JANICE'S FAMILY HISTORY PROJECT


Contents:

Introduction (6/20/2009)

My great-great grandparents:

Rufus Pitt  Williams (6/20/2009)
Nancy Clark Adkins (6/21/2009)
Andrew Jackson Lett (6/22/2009)
Sarah Emmer "Sallie" Estes (6/23/2009)
William Thomas Puckett (6/24/2009)
Mary Victoria Riggs (6/27/2009)
Isaac Newton Hood (6/28/2009)
Sarah Mariah Louise Larimore
John Harrison Hallford
Mary Jane "Mollie" Leonard
William Henry Cunningham
Mildred "Dred" Wright
Wilson Harrison Couch
Elizabeth Jane Little
William Joseph "Joe" Moore
Trissia Arminda Faulkner

My great-great-grandparents:

Williams Wesley Williams and Minerva Fannin
Henry Baxter Adkins and Emily F. Motley
James H. Lett and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Duncan
William F. Estes and Sarah Alline Rutland
Creed T. Puckett and Sarah Brown
? Riggs and Sarah Beauchamp
Daley Walker Hood and Nancy Roddy
R.E. Larimore and Nancy ?
James Powel Hallford and Sarah "Sally" Medlin
Abram Leonard and Margaret ?
James Cunningham and Susannah Tate
Richard Wright and ?
Robert Couch and Louisa Osborn
Willam B. Little and Eliza Louise Tate
Joseph Iddings Moore and Frances Elizabeth Reeves
Benjamin Faulkner and Arminda Lee

My great-grandparents:

Charles Wesley Williams
Mattie Adella Lett
Sam Houston Puckett
Salina Louella Hood
Edward Lewis Hallford
Henrietta Cunningham
Henry Wilson Couch
Etta Josephine Moore

My grandparents:

Andrew Lee Williams
Sarah Ola Puckett
Arla Edward Hallford
Willie Couch

Who am I?

INTRODUCTION

I’m going to start this before I get off onto another project and delay yet another day. As I keep thinking about this project I keep thinking about what I don’t know and what I don’t know how to do, but I remember Mamie McCullough saying, “When you don’t know how to do something . . . start!” So I am starting.

My purpose is to write what I know about my direct ancestors (and maybe a few non-direct). While it may be overwhelming to think about all I know about my parents or grandparents, it gets narrower and narrower as I go up the tree, so I will start with Rufus Pitt Williams and branch off from there. I WILL start with him today, even though I know I’ll get off and get lost in some details, but even if I get a start, that is more than I’ve done these last years of thinking about it.

This project is, of course, for Brandt and Connor. They are the only ones in the next generation that are related to all of these people. I hope my cousins on both sides of the family can get some use and be interested in their relations and I hope Brandt and Connor can preserve this information for another Janice in the future that needs to know more about her ancestry. 

Already, my head is telling me to stop and gather some info, but in this computer age I know I can always go back and add things, so I will forge ahead with Pitt…
 

RUFUS PITT WILLIAMS

Rufus Pitt Williams was born April 3, 1848,  in the Deep South- - Tallapoosa County, Alabama. I’m sure as he was a little boy, the issues of secession from the Union were already being discussed among his father, William Wesley Williams, and his much older brothers, William LaFayette Williams (a doctor, born in 1833)  Baron (born in 1836) and others of the community. I don’t know that they were slaveholders at that point, and I need to look that up, but, obviously, they lived in a place and era that supported slavery. One week after Pitt turned 13, the attack on Fort Sumter began the Civil War. Again, I wonder how quickly the news spread and how they were informed of what was going on in Washington and in South Carolina and along the Mason-Dixon Line in those first battles. Pitt was one of the younger members in the family and his older brother Baron went off to fight in the Civil War. Imagine what the home life was like as they waited for word of his fate and also prepared their home and property for possible invasion from the North. Baron did survive the Civil War, though he lost an arm. He came home and became a successful merchant after the war.

