MONDAY’S MAN: BENJAMIN NOEL BAIN

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B N Bain

Benjamin Noel Bain, my maternal great grandfather, was born in 1856 in Alabama, the child of James Calvin Bain and Sarah Ann Tucker.  His parents moved the family from Georgia with an ox drawn wagon.   He is listed in the 1860 Census in Magnolia, Columbia County, Arkansas as four years of age.  On August 18, 1881 he married Margaret Price in Columbia County, although the license states he was a resident of Ida, Louisiana.   They lived in the southern part of the Arkansas near the Ida, Louisiana and Arkansas state line.  The community‘s mailing address was to Bain, Arkansas.

 

Benjamin Noel Bain and Margaret Price Marriage License

They moved about a half a mile south, into what is currently Ida. Benjamin Noel wanted to name the town for his daughter, my grandmother, Emma Pearl Bain Martin. However, Louisiana already had a post office named Bain as well as one named Pearl hence Ida was named for the daughter of J. R. Chandler, another Ida resident. At the time the town was wooded with wild animals all around.

Noel, as he was known, was a hard-working man, a bee keeper, a veterinarian (not degreed) land buyer and horse trader. According to Ludie Bain Stroud, a granddaughter, he once traded two mules and some syrup for a tract of land. Another time he traded a horse and saddle for several tracts that had been  homesteaded. The only documentation I have is a deed dated August 18, 1895 for one hundred seven four acres.

Benjamin Noel Bain

Noel served as a Caddo Parish Deputy from 1905 through 1923. His grandson, Roy was first a constable and then served as a Caddo Parish Deputy for thirty years. During that time Roy received many awards for his work including the most prestigious American Legion Award by then Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards.

Having being widowed twice, his mother, Sarah Ann Tucker Bain Gardner, helped Noel with burials in Ida. He would take his wagon to pick up bodies and build their coffins. Sarah, who was also a mid-wife, would lay out the bodies and line the caskets with silk.

Noel and his family, which consisted of daughters Ella Carl, Emma Pearl and son John Henry, were Baptist and attended Line Creek Baptist before joining Bethsaida Baptist in Ida. There were also two sons, George and David who did not live to adulthood. He was a charter member of the Ida Masonic Lodge #324 which was established in 1907. Both he and his wife, along with most of his children are buried at Bethsaida.

Benjamin Noel and Margaret Price Bain
Benjamin Noel Bain
October 28, 1856-April 6, 1941

MONDAY’S MAN: CLYDE HENRY STANLEY

My dad, Hector Clyde Stanley was born November 18, 1911 in Mira, Louisiana, the second of six children born to Wesley Birdwell and Beulah Thompson Stanley.  Granny and Pop Paw had some unusual given names for their children and so at an early age, Daddy changed his to Henry.  Later in his life when a bank in the small town in which we lived confused his bank account with another H. C. Stanley, he changed it again to Clyde Henry.  Imagine the night mare of researching his name in genealogy!  Luckily on most documents he is listed as Clyde.

I’m not sure how old he was in this photo but I’m thinking less than two years old.

Clyde Stanley's baby photo

When Daddy was very small, Pop Paw was a farmer in North Caddo Parish but at about four years of age, Pop Paw began making a living in the timber industry. They first moved to Fostoria, Texas, and they, along with other families working in the timber industry, lived in railroad cars. When logging was complete in a particular area, the train and its inhabitants would move to another location. Daddy told me they moved thirty four (34) times within an eighteen month period.

My grandparents were both musically talented and could play almost any instrument. Luckily they passed this on to their children. Daddy played the mandolin, however in the photo below with his brother, Audrion, he is shown with a fiddle.

Clyde and Audrion Stanley

In 1919 they moved to Ida, Louisiana where my grandfather farmed on shares. Apparently they did well as by 1924 they bought a brand new Ford Car. Daddy drove a tractor and worked on equipment on the farm. In fact, he told me he was the first person to hook up electric lights on a tractor. This would enable farmers to work at night when the weather was cooler. He wanted to patent his idea, which would cost $75.00, however Granny wouldn’t give him the fees.

Clyde with Farmall Tractor

Although I did not find out until I was eighteen years old, my Dad had been married prior to his marriage to my Mother. That marriage which was never spoken of in our family by any one at any time, lasted less than three years and there were no children. In 1933 my dad married my mother, Mamie Louise Martin and of this union, there were six children.

