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Archive for April, 2010

Note from moderator: Some time ago, before my move to Missouri temporarily engulfed my life, I had an interesting set of exchanges with Shelby Harriel, who had posted a comment beneath Ed Payne’s post, “Jasper Collins and the Ellisville Patriot.” After conducting extensive research on her family,  Shelby was astonished to discover that several of her Mississippi ancestors had fought for the Union during the Civil War. “Being a Southerner to my very soul, it’s been difficult to understand and accept,” she wrote. Determined, however, to understand rather than dismiss (or hide) her kinfolk, she quickly realized that the Civil War South was anything but unified over secession from the Union.  In email messages to Ed and me, she further digressed on her fascinating journey into the past. With her permission, I am publishing her letter describing what she learned about the Civil War service of her Smith, Harriel, and Bounds ancestors.

Vikki Bynum


First of all, this all started when my paw paw’s first cousin, Mr. Hollis Smith, began sharing with me the history of our families.  He was born in 1915 and actually remembered talking to his Civil War relatives.  When asked why they fought for the Union, he looked at me as if I were crazy and replied, “They didn’t believe the Union should be dissolved!”  He provided me with a copy of the picture I have attached.  Sadly, Mr. Hollis passed away in September at the age of 95.

From left to right:  Telfair (Mr. Hollis’ grandfather), Thomas R., Nimrod “Peter” (standing), John Lampkin, and Sherrod Smith.

I have the service and pension records for all of these men.  I have service records for a Sherrod Smith of the 17th Battalion Cavalry but am not sure if the soldier was the man in the picture or their first cousin, also named Sherrod.

Thomas rose to the rank of sergeant in Co. G, 1st New Orleans Infantry (Union). He was 5’8″ with light colored hair and green eyes and was 21 when he enlisted.  I have found a T.R. Smith of Co. B, 7th Battalion MS Infantry from Jackson County which is next to Harrison County where the Smiths were from at the time, so I have assumed this is “my” Thomas R. Smith.  His enlistment is given as April, 1862 but his record states “absent without leave having never reported.  Nor correctly reported….should be marked deserted.”

John Lampkin was 22 when he enlisted in the same regiment, Co. H. He was 5’11” with black hair and blue eyes. He died in a hospital in Carrollton  of small pox in January, 1865. There is a rumor that he wasn’t actually the soldier that died of small pox in the hospital but switched identities with another soldier and went on to be a professional gambler in New Orleans when he was shot in the back and killed over a game of cards. For some reason, I don’t feel that is true.   There appears a John L. Smith of Co. B, 7th Battalion MS Infantry with the same information as Thomas’.

Pete is a mystery. When I sent off for his papers, I received records for an “N.J. Smith” of Co. B, 3rd Mississippi Infantry. Those were his initials, and that was a unit raised in this area, but this particular soldier was listed as having been “severely wounded” on July 20, 1864 at Peach Tree Creek and died on July 24, 1864, in a Macon hospital. But Pete survived into his 80’s. Mr. Hollis swore up and down that Pete never served, but yet he applied for a pension in 1924 where he claimed to have enlisted in the 3rd MS Infantry in 1863 (he would have been 16 even though he definitely doesn’t look that young in the picture!). The officers listed on the application are correct, and the pension was granted. Two Confederate headstones were applied for, one for the 4th MS Cavalry. According to the application, he enlisted in 1861 with no discharge date. And then there’s another application for a headstone where the regiment is the 3rd MS. According to this document, he enlisted in October, 1863, and was discharged April 26, 1865. I sent away and received papers for a “Peter Smith” of the 4th MS Cav. But I don’t think this is the same person because this unit was formed in another part of the state. However, it was at Camp Moore, Louisiana, which is about an hour and a half away from here. I suppose he could have served in both. So that leaves the question of the soldier “N.J. Smith” who was killed outside Atlanta. Even though Mr. Hollis said he didn’t fight, he was granted a pension in 1924. At any rate, I’ve concluded that Pete did fight due to the fact that the pension was granted, and his two older brothers fought against him for the Union, one of whom, Thomas of course, signed as a witness on his pension application!

