Tombstone Tuesday: Thomas N Braselmann

IMG_0874Thomas Nathan Braselmann, Second Lieutenant in Company F, Second Mississippi Infantry. He died 21 July 1861 in the battle of First Manassas.

Transcription of the tombstone:

Beneath this silent marble sleep the remains of Thomas N Braselmann, son of Dr. T and H. Braselmann. Born in Newberry District SC Feb. 26, 1834, married Mary A T Rogers March 15, 1853, to whom he was a devoted and affectionate husband. He fell July 21, 1861, at the Battle of Manassas, defending the southern cause, which he felt was just and right, leaving a wife and three little children to mourn his loss. He was one of the first to sacrifice home and all that was near and dear to him, for freedom, and liberty.

We weep! Our earthly joys have fled,                                                                                 That once loved form is now cold and dead.                                                               But blessed hope looks far beyond the bounds of time,                                           When what we now deplore                                                                                           Shall rise in full immortal prime,                                                                                     And bloom to fade no more.


Grandfather’s Diary, Part IV

Mack Holley, 1940

Last week, my grandfather had been elected to cotton weigher for Tippah County. He skips some time and we’re now in the 1940s. His parents were separated and he was living with his mother, taking care of her.

“On Jan. 1, 1941, my mother passed away. That was the biggest change and the saddest day in my life. 13 months later my father passes away. My home was broken up [and] I was left alone for ten years, lonely and broken hearted.

In July 1942, I got my greeting from Uncle Sam. I was drafted. I went in a few days to be examined, passing the test with no trouble. This was another big change for a country boy that had never been anywhere, only in and around my hometown. Later in July I was inducted in [the] service at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. I shall never forget I knew nothing [about] what it would be like.IMG_1312 After my basic training at Camp Wheeler, Georgia for six weeks, I was transferred to Camp Sutton, N.C. for several months and finally it came to my time for going overseas. We got our order for overseas duty, going from there by troop train to San Francisco, California for a few weeks and then one morning we packed our bags and started to the docks.IMG_1314 Walking up that gang plank to the ship was another big change. That was a feeling and thoughts for me when that ship pulled out for sea. Three weeks later we entered the dock in Perth, Australia. There I was in another country thousands of miles from home. Everything [was] so different, even the people, but really nice and kind to a lonely American soldier.

In a few weeks, I was in an Australian hospital. The Sister came [and] said get dressed, [that] I was being transferred to Melbourne, Australia. In mid morning, me and one other American soldier in the Army car and headed away to the airport. This was a frightening change in life.

We started in the plane [and] I was really scared. When we were seated in the plane, soon we were given orders to buckle our safety belts. I thought many times what would be next. I could hardly tell the difference when the plane began to move.

Postcards from Melbourne
Postcards from Melbourne

Finally I decided to look out of the small window. What did I see? Nothing but clouds. We had done flew above the clouds. That is the time my eyes poofed out. I wondered if we would ever get down but we did. In a few hours we landed at the airport in Melbourne, Australia. We were met by [an] American soldier and carried to an American hospital which was far better.

In a few days I got a day of leave to visit downtown Melbourne. Everything looked so different. Felt like everyone was staring at me. What a change for me in a foreign city and country. Soon I was lost in everything, even the money did not mean anything to me.

Australian penny, 1940

In a short time I was called up to return to the U.S. I was tickled and thrilled the morning we boarded the ship for home.

Finally in a few weeks, after seeing nothing but water, we spotted the lights in San Francisco, California, which grew bigger and bigger each minute. Finally we pulled into the dock.

It was several hours before we could go ashore. We were signed into the hospital for a few weeks [and] then we were transferred by troop train to Texas near Dallas. We were stationed there for a few weeks.”

This is the only clue I have as to his service as most of his service records were burned in the archives at St. Louis. From a news article I know he was awarded medals, but I do not have them. He seems to have spent most of his time in hospital, suffering from malaria.