Tommy, Jim, Clyde and Mamie Martin Stanley
Tommy, Jim, Clyde and Mamie Martin Stanley

My grandfather left farming and went to work for several different sawmills in East Texas. Dad soon followed, although he had owned and operated a service station in Ida. At sawmills in Bivins and Atlanta, Texas he worked as a mechanic. I remember when we lived in Bivins bathing on Saturday nights in a washtub. It was not until the early 1950s that we got indoor plumbing.

In the mid 1950s we moved to Jefferson, Texas where he ran an ice plant and by my freshman year, we could be found in Ganado, Texas. Daddy worked for an oilfield service company as a mechanic. By midterm of my sophomore year we had left Ganado, went to Dayton and Liberty, Texas and finally back to North Caddo Parish where he worked for a tractor dealership and Mother owned a small café in Belcher. Mother had a new red and white Ford Falcon and Daddy drove one of those God awful green Studebaker cars that looked the same coming or going! After I married they returned to South Texas where he worked in Pearland, Humble and finally retired in Conroe, Texas. I think Daddy’s vagabond ways began as a child when his father followed the job regardless of where it took them.

My daddy was a superstitious man. He didn’t like gardenias because they reminded him of cemeteries. He wouldn’t have a cedar tree on the place because if they grew large enough to shade a grave you would die. He wouldn’t start a job on Friday that he couldn’t finish on Friday.

It was bad luck to sweep after dark or under someone’s feet. If we left home and something was left behind (mostly Mother’s purse) he would not go back for it. Bad luck!!

But the one superstition he branded me with was that of the black cat. Of course that one has been around for ages, but his obsession involved seeing one crossing the road in front of you. We either had to turn around, find another route so as not to cross the cat’s tracks or roll down your window and spit to wash out the tracks! Many years after his death I had my sophisticated Uptown New Orleans grandchildren in the car with me and a black cat crossed the road in front of us. My mouth began to salivate! Then I screamed, “Roll down your window and SPIT!” Of course they thought I had totally lost my mind, but soon realized when I pulled over and would not move until everyone in the car had hacked up enough saliva to wash out the cat’s tracks, that they had better SPIT! And for you information, I still do it today.

Daddy and I had a special relationship and he taught me much, such as one wrench from another, how to read a road map and much more. We loved to watch baseball games on TV together, sometimes rooting for the same team, sometimes not, but our cheers (or rants) were always as loud as if we were in the stands. When I was in my teens I made the comment that I wish we could see a Major League game in person. At that time it seemed only an impossible dream however it did come to pass when my brother Jim took the family to see the Astros play at the Astro Dome in Houston. I looked at him and said, “Did you ever think we’d do this in person?” only to be interrupted with wild cheering from the “Clyde Section”.

My dad was an intelligent man and a hard worker. He believed you gave a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. He was honest and never lied and stressed honesty at all costs. Perhaps I get my outspoken ways from him for in his words, “Say what you mean and mean what you say” or my favorite Clyde-ism, “Keep two things clean that are uniquely yours; your word and your name.”

The last time Mother and Daddy moved to South Texas he told me he would return to North Louisiana one day but he when never say when that day would be. Many times I asked and he never gave an answer so I turned to Mother as to when she thought that day would come. She told me Daddy thought you only go home to die. Weird I thought.

During the last year of his life Daddy was in and out of the hospital many times. It was then they decided to purchase a small house in Vivian and return to Louisiana. Don and I moved them back and two weeks later he passed away on January 1, 1980. Maybe there was something to his superstitions.

Clyde  Stanley 1976
Clyde Stanley, 1976

MONDAY’S MAN: REV. JAMES H. HANSON

My how the twigs of a tree do tangle and such is the case of James H. Hanson’s family which winds itself through my Hemperley, Stanley and Martin trees.    James H. Hanson was born in Georgia on October 22, 1853 to Jesse and Matilda Wade Hanson.  On October 10, 1867 he married Mary Jane Leonard in Cherokee County, Georgia.

James H Hanson and Mary Jane Leonard Marriage
In the 1880 Census he lived in Little River, Cherokee, Georgia and listed his profession as a furniture maker. By 1900 he and his family had moved to Cass County, Texas where he was listed as a manufacturer. During the next ten years, he had become a Baptist preacher and in the 1920 Census he was listed as an evangelist.