The Smiths had two first cousins, Reuben and Rufus, who served in the 3rd MS Infantry.   Both appear as AWOL at certain times, but they also show up as having been sick.  So it doesn’t appear that they deserted and joined the 1st NO like their cousins.  It seems that Unionist loyalties are connected through family ties.  However, this doesn’t seem to be the case with this branch of my family.

While doing this research, I took a look at the rosters of the Union unit Thomas and John Lampkin joined out of New Orleans. Lo and behold, there appeared the name of one Reutilus Hariel, Jr. in Co. G (The army misspelled my paw paw’s name by putting an extra “r” in it when he went to fight in WWII. He liked it and kept it.). His name was spelled every way imaginable, but that was him, the man of whom I am directly descended. He went with the Smith brothers to New Orleans and joined with them.  Unlike the Smiths, I could not find him in a Confederate unit prior to his enlistment in the 1st NO.  At any rate, after being told my entire life that we had no direct ancestors who fought, I found out three years ago that wasn’t true. After telling Mr. Hollis of my discovery, he just laughed because I think he knew all along but didn’t want to tell me that my direct ancestor fought for the Union. As for my direct family, I think it was known at some point but was covered up over the years until it became forgotten. Reutilus, after all, died in his 40’s.  His father, Reutilus Sr. is another family mystery.  We don’t know where he came from or what happened to him.  He rode off to work on the telegraph lines one day and never came home.  Neither he nor his horse were ever discovered.  We believe he was robbed and murdered because he is rumored to have always ridden the finest horses and wore the finest clothes.

There was another man named William Bounds whose sister married Reutilus Jr. While looking for his Confederate records, I kept coming up empty. Later, I found his name with those of the Smith brothers and Reutilus. Now it made sense why his headstone wasn’t pointed. He wasn’t a Confederate. He was in Co. I of the 1st NO and was listed as a deserter as of Jan. 13, 1866.  He was cleared of the charge in 1886.

Thomas, Reutilus, and William are all buried together in a cemetery about five miles from where I live. It’s kind of funny because they’re buried in the middle of the little cemetery while everybody else is buried along the fence row and away from them. I wonder if that’s on purpose. At any rate, according to Mr. Hollis, the Smith’s mother made it known she did not want to be buried near her Yankee son, and she’s not. She’s buried in another cemetery a couple of miles away, along with Pete, her Confederate son.  I don’t know where, exactly, in New Orleans John Lampkin is buried.

After doing more research on William Bounds, I have found out that he is the son of John E. Bounds and Nancy Sumrall.  Rumor has it that John was harboring Confederate deserters and run out of the county because of it.

I have discovered that William had two brothers who joined the 1st NO with him:  James and Addison, both of whom were 6’3″! James had red hair and black eyes. I hope I can find a picture of him one day. Addison had light colored hair and blue eyes. William was just under six feet with red hair and green eyes.

Addison made corporal.  As a part of the provost, he was detailed to escort prisoners to Fort Jefferson in the Tortugas, beginning in February, 1866. I read where most prisoners there were Union deserters. Talk about irony…..my Southern-born ancestor fighting with a Union unit based in New Orleans and guarding Yankee deserters.   Addison himself appears to be a Confederate deserter as I found an “A. Bounds” of Co. B, 17th Battalion Cavalry from Harrison County.  He was enrolled in April, 1862 and listed as present.  However, that’s where the records for that particular unit end for him.

In addition to housing Yankee deserters, Fort Jefferson was also the prison where Dr. Samuel Mudd was sent. He was there the same time as Addison.

I could not find a Confederate unit for James unless I overlooked something.