When Pitt was 20, he married Martha Robertson. She was also from the community and had lived nearby for many years. Pitt’s brother Thomas Cooper married Martha’s sister, so their children were double cousins. She died after only 5 years of marriage. They had two daughters and then she gave birth to a son and he died before he was a year old, so I wonder if there was a flu epidemic or something that killed them both near the same time? I think she is buried in the Darien Cemetery in Tallapoosa County, but I'm not sure from web research and I need to make a trip to research. Soon after, Pitt married Martha’s cousin Nancy Clark Adkins. I’m sure that was common in those days to marry family members and certainly both were neighbors for a long period of time and would have been known to Pitt. And I’m sure Nancy loved her cousin Martha’s children as her own.

Pitt and Nancy began to have their own children and had one daughter and then their one and only son, Charles Wesley Williams. He was born in 1878. They had two more daughters and then in 1884, when Charley was 6, they moved to Texas. This was not an impulsive move. Pitt’s first father-in-law, Martha’s father, Allen Jordan Robertson had already moved to Texas. I have no doubt that he made a return trip to encourage other members of his family to move to Texas with him. Pitt and Nancy and a bunch of children and some livestock loaded up a wagon and moved to East Texas. I believe Nancy was preganant during trip and gave birth to another girl after they were in Texas. Several of Pitt's family members continued to live in East Texas, but the Robertsons and Pitt and Nancy ended up in Cornhill, Texas, in Williamson County, near Jarrell. .
 
All together, Pitt and Nancy had 9 children, 8 daughters and 1 son, and the 2 daughters from his first marriage, so 10 daughters and 1 son from this family grew to adulthood.

The father-in-law Allen Jordan Robertson died in 1905and is buried in the Cornhill Cemetery as are twin babies of Pitt’s brother Cooper and sister-in-law Ellie. As the family grew up in the community, they married neighbors. Charley met Mattie Lett, another immigrant from Alabama (though I don’t know if there were any connections in Alabama or not) after they met at a church social. They married in Corn Hill in 1902.

In ___,  Pitt and Nancy (and children?) moved to Chico, Texas, near Decatur, in Wise County. There they lived out their days and are both buried in the Chico cemetery near at least three of their daughters, their daughter Esther who never married, one who married a Morrow, and one other. Pitt died May 21, 1926, at the age of 78, of heart trouble.

I drove just past Chico on I-35 for more than 20 years going back and forth from Dallas to Amarillo and back without ever stopping to see the cemetery. In March of 2006 when I was home for Mother's birthday, she and Daddy and I finally made the trip to Chico and saw the graves. Here are Dad and me standing next to the grave of his great-grandparents who both died just a few years before he was born.

Gravestone of Nancy and Pitt Williams

Sources for the information on Rufus Pitt Williams comes mainly from a distant cousin's website. Her name is Georgia Fleming and she lives in Enterprise, Alabama, which is in the far south of the state. She is descended from Baron Williams and has pictures of him and his wife and child on her website along with a picture of another brother in the family. Somewhere along the way she got information on some of our (closer) family from a family tree of mine  that got posted by another cousin of mine on the web. Much of the information comes from or was corroborated by my dad's first cousin Maxine Boschetto in Boston. She also has done a lot of family research and I got my one and only picture of Pitt and Nancy from her (it is below). I also corroborated information from the gravestone of Pitt and Nancy in Chico, census records, and a fabulous document from a lawyer named Mr. Adkins who is a cousin through Nancy. I will footnote this information when I get time.

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NANCY CLARK ADKINS

I know more about Nancy’s father than I do about her, but we’ll get to him in the future. I know that she was born August 6, 1850, in Georgia and her father was a shoe cobbler. She also grew up in an antebellum world with slavery, but I doubt that her family had slaves since they were not farmers (though they probably did farm some, didn’t everyone then?). She had 10 brothers and sisters. She married Rufus Pitt Williams when she was 24, December 3, 1874, taking on his two small daughters. Pitt called her “Sis” rather than Nancy because his oldest sister was named Nancy and he had had a bad relationship with her and the name had a bad feeling with it (though I think it is odd that he would then call his wife “Sis”).

Along with her husband and 5 daughters below the age of 15 and her only son Charley, who was 6, the family loaded up their wagon and livestock and moved to Texas in 1884 to East Texas, and then Williamson County, Texas, where they lived for ___ years and then she and Pitt (and possibly there were still children with them) moved to Wise County, near Chico, Texas.

