Horse Thieves and Cattle Rustlers: The White Family of Jones County, Mississippi

by Vikki Bynum


Over the past few years, the following passage from the 1938 book, Mississippi: A Guide to the Magnolia State, has prompted several folks to write me at Renegade South:

On February 2, 1864, [B.J.] Rushton was shot through the door of his cabin by Babe White, a member of the Newt Knight band. (p. 448)

So, who was Babe White? His name does not appear on any rosters of Newt Knight’s band of Confederate army deserters that I’ve ever seen. Did he nonetheless run with the Knight Company? To try and answer that question, I’ve been researching this alleged outlaw and the crowd of thieves and rustlers he hung out with.

In 1936, the White family of the Myrick region of Jones County was remembered by at least two residents of that area —B. A. Boutwell and Jim Bingham Walters— as having comprised the core of a post-Civil War band of outlaws well known for its wide-ranging horse thieving and cattle rustling.

In separate interviews conducted by employees of the Federal Writers’ Project.* Boutwell and Walters told essentially the same story. On September 21, 1936, in an essay entitled “Early Horse Thieves and Cattle Rustlers,” an unnamed  WPA interviewer wrote the following, based on what she or he had learned from Boutwell:

Jones County, like all other early settled counties of pioneer days, had its horse thieves and cattle rustlers. The most notorious and conspicuous of these and by far the most active in plying the nefarious traffic, were men by the name of Obe Lyons and Dorsen [Dawson] Holly, and also the White brothers, Bud and Babe, and a lady by the name of Sussie [Susie].

Boutwell’s memories open the door to historical verification. Both Obe Lyons (Lynes, Lines) and Dawson Holly appear in the federal manuscript censuses, and so also does the White family, though I have thus far been unable  to find members named either “Bud,” or  “Babe,” which were likely nicknames. Susie, however, appears in the 1860 census as the wife of Samuel W. White, identified in a WPA essay on the community of Myrick as a member of the same outlaw band.

In December, 1936, Jim Bingham Walters told interviewer Addie West that “the Dawson Holly ring was the most notorious in this section.” Holly’s “big swamp pasture in the Tallahalla Creek swamp” was used to “recondition” stolen stock before selling them off. Walters identified the “White brothers, Sam, Fate, and Van,  . . .  together with the wives of Sam and Van (Susie and Mandy, who were sisters)” as members of the Dawson Holly ring.

I was excited to discover both Susie and Mandy in the federal manuscript census of 1860, each one living with the brother they were reported as married to. Furthermore, the two White families lived in the same vicinity as B. J. Rushton, the man that “Babe” White allegedly murdered.  In 1860, Rushton was a 45-year farmer who claimed $1000 in real estate and $14,275 in personal estate (mostly slaves). Five households away was O.E. Rushton, a 25-year-old “jug maker” who was likely the son of the elder Rushton. Only seven households from that of the younger Rushton was that of W. H. White, age 60, and his wife Mary. Their son, Martin Van, and his apparent wife, Amanda (Mandy) lived with them.  Brother Sam, age 28, headed his own household, seventeen households away from B. J. Rushton’s. He lived with his 27-year-old wife, Susan (Susie), and their son, John C., age 8.

Given the proximity of the Rushton and White families, and the Whites’s reputation as outlaws, it’s not hard to imagine the circumstances in which the murder of B. J. Rushton probably occurred.  According to Boutwell, the outlaws lived east of where the city of Laurel is today, on Boguehoma Creek. Around 1870, he said,

these people would visit over the county and surrounding counties and gather up horses, and cattle and drive them to an isolated pasture on upper Boguehoma where they would keep them and fatten them up and hold them until such time as they could drive them off to some distant market where they would dispose of them for cash.

Then, as now, organized crime activity created dangerous social conditions for all who lived nearby. “This band of rustlers,” Boutwell told his interviewer, “had a president who directed other members of the gang and sent them out on searches for stock.” Jim Walters provided Addie West with a similar description of the same band’s mode of operation. Identifying the gang’s leader as Dawson Holly, Walters described him as “glib of tongue, fleet of foot and pretty sharp.” Holly, he said “served as sort of a counselor” among the thieves. “His big swamp pasture in the Tallahala Creek swamp was used to recondition poor stock” before selling it.