These Bounds had first cousins, Richard and John Clark Bounds of Jasper County, who were in Co. K, 37th MS Infantry.   They were the sons of Addison Bounds, brother of John E.  Richard was wounded in 1862 and sent to a hospital in Holly Springs.  He was paroled after Vicksburg and then was listed as AWOL February 9th, 1864.   I don’t have his 1st NO records yet, but they’re on the way.  John was on detached service and missed out on the whole Vicksburg experience.  His records show he was paroled at Meridian in May, 1865.   So why did he choose to remain loyal to the Confederacy instead of deserting and joining the 1st NO like his brother?  I wonder if he knew that Richard had deserted and joined the Union.

I have in my notes a Joseph A. Bounds listed as a brother of Richard and John Clark.  There is a Joseph A. in Co. F, 19th MS who served in Virginia throughout the war, but I don’t think these are the same men.

There were other relatives to the Bounds listed above:

There is a Stephen, Solomon and George Washington Bounds who all served in Co. H, 3rd MS Infantry.  George Washington was discharged due to disability.  Nathaniel Bounds of the 38th MS Cavalry died at a hospital in Okolona in June, 1862.  I could not find any of them in the NO unit.  I have also found a W. S. Bounds whose name is given as Woodward on one of the cards.  He was also in Co. H, 3rd MS and detailed as a teamster in 1863.  His records don’t indicate what happened to him after that year.  There is a D.W. Bounds in the same company.  He is listed as AWOL since November, 1863.   I don’t know who the D.S. is but I have found a Daniel Woodward in my genealogy notes.  There is a D.W. Bounds of the 2nd NO, a unit that failed to organize resulting in soldiers being transferred to the 1st.  And there is a Daniel W. Bound listed in Co. H of the 1st.  Furthermore, there is an Ellis Bounds in Co. G.  I could not find a Confederate unit for him although his father filed for a pension where he listed the 3rd MS as his son’s unit.  In my notes, I have Ellis’ death date as 1864.   There are also John and Henry of Co. G of the 1st NO.  In my notes, I have a John Riley and James Henry listed as brothers of Ellis and that they were twins.  No Confederate unit could be found for them either even though their father, Gillium, (2nd cousin of John E.) was in Co. H, 3rd Battalion MS State Troops.  He is listed as present in August, 1862 but deserted a few months later in January, 1863.  All of these Bounds were from the Coastal area.

I have the Confederate service records for this set of Bounds.  Their Union service records, where applicable, are on the way.

In addition to these Smiths and Bounds, I have a Uriah Lee of Co. G, 1st NO.  I could not find a Confederate unit for him.  His service records are on the way as well.

If it’s one thing you can say it’s that the Bounds family was torn in two.  Speaking of being divided, I have always felt for my great-great-great aunt, Nancy.  She married Elijah Lee whose headstone says he was in the 4th MS Cavalry.  However, I think this was a mistake and that he did not fight at all or maybe in a unit I haven’t discovered yet.  But his brother, Uriah, fought in the 1st NO.  Their first cousin, Eli Lee, however, fought in the 7th Battalion MS Infantry and was paroled after Vicksburg.  So Nancy’s brother and brothers-in-law fought for the Union while her cousin and possibly her husband fought for the Confederacy.  No Confederate unit could be found for Uriah and Eli did not join the 1st NO after paroled.  As a sidenote:  these Lees are third cousins to Robert E. Lee.

This is what I have discovered in my research so far.  I haven’t been able to find much on the 1st NO other than the brief history available on the Internet and have assumed it was more or less a type of home guard unit for the protection of New Orleans from all the guerrilla warfare going on in southwestern Louisiana.

I appreciate you taking the time to read through this.  I’d be interested in learning anything you have to share.  Thank you for your time.

Kindest regards,
Shelby Harriel

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Newton Knight or Joseph Newton Knight?

by Vikki Bynum

Steve Tatum  recently sent me the above photograph in which he identified the bearded old man as his ancestor, Joseph Newton “Newt” Knight of Tennessee. This Newt Knight, readers may remember from my earlier post, married Rebecca Jenkins, a Native American woman, and never lived in Mississippi, He had no apparent connection to Newt Knight of Mississippi, leader of the “Knight Company,” the notorious Civil War guerrilla band that fought against the Confederacy in the infamous Free State of Jones.

