Tombstone Tuesday: Anderson Street

001My fourth great-grandfather Anderson Street was born 5 May 1805 in Georgia, son of Joseph Street and Lucinda Key. His grandfather, Samuel Street was a Revolutionary soldier from Virginia, and died in Georgia in 1811. About this time, Anderson moved to Lincoln County,
Tennessee with his parents. Soon afterwards, his father answered the call for soldiers in the War of 1812, and died in 1815. Anderson married about 1822 in Lincoln County. to Keziah (pronounced “Kezzy”) McBride.

On 9 September 1826 Anderson sold his 200 acres in Lincoln County to his brother John Waller Street, and moved to Hardeman County, and lived there about nine years. They moved to Tippah County, Mississippi not long after the Chickasaws signed the Treaty of Pontotoc on 22 May 1834. When he arrived in North Mississippi, he cleared his newly acquired land for farming and built a log house for his family. He did blacksmith work for his neighbors. When Tippah County was lawfully created in 1836, Anderson was elected a justice of the peace from his district, with brother-in-law Daniel McBride and close friend Worley Linville standing surety for him. Both of these men are also my ancestors. He helped survey the new lands and as the patents were granted to the settlers, he carried these patents to the land office in Pontotoc to be recorded. Anderson owned 960 acres northwest of the Antioch community and also owned 160 acres west of Tiplersville.

In the 1840s Anderson and Keziah were members of the Primitive Baptist Church of Christ at Ephesus. Unfortunately, the location of this church is no longer known.

I know that he owned six slaves as of 1860 and there is only one I know by name: Sanko.

When the Civil War began, he and his seven sons volunteered for the Confederate Army, serving the duration. Three of his sons were killed, the other four wounded. I have been told that Anderson was in the 34th Mississippi, but I have never found his military record. Family stories also say he was imprisoned during the war in New York, possibly Elmira, where he was fed solely rice to the point he never wanted to see any rice again.

After the war, he returned home, signed an oath of allegiance to the Government, and resumed his farming. His wife died shortly, on 14 January 1866, and was buried in Antioch cemetery. Later, he married Abigail Surrat, but little is known of this marriage.

In later years, he lived with his children. One day when he was going out the back door, he tripped over the family cat, fell and broke his hip. He never walked again. He died 11 November 1888, at the home of his son, Calvin, in Saulsbury, Tenn, and because of bad weather and poor roads, he is buried in the Martin Cemetery there.

Military Monday: Samuel Street, Part I

“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”

I have a British friend with whom I went to college. We both studied history and managed never to agree on just about anything. When it came to the American Revolution, my friend saw it much, much differently than I did. The above quote reminds me of our “discussions” on the subject. Everything, including history, depends greatly on our point of view.

Samuel William Street probably would not have thought himself much a part of history though he knew what he was doing mattered and mattered quite a bit.

He was born in 1737 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia to Anthony and Elizabeth Brockman Street. Spotsylvania County is now known as both the home for the Civil War battle of Fredericksburg and the home of Kunte Kinte from Alex Haley’s Roots. In fact, the Street land was directly adjacent to the land of John Waller, Kunte Kinte’s owner.

By 1758, he had married Lurana and thereafter started his own family. There were four children: William, Anthony, Joseph, and Frances. He bought 100 acres on the Plentiful branch of the Little Anna River from his father. In 1763, he sold the land and moved to Henry County.

Plentiful Creek on Little Anna River

6 March 1777. Samuel joins the 13th Virginia Regiment under Captain James Hook as a private. This regiment was part of Washington’s army and Samuel joins the army at Morristown, New Jersey.

June saw the arrival of the Marquis de Lafayette and with it, the French alliance.

Marquis de Lafayette, Washington’s adopted son

In July, the army marched to the Hudson River Valley. There they fortified their position for the protection of the northeast.

By September the army was in Pennsylvania for the battle of Brandywine Creek on the 11th.

Map of Battle of Brandywine

September 11th rose with a heavy fog, covering the British troops. Washington received contradictory reports about the British movements and continued to believe that the main force was moving to attack at Chadds Ford. At 5:30 AM the British and Hessian troops under General William Howe started to march east along the “Great Road” towards the American troops at the Brandywine Creek road crossing. The first shots of the battle took place at a tavern where Howe was driven back. He sent his troops down the road to take cover behind the stone walls on the Old Kennett Meetinghouse grounds. The battle was fought in the late morning around the meeting house while the pacifist Quakers continued to hold their midweek service. One of the Quakers later wrote, “While there was much noise and confusion without, all was quiet and peaceful within.”