“In October 1943, I was discharged from the U.S. Army in McKinney, Texas. It was a very happy [moment] of my life. I packed my bag and by bus went into Dallas, Texas. There I caught a bus for home in Mississippi, arriving in Memphis, Tennessee early the next day. There changing buses for New Albany, Mississippi, south of Ripley, Mississippi, which was my home at that time. Getting home was a big thrill although it was a restless peace. Different and strange. So many people had moved away. I was lonesome and restless, could not be satisfied anywhere doing anything.

Friend I met in N.C. during the time I was in the army called me to come and work for him in a railroad cafe. I tried that a short time. I could not be satisfied so I resigned and went back home, trying Sears Roebuck and Co. in Memphis. I could not be happy there.”

One theme I’ve noticed has been change. My grandfather seemed to abhor change. It made him nervous and upset. After the war, it seemed worse. I don’t know what he isn’t saying, what he doesn’t want to talk about. Even his friend, Billy Power, couldn’t help him be content.

I don’t know if he ever found his way.

Sentimental Sunday: Uncle Charlie and the Tricycle

Growing up, I didn’t have aunts, uncles, or first cousins. I had great aunts, great uncles, and second cousins. So most of the family I spent any time with was way older than me. So it was the case with my great uncle, Charlie Holley, my granddaddy’s brother.

For a few years, also, I was an only child. I got all the attention and that suited me just fine. I had a little red tricycle that I must have rode a million miles on. I went all over the yard with it, up and down the driveway, and even up and down the road if I thought I could get away with it.

When Uncle Charlie would come visit, I tried to be good and sit like a little lady and behave while grownups talked. But that was too hard and no fun. Uncle Charlie noticed and asked me if I wanted to go play. I said I did, but as long as he played too.

So we broke out the tricycle and up and down the hallway and around the house go, him pushing and me hanging on. He wouldn’t let me pedal much. I guess he wanted to spoil me a little. On good days, we took the fun outside too. Up and down the driveway. Uncle Charlie in my ear, telling me I could let go and trust him that I wouldn’t fall.

I did. I loved it.

That happened often until he got sick and couldn’t come play anymore. But I will always remember in my heart how safe and secure I felt on my little red tricycle with Uncle Charlie huffing and pushing along behind me.

George Albert Little

George Albert Little, son of John and Margaret Little, was born 14 April 1869 in Perry, Ohio. His young life was difficult because of the illness and then death of his father by the time George was ten.

I suppose anyone in this situation tends to go a bit wild because of the lack of guidance at home. All of Margaret’s energy went into supporting herself and her family.

But then, you never can explain everything by how someone was raised.

He married 14 November 1891 to Miss Clara Baker.

George and Clara’s Marriage License

George and Clara had three children: Charles Merriman, born 1892; Carlyle William, born 1895; and Blake Albert, born 1906.

In 1899, if there was any semblance of domestic bliss, it was shattered when little Charles suddenly died on September 4. For days, Charles had pushed his plate away from the table, unable to eat much. The little he did manage to eat didn’t stay down long. His stomach started to swell and he had that all too common complaint of little kids, “My tummy hurts.” He was thirsty all the time but never seemed to use the bathroom. He was steadily in decline. He developed blood poisoning and there was nothing that could be done. That left young Will, as he was known, as an only child until 1906 when Blake Albert was born. Again, their life was disrupted when George found Clara slumped over by their bed. She had simply dropped dead.Going over the census records, it is possible to believe that Blake lived in Pennsylvania with his mother’s parents, Moses and Eunice Baker. Until he marries, he is always enumerated with them. But he attended school in Perry and even played high school basketball.

Team Picture
Team Picture

But once he was grown, he did move to Pennsylvania and cared for his grandparents. Blake married Vera Kidder and had two children. He died in 1961 and is buried in Pennsylvania.

The remaining son, William had a brief, sad life. In January 1914, he married Margaret Ferry but died the next month, never seeing the son his wife was carrying who was named in his honor.George, the sometime farmer and sometime teamster, had since at least 1910, employed help to take care of his sons and his home. Her name was Ruby Callaway, the daughter of English immigrants.

