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Yalobusha Historical Society Minutes – Sep. 18, 2008

The Yalobusha Historical Society held its September18 meeting in its headquarters, the former Presbyterian Church in Coffeeville. There were 40 members and guests present, representing five counties.

  Vice-president John Moorman spoke the opening prayer, then welcomed everyone, especially the featured speaker, Barron Caulfield, his wife, Elizabeth, his mother, Dessie Caulfield. Other visitors were: Mary Lucia Holloway, (actually a life member) Rev. Harold Spraberry and  Rina McMillan Chaney. We are always honored to have visitors, and welcome any and everyone to our meetings. Some of the guests joined the Society, and we are happy to have them as members.

  John told about recent visitors to our library, JoEllen Sharpe and her sister, of Tunica. They are researching the Benoist family line and found lots of useful information, John said. He commented on the sparkling clean sanctuary of our building, and thanked Tom and Alma Moorman for polishing the woodwork and other cleaning, assisted by a cleaning lady.

  Program Chairman Opal Wright stated that the October 16 program will be brought by Ranger Sam Marter, a biologist with the Corps of Engineers. He will speak on the state of the bobwhite quail population in the state, and the efforts to bring the numbers up. Also, Tom Moorman will once again have his “Harvest Display,” a dazzling collection of Nature’s abundances of nuts, leaves, wildflowers, fruit etc.  something you will have to see to believe. He invites others to bring flowers, gourds, unusual fruit – anything from Nature’s wonderland – to add to the display. Again, the public is invited.

  Opal then introduced the speaker, Barron Caulfield, his wife, Elizabeth, and his mother, Dessie Caulfield, all of Water Valley.  Barron and his wife have three children: Barry, Lloyd and Bethany C. Hembree. Barron,  a native of Water Valley, has been Executive Director of the Water Valley Housing Authority for 21 years. Prior to that, he was employed with the Kellwood Company for 13 years. He is also a tree farmer and has a small herd of cattle.

  Barron earned a B. S. in Engineering and an M.B.A. in Management from Ole Miss. He is active in the Presbyterian Church and the Lions Club.  

   The subject of Barron’s program was “That OTHER Grandfather.” Before beginning his story, he thanked the Society for inviting him, and for its work in honoring and preserving history.

  Barron spoke of his fond memories of Coffeeville, especially  visiting Mr. Fancher at The Bank of Coffeeville  with his father, also a banker, and meeting Miss Janie Riddick. (I believe her mother, Mrs. Eleanor, worked there, too) He also recalling hearing his father-in-law introduce “Red” Riddick as a war hero, for his exemplary service in World War 2. (Red will do a program for us next Spring) Then, there were the trips to the Coffeeville to the ‘picture show’, when Water Valley didn’t have a movie  theater.

  Barron said that he didn’t attempt to do a complete genealogy of his family, but settled on his EIGHT great-great-grandfathers and heir wives. He found information of five of them, and learned that three of his  g-g-grandfathers  served in the Civil War, two of whom were killed.   He credited Don Sides’ documentation of he Battle of Coffeeville for some of the information he sought on his CW ancestors.

   Barron first gave a sketch of his mother’s father, Rev. Oliver Anderson, who served as minister in the First Presbyterian Church in Water Valley from 1927 until 1934. He then lived in Louisiana, and Barron remembers visiting him and his wife there. They moved back to Water Valley upon his retirement in 1962, and lived there until his death in 1980.

  The next ancestor profiled was his g-g-grandfather Edward D. Frost, who came to the Valley from VT, by way of Rome, GA to help survey the line for the Miss. Central Railroad in 1857. He then worked for the RR, and rose to the position of General Superintendent, after the Civil War was over. Although he was not a soldier, he was a Southern sympathizer, and was captured and held as a POW in Ohio. He died in 1888, but Barron said he feels as if he really knew him, since a huge portrait of him and his wife hung on the wall in his parents’ living room. Edward Frost’s report on the condition of the RR can be found in the big Yalobusha History book.

