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Throw Back Thursday: Those Stanley Kids

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Charles, Jim, Tommy and Kookie Stanley

Charles, Jimmy Clyde, Tommy and Kookie about 1945 in Bivins, Texas.

No, Jim didn’t always wear funny hats like this; he was dressed for a school play.

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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.

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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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!

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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

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and it’s a time to drag out your favorite recipes, plan a menu, and go grocery shopping.  Sometimes it becomes stressful worrying if you will have enough food, who’s coming to dinner and will you get it on the table on time.  Holiday meals should never become a chore but rather a celebration of family, friends and the fellowship you can share with one another.

Our family’s celebration for Thanksgiving is pretty traditional in the menu.  However, it’s the contribution of each family member’s specialty that makes it more delightful and less complicated. Son—in-law, Scott Brown starts the night before by smoking a turkey that is falloff the bone tender and juicy.  Everyone has their favorite part of the turkey and when my daughter-in-law came into the family, she would only eat drumsticks therefore they were reserved for her alone. The simple way to resolve this problem for the younger family members, who also liked them, was to purchase a package of nothing but drumsticks.  Now everyone is happy!

Of course we have to have the traditional cornbread dressing which I make.  Recently I have taught granddaughter Rachel how to make it and we usually do that together.  When Don was alive I made two dressings; one regular and another with oysters which was his favorite.  Kelly makes mashed potatoes and green bean casserole and of course we have broccoli rice casserole, which my South Louisiana grandkids refer to as “green rice”. Other items on the menu include a fruit salad, green salad, cranberry sauce, rolls, etc. For deserts Scott often makes a sweet potato pie and he or I have to have pecan pie with Jack Daniels in it.  Now before you back away from that one, the alcohol cooks out and you are left with a delightful flavor.  Kelly’s favorite is banana pudding and my niece, Janet Stanley, who is the carrot cake princess, always makes one for me.  Sometimes I make 5 Minute Fudge however, my sister-in-law gave me a recipe for crock pot fudge that is so easy to make (as if the 5 Minute Fudge is difficult!).  Another “must” is bread pudding with either a coconut rum or Jack Daniels sauce.  Granddaughter Lauren is a wizard with cupcakes so she’s in charge of those and, sister, Judy Stanley introduced us to pecan pie muffins.  Can you tell by the time the football games are on TV we’re in a sugar coma?  Bring on the coffee with Kool Whip floating on top!

Now that your mouth is watering, thought I’d share a few of our favorite recipes with you.

First up:

Janet Hemperley Stanley’s Carrot Cake:

IM000038.JPG

Mix together 2 cups sugar, 4 eggs, 1 ½ cup oil. Sift together 2 cups flour, 2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. salt. Fold in: 3 cups grated raw carrots and 1 cup chopped pecans. Bake 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Cream Cheese Frosting: 8 oz. cream cheese, ½ stick butter, 1 box powdered sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla. Mix until creamy and frost the cake.

Next:

Kookie Stanley Hemperley’s Easy Bread Pudding Kookie Hemperley 6-2-2012 Large pkg. Day old Danish with pecans and raisins, 1 qt. heavy cream and 8 eggs. Break up bread and cover with cream and eggs mixing well. Let soak for a few minutes and then pour into baking dish sprayed with Pam and bake at 350 degrees until toothpick comes out clean (about 30-40 minutes). Sauce: 1 cup sugar, water to dissolve sugar, *orange or lemon juice to taste, vanilla, small amount of heavy cream and pecans chopped finely. Add all ingredients and cook down until thick. *You can substitute Cocoanut Rum, Jack Daniels or Grand Marnier. (Of course, cooking takes all the alcohol out but leaves a good flavor)

Next:

Velma Stanley’s Crock Pot Clusters

Velma Irwin Stanley1-16 oz. jar salted dry roasted peanuts, 1-16 oz. jar unsalted dry roasted peanuts, 1-12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 bar German chocolate and 2-1 ½ lb. white almond bark.  Layer all ingredients in a crock pot and set temperature to low and cook 3 hours. Stir at the end of 3 hours. Drop onto foil by spoonsfull and let set until hardened.