William Howe

From the Meetinghouse grounds, the battle continued for three miles. Eventually Howe pushed the Americans back but not before suffering heavy losses himself. He appeared on the Americans’ right flank at around 2 PM. Washington tried to reposition his troops to meet the unexpected British threat to their right flank. Howe was slow to attack, which bought time for some of Washington’s men to go to high ground at Birmingham Meetinghouse, about a mile north of Chadds Ford. By 4 PM, the British attacked, both American divisions lost ground fast.

Old Kennett Meetinghouse

British fire forced retreat. At this point, slightly after 4 PM, Washington and Nathanael Greene arrived with reinforcements to try to hold off the British, who now occupied Meeting House Hill. These reinforcements stopped the pursuing British for nearly an hour but were eventually forced to retreat. The Americans were also forced to leave behind many of their cannons on Meeting House Hill because almost all of their artillery horses were killed.

Nation Makers by Howard Pyle depicts a scene from the Battle of Brandywine

At this point Lieutenant General Wilhelm von Knyphausen, leader of the Hessian troops, was on the east bank of the Brandywine and launched an attack against the weakened American center across Chadds Ford, breaking through the divisions commanded by Anthony Wayne and William Maxwell and forcing them to retreat and leave behind most of their cannon. Armstrong’s militia, never engaged in the fighting, also decided to retreat from their positions. Further north, Greene sent Brigadier General George Weedon’s troops to cover the road just outside the town of Dilworth to hold off the British long enough for the rest of the Continental Army to retreat. Darkness brought the British pursuit to a standstill, which then allowed Weedon’s force to retreat. The defeated Americans retreated to Chester where most of them arrived at midnight, with stragglers arriving until morning. The American retreat was well-organized largely due to the efforts of Marquis de Lafayette, who, although wounded, rallied the troops to himself.

Although Howe had defeated the American army, his lack of cavalry prevented its total destruction. Washington had committed a serious error in leaving his right flank wide open and nearly brought about his army’s annihilation had it not been for John Sullivan; William Alexander, Lord Stirling; and Adam Stephen’s divisions, which fought for time. Evening was approaching and, in spite of the early start Lord Charles Cornwallis had made in the flanking maneuver, most of the American army was able to escape. In his report to the Continental Congress detailing the battle, Washington stated: “despite the day’s misfortune, I am pleased to announce that most of my men are in good spirits and still have the courage to fight the enemy another day”.

British and American forces maneuvered around each other for the next several days with only a few encounters such as the Battle of Paoli on the night of September 20–21.

The Continental Congress abandoned Philadelphia. Military supplies were moved out of the city to Reading, Pennsylvania. On September 26, British forces marched into Philadelphia unopposed.

Yet another defeat. I cannot imagine how crippling that had to be for morale. I wonder if they considered the cause still worth fighting — and dying — for. There had to have been doubts. 

‘In 1814 We Took a Little Trip’: Joseph Street

Joseph Street was born probably in Henry County, Virginia in about 1775. He was the son of Samuel and Lurana Street. He moved with his parents to Oglethorpe County, Georgia where he married Nancy Lucinda Key about 1798.

In 1800, Joseph was living in Captain Stewart’s District in Oglethorpe County with his wife, Lucinda, and son, John Waller Street.

On 5 December 1809, Joseph bought 133 acres on the water of Sandy Creek from his father-in-law John Waller Key for $66.50.

The next year Joseph and his growing family moved to Lincoln County, Tennessee.

On 7 April 1814, he was granted 100 acres on the headwaters of Coldwater Creek in Lincoln County, Tennessee. The next month he bought 100 more on the west fork of the same creek.

Coldwater Creek on the Elk River.
Coldwater Creek on the Elk River.

On 10 November 1814, he was drafted into the First Tennessee Militia Regiment, serving under Captain Obadiah Waller. He was in Louisiana at the time of the battle of New Orleans in December, but seemed to be ill and in hospital, and was placed aboard the steamboat Vesuvius along with other sick and wounded to be transported to Natchez in the then Mississippi Territory. He died on board at Natchez before he could be taken off to hospital on 22 March 1815. Joseph was probably buried in an unmarked grave in Washington, Mississippi, outside Natchez.

New Orleans was probably the most needlessly fought battle in history. There was no CNN and 24 hour media coverage. There were no telephones, no Facebook or Twitter (#treatyofghent?). There weren’t even telegraphs or airplanes. They had ships. They had to wait for the peace envoys to return. So men still died and one of those was my fifth great-grandfather. So unnecessary.