According to Boutwell, citizens organized to protect themselves against this type of robbery. He described how “more active members” of the gangs were watched by “vigilant citizens” determined to  protect themselves against the thieves. Perhaps the Rushtons were among those citizens who armed themselves for protection and struggled to bring down the rustlers by whatever means necessary.

It may have been during one such struggle that Babe White killed Bennet Rushton. Neither Boutwell not Walters mentions such a murder, but both claim that one of the outlaw sisters was killed, presumably by vigilantes. Boutwell’s words were vague; he commented only that “in a manner of which I am unable to ascertain, Sussie was killed.”  Walters was much more specific and identified the murdered sister as Mandy rather than Susie. And Mandy, he made clear, was herself a full-fledged outlaw:

The men would bunch the horses and Mandy would run them through the swamps to some market.

Walters further emphasized to West that there was no honor among the thieves:

One time Mandy carried Dave Blackledge’s mare to Newton and sold her and at the same time she took a fine horse that belonged to Daws Holly’s daughter, Elizabeth, and it was a great joke to everybody.

We get a clear image of post-Civil War outlaw gangs from these WPA narratives. Although the facts are not always accurate, the scenes of theft and mayhem probably are, at least in a general sense. Still, narratives such as these—which were often memories passed from one generation to another—easily result in a mangling of the truth. Boutwell, for example, thought Susie had been killed; Walters said it was her sister Mandy. And what about that sentence in the quotation above, that “Mandy carried Dave Blackledge’s mare to Newton”? I believe that Jim Walters and Addie West were referring to the TOWN of Newton, Mississippi, but might someone else reading that sentence have concluded that they were referring to Newton Knight? With Newt Knight’s reputation as a Civil War outlaw, it would be all too easy to then conflate his band of men with the Dawson Holly Ring. And might that be how Babe White came to be described as a member of Newt Knight’s band of men?

Memories—and narratives about others’ memories—provide a rich source of information about the past. But memories should not be confused with facts, of which historians often have far fewer than even they would like to admit. And so it is that much of what actually happened in the past remains in dispute and ever will. Ironically, if we remember that we only rarely know exactly what happened in a long passed event, and that one person’s eye-witness memory may differ radically from another’s, we can move much closer to understanding the truths of the past—as distinct from the “facts.”


* During the 1930s, old folks’ memories about slavery, the Civil War, and the era of Reconstruction were collected in interviews carried out by the Federal Writers’ Project, a component of the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration (WPA), created during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency. Many of those interviews have been published in various collections (most notably the ex-slave narratives), but most ended up as loose papers filed away in state archives. In Mississippi, these unpublished WPA records are organized by county and subdivided by topic. —vb


56 replies »

  1. Vikki:

    Thanks for clearing up the mystery of B.J. Rushton’s murder.

    In the tags for this comment you mention Drayton Tucker. What was his connection?

    • The Drayton Tucker connection is intriguing. In addition to the White gang, B.A. Bouton mentioned the “McDaniel boys” as “also outstanding horse thieves and cattle rustlers,” implying that they were a separate band of outlaws in the same general area. Bouton told the WPA interviewer that a grand jury summoned Drate Tucker to testify to what he knew about the McDaniels. Bouton said that at first Tucker refused, but that “then he finally turned state’s witness and the McDaniel boys were sent to the penitentiary. Later they got Drate Tucker for perjury and sent him to the pen also.”


  2. Vikki,

    Always a pleasure to find a new posting on your website.

    No matter the serious nature is being reviewed on your blog, it’s highly likely that I’ll find bits and pieces of wry humor blended in your narrative. I love it that Jones Co MS continues to reveal interesting characters.

    I can only wish that some dedicated scholar had taken a fancy to Carter Co KY where my Wilburn ancestors settled.

    Recondition. Until now, I didn’t know word also meant stealing neighbors’ farm animals, fatterning the animals up and then selling them for profit.

    Years ago, c 1966, I had the opportunity to review some original manuscripts producted by the WPA Writers project. They were the property of Jack Johnson Kimbrough, now deceased,. Kimbrough was born in MS but by age 8, his parents relocated the family to CA. Kimbrough was known, at that time, to be the owner of the largest collecter of “negro” works.

