Sunday, June 26, 2011

"This is going to be a terrible day; I have no one to hang!"

I've known quite a lot about my mom's side of the family for a while. I only really knew one of my grandparents. My grandfather had gone on a genealogy kick a while back and filled in most of that side of the family, but my dad never liked talking about his family.

I read Ge(neal)ogist on Maitri's site and decided to interrogate my dad (no waterboarding needed, but that was considered). Here are some of the responses

* What is your earliest memory?
My father and his parents were driving back to Carrolton, MS when a tornado came down and moved the car 100 feet. There was no damage and they drove on.

* What were your [father's] grandparents like?
Paternal Grandfather (deceased)
Paternal Grandmother (very very old, never knew that well) Known as Big Momma
Maternal Grandparents - Emma and William Bluford Vance. My dad knew them very well, because they were still living and my grandmother would drop my dad by their place from time to time. My dad never really liked, them, though. Bluford had a law degree from Vanderbilt, but never practiced law. Instead, he became Sheriff of Carrolton, MS. I've found this article describing the last legal hanging in Carrolton, MS. You see, this was one of Bluford's first hangings.

There was a mood for lynching, but McDougal’s family insisted the case be tried. Caught in June 1914, Myers was appointed an attorney, J.W. Conger. Oct. 31 at the Carrollton courthouse, a jury convicted Myers. Fifth Circuit Judge James A. Teat sentenced Myers to be hanged Dec. 11 by Sheriff W. Bluford Vance.

Conger didn’t file an appeal.

The day of the hanging was apparently a celebrated occasion.

Bluford used to love his hangings (although he didn't care for little things like trials). Bluford used to remark every morning, "This is going to be a terrible day; I have no one to hang!" He would sometimes find someone to hang. My dad was once brought to a hanging by Bluford; my dad did not think it was a very grandfatherly move.

Bluford became a millionaire off bribes from bootleggers (in a dry county). The money was lost to gambling later on (or so I've heard).

* What were your parents like?
My Dad's Father- Used to like to sit around and read a lot. Very literate, smart. Liked Football. Went to Ole Miss and got a degree in Civil Engineering. Worked on the Manhattan Project*.

My Dad's Mother- A gifted pianist, once taught Mose Allison, went to Juilliard, wanted to be concert pianist, but then got pregnant. My dad hated taking lessons from her.

* What are you proudest of in your life?
Answered the lowest point: Dad was going crawfishing with friends, they stopped at Schweggman's to get chicken necks (bait), the line was too long, so my dad tried to just shoplift, but got caught. "Getting caught stealing chicken necks is about as low as a man can get."

That's it for now. Thought it was interesting, so I'd post it. It's also amazing the genealogical resources out there these days.

* One of the things that always confused me growing up was why was my dad born in eastern Tennessee, despite his whole family being from the Greenwood area. Now I know. I don't know exactly what he did (a topic for future research), but I've been told by family friends it was mostly roads and bridges in eastern TN.


Peripatetic Engineer said...

Can you get back to the War of Yankee Agression?

candice said...

Only barely; this is the earliest generation we have so far. His dad's other grandfather (not the sheriff) was born 1860ish.

If it's anything like my missisippi part of the family, getting past the civil war is going to be impossible to do with any decent documentation.

Clay said...

On my mom's side, I know of one relative that was held as a POW at Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island.

On my dad's side, not sure. There may be a Nathan Bedford Forrest link in there somewhere.

Leigh C. said...

My mom worked at Oak Ridge for nearly a year before she moved us down to Houston. She remembers there being alarms going off all the time because robots used to move radioactive material and other stuff that couldn't be touched directly were pretty sensitive and someone was always pushing them beyond their limits. 'Course, that was in the late '70's