The problem is that the old man in this photo has also been identified as Mississippi’s Newt Knight! I first encountered a poorly-produced photocopy of this photograph around 1992 while searching through folders contained in the genealogy files of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. I chose not to use the picture in my book, The Free State of Jones, because its quality was so poor and because there was no donor listed from whom to seek permission.

I next saw the photograph in The State of Jones (Doubleday 2009), where authors John Stauffer and Sally Jenkins identified its subjects as Mississippi’s Newt Knight and John Howard Knight, son of former slave George Ann Knight and, allegedly, Newt Knight. I should add that while several Knight researchers agree that this is a picture of Mississippi’s Newt Knight, there is disagreement over the identity of the boy standing behind the old man. Yvonne Bivins believes that John Howard Knight, born in 1875, would have been much older than the boy pictured here at the time the photo was taken. More likely,  she believes, that boy is a grandson of Newt Knight.

But now we have an unrelated branch of Knights claiming that this is in fact their ancestor. How did this happen? Could it be that the photo was reproduced on the internet, and then discovered by a member of the Joseph Newton Knight family who understandably assumed it was their Newt Knight, standing with one of his Native American descendants? I honestly don’t know. As I’ve pointed out in previous posts, historians are often at the mercy of their donors when it comes to identifying subjects of photographs.

Steve Tatum notes that the Tennessee Newt Knight strongly resembles the old man in the picture, and so he does. But so also does the Mississippi Newt Knight, whose photo is below that of Joseph Newton Knight, bear a strong a resemblance to the same man. I wonder if any readers have an original copy of the photo of the older Newt Knight with the young boy standing behind him, or additional photos of the boy that might in turn verify whether he was a member of either the Tennessee or Mississippi Knight family.

In any case, this is yet another lesson of the difficulty of identifying photo subjects, particularly with the ease of exchange and reproduction made possible by the Internet.

Rebecca Jenkins and Joseph Newton Knight of Tennessee, courtesy of Steve Tatum

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This has been an incredibly busy four weeks, beginning with my speaking engagement in Falmouth, VA, followed by Gregg and I moving from Texas to Hannibal, Missouri, after more than twenty years of teaching at Texas State University, San Marcos. We’re not yet settled in our new home, but we’re here! Equally important, I am finally back online–that is, no longer dependent on Java Jive, Hannibal’s famous coffee shop, for moderating this blog and answering emails (not that I won’t continue to frequent the very cool Java Jive).

The Long Shadow of the Civil War by Victoria Bynum

So now it’s back to working as a historian (in between unpacking boxes).  As many of you already know, my new book, The Long Shadow of the Civil War, has been officially launched by the University of North Carolina Press. I’m pleased to announce two upcoming speaking engagements for the fall.  First, I was excited to accept the Gregory Visiting Professorship at the University of Georgia for this coming fall. These five-day visiting professorships are part of the history department of UGA’s inauguration of its newly expanded program in Civil War Studies, made possible by a $1 million grant from Amanda and Henry D. “Greg” Gregory Jr. of Atlanta, GA.  For more on the Gregorys’ generous gift to UGA, see the following announcement from the university:

http://www.uga.edu/news/artman/publish/printer_100415_Gregory_Gift.shtml

In November, I’m slated to discuss major themes of Long Shadow of the Civil War as part of the James A.  Hutchins lecture series at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. To learn more about the Hutchins Series, sponsored by UNC’s General Alumni Association, see:

http://www.uncsouth.org/content/research_service/hutchins/

I’ll provide updates on these events as the fall season approaches.