    Again, Vikki, always a pleasure to learn more information about these Jones Co MS characters.

    The other Vikky in San Diego (Vikky Wilburn Anders)

  3. Vikky, I was amused too at the word “recondition” for the fattening of stolen livestock by profit-maximizing rustlers.

    As for Carter County, Kty, I’m sure if an enterprising historian (amateur or professional) decided to plumb its records, they would find many interesting, atypical folks–they’re everywhere.

    Thanks as ever for your input!


  4. Fun piece, Vikki! Your style makes history read like Agatha Christi than Funk and Wagnalls. You continue to make it such an honor–as well as deliciously scandalous–to be from Jones County.

  5. Thanks for stopping by, Jon. Jones County seems to be an inexhaustable source of interesting characters, with Newt Knight only one of a long list.


  6. I have for sometime trying to determine if my ggggrandmother (Frances (Napier) Steelman Blackledge’s second husband, Joseph J. Blackledge, was hung or shot in Jones County, MS for being either a desertor or a member of Newt Knight’s gang. Does anyone have any information?

  7. Sharon,

    I am finishing up a lengthy roadtrip through Texas and Mississippi. When I return to Missouri, I’ll take a look at my research files and see if I have any information on the ancestors you have named.

    Thanks for posting!

  8. Sharon,

    I searched my records and found only one record that hinted that Joseph L. Blackledge was executed for refusing to serve the Confederacy. The book, CONFEDERATE RECORDS: COVINGTON, WAYNE, & JONES COUNTY, compiled by Jean Stickland and Patricia N. Edwards, contains a 1936 interview with Mr. J. C. Andrews, who was almost ninety years old at the time. Andrews gave a rather lengthy description of the Newt Knight band during which he discussed Col. Robert Lowry’s raid on Jones County deserters. “An expedition under Cole Lowery [Col. Lowry] and Murry [Maury]” he wrote, “was sent into the county with instructions to capture and hang them as deserters. On a Saturday morning about nine o’clock three of them were hanged as deserters. Mitchell, Blackledge, and Smith were all loaded on a wagon and driven to a large oak tree near Erratta on the old St. Stevens Trade Road and there they were all tied to a limb over the road . . . .” (pp. 99-100)

    Newt’s son, Tom, tells a version of this story in his book, and gives the names of Mitchell, Smith, and Arnal (Arnold), but not Blackledge. I would believe the eye-witness memories of Andrews, however, before I would believe Tom Knight, who was born during the war. Tom Knight also lists Jim and Allen Blackledge as members of the Knight band. It’s possible that one of those men was actually named Joseph.

    As you no doubt already know, the censuses do indicate that Joseph died during the war, as he no longer appears in the household of his wife and children in the 1870 Jones Co. census.

    Sorry I couldn’t provide more.


    • If I have not responded before I apologize. Thanks for your research. I have since discovered his Civil War records on Fold3.com. He died in Mobile of disease during the War.

      Sharon Stewart

  9. My gg Grandfather is William Blackledge. He was the Father of Joseph Blackledge who was married to Frances Napier. My research shows that he was hung by the confederacy for desertion. After Joseph’s death, his Father, William Blackledge, left his wife Mary Smith, and married Frances Napier.

    • Thanks, Teresa, for adding this information on the Blackledge family, which I’m sure Sharon will find helpful!


      • Don’t think he was hung. His names was John Joseph or Joseph John Blackledge. I have copies of the letters written by Frances Napier’s brothers requesting her deceased husband and son’s back wages and they clearly state that they both died in Mobile of disease. In addition, Mary divorced William in 1857, one of the reasons being that he had a child with a Nancy Allen. He did not marry Frances Napier until around 1863.

  10. B.J. Rushton is my gg Grandfather. He buried his slaves on a ridge on his property. His youngest son, Prince, died of measles that he caught from a slave girl, and was the first white person to be buried in the Rushton Cemetary, which is still being used today. Many of my ancesters from both sides of my family are buried in the Rushton Cemetary. B.J. Rushton’s Great Grandson (my Father) married the Great Grandaughter of William Blackledge (my Mother).

