MFA Quarterly July 2007

Quarterly Newsletter

of the


Founded 2001


July/September 2007                                                 Volume Six, Number Four
editor – Jarrelyn Lang                                                          assistant editor – Dianne Middlebrooks  


What’s in This Issue……………….

           3. President’s Corner, Leonard Middlebrooks

           4. A Brief Summary of This Year’s Meeting, Leonard Middlebrooks

           5. World Vital Records, Neal Middlebrook

           6. Middle-of-Nowhere, Dianne Middlebrooks

           7. Is August Really Necessary? Jarrelyn Lang

           9. MFA DNA, Bob Middlebrooks

          10. Jarrell Family Reunion, Philip Jarrell Haynes

          11. Castle Ghosts, Jarrelyn Lang

          12. The Royal Armouries Museum, Jarrelyn Lang

          13. Hospital Cemeteries, Dianne Middlebrooks

          13. The Trail of Tears, Dianne Middlebrooks

          14. Date Juggling, Dianne Middlebrooks

          14. What Is Dungeness? Dianne Middlebrooks

          15. Driving With Burma-Shave, Jarrelyn Lang

          17. On to Texas, Jarrelyn Lang

          22. Obituaries

          23. This-and-That



Middlebrooks Family Association, Inc. was founded in 2001 for the purpose of assembling and preserving genealogical and historical material for future generations.


MFA QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER is published four times a year (December, March, June, and September) by the Middlebrooks Family Association, 5721 Fullerton Phillips Road, Monticello, GA 31604.

     Subscription is free to paid members of MFA.  Articles for inclusion in the Quarterly, or suggestions for topics, may be sent to  All submissions are subject to editing.



Our sixth annual MFA meeting had a different format.  There were no field trips, and the majority of sessions were devoted to individual research at the National and Georgia State archives.  Other sessions consisted of the usual business meeting and highlighted events that were devoted to genealogy DNA.

            I would like to thank those who made the meeting possible:  Joyce Arnold, who persistently dogged the membership with invites and notices for the meeting; Sharon Bartlett, Eleanor Holland, and Toni Middlebrooks, who arranged for the motel, restaurant, and group meeting rooms; and Bob Middlebrooks (NC Bob), who provided the DNA background and coordinated our Friday night speaker.

            The seventh annual meeting will be held in Texas.  Joyce Arnold will be coordinating the event with the help of Betty Holland, Jarrelyn Lang, Joan Miller, and Jean Shroyer.  The meeting will be on July 17, 18, and 19; mark your calendar, and let’s plan on a big turn-out in the Lone Star State.  Location will be settled in the next two months, and an announcement will be made in the next MAZE.

            The 2008 Texas meeting will target the second-largest concentration of Middlebrooks/es in the US, with at least 400 cousins in the state.  This will be a much bigger effort than the previous two meetings, and we hope there will be many volunteers to share the load.

            We are starting the 2007-2008 year with a new slate of officers, with yours truly as President, Neal Middlebrooks as Vice President, and Joyce Arnold as Secretary/Treasurer.  New Board members beginning a two-year term are Joan Miller and Bob Middlebrooks.  Sharon Bartlett and Mary Baker will be co-leaders for the Micajah team, and I want to thank them for taking on this responsibility and to thank Dianne Middlebrooks for working with this group since the 2006 Natchitoches meeting.

            The first thing that occurs after the annual meeting is sending out dues notices for the coming fiscal year.  Joyce sends a big thank you for those who paid their dues at the meeting.  Let’s support our new treasurer by being prompt when the notice arrives.

            This coming year will see additional work in the area of family DNA, continuing Register Update progress, the beginning phases for the 2009 publishing of the Update, additional research on the Virginia/Maryland Middlebrook/s family branch, and the 2008 annual meeting mentioned earlier.

            A personal thanks to those who contributed to our ongoing association projects (cemetery photos, DNA, family photos, Register Update information, and help with our Web site).  It’s one thing to post questions and answers to an internet bulletin board and another to provide actual hard data for posterity.  It takes time and effort to smooth out the family information gained over time.  Please continue to share your stories and facts with the group.  Thanks again for sharing before the next generation begins wondering about assimilating all those little information tidbits.


Leonard Middlebrooks

MFA President





            Our 2007 MFA meeting focused on research at the National and Georgia Archives and DNA testing as it relates to the Middlebrook/s family genealogy.

            Prior to Thursday’s first group meeting, the attendees obtained their identification cards from each of the archives.  Their relatively new location adjacent to each other greatly simplified the logistics of the process.

            This year there were no group tours.  The tour activity time spent in previous years was devoted to a general family discussion and exploring ways to improve MFA and its long-term goals.

            The normal tour time was this year’s first group session, which was held off-site at the nearby Clayton County Library.  Introductions were the first order of business, with all those present introducing themselves and their 1700s ancestor.  All present this year were from the North Carolina branch of the family.  The farthest from home were Gary Middlebrooks and his sister, Linda, from LaFayette, Colorado.  The closest attendees were Sharon Bartlett and her mother, Eleanor Holland.  Both live in Jonesboro, Georgia.

            After the introductions, we proceeded with the President, Treasurer, Newsletter, Cemetery, Register, and Website reports.  Details of these reports are in this year’s meeting CD.  Following the various reports was a general discussion of DNA and how the team leaders are to interface with the project.

            DNA testing, as applicable to genealogy, was discussed at two levels.  One was a general presentation, and the second was a two-part presentation of the mechanics and management of data.  The mechanics of the DNA project consist of determining the lines, the best folks to be tested, and some of the methods available to display the information.  The discussion led briefly to DNA testing beyond the North American shores and how we might eventually connect to our English cousins.

            After a short break, we re-convened at Olive Garden, located near the archive complex.  We enjoyed a good meal and the companionship of cousins in the restaurant’s private dining area.

            Friday’s group presentations began with individual archive overviews by respective archival personnel.  The two archives’ evolution in the metro-Atlanta area was highlighted.  Additionally presented by each were the security, preservation, and organization of the archived material.  It was a task to stay focused due to the amount of research information available.

            Pre-meeting suggestions were given in the Association’s June newsletter that all attendees develop their own research agendas.  Each one came armed with a research list, and it was noted that our very own library archivist, Jean Shroyer, was helping some of our members sift through the vast amount of archive information.

            Friday’s activities ended with dinner at a nearby local steakhouse.  The dinner speaker was Terry Barton, CEO of World Families Net, who captivated the group with the possibilities and future of DNA testing as used in genealogy.

            After our second day of books, microfilm, and open files, the group settled into the closing hours of the meeting.  Group photos were taken, and then Bob Middlebrooks presented a PowerPoint show, bringing the Middlebrook/s DNA project into focus.  The presentation combined the mechanics of testing, the possibilities and future of DNA testing, and the results of the Middlebrook/s tests to date.