During an interview in the late 1960s with Beatrice Hemperley Tollison Crane Eason (granddaughter of James H. Hanson), she recanted the following story. “By 1901 James H. Hanson and wanted to be a preacher and so he went into the woods near his home and lived six months by himself. His family would bring food to him and during this time he learned to read, write and studied the Bible. Soon thereafter he became a circuit preacher and would ride his horse from church to church on the weekends where he would preach. He preached at Mt. Gilead Baptist near Vivian, Louisiana, Bethsaida in Ida, Louisiana and was also at Salem Baptist in Bloomburg, Texas.”

She also told me Rev. Hanson attended a Baptist convention with a Rev. Oliver in Washington, D. C. While he was strictly self-taught and had no formal education, he was chosen to be a speaker. He came home with a blue ribbon for the sermon he delivered.

Rev. James Hanson

James and Mary Jane raised twelve children in Cass County, Texas namely: Victoria, Dora, John R., Jim, Laura, Alice, Alfred, Robert Benjamin, Minnie Belle, Henry, Willie and Beulah.

Laura married John Daniel Luther Hemperley, the grandfather of my late husband.

Dora first married Basil Tollison; Beatrice Hemperley, daughter of Laura and John D. L. Hemperley, married Basil Tollison, her mother’s sister’s ex- husband!

Robert Benjamin married Roxie Lee Stanley, my grandfather Wesley Birdwell Stanley’s sister.

Jim Hanson, grandson of James and Mary Jane, married my mother’s sister, Gladys Martin.

Whew! I’m beginning to feel like there’s a monkey’s uncle in the tangled twigs of these trees. James and Mary Jane both lived to eighty-seven years of age and are buried in the Salem Baptist Church Cemetery, Bloomburg, Texas.

WEDNESDAY’S WOMAN: MAMIE LOUISE MARTIN STANLEY

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My mother, Mamie Louise Martin, was born October 21, 1914 in Ida, Louisiana to
Walter Houston and Emma Pearl Bain Martin.

Mamie Martin Stanley

Mamie Louise Martin

She lived in Ida all of her childhood years; attended school there; played basketball on the school team; and along with other siblings, hoed cotton during the depression.

At the age of nineteen she and Clyde Henry Stanley married and remained so for forty-seven years until he passed away.  Of this union there were six children, namely Jimmy Clyde (also known as Coot), Thomas Neil (better known as Winkie), Charles Edwin (referred to as Ed), me (and you know I go by Kookie), Judy Faye (JuJu) and lastly Linda Kaye (who we affectionately call Kitty).  We all knew her as loving and kind but also a strict disciplinarian.  Let one of us act up and we promptly felt a keen peach tree switch across our behinds.  She lived by “spare the rod and spoil the child” so it is safe to say none of us were spoiled!

Mother was a fun loving, quick to laugh person.  She was a great cook and at one time owned the Belcher Café in Belcher, Louisiana.  She loved her family, to fish, and to play games.  Rook was one of her favorites and she took it seriously!  This photo has Jim Stanley, Mamie Martin Stanley, Johnny Hemperley and Steve Hemperley playing Rook with Sybol Hemperley watching.

 

Rook party (2)

On her 75th birthday all six of her children and many of her grandchildren and a great grandchild spent the entire weekend celebrating at Kitty’s house in Lafayette, Louisiana. One of the highlights was playing Pictionary with her. She also liked playing Trivial Pursuit with her grandchildren and often would surprise them with her knowledge of events.

Mamie's 75th Birthday Party

Today, I don’t want to tell you about what records I have located on Mom, but rather another side of that we, the children, knew and loved. You see, Mother had a different way of expressing herself while getting her point across. She could tell you how the cow at the cabbage or to kiss my grits and you would like it. I’m not sure what language it was but I’m sure it was not the Queen’s English. It wasn’t Redneck or Southern style filled with “dawlins’, sugar, or sweetie pies.

At one time, I thought she had made it up but came to the realization that it was the jargon she grew up with and most probably had been handed down from one generation to another and so I dub it Martin-ese. An example would be if any one of us children was wasting time she might tell us we were burning daylight by lolligagin’ around and that we better get it done before quick got ready.

The weather could be hotter than a fox in a forest fire or a depot stove, or colder than a well diggers’ grave. When it rained she would say it was coming down like a cow peeing on a flat rock. And if the roads were icy, they were slicker than goose hockey or snot!

