Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wordy Wednesday: Esters Eley and Jackson Parish

Ester Eley born 28 Jun 1908
Eros, Jackson Parish, Louisiana
You may be wondering where in this world is Jackson Parish, Louisiana? And you probably have never heard of Jackson Parish, Louisiana. Jonesboro is now the Parish Seat, and there is a state park there named the Jimmie Davis State Park, and the Caney Lake Reservoir is located there. And it my understanding that Caney is a great place to fish.

Jimmie Davis was once the Governor of the Sunshine state. He was known for the song, "You Are My Sunshine." You can read about our former governor on this website::

Jackson Parish was formed in 1845 from Wachita (Ouachita) Parish. Jackson Parish was formed from Claiborne, Ouachita, and Union Parishes.

Ouachita Parish was created as an original parish and Monroe was the parish seat. The Ouachita Parish courthouse was destroyed in 1864 and 1882.

Jackson Parish has a little known history of the Civil War when General Richard Taylor sent some of Confederate Companies into Jackson parish and Winn Parishes in Louisiana.

Jackson Parish was named for President Andrew Jackson, and is located in Louisiana. It isn't one of those parishes that gets a lot of attention or is famous for any one thing; however, it is important to me. That is where my father Esters Eley was born 28 Jun 1908 to Alice Lee. The Lee family had migrated to Jackson Parish,  about 1903. The two that Daddy spoke of  often were Eros and Chatham. I was just a small child and didn't ask questions when he would speak of those places. As I got older though it piqued my interest as to why they meant so much to Daddy. When I began to delve into family history research I found out why Eros was important to daddy.

My quest was to find out about Daddy and Eros, his place of birth. I wanted to know about the life and times of my father as a child. What was his life like as a child? What was it like living near Grandpa and Grandma Meadows growing up? What was it like when his mother married Jackson Lawrence Eley? It will take time, but those questions will be answered with more research and knowing the historical and social information relating to the time period that Daddy and his family lived in Jackson Parish; and later West Carroll Parish. When I look at the social life of those families of that small  parish and the time period I will have a better understanding of the lives of Esters and his family. I will know why they relocated from Jackson to West Carroll Parish, and why the Edwards migrated back to Alabama.

If you look at the maps you can tell where in Louisiana Jackson Parish is located and where Eros is on the map. When researching it is vital to know the history of an area, parish, county, district, town, or state. Historical context is the elements that permeates the lives of our families. The history of where they were born and the events that help to shape their lives is historical context. Also, the living conditions during that era in which your ancestors lived can give you an understanding of who our families are and how they were affected.

My father wasn't a trail blazer nor did he do anything to cause a war or spearhead an uprising, but he was an important person in my life. As I research the areas where he lived and look at the social dynamics of that area I get a glimpse of what life was like for Daddy. Research continues on this family line and has been a fun enlightening journey along the way.
Map of Louisiana highlighting Jackson Parish
Image from,_Louisiana

Image from,_Louisiana

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: Nancy Caroline Hodges

Nancy Caroline Coon 
Nancy Caroline Hodges and John Lewis Coon were married about 1838 in Mississippi. Nancy's parents were Edmund Hodges and Martha((McCullough). Nancy and her parents were born in South Carolina. This headstone was placed here in memory of Nancy Caroline Hodges Coon second great grandmother. There is more research needed to prove who Edmund's parents are and the link he has to Edmond Hodges from Virginia.

Nancy is buried in McDavid Cemetery, Lincoln County, Mississippi.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Mystery Monday: What Happened to Joe Blunt, Jr.?

Joe Jr. is missing from the 1910, 1930, and 1940  Pike County, Mississippi Censuses. I searched the surrounding counties, but he wasn’t listed on them. I broadened the search and found a Joe Blunt living in Louisiana.

W. G. “Willie” Blunt and Mary Lavenia “Venie” Ramsey were married 5 Apr 1893 in Pike County, Mississippi.

By 1900 Mary Lavenia was the mother of three children with one living child Joe age five. Joe was not found on the 1910 census with his mother. I began to search for him on the 1910 census in Pike County and surrounding counties. Where was he in 1910? He would have been about sixteen years old. He wasn’t oldest enough to join the military. So, where could he be? Living with relatives? Was he put in an orphanage? An Institution? Did he die at a young age? 

