Part 3: Ed Payne on Jones County Widows

Nancy Pitts Walters 

By Ed Payne


When Nancy Pitts Walters died in 1915 at the age of 82, she had the distinction of being the widow of not one but two Piney Woods men who journeyed to New Orleans in the spring of 1864 to join the Union Army.  Both of her husbands, Marada M. Walters and Hanson A. Walters, belonged to one of the oldest and largest family lines in Jones County, Mississippi.  The fact that Nancy’s mother was a Walters and that five more of her Walters kinsmen also enlisted in the New Orleans regiments indicates the extent to which some branches of this prolific Piney Woods clan adopted the Union cause.

Nancy was born on January 26, 1833, the fourth child of Daniel Pitts and Margaret Walters Pitts.  Daniel, a native of Savannah, Georgia, moved to Jones County sometime after 1820.  He homesteaded in the southeast quadrant of the county where the couple raised 13 children, all born between 1827 and 1849.  His wife Margaret was by most accounts a child of Jones County patriarch Willoughby Walters, previously identified in the profile of Civil War widow Martha Rushing as the grandfather of her first husband, George Warren Walters.  

In an era when many women married in their teens, 1860 found Nancy Pitts on the cusp of spinsterhood.  She was single and 27, with a decade of potential child bearing years already behind her.  That summer, however, she was betrothed to Marada Walters, son of Daniel Walters and his wife Nancy.  The two families were neighbors and it seems likely they attended the same church, Mt. Moriah Baptist, founded in 1854.  Marada (alternately spelled Meredy, Marady, and Meredick) was seven years Nancy’s junior, having just turned 20.  His father was one of the younger sons of Willoughby Walters whereas Nancy Pitts’s mother, Margaret, was one of his older daughters—possibly by a different wife.  Nevertheless, it was a marriage of first cousins.

The nuptials of Marada Walters and Nancy Pitts were one or two rungs down the area’s social ladder from those of their mutual first cousin George Warren Walters and his bride Martha Rushing, who exchanged vows just a few months later.  The focus on livestock production and a paucity of fertile crop land resulted in a more homogeneous socio-economic order in the Piney Woods than was the case where the cotton economy predominated.  But the mother of George Walters and the grandfather of Martha Rushing owned a few slaves—enough to afford them a place at the outer edge of the small circle of “slave people.”  Marada and Nancy, on the other hand, were the offspring of subsistence yeomen herders.  They belonged to the majority of Jones County inhabitants who grew no cotton and owned no slaves, and were largely isolated from the newspapers and firebrand politicians who, as the secession crisis escalated, eagerly sought to convince one and all that such factors were beside the point.  

The Walters clan to which Nancy Pitts was related both by blood and by marriage was numerous enough to mirror these modest, but later crucial, Piney Woods class distinctions.  Among the 21 Walters households that included 125 individuals, there were four slave owners who possessed a total of 15 slaves—eight of whom were under the age of 14.  During the Civil War at least 16 of the Jones County Walters males fought in Confederate units. Three were listed on rosters of the Knight renegades, and seven would go to New Orleans and enlist in the Union Army.  It being Jones County, there was some overlap across these three categories. 

One month after Fort Sumter, as the first units of Confederate volunteers formed, Nancy gave birth to a daughter, Sarah.  Her husband Marada apparently shrugged off the early call to arms.  Within 18 months Nancy gave birth to second child, Marion, born in October, 1862.  By this time military circumstances had changed.  That April the Confederacy passed its first conscription act, requiring men of Marada’s age to enlist or be subject to a draft.  Did he comply?  Records show that “M. M. Walters” enlisted in Company D of Steede’s cavalry battalion in April of 1862, but later deserted.  There is no conclusive evidence this was Marada, but his later enlistment as a Corporal in the Union Army suggests that he claimed prior military experience.  

Whether Nancy’s husband deserted or simply evaded the draft, his tenuous position certainly compromised his ability to provide for their family.  He would have had to be constantly alert and prepared to flee at the sound of hoof beats.  With two infants to care for, Nancy probably lived in the household of her father or father-in-law.  Daniel Pitts was in his mid-60s (a vigorous man, he would live to age 94) while Daniel Walters was approaching his mid-40s.  But they, like others throughout the South, were subject to confiscation of their farm produce by any Confederate units who passed through the area.  Daniel Walters later testified that these periodic “requisitions” of goods made efforts at subsistence farming ever more tenuous.  But since Daniel himself had become subject to conscription in 1863, when the Confederacy raised the age limit to 45, he could scarcely afford to protest too publicly.

Conscription policies effectively stripped the area of most of its male workforce.  And, unlike in the cotton producing regions of the state, the Piney Woods lacked a substantial pool of slave labor to partially offset this drain on manpower.  In such hard scrabble areas, women, children, and the elderly were left to scratch out a living as best they could—or else starve.  

The reversals suffered by Confederate forces in central Mississippi, capped by the surrender of Vicksburg in July of 1863, prompted many Piney Woods men to desert and return home.  This, in turn, attracted the notice of Confederate officials who, alarmed that renegade bands such as the Knight Company had assumed effective control of the region, sent in troops to suppress this defiance and force deserters back into service as sorely needed soldiers.  The campaign conducted by Col. Robert Lowry in the spring of 1864 had a galvanizing effect on a group of men who had grown increasingly resentful of Confederate authority.  Those who managed to evade the roundup had no way of knowing that the campaign would be of relatively brief duration as a result of the pressing need to redeploy troops against Sherman’s Atlanta campaign. 

By late April, 1864 over 40 Piney Woods men, many of them not listed on the Knight Band rosters, made the decision to trek to New Orleans and enlist in the Union Army.  Among them were Marada Walters, his brothers Drury and Archibald, and four of his Walters cousins: Albert, Joel, Richard, and Hanson.

The motivations of the Piney Woods men who set out for the Crescent City remain unknown.  Some have argued the incentive was pecuniary: that these were poor men enticed by enlistment bounties and monthly wages paid in greenbacks.  If so, however, such an argument must acknowledge that their allegiance to the Confederacy was nil.  The issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in January of 1863 made the elimination of slavery a stated objective of the Union Army.  Furthermore, these men would serve in close proximity with units of the United States Colored Troops.  This was quite a different matter from deserting the Confederacy after a strategic defeat and banding together to ward off attempts at re-conscription.  It seems more likely that these men, whose original commitment to the Confederate cause was tentative at best, had become embittered by the in-kind taxation and confiscations endured by their families. 