    • Teresa:

      B.J. Rushton was also my GG Grandfather and I have visited his gravesite in the Rushton Cemetery. There is an historical mystery about his death. Some say that one of his slaves killed him and others say that Babe White killed him. I would be interested in any information you have about his death.

      B.J.’s daughter, Naomi Ruth, married Lewis Bertis Tucker and their son Albert Jackson Tucker was my grand-father.

      Frank McKenzie

  11. Joseph J. BLACKLEDGE was born in 1832 in Mississippi. He was in the Confederate Army in Calvert’s Co.2- 36th Regiment, Alabama Volunteers, in Wayne Co, MS about 26 Mar 1862 and died of disease five months later. Joseph J. BLACKLEDGE and Francis Catherine NAPIER married about 1857. Joseph J. BLACKLEDGE and Francis Catherine NAPIER had at least 2 children:
    1.Elmina Louisa BLACKLEDGE, born in Apr 1857, Jones Co, MS, married Elijah James Taylor, about 1877, died in 1929, Jones Co, MS.
    2.Joseph Hawkins BLACKLEDGE, born on 9 Apr 1861, Harrison Co, MS, married Susie Young, on 16 Feb 1887, Covington Co, Ms, died in Dec., 1932.

    Frances Napier apparently then married Joseph’s Uncle ,William Caslet Blackledge around 1863.
    John BLACKLEDGE, b.1793 in Orangeburgh, SC, married Elmira Elvira OVERSTREET, 1827, MS, and died Sept. 1871, Jones Co, MS. John Blackledge is the brother of William Castlet Blackledge . John Blackledge’s son is Joseph J. Blackledge.

    An account from John I. Blackledge records that two of his great uncles were hung for desertion during the Civil War, a Smith (Jessie) and a Gaskin. Jesse Smith was married to Dicey Ann Blackledge and Gaskin was married to Dicey’s sister Elizabeth “Bett” Blackledge.

    Some accounts say that some Blackledges may have been members of Newt Knight’s group.

    I am not sure if any Blackledges were hung for desertion

  12. William Castlet Blackledge,b. 1814, first married Mary Smith in 1835 and they divorced in Sept. of 1857. Dicey Ann Blackledge and Elizabeth “Bett” Blackledge (whose husbands, Jessie Smith and Gaskin, were hung in Jones County) are two of William Castlet Blackledge’s and Mary Smith’s children.

  13. Dawson Holley had two brothers. Godfrey Lee Holley and Columbus Christopher Holley.

    Godfrey Lee Holley is listed with Dawson and family in the 1860 census. About the time that Maury and Lowry were rounding up deserters and unionists, Godfrey Lee hied off to Santa Rosa Island, FL where he joined the Union Army, serving until November 1865, when the 1st FLA CAV was disbanded at Tallahassee. Godfrey Lee Holley left behind his wife Elizabeth Spencer and young son Benjamin Franklin Holley. He never reunited with them. Instead, he married Mary Jane Holley, a distant cousin. She was the daughter–and one of the heirs–of Hosea Holley, a wealthy landowner and ferry operator in Coffee County, AL. Her sister Martha Jane had been married to Godfrey Lee Holley’s brother Columbus C. Holley several years earlier.

    Godfrey Lee Holley ended up with a Union pension and died as one of the largest landowners of Coffee and Geneva counties in Alabama. He has many descendants living in this section of the state.

    The other brother Columbus Christopher Holley left Wayne County, MS around 1855 and went to Old Town, Coffee County, AL. There, he worked as postmaster and for Hosea Holley. When Hosea died in 1858, Columbus got his widow to give him permission to marry the eldest daughter Martha Jane Holley, who was only 12 or 13 years old.

    Columbus Holley was murdered on 12 February 1865 by men known as Wards Raiders. By then, Columbus Holley had gotten himself declared administrator of the estate of Hosea Holley. He was living in the Hosea Holley home and smuggling deserters and unionists across the state line into Florida and from there into the protection of Union forces. His widow fled to Florida, where she stayed with her aunt Mattie Holley (widow of her uncle John Holley, who before his death in early 1861, was administrator of the estate of her father and his brother Hosea. Mattie Holley had the other children of Hosea Holley under her care.).

