Mississippi and remained active in the industry until his death. He lived in Tyler, Texas until 1985 when he and his wife moved to Columbus, Mississippi where they lived on a plantation of his childhood. They moved to Dallas, Texas in 2007. He is survived by his wife of sixty-five years, Betty Wilder Billups; son, Thomas Carleton Billups V and wife Debra Huchel Billups of Artesia, Mississippi; daughter, Susan Billups Underwood and husband Dr. Ronald Howell Underwood of Dallas; granddaughters, Anna Underwood Small and husband Dr. Andrew Buchanan Small IV of Dallas, Catherine Evan Underwood of Dallas, and Jacqueline Cameron Billups of Washington D.C.; greatgranddaughters, Annabelle Carleton Small and Sarah Margaret Small of Dallas; sister Ida Billups Ward of Columbus, Mississippi; and nephew Rufus Alexander Ward of West Point, Mississippi. If desired, memorials may be made to the charity of one's choice."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Leflore Family of Mississippi, Part 1

During the next few weeks, I will be posting several accounts of the Leflore family in Mississippi, beginning with Jean Baptiste Leflau, the family's French-born patriarch who settled near Mobile, Alabama.

On June 19, 1735, Jean Baptiste Leflau married Jeanne Boissinot, a native of Mobile, Alabama. Church records of this marriage show that Jean was the son of Jacques Leflau and Magdeliene Vichet of Versailles, Saint Croisse Parish. The exact date that Jean Baptiste Leflau arrived in Mobile is unknown, but he was already there on January 9, 1735, when his godson, born to Jacques Claude Dupont and his Paris-born wife, was baptized.

On June 29, 1762, also in Mobile, Jean Baptiste Leflau and his second wife, Marie Jeanne Girard, daughter of Jean Girard and Marie Ann Daniau, became parents of a son named Louis. By all accounts, several other children were born to Jean and Marie Leflau, including a son, Michael, who was baptized on November 19, 1767. Later, as the result of The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, Michael would become the owner of two sections of land that would become the site of the community of Bowling Green, in Holmes County, Mississippi.

Operating out of Natchez, Louis began trading with the Choctaw Nation around 1780. About 1790, he married Nancy and Rebecca Cravat, the wards of Chief Pushmataha of the Choctaw Nation, a group that allowed plural marriages at the time. Nancy and Rebecca were the daughters of John Cravat and a woman of the Chocchuma tribe. Cravat had given the two girls to Pushmataha, their uncle, before returning to trade among the Chickasaw.

After his marriage, Louis Leflore moved up the Pearl River, establishing a trading post at LeFleurs Bluff. His son, Greenwood Leflore, who would later become the last Chief of the Choctaw Nation, was born there on June 2, 1800.

Louis Leflore's legacy includes the founding of the settlement known as LeFleur's Bluff that would later be known as Jackson, Mississippi, the town of French Camp on the Natchez Trace, and the community of Rankin in Holmes County. Also, Louis Leflore is credited, along with Durant, Mississippi's namesake, Louis Durant, with introducing cattle raising to Attala and Holmes Counties.

Tomorrow: Greenwood Leflore, the last great Chief of the Choctaw Nation


Cushman, Horatio Bardwell, History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians, Headlight Printing House, 1899, Oiginal copy from Harvard University Library, digitized August 15, 2006. Accessed on April 18, 2009.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Froggie's Friday Book Review - "Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia - A Life in Poems"

One of my readers is Mississippian, Patricia Neely-Dorsey, a poet and an author. Last year, Ms. Neely-Dorsey published a book of poems entitled "Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia - A Life in Poems." In her book, Neely-Dorsey has used childhood memories and her own personal thoughts and dreams, to describe southern life as she lived it.

Educated in Boston, and having returned with her family to live in Tupelo, Mississippi, Neely-Dorsey became inspired to write poetry that describes the southern way of life. It is through her poems that celebrate years growing up in Mississippi that Neely-Dorsey hopes readers will be given a positive glimpse into the southern experience. Her overall intent in publishing this book of personal stories in poetic form was to "celebrate the south and all things southern." As someone who lived for a time "outside the Magnolia curtain," Neely-Dorsey also hopes that her personal accounts of life in the south will dispel the many myths that exist about her home state of Mississippi. As the author herself has acknowledged, she has taken Eudora Welty's advice to "Write about what you know about."

Ms. Neely-Dorsey's book of poems covers a variety of subject matter, often personal in nature, and has been called "a poetic love letter to the south," as well as "
a poetic autobiography.

For more information about the author and her book of southern life captured in poetry, visit her website at, along with her blog found at Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Fisherman

Recently, my daughter snapped this photograph when she and her family were driving in the country on a Sunday afternoon. With the newly green trees in the background, their reflections that turn the water green, and the foreground of blue water iris, one can be assured that Spring really is here.

Photograph by A. Rennie

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Captain Howard Wager Tate - 1905-1978

Last year, I wrote two posts about the riverboat Kate Adams, The Ever-Lovin' Kate Adams, and the The Ever-Lovin Kate Adams, Part II, that are included in the archives of Mississippi Memories. Thanks to Ron Tate, a reader who lives in Destin, Florida, I guess you can call the post here today, "Part Three."