Another point to consider is the mortality risk accepted by the enlistees.  Whether  they expected to see combat or not, those who had served in the Confederacy knew the lethal hazards of camp life.  It is often stated, though perhaps not adequately comprehended, that more men died during the Civil War of disease than from battle wounds.  Many soldiers who entered encampments from rural areas had never been exposed to childhood diseases such as measles and mumps, which often proved fatal when contracted by adults.  Poor camp sanitation added to death rolls by spreading dysentery and cholera.

One month before Marada left for New Orleans, Nancy gave birth to a son, Drayton.  She was now the mother of three children, the oldest of whom had not yet turned three.  It is unlikely that the rather abstract prospect of a Union soldier’s pay held much interest for her.  After all, the money would be difficult to pass across enemy lines and, in any event, it was no substitute for a missing husband.  If Nancy had forebodings, they were realized soon enough.  Marada Walters enlisted at Fort Pike, just outside New Orleans, as a Corporal in Company E of the 1st New Orleans Infantry Regiment on May 15, 1864.  Within four months he was admitted to the University General Hospital where he died of chronic diarrhea on November 27.

Nancy probably received word of her husband’s death in the same way Daniel Walters learned of his son Archibald’s death: from a local man who had ventured to New Orleans and came back with news.  The news was seldom good.  At least one quarter of the Piney Woods enlistees succumbed to disease during their term of service—most within the first nine months.  Drury, the third son of Daniel Walters to have enlisted in New Orleans, died of smallpox three days before his brother Marada succumbed.  Both Nancy and her father-in-law would have had to accept the news and struggle on because life at the margins did not permit devoting much time and energy to grief.   

The war ended in April of 1865 and surviving Confederate veterans, maimed or just emaciated, came home.  The surviving New Orleans enlistees followed a year later, given early release from their three-year terms.  But those who returned were far fewer in number than those who had marched away.  Therefore Nancy, like Confederate widow Martha Rushing Walters, must have counted it a true blessing when she had the opportunity to remarry.  In February of 1867 she wed Hanson A. Walters at the home of her parents.  Genealogies indicate he was the son of Arthur Walters, probably an offspring of the original group of Walters settlers.  Born in 1836, Hanson had married Elizabeth (Quilly) Hightower in 1855.  But she died in 1862 while Hanson was responding to the conscription act by enlisting in the Company C of the 7th Battalion, Mississippi Infantry.  He participated in the Vicksburg campaign and, following his parole after the city’s surrender, deserted and returned home.  He does not appear on any of the Knight Band rosters, but on May 24, 1864 enlisted in Company G of the 1st New Orleans.  He served until his discharge on June 1, 1866.

Despite her remarriage, Nancy was eligible for a Union widow’s pension to help support her children.  She began the application process in June of 1867 and within a year was approved for payment of eight dollars per month, commencing upon the date of Marada’s death and continuing through March of 1880.  She received an additional two dollars per month per child, to continue until each child reached sixteen years of age.  This payment totaling $168 per year would have been a major boost to the fortunes of any family living in the post-war Piney Woods, where annual the value of farm production often amounted to less than $500.  

Pension application for minors of Marada Walters

Nancy and Hanson settled into a life of farming and child rearing.  Years later, when Hanson applied for a disability pension, he listed six children:  Quilla (1868), Eugene Amon (1870), Theodocia (1871), Laura (1873), Renvy (1874), and Isabella (1877).  (Another child, a daughter born circa 1875, apparently died in the interim.)  He operated a modest farm east of Ellisville where, among other activities, he kept bees that he reported in 1870 produced 84 pounds of honey.   

Over time, animosity about the area’s renegade reputation, which provoked returning Confederate veterans to have Jones County briefly renamed Davis County (in honor of Jefferson Davis), mellowed.  Indicative of the emerging tolerance of the choices soldiers made after the surrender of Vicksburg is the fact that Hanson was allowed to join the Ellisville Chapter of Confederate Veterans.  In the 1890s he was elected as his district’s representative on the County Board of Supervisors–a post also held by doggedly unrepentant former Knight Band member Jasper Collins. Even in the midst of Lost Cause glorification of the Confederacy, many of the aging Unionists retained the esteem of their neighbors 

But it was Union service that made one eligible for federal benefits.  So in 1898, at age 61, Hanson applied for a Union disability pension.  He underwent a medical examination that reported him to be 5’ 10” tall, a lean 135 pounds, and still having dark hair.  His application was rejected based on his acknowledged service in the Confederate Army.   A later decision overturned this exclusion and Hanson began receiving ten dollar per month in 1904. 

Pension application, Hanson Walters

The pension bureaucracy was not as well disposed towards Daniel Walters.  Three of his sons had died after enlisting in New Orleans, but Drury and Marada left wives who had rightful claims as widows.  Beginning in 1890, a 72 year old Daniel sought a pension as a dependent of Archibald, who he claimed was a source of partial support prior to his Unions service.  But the Bureau of Pensions was skeptical and demanded further evidence.  Months turned into years and the claim was finally denied in 1898.  The 1900 census showed him living with two boys, ages 14 and 11, who were apparently grandchildren.  Daniel survived for another decade on whatever charity he received from his relatives and died in 1908.    


Daniel Walters's letter to Commissioner of Pensions

   By 1910, the wear and tear of Piney Woods life had taken its toll on Nancy and Hanson.  That year’s census showed them living in a household that included their unmarried daughter Renvy, age 33, and a 17 year old grandson.  On December 24, 1910 Hanson died in his home, age 74.  He was buried the next day, a Christmas Sunday, in the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church cemetery.   

Nancy Pitts Walters survived her first husband by 50 years and her second by four.  She died of “senile paralysis” on January 18, 1915.  She was buried next to Hanson Walters in the Mt. Moriah cemetery.  To the right of her tombstone is a funeral home marker for daughter Renvy A. Walters, who died in 1966.  It is assumed that Marada Walters was buried in the Chalmette, Louisiana, national cemetery along with other Piney Woods men who died in the 1st and 2nd New Orleans Regiments—but no record of his gravesite has yet been found.  