            Following the excellent presentation was the meeting critique, which averaged a 3.1 on a scale of 1-5.  Feedback for the catered lunch was positive, and there was a strong consensus for the 2008 meeting to be in east Texas, with topic suggestions consisting of: migration to Texas, team work to complete the Update, and more DNA updates.           



World Vital Records


Contributed by Neal Middlebrook 

(posted online August 28, 2007, by Dick Eastman)

, the largest newspaper database available online, has partnered with World Vital Records Inc.’s Web sites ( and in a unique way to provide increased access to a half-billion records from newspapers ranging from 1759-1923.

          “Historical newspapers contain valuable information about our ancestors, which may not have been preserved in any other form.  By making these records easily accessible, we hope they can become a part of someone’s family history,” said Jeff Kiley, General Manager,

          The uniqueness of this partnership stems from the way in which World Vital Records, Inc. will extract vital record information from the newspapers and place it on its site.

          “We wanted to have vital record information from early American newspapers. has allowed us to extract this information from their newspapers that cover the first 160 years of their collection,” said Yvette Arts, Director, Content Acquisition, World Vital Records, Inc.

          With this partnership, will provide several million pages of vital record data (approximately a half-billion online records), which will be available for subscribers at

          “In my mind, this collection of newspapers is as valuable as the censuses because it contains similar information, with the occasional benefit of additional family data.  I’m really excited about this partnership and for the increased access it will allow our viewers to experience,” said David Lifferth, President, World Vital Records, Inc.

          Once the material from has been launched, the data will be available for free at for a ten-day period.  The first release of the data will include 40 million records.  Subsequent releases will follow, totaling more than a half-billion records.  Some links to the data will also be available at (World Vital Records Inc.’s new genealogy social network).

          “Reading these newspapers from the 18th and 19th centuries is the closest we can get to actually experiencing that time period ourselves.  Whether a newspaper helps to uncover a birth record or simply someone’s life profession, it can provide valuable facts that help solve those unanswered questions,” said Leslie Fredericks-Lemmon, Web Marketing Strategist,

, the largest historical newspaper database online, contains tens of millions of newspaper pages from 1759 to the present.     Every newspaper in the archive is fully searchable by keyword and date, making it easy to quickly explore historical content. adds newspaper pages faster than one can search them – with one newspaper page added every second – that’s over 80,000 images a day, or about 2.5 million pages per month!  Designed for any individual of any age or profession, provides a comfortable and safe environment with easy-to-use tools for fast searching and browsing. is owned by Heritage Microfilm of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and began in 1999.

          Founded in 2006 by Paul Allen and several key members of the original team, World Vital Records, Inc. provides affordable genealogy databases and family history networking tools.  With thousands of databases, including birth, death, military, census, and parish records, makes it easy for everyone and enjoyable to discover their family history.  World Vital Records’ free social network for genealogists,, is currently in beta testing.  Partners include Everton Publishers, Quintin Publications, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., SmallTownPapersR, Accessible Archives, Ancestral Quest, Find A Grave, and FamilySearchT.





Contributed by Dianne Middlebrooks

 from a story by Barbara Yost in the Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Arizona

From August 1943 until autumn 1944, 10,000 soldiers were stationed in a spot the Army declared the “middle of nowhere.”  Their mission was to conduct experiments on Project Cassock – the second-biggest secret, second only to the atomic bomb, in World War II.


  1. 1.      Soldiers who talked about it were threatened with death.
  2. 2.      Personal correspondence was censored with scissors and black ink.
  3. 3.       Men went into town in pairs – even to the men’s room.
  4. 4.      For decades, those who had served at Camp Bouse were silent.
  5. 5.      The Army kept scant records, and photos of camp life are scarce.
  6. 6.      Soldiers were forbidden to bring cameras.


            The secret weapon was the Canal Defense Light (CDL), a high-intensity light (13 million candle power) mounted in the turret of an M3 tank to exploit Germany’s vulnerability in night combat and to disorient and disable the enemy.  Soldiers nicknamed it “Gizmo.”

            The CDL was never used for its intended purpose.  It was so secret that the Army commanders who could have employed it didn’t know it existed.  The top-secret light that kept 10,000 GIs captive in Arizona for more than 12 months proved useful only as a searchlight to illuminate the bridges at Remagen as the Allies crossed the Rhine River and entered Germany toward the end of the war.

            Since 1997, veterans of Camp Bouse have gathered every February to remember their year in the Arizona desert.  The Bouse, Arizona, Chamber of Commerce organizes ceremonies and an annual guided tour of the old campsite.  Maps are available in the Bouse Assay Office and Museum for those who wish to join the tour.




McDonald’s Big Mac, created in 1967 by Jim Delligati, an early franchise owner in Uniontown, PA, now has its own museum.  The Big Mac sandwich, which turns 40 this year, became a permanent part of McDonald’s menu nationwide in 1968, selling for 45 cents.  Delligati, now 89, and his family opened a Big Mac Museum Restaurant in late August in North Huntingdon, PA.  The museum is filled with memorabilia and proudly displays the world’s largest Big Mac statue. (“Big Mac Turns 40, Museum Opens for Sandwich,”  posted online August 22, 2007)


Is August Really Necessary?

By Jarrelyn Lang

An online article by David Plotz, posted August 13, 2007, and entitled “August: Let’s Get Rid of It” caught my eye.  Mr. Plotz begins his article by saying (very tongue-in-cheek), “August is the Mississippi of the calendar.  It’s beastly hot and muggy.  It has a dismal history.  Nothing good ever happened in it.  And the United States would be better off without it.”  Pretty strong words.

            As proof of August’s dismal history, Plotz cites these facts:  atomic bombs were dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August; Anne Frank was arrested in August; the first income tax was collected in August; World War I began in August; Iraq invaded Kuwait in August; and MTV was launched in August.  Dismal indeed.

            Originally called Sextilis (the 6th month) in the Roman calendar, August was named for Emperor Caesar Augustus, grand-nephew and heir of Julius Caesar. It became the eighth month after January and February were placed in front of March, which had been the first month.  The Roman Senate changed the month of Sextilis to Augustus because it was the month in which Augustus’s forces defeated those of Anthony and Cleopatra.  According to the Senate’s decree, that defeat was “most fortunate to this empire” (    

            Although August is typically a holiday month for workers in many European countries, it has none for us – that is, unless you count Air Conditioning Appreciation Week (3rd week), Carpenter Ant Awareness Week (4th week), National Lazy Day (10th), Relaxation Day (15th), Failures Day (also the 15th), and my personal favorite, Blame Someone Else Day (13th).

