Category Archives: Genealogy

Slaves in the family

Edward Ball’s book Slaves In The Family came out in 1998 and inspired me to try and track down some of the descendants of the thousands of slaves on both sides of my family. Beginning in 1600s South Carolina on my mother’s side  and spreading in a family dynasty across Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Pegues was the dynasty’s name, a name still borne by my maternal grandmother and great aunt when I was growing up in the 1940s and 50s. So by 1998 I knew there were no white Pegues still in Oxford, MS, and yet the phone book (remember those?) was full of Pegues names. I wrote them all but got no replies. I went to Oxford and, working with two popular black pastors, I tracked down two of them: an elderly woman still farming her family’s cotton land not far from the site of the old Pegues plantation on Woodson’s Ridge; and a young, and gay, man who was the principal of an integrated elementary school near Oxford.

The woman, who has since passed away, was indifferent to the photos I brought her of the plantation owmers and was mainly irritated by my presence and her memories of the past that I evoked. But she did send her handyman to show me  the graves of her slave ancestors, some of whom were mentioned in an old letter I had. Later I wrote the county urging them to shore up the old graveyard whose land was badly eroding away.

The school principal was more friendly and he introduced me to his sister and her young son. They thought my effort was commendable but they didn’t know much about their slave forebears and I had no letters mentioning them. They said the black Pegues, in general, were known for their education and conservative spending habits and some were doing very well indeed.

So do I believe in reparations? No, I do not. Do I feel guilty? No, although as a kid I was embarrassed by my connection to slavery. Even in the segregated South of the 1950s, it was not something most white people talked about. My mother was proud of the dynasty, especially their two Revolutionary War soldiers and a Nobel Prize winner in medicine, but clammed up on the larger subject. I doubt she knew much about it.

Black Lives Matter is a great slogan. Who can argue with it? Then you find out the mainly white group are communists and are rioting, looting and burning shops and banks and government buildings to try to foment a revolution.  When I was in the Army, I swore an oath to defend the Constitution. The oath was not abrogated when I left the military. Counter-revolutionaries are my enemies. Simple as that.

D+2 Omaha Beach

Several days beyond the 75th commemoration I suddenly remember my cousin Dallasite Jerry Stover who went ashore on Omaha Beach on D+2. He was an Army signal officer with the advance HQ of the Ninth Air Force.

Jerry, who passed in 2012 at the age of 92, would go on to do such things as help liberate the Dachau concentration camp near Munich. But on the beach at Normandy he helped set up combat communications—after connecting with his uncle William Edward Matchett, my maternal grandfather’s brother, a Navy communications officer who’d gone ashore on the first deadly day.

“It was much quieter when I waded in on D+2,” Jerry wrote, “but the grim carnage had me very concerned about Bill…I found him safe! When he was deployed back to USA a week later, Bill left me his Navy jeep. A great gift! I used it to carry our radio sets across France!”

Via 6th Beach Battalion

Pocahontas may have tiny trace of Indian blood

“…a potential 10th generation relative…” in a DNA test, reports the Boston Globe. Making [Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren] 1/1,024th Native American. Note that minuscule trace is only “a potential.”

“To put that in perspective, Warren might even be less Native American than the average European American,” Republican National Committee Deputy Communications Director Mike Reed said in an email, while saying this would “not give you the right to claim minority status.”

As Warren did on a Harvard teaching application and in an Association of American Law Schools teachers directory, thereby abusing affirmative action policies to her advantage.

Via Fox News

UPDATE:  Laughable that her “Native American” claimed result is actually only “Latin American,” specifically Mexico, Peru, or Columbia. And the Cherokee nation is pissed off.

MORE: Breitbart reports that Warren is much better related to a soldier in the Tennessee Militia, which was responsible for the Trail of Tears pushing of the Cherokees into Oklahoma.

The father I never knew

Thomas Wictor has a cool memorial to the father he never knew.

“Although I knew of my father for fifty years, I didn’t know him at all. He will always remain a mystery to me, which is what he wanted.”

Mine too, apparently. Pop (which I never called him but seems appropriate now) was an enigma to me for at least 44 years . For a dozen or so of those years he told me he had joined the Army Air Corps to learn to fly.

I found out reading his Air Force flight records that he knew how to fly BEFORE he joined the military. Flew a light, single engine plane made by Aeronca from a little airport near the town where he was born in Mississippi.

Seems strange Pop would lie about something so simple. But Pop lied a lot. His last lie was to assure me that I had to come to his second wedding (after mother had died) because I would be his best man. When I got there and asked him what a best man was supposed to do, Pop said flatly “There will be no best man.”

Turned out he just wanted me to put in an appearance so it wouldn’t look to his colleagues and friends like his children had bailed on him. In the end only one of the three did.

Wictor’s father-he-never-knew left him a ton of money “that allows me complete freedom for the rest of my life.” Pop didn’t. He left me an old serving platter allegedly belonging to my ggggrandfather. Who’s to say if it’s true.

Not me. I knew Pop that well, anyhow.

Via ThomasWictor.com

Pruning the China roses

Unlike hybrid tea roses, which stand erect in a line like soldiers at inspection, antique roses are bushy. Even the climbers are pretty bushy. And when you prune them, as I did our three Chinas this afternoon, you don’t have to be finicky.

Lopping off a third of the bush is the rule. Now we’ll sit back and expect our antique rose bushes to start blooming like crazy in March. Earlier if we’re lucky. And continue, at intervals, the rest of the year. I’m tempted, however, to dig up Louis Phillipe whose red blooms have always been too sparse to satisfy me and replace it with the Bourbon antique Souvenir de la Malmaison.

Had a Souvenir back in ’07, I see in my archives, whose pictures unfortunately did not make the forced transition from Yahoo to WordPress in 2013. But in ’09 the neighbor on the other side of the fence laid down a bunch of herbicide to kill something and it leeched through the soil and wiped out Souvenir. Then a replacement got run over by the landscaper’s mower and finally the neighborhood deer (courtesy of the city council which refuses to do anything about them) got in the backyard and ate it down to nothing. They think roses are candy. The deer, not the politicians.

Karma, you say? It was, after all, to commemorate my Mississippi great, great grandmother who mentions her’s in her pocket diary of the 1850s. She was a slave owner. Well, we all have our faults. So I’m going to try again. Maybe.

At the very least, I could follow the lead of Austin gardener Pam Penick and erect a bottle tree. Since bottle trees supposedly were invented by Southern slaves, maybe there’d be some redemption there. Maybe even enough to spare a new rancho edition of Souvenir de la Malmaison from assorted catastrophes. Eh?

Roughneckin’ in the patch

What I personally know of roughnecking wouldn’t fill a thimble. J.D., however, says as a kid he slept in the Doghouse while his father and other male relatives roughnecked the oil rigs. He pointed me to this good article in, of all places, National Review. Worth a look.

Reminded me of my dear grandfather who managed the oil trucks for the old Magnolia back in the ’30s, around Laredo, Alice and Freer. He cowboyed for a while near San Angelo but he was never a roughneck. I always understood that he admired some of them, though.

Via Mouth of the Brazos.

My great grandfather and great grandmother

EdwardP&MaryLenoraStanley

Sort of a belated Father’s Day tribute. Edward P. & Mary Lenora Stanley in a copy of a tintype photo taken about 1870. He was a circuit-riding Methodist minister and farmer who’d lost a leg in the May, 1864, Battle of the Wilderness as a private in the Minutemen of Attala, a company in the 13th Mississippi Infantry Regiment—the founding regiment of the famous Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade.