Saturday, August 14, 2010

Obituary: Dr. William Terrance Thornton

Dr. William Terrance "Terry" Thornton (1939 - 2010)

Dr. William Terrance “Terry” Thornton, 71, died at his residence on August 9, 2010. Born on July 26, 1939, to the late Garfus Sherman and Letha Hollingsworth Thornton, he was a native of the Parham Community in Monroe County.

Terry attended public school in Monroe County and graduated from Hatley High School, Class of 1957. He earned three degrees, including a doctorate, from the University of Mississippi.

Terry married Betty Ann Rooker of Tupelo on December 17, 1961. Terry taught briefly at Brookhaven High School before returning to North Mississippi to teach science at Milam Jr. High School in Tupelo and elementary science for the newly-created educational programming at WTVA in Tupelo. These lessons were the first educational TV to be broadcast in the state of Mississippi and were watched both by children in the classrooms and by television viewers in North Mississippi, Western Alabama, and Southern Tennessee. After two years in Tupelo, Mr. Thornton was named an NDEA fellow at Ole Miss. When he completed his doctorate, he began his college teaching career at Troy State College, now Troy University. He later taught in the Troy University System at the Fort Rucker Branch and the Dothan Branch.

Dr. Thornton was a man of many talents and interests. He played the piano and organ at numerous churches, social events, and weddings. He loved both reading and writing and was the author of numerous stories, poems, and recollections of growing up in Monroe County. Terry was a popular public speaker and conversationalist. He was a naturalist and bird watcher. Terry taught countless students and teachers to enjoy studying science.

Dr. and Mrs. Thornton have two sons, William Terrance “Teb” Thornton, Jr., (Coleen), Fulton, and James Garfus Thornton (Charlena), New Orleans; his grandchildren, William Terrance III, and Margaret Ann, Fulton, and Charles William, New Orleans; brother, Thomas Sherman Thornton, (Patricia), Amory; and several nieces and nephews.

A Memorial service for Terry Thornton will be held at 10 AM, Thursday at the funeral home with Rev. John Foster officiating. Inurnment will follow in Lann Cemetery.

Visitation will be from 5 – 7 PM, Wednesday at the funeral home.

Memorials may be given to Itawamba Historical Society, Mantachie, 38855-0007 or Sanctuary Hospice House Home Care, 5159 W. Main St., Tupelo, 38803.

Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at Arrangements for the Thornton family are in the care of E. E. Pickle Funeral Home, Amory; 256-2644.

Published online on 8/10/2010 courtesy of E.E. Pickle Funeral Home .

Monday, June 28, 2010


Watch soon for GENEABLOGERATTI --- The 100.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Three articles: Polygamy; Mississippi Saints; Morman Springs, Monroe County, MS

by Terry Thornton

Illness continues to prevent me from researching and writing new articles for both Hill Country (the blog) and Hill Country (the newspaper column in Monroe Journal). During this time I'm pulling out some of my previous articles and republishing them here. The articles selected for today are: Polygamy in the Hill Country from June 2, 2007; Mississippi Saints, originally published June 5, 2007; and Mormon Springs, November 28, 2007. The three articles are also available on Hill Country Monroe County Mississippi Volume 1, a collection of 947 previous articles at Hill Country (click here to obtain ordering information).

# 61, June 2, 2007


by Terry Thornton

In researching my Hollingsworth family in Monroe County, Mississippi, I learned that they arrived from South Carolina via Indiana and Tennessee along with the Crosby family, another very early pioneer group into the Hill Country.

And some of the early Hollingsworths were married into the Crosby family.

William Hollingsworth (died 1822 Monroe County), John J. Crosby (died 1840 Monroe County), and Leonard Crosby (died 1844 Monroe County) and other related families migrated to the Hill Country of Monroe County.

All of the families seem to have originated in South Carolina and then moved to Indiana where they bought large blocks of land. As Indiana gained statehood, it passed laws which prohibited the owning of slaves --- so the group began a Southern migration. Some of them entered land in Tennessee about 1820 but by the early 1820s many of the group were living in Monroe County, Mississippi.

Some of the allied families include Jeters, DePriest, Purcells along with several sets of Crosbys and Hollingsworths.

During their stay in Monroe County, many of the Crosbys, especially those living along Wolfe Road in extreme eastern hill country of the county, joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [LDS] when a missionary named John Brown came preaching in the early 1840s.

John Brown began the process of converting them all and he married Elizabeth Crosby in 1844, daughter of William Crosby. That group of LDS converts formed the core of the Mississippi Saints, one of the earliest and most influential groups of Mormons arriving in Utah during the great gathering in the late 1840s.

William Crosby of Monroe County was referred to as a rich "Mississippi planter" by some. His new son-in-law was a native of Tennessee and once he, Brown, finished up with all the conversions in the Crosby family and neighbors, some estimate that he had converted about 200 individuals in Monroe County to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Early on this influential and wealthy group of LDS members built a church near some springs in eastern Monroe County --- the springs today are called Mormon Springs. In the 1840s when all the members of the LDS were being "gathered" first to the North and then to the West, Mormon Springs, Monroe County, Mississippi, was a gathering point for the planned treks elsewhere.

According to land records, William Crosby entered three parcels of land in Monroe County, all in 1820. Two of those early transactions are for land near but not at the location of Mormon Springs. One parcel was just south of present-day Greenwood Springs and one was in the section just north of Cockerham Lake --- both in the midst of the hills of eastern Monroe County.

The Mississippi Saints were primarily a set of inter-related families from the Mormon Springs settlement of the Hill Country.

After learning that my Hollingsworth family was connected both in migration and also by marriage to the large and influential LDS group of Crosbys, I thought it would be easy to determine which of the older families practiced polygamy.

I can find no evidence of polygamy in any family which lived in the Hill Country of Monroe County.

The only evidence for plural wives near Monroe County was among the Indian families, especially among the ruling family of the Chickasaw Nation, the Colberts. According to J.N. Walton in a series of letter he wrote in the 1880s about Chief Levi Colbert, several of the Colberts had plural wives which he, Walton, had knowledge of at Colbert Hill just west of Monroe County Mississippi USA in Chickasaw Nation circa 1820s through mid-1830s.

There is evidence, however, that after the Crosbys migrated from Monroe County, Mississippi, to Utah that some of the men took plural wives. Most of that information is well documented and available from a variety of sources.

