Wednesday, February 25, 2009

H.B. Morgan Letters July 1 and 12, 1945

Harry and Dave Morgan, July 4, 1945 Alexandria, Louisiana

H. B. Morgan's letter were to his son Grover Morgan who was stationed in Alexandria, Louisiana during World War II. H.B. writes of some labor problems he was having, a banquet and his hopes that Grover's family was able to stay cool.
Harry, Dave Morgan with Jackie Johnson July 8, 1945 Louisiana
September 4, 1945: Dave, Harry Morgan with Jackie Johnson and Judy Bokes

This next is a brief note---not sure about the screwdriver comment. Number 5 is probably the number of the coal mine which has miners striking.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lowell and Garner Morgan, musicians

Lowell and Garner Morgan were the youngest of H.B.Morgan's sons. Garner's daughter Leah sent these photos to me. I think it's interesting they are the only young ones with dark jackets. I guess when you are the youngest of 6 sons, you have plenty of jackets to choose from. The photos were by Bollinger's Leston, W. Va. The recital was believed to be held in Princeton, W.Va.
Lowell Thomas Morgan played piano.
Garner Richard Morgan played violin.
We aren't sure whose musical evaluation this is, but assume it was for Garner since Leah had it. The competition was held in Bluefield, W. Va on April 17.
Here is another evaluation. I don't know about Lowell but Garner did continue in music as an adult singing in his church choir and even composing music for his church.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Children of John W. Wicker and Virginia Sampson

I don't have any photos of John Bedford Wicker, my great-grandfather. The photo above is of James Wesley Wicker, his son and my grandfather. John Bedford Wicker was killed in his early 20's from a horse-back riding accident before his son was born. As Mom used to say,"Horseback riding accidents were like car accidents today." Both of her grandfathers were killed that way.

I also don't have any photos of Hugh Cornelius (Con) Wicker. His son "Peck" Wicker did achieve some fame in southeast Missouri for his barbeque stand, though. Click here for a blog on his barbeque.
Fanny Wicker
Rick Philhours did have photos of "Fanny" Wicker and his grandfather Marion Walker Wicker. Fanny's story is one that has haunted me for 30 years---I still get tears in my eyes thinking of her. We don't know the details, but we do know she killed her baby by sticking a button hook or cuff link in its soft spot. Rick and I heard basically the same story. We don't know if she was married, if she had post-partum depression. My notes from 30 years ago say she committed suicide after killing the child.
Families usually keep this sort of story secret---but for some reason, Fannie's story has been handed down---as a cautionary tale, because she was a beloved sister---I'm not sure why. Anytime I hear of a mother killing a child, I say a little prayer for Fannie and her baby. To have a face to put to that name after all of these years is very moving for me (I'm crying as I am writing this)

The fourth child and youngest son was Marion Walker Wicker pictured above. His grandson, Rick Philhours says:

"Wish I could tell you more about Marion and Fanny [the sister] but I do not know that much about them. He had to have been a very good man, and the only reason why I say that is because uncles were very loving and caring men. My Mom never said that much about him, other than about his death, which was from a ruptured appendix. He was probably a sharecropper because they didn't own a farm and were dirt poor as compared to the Philhours Family who owned their own farm, and they moved from place to place in and around the Hornersville area. Mom would tell stories about Uncle Marlon, a cousin Vernon Rogers and herself, trapping rats for their tails! Seems the town of Honersville was overran by rats and the mayor was giving a reward for rat tails. They would trap rats out in the country and take the tails into the Mayor and get the reward money. Of course they didn't live that far out of the city Limits."
Marion Walker Wicker, Mahalia Williams Wicker and Deward Wicker