Well, I know he didn't die because I found him on the 1920 Beat 3, Pike County, Mississippi Census married living in Pike County, Mississippi living near Venie's parents, Asa and Eliza Jane Ramsey. 

I don’t have Ardella’s maiden name or I could look for him living with her family. 

Venie died suddenly sometime after the 1920 census but before the 1930 census was taken. Some of the children are accounted for after her death; however, Joe Jr. is one that I don't know what happened to him or where he went after his mother died. 

I continued the search for Joe Jr. and found a Joe Blunt living in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana as a lodger. He is listed as single and is forty-one years old born in Mississippi, and his parents were born in Mississippi. The age doesn’t match his birth date, Dec 1894 so further research needed to verify Joe, Blunt, Jr. son of W. G. “Willie” and Mary Lavenia “Venie” Blunt. 

I will continue my research for Joe Blunt, Jr. half brother of mother, and hopefully find him. It is a mystery to me as to what could have happened to Joe, Jr. He lost is entire family after Venie died, because they all migrated to Louisiana and Arkansas about 1928. His grandparents, Asa died 19 Sep 1929 and Eliza Jane (Burnett) Ramsey died 1933.  

Happy hunting!


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Census Sunday

On the Hunt for the Coon Siblings

I have been on a quest to find my mother’s siblings after the 1920 Federal census for Lincoln County, Mississippi. Grandmother Coon died sometime after the 1920 census. She was listed as head of the house, and all her children except the oldest son by her first marriage is listed on the census with her. Granddaddy Coon was living in Marion County with an Alexander family, and he is listed as a wd (widower).

I found Granddaddy Coon, Uncle George, Aunt Mamie, Ed Etheredge her husband, their children, and Mother on the 1930 West Carroll Parish Census and Clifton was listed as wd. Where are the other children; Joe Jr., Luther, Julia Blunt, Morris Clifton and Venie’s oldest son, Essie, Jane, and Rowan Clifton’s son by his first wife?

I continued searching the West Carroll Parish Census and found Morris living with his uncle. E.M. Coon is Clifton’s brother Edward, and Henry Hampton is one of Clifton’s sister’s sons.

 I found one of the five missing siblings of  Alma Coon, my mother. I feel confident that Joe, Jr., Luther, Julia, Essie, Jane and Rowan are out there somewhere, and I will just have to work harder to find them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Friday's Ramblings

Finding the Ramsey, Blunt, and Coon

Sometimes in genealogical research things seem to fall in place, records are plentiful, loaded with information, and lead to other resources that will further research. Such was the case with W. G. Blunt and Mary Lavenia Ramsey up to 1908, then their lives were forever changed. In 1908 Mary L. is married again and living with her second husband whom she had been married two years.

Living with Mary L. and her second husband are Mary L. and Willie Blunt's three children Luther age seven, Julia age five, and Mammie age three living with them. In addition is another child Roan Coon age seven son of Clifton Coon and his first wife Missouri Cowart. The 1910 Beat 3, Lincoln County census with the Clifton Coon family listed on there really created a genealogical problem for a while. When looking at this census and the two sons ages, and both were listed as Coon on the 1910 census; and not knowing about the previous marriage of Clifton What what happened to their former spouses? What is going on in this blended family previous to the marriage in 1908?  

Mary Lavenia Ramsey was the second child, and second daughter born to  Eliza Jane Ramsey and her husband Asa Martin. The Ramsey family is on the 1880 Pike County census listed only with their initials.