I found it of major interest, however, to read the journals of some of the Mississippi Saints as they migrated north and then west. One account discusses in detail their route by wagon train from Mormon Springs north across the Hill Country to ferry Bull Mountain Creek. After getting to the other side, the oxen- and mule-pulled wagons all mired in the mud and the group floundered for a day or two trying to cross that low bottom land. Eventually they made it to the Ohio River and steam-boated to St. Louis, forming a wagon train there for the journey west.

Some of the Mormon Springs Monroe County group, the Mississippi Saints, wintered in Pueblo, Colorado, and are credited with forming the first schools and churches in the West other than the ones formed by early Spanish explorers.

Some of the Mormon Springs Monroe County group were the first to arrive in the great valley of Utah where the faithful from across the nation and world began to gather. Some of the slaves of Monroe County Mississippi Saints were instrumental in that settlement; at least two slaves from Monroe County Mississippi are named on monuments in downtown Salt Lake City.

Two of the folks who left Mormon Springs for the gathering of the Saints in Utah were Oscar Crosby and Hark Lay. They were slaves, and according to at least one reference, they were brothers. But they were owned by different masters. Oscar was owned by William Crosby. Hark was owned by William Lay. Both Oscar and Hark lived in Mormon Springs, Monroe County, and both were sent to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Dr. W.A. Evans, Jr. in Mother Monroe mentions some of the Mississippi Saint families by name; several of the online sites lists them also.

After arriving the valley at Salt Lake, one of the first of the pioneers to die was three year old Milton Threlkill (Evans spells the surname Thrailkill) who drowned August 11 shortly after the group arrived in Utah. The Threlkills were from Monroe County. Milton was probably born in the Hill Country.

In 1851 twenty of the families that left the Salt Lake Valley to establish a colony in California at Rancho San Bernardino were from the Mississippi Saint group originally from Monroe County.

The journal of John Brown offers an interesting account about travel conditions across North Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, and then by riverboat to St Louis (via the Ohio and then up the Mississippi); then by wagon train across Missouri, Nebraska, Wyoming, and to Salt Lake Valley, Utah. Here is a summary of that time line for the third group and probably final group Brown lead out of Monroe County, Mississippi.

March 10, 1849: left Mormon Springs, Monroe County, MS with eleven wagons with six families and a number of colored people. [Later it is established that this party included 30 whites and 24 blacks.]

March 13: crossed Bull Mountain Stream (about 20 miles north of Mormon Springs) on ferry (ferryman was a Mr. Winters). Immediately got stuck in mud in bottom on north side of Bull Mountain Stream. Got unstuck but it took the group four travel days to cross Monroe County and arrive in the edge of Itawamba County.

March 30: arrived at Wilcox Ferry, Kentucky, on the Ohio River, opposite the town of Metropolis, Illinois. About 15 miles from Paducah, KY.

[The distance from Mormon Springs, MS, to Wilcox Ferry, KY, is approximately 300 miles which this group traveled in 20 days. The party averaged 14 to 15 miles per day on the first part of their journey by wagon.]

April 2: A couple of men crossed the Ohio River by ferry and rode to Paducah; chartered a steamboat for $400 to take party to St. Louis, a distance of about 200 miles. By water, the group would go down the Ohio to the Mississippi and then upstream to St. Louis. The steamboat was named "The Transport."

April 4: Loaded the steamboat with 11 wagons, 30 white people, 24 colored people, 1 yoke oxen, and 24 mules.

April 16: Arrived in St. Louis on the Mississippi River. Mrs. John Bankhead, a member of the Mississippi Saints, gave birth to a son on board the little steamboat before getting to St. Louis. Camped south of the town with some of the other Mississippi Saints.

April 21: Left camp with 21 wagons (they bought extra ox and wagons in Illinois); crossed the Missouri River at St. Charles, Missouri.

May 26: arrived at Winter Quarters for the Latter Day Saints.

June 4: Part of Mississippi Saints party left for the trek on to Utah. Main party stayed a few days longer.

June 7: Mrs. Lay [probably Mrs. William H. Lay], a member of the Mississippi Saints, gave birth to a son, in Winter Quarters.

June 10: Remainder of Mississippi Saints departed Winter Quarters for Salt Lake Valley.

August 28: John Brown's [the one keeping the journal] ox-wagon broke down in the Black Hills.

August 29: John Brown's son, John Cosby Brown, was born.

October 16: Arrived in Salt Lake Valley where the children of the earlier arrivals were all swapping whooping cough.

December 21: John Cosby Brown, infant of John Brown, died and was buried between two cottonwoods on land that was assigned to the Brown family.

February 13: Elizabeth Coleman Crosby, John Brown's mother-in-law and grandmother to John Cosby Brown, was buried beside John Cosby at the same place.

[The distance the group traveled by wagon train from St. Louis to Salt Lake City was approximately 1,600 miles. They averaged about 12 miles per traveling day; the group did not travel each day.]

Mormon Springs probably included a sizeable group of Mormons before the western trek but I can find no evidence that polygamy was practiced among the group in Mississippi. It is known, however, that polygamy was a secret practice among several Mormons elsewhere prior to 1852 at which time the public at large became aware of the practice.

The Morrill Anti-bigamy Act was adopted in 1862.

The majority of the Monroe County Mormons left Mississippi in 1846 and 1847.

John Brown, who married into the Crosby family at Mormon Springs had 10 children by Elizabeth C.Crosby whom he married in 1844 in Monroe County; 6 by plural wife # 2 whom he married in 1854 in Utah; and 10 by plural wife # 3 whom he married in 1857 in Utah.

My Hollingsworth relatives stayed put in Monroe County and produced a generation or two of Methodist ministers.


Brown, John. A Biography. Link:

Brown, John. Journal. Link:

Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records of the United States. Online link:

Bynum, Rebecca. "Polygamy and Me," New English Review. December 1, 2006. Available online at[Bynum says, "Polygamy was a short-lived experiment for the majority of Mormon families; it was over and done in two generations. "]

Evans, W. A. Jr. Mother Monroe. Aberdeen, Mississippi: Allmond Printing Company. 1979.

Mississippi Saints. Partial listing of names at

Monroe County Discussion Group [J.Alverson; R.Franks; J.Harlow; M.Riggan; J.Sullivan; R.Thompson; L.Thornton]. Series of emails. 2006-2007. Copies in file of writer.

Rosswog, John. Utah's Anonymous Twin Relic of Barbarism: Oscar Crosby's Life as a Utah Slave. Available online at Copy in file of writer.