            Plotz goes on to say, “The United States desperately needs August Reform. . . . August was created by politics, and it can be undone by politics.”  He suggests that Senator John McCain (R, AZ), born on August 29, lead the “revolution” for change.

            Here is what Plotz proposes:  Remove the first ten days of August; use them, instead, to lengthen July (which, by the way was named to honor Augustus’s predecessor, Julius Caesar).  Give the final ten days of August to September.  That would mean an earlier Labor Day and a longer school year.  The middle ten days would remain in August, which Plotz believes would be “just enough,” and then every summer we could say, “August went by so quickly this year!”

            By now, you’re probably realizing that something doesn’t quite add up.  August has 31 days, not 30.  Well, Plotz has a plan for that, too.  He suggests that the 31st be “designated a holiday independent from any month.  It will fall after the 10th and last day of August, and it will celebrate the end of that most useless month.”

            To give credence to the flip side of August, I dug up some positive points from the’s “Today in History” feature: Those with August birthdays who are noteworthy include Francis Scott Key (1779), composer of “The Star-Spangled Banner”; Herman Melville (1819), author of Moby Dick; Neil Armstrong (1930), first man on the moon; Davy Crockett (1786), frontiersman and Alamo defender; Virginia Dare (1587), first child born in America; Walt Kelly (1913), creator of the “Pogo” comic strip; Althea Gibson (1927), first African-American tennis player to compete in the U.S. Open and at Wimbledon; Zerna Sharpe (1884), creator of the Dick and Jane books; and Mother Teresa (1910), founder of the Missionaries of Calcutta and Nobel Peace Prize winner. 

            There were also some not-so-dismal events that occurred in August.  Henry Ford’s first Model T rolled off the assembly line in August 1908.  The first household refrigerator was patented in 1899; the Smithsonian Institution was established in 1846; and German astrologer John Faust published the first book ever printed using movable type, the Gutenberg Bible, in August 1457.  The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776; women won the right to vote in 1920; Babe Ruth hit his 500th homerun in 1929; Thomas Edison demonstrated his “talking” pictures for the first time in 1910; and Jesse Owens won his four Olympic gold medals in 1936 – all in August.

            Maybe we ought to keep our eighth month, after all.




From Roots of the Rich and Famous, by Robert Davenport:

            “Filmmaker Walt Disney’s movies and Disneyland were influenced by the castles and witches in his own family history.  On his father’s side, aristocratic blood ran in his veins, and Sir Hugh Disney was a knight with a castle in Isigny-sur-Mer in Normandy, France.  Although Walt Disney is best remembered for creating Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, he also created a famous witch, Snow White’s mother.  Walt Disney is himself descended from the Reverend George Burroughs, the grand wizard of all the witches executed at Salem, Massachusetts.”


            “When Princess Diana’s oldest son, Prince William, becomes king of England, England will have a king who is closely related to the greatest hero of the American Revolution: Nathan Hale.  General Washington asked for a volunteer to spy behind British lines.   Nathan Hale, who arrived at the meeting late, stepped forward.  Disguised as a schoolmaster, he was landed by armed sloop at Long Island and proceeded to study all the British troops’ placements and prepare drawings of their military positions.  Having accomplished his mission, he was arrested on his return after being searched by British sailors.  He was immediately condemned to be hanged as a spy.  The order was carried out the next morning – September 22, 1776 – near the corners of Chambers and Centre Streets.  His last words, which were to ring down through history, were, ‘I regret that I have but one life to live for my country’.”


            “Actress Goldie Hawn, in her movie Protocol, reads the Declaration of Independence to a group of Middle Eastern diplomats and then states: ‘That’s the Declaration of Independence; we’re really proud of that.’  What is not apparent in that scene is that Goldie herself descended from John Rutledge, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and is closely related to five other signers of the Declaration and the Constitution.  In honor of this ancestry, she named her son Oliver Rutledge Hudson.  In Congress, when John Rutledge heard that the king had made some promises, he remarked, ‘I should have no regard for his word; his promises are not worth anything.’  After the war, John Rutledge was elected governor of Georgia.  He chaired the committee that wrote the first draft of the Constitution and served as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.”  



Submitted by Bob Middlebrooks, MFA DNA Project Manager

Middlebrooks Family Association members attending our July annual meeting were treated to an outstanding presentation on the subject of DNA by Terry Barton, who heads up This was followed the next day by a power point presentation by me that brought the Middlebrooks Y-DNA project into focus and allowed a discussion on where we wish to go with the project.

After discussions with Terry Barton, we have decided to affiliate with his (WFN), and work is underway to develop our web site pages to take advantage of all that WFN offers. There are great advantages to this relationship, and the services that are provided are at no cost to our MFA organization or to our DNA test participants. WFN is a web site that provides DNA project participants with a place to home-base information about particular projects, post results, and even discuss their projects on a forum that is set up. It will also offer a vehicle for the posting of Middlebrook/s pedigrees on their Patriarch Page. Since this site is still in the preparation phase, when you visit it, you will likely find examples rather than specific Middlebrook/s information posted. The Middlebrook/s surname project home page at WFN will show tabs for other pages, including the Results Page, which is in fact up to date as of this writing. The WFN URL is and you can find our Middlebrooks project by the search button at the top of the page and type in “Middlebrooks” under the surname search. Or, you can go directly to our page with the URL

Here are some facts related to our project at this time.

  1. Y-DNA tests may be ordered via the WFN web site or directly from the FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) site. The tests will continue to be sent by, and processed by, FTDNA. The cost is the same either way. I will be available to order tests for you and have the invoice accompany the kit when it is mailed if anyone wishes. Just email me at


  1.  FTDNA will continue to have a Middlebrooks project home page with tabs to other pages. You can use the URL to reach this page. Test results and information will be available at both sites, but WFN will be developed into a more comprehensive site for us.


  1. As of this writing, we have four test results analyzed and posted, and three others are being processed. We advise that you do not try to make too much out of the results correlation at this point. We expect that as we accumulate more test results, the impact on our genealogy project will become clearer. While we already are seeing some interesting and even surprising test results, we do not want to jump to assumptions. One of the great advantages of affiliating with WFN is the support we will receive in drawing conclusions as we match DNA results with our genealogy files.


Bottom line right now – We are excited about the Middlebrooks Y-DNA project and we have reason to believe that it will offer a wonderful opportunity to take us to another level in our quest to develop the Middlebrook/s history.


