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Poems: The Family Tree

Tree (2)

I think that I shall never see
A thing as lovely as a tree.
Not the one that grows in the yard
But the one I’m working on oh so hard!

The one with branches covered with names and places
I would be lucky to find a photo showing their faces
But as it is now I know not what
Who married who and who they begot!

One by one each branch I climb
Hoping that in this lifetime
On my brick wall I’ll get a clue
And discover which child belongs to who.

Tonight the leaves on my tree are shaking
No time to stop ‘till daylight is breaking
And when sleep finally does come over me
What do I dream about but that darned Family Tree?

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Find Me Friday: Pursuing Pattillos

I’m addicted to morning coffee, jigsaw and crossword puzzles and more especially genealogy. There I’ve said it! Genealogy is my true addiction! It is filling in the blanks or finding the right piece to complete a story. It’s an insatiable desire to know everything; the whole truth and the details that paint a picture of a person in your tree. Having said that, the stories and documents you discover might surprise you and make you wonder if it should be included in your tree. Such is the case of two Pattillo brothers, both charged with murder.

My grandfather, Wesley Birdwell Stanley, never spoke of his mother’s family yet he spoke of her with a great deal of love and respect. I remember when I was a teenager, I asked about the Pattillos. He gave up little information other than his mother was Mary Lucinda (Mary Lou) Pattillo Stanley, daughter of Joycie Williams and George Alexander Thomas Pattillo. He also said his mother was half Indian, which I have yet to prove but looking at him, I would say if he got any of her genes, then it’s true.

Years later while searching through Roots Web queries, I ran across one that was searching for information regarding Mary Lou’s brothers killing their father! What?? Could that be? Last year I ran into a Pattillo cousin, Mary Jane Dominick Pattillo, and asked if she knew anything regarding the murder. The story that she recanted had been told by her father and it went like this:

George Alexander Thomas Pattillo had been murdered by his son, William, and the body had been dumped in a well!!!! Aha! That was most probably the reason my grandfather never spoke of the Pattillos! That could be the reason I have never located a gravesite for George Alexander Thomas Pattillo. Mary Jane thought the argument had been over a woman. What she didn’t share was that her grandfather, Wesley Elisha Pattillo, was also at the scene of the crime.

Mary Jane also told me that another of George Alexander Thomas’s son, Thomas Bird Pattillo, had murdered the person Hosston, Louisiana is named for, James Monroe Hoss! Wow! What kind of family was this? Two brothers from the same family had committed murder? I had to know more and the search was on!

Shortly after this conversation I was contacted by Michelle McBride, through Ancestry.com, who is also a member of this Stanley-Pattillo tree. She and I discussed the conversation I had had with Mary Jane and decided to work together to prove/disprove these stories.

Michelle located several articles regarding George Alexander Thomas’ murder on genealogybank.com. As you can see below, William and Wesley are first mentioned in the Little Rock Gazette on April 12, 1879.

William Pattillo Murder Trial-1

On September 5, 1879 the following article was published in The Times Picayune via telegram from Texarkana regarding the indictment of these two brothers.

William Pattillo Murder Trial-1

William and Wesley's Indictment

It seems that William, only 16 had been the black sheep of the family causing his father trouble.  He had banished William from the family with instructions never to set foot on his land again.  William moved to Texas but returned and while he and his brother Wesley  were walking on the property, the father saw them.  He fired a pistol at William who returned fire with a double-barrel shotgun, striking him six times in his heart.

Their acquittal was also published in The Times Picayune.

William Pattillo acquittal-1

Case closed! However I still do not know if the argument was over a woman or where George Alexander Thomas’ body rests.
On to Thomas Bird Pattillo! Thomas Bird, settled in 1898 Mira located in Caddo Parish as an upstanding citizen. Since my granddaughter is a deputy clerk in the Caddo Parish Clerk’s office I asked her to run the archived files for documentation on the murder of Mr. Hoss. She was unable to locate any archived files other than the Warrant for Thomas Bird’s arrest, however, it did not say who he had murdered. This genealogy thingy will drive you nuts! There is always another question that needs to be answered.

T. Bird Pattillo Warrant for Arrest for Murder, June 15,1899, pg. 1

T. Bird Pattillo Warrant for arrest for murder

And then, out of the blue, came the document I had been searching for; the name of the person Thomas Bird had murdered…….. J. M. Hoss of Hosston! This document was located at the James Noel Library located on the campus of LSU-Shreveport.