    One letter survives from Martha Jane Holley to Mary (Boyce) Holley, widow of Dawson Holley. It is dated March 1865, just weeks after the death of Martha Jane’s husband Columbus Holley. The letter reveals that Martha Jane does NOT want Mary Holley to come to Coffee County, AL. She tells her to stay where she is and try to raise a crop. It is obvious from the tone and contents of the letter that William DAWSON Holley was dead or otherwise out of the scene by that time.

    What I would like to know is what happened to Dawson Holley. Was he among those whom the Confederates hanged or otherwise dispersed? The “nice” family story is that he went away to the War and never returned; another is that he got involved with a Yankee woman and returned to her after the War. I find no record of his ever serving in the War on either side. I do find records of his being a Raider who had a fairly big operation, both before and during the War years.

    After the War, Mary (Boyce) Holley remained in Jones County for several years. She married William Miller in 1870 and applied to the local courts to allow her to sell the property her late husband William Dawson Holley had owned. By 1880, the family had moved on to Utica, Hinds County, MS.

    I would appreciate any information anyone may have on the fate of William Dawson Holley. I am a serious researcher and have written numerous articles on local history.

    Please reply,

    Scott R. Smith

    • Scott,

      Thanks so much for sharing your extensive research with Renegade South! This is a very interesting family, and I’ll certainly check my files for possibly more information on Dawson Holley. Meanwhile, I hope we have some readers out there who have researched this family line and can shed light on his fate.


    • Several years ago at the National Archives, I found that Dawson Holley (under the name W.D. Holley for William Dawson) was a private in the Confederate 27th MS infantry, first in Co. H and later in Co. B. He enlisted 9/12/1861 at Claiborne, MS. On 5/18/1862 at Camp Beulah he was given a disability discharge due to a hernia. The discharge paper states that he is a 36 year old farmer and was born in Wilcox Co., AL (the same as his brother Godfrey Holley’s birthplace in the Union Army pension file). From the records of the 27th Infantry in National Archives record M861, roll 32, this unit appears to have been in both the Pensacola and Mobile areas in early 1862.

      Therefore Dawson Holley served briefly in the Confederacy, but had ample time to return to Jones County, MS and engage in his cattle activities. In regards to his brother Godfrey Lee Holley, when he left Jones Co, MS he went to Coffee Co., AL where brother Christopher Columbus Holley was living. He appears in early March 1864 on a list of Confederate Home Guards for Coffee County, but with an added notation by his name “gone to the Yankees.” Godfrey enlisted in the Union Army in Pensacola in late March 1864.

      I would also welcome any information on a record that reveals when, where and how Dawson Holley died.

      • I would like, to have any and all documents pertaining to William Dawson
        Holley Also as Download or copied Documents for my research and family
        Tree. Also any pictures if available Thanks

    • I am glad to report that I have found out what happened to William Dawson Holley. He did enlist in the CSA, as W. D. Holly, Co. B, 27th INF, CSA, on 12 September 1861, by Capt. Nixon. He “joined by transfer from Co. H, 27th Mississippi RGT, 30 April and was discharged by reason of disability 18 May 1862.” The disability was due to hernia. He was discharged at Camp Beulah, which was near Mobile, AL. I have found other men who were able to get discharges from this camp for “disabilities.” These include my own g-g-grandfather John Richard Cauley who later fought for the Union as a member of the 1st FL Cav, USA. He claimed in his Union pension file that he paid to get out of the Confederate Army while assigned as a “mechanic” at Camp Beulah.

      William Dawson Holley did not go home to Mississippi after his discharge. Instead, he joined his brothers Columbus and Godfrey Lee Holley in lower Alabama or northwest Florida. There, like his brothers, he made a second marriage without benefit of divorce from his first wife Mary (Boyce) Holley. His second wife was Amanda Caroline Dannelley; they will be found in the 1870 census for Washington County, FL in Point Washington.