  Edward Frost’s daughter, Alice, married Barron Leland, Barron’s great-grandfather who came to the Valley from Pontotoc, having served in the Civil War. (His father was William Washington Leland)  He was a merchant in business with Daniel Wagner before establishing his own dry goods store. He was active in the Church, serving as an elder, and was also Mayor of Water Valley for a time. His daughter, Helen,  married Albert Douglas Caulfied, , the best-known of his grands.

  Albert Douglas began a Railroad career in Louisiana in 1891, moved to Water Valley in 1903, and later, married Helen Leland. He rose through the ranks and became Supt. of the MS Division of the Illinois Central Railroad. He lived in the Valley until his death in 1940.  

  Barron then moved on to the story of “That Other Grandfather.” As a youth, he heard his grandfather Anderson tell many stories about HIS grandfather,  Captain Jacob Culbertson, an artillery man in the Civil War, who never lived in this area but had spent time at camps in  North MS, and spent only one night in Coffeeville, Dec. 5, 1862, y after the Battle of Coffeeville. Barron’s grandfather had two documents signed by Presidents Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce. One was Jacob’s commission to 2nd Lieutenant after graduating from West Point, and the other was a commission to 1st Lieutenant.  

  Years passed, and Barron didn’t learn anything else about Jacob Culbertson. Then a cousin sent him copies of letters that Jacob had written to his wife, Caroline,  before and during the Civil War.  One was written from Camp on Tippah,  (River) in NE MS, about ten days before the Battle of Coffeeville.  The mail was picked up by a Mr. Childress, who evidently traveled back and forth from camps to other areas. Jacob always began  his letters in various endearing terms: ‘My wife Liney,’ ‘Lina,’ ‘My Dear’ and ‘My Pet.’ In one letter, he wrote ‘My Naughty Pet,’  evidently because she had not been writing him regularly.

  This information prompted Barron to learn more about Jacob Culbertson, so he read the account of the Battle of Coffeeville in the Yalobusha History Book, and then consulted Don Sides’ website. He ended up with a lot of information, some of which he shared with the Society. Jacob Culbertson was born on a strawberry farm in KY, graduated 7th in his class in 1850 from the Military Academy at West Point He served with the Federals for a number of years, and many of his letters to his wife were written during that time. He headed an artillery battery during  the Civil War. His unit spent the night before the Battle  in a camp south of Water Valley, probably near the O’Tuckalofa Creek. He was at Springdale, south of Oxford the night before that. The night following the Battle was spent near the battle site, the only time he was in Coffeeville.  Barron got much of his information from Gen. Loyd Tilghman’s report on the engagement.

  Barron spoke of  Capt. Jacob’s capture at the fall of Fort Donelson in TN, and imprisonment in Ohio  for a time. He was exchanged at Vicksburg.

  During the War, Jacob moved his family to the Jackson, MS area and were in Madison County on the 1880 Census. He is believed to have been buried in 1884 on his farm, “Strawberry Hill,” named after his home in KY. His wife and most of his family are buried in Cedar Lawn Cemetery in Jackson.

  Barron’s excellent program covered many aspects of many of his grandfathers  and their families, and he delivered it in a most interesting manner, making it seem that he personally knew some of them. The Society is deeply grateful to him for sharing his family history with us, and we invite him and his family back any time.   


ATTENDING: (other than those previously mentioned) James and Polly Simpson, Ruth F. Richmond, Pauline L. Hughes, Opal Wright, Peggy Boyett, Betty R. Miller, Tom and Alma Moorman, Carl and Mae Vick, Helen Jones, Harold and Lena Jones, John Moorman,  Frances Stewart, Jimmie and Francine Pinnix, Thelma Roberts, Ray Cox, Sidney and Rachel Bolick, Billy Gene and Josephine Davis, Joe Moorman, Joy Herron, Joy Tippit, Dorothy St. John, Sue Fly, Alice G. Landreth, Dot Criss,  Sarah H. Williams and James Person.

Betty R. Miller


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