The Yalobusha Historical Society held its regular monthly meeting Feb. 19 in its headquarters, the Presbyterian Church in Coffeeville. There were 34 members and guests present, representing five counties.
Program Chairman Opal Wright introduced the speaker, Sarah Margaret Hallum of Calhoun City. Sarah is a retired educator, an avid genealogist and historian. She is a former President of the Mississippi Historical and Genealogical Society, a member of the DAR and the Calhoun County Historical Society. She and her husband, Tommy, are involved in many community and civic activities.
Sarah’s subject was “Genealogy Tidbits,” gleaned from a collection of anecdotes, funny names, unusualand other odd or amusing little stories that have added a dash of humor to the sometimes-tedious task of searching through census rolls, deeds, wills, cemeteries and even church records. Sarah said that she was once asked to do a 15-minute program on genealogy. She remarked to Tommy that there was no way she could spend ONLY 15 minutes on that subject, so would just tell some of the unusual tidbits of her work as a genealogist, and just let it be entertaining, if not educational. She said Tommy shot back “Well, dear, that’s just fine – I’d rather be entertained than educated ANY TIME!” And that is just what she did at this meeting – entertain!
One of the stories Sarah Margaret told was the phrase “ten acres and a whiskey still” helped her document her family history. She had traced her family back to a certain point, but there was one connection , a man named Daniel, I believe, she could not prove. The information she had obtained suggested that Daniel’s father was also named Daniel. Finally, she discovered the will of the older Daniel, and found the proof she needed. He willed his each of his children a large amount of land, except for DANIEL, who only received TNEN ACRES AND A WHISKEY STILL. Sarah had proof that her Daniel, the younger one, really did own ten acres and a whiskey still, so she had her proof that he was the son of the older Daniel.
Sarah spoke of the unusual names she had seen on Census Rolls or in cemeteries, such as Alberta Peach, Abel Cain, a surgeon named Cleaver, and a burial ground called Little Hope Cemetery. A couple of other stories involved Census Rolls, as well. One was about a lady who became extremely upset when she learned that one of her grandmothers was referred to as a ‘spinster.’ She said she knew beyond doubt that her ancestor was happily married to the same man for years. She was pleased to learn that the word spinster in that case referred to the lady’s OCCUPATION! Another lady hid her shame for many years, after seeing one of her grandmothers listed as ‘consort’ to the head of the household. She mistakenly believed that a consort was the same as a concubine, and was very happy to finally learn that consort simply meant ‘spouse.’
Sarah told about the Census worker who only turned in a few pages on a huge county in GA, which should have taken many pages to be complete. It was all explained at the end of the pages, however. The worker had written “My horse threw me off and into a creek, and all the paperwork got wet, but I’m not about to go back and do all that work again.!!”
Another story involved a little 5-year old boy who was MAILED to another state. He rode along with the mail carrier from one Post Office to another, until he was picked up by relatives at the final stop. (She didn’t say how much it cost!)
Sarah Margaret spoke of many odd tombstone inscriptions, some funny, and some that make you wonder. Like the man whose tombstone reads “Gone to meet my mother-in-law.” Some inscriptions are lengthy, some only a few words. The tombstone of one of America’s most famous men, President Thomas Jefferson, reveals nothing of his years as President or his many accomplishments. It simply says “Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia.”
Sarah Margaret said that some of the tidbits she has unearthed are too embarrassing to relate, but We are grateful to her for sharing the ones that were not embarrassing. We look forward to more stories in the future. The Society is very appreciative of Sarah Margaret’s sharing these very interesting tidbits, and look forward to another of her good programs in the future.
ATTENDING: Jimmie and Francine Pinnix, Lawrence and Bettie Litten, Betty R. Miller, Sarah Margaret Hallum, Joy Herron, Opal Wright, Mary Bramlett, Tom and Alma Moorman, Janie H. Womble, Martha Short, Bill Adams, Hugh Bill and Alice McGuire, Ann Hudson, Sue Fly, Marge Clay, Julia Fernandez, Pauline Hughes, Ruth Richmond, Alice G. Landreth, James Person, Joe Moorman, Tom Cox, Ray Cox, Dave Hovey, Gilbert Sullivan, Helen Jones, Jim Cooper, Maurice Pittman, Sarah H. Williams and Pat Brooks.
Betty R. Miller