(Acknowledgement to the article “Willoughby Walters Family” by Jimmye Walters Watson in Echoes From Our Past, Vol 1 published by the Jones County Genealogical & Historical Organization.  Other information comes from the Union pension files of Archibald Walters, Drury E. Walters, Hanson A. Walters, and Marada M. Walters.)

50 replies »

  1. I had a GG Grandfather who served in the
    1st New Orleans INF. He arrived in New Orleans in 1864 from France. He was courtmartialed in Feb. 1865 and spent the rest of his time as a prisoner at Fort Jefferson, Fla. I have his paper work from the National Archives. His name was Alfred Bourlie, spouse Josephine Falgout.



  2. Glenn: after seeing your comment I checked on Footnote.com (subscription service) and found it has the basic military records on your ancestor Alfred Bourlie. These indicate his offense was that, when placed in charge of 6 men assigned to guard a government bakery, he decided to give himself holiday leave (left on 23 Dec, returned on 26 Dec). For this he was charged with “Conduct prejudicial to Good Order and Military Discipline.”

    The 1st New Orleans is a very interesting unit and I hope to dig further into its composition. Thanks for adding to the story.


    • Ed:

      My Great-great Grandfather John Tucker from Jones County enlisted in the 1st New Orleans on May 16, 1864. He was 36 years old and had a wife and small children.

      He had previously served in the Confederate Army and apparently deserted.

      It is my belief that he and many others from Jones County were motivated to leave the County and enlist at New Orleans because of the activities of Col. Lowery in April, 1864. On April 15th he hanged 9 men who had deserted the Confederacy.

      These men fled and enlisted because they feared for their lives if they remained in Jones County.

      Frank McKenzie


  3. My Great G Grandfather William McNeil was one of
    the Men hung during that period. He was the husbnd
    of Arina Renee Ainsworth. From the information I have
    it happened three miles south of Raleigh, Smith County Mississippi. William and two of his brother-in-laws
    were in the 37th Ms. INF of Taylorsville, Mississippi.
    I’m very interested in this situation in central Ms. If
    anyone has any information
    Glenn McNeil


  4. Judge McKenzie:

    The enlistment records of the 1st New Orleans tend to confirm your comment. A small number of men from the Piney Woods made the trip to Fort Pike, Louisiana and enlisted in the Union Army as early as March of 1864. But the numbers increased considerably during the period from April through June. They then tapered off to the point that I’ve yet to come across any enlistments from the Piney Woods after August.

    While the Confederacy was hard pressed to spare Col Lowry and his troops, they clearly perceived a threat significant enough to warrant the effort. As I noted in the article, those Piney Woods men who had become disillusioned with the impact of Confederate policies on them and their families — or who had always harbored Unionist sentiments — could not know how long the campaign might last. Since this was the second incursion into the area (preceded by the more limited one of Col. Henry Maury), they had reason to suspect more might take place even after Lowry’s withdrawn. Also, we can imagine that accounts of the hangings were magnified as they spread throughout the area.

    What is becoming more apparent is that, while Jones County was clearly the epicenter of Piney Woods dissent, the Lowry raid triggered a wave of enlistments in the 1st New Orleans from other southern Mississippi counties as well, including Covington, Hancock, Harrison, Jasper, Marion, Perry, Pike, Smith, and Wayne.

    Ed Payne


    • Ed:

      John Tucker’s widow, Cinthia Landrum Tucker, received a pension for his service in the 1st New Orleans. I think it was $8.00 per month.

      Frank McKenzie


  5. I, too, have a relative who served in the Union Army. My great grandfather, Martin Van Buren Parker from Jones Co. , enrolled 20 Dec 1863 in N.O. for a period of 3 years. He musted in to Co. F, 1st Reg. New Orleans Inft. as a Corporal on Dec 26, 1963. He was in hospital much of his enlistment and at one time when he was in hospital he was listed as deserted Feb. 19. His wife, Camilla Melvin Parker, applied for widow’s pension but because of the desertion charge had to apply to have it dismissed. On Feb 19 1886 a discharge certificate was sent her from the Adjutant General’s office and she received a small pension. She had several children as dependants at the time and operated a farm. A couple of older children lived on the farm and assisted. Two of his grandchildren are still living in Gulfport and fondly display two pieces, a cake stand and fruit bowl, and tell the story of their grandfather bringing them home from New Orleans when he was discharged. I listed him as CSA in my genealogy for many years until a cousin emaled me that he was Union. I requested veterans’s records as proof and sure enough he was Union.


    • Aaron, based on correspondence with a lady who descends from Martin Parker (New Orleans Infantry); I assume your great grandfather is the same person as Martin Parker in the Littleberry Abbington Parker household of 1850 Wayne County census (recorded as Lewis Berry) and head of a separate household near Littleberry in the 1860 Wayne County census (also near Addison B Parker household)? If so, he probably is brother of my great great grandfather Addison and uncle to my great grandfather Little Berry Parker (also in the New Orleans Infantry). Marion Parker (also New Orleans Infantry) is definitely an Addison brother and there is evidence that Thomas J Parker and Obediah Parker (both New Orleans Infantry) are too. If not enough family connection, there is circumstantial evidence that Adison Bounds and John Bounds (both New Orleans Infantry from Marion County) are cousins to the Parker brothers.


      • Thanks, Robert, for all this great information on your Unionist forbears. I’m sure Aaron and others from these families will appreciate the details.



      • My 3g grandfather, Henry Owen Parker b abt 1824, d 1865 Camp Douglas POW camp in Chicago…he fits in here too (I believe he is Martin Parker’s brother). Even though she had four young children, his wife Missouri Rush Parker apparently did not apply for a widows pension.


    • Aaron,

      This is a belated thanks for your wonderful story about your family’s past history! I was just preparing to leave Missouri for a trip to Texas when you posted last December 27, and missed reading it in full at the time.



  6. Aaron & Robert:

    Glad to read your comments and hope you or some relatives may have additional information concerning these men. The web of kinship ties Vikki uncovered among the Jones County renegades seems to have similarly connected families throughout the Piney Woods. The Parker and Bounds families are of special interest since 14 MS men with those surnames enlisted in the Union 1st New Orleans.

    Marion, Martin V.B., and Obediah Parker were among the earliest of this group to enroll, signing up on 20 Dec 1863. Their younger brother Thomas J. Parker joined on 19 Mar 1864. Other Parker men from MS who enlisted were John W. (b. ca 1841), Little Berry (b. ca 1845), and Pearson (b. ca 1830).