As we go further into MFA Y-DNA testing, we see the need to provide a policy regarding the ordering of tests and their related fees. The following policy has been adopted by the MFA Board of Directors:


The MFA DNA project policy is to encourage Y-DNA Middlebrook/s surname test participants to order a 37-marker test and to select no less than a 25-marker test. When a test is determined to be critical to the project and the participant states that he is unable to pay the fee, the MFA may offer to subsidize a portion of the costs. When it is determined that a refinement of a test is necessary in order to provide sufficient markers to make lineage judgments, the MFA will pay for the added cost unless the participant offers to pay himself. A decision for MFA to subsidize a test will be at the discretion of the Board of Directors, who shall consider the impact on the treasury and the value of the test to the project.





Contributed by Philip Jarrell Haynes

The ’07 Jarrell Family reunion will be held on Sunday, October 21, 2007, at the home of Philip and Amelia Haynes, next to Jarrell Plantation State Historic Site in Jones County, Georgia.  A meal will be served at 1:00 pm.  At 2:30 pm, we will gather at the Jarrell Plantation Visitors’ Center for a presentation about “The Jarrells Who Went West (to Texas)” by Rebecca Garrett.  We’ll also hear from Superintendent Marty Fleming about plans for Jarrell Plantation in ’07-’08.

            Please reserve your meal ($10 plate) by Tuesday, Oct. 16, with Amelia Haynes, 715 Jarrell Plantation Rd., Juliette, GA 31046.  Call Amelia at 478-986-3972 (please leave a message if necessary), fax her at 478-742-5334, or e-mail her at amelia@haynesmarketing.comPlease give the name of each person for whom you are making a reservation. Hope to see you all!

(Editor’s note:  Jarrell Plantation was founded by John Fitz Jarrell, father of Jenny Jarrell Middlebrooks, wife of John Floyd Middlebrooks.  See related article on p 17.)




Castle Ghosts



By Jarrelyn Lang  

If you’re ever doing genealogical research that takes you to the castles of Great Britain, be aware that several are purported to be haunted.  Some are filled with the odor of perfume, and others are inhabited by the ghosts of various people who met untimely deaths.

            Cardiff, in Wales, boasts of three haunted castles.  In Caerphilly Castle, a green lady has been seen often, and ghosts of past soldiers still man the battlements.  The story is told that modern security guards do not go up to the flag tower because of a heavy perfume odor there.

            Cardiff Castle was the home of the Marquess of Bute, who died there in 1848 and still roams about the place. There is also a “faceless vision in a flowing grayish-white skirt” that supposedly rearranges items in the castle’s storeroom.

            Dame Griffiths, who died soon after her son drowned at Castell Coch, is said to wander about the castle grounds and the woods that surround it. Castell Coch is located near Cardiff.

            Other Welsh castles that report hauntings include Conwy Castle, located in Conwy, Dunraven Castle in Glamorgan, Roch Castle in Pembrokeshire, and Ruthin Castle in Denbighshire.  The ghost in Roch Castle is described as a “shade” that floats through walls and locked doors.  Her noisy running footsteps have occasionally disturbed the sleep of guests at the castle.

            Many haunted castles are located in England. In Sussex, there are Arundel Castle, Bramber Castle, Herstmonceux Castle, Pevensey Castle, and Verdley Castle, which is haunted by the last wild bear killed in England.

            The castles Dover, Hever, Rochester, and Scotney, all located in Kent, have reported various sightings. A dripping wet ghost haunts Scotney Castle.  Legend has it that the man was a Revenue Officer murdered by smugglers. Perhaps the most famous ghost in Kent is that of Anne Boleyn, who has been seen on the bridge approaching Hever Castle.

            Devon (Berry Pomeroy and Okehampton castles) and Dorset (Corfe Castle and Sherborne Old Castle) each document two haunted castle sites. The ghost of Sir Walter Raleigh is said to wander Sherborne Old Castle, and the ghost of a little black dog has been seen at Okehampton Castle.

            Other haunted castles in England include Cadbury Castle in Somerset, Featherstone Castle in Northumberland, Hurst Castle in Hampshire, Old Wardour Castle in Wiltshire, Pengersick Castle in Cornwall, the Tower of London in London, and Windsor Castle in Berkshire.  Queen Elizabeth I’s ghost has been seen in the library of Windsor Castle.

            The Tower of London is perhaps the most famous haunted site in all of Great Britain.  Many murders, tortures, and executions have taken place there.  Sightings of Anne Boleyn, Sir Walter Raleigh, Lady Jane Grey, and Guy Fawkes (who was executed for attempting to blow up Parliament) have been reported on several occasions.

            Scotland also has its share of haunted castles.  Aldourie Castle, near Inverness and Nairn, is said to be haunted by a Gray Lady.  Bercaldine Castle, near Argyll and Dunbartonshire, is believed to be haunted by the ghost of Donald Campbell, who was murdered there. Pipe music can supposedly be heard in Duntrane Castle, not far from Bercaldine. A man by the name of Coll Macdonnell had a score to settle with the Campbells of Duntrane.  As he approached the castle,

he was warned by a piper and turned back.  In retribution, the Campbells cut off the piper’s hands.

            Ghosts of a group of men are said to stalk about the ruins of Hermitage Castle in Borders, Scotland.  A neighboring chief sent a group of goodwill ambassadors to Hermitage to propose an

end to their longtime feud.  The lord of Hermitage locked the men up in a small room, where they starved to death.

            Ballygally Castle, located in Northern Ireland’s County Antrim, is said to be haunted by Lady Isobel Shaw, who goes about knocking on guests’ doors.

            Ross Castle, at the edge of Lough Leane, the largest lake in the Irish Republic’s Killarney National Park, is home to the ghost of O’Donaghue Mor.  He held out against Cromwell’s army, refusing to surrender, and finally leaped (or perhaps was pushed) from a window of the castle into the lake.

            Glin Castle, in South Munster, County Limerick, is home to the ghost of the Knight of Glin, a descendant of the Fitzgeralds.  Gerald, Earl of Kildare, known as the “Wizard Earl,” who died in 1585 at Kilkea Castle, near Dublin in County Kildare, is said to return to the castle every seven years, riding a silver-shod white charger.

            Two Irish castles have made their way to television.  County Offaly’s Leap Castle was featured on the SciFi Channel’s “Ghost Hunters” on November 15, 2006. ABC Family (originally Fox Network) showed Charleville Forest Castle, located near the Shannon River, on its “Scariest Places on Earth” program.

            So if you’re researching in British castles, it might be a good idea to take along your Ghost-Busting equipment!



The Royal Armouries Museum


By Jarrelyn Lang, from “Hands Across the Sea” by Dana Huntley, published in the May 2007 British Heritage magazine

            If, by chance, you prefer to stay on this side of the Atlantic but have a hankering for first-hand knowledge of English history, you might consider a visit to the Frazier International History Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.  Within the Frazier is an outpost of the Royal Armouries Museum, the only British museum to have a branch in the United States.  The Frazier is located across the street from the Louisville Slugger factory and museum, so you could also get your fill of baseball history – and maybe a new bat – at the same time.

