Forgotten Cemeteries – Shanks and Liberty Hill

During my document gathering phase in 2014, I found the index listing and ordered the death certificates for my 2nd great grandparents on my EDWARDS line.  While quickly reviewing their death certificates (I was supposed to be focused on getting ready for my little one’s arrival), I noticed that the cemeteries listed were ones that I did not recognize.  They were listed as Shanks Cemetery and Liberty Hill Cemetery.  I went to Find A Grave and searched all the cemeteries in Clarke County, MS and could not find them listed.  I also googled the names and still found nothing.  I started asking around and no one could tell me where these cemeteries are located. My mom got on the phone and asked around and people said they remembered one of the cemeteries but couldn’t quite tell us how to get there.  There was quite a stir.  Several people became interested and wanted to locate them as well.  When it seemed as though no one would be able to help me locate the cemeteries, I resolved that I was going to have to research the land records somehow to see if I could pin point them myself.  Researching the land records would require a trip home to Mississippi.  So, until I was able to make the trip home, I had planned to try to research through census and death records.

That was my plan until finally, earlier in 2015 I received a call from my mom saying that our cousin had spoken to an older gentleman who could take us to the cemeteries. They were in the woods and not easily accessed by car.  We would need 4×4 wheel drive.  In fact, he says that there are three cemeteries in those woods.  I was so excited!!!  Of course now I can’t just jump in the car and drive down for a weekend trip because I have a little one.  But I was making plans to get there since I was told this good news!

I finally got to go home for Thanksgiving 2015 and we met with the gentleman to find one of the cemeteries.  I’ll tell you more about what I have found when visiting in a later post.  Just know that I later found out that this cemetery was not the one I was looking for.   Since we would possibly need 4 wheelers to access the other cemeteries and I had my little one in the truck, I only got to visit the one.

Before going, I did put together a research plan, but since returning, I realize I need to add more to it.  There are more African American cemeteries in those woods than I thought.  The elders of the community named two more, bringing the count to five.  Five forgotten cemeteries.  My heart has sunk.  Most of my ancestors on my mom’s side lived back there.  The question that has been bouncing around in my head since that trip is: What happened to the communityand why did they abandon the area leaving their loved ones to be overtaken in an unkept resting place?  I guess I have to expand my research plan to find out.

If you have some tips on researching a cemetery and unearthing the community that surrounded them without being physically there, please share them in the comments section.  

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52 Ancestors #9: Nancy CARR PRUITT – Is she really a Creek Indian?

Nancy CARR PRUITT is my paternal great grandmother.  She the wife of Henry Bristol PRUITT and is the mother to my grandfather, Samuel Wilson PRUITT.  I will just say that I don’t know as much as I would like to know about her.  I was able to obtain her death certificate1, thanks to the work of the Rankin County Historical Society in Rankin County, Mississippi and their documentation of the cemeteries there2.  I was excited to find her death certificate, because it was one of the first ones that I was able to find during my first research trip to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.  When reviewing the document, it seemed to be riddled with a lot of ‘I don’t knows’, but that could have just been my frustration making those words more noticeable on the paper.  Either way, it didn’t give me very much new information to go on.

I did find her on the census the 19103 and 19204 census with Grandpa Britt and their children, but I have yet to find her in the other census years.  The thing that has lingered in the back of my mind is a question of her really being a Black Creek Indian.  That is really the only thing that my family members remember being told about her, other than that she was from Alabama.  I know, I know!  Everyone says that they have Indian in their family and yes, I have read Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr’s article on “Why most black people aren’t “part Indian,” despite family lore.”   But I don’t want to count the Indian out just yet.  It is something that I want to research, but haven’t gotten enough information on her to even know where to start.  It would definitely help to have some documented evidence to corroborate family stories. In the meantime, I will work on trying to get all the information I can find about her during the period of 1870 – 1943.

This is my ninth post as a part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, created by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small.

Footnotes:

1. Mississippi State Board of Health, death certificate 4442 (1943), Nancy Pruitt; Death Certificates and Indexes; Mississippi Department of Archives & History, Jackson.

2. Rankin County Historical Society, Rankin County, Mississippi Cemetery Records, 1824-1980 (Brandon,MS: Rankin County Historical Society, 1981), 120.

3. 1910 U.S. census, Clarke County, Mississippi, population schedule, Enterprise, p. 3, dwelling 31, family 33, Nancy Pruitt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: 2014); citing Family History Library microfilm: 1374749

4. 1920 U.S. census, Clarke County, Mississippi, population schedule, Enterprise, p. 6, dwelling 55, family 58, Nancy Pruitt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: 2014); citing Family History Library microfilm: 2340876.

© 2014 Amy L. Cole and Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey. All rights reserved.

