About Renegade South

(Montage courtesy of Sarah Steinbock-Pratt)

As a historian who began digging into records and documents about ordinary and extraordinary people some thirty years ago, I’ve long wanted to share the history of those people with a broader audience. Whether you are a historian or someone who just likes history, this blog was created with you in mind.

As the blog’s title, Renegade South, suggests, I study southern dissenters of the nineteenth century. Several kinds of renegades pass through the pages of my books and articles: Civil War Unionists and outlaws, multiracial people, unruly women, and political and religious nonconformists. My books, The Free State of Jones, Unruly Women, and The Long Shadow of the Civil War,  highlight such folks in the Mississippi Piney Woods, North Carolina Piedmont, and the “Big Thicket” region of Hardin County, Texas.

It’s often hard to imagine that many white southerners opposed secession and served only grudgingly in the Confederate Army, if at all. Yet many did. Throughout the South, many put family, neighborhood, or religious and political beliefs ahead of secession. Many, in fact, hated the Confederacy with a passion, so much so that their backyards ran red with blood. Wherever they rose up, Confederates countered with deadly force. This sparked inner civil wars such as the one in Mississippi known as the Free State of Jones.

Many people who contact me have recently learned that a southern great-great-grandfather opposed or abandoned the Confederacy, or even joined the Union army. Others have found a long-departed relative in one of my books, and are intrigued by what they’ve read about his or her life. Others merely hope that readers of Renegade South can help them solve a family mystery, and often they can. Whatever the reason, I truly enjoy being a people’s historian, and I especially love the thrill of discovering—and then being in a position to share—that ordinary people at times do extraordinary things.

I hope those who enjoy Southern and Civil War history will also enjoy the essays on these pages. I also hope you’ll continue to contact me. The past is anything but dead, and is frequently invoked to justify present ideas and political actions. For these reasons as well, historical knowledge and perspectives should be shared and debated beyond school and college classrooms.

Victoria Bynum
Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Texas State University

262 replies »

  1. Victoria,
    Thanks for sharing your Web Site and your Blog Site. We in the Jones County Genealogy Assn. are to begin work io a Volume II Jones County History shortly. My son-in-law comes from the Stacy Collins family (maternal side) and I have been looking into Riley and forward(Stacy was written uo in Volume I). I hit a snag on a death date for Columbus Collins–my son-in-law has my material, and I don ‘t remember an exact birth date, but I think he was born about 1840.
    I will appreciate any help that you may have about the Collins–I’m also working on the Robert Crocker Duckworth family
    Thanks again. Betty

    • Hi Betty,
      Good to hear from you, and I’m glad to know that the Jones County Genealogy Association is planning another volume on Jones County. You all have done such good work.
      I’m not sure which Columbus Collins you are interested in–did yours by any chance move to Texas? If so, there was a post on the Collins Family Genealogy Forum, Feb. 6, 2003, by James McNabb (a descendant of Stacy Collins’s son, Simeon) that provides the birth and death dates of Christopher Columbus Collins, born in Mississippi on March 27, 1846, and died in Texas on Dec. 8, 1937. Mr. McNabb found these dates in the Camp Ruby Cemetery of Polk County, Texas. (As you probably know, a large contingent of Collinses moved to the Polk County region after the Civil War to join that branch of the family that moved to Hardin County, TX, around 1852. )
      I have some information on the Duckworth family from the Texas State Archives collection on the Texas branch of that family.

      • The Chrsitipher Columbus Collins born Mar. 27, 1847 in Lamar, Marshall, Mississippi is my great garndfather. However, he seems to be unrelated to the other Collins family of Polk and Hardin counties Texas. This is based on Y-DNA, census data, and Civil War records. We do not know who his father was, but he lived in Wiinston, Walker , and Marshall counties Alabama until he moved to Texas some time after 1900. There are no known records linking hi to the Stacey Collins line or any of the other Christopher Columbus Collins of Alabama and Mississippi.

      • Turner, this is a Collins line that I have not researched. I’m going to look into it further, however, and get back to you. It’s clear that Christopher Columbus was a Collins family name, and it would be interesting to find links between this branch and that of Jones co., MS.


      • Vikki,
        Thanks for the reply. Let me know if you find anything “new.” The oldest clues we have are from Marshall County AL 1860 Census where William Wait, wife Martha, and Volney Burnell Collins (20) and Christopher Columbus Collins (14) are in the same household. There is a marriage record of their sister Farnces Josephine to Nathan Claburn (Claborn, Clyborn) in the Wait home in 1859. His birth record is from his own hand on this Civil War files. No other record of his birth or the other children has been found. He lists his father’s birth place as North Carolina. He reports his own birth as in Lamar, Marshall County, Mississippi. Looking forward to hearing more from you and others. I just becae aware of this site a few days ago. By-the-way, this Christopher and his briother were part of the “Free State of Winston” in Northern Alabama”, another Unionist State. As Ed pointed out, they joined the 1st Alabama Cavalry US.

      • I would love to know about the Duckworths I’m trying to find out my ggg grrandmothers lineage. Her name was Caroline Duckworth She had a son by Jefferson Napoleon Ainsworth(son of Sampson j Ainsworth) whose name was Andrew.She was mullatto and married Jeff Ainsworth but that was anauled. Her son Andrew Ainsworth carried another surname ,Buckhalter because, she gave it to him at birth which was the new man she married wade Wiley Buckhalter who was afro American. Of this is Andrew Stepfather. But I really wanted to know now about Caroline Duckworth(maiden)Buckhalter who here father mother was what she looked like. Pletase. Help

      • Sheena,

        Thank you for contacting Renegade South; I hope you will find the answers you seek as the story of Caroline Duckworth is a fascinating one. Since she is part of the Ainsworth line, I think I will summarize what you have written here and post it over on an Ainsworth column as well in order to maximize your chance or receiving information from one of the Ainsworth genealogists.

        Good luck,

      • I just sent you an e-mail regarding the Duckworth family in Mississippi. I have a documented history with facinating accounts from the Civil War, including Jones County.

      • Hello, Brett,

        I have just read your email, and would love to read your history of the Duckworths!

      • Betty, See my posts of Aug. 29 & 31, 2009, re. this particular Christopher Columbus Collins.

      • I’m interested in the history of Caroline Duckworth Ainsworth Buckhalter. I’m related to both the Ainsworths and Duckworths and would like to know which branch of the Duckworth family Caroline was from. Thanks.

      • Hi, Victoria,
        I am your cousin on the Bynum side. My ggg grandfather was Prentice Bynum, my gg grandfather Benjamin Bynum, my grandfather Robert Earl Bynum. My mom (d.2009) was Nellie Kathleen Bynum Miller. Yes, that means I also am a Sumrall descendant. I have always been a renegade southerner but had no idea until a few years ago that perhaps it is genetic. My views drove my mother crazy and it was hard to understand why I was so different from most of the people around me until I read your “Free State of Jones” book. I look forward to reading more of your work.
        Margaret Louise Miller
        Jonesborough, TN

      • Simeon Collins (1819-1865) had a son Morgan Columbus Collins (1846-1926). Morgan was also captured at Kennesaw Mountain and spend the remainder of the war at Camp Morton, IN. Morgan Columbus was married to Lucinda Sumrall and is buried at Blue Water Cemetery, Polk County, TX. I haven’t heard that Simeon had a son, Christopher Columbus. I have a photo of Morgan’s grave (including a military marker) and would be happy to send anyone interested

      • I really enjoy your website and how it demonstrates the complex history of the civil war.

        I have read of another ‘Free State’ in a Piney Woods Louisiana Parish as well as a small scale “War with in a War” in north Georgia following the Union advances that pitted pro confederate locals against local unionist families, some sincere, others who just wanted out of the war that had become a lost cause.

        The north Georgia troubles even continued after the war. On one occasion, about 5 men, all members of an extended family attending a wedding at a rural church were seized, and then shot by members of a rival family. The cause of the violence was loyalties and actions during the war.

        As a side note, the north was not immune to divisions as well. The violence, however, was on a far lesser scale as war produced far less strain on the Union home front. Some examples include:

        – The Fishing Creek Confederacy on the PA / NY line. Pre war conditions were similar to say, Jones County MS: Poverty as the timber industry moved west. Social isolation on small farms with little contact with cities. Dissatisfaction with the ability of wealthy and middle class men to buy themselves out of the Union draft. Early in the war, union commanders forbade men from the area to receive civilian clothes due to high desertion rate. Later in the war, union soldiers on deserter round up patrols in the area were shot from ambush. A regiment was needed to pacify the area.

        – A gun battle around a court house in Iowa 1864 (about four men killed) that pitted a strongly pro union faction against another local faction led by a preacher that while not pro confederate, were opposed to the continuation of the war and conscription.

        – Several occasions in southern Illinois where groups of men seized court houses and burned records used to support Union conscription drives. On other occasions, union conscription officers were killed in ambush attacks etc.

      • Thank you for this historically astute post, John! When we study dissent deeply and broadly, as you show here, we see that cliched notions about “honor,” “shame,” “loyalty,” and “treason” tell us very little about people’s experiences and perceptions of war. I designed Renegade South specifically to counter simplistic explanations for widespread Unionist sentiment in the Civil War South.

    • Are you familiar with Colonel Fielding Hurst and the Sixth Tennessee (Federal) Cavalry, from just over the border in West Tennessee? My family gave two of its three sons fighting with the Colonel against the seceshes, and there was bad blood about it in those parts as late as the 1930s.

    • Question for both Victoria and Betty: My sister and I, great great granddaughters of Jasper Collins, are making a trip this week to Jones County. Unfortunately, the generation of our family who know the locations of the family homesteads has passed. Do either of you know addresses or general locations of places where our Collins ancestors lived? I’m especially interested in Jasper’s farm and my grandmother (Arrilla Gatsy Ann Collins Long) raised my mother and her siblings. Any information will be greatly appreciated.

      • I do not have this information, Barbara, but hopefully one of our readers does. Enjoy your trip! (You might also stop by the Anderson-Deason store in Ellisville for more information.)


      • The farm where Jasper Collins lived his later adult life was located in southern Jones County near the communities of Moselle and Union. The Collins Homestead Cemetery is located on Augusta Road at GPS 31.486410 – 89195107. It’s on private property, so best to seek permission. A bit further south on the same road is the site of the Burris Memorial Universalist Church, of which Jasper was a founding member. Hope you can stop by the Laurel – Jones County Library and see the Stacy Collins family Bible held there in the Genealogy Department. The Department has limited hours: Thurs 1:00 – 4:45; Fri 9:00 – noon, 1:00 – 4:45; Sat 10:00 – 2:00.

        Here is a weblink on those buried in the small family cemetery:


      • Thanks for this excellent information, Ed! Elsewhere on this blog, and on Facebook’s FSOJ page, Barbara was also offered a tour of Jasper Collins landmark places by Joseph Hosey and friends. I am so pleased with all the help offered.


    • Corwin Amendment: Lincoln and yankee congress proposed to enshrine African slavery forever if the Southern states would not leave the union. Mississippi: U S Grant and W Sherman and yankee troops burned to the ground 43 towns in the state of Mississippi alone, made war against unarmed men, women and children. During the Vicksburg siege they shelled the same defenceless citizens of Vicksburg and then claimed victory. Do you honour these yankee people and your so-called renegades?

    • Betty,
      Just saw the film based to a large part on your book. I knew next to nothing about Knight & Company and and the anti-Confederate movements in Mississippi in the 1862 – 1865 and beyond period. A fascinating new area to delve into.
      My own direct Civil War interest comes from my ancestor having served in the 52nd Kentucky Volunteer Mounted Infantry in Southern Kentucky and Northern Tennessee during the period in question. It would seem that they were largely engaged in patrolling that mid-South area on the watch for Confederate guerrillas who were quite active behind the Union Army lines there. It was an area with great Confederate sympathy held by many people, even though many others did not hold such views.

      I have not been able to come up with much of anything else to expand upon the little I know about their activities. It is good to be reminded that the division between north and south was no where near as clear-cut as it is often presented in superficial histories of the period.


      • Thank you for your comment, S. I’m glad you’re finding this site relative to your own research. (I believe you are referring to my book, The Free State of Jones, as having provided research information for the film of the same name.)

        Vikki Bynum

  2. Hello Vikki, Let me take this opportunity to personally and publicly thank you for your work. It has been a real pleasure corresponding with you over the past few years. As a direct descendant of the subjects of your research, I am honored that someone has taken the time to ensure that at least this chapter of my family history will never be forgotten. I have walked and slept on the the banks of the Leaf River many times under starlit skies, never knowing that it was in the very shadow of my forebears. Thank you, keep up the good work!

    • Hello John,
      I so appreciate your taking the time to comment on the site. It is one of the great delights of my life to have discovered the Free State Of Jones, an episode of history in which my forebears also participated. Unlike you, however, I was raised far away from those starlit skies over the Leaf River–but it’s never to late to go back in time if one loves history!

      • Hello,

        I have read your blog and thought that you and some of your subscribers may be interested in an annual symposium we host at Pamplin Historical Park. I have attached the symposium flyer for your review. If you are interested in attending or need more information please feel free to contact us. More information can be found on our website as well, http://www.pamplinpark.org. We hope you will be interested in attending!

        Thank You,
        Administration and Marketing
        Pamplin Historical Park and
        The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier
        (804)861-2408 Office
        (804)861-2820 Fax

    • Hello Mr. Knight. According to a story I just came across in my family geneology book your ancestor elected my ancestor as an officer! Here is an excerpt from my copy… Ransom J. Welch (my ancestor) enlisted at Williamsburg May 12, 1862 to serve for a period of 3 years of the war. he was discharged at Brookhaven, Mississippi on December 1863 on account of complications of a fractured left arm. Newt Knight and his gang elected elected him as one of their officers and told him he could not stay at home – either he had to go with them or go back to the Army, so he went back to the Army. Newt knight’s gang were desperadoes and took charge of Jones County and declared it “The Free State of Jones”

      • I am a decended of Caroline Duckworth buckhaulter. Andrew was my gg uncle on my grand father side.

  3. Beautifully put together blog with excellent graphics!

    I’m one of those people that have pounded out many emails to Vikki, asking questions about a small mystery in my genealogical search. My contact with Vikki caused me to become more aware and interested in the history of Jones County, MS.

    Keep up the great work Vikki!

  4. Victoria,

    As a direct decendent of Ben Franklin Knight I really enjoy reading about anything remotely related to his life. I have been fortunate to contact people in that area and chat with them. One of the many good things about your research is that it serves as a contact point with others like myself who are interested in that part of history.

    Thanks again,
    Steve Knight

  5. Steve,

    Researching the story of Ben Franklin Knight’s death was for me one of the most fascinating aspects of writing the The Free State of Jones. The symbolism of it–for both those who revered and those who hated Newt Knight–and the enduring nature of the story, told and retold by oldtimers, marks it as a timeless tragedy of the Civil War.

    Thanks for posting.

  6. Hello Vicki

    First, let me say that I absolutely love your blog!

    James “Dry” Knight (son of John Jackie) and his wife Harriet J. Youngblood are my G-G-Grandparents. I descend from their first son Daniel Thomas Knight. I have been unable to find any information on Harriet, born in 1816 in Georgia.

    James’ brother William H. Knight also married a Youngblood, Mary C. “Polly” Youngblood (born in 1812 in Georgia).

    Do you know anything about these two ladies? Were they sisters?

    Any help would be dearly appreciated.

  7. Hello Alice,

    Thanks for your kind words about the blog!

    I’m very aware of the Youngblood line, but have no definite genealogical information on it. I was interested to see, however, that if one visits the Youngblood Genforum and types in “Knight,” there is a post from a descendant of William and Polly Youngblood Knight who suggests that the Youngbloods had Cherokee ancestry.

    What about other folks out there? Are there any Knight descendants who know whether or not Harriet and Polly Youngblood were sisters?

  8. This is a second reply to Alice’s query about the Youngblood family. After writing the above, I located a small blue tablet that I carried with me during research trips back in the 1990s. In that tablet I had hastily scribbled some notes from Luke Ward Conerly’s 1909 history of Pike County, Mississippi. There’s a lot of history of old Louisiana and MS territory in that work. What fascinated me were his references to Youngbloods and Brumfields traveling to the Southwest together from South Carolina, and intermarrying as well. (As most of you know, the Brumfields also intermarried with the Knights.) Here’s what I noted way back when:

    1. Benjamin Youngblood came from South Carolina in 1811 in company with Major Benjamin Bickham and John Brumfield to Washington Parish, LA. He was detained in Marion County, MS, by the birth of his son, Joe.

    2. John Brumfield married Margaret Kelly in York District, South Carolina. They were in Washington Parish, LA. by 1813. Their children included Jesse, Willis, David, James, Charles, Isaac, Nathaniel, alexander, Lucy, and Leah E.

    3. John and Margaret Brumfield’s son Jesse married Hannah Youngblood. Jesse and Hannah Youngblood Brumfield’s children were Benjamin, Henry S., Mary L., Jesse A., Joseph W., James M., Susan, Lucinda, and John R.

    Surnames mentioned in Conerly’s book also include Craft, Harper, Ellzey, Rainey, Reeves, and Whitehead. Might be worth a look for some of you!


  9. I had always heard that our family had an interesting history. My uncle turned me on to Victoria’s book. It was fascinating, My great great grandfather was Thomas Jefferson Huff from Jones county. My grandmother told us stories about how several of my relatives deserted the Confederacy. I think somebody was a drummer boy. Anyways, they deserted and supported the Union. My grandmother also talks about another book called Rise of the Little Black Horn I believe. It is also about this topic, although I have never seen it. Victoria did incredible research in her book and any history buff will love it.

    • Hi Thom,

      I remember my very first exploratory trip to Jones County, in search of the lands on which Newt Knight grew up. Julius Huff (is he your grandfather?) was working outside, and when we asked him for directions, he just stopped what he was doing and took us in his truck to the Jackie Knight cemetery, and then to the grave of Benjamin Knight, who was killed by Col. Lowry’s men. What an exciting day that was; talk about southern hospitality! Julius was just great.