Vikki Bynum

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Nancy McCary Sumrall Holyfield Sumrall
& Elizabeth Hinton Coats Sumrall


by Ed Payne

At the end of the Civil War, widow Nancy McCary Sumrall entertained a marriage offer tendered by widower Moses Holyfield.  Nancy was 28 and the mother of four young sons.  Moses, although inconsistent in reporting his age, had probably entered his seventies.  His children from his first marriage were all grown and on their own.  Like most of his Piney Woods neighbors, Moses was not a wealthy man.  Still, he owned 450 acres of land, of which 80 were cleared for cultivation.  He had not been a slave owner, so he suffered no finance losses due to emancipation.  Nancy’s husband had died while serving in the Confederate Army in 1862.  We do not know how long Nancy deliberated over the matter, nor do we know whether her practical considerations and emotional sentiments were in harmony or in conflict.  What is known is that in due course Nancy accepted Moses Holyfield’s proposal and became his bride.

Marriages between men of advanced years and women several decades their junior did not begin in the wake of the Civil War.  Throughout the nineteenth century women bore the burden of frequent pregnancies that often began in their teens and—if their health, endurance, and luck proved sufficient—might continue for another three decades.  If any of these attributes failed them, their death usually necessitated the search for a new wife; preferably one still comfortably within the range of childbearing years.  Second and third marriages resulted from a pragmatic understanding of the workload required to maintain a household in a subsistence level economy.  The death of a wife left children without a mother in an era when children attended privately operated schools only sporadically, if at all.  In addition to child care, women performed an array of essential functions:  cooking and cleaning, making of clothing and numerous household items such as soap and candles, and cultivating vegetable gardens.  If there were no daughters old enough to assume these duties, the absence of a wife would be keenly felt.  This was true even in the higher realms of Piney Woods society.  Slave owner Isaac Anderson was among the wealthiest men in Jones County when his wife Teresia Powell Anderson died in 1850.  After a decent interval, the widower Anderson set about courting Sarah Rebecca Deason, the daughter of a local merchant with whom he was well acquainted.  Two years later, the sixty-six year old Isaac had successfully won the hand of twenty-three year old Sarah Rebecca.

The toll the Civil War exacted upon the male population of the South had a discernable, if not necessarily radical, impact on the institution of marriage.  In 1870 Jones County contained 449 white females between the ages of 20 and 40, compared to only 332 males.  And within this reduced pool of men, it can be assumed that some portion had lost limbs or otherwise been seriously impaired by the war.  Despite these obstacles, Piney Wood women, whether single or widowed, could and did marry local men during the Reconstruction era.  But in order to do so, many had to revise their concepts about what constituted a suitable domestic partner.

Nancy McCary was born in Alabama in 1837.  Her parents, Tandy and Cloah McCary, were both natives of South Carolina.  The birth states for their children indicate that around 1843 the McCary family moved across the state line to Wayne County, Mississippi.  Nancy became the bride of Elisha Sumrall in1852 when she was 15 and he was 21.  The location of the couple over the next decade is unknown.  But later records reveal that Nancy gave birth to at least four sons:  Benjamin (1854), Theodore (1856), James (1858), and Jefferson (1861).  The question remains as to whether the Jacob Sumrall (1852) who later married Martha Rushing Walters was the eldest son of Elisha and Nancy (see part two of Jones County Widows).

Like many other men having a family to support, Elisha did not join in the first wave of Confederate volunteers in the spring of 1861.  On March 26, 1862, however, he enlisted in Company I of the 36th Alabama Volunteers and was dispatched to Mt. Vernon Arsenal, outside of Mobile.  There his military service came to an abrupt end on June 4 when he died, probably of a camp disease, a scant two months and 10 days after his enlistment.  On October 17, 1862 Nancy filed papers to obtain his back pay.  A Confederate paymaster computed the amount due as $50.66.  The request made its ponderous way through the war time bureaucracy until, on November 28, 1863, approval was granted by the Comptroller’s Office.  Nancy signed a receipt for the payment on January 15, 1864.  During the interval while she and her children waited, Confederate currency had suffered an inflation rate exceeding 700%, rendering her settlement essentially worthless.