            As its name implies, the Armouries museum houses “arms and armaments galore,” according to Ms. Huntley.  A tour of the facilities takes visitors through a series of dioramas portraying British warfare from the Norman conquest through the end of the 19th century.  Each station displays and explains the weaponry involved. 

            There are also displays on heraldry, jousting, medieval archery, and the making of chain mail armor.  A popular activity involves reenactments of medieval sword-fighting. 

            The Frazier also features such items as Jesse James’s six-shooters, Daniel Boone’s family Bible, Teddy Roosevelt’s African safari rifle, and Geronimo’s bow and quiver.  More information is available at  



Hospital Cemeteries

Contributed by Dianne Middlebrooks

Milledgeville’s Central State Hospital and the Georgia Consumer’s Council are restoring the hospital’s cemeteries.  These efforts include landscaping, burial identification, and a possible listing on the National Register.

     The cemeteries date back to 1854 and are believed to include 22,000 burials of former patients.  Information is sought about the cemeteries, especially photographs, records, oral history about burials and how they were carried out, and most especially any map showing the location of graves by numbers.  Each grave is marked by a numbered metal stob, but no map is yet known.  Original records are on microfilm at the Georgia Archives, with the list of early patients, from 1842 to 1870, in the two volumes of Roberts S. Davis’s The Georgia Black Book.

            Any information should be sent to: Wilkes Building, Central State Hospital, Milledgeville, Georgia 31062.

Source:  Atlanta & Constitution Newspaper.  March 25, 2001. Page M1 2.


The Trail of Tears

 Contributed by Dianne Middlebrooks

The great Indian “removals” of the 1830s — the federal measures that expelled thousands of Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, and other Eastern Indians to new lands west of the Mississippi River — stand with slavery as being among the most brutal chapters in American history.

            The discovery of gold in Dahlonega, GA, in 1838 brought 10,000 miners into Cherokee country.  During this period, Georgia voided all Cherokee laws, decreed that no Indian could testify in a state court against a white man, and eventually forbade all Cherokees from mining gold on their own land.  As one chronicler of the period opined: “Jim Eagle paved the way for Jim Crow.”

            Under the command of General Winfield Scott, in 1838, about 7,000 U. S. troops were ordered to rid Georgia of its Cherokee population.  Thousands of Georgia Cherokees were stripped of their farms and possessions and herded into stockades. White settlers often burned Indian farmhouses, and one historian told how whites exhumed and plundered Cherokee corpses.

            Finally, about 17,000 Cherokees were forced onto the 800-mile trek to what is now Oklahoma.  In early December 1838, even as hundreds of Cherokees were dying in the snow of western Kentucky, President Martin Van Buren told Congress: “The measures of the Removal have had the happiest effect.  The Cherokee have emigrated with no apparent reluctance.”

            A seven-pointed star is the official seal of the Cherokee Nation.  The “7” has been sacred to Cherokees from ancient times.  And from earliest times, the tribe developed into a system of seven clans, each with a particular identity and mission.

            The clans are Panther, Long Hair, Bird, Paint Deer, Bear, and Wolf.  Each clan adorned the Tribal Council, and townships for the Eastern band of Cherokees, who live in North Carolina, bear such names as Wolftown, Painttown, and Birdtown.

            Rules for membership in a Cherokee tribe are carefully enforced. To be an enrolled member, a person must demonstrates that he/she is a direct descendant of one of the roughly 3,000  Cherokees who appeared on the 1924 register called the Baker Roll and must have a minimum of 1/16th Cherokee “blood degree.”                  

SOURCE:  The Atlanta Journal/The Atlanta Constitution , January 29, 1999, page M13.


Date Juggling

Contributed by Dianne Middlebrooks

If you’re tracing British relatives back to 1752, you’re in for some of the most interesting date juggling you’ve ever seen.  In 1582, the Julian calendar was replaced by the Gregorian calendar in all the Roman Catholic countries.  However, Great Britain and her colonies didn’t get around to making the change until September 2, 1752.  Eleven days were added to the Gregorian calendar to make up for the accumulated errors in the Julian calendar.  In addition, depending on local customs, New Year’s Day was celebrated on either January 1st or March 25th.  When Parliament made the calendar change official, they also made January 1st official as New Year’s Day.  Until the new system was universally adopted, people born between January 1 and March 25 could have misstated their birthdate by a year.  During the transition, many dates during this 84-day period were written as March 3, 1751/2, meaning if you were using the old system, the person’s birthdate was in 1751, but the new system put their birthdate in 1752.





Contributed by Dianne Middlebrooks

Dungeness was a massive, four-storey tabby-built plantation structure that, at the time was considered the most magnificent home on the Georgia coast.  Revolutionary War hero General Nathaniel Greene began construction of Dungeness in early 1780, and, after his untimely death, the work continued under the direction of his widow, Catherine.  By 1815, ownership of the manor had passed to their youngest daughter, Louisa Greene Shaw.

            While her husband James was ill, as hostess of the plantation, Louisa was forced to deal with some uninvited houseguests.  During the War of 1812, the plantation was under British occupation for a time, until troops and officers left the area.

From “The Final Battle,” Georgia Backloads, Winter 2000


Driving With Burma-Shave


By Jarrelyn Lang

All information from The Verse by the Side of the Road, by Frank Rowsome, Jr.

          “Within this vale / of toil and sin / your head grows bald / but not your chin.”  This is only one of the hundreds in a series of roadside signs that advertised Burma-Shave, the first brushless shaving cream sold in the United States.  This particular group of signs, however, has the distinction of being on permanent display in the Smithsonian Museum.

          Clinton Odell’s father, a lawyer, manufactured a liniment in his office that was very effective at healing burns.  Unfortunately, it had quite a strong odor and didn’t sell well when the older Odell tried to peddle it to druggists in his hometown of Minneapolis and the surrounding areas.  Following his father’s death, Clinton decided to step up the marketing and gave the liniment a name, Burma-Vita, “Life from Burma,” because the essential oils used in the liniment were imported from the Malay Peninsula and Burma.  Sales failed to improve.  Odell’s suppliers suggested he look into a product called Lloyd’s Euxesis, a brushless shaving cream that was being manufactured in England.

          Not satisfied with the prospect of becoming a salesman for an English-made product, and confident that he could improve on the Euxesis formula, Odell hired Carl Noren, a chemist, to create a better brushless shaving cream.  The final product, given the name Burma-Shave, was sold in jars for 50 cents.