    The information I have indicates that Marion, Martin, Obediah, and Thomas were all sons of Littleberry A. Parker (b. ca 1789, NC) his wife Elizabeth (nee Bounds). Littleberry moved from Jasper County MS to Washington Co AL in the late 1840s. He was listed there on the 1850 and 1860 censuses. The 1850 census of the household has a poorly written name that is probably Marion but which Ancestry transcribed as “Warren” (with a correction attached).

    As Shelby Harriel wrote in her post on this blog, three of the Bounds men who joined the 1st New Orleans were sons of John E. Bounds (b. ca 1798, TN): William (b. ca 1836), James (b. ca 1839), and Addison (b. ca 1842). They lived in Marion County in 1850. One of their sisters, Martha, married another man who would join the 1st New Orleans: Reutilius Harriel.

    It is interesting that although these branches of the Bounds and Parker families were physically separated by over 100 miles during the decade leading up to the Civil War, the sons ended up taking the same path that led to Fort Pike, LA.

    Ed Payne


  7. As a descendant of Daniel Walters, through his daughter Lavica (sister of Marada Walters) I greatly appreciated your research and I learned a lot about the family I did not know. Lavica Walters married William D. Gardner, of Jones County, who served with the 17th Mississippi Calvary. Oral family history was that William and his brother James Ferman Gardner (who also married a Walters girl), were captured and sent to a northern prison camp. Story goes that William was able to escape but James was too ill and died in prison. I am still trying to find documentation to prove this story. The Gardner family left Jones County between 1866 and 1868 and settled in East Texas, where we still reside today. I will try to find the article you mentioned on Willoughby Walters as well.
    Just to add, the web site for the Chalmette National Cemetery has Marada Walters grave listed as being at Sec# 73, grave 5907.

    Randall Gardner Rhodes
    Mont Belvieu, Texas


  8. Randell:

    By this post I’ll let Vikki know it’s okay to provide you with my email. I’m currently away from my home base, but if you send me your mailing address, I send you a copy of the article on Willoughby Walters which appeared in the Jones County Genealogical and Historical Society book “Echoes from the past.” The author, Jimmye Walters Watson, is a very solid researcher in delving into the murky first two generations of Walters in Jones County.

    Ed Payne


  9. Ed,
    I am the great great granddaughter of Martin V. B. Parker and am both the cousin that Aaron Parker referred to and the lady that Robert Parker mentioned. I am so happy to find this blog and learn more about the Jones County men. I’m still trying to understand their actions, what lead them to join the Union.

    Some additional information on the family: the father of these Parker men, Littleberry Abbington Parker, was a landowner and slave owner in Washington County, AL (1860 census and slave schedule). His son, Obediah lived on an adjoining farm, Martin lived not far from them, and another son, Littleberry Jr., lived nearby. I have found no Washington County land records for Addison Parker, another son, who was listed in both the Wayne County, MS and the Washington County, AL 1860 census. He enlisted in the 24th Alabama Infantry in Mobile, AL on Oct. 14, 1861 and was given a disability discharge May 5, 1862. Martin’s father-in-law, Solomon Anderson and several of Martin’s brothers-in-law enlisted in the 32nd Alabama Infantry. Littleberry, Jr. also enlisted in the 32nd AL Inf. on Mar. 5, 1862 and was reported as having deserted May 23, 1863. Why didn’t Martin and the other brothers follow suit? And why did Addison’s son, another Littleberry, also decided to go to New Orleans?

    More questions: Did these men all move back to Jones County, MS before they enlisted in the 1st New Orleans Infantry or did were they still in Alabama? Their military records give only their birth places (all in MS) and that they enlisted at Ft. Pike, LA. According to the 1870 census, they were all living in MS again, some in Wayne, some in Jones, and patriarch, Littleberry A. Parker was also living in Jones, minus the slaves, of course. What lead them all back to Jones? Surely not good farm land.

    I find it fascinating that so many Parker brothers made the same decision to join the Union army as did several of their Bounds cousins. I’ve always felt that there had to be a good story behind this. Thanks, Ed and Vicki, for this interesting additional information about Jones County.

    Jeanette Parker Gartner


    • Jeanette,
      I am glad you are joining the discussion of Ed’s fine articles about Piney Woods and the New Orleans Infantry. And, your comment enables me to correct an error in my version of Parker history. Encountering the name “Littleberry Parker” in the Alabama 32nd Regiment, I assumed this soldier was Addison’s son. Never occurred to me this could be his brother with that name. Hard for me to keep track of all the “Littleberry” (“Little Berry”) relatives of that era. Now, I am using “Littleberry Sr”, “Littleberry Jr”, and “Little Berry” to distinguish Addison’s father, brother, and son. Of course, this does not help with several later relatives having that name.


  10. Hello, Jeanette,

    Thanks so much for your comment, and for adding so much information on the Parker family!

    I’ll leave it to Ed to grapple with your questions, since he has done the research on the family from this end. I will say that the decision made by so many members of the family to join the Union Army indicates the greater level of support for the Union among white Southerners than is generally acknowledged.

    As to why some joined the Union Army and others did not, I think that’s when we get into individual situations that mitigated for or against deserting the Confederacy and/or joining the Union Army. And, of course, members of the same family may have had different opinions about the rightness of secession and the Confederate Cause. Unfortunately, without letters and diaries, it’s virtually impossible to get inside their heads–we have only their actions to study.

    Again, thanks, and I hope we hear more from others!



  11. Jeanette:
    Thank you for your comments and additional information. I hope you have read my follow-up series “Crossing the Rubicon of Loyalty” https://renegadesouth.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/crossing-the-rubicon-of-loyalties-piney-woods-enlistees-in-the-union-1st-and-2nd-north-orleans-infantry/ concerning the men who joined the Union 1st New Orleans Infantry. Of the 205 men whom I have identified, seven belonged to the Parker family and seven to the Bounds family.

    I was rather overwhelmed by the number of Piney Woods Union enlistees my research uncovered, having gone into it believing they would number in the dozens, not hundreds. Clearly significant antagonism to Confederate authority had developed in south Mississippi by 1864, most strongly concentrated in the Jones-Marion-Perry area. Some families had held anti-secessionist sentiments predating the war, whereas in other cases Confederate conscription, military reversals, and taxation policies produced a rupture in loyalties.

