Monday, December 29, 2014

William Millsaps Discharged Rachael Rice

Former slaves transiting to freedom made labor contracts with land owners. Those labor contracts had rules expected to be honored by the freedmen. If one of the rules was broken, the laborer could be dismissed without pay.

For impudent, profane or indecent language to or in the presence of employer, manager or the families, quarreling, fighting, stealing, disobedience, willful neglect of duty, quitting work without permission and offenses of the like serious character, the laborer will be carried before a Magistrate or other proper officer, for punishment all expense, loss of time, &c., will be charged against the laborer. In all cases of dismissal or voluntarily quitting plantations, the laborer forfeits all unpaid wages, and his family or dependents will be dismissed at the discretion of the manager.
Freedmen's Bureau Labor Contract Rules

Rachael Rice worked for the prominent Copiah County Millsaps family. She was to work for shares of the crops produced. Rice probably signed her contract with William Millsaps in early January 1868 , and when she was dismissed had worked about eight months. Millsaps gave Rice a blow to the head which required medical attention from Millsaps' son-in-law, Dr Robert Jacob Durr. Rice lost her job after she told Dr Durr who abused her.

Here is how Rice's case was described in the Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records.
Aug 24 1868

Rachael Rice (col) lives with Wm Milsaps about 20 miles from B'haven near Pleasant Valley Church (P. O. Pine Ridge, Copiah C.) states she has been working with him for shares crop this year, (5 hands in all) were to have 1/4 corn & 1/2 cotton, he was to furnish land, ?, & c, & furnish them in rations. __ Milsaps has now discharges her because she informed his son in law - Dr Durr M has struck her on the head last June with a stick. __ She was obliged to tell Dr Durr as he was attending her for the results of her blow & asked her what started it with Milsaps.

How does Rachel Rice connect to my family?
Rachel Rice does not connect to my family.
The doctor attending Rice was the son of Michael Durr, the slave owner of my 2nd great grandfather Josephus Durr. According to the 1860 Simpson County Slave Schedule, Michael Durr owned 62 slaves, his son Robert Jacob owned one slave.

Mississippi, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872," images, FamilySearch (,1078469104 : accessed 29 December 2014), Brookhaven (subassistant commissioner) > Roll 12, Register of contracts, Jun 1865-Oct 1867 > image 74 of 101; citing NARA microfilm publication M1907, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Sheriff took the Old Man's Cow

Photograph Courtesy of Wikipedia

Confederate money was worthless, the Confederate government and economy was ruined. Rebuilding required money, tax every head of household including the newly freedmen.

Freedman Samuel Jackson was born between 1796-1804. He didn't own much to be taxed except for the cow, a couple of dogs and maybe a gun. Without warning, he was asked to pay his taxes or the cow would be auctioned. Sam lost his cow, likely a good source of milk and butter, and the sheriff got himself a cheap cow.

Here is how it was recorded in the Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records.
Sam Jackson (col'd) 70 years old lives in Copiah County (Mississippi).

July 10th Jessie Thompson Jr, Deputy Sheriff came to Sam's house and took his cow for which Sam had paid $30 for taxes. Sam said he could borrow the money to pay his taxes and would have it there in ten minutes but Thompson would not wait but put the cow up for sale. No one them but one or two negroes who told Deputy Sheriff they had no money and could not bid. He said he must sell her. So proceeded to bid himself and knocked her down to himself at the sum called for in the tax bill ($7.81) and drove her off. The tax receipt given to Sam is for 2 dogs and 1 gun? and $1 for levy in all $7.81. The man is to old to be liable for poll tax.

How does Sam Jackson connect to my family?
Sam Jackson's granddaughter Susan Jackson married Pedro Demyers.
Pedro Demyers was the son of John T Demyers and Mary Hart.
John T Demyers is my 2nd great grandmother Alice Demyers Overton Usher's brother.

Mississippi, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872," images, FamilySearch (,1078469104 : accessed 18 December 2014), Brookhaven (subassistant commissioner) > Roll 12, Register of contracts, Jun 1865-Oct 1867 > image 68 of 101; citing NARA microfilm publication M1907, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Monday, December 15, 2014

George and Rhoda's Daughters

Annie and Mary Thomas

Annie and Mary Delphia Thomas were born during the 1890s to George and Rhoda Buie Thomas near Caseyville, Lincoln County, MS. Rhoda died between 1896-1898 when her daughters were young, leaving them to be raised by their father and his kin. Annie married William Hooker. Their son James Edward became the first African American sheriff in Lincoln County, MS. Mary went to Louisiana and the family lost contact with her.

Photograph Courtesy of James E Scott

How do the sisters connect to my family?
Their brother Alex Thomas married Roxanne Smith.
Alex and Roxanne's daughter Ida May Thomas married my first cousin once removed James Monroe Markham.
Alex and Roxanne's daughter Rosanna Thomas married my granduncle Samuel David Markham

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lincoln County's First Black Sheriff

James Edward Hooker aka J. E. Hooker was born in Lincoln County, MS, on 04 Dec 1918, to William Hooker and Annie Thomas. He was the grandson of Civil War veteran George Thomas. He married Farrie Smith. The couple's children were: William, Johnson, Charles, Ella, Mary, and Elease.

He retired from the Lincoln County Sheriff Department after serving 20 years as the first black sheriff for the county.

J. E. died 12 Aug 2002, buried in Scott Cemetery, Caseyville, MS.

Photograph Courtesy of Nathaniel Thomas

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday
Clark Sisters

They are the Clark sisters born in Jefferson County, Mississippi during the 1890s. They remind me of my paternal grandmother.

Photograph Courtesy of Nathaniel Thomas

Monday, December 1, 2014

Pleasant Valley Methodist Church
Erected 1840

Excerpts from Edwina Burnley Memoirs

Pleasant Valley Methodist Church is located in rural Copiah County, MS, near Hazlehurst. The church is in a peaceful setting surrounded by trees. The last few posts were about the Baker family who were owned by Edward Burnley. He married Maria Louisa Baxter of New Jersey, in 1852. Maria Burnley was a member of this church.

"Two years later, she wore for the first and only time in her life, a sunbonnet to the church at Pleasant Valley. When she was going down the steps, Mr. Gilmer said, “Miss Baxter, may I introduce Col. Burnley?” Col. Burnley was an ardent and persistent wooer and finally was successful."

"Ma was a Methodist, a member of the Pleasant Valley Church."

The church had a slave gallery that spanned the rear wall. It was removed long ago. Maybe, my people passed through those doors: Demyers, Furnace, Overton, and Usher.

"I remember seeing Cousin Melissa Taliaferro, (She was a daughter of Edwin R. Brown, married to Cousin Henry Taliaferro at Pleasant Valley Church wearing a pale blue silk ruffled to the waist, very low neck and short sleeves, showing her plump white shoulders, and such a big hoop skirt she could hardly get in the church door."

Can you see Melissa trying to get through one of those doors in her big hoop skirt? Can you hear the rustling of her skirt?

The Brown and Taliaferro families owned members of my family. The Sinclair family was owned by the Joseph Brown family, and the Winston family owned by Peachy R Taliaferro. My 2nd great grandaunts Margaret Demyers Sinclair and Mary Peachy Demyers Winston married into those families.

Edwina Burnley Memoirs