Long Ago Student Helped Provide Link To Browers
By W. P. Sissell
As I grew up—out on the mudline—I never realized it but almost all the cousins that I knew had the last name Sissell. Of course there were many on the west coast (California primarily) that had other names.
The one exception in this part of the country was P. J. Brower. Most of those years P. J. lived in New Orleans, although there was one entire summer that he spent with us when his parents lived in Birmingham, Ala. P. J. was the son of my mother’s brother Nolen Brower. I never questioned this, although I knew mother had folks in the Coffeeville area for we often went to visit her aunt, Mamie Wilbourn. We usually turned east at the Velma road to get to her house. She had another aunt living in Water Valley.
My granddad and his younger brother George married sisters Annette and Ida Harris. Their children, double first cousins, were very close. Those brothers split sometime around 1894 when Will came to Mississippi and George stayed in Kansas. George and his family moved to California in about 1919. I hedge on the exact dates because the entire bunch did not move together. Will was accompanied by a brother-in-law, Ed, and George moved with several brother’s-in-laws.
No one has ever told or even asked, as far as I know, why Will came to Coffeeville. His wife was born in Coffeeville, Kan., which might have been as good a reason as any other in that day. He and Ed bought, sold, and traded mules and horses all the way to Mississippi.
Going back to the cousins bit—I did know that I had some other cousins on my mother’s side of the family. I have mentioned many times that we had a groundhog sawmill on the edge of he O’tuckalofa flood plain. Daddy’s grandfather Harris had a sawmill and lumber yard in Cuba, Kan. Will and George Sissell worked for Mr. Harris—that is how they met his daughters, Annette and Ida. Dad, along with much help from Joe Stribling, put that sawmill together with other help from Roy Davis McCullar’s dad who had a sawmill on Eureka Road and Mr. Beck, who had one northeast of Water Valley.
Mr. Beck’s wife was Willie Mae Brower (I think I’m right on that name), my mother’s first cousin. I wondered some as I grew older. My grandmother Brower died at an early age leaving her children, Lucile, Sadie and Nolen, as orphans. I heard certain things but my mother and uncle were never very talkative. Uncle Nolen had opted to join the Navy and met Vivian Jazz in New Orleans. After retirement he worked for the City of New Orleans for many years. He loved to fish and owned a house on Fink Street in Waveland, MS. The Bay of St. Louis was his back yard there. He called it “My little piece of the state that I love.”
Many of you know that I spent the last eleven years of my teaching career at Northwest Community College. You meet many interesting people when the most of your students come from an eleven county area. When the computer age struck, we, before putting names in grade books, called roll by using a set of computer cards. Because of previous experience, I knew a lot of people in a wide area and could usually come up with some comment about most student’s area, especially in the 11 counties.
I probably learned more than my students in those beginning sessions. In addition I taught night classes in the Oxford Center.
In one of the anatomy labs there was a young lady who reminded me of someone. Her name was Jody Grass from Water Valley. I puzzled for many days—I knew many people from that area—many with whom I had attended Mississippi State. One of my college roommates married a girl from there, but he was in Arizona now. Finally, one day as I helped her with the microscope, I told her of my dilemma.
Her answer was, “My mother was a Brower.” Somewhere in the genealogy pictures I have, or copies of, there is a tintype that looks very much like Jody.
The young lady brought her mother by School one morning to meet me. When Charlotte found out that I had none of the genealogy of the Browers, she sent me many pages of information, along with stories.
I thank you, Mrs. Grass. When we talked yesterday she gave me the name and address of the Brower who talked to her, as he did Louella Fair, into letting him take the picture of that long time ago Brower – the first to come from North Carolina to Mississippi – home to Austin, Tex., with him so that he could copy it and return it to them (that was many years ago).
We do thank all of you of Coffeeville for the services at the Presbyterian Church Sunday for Miss Janie
Do have a great week. We’re doing better—Robert got our beans from both sides of the creek and the mud was non-existent. You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606 662-563-9879.