      Thanks for your comment,

      p.s. I’m sure the book your grandmother talked about was Ethel Knight’s Echo of the Black Horn.

  10. Victoria:

    I was delighted to find this website today! I enjoyed reading your book about the Free State of Jones. I grew up hearing about the “Free State”, so it was exciting to find your book.

    My ancestors are from Jones County- Hilbun, Wade, Knight, and Youngblood. Just today I decided to do more research on the Youngbloods and discovered the posting above by Mrs. Alice Stringer McDonald. This is what I’ve discovered on the Youngbloods…….

    As far as I know, Harriet and Mary C. were sisters and married brothers. Some of my information was gleaned from the Knight book published in 1985. Harriet is said to have been born 14 Jan 1816 in Georgia. Mary (Polly) C. , was born “circa” 1812 in Ga. She’s buried at Big Creek Baptist Cemetery. She married William H. (Pap) Knight, b. 1812, Ga. His brother James married Harriet.

    William and Mary C. (Youngblood) Knight’s daughter, Cornelia married my great-great-grandfather, Daniel W. Wade.

    The only Youngblood I found on the 1820 Covington and 1830 Jones Co. censuses was a Peggy Youngblood. She is listed as having 2 females age 0-10, and 1 female age 16-26 (I assume that is Peggy).

    In the 1830 Jones Co. Census, Peggy Youngblood (p. 18; line 162) is listed as having: 1 female 5- 10 yrs old; 2 females 15-20 (Harriet and Mary C.??), and 1 female 40-50 (born 1780-90).

    I’m continuing to work on this but would love to hear from others researching this family or the Wades and Hilbuns.

    Thanks Victoria for making this platform available. It’s a fun site!

    Joy Hilbun Mohr

  11. Welcome to the website, Joy! And thanks for the information on Harriet and Polly Youngblood. I do hope others will join this discussion. I will answer your earlier personal email to me ASAP.


    • Enjoyed reading these posts…I have not done much on this line…but I may be able to help one day…Take a look at my website….and YDNA Project .. Benjamin’s parents and connection remains a mystery. If you know iny direct male descendants of the YB surname from Benjamin….I would love to have them join our porject.
      http://www.familytreedna.com/public/YoungbloodsOfEdgefieldSC ß Click, hover over Y-DNA Results, click on Classic and/or colorized
      Celebrating our Successful Tenth year of the Youngblood DNA Project…Happy hunting !
      Looking for Youngblood Researchers and Male Youngbloods to participate in the Youngblood DNA project.
      Use the link below to join the project and purchase your DNA test.
      Please send me a ancestor list and call if there are any questions.

      Thank you
      Larry & Marie Youngblood
      Hilltop Lakes 936-855-2786; Ranch 936-396-1220 ; 281 (C) 772-0952
      Retired – sitting on the front porch and watching the grass grow


      • thank you, Larry.

        NOTE TO READERS: I am happy to post Larry Youngblood’s comment and the contact information that he provides in regard to the Youngblood DNA Project. Please be aware, however, that I am in no way connected to this project. I allow the post as a service, but that service includes neither my endorsement nor my guarantee of satisfaction.

        Vikki Bynum

  12. Vikki,

    Thank you for creating a blog that focuses on the role of Southern Unionists in the Civil War. It’s nice to know there are others eager to study and write about this largely ignored–or vilified–aspect of Southern history. I look forward to reading your future posts!

    I have studied and written about Col. Fielding Hurst, organizer and commander of the 6th TN Cavalry U.S., and the war in McNairy County, TN. If you would like to know more about him and my book, please visit my site at:

    Keep up the good work!

    Kevin McCann

    • It’s nice to meet you, Kevin! I look forward to visiting your site and learning more about your own work on southern Unionists, and I hope others will do the same.

      Here’s to the ever-growing body of work on Southern Unionists!


  13. Wow! This is truly interesting…a researcher into Unionism in Texas, an area of interest in mine, and a connection to Hardin County, Texas! My maternal grandmother was a Collins from the line of Mississippi Collinses who came to Texas in the 1850’s. While I have done some research into the area (I was raised near Nacogdoches and now live near Dallas) I was not aware of a large Unionist sentiment in the area. I currently live in Van Zandt County, another one of those “Free State” areas during and after the Civil War. I look forward to the publication of your work. I sounds like it will be a very interesting read.

    • Hi Greg,
      Glad you found this blog site. I have been researching the Collinses of Jones County, Mississippi, for years, and there is a lot on them (including Stacy Collins) in my book, Free State of Jones. I have ventured over into the Texas branch for my next book, Long Shadow of the Civil War. Would love to know who your maternal Collins grandmother was, and anything else you may have learned from your own research. Thanks for commenting.


      • Wanda,

        One of my private correspondents is a descendant of this same Collins line. I will contact her and see if I can put you two in touch.

        Thanks for visiting Renegade South.


    • Could you please tell me which Collins’ family you
      are related?

      My father was Lee Martin Collins, Sr. b. Rowlett, TX
      My Gr father was Rice Collins Collins, b. Rowlett, TX
      My G Gr father was William C. Collins, b. @ 1810
      maybe in SC. Then my brick wall. Thanks in advance.

      • Thanks for your question, Jane.

        I am peripherally related to the Collins family that appears throughout this website, primarily through the Simeon Collins line because of Simeon’s marriage to Lydia Bynum, the daughter of Mark, a brother to my great-great-grandfather, William Bynum, b. 1795.

        These Collinses are descended from Stacy Collins and Sarah Anderson Gibson Collins. Stacy migrated from Spartanburg, SC, early in the 19th century. He met and married Sarah in Georgia. They migrated with other kinfolk to Mississippi and Texas before and after the Civil War.

        I don’t recognize any of the names you provide as part of this branch of Collinses, but perhaps some Renegade South readers will have some information to share.


  14. Ms. Bynum, I am the grandson of Margaret Bynum, daughter of Franklin Pinkney Bynum, of SE Arkansas, a small settlement near Collins, AR. I think I remember reading in your Free State book that some of the Knight Co. relocated to Arkansas. I am wondering if these could be relations. It is interesting to me that we have a photo of a “yankee soldier” in the family. Etc. Whether there’s a connection or not, I remain very interested by your work in this neglected area of our southern history. The blog is great. JR Gibson

  15. Thanks for your post, John. Sorry to say I have found nothing in my files that identifies any Jones County, MS, Bynums moving to Arkansas, although it’s hard to imagine that a few did not given that some other families associated with the Free State of Jones moved there. The Civil War Unionism of your Bynum relation could also be connected to the Tishomingo, MS. Bynums, however, who were also divided in their loyalties. I believe there were Unionist Bynums in Alabama, too.

    Perhaps some Bynum researchers will see this and offer more information. Meanwhile, you might try visiting the Southern Unionists Chronicles blog and the Genforum “Southern Unionists” forum.


  16. Hi Vikki,

    I just learned of your research and writing about the Free State of Jones (ordered the book today!). My GGG grandfather was William Harrison Turner, son of Stokley Turner, from Jones Co. MS. I have read that William Harrison Turner may have been one of Knight’s band, and I wonder if your research had turned up his name. The story goes that he served in the Confederate Army for a while, left due to illness or disillusionment with the cause, was jailed in Ellisville (where much of my family lives today), and returned to the homestead to work the fields. His family was said to keep watch for Confederate soldiers and would sing Amazing Grace as a signal for William H. to hide.

    In 1879, William H. and his family moved to Bosque Co. Tx, arriving in Valley Mills, TX on Christmas day. William H. and his wife are buried there. I have been to the Lanes Chapel cemetery to see the several family burial plots there. One of his sons (also William Harrison Turner) eventually moved back to Jones Co., MS, and a few generations later that’s where my father was born in 1941. My mother is also from that area.

    If you should have any information on the Turner family from that area, or what may have motivated the move to Texas at the time, I would be very interested in learning more.

    I very much look forward to reading the book and learning more about this surprising chapter of American history. Thanks for your time.

    Bruce H. Turner

    • Hello, Bruce. Welcome to Renegade South.

      As soon as I saw your surname, Turner, I thought of Newt Knight’s wife, Serena. Serena Knight’s maiden name was Turner. So, I did a bit of checking in my own census files, in Edward and Strickland’s “Who married Whom in Jones County,” and the online Ancestry.com. From all that I can gather, and if personal genealogy tables are to be believed, your ancestor, William H. Turner, was a first cousin, one generation removed, to Serena Knight (I have two posts on her). I base that deduction on family histories that show that William H.’s father, Stokely, and Serena Turner Knight’s grandfather, Henry B., were brothers, and the sons of Nathaniel Turner. (i.e. Serena’s father, John Henry, was a son of Henry B. Turner, who was Stokely’s brother.)

      Another very interesting family connection between your Turners and the Knights is through William’s daughter, Elmira J., who married George Baylis Knight. George, nicknamed “Clean Neck,” was the son of Newt Knight’s uncle, Jesse Davis Knight. Clean Neck lived to be 100 years old and he was one of Newt Knight’s closest friends according to Earle Knight, who was in his nineties when I interviewed him around 1993. Unlike many white members of the Knight family, Clean Neck remained friends with Newt even after Newt crossed the color line and lived among his mixed-race kin. You will find a picture of him and his children in my book, Free State of Jones.

      I found no source that identified William H. Turner as a member of Newt Knight’s band of men, but obviously the men had closely family connections. William might have intermittedly hung out with the Knight Company, as did others who never made the “official” roster. The Texas connection of your Turners is also interesting; many Jones County folks moved to Texas after the war. I’ll look into that further, and I’ll also check some of my military records when I get the chance to see if I find anything on William’s service.

      I enjoyed the search, and, as ever, I welcome comments from others who have researched these families.


    • Hi Bruce… I am also a descendant of William Harrison Turner. My grandfather was Carlos T. Turner. I would love to exchange information with you about the Turner Family.. You can email me at southernbelle02@outlook.com, I have very little info but I will gladly share what I have found thus far.

      C. Kitchens

  17. Vikki:

    I saw online today that a writer/producer, Mr. Gary Ross, is making a movie called “Free State of Jones”. It is said to be in production now.

    Do you know when it is due out?



    • Hi, Joy; nice to hear from you.

      It is true that a movie about the Free State of Jones is in the works. Universal Studios bought the rights to my book, The Free State of Jones, in February 2007. The movie will not, however, be based on my book; Gary Ross is writing an original screenplay. As to when it is due out, all I know at this point is that the movie has been announced.


  18. Hi Vikki,

    I’ve been meaning to contact you for some time now to express my deep gratitude for the incredible amount of dedication and time put into your literary works about Jones County during the Civil War… especially the Collins family.

    I’m the g-g-g-g-grandson of Jasper Collins and believe it or not, I never heard a word of the role he played in the “Free State of Jones” until I accidentally stumbled across a website while working late one night about 2-1/2 years ago at the age of 30.

    I now live in Ellisville and plan to stay here, but I’ve lived in and out of Jones County for most of my life since my step-dad’s career required us to move around the country frequently.

    When I first learned about the Collins’ role in the “Free State of Jones” and the moral and political stances they took on the issues during and after the Civil War era, I wondered why I had never heard these stories before – even though I remember plenty of specific opportunities to mention them.

    I gradually figured out (I think) that because these men were labeled as deserters, cowards, plunderers, and thieves – the Collins side of my family would rather the stories of Jasper Collins and the Knight Company be forgotten.

    I also learned, by talking to a few local residents, that some folks in the area would rather the stories of this “band of cowards and thieves” be told over and over.

    With the guidance of your book, I’ve learned so much about the history of Jones County and the Collins family.

    I’ve visited the grave site of Stacy Collins in East Texas while traveling to Houston to visit my parents. I’ve visited the grave site and home of Jasper Collins as well as the church in Buckatunna, Ms that the Collins family was kicked out of for playing the fiddle, drinking, and other immoralities.

    I plan on visiting the Library in Jones County to see the Stacy Collins family Bible, which I never knew existed.

    To say that your book has been an interesting discovery for me would be an understatement.

    An interesting story…

    I remember sitting in class in 2nd grade at Ellisville Elementary staring through the window at the Deason home (which sits across the street) as a friend was telling me about how it was haunted and what happened a long time ago.

    I always remembered that story, but never knew the situation that surrounded it or that my ancestors were involved.

    Interestingly, this past Halloween while I was touring the Deason House (and witnessing the Sons of the Confederate Veterans re-enactment of the *cowardly* assassination of Major McLemore) I met the g-g-g-g-grandson of Alpheus Knight – who was also touring the Deason home for the first time that night.

    He said that his grandmother told him the story of the Deason home and said that it was Newton Knight, Alpheus Knight, and Jasper Collins that went to the house that night.

    At that point it dawned on both of us that the man playing the role of Amos Mclemore, the man playing the role of Newton Knight, and the two ancestors of the other two men (Jasper and Alpheus) were all in the house at the same time – 145 years later.

    Thanks again, Vikki. I’m really looking forward to reading Southern Communities at War when it comes out.

    Lavelle Collins

    • Lavelle,
      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your taking the time to comment and tell me–and others–your story of discovery about your family’s history. This is truly what makes being a historian fun and meaningful.


  19. Lavelle: I’m a distant cousin, being the gr gr grandson of Sarah Collins Walters Parker–who was an older sister of Jasper. Hope you might consider attending the 28 March meeting of the Jones County Genealogical and Historical Society at the Laurel Library. I’ll be presenting on my research into the life of Sarah, including her involvement with the Knight Company. Although she owned a slave and her son and two son-in-laws were in Confederate units, she nevertheless helped shelter the Knight Company whose members included three brothers and several nephews.

    Plan to bring with me a cousin I met here in Jackson during this research. She is the grand daughter of Jasper’s son Loren. Also, B.T. Collins (who has a post on this site) says he will try to attend. Be nice to meet you.

    Ed Payne
    Jackson MS

  20. Hello,
    I am the genealogist for the Laurel – Jones County Library and I just wanted to take a moment to tell you thank you for the work are continually sharing with other researchers.
    I would like to check back in on your blog and read all the wonderful items placed there.
    I must say, I saw several names of people that I know quite well.
    Keep up the good work.

    • Would you mind providing some information on the Holifields? My Great grandpa was Herbert O. Holifield out of Myrick. That’s on my mom’s side. Her mother was Rushton and Ascue. My dad is Smith and Sumrall. I would like more info on that as well if it were possible.

  21. Vikki,

    I bought your book “The Free State of Jones” and was very impressed. I am a Welch descendant I descend from John Ira Welch and Catherine Bynum through there son Adam.
    It seems we are cousins in some way and I was curious of your Bynum line. Which line are you from. Please email me if its to personal and you don’t want to post it.
    I love doing Genealogy so I would love to see if i could actually connect your line and mine.

    Gina Brown

  22. Hi Gina,

    Well, of course I always love hearing from people who liked my book, but I also am pleased to hear from another Bynum! The Mark Bynum line that your ancestor Catherine is from was most directly involved with the Unionist movement in Jones County. In fact, I briefly discuss Mark Bynum in my forthcoming book, Long Shadow of the Civil War, because I discovered from reading Newt Knight’s pension files that Mark supplied the Knight band with arms at a certain point during the war.

    I am descended from Mark’s brother, William Bynum, born 1795. You might enjoy my earlier post, “What’s in a Marriage: Bynums on both sides of the Civil War Divide.”Thanks so much for commenting, hope to hear more from you.


  23. I visited your site, Blog 4 History, Chris, and found it very interesting. (Yes, our blogs are stylistically the same–thank goodness we have different photos on the top border.)

    Thanks for adding me to your blogroll; I’ve done the same for you.


  24. Vikki,

    Congratulations on creating such an active blog. You’ve really got people interested.

    I wanted to send you a thought, but I’m not sure it entirely fits in with your theme.

    Newt Knight and perhaps the entire Knight clan bust myths about the South other than that of race.

    For example, traditional historical accounts have left a bleak picture of farm life in Mississippi in the three decades after the Civil War. These accounts hold that during the 1870s, ‘80s, and ‘90s farmers and planters turned to merchants to advance them credit under the crop lien system.

    Farmers pledged their future harvests as security for the supplies, food, fertilizer, and other necessities that merchants provided. These merchants demanded that farmers devote almost all of their productive acreage to the one sure cash crop—cotton. As the price of cotton fell and the high rates of interest that merchants charged mounted, farmers dropped deeper into debt. Year after year they asked merchants for credit in the belief that one good cotton crop would set everything right.

    This cycle of debt and low crop prices spiraled the lives of Mississippi farmers ever downward in misery. Farm owners had to sell their land and became tenants. Those farmers who had been tenants could no longer afford to rent farmland and became farm laborers. The picture painted for us is one of almost unrelenting misery and poverty.

    But historians of the South, as Thomas D. Clark has noted, “have been cotton-blinded.” When these historians look at people in states such as Mississippi, they see mostly staple agriculture, racism, “sectional politics, and ‘wasted’ southern society.” There are other stories to be told. The customary historical account is not true of all farmers, all times, or all places in Mississippi.

    I don’t think it is true of Newt and his Knight kin. I did a quick study of Knight landholdings purchased from the federal government in souwest Jasper County. They owned several hundred acres. I haven’t sudied the Agricultural censuses for 1870 and ’80 for them, but they appear to have been successful farmers–and probably were successful in other endeavors as well.

    If merchants had control of farmers, as the traditional accounts go, why couldn’t they control the Knights and drive them out? Clearly, the Knights were able to finance their farming operations in some manner.

    They, and I suspect many of the other farmers in Jasper and Jones counties, simply do not fit the old sharecropper stereotype.

    Ralph Poore
    Boise, Idaho

  25. Hi Ralph,

    Thanks for raising an important and interesting topic–that of economic conditions in the non-plantation area of Jones County after the Civil War.

    You are right that post-war Jones County farmers do not fit the sharecropper-tenant model that is often presented as the reason for escalating poverty and landlessness in the South between 1870 and 1900. When I studied the 1880 agricultural census for Jones County, I did not find high levels of tenancy or sharecropping.