If someone was putting on airs or living beyond their means she would say they were living high on the hog, or that you couldn’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. To her, some were just plain highfalutin’ or howling at the moon. Many looked like they had been rode hard and put up wet. Sometimes she would say a person was older than dirt, crazier than a road lizard or Betsy bug, not worth a hill of beans or they might be a whippersnapper.
When times were hard her remarks would be that something needed was scarcer than hen’s teeth, harder than pulling teeth, higher than a cat’s back or that she felt like a pup sucking hind tit. And of course in a household of two adults and six kids, she never had room to cuss a cat.

She always taught us that anything worth doing was worth doing right or not at all. How many times have I heard can’t never could or that can’t killed himself chasing couldn’t?

That old adage about if Momma ain’t happy nobody’s happy applied in our household because if she got her bowels in an uproar, you had better hide and watch! Of course there were many times she had reason to be unhappy because one of us kids was always having a hissy or conniption fit. We never really knew if one was worse than the other but we always knew the cure was a peach tree switch!

As to her health some days she felt bright eyed and bushy tailed, hush mouthed, nervous as a cat in a room full of rockers or had just run out of gas because she was all stove up. Some nights she would have the big eye and not sleep much. Most days she was happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.

Visitors were always as welcome as the flowers in May and it didn’t make no never mind who dropped in, you were always invited to sit a spell and have supper (you know, the meal that’s served at night). One of her favorite sayings was whatever melts your butter, meaning whatever makes you happy.

Mamie  Martin Stanley 1980

It will be twenty years this October since Mamie Louise Martin Stanley passed away. There is only my brother, two sisters and I left of the six children. Sometimes when talking, one of us will unconsciously use one of her phrases. Realizing what just happened laughter breaks out. She would be proud that we have managed to keep Martin-ese alive. She would be happy to know that we were melting butter.

Military Monday: Donald Ray Hemperley, USAF 18574020

Don, as he preferred, was the second child of Raymond and Sybol O’Pry Hemperley.  He arrived a jaundiced baby born on August 18, 1941 in Vivian, Louisiana.  Growing up on a 60 acre farm near Gilliam, he was a precocious child who often ran away from home to play with his imaginary family that lived just across the levee.  Many were the times his mother, with switch in hand, would cross that levee to retrieve him. When asked where he had been he would speak of visiting his fantasy wife and children who lived across the levee.

Don Hemperley 1st grade

First Grade

Don attended grammar school in Belcher, Louisiana. By high school, a new consolidate school had been built in Vivian and he was among the graduation class of the first four full years of the school. Don could have been an honors student for he was a very intelligent person. Often work on the farm, work after school at a gas station in Gilliam, or his antics got in the way. During his senior year he was suspended for three days for smoking on campus. He was also reprimanded for singing and dancing in the hallways while classes were going on.
Don Hemperley soph

Sophomore Year

Following his graduation he knew he did not want the farm life anymore and enlisted the United States Air Force on July 22, 1959 in Shreveport, Louisiana. His basic training was at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. As basic training does for so many young enlistees, he went in a scrawny teen and came out a well chiseled mature adult male!
Don at Boot Camp, San Antonio, Tx Sept. 1959
Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base

From San Antonio he was sent to Indiana University at Bloomington to become a Russian Linguist. His studies included not only the language but also the history and culture of Russia. From the first day of class his professors spoke only in Russian; wrote only in Russian; and expected the soldiers in the class to learn and excel in all things Russian. Not all students graduated (one even committed suicide) as it was an intense degree of studies.

Don Hemperley AF photo at Indiana U
Student I D for Bloomington University

Don Hemperley at Indiana U 1960
On Campus at Indiana University

August 6, 1960 Don returned home and we were married that night at the Belcher Baptist Church. After a short leave we headed to Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas where he was to attend crypto-logic and intelligence training school. Did I ask what all that meant? Heavens no! We were too busy celebrating our recent marriage and starting our married lives. Besides, it didn’t matter to me just as long as we were together.

Don at San Angelo 1960
 Airman 2nd Class, San Angelo, Texas

By New Year’s Day of 1960 I was expecting our first child and Don was boarding a plane for a fifteen month tour of duty at the 6986th Wakkanai Air Station located on the northern most point of Hokkaido, Japan. Being the linguist he was he soon picked up the Japanese language and was able to communicate with the locals. He loved the food as well as the people in Wakkanai. Off time was spent writing letters home, visiting orphanages and at the Club Walk’N I NCO club where he was on the Board of Governors.