      William Dawson Holley’s second wife Amanda Caroline Dannelley was the daughter of James G. Dannelley, Jr. Her brother Oliver Perry Dannelley was the second husband of Martha Jane Holley, widow of Columbus Holley who was killed, so say the storytellers, by the Raider outlaw James Madison “Jim” Ward, who was a deserter from the 33rd AL Inf, CSA and also from the 1st FL Cav, USA. I could go on and on about these connectioions, but I shall end them here.

      The story handed down in the second family of William Dawson Holley was that he was from Georgia, and “had been a recruiter for the Confederate Army, and was, therefore, not particularly welcome back in Georgia by the occupying United States Army.” Of course, none of this is true.

      The record shows that he and his second “wife” Amanda Caroline Dannelley had one child Adeline Virginia Holley, born January 1868. This child married Stephen Alexander Wesley in 1892; they lived out their lives at Point Washington, FL.

      The riddle of William Dawson Holley’s life and his second marriage is told in the small self-published book by his great-granddaughter Peggy Bailer entitled Sandpiper Journal: Memories of Old Point Washington; published in 1995. Mrs. Bailer was a granddaughter of Adeline Virginia Holley and Stephen Alexander Wesley. In her memoir, she states that her grandmother was “an only child and was the constant companion of my great-grandfather Holley. She rode horseback side-saddle in the long full skirts of the day to help him with the herds. . . Later, Holley was shot off his horse by rustlers. When the horse arrived home, its saddle empty, Amanda knew there was trouble. She climbed on the horse, and let him ‘have his head.’ . . . The horse took her to a small branch where she found Holley still alive, and he was able to tell her who shot him. She carried water in his hat to wash his face, but he died there.” William Dawson Holley was buried in Bunker Cemetery, Bunker Cove, Point Washington, FL. His grave is marked and may be found on find-a-grave, but there are no dates on the marker.

      The best I can make out, these events occurred in 1877. In June 1878, Amanda Caroline Holley married the family’s “hired hand” Henry F. Wise, who was several years younger than Amanda Caroline. According to the great-granddaughter the marriage was initially for “economic reasons,” but that they grew to love each other. There was no child born of this union.

      • Wow, What a story! It certainly gets at the mystery of the Holley family, and I thank you, Scott, for taking the time to write it up for Renegade South!

        Vikki, Moderator

    • Godfrey Lee’s first wife Elizabeth Spencer was the daughter of Nancy Nelson and sister of Robert Spencer who is the subject of “Unionism and a Murder in the Family: Robert Spencer” by Ed Payne. She went on to marry Charley Harper. Chuck

  14. Dale Holley,

    My sources for the above blog are from research that I conducted some twenty years ago, and are not in a form that is downloadable.

    The unpublished WPA interviews (from the Federal Writers’ Project of the 1930s) that I cited are held at the Mississippi State Archives in Jackson, MS., and may be read and copied in the archive reading room.

    I also researched the Federal manuscript Censuses to identify as many family members as possible. Those censuses are readily available online, either from the National Archives website, or from Ancestry.com.

    If any readers out there would like to exchange materials with Dale, I am happy to privately provide you with one another’s email addresses.

    Good luck with your research!

    Vikki, Moderator

    • Thanks for your responses, to my inquiries would be willing to email anyone
      with resources availabile for response or comparison to info i have. I also show
      William Dawson Holley Served in War Time With Different Unit. Still would like
      any other data, have some census and Land documents

      • The information I gave on Dawson Holley’s military service comes from notes I made in a research log while at the National Archives, so I do not have a copy of his service file document. Ms. Bynum has permission to share my email with Dale Holley and Scott R. Smith. Most of my research is on the Holley family of Coffee Co, AL, and I just “dabble” in Jones Co, MS to follow the early location of Dawson’s brother, Godfrey Lee.

  15. This is an amazing story! Thanks for such a treasure trove of information. My husband descends from William Dawson Holley and first wife, Mary (Polly) Boyce. Their daughter, Catherine E. Holley, was his great grandmother. Catherine, and brothers–Hosea Holley and Christorpher Columbus Holley migrated to Indian Territory/Oklahoma. They are all buried in Center Hill Cemetery, Atoka County, Oklahoma. — Susan Murray White

    • Thanks, Susan, and thanks for adding to our knowledge about the Holley family. I love it when someone discovers one of their family’s stories on Renegade South and takes time to comment!