Walton, J.N. Letters on Chief Levi Colbert written during the 1800s. Transcription available online at

Copyright © 2007 William T. "Terry" Thornton. Fulton, Mississippi 38843. All Rights Reserved.

# 67, June 5, 2007


by Terry Thornton

Some readers have emailed to inquire of the names of Mississippi Saints, the group which left Mormon Springs, Monroe County, Mississippi, for the great gathering of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Utah.

I cannot find a definitive list of Hill Country folks who migrated to Utah. But I do find available lists of names of some, if not all of these Monroe County folks except the names of children and slaves who were carried.

Names of Mississippi Saints who wintered in Pueblo, Colorado, 1846 (Part of the 1st Group from Monroe County)

According to various records, in 1846, John Brown lead a group of 14 families from Monroe County west. They left in April and when they reached Independence, Missouri, they were joined by the Crow family which consisted of 17 adults and children. Some of these "Crow" families were closely kin to the Monroe County group; it is impossible for me at this point to separate the non-Monroe County names from the group who left Mormon Springs, Monroe County.

This group was advised to over-winter at Fort Pueblo, Colorado, where they arrived in early August, 1846.

Here is a list of the heads-of-household and the family members of the Mississippi Saints who wintered at Pueblo. Symbols: (h) head of household; (w) wife; others in list are children.

1. Dowdle, Absalom Porter (h)
2. Dowdle, Sarah Ann Holladay (w)
3. Dowdle, Sarah Catherine
4. Gibson, George Washington (h)
5. Gibson, Mary Ann Sparks (w)6. Gibson, Mary Denise (married William New in Santa Fe and didn't go further west)
7. Gibson, Lydia A. (married Gilbert Hunt in Pueblo)
8. Gibson, Robert B.
9. Gibson, Frances Abigail
10. Gibson, William C.11. Gibson, Laura Altha
12. Gibson, Moses
13. Gibson, Manomas Lavinia
14. Gibson, Joseph
15. Harmon, James (h)
16. Harmon, Mary Ann Blanks Smithson (w)17. Harmon, James Bartley
18. Harmon, Sarah Elizabeth
19. Harmon, Paralee America
20. Harmon, Josephine Smithson
21. Harmon, John Taylor (born in Pueblo)22. Kartchner, William D. (h)
23. Kartchner, Margaret Jane Casteel (w)
24. Kartchner, Sara Emma (listed as first white child born in Colorado)
25. Mathews, Benjamin (h)
26. Mathews, Temperance Weeks (w)27. Mathews, Mary Elizabeth
28. Mathews, Sarah Jane
29. Mathews, Sally
30. Mathews, William (h)
31. Mathews, Elizabeth Adeline Bankhead (w)
32. Mathews, Thomas Marion33. Mathews, Jane Elizabeth
34. Mathews, John Lynn
35. Mathews, Ezekiel Cunningham
36. Mathews, Marie Celeste
37. Mathews, Elvira38. Mathews, Narcissa
39. Mathews, Nancy Melissa
40. Mathews, Benjamin
41. Mathews, Emma Louise
42. Mathews, Martha Roxanna
43. Mathews, Sina Adeline44. Reer, Mary Ann (h)
45. Reer, Perrill E. James
46. Reer, Sally Ann
47. Reer, Josephine48. Ritter, William C. (h)
49. Ritter, Sarah Ann (w)
50. Ritter, Anderson Taylor
51. Roberds, John (h)
52. Roberds, Martha Tucker Walpole (w)53. Roberds, Lodesky Ann
54. Roberds, Thomas Richard55. Roberds, Mary Belvidere
56. Roberds, Harriet Luanna
57. Roberds, Frances Elinore
58. Roberds, William Brown59. Smithson, Allen Freeman (h)
60. Smithson, Letitia Holladay (w)
61. Smithson, John Bartley
62. Smithson, Sarah Catherine
63. Smithson, James Davis
64. Smithson, Mary Emma
65. Sparks, George W. (h)66. Sparks, Luanna (Lussiann) Roberds (w)
67. Sparks, William Thomas
68. Sparks, Mary Ann69. Terrill, William (h)

Here are the names of the The "Crow" Company of Mississippi Saints: (Part of the 1st group) which includes some from Monroe County.

1. Crow, Robert
2. Crow, Elizabeth
3. Crow, Benjamin B.
4. Crow, Harriet5. Crow, Elizabeth Jane
6. Crow, John McHenry
7. Crow, William H.
8. Crow, William Parker
9. Crow, Isa Vinda Exene
10. Crow, Ira Minda Almarene11. Therlkill, George W.
12. Therlkill, Matilda Jane
13. Therlkill, Milton Howard
14. Therlkill, James William
15. Little, Archibald16. Chesney, James17. Myers, Lewis B.

The Second Group lead west by John Brown was a small work party. According to Evans in Mother Monroe, this small company consisted of four slaves and a few LDS members.

1. Brown, John2. Ivory, Matthew
3. Powell, David
4. Lay, Hark (slave of William Lay)
5. Crosby, Oscar (slave of William Crosby)
6. Unknown slave who died enroute
7. Unknown slave who died enroute

[Hark Lay and Oscar Crosby were said to be brothers.]

Brown lead the work party west where they joined the first group of Mississippi Saints in 1847 at Fort Laramie, Wyoming. He then turned about and headed back to Monroe County, Mississippi, to lead out his own family and that of several other Mormon Springs families.

The "Crosby" Company of Mississippi Saints (Third group from Monroe County and perhaps the last group from Monroe County lead by John Brown in 1848). Heads of Household only (party consisted of 56 whites and 34 colored persons):

1. Powell, John
2. Powell, Moses
3. Smith, Robert M.4. Lockhart, John5. Bankhead, George
6. Bankhead, John H.
7. Holladay, John D.
8. McKnown, Francis
9. Lay, William H.10. Crosby, Elizabeth C.
11. Brown, John12. Crosby, William
13. Truly, Ekles
Source: John Brown's Journal.

Although this is the last organized group which John Brown lead to Utah from Monroe County, there is evidence that other families from Mississippi left a few at a time over the next several years. In the 1850s, Brown lead a huge wagon train of Mormons across the Nation to Utah; many of that group were new arrivals in the United States.

Other sources:

Evans, W.A. Jr. Mother Monroe. Aberdeen, Mississippi: Allmond Printing Company. 1979.

