Sunday, February 8, 2009

Remember When...............

The 'Day of Love' is soon upon us. With that in mind, I thought I might share a bit about my ancestry since, as they say, it's all because two people fell in love.

My great-great-grandfather, Dave Atkinson, Methodist Minister, Union Soldier and cotton mill owner. I have the hymnal he carried in his saddlebag from church to church while riding the circuit.

Above are my great-great-grandparents, David James Atkinson and Elizabeth Rachel Davis (Smith?). There is some disagreement whether Rachel was a Smith or a Davis. I have researched it thoroughly and believe she was born a Davis, but was taken in by a Smith family when her parents died at a young age. I believe she was raised as a Davis, but some of her younger grandchildren thought she was a Smith because they remember the Smiths being around in their childhood. Grandpa Dave was born in Wayne Co., TN May 9, 1845. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War and was a Methodist Circuit Preacher. He married Elizabeth Rachel Davis in January, 1868 in Mississippi. She was born March 29, 1849 in Tippah Co., MS. Rachel died on December 29, 1912 in Hardeman Co., TN. Grandpa Dave then lived with his daughter and son-in-law, Joe and Susie Morphis, until his death on August 17, 1928 near Pocahontas, Hardeman Co., TN. He died of old age.

These are my great-grandparents, Earnest Newland and Nellie Jane Atkinston-Newland. It is said they never had their picture taken in any other pose than this one because Earnest was a very short man and he didn't want Nellie taller than him in photographs. Earnest was born in 1871 in Hardeman Co., TN and died in 1945 in Madison Co., TN. Nellie was born in 1881 in McNairy Co., TN and died on March 27, 1918 of pneumonia during the horrid flu epidemic of 1918. She left Earnest with 7 young children to raise. He was helped by Nellie's sister, Susie, who had married but was barren. On of Nellie's children, Melvin, made a promise to his Uncle Joe on his death bed that he would stay with Aunt Susie until she died and take care of her. He made good on this promise, staying with her in her home until after she was laid to rest. He then moved to Bemis, TN where and married Lessie Mae Taylor.

My great-grandmother, Nancy Victoria Kaledonia Allen, known simply as Nannie to all who loved her. She was born in Sevier County in East Tennessee, on April 11, 1878. She was the daughter of Gideon A. Allen and Susan Irene Rinehart and the grand-daughter of John Allen and Mary Dawson. She married James Eli (Jim) McDonald on March 26, 1905 in Hardeman County, TN. She was his second wife, the first having died about 1900 in McNairy County, TN. Mr. Jim died sometime between March 1 - December 18, 1908 of tuberculosis, leaving Nannie with two young children to raise on her own. She sold the family farm which bordered McNairy-Hardeman counties and moved her small family closer to the Rail Depot town of Middleton (Slabtown) in southwestern Tennessee. There she took in laundry from the public and sat with the sick and elderly to support her family. She died on January 30, 1934 in the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Andrew and Ivonie Freeman, near Middleton. She is buried in an unmarked grave in the city cemetery.

This is my grandfather, James Herbert McDonald, Paw McDonald. He was born on December 18, 1908 on a small farm on the border of McNairy-Hardeman counties in Tennessee. His father had died prior to his birth of tuberculosis. From the time of his early childhood, he worked to help support his family. At the age of 13, he took a job in a paper factory in Falkner, MS, which was approximately 16 miles from the family home. Herbert set out on Sunday afternoon to walk the 16 miles to the factory and would sleep on a stray mat in a back room, work all week, then walk back home on Friday afternoon. He did this for several years, until he could come home and make a living working in the log woods. He married Eula Eilene Newland on March 21, 1928 in the home of the bride's grandfather in Hardeman County, TN. Herbert died on June 30, 1966 at his home in Hardeman County, TN of sudden cardiac death. He is buried at the Reaves Methodist Church Cemetery in Hardeman County.

I would like you to meet my grandmother, Eula Eileen Newland-McDonald, Maw McDonald. She was born on April 2, 1911 in Hardeman County, TN, just outside of the small Rail Depot town of Pocahontas, near the McNairy County line. She was the daughter of Earnest Newland and Nellie Jane Atkinson. Due to the early death of her mother, Maw was raised by her Aunt Susie Morphis, whom she adored. She was terrified of her father and said he beat his children every day with a stick whether they had done anything wrong or not. She loved her father, but never spent much time with him after her mother's death. Whether her father treated his children in this manner during Nellie's lifetime is unknown to me. I would like to think it is not so, but have no evidence one way or the other. He was of Germanic heritage and had a quick and violent temper. Maw McDonald died on January 18, 1995 of complications following surgery to remove a tumor from her stomach. She is buried beside her beloved Herbert at Reaves Methodist Church in Hardeman Co., TN.

This handsome young Private is my Dad, Van Patterson McDonald. Isn't he a hunk???!!!! Daddy was born on November 4, 1932 on a small farm in Hardeman County, TN. When he was about 10 years old, my Paw and Maw McDonald bought the farm where I grew up and moved their small family there to live. Daddy tried to join the Air Force when the Korean Conflict broke out, but was rejected for medical reasons. He was later drafted into the Army, but never had to go to Korea. On the day he was scheduled to ship out, negotiators in Panmunjom reached an agreement the truce began. He was then sent to Germany, where he served for 18 months before returning home. After returned from Germany, he met and married my Mom, Thelma Mae Howell. Momma was born on August 1, 1939 in Hardeman County, TN and died on April 20, 2006 at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital in Madison Co., TN. She died of end stage renal disease with complications from Alzheimer's disease. She and Daddy married on March 23, 1957 at the Courthouse in Corinth, Alcorn Co., MS.

The Herbert McDonald Family, Late Summer 1957

L-R: Van, Thelma, Horace Herbert, Eilene and David in front

Thelma Mae Howell & Van Patterson McDonald

February, 1957

The Van McDonald family, Summer, 1964

Van and Thelma

Diane, Debra and Charlotte

(Momma was pregnant with our youngest sister, Joyce, who was stillborn on October 6, 1964.)

Tomorrow I will try to post about the maternal side of my ancestry. These are just very bare thumbnail sketches of the individuals. I could write several posts on most of them. Those whom I don't have pictures of, I have good information on. However, I have discovered graphics help dress up the page, so I'm going to try to use more graphics in my posts and not so many words. As you can see, it's all because many more than just two people fell in love!!!!


bj said...

The last blog I looked at was about her family history, too...Sweetie's World.
It is fun to learn about our roots..I have a cousin that is so hooked on this type thing and he shares all the info he can find with me.
Your mom and I were born about the same time. I in 1937 and was married in 1960.
You have some fabulous photos and I, too, think posts with pictures are more interesting.
Have a blessed Sunday, dear one.

Grandma Blog said...

You are so lucky to have all those great pictures. Love your blog. Very interesting.

Raggedy Girl said...

How wonderful you have all those photos and all that information. I loved reading about your ancestors.
Roberta Anne

Marie Anne said...

Diane, this was enjoyable reading, your beautiful words interspersed with the treasured family photos.

I can't wait to read more!

Sit A Spell said...

Glad you came by my blog to sit a's been a nice visit here. My mama has done lots of research, but doesn't have many photos. That's great that you do!

I just love TN and have some family there...wish I lived there! That's not in God's plan for now.