Newsletter articles

January 2015

President’s Corner

                                              …Jimmy Dale McDaniel

January 1st, the first day of a new year, is a new beginning with  all its hopes, promises and traditions.  Now, just how many of you began the New Year singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’, making New Year resolutions, cooking a pot of black-eyed peas and cabbage and corn bread and of course anticipating our favorite football bowl game?  Whew!  No wonder I’m so tired, I did it all. Getting older and a little more reflective I would guess.  I wonder just how we came by all these old traditions.

‘Auld Lang Syne’ comes from a poem written in 1788 by Robert Burns.  The song’s Scots title may be translated into English literally as “old long since”, or more idiomatically, “long long ago”, “days gone by” or “old times.”  Have you ever carefully listened to the words? It’s a poem of kindness and friendship among old friends; however, “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” If they are forgotten and never brought to mind, then they are lost forever.   So, the answer to the question asked is ‘No.’  New Year’s is a time to reflect back on old friends and good times of days past.  However, the song reminds us to appreciate the moment in time of the New Year’s beginning. No one knows what tomorrow holds.

The Babylonians would begin each new year by making a vow to their god to return things that they had borrowed and to pay all their debts.  Likewise, the Romans would make certain promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.  In the Middle Ages, knights would take what was called the “Peacock Vow” at the end of the Christmas season to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.  In modern times Christians and Jews alike make promises of self-improvement and sacrifice.  Among Catholics, New Year’s resolutions of sacrifice are directly related to the sacrifices of Lent.

Our dietary traditions come from varied backgrounds.  The first food to be eaten on New Year’s Day for luck and prosperity, according to Southern folklore, is the black-eyed pea.  The tradition of eating black-eyed peas seems to date back to the Civil War.  In the old South the black-eyed pea was used as food for livestock and later as a food staple for slaves.  However, in Sherman’s raid through the scarcely defended southern hinterland, with all its burning and stealing, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored.   Unknowingly, old Sherman left the lowly, but nourishing black-eyed pea as a major food source for the Confederates. Finding this food source helped save many southern lives and passed into our heritage as a sign of good luck on New Year’s Day.

It’s from our Scots-Irish background that the peas are served with greens (cabbage, collards, and mustard or turnip greens).   The peas represent coins and the greens

represent paper money, and that delicious corn bread represents gold.  Sometimes, a penny or dime is cooked in the greens to be a lucky charm to the finder; unless of course, the finder happens to swallow the coin and winds up in the hospital!

Football on New Year’s Day dates before the advent of  television to the days of radio.  We all hope our favorite will be in a major bowl; however, it really doesn’t matter who’s playing.  Well–I might just skip a LSU game!

Traditions, customs or holidays in general are those little things, memories that make life interesting and help us keep connected to the passing of time.

 ——————————————————————————————————————-March 2015

The question sometimes arises as to whether genealogy is a hobby or a science.

Applied genealogy is a process whereby individuals gain a historical prospective based on an ancestral linkage through time.  Think of time as a long dark ribbon trailing behind us, all the while gradually unfolding before us.  As the unfolding ribbon remains a mystery until exposed, the trailing ribbon is filled with events or happenings we refer to as history. A history that all of our ancestors have lived through, been a part of and have been influenced by.   A so-called genealogist who gives little thought to the significance those ‘events or happenings’ play in shaping the person they are today would be the ‘hobbyist’–collecting names and places for sheer pleasure with little thought of historical insight.

As a science; however, a genealogist utilizes a systematic approach in collecting and verifying data while developing an understanding or conjecture as to the person they are based on historical insight.   Most of the members of SWMGS take the scientific approach to genealogy.   A working hypothesis could be that the person we are today is the sum total of all the people and all the events spanning the long black ribbon of time that trails behind us.

All of this is to say, we are a very special group of researchers striving for a common goal of self-awareness based on our ancestral background.

Our January meeting was well attended and I’m sure enjoyed by all.  Bobby Darville provided us with an excellent presentation on the history of restaurants and eateries in the McComb area as well as some highlights of being raised in down town McComb.  I very much appreciate the work of Betty Penick and her assistance in providing us with such an entertaining guest.  Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 31st.   Look forward to seeing you there.