    However, when I compared the 1860 and 1870 agricultural and manuscript censuses, I did find evidence of escalating poverty in steeply declining land values. I also found a number of bankruptcy petitions filed by formerly wealthy residents (wealthy at least by Jones County standards), including Joel Welborn and Amos Deason, Jones County’s Confederate representative during the war.

    In my book, Free State of Jones, I noted declines for the following individuals: the cash value of Newt Knight’s land fell from $300 in 1860 to $90 in 1870; Jasper Collins’s from from $2000 to $1000; Allen Valentines’s from $1200 to $150; Benjamin Bynum’s from $4,300 to $150. John M. Baylis, one of the county’s wealthiest farmers, saw his farm’s cash value drop from $11,000 to $5,000.

    Of course, those declines may reflect the immediate devastations of a long war. It is also significant, however, that Jones County became a strong populist county in the 1890s (see Stephen Cresswell’s book, MULTI-PARTY POLITICS IN MISSISSIPPI, 1877-1902 University Press of Mississippi, 1995), when Jasper and Loren Collins founded its first only populist newspaper (see Ed Payne’s earlier post on The Ellisville Patriot, and my own on Populists and Socialists in Jones Co, MS. and Hardin Co., Texas). Such political activity certainly suggests a high degree of economic unrest in Jones county long after the war. It’s worth noting that in 1880, I found more impoverished women than in earlier censuses; the occupation of one, Sarah Perry, was listed simply as “beggar.”

    Most of the above is anecdotal evidence; I have not conducted a systematic economic analysis of changes from the prewar to postwar era. In light of your astute observations and questions, that’s exactly what needs be done.

    To readers, be sure and visit Ralph Poore’s interesting and beautiful blog about the Pierce and allied families of Wilmer, Mobile County, Alabama. I am adding it to my blogroll so that it is only a click away.


  26. Vikki, I am loving the site! You might remember the name, I believe I was living in Texas or New York as you were doing the final touches on “Free State of Jones.” Still haven’t found the missing link on Hugh Knight, the name we were given for my grandfather Haywood’s dad, but I haven’t given up. I’m actually working deligently on Newt’s quest for unity by mentoring efforts. You’ll have to check out Kecia’s Korner on http://www.creatingabridge.com. Still not sure where the site will go, but I am currently working on establishing a forum/blog on there. I will pass this site information on to the rest of the folks. While on Kecia’s Korner, check out the Thought of the Day I dedicated to my mom “Mother’s Day Every Day.”

    • Kecia,

      I sure do remember you; I’m so glad you found this site! Maybe we can figure out exactly where Hugh Knight fits in the family tree yet. I look forward to visiting your site.

  27. Vikki. The price of a pound of cotton dropped from $.15 to $.06 from 1870 to 1897. Hence, the drop by half and more of a farm’s annual cash value. Ag prices were depressed nationwide during these same years for all crops. Jones County and all of the piney woods area was marginal land for cotton. You are correct that this was not sharecropper territory, but land owners farming small parcels or just making do in the woods. Paying taxes on land after the war was a huge issue across the state. Cash was king. If you could pay the taxes on a neighbor’s land, you could own their land. Often that neighbor was a brother or cousin. The piney woods of Mississippi – Jones, Smith, Simpson, Jasper – are the Appalachia of Mississippi. Fierce, independent mostly English and Scot Irish backwoods folk who wanted to be left alone to live the way they wanted to live on their own land. It was never part of the planter South. Their lack of homage to the Confederacy might have been less political and more practical.


    • Thanks, Deborah. Your economic characterization of the Mississippi piney woods certainly fits my understanding of the region as laid out in my book, Free State of Jones. In regard to this region’s lack of homage to the Confederacy, certainly practical concerns played a major role in encouraging desertion. I think it would be a mistake to discount the political aspects of that opposition, however. For one thing, most people’s political views are at least somewhat connected to their economic status. But there also was clear ideological opposition to secession in the Jones County region well before the economic devastation of war.


  28. Vicki, thanks for the reply. Your web sites are very intriguing as well as rich with new knowledge. I read your book “The Free State of Jones” cover to cover. Perhaps to appreciate that as a compliment, you should know I often stop in the middle. Also, your book earned a spot on my bookshelves in ‘the den’. To appreciate that you should know that I have boxes and boxes of books in my garage in some sort of book purgatory. Oy, vey.

    My Mother was from Smith County. I’ll spare you my Smith County genealogical street cred, except to say Byrd and Sullivan. Deep roots. I, too, discovered from genealogical digs that the Collins family from Dallas were descendants of the Jones County Collins. Congressman Jim Collins and his sister Ruth Collins Altshuler were and are community leaders that I admire, along with other Dallas Collins family members. I had to smile when I made that connection. I would tease my Mother that she could make a cousin connection anytime anyplace anywhere starting with, “Now, you’re a Little. By chance is your Grandmother or Great Grandmother so and so?”

    Our postage stamp of a place (Smith, Jasper, Simpson, Jones, Covington) to paraphrase Mr. Faulkner, continues to hold my attention as a truly fascinating journey through time. It’s just so rich with story, myth, natural beauty, history, mystery, vapours, spells, and descendants. Perhaps, it’s just me. My sister says, “I’m interested, Deborah. I’m listening. Just small doses. Small doses.” That makes me laugh.

    Thanks for what you do. I live in Austin. It would be nice to meet sometime. If you are up this way, let me know. I would love to arrange lunch, coffee, or beverage of your choice.

    Again, thanks for the response to my comment. It was kind of you to take the time.


    • It’s so nice to hear more from you, Deborah, and to learn who you are in terms of these “truly fascinating journey[s] through time,” as you say. Yes, the past is filled with wonderful stories and myths that, even when untrue, evoke a strong sense of place and meaning that allow us for a moment to feel connections to our ancestors. I guess everyone who visits this site (and the number is growing week-by-week) has to decide what level of doses they can take!

      It’s great to know you’re only thirty miles up the road from me. Let’s try and arrange that get-together before the summer ends.


  29. Vikki,

    I recently discovered your blog and just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your work. I read The Free State of Jones in 2003 and again last year. I greatly enjoy the the book for its scholarship but also because it evokes memories of my childhood visits to my grandparents’ farm near Montrose, MS.

    I can vaguely remember my grandfather mentioning that the Sumrall family had a role in the Newt Knight story. Your work has made me wonder what, if any, involvement my branch of the family had in the band’s activities. However, through internet genealogy research I have only been able to trace my family back to the 1880 census which shows my great grandparents, Elisha L. Sumrall (1858-1933) and Emily R. Sumrall (1864-1943). I would appreciate any information that you might have.

    Again, thank you so much for your books and website.


    • Thanks for your kind words, Dave. I did a quick search on Elisha L. Sumrall in my files, and so far haven’t found anything other than a Jasper county connection. Maybe other Sumrall researchers out there have some information? He’s gotta be related to Wm. Wesley and Harmon Levi; the question is how.


    • Elisha L. Sumrall is actually more likely listed in the census records from the time as Leonidas Elisha Sumrall. His twin brother, Elongino (sometimes listed as Elonzo) Elijah Sumrall is my great-great grandfather.

      Feel free to contact me for any further information, I am currently doing extensive research into my, and what would appear to be our, family tree.

      • Tobias,
        I recently started researching the Sumrall’s…..Idell and Floyd Sumrall were my grandparents, William D. Sumrall my great grandfather and Elisha L. Sumrall was my great great grandfather. I am at a loss as to who was Elisha’s father; in researching I see where some one states it was James Edward and Nancy Sumrall….and another says Elisha’s dad was Elijah Sumrall….any assistance would be appreciated.


      • My GGG grandparents were Elisha L and Emily Sumrall. I’m just starting research on this side of my family and have been wondering about Elishas twin. I have only found him in 2 census reports then her seems to drop out of sight. It is also rumored that Emily’s mother Sarah L Nixon was possible full blood Choctaw or Creek. My great grear grandmother Bamma Emily’s daughter, and her daughter my great Annie Lee definitely had the native american features. Curious if you have come across this. It’s rumored Sarah L Nixon may have been adopted. I do know for fact that our Elisha is Elisha Leodonias Sumrall married to Emily Rose ann Smith. His parents were James E Sumrall and Nancy Sumrall. It’s in my family Bible. But there isn’t much more information than that.

    • Hi;
      My name is William Sumrall and I was born in Laurel, Mississippi. I inherited from an aunt a genealogy book titled “The Families, Somerville, Somervail, Summerall, Summerel, Summerill, Summerlin, Sumlin, Sumrall and Sumrill”, Written by James H. Hines a distant relative. Looking through it I have managed to find only one reference to Elisha L. Sumrall. The middle initial was Lightfoot and DOB was listed as 1851. There was no other information on him. However, according to this, his father was Elijah Sumrall, Born 1805, Ms.; d 1852, De Soto Parish, La. He had 7 brothers. He married Sarah Elizabeth Buchanan. They in turn had 5 children, Mary Sumrall, Samuel E Sumrall, William D. Sumrall, Nancy Elizabeth Sumrall (she married John Alexander Roberts), and Elisha Lightfoot Sumrall.
      I hope this helps to shed some light on your family. I was surprised to have found another in the family tree with the same name as mine. I’ll need to do more research to see where the family lines cross. According to family rumor, any Sumrall in Ms. and La., are in someway related to me. My grandparents were second cousins, both with Sumrall as Sir names. So far I have, with the help of a heraldic from England (I was stationed there for a while on military duty), managed to trace the family roots to the 12th Century Scotland with the original name being Somerville.
      I am interested in any other information on the Sumrall family so if anyone has any other sources please pass them on.


      • Hi William; it’s very nice to hear from you!

        I agree with you that “The Families, Somerville, Somervail, Summerall, Summerel, Summerill, Summerlin, Sumlin, Sumrall and Sumrill,” written by James H. Hines, connects the earliest members of this family with the Sumralls of Jones County, MS. In my book, The Free State of Jones, I drew from Hines’s book to make that connection. Hines identifies the original American Sumrall as merchant John Summerell from Scotland, who migrated to Isle of Wight, VA. in 1687. This John’s grandson Henry in turn migrated to Carolina, and later the South Carolina backcountry. If we trace the ancestry of Wm Wesley Sumrall and his brother, Harmon Levi Sumrall, back in time, it takes us to their father, Jesse, his father, Moses, his father Tom Sumrall Sr., and his father Jacob Summerall (b. 1720) of South Carolina. From there, the family connects to Henry Summerell and his grandfather, John, of Isle of Wight.


      • WIlliam,

        I only recently started researching the Sumrall line. Elisha L. Sumrall was my great great grandfather, my great grandfather was William D. Sumrall, Sr. My grandmother was Ora Idell Sumrall. I was told she married a cousin, Floyd “Red” Sumrall.

        In my research I have found the middle initial for Elisha stood for

        My email address is stumper067@yahoo.com.


      • Hi William and Vikki, I am so happy to have found this site. My grandfather was William E. Sumrall from Collins, Ms. He was an assistant planer foreman and was killed sometime after 1915 working when my father was a young child. I have always wanted to find our history. Do you have any info on this or, can you guide me. I am looking forward to reading these books.
        Thank you, Elizabeth Sumrall

      • Nice to hear from you, Elizabeth. Can you supply any more names of any more family members, such as William E.’s parents?


  30. Hello,

    My name is Brandon Samuels and I really like some of the posts you have on your blog. Since you have an interest in blogging, I thought that you might want to know about a new web site, timelines.com. The idea is to create an interactive historical record of anything and everything, based on specific events that combine to form timelines. We’re trying to achieve a sort of user-created multimedia history, in which no event is too big or too small to record. Feel free to create events using excerpts and/or links from your blog. You will generate traffic and awareness of your blog, and you will be contributing to the recording of history.

    With your interest in the American Civil War, you should check out this timeline. So far it is a work in progress and we would definitely love for more people to contribute. http://timelines.com/topics/american-civil-war.

    Give us a try and let me know your thoughts.

    Brandon Samuels

  31. Vikki, per the 06/28/2009 inquiry by Dave Sumrall: I don’t have much to offer, but census records suggest that the Elisha Sumrall who married Emily [unknown] might have been born Elisha Leonidas Sumrall in Wayne County in July 1858. Leonidas Sumrall appears on the 1860 and 1870 Wayne County censuses, the son James and Nancy Sumrall. In 1880 James, Nancy, and several children listed on the 1870 census re-appear in Jasper County. This is the same census and county where Elisha and wife Emily first appear. And on the 1910 and 1920 censuses Elisha’s middle initial was recorded as “L.”

    None of this proves or disproves that James Sumrall could have been involved in renegade activity. However, we now know that two Sumrall brothers from Perry County, Alvin and Daniel, enlisting in the (Union) 1st New Orleans LA Infantry in the aftermath of the Lowry raid (they are the only Sumrall men found on the 1st New Orleans rolls). It’s worth noting that despite their obvious Unionist sentiment and proximity to Jones County, Alvin and Daniel Sumrall do not appear on the various Knight rosters.

    The point is that there seems to have been more renegade / Unionist activity in the Piney Woods than can be historically documented in terms of individual names. Thus it seems reasonable to credit family lore about the activities of Elisha’s father–whatever his kinship with Harmon Levi and William Wesley Sumrall of Jones County and/or with Alvin and Daniel Sumrall of Perry County.

    If something else does turn up, I’ll post a follow-up comment here.

  32. Ed,

    It’s so interesting how the family connections just keep widening into the surrounding counties (not to mention states), revealing ever more intricate connections to the Jones County Sumralls. Thanks for some really good genealogical detective work.


  33. Turner: To follow-up on Vikki’s comment, it’s clear that your Christopher Columbus Collins is not the one referenced by Betty Nester. That C.C. Collins was the son of Riley J. Collins of Jones County and was born ca 1850.

    I note that you have compiled a good deal of information of your C.C. Collins on Ancestry. It appears you know that your C.C. Collins and his brother Volney both joined the Union 1st Alabama Cavalry. So, like the Jones County Collins, they were Unionists. Your C.C. Collins applied for and was granted a military pension in 1889. This means his file should be in the National Archives or possibly with the VA. Have you obtained it? If not, such files often contain useful information. If you wish, I can provide the name of a researcher in the D.C. area who has pulled a number of pension files and scanned them for me.

    • Ed,
      I have indeed compiled a lot of information on my CC Collins. I have all of his Civil War records from inlistment to mustering out, and numerous pension application he filed before being approved. They certainly gave me a lot of information. However, we are at a brick wall regarding his father. Regarding other CC Collinses, I have ruled them all out (there are several in the 1840’s-50’s in Al & MS and other states) and have not been able to connect mine with any of the other lines. The DNA profile does not match any other Collins line at this time. I have more informatuion than that posted on Ancestry, but it is in hard copy. I just recently joined Ancestry. Thanks for offering to help

  34. Turner: All this is interesting because at least one unsourced genealogy lists a Christopher Collins as the elusive father of Stacy Collins, patriarch of the Jones County line–part of which also moved to east TX. For whatever reason, there were several C. C. Collins born around the same time period (plus variations such as Christopher Calhoun, Columbus, C., etc.). Since one of these was in Mobile AL and was born in Ireland, obviously not all had a family connection as your DNA evidence clearly indicates.

    Since I’m here in MS, I could check for any state census and/or land records for the 1840’s ~ 50’s. One possibility is the 1853 state census. Marshall Co is in the north of MS which suggests migration down from TN rather than the SC > GA > MS route taken by Stacy and his kin. But do you think it might be possible your Christopher confused Marshall Co MS with his later residence in Marshall Co AL? Anyway, if you want me to take a look then any additional info you could provide about the family (like the sister you cite above) would be helpful.

    Hope something turns up. I am fascinated by the decision of Christopher and his brother Volney to join the Union cavalry regiment. Their step-father, as I understand it, was an overseer. Another interesting case of trying to find the roots of renegade Unionism–which took so many forms.

    • Ed,
      Thanks for continuing to pursue this issue. I have chased most of the CC Collinses of the 19th century, including one in Maryland in the 18th century, and have not been able to get a connect with any of them at this point. For several years I was sure that we would connect with the Stacy Collins line because they came through Spartanburg SC, as did my line. But the DNA result squelched that possibility. By-the-way, my family lived among the descendants of Stacy Collins in Polk and Hardin Counties Texas. I went to school with some of them! People in both lines declared that we were not related.

      I have multiple records of CC listing his birth place as Marshall County MS, so I don’t think that it is a mistake. I have a copy of an affidavit by William Calborne of Marshall County AL, that he had known CC since 1858. That is the earliest date we have him (and family) in Marshall County AL. He had much stronger ties to Winston and Walker Counties AL. We also know that Volney was born in Spartanburg SC. Frances was either in GA or AL (disagreement among researchers).

      It is also worth noting that my family did not leave Alabama until around 1900. They lived in at least three different counties in central and western Texas before finally settling in Polk County around 1920. Some of CC’s descendants are still in western Texas. I think the contact with Stacy’s family in eastern Texas is incidental.
      Anything you can contribute will certainly be appreciated.

      How did you find that the step father of the Collins siblings, William Wait, was an overseer? I have nothing on this. This is very interesting since there were VERY few slaves in most of the N. AL Counties. I have no indication that my ancestors were slave holders.

  35. Turner: Since this is all falling under the “About Renegade South” thread, I’d suggest that we move this to an email exchange. Just let Vikki know it is okay for her to provide me with your email.

    But not to leave you hanging: I found a “William H. Wait” from SC employed as an overseer in Scott Co, MS on the 1850 census. He listed his age as 45 which does not match the age of Christopher’s stepfather in 1860 (65) but was the closest match I found in an admittedly very hasty search. Sorry if this turns out to be a red herring.

    If you are reasonably certain about the family living in Marshall Co MS ca 1850, it makes sense to search the MS census / land / tax records because ANY Collins in the area would be a strong candidate.

    • Ed and Turner,
      I’m happy to give email numbers with your permission, just let me know. Also, I’m wondering if I should cut and past your comments here over to one of the Collins family posts so that they’re more accessible to Collins researchers.