  16. Fascinating information on my 2nd Great Grandfather William Dawson Holley. My grandmother, Bessie (Holley) Goff, provided us some information on her grandparents, Dawson and Mary “Polly” (Boyce) Holley before she passed away. Thank you for posting this story.

    • Thanks for your comment, William. Any information on the Holleys that you’d like to share would be greatly appreciated, I’m sure, by readers.


  17. Vicki:
    Just wondering if you might be able to send me the contact information for Scott R. Smith, William H. Phillips, Dale Holley and William Plumbtree? I’d like to get in touch with them. Susan White

    • Hi Susan,

      I am happy to put you in touch with the people you listed. However, I never send out people’s contact info without their permission. How about if I send your contact info to each of them, and explain that you are interested in exchanging information?

      Vikki, Moderator

      • Hi Vikki,
        Thanks for Updates, and New Info would be interested in contact with susan white and scott r. smith also

      • Susan, I have sent your contact information to all the people you indicated you’d like to get in touch with.

        Dale, I have sent your contact info to Susan and to Scott.

        Good luck to you both!


      • Vicki, I have been out of touch for the past several weeks. My 98 year old mother in law died in October; we’ve been tied up with settling her affairs; of course, these matters take longer to resolve than my wife or I expected. I will be happy to correspond with the person who wrote in, but I cannot guarantee quick responses right now. Thanks for the website and for all your work! Have a good time with your loved ones during this festive season. Scott

      • Scott,

        Please accept my sympathies to you and your wife in regard to the death of your mother-in-law. I certainly understand, as I know Susan does, that you may not be able to correspond for a while in regard to matters of family history. Thank you for taking the time to post your comment, and for your kind comments about this website.

        Best wishes to you, too, for the holidays!


  18. Vikki, This site never ceases to amaze me. Mary (Polly) Boyce was the sister of my 2nd great grandmother Elizabeth Boyce Shoemake and I too have done extensive research on the Boyce/Holley connection. Would you be willing to share my interest and email address with Scott R. Smith, William H. Phillips, Dale Holley and William Plumbtree as well as Susan White? Thanks! Chuck

    • Chuck–have now contacted all the folks you asked me to–good luck with your research! By the way, I was reviewing some of your comments to Renegade South over the past year, and it seems to me you may have found more family links than any one of my blog correspondents over the past six years. Pretty amazing!


  19. Vikki, Yes, it is pretty amazing and that’s why I stay glued to this blog. In the letter mentioned above written by Martha Holley to Mary (Boyce) Holley, Martha says “rite all about Mikel and Eliga Shomake and what they are a doing” and asks “if Eliga is driving stock to the army”. Eliga (Elijah) is my 2nd great grandfather and his first wife Elizabeth is the sister of Mary Boyce. Mikel (Michael) is his half brother. Michael married William Dawson’s sister Rebekah Jane Holley. Michael and Rebekah Jane are both buried in the Liberty Cemetery in Covington County, MS. Elijah may be buried in the Old Harmony or Brister Cemetery in Nacogdoches County, TX with his second wife Elizabeth Pitts Landrum Shoemake. This Elizabeth was the wife of Linson B Landrum and it is believed that he died in New Orleans in 1865 after having “crossed over” to the Union side. Elizabeth Boyce Shoemake’s last known residence was Washington Parish, LA. Her and Elijah’s daughter Amarintha and her husband William Berry Walters and several of their children are buried in the Varnado Cemetery in Washington Parish. More…more…I must have more! Chuck

  20. Postscript: The Nancy Nelson Spencer mentioned in Ed’s blog “Unionism and a Murder in the Family: Robert Spencer” was the half sister of Elizabeth and Mary Poly Boyce. The Nancy Pitts Walters mentioned in Ed’s blog “Jones County Widows” was the sister of Elizabeth Pitts Landrum Shoemake. Nancy and Hanson’s son Eugene Ammon Walters married Easter Jane Shoemake, daughter of Robert and Elvira Ann Sumrall Shoemake who are my great grandparents. Robert is the son of Elijah and Elizabeth Boyce Shoemake. Ammon was first married to Frances Elizabeth Sumrall, sister of Elvira Ann, who died in 1902. Elizabeth Pitts Landrum Shoemake is not only the second wife of my 2nd great grandfather Elijah but she is also my 3rd great grandmother on my paternal grandmothers side of the family. We, meaning the Shoemakes, have a rich history rooted in Jones County and I have you and Ed to thank for enriching it even more. Chuck