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May 2015

‘Well hello there, my it’s been a long, long time.   How am I doing, well I guess I’m doing just fine.  It’s been so long now, it seems like only yesterday.  Gee, ain’t it funny how time slips away.’

Yes, age brings perspective:  You stop, look around and wonder, “Was that yesterday”, but no “that was three years ago.”   Time, and in essence our lives, is like water flowing down the old Mississippi river, constantly on the move and constantly changing.  As Genealogists we are all well aware of the passing of time and the turning pages.

The time has now come for another turn in the pages of my life.  I have very much enjoyed my tenure as your president; however, circumstances are now such that I must move aside effective the end of our fiscal year, May 31.  I so appreciate all the help and support you have provided along with the fun and good times we have shared.  My intention is to remain a regular member; but, not necessarily in a leadership role.  Now is the time for someone to step up and grab hold of the reins of our organization and lead us to new heights.

Much thanks to Betty Penick and her work in making the arrangements for our April speaker. Stephen Adams,   McComb City Fire Chief, presented us with a history of the city fire department that was interesting and informative.  Additionally, he spoke about his concern for the condition of some of the oldest city record books.  Many, containing beautiful handwritten records, are now falling apart.  A restoration project is underway and funds are needed.  Our decision to support this effort with a monetary gift is in keeping with who we are as an organization.   We also voted to make a donation to the Joseph May Cemetery restoration project.

Our trip to Vicksburg did not work out as planned.  With ten thousand people expected in town that day for River Fest, none of us wanted to get lost in the crowd.  Thanks, Virginia, for all your time and work in trying to make this happen. We hope to find alternate dates for a Vicksburg trip later in the year.  My idea was a day trip and picnic to the twin black lagoons of Fernwood, but, well…..I’m sure Vicksburg will be a little less adventurous.

This will most probably be my last attempt at writing this column.  Thanks again for all your support and well wishes.   ‘Gee, ain’t it funny how time slips away.’

Jimmy Dale

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January 2014

President’s Corner

By Jimmy McDaniel

What do you know, another year has come and gone. Here I sit a year older, somewhat greyer, a few more wrinkles and my “gitty up and go, seems to have got up and gone.” So what else is new!

All of us tend to sit back and think, ‘isn’t it funny how time slips away.’ Time,   

constantly ticking away as tomorrow becomes yesterday seemingly in a twinkling of an eye. We ask ourselves ‘where did it go.’ Was that not just yesterday that we were at Janice Brock’s camp eating hamburgers, sitting around the porch while enjoying pleasant conversations with friends. No, yesterday, that was when we toured the Vaughn house in Magnolia with Carol Thomas. Time, it’s scary when you stop and think. “Time,” it is so precious slipping away like an old grandfather clock slowly running down. Truly, each new day, hour and minute is a blessing from God. The greater question we should be asking ourselves is, ‘What have I done with my time.’ Did I accomplish anything worthwhile along the way, did I miss the chance to really make a positive imprint.

Well, the good news is all is not lost. 2014 is upon us as if it were a new open book with each page white, unblemished and ready to be written upon. Day with pen in hand we begin Chapter One, Paragraph One. Before us lie unlimited opportunities: Opportunities to make that difference in our own life and in the lives of others. As much as we enjoy genealogy and history, constantly looking back, a new year lies before us. As we write our book let us take advantage of every occasion to leave a positive t let time pass you by.

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old time is still a-flying; and this same flower that smiles today tomorrow will be dying.”*

Plan now to attend our first 2014 meeting scheduled for 6:00 PM, Tuesday January 28, 2014.  This will be an important business meeting as together we make our plans for the coming year.  Additionally, come prepared to share some of your own personal “footprints in time” either in Genealogy or life itself. I am sure you have a unique ‘tale to tell.’

Thanks to all for your support and input in making SWMGS something special. Your suggestions and feedback are always appreciated.