          Allan Odell, Clinton’s son, was the one who suggested a series of signs along the roadside as advertisement.  He had seen such a series advertising a gas station and enthusiastically informed his father that he had read every one of them as he drove along and thought selling their product that way, also, might work.

          Clinton Odell’s two sons, Allan and Leonard, made the first signs themselves.  These were fairly crude and pretty much just advertised their product: “Shave the modern way / fine for the skin / druggists have it / Burma-Shave.”  Two such series of signs were set up outside of Minneapolis.  This number grew to “ten or twelve,” according to Leonard Odell, by the end of 1925.

          Leonard goes on to say, “By the end of the year (1925) we were getting the first repeat orders we’d ever had in the history of the company – all from druggists serving people who traveled those roads. … So early in 1926 we set up our first sign shop … [and used] slogans and selling lines that Dad and Al[lan] thought up” (pp. 14-15). 

The two brothers went to various property owners and rented spaces along the highways then dug the holes and set up the signs themselves.

          When the Depression came along, the brothers introduced humor into their advertising, feeling it was a much-needed commodity.  The humorous slogans caught on quickly, and the signs spread to almost every state.  (Due to lack of sufficient traffic, road configuration, and/or lack of reasonably-priced locations, no signs were ever set up in the states of Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Massachusetts.)

          In 1926, the first year of advertising with roadside signs, the Burma-Vita Company hit a record sales high of $68,000.  At its height, the company had in place 7,000 of its signs around the nation.  In the 1930s, there was an annual

slogan contest, with $100 awarded to the writer of each slogan that was chosen for use.

          When coupons began to rise in popularity, Allan Odell dreamed up “Free –  Free / A trip / to Mars / for 900 / empty jars.”  Intended as satire, it backfired.  Arliss French, manager of a supermarket in Appleton, Wisconsin, wired the company that he was taking up their challenge and asked where to send the empty Burma-Shave jars.  Allan Odell’s return wire read: “If a trip to Mars you’d earn, remember, friend, there’s no return.”  But Mr. French wasn’t to be deterred; besides, he was publicizing his intent around Appleton, and his business was booming.  “Frenchy,” as he was known locally, hired a publicity man, who suggested to the Odells that they send Frenchy to Moers (pronounced “Mars”), a small town in Germany.  He said that, if the Odells would pay the plane fare both ways, he would take care of the rest.  So that is what they did.  The Burma-Shave Company paid for round-trip fare for Mr. and Mrs. French, the city of Moers threw a three-day festival, with people coming in from miles around, and both Frenchy’s store and the Burma-Shave Company profited greatly from the whole affair.

          Burma-Shave continued its rise until 1947, when it brought in its highest sales ever – $6 million.  Sales stagnated for seven or so years then gradually began to drop off.  Clinton Odell died in 1958, and in 1963 his sons sold Burma-Vita to Philip Morris, Inc., to become an operating division of its subsidiary, American Safety Razor Products.  The Odell brothers intended to reduce the number of signs around the country gradually, but the new owners chose instead to accelerate the process.  Under the Odells’ personal guidance, the signs were dug up and stored away.  Many landowners expressed regret that signs on their property were being removed, and not just at the prospect of losing their rent checks.  One landowner remarked, “It’s sort of like losing an old friend.”  In 1964, Allan Odell donated the sign mentioned in the opening of this article to be permanently displayed in the Smithsonian, and the Burma-Shave era came to an end.  Leonard Odell died in 1991, followed by his brother Allan in 1994.


Subjects for the sign series varied, but the final board in each group of four or five always had the Burma-Shave logo on it.  Here is a sampling to enjoy:


The one horse shay / has had its day / so has the brush / and lather way.

The bearded lady / tried a jar / she’s now / a famous / movie star.

Henry the Eighth / prince of friskers / lost five wives / but kept / his whiskers.

Past / schoolhouses / take it slow / let the little / shavers grow.

Said Juliet / to Romeo / if you / won’t shave / go homeo.

Big mistake / many make / rely on horn / instead of / brake.

If these / signs blur / and bounce around / you’d better park / and walk to town.

Don’t lose / your head / to gain a minute / you need your head / your brains are in it.

Car in ditch / driver in tree / moon was full / and so / was he.

We know / how much / you love that gal / but use both hands / for driving, pal.

Our fortune / is your / shaven face / it’s our best / advertising space.

The safest rule / no ifs or buts / just drive / like everyone else / is nuts!

These signs / are not / for laughs alone / the face they save / may be your own.

The hero / was brave and strong / and willin’. / She felt his chin – / then wed the          villain.

Thirty days / hath September / April / June and the / speed offender.

This cream / is like / a parachute / there isn’t / any substitute.

Ben / met Anna / made a hit / neglected beard / Ben-Anna split.


On to Texas

By Jarrelyn Lang

            John Floyd Middlebrooks was born to Anderson Joseph and Emily (Childs) Middlebrooks on December 25, 1848, in Jones County, Georgia.  John became a Private in the 2nd Georgia Battalion of the CSA, enlisting in July 1864 at the age of 15 years and 8 months. He was listed in the 1864 Census for re-Organizing the Georgia Militia (Jones County 21st Senatorial District, 360th Militia District) as being 16 years and 1 month of age; however, he wouldn’t have been 16 until December 1864, and he would have had to wait until January 1865 before adding the extra month.   My guess is that he may have added a few months to his age in order to qualify for the Militia – or that whoever compiled the census miscalculated.

            John engaged in various campaigns in the state of Georgia, and his name appears on a list of Prisoners of War belonging to the Army of Northern Virginia.  His command was surrendered to a portion of Sherman’s army in April 1865.

            John Floyd Middlebrooks married Mary Jane “Jenny” Jarrell, his first cousin, in Jones Co., GA, on November 18, 1866.  Jenny was the daughter of John and Elizabeth Williamson (Middlebrooks) Fitz Jarrell, who built the Jarrell Plantation.  (See related article in the Oct/Dec 2006 MFA quarterly.)

            John became a farmer, just like his father before him and most of the men in Jones County.  The couple was soon blessed with children:  Joseph Anderson was born September 14, 1867; John Randolph was born August 14; 1869, and Emily Elizabeth (“Bessie”) came along on October 15, 1871.

            Jenny’s brother, John Randolph “Randy” Jarrell, had left Georgia in 1858 to marry his bride, Emily Williamson, who lived in the East Texas town of Carthage (Panola County).  He wrote to John and Jenny, urging them to make the move also, so sometime between 1872 and 1875, they loaded up the family and did just that.  According to family lore, they traveled by rail to New Orleans then by river to Panola County.