      • Vikki & Ed,
        It is fine with me to share e-mail addresses and continue this conversation. Vikki, it is also okay to cut n paste my postings to a Collins forum. I have not learned how to fully negotiate this site yet. I stumbled on to it just searching for additional information on my Collins line. Any guidance you can give me I’d appreciate. Then I can search and post appropriately. Thanks.

      • Turner,
        One of the ways you can get to posts most relevant to your interest is to go to the sidebar list of “categories.” If you click on “Free State of Jones,” and then scroll down, you will find several posts specifically on the Collins family. You will also find some Collins posts under the category, “Texas.” Or, try typing “collins” into the search box located in the upper right hand corner of the blog.

        Hope this is helpful; I had the same difficulties when I first started visiting blogs.


  36. My ancestors were confederate Mississippians. I do not judge those that chose to remain loyal to the Union. During war every man and woman must examine their conscience and act accordingly. Southerners (and Northerners) in 1860 had hard choices to make. One which side to line up behind and the second choice was to fight or not to fight. Whatever their decision it can be safely said few profited from such a destructive war.

    As an amateur military historian and US Army veteran your “Jones County” book as highlights the problems created by mass conscription. Drafting scoops up the unwilling as well as the willing. The unwilling become disciplinary problems and during hard times desert and carry many of the previously willing along with them. In popular wars like the first and second world wars these men are barely noticeable and not allowed to dirty the image of glorious victories. Less popular wars like Vietnam they nearly crippled the US Army as the Vietnam US Army provost marshal records at the National Archives attest to. “Jones County” and your future works should be a warning to those that argue for a resumption of the draft.

    Centreville, Virginia

    • Thank you for a very thoughtful post, Phil. You raise the important issue of consent by the citizenry to fight wars for the good of their nation. As you point out, every war has its deserters, but when a sizable faction of soldiers and citizenry become convinced that they are not fighting for the good of the nation (as well as themselves), desertion rates may soar. And certainly, during the Civil War, conscription (the draft) was controversial, even among those who supported the war, because it harkened back to images of standing armies and the horrors of empire rule.


  37. I found the book to be fascinating and it also raised some questions about my Sumrall ancestors. Jacob Sumrall was my great-grandfather’s father. He is listed on page 13 of the 1870 Jones County Census on 28 July 1870 (coincidentally W. W. Sumrall signed these pages as Ass’t Marshal) in township No. 8, Ellisville Post Office, dwelling-house 78, family 79, as Jacob Sumrall, age 18, value of real estate 300, value of personal estate 338, cannot read or write. His wife is Martha, age 24, apparently she can read and write. Listed with them are Joel Sumrall age 1, Ausibel Walters female age 9, Warren Walters male age 7. His neighbors include Jesse D. Night age 37 and family Sarah A age35, William 15 and Mary 14, in dwelling-house 75, family 76, real estate value 300, personal property value 637; Alpheus and Mary E Night and children Bertha and Mary, in dwelling-house 76, family 77, value of real and personal property not listed. In the next dwelling house to Jacob,79, family 80 and 81 includes more Walters. On the next page 14 Jacob’s brothers Benjamin, Theodore, James and Jefferson, with I presume their mother Nancy age 32 are listed at residing with the family of Moses Holyfield age 75, dwelling 84, family 86. The value of the real estate was 300 and personal property 21y. This page also enumerates the Benjamin Collins family in dwelling 82, family 84, more Holyfields and Walters. My question is, how did an 18 year old come to have a total estate worth 668 when some of the older families had nothing near that? A cousin sent me just those two pages, as well as to information she posted on the Walters family genforum site: “Found Martha Rushing age 16, b in GA on the 1860 census, Jones co, Ellisville, 9 Oct 1860, p. 36. I browsed 36 census pages on ancestry.com before seeing her under head of household(#242): John H Powell, age 63, b SC, and E Powell, age 63 b GA. Then Martha Rushing, 16, b GA; Sarah E Rushing, 14 b GA; Josephine Rushing, 12 b GA.

    On the next pg I found Mary L. Rushing, age 21, b GA under the Household of W.W. Shaws (#246).”
    This site also had information provided by Ed Payne: “1) Martha A. Rushington (aka Rushing) was born in 1844 in either Fannin Co GA (familysearch) or in AL (reported by Warren Walters on 1910 census data). She married George Warren Walters circa 1859-1860 in Jones Co MS and had two children: Isabell and Warren Walters. George Warren Walters died circa 1864-65 in a prison camp.

    2) Martha Rushington Walters remarried to Jacob Sumrall circa 1865-1869. By the 1870 census she and her two children are living with Jacob. Jacob and Martha also have had their first child, Joel (born 1869).”

    Does anyone think it’s possible that Martha and her sisters were somehow related to John H. Powell, Jacob Sumrall’s “estate” was actually Martha’s, through her Walters husband? And I also was struck by the surrounding community they lived in, among the Nights, Walters and Collins families. I don’t know anything about the parents of Jacob Sumrall and wonder how he was in this particular place at this particular time. By 1880 he and his family were in Kaufman County Texas.
    Hope this wasn’t too long or boring for all you good folks.

  38. Hi Vickki,
    I wrote a little to you on another. This whole thing is really strange. As Is said before, I am a descendant of Allen Valentine. My Grandfather Charles Stennett, was adopted by Tom Knight. As you know Tom Knight was the oldest and white son of Newt Knight. Tom was born several years before Newt met and bought Rachael. The lady that wrote “Call of the Black Horn” , Tom Knight’s daughter was raised with my Grandfather Charlie Stennett. I was named Guy by my father and Thomas by my Grandfather because he thought so much of Tom Knight. I have an Auto graphed copy of the book by Ethel Knight. Now, as my mother told me many stories as told to by Tom Knight about his dealings with his father Newt and his step mother Rachael. I appears Tom was taken aback by the actions of his father and the “dastardly” deeds old Newt was always pulling. But, it was told that Newt Knight lost his head when the confederate soldier and a friend of Newt rode from Laurel to tell Newt that his wife (?) was having an affair. So, as in the book by Ethel Knight states, Newt Knight rode from Virginia by horse-back to Ellisville and shot through the window and killed the man loving Newt’s wife. Therefore, as you probably know and have read, is where the whole shenanigans of Newt Knight began. Newt Knight went AWOL and comprised the “Blackhorn Band of outlaws.”
    My mother wrote several high-school English papers on Newt Knight, Rachael and their “half breed children” and Tom the white and outcast son.
    Take care,
    Guy Thomas Valentine
    South Carolina
    ps. The Bynam fella I mentioned was my grandfather’s best friend. They called him
    “Boss” Bynum

    • Guy,

      This is very interesting. Tom Knight’s last wife’s surname was Stennet; might your grandfather have been a child of hers from a previous marriage? Also, Ethel Knight was not the daughter of Tom Knight; she married Sidney Knight, and was herself descended from a related Knight line, but not from Newt or Tom Knight.

      Would love to hear more of the stories passed down to you by your mother. I should add, however, that although Newt Knight had several children with Rachel Knight, he never married her, and she was therefore not Tom Knight’s stepmother.

      There’s a tangled web of genealogy here to be figured out, and I’m eager to hear more.


  39. Vikki,

    Thanks for all your help. I have corresponded with Linda Morgan and we have relatives in common.

    I still have not read your book, but am looking forward to it.

    If we can further anything about Benjamin Franklin Moss (born 1817) please let us know.

    Again, thanks for all your help. Will be visiting this site more often.

  40. You’re welcome, Charlie. I’m so glad that you and Linda are able to share information, and hope to you find reason to comment again in the future.


  41. Before the Civil War A grandmother on my mothers side (Hodgdon) saw trouble coming and not likeing the the idea and practice of slavery brow beat her husband into migrating the family north to St Joe Missouri.
    Upon reaching free territory she manumitted her servants, a lady of which had learned to pre mix pancake makins.
    She was given a shed out back in which she continued to so.
    The mix was sold throughout the neighborhood.
    The kids called her Aunt Jeimima.
    Much later when General Mills was looking for a brand name for their mix they chose that one. No one owned it.

    My mother told me.

    Also an uncle invented the idea of injecting pickling brine down to bone of hams that were normally soaked for a long time to cure and still spoiled near the bone.
    Armor (or someone like them) gave him a gold watch in thanks and became a great company.

  42. Hi Vikki,

    I am new to geneology and I just found your website. This is the first I have heard of the Free State of Jones and I can’t wait to buy the book. I am a Collins, but I believe from a different line of Collins’ that moved from Mississippi to east Texas. So although probably off topic, I have to ask…do you happen to know anything about Zachariah Collins, John Palmer Collins, Henry Dotson Collins line?

    Really I am impressed with your work and grateful for the chance to read about this fascinating chapter of civil war history.

    Best regards,

    Rhonda Collins Facile

    • Hello Rhonda,

      Welcome to Renegade South; I’m glad you like the site! I am not familiar with your branch of the Collins family. but will check my files for possible leads.

      Perhaps some of our readers can help you. What regions of the nation are your Collinses from?


  43. I’m researching my Colllins family. I’m a decendant of Simeon Collins, Jones Co. MS. He had a son, Millard Fillmore Collins who married an indian, Bo (Beau) Annie Williams, his bro. Lawarence Y. Collins, married her sister, Sarah. I was told by my mother that Bo Annie was a cherokee, I can’t verify that. Can anyone help me. I would appreciate any info. Thank you.

    • Boanna and Sarah Ann Elizabeth Williams were sisters of my grandfather, William Allen Williams. I can definitely say they were not of Cherokee heritage, just plain folks! The sisters lived in Trinity County, TX and my g/father was in Polk County.

  44. I just finished The Free State of Jones that I ordered through your website and enjoyed both the book and postings from your website very much. I am new to genealogy but have always enjoyed history. My son lives in Ellisville and through him and his father in law (a nephew of Ethel Knight), I became interested in Jones County history. My 5th great grandfather (Robert Mitchell) and grandmother (Lydia Wheeler or Rosen) are buried in Jones County. Their daughter (Elizabeth) married Mark Bynum (b. 1801) and Lydia and Robert were living with them at the time of their death. Maybe you can clear something up for me.
    Do you know if Lydia was a Rosen, a Wheeler, or something else? It seems some of the Mitchell info indicates Wheeler while some of the Bynum info says Rosen but some of the Mitchell and Bynum trees also inducate “unknown”. Maybe you could point me in the right direction. Thanks.

  45. Jim,

    Welcome to Renegade South–I’m glad you’ve enjoyed The Free State of Jones book and the website!

    I wish that I could help you with your questions about the Mitchells, whose daughter, Elizabeth, married Mark Bynum. Unfortunately, I know nothing about this couple except that they were born in the North and that Robert Mitchell was listed as 100 years old in the 1860 census (I think that’s the right year). I believe I have seen the name Wheeler associated with Lydia Mitchell, but I have never heard the name Rosen associated with her.

    I wish I could offer more help.


  46. I have the same dead end as Jim. Simeon Collins is my 4th Gr Grandfather, which of course makes Mark Bynum my 5th Gr grandfather. This is through the Bass family on my mothers side. I can’t wait to read your books about our family history.
    Thank you

    P.S. on my tree I have Lydia as a Rosen, but have not confirmed this yet.

    • Thanks for writing, Josh. I hope you enjoy The Free State of Jones and The Long Shadow of the Civil War. I included much information on the Collinses in both books.

      Where did you find the name “Rosen” suggested as Lydia Collins’s maiden name? It’s pretty well documented that she was a Bynum, and the daughter of Mark Bynum.


    • Josh, I have never seen documented proof of the ancestry of these Collins brothers beyond their father, Stacy Collins, Sr. Several Collins researchers believe that Joshua (or perhaps Jacob) Collins of colonial North Carolina is their direct ancestor. Joshua and Jacob’s first names occur in later lines. They were also part of NC’s regulator movement, which I discuss at length in The Free State of Jones, since several Jones County Unionists were descended from Regulators.

      But this is only circumstantial evidence; no one seems to have yet found documented proof of descent.


    • Thanks, Josh, that is very interesting, and the first information I’ve seen about the Mitchells other than what is on the Jones County census records. Do you know where that information may have come from? Perhaps a Bible record or a court document of some sort?


  47. Hi Vicki, I have learned so much from your sight about my fathers family. I can now put all the pieces together . I remember stories as a child but always confused about who is who. So my father was Reginald Collins. The last child born to Columbus Riley Collins and Sophronia Williford Collins. Columbus’ father I think was Morgan Collins because he is buried at Big Sandy in Bluewater Cem.and dad always told me that was his grandpa. Hope he was right. So Simeon was my fathers great grandfather, right? Or have I missed a grandpa somewhere? Anyway I know the great great great grandparents are Stacy and Sarah Anderson Collins. I know they are buried at Collins cem. In Hardin county. Can you help find it? Is it now called village or Holland. Can’t seem to firgire it out. I have a lot of relatives out there. I remember the Collins’ to be a rowdy bunch, always rolling in the sand fighting at family reunions. But love their spirit and I’m glad it runs through me and my grandchildren, spicy is often a good thing! Thanks, Debra

  48. Debra,

    Nice to hear from you! When I look over all the Renegade South comments that pertain to Collins ancestry, I am amazed at the wealth of information that has been disseminated on the various posts over the past few years. Collins descendants are busy researchers, and I’m glad this site has provided a place to gather their material. Clearly, the Collinses were a rowdy–shall we say funliving?–bunch!

    Yes, Morgan Columbus Collins was a son of Simeon and Lydia Bynum Collins. The parents of Simeon, Stacy and Sarah Anderson Collins, are buried, as you note, in the old Collins cemetery of Hardin Co., TX. Stacy’s grandson, Vinson A. Collins, noted in his 1949 essay “A Little Sketch of the Descedants of Stacy Collins,” (Lauren Rogers Museum, Laurel, MS) that their graves are located “two or three miles from Long Station in Hardin County.” Others who are also buried at this old Collins cemetery are listed by Mildred S. Wright, compiler, Hardin County, Texas, Cemeteries (Beaumont: Southeast Texas Genealogical & Historical Society, 1976).


    • Thank you so much Vicki! We are cousins , how neat! I have ordered your books and can not wait to read them! I’m so happy you have done all the hard research , which makes this so easy for me! I will keep in touch. It’s neat to see other relatives respond on this site. I read one by Phillip Anisworrh who I remember from visits to see my aunt Abbie in Big Sandy, my fathers sister. I find that most enjoyable. So thanks again for providing such a neat place to connect to the past and the future! Debra

      • Yes, Debra, I am a distant cousin to all Collinses descended from Simeon and Lydia, also to those descended from the Mississippi Vinson Collins (who married Nancy Bynum), and those descended from Margaret Collins, who married Benjamin Bynum.

    • I will vouch for the rowdiness definitely. I am also convinced that they are Irish Collins until proven otherwise, and I have theories concerning how they ended up in NC/SC.

      • I think I have mentioned them before but it has to do with Oliver Cromwell removing thousands of people from Ireland as slaves to the West Indies in the 1650’s. (I have to give some credit to the band Flogging Molly for reminding me about that little piece of history) I have noticed that Christopher Columbus is a recurring name with the Collins (I have heard that we are decendants of him for example) and my thought is that perhaps it was homage to the isles he discovered like Barbados. I was explaining this to my brother, I showed him a globe and explained that South Carolina is one of the closest points to Barbados if you were to sail to America. I can understand why they were Anti-Slavery and Anti-Confederacy, especially with the South’s close ties to England.

        This is my theory, I can only trace back to Stacey Collins in South Carolina like everyone else, but I think it makes sense.

      • Thanks, Clay. It’s interesting to speculate on whether the long history of England’s oppression of Ireland influenced the Collins’s views on authority in general and English systems of authority in particular. While the Irish were not enslaved by the English, many were reduced to a state of servility as indentured servants which, in the New World, was simetimes as harsh as slavery. Many others fled the restrictive laws, land confiscations, and massacres inflicted on Ireland by England during the 16th century,

        You’re right, then, that many Irish immigrants to the Caribbean and North America brought anti-English sentiments with them. Of course, that didn’t prevent many of them from becoming slaveholders after they arrived, but its still possible that the Stacy Collins line developed anti-authoritarian, and even anti-slavery, ideas as a result of their sense of Irish history.


  49. Hi Debra and Vickki,
    I’ve been following your recent exchanges. Debra, I should know you and you family as I grew up at Camp Ruby, just 6 miles north of Big Sandy. I went to school at Big Sandy, graduated in 1955. As I reported earlier, I am apparently not related to your Collins line, but knew many of them as a youth in Polk County Texas. Give me a bit more information and let me see if I can place you and your family.

    Thanks, Turner

    • Hi Turner, oh I’m sure you do know my fathers family if you were raised in those piney woods. Because there are many. My dad and his family did move over to Saratoga and that’s where he grew up. So I can not give you any names but I know he had many nephew and neices in the area. I grew up in Cypress Texas and I am 58. My father passed recently in Dec. 2008 and is buried in Thicket, Felps Cemetary ,along with his parents an many siblings. They had land in Big Sandy and many of them lived down the road where a store and old church used to be. Not too familiar with much else. Sorry , but you are welcome to keep in touch and ask more questions, even though I may have no answers! Debra

    • Turner, I hope we can yet find a genealogical link between your Collinses and the Stacy Collins branch!