Don, Waikini 1961
Wakkanai Japan 1961

In April 1962 Don returned stateside and met our eleven month son Steve for the first time. We packed our little black 1950 Ford and headed to his next assignment at the National Security Agency located at Fort George G. Meade near Laurel, Maryland. I knew Don had a high level security clearance, but NSA?

The Cuban Missile Crisis took place during the time we were in Maryland and I can remember Don working long hours and being very concerned. Of course, I had no idea of what his job entailed, but the reality of the crisis set in when I drove to work and there were few cars on the road. The shopping center, which was usually bustling, was desolate. The air was tense as most everyone was waiting for President Kennedy’s next news conference.

On July 19, 1963 Don’s enlistment was up and we returned to Louisiana. Our daughter Kelly was born in September and we settled into a life far from the fast paced Air Force one Don loved. He soon became a partner in an insurance agency and was a Junior Warden as well as Master of the Belcher Masonic Lodge. He was instrumental in incorporating Gilliam as a Village and served as its first Village Clerk. He was a jokester, a loving father and husband, generous and a good friend to everyone.

Many many years later in life he mentioned his time in the Air Force and I asked, “Now just what was it that you did while wearing those Air Force blues?” He replied with that precocious smile, “I spoke to Russians flying their planes over water near Hokkaido and they didn’t know I was an American. I also decoded and transcribed top secrets while at NSA.” I rolled my eyes and thought, there he goes again; pulling those same tricks much like he did on his mother about his fantasy family. So was he was telling the truth or not? I suppose I will never know for sure.

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Prison Ministry: The Story of Nevalene Stanley Thomas and The Born Again Singers

Neva Stanley Thomas

Matthew 25:36 reads: “Naked and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison and ye came unto me.”

Nevalene Stanley Thomas was born July 19, 1936 to Addison Audrion Stanley and wife, Ora Oneta Tolleson in Bivins, Texas.  One of her grandfathers wanted to name her Ineva and the other Evalene.  According to her, they settled on naming her Nevalene but she prefers to be referred to as Neva.  Neva was a twin; however her mother had great difficulty having the children and only Neva survived.

Apparently she was born to sing and attend church as at the age of 4 to 5 years old she would walk to church, by herself, at Grogan’s Mill near Bivins, Texas.  Every Sunday Brother Will Grogan would ask her to sing Trust and Obey….. all five verses of it … before services began. Her father left the mill for work at the Texarkana Red River Depot, where he was a dozer operator during the construction of the depot. During the time spent in Texarkana she did not attend church.

In 1943 they moved to Huffines, Texas to live with her mother’s father and it was here she got back into church. In 1946 they moved to Vivian, Louisiana when her father went to work for the local General Motors dealership. On July 6,1952, while only 15 year old, she married John Howard Thomas, Sr.  They became members of Walnut Hill Baptist Church where she served 25 years and seven months as the music director and Howard was a deacon. And all the while, she was singing!

By 1954 Vivian’s local radio station was broadcasting from Walnut Hill Baptist Church where a quartet comprised of T. J. Stanfield, Lois Ragsdale, Albert Holt and Neva sang. Neva sang at revivals, the Lions Club and for many local funerals.  She would take her lunch hour, go to the funeral home and perform, and then return to work.  The Happy Time Singers, another of Neva’s groups, soon emerged and the members were Jean Walton, T. J. Stanfield, Buddy McBride and Neva.

Emanuel Baptist Church in Vivian is where Neva met Doris Gomery and enlisted her to become the sound technician.  On her first recording in Oklahoma City, Doris accompanied Neva and it was there they met John Rohloff who had played with Andre Crouch.  Between that time and 1986 Neva had recorded three CDS and five cassettes.

Even though Neva was staying busy, she still felt there was another direction God wanted her to follow.  Being the Christian woman she is, she opened her Bible searching for answers.  Her Bible was opened to Matthew 25:36 which reads: “Naked and ye clothed me: I was sick and you visited me: I was in prison and ye came unto me.”  On June 3, 1986 the charter for the non-profit corporation was signed for G N H Ministries of Vivian by the Louisiana Secretary of State. Thus The Born Again Singers were born and continued for fourteen and one half years of prison ministry.  Neither ice storms, rains, sunshine or lack of finances stopped these troupers! They were provided for by donations and were on a mission to share their love of God and Jesus!