Marriage Record for W. G. Blunt and Mary Lavenia Ramsey
Marriage record from the Pike County Courthouse Marriage Book page 352.
Mary Lavenia Ramsey, was first married to W. "Willie" G. Blunt. They were both born in Mississippi, were married in Mississippi, and continued to live in Mississippi until their deaths. They lived in the same area of Pike and Lincoln Counties and were listed on censuses and other records until their deaths. Mary Lavenia and Willie had seven children; however, as noted on the 1900 census Venie Blunt was the mother of three children and mother of one living child. Therefore it is concluded that two children died in infancy. But on the 1920 District 92, Ruth Precinct, Lincoln County census Venie has three children a son Luther and two daughters Julia and Mamie Blunt, Venie and her first husband's children. Venie's husband Willie apparently died unexpectedly after 1900, even though his death hasn't been proven, he hasn't been found on any censuses after 1900. He was a young adult, only twenty-nine years old on the 1900 census. Venie is married to a Coon on the 1920 census and has five children by her second husband.

Mary L. is eight years old, is found listed on the 1885 Educable Children of Carter's Creek Election District, Pike County, Mississippi school census. Her older sister Florence A. is ten years old and is listed on the census as well. Their father Asa M. Ramsey is the parent/guardian listed on the 1885 Educable Census.

W. G. "Willie" Blunt died between  1900 and 1908.

George was the youngest of Clifton and Venie's children. Rowan Coon, Venie's step-son, was eighteen and the same age as her son Luther Blunt. Luther was born in Mississippi as well. It took a few years to find Venie's children by her first husband, but they were found and now they have their place in the family tree. Luther Blount (Blunt) was on 1930 and 1940 censuses. Julia and Mamie, Luther's sisters, lived in East Carroll Parish the neighboring parish of West Carroll where their other family members lived in 1940 and 1950; Alma half siblings were an important part of her family. She referred to them as her sisters and brothers. They were identified as half siblings by the research of the Blunt and Coon families. May Lavenia Coon's other family was identified from researching that specific Blunt family line.

Janie Coon, a daughter of Mary Lavenia and Clifton Coon, married Daniel Adams when she was very young, and they had Carolyn, Danny, Betty Sue, and Lucy, According to her daughter when I last spoke with her, their family lived in extreme poverty. As did many of the families during that era in rural West Carroll Parish, and southeast Louisiana. Aunt Essie married Carl Bowman, and they had eight daughters. Uncle Morris married Irma Eley and they had Mary Alice, Bobby and David. Uncle Rowan is another elusive family member that very little is known of him. He lived in the Port Arthur, Texas area. That is where he died and is interred.

The one child of Venie and Clifton's that is well known is Uncle George because he lived with our family several years.He lived with our family when he returned from serving his duty in the Army, left and married twice and divorced after several years made his way back to live with his youngest sister Alma, my mother. He lived with Mother and Daddy until he signed himself in a nursing home. That is where he died.

The great thing about family history research is that family secrets can be revealed, family stories can be  proven, and the truth will come out.

Source Information and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880-1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010.

Year: 1880; Census Place: Beat 3, Pike, Mississippi; Roll: 662; Family History Film: 1254662; Page: 390A; Enumeration District: 039; Image: 0179.

Year: 1900; Census Place: Beat 3, Pike, Mississippi; Roll: 825; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0109; FHL microfilm: 1240825

Sunday, August 21, 2016

George Doil Coon: The Wanderer

George Doil Coon was the youngest brother of mother. He was born 23 Apr 1918 in Brookhaven, Lincoln County, Mississippi to Mary Lavenia (Ramsey) Coon. Vennie his beloved mother died a little over two years after his birth.

Clifton Columbus Coon father of George left Mississippi and settled in Oak Grove, West Carroll Parish, Louisiana some time after January 16, 1920 but before the 1930 Census for West Carroll Parish was taken. Clifton, Alma (my mother), George, and and step-daughter Mammie, Ed Ethridge her husband, Helen, Dorothy Lee, and Calvin Edgar children of Mammie and Ed. Morris, the oldest son of Clifton and Vennie, was living with the E. M. (Edward M.) Coon brother of Clifton.
Venie hasn't been found on any other census since the 1920 Lincoln County, Mississippi. There is not death record of her death that I have found. The only thing that I know about her death is a story that mother told us that she was told as a child. "her mother got sick and Clifton and Morris took her to the hospital, a few days later they went to pick up and bring her home, and they were told that Vennie had died and they buried her."