  50. I just realized I put down the the wrong great grandpa for my dad, Reginald Collins. I had previously said it was Morgan but it is Benjamin Franklin who married Amanda Geiger. Just wanted to clear that up real quick. Debra

      • Hi Victoria, I have been reading , The Free State of Jones and also skipping through The Long Shadow of the Civil War. I love them!!! Thank you for bringing this all out for us. I just had to sit and cry when I learned how difficult it all must have been for everyone at that time and to have my ancestors directly involed makes it even more personal. I have always been so drawn to this time period in History and now feel that this information is why. It is a part of who I am. The character traits of my ancestors are ones to be proud of not ashamed of. They stood firm in what rhey believed in and were willing to suffer the consequences . Not just to follow along. These traits are genetic in most Collins ancestry I believe. Well I could go on but I am such a romantic in my thoughts I would soon sound foolish. Thank you again for revealing a part of history that is so valuable to understanding why we as nation did what we did in a war that divided instead of united. There are so many facets behind this war and the people who lived it. Amazing ! And Clay, I find your Barbados theory very intriguing and could explain why no one can go beyond Stacy Sr. I hope you can prove it one day. Debra Collins Smith

      • Debra, I am delighted that you are finding your family’s history so gratifying–as well you should! The Collinses have a fascinating history, across territories and states, and over a long span of years (let’s hope it continues!). I too hope that one day a researcher will establish without doubt the identity of Stacy (and Sarah Anderson Gibson) Collins’s ancestry.


  51. Clay, I think the Barbados connection is a valid one. I asked my dad’s aunt, many years ago, if she knew how the Sumralls came to come to America. She said that she had read there was a Peter Sumrall (but the name was spelled differently, longer with more letters – that is frequently still true today) who was a highlander drummer of about 14 who was captured by the English at a battle in Scotland in the 1700’s, kept in a barge on the Thames, then sold into slavery in the West Indies. The ship he was on was captured by the French and he was set free in the Barbados, and made his way to Carolina, and he was the first Sumrall here. I don’t know where she read this, or if someone told her. I also don’t know if it’s true, but it seems there is always a bit of truth in almost all family legends.

  52. Just out of curiosity I checked with my old friend Professor Google and came up with this list of prisoners transported in “Jacobite Gleanings from State Manuscripts…” by J. Macbeth Forbes:
    “An exact list and description of 150 rebel prisoners ship’d at Liverpool on board the Veteran – John Ricky, Master – for the Leeward Islands; which were taken near Antigua, the 18th June last, by the Diamond privateer – Paul Marsale commander – and carried into Martinico, the 30th June 1747”
    on page 49 is listed “# 83 name Peter Summerall age 14 profession shoemaker county Lothian stature 5’1 3/4″ remarks fair hair, slender, straight”
    If you go up to page 47 at this site it explains the capture of the ship. If anyone is interested they could do a search on the site for their family name.
    A little truth in most family histories, perhaps?

    • What an exciting find, Tim! And what harrowing experience for Peter Summerall. It looks like dissent was already a family tradition–but a 14-year-old boy? Wouldn’t it be great to know the details?!

      Yes, it certainly pays to check out one’s family stories. There’s usually something there, though sometimes the details change or are lost as the story is passed on.


  53. Vikki, I downloaded the book from Google and am slowly reading it, it’s a fascinating glimpse into a history I was unaware of. Of course it’s questionable if Peter Summerall is responsible for all the Sumrall/Summerall/Sumeral etc. etc. families of today, much less mine, but I’m sure he was the ancestor of some, either here or in the Islands. As i went through the list I noted there were only 3 (I think) 14 year olds and he was the only one with a trade – shoemaker. I wonder who his parents were and if they were killed or captured by the English. Seems like a good, but difficult, project for this summer.

    • Tim,

      The old James H. Hines genealogy of the Sumralls led me to conclude that the ancestor of William Wesley Sumrall, member of the Knight band, and his brother Hiram Levi Sumrall, was Tom Sumrall of South Carolina. Tom left SC before 1794 and was in Wayne Co., MS, by 1808. I believe Tom’s father was Jacob Summerall of SC, who I included in Free State of Jones (pp. 24-26, 52) because of his importance to the Regulator/Moderator Movement in SC history, as well as his likely relationship to the MS Sumralls.

      I wonder if there’s a connection that might be verified between Jacob Summerall (who had a brother named Henry) and the Peter Summerall you found? In 1762, Jacob was a justice of the peace in SC’s Edgefield district (formerly part of Ninety Six, a region notorious for dissent). He owned 550 acres of land in New Windsor Township near the Savannah River (see Free State of Jones, p. 24)

      Hope this might be helpful in your quest to trace the Summeralls origins!


    • Just some information I found for anyone interested.

      Here is an article explaining the ‘Redlegs’ in Barbados. I do know that the Irish Collins originate from the same area in Ireland that Captain West was sailing from with some ‘guests.’

      Click to access Royal.pdf

      Ironically this Captain West became Governor of Charles Town.


      Someone mentioned a Williams Collins being the Father of Stacy Collins, I am not sure of this but here is a list of Collins in North Carolina.

      Click to access Timeline-NC.pdf

  54. Hi Vikki, I was wondering if you could help me answer a question I have about great grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Collins. On his military marker at his grave site it says he fought in Co B Hoods Brig. Texas Inf. CSA. Is it possible he left Mississippi before the war was over? I thought he was one of the sons who fought in Co F in Mississippi Inf. , and held as a prisoner of war with his father Simeon Collins. All the other military markers for his brothers, Thomas Jefferson,Morgan Columbus are marked with Co. F,7 Mississippi Inf. CSA. Just was hoping you may have the document before I do any other research. Thanks for your help.

    • Debra,

      Here is the history of Benjamin Franklin Collins, son of Simeon Collins, according to my record research:
      1) in 1860 he was living in the household of his parents in Jasper Co., MS.
      2) He was captured in Jones County, MS., by Col. Robert Lowry along with his brothers and his father, Simeon, in April, 1864, and forced back into the military (7th battalion, Miss, Infantry) and sent to fight at the battle of Kennesaw Mountain, GA. He, his father, and his brothers were captured by Yankees at Kennesaw and sent to the prison camp at Camp Morton, Indiana. They remained there until their release at war’s end.
      3) He is listed with wife Amanda and children Seleta E., 6; Lucy L., 4; Emeline L, 2; and a 6 month old baby In the 1870 Jones Co. census.
      4) He moved with his mother, Lydia, and several other family members to Hardin Co., TX, around 1872.

      It appears that the B. F. Collins who served from Texas was a different man (Benjamin Franklin was a VERY common name during the 19th century) His military record says he was born in the Republic of Texas; Simeon’s sons were all born in Mississippi.

      More research on the TX B.F. Collins should answer this question once and for all.


  55. Thanks Vikki, I was sure he fought in the Co 7 Mississippi Inf. After reading both your books. I think someone made a mistake at the cemetery. I will investigate that. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think about something in your books, The Free State of Jones, and The Long Shadow of the Civil War. I have loved them both. Thank you again for all you help.


  56. Debra:

    I saw a photo of the plaque on “Find a Grave” and will offer this information:

    Footnote.com and the Civil War Soldiers & Sailors database both concur in listing 3 individuals named “B.F. Collins” who served in Texas CSA units. (There are no Texas records for “Benjamin F. Collins” or “Benjamin Collins.”) A summary of their units and service is as follows:

    1) B.F. Collins, Baylor’s Rgmt, TX Cavalry. Enlisted 11/15/1862 at Houston. Served until paroled 06/23/1865.

    2) B.F. Collins, 26th TX Cavalry, Co D. Enlisted 10/16/1861 at Galveston. In May of 1862 his father, John P. Collins, petitioned for his son’s discharge due to his being underage (16).

    3) B.F. Collins, 1st TX Infantry, Co B. Enlisted as a musician 05/16/1861 at New Orleans. Described as 13 years old, 5′ tall, black hair and eyes, born in Galveston, and previously a clerk in a hotel. Discharged due to bronchitis on 08/01/1861.

    It can be noted that, based on the timing of enlistments and discharges, the B.F. Collins of the 1st TX and of the 26 TX Cavalry could have been the same young man.

    Assuming the information in his military records is correct, the B.F. Collins who briefly served in 1st TX Infantry, Co B–the service information cited on the plaque–could NOT be the son of Simeon Collins. If so, it would certainly not be the first time I’ve encountered a case where a descendant appropriated a lineage he/she wished to have (e.g., CSA service) and applying it uncritically to their own ancestor.

    • Thanks, Ed! And thanks to Debra for questioning the “facts” posted on Benjamin Franklin Collins’s grave. As I read her question, I was thinking of all the incorrect information Ed has found on ancestry.com regarding soldiers’ military service (many folks just can’t seem to fathom that their Southern ancestor may have fought for the Union!).

      Am pleased, Ed, that you took time to research this example in regard to one of your very own kinfolk (and mine).


  57. Thank you so much Ed for taking the time to clear up that information on the military status of the B.F. Collins. It is now clear that the grave is marked wrong. I appreciate your efforts very much for I have no luck finding all that information. I’m certain that the B. F Collins buried at Big Sandy cemetery is my great great grandfather, since other family members are there also and the dates are all correct on his headstone . Maybe there is something I can do to ha e it marked correctly. Thanks again you are so knowledgable on all the history


  58. HI Vikki,

    I just finished reading your book “The Free State of Jones” and found it very interesting! I grew up in Mt. Olive, Ms. and know the desendents of many of the people you wrote about. In fact, Pernice (sp?) Knight was my 8th grade Biology teacher at Mt. Olive HS and her husband R.J. owned the general store in Hot Coffee.

    Anyway, when I read the article about the Piney Woodsmen going to New Orleans and signing up with the 1st NO Reg on the Union side, and after reading the roster, I noticed the name Thomas Johnston, 24 yrs old, from Jones Co. This caught my attention because my ancestors on my Mother’s side came from Jones Co. and their last name was Johnston. I had a gggrandfather (Eriah Allen Johnston) also from Jones Co. that joined the 27th Ms. Inf (Rosinheels) and was wounded at Perryville then died a couple of months later in a Chattanooga hospital from his wounds. I have not been able to find out much information on the Johnstons and was wondering if you might know if Thomas and Eriah Allen may have been related? Eriah had a young son named Thomas when he went off to war. One other thing, my maternal Grandfather, Evans Harvey (b. 1893 Jones Co. d. 1974 Covington Co.) married Ora Elizabeth Johnston (Eriah’s son Thomas’ daughter) and according to my Mother, was very interested in the Newt Knight story. He insisted on my Mother buying him the Ethel Knight book when it first came out, which she did, but has since been lost. He also spoke of seeing Newt Knight riding through town on a horse with his shotgun across the saddle. My grandfather’s father was Thomas Green Harvey and there is very little information on him. He was of age during the Civil War but apparently did not join the Confederacy. He left his wife and kids close to the turn of the century and married Eliza Sullivan (Sullivan’s Hollow) and had another family. Again, I wonder if he may have been involved in the Newt Knight company since he was from that area, too, and seemed to be ‘off the radar’ during that time. He was born in 1843 and died around 1920. Could this be the reason my grandfather had such an interest in those events?

    By the way, I now live in Dallas, Tx. and my daughter plans on attending Texas State next year.

    Thank you for your wonderful work of getting the truth out and keeping alive that part of history that is so important to so many!

    • Larry,

      It’s great to meet you here on Renegade South, and thanks for your words of encouragement about restoring this aspect of Civil War history for current generations.

      I am right now on vacation in San Marcos, TX, visiting and staying with former history colleagues from Texas State, where your daughter will soon be attending. Hope she has a great experience there. It’s a good college located in a bustling college town–and now has 34,500 students!

      I love your maternal grandfather’s description of Newt Knight riding his horse with his gun across his saddle–Newt was said to take his gun everywhere he went. I think you’re likely right that your great-grandfather, with his Sullivan connections, knew and perhaps was connected to Knight band members, if not Newt himself, during the war.

      I see Ed Payne has supplied you with relevant genealogical information from his research on the New Orleans enlistees–Thanks, Ed!


  59. My husband, Willie Ray Knight is a descendant of Newt Knight. Always searching the web for info..thanx for ur website/infom

  60. Larry:

    The Thomas JOHNSTON who enlisted in the 1st New Orleans stated that his pre-enlistment residence was Jones Co, MS. He enrolled on 15 May 1864 and died on 20 Dec 1865. The closest match I found is Thomas JOHNSON who is listed in Jones Co on both the 1850 and 1860 census. This individual was born in Mississippi ca 1839, a son of David Johnson (aka Johnston) and wife Elizabeth. The 1850 census recorded both parents as being born in SC: David ca 1805 and Elizabeth ca 1815.

    By 1860 Elizabeth was apparently a widow and Thomas residing in the h’hold of J.H. Overstreet, who was probably his brother-in-law. Hope this helps.

    Ed Payne

  61. I am hard at work on a paper/book on notable inter-racial relationships across
    the 19th and 20th cents We all know about Thomas Jefferson of course, then there is Richard M. Johnson, James Henry Hammond, John Catron (supreme court justice) William C. Oates (governor of Alabama, senator ditto). It seems Jesse Knight, son of Newton Knight also jumped the line.

    I am wondering if anyone knows of any other relationships between white men – especially notable politicians – and black women – especially late into the 19th or early 20th century.

    • Hello Jeff,

      Welcome to Renegade South. Relationships across the color line are, as you note, common. As for politicians of the early twentieth century, Strom Thurmond comes to mind. (Of course, Thurmond lived long enough to be a late 20th century politician as well)

      Newt Knight’s son, Mat, crossed the color line, as did Newt, but to my knowledge Newt had no son named Jesse. Perhaps you’re thinking of Newt’s uncle, Jesse Davis Knight, who is widely believed to have fathered children by Rachel Knight. Mat Knight married Fannie Knight, the alleged daughter of Jesse and Rachel.


  62. Dear Vikki
    Your book, “The Free State of Jones”, is a fascinating read. My mother is a native of Jones County, as has been her family since the early 1800s. My life, from childhood, has included considerable time spent in this area. And still, I was unaware of the conflicting views among county citizens regarding the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War and the years following.
    My father’s family included a Baptist Chaplain and others who swelled the ranks of the Confederacy. From my mother’s family, in Jones County, I am the gr-gr-great granddaughter of Confederate supporter, Rev.William H. Fairchild. My gr-great grandfather, Richard Sellers, was a Confederate Prisoner of War, who perished at Ft. Delaware. Three of his brothers are also documented with Confederate service. Maj. Amos Mclemore was their cousin.
    The intricate history of my family’s area is reminiscent to me of earlier citizen conflicts during the American Revolution, between Patriots and Loyalists, These are evident, particularly, in areas of New York and the Carolinas. History is not always as simple as it appears. Often, what lies beneath the surface can be more interesting and insightful.


    • Thank you, Lydia, for taking time to comment on the history of the Free State of Jones, and for sharing some of your own family’s history on Renegade South.

      Probably what fascinated me most about Jones County’s inner civil war was how one can trace it back to, as you point out, earlier versions of such community conflicts–especially the Regulator and Revolutionary movements of South and North Carolina–that involved the very ancestors of Jones County folks. I found the thread of continuity from those years to the Civil War crucial to understanding the mindsets of Jones County men (and their families), who faced a terrible choice with the onset of a war that was fought on local as well as national levels.

      I couldn’t agree more with your remark that “History is not always as simple as it appears. Often, what lies beneath the surface can be more interesting and insightful.” I especially appreciate your remarks because they remind me of why I included the earlier “origins” chapters of the book, although some readers thought I should have left them out in the name of writing more about the Civil War itself.


  63. I have been stumped in the research of my great grandfather who I was told was Raymond James Tine Hampshire, but I am also finding a similar person with the same history named James Antonio Tom Hampshire. He married Elizabeth Ainsworth in 1897. I found in the previous articles a Choctaw woman named Eliza and I am wondering if this is her.

    We have been told that we have Choctaw Indian heritage, but I have had a difficult time researching this. Do you have any information on how I can find this out?

    I am from the Hampshire side of the lineage and would be interested in any further ancestral information I can get concerning the Abshires, Ainsworth, and Hampshire connections.

    Steven Sanders

    • My great grandmother was Vinnie (Viney) Hampshire (Barrow) who had a twin sister Vicey Hampshire and supposedly they were adopted by James Antonio Hampshire and wife Elizabeth. I would love to know their biological names, and also James seems to be a brick wall as well. I understand that he lived with the Landrums as a child.

  64. Thank you for creating this Web site and sharing your information about pro-Union southerners with us. I have just finished reading your blog of February 12, 2009 about the Bill Owens gang and the killing of Pleasant Simmons and Jacob Saunders (my first cousin three times removed) in Montgomery County, North Carolina.

    My Sanders family, originally from Randolph and Montgomery in North Carolina (though many moved to Jackson County, Alabama, well before the Civil War) was one of those that had conflicting loyalties during the Civil War. My great grand uncle, Joseph Sanders, who was seventy years old, was killed by Confederate sympathizers while plowing his field in 1863 in Jackson County, Alabama. Three of his sons, some of his nephews, and other Sanders relatives were serving in the Union Army. The story of Uncle Joe’s murder was passed down through generations of the Sanders family along with other stories about the Civil War. I have an article about Joe Sanders at my Web site:

    My great grandfather and my grandfather, who were living in Montgomery County, Arkansas, when the war broke out, fought first for the Confederacy and then, after the Federal forces entered the state, for the Union. Like many other southerners, I think they were just trying to survive in a situation in which ordinary people had little control of their lives.

    • Gary,

      Thank you for your message! I have just visited your website and can see that I need to spend some quality time reading all the great information it contains on the Sanders family.

      I would also like to re-post your story of your Uncle Joe’s murder on Renegade South if you would grant me permission.

      By the way, my husband, Gregg Andrews, is a Sanders through his mother. They were NC Quakers who migrated to Kentucky, then Indiana, as slavery expanded in the South. I’m eager to study his genealogical history more closely to see if I find any overlap with your Sanders line.

      The Civil War was so complex in its meaning and its effects when we look at it up close. I’m sure that the final sentence of your comment: “I think they were just trying to survive in a situation in which ordinary people had little control of their lives,” was true of many, many Southern people.

      Please let me know at your earliest convenience whether you’re okay with me re-posting your family story.


  65. Vikki,
    That’s fine about re-posting my article on Joseph Sanders. I have a slightly revised version in a Find-a-Grave memorial which also contains a picture of his tombstone. Use whichever version you think is preferable. My sister and I visited Jackson County in 2007 and it was a very moving experience to see the site where Uncle Joe lived. The land is still owned by a Sanders descendant, though with a different surname.