And last but not least:

Judy Stanley’s Pecan Pie Muffins

JuJu May 2010

1 cup chopped pecans, 1 cup brown sugar firmly packed, ½ cup all purpose flour, 2 large eggs, ½ cup butter or margarine melted.

Combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl; make a well in the center of the mixture. Beat eggs until foamy and stir in butter. Add to dry ingredients stirring until moistened. Place in muffin tins (spray or coat with butter). Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Remove from pans immediately. Makes 8-0 muffins. We like these because you can eat them with your hand and don’t have to wash a dish!

As you can tell, our meal is collaboration from the whole family, which makes it more fun. And of course, each person around the table has to say what they are thankful for before we all dig in. That can be funny, sentimental or sweet. So, in closing, I’ll start this Thanksgiving season by saying, thank you Lord for family who sustain me; for friends who bring joy, for health; and for genealogy which brought me to Susie Higginbotham Reynolds who allows me to share a part of her world!

Who Do You Think You Are? – My Review

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For months I have anticipated the return of one of my favorite shows, “Who Do You Think You Are”.  Even if I don’t know much about the featured celebrity, I hopefully will discover a new source for searching or find a hint that will lead me in a new direction.  Last night “Who Do You Think You Are?” made its 2013 season debut and left me with mixed reviews. 

For starters, searching for ancestors just doesn’t fall into place as it is portrayed on the show.  As someone who has done research in libraries, cemeteries and personal interviews over a period of more than thirty years, I can tell you that you may search months, years or decades to locate one document much less the entire life story of your ancestor. Sometimes you come up totally empty handed.

Personally I love Ancestry, the sponsor of the show.  In fact I have three family trees on their site and praise it as my “go to sight” for research.  However, I believe the illusion of how easy it is to discover your past, who you are, and your family’s place in history on “Who Do You Think You Are?” is just that…… an illusion.  The average beginning genealogist, I’m afraid, will get a false sense of tracing one’s tree.  And when disappointment sets in, some will lose interest and their tree will never branch with limbs and twigs.

Sure, if you are a celebrity and have money to travel, it would make the process easier.  If you are one of the fortunate ones that can hire a professional genealogist to do the research for you, oh well, you have just missed the personal satisfaction of a history lesson in places, events and your heritage.  To me, documents from a professional would merely become a piece of paper with names on it.  I wouldn’t have the pleasure of that “ah ha” moment!  There is no greater reward in genealogy than to discover a document or photo and have the feeling of accomplishment in your pursuit.

Kelly and Rachel  Brown, Kookie Stanley Hemperley and Mamie Stanley-4 generations

Kelly and Rachel Brown, Kookie Stanley Hemperley and Mamie Stanley                     4 generations

Through the generations: Mother, Mamie Martin Stanley and I located cemeteries, interviewed family members, gathered photos and old documents.  My daughter Kelly Hemperley Brown and her husband Scott and I enjoy locating cemeteries off the beaten path documenting headstones as we go.  Rachel, who is about a year old in this photo, is all grown up now and currently is a Deputy Clerk in Caddo Parish Clerk’s Office. She has researched local court records for me and often accompanies me to different libraries searching old newspapers, microfilms and military histories.  In short, my research has included four generations sharing our family’s history and having that “ah ha” moment together.

While I find the celebrities heritage enjoyable at times, if I had my druthers, every once in a while I would prefer Ancestry send in a John Doe…… you know; ordinary researchers like you and me; the people who have brick walls and do not have the luxury of hiring the pros to do the work for us or to travel extensively.  Every person who has walked the face of this earth is deserving of having their story told regardless of their social status.

Another suggestion I would make to the producers of the show is that they allow the person with the most gathered information on the ancestor be allowed to travel on the discovery journey regardless of whether the featured person is a celebrity or a descendant of John Doe. Had it not been for the encouragement of and the companionship of my mother pointing me in the right direction when I began we would have not had the benefit of sharing what we discovered.  She didn’t have to wait until I arrived home with new information; she experienced it right along with me.

In conclusion when the celebrity located the grave-site of her relative of generations past and greeted it with “what’s up”, I thought how irreverent!  The first words from her mouth should have been that she would have loved to have known him and thank him for his contribution to the war, politics and her family.

Kookie

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