This story is heartbreaking for me her grandchild, so I can only imagine how mother and her siblings lives were affected by the sudden loss of their mother, and not knowing what happened to her. For a mother to leave and never return would  have been traumatic for a child. Then their father packed them up and moved them to an unknown area away from their family; another painful event for the children.

Uncle George was living with the Jack V. Hemphill family, a relative, and was twenty-two years old. He was unmarried at that census taking. However, 30 May 1941 George Coon was enlisted in the Army at Jacksonville Army Air Field in Florida. He was single and his birth year was 1918. He was without dependents. He left West Carroll Parrish some time after the 1940 census was taken and enlisted in the Army was twenty-three years old when he enlisted. He served his time in the Army and was stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. His time was up and was honorably discharged and settled in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana living with Daddy, Mother, and their children.

Uncle George lived with our family then left and we didn't hear from him again until 1978 when his wife Cora filed for a divorce so she could go live with her son in Dallas. They married 31 Mar 1959 Hardin County, Texas and divorced 3 Nov 1978 in Hardin County, Texas. Cora was his second wife and they had no children. After the divorce Uncle George came to live with Daddy and Mother in Lincoln Parish, Louisiana.

Daddy and Mother were retired and all their children had married and moved away. Buddy lived in the area near daddy and mother. Uncle George didn't talk about his stint in the military nor his former wife. In fact I didn't know he had a first wife until two years before he died he asked me if I would help him find his two children a girl and a boy. He didn't know where they could be living, nor did he remember their names. The only information I had about the former wife and children was that she was a "working girl" and she took the two children and left without telling Uncle George. She left with the two children to parts unknown. He never heard from them again. His first wife Lois Ellison Mulkey, according to family stories from Michigan or Maryland, but no one seemed to know exactly where she was originally from.

In 2014 Brenda Coon the long lost daughter of Uncle George and Lois called me to find out what I knew about Uncle George. Brenda gave me her mother's name and where she was born. Brenda said that her mother was living in a nursing home in Alabama, and her birth date was 27 September 1928 in Alabama.

Uncle George and Lois are listed in a city directory Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1956 and he was working as a meat cutter at Karl's Market h100 Western Avenue Apartment A8. There were no children listed with them in the directory.

I found a divorce record for George and Lois on and did the happy dance because I had been looking for this information for a long time. Lois Coon and George D. Coon were divorced 14 May 1958 in Clay County, Alabama. Sometime after the divorce Uncle George left Alabama and moved to Hardin County, Texas and on 31 Mar 1959 married Cora A.  Cora's last name is unknown and she is a mystery to me since I never met her and know nothing about her.

Uncle Roan Coon and Granddaddy Coon lived in Hardin County, Texas so that is where Uncle George would migrate back to after leaving Alabama. After leaving Oak Grove in West Carroll Parish where he settled after Grandmother Vennie died, they migrated to Texas.

George and Cora were married nineteen years, and parted their ways for different parts; her to Dallas, Texas and  Uncle George to Lincoln Parish, Louisiana to live with his youngest sister, Alma where he seem to go to when he had no where else to go.

George Doil Coon died at 4:15 a.m. on 27 May 1998 in  Arcadia Health Care Center in Arcadia, Bienville Parrish, Louisiana. His cause of death was Acute Congestive Heart Failure of which he had for five years, Prostate Cancer - Metastatic of which he had a year and a half, Ischemic Heart Disease he had for two years.

George Doil Coon is interred at the Unionville Cemetery in Dubach,  Lincoln Parish, Louisiana.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Alice Lee Eley: A Mystery Woman

Written by Esther Eley Jones 2012

Alice Lee mother of Ester Eley: This photo
was taken in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana.
Alice Lee Eley was a mystery woman to me. Who is Alice Lee Eley and why did I think she was a mystery woman?  Alice Lee Eley was my paternal grandmother, my father’s mother. Alice “Granny” as we all called her was a quiet, short, serious person. She was the youngest of the William Alfred “Willie” and Emma Lee children.  Here is the history of the Lee family, and the story of how I became part of this very outstanding name in history.