             While there is no known written record of their train trip, research has turned up a likely routing.  John, Jenny, and their children would probably have had to make their way by horse and buggy to Forsyth, the county seat of Monroe Co., GA, to find the nearest train station, a distance of about 30 miles.  (The little town of Juliett, GA, located just a few miles from the plantation, had a railroad, the East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia.  However, Juliett wasn’t established until 1882, so it didn’t exist at that time.  Juliett, GA, is the location used for filming the movie Fried Green Tomatoes.)

            Once they arrived in Forsyth, the Middlebrookses would have booked passage on the Macon & Western Railroad, a branch of the Central of Georgia Railroad.  The Macon & Western began building a rail line between Forsyth and Macon, GA, in 1834, and the first train traveled the 25-mile route in 1838. 

            From Macon, the route would have continued southwest to Columbus, GA, on the Central of Georgia Railroad.  The Central Rail Road and Canal Company was organized in 1833 by a group of Savannah businessmen.  Construction on the line began in 1835.  Shortly thereafter, the company decided to go into the banking business and changed its name to Central Rail Road and Banking Company of Georgia, dropping the word “Canal.”  The company’s line from Savannah to Macon was completed in 1843.  The Central either leased or bought outright several other branches, including the Eatonton Branch Railroad, the Milledgeville and Gordon Railroad, the Augusta and Savannah Railroad, the Southwestern Railroad, the Upson County Railroad, and the Western Railroad of Alabama.  At one point, the Central owned or controlled 2300 miles of railroad and was one of the most efficient and prosperous systems in the South.  Unfortunately, the Central came under the control of the Richmond Terminal Company in 1888.  Financial disaster, caused by bond defaults and a shareholder’s lawsuit, brought the Richmond Terminal Company to its knees.  The Central was sold at foreclosure in 1895.  It was reorganized as the Central of Georgia Railway later that same year, held by the Southern Railway. 

            The Central once more began leasing and owning other lines and continued doing so until 1906.  In 1907, Edward H. Harriman gained control of the Central but sold his interest to the Illinois Central Railroad in 1909.  In 1920, one short branch line was abandoned, and other closures followed.  The Central again was in financial difficulty, which lasted throughout the Depression and World Wars I and II.  After the second World War, the railroad’s finances began to bounce back.  In 1971, the name was changed to Central of Georgia Railroad, and it merged with the Georgia and Florida Railroad, the Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad, and the Savannah and Atlanta Railroad into a single subsidiary.  Those railroads were all merged with the Southern and Norfolk and Western in 1982.  The Central continues at present to be an operating unit of the Norfolk Southern Corporation, although few, if any, locomotives or rail cars have any Central markings.

            In Columbus, GA, the family probably changed to the Montgomery and West Point Railroad that connected Columbus to Montgomery, AL.  The Montgomery and West Point was a branch of the Western Railway of Alabama, known as the “WR.”  A charter was granted to the Montgomery Railroad in 1832 for the purpose of building a rail line from Montgomery to the Chattahoochee River across from Columbus, GA.  The line was finally completed to West Point, GA, in 1851.  The Central of Georgia Railroad purchased the Montgomery and West Point in 1875.

            In Montgomery, AL, John, Jenny, and their children would again change trains, this time to the Mobile & Montgomery Railroad.  The M&M resulted from a merger between the Alabama & Florida Railroad and the Mobile & Great Northern Railroad in May 1861.  The M&M was leased by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad in 1880 and became a permanent part of the L&N in 1900.  The L&N was granted a charter in 1850 by the Commonwealth of Kentucky for the purpose of building a railroad “between Louisville, Kentucky, and the Tennessee state line in the direction of Nashville.”  An 1851 act of the Tennessee General Assembly authorized the company to extend its road from the state line into Nashville.  The first track was laid in 1853, and the first train ran on August 25, 1855, when “some 300 people traveled eight miles from Louisville at a speed of 15 mph!”  On October 27, 1859, the first train operated all the way from Louisville to Nashville.

            By the time the Civil War began in 1861, the L&N had 269 miles of track.  Located almost in the center of the opposing armies, the L&N at various times served both the Union and the Confederacy as the tides of war changed.  Although the railroad suffered considerable damage during the war years, it emerged in surprisingly good financial condition and began expanding once more at the close of the war.  By 1872, the L&N had obtained sufficient track in Alabama to expand its routes to Montgomery and Mobile.   Eventually, the L&N reached New Orleans, but that wasn’t until 1881, several years after the Middlebrookses passed that way.

            Once they arrived in Mobile, AL, the family would board the New Orleans, Mobile, and Chattanooga Railroad for the final leg of their rail journey.   In 1869, the New Orleans, Mobile, and Chattanooga began construction of a rail line from Mobile, AL, to New Orleans, LA.  The line was completed just 20 months later, and on November 21, 1870, the company began its passenger and freight service. 

            In New Orleans, the family would trade rails for water, traveling northwestward by river.  A likely route would have been to go up the Mississippi River as far as the Old River, located somewhere between Angola and Torres, LA, where they would cross over to the Red River.  In 1831, Captain Henry Shreve dug this shortcut across Turnbull’s Bend to connect the two rivers.  Henry Miller Shreve (1785-1851) was an American inventor and steamboat captain who opened up the Mississippi, Ohio, and Red Rivers to steamboat navigation.  The city of Shreveport, Louisiana, was named in his honor.

            Steamboats played an important part in early river travel and freight shipment.  The era of the steamboat began in America when Pennsylvania-based inventor John Fitch (1743-1798) made the first successful trial of a steamboat, on the Delaware River on August 22, 1787, in the presence of members of the Constitutional Convention.  He was granted his first US patent for a steamboat in 1791.  Between 1785 and 1796, he built four different steamboats that successfully demonstrated the feasibility of using steam for water locomotion.

            Then came Robert Fulton (1765-1815), who built his first steamboat after Fitch’s death.  Fulton, known as the “father of steam navigation,” was credited with turning the steamboat into a commercial success.  His Clermont left New York City for Albany on August 7, 1807, making history by covering the 150-mile distance in 32 hours, at an average speed of 5 mph.  After that, commercial steamboat use steadily increased.  By 1834, the number of steamboat arrivals in New Orleans had grown to 1200 a year. 

            Steamships had names such as the Bessie Smith, the Natchez, the Robert E. Lee, the Independence, the New Orleans, the Zebulon M. Pike, the City of Chattanooga, the  Samuel Howard, the Tecumseh, and the General Washington, to name a few.  They were owned by various companies, such as the American Fur Company, the Iron Steamboat Company, the Steamboat Company of Georgia, and the Galena and Minnesota Packet Company.  A steamboat that was called a “packet” boat carried both freight and passengers.