Sometime after receiving her token payment, Nancy moved to Jones County.  She may well have sought to remove herself and her young sons from harm’s way.  The Mobile and Ohio Railroad, which passed through Wayne County, held strategic value for both armies.  Jones County was devoid of railroads and had a sizable community of Sumrall in-laws, making it an attractive haven.  In her new surroundings Nancy made the acquaintance of Moses Holyfield.  He had been born in South Carolina, probably circa 1796, and moved his family to Jones County in the 1830s.  Based on the 1840 and 1850 censuses, Moses and his wife Milly had seven sons and one daughter.  By 1860, the only child remaining in the household was a grown son named Mark, age 33.

Although Moses did not own slaves, evidence indicates he felt strongly about the secessionist cause.  On May 4, 1861 he enlisted in the 8th Regiment, Mississippi Volunteers at Ellisville and traveled 57 miles to the rendezvous point at Enterprise.  Upon ascertaining that Moses was 65 years old, the officers doubtlessly saluted his determination and vigor, but sent him home.

Millie Holyfield, who was approximately the same age as her husband, died towards the end of the war.  This left Moses facing his final years with a sizable farm and an empty house.  If the growing number of young widows around him did not fill Moses with delight—since each widow suggested the role attrition was playing in determining the final outcome of the war—at least it made him aware that his prospects for another marriage had been greatly enhanced.  What may well have encouraged him to initiate a courtship of Nancy was not just her youth, but the prospect of welcoming her four boys into his household.

As mentioned previously, Moses Holyfield had carved out a modest yeoman’s existence.  In 1870 he possessed 80 acres of crop land, with another 100 acres in pasture and 270 acres of woodlands.  His livestock holdings were small for the region:  six cows, seven sheep, and 10 pigs.  The previous year the farm had produced 100 bushels of corn, 75 bushels of sweet potatoes, and a cash crop of two bales of cotton.  His farm clearly stood to benefit from the additional labor of four young stepsons.  The census of 1870 captures the transformation taking place within the Holyfield household.  Moses gave his age as 75 while Nancy stated she was 32.  Her sons ranged in age from nine to 16.  With them was 14 year old Richard Holyfield, a young relative of Moses, working as a farm laborer.  In addition, Moses and Nancy had started a new family, consisting of son William, three, and a six month old daughter named Mary.  For Moses it could truly be said that life had begun, again, at 70.

Nancy must have understood when she agreed to the marriage that it would not be a long term relationship.  Moses died in the mid-1870s and Nancy again found herself a widow, having added three small children to the household (another son, Charles, had been born in 1874).  But, owning to her second marriage, her circumstances were more secure.  The interlude with Moses had provided time for her sons to reach manhood.   Although sons James and Jefferson remained in Nancy’s household in 1880, they were leaving their teens.  Their older brother Benjamin, married and a father, lived next door.  Having regained some security in her life, for perhaps half a decade Nancy remained single.  When she did marry again, it was in the fall of 1883 to Carney Slay Sumrall, a man who had lost his wife four months earlier.

Marriage license of Carney S. Sumrall and Nancy Holyfield

The Sumrall’s were among the early settlers in south Mississippi.  Patriarch Thomas Sumrall was born in South Carolina in 1740 and died in Marion County in 1821.  He was the great-grandfather of Elisha Sumrall, Nancy’s first husband.  (This line descended from son Levi Sumrall and his son Jacob Sumrall, who was Elisha’s father.)  He was also the great-grandfather of Carney Slay Sumrall.  (This line descended from son Moses Sumrall and his son Howell Sumrall, who was Carney’s father.)  Thus Carney was a second cousin of Nancy’s first husband.  There may have been a closer connection linking the couple: some genealogies give the maiden name of Carney Sumrall wife as Catherine (‘Kitty’) McCary.  This matches the name of Nancy’s older sister on the 1850 census.

