Tombstone Tuesday – Leaving Rocks on Headstones

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When I went to Texarkana a couple of weeks ago, I went by some of my ancestor’s graves and replaced some flowers, and left some rocks.

Rev. Williams' Headstone

Rev. Williams’ Headstone

Yes, I said rocks.

I’m sure you are wondering why I would leave a rock.  Traditionally,  I believe it’s a Jewish custom to leave a rock when you visit a grave.  It means you remember the person you are leaving it for.  The way I understand it to work, anytime you think of a person who has passed away, you stop right there, and pick up a rock.  Then, the next time you visit their grave, you leave the rock.

Now, I’m not Jewish but I think it’s a great way for anyone, no matter the religion or ethnicity to leave a reminder that someone was there, and the person the rock was left for, isn’t forgotten.

In the picture above, you can see that the rock was painted and written on (I love you Pinterest), it says, “At Rest with God” and I thought this one was appropriate for Rev. Williams’ grave, my 2nd great-grandfather.  I also put the cross out there with the flowers on it.

I put flowers on the headstone of my great-grandparents, Rufus and Dona (Williams) Higginbotham.  I didn’t leave them a rock though because sadly I had forgotten the bag of rocks when I was putting the flowers on.

Rufus and Dona Higginbotham Headstone

Rufus and Dona Higginbotham Headstone

Next, over at East Memorial Gardens, I replaced the flowers on my grandfather and grandmother’s headstone.  I had already put this rock there sometime last year, and I was actually very pleased that it was still there, and the paint is holding up well and it still looks really good.  This rock says, “Until we meet again.”

Earl and Edna Higginbotham Headstone

Earl and Edna Higginbotham Headstone

Then at Harmony Grove, I put a rock on my great-grandparents headstone, Major and Mollie Harris. Everyone called them “Big Mama & Grandpa”, so that is what their rock says.

Major and Mollie Harris Headstone

Major and Mollie Harris Headstone

I also left one for Uncle Doc, Joseph William Harris.  His says, “Rest in Peace”.

Uncle Doc's Headstone

Uncle Doc’s Headstone

I couldn’t leave out my 2nd great-grandparents, James Ed and Martha Alice (Herring) Harris.  Their’s is just a painted rock with a bird on it.

Ed and Alice Harris Headstone

Ed and Alice Harris Headstone

How’s that for added flare to a headstone?

I think I’ll do more of these rocks and take them next time I go!

Thank you to Alix, for painting this set of rocks for me.

Amanuensis Monday – Letters from the Past

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Last week, on Amanuensis Monday – Letters from the Past, I shared a letter with you that my great-grandmother Dona (Williams) Higginbotham had written to the New Orleans Post Office making an inquiry into the whereabouts of the family of Elizabeth (Williams) Boullemet and her husband Stephen Boullemet.

This week, they replied!

Reply From New Orleans Post Office

Reply From New Orleans Post Office

Transcribed:

United States Post Office
New Orleans, LA
November 10, 1917.

Respectfully returned to Inquiry from Mrs. R F Higginbotham, re Stepehen Boullimet or Miss Elizabeth Williams et ale.

Mrs. R F Higginbotham
R F D 3, Box 45
Texarkana, Ark.

In reference to your communication herewith, I beg leave to advise that our city directory shows the following: Mrs. S C Boullemet or Mrs. Nettie B Boullemet, 2695 St. Charles. Mrs. Libby Bartell, 2126 St. Thomas. Mrs. Ada Bartell, 2315 Banks St. Mrs Rusk’s name is not shown in directory.

Postmaster.

She also received this letter, apparently around the same time according to the postmarks.

Letter From N B Boullemet

Letter From N B Boullemet

Transcribed:

2625 Saint Charles Avenue
New Orleans

Mrs. R. F. Higginbotham

Dear Madam,

You letter of inquiry about Mr. Stephen Boullemet’s family was recv’d this afternoon – will mail your letter to Mrs. Bartels whose address is 3506 Camp Street.

Very Truly Yours,
N B Boullemet

Nov 15 – ’17

Well, now she has found them! Will Dona get the response and answers she hopes for? Has she found her father’s family?

Next week, I will share the next letter.

52 Ancestors – #14 John Floyd Ball

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I have decided to accept the challenge of Amy Johnson Crow over at No Story Too Small blog. Amy challenges us:52 Ancestors in 52 weeks.  I think this is an excellent challenge as I tend to focus on my brick walls, and this will force me to fan out in my tree and focus on other ancestors.