            A majority of steamships were equipped with splendidly appointed staterooms for first class passengers.  Easy chairs, settees, and a piano graced the lounge, where a pianist might supply music for dancing or listening.  Country produce was abundant and could be bought along the way at reasonable prices to be used for meals in the dining room, where wild duck, goose, quail, venison, or fish would often be the main course.

            The lower deck usually accommodated passengers such as loggers, trappers, and others who could afford to pay for just their passage and would supply their own meals and bedding.  They shared their space with whatever freight the ship was carrying. 

            Wood was used for fuel, and boats stopped at yards along the way to refurbish their supply.  While steamship travel was popular, it nevertheless had its downside.  Unfortunately, 4,000 people died in steamboat accidents between 1810 and 1850, and on more than one occasion, a ship’s boiler exploded.

            Once John, Jenny, and family were on the Red River, the routing becomes a bit fuzzy.    The Red River in Louisiana travels northward to Alabama before turning westward to form part of the northern Texas border.  I was unable to uncover information about any rivers that would have branched off the Red River toward Panola County.  So, since this is mostly conjecture anyway, I came up with two possible scenarios: 

            1) The family may have left the Red River at either Coushatta, LA, or at Grand Bayou, a few more miles upriver, and traveled westward overland (possibly having hired a driver and rig), to the Sabine River in Texas, a distance of about 40 miles.  They would have traveled on the Sabine northwestward as far as it was possible to navigate, then by land the rest of the way, approximately 20 miles over water and land. That would have meant a total travel distance of close to 60 miles after leaving the Red River.  Perhaps Randy and his wife Emily met them at their debarkation point on the shore of the Sabine and provided transportation from there.

            2) The other possibility would have been to travel a bit farther up the Red River to either Elm Grove or Taylortown, LA, then westward by land for around 40 miles to their destination of Carthage, Texas.  Again, it may have been possible that Randy and Emily picked them up wherever they left the Red River, or John may have had to hire someone to take them across.

            The journey was long and arduous, no matter how the family traveled, but all five reached Panola County safely.

Sources: (railroad map) (railroad history)       (steamboats)                                                                  (steamboats)

Riverboat Dave’s Paddlewheeler Site               (steamboats)

Family history                                                   Leonard Middlebrooks

>>>>>>  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The family tree is worth bragging about if it has consistently produced good timber, and not just nuts.     – Anonymous 



Cynthia Lynn Philpot


            Cynthia Lynn Garrett Philpot, of Santa Anna, Texas, left this world August 8, 2007.  Her funeral was held August 11 at the First Baptist Church in Coleman, Texas.

            Cynthia, a Joseph 1770 descendant, was born to Bill and Geneva (McGown) Garrett on May 27, 1970, in Port Lavaca, Texas.  She received her BS degree in Mechanized Agriculture from Tarleton State University and was employed at Farm Credit Bank (formerly Federal Land Bank) in Coleman as an Office Assistant.

            In addition to her parents, Cynthia leaves behind her husband, Wayne, two daughters, Cassie and Rylie, one sister, an uncle, a cousin, four nephews, and numerous friends.

            The Middlebrooks Family Association extends deepest sympathy to Bill and Geneva and to all of Cynthia’s family and friends.




James Morris Sims, Sr.


            James Morris Sims, Sr., 82, died September 8, 2007, at Mississippi Baptist Medical Center.  His funeral was conducted on September 11 at Jordan Funeral Home in Kosciusko, Mississippi. 

            Morris was born in Attala County on October 3, 1924, and was a member of Baptist Church of Kosciusko.  As a veteran of World War II, he served with the 15th Fighter Command in Italy until 1945.  Before his retirement in 1996, Morris was an owner of Custom Digging Service and Southwest Rentals.  A member of the Mississippi Society, his passion was conducting genealogy research for families of Attala County.  In 2000 he compiled A Record of the Descendants of Sims, which he presented to the Attala County Library.

            Morris, a Sims 1762 descendant, was preceded in death by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Sims, a brother, and two sisters.  Survivors include his wife, Edna (Ferguson) Sims, daughter Ava Sims Day, son James Morris Sims Jr., two grandsons, and several nieces and nephews.

            A note from J.A. Middlebrooks accompanied Morris’s obituary.  He writes, “Morris met with Leonard and me four or five years ago and supplied a good bit of information for his side of the family (Sims line).  He also assisted me in photographing quite a number of tombstones in Attala Co., MS, several years ago. . . . His daughter, Ava, and I graduated from the same HS.”

            MFA joins J.A. in offering our condolences to Morris’s family.





Historical note  from Joyce Arnold:

            A young woman of the 1800s most likely owned only two dresses, never work pants.  She used a little creativity and lots of imagination to change her wardrobe.  But it was hard, and when she ran out of ideas to change her dress, she could always change her apron.



(Editor’s note:  This section is a place for your input.  If you have a favorite genealogy-related website, book, location, insight, etc., send it to me at for inclusion in a future quarterly.)


Breast Cancer Awareness Month:  October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  You can make an easy, free, contribution that will help fund mammograms for women who can’t afford them by going to and clicking on the pink rectangle.  The site accepts only one click per computer per day, so if you have access to more than one computer, either at home or at work, click daily on each one.  Please continue to click daily, even after October is past.  This is a way to help scores of women that costs absolutely nothing except a few seconds of your time.


“Research tips for (missing?) ancestor records”:  from Lloyd Bockstruck, printed in the “Sunday Life” portion of the Sunday Dallas Morning News – Mr. Bockstruck suggests

looking for a person by using a nickname if the first name doesn’t help.  He also suggests trying the name as a middle name instead.  Another possibility is to use the title Mrs. in place of a woman’s name you’re having trouble locating.  Or, try using the proper first name, the exact date of death, birth, etc., and the county of said event.  You might come up with a misspelled “match.”  Typos do happen, and spelling differences are often the work of the clerk who created the record.


Facelift for Austin, TX, library:  from Jean Shroyer

     The Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building, home of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, is getting a facelift.  Construction work on the two-year project begins sometime this month.  The library plans to stay open as much as possible during the renovation; however, services will be limited and much of their collection will be moved offsite.  If you plan to do research at the facility, you are urged to call ahead so that official state records stored offsite can be retrieved for you.  The number to call is

512-463-5455.  Unfortunately, portions of their collection will be inaccessible during the entire renovation.  You can follow the renovation’s progress at


Rootsweb site:  from Joyce Arnold

     Go to  Click on a state then click on a county.  You’ll find some neat historical postcards.


Ruth Middlebrooks Surgery – Bob Middlebrooks’s wife, Ruth, is to have her knee replacement surgery on Thursday, September 20.  We wish her a speedy recovery.