    Several of the questions you pose fall into the realm of human motivations. I think our 19th Century ancestors dealt with extreme situations in much the same way that we do, albeit while often displaying a more deeply instilled sense of values and honor. Men in military units can serve and face death under motivations of fear or pride—or some combination of the two. By 1863 the military successes of the Army of Northern Virginia clearly produced a high degree of pride within the ranks, even though documents show Lee’s Army suffered its share of stragglers and deserters. Southern units serving in the western theater suffered reversals earlier in the war and far closer to home. A large number of the Piney Woods men participated in the siege of Vicksburg and, with its surrender and their parole, returned home. They felt they had done their part and, with federal troops in firm control of central Mississippi, that the war was lost. When Confederate authorities sought to force their return to the ranks, two hundred concluded their only remaining choice was to side with the Union. This difficult decision was rendered more palatable by a written assurance that they would only be required to serve in defense of New Orleans.

    I suspect that the Parker men who joined the 1st New Orleans had made their way to the Piney Woods region by early 1864. Confederate reports repeatedly noted that the area had become a haven for men who had forsaken the Southern cause. I also believe these men realized the likely consequences of their choice to join the Union Army. We should not forget that in 1865 returning Confederates successfully petitioned the state legislature to remove the county’s renegade stigma by renaming it Davis (in honor of Jefferson Davis) and Ellisville to Leesville (in honor of Robert E. Lee). Still, it is reasonable to assume that some of the Union enlistees decided they would find a friendlier reception in an area that was home to so many of their comrades in blue. If so, they seem to have surmised correctly. Jones County and Ellisville reverted back to their original names in 1870. In later decades citizens of the county elected Newton Knight’s right hand man, Jasper Collins, and 1st New Orleans enlistee Hanson Walters to the Board of Supervisors. And, probably owing to the fact he had served up through the siege of Vicksburg, Hanson Walters died a member in good standing of the Ellisville Chapter of Confederate Veterans—even while drawing a Union disability pension.

    I am curious about your statement that Littleberry Abbington Parker owned slaves on the 1860 census of Washington County, AL. My admittedly quick search showed L.B. Parker of Washington Co (1798-1880) as owner of four slaves (a female and three children) in 1850 but none by 1860. Of course, despite our wishes for simplicity, slave-ownership did not automatically assure Confederate loyalty. My own gr-gr grandmother Sarah Collins Walters Parker owned two slaves at the outset of the war and had a son who served and died in the Confederacy, yet gave shelter to the Knight Band which included three younger brothers and several nephews. The human heart is still proof against theories seeking to restrict its freedom of movement.

    Hope that these thoughts, which admittedly contain much conjecture, help.

    Ed Payne


    • Ed and Vikki:

      Thanks for responding. Ed, you are absolutely correct about Littleberry Abbington Parker owning slaves in 1850, not 1860. I was speaking from memory (sometimes faulty!) without consulting my records.

      I have indeed read your “Crossing the Rubicon of Loyalty” series. Excellent work! Reading about the Piney Woods men gave me a better understanding of the struggle my ancestors faced as well as insight into possible reasons for joining the 1st New Orleans Infantry. My Martin Van Buren Parker enlisted as a corporal, as did his brother Marion. Your comment that enlisting at that rank usually meant prior military service really peaked my interest. I’ve been searching Confederate records in both Mississippi and Alabama and so far have drawn a blank.

      The Parker brothers didn’t fare so well in the 1st N.O. Martin was demoted to the rank of private and was reported as a deserter until it was proven that he had, in fact, been sick and hospitalized. The charge was lifted and he was given an honorable discharge. Marion and Thomas died of smallpox. Obediah spent months in the hospital before receiving a disability discharge for syphilitic rheumatism.

      Another comment struck me – that Jones County was renamed Davis County from 1865 until 1870. I have homestead records for Littleberry Abbington Parker in Jones County. The patent was granted in 1875. I was puzzled by some of the paperwork that said he had applied from Davis County. That made no sense until I learned that Jones had been renamed Davis for awhile, but I didn’t know any details until I read your comment. That helps me place him in Jones/Davis in 1868, seven years before the homestead certificate was granted. Another interesting detail to share – this homestead was for 80 acres in Section 24, T7N, R12W. The Mack Brown Cemetery is located on his former homestead, and one of the first persons buried there was his daughter-in-law, Clara, wife of Martin.

      Thanks, Ed and Vikki! I’ve learned a great deal from you both.

      Jeanette Parker Gartner


      • Jeanette,

        Do you happen to know who Mack Brown was? I’m searching for the parents of Hugh Mack Brown (who is buried in the Mack Brown Cemetery).


      • John,
        So sorry to be so slow to answer you. No, I don’t know who Mack Brown is. I have honestly never looked for him in the Jones County records. I wonder if the genealogy section of the Laurel library would have any information.

        Jeanette Parker Gartner


    • Ed

      You are very likely right about the Parker households moving from Washington County to the Piney Woods by 1864 – maybe, locating near the homestead of forty years earlier. In 1819-1820, Parker, Bounds, and Duprest families settled in the Piney Woods along the Talahalla Creek – some on land that becomes part of Jones County, others in northern Perry County (above present-day Runnelstown). Littleberry Sr, John Sr (probable father) and possible brothers (John Jr, Jonathan D) lived upstream south of Ellisville until after Jones became a county. Several of the original Perry County settlers were still living above Runnelstown in 1850. Interestingly, in the 1870 Jones County Census Littleberry Sr, Martin, and Obediah appear with Ellisville as their “Post Office”. Birds of a feather.
      Someday, I hope to know what families (not just men) traveled to New Orleans when the Piney Woods and similar bastions turned hostile? Addison and family were in the Cresent City. – as were brother Marion, his wife and two children. How many others? For one, Alexander Inman (New Orleans Infantry) is almost surely the bother of Nancy Inman, Marion Parker’s wife. I am trying to find out more about the Lewis soldiers. If any are from Jasper County, they may descend from Walden Lewis (father of Addison’s wife, Mary “Polly” Lewis). John Parker Sr, Obediah Bounds (grandfather of Bounds soldiers), and Walden Lewis settled separately along the Buckatunna Creek about 1812. There is some evidence that each served in a militia unit (NC, TN, GA) before immigrating to the Mississippi Territory. Were they Unionists? How many in the New Orleans Infantry are their descendants? If maiden names could be associated with married women, how many soldiers trace to these three, or their Perry County kin.
      Robert Parker


      • John,
        Sorry, but I don’t know the identity or history or Mack Brown. I wonder if he might have owned that property at some point. My ancestor homesteaded that site from 1867 until sometime before 1880 when he appears in the Hancock County, MS census. In early 1890, he applied for another homestead in Lamar County and stated that he had abandoned the property in Jones County. I once saw a list of owners of that particular parcel of land in Section 24, T 7N, R 12W, but don’t recall a Brown being included. If I come across that list again (probably buried deep in my records), I’ll check the names and, if I find a Brown, I’ll leave you a message here.