Copyright © 2007 William T. "Terry" Thornton. Fulton, Mississippi 38843. All Rights Reserved.

# 282, November 28, 2007
by Terry Thornton

Late Saturday afternoon, November 24, 2007, the Monroe County Discussion Group toured several places in the eastern part of the hill country. None of the areas we visited were as peaceful and restful as Mormon Springs historical site and marker. This location on Wolfe Road was beautiful in the light rain with the woods dressed in their autumn colors.

Mormon Springs Branch at the place of the Mississippi Mormons historical marker, location of Mormon Springs Church from where the Mississippi Saints departed on their trek to the Great Salt Lake Valley in Utah.

The small park-like area by the stream has been improved with a flag, picnic area, and a large stone memorial to the Mississippi Saints. The memorial stone was erected in the 1990s; this was my first opportunity to view it.

The stone memorial to the Mississippi Saints at Mormon Springs, Monroe County, Mississippi. A transcription of the stone is below

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was organized on April 6, 1830. Missionaries first arrived in Northeastern Mississippi in 1839. Here at Mormon Springs many converts to the church were baptized. Using stones to dam the stream, they made a baptismal font just to the east of the ford that then crossed the stream. The Buttahatchie branch of the church was organized here in 1843 with William Crosby as branch president. A small church was built on the west side of the ford to serve over 200 members.

From this site, on April 8, 1846, the first Saints left for their trek west under the direction of John Brown. They were the first to establish a religious colony in the west since the Spanish priests of 1769. Several members of this group, known as the Mississippi Mormons were also among the advance scout party who first entered the Salt Lake Valley in Utah in July 22, 1847. By the time Brigham Young entered the valley on July 24, 1847, they had already planted potatoes, beans and buckwheat. True to their southern tradition, these faithful Saints had also planted a turnip patch.

Many of these early converts were marvelous frontiersmen, resourceful colonizers and shrewd traders. Because of their abilities, nearly all of them were eventually called to lead Mormon colonies to Colorado, Utah, California, Oregon and other areas of the west. They were valiant in their love of God, their Prophet and their religion.

My earliest Hollingsworth relatives migrated to Monroe County, Mississippi, along with the large and influential Crosby family. They were intermarried. At some point, there was a divergence of religious views --- the Crosbys were almost all converted to the Mormon Church and migrated west whereas most of the Hollingsworths remained devout Methodists and stayed in Monroe County. There is no doubt that some of the Hollingsworth kin were probably among the Mississippi Saints; I haven't sorted through the genealogy carefully enough to identify which of my relatives made the journey west.

Thanks to the Monroe County Discussion Group for arranging and implementing the tour of Monroe County.

Copyright © 2007 William T. "Terry" Thornton. Fulton, Mississippi 38843. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, June 18, 2010

PICA (Eating Dirt) IN THE HILL COUNTRY: Parts 1 and 2

by Terry Thornton
Because of illness, I'm not posting new articles at the blog Hill Country nor at my newspaper column at MONROE JOURNAL. Here at the blog I am presenting some of the older articles from HILL COUNTRY (available on CD, Volume 1 --- click here to see contents of the CD and how to order). Today is Part 1 and 2 about dirt eating, Pica, originally posted in July 2007. They are articles # 110 and # 115 on the CD.

I hope to resume my research and writing soon. Meanwhile enjoy these older HC columns.

PART 1: Dirt Eater: Pica in the Hill Country (July 7, 2007)

When I was a child, I knew a woman in the Hill Country who was a dirt-eater. Her eating of dirt gradually became pathological and she died.

What is behind this eating of dirt? Is it an aberrant condition which, since about 1900, has been explained away as just a mental disorder? Or is it something more basic than a mere mental disorder?

Almost all societies report animals eating dirt; almost all parents who have observed their children closely know that their babies love to eat dirt. And some among us can remember when they too were dirt-eaters!

Dust was my favorite, the heavy yellow/orange-dust churned up by days of drought and hundreds of passing cars and trucks and settled in a thick layer on metal tire rims, bumpers, and back windows of automobiles. When I was a toddler I thought the taste of that snuff-like dust licked off of my spit-wet finger was one of the best tasting treats available.

Then I found out about ice-cream.

Seriously, however, the lady I knew in Parham ate large amounts of dirt daily. [What she actually ate was probably red clay rather than soil.] Her addiction to dirt became so pervasive that her husband would drive her about the Hill Country to her favorite spots, road-cuts and gullies, where her "kind" of dirt was exposed. I remember her behavior was described as somewhat secretive; that she would stand at the road-cut eating her dirt with a spoon as long as no one was around --- and that she would gather some dirt in a container to take home with her for consumption later.

She was said to be so consumed with her quest to find the "best" dirt to eat that she would make her husband stop the car when she spotted a likely new source of dirt --- and that she would get out and have a spoon full or two.

Her obsession to eat dirt was so not secretive, however; most everyone in the community knew of it. Over time, her health declined and she died at a much too young age.

She and her husband lived on Firetower Road in Monroe County in a small cabin similar to the one shown here. The cabin had a mud-and-stick chimney. They were constantly rebuilding that chimney as the rains would wash it down.

I've often wondered if the red-mud of that chimney was some of her favorite red clay.

I was reminded of this memory about dirt-eating by a link found at
Atlantic Ave. by Amy Kane, a blog I read daily. The link is to a new article in Discover Magazine entitled Is Dirt the New Prozac? Among other things, the article explores the proposal "that the sharp rise in asthma and allergy cases over the past century stems, unexpectedly, from living too clean."

Maybe there is a biological reason for the craving to eat dirt? And maybe some folks let that craving get out of hand and their obsessive habit then kills them.

I have long suspected that almost all basic human behavior (such as being right handed), all human taboos, mores, and most religious "Thou Shalt Nots" have their foundations in biological survival. Maybe the craving to eat dirt is one of those basic notions that is a type of behavior evolved through eons of survival of the fittest competitions within the biological world where we live. And that craving to eat dirt seems strongest when we are about two years old.

Obviously this assumption is shared by Gerald N. Callahan; see his most interesting article
"Eating Dirt," August 2003 online at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emerging Infectious Diseases Series. Besides being most informative and interesting, Callahan takes a no-nonsense approach to his article and looks at everything from the historical and cultural background of dirt eating, what his mother said about eating dirt, and how his own children ate dirt. He also attempts to define how much dirt must a person eat on average per day before it becomes a mental problem! And he explains the difference between the eating of top soil by children and the eating of deep soil/clay by adults. But it is the possible benefits of exposure to dirt, and yes the possible eating of dirt, that makes Callahan's article so interesting.

