Category Archives: Genealogy
It was a beautiful late September day last Thursday when friend Cheri Atkins and I drove to Texarkana, Arkansas on a quick road trip to do some research at the Miller County Court House. Her goal was for Dial and Collins documents, and I would be searching for Martins and Hemperleys.
As we drove we talked about late blooming summer flowers and how it was difficult it was to recognize some parts of Highway 71 since I-49 construction had changed the scenery. We passed round bales of hay in fields, a pasture filled with a herd of buffalo, churches and graveyards. There was some construction and we even passed a group of prisoners picking up trash along the roadway. Cheri, who has a vivid imagination, commented on how she thought it would be easy for one of those convicts to escape. A short time later we passed a police vehicle heading South flying down the road with lights flashing soon to be followed by five more patrol cars.
Arriving at our destination of 400 Laurel Street, there it stood…… the Court House. My imagination ran rampant about the discoveries we were about to make. I could already smell the old books filled with Our Families Untold Stories.
The Court House is located in older section of town filled with homes of the same era and nearby beautiful churches. This was not the original Court House which initially served both Texas and Arkansas, but the one finished in the late 1930s to serve only Miller County, Arkansas.
Once inside we must have looked as if we were strangers to its halls as a man I recognized from the Court House’s website as County Judge Larry E. Burgess offered assistance by directing us to the Clerk of Court’s office. I can only sing the praises of those who work there as they were friendly, courteous and only too eager to answer our questions or offer assistance.
The search was on! Cheri and I both were able to obtain documents pertaining to marriage licenses, preacher certificates, deeds and other priceless pieces of our families’ history. Then it dawned on me that I was standing not only among history of Miller County but the history of one Henry Fincher Eason, former Clerk of Court and Tax Collector of Miller County AND his mother was a Hemperley!
(Photo owned by Susie Higginbotham Reynolds)
Fincher Eason (son of Seaborn Sidney) was one of fifteen children born to his father and mother, Luella Hemperley (daughter of Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley, great grandfather of my husband). His family lived in Sulphur Township on his father’s farm.
He attended college at Louisiana State Normal School and at the age of twenty-two began a career in education. He served as teacher, principal and superintendent. Below is a photo of College Hill Ward School in Texarkana where he was a principal.
On December 23, 1908 he married Miss Ollie Minnie Walton and from this union there were six children born, two of which died in infancy.
In 1916 he became Miller County Clerk of Court and served for two terms before becoming Tax Collector in 1920. The 1920 Census shows him living at 414 Hickory Street with his wife and four children: Fincher, Jr. age 9, Sidney S. age 6, William Boyd, age 5 and Evelyn who is 1 year of age. On November 20, 1923 Fincher and Ollie divorced and he retained sole custody of the children.
During WWI he served as Chairman of the registration board; enlisted as a private and reached the rank of Captain.
Recently while looking over notes I had made while interviewing a Hemperley relative thirty years ago, I had jotted down “committed suicide” by his name. It was time to revisit Fincher and locate any information I could find regarding how he died. Below are a couple of articles I found on www.genealogybank.com relating to his death.
Why, I thought? Why would a man who was a pillar in the community commit suicide? He had to be well thought of as there were 2,000 people that attended his funeral and 4,000-5,000 at the gravesite! This man was a 32nd degree Mason, a member of the Mystic Shrine, served as senior deacon of the lodge, Member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythia, Woodmen of the World and Baptist Church. I had to know more and so I enlisted the help of one of the clerks to locate the probate records from his estate. Surely his will, one of the letters he had written, or the “To The People of Miller County” mentioned in the newspaper article about him being found dead would give me some insight.
His will was not in the Probate Records. None of the letters were. Nor was the “To the People of Miller County”. Nothing to give me a hint or understanding of his taking his life. However, what I did locate was a list of his debts, which amounted to $83,000. In 1923 that had to be comparable to millions today!
As you can see from this document, the administrator of his estate asks the Court to allow 35% payment of his debts or $29,050.
Did he commit suicide because of his divorce; his being the sole parent raising four children; ill health; or the amount of debt he owed? I suppose I will never know!
What I did learn was that the two ounces of poison he took changed the lives of his children forever. Fincher’s sister, Ida Hughes, petitioned the Court for custody of the children as set out by Fincher in his will.