        Jeanette Parker Gartner


      • Thanks very much, Jeanette! And if you do run across Mack Brown, I’d be very much indebted to you to hear about it.


      • There is a Brown cemetery just off of Hwy. 15 near the Jones -Perry county line. My gg-grandpa is buried there. He’s the only Smith, but there are a lot of Sumralls there.


  12. Jeanette,

    Could we be wrong about our GGGGF being a slave “owner”? I am convinced Littleberry Sr is “L B Parker” in the 1850 Clarke County Slave Schedule and in the1860 Washington County Slave Schedule. But, I have found no indication of ownership at any time other than 1850. Citing Clarke County records, several Internet postings claim that Littleberry Sr was administrator for the Benjamin Robinson estate, beginning about 1843. Other records seem to confirm family connection to Clarke County before and after 1850. In December 1843, Littleberry Sr married there. In 1860 his son Marion married Nancy Inman, a Clarke County resident.

    Probably, our GGGGF still had estate duties in 1850. According to one posting, the older Robinson children were his wards; and the younger children were the wards of Addison Bounds. As evident in the 1850 Jasper County Census (Addison Bounds household), many Robinson children were not of age. Maybe he was trustee of slaves, rather than “owner”. Perhaps, slaves in the Washington County household were payment for executor services (and subsequently sold), or they may have been tenants awaiting transfer to Robinson heirs. Of course, all my conjecture is just speculation.

    Just one more opinion – 1843 must have been a terrible year for our GGGGF. Apparently, many relatives died about that time including wife, mother-in-law, and the Robinson couple (probable sister-in-law and brother-in-law). Also, Addison’s father-in-law. Could the 1843 flu epidemic (spring to mid-summer) have been a factor?

    Robert Parker


  13. Robert & Jeanette:

    Appreciate your comments. I’ve been delayed in responding due to a respiratory virus and a computer virus.

    Jeanette, I attempted to locate prior CSA service records for all 205 Piney Woods men who enlisted in the 1st New Orleans. However, I was also unsuccessful in finding a match for Martin Van Buren Parker. There was one soldier listed as M.V.B. Parker in the 1st Battn, AL Artillery but he is reported to have died as a P.O.W. on Ship Island in Nov. 1864.

    Robert, apparently some of the families of the Piney Woods enlistees moved into New Orleans. We will probably never know how many. If so, they faced difficult times. The military records of the 1st New Orleans indicated that payroll payments were intermittent, placing financial stress on even those soldiers and families who were natives of the city.

    And, yes, the enlistees exhibit the same web of Piney Woods kinship links first explored by Vikki. When I was researching the story of Robert Spenser, I wondered why a man named George Hogan accompanied Robert on his mission to seek justice for the murder his mother. A genealogical search revealed he was Robert’s brother-in-law and the men had enlisted in the 2nd New Orleans on the same day.

    Ed P.


  14. Ed,
    Sorry to hear that both you and your computer have been ill. Hope you are both virus free now.

    Thanks for looking for Martin Van Buren Parker. Do you suppose he would have been made a corporal without prior military experience? Perhaps he had enlisted but failed to serve in a confederate unit.

    I’ve replied to Robert privately concerning the many questions he raised but one thing is probably worth noting here. He reported finding L.B. Parker on the 1850 Clarke County slave schedule which was news to me. I knew that Littleberry Sr. and Jr. were already living in Washington Co., AL, so that just didn’t make sense. I had to check it out myself. I don’t think this is our L.B. Parker for a couple of reasons. 1. I haven’t found him on the actual census in Clarke, only in Washington Co., 2. The numbers and ages of the slaves are different than the Washington Co. slaves, and, 3. I came across another L.B. Parker in the Clarke County court records last year and was convinced that he was not our Littleberry Sr. I don’t know who he is or if he is related to us.

    Robert had also wondered if these slaves were actually being held for the minor children of Benjamin Robinson. I found no notation on the slave schedules of that being the case.

    I also combed through the Washington Co.1860 slave schedule page by page and found our L.B.A. Parker, Sr. again, but with just one male slave, age 40.

    I don’t know if this contributed to Martin and his brothers joining the Union army or not.

    Littleberry Sr. seems to have suffered financially through the war, as did so many. In 1860, he was pretty well off with 160 acres with a real value of $2000. and personal value of $2400., a tidy sum in that day. By 1870 when he was back in Jones County homesteading, his real value was only $200. and his personal value $1200.



  15. Jeanette:

    I’ll post a few final notes and if you want to contact me by email, Vikki has my permission to provide it to you.

    While I haven’t researched the Parker line in awhile, I do recall being surprised at the number of men having some permutation of the name Littleberry Parker (or Little Berry, or L.B., or Berry).

    One of my posts dealt with a dispute in the 1890s between former Knight Band member Jasper Collins and CSA veteran J.F. Parker. Jasper and his son Loren started a paper in Ellisville to promote the People’s (aka Populist) Party. This provoked editorial thunderbolts from Parker in the pages of his rival Democratic “New South” newspaper. Clearly the divisions in their Civil War loyalties and political affiliations were more than enough to stoke the flames of animosity. But since J.F. was the son of James D. & Martha Parker–who are found on the 1850 census in Jasper County–I’ve wondered if he might have been related to the Union enlisting Parker clan. If so, all the more reason for anger about renegade Southerners.

    I went back and checked the military records of M.V.B. Parker and noted that he first enlisted in the 2nd New Orleans on 23 Dec 1863. He was promoted to Corporal the following March. When the 2nd New Orleans was disbanded in Aug 1864, Martin was transferred to the 1st New Orleans at that rank. Since Martin was among the early recruits (most of the Piney Woods men did not join until the Spring of 1864), it makes sense that he could have been promoted after two months based on his merits rather than prior military service.