Callahan states, "For humans, as for rabbits, there is a window in childhood when our experiences, our infections, change everything, once and for all. Inside that window, infection causes lymph nodes and GALT to enlarge and reorganize, to separate into cortices and medullae, into primary lymphoid follicles, and develop T- and B-lymphocyte–rich regions of immune competence destined to someday be germinal centers, where our defenses will muster and the real battle will be fought. This window is a defining moment, when the simplest and lowest forms of life—the dirty, the infectious, the parasitic, and the septic—alter who we are." [Emphasis added]

So have we all been so clean, so free of dirt both inside and outside, that we are not coping as well biologically as we should be?

I don't recommend that anyone go out and find a road-cut with an exposure of clay and start eating dirt. But I do recommend that you read (1) Callahan's article at the CDC, (2) the article in Discover Magazine, and (3) the references at Wikipedia on

The drawing of the cabin used above is from William A. Davis, "Dirt-Eating," Popular Science News, Volume XXXVI. New York: Science News Company. October 1902, page 227. Available on Google Full-view Books.

See also Google Full-view Books for dozens of excellent historical articles about "eating dirt."

Copyright © 2007 William T. "Terry" Thornton. Fulton, Mississippi 38843. All Rights Reserved.

PART 2: Dirt Eaters and Starch Eaters: Pica in the Hill Country (July 13, 2007)

Follow-up recollections: Readers have sent these recollections of dirt-eating and starch-eating, both considered forms of pica. The individuals involved were residents of the community of Parham, Monroe County, Mississippi. Each recollection was edited to protect the identity of the family and of the individual.

Follow-up # 1: [Email information]

"The dirt of Parham must be some of the best in the world! I don't remember the dirt eater [written about in the blog] but [a member of our family] ate his share of the red hillside [on a road near] Thornton's Store. His parents carried him to the doctor it got so bad. He was anemic and the doctor said the dirt probably had iron in it that he was craving. He just went on eating the dirt . . . He quit the dirt maybe in high school . . . He stayed really healthy on the dirt diet growing up! He now a very rare blood disorder and has to have blood transfusion-like processes every two weeks. . . . Maybe he just needs to eat more Parham dirt now. . . I wonder if the dirt caused the disorder or was it what kept him alive back then?"

Follow-up # 2: [Email information]

"My mother's aunt, my great aunt, lived on the north end of Firetower Road in a small but old house. Mother says her aunt would stand and eat the mud from the chimney until they would have to remud it. One of the other aunts, a sister to this one, would also eat the mud of the chimney but not as much. My mother later lived in that house as a child some 70 years old or more ago."

I followed up this email with a notation that I knew the specific house and location but I did not know the family involved with this episode of dirt-eating. This was a white family; the lady written about in the original post was from a black family.

Follow-up # 3: [Telephone conversation]

Another Hill Country family remembers a type of "pica" at Parham --- eating starch. This person ate chunks of starch from the old fashioned boxed laundry starch once used widely to starch clothes prior to ironing. The eating of these chunks of starch was secretive, much like the behavior of dirt-eaters. This individual, however, only ate starch two or three times per week; the episodes were usually triggered by the family's traditional "wash-day" which was always on Monday, weather permitting.

According to Wikipedia, this sort of pica is known as amylophagia and is often common in pregnancy. The person at Parham with amylophagia [which started in her thirties], stopped eating starch in her fifties. Whether her cessation was the result of biological changes within her or because by then boxed laundry starch had all but disappeared from the market place as bottled liquid starch and then spray starch became widely used. The individual died at about 80 years of age.

See Pica at Wikipedia for more information about the various types of pica including amylophagia.

Copyright © 2007 William T. "Terry" Thornton. Fulton, Mississippi 38843. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Posted by Terry Thornton

Todd Palmer, Festus, Missouri, has requested the following "thank you" notice be placed at HILL COUNTRY. He was unable to personally thank everyone who assisted with the David Z. Palmer, CSA Marker Memorial Service, held recently at Lann Cemetery at Splunge, Monroe County, Mississippi.

Says Todd
"Please post a thank you from me to the following individuals and groups. I didn't have a chance to thank everyone while there who helped to make the ceremony for David Z. Palmer a wonderful event. Special thanks are extended to

The Sons Of The Confederates Camp 873 of Monroe County
C & M Monument Company of Amory
William Arinder (Banjo player)
Jolly Faulkner (Lann Cemetery care taker)
Jean Orcutt (The Bag Piper )
Rev. Don Mcaine
Pickles Funeral Home (The Tent)
Splunge Fire Deptment
Jimmy and Janette Weed
Claude and Patricia Palmer (My parents)
Stephen Palmer

All the local residents who turned out to honor David Z.Palmer

Thanks to everyone who helped out."
~ ~ ~
According to an article and photograph in the June 16, 2010, MONROE JOURNAL, by Staff Writer Alice Ortiz, Todd Palmer was the one responsible for obtaining a replacement marker for his relative's grave and for organizing the event. Says Splunge native Ortiz, "Local descendants of David Z. Palmer, along with descendants from Missouri, Arizona, and Montana, attended the monument dedication."
~ ~ ~
And I think that all who attended this moving and colorful service will remember it with kindness and with thanks for the opportunity to learn more about the heritage of those who once lived and served in the hills around Splunge. And speaking for the non-descendants of the Palmer line in attendance, the thanks should go to the Palmer Family and to Todd Palmer in particular for organizing and conducting this service.

~ ~ ~
For additional information about the memorial service, click to see the previous posts (some with video):
David Z. Palmer: Monument Dedication Ceremony (includes photo and three video/audio tapes)
Amazing Grace by Piper Jean E. Orcutt (includes photo and a video/audio tape)

~ ~ ~
And I'm still enjoying listening to Piper Orcutt playing Sweet of Hour at my grave marker after the Palmer service had concluded.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Comments on "Shhhhhhhhhh!, Let's not talk about this. . ."

by Terry Thornton

I recently received two Anonymous comments to the previous article, "Shhhhhhhhhhhhh! Let's not talk about this. . ." Because my response to Anon 1 was too long to be included in the comment section, I've elected to respond to both Anon 1 and Anon 2 in a separate article below.
From Anonymous 1:

Thanks for sharing your family history,my family was Hush,Hush on everything and visited mainly with immediate family members.