Nancy was educated and could spell very well. She had a great sense of humor and was very loved by her 10 daughters and family. She died August 24, 1924, at the age of 74, and is buried in the Chico Cemetery alongside her husband and at least 3 of her daughters and 2 sons-in-law. She preceded her husband in death by 2 years.

This genealogy would be pretty dull if I didn't have some pictures to share, too. This is my one and only picture of Nancy and Pitt, apparently taken when she was near death in the 1920s. It was sent to me just last year (2008) by my cousin Maxine in Boston.

Nancy and Pitt Williams in the 1920s

Sources for information about Nancy Clark Adkins Williams are mainly from a distant cousin Mr. Adkins. When I first started being interested in genealogy when I was in my teens, Daddy somehow met Mr. Adkins in Amarillo. Mr. Adkins was a lawyer downtown. Daddy made me get an appointment with Mr. Adkins and I met with him in his big law office and discussed family history for a good long time. I can imagine now how nice it was for him to find a younger person that was interested in the family history. He had researched and written a wonderful history of the Henry Baxter Adkins Family in the 1960s and gave me a copy of it. It is a trememdous document and I hope some of my research helps someone else like his helped me. Other information from Maxine Boschetto in Boston, Massachusetts, the gravestone, census records.

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ANDREW JACKSON LETT

(I keep feeling the need to apologize before I write here, but I don't think anyone is really reading this, so why do I worry? And again I am thinking, I need to look some stuff up before I write! I'm tamping down that feeling and I am determined to write, first thing in the morning, just what I know off the top of my head, and then I can come back after it starts eating at me and make the corrections, add the details, and put in the pictures.)

Andrew Jackson Lett was born in Georgia or Alabama and he was orphaned by the Civil War. I don't know the circumstances of what killed his parents, but I know he and his brothers and sisters were found in other households in later censuses  and are listed in an orphanage somewhere along the way. How sad. Eventually he married Sarah "Sallie" Estes and they lived in Chambers County, Alabama, which is just next door to Tallapoosa County, so we have a lot of heritage in that southeastern part of the state (and more coming up in the other side of the family, too). In Alabama they began their family. I think all of their children were born there, 2 sons, Marshall and Andrew Jackson Lett, Jr. (called Jay, I think), and 4 daughters, including my great-grandmother Mattie. They all came to Texas in the 1880s or 1890s and settled in Cornhill, Texas, near Jarrell today, at some point. The Letts migrated to Winters, Texas, in Runnels County. I don't know if they went there first or if they followed their children there, but the entire family ended up there, all moving after the kids had found spouses.

According to my cousin Edna England, who was this man's granddaughter -- isn't it wild that someone that had a grrandparent the grew up in the Civil War is still with us today? -- Andrew Lett was a fun, lively man with bright red hair and a great sense of humor. He was also a Democrat through and through. On his deathbed, he made Edna promise she would always vote Democrat.

As a side note, first, about voting Democrat. Andrew Jackson's daughter was my great-grandmother and she was alive until I was in college, so I knew her. She also was a Democrat, of course, and she absolutely hated Richard Nixon. And I'm talking about before the Watergate scandal came to light. She just talked about "that Richard Nixon" and how she hated him and how she wasn't going to die until he was out of office. She was old then, terribly hard of hearing and had a hearing aid that went over her head like a headband and it squealed because it was up too loud and had feedback whenever she talked. She had a distinct Southern accent from having grown up in Alabama and around people from Alabama. When Nixon resigned, we teased Grandma and said, "Well, Nixon's out of office now, I guess you can die." So then she changed her tune to, "I'm not going to die until the Republicans are out of office." She railed on that for a time. Then the election of 1976 came along and Jimmy Carter, a Democrat from the South, was elected. She stayed with us a couple more years and died in 1978, happy.