    Among the final set of 1st New Orleans pension records which I am trying to obtain are those for the Littleberry Parker who was a son of Addison & Mary Parker. We are trying to determine if they are at the National Archives or may still be in the possession of the Veterans Administration.

    Ed P.


  16. Ed
    I sent you some Little Berry pension records (and death certificate) as attachments to an email. The letter went to an entry in my address book having your name on it. If it fails to arrive, tell me what to do.
    Robert Parker


  17. Ed:
    Again, I thoroughly enjoyed another one of your articles. You help me put perspective to the lives of my ancestors who left Jones County to join the 1st New Orleans Volunteers. The direct line is my GG GF, Drury Walters and his 2 brothers, Marada and Archibald. I am most grateful you told the story of how Marada’s widow remarried my ancestor’s kinsman.

    In your article you mention all three dying within a short time of each other of disease while serving. You also state: “It is assumed that Marada Walters was buried in the Chalmette, Louisiana, national cemetery along with other Piney Woods men who died in the 1st and 2nd New Orleans Regiments—but no record of his gravesite has yet been found’.

    I am proud to announce the location of Marada’s grave site. It’s just where you said it would be! ….. Chalmette National Cemetery. Grave number 5907. It is within 10 feet of the grave of Drury Walters, his brother.

    Ed, in this story you mention that Daniel Walters, the above three’s father, applied for a pension from Archibald, and was denied. I will treasure the copy of his letter you included in your article.

    I have a question about Daniel Walters that maybe you can answer. In Daniel’s obituary in the Laurel Chronicle, the obit says he “served as a Confederate soldier”. I have cut and pasted a copy of the obit transcript:

    Death Notice appearing in The Laurel Chronicle Saturday April 18, 1908.

    Mr. Daniel Walters, one of the pioneer citizens of Jones County, died at the home of his son, Mr. Calvin Walters, at 2 o’clock Tuesday, April 14, 1908. He was buried at Mt. Vernon Cemetery, two miles east of Laurel the following afternoon at 2 o’clock. Many of his Masonic brethren from Laurel and elsewhere, besides a large concourse of relatives and acquaintances attended the funeral. Mr. Walters was ninety years of age. He was brought to Jones County by his relatives when a babe, from South Carolina, and lived to rear a large and respectable family. Mr. Walter’s wife preceded him to the grave. He leaves to survive him six sons and one daughter, besides a large number of grandchildren. Mr. Walters served as a Confederate soldier. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity; which will hold formal ceremonies over his grave at an early date.

    Ed, you mention Daniel Walters and his possible availability for the draft when the maximum draft age was raised to 45. In light of his 3 sons joining the Union Army and his age, it seems unlikely that the obituary was correct. On the other hand, the folks in Jones County reading this death notice would know that it was inaccurate. Over the years, I have not been able to find any documentation that he served the Confederacy. Ed, do you have any thoughts or documentation on this? Thanks, Brian Walters


  18. Hi Ed, a follow up question. In your articles, you have copies of enlistment documents for Jones County residents who joined the Union Army. I have some old “copied to death” photocopies of these documents for my 3 ancestors who joined the 1st N.O. Vols, and would like to know where I could obtain “fresh” copies, even better, digital copies. Thanks again. Brian Walters


    • Brian,

      As Ed Payne has requested, I have sent you his email address. If for some reason you do not receive it, let me know.



  19. Brian:

    First, I appreciate the clarification about Marada. After the article was posted I found he was listed on the database of Chalmette National Cemetery headstones as ‘Marada WATERS’ with a death date of 11/27/1864. The grave number is the same as you cited.

    Second, my best guess is that Daniel may have participated in a home guard unit when ordered to do so. It was just such a group who assisted Confederate troops to thwart the plans of Capt Calvin A. Mann by ambushing his troops at Rocky Creek near Ellisville. If Daniel had been a part of this group, which consisted of those too young or old for conscription–or any other similar home guard unit–he would have been deemed a ‘Confederate soldier’ by the lenient standards in effect in 1908. As I noted in the article, despite his enlistment in the 1st New Orleans in 1864, Hanson Walter’s obituary cited his membership in the Ellisville Chapter of Confederate Veterans.

    Third, Vikki should be providing you with my email shortly. I do have fresh digital copies of the complete pension files for all three sons.


  20. Here is an account of my first visit to Chalmette National Military Cemetery in 1990:

    I don’t consider myself a person with unique abilities concerning the supernatural, but I had a singular experience at the Chalmette National Military Cemetery when I visited my Great Great Grandfather, Drury Walters and his brother, Archy. They had enlisted in the Union Army in Federally occupied New Orleans even though they were natives of Jones County, Mississippi. I then lived in Chicago and was attending a conference in New Orleans. I sneaked away from the conference for a half-day and drove to Ft. Pike, where they were garrisoned, and then to the cemetery, an hour away. I had only one hour to spend at the cemetery. As luck would have it, the visitor’s center was closed and I had no grave numbers or locations for Drury or Archy. I was further dismayed to find there were over 14,000 graves in this cemetery. At first, I started walking row by row, eyes clicking camera-like on each grave as I passed by. As time rapidly ticked by, I started running, row by row by row. I actually got motion sickness from attempting to read the markers as I quickly ran past them. With only 15 minutes left, I had not even gone through half of the markers yet. I was resigned to the fact that I would not be visiting with Drury. THEN….. I spotted “DRURY WALTERS” on a marker!

    Immediately, I collapsed from exhaustion and motion sickness onto the grass before his grave, and before I knew it, I breathlessly blurted out, “Drury, why in HELL did you join the Yankee Army”? (I’m a Southerner… so was Drury). I even asked Drury who his Grandpa was. I had been trying for 10 years to find out this info, with no success. I looked at my watch and saw I had only 5 minutes left. I used the remaining time to quietly reflect on what it must have been like to be a soldier during the War Between the States. I could not fathom how it must have been to have smallpox and to know you will die away from your home…far from loved ones. My time was up. After I said my good-byes, I asked, “Drury, where’s your brother, Archy?”. Trance-like, I stood up, and walked directly 30 paces and then looked down onto a marker bearing the inscription “ARCHY WALTERS”! I turned around with tears in my eyes and whispered in a ragged voice…. “thank you Drury”.

    Brian Walters


    • I thank you, Brian, for what is perhaps the most moving family account (and there are many on this blog) that I have ever moderated on Renegade South!