Carney Slay Sumrall, named after a Wayne County Baptist minister, was born in 1830.  He was a Confederate veteran who had enlisted in Company E (the Shubuta Guards) of the 37th Regiment Mississippi Volunteers on March 8, 1862 at age 32.  Unlike his cousin Elisha, Carney seemed able to cope with camp life, suffering only one recorded bout of illness.  Although records are sketchy, they suggest he took part in the siege of Vicksburg and was paroled.  He is documented as having surrendered with his unit at Citronelle, Alabama on May 11, 1865.  He returned to farming in Jasper County where, in 1870, he was enumerated with his wife and a daughter named Mary.  By 1880 he had moved to the small Jones County community of Pinelville, where he and Catherine scratched out a merger existence in a childless household.  Catherine died in May of 1883 and soon thereafter the new widower must have begun calling on Nancy Holyfield.

Carney Sumrall appears to have ranked below the widow Holyfield in terms of economic status.  He reported the value of his 1879 farm production as $95, paltry even by contemporary Jones County standards.  But Nancy may have reached a point where she could afford to let sentiment play a larger role in her decisions. On September 17, 1883 Carney Sumrall and Nancy McCary Sumrall Holyfield applied for a marriage license and solemnized their vows six days later.  At the time Nancy was 46 and Carney 53.  She was leaving her childbearing years behind and may well have looked forward to a long marriage.  If so, it was an unfulfilled wish.  Just six years later, on December 12, 1889, Carney Sumrall applying for another marriage license—this time to Elizabeth Hinton Coats.  The absence of any divorce proceedings in the surviving court records indicates Nancy had died.   Although some genealogies list her as dying in November of 1902 and being interred in Wayne County, they have apparently confused her with another Nancy Sumrall, born in 1847, who was the wife of Enoch S. Sumrall.

Marriage license of Carney S. Sumrall and Elizabeth Coats

In wedding Elizabeth Coats, Carney had once again chosen a Civil War widow.  Born in 1838, Elizabeth Hinton had been the wife of Thomas N. Coats.  He, like other married men facing conscription, enlisted on May 12, 1862 and was mustered into Company F of the 7th Battalion Mississippi Infantry.  He also participated in the siege at Vicksburg and, following its surrender, was paroled.  A muster roll in the Mississippi Archives indicates Thomas N. Coats went absent without leave from January 3 until April 10, 1864, during which time Elizabeth became pregnant with their third child.  Five days before Col. Lowry led troops into Jones County to deal with the deserters, he rejoined his unit.  Thomas was subsequently captured on July 4, 1864 at the battle of Kennesaw Mountain, near Atlanta.  From there he was shipped north to Camp Douglas, Illinois where he died of pleurisy on February 9, 1865—three days after his fellow Jones Countian George Warren Walters had died in the same camp.   (see part two of Jones County Widows). Perhaps unwilling to loosen her standards regarding potential suitors, Elizabeth remained a widow and reared her three children.  Twenty-four years elapsed between the death of her husband and her acceptance of Carney Sumrall’s proposal.

Carney and Elizabeth were last enumerated on the 1900 census.  Elizabeth died in July of 1902 and was buried in the Union Line cemetery near Soso.  In May of 1907 Carney was admitted to Beauvoir, the former gulf coast residence of Jefferson Davis that had been converted into a Confederate retirement home.  But he later discharged himself and returned to Jones County, where he died in 1909.  His grave is beside that of wife Catherine in the old section of Hickory Grove cemetery in Laurel.  The author has been unable to locate the grave sites of Moses Holyfield and Nancy McCary Sumrall Holyfield Sumrall.  It is known that Nancy’s sons by Elisha Sumrall continued to reside in Jones County until their deaths in the 1920s and 30s.

Hayes Cottage, Beauvoir Soldiers Homes, Biloxi, MS, where C. S. Sumrall once resided.

Nancy McCary Sumrall and Elizabeth Hinton Coats demonstrate how two Piney Woods women, eventually fated to marry a common husband, reacted to their status as Civil War widows.  When given an early opportunity to re-marry, albeit to an elderly man, Nancy accepted the offer as a practical partnership necessary to sustain her family through difficult times.   We can surmise that Elizabeth was less inclined to make such compromises, with the result that she retained her widow’s status for two dozen years after the war.  Whether accepting or rejecting prospective mates found among the reduced pool of post-war men, however, both women coped with the circumstances life had presented them.

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