This is week 14, and my fourteenth post.  This week, I will share information I have collected on my 3rd great-grandfather, John Floyd Ball.  I do not have a picture of him, and I know very little of him other than documentation I have collected and what was written in this note by my 2nd great-grandmother, Venetia (Smith) Ball.

Venetia Smith Ball's Notes Side 1

Venetia Smith Ball’s Notes Side 1

John Floyd Ball was born about 1814 to (I have no documentation connecting him to his birth parents, this is an assumption and you know what they say about that) Issac Ball and Sarah Wheeler. On 24 Jan 1837, he married my 3rd great-grandmother, Hellen Mariah Dennard, in Stewart County, Georgia.

John F Ball and Hellen M Dennard Marriage Record

John F Ball and Hellen M Dennard Marriage Record

On the 1850 US Federal Census, he was recorded as living in Stewart County, Georgia with wife Hellen, and children Frances, Kenady, Caroline, Sarah and Mitchell.  There was also a William Cox and Jos. Chavers living with them.  I don’t know who they are, and can’t really tell what his occupation is.  I believe it says William Cox Farms. I would imagine that John farmed as well since the 1850 Slave schedule shows him having ten slaves.

1850 Census John Floyd Ball

1850 Census John Floyd Ball

John and Hellen had five children that I know of, Frances “Fannie” (Ball) Jenkins, Kenady Wade Ball (my 2nd great-grandfather), Caroline Ball, Mitchell Ball and Sarah (Ball) Ward. Hellen passed away on 8 Sep 1850, and John remarried Nancy Templeton on 30 Dec 1852.

John F Ball and Nancy Templeton Marriage Record

John F Ball and Nancy Templeton Marriage Record

John and Nancy had one son John Thomas Ball and shortly after, John was listed on the Morehouse Parish, Louisiana Mortality Schedule as passing away in July of 1859 after suffering with bilious fever for nine days. He was only 44 years old.  There are some Dennard’s listed on this record as well, so I wonder if some of Hellen’s family was here as well.

Mortality Schedule 1850-1885 John F Ball

Mortality Schedule 1850-1885 John F Ball

Nancy is found on the 1860 census, widowed with John and Hellen’s children Kenady, Caroline, Sarah and Mitchell, and then her own son, Thomas.

I’m not sure what brought John to Louisiana from Georgia, maybe it was the slave trade.  I find several ship manifests coming into Louisiana with a John Ball aboard, but I can’t say for sure this is him.

I had a Ball cousin that took a DNA test, and we seem to tie into Isaac and Sarah Ball, but I have not proven any kind of connection to them as far as a paper trail so I can’t say for sure they are John’s parents. I haven’t found where John was buried either, so there is still work to do!

This is how I descend from John Floyd Ball.

me to John Floyd Ball

Tombstone Tuesday – Hughes Knight Cemetery

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When I started doing research on my maternal grandmother’s family, back in 2007 one of the first things I learned about was the Hughes Knight Cemetery. It almost seemed like a secret. Granted the transcription for the cemetery was posted out on the internet, but there were no pictures any where and to get there you had to drive down this and that gravel road, climb through a hole in someone’s barbed wire fenced on private property and then take your chances by walking west a mile back into the woods, and hope you had climbed through the right hole in the fence, else you would be a mile back in the wrong woods and no cemetery in site.

Hughes Knight Cemetery in Woods

Hughes Knight Cemetery in Woods

As you can see from the above picture, once you leave the road, you go north, then it’s west, and then north again!

Last week, I went to New Boston, Texas and picked up cousin Nell Blackford and we went in search of the cemetery, trying to beat a rain storm coming in. We went down the gravel roads and arrived at the log house that you are supposed to stop and ask permission at, but no one was home. Very disappointed, neither Nell or myself wanted to trespass so I took Nell back into New Boston and we ate lunch and visited for a bit, and then I left to head back to Nedra’s house in Texarkana where I was staying.

I decided I would try one more time on my way out-of-town to see if anyone was home at the log house.

Victory.

Sweet victory.