"Battle of New Orleans. January 8th 1815." From John Abbott's Lives of the Presidents of the United States. Boston: B.B. Russell & Co., 1866.
“Battle of New Orleans. January 8th 1815.” From John Abbott’s Lives of the Presidents of the United States. Boston: B.B. Russell & Co., 1866.

I wonder what went through his brain, if he even had a coherent thought from the fever ravaging his body while he laid on board the Vesuvius. I wonder if he thought about leaving his eight children behind. The oldest, John Waller, was 15 and the youngest, Joseph Boston, was 3. He wasn’t that old, only about 40. Joseph had so much more living he could do but no life was left in him.

I wonder what Lucinda thought back home and when she finally realized the man she loved wasn’t coming back. She was left with those children all alone while she was only in her early thirties.

His father had died a year or so before and his estate was still being settled when Joseph died. His part of his father’s estate was handled by his brother-in-law Pierce Key.

An inventory was made in Lincoln County of Joseph’s estate on 11 December 1818 by administrators John Carithers and Lucinda Street.  The principal buyer was Lucinda Street (for reasons I fail to grasp, she had to buy her own stuff back). She purchased: one lot of odd books for two dollars; one pewter dish and six plates for three dollars; three chairs for $2.50; one flax wheel also for $2.50; one reel for $1.50; one chest and one churn for two dollars; one mattock, two axes, one hacksaw, two hoes, one iron wedge and one pair of drawing chairs for five dollars; one side saddle for a dollar; one bedstead and furniture for $11.25; one smoothing iron for fifty cents; and one shovel which she apparently got for free. She also bought four head of hogs for $8.56.

She spent a grand total of $39.81 buying her own things back. That much money in 1818 would be worth $737.22 today. Where on earth did she get that kind of money? She probably already had it, if you think about how much land they owned.But I cringe at the thought of her having to buy her own possessions back.

However, she didn’t live much longer. She died in 1821.

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.

Wednesday’s Child: Luther and Lucy Street

Tombstone for twins Luther Allen and Lucy Alice Street at Antioch Primitive Baptist Church cemetery outside Ripley, Mississippi
Tombstone for twins Luther Allen and Lucy Alice Street at Antioch Primitive Baptist Church cemetery outside Ripley, Mississippi

Mother Goose says that Wednesday’s child is full of woe, but how can you be full of woe when you barely lived at all?

One of 1895’s hottest days was August 10th. My great-great grandfather Joseph David Street paced the floor while his wife Minerva sweated and cried and pushed. Later that afternoon, she was finally (finally!) delivered of two babies, a boy and a girl. Luther Allen and Lucy Alice Street were the tenth and eleventh children born to this family. Their older sister Myrtle helped mom deliver them.

Minerva had bled a little more than usual. There was nothing to do but pray it stopped, which it did soon enough. The family’s prayers had been answered.

Or so they thought.

A day or two later, Minerva woke up drenched in sweat and having sharp pains in her stomach. After nine other births, she knew this wasn’t right at all. She must have wondered the rest of that night whether it was going to be too late for her. The hours before sunrise must have been agonizing.

It was too late for her. Minerva Alice Jamieson Street lingered for days, dying on August 16. She was only 37. After 19 years of marriage, Joseph was left alone with ten children, two of them newborns. Most men in his situation up and married again just to have help. But Joseph didn’t. He had a 17 year old daughter and a 19 year old daughter as well as several sons to help in the field. He would make it just fine, maybe a little lonelier than necessary, for the next twelve years.

Luther followed his mother to the grave four days later. Lucy died two days after that. Even in 1895, there were substitutes for mother’s milk, but most likely Luther and Lucy didn’t take to them. They could have been premature and their bodies weren’t developed enough to handle raw animal’s milk. They could have been lactose intolerant and the milk made them ill. Or they could have just been so underdeveloped they never stood a chance. Multiple births were also harder on both parent and child.

Some days I worry whether they choked, smothered, or starved to death. Infant mortality was high and life was hard. I know it was real and I know it wasn’t ever anyone’s fault or done on purpose, but it hurts all the same. I shed real tears for people I never knew. Maybe that makes me soft or crazy, I don’t know. They’re my family, however far back. I’m sure even after nine other children, Luther and Lucy would have been loved. I grieve for the family who just lost a wife and mother. I grieve for the lost potential and memories and lives never lived.

