Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Heritage Photo of the Week

This photo probably dates to just after the Civil War. Brothers Samuel Jarrett Lentz, left, and Gabriel Moore Lentz, right, were probably photographed near Bastrop or Austin, Texas. The brothers were born in Limestone County, Alabama, to parents Samuel and Barbara (Jackson) Lentz. They and a third brother, Ashley Rozelle Lentz, moved to Texas in the 1850s. Their uncle, Jacob Lentz, was a Stephen F. Austin colonist who received a league of land in Bastrop County from the Mexican government in 1832. Gabe would remain in the Red Rock area and marry Jacob's daughter Amanda. Ashley also settled in the Red Rock area, and Sam eventually moved to Austin.

But don't they look more like mountain men than Texas farmers?


Monday, September 29, 2008

Three Little Girls Are We

The year: 1907
The place: Grueter & Tannenberger Photographers in Lockhart, Texas
The subject: Three Sisters
My grandmother Ivy Frankum, the eldest, stands at left. The next oldest child in the family, sister Linnie, stands at right. Between them is baby sister Ora. On that day in 1907, sisters Ruby and Virgie and brother Sam were just distant twinkles in their daddy's eye.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Tom Qualls

Who was Tom Qualls and how did he fit into the family? It's still a bit of a mystery that I hope someday to solve, even though I doubt he is a blood relative. Nevertheless, he was closely tied to the Frankum family.

Tom Qualls, left, and Robert Frankum, right

Tom's parents have not yet been determined. The first record found for him is the 1910 federal census of McCulloch County, Texas. He is listed as 32 years old and a boarder in the home of Robert and Iby Frankum. Family legend has it that Tom, also known as "Tom Togger", was the nephew of Rebecca Qualls Frankum, Robert's sister-in-law. He is listed as born in Texas with no occupation.

Next we find a WWI draft registration for Tom Brown Qualls, living in Glen Flora, Wharton County, Texas, dated September 12, 1918. His age is 43 years, birthdate of June 29, 1875, working for a Geo. Slaughter in farming. He is listed as medium height, slender build, gray eyes and brown hair. He gives as his nearest relative Mrs. Rebecka Frankum, which lends some credence to the family stories.

In 1920, Tom is still in Wharton County and still boarding in the home of Robert Frankum. He is 46 years old and a laborer. By 1930, Tom had relocated with Robert and Ebbie Frankum to Falls County, in or near Marlin. He is 54 years old and his occupation is farm labor.

The last record found for Tom is his death certificate showing the date of death as February 2, 1938, cause of death tuberculosis of the lungs.

By the time of Tom's death, Robert Frankum had died (in 1932) and Ebbie Frankum was a year away from her own death. The informant for his death certificate had no information regarding Tom's birth or parentage. No physician was attending him. The certificate is signed by a Justice of the Peace and the body was buried by Falls County.

One can only speculate about this shadowy presence in the Frankum family. I hope someday to have a clearer picture of Tom Brown Qualls. He apparently never married, as every document found shows him to be single. He lived for 30 or more years in the home of Robert Frankum. He apparently died a pauper, with no one to claim his body for burial.

Was he always affected by tuberculosis and a man of weakened constitution? Was he mentally impaired, rendering him unable to strike out on his own and establish his own family and home?

Who was Tom Brown "Tom Togger" Qualls? Perhaps we will never know. One thing we do know - Robert Frankum took him into his home and made him a member of the family.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Heritage Photo of the Week

I've been neglecting the genealogy blog lately, so I've decided to fill in between the long posts with short items. Here is the first of what should become a regular "Heritage Photo of the Week". It is one that is very familiar to the Wilcoxen side of the family.

On the far left is Matilda Ellen Dunavan Wilcoxen holding her grandson Donald Moore Wilcoxen. On the far right is Donald's other grandmother, Amanda Eliza Lentz Frankum. In the middle is Amanda's mother-in-law and Donald's great-grandmother, Sarah Elizabeth Busby Frankum. I estimate the photo was made about 1929 and in all probability the location was Glen Flora, Texas. (It's too bad they didn't squeeze in one of the parents, which would have made this a four-generation photo.)


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mary Ann Mobley Christian

The Mobley family has been much on my mind lately. In preparation for the Mobley-Turnipseed Reunion I attended yesterday, I spent the last week or so reorganizing and sprucing up my Mobley notebooks so I could take them along.