    I might mention, to avoid confusion, that I am descended from two unrelated Sanders lines (according to DNA tests). I am related to Joseph because his sister Mary married my great-great grandfather, Benjamin Sanders. Joseph’s father, Joseph, Sr., appears to have had some connections to Quakers but he was not one himself. In his will he asked that his children be raised by Quakers if any of them had to be apprenticed. One of his daughters married a Quaker who was then expelled for “marrying out.”

    It would be interesting if we could establish a connection to your husband’s Sanders ancestors.

  66. Thanks, Gary.

    Can you send me a jpg of Joseph’s tombstone photo? You might also send me a file that contains the essay, although I think I can copy and paste that from your website. Then I’ll go to work getting the material properly formatted and posted on Renegade South.

    I will contact you personally so that you have my personal email address.


  67. Gary,

    Gregg’s Sanders/Saunders roots go back to Michael Saunders, b. 1720 in Isle of Wight, VA. I see that your Sanders ancestors also have roots in Isle of Wight, but I found no overlap of first names and dates.

    Michael Saunders’s descendant, William Sanders, b. 1745, moved on to Wayne Co., NC, where he died in 1805. He married first a Mitchell, then a Jordan.

    These Sanders lived in Rich Square, Northhampton Co., NC, by 1779, and later moved on to Jefferson Co, Kentucky.

    Although both your and Gregg’s Sanders ancestors had Quaker connections, they show no geographic overlap during that time, at least none that I have found in my comparison of the genealogical histories. The descendants of Michael Saunders moved to Indiana because of their antislavery Quaker views, where they founded “Sanders Colony” in Henry Co., Indiana.

    Here’s the link to this genealogy: http://www.sandersgenealogy.com/sanders/index.html


  68. I have enjoyed this and the website very much; and I’m glad to see that the history of southern dissidents has not been lost.

    I recently createda youtube video about Appalachia, especially East Tennessee, during the Civil War in an effort to clarify a few things.

    It makes no pretense to scholarship, but I thought you might be interested.

    Though I’m a traditional blues guitarist, in this video I play “Battle Cry of Freedom” as though I were a regimental band.

  69. Victoria, I have not written lately, but I just finished Jonathan O’dell’s new book, The Healing. It was wonderful. I felt like I was right there in that time era. I did not care for the view from delphi, but I could not put this book down.

    • Thank you, Janet, for your remarks–I’m going to add them to the comments under my review of The Healing!


  70. Victoria,

    I have spent a great deal of time researching my family heritage, which is leading me directly back to Mississippi, the Confederacy and defection therefrom by my great, great grandfather. His name was Michael Pinkney Andrews, and he hailed from Maury County, TN. He and his brother James K Polk Andrews joined the 17th TN Infantry, Company C. Following the heavy action at Rock Castle, Fishing Creek, the capture of Mundfordville and the Battle of Perryville, my GG grandfather went AWOL on the march to Baldwyn, MS from Corinth in June of 1862. My great grandfather, Lucius Grundy Andrews was born in January of 1865 in Pike County, MS, which is south and west of Jones county, on the way to New Orleans. I am now wondering, subsequent learning of you and your work involving Jones county and what went on there during 1863 and 1864, if this is not the way station that my Michael Pinkney Andrews utilized after he deserted. He certainly would not have been able to travel back into southern TN where he was from, especially given the fact that his older brother James was still serving. The fact that he met one Sarah Sandifer, my great grandfather’s mother, in Holmesville, MS, which is directly north of New Orleans, adds further to my suspicions. This is all very exciting to me, as I was somewhat disappointed when I first learned that my ancestor simply quit his duties. But if he could have joined another cause, and involved himself in something meaningful, that would be a good thing to know. I can find plenty on my GG Uncle, as well as my GGG grandfather, who lived from 1806 to 1902. But records on Michael are understandably sketchy, as he did not participate in census, etc. I can hardly wait to read your books and learn more. My company is active in the oil business south of San Marcos. Maybe you can help me put this puxxle together. Maybe my relative joined the cause with your own. History is so exciting. I hope to hear from you, and I am glad to hear of your view on history and how you enjoy making it come alive for all of us “regular folks” out there! Best regards, Glenn Andrews/Houston, TX

  71. Glenn:

    I did some quick checking and could not find a relationship (which is not to say one does not exist) between the Michael Pinkney Andrews you cited and Lucius G. Andrews. As you noted, Michael P. Andrews was born in Maury, Tennessee and enlisted in the CSA 17th TN and was reported AWOL in Jun 1862. But I was able to trace him on censuses from 1850-1900 (see below) as residing in Maury or Obion counties, Tennessee.

    As best I can determine, Lucius Grundy Andrews was born in Pike County, Mississippi on 17 Jan 1865 to Malachi (aka Malichi, Mack) Andrews and wife Sarah (Sandifer). Malachi was a son of Thompson Andrews, born ca 1813, a slave owning planter whose family had settled in the area before statehood. Malachi served in the 38th MS Cavalry (as “Malichi P. Andrews”) and was paroled at Vicksburg. (Also, just to confuse things, there was a William Pinkney Andrews born in Pike County ca 1846 and a different Lucius Andrews born there in Jan 1867.)

    The 1900 census shows Malachi (as “Mack”) in Collin County, Texas with his wife and two daughters. They are listed on the same census sheet as son Lucius. Malachi and his wife were back in Pike County, MS by the time of the 1910 census. A source lists him as dying 17 May 1915.

    Michael Pinkney Andrews (ca 1842 – aft 1900)
    1850 Michael Andrews, age 8, Maury, TN
    1860 Michael P. Andrews, age 18, Maury, TN
    1870 M.P. Andrews, age 29, Maury, TN
    1880 Michael P. Andrus, age 39, Obion, TN
    1890 (all records destroyed)
    1900 Michael P. Andrews, age 58, Obion, TN
    1910 Nancy E. Andrews (wife), widow, age 69, Obion, TN

    Malachi Andrews (1841-1915)
    1850 Malichiah Andrews, age 9, Pike, MS (h’hold of “Thompson Andrews”)
    1860 M. Andrews, age 18, Pike, MS (h’hold of “Thopson Andrews”)
    1870 Man B Andrew, age 26, Pike, MS
    1880 Malika Andrews, age 35, Pike, MS
    1890 (all records destroyed)
    1900 Mack Andrews, age 57, Collin, TX (born MS)
    1910 Mack Andrews, age 67, Pike, MS

    Lucius G. Andrews (1865-1955)
    1870 Lucious Andrew, age 5, Pike, MS (h’hold of “Man B Andrew”)
    1880 Lucina Andrews, age 15, Pike, MS (h’hold of “Malika Andrews”)
    1890 (all records destroyed)
    1900 Lucius G. Andrews, age 35, Collin, TX (born MS)
    1910 Lucius G. Andrews, age 45, Foard, TX (born MS)

    Ed Payne

  72. Ed, Thanks for your quick response. In my great grandfather’s death certificate it lists the father back in January, 1865 in Pike county, MS as one Michael Pinkney Andrews. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JXXL-NGW). This, I believed, was the most authentic representation of Lucius Grundy Andrews’ father, and so I constructed my further searches accordingly. Are you sure this is not in fact correct? Thanks, Glenn Andrews

  73. Glenn:

    Via this message I’ll authorize Vikki to provide you with my email if you wish to discussion the Andrews line further. But much genealogical research has taught me, even when I wished it otherwise, that the parental information entered on death certificates is a long way from infallible. After all, it records what a relative or acquaintance recollects many years after hearing the information. For example, when my grandmother died (her only child had predeceased her) I reported to the funeral home that her maiden name was “Walker” when in fact it was “Walters.” I had inadvertently confused her maiden name with that of one of her cousins. In the same way, “Malachi” during a period of 40 years could have become remembered as “Michael.” Census records, on the other hand, list households as they existed at that point in time and–when they show consistency over the decades–offer much stronger proof.

    Ed Payne

      • Hi Vikki,

        My Grandmother was Wadie Andrews b. 1894 in Tylertown, MS. Her father was Pinkney Burrel Andrews. b. 1865 His father James W Andrews b. 1840 was the Brother to Malachi Andrews b. 1841. My mother says he was referred to as “Mack”

  74. Hi, Vikki,

    I found your web site while trolling the web for sharecropping records from North Georgia. The title intrigued me, because I have a couple of renegade Southerners in my own family. I know my great-grandfather, Anderson (or Andrew) Franklin Shipman of Pickens County, Georgia, fought for the Union. And his mother, Hannah Shipman, remains an extremely unruly woman. She appears out of thin air as a male in the 1860 Census, a female in the 1880 census, and no one in the family has ever been able to work out for sure either who the father of her children was or who her parents were. If you have any thoughts about traps I could run, I would be extremely grateful, but I don’t want to put you to any trouble. I was deeply touched when you called yourself “a people’s historian.”

    Glenda Carl

  75. Great blog. Am a hist. major at U of Houston (interested in southern studies) and a genealogist with a project, The Colvin Study, now in its 15th year. Recently, I began working on an antebellum biracial Colvin line begun by James W. Colvin ( a cousin) and his mulatto wife, Alethea Preston. I’ve had the good fortune to become acquainted with one of their modern descendants who has provided wonderful images of them, their descendants and even of James’ and Alethea’s cabin, now being reclaimed by the earth in Fauquier county, VA. As I began to research this, I wonderd how couples like them managed for so long to circumvent those oppresive miscegenation laws so prevelant in the south. And so hit the academic journals looking for answers which lead me, ultimatly to your artcle in JSH, White Negros…. Very interesting. I work on the Colvin Study in the summer and this has been the best summer yet, but I still have a lot of reading to do, because the scholarship seems lacking with regard to how these couples managed to circumvent (not really the right word,) the law. My blog is at http://acolvin2010.wordpress.com/.

  76. Thanks for writing, Alex–we certainly have research interests in common, and I’m glad you found my article in the Journal of Southern History helpful. Thanks for giving me your blog information. I visited, and enjoyed seeing your work. Would you allow me to borrow essays from it for Renegade South from time to time? If I did so, I would of course give full credit to you and your blog.


  77. I accidentally stumbled across your blog recently. Read “Free State of Jones” several years ago as my great grandfather, A. J. Brown of Newton County had a connection to Jones. According to my uncle, W. W. Barber, Brown kept a diary that my uncle had read many times, but when he went to transcribe it, found sections missing concerning Brown’s efforts to help . It seems that members of the family who removed the parts felt descendants should not know this information. The story is that Brown was not in favor of secession, but did help the Confederacy however he could. He was not physically able to serve. When Jones Co. seceded, Brown went to Jones Co to try to persuade them against these actions. After being there about a week, a group of his friends came to him saying his enemies were planning to kill him and that he should leave immediately. Some 20 in number rode horseback with him at night to a point beyond the danger line. By the way, A. J. Brown wrote “The History of Newton County, MS.” How really unfortunate that this story was lost.

    • Unfortunate, indeed, Virginia! Thank you so much for sharing this with Renegade South; it’s a perfect example of how “inconvenient” histories are often suppressed or buried. I would love to hear more about the full history of your great-grandfather. How fortunate that he had in essence a posse to escort him from danger. Is his “History of Newton County” available on the Internet, by any chance?

      Vikki bynum

      • Excerpts from the book’s chapters are online and the book is available at Amazon. I have a rather long write-up I can email you about Brown, but it is too long to put here.

        Virginia B. Perkins

      • Thank you for the information, Virginia. I’ll send you my email address, and would love to see your write-up, if you don’t mind sending it.


  78. This is a fascinating blog. I only wish I could spend more time with family in Jones County. Vicky, your book, “Free State of Jones” was extremely helpful when I was documenting family lineage. Several statements you made in your work made it possible for me to find the correct records for ancestral links. My mother’s family from Jones County is comprised of a group of families who are and who have been interrelated since since the early 1600s in Virginia. (The Fairchilds originated in Charleston, SC). I am certain that most everyone writing on this blog will find that their family, too
    stems from several county families who have been connected since early on in this country-if not before. It makes history come alive, when you realize its direct affect on you and generations to follow. Thank you for the thoroughness of your work. I look forward to more from you.
    In a previous post, I stated that my family supported the Confederacy in Jones Co.during the Civil War. However, I have a first cousin who is married to a Collins, and a first cousin, once removed, who is married to a Knight. And so, the history of Jones County is all “our” history on every side.

    • Thank you for your kind remarks, Lydia; I’m always pleased to know when Free State of Jones has helped someone with their own research. As for your families pro- and anti-Confederate connections, that seems to be the norm in this region of the South–and I’m sure many other areas as well!


  79. Vikki,

    I would like to thank you again for providing a site for sharing information about Southerners who supported the Union during the Civil War. A few months ago I posted some material on my great granduncle Joseph Sanders who was killed in 1863 in Jackson County, Alabama, because he remained loyal to the Union.

    My grandfather had a first cousin, Levi Lindsey Sanders, who was born in Jackson County, Alabama, in 1837. After the death of his mother and when his father married a second time, Levi ran away from home while still a teenager. He drifted through Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas, and arrived in Dallas County just before the Civil War. There he met Susan Collins, whose parents, William and Minerva (Parker?) Collins, were also from Jackson County, Alabama. Levi and Susan married in 1859 and had ten children before her death in 1877 in Van Zandt County, Texas.

    Here is the story from one of the descendants of William and Minerva Collins, Jane Ulrich Collins, “According to my father, Lee Marvin Collins, William C. who married Minerva was hung on the East Fork of the Trinity River in the 1860’s, because apparently one of his sons had gone AWOL from the [Confederate] army and he did not know where he was and could not tell the army, so they hung him as a traitor. All the other info you have jives pretty well with what I have gleaned over these many years. When that happened, it occurred in or about 1860? [obviously, this must have been between 1861-1865–gs] in Rowlett, Dallas, Tx and he was hung on the East Fork of the Trinity River. Supposedly a post was put where he was hung, but I never did learn the place or how to get to it.”

    My conclusion is that the Confederate sympathizers who hanged William Collins suspected that he was an active supporter of the Union cause, but I have not been able to gather any further documentation about this incident. There was, of course, quite a bit of Union sentiment in North Texas and a great deal of violence directed toward those who did not actively support the Confederacy.

  80. Thank you for your “return visit” to Renegade South, Gary! The story of William Collins is a fascinating one, and the vigilante aspects of it remind me so much of the murders of Adolph Hoppe and Henry Flaugher–see https://renegadesouth.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/dead-mans-hole-the-murder-of-adolph-hoppe-german-texan-unionist-in-the-texas-hill-country/.

    For readers who want to read Gary’s post, “Confederate Conflict in Jackson County, Alabama,” the link is https://renegadesouth.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/gary-b-sanders-confederate-conflict-in-jackson-county-alabama/


  81. I have been researching the Knight family after reading Ethel’s book. I am her great niece. My grandfather was James Taylor Knight. I would love to know more if you can help me.

  82. I am just learning about the Knights. My third great Grandmother was Althamirah Knight who married my ggg grandfather James Mattison Brumfield.
    This side of my family did not mention the Knight’s but little. I have taken on a great deal of research. A quick question for you is, do you possibly know of where I could find a photo of Althamirah? My in-tension is to buy your book and ETHEL kNIGHTS BOOK. On the other side of my family, my great grandfather’s sister Corene Emmaline Stogner married James Pound Knight.

  83. I don’t know a thing about Christopher Columbus Collins, but I am realted to Jasper Collins from Union, Ulysses Sherman Collins, and my Mammaw was his Ulysses’s youngest daughter by his first wife-Lennie Lee Collins Read. I’ve been trying to find the gravesite because my mother, Carolyn Read, wants to make sure it’s accesseble, and I also want to do some gravestone rubbings for her. I would like some background info about Jasper Collins, and what happened. Since Mammaw died, the story telling died too. I have a 14 year old who really needs to be in touch with this before my Mom passes away.

  84. Karen: My understanding is the Collins Cemetery is on private property near Union, MS. This is the former Jasper Collins farm property. The cemetery is fenced in and, based on photos I have received, the grave stones are in good shape.

    Jasper Collins played a key role in the events which unfolded in Jones County from 1863-1865 and reverberated for decades afterwards. Vikki Bynum includes much information about Jasper and the entire Collins clan in “Free State of Jones.” I’ve also researched Jasper, including his later life conversion to Universalism (aka Unitarianism) and involvement in Populist politics (see “Jasper Collins and the ‘Ellisville Patriot'” on this site). Some descendants have an easier time accepting Jasper’s war-time Unionism than his adoption of Universalism. But they were evidence of the same strain of independent thinking that characterized his entire life. His1913 obituary noted, “He was ever noted for his independence of action and great force of character, and when he believed that a cause or principle was right, he espoused the same and heeded not public censure or applause.”

    My personal connection is that I’m a descendant of Jasper’s older sister, Sarah (Sally) Collins Walters Parker, who helped shelter the Knight Band during the war.

    Via this message, I’ll request that Vikki provide you with my email address. Please contact me if you wish to obtain further information.

    Ed P.

    • Thank you for your response to Karen’s comment and questions, Ed. Karen, I’ve elaborated on the life of Jasper Collins, including his postwar populism and his conversion to Universalism, in my last book, The Long Shadow of the Civil War.


  85. Well, I guess I know where I get my social activism, and independent thinking from! And, all this time I thought it came from my father’s side of the family. I knew there was a reason I adored my Mammaw: Lennie Lee Collins-Read

    • Karen,

      Finding one’s self in one’s ancestors (with hopefully our most valued qualities!) is what makes researching family history so much fun. Even when we learn not-so-wonderful things about our ancestors, it’s great to understand what preceded us and likely influenced our fate.


  86. As a child, a friend of mine lived just a few yards in front of the burial site.
    Here are the directions:
    At the junction of Hwy 208 & Hwy 212, turn right onto Hwy 212 East.
    Travel approximately 8 miles until you come to the intersection of 212 & Cutshall Town Road.
    Log Cabin Lane will be on your left.
    If you turn onto Log Cabin Lane, you will travel approximately 400 yards and will come to a two story stone and log cabin.
    The burial site, marked by two flat granite stones with the victims names on them is directly behind the cabin, along a barbed wire fence and is surrounded by trees and brush.
    Google Earth or some other site as such might allow you to zoom in.