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Cite This Page:
Amy L Cole, “52 Ancestors #9: Nancy CARR PRUITT – Is she really a Creek Indian?,” Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey, 29 April 2014 (https://tracingamy.wordpress.com: [access date]).

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52 Ancestors #8: Henry Bristol PRUITT

Henry Bristol PRUITT, Grandpa Britt as his known by the family, is my paternal great grandfather and the father to my grandfather, Samuel Wilson PRUITT. No one seems to know much about him.  My sister started researching a few years back but didn’t find a lot of information for him either. So far, we have found him on the 19101 and 19202 census of Clarke County, MS. I may have found him in the 1930 census3, but not quite sure its him because he is not living with his wife and children. My sister has shared her research so far, so I am using the tree that she built as a start, but other than what she knows, here is the rest that I have to go on.

  • He is possibly from Alabama and later lived in Jasper County, MS
  • He married Nancy CARR, who is said to be part Creek Indian and also from Alabama. They most likely married in Jasper County, because that is where their oldest son Lafayette was born.4
  • They might have separated or divorced at some point. No one knows when, but I think the 1930 census5 might be the clue I need, if it is him that I found.
  • His trade, outside of farming, was weaving baskets and seat bottoms.6
  • He died near Jackson, MS maybe around 1953 and is buried in Mount Olive Cemetery in Ranking County, MS. Grandma Nancy is also buried there7.
  • We believe they had a total of 9 children together: Bertha, Lafayette, Mary, Ethel, Thomas James, Bessie (think she is listed as Chastana on the census), Samuel Wilson, and Lola8.

Not knowing exactly when he died and with no Mississippi death record index accessible past 1943, I decided to take a chance to see if there was a death certificate on file for him. I filled in what I knew which was his name, the county that I thought he died in and the year. I was quite disappointed when I received the death certificate in the mail. It was for a Henry Prewett9 sure enough, but it was definitely not my Henry Pruitt because this death certificate makes him born around the same time as his oldest son. So now, I definitely need to gather more information.

I will have to try again to research his children. I don’t have much information on them either, but I am sure something will turn up soon. I may have to accept the fact that my research on this line may really require me to visit home and do more research on-site versus on-line.

This is my eighth post as a part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, created by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small.

Footnotes:

1. 1910 U.S. census, Clarke County, Mississippi, population schedule, Enterprise, p. 3, dwelling 31, family 33, Henry Pruitt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: 2014); citing Family History Library microfilm: 1374749

2. 1920 U.S. census, Clarke County, Mississippi, population schedule, Enterprise, p. 6, dwelling 55, family 58, Henry B Pruitt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: 2014); citing Family History Library microfilm: 2340876.

3. 1930 U.S. census, Clarke County, Mississippi, population schedule, Enterprise, p. 13, dwelling 121, family 122, Britt Pruitt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration, 1920; Roll T625_2070.

4. United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917 – 1918, images, Ancestry.com, card for Lafayette Pruitt, serial no. 606, Registration Leake County, MS.

5. 1930 U.S. census, Clarke Co., Mississippi, pop.sch., p.13, dwell. 121, fam. 122, Britt Pruitt.

6. Clifton Pruitt, Pachuta, MS, interview by Amy Pruitt Cole 16 March 2013; audio privately held by interviewer, Georgia, 2014.

7. State of Mississippi, death certificate 4442 (1943), Nancy Pruitt; Death Certificates and Indexes; Mississippi Department of Archives & History, Jackson.

8. Evelyn Pruitt Payton, “Complete Genealogy Report for Henry Bristol Pruitt,” p.3; report Georgia, 12 August 2007; digital held by Amy Pruitt Cole.

9. State of Mississippi, death certificate 4824 (1953), Henry Prewett; Vital Records, Jackson.

© 2014 Amy L. Cole and Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey. All rights reserved.

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Cite This Page:
Amy L Cole, “52 Ancestors #8: Finding Henry Bristol PRUITT,” Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey, 22 April 2014 (https://tracingamy.wordpress.com: [access date]).

Please do not copy without attribution and link back to this page.
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52 Ancestors #7: 103 Years of Life: Samuel Wilson Pruitt (1900 – 2004)

Samuel Wilson Pruitt

Samuel Wilson Pruitt
1900 – 2004

My paternal grandfather, Rev. Samuel Wilson PRUITT (or Papa as he is known to the family) passed away just short of his 104th birthday, on February 12, 20041.  I often wonder about all the things that he might have witnessed, experienced, or was indirectly affected by during his lifetime.   So I have decided to take a stab at listing some of the events that occurred during his 103 years on Earth.

Papa was born to Henry Bristol PRUITT and Nancy CARR PRUITT in Jasper County, MS on February 22, 19002, just 35 years after the abolishment of slavery.  At that time, President William McKinley was serving his second term in office, but President Theodore Roosevelt would soon take office.  During the 103 years, there were 19 people to serve as President of the United States and 24 people to serve as Governor of Mississippi.