I say all of that about my great-grandmother to say that I knew where Edna came from and the Democratic family that the Letts were from way back.  But when I met her, in November of 2008, I didn't know what to expect. The week before, I had been in Mineral Wells, Texas, and felt distinctly out of place with my Obama sticker on my car among the Republicans with McCain stickers on their cars. The election had just ended and I felt like I needed to get out of town fast. So the next weekend I went to Runnels County, full of Republican ranchers, to meet Edna for the first time. We had spoken on the phone and she had said, "You'd better come see me, I'm 90, I might not be here too long!" I wondered if I should take my Obama sticker off before I got to town. I especially didn't want to offend her or talk politics with her, I wanted to talk about family. I met her at a Mexican cafe and we just hit it off wonderfully from the start. Nothing about her said "90." She was red-headed and cute and dressed up in a pretty pantsuit with jewelry and makeup. Determined to NOT talk politics, when she started talking about her grandfather voting Democrat, I just smiled and listened. I told her about my great-grandmother waiting to die until Republicans were out of office and she nodded knowingly. She knew Mattie well, too.  She went on to tell about how Andrew Jackson Lett, her grandfather,  had made her promise to always vote Democrat. I smiled and listened. Eventually she quoted him, and I hope anyone reading this understands that this man was from a different time and place. She said that one time he told her, "I'd rather vote for a n___ than a Republican." We sat there a moment and I finally said, "Well, I guess that would have been his choice this election." She smiled and nodded and I asked, "How did you vote?" I think she had been waiting for me to ask. She said, with conviction, "I voted for Obama. I see no reason the color of a man's skin should make any difference in the way I vote." I finally breathed out and she leaned across the table, conspiratorially, and said, "But don't tell my kids." I had met her grandson and his family in the parking lot and could tell on sight that they were strong Republicans, there was no doubt. She confirmed it. After that, we had a lively discussion of politics and many more things and I'm glad that she was there to give me first hand knowledge of her grandfather.

Andrew Jackson Lett and his wife are buried in the ___ Cemetery in "downtown" Winters on the main street. His son "Uncle Jay" is buried nearby and Edna England's mother is close by, too, as are my great-grandparents, Mattie and Charley Williams and one of their babies that died, Lily Pearl.
This was the only picture I had of the Letts for a long long time, but I took pictures of pictures that Edna had, so I have some more now. I believe that Andrew Jackson Lett was probably a very handsome, striking man when he was younger.

Lett Family

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SARAH "SALLIE" EMMER ESTES


I'll go ahead an put her name like that for now because that is how I think of her and how I've had it written in my files for years and years. When I visited Edna England and began looking at her pictures and research I realized her middle name isn't "Emmer" it is "Emma"! I'm sure it was pronounced Emmer by many people along the way and someone wrote it down like that. Despite learning how she spelled her name, I haven't found much more on Sallie Estes Lett.  She was born in 1860 in Alabama. She married Andrew Jackson Lett in Alabama when she was 16 and he was 19.  I looked at a few things last night and realized on his entry I didn't mention that they did have a daughter named Arkatie (I love that name!) as their first child, born in 1878. She is with them in the 1880 census and then must have died young because there is no more record of her. I only discovered her a year ago. They moved from Chambers County, Alabama, to Texas. in 1900 by covered wagon with 2 mules and 1 cow and 4 children. They had the last 2 children in Texas.  I do know who here parents were and have possibilities for her ancestry, but nothing concrete.

WILLIAM THOMAS PUCKETT


After four great-great-grandparents from Alabama, let's change dramatically. William Thomas Puckett was born in northern Kentucky in 1845, possibly near Louisville. The family lived in a couple of places in Kentucky and his father went off to serve in the Confederate Cavalry in the Civil War and died when William Thomas was only 17. He had brothers and sisters down to 6 years old and one older sister. I don't quite know if their mother remarried or how the family ended up in Texas, but they did and were in Washington County, Texas, by the time W.T. was 27 and he married Mary Victoria Riggs near Brenham in 1872. They had 3 sons and a daughter over the next six years and when the baby daughter was only a few months old and W.T. was 33, he died. I have it recorded that he died of blood poisoning or cancer from riding an old saddle while harvesting grain. I don't quite know what that means. He is buried in the Macedonia Cemetery near Granger, Texas. I have been to the cemetery and it is a beautiful old, peaceful cemetery that I had a hard time finding. His grave was either never marked (highly likely in that time and under the circumstances) or the gravestone has been moved/taken/destroyed. I did not find a marker and have not found any record of a marker on websites.