A very nice man by the name of Ronnie Adams, had just gotten home and gave me permission, and told me just where to drive my car through his woods to a little path that would take me there. He doesn’t own the actual land where the cemetery is, but as long as he knows who is back there, it’s ok. He seemed concerned that I was going out in the woods by myself but I wasn’t. I have my nine and my conceal and carry license so I wasn’t worried a bit. I could shoot a snake, any snake if I needed to. :)

Ronnie was recovering from a work related injury and had a broken leg, and I could tell he wanted to go out there with me, but was limited due to the injury so I reassured him that I’d be fine because I couldn’t pass up this opportunity, I had permission and nothing was stopping me this time! It was a long seven years to wait to find this cemetery!  I drove on out there and was totally shocked at what I found.

Hughes Knight Cemetery, Bowie County, Texas

Hughes Knight Cemetery, Bowie County, Texas

A very well-kept cemetery, fenced in, deep in the woods with some stones so magnificent (and taller than me) it would rival any town cemetery. I was expecting a little country cemetery with overgrown stones and I fully expected that maybe some of them would be missing.

Hughes Knight Cemetery

Hughes Knight Cemetery

Not a single stone was missing from the cemetery transcription I had found online back in 2007. Another sweet victory. Some are leaning, and some are down, but you can tell this cemetery is taken care of. The fence is nice, it’s mowed all around it, and yes, it was covered in leaves, but the ground inside is maintained. Ronnie told me that he maintains the outside of the cemetery and the land owner, Jimmy Smith maintains the inside around the stones.

Hughes Knight Cemetery, Bowie County, Texas

Hughes Knight Cemetery, Bowie County, Texas

I took a picture of every stone and while I was doing this, Ronnie, bless his heart showed up on his four-wheeler, crutches and all and showed me around the cemetery. I pointed out the graves of my 3rd great-grandfather, Alfred Gatewood Hoskins, my 3rd great-grandmother Mary Lucinda (Henri) Hoskins,  and their daughter, my 2nd great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth (Hoskins) Anderson.

Alfred Gatewood Hoskins Headstone

Alfred Gatewood Hoskins Headstone

Alfred Gatewood Hoskins Headstone

Alfred Gatewood Hoskins Headstone

Mary Elizabeth (Hoskins) Anderson Headstone

Mary Elizabeth (Hoskins) Anderson Headstone

My 2nd great-aunts are also buried here, Martha Catherine (Hoskins) Eubank, Henrie (Hoskins) Wever, and Isabella Jane Hoskins.

Martha Catherine (Hoskins) Eubank Headstone

Martha Catherine (Hoskins) Eubank Headstone

Henrie (Hoskins) Wever Headstone

Henrie (Hoskins) Wever Headstone

Isabella Jane Hoskins Headstone

Isabella Jane Hoskins Headstone

It was really cool to talk to Ronnie, as we figured out that he and his family were very good friends with my great Uncle James Harris and they spent a lot of time together. It was very nice to know that someone close to our family is now the keeper of my heritage.

Thank you to Ronnie Adams for his kind treatment of me, and the care he is giving to the cemetery. I put all the pictures of the headstones on Find A Grave, which you can find here: Hughes Knight Cemetery.

It was just as I took the last picture of the last stone, that the rain started. I call this one lucky day!!

Amanuensis Monday – Letters from the Past

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I’ve told you all about my obsession with all things Rev. Francis Hereford Williams, so over the next few weeks I will be sharing letters with you which lead me to believe he changed his name, and just like every other human, had bad things in his past happen.  None of these things kept him from becoming a man of God.

First, I will remind you that he had suffered a gun shot wound to the head during the civil war and had gone to the Austin Confederate Home to recuperate.  I think my great-grandmother, and his daughter Dona Williams Higginbotham was searching for answers for his condition, but this will all become more clear as I share the letters with you.

This is Dona, my great-grandmother.

Dona Higginbotham
Dona (Williams) Higginbotham

Here is the first letter.

First Letter from Dona Higginbotham to New Orleans Post Office looking for Boullemet relatives.

First Letter from Dona Higginbotham to New Orleans Post Office looking for Boullemet relatives.

Here is the transcription:

Nov. 5. 1917.
Postmaster.
New Orleans, La.

Dear Sir:

I am very anxious to get in communication with some one who is a relative of either Stephen Boullimet or his wife, who was Miss Elizabeth Williams. both of whom have been dead many years. They had two sons – Julien and Will. and two daughters Mrs Rusk and Mrs Bartell or Bartelle.

If you could give me the address of anyone from whom I could make inquiries, I would appreciate it very much.

Very Respectfully,
Mrs. R.F. Higginbotham

Next week, I will share the reply from the New Orleans Post Office.

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