I also found my great great grandfather Amaziah Stafford was a soldier on both sides in the war. I wish the family had passed this info down and the reasons leading up to it instead of being ashamed of family history.
Dear Anonymous 1,

Generally I don't post anonymous comments unless I have some knowledge of who and where you are --- but in your case I'm making an exception. I had no information before your comment was received about anyone with the name AMAZIAH STAFFORD.

It is a shame that much of Amaziah Stafford's history may be lost because of the "hush, hush" and the "Shhhhhh! Let's not talk about this" syndrome which seems to have afflicted many families in our nation because of conflicting loyalties during and after the Civil War. My Alabama/Mississippi family simply didn't talk about four brothers who served in the Union. Certainly they didn't speak about the fact that three of the four joined first the Confederacy and then switched sides. I am of the opinion that survival was the major reason so many Southern families scattered after the war years and the reconstruction years were over. And scatter they did with "Hush and Shhhhh" necessary to not call attention to themselves.

Did the enlistment bounty paid by the North entice these men to voluntarily join the USA forces? Did political conviction, patriotism and loyalty to the Union play a role in the decision of a native born Southerner to take up arms for the North? Painful decisions were made by many --- and for untold numbers, personal decisions made during wartime meant that in peacetime, many intra-family battles continued to be fought.

In the Hill County of Northwest Alabama and Northeast Mississippi, it is not unusual to find USA and CSA veterans of the Civil War buried as neighbors in death. It is a shame that members of some families couldn't live as neighbors to their own kin when the war ended.

I am sorry your STAFFORD family didn't talk of Amaziah Stafford's service to the United States of America and of his service to the Confederate States of America. Family history told on the pages of the Stafford Family GenForum has many references to Amaziah Stafford --- and while that information is for the most part undocumented, the words there give a brief outline of Stafford's life. Here is a summary of that information.

AMAZIAH STAFFORD, born 1827, died 1910 and is buried in Maxey Cemetery, Smithville, Monroe County, Mississippi (the only cemetery index I find of Maxey does not list Amaziah Stafford although several of his family are buried there).

According to unconfirmed information at, Amaziah Stafford was the son of John and Jennie Gilmore Stafford. Also at are several copies of a photograph said to be of Amaziah Stafford.

Amaziah Stafford married Mary J. Osborn, August 25, 1849, Itawamba County, Mississippi according to documents available online at the webpages of the Itawamba Historical Society. Mary J. is said to be the daughter of Joel Abram Osborn and Mary Massengale Osborn. She was the granddaughter of an early settler of Hill County, Reddick Massengale.

The 1860 and the 1900 Federal Census reports of Itawamba County, Mississippi, shows that Amaziah Stafford was a farmer. In 1860, his household was enumerated in the Tremont precinct and consisted of Amaziah, 30; Mary, 28; Jane, 10; Martha, 8; Nancy, 6; Andrew J., 4; and William, 2. The 1900 household in Beat 4 of Itawamba County includes only Amaziah, 73 and Mary, 71. (Census information transcribed from the images available through Heritage Quest online courtesy of the Lee-Itawamba County Library System.)

According to information available online through the Itawamba Historical Society, Amaziah Stafford served in the 43rd Regiment, Mississippi Infantry, CSA and Amaziah Stafford served in the 33rd Regiment, Indiana Infantry USA. He was a Private in both armies.

Through various postings at the Stafford Family GenForum, it can be surmised that Amaziah and Mary J. Osborn Stafford had at least five children and Marietta is mentioned as the name of a sixth child. Marietta, according to family lore posted on-line, was the daughter born during the period when Mr. Stafford was in the CSA in Marietta Georgia --- and a letter from Mr. Stafford is cited as the source of her name. He was in Marietta when he got word of his daughter's birth --- and he wrote home requesting that she be named Marietta.

According to some of the GenForum posts, others list the children in the family of Amaziah and Mary J. Osborn Stafford as George Washington Stafford, Martha Stafford, Jane Stafford, Nancy Stafford, Andrew James Stafford, and John Johnson Stafford.

One comment at the Stafford Family GenForum notes that part of Mr. Stafford's family referred to him as "The Snake" because of his service in the army of the United States.

Please note, however, that I have not verified any of this information except for the marriage names, date, and location; the military service of Private Stafford; and the 1860 and 1900 census reports of the Itawamba County Mississippi household of Amaziah Stafford.. Your comment to "Shhhhhhhhhhhh! Let's not talk about this . . ." is most appreciated. It is my sincere wish that you continue to document Amaziah Stafford's service to both his countries, the North and the South --- the Union and the Confederacy.

And further, I'd most appreciate learning the burial place of Amaziah Stafford.
From Anonymous 2:

Fascinating history. If you lived in Alabama you would have learned about the divided loyalties of North West Alabama and the "Free State of Winston." It was always part of our Alabama history. It is not surprising to me that loyalties would be divided. During the American Revolution there were @1/3 Patriots; 1/3 Loyalists, and 1/3 undecided. Some People in the North during the WBTS also supported the Southern Cause and some did not think Lincoln should have called for the 75,000 troops to force the South to stay in the Union. Some of those people were imprisoned for their beliefs, newspaper editors were arrested and some newspapers shut down. It is just an ugly history all the way around.
Dear Anon 2,

Little attention was given in any of my public education to Southern Unionism. The public education I received (beginning in 1945 and ending in 1957) made no mention of anything except the solidarity of the Confederacy. I had to be an adult to learn about this important part of our heritage --- and there are still numerous family members who say "Shhhh, let's not talk about this ". The war was horrible in the so-called Freedom Hills area of Alabama and Mississippi --- neighbors were indeed fighting and killing neighbors --- and much of it was done by para-military organizations. Had it not been for a harmless childhood game played in the cemetery at New Hope Cemetery, I wonder if I'd have ever inquired about the cracks in the solidarity of the South. Little is mentioned that during the war entire families from the Hills of Alabama just along the Mississippi border were transported to Northern States for their safekeeping. And I'm of the opinion that information is still suppressed about the extent of Southern Unionism especially in Northeast Mississippi. I'm glad you had knowledge of the "Tories of the Hills." I agree completely with your statement "it is just an ugly history all the way around" and think that is more the reason why Southern Unionism should be widely discussed. I think Northern Confederates should also be documented and discussed.