William Alfred Lee and Emma Meadows married in Tallapoosa County, Alabama, which is located on the southeast border of Alabama close to the territory of Georgia. William and Emma were the parents of nine children with five of them living.  Alice Lee was born to William Alfred Lee and Emma Meadows on 09 November 1887 in Tecumseh, Cherokee County, Alabama. She was the youngest child of William and Emma. William was a farmer and a blacksmith, and Emma was as the younger generation now a days call it “a stay at home mom.”  The Lee family migrated from Cherokee County to Newsite, Tallapoosa County, Alabama sometime before 1880. Wm. A. Lee, Emma, and two children, James W. and Dollie O. Lee are on the 1880 census there in Newsite, Alabama. William was a blacksmith at the time of the census taking. Then, in 1900, the Lee family, William Alfred, Emma A. Lee, Robert, and Alice were living in Channahatchee, Elmore County, Alabama. Alice Lee was twelve years old at the time of the census enumeration date 12 June 1900. Apparently four of the children had died before the 1900 census was enumerated. The family moved several times over the years due to difficult times, and looking for better farmlands. The family left Alabama sometime between 1900 and 1910, migrated to Police Jury Ward 1, Jackson Louisiana, and settled in Eros, Jackson Parish, Louisiana.

The family had a long journey from Elmore County, Alabama, which is south of Tallapoosa County, to Jackson Parish, Louisiana. On today’s map that would be about 364 miles traveling by vehicle on super highways; however, they were not traveling in vehicles and on super highways. They were traveling by wagons pulled by horses. Poor economic conditions during 1880s and early 1900s most likely were the reason for the Lees’ migration. Living there in Eros, Louisiana were William A. Lee, Emma, and Alice Lee,  age 24 years old, and living in the same household were Robert, Leaky, Emma, Willie, and Mary Lee.  Robert was William and Emma’s youngest son. Living down the road from William’s family was his oldest son James W. Lee, Uncle Jim as the family called him and his wife Nancy or Aunt Nannie, and their eight children. Neighbors living next door to William and Emma were the John H. Edwards family. William and Emma’s oldest daughter married John H. Edwards before they migrated to Louisiana. The Edwards had four children living with them who were listed on the census for that year.

Three years after the Lee family settled in Jackson Parish Louisiana Alice Lee and Jackson Lawrence Eley were married. At the time Alice married, she was living in Oak Grove, West Carroll Parish, Louisiana.  J. L. Eley and Alice Lee were married 26 June 1913 in Floyd Louisiana. R. E. Lee, Uncle Bob, Alice’s brother, was the security for the marriage license. The Security was where J. L. Eley would owe the Governor one hundred dollars if the marriage did not take place.  I suppose you could say that was an incentive for Jack to marry Alice since one hundred dollars was a large sum of money for that family during that era. However, taking out a security was a law during those times. Alice’s, father and mother were there at the time of the marriage. J. L. or Jack Eley’s parents, Joe and Eliza were deceased.

Jackson “Jack” and Alice had six children, two sons and four daughters. My father, Esters, was the oldest of the six children. Then there was Irma, Dolly, Ellen, Robert Lawrence, and Gladys.  Jack or Granddaddy Eley died 30 October 1944 in Oak Grove, West Carroll Parish, Louisiana and had lived in that community one year. He lived in a rural area, Pioneer, seven miles northwest of Oak Grove, Louisiana, in Ward 4. He was 62 years old when he died suddenly of angina pectoris or a heart attack. The family was going through an emotional time after the death of Granddaddy. Granny was left alone so the family decided she would live with Aunt Gladys, her youngest daughter, and Uncle Tinker Copes and their three children. This decision was an easy one since Aunt Irma lived in Texas, Aunt Dollie lived in Mississippi, Uncle Lawrence lived in Arkansas, and Esters, my father, had eight children and there was not room for another person in his three-bedroom house.