*Robert Herrick

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March 2014

President’s Corner

                                                …Jimmy McDaniel

“When you have lost hope, you have lost everything, and when you think all is lost,      when all is dire and bleak, there is always hope.”    Pittacus Lore, I Am Number Four

Recently, while doing some genealogy research I read an article dealing with the trials and difficulties our Mississippi and Pike County forefathers endured while making the trek from South Carolina to what was then, the Old Southwest Territory.   Once here, as they cleared the land, built their homes and began anew their lives, their trials and difficulties only intensified.

The wild animals, Indians, river crossings and dead-end trails, much less mosquitoes, made their exhausting journey long and perilous. Then seemingly, year after year their struggle to survive continued.  One has only to visit an old cemetery and find the grave of a young mother, who most probably died in childbirth or shortly thereafter, and there, buried alongside her the graves of several of her very young children.  Standing in that cemetery on a cool, windy fall day, you can only ponder the sadness lying beneath you.  Through our study of genealogy and history we should all be aware of the price are ancestors paid for the present we now share.  It was Martin Luther King who said, “It’s only in the darkness, can you see the stars.”

What force stirred our ancestors in overcoming all the hardships before them?  It is the simple word “Hope.”   Hope is a motivating power that is essential for life.  Today, the trials and difficulties we face are much different, yet no less discouraging and no less heartbreaking; however, “Hope” is alive and well.  We have to look no further than the bright smiling faces of our children and grandchildren to sense the power of hope.  So, think again. ‘When all seems dire and bleak, there is always hope.’

Thanks to all who attended our February meeting and planning session; hopefully, we made a good start for the new year.  As always, my appreciation for the work of Carole Thomas, Carolyn Richmond, Virginia Zeigler, Sue Boyd and others who make our organization something special.  Also, thanks to Dell Clawson for providing our program and the readings from her book.

Remember, our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 25th.   If you noticed someone absent last Tuesday, give them a call and let them know they were missed.   Should anyone have suggestions for future programs, speakers, or events please do not hesitate to let me or Carole know.

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 May 2014

President’s Corner

                                                …Jimmy McDaniel

Spring is upon us like a jubilant newborn day.  Seems that I have gotten that itch they call “Spring Fever,” and I just cannot wait to get out and play in the dirt and to plant something.  I believe it was Robin Williams who said, “Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s Party!’   Guess I’m getting a little too old to party much; hence, I’m just looking forward to the purple wisteria hanging in clusters, snowy white dogwoods blooming in the woods and rooster head violets popping up along the roadside.  Now, that’s a party.  “God is in his Heaven and All’s right with the world.”*

Truly, spring is a wonderful time of the year, a time of ‘re-birth’ for all God’s creatures.  On April 9th, SWMGS celebrated its thirteenth birthday.  I would like to take this opportunity to express appreciation to all our organization’s founding fathers and mothers for their planning, determination and just plain hard work. If you are one of our original members or should you know of someone who is and may or may not regularly attend meetings, please come or encourage others to come to our May 27th meeting.   I am planning something special to acknowledge their efforts.

Additionally, I would like to encourage a ‘new awakening’ for our organization.  Areas included in our by-lays that are not currently being served adequately include Franklin, Lawrence, Lincoln and Wilkinson Counties.   Begin ‘brainstorming’ ideas for reaching out for new members and ways that we can include these outlying counties.  Would it be possible to setup semi-independent satellite meeting sites in Woodville, Meadville and Brookhaven and have those remain under the authority or sponsorship of our local organization?  All dues would be paid into the central account with area-wide meetings scheduled at pre-determined intervals.  Just thinking; but, be prepared to discuss your ideas in May.

Also you should be aware, our field trip has been re-scheduled for this fall.  Everyone should begin now making plans to go and to ‘have fun.’   There are so many things we can ‘get into’ while on the Coast and enough variety to please everyone.   Plans now are to take a bus so we can all be together.  We just need to fill the bus and now we have plenty of time to work on doing just that.  A small cost of around $15 to $20 would be necessary; but, I guarantee you, it would be worth every penny. Needless to say, bikinis and speedos are optional, but not recommended!