"Deward Wicker was one of my Mom's brothers. He was an older Brother but of course my mom [Eva] was the baby of the family. He was born September 2nd, 1903 and died March 13, 1965. He was probably a farm hand when he lived in the Hornersville area but he met a girl named Ruth Mae Hicks and married her. . . They never had any children but did adopt one of Ruth's siblings child (Ernestine). I know Ernestine married a Dentist there in Benton Harbor but I do not believe they still live there, I have done a people search on her and have discovered that her and her husband had gone to the South Carolina area but the address that they have listed, I've sent cards and after a month or so they come back as unknown addresses. I've been trying to get in touch with her because I would like more info about Uncle Deward myself. Deward moved north to the Michigan area to work in one of GM's factories. He lived in the Benton Harbor, MI and I believe he worked for a company that built motors for GM cars...I'm really not sure about that. I know my other Uncle, Marlon did work for GM in the factory. He retired from there along with his Son Alan. Deward had bad heart problems, he had rheumatic fever as a child and had developed mitral valve defect later in life. Same thing happened to my mom. I know my Mom had the fever so bad that her Mom thought that she had died. My Mom evidently went into a deep sleep. She says that she woke up and couldn't get her eyes opened and she was laying on something hard. Her Mom noticed her movement and grabbed her up. She had silver dollars on her eyes and had been laid out on the ironing board. My Mom would say..."just be sure that I'm dead before you put me in the ground".

Thursday, February 19, 2009

John W. Wicker and Virginia Sampson?

James Wesley Wicker with Louise Wicker Long--man on the right is unknown
The internet has been fabulous for family history researchers. My double Wicker-Williams cousin Rick Philhours very generously shared some photos which he had. Two photos had been in his grandfather's tobacco pouch. I looked at the photos and could tell they were relatives, but when I looked at the clothes, I realized that they were Civil War era photos. Both Rick and I believe the top photo is John W. Wicker (Wes's grandfather---pretty similar in looks). So, again I've manged to locate an ancestor's photo in the past 6 months. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of Wes's father who died in his early 20's before Wes was born.

The woman below was undoubtedly the spouse of the top photo---it looks like they had been in matching frames at one time. Again, I could tell she was related. At first, I thought I saw my mother in her face and then, it came to me---mother's sister Billie!

Billie Wicker Curran, 1940's
So, we believe she is Virginia (Mary) Sampson Wicker---sister of Tennessee Sampson Parent. (Get it Virginia and Tennessee?)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wickers: Tennessee to Missouri

John W. Wicker (grandfather of James "Wes" Wicker)
Virginia (Mary) Sampson Wicker (Grandmother of James "Wes" Wicker)

When I started researching my family history back in 1976, I wrote and interviewed many relatives, travelled to Southeast Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee where Dave and I combed through old records and rolls of microfilm. I am so happy I had an opportunity to interview relatives who are long gone, but I wish I'd taped our discussions and photographed them.

"Peck" Wicker and his sister Pauline Wicker Burns helped me get started. One of them told me that three brothers (Con--Hugh Cornelius, Walker--Marion Walker, and Johnnie B--John Bedford) came to Missouri from the Reelfoot area by crossing the Mississippi River on ice. I had the impression they were adults when they came to Missouri, but further research shows that their mother (Virginia Sampson), father (John W. Wicker) and all of their aunts, uncles and cousins came at about the same time shortly after the Civil War.---before John Bedford and Marion Walker were even born. Also, they came from Obion County, Tennessee not Reelfoot Kentucky.

According to the 1870 census, the spouses and children of the following all came to Missouri around 1869: John W. Wicker and Virginia Sampson Wicker and their siblings: Mary Ann Wicker Wright, William R. Wicker, Sarah Elizabeth Wicker McLean, Cornelius Wicker, Rachel Wicker Vaught and Tennessee Sampson Parent---about 30 relatives all living next to each other in Stoddard County. Even their mother Sarah Wicker was living with the McLean's! There were two children born in Missouri but they were a year old or younger. The funny thing is most of these people are entered twice in the 1870 census---in Elk Township and Richland Township. Most of the time I can't find my relatives anywhere, but this group was double counted in 1870!

I don't know if they all came over the Mississippi River on ice, but I know it was fairly common for people to cross the rivers in wagons around St. Louis, Missouri in winter after the rivers were iced over. Stoddard County in southeast Missouri is a bit milder in climate than most of Missouri, though. I have found another family's history which talks about crossing the Mississippi River on ice a little further north from Stoddard County. But, if the Mississippi River was iced over in Stoddard County allowing everyone to migrate at the same time, that would be a family story told over and over.
I stayed in touch with various cousins over the years---Rick Philhours (Marion Walker's grandson) recently sent me the above photos of our common ancestors John W. Wicker and Virginia Sampson. (actually Rick and I have common Williams ancestors also---my grandfather and his mother were double cousins) Prior to these photos, all I had was a physical description of John W. Wicker from his Civil War record.