My father, Earstus (Esters), was the oldest of the six children. Therefore, I was one of several of Granny’s grand children. When I was growing up in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana Granny would come visit us on occasion, about once a year as I recall. She was a short woman, medium built in size, and old for as long as I could remember.  My family lived in Concord Community in West Carroll Parish and she lived in Pioneer, Louisiana with my Aunt Gladys and Uncle Tinker Copes. Granny Eley had a habit that kept us “kids” entertained. She was a snuff dipper and she knew how to spit that snuff. She had mastered that snuff spitting down to an art. She kept her snuff jar tucked away under the mattress for safekeeping, or she thought.

Granny Eley always had to have her large syrup bucket sitting beside her rocking chair for her spit bucket. She could sit in her rocking chair and hit that syrup bucket dead center as she spit her snuff. She always had a good aim and never missed that bucket. We “kids,” (that is what we were called, you would think that we did not have names) would sneak around and watch her. We would peak around the door facing to watch as she rocked in her rocking chair and enjoyed her snuff. We were very good at sneaking around too. She never caught us sneaking and watching.  Keep in mind that we lived in the country and this was entertainment for us, and we enjoyed the entertainment immensely. 

One day I decided that I would get her snuff jar from under the mattress and enjoy me a dip of her snuff. I got a pinch out of the jar, placed it in my lip like I had seen Granny do many times, and went outside so I would not get caught, to enjoy my first time at snuff dipping. Well, I shall never forget that day for as long as I live. It was nothing like what it was supposed to be from watching Granny enjoy it. I became dizzy headed, almost passed out, was sick to my stomach, and felt like I would die. Nevertheless, I could not tell Mother or Daddy what I had done because of the consequences. Daddy was not a snuff dipper and neither was mother. Mother was the ultimate in cleanness. Therefore, I suffered, and made my sisters promise not to tell on me. However, Mother and Daddy did find out and had a good laugh over my experience and I did not suffer the consequences because I had learned my lesson. As a result, my snuff dipping days were short lived. Granny had mastered that snuff dipping and snuff spitting down to an art and I decided that from that day on Granny was the master of that art and she had rightfully earned it. On each side of Granny's mouth was a permanent stain from her many years of dipping snuff and it running down the side of her mouth. I can only imagine that she started that addiction when she was a young chap. Probably Emma was a snuff dipper.

Another thing that is etched in my mind is that she would count the biscuits that we ate for breakfast. That was during the era when mothers cooked breakfast for family, family members ate breakfast together, there was order and manners at the meal table, and mealtime was a hallowed time for family.  Now Granny would pick one of the eight children to sit beside at the table. Now, the one she sat beside was excited, until she started nagging about the number of biscuits eaten. Mother and Daddy did not care how many biscuits we ate as long as we ate a "good meal."  Mother always cooked an abundance of food to feed the family of ten, and if I remember correctly Granny never offered Mother help in cooking the meals or doing chores around the house. She was there visiting for leisure time, which was her yearly obligation even at Aunt Gladys’ home. 

Granny Eley made her permanent home with Aunt Gladys Copes, her youngest daughter after Granddaddy Eley died. When we made a visit to see Granny my family would get in our old truck, with all eight kids piled in the back, and go visit Granny, Aunt Gladys, Uncle Tinker, and their children. You can only imagine how much fun we “kids” had with a name like “Tinker.” These visits were few due to the hardship on our family. Aunt Gladys and Uncle Tinker never could come visit our family even though it was five in their family.  Now these trips to visit them were quite an adventure! Our hopes were that we would make it there and back without a flat tire, the truck breaking down, or the battery dying. This was during the time period before paved highways or super highways and convenient stores along the way. This was wide-open territory with nothing along the way for miles.  We traveled from Concord Community to Pioneer on these gravel roads until 1957 when daddy moved his family from West Carroll Parish Louisiana to Clay Community in Jackson Parish Louisiana where daddy was born to Alice Lee when she was twenty one years old.

Alice Lee Eley died 29 January 1960 of kidney cancer. She was 73 years old. She died in Pioneer, Louisiana. Alice was living with her daughter Gladys, son-in-law, Tinker Copes, and their three children at the time of her death.