The children’s mother sued for custody of two of the four children and according to the article below, the judge in the case awarded them to Fincher’s sister, Mrs. Ida Hughes of Bright Star, per his handwritten wishes.
One week later Arkansas State Police and other law enforcement officers are still looking for the escapee.
One week later I am still looking for more information on another escaped man, namely Henry Fincher Eason!
According to astrology, Virgo, the sixth sign of the Zodiac, runs from August 23 through September 22 (although some say the cusp day is the 23). It is the only sign represented by a woman. Virgos typically are reliable, practical, meticulous and do well in vocations of service, such as doctors, nurses, teachers, bookkeepers. They are also creative and sensitive. Do I, as a Virgo, believe all of this? I don’t put a lot of credence in it however I do read my horoscope daily!
In my family tree of most recent relatives, I have sixteen Virgos not counting myself. My grandmother was one. One aunt, one uncle, one daughter, one daughter-in-law, two granddaughters, one grandson, one great grandson, one niece and her husband, one nephew, one nephew’s wife, two great nephews, and one great niece are all Virgos. Whew! Not to worry only four are the subjects of this post.
Granddaughter Emerson Avery Hemperley (Emy) was born September 3, 1992 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Steve and Andrea Tanet Hemperley. As a child she took ballet but soon diverted her competitive spirit to sports playing tee ball and soccer.
The photo above shows her determination while playing at an arcade in Celebration Station in New Orleans in 1996.
Emy began school in Mandeville, Louisiana; graduated from Sacred Heart Academy in New Orleans, Louisiana. Following graduation she traveled to Paris, France and has visited other large cities including New York City. She attended Ole Miss, missed New Orleans, returned and is currently enrolled at the University of New Orleans. She and her family enjoy spending time at their camp in Monterey, Louisiana however Emy is truly a New Orleans girl to the core! She loves the city and all it has to offer; Mardi Gras, clubs, good food, family and friends.
Zachery Tucker Hemperley, Emy’s brother, was born September 6, 1994 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tucker first attended school in Mandeville, Louisiana and graduated from Jesuit High School in New Orleans. While living in Mandeville, he played tee ball and loved skate boarding.
Tucker likes to hunt and fish and can often be found at the family retreat entertaining friends.
Tucker’s first deer was taken in Monterey, Concordia Parish, Louisiana. The following photo was made while fishing in Mexico.
Tucker is in his second year at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge where he pledged K A. Below is a photo of Tucker and Southern Belle, Gabby Ray at the fraternity’s celebration of the Old South.
Nine days following Emy’s birth, granddaughter Lauren Elise Brown was born in Hobbs, New Mexico on September 12, 1992 to Scott and Kelly Hemperley Brown.
Lauren was active in scouting beginning at the age of four. Too young for the Daisys, she attended meetings where he mother was scout leader.
She went on to become a Brownie, Girl Scout, and earned the Silver Star award which is the equivalent to the BSA Eagle Scout.
She attended Herndon Magnet School in Gilliam, Louisiana and graduated from Caddo Magnet High School in Shreveport. Lauren enjoys Renaissance Festivals, Dr. Who, fly fishing and camping with family. They have traveled as far West as Colorado, North to South Dakota, and East to Florida and Washington, D. C. Lauren attended University of Louisiana Monroe and Louisiana Technical College in Shreveport where she studied the culinary arts. She is currently employed at a law firm in Shreveport.
Lauren married Christopher Wayne Dawson and on August 23, 2014 gave birth to another Virgo, a son, Benjamin Rhys Dawson in Shreveport, Louisiana. Ben enjoys being fed, napping, and being spoiled by everyone.
And the final featured Virgo is my daughter, Kelly Anne Hemperley Brown. Kelly was born on September 21, 1963 in Texarkana, Arkansas. She was a mischievous child who was always into something. The joke in our family was that had she been born prior her brother, he would never have been born! There was always impishness in her eyes as she was about to get into something. However, to this day when she hears me call out “Kelly Anna”, she knows she’s in deep trouble! Give her a challenge and she will eagerly accept it.