In something very like Downton Abbey, George got involved with the help. 

In 1910, they had a son together, Paul Elmer, followed by their daughter Florence Mildred two years later. George and Ruby married in December of 1922. Three more children were born: Annabelle Marie, George Melville, and Richard Lynn.Starting around 1920, the Little’s owned and operated a dairy farm on the North Ridge Road in Geneva, Ohio. This created much more financial stability for the growing family. There they remained until 1944 when George and Ruby moved to Ashtabula, essentially to retire.

They could have also moved to escape. Youngest son Richard had drowned outside Geneva in the Ashtabula River at the age of 15. Four years later, age had caught up with George. He was 79 and had worked hard all his life. His arteries had hardened from his high fat diet and his heart wore out on 26 November 1948.

He was buried in the Edgewood Cemetery three days later. Ruby joined him there in 1977.

Wednesday’s Child: Lillian Angeline Linville

Lillian Angeline Linville was my great-grandmother’s sister and the only one of her siblings who died as a child. If or that time, that was really good. It hardly ever happened. It would have been a perfect record, but for her death from appendicitis at the age of 13 in 1910.

What a set of circumstances for that to happen. A rural family with no stillborns, no early death from disease.

But life isn’t perfect.

Appendicitis was always fatal in the days before surgery. It was caused by a blockage of the appendix by infection or stool. Without surgery, it always ruptured and the person always died. Death was quick, but painful and brutal.

My great-grandmother’s sister was not forgotten. When my great-grandmother had her second daughter, she named her Lillian for the sister she lost.

Grandfather’s Diary, Part III

One of the things I noticed about this short diary of my grandfather’s is his way of slipping off subject and becoming very thoughtful to the point of being morose. The last part of the diary did just that but now he’s back on track and talking about days past.

Read here for part 1 and here for part 2.

my grandfather at 18

“I was reared as a poor boy on a farm until 1933 [when] we moved to town. I started to school and life was all changed again and [was] a big change for a country boy. After a short time I made new friends and everything was alright. Life came back again as I have had many changes in life.

I got the agency for the Memphis Press Scimitar for several months from house to house, trying to provide a living for me and my mother as a paper boy.

Finally, I accept work with the WPA as timekeeper for a few months. Soon it was finished, then I was out of work and no money. Finally I accepted a job as a clerk in a small grocery store, 75 cents per day. There I worked for three years, still tryig to provide a living for my mother and myself.

On Christmas on the third year my boss Mr. Ray Barnett gave me $10 for Christmas. I went on my way home by the county newspaper office and put my name on the ticket for county cotton weigher. Boy, was that a big change in life  for a poor country boy that knew nothing. I had a hard time and fun along with the hard times. Finally came the election night. I will never forget when I won over five other fine men in the outcome of the accounting of votes.”

Campaign Card


Sunday’s Obituary: David Hezekiah Linville

IMG_1261  My second great-grandfather David Hezekiah Linville was born 17 May 1858 and died 25 February 1934 at the age of 75. In between, he lived what was considered by friends and neighbors a good, long and decent life.

“Splendid Christian gentleman” is a phrase that occurs a lot in older obituaries, I’ve noticed. Even for people I know to be otherwise, it occurs. I suppose we wish to think well of the dead.

But I think it fits in his case.

Or maybe I’m just biased.

David was born just before the Civil War in Tippah County, Mississippi. His parents were Richard McDowell Linville and Elizabeth Reeves Manning. When the Civil War broke out, his father volunteered for the 23rd Mississippi Infantry and was duly elected its 1st Lieutenant.

On 18 December 1884, 26 year old David married 16 year old Mary Frances Shelton. Nine months later, their first son, William Richard, was born. Eleven were eventually born to this marriage, including my great-grandmother.

To try to make money and have a decent, easy life for his family, David taught at the Antioch community school for at least a year. But the call of the land was too strong. David was born to be a farmer.

He bought at least 85 acres north of Tippah Creek near the same school at which he taught. There he created an orchard that was the envy of his neighbors. He had a green thumb for trees, fruit, and crops. His neighbors sought out his advice so they could try to recreate his success.