Thomas Bird Pattillo Surrenders, 6-3-1899

And there was more….

T B Pattillo Arraignment

Wow! Now there was another person arraigned with Thomas Bird!! Who was Isaac Hale and what role did he play in the shooting?
Then on July 16, 1899 he was released? How could that be?

T Bird Pattillo Released

That question was not answered until I discovered he would be retried in September. From newspaper clippings I learned a poll of the jury of the first trial ended with a decision of 10 to 2 and on September 13, 1899 the announcement of the retrial appeared in the paper.

T Bird Pattillo Retrial of 9-13-1899

Followed by a postponement scheduled for September 19th.

T Bird Pattillo 9-19-1899

And while the micro-film copy is difficult to read, on September 20th the court resumed the trial.

T Bird Pattillo Retrial

The trial was to begin in the morning, however several of the witness failed to appear in court therefore the trial was delayed until later in the afternoon.  What I gleaned from this article was that the argument had been over a debt that Mr. Hoss owed Thomas Bird. Both had been carrying weapons for a while and there had been other altercations. Witnesses testified that Mr. Hoss ‘ gun was usually cocked.  On that day Hoss had ordered Thomas Bird out of the store three times.  Thomas Bird told him he could not hide behind the counter forever and when he came out he would get him.  Hoss exited the store armed, followed by his son and another man.  Thomas Bird, who already had aim on Hoss,  told him to lay down his gun and for the by-standers to move out of the way. Shots were fired and Mr. Hoss was stuck in the lower left arm.  The bullet  struck his  5th and 6th ribs before exiting on the right side.

The trial which had begun at 6:00 PM and by 8:00 PM the state rested its case. The judge instructed the jury that they were compelled to spend the night in the court-house and that soft side of the benches would be placed at their convenience. This meant but one thing to me, the verdict would be quickly reached!

Three hours later a verdict was rendered and Thomas Bird was convicted, not of murder, but of manslaughter.

T. Bird Pattillo Conviction dated 9-21-1899

According to Louisiana Prison Records, page 2, from Family Search.com Prisoner # 14382, Pattillo was convicted of Manslaughter and was sentenced to serve 10 years from Sept. 24, 1899 until Sept. 24, 1909. He was described was 5’5″ tall, fair with hazel eyes and black hair. He could read and write. Other physical description states he had a long thick head, flesh mole under right eye, bald in front, scar right wrist, long sharp nose, a flesh mole back of neck and was married. His information is listed the third from the bottom on both sheets of the Louisiana Penitentiary Records located in Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge Parish.

Bird Pattilo Prison Record pg 1

Following his incarceration Thomas Bird in lived in Miller County, Arkansas and in 1940 was listed in the census as residing in Rusk County, Texas with his son, John Raymond and family. Thomas Bird died on February 9, 1952 on the front porch of his house. He is buried at Munnerlyn Chapel Cemetery in Ida, Louisiana. In the late 1960s I located the grave site but last year I revisited the cemetery I could no longer locate the headstone.

Now that I have researched these two Pattillo brothers I feel sure that I have all the obtainable documents on record. But I still do not know what drove them to their actions. What was the motivation for the father shooting at his son? Or why would you take a life over a $10.00 debt? And who the heck is Isaac Hale?

Ah, but the unanswered questions are the driving force behind genealogy and in the words of Miss Scarlett O’Hara, “there’s always tomorrow.” Tomorrow I think I will choose a different ancestor, right after that first cup of coffee.

Road Trips: After the Estate Sale with Sissy Hanson Burge

Leaving the Estate Sale of Billy and Dixie Hanson, I was now headed to the home of his sister, Virginia “Sissy” Hanson Burge, which was a short distance down the road.  My friend Cheri was still with me as we followed Tommy and Kathy to his mother’s home.   My relationship with this family is so closely related that they appear in three of my family’s trees.  On my paternal Stanley side, my grandfather, Wes Stanley’s sister, Roxie Lee had married Robert Benjamin Hanson.  Roxie and Robert were parents these kids father, James Hanson, therefore their grandparents. On the maternal Martin side of the family, my mother Mamie Martin’s sister, Gladys, married Roxie and Robert’s son, James also known as Jim.  And on my husband’s side, Laura Hanson Hemperley, his grandmother was the sister of Robert Hanson!!!  Okay, this is getting very confusing and I’m afraid one of us is married to a monkey’s uncle!
But allow me to introduce you to Sissy:

Sissy Hanson Burge

Sissy was only two years old when her father, “Jim” Hanson died during a yellow fever epidemic in 1932; her brothers James and Billy were only four and one. Aunt Gladys had a hard life providing for these children and Sissy says they often wondered where their next meal would come from. She was in the second grade in Ida, Louisiana before she saw her first white cake. Brother James sold his dad’s saddle to buy a wooden bicycle to deliver ice to the residents of Ida. That cause quite a stir in the family, but it did help provide for them.

Children of Gladys Martin Hanson

By 1939 Gladys was remarried to Claude Norris Gingles, better known as “Buster” and was working as assistant post mistress in Ida. Buster was in the Army and in 1946 they moved to Doyline and lived in Green Tree Village which was the housing for those associated with the shell plant located there. Leaving Ida in her senior year of school was the hardest thing Sissy said she ever had to do but Aunt Gladys offered her encouragement and told her she was going to like it.
The neighboring family, the Greesons, had six girls and so Sissy made friends quickly. There was a handsome young man named Wilburn Thomas Burge on the basketball team and Sissy asked the Greeson girls about him. They approved and within a week Wilburn “Kink” had asked her for a date to a ballgame. In her last year of school Sissy played the cymbals and baritone tuba while her brother James played the bass tuba.

W T and Virginia (Sissy) Hanson Burge

Sissy and Kink were married on October 10, 1947 in the parsonage of the First Baptist Church in Doyline. Kink worked as a Pepsi delivery man covering a large part of North Louisiana before he became employed at the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant where he worked for over thirty years. Sissy worked at a general store in Ida before moving to Doyline and afterwards at the Dixie Cream, the LAAP as an ordinance inspector, at the hospital in Minden as the central supply clerk and later in the thrift store at Hope Youth Ranch. Their family includes sons Wilburn Thomas, Jr. also known as Tommy, Kenneth Noel and two daughters, Barbara and Kathy. For many years they lived in downtown Doyline but for the past thirty years have resided at the dead-end of Point Road in the former home of Kink’s parents which was also a fishing camp and boat launch.

Burge's Camp on Bistineau

It wasn’t long before we arrived at Sissy’s house located on beautiful Lake Bistineau. Cheri was anxious to wet a hook and see how many fish she could catch before our visit ended but we were not here to fish.  I was her to visit with Sissy……. period!  I had not seen her in a very long time and she was much frailer than in younger years. She now has the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and can no longer live alone therefore Kenny and Barbara live with her.

At first she didn’t recognize me but when told who I was, we hugged for a long time; her smile was welcoming and that bear hug felt good. She had Barbara bring out her photo albums to share with me and when prompted could tell me of things that happened long ago but had difficulty with her short-term memory. There were two photos that she dearly cherished, those being of her father, Jim Hanson. The one below is of him on the top right, brother Doris Hanson on the left, and sisters, Myrtle Hanson in the middle and bottom Retter and Woodie.

Jim Hanson and brothers and sisters

My visit was short as Sissy was tiring and needed rest. As she turned to retire to bed I told her I wanted a good-bye hug. As we stood face to face she looked at me quizzically and asked, “Did your Momma die?” to which I replied, “Yes a long time ago”. She and I both held back tears and held each other tight.

Kookie Hemperley and Virginia Hanson Burge

She never looked back nor did I. At least we had that precious moment together and hopefully it meant as much to her as it did to me.

As we drove away Cheri declared that we were coming back….. and next time she would bring her own fishing gear!

Back home I couldn’t wait to share the photo of Jim Hanson and his brothers and sisters with another Hanson cousin, Michelle Chamblee McBride and her family. Was she ever surprised! It was like a priceless treasure as none of her family had ever seen the picture before of their loved ones at such an early age.

So, so wherever you road trips lead you, be it down a dusty road, a visit to a library, a walk in a cemetery or an interview with one of the elders of your family, please share! And if you have a “road trip” planned anytime soon, please give me a call.
Kookie

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