Carol Thomas, our Vice-President and Program Chairperson, is endeavoring to make arrangements for Mrs. Mildred Fountain to be our guest speaker for May.  Mrs. Fountain, a longtime resident of Homesville, will speak on the history of this historic community.

Thanks to all for your help and support of our Genealogy Society.  Let us all continue to make this organization something special.

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July 2014

President’s Corner

                                            …Jimmy Dale McDaniel

Let me stop and think for a minute–I must have fallen asleep!   Can you believe it, half a year has gone by already.  Seems the older I get the faster my clock runs.  Too many irons and too many fires I guess.  Would I be better off as a hermit, hiding behind some closed door letting the world and time slip away while I remained apathetic and oblivious to the happenings around me?  Well, no, I don’t think so.  Time is a precious possession.  Each minute, hour and day is something not to be taken for granted.  It is much better to have something to show for your time than to stand on the sidelines and watch as it passes you by.  So, to answer my own question, I believe it much better to grab hold of those irons and keep poking the fires and to stay busy.   Besides, if I stop very long and take time to think, that’s when I find something to worry about.  So, the old clock ‘be damned’.  Think positive.  I have a half a year, six full months left in this 2014, plenty of time to do something worthwhile: Guess, I’d better get busy.

Many thanks to Mrs. Mildred Fountain for her superb presentation on the history of Holmesville.  It was painstakingly researched and very informative.  It is amazing when you stop and think how much history lies awaiting us in and around Pike County.

Our trip to the coast and the visit to Jefferson Davis’ home has basically been put on hold.  In talking with Carole Thomas, our VP and Program chairman, she explained that she has been somewhat ‘under the weather’ and not able to pull together all the necessary arrangements.

Our next scheduled meeting is 6:00 PM, Tuesday, July 29th at our regular meeting spot, the McComb Library.   Carolyn Richmond has scheduled Malcolm Allen, President of the Pike County Historical Society, to be our speaker.  Malcolm has considerable knowledgeable of history and has recently completed a book on the War of 1812.  I’m sure we can look forward to an informative as well as an entertaining evening.

I’m planning to make this a ‘Fiesta Night,’ with a big pot of Chili.  I know it is summer, but chili is good any time of the year.  If someone would like to volunteer to make some homemade salsa, and someone else bring some chips and just maybe some cheese & crackers for the chili and a dessert?  Dog-gone-it, we’ll have another great meeting.

Thanks to all for your help and support of our Genealogy Society.  Let us all continue to make this organization something special.

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September 2014

President’s Corner

                                            …Jimmy Dale McDaniel

What’s going on!  Storms in the Atlantic, storms in the Pacific and an earthquake in California in wine country no less, and then my computer crashes.   But that is not the worst of it, my article for the newsletter is locked inside.  Now, not bragging of course, but it was my best one ever.  Oh well, life goes on and Virginia is ready to ‘run the presses.’

My original thoughts concerned what it is about August that causes this feeling of malaise.  Why do we seem to have to push ourselves to get anything done?   Well, the heat of course; but, it really goes further than that. To make a long story short, it goes way back in time before recorded history.  Aristotle first recorded this event around 166 BC, something he referred to as ‘Dog Days of Summer’ (something to do with the rising before daylight of the star Sirius, known as the ‘dog star’).  It was a time of the year when dogs seemed to go mad and die.  Later, in Rome and cities of the Middle Ages, it was a time of diseases and plagues.  People who could do so would leave their jobs and retreat to sea shore or the mountains.  The Romans would sacrifice a red dog to appease their gods. In recent history, people would leave New Orleans and come to the summer paradise of Holmesville.  The coming of Air Conditioning changed much of this.  However, this feeling of malaise, melancholy or down right laziness is something buried deep in our psyche.  So don’t feel guilty if you just want to lie around in that recliner, or to quote a 20th Century poet, just “to get the h__l out of Dodge.”  A trip to the mountains would do us all good.