His passion, besides farming, was squirrel hunting. When he had time, he would take his favorite dog, Ole Ring, and roam the woods looking for the fuzzy gray creatures he loved to eat.

David Hezekiah Linville

He was a deacon at the Antioch Primitive Baptist Church near his home and when he died he was buried front and center in the graveyard. He loved to sing and his deep, throaty voice could be heard for miles around.

His children and grandchildren grew up with him and the fuzzy mustache that must have tickled when he kissed them.

1926 Linville Reunion

In his later years, he had a series of strokes and was confined to his home. He died 25 February 1934 at the age of 75.

Sports Center Saturday: Me, My Dad, and Our Love for Speed

The Indy 500, or the Daytona 500, or really just anything that had wheels and went fast. That was our thing. I don’t think it’s our thing anymore because my dad just seems tired of it now. I have to catch up on YouTube, if the races get uploaded, because my dad hogs the TV.


I do miss it. We really didn’t do anything special, but it was our time. We didn’t talk much. Mostly we had our faces glued to the TV watching the cars go round. Our favorites were the Indy 500 or anything NASCAR.

I often say I’ve seen the Indy 500 from the womb, the first being the one in 1982. From what I’ve heard, I wish I’d seen it. The closest finish at that point in time: 0.16 seconds. That’s nothing.

Gordon Johncock leading Rick Mears to the finish line

I’ve seen the spin and win by Danny Sullivan in 1985.

Emerson Fittipaldi spin out Al Unser, Jr. in 1989.

Al Unser, Jr. in the wall after contact

Emerson court controversy in 1993 by drinking orange juice instead of milk.

Emmo and the juice

We were there for the open wheel split in 1996.

Buddy Lazier, 1996 winner, was a midpack runner before the split

We saw the rise to national fame of Indiana’s Tony Stewart, long before he touched anything with a roof and fenders.

Tony Stewart as reigning Indy Racing League Champion

Memorial Day was our holiday. ABC Wide World of Sports our ritual.

But NASCAR was what we did week in and week out. My most vivid memories are from the early 90s, when men like Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, and Davey Allison were at the height of their game.

Confession: I had a ten year old’s crush on Davey Allison. So when he died in the summer of 1993, I cried for days but it felt like months.

Davey Allison in 1992, battling for the championship

But my best memory is getting to see Darrell Waltrip’s car up close and personal. His sponsor was Western Auto and one of his cars that had been wrecked too hard to be repaired enough to race was on tour and it came to our Western Auto store.

I remember being so excited and I remember my dad being excited to see inside the car and under the hood. He’s way more mechanical than I am.

That’s me!
Me again!

But what excited me most was that I was with my dad. My dad was my hero and still is, really. He’s bent by arthritis and disease, but not broken. He never will be because he’s my dad.

Treasure Chest Thursday: Ration Books 

Since my grandmother was the last of her siblings to marry, she got all of her parents’ things and that’s how I ended up with them. But a ration book from the Second World War was not what I could have thought of finding. I ended up with three different sets of ration books: my great-grandparents and their youngest son, Uncle Frank.

the front of my great-grandfather’s ration book

Ration books were filled with stamps used to purchase certain goods such as sugar, processed foods, meats, flour, shoes, clothing, gas, coffee, and even tires. This was meant to ensure that everyone had a fair chance to obtain the necessities, keep rich folks from buying and hoarding, and keep people from being ripped off by prices being raised to meet high demand, as well as preventing a black market of goods.

Ration Stamps

My great-grandparents tried to be self-sufficient so the ration books look almost unused. Mostly they bought sugar and flour and splurged on clothing to help their daughters get married. They didn’t do without.

Ration books are a glimpse into a past I know I can scarcely imagine. I’m spoiled by being able to go to the store and buy what I need, however much I need of it. I can’t imagine being limited by stamps or signs proclaiming limits on how much I can buy.

But I think, even if they complained, they believed the sacrifices worth it to support the boys overseas.