  21. Don’t know I overlooked this article, but was glad to review it. John Joseph “J.J.” Blackledge/Blacklidge was my GG Grandfather, his son Joseph Hawkins Blackledge (they often went with the spelling Blacklidge), was my Great Grandfather, and his daughter Lola Blacklidge Gandy was my Grandmother. John Joseph Blackledge signed up with 36th Reg’t Ala. in Wayne Co. and within about five months he had died while in service. I have his civil war papers from the National Archives.

    John Joseph Blackledge was the s/o John Blackledge (my ggggrandfather) (1793-1871) and Elmina/Elvira/Elmyra Overstreet, the spelling depends on the census. Yes, after his death Catherine Frances Napier Blacklidge md. William Castlet Blackledge, who had been married to Mary Smith and had a house full of kids, and they divorced.

    I can’t help with any Blackledges/Blacklidges who were hung during the civil war.

  22. Hello Vikki,

    I Haven’t seen any new info in awhile. I also would like contact info with others on William Dawson Holley, and emails contacts
    have heard from William Phillips and Chuck Shoemake, still waiting on Susan White would appreciate any updates or contact
    with them or others with new info or pics?

    Thanks Dale

  23. Hi Dale,

    Nice to hear from you! No, there haven’t been any comments on this post for awhile. Would you like me to send your email address to Susan White again, just in case she misplaced or forgot it?


    • Thanks Vikki,
      yes if you would and Scott Smith also. Just caught up myself on your site good to hear about
      the Movie deal on your Book coming together soon looking forward to see it.

      • Dale,

        I have sent both Susan and Scott your contact information separately.

        Yes, it will be fun to see the movie, which is scheduled for release on March 11, 2016.


  24. I’m a descendant of Hosea’s brother, John Holley (1813 – 1861) and wife Harriet M Dannley Holley (1825 – 1903) They are my great-great-great- grandparents and their daughter, Harriet Amanda “Nan” Holley Aplin my GG grandmother, and her daughter, Mary Lona Aplin Dean (1891 – 1968) is my great-grandmother on my mom’s side.
    Mama always said the family never recognized Godfrey Holley and his brother Christopher Columbus as a real Holly. That story was always handed down. They knew they were running from something and shifty.
    Most of them are buried in the middle of a peanut patch in Elba, at North Creek, or Chapel Hill.
    A little about Harriet Amanda “Nan” Holley Aplin
    “Harriet was one of 8 children, born to John S. Holley & Mattie Dannelly Holley, on the Holley Plantation in Coffee County, Alabama. Over the years of her life, she would see many events & changes come to pass.
    At the age of 3, Harriet would lose her father a few days after the start of the Civil War. After her father’s passing, Harriet, along with her mother & siblings, would journey to Pensacola, Florida. They were protected by Union soldiers. After the Civil War ended, they returned to the plantation in Coffee County, Alabama.
    As a young teenager, Harriet began to date William Thomas Aplin. They married in 1873 when Harriet was 15. Their home would be in Covington County, Alabama. During their marriage, they would be blessed with 8 children.
    Harriet would lose her husband in 1922. She survived 22 years longer, never to marry again. During Harriet’s elderly years, she lived in her son, Dallas’s home, in Walton County, Florida”
    And a link to some history about the other two, Godfrey Holley and his brother Christopher Columbus, http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=rhodes4&id=I01992

    • Hi Alice,

      Thank you for adding so many family details to the story! Interesting to see the Union connections, and thanks for providing the link.


  25. My GGG Grandfather was B.J. Rushton and my father was born on Rushton land which I assume was aquired before the Civil War. One of my Rushton great aunts married a Blackledge. All of my relatives from that side of the family still live in the area. Thank you to everyone for the research.

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