Much appreciation goes to Malcolm Allen for our July meeting.  He provided our group with an interesting and informative program.  He stated that he is a historian and not into genealogy; however, I believe we all saw through that.  Genealogy somehow just sneaks up and grabs you.  Before you know what’s going on, you’re hooked.  Also a big thank you goes to Carolyn Richmond for making the arrangements.

We have a meeting of officers and board members scheduled for Tuesday, September 9th at the home of  Sue Boyd in McComb.  Those involved are encouraged to attend.

Our next regular meeting will be Tuesday, September 30th at the home of Larry and Patsy Carruth in Summit.  Looking forward to seeing you there.

Mrs. Dell Clawson and the Walthall County Historical Society have set a date of October 11th for the ‘ride on an old train.’  Directions will be provided to the site which is

near Foxworth.  We plan to meet there at 11:00AM.  The Walthall County Historical Society will cover the cost to ride the train, but lunch will be on your own.  Ms. Dell needs to have a count of the number of our members planning to attend.  It’s free to you all, so let’s go and have a fun time together.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.  Let us continue to work and keep SWMGS something special.

——————————————————————————————————————–November 2014

President’s Corner

                                            …Jimmy Dale McDaniel

“Come said the winds to the leaves one day, Come o’re the meadows and we will play.  Put on your dresses scarlet and gold, for summer is gone and the days grow cold.”*

Yes, changes are a-coming as the year 2014 grows old.  A chill is in the air as the night time comes early and thoughts of holidays fill our minds.  The constellation Orion begins to make its early appearance in the eastern skies, and I know Christmas is not far behind.

For those of us willing to admit it, there is a little child in all of us adults when it comes to the Holidays.  One can feel the excitement in the air as we begin our decorating, shopping in the busy stores and just thinking about that turkey dressing and cranberry sauce.

Many thanks and much appreciation go out to Larry and Patsy Carruth for the hospitality of their home at our last meeting.  The food was good, the fellowship was great, as always, and we did get a little work done.

Our next meeting is scheduled for 6:00PM Tuesday, November 18th.    Our meeting location has changed to  J. J. White Presbyterian Church in the old fellowship hall.  Entrance is through the last door of the church on 3rd Street, just before the alleyway.  If you have questions, contact Betty Penick.  This meeting will be our yearly Holiday Social, so please bring a covered dish.

Entertainment will be furnished by “You,” as we reminisce about a Christmas from our past.  I know each one of us has a story to tell.  So, please make your plans now to be there and come prepared to have a good time.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.  Let us continue to work and keep SWMGS something special.

* Author Unknown

——————————————————————————————————————–                                             With apologies to Clement Moore

 “A GEANEALOGY CHRISTMAS”

by Jimmy Dale McDaniel

T’was the night before Christmas, when all through my house,
my computer had crashed, I felt like a louse.
With genealogy books and family notes scattered everywhere,
I searched for ancestors with meticulous care,
in hopes that my great grandpa might soon be found there.

 When out on my lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I made a strut,|
Then tripped over computer wires and nearly busted my butt.

The reflections of the moon on the street that night,
Gave me a chill and surely a fright.
When, what to my bloodshot eyes should appear,
But an old wood wagon and two huge mules with long floppy ears.

A bearded old man on the wagon there rode,
looking drawn and wrinkled like some dried up old toad.
Then from an old brown jug he took a swig,
and jumped straight up with a kick,
I knew in a moment, “this must be my great grandpa Nick.”

 Slower than molasses on the two jennys came,
As he whistled, and shouted ‘Gee Haw’ and called them by name!
Now Janice! Now Sue! he cussed and drooled,
Getty up, Getty up you lazy old mules.

 He was tall and skinny in his ragged overalls,
and I cried when I realized, he’s my ancestor after all.
A glint of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me know this guy was back from the dead.

 He spoke not a word, but went straight to my notes,
and pointed out errors as he listed my kin folks.
Then with his old pocket knife he cut him a chaw,
and climbed back into his wagon and shouted ‘gee haw.’

 The old mules’ ears stood straight as a thistle,
as the old man gave a long loud whistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
Keep on searching my dear, someday you’ll get this stuff right.

Merry Christmas