Now, while there were two John W. Wickers living in Obion County Tennessee, I feel pretty sure that ours was this confederate soldier because of his age (the other one was 10 years older).

Monday, February 16, 2009

Louise Wicker Long and U.S. Presidents

My mother Louise Wicker Long wrote this two years ago---her reflections on politics and U.S. Presidents. The above photo is of Louise and Tab (?) in first grade. (Double click below to make larger then, use the back arrow to come to this page again) This first page is about politics and elections when she was a child in Arkansas.
The second page is about Franklin Roosevelt and when she moved to St. Louis.
The last page is about Roosevelt through Kennedy. I do have to make one correction: the CCC stands for "Civil Conservation Corps" not "Conversation Corp", but she's correct at what they did. The Pere Marquette Lodge (as well as the one at Grand Canyon) were built by the CCC.

The last word was supposed to be "Catholic" but she mis-spelled it and never got around to re-writing it. And we wonder where we got attention deficit. . . .
I love the photo above---it looked just like my mother even at 87 years old! I'm sure my grandmother Vennie made the dress---she was quite the seamstress. Click here for more on my grandmother's sewing. I'm not sure if Louise is supposed to be Betsy Ross or Martha Washington, but I decided this photo was appropriate for President's Day.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Isaac Henry Fry and the Virginian Railway

Isaac Henry Fry (Dave's maternal grandfather) worked for the Virginian Railway in West Virginia and was in the Virginian Railway Feature Magazine in June, 1933. It's been transcribed below:
I. H. Fry, Yardmaster, Virginian Ry., Elmore, W. Va. Born: Monroe County, W. Va. Married: Alice Alderson, Nicholas County, W. Va.; nine children. Entered railway service with the C. & O. in 1901 as telegraph operator. In 1904, went with the B. & O. as agent and operator, and in June 1906, he came to the Virginian (then known as the Deepwater) as agent and operator at Page; July 1, 1907, he was made timekeeper and clerk to the division superintendent; next served as second-trick dispatcher and traveling auditor west of Princeton. In April, 1909, he entered train service and in August of the same year was promoted to conductor.
September 1928
In 1921 he was made assistant trainmaster, and in 1928 was promoted to trainmaster; in August, 1932, he was made yardmaster in Elmore. After years of experimenting, Mr. Fry devised the system of handling trains down heavy grades without the use of the retaining valves, and without changing the equipment on either cars or locomotives, a system which is now used and known as an overcharge trainline. this method of braking eliminates the necessity of stopping the train at the top or bottom of the hill to turn up or down the retainer valves in order to apply or release the brakes. This system of braking facilitates the uninterrupted movement of traffic.

Below is an engine which turned over on the Virginian between Page and Deepwater. Alice Fry was in the caboose of the freight train.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ellice and H.B. Letters June 25-June 30, 1945

Ellice, Grover and Janice Morgan, 1945
H.B's letter refers to Janice and her family, Lowell over-eating, Mason's back trouble and his mother not wanting him in the mines.
Ellice's letter is about her crops, canning, ration stamps, plans for July 4th and the size of Morgan feet!
Grover, Harry and Davis Morgan, Louisiana, June 1945

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Ellice's letter June 24, 1945

Ellice's next letter has some concerns about the building of the garage, the ration books, and the cows. She starts out being rather mysterious "and I don't believe he is mean. . . ." But, later in the letter there's evidence that Davis had been naughty. Below--Harry, Eloise and Davis.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Morgan Letters June 1945

Grover and Davis on Missouri Pacific train from St. Louis to Louisiana, May 1945

In the letter marked June 15, 1945, Ellice talks about sending Eloise "points"---I'm thinking this was like Betty Crocker coupons cut off packages to be redeemed for kitchen equipment. I'm wondering if the "McLaughlins" are Janice Morgan's family. Ellice clearly does NOT want Mason getting involved with the coal mines.
Alexandria, Louisiana, April 1945

H.B. Morgan's letter is mostly about "the crew" at the mine and his purchase of a concrete block machine.
Eloise, Davis, Harry; Alexandria, Louisiana; June 1945