Thank you both for your comments to "Shhhhhhhhhhhh! Let's not talk about this. . ."

Terry Thornton
Fulton, Mississippi

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh! Let's not talk about this . . .

by Terry Thornton

One of the most widely read and discussed articles from the original HILL COUNTRY blog is my short personal essay entitled "Shhhhhhhhhhhhh! Let's not talk about this . . ." I have been amazed and pleased by the reception this article has received from numerous students of Southern history, from family members, from Southern Unionist groups, and from academic types in various graduate history programs.
Because the essay is now only available on HILL COUNTRY Volume 1 (a CD) and on a few sites to whom I've granted limited republication rights and because of the numerous requests I've received to repost it, I've decided to do just that. I've been too ill to write any new columns recently so during this bad spot I thought I'll pull out some of my favorite columns and present them again.

Below is "Shhhhhhhhhhhhh! Let's not talk about this . . ." originally posted at Hill County of Monroe County Mississippi, August 27, 2007 and taken from HILL COUNTRY Volume 1, # 177, published in CD format in 2009. I hope a new set of readers will find it of interest.

UPDATE: See following article "Comments on "Shhhhhh! Let's not talk about this . . ." (click to read)

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh! Let's not talk about this . . .

by Terry Thornton

I am a Mississippian by birth and I am a Mississippian by choice. Of the forty-seven years that have passed since I turned twenty-one years of age, I have spent the majority living in other states electing to return to inside the Magnolia Curtain to live out my retirement.

I am a Southerner.

Growing up in the Hill Country of eastern Monroe County during those peaceful decades prior to the turbulent 1960s, I learned some about our region's history and heritage but little about my Thornton family history. My father was somewhat distant to his larger family both in temperament and in geography --- that, combined with the Thornton tendency to withhold information mitigated against my learning much about my ancestors.

I got most of my information from overhearing snatches and snippets of conversations while listening from the chimney corner. And as I grew older I learned that perhaps not all of the solid Southern unity was as it was rumored and taught to be --- that perhaps there were cracks in the solidarity in the Hill Country Confederate unity during that difficult time some seventy-eight years before I was born.

Some things didn't add up.

But when I would ask, I was told, "Shhhhhhhhh. Let's not talk about that."

One of my favorite places to play during those safe years when children were permitted to play unsupervised away from home was at the New Hope Cemetery which was about one-half mile west of my home. Down the gravel road we would walk (no soccer moms with vans back then --- nor any other vehicle; kids walked or rode bicycles) sometimes eight or ten or more to play all afternoon among the cool stone markers in the graveyard. Although the graveyard then was kept free of grass (as was the custom for most Hill Country houses: the yards were bare of grass), the cemetery had overgrown with trees creating large dense shaded places. And our favorite game to play in one of the large ornately decorated plots at the cemetery was "Civil War draft dodger."

The older kids taught us how to play the game; they had been taught the game from the generation just older than them; and they in turn probably heard the stories from those who lived the experience upon which we had made a game. To play the game, one had to hide from the CSA draft enforcers. The place to hide was a special room underground at the cemetery in a specific family plot which had a false grave built for the purpose of hiding out. When the enforcers were in the area, you had to hide in the grave; when the enforcers were not close by, you had to hide in the dense woods and creek bottom just to the south of the cemetery.

When I was a child playing there, the family plot had been modified; the false grave had been used for an actual burial. So when we hid in the special "room" we just lay between the graves crowded into that family burial plot with its interesting stones and low fencing all around.

If the enforcers came and stayed a few days, the ones hidden in the grave were nourished by "grieving" mothers, sisters, or girlfriends who would come to the graveyard with baskets of flowers which contained food and water. And as the grieving females knelt there "praying" they were really whispering the latest news to those hidden just below.

I could never decide which role I enjoyed playing best: enforcer on horseback charging up and dragging folks off to fight or dodger lying there in the cemetery while all the pretty girls brought me food, water, and flowers and whispered directions to me as I rested in the perfect pacifist position.

To play "draft dodger" when I was a child involved a large cast of characters. There were roles for everyone no matter who all came to play that day --- and we played the game often. But as I grew older, I listened to my teachers who were of the opinion that all true Southerners were loyal and 100% committed to fighting the Yankees!

If that were the case, I thought, then why were there hidden rooms in the graveyard at Parham? Maybe I had it mixed up; maybe those hidden men were really good brave loyal Southerners hiding from the Yankees.

Again came the, "Shhhhhhhhh. Let's not talk about this" from the adults in my life.

But the older kids checked the story out with the older ones who would tell us the straight of it --- the ones hiding were hiding from the Southern draft enforcers.

Then I overheard a conversation between my father and one of his relatives.

What? Some of the Thorntons were in the Union Army? Whoa! I thought. How did that happen? And no one would talk to me about the event or even acknowledge what I had overheard.

"Shhhhhhhh. Let's not talk about this."

As I got older I also questioned why the given name Sherman was widely used in my family: my grandfather had Sherman as one of his given names; my father had Sherman as one of his given names; my brothers has Sherman as one of his given names; and I have at least two cousins with Sherman as one of their given names. Somehow this choice of given name didn't square with my conception of the turmoil that ripped through the Hills of Alabama and Mississippi some seventy-five years before I was born.

General Sherman was not one of my favorite people --- he was not presented in any favorable light in any of the lessons in history I had at Hatley School. So what was I doing in a family with so many males named for Sherman? Oh well, I was told, they are named for someone else but that someone was never identified.

And if I persisted, out came the, "Shhhhhhhhhh. Let's not talk about this."

About 1970, my father asked my wife and me to go with him to Lann Cemetery, Splunge, Monroe County, Mississippi, to visit the grave of James Monroe Thornton. James Monroe Thornton was my father's grandfather --- James Monroe Thornton was the one who first named a son with the moniker "Sherman" --- in 1865 he named a son John Sherman Thornton.

And while at the cemetery, my father told my wife what he had never told me: James Monroe Thornton served in the Union Army. Basically all he would or could tell me was that his grandfather, he had been told, was on the staff with General Sherman, had attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and so admired the General that he vowed to name the first of his sons born after the war for the general.

James Monroe Thornton survived the war and when the first child born after the war was a son, he named him John Sherman Thornton.

Be damned if I would listen to another "Shhhhhhhh. Let's not talk about this" again!