Kelly was educated in public schools in Vivian, Louisiana graduating from North Caddo High where she was a member of the Louisiana All Star Marching Band and the winner of the I Dare You award at graduation. She attended Louisiana State University-Shreveport for a short while before enrolling in business school. Prior to her graduation she was hired by the Caddo Parish Police Jury as personal secretary to the administrator; a position she held for seven years before moving to Hobbs, New Mexico. While employed at the Police Jury it changed to a Commission and a resolution was written into the Commission’s minutes, which was entered into Caddo Parish’s history, for her dedication and work during the transition.
In New Mexico she was employed by the City of Hobbs where she received special recognition as employee of the month.
In 1993 her family moved back to Caddo Parish and she returned to work for Caddo Parish; this time in the District Attorney’s office in the drug division. Since then she has been responsible for the training of all secretaries in the District Attorney’s office and most recently moved to the position of secretary for the Appellate Court.
Kelly’s dedication to helping others, lead her to become a Girl Scout leader for many years; church secretary; church youth leader; and exercise instructor. However I think she would say her most important job today is that of being wife, mother and grandmother. A job she does well!
Now that you have allowed me to give you a little insight to my favorite Virgos, I would also like to wish the others who share the sign a Happy Birthday. They are Andrea Tanet Hemperley, Marty Stanley Roberts and husband Jimmy, Damon Goodwin, Melissa Slaughter Goodwin, David Stanley, Greg Stanley, and Amanda Roberts Mather!
Jimmy Clyde Stanley was born July 30, 1933 in Ida, Louisiana to Clyde Henry and Mamie Martin Stanley. He was the first of six children and easily accepted the role of big brother to the rest of us. He was a mover and a shaker before his time; meaning he was often the instigator of the antics of his two brothers and me (our two other sisters came along much later). Mostly he was the one that was the most daring of the group, such as the time he wanted to be Captain Marvel. He draped himself in one of Mother’s tablecloths to use as a cape, climbed the roof of our garage and bailed off thinking he could fly! Luckily the only thing broken was his pride and he lived to dream up some other new adventure.
Jim (also nicknamed Coot or Pete) attended school in Bivins, Texas prior to our moving to Atlanta, Texas. In Bivins he was in a school play and in Atlanta he was an Atlanta Rabbit (football team) member.
He first worked as a life guard at the Atlanta public swimming pool and later at Meyers’ Department Store. His outgoing personality, smile, and the ability to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge was well suited for his occupation of sales or public relations with the exception of a few years he spent working in the oilfields in Odessa and Ganado, Texas. While working in Odessa he received a good samaritan award from the Texas Highway Department for assisting someone in need. Following that he served as district manager for American Built Homes in Texarkana, and Baton Rouge. Later in the Houston area he owned his own construction and remodeling business.
Jim’s first marriage was to Mildred Eva Howard of Texarkana. They were married on November 21, 1952. Prior to their divorce in January 1980 they became parents of Brenda Jane, Jimmy Lanier, Eva Carol and Scott Howard. Eva Carol died at birth.
While he and Mildred, who had now changed her name to Toni, were living in the Nassau Bay, Texas area he learned to love boating. Below are photos of a couple of his boats appropriately named the Phoni-Toni.
In March of 1980 Jim remarried Patsy Jean Miller. Jim’s new brother-in-law was an owner of Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, Louisiana and also owned an oil refinery in Venezuela. He soon became general manager of the track and Commissioned Deputy Sheriff for Acadia Parish form 1988-1992. He often traveled to Venezuela on business.
Jim married a third time to Denise Milsap and lived in Mobile, Mississippi for a while. No children were born of the second or third marriages.
He was a true Leo with a zest for life, warm spirit, confident, generous and loyal. He loved the finer things in life such as clothes, cars, boats and beautiful women. However a good joke or a heated game of Rook with his mother against other family members, were also indulgences he enjoyed. He was most generous with his parents and loved to take them out to dine or for a day on the bay in one of his boats.
The two greatest pleasures in his life were his children and grandchildren. He was giving, loving, and always there for them.
Jim passed away on March 1, 2009 of complications from Myasthenia Gravis and is buried in Vivian, Louisiana along- side his parents.
Happy Birthday, Brother! We still miss you!
Today, June 19, 2014, marks the 38th anniversary of my sister Linda Kay (Kitty) Stanley and husband, E. Dale LeBlanc. They were married at St. Clement Catholic Church in Vivian, Louisiana.