    • Thank you Brian for your story. I am a descendant of your Drury’s sister, Lavica Walters Gardner, whose husband fought for the South during the war, and later moved to Texas. Please feel free to contact me and maybe we can exchange information.


  21. Randall G Rhodes,,,,I too am a cuz of yours and Brians, I started looking a few years ago and found Brian and brothers had most of it already.
    I grew up in Jones co and now live in Raymond, ms, I am still looking for Drurys wifes grave, I talked with Brian for almost an hour today .Dicey was her name, MY email is dougwalt@bellsouth.net


  22. Hello, all! It seems I, too, am related to the Walters clan and thus…some of you! Drury E Walters was my 4th Great GF. I am actually going to visit his gravesite next weekend, as I live in New Orleans and will be at the Battlefield for the 1812 reenactment. If any of you have some special tidbits of information you’d like to share please contact me! I would love to work together and share anything I may have. 🙂 Happy holidays!


    • Amanda, Drury is my GG Grandfather. I’d love to compare notes with you. I live in nearby Bay St. Louis, MS. By the way, Marada’s grave is right next to Drury’s. Archy’s (their brother) is within 10 yards of Drury’s.
      Brian Walters
      Email: bw@safetyexcellence.net


  23. Ed Payne:
    I have a long-delayed followup qustion:
    In your article about Nancy Pitts Walters, you state:

    “Marada (alternately spelled Meredy, Marady, and Meredick) was seven years Nancy’s junior, having just turned 20. His father was one of the younger sons of Willoughby Walters…”

    Ed, I have been trying to document who the father of Daniel Walters (Marada’s father) for 20 years! You state it is Willoughby. Do you have any documentation of this? If so, this could be my Holy Grail!!!

    Thank you for all of your articles!

    Brian Walters


  24. Hi Vikki and Ed. I am thoroughly enjoying reading these comments, as well as different articles within this site. Vikki, I’ve purchased your books for various family members, and we’ve learned so much reading them. Of course we also loved the movie. Thank you for all your research and expertise.

    Ed, Vikki commented somewhere (I’ve read so many comments now I’ve lost the specific one) you are from Collins and Walters. My father, Jerry Collins Walters, tells me we are descendants of Riley, whose children married Walters. I’d love to read any other articles you’ve written on the Collins/Walters connection. Seems we are quite intertwined. Can you direct me or help narrow my search?

    Thank you,
    Natalie Walters


    • Hi Natalie,

      I see that your comment got by me at the time you wrote it. Thank you so much for your good words in regard to my scholarship! Also wanted to be certain you knew about Ed Payne’s article in the Journal of Mississippi history concerning he ancestor, Sarah Collins Walters Parker: “Kinship, Slavery, and Gender in the Free State of Jones: the Life of Sarah Collins,” JMH, v. 71, no. 1 (Spring 2009): 55-84.



  25. I thoroughly enjoyed the article above which provided much insight into why southerners would fight for the Federal government.

    I’m the descendent of Daniel Walters through the line of his son, Franklin Matthew. I am very interested in the article that you cited written by Jimmye Walters Watson. Could you email it to me?

    In addition, any other references about this family would also be much appreciated.

    Thank you.


  26. this has errors Nancy Elizabeth “Quilly” Hightower was only married to Hanson Andrew Walters before he she married a Pitt Her Mother was Laura Gordon Hightower born in Georgia


    • I am searching for proof that Hanson Walters married Quilly Hightower as stated by you and Ed Payne. This has been repeated several places and I have yet to see any documentation. Someone, please help.


      • Note—the following reply is from Ed Payne:

        The marriage information in my article comes from the Union pension file of Hanson Walters. The documents therein show that Hanson married twice: first to Elizabeth (Quilly) Hightower and second to Nancy Elizabeth Pitts Walters. Nancy, as explained in the article, was the widow of Marada (aka Meredy) Walters.

        In 1898, Hanson submitted a form 3-173 as part of the pension process. On the form he reported being married to “Nancy E. Walters formerly Nancy E. Pitts” and that the wedding took place 10 Feb 1867 at the home of Daniel Pitts. To a question concerning any prior marriages, Hanson responded that he had been married to “Elizabeth T. Hightower died in 1861.”

        After Hanson’s death in December 1910, Nancy E. Walters filed for a widow’s pension. In an affidavit dated 17 Feb 1911, she reported that her late husband had “married Miss Elizabeth Hightower on December 9th 1855 and that she died in the Spring of 1862…”

        Jesse Pitts and Mary Ann Beach (nee Mary Ann Pitts) submitted two affidavits in support of Nancy E. Walters’ pension claim. The first included the statement that Hanson A. Walters “married Miss Elizabeth Hightower on or about December 1855 and that they lived together as man and wife up to the date of her death which occurred about the year 1862.” In the second, Mary Ann Beach attested that she attended the burial of Elizabeth T. Walters and recalled it as taking place in March 1862. Because the three affidavits offered more detailed information, I chose 1862 as Elizabeth’s death year. Nancy was granted a widow’s pension based on the evidence provided.

        1850 US Census records show “Quilly Hightower” living in the household of Laura Gordon in Harrison County, MS. A decade later on the 1860 census, “Quilly Walters” was enumerated with Hanson Walters in Jones County, consistent with the pension statements. On the 1870 census, the wife of Hanson Walters was listed as “Nancy E. Walters.” The 1900 census for “Haisson A. Walters” (Ancestry transcription) and “Nancy E. Walters” reported they had been married for 33 years, which matches the 1867 second marriage date reported in the pension files.

        Hope this helps.

        Ed Payne


  27. Thank you so very much! I found a Quilly Hightower on the census in Harrison County, but I thought someone may have just picked her in error because she happened to have the right first name and birth year. I’m sure you know how errors get passed around until everyone has them in their trees. Hanson Walters and Nancy Pitts were my husband’s 2nd great-grandparents. My husband’s grandmother was Ethel Louise Walters Massey (1906-1988) and her father was Eugene Amon Walters (1870-1942), son of Hanson and Nancy. I have researched my own family for many years, but only recently looked into my husband’s family after seeing the movie, “Free State of Jones”. It is so interesting and his family had no idea of their history. Thank you, Ed and Vikki, for all of the work you have done. I have a public tree on Ancestry.com and you have filled in some of the blanks.


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