During the next year or two, I started my reading and researching of the Thornton family. I learned that during the awful war years, both before and after, that they lived in the general area of Walker and Fayette Counties, Alabama. The Thornton family did not arrive in Mississippi until between 1905 to 1910. I discovered the gem of a book, Tories of the Hills, by Wesley S. Thompson (Winfield, Alabama: The Pareil Press. 1960). [My edition is the Civil War Centennial Edition, a limited-re-printing from Northwest Alabama Publishing Company, Jasper, Alabama.]

Thompson states in his Introduction "those opposed to the Secession . . . were called . . . Tories from the hills. . . met in a Convention July 4, 1861, and drew up resolutions to secede from the State [of Alabama]. When this . . . failed [the Tories] took to the coves and mountains for hiding rather than go to the Confederate Armies . . . there followed one of the bloodiest struggles of guerrilla-warfare ever fought on American soil."

Suddenly the region known as "Freedom Hills," a rugged area that spreads across the hill country of Alabama and west into Mississippi took on a new meaning.

Freedom! . . . no "Shhhhhhhhhh, let's not talk about this" was going to stop me now.

So obviously the opposition to serving in the Confederate cause was as far west as the Hill Country in Monroe County, Mississippi, if hide-outs and resisting the draft were so commonplace that children's games were organized and played almost 100 years after those sad events unfolded.

But learning more information from my father or from his larger family of their time in Alabama and of the Union Army connection to General Sherman was not to be. My father died a few years after telling me about his grandfather; the other older family members either didn't know the family history or were not willing to talk about it. Some were of the opinion that we should not talk about the possibility of such an involvement!

And there I was, blocked in with "Shhhhhhh, let's not talk about this" from cousins far and wide. But upon probing deeper, it was obvious that my cousins knew less than I about this part of our family's history. The "Shhhhh, let's not talk about this" mentality had prevented some of the most basic of family information from filtering down.

Several years went by and I began an email correspondence with a cousin, Lori Thornton, who was an experienced genealogist and computer expert. Lori and I compared notes and within a few months, I had the first documented evidence that my great-grandfather [and Lori's great-great-grandfather] James Monroe Thornton had indeed served in the First Alabama Cavalry USA.

And upon learning about this documented fact, I had relatives to send me word, "Shhhhhh. Let's not talk about this."

The first evidence I had of James Monroe Thornton's military service in the First Alabama Cavalry U.S.A. was from Glenda McWhirter Todd's in-depth study, First Alabama Cavalry USA: Homage to Patriotism (Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, Inc. 1999). There on page 368 is this entry, the first evidence I had of my great-grandfather's involvement:

Thornton, James M., Pvt., Co. A, age 38, EN 3/23/63 & MI 3/24/63, Glendale, MS, on daily duty as teamster, MO 12/22/63, Memphis, TN.

James Monroe Thornton enlisted in the First Alabama Cavalry USA at Glendale, Mississippi on March 23, 1863. The next day he was mustered into service. He was assigned to Company A; he was given the rank of Private. He was 38 years old. He served daily duty as a teamster and was mustered out of service just before Christmas, December 22, 1863, in Memphis, Tennessee.

My father had been misinformed about James Monroe Thornton's rank --- there had been some huge and grand promotions for Private Thornton to have attained the lofty status of Lieutenant Colonel --- whether that embellishment in rank was done by James Monroe Thornton himself (he lived to the ripe old age of 88 years) or by others is unknown.

Lori and I ordered the service record and the pension file for our common ancestor --- and there learned for the first time the extent of his military service. James Monroe Thornton indeed was in the First Alabama Cavalry USA; he was a Private. He was at home in Alabama hiding out from the Confederate enforcers most of the time he spent in the service of the Union. He accompanied a small group in June who was returned to Walker and Fayette County and while there became ill. His family hid him in the woods from July through early December when he returned to camp.

James Monroe Thornton was absent with leave from June 29, 1863 through about December 13, 1863 when he returned to duty just in time to be mustered out on December 22, 1863.

He was not, however, a Lieutenant Colonel nor was he an aide-de-camp to General Sherman! He drove a team of mules or horses and hauled materials with a wagon as a Private doing teamster duty.

In all of this research, however, the harsh reality of what happened to my Thornton family in the Hills of Alabama has been slowly uncovered. Lori and I are continuing to examine records that are telling us the painful story of our family --- a story that heretofore had been so suppressed within the family that our generation had no clue to its reality. Here is a brief summary of some of the major discoveries.

Two of James Monroe Thornton's brothers also served in the First Alabama Calvary USA. Those two brothers died in service. No one in my family of my generation had any knowledge of these men. As far as I know, their names were not known as family. The grave of one has been located at the Nashville National Cemetery where I conducted a memorial on the occasion of the 140th anniversary of his death. It is believed that the first time that any of this young man's family visited his grave site was 140 years after his death.

The "Shhhhhhh. Let's not talk about this" time was over.

A third brother may have been killed by Confederate enforcers as he was making his way to the Union lines to volunteer. Lori and I are still working on this possibility. We know that a third brother disappears from all records during the Civil War years and we are intrigued by a statement recently discovered in his mother's federal pension file about this possibility. More work is needed.

And perhaps the saddest chapter in all of this that was never talked about in my family is evidence that three of James Monroe Thornton's brothers also served in the Confederate Army. One was captured in battle in Kentucky and eventually exchanged/released in Mississippi. We think he returned straight to North Alabama, visited briefly with his wife and child and other family nearby, and then with his older brother, James Monroe Thornton, walked over to Glendale, Mississippi and enrolled together. James Monroe survived; the brother he enlisted with died.

The youngest brother in that large family also died in the service of the Union Army. He and another brother had enrolled in the Confederate Army and both are listed as deserting at Tuscaloosa. The younger brother shows up on the First Alabama Cavalry USA enlistment rosters a month later; the other brother disappears from the records. It is presumed that he is the one his mother later states was killed by enforcers while making his way to the Union line.

So I can't tell you about a great-grandfather who was a Lieutenant Colonel in General Sherman's army --- but I can talk a bit about his service as a Private, as a teamster, during a few short months during the Civil War. I can tell you a bit about the history of the South and can confirm that the solidarity and Confederate unity wasn't what we've been taught in the public schools of Mississippi.

But, listen, someone is saying, "Shhhhhhhhh. Let's not talk about this!"

Copyright © 2007 William T. "Terry" Thornton. Fulton, Mississippi 38843. All Rights Reserved.