The celebration began the day before when we dug a hole in my back yard to have a cochon de lait. It was a daunting task due to the fact that the backhoe digging the pit for the pig cut the gas line to my house. After repairing that, the cooking and celebration began. Many of Dale’s family and friends came from South Louisiana that night and celebrated with everyone. Then the rain began! And it rained all night. How would we ever get the pig roasted in time to feed all the guests by noon?
Family friend Betty Hall called early the day of the wedding to say she was making a novena. Sure enough the clouds disappeared, the rain stopped, the pig was thrown back in the pit and everyone ate at noon. Then the party began!
Following the 4:00 PM wedding all the guests returned to my house to continue the merrymaking. Some of Dale’s Cajun relatives sang Jolie Blonde and other songs in French. Others continued to eat. Many celebrated with libations. When the newlyweds left for their honeymoon, many lingered and the merriment lasted until midnight!
Andrew Simpson “Simpy” Hemperley was one of ten children born to Edward P. Hemperley and Malinda Foster in Georgia. In the 1850 Census the family resided in the Twenty-ninth District of Fayette County, Georgia. Edward P. is listed as a farmer with real estate valued at $1,450.
On May 16, 1852 Andrew married Miss Louise Catherine Dodd in Fayette County, Georgia. The marriage was performed by Louise’s father, John Sample Dodd, a prominent Baptist preacher.
Of this marriage there were four children born: Nancy M., Priscilla M., Sarah Levonia and Jefferson Beauregard Hemperley. From A History of Doddridge, Spring Bank, and the Other Communities of Sulphur Township Arkansas by Charles Wesley Bigby much is written about the Hemperley families that lived in the area. What is known is that: in 1856, prior to the Civil War Andrew and Louise moved to Bright Star, Arkansas. In 1859 they had acquired eighty acres of land as proven by the deed below.
The following year they acquired an additional eighty acres.
In a letter written by Andrew’s son Beauregard he tells of how their home was built with logs and penned and keyed with no nails. It had a fireplace which was used not only for heating but also where Louise prepared all of their meals.
On March 3, 1862 Andrew enlisted in the 20th Arkansas Infantry, Company K in Lafayette County. His records show that he was a 5th Sergeant. By October the unit was engaged in fighting around Vicksburg, Mississippi. Records show that on the 4th of October 1862 he had been wounded and taken prisoner at Corinth, Mississippi.
In another document he was to be paroled and taken to Columbus, Kentucky from Corinth. However in the paroled section it lists “not stated”.
From my research I have learned many of the healthier prisoners captured in that area were transported to prisons in other areas of the United States. Some of those infirmed were released to get home any way they could while others remained in hospitals. Since Andrew is buried in Vicksburg, I am lead to believe he was never sent to prison elsewhere.
In July 1862 Congress gave the President of the United States the right to purchase land for cemeteries “for soldiers who shall die in the service of their country.” It was also determined that Confederate soldiers and sailors were fighting in rebellion and would not be allowed to be buried in a Nation Cemetery. Therefore only Union soldiers and sailors are buried in the Vicksburg National Cemetery with the Confederates being buried in nearby Soldier’s Rest, a section of Cedar Hill Cemetery.
Below are some photos from the Vicksburg National Park.
Also in the letter Beauregard wrote he tells of hard times following his father’s death. His mother fed them one winter on sweet potatoes; on Sunday mornings or when they had company she would make biscuits to go with them. She spun, corded and wove the cloth for their clothing, they ate game from the nearby woods, but she never returned to Georgia.
In writing this post I am thinking of our family’s Confederate hero but also of heroes lost in all the wars since Andrew’s death. I am also reminded of the unsung heroes, the wives who have kept families together at all cost, no matter their sacrifices. Perhaps it’s those ladies who deserve recognition, gold stars or a special hug.
Don, Steve and Kelly Hemperley, pictured in May 1969, on the day Kelly graduated from kindergarten. Little did we know she had the mumps!!! After her snuggling with Don, he too came down with them. We always taught our children that sharing was a good thing; this time it wasn’t! Kelly made a quick recovery however Don was very sick and we thought he was going to have to go into the hospital!