One of the more dramatic Mobley family stories concerns Mary Ann Mobley Christian, eldest daughter of Hezekiah Madison and Sarah Jane (Jones) Mobley. Mary Ann was born January 15, 1860, in Georgia. In Carroll County, Georgia, in 1879, she married Micajah Jesse "Cage" Christian. The couple moved to Bastrop County, Texas, in 1881 and settled in the Oak Hill community near McDade. Mary Ann was 95 years old when she died in a nursing home in Elgin in 1955. She and Cage never had children.

Mary Ann was widowed after 11 years of marriage when her husband Cage was murdered before her eyes, shot down by a group of men who confronted the couple as they were riding horseback near McDade, Mary Ann on the saddle behind her husband. The men ordered Cage to step down from the horse and then shot him in cold blood.

There are conflicting stories about what prompted this act of violence. Some say it was vigilantes, some say Cage was involved with the lawless crowd that operated in and around McDade. I prefer to believe the version that Mary Ann gave to the newspaper when they interviewed her in her later years. The article refers to her as "Aunt Mary", but family oral history says she was called "Aunt MeAnn" within the family.

Mary Ann Mobley & husband
Micajah Jesse Christian
probably a wedding portrait

By Winnie McCall Burns, Chronicle Correspondent
--published in the Houston Chronicle Magazine, August 5, 1951

In former years, when people reached the age of three score and 10, the popular belief was that they were supposed to fold their arms and silently fade away. But not so with Mrs. Mary Mobley Christian of Elgin, who now is 91.

She not only has been a member of the Baptist Church for 74 years, but she has gone through the most turbulent period in the history of this section.

Born in Georgia, she moved into Bastrop County in the days when the frontier was being moved rapidly westward and when one lived longest by talking the least.

She was married in 1879 to Micaja Jesse Christian. Four years later, they, and the Mobley family, came to Texas and settled near Oak Hill, south of McDade.

McDade at that time was a thriving little town on the newly-built Houston and Texas Central Railroad. As the M.-K.-T. was not built through Elgin (10 miles to the west), Bastrop, Smithville, La Grange and on into Houston until 1886, McDade was the shipping point for the territory south of Elgin.

It had many stores, saloons, gambling houses and eventually developed a lawless element that ruled the community.

At about the time "Aunt Mary" and her husband had settled in their new home, a dance was given at the home of one Pat Erhard in the Blue Branch community.

During the dance a member of the "committee", as the lawless called themselves, proceeded to go in and call outside each of the men wanted until four men were in their hands. In a short time a man walked onto the dance floor and announced that four men were hanging to a tree a few hundred yards from the house.

On the eve of the second Christmas after Aunt Mary arrived, the "committee" called three more men out of a saloon, took them about a mile from town and hanged them to a tree.

The next morning three brothers of one of the victims came into McDade, seeking the killer of their brother. Two of them were shot down in the streets. Six men lay dead by Christmas morning.

The year 1887 stands out most vividly in Aunt Mary's mind as the year that the greatest tragedy that could befall any human came into her life.

Her husband was invited to attend a meeting of "neighbors", held in the woods. It turned out to be a meeting of the lawless element, which had decided that a certain Negro in the community was to be disposed of. Two of those present were designated as executioners. Word of this meeting was whispered around and Christian was accused of telling what had happened.

Not long afterward Mr. Christian was riding a horse with his wife up behind him when he was overtaken by several men. He stepped to the ground and before he was given a chance to explain his side of the argument he was shot dead in the presence of his wife.

After the death of her husband, Aunt Mary made her home with her brother, Joe Mobley, for 62 years and the two of them reared 13 children of the Mobley lineage. Uncle Joe Mobley died a few years ago.

After the death of Joe she was moved to a local nursing home, where she sits in her wheelchair dispensing cheer to those less fortunate.

In her 68 years in Bastrop County she has seen this area changed from cabins to castles and its roads from cow trails to high speed highways.

Mary Ann may not have given birth to any children of her own, but she provided maternal love to many of her orphaned nieces and nephews and was much loved by her family in return.

If you believe some versions of the story of Cage's death, you might hear that the folks in Oak Hill community would not allow him to be buried there, believing him to have been responsible for a fire that burned down the school building. They claim he set the fire for spite after having been rejected for membership to the Grange Lodge. This does not at all fit into the oral history passed down in the Mobley family. However, Cage and Mary Ann are not buried with the other members of her family in the Oak Hill Cemetery, but instead lie at rest in the Ridgeway Cemetery in the community of Paige where Mary Ann's uncle Joseph Mobley's family settled. For many years Cage's grave was unmarked, surrounded by a wrought-iron fence. This may lend some credence to the alternate version of the event, but I choose to accept Mary Ann's story.