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This scrapbook tells the story and their prison ministries.Scrapbook

The Born Again Singers, 1987
Doris Gomery, Vickie Neiderhofer, Neva Stanley Thomas and in front, Johnna Shew Kunath

Rev.T. J. McDonnel, pastor at Whitaker Baptist Church in Texarkana, was
instrumental in gaining the group entrance and acceptance into many prisons.  During their ministry they traveled to the Federal Correctional Institute in Texarkana, Texas, and the Texas Department of Corrections in Seagoville, Texas. In Arkansas they visited at Cummins in Grady, the Men’s Diagnostic Unit in Pine Bluff, the Department of Corrections in Tucker, and the Wrightsville Men’s Penitentiary in Wrightsville.  Louisiana penitentiaries served were Wade Correctional in Homer and the Louisiana State Prison in Angola.  Neva’s granddaughter Johnna, who also sang, accompanied them and with the exception of one time, was allowed to enter the prisons to perform beginning when she was about eleven years old.

Upon arriving at the prisons they had to be cleared by security and often performed either in the prison’s chapel or gymnasium, which led them past cell block filled with prisoners.  Now that takes some guts!!!  But these brave ladies would not be deterred.
Vickie, Judy, Neva, Norma and Johnna

Vickie Neiderhofer, Judy Holley, Neva Thomas and Johnna Shew Kunath

On their first trip to Angola upon arriving at the gate they learned each of them had been cleared for admittance however their equipment had not.  It had to be left at the gate.  Neva wondered how in the world they would musically minister to this group of 417 men who had earned the privilege and wanted to attend.  Luckily one of the inmates had a keyboard they borrowed.  That night Neva wrote and performed two songs that she says until this day she doesn’t remember the lyrics.  Seven inmates repented and there were few dry eyes in the place.
Ferry to Angola
On their second trip to Angola while riding the ferry across the Mississippi River, the group got out of their vehicles and began to sing gospel songs.  Other passengers joined in the celebration to the point the river boat captain said they had the ferry rocking.  On the return crossing the captain told how much he had enjoyed their “concert” and asked to have prayer with them.
Mostly their ministry was done as a musical concert, however the group also provided
Bibles, audio recordings, published a news letter for inmates, were pen pals, attended
seminars and worked with prisoners on Pre-Release.  Following training Neva became a spiritual adviser to death row inmates.  On the night prior to his execution, an inmate convicted of murder, wrote the following letter:

Wingo's final letter

Excerpts from the letter read:
“Dear Sister Neva, It is with a heavy heart I write this last letter to you for I know by the time it reaches your precious hands, you will be wrapped in sadness and sorrow because of my execution .  I wish with all my heart I could take your pain and sorrow from you.  I did not want to leave you all physically but by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus I was spiritually prepared and unafraid. Praise God!  I pray you can find peace and comfort in the truth that death for the Christian, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus is but a mere stepping stone into eternal life in Heaven. By the time you read this I will be standing in Heaven, in the presence of God and our Lord Jesus and all those who went on before me.”

Another inmate, who at a young age, had robbed a lady of her purse in a Wal-Mart parking lot appealed to Neva to aid him in making an apology to his victim. The woman had a grandchild with her. He had demanded the lady’s purse and when she would not surrender it, he fired shots and she gave him her purse.
Letter requesting video to apologize
After accepting God he wanted to make a video of apology to his victim. Neva was instrumental in getting the video made and aired on TV. There was also an arranged face to face meeting for the apology and the victim accepted it.

Apparently Neva and The Born Again Singers were accepted cordially by many of the inmates as evidenced by many self made cards and letters that were sent to her. Her scrapbook is filled with letters of appreciation from those she touched as well as newspaper clippings regarding the groups other appearances.

The inmates sent cards for Christmas, Mother’s Day and Valentine greetings. Some of the prisoners’ art (from their homemade cards) is below…..
Prison Art 2
Prison Art 3
Prison Art 5
Many of The Born Again Singers are still actively involved in Christian fellowship. Here’s a little more about each one:
Doris Gomery is a retired social worker who worked with juveniles at a boys’ home in Greenwood, Louisiana. She also studied criminal law and was a Probation Officer for the State of Louisiana. Currently she attends First Baptist Church in Vivian where she belongs to Hands and Feet and One to Another which offer prayers and assistance for varying needs to people in the community. She also belongs to Prayers Ministry which encompasses the globe as they pray for those in need. At one time she was involved in Message Music and distributed music to book stores as well as individuals.