Tombstone Tuesday: Keziah McBride Street

Keziah McBride Street's tombstone in Antioch Primitive Baptist Church cemetery outside Ripley, Mississippi
Keziah McBride Street’s tombstone in Antioch Primitive Baptist Church cemetery outside Ripley, Mississippi

Keziah was my fourth great-grandmother and the ancestor I seem to sympathize with the most. She saw her husband, seven sons, and oldest grandson off to the Civil War. I’ve been out to her home place where she helplessly waited and waited for her boys to come home. Soldiers would straggle wearily towards home and from one spot in the yard you can see at least three quarters of a mile down the road and around a wide bend. I can only imagine Keziah dashing out to that spot at every noise, only to find a cousin, a nephew, or even the neighbor’s boy. I’m sure she was beyond pleased that they were safe, but they weren’t her boys. It wasn’t the same. Three of her sons never came home and she died, they say, of a broken heart the next year.

On this day: December 6

Thanks to the very handy addition to the Ancestry app, I have an easier way of keeping track of anniversaries among the three major trees I research. It’s like what Facebook does with birthdays — makes you seem really awesome for not forgetting.

Today would have been my great uncle Frank’s 84th birthday. Looking back, I realize how cool he really was. He also thought he was cool, which could grate on you at times. I guess that’s what family does.

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James Franklin Street was born 6 December 1930 in the Antioch community outside Ripley, Mississippi, to Emmett Columbus Street and Leona Elizabeth Linville. He was the last of six, but the only boy. He had a childhood fascination with motors and speed.

One of my favorite stories about his childhood goes like this:

My great-grandfather sent Frank to the garage up the road where the family Chevrolet was being worked on, just to see how close the car was to being ready and to get the bill. Frank gets the information and the mechanic turns and goes back inside. Now, my uncle was ten years old at this point and really did know better, but I guess he couldn’t help himself. With the mechanic inside and not paying attention, he clambered inside the car and pretended he was driving. Haven’t we all done that at one point? He was pushing hard on the gas pedal, imagining how fast that car could go. Something else must have happened because suddenly there was a loud noise and a crash on the floor. The car had thrown a rod, causing the mechanic more work and my great-grandfather more money. My great-grandfather was as mad as anyone had ever seen when he found out what happened. I can’t say I blame him. I would be mad too.

Luckily, his dad got over it and Frank got to grow up.

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That’s teenage Frank with his parents. He loved having his picture taken.

Two of his brothers in law, Fred Malatesta and Eugene Webb, were Air Force pilots during WWII. I’m sure they regaled teenage Frank with stories from their service. There were also family friends who had their own planes, landing them in a field in the middle of town with everyone watching. Frank became obsessed with planes.

Frank graduated from Mississippi State College (now Mississippi State University) with a business degree. There he was the epitome of cool, taking selfies before selfies were a thing.

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No, really, he was smart and popular because of his good looks (though we won’t discuss the Errol Flynn stage) and outgoing personality.

He married Margaret Schuchart from Pennsylvania and had two sons, Paul and David. They moved around often because of his Air Force commitments but he saw more of the world than any of the family ever had.

When the conflict with Korea loomed on the horizon, Lieutenant Street was ready. He served with distinction in both Korea and Vietnam during 1965 becoming Captain Frank Street before long. He never discussed his military career with anyone much, though we were all proud. I know he got out of Vietnam a lot better off than some guys did because he was a fighter pilot. But it had to be hard.

In civilian life he was a commercial pilot for American Airlines until his retirement in 1990.

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By the time I knew him he looked more like this, pictured here in 1997 with his sisters, Lottie and Lucy.

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  He passed away 4 March 2006 at his home in Crystal Lake, Illinois at the age of 75.

Happy Birthday, Uncle Frank!

Shopping Saturday: E.C. Street and his Sewing Machine

One hot day this summer, I found some motivation and went to the library to do newspaper research. The dog days of summer is an appropriate name for that time of year. I just wanted to do nothing.

While rolling through microfilm of Southern Sentinels from the 1940s (I think) looking for an obituary that I never did find, I came across an advertisement for my great-grandfather’s store. I have to admit I did a genealogy no-no and didn’t document my source. I didn’t pay attention at all to when this ad ran because it was a shock to even find it.

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I knew that he owned several businesses, including those his children ran, but had never really known exactly what type of business he operated himself.

Singer sewing machines? I wonder who demonstrated them.

My grandmother Hazel? She was probably running her ice cream parlor at this point.

Aunt Lois? She might have also been running her beauty shop at this time.

Aunt Lottie? Would the inaugural Miss Ripley do something so common as sewing?

Aunt Lucy? As long as it’s before her marriage to Uncle Eugene in 1940.

Aunt Polly?

My great-grandmother? She was probably at home, working.