In recent years some family members have placed a small marker at the grave in remembrance of the young man whose life ended so tragically. Mary Ann's grave is next to his, just outside the fencing.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The A. P. Morgan Grain Company

Sometimes, when you least expect it, you get an unexpected gift from a total stranger. This week I received an email from a lady in Atlanta, Georgia, who had found my website through a Google search. She wasn't looking for a genealogical connection. She was looking for a reason why her grandfather had taken the following picture of the A. P. Morgan Grain Company.

Google led her to one of my old Family Reunion newsletters that contained a glancing reference to the A. P. Morgan Grain Company. My great-great granduncle Allen P. Morgan was the president of the company at the time of his death in March 1925.

When I began my genealogical pursuits, my grandmother Hodge passed along quite a bit of information on the Morgan family, which I have been thankful for many times considering she was not herself related to the Morgans. Mary Caroline Morgan Mobley was my grandfather's grandmother. Mary Caroline and her sister Sarah and brother John had moved to Texas from their native Georgia, but several brothers and a sister had stayed in Georgia with their parents. Brothers Allen, Edward and William Wesley married and settled in Atlanta. Allen became a prominent businessman, not only owning the grain company that bore his name, but also serving as a board member of the Atlanta Trust and Banking Co.

Allen's life was full of drama. He and his family appeared regularly in the pages of the Atlanta Constitution.

In March 1886 Allen's home in the West End of Atlanta burned to the ground. The family had retired for the night and it was only the quick action of a neighbor who was awakened by the light of the flames that allowed them to escape unharmed. Unfortunately the fire had gained so much ground that the building burned to the ground. They lost most of their possessions and were underinsured. The fire was so bright that many people thought the entire southern end of town was on fire. The newspaper follows the progress of his new home's construction.

In December 1890, Allen swore out warrants against a Mr. Hathcock who was charged with cheating and swindling. This case was ruled in Allen's favor and Mr. Hathcock was required to pay $1,000 in return for goods received or face twelve months in jail.

Allen's daughter Myrtis celebrated her 15th birthday in October 1893 and the affair was quite a social do. "Around the long balcony, Japanese lanterns beamed forth their mellow light on the moonlit grove in front, making an exquisite scene, while within, flowers of exquisite beauty exhaled their refreshing fragrance and sweet music, gay and pensive, floated in inspiring waves around....Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Morgan poured out the sparkling cup of good cheer...."

In November of 1899, Allen was sued by a former business partner who alleged that Allen took advantage of his mental incompetence to obtain deeds for several properties. Allen retaliated that the man had been short in his accounts and had begged him to accept the deeds in restitution and say nothing public about his mismanagement of funds. (I've not yet found the result of the lawsuit.)

April 1907 brought a suit filed against the City of Atlanta and the A. P. Morgan Grain Company by a gentlemen who had been walking past the grain company and apparently fell due to the sidewalks being at a steep angle and slippery from having not been properly cleared after a day's work. The man broke an arm in the fall and was stunned. The case was nonsuited by a lower court but the judgment was reversed by the Court of Appeals who found that a hazardous situation had been created.

In October 1910 the A. P. Morgan Grain Company lost a complaint filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission against the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company charging unjust and discriminatory rates.

Many other mentions of Allen Morgan appear in the newspaper as he served on committees, attended meetings and conducted his business. I am still searching the newspapers and finding references to him and his family.

One of the things I had been told by my grandmother was that one of Mary Caroline Morgan Mobley's brothers had died in a street accident in Atlanta. For a long time I thought I had confirmed that fact when I found a reference to her brother Edward Morgan dying of a sudden heart attack while going home from his work as a motorman with the Atlanta Consolidated Street Railway Company. Not exactly an accident, but his death did occur on the Nelson Street Bridge.

As it turns out, she lost two brothers to sudden death on Atlanta streets.

Allen P. Rice Morgan

The final dramatic incident in Allen's life that was covered by the newspapers was his death as a result of being struck by a taxicab as he stepped from the curb into the path of the vehicle. The accident occurred in front of his grain business. Over several days he was reported as improving and expected to survive, but he suddenly died from his injuries on March 16, 1925.

Allen's obituary mentions that he served as mayor of Oakland City before it merged into Atlanta and and was one of the first members of the Atlanta Board of Education. He was obviously a man of prominence in his community. Allen Morgan is buried in West View Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia. A volunteer with Find a Grave provided me with a photo of his tombstone.

A chance email from a stranger with a picture of a business I knew only from references in news articles brought new life to my Morgan research. You just never know where the next genealogy find is lurking.