Vickie Neiderhofer has passed away since her participation with The Born Again Singers.

Johnna Shew Kunath, all grown up now, is the proud mom of two daughters, one recently adopted son and two foster children. She is a Bridge Teacher at Greenacres Middle School in Bossier City and sponsors the Junior Optimist Organization. Johnna and her husband Jason attend First Baptist Church in Princeton where they started a senior citizen ministry called Senior Moments. Daughters of the King, a ladies’ ministry of fellowship and Bible study, was also organized by Johnna at the church. Volunteering in this household involves everyone including the children. Johnna and her daughters volunteer at The Nest, a part of The Renesting Project. And if all of this isn’t enough she is currently involved with a group, the Christian Women’s Job Corp of Northwest Louisiana. Theses volunteers will go into prisons and educate and set up housing for those being released.

Norma Norris Morris met and married an inmate. Norma lives in Bloomburg, Texas and goes to the Full Gospel Church.

Judy Holly Thompson, a registered nurse, met and married an inmate. She resides in Vivian and attends First Baptist Church.

Neva currently attends the Yocana Baptist Church in Yocana, Arkansas where she has been the Music Director for the past seven year and writes a newsletter for her church. She goes to weekend singings but no longer travels for the prison ministry. One of her favorite sayings is “This Too Shall Pass” which is indicative of her belief that all problems taken one at a time in Christ’s name will get better. Ask Doris about Neva and she will say she is a booster of people’s confidence, an advocate and encourager who brings out the best in everyone. I say she’s all that and more but specifically a child of God born to sing His praises. On a recent visit with her and her daughter, Letitia Thomas McGuire, they sang “I See Jesus” for me. The photo below was taken at that time. Neva is still married to the love of her life, John Howard Thomas, Sr.and they give praise to God daily for the wonderful life they have had. They have two children, Letitia Darlene Thomas McGuire and John Howard Thomas, Jr.
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Genealogy: Edward Thomas Hemperley and Letitia Ann Maranda Dodd

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Edward Thomas Hemperley

Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley

Edward Thomas Hemperley was born into the family of nine children of Edward Martin Hemperley and Rachel Powell on March 20, 1841 in Campbell County, Georgia. His childhood was spent in Georgia where he attended school and upon graduation began his life as a farmer. Edward didn’t particularly like this occupation and in 1860-1861 he attended lectures at Macon, Georgia to become a physician.

On March 3, 1861 in Fayette, Georgia he married Miss Letitia (Lettie) Ann Maranda Dodd, daughter of John Sample Dodd and Elizabeth Harriet Word.

Letitia Dodd Hemperley

Letitia Ann Maranda “Lettie” Dodd

John Sample Dodd was a prominent Baptist Minister in Georgia and has been written about in The Biographical Sketches of Prominent Baptists, The Preaching Dodds of Old Campbell County as well as The Sun newspaper published on April 2, 1881.

On September 9, 1861 Edward Thomas enlisted in the 27th Regiment of the Georgia Volunteer Infantry, Company E as a private. In November 1861 he was serving in Manassas, Virginia and listed as having chronic rheumatism. December 7, 1861 in Richmond, Virginia he was discharged for the disability.

Edward T Hemperley, Discharge 1861

The discharge states that he is 6 feet tall, dark complexioned, grey eyes, black hair and a twenty year old farmer. Physician M. Darnall, surgeon, further states that he has chronic rheumatism of the right knew preventing extension of the limb and that he believes that he will not get well as long as he remains in camp.

On August 1, 1863 Edward re-enlisted in the same Regiment at Fairburn, Georgia and served as a hospital nurse in Lake City, Florida in February 1864. March 11, 1864 he was suffering from neuralgia and was on inactive duty until October 25, 1864. His active duty included the battle at Lake City, and in the last battle fought at Bentonville, North Carolina.

Edward Hemperley parole of 1865

On May 1, 1865 he was paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina. He returned to Georgia where he and Lettie lived and he practiced medicine until 1869 when they moved to Miller County, Arkansas.

Moving from Georgia to Miller County was an arduous task. Four of their thirteen children had been born in Georgia and they, along with Edward and Lettie, road the train from Atlanta, Georgia to New Orleans. In New Orleans they boarded a steamboat going up the Mississippi River until they came to the Red River in Shreveport. Here they took another steamboat through Caddo Lake to Jefferson, Texas. In Jefferson they had to buy a wagon and an ox team for the final leg to Era, Arkansas. The final leg, which is about 50 miles, took two days.