MARY VICTORIA RIGGS


Mary Victoria Riggs was born in 1848 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I do not even know her parents names, but her mother was possibly named Sarah Beauchamp. She moved with her family to Texas and settled in Independence County. She married William Thomas Puckett when she was 24 in 1872 near Brenham and they  had 3 sons and a daughter before he died. They were living near Granger in Williamson County then. I don't know how she continued to farm her land, but she did. I don't know how much time passed before she married W.T. "Bill" Newman from Rockdale. I think it was some time because I think only she and her daughter (who was a baby when Williams Thomas died) moved to live with him and the boys lived on their own, even though they were not completely grown. I think I have this information in the book my Uncle Richard Puckett wrote about the family. The man she married was known as "Grandpa Newman" to all the grandchildren and was well loved by my grandmother, Ola, I know. He and "Grandma Newman" lived in Burleson County until sometime between 1900 and 1910 they moved to Coke County in West Texas (further west than Winters, closer to San Angelo) and were there in the 1910 and 1920 census and then they relocated to Runnels County to be near her son Sam Houston Puckett (her son) when they were elderly. They both died there in the fall of 1928 and are buried in the ___ Cemetery in Winters, the one just west of town.  I do know that she had a half brother named Jeff Riggs, too, that was the first to migrate to Runnels County and he came back and encouraged the Puckett boys to come there to farm. Another story of hers:  Apparently, she was a third or fourth cousin of Queen Victoria, who was, of course, queen of England for most of her young years (until 1901) and that is why she has the middle name Victoria (though I expect it was a popular name because of the Queen anyway). Uncle Richard says the Riggs thought the queen was snobbish as they were commoners. No proof at all of any relationship or how they would be related.

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ISAAC NEWTON HOOD


Isaac Newton Hood was born March 17, 1836, in Maryville, Blount County, Tennessee. Sam Houston lived here at one time and there was a barbecue held in this town to honor him in 1845. It is in far eastern Tennessee, bordering on North Carolina. Before he was 15, it appears that his family  (ultimately with 12 chidren, but the last born after the move) moved to the northwest part of Arkansas, east of Fort Smith. In 1860, 24-year-old Isaac married 17-year-old Sarah Mariah Louise Larimore. He was a cabinet maker and an herb doctor. Two years later, he left his young wife and their 4-month-old son, Eliud Oscar, and traveled 15 miles east to Ozark, Arkansas, and enlisted in the Confederate Army. I do not know where he fought in his first 15 months of service, but in May of 1963, he was part of the Big Black Bridge batter where Union forces forced the Confederate Army to retreat across a railroad bridge and a "boat bridge" across the Big Black River in Mississippi. Confederate soldiers fled across the bridge (and later regrouped, unsucessfully, to defend Vicksburg), but the bridge was burned and the boats were sunk to prevent the Union Army from using them. Sadly, thousands of Confederate soldiers were still on the east side of the river. Many tried to swim the river and met their death by drowning. At least 1700 were captured by the Union forces and Isaac Newton Hood was among them. He was held as a prisoner of war at Camp Morton, Indiana; Fort Delaware, Delaware; and, Point Lookout, Maryland, where he was paroled December 24, 1863, for exchange, after 8 months in captivity. Interestingly, another great-great-grandfather of mine, Joe Moore, was also held at Fort Delaware.  During his service in the CSA, Isaac Newton Hood received a bullet wound in his back which caused him to be so crippled he depended on a cane to walk for the rest of his life. Returning home to Arkansas, Isaac and Sarah had six more children, including my great-grandmother, Louella Hood. At that point, the family joined two of Isaac's brothers, Aaron and Josiah, in a wagon train to move to Texas. Brother Aaron and his family stopped in Belton, Texas, and made their home, Josiah went on to San Angelo, Texas, but eventually returned to Arkansas, and Isaac and his family settled, and stayed, in Florence, Texas. They had two more children after they settled there. Isaac Newton Hood died in Florence in 1910 at the age of 73 and is buried in the city cemetery.

Isaac Newton Hood and his brothers

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