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Yalobusha Historical Society – April 17, 2014

John Nelson

By Joy Tippit
Special To The Herald

Rayburn Rifles, bears, and Tallahatchie County caught the attention of Yalobusha Historical Society members and guests on a cool pre-Easter April 17, 2014 Thursday afternoon.  John Nelson, Batesville historian discussed the formation of the “Rayburn Rifles” a company organized in Tallahatchie County by his great-great grandfather, Edward Randolph Neilson.  With the formation of the 27th Mississippi Infantry Regiment in Pensacola, Florida, the “Rayburn Rifles” became Company D. 

The discussion shed some light on the lives of the early settlers along the rivers and how in that time of poor roads and frequent flooding, they depended on steamboat transportation.  Bears were so plentiful in the area that Neilson called his home “Bearsden” and in a letter shortly before his company left Tallahatchie to enter service, he gave a first-hand account of a confrontation with a bear.

The talk focused on the Battle of Murfreesboro where Lt. Col. James L. Autry and Acting Major Edward Neilson both commanded the regiment for a time before Autry was killed and Neilson mortally wounded.  Readings from official records gave direct accounts of the two men.

The program also touched on the life of James L. Autry Jr.  Without his father as a bread-winner, Autry and his mother faced hard times in Holly Springs after the war.  Family fortunes were changed after the young Auttry went west to settle on land that the family owned in Texas near Corsicana.  This was bounty land that the family had acquired after the death of James L. Autry’s father, Micajah Autry, at the Alamo.

The young Autry had gained some success in the legal profession, but the discovery of oil in Corsicana really changed his life.  As counsel to oil man J. S. Cullinan, he followed Cullinan to Beaumont after oil was discovered near there.  In 1908, Autry moved to Houston where he was general attorney and director of the Texas Company, the forerunner of Texaco.

The Autrys were generous contributors to Rice University where today the college basketball team plays in Autry Court.

Notes of interest:

Lawrence Litten voiced a prayer.

Mike Worsham welcomed members and guests.

Debby Hughes gave the monthly financial report.

Joy Tippit and Pat Brooks announced annual fundraisers held for the maintenance of the buildings.

Julia Fernandez announced that the May 15, 2014 speaker is Catherine V. “Ginny” Kilgore.  Ginny is the Elder Law Project Director for North Mississippi Rural Legal Services.

Attending:  Thelma Roberts, Jimmie Pinnix, Francine Pinnix, Mary Elmore, Bill Hamilton, Lawrence Litten, Ruth Perkins, John Perkins, Pat Brooks, Emma Hovey, Julia Fernandez, Kay McCulley, Wayne Turner, James Person, Bobbie Hutchins, Bobby Hutchins, Herbert Hayward, James “Skeeta” Thornton, Mel Corley, Mike Ayers, Tom Cox, Charles H. Jones, Baron Caulfield, Ike Sayle, George (Sonny) Stewart, Gary Tippit, Joy Tippit, Mike Thornton, Opal Wright, Ed Trout, Debby Hughes, Dave Hovey, Bobby Dailey, John Ball Burnett, Sue T. Fly, Mike Worsham, John Nelson, Carl Vick, Mae Vick.

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