They were greeted by family members who had already moved from Georgia. Edward’s brother, Andrew Simpson Hemperley and his wife Louise Catherine Dodd (aunt to Lettie) had come to Arkansas in 1856. Although Andrew Simpson had been killed at Baker’s Hill in the Battle of Vicksburg, his family was still there. Lettie’s uncle, Willis Henderson Dodd and his wife, Rachel Hemperley (sister of Edward) were in Miller County also.

In this area, Dr. Hemperley’s practice encompassed the states of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. According to Myrtle Hemperley Lloyd, Dr. Hemperley’s granddaughter whom I interviewed in the late 1960s, they had 760 acres of land, a saw mill, a shingle mill, a grist mill, and two cotton gins.

Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley passed away in 1913 in Miller County. Stories are that following his passing, Lettie was often called upon to administer to the sick because of her medical knowledge. She is described as having an outspoken personality, personal magnetism, and high energy. Lettie died in 1926. They attended Evergreen Baptist Church and are both buried there.

Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley and wife Letitia Ann Maranda Dodd Hemperley

Dr. Edward Thomas and Lettie Hemperley

IM000583.JPG

Evergreen Baptist Church, April 2013

Evergreen Church

Category: Genealogy | Tags: , , ,

Christmas Eve Gift!!

Christmas Eve Gift

Growing up Santa always came on Christmas Eve; I don’t really know why, he just did!   There was no waiting around for Christmas morning to open gifts in my family of six children.  Maybe it was because often the tree was not cut and decorated until that day with homemade ornaments. Maybe Mother and Daddy knew they could not restrain us until the next morning.  Maybe it was because the following day meant a trip over the rivers and through the woods to Grandma’s house we’d go.  Little did I know in 1960, the year I became a member of the Hemperley family, that they too opened their gifts on Christmas Eve, but the Christmas Eve gift had a twist and was a tradition in their family.

As Don and I entered his parent’s home that year, his dad greeted us with a boisterous, “Christmas Eve Gift!” to which Don replied, “Oh, you got me again!”  His mom entered the room and her greeting was the same.   I looked at Don quizzically and wondered what was going on.

Knowing full well we were to have our gift exchange after supper that night my reply was that it was not time to open gifts. Don’s dad questioned me; didn’t I know about the Christmas Eve Gift? No, apparently I did not.

He explained that in days of old when all the crops were laid by and the bills paid, the plantation owners would give a gift to the first farm hand that greeted him with that phrase on Christmas Eve.  And since “Pop” had grown up on a farm and was a farmer, the tradition continued. But I soon learned that the gift didn’t come with a bow but was more like a game of tag.  You try to catch someone off guard, unsuspecting, or naïve to lay the words on and reap pleasure of being the first to greet someone you love on Christmas Eve.  The result is usually “Oh darn, you got me” followed by the gift of a hug and a kiss. Through the years my family, the Stanleys, became players in the game and love it as much as those who taught me how to play.

Some Hemperleys will go to any length to tag you first.  Like the year Don, who was an early to bed and early to rise person, set his biological clock for 12:01 AM to wake me from a deep slumber with his obnoxious greeting.  Sometimes they will wait until you are deeply involved in making a Christmas dessert or some other chore that would distract you and you are caught again.  Or there will be a knock on the door and when you open it you are greeted by a chorus of the phrase by relatives bearing gifts and food who have arrived early hoping to catch you off guard.

In the days before caller ID the phone would ring and on the other end of the line you would hear the greeting before you could even say Ho Ho Ho.  In today’s world when we can’t all be together or you want to tag someone before you are tagged, you wait until 6:00 AM, as I did this morning, and text the phrase .  Some say I’m cheating; I say welcome to the world of electronics as I see that the same as a chat, one on one.  And who got caught tagged first today?  Not me!

Traditions are unique to each family and they often are changed from one generation to another.  Silly as this game is, it’s a Christmas tradition that has been passed down for years.  There is no last minute shopping, no fighting crowds nor it’s not monetary. It’s just a warm greeting filled with love.

And yes I do know ultimately the true Christmas Eve Gift was the Star of Bethlehem that led to a manger.  May you have a Merry Christmas and remember the reason for the season.

In closing I would like to say “CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT”! Consider yourself tagged!

Category: Christmas | Tags: ,

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.

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