    As far as the site of the massacre, there is dispute to this day, but it is between two places:
    The first would be behind and across the creek from what is now Old Creek General Store, which will be on the right, about 2 miles before you get to the burial site.
    The other site would be what is now known as the Hayes Landers Farm, which is almost adjacent to the burial site.
    This dispute has always made me wonder if the massacre actually took place in two different locations but the burial in one?
    Never have been able to figure out why something so significant could be troubled my misinformation or dispute.

  87. To Margaret Louise Miller, comment at https://renegadesouth.wordpress.com/wp-admin/comment.php?action=editcomment&c=6582

    Nice to meet another Bynum cousin! Historically, Prentice and Benjamin are two of my favorite renegade southerners. My last book, The Long Shadow of the Civil War (which will be out in paperback in June 2013), covers much of Prentice Bynum’s political career after the Civil War, when he became a Populist.

    Thanks for writing,

  88. In doing research on my Blackwell family line, I found your information on my great grandmother’s brother, Richard Montgomery Blackwell, a member of the Newt Knight gang and who had married Newt’s cousin, Zorada Keziah Knight. This info helped to explain some old stories about my great grandfather, Hanson Ausberry McDonald, who had joined the Confederacy, Co. E, 6th MS Infantry, was captured during the Battle of Port Gibson, imprisoned in Illinois, and eventually released in a prisoner exchange. He returned home to Covington County MS and married the neighbor’s daughter, Clarky Jane Blackwell. In “The Echo of the Black Horn,” page 67, is a listing of Newt’s company. It includes “Ausberry McDaniel.” I’m trying to find if this is really “McDonald.” Family stories are that Hanson Ausberry McDonald was a member.
    Have greatly enjoyed reading this blog.

  89. It’s nice to hear from you, Mary. The Blackwell line is certainly integral to the Free State of Jones story. I myself have a great-aunt, Anna Bynum, who married into the Blackwell family, but I’ve never been able to determine who she married since she appears as a widow in the manuscript censuses.

    In regard to the “Ausberry McDaniel” who appears on Ethel Knight’s roster (and on Newt Knight’s postwar roster as well) it is certainly possible that he was your great-grandfather, Hanson Ausberry McDonald. It would not be the first time that a Knight band member’s name appeared in more than one form. I will check my records at my first opportunity to see if I find any clues as to whether they are indeed the same man.


  90. Hi Vikki,

    Just wanted to let you know that I’ve spend the last hour re-reading many of the posts on your blog. BTW, Renegade South is a gift that keeps on giving. Made all the better due to your creative narrative style. One phrase comes to mind. “back yards ran red with blood.” Perhaps more people would bother to read history books if other historians posessed your narrative talent. In addition, I enjoy viewing the various pictures that appear on your website. Treasures indeed. Neat that so many people are eager to share their family stories and photos. Cheers to you, Vikki!

    Another Vikky…(Vikky Lee Wilburn Anders) San Diego

  91. Hi Vikki

    Just wanted to let you know I really enjoyed reading your blog. I have been researching for years some of the stories my grandfather used to tell me when I was younger. May family comes from the Simeon Collins line see below.

    Stacy Collins
    Simeon Collins
    Harrison Taylor Collins
    Rev.Richard Monroe Collins
    Watson Harrison Collins
    Watson Harold Collins
    Then Myself Chris Collins

    My grandfather Watson Harrison was born in 1908 and passed away in 2009. He was born in Segno, TX in the Big Thicket. He actually knew many of the “Old Jayhawkers” that were still alive when he was younger and would pass on many of the stories that he was told about the Old Kaiser Burnout and “Uncle” Warren. I just ordered your books and look forward to reading them. I have tried gathering information for years about my family but it seems no one has been able to find anyone earlier that Stacy Collins. If oyu have any luck please let me know.



      • I’m sorry, Clay, but I do not. Perhaps some of the Renegade South readers will know and comment here.


      • Clay, I am in the process of getting DNA done now. Anxious to see what the results will be. MY line is as follows: Stacy Collins, Sr.; Simeon Collins; Millard Filmore Collins; Bry Ester Collins; Ruthie Collins Nicholson; and me, Wanda Nicholson Sims. Will post anything I find out from the DNA test .

  92. Thank you for your comments, Chris. Oh, how I wish I could have interviewed your grandfather for the two books I’ve written that contain so much on the Collins family–I’m sure his stories would have improved both! The Simeon Collins line is particularly interesting because its history is so enmeshed in both Jones County, MS, and the Big Thicket of Texas.

    I hope you enjoy the books as much as you have the blog. I too wish we could find definitive proof of Stacy Collins’s ancestry.

  93. I do not comment here often, but could not resist the urge to respond when I saw your reference to Segno, TX. This is “old stomping ground” for me.” I grew up at Camp Ruby about 10 miles up the road. Went to school with some Stacy Collins descendants at Big Sandy H.S., Dallardsville. Over the years lots of attempts have been made to show a relationship between those Collinses and my line. Our family came from N. Alabama to Polk County in 1920, via west Texas. I’ve done the Y-DNA test and we fall into different haplo-groups. My roots now tract back to a Sylvester Collins of Rutherford County NC, ca. 1810. Enjoy the journey.

  94. I just was told that Ethel Knight and my grandfather Dan Knight were brother and sister. I am trying to get information on her. My family doesn’t speak of family past Ethel and Dans parents. I am really interested in all these stories and curious of my own family.

  95. Allison:

    Some time back I delved into the genealogy of Ethel Knight (1907-2004), to determine her connection(s) to the Knight family. To summarize: she was born Ethel Boykin, the daughter of James Alexander Boykin and Sarah Graves Boykin. The 1920 census of the family household listed a single younger sibling: James A. Boykin, age 4. However, Ethel’s obituary cited a surviving brother named Robert.

    Ethel married Sidney Knight (1906-1967), who was the son and grandson of two men named Daniel C. Knight. But Ethel had her own lineage to the Knight family via her paternal grandmother, Sarah (Sallie) Josephine Knight (1854-1911), who wed Robert Lemuel Boykin (1850-1935). Evidence suggests she was the daughter of one of Newton Knight’s brothers, James W. Knight. James W. Knight served in the 27th MS and died during the latter stages of the war (some sources claim a death date of 6 Aug 1865).

    As far as I can tell, Ethel did not have a brother named Daniel. However, she was the daughter-in-law of Daniel C. Knight (1856-1933).

    Two good references on Knight family genealogy are: “The Knights and related families” by Kenneth Welch and Jan H. Sumrall; and “The family of John ‘Jackie’ Knight and Keziah Davis Knight” by Winnie Knight Thomas.

  96. Thank you for the information. I’m new to family research. I should have taken time some 20 years ago to listen more to the Sumrall history from my late aunt, Imogene Sumrall, from Laurel, Mississippi. I will definitely be spending more time doing research to pass on to my children.
    Much regards;

    Bill Sumrall

  97. My Hogan ancestor and his brothers are listed in the 1850 census as living with the William Hurley family in Montgomery County, NC. It appears that Alexander Hogan’s parents William and Priscilla disappered from the census starting that year and were listed in the West Pee Dee river fivision in 1840. Trying to find out if they were involved in the Weslyan movement there at the time because of the Hurley connection.

  98. Have you any records for Smith in or around Stokes County? I have traced my family there to the Smiths, Lawsons, Hills, and Simmons’– mostly Smiths and Lawsons. I keep hitting road blocks on the Smith line. There is a family rumor that has been whispered for years that this line was transported as human labor, but I can’t substantiate anything. Its been impossible to find name lists of white slaves or servants. If you can give me any leads, I’d be so grateful.

    • Name some of the Smiths that your kin to if you don’t mind because I am researching my Smith family and gotten stuck as well.

  99. Whoa Nelly! Years of researching my g g g grandfather Simon Willis Russell Knight and just about to give up and I find your website! Wow, so exciting. He was born in Ohio in 1841 and dies in Oklahoma. He marries a Valley Vickers who I am also stumped on. Together they have several children. One is my gg grandfather O. J. Knight. Any scoop, do we connect? So grateful!

    • Thanks for posting your question, Trisha. While the Knights of Mississippi were fond of first names beginning with “O”, unfortunately I don’t think we have a connection here. The name Simon Willis Russell Knight is not familiar, and his 1841 birth in Ohio puts him and O.J. Knight outside the geographic terrain of the Mississippi Knights, who migrated originally from NC to GA to MS, and did not have a branch migrate up to Oklahoma (to my knowledge) until around 1920.

      Any additional information by Knight family genealogists that might help Trisha is welcome!

      Vikki, Moderator

  100. Many thanks Vikki, any ideas where I can go from here? Willis
    Knight and Valley Vickers must come from somewhere. His son, Orrin James Knight and brother, Albert were incredible characters. They were both in the Oklahoma land run. Could Valley Vickers be a made up name
    Or native?

  101. Dear Vikki,

    I am the grandson of Robert Freeman from Troy, NC. While I am a religious studies scholar at the University of Georgia and have done some research which included the Wesleyan Methodist Church, I did not know that I was related to the Hulin brothers until my sister began researching our family history. The Hulin brothers were my great, great grandmother’s brothers. I just ran across your blog and would like to thank you for making your research public. Also, I would like to purchase any books in which you have written about the Freeman, Hulin, or Atkins families. Which books should I purchase? Thank you again.

    Derrick Lemons

    • You’re welcome, Derrick, and it’s great to hear from you. I know it’s exciting to discover your descendence from the Hulin family, with their fascinating and tragic history! I first discovered their story back in the mid-eighties when I was a doctoral student researching my dissertation at the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh. Discovering the Hulins among those records was one of my most exciting research moments.

      That dissertation became my first book, Unruly Women, published in 1992. Over the years, I discovered more information on the Hulins and others of Montgomery County thanks to the internet and to personal correspondence with descendants who contacted me after reading Unruly Women. I decided, therefore, to include two new chapters on the Randolph County area (including Montgomery County), and to expand the story of the Hulins, in my 2010 book, The Long Shadow of the Civil War. You can purchase both of these books directly from the University of North Carolina Press, or from Amazon or from Barnes and Noble.

      Vikki Bynum

  102. Congrats on the upcoming film! Very exciting!

    I’ve written a screenplay about Mosby (SOMETHING GRAY) that you may enjoy.

    Here’s the link to Amazon and some kind endorsements:


    “It’s a fine script. The dialogue is extremely colorful, yet believable, and never over the top. People in the Biz say it is a rule for screenplays that the action descriptions must be strictly colorless and clear enough for an imbecile. Yours are nearly literary, which makes it an enjoyable read. I really enjoyed the script. You’re a terrific writer, Phil. Wonderful characters and brilliant dialogue.”
    –Brian Mallon Actor, (General Hancock in Gettysburg, Gods and Generals)

    “Gotta read the book everyone. Excellent. Read it while en route to L.A. from location in N.C. Great script and story. My father, whose middle name was ‘Lee’ gave me the same advice when I was forced to deal with bullies on a regular basis. I was five years old and that advice has served me well over the years & never proved false. Congratulations. I’m probably too old for Grumbles, but I love that role. Civil War followers are going to love this overdue accounting of Mosby, I sure do. Stay in touch. Excellent.”
    –Patrick Gorman, Actor (Gettysburg, Gods and Generals)

    “Have read this. As a lover of history…I love it. As a screenwriter: I earnestly wish there were more like this. Tremendous script: if they don’t make it it’s a crime!! I read dozens of screenplays. I arbitrate credits. Yours is head and shoulders above.”
    –Michael Beckner (Spy Games and CBS’ The Agency).

    “Your book was a well-written masterpiece…I think I read it in about 3 days….on this phone (which is an annoying way to read…but I couldn’t stop). Thriller!”
    –Cary Eberly, Author/Historian

  103. Hi Vikki, I assume you and my husband are related. His Jones Co. ancestors are Reeves, McGee, Bynum, Welch and Mathews.
    Are you on Facebook?

    • Hi, Benita. I have Reeves as well as Bynum ancestors. Yes, I am on Facebook, under my full name of Victoria Bynum.


  104. <My husband's grandmother was Arminda Idonia Reeves. She was a daughter of Oliver Singleton Reeves and Almeda Welch. He was a son of Calvin Richard Reeves and Sarah E. McGee. Calvin served in the 8MS Infantry Co. K., was wounded at Franklinton, TN,imprisoned at Camp Chase,OH,and discharged June 1865. According to his pension records, he was wounded at Franklinton- left knee and right arm above the elbow causin atrophy of muscles. Later he left Sarah and their children and married her sister, Georgiann McGee Holifield in 1873. Heard this caused a lot of problems in the families. In 1880 he and Georgianne were in Clarke Co., AL and had 2 daughters. Seems that his injuries caused hard times for the family.
    My husband's brother keeps insisting that their grandmother, Arminda, was part American Indian, but the DNA we had done did not show any Indian ancestry.
    Sara and Georgiann McGee's father, Seaborn, seems to have been interesting too.

  105. Hi. I am a descendant through Simeon’s son, Thomas Jefferson Collins. Thomas Jefferson Collins’s gravestone said he was in the 7th Mississippi Infantry Company F, but he is not listed on any of the rosters I have found. Does anyone happen to know if he was actually enlisted or not? I’m very curious because I am concentrating my research on him right now and have found so very little information about him though. Thanks for any help you can give me!

    • Hi Melinda,

      Thanks for your post; it’s nice to hear from the descendant of so important a participant in the Free State of Jones as T. J. Collins! T. J. indeed did serve in Co. F., 7th Battalion, Mississippi Infantry. I can’t check my files because I’m in Texas right now, but it’s footnoted in my book, Free State of Jones, and I have looked at the record many times.

    • Melinda:

      As Vikki noted, the actual unit in which Thomas Jefferson Collins served was the 7th BATTALION, Mississippi Infantry, Company F. The service records of Jasper Collins, James Madison Collins, and Thomas Jefferson Collins were correctly filed with this unit. Those of Simeon Collins, Benjamin Collins, and Morgan Collins were incorrectly filed with the 7th Mississippi Infantry.

      The Collins men joined the 7th Battalion, despite their Unionist convictions, in May 1862 after passage of the Conscription Act. By volunteering instead of waiting to be drafted, they could serve in the same unit. Jasper deserted the unit in October 1862 after learning about the passage of a law granting slave owners one military exemption per 20 slaves held. The few military records for T.J. Collins indicate he was AWOL from July 1863 thru February 1864, with no later records found.

      We know Simeon Collins and 3 sons surrended to the Confederate forces of Col. Robert Lowey, who had been sent to Jones County to quell the Knight Band, on 25 April 1864. They were returned to the 7th Battalion, captured at Kennesaw Mountain, GA, and spent the remainder of the war in a Union prison camp. Thomas Jefferson Collins may have been caught up in the same operation and returned to the 7th Battalion or else eluded capture. I’ve found no records to support either possibility. Despite information about T.J. Collins’ AWOL status in Jan-Feb 1864, Texas Confederate Pension officials granted a pension to his widow in 1915.

      Ed Payne

  106. Hello, my name is Crystal Page. I am from Taylorsville Ms. I was searching online for information about my great great grandfather Felix Blackwell. My grandmother (Felix’s grandaughter) is Mary Carelyn Blackwell Keyes. As of today, she lives in Taylorsville Ms. Felix was born around 1875 & lived in Oakohay Covington County. He was mixed & his wife was Mandy Blackwell. One of their children (Virgil Blackwell) is my grandmother’s father. When I searched for him this thread popped up. Can someone tell me if there is a book about him?

  107. Hello, my name is Brenda McCullough Wagnon, interested in the Bryant Welch family, his daughter Elizabeth married Jonathan Anderson, where my line begins. Any info between Bryant and his father Richard were be greatly welcomed. Thank you.

    • Hi Tex, there’s a good chance Cindy and I are distant cousins through our Mauldin family connections, but I’m not sure. We’ve met, and she’s one of my favorite Facebook friends.


  108. Our families were not anti-confederate as much as they were anti-everyone because both sides they hated hence many of them joining the Union army for the bounty in NOLA and promptly deserting and keeping the bounty money to buy land that awaited them since the FSOJ families were establishing a community there and helping each other relocate. My great great-grandfather and his brother devised a way to keep an insider in NOLA in the Union service though it involved one brother returning and serving to the rank of major and helping provide opportunities as a major for the other FSofJones soldiers to desert and make their way safely to Texas. Supposedly they had a very lever method. This was done by having one brother return to the Union Army in NOLA with great tales of being kidnapped and escaping from Confederate soldiers. The quirky thing was one brother John Used his older brother Ezekiel’s name when he returned since he was unmarried. John Loftin was promoted upon his “heroic tales, ability to navigate/guide in the swamps and serving then as a Major in the mounted infantry (using Ezekiel’s name,) arranged for “opportunities for records to disappear and assigned the FSoJones men to fight the confederates in and along East Texas state line making it easy to disappear in the Big Thicket where bodies could not easily be found and they were assumed dead. It also allowed them to take some shots at the Confederate army who had been so terrible to them in Mississippi in the process. Ezekiel (going under the name John Prentiss) met up with the fleeing soldiers and helped them hide and blend into the Big Thicket until pardons were handed out. Not many Yankee soldiers could navigate the alligator and snake infested swamps where they often hid in around Tanner Bayou, Moss Hill, Big Thicket, Saratoga. They also had some help from members of the Alabama-Coushatta tribe through a family who has long been associated with my family and are members of my family now. We heard these stories from my grandfather and some of the great uncles and my daddy said his granddaddy(s) (Ezekiel and Prentiss, ha!) told him many of these stories when he was a boy. My grandfather and many in the family never told these stories outside the family and were indeed very tight-lipped about it since they were wanted by the North and the South simultaneously and though they hated the Rebels who had robbed them blind, murdered, kidnapped, raped and pillaged as bad if not worse than Sherman. Yet, they hated the Yankees even worse. And in the end I feel the majority of The Free State of Jones ended up in East, Texas with help from the Collins, Loftin and Knight families who resided near and our buried in Bluewater.I found some old papers of my daddy’s who died recently and I am going through them now. The weird disappearance and reappearance and promotion of Ezekiel Loftin in the Union army in NOLA are easily found online. I want other family’s stories of Bluewater and what you heard. lets separate fact from fiction for the sake of our tight-lipped ancestors from Jones and Polk, liberty counties. Nobody can hurt them now.