Uncle Frank? Certainly not! He would have been mortified at the thought of doing such a girly thing. Besides, he was probably too young at this time.

I never knew, so I never thought to ask. Now there’s no one left to ask. I don’t even know the name of the store.

It wasn’t until I began writing this blog that I realized how much I didn’t know. Genealogy is not for the dumb, the lazy, or the faint of heart.

Sunday’s Obituary: William Calvin Street

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An unwanted legacy in my family is that of mental illness and suicide. The obituaries no longer explicitly state that a family member has killed themselves but we know when it happens. It’s almost an open secret. I know all families have similar experiences, but it just seems to strike our family more. It does not discriminate between sex, age, or social status.

William Calvin Street was born 18 December 1897 in the Antioch community outside Ripley, Mississippi to James Anner George Street and Julia Ann Weatherly. His life seemed ordinary and as happy as one scratching a living from the earth could be. No family was immune from devastating loss and sadness and Calvin’s family was no exception. James and Julia lost two of their children around two years of age, Elmer in 1893 and Tolbert in 1906. Two other sons, Luther and Monroe, also committed suicide within months of each other in 1950.

No one really knows why Calvin decided to end his life; they can only make suppositions. All we know, as stated in the obituary, “It is said that some physical disability or defect had caused Mr. Street to become despondent to the point of taking his own life.” What could possibly have gone wrong with a twenty year old young man? No one knows or no one’s talking.

I hope Calvin found a measure of peace.

On this day: October 16

scan0021On this day in 1888, my great-grandfather Emmett Columbus Street was born on his father’s farm in the Antioch community, five miles outside of Ripley, Mississippi. He’s pictured here in 1944, holding his first grandson, Richard Hawley.  I know he doesn’t look too happy, but he was.  Honestly. That frown was a permanent fixture on his face.

Emmett was the seventh child and fifth son of Joseph David Street and Minerva Alice Jamieson.  In a day of arranged marriages, the relationship between Joe and Alice, as they were known, was, by all accounts, an adoring one. So when she died in 1895, after nineteen years of marriage, Joe didn’t immediately remarry, as men with young children were so apt to do.  It took him twelve years to do so.

Emmett was not without guidance, however.  He was surrounded by family, but the death of his mother taught him a cruel lesson. While life could be beautiful and filled with love, it was also harsh and unforgiving. You had to be self-reliant because there may not always be someone around to help you.

Other family lessons were imprinted on him by his father, mostly a love of books and education. Emmett managed more schooling than most of his ancestors, but all of them could read and write, even if they were self-taught.  They knew that educated people, then as now, had advantages in society that the illiterate did not. So that’s how Emmett gained his frown.  He ruined his eyes while reading his books.

Emmett in 1913, shortly before his wedding
Emmett in 1913, shortly before his wedding

On 9 November 1913, he married Leona Elizabeth Linville, a nearby neighbor in Antioch. They moved to her brother William’s farm in Ruleville, where Emmett taught school for a year and farmed for another year. After that, they came back home, with their new addition, my grandmother Hazel, in tow.  They settled on five acres full of elm trees and a stream running through it in west Ripley, so their growing family could go to school and get that valued education. Their farm became largely self-sustaining with cows, his beloved chickens, and a large garden to grow the fresh vegetables to be stored for winter.

Emmett, holding grandson Ernest Webb's hand, feeding his beloved chickens
Emmett, holding grandson Ernest Webb’s hand, feeding his beloved chickens

Emmett, along with his brothers James and Joseph, owned several businesses in town. His skill enabled his children to know only of the Depression from others.  Emmett was able to install a tennis court on his property, more or less equivalent to having an in-ground pool today.

The most that was expected for daughters was to marry well and have babies, but Emmett’s experience showed him that kind of life was dangerous, so he saw to it that his daughters finished high school and acquired a skill to be self-supporting. My grandmother ran an ice cream parlor and my great-aunt Lois ran a beauty shop on the town square, both buildings owned by their father.

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Emmett and Leona’s tombstone in Antioch Primitive Baptist Church cemetery

Emmett died at home of a heart attack on 8 November 1947, the day before his 34th wedding anniversary. But as it says on his tombstone, the legacy of Emmett Columbus Street lives on in his descendants.  All of us are book lovers and college graduates. Among us are doctors, lawyers, architects, and engineers. We all have the furrowed brow and the large ears, the self-reliant streak that would make Thoreau proud, an intellectual curiosity that sometimes gets the best of us. But we are successful and of that, he would be proud.

Happy Birthday, Papa Emmett!