World War I (1914 – 1919) – I found draft cards for him3 and his brothers; however his brother, Lafayette Pruitt, did go on to serve in the Army during WWI4.

The Great Depression (1929 – 1939)

World War II (1939 – 1945) during which his son, J. W. Pruitt served in the Army5.

Korean War (1950 – 1962) – two of his son’s served in the Army during this time – Clifton Pruitt in Alaska6 and my father, Lee Roy Pruitt in Korea7.

The Vietnam War (1963 – 1989)

He endured the “Jim Crow” Era (1880s – 1960s) and the Civil Rights Movement (1954 – 1968), which led to The Voting Rights Act of 1965 being signed into legislation and finally granting him the right to vote in his own country at the age of 65.  A right that most people today have enjoyed since the age of 18 and have taken for granted.

The Persian Gulf War (1990 – 1992)

The beginning of a new millennium (2000)

September 11, 2001 attacks & War on Terror (beginning in 2001)

After two marriages (Louella DUKES & Betty Louise JACKSON), 12 children (including 2 step-children), 29 grandchildren, 48 great grandchildren and 16 great great grandchildren8, I would say that Papa lived a full life.  He may not have enjoyed many of the luxuries that some have, but I believe he was happy just the same.

This is my seventh post as a part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, created by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small.

Footnotes:

1. Mississippi State Department of Health, death certificate 123-04-005576 (2004), Samuel Wilson Pruitt; Vital Records, Jackson.

2. United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917 – 1918, digital images. Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com: accessed 14 April 2014), card for Wilson Pruitt, serial no. 1121, Registration Clarke County, Mississippi; Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

3. United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917 – 1918, images, Ancestry.com, card for Wilson Pruitt, serial no. 1121, Registration Clarke County, MS.

4. Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 14 April 2014), memorial page for Lafayette Pruitt (1890–1959), Find A Grave Memorial no. 3,167,532, citing Memphis National Cemetery, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee; the accompanying photograph by Family Hunter is materially informative.

5. East Galilee Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery (Jasper County, Mississippi; 232 County Road 1828, Rose Hill, MS 39356), J W Pruitt marker, photograph taken by Amy L Cole, 10 March 2013.

6. Clifton Pruitt, Pachuta, MS, interview by Amy Pruitt Cole 16 March 2013; audio privately held by interviewer, Georgia, 2014.

7. Lee Roy Pruitt, phone interview, interview by Amy Pruitt Cole 06 October 2013; audio privately held by interviewer, Georgia, 2014.

8. Samuel Wilson Pruitt funeral program, 2004. privately held by Amy (Pruitt) Cole, Georgia.

© 2014 Amy L. Cole and Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey. All rights reserved.

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Cite This Page:
Amy L Cole, “52 Ancestors #7: 103 Years of Life: Samuel Wilson Pruitt (1900 – 2004),” Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey, 14 April 2014 (https://tracingamy.wordpress.com: [access date]).

Please do not copy without attribution and link back to this page.
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Finding Henry Stokes: Clarke County Marriage Records 1865 – 1909

I have spent the last month going through five roles of microfilm that I have rented from the Family History Library trying to find any of my relatives that were married between 1865 – 1909 in Clarke County, MS.  The records were segregated at that time, so I was specifically looking at the microfilm of the books labeled “Freedman Marriage Record, Colored”. Since I am focused on the STOKES line, I did find the marriage records for almost all of Grandpa Henry’s children and also the marriage records for several of Grandpa Henry’s siblings. But I could not find his marriage record nor could I find the marriage record for his father, Taylor STOKES.

Although I could not find his marriage record, while going through page by page on several of the rolls, I began to notice that a lot of the records were recorded in the book from little slips of paper. Most looked like a note from the person who performed the ceremony or either the nearby merchant asking the clerk to send back the marriage license. Most of the notes had the date, the names of those being married and the assurance that they were both of the appropriate age.

Seeing this helped answer a question I have had since 2012 when I found the marriage record for Grandpa John STERLING to Grandma Bessie STOKES. The record had the ages 21 and 18 respectively. I incorrectly assumed that the clerk was listing their ages and thought that my great grandparents had fudged the truth since they would have been older at the time. After seeing those notes, I realize that the law at that time may have been that the male must be at least 21 years old and the female 18 years old in order to marry without parental consent (I have yet to find it). Since the notes didn’t have their actual ages, I don’t know how the clerk could really confirm that they were of age.

Having to go through the microfilm because I didn’t find what I was looking for in the index has definitely helped me understand the records a bit better. I now understand how most of them were recorded and the what information I can possibly use from them in my research. Still bombed that I haven’t found Grandpa Henry’s record. The search continues!