    • Thanks, Ezekiel, for adding your comments about your Loftin and Collins ancestors to Renegade South. Your insights are lively, interesting, and obviously based on a lot of stories that were passed down to you, and on your own research. I’m sure you’re right that many of them hated both the Confederacy and the Union; such hatred was common among folks who had no stake in the war and yet experienced great disruption as a result of it.

      I must add, however, that there is solid evidence of devotion to the Union side among a large portion of the Collins family in both Mississippi and Texas. In my research on Stacy Collins Sr., who died almost a decade before the Civil War, I found a good deal of support by him for a strong federal presence in the Southwestern territories and new states as a bulwark against lawlessness and corruption. In my opinion, this respect for the U.S. government was passed on to his sons. Jasper Collins in Mississippi and Warren Collins in Texas both proclaimed their wartime Unionism for their entire lives, which was not a popular thing to do once the Lost Cause version of the war took hold in the 1890s. Furthermore, both brothers in their respective states of MS and TX espoused unconventional political views based on their desire for more representative government in the wake of the rise of Big Business and industrialization. Their political views are well-documented. After the war, Jasper became a Universalist and a leading Populist in Jones County who founded that county’s only Populist newspaper. Warren Collins ran for office from Hardin County as a Socialist in 1911-1912. Both Jasper and Warren went to their graves expressing pride in their wartime Unionism, and there is no reason either would have lied about that, given that they never backed down from a political fight during their entire lives. (unfortunately, Edwin, Riley and Simeon all died as a result of the war, so we don’t have their words and actions after the war to draw from.)

      I think it’s important that we leave room for different motives and different behavior among the men who deserted the Confederacy, although in many cases they belonged to the same band of anti-Confederate guerrillas.


  109. Do you know anything the Newt Knight shooting his brother-in-law Morgan story? If so, would you please tell me. Thanks.

    • Hi Joel,

      I wrote about Newt Knight’s alleged murder of Bill Morgan, the husband of his sister, Martha, in my book, The Free State of Jones.

      In 1926, Ben Graves, who had personally known both Newt and Morgan, talked about the murder in an interview, during which he described Bill Morgan as a “regular outlaw” and a “desperado.”

      According to Ethel Knight and Tom Knight’s books, Newt’s first desertion from the Confederate army was motivated in part by distrust of Morgan, who was living in Newt’s household while Newt was off to war. Tom Knight claimed that Newt’s wife Serena complained about abuse from Morgan, and also that he was cooperating with Confederate authorities. Both Ben Graves and Tom Knight believed that after Newt went AWOL, he suspected that Morgan would turn him into Confederate authorities.

      Newt allegedly shot Morgan through the head while Morgan was on the Knight’s front porch. No one, according to Ben Graves (who was 12 years old at the time) would admit to having seen the murder.

      For a fuller discussion, see Free State of Jones, pp. 100 (and its accompanying footnote #24).


  110. Hi Vikki,
    Let me extend my congratulations on having your book turned into a movie! How cool is that? i was on the telephone with my friend of over 20 years and she mentioned to me there was a movie coming out about her kin from Jones County. I told her I’d read the book and it is about MY kin from Jones. I did a little digging on Ancestry and it turns out all this time we’ve been cousins!! John Jackie Knight is my 5th GG and Jasper Collins is her 2nd GG. I can’t find the common ancestor, but at least 3 of her cousins married 3 of mine.
    Cindy Boatner

    • Thanks for writing. How neat that you and an old friend are both related to Free State of Jones families!


  111. Hi Vikki,
    Recently discovered that Newton and Rachel Knight are my three-times great grandparents through my mother’s paternal lineage. I’m excited to find this site!( If anyone has information about the name, STEVERSON, around Hattiesburg, MS, I’m interested!)

  112. Vickie
    I can’t wait to see the reaction of the ” Lost Cause” disciples to FreecState of Jones film! There are a lot of pickups still waving & flaunting the Confederare flag as well as venting their emotions on F B! Should be interesting !

  113. Vikki – could you please provide my email address to Ed regarding his Jones County research for the 1st and 2nd New Orleans Infantry? I appreciate this blog – having just found it – and the incredible resources available here. From an historian’s perspective, it is filled with incredible scholarship and documentation. From a family genealogists perspective – it is helpful in corroborating oral stories and finding out that my ancestor was not one of a few people that joined Union units, but rather one in a long list. Thanks!

  114. Haven’t seen film Free State of Jones yet will eventually ! Not too concerned since I have your books on ;Free State of Jones & Long Shadow of Civil War which provides me the background & history of my Colins kin in Jinesc & Jasper Co! i had little information regarding my Grandmother France’s Collins Loftin’s parents Simeon & Lydia Bynum Collins and family until I had access to these books! How I wish my father eighth child of Leonard & Frances could have read your books! I am the last member of the family and consider myself blessed to have been exposed to this history of my Loftin & Collins family! Thanks Vickie again!

  115. Professor Bynum,

    I just finished your book and enjoyed it very much. I am looking forward to seeing the film. I teach history at Moberly Area Community College at the Hannibal Campus and will be adding the film to our collection for use in our history courses. I knew you had a connection to the area from a conversation with another professor, but I didn’t realize you actually lived in or had lived in the area until I read your book.

    One of the things I make sure to explain to our students is that the Confederacy was not a united effort and that many people in the southern states opposed secession and war. Free State is a great resource in that explanation. If you are ever in the area and feel like speaking to students, I would love to invite you to do so.

    I wish the film had made more money at the box office, but I have a feeling it might be one of the films that has a wider audience via DVD sales and other showings. In any event, I am glad it was made. Through your research another nail in the Lost Cause coffin has been driven home.

    • Thank you, Jimmy! Yes, my husband, Gregg Andrews, and I lived in Hannibal for almost six years, between 2010 and early 2016. Gregg is from the Hannibal area; he too is a historian who wrote two books about his home community of Ilasco: City of Dust and Insane Sisters.

      I would be happy to speak on the FSOJ if I’m ever in the area for any length of time that is convenient.


  116. By way of introduction I am Bill Lindsey from Gulfport, Mississippi. I currently live in Huntington Beach, CA. I am delighted that I discovered your research on the “Free State of Jones.” I have seen the movie and am currently reading the book. i am interested in finding out more about my great grandparents who lived in Jasper County from 1850 – 1866.

    I hail from Gulfport, Mississippi. Growing up and hearing stories passed down through relatives, and from a family biography I learned that my Lindsey ancestors migrated from South Carolina to Alabama then to Jasper County Mississippi. They eventually settling in Pass Christian, Mississippi. My great grandparents, Caleb and Almira, were living in Jasper County during the war, and moved to the Mississippi coast in 1966. My great-grandfather, Dr. Caleb Lindsey (1807–1874), was a graduate of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “Dr. Lindsey first settled in Alabama, where for nearly twenty years he practiced his profession. In 1850 he moved with his family to Jasper County, Mississippi, and in 1866 settled in Pass Christian, Mississippi.” (Nola Dale Granberry, The Dale-Lindsey Families of the Mississippi Gulf Coast (1994). Granberry is a distant relative).

    Caleb appears to have been a man of deep convictions and firm beliefs. His parents were large slaveholders. They moved to Alabama when Caleb was an infant, and Caleb worked on the farm alongside his father’s slaves. His first wife, Jane Williams, died on October 8, 1840 while giving birth to their only child, Jane Williams Lindsey. To provide for the care of his infant daughter on October 19, 1840 Caleb “granted, bargained, sold and confirmed to Jane Williams Lindsey all his slaves.” (Notes from John Edward Walker, reference filed for the record on October 19, 1840, in Monroe, Alabama).

    Caleb’s obituary provides interesting insights.He came to Mississippi in 1850, and when the seeds of rebellion first broke out…he arrayed himself on the side of the Union. He was originally an old-line Whig; was for the Union before, during and ever since the war. He was a man of positive character, honest in his convictions, and firm to maintain them. He was fearless in his declarations of principles and would have died in their defense. After the war he was a delegate on the Constitutional Convention, and did good service. In 1871 he was elected and served in the Legislature [Mississippi], and was ever ready to promote, as far as he understood, the best interests of the State. He early avowed himself a Republican, notwithstanding the odium, which at that time, attached to a Southern man by those unwilling to accept the situation. Dr. Lindsey is a good Republican, and is ostracized by his old associates on account of his fidelity to the party. He lost a great deal of property during the war, but glories in the fact that he is able to bequeath to his children a spotless record and a benign Government. (Transcriptions from newspaper clippings kept in the Lindsey Bible).

    On January 13, 1842 he married Almira Andrews Mason (1823–1909). Almira was born on the family plantation in Georgia. Upon her death, the Reverend LaMaster wrote this tribute:Almira’s father, Col. Thomas Mason, like his father was opposed to slave holding and never bought a slave. He did, however, take a number of slaves from bad masters for debts, which owed him and gave them freedom and kind treatment. Almira was an unusually bright and intelligent child, not only in her regular school studies, but also in music and painting.…Her parents, being thoroughly Christian and cultured people surrounded their home life and their children with the loftiest and most sacred influences of the Christian religion…they were fully alive to the character and brilliancy of their beautiful daughter. She finished her education at the Sparta Female College, where she received the highest recognition possible to a woman college student of those days—a certificate for superior scholarship. (Reverend R. A. LaMaster, “Story of a Beautiful Lady,” Daily Herald, December 27, 1909)

    Antislavery sentiments existed in Almira’s family, and most likely in Caleb’s as well. Caleb and Almira each held deep convictions and principles, even in the face of intolerant neighbors. Given Caleb’s fidelity to the Union, I wonder if and how he might have been aligned with other supporters for the Union among other ordinary southerners during the Civil War, and how was it expressed? Did he know Newt Knight? Was he an active supporter? Did he practice medicine in Jasper County and could he possibly have treated any of the dissidents? I wonder why Caleb, Almira, and their eleven children moved to Pass Christian when their immediate family remained in Jasper County?

    • Thank you so much for this historical overview of the Lindsey family! I am well aware of Caleb Lindsey, but am away from home (and my files) right now. I’ll write again after I return on Sunday and have searched my files.

      Glad you liked the movie! I’ll answer your question about Newt Knight as well once I’m home again.


      • Vikki,

        Thanks for your quick reply. Since my retirement in 2013 I have become more and more interested in my ancestry. Caleb is folklore in our family, but not much more than I provided in my email. I look forward to further discussion.

        Again thanks,

        Bill 310-863-9444

        Sent from my iPhone


      • Bill,

        I’m sorry not to have gotten back sooner. I’ve not been able so far to find the Caleb Lindsey letter that I know is in my files in which I believe he expressed support for the Union or for supporters of the Union. That letter may also prove that Caleb knew Newt Knight, but I’m not certain. I’ll keep looking!


  117. I have been reading Renegade South with interest as my Mississippi forebears came to the piney woods area in the early 1800’s from North and South Carolina. My great grandfather, A. J. Brown, son of John Hamilton and Mary Brown, lived in Newton County and because of some unnamed physical ailment he was unable to serve in the Civil War. Instead he served as a type of mediator when Jones County seceeded.
    His handwritten papers were transcribed in 1944 by my uncle, Walter W. Barber, A. J. Brown’s grandson. My uncle states that when he first read the papers, the entire account of the trip to Jones County was there. Later when he began to transcribe the handwritten papers he discovered that the original or most interesting parts of the book had been removed which covered Brown’s belief that the war was unnecessary and could have been settled peaceably. He told of President Lincoln’s offer to buy the slaves from the Southern people with a National Bond Issue, their emancipation to take place during a period of 10 years with 10% of the slaves being freed each year and the owners paid for them at the market price in effect at the beginning of the 10 year period.

    Barber was advised by family members that some of the family felt descendants should not know the facts of this event. A. J. Brown was opposed to the Civil War, he did not own slaves, but his father and his uncles did. However, he did all he could for the Confederacy and was employed in the tax collecting department of the State of Mississippi where he worked without compensation and at his own expense. When Jones County seceded from the State of Mississippi, he volunteered to go to Jones County, not to take drastic action, as he had a great many personal friends there. While in Jones County, after having been there a week or so on his work, he appeared to be having success when during the night a group of his friends came to him and told him plans had been made by some of his enemies to kill him the next day and strongly urged him to leave immediately. After considerable persuasion by his friends, he was induced to leave and his friends, some twenty in number, rode horseback with him to a point beyond the danger line, during the night.

    I regret that I never read this account until after my uncle died. I have asked other family members about this and no one seems to know what took place. Can anyone shed some light on this family mystery?

    • Virginia,

      What a fascinating story! And I’m not surprised that it was suppressed by family members during the 1940s. The rewriting of the causes of the Civil War between 1890 and 1920—with the Lost Cause argument that slavery was not its cause, alongside the erasure of the many white Southerners who opposed secession—made many descendants ashamed of their own family’s Unionism.

      I would love to know exactly what A.J. Brown did while he was in Jones County during the war. (The Knight band did not literally secede from the Union; the men did, however, swear their loyalty to the United States). Did A.J. perhaps supply them with arms? Or information concerning Confederate movements? To enter that county during the Civil War would be no social visit! Do you know the dates of his visit? Is there any indication of where in Jones County he went? People he knew?

      Thank you so much for sharing this!


      • Vicki, I do not have the answers to your questions. Since he remained loyal to the Confederacy though he did not favor secession, I doubt seriously if he provided information or arms. No idea who he might have known in Jones County or where in the county he went. I am just hoping someone will have something about this in their family history and be able to provide some insight. You may or may not know that he wrote “The History of Newton County, Ms” and that last time I looked it was still in print. I have a first edition which belonged to my father. Virginia

  118. I have the record of the freeing of one Dick Brantley and his wife Taby, by William Brantley in 1800.
    Wm Brantley (b 1742) directed and file for the emancipation of his slave Dick and and his wife Taby in Chatham Co, NC in 1800. (Doc File) Their birth dates are based on them being fairly young at the time. In 1823 Dick purchased items from the estate of Blake Brantley, son of William. He was listed there as “Free Dick Brantley”. Don’t know what happened afterward to this couple.

  119. After I read your wonderful book The Free State of Jones, I looked closely at my family tree and found 2 Valentine connections with my Thornton family in Smith Co.

    William Carson Thornton (my great great grandfather) left Smith Co in the Civil War years, with his wife and children. He moved to Pike Co and then to Franklin Co. The Thorntons had lived in Smith Co since the 1830s and many of them stayed there. Even today there are many Thorntons in Smith Co.

    I’ve always wondered why William Carson left the county. His wife was a Sullivan, and several of her Sullivan sisters also made the move from Smith to Franklin Co. Perhaps the move was made because of the extreme turmoil in Smith Co during the 1860s? That generation suffered a great deal.

    A couple of William Carson’s siblings married Valentines. One was my 3rd great aunt and one was by 3rd great uncle. Maybe these Valentine’s were connected to the Knight Band?

    Would you have any information about these members of the Valentine family? Maybe they were connected to the Knight Band?

    The first is Richard H Valentine:

    Francis Thornton, 3rd great aunt
    born in Smith Co 1841
    died in Smith Co 22 Nov 1872
    Richard H Valentine
    born 1830 in MS
    died between 1863 – 1866 in Smith Co

    The second is Martha Valentine

    Arthur D Thornton, 3rd great uncle
    born in Smith Co 13 Nov 1837
    died in Smith Co 3 Jun 1862
    Martha Valentine (Voluntine)
    born 6 Feb 1843 MS
    died 4 Jun 1918 in Smith Co

    A military record for Arthur Thornton says: CSA, 46th Mississippi Infantry, Company G, 6th Battalion Military Service Confederate States of America. But I now realize it might be more complicated than that. (He might be a Confederate and he might not!)

    Martha and Richard Valentine were sister and brother, the children of Levi Valentine — and they married brother and sister, children of John Thornton.

    If you have any record of these Valentine brother and sister I would really appreciate knowing if they were connected to the Knight Band. If they were, I imagine some of my Thornton ancestors may have also been involved.

    Thank you so much!
    Diana Thornton

    • Hello Diane, good to hear from you!

      The children of Allen and Cynthia Welch Valentine of Jones County were heavily involved in the Free State of Jones. Their sons, Wm Bryan and James Morgan, were members of Newt Knight’s guerrilla band. The legendary “dance” that Newt’s band held in order to ambush Confederate soldiers was held at “old Levi Valentine’s” home (see p. 121 of my Free State of Jones). I don’t know if this is your Levi or not. He and his wife Martha were born in SC and came west, stopping first in Alabama where their first four children, William, Andrew, Mary, and Martha A. (born 1846), are said to have been born. By 1848, these Valentines were in Mississippi, where Rebecca, Elizabeth, Martin, James, and John were born. (This information is from Edwards and Strickland’s “Who Married Whom in Jones County” publication.)

      I am not familiar with the name Thornton, and it appears that your line is likely related to the Jones County Valentines, but from a different county. Have you read Ann R. Hammons’ “Wild Bill Sullivan”? She explores lots of family connections and stories.


      • Kirby,
        Yes. Back in 1980, the University Press of Mississippi published two companion works on Sullivan’s Hollow: Ann R. Hammond’s Wild Bill Sullivan, King of the Hollow, and Chester Sullivan’s Sullivan’s Hollow. I recommend both.


      • Thank you for the reply. I think the Levi Valentine in my tree might be a different person. I will try to find out more. I have read both books about the Sullivans of Sullivan’s Hollow. They are helpful, but questions remain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.