Several days ago, I received an email from Ron telling me that he had recently read my posts about the riverboat Kate Adams and wanted to let me know he enjoyed them. Once I read the rest of Ron's email, I understand his interest in the Kate Adams, as well as other riverboats of that particular era. As it turned out, Ron's interest is a lifelong one and a very personal one. As he related it to me, his father, Captain Howard Wager Tate, lovingly nicknamed "Taterbug" by those who knew him, was a Master Pilot for more than fifty years on the Mississippi River and every major river east of the Mississippi.

As Ron continued his story, I discovered that for about thirty years of his fifty-year career, Captain Tate had hand carved boat models that depicted in intricate detail the riverboats that were operated by the Adams Line, the Lee Line, and others. The Adams Line models included Kate Adams and Alvin Adams, while the Lee Line included Robert E. Lee I and II, James Lee, Georgia Lee, and Stacker Lee. Captain Tate also built large models of the Sprague, the largest steam stern wheeler towboat ever built for inland river service. Some readers, particularly Mississippians, may recall the Sprague when it was docked on the Mississippi River in Vicksburg, where it was the venue for seasonal stage shows.

One of Captain Tate's larger models, the Delta Queen, was used as an exhibit in Congress when the boat's life was initially extended as an overnight passenger vessel. For a number of years during the 1970's and 1980's, the Delta Queen, with its grand staircase and ornate interior complete with chandeliers, ran regular excursion routes down the Ohio River and Mississippi Rivers. Originating in Cincinnati, the Delta Queen docked in several cities along the way, including Helena, Arkansas, Vicksburg, and Natchez, en route to her final destination in New Orleans. When this majestic vessel arrived in port, her grand calliope could be heard throughout town. Once the vessel reached its final destination of New Orleans, additional passengers boarded for the return trip upriver. After the model's use in Congress, Captain Tate donated the model of the Delta Queen to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C.

According to Ron Tate, a number of models of the boats carved by Captain Tate are in the hands of those with a great love of the river and its history. Although Ron provided me with electronic photographs of some of these hand carved models, their formats, unfortunately, prevented me from posting the photographs here today.

For those who love the history of this country's rivers, Captain Tate and his hand carved models left quite a legacy, one of which his son is rightfully proud.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I Love Spring

What better way to enjoy Spring than to make a visit to this Japanese garden, one of half a dozen scenic areas located within a large botanic garden nearby. Thoughout the garden, vibrant red Japanese maples contrast sharply with the lush green foliage of new leaves, as turtles and ducks swim lazily in the ponds below.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Froggie's Friday Book Review - Shadows of a Chapel

Late last year, I wrote a post that appeared on another blog, Cemeteries of Dancing Rabbit Creek entitled, Henry Grey Vick - Almost a Bridegroom. Although the post was primarily about the love story of Henry and his betrothed, Helen Johnstone, and Henry's death and burial, it also included some history of The Chapel of the Cross in Madison County, Mississippi. While searching for information about Helen, her family, and Annandale Plantation, the Johnstone family home, I discovered an online book, Shadows of a Chapel, written about the chapel and the family that built it. Actually, the book was researched and compiled by Glenn S. Smith, a parishioner at The Chapel of the Cross, and written in its final form by Jan S. Warner.

First printed in the U. S. in 1994, the book comprises less than 30 pages, but it provides a well-researched and well-written history of the Johnstone family's involvement in early Madison County, beginning with its settlement in the county after the family's migration from North Carolina to Mississippi. A major portion of the book tells the history and background of The Chapel of the Cross, including photographs of the chapel, both old and new, that are used to tell the unique story of why the chapel was built, how it was involved in the lives of families living in that part of Madison County, and how the chapel has survived throughout the years. Also included in the book is the beautiful, but tragic, love story of Helen Johnstone and Henry Vick. Copies of exquisite old photographs of both Annandale and Ingleside assist the reader in understanding the size and magnificence of life in the Deep South during the 1800s.

Smith and Warner have successfully memorialized a significant portion of Madison County's history within the pages of Shadows of a Chapel. And I encourage you to read this book to discover the history and to understand the mystery that has surrounded The Chapel of the Cross for almost 150 years.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mortality Index - Some Surprising Data

Today, while reviewing the Mortality Index for an older Mississippi county, I made an interesting discovery. Names that made up the mortality index prepared that year had been combined with census data for the persons included on the index that lists age, length of illness, and cause of death. The result is an invaluable document for a family researcher. Three doctors, whose names appeared on the transcription of the document, had provided the information that was likely submitted to the equivalent of the state department of health of that time period. Although I did not find the information for which I was searching, I did discover something that was surprising and rather alarming: one individual on this mortality index died of "morphine by mistake."

Now I don't know the circumstances that surrounded this particular individual's death, nor do I know what the climate of the medical society was in 1880. But what I do know is that in today's world, a death caused by "morphine by mistake," would be cause for alarm, and an investigation would be in order.

But times were different then, and in a remote, rural area in 1880, this incident may have just been called "an accident."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wordless Wednesday (Almost) - Spring Babies

Spring means new baby animals. Pictured here are twin goats born last week on the organic farm owned and operated by two of our friends. The picture here was taken when the precious baby girls were only two hours old.