Handbell Group, Officer Election at May Meeting Next Week

The Golden Bells, an ensemble of handbell players at the First Methodist Church of Quitman, will entertain at the Wood County, Texas Genealogical Society regular May meeting next Monday, May 16 with a program of old folk tunes, some hymns, patriotic tunes.

The society will also elect officers for the 2011-2012 society year at the meeting which begins at 7 p.m. at the Shamburger Room of the Quitman Public Library.

The pre-meeting gathering (optional but open to all members and guests) at Peralta’s Mexican Restaurant will be at 5:30 p.m. rather than the normal earlier time for this month only. Also, the pre-meeting help period for members and public desiring help getting started on their family tree or overcoming brick walls will not be held at the May meeting.

John Potter Dedication in August

Through the efforts of member Violet Shirey of Rockport, there will be a commemoration of the Civil War service of veteran John T. Potter August 14 at the Shady Grove Cemetery at Winnsboro. Violet has written with several requests for assistance concerning John Potter and family.
1) She is wondering if there is any member has “any ideas what a memorial program would contain.”
2) “I am looking for Kathryn Browning. She is a g granddaughter of John T. Potter. I don’t know what her married name is, but the last I knew of her she lived in Quitman. Her parents were Ambrose and Sis Browning. They are buried in the cemetery just North of Mineola. Is there any way to locate her?”
3) “Also is there a map in your possesion that would show where John T. Potter lived? He lived in Pct 4, Wood Co.”

If you can offer any observations, ideas, or help for her, you can send an email to her at v.shirey@sbcglobal.net. Also, please consider sharing your response as a comment here on our web page. Violet’s mailing address is available on the member contact list on the Members Only Pages which you can access with the link at the top right of this page.

Query: Price Cemetery

Member Mark Reid received the following email request for help.

Hello, my name is Norman Davis and my mom’s side of the family is Price, and doing our genealogy I have found that there is actually a “Price family Cemetery” located either in or near Quitman, do you have any information that you could email me or a picture of the gates of the cemetary, I plan on taking a trip within the year there so that I can get some pics of all of my relatives that are interred there to put on my family web site. All info as to where it is actually located and if possible a pic of the gates would be greatly appreciated.
Norman Davis
5550 Texas Ave. # 615
Abilene, Texas 79605
nordav01@yahoo.com

Mark’s reply to the email:

Sorry to be so long in getting the pics. Finally got out there today. Pics attached. The cemetery is located 5 miles north of Quitman on Farm Road 2966, at the intersection with the “Lake Quitman” Road. On the southwest corner of that intersection. Hope these help out.

One of the pictures Mark furnished:

Picture of gate at Price Cemetery, Wood County, Texas

Price Cemetery, Wood County, Texas, 2011

Welcome to This Quarter’s New Members

Five members have joined the society since the Old Settlers Reuniion in August. Welcome to Sherma Largent of Quitman, Lester Nichols of Garland, Daryl Fowler of Yoakum, Edith Roberts of Yantis, and Ethel Kelley of Quitman. Ethel is researching the ADAIR family of Wood County.

October’s Family History Month Activities

October has become the recognized “Family History Month” in the U. S., and the Wood County Genealogical Society has several events planned for this month.

October 11 (also Columbus Day) is our remodel, rearrangement, and freshen up event for the genealogy research center at the Quitman Public Library. This kicks off at 8 a.m. when we begin to moved books and other parts of our collections so that we can get our shelving, work tables, and equipment relocated in the center. While some members will be around much of the time, others are going to come when they can. We hope to finish by that afternoon so that the center can be used when the library opens the next day.

October 16 is our garage sale fundraiser in front of the Mineola Community Bank during the Highway 80 Garage Sale fall weekend. We are looking forward to a large number of our local members to show up with their garage sale items (already priced and marked) to start selling about 8 a.m. We will start the setup about 7 a.m., and the sooner the better on getting items out and ready for sale.

October 18 is our regular monthly meeting at 7 p.m. at the Shamburger Room of the Quitman Public Library.

At 6 p.m. we are starting a “Getting Started” or “Help with Research Brickwalls” individual sessions for the general public or members at the library preceding to our meeting time. We need any members willing to come offer consultation or suggestions to come help out. This is a new idea, and we p-lan to alter it as necessary as we go. Also, this is an excellent opportunity to discuss your research/families with another member for ideas on how to get to the next level of research. Because of this we are moving the unofficial “eating meeting” at Peralta’s up to 5 p.m. from last year’s time.

Eating Meeting Next Monday at Peralta’s

Members, guests, and visitors are invited to join our group meeting at Peralta’s Mexican Restaurant in Quitman next Monday (August 16) at 6 p.m. If you can make it, you’ll find us having a good time, talking, and sharing. Some of it will be genealogy (nothing official) and some just plain fun.

A Real “Rootin’, Tootin” Pioneer Hero

It’s a wonder that no one has made a novel, movie, or television series about the life of Wood County’s Martin Varner. It’s all there in black and white in Don Raney‘s recent history of Varner, “Martin Varner: Texas Pioneer, His Life Story and His Descendants.” And, there’s a whole lot of Wood County history there through tracing the many family connections of the Varner family.

Don was born here himself in the Hoard community and not very far from the area that Varner and his family (the first White settlers in the Wood County area) lived just south of present-day Hainesville. Connections to other historic pioneer families of Wood County are also in the book.

Don made all this come alive in his presentation to the April meeting of the society at the library in Quitman. If you want a story about a man who traveled across the United States to Texas with conflicts along the way with Indians, the United States government, and, oh, yes, the Mexican government and ultimately Santa Anna’s army, Don Raney is a man you should see (or at least read his book). Varner’s ultimate death at the hands of a neighbor over what seems to us a trivial matter (tools of the neighbor’s trade) qualifies as a true heroic tragedy.

I am so happy I didn’t miss the April meeting and, thus, miss hearing Don tell the story. I knew he was a good teacher from a previous visit he made to the society and from workshops I attended which he taught at a genealogical conference in Lufkin several years ago.

If you missed the meeting and have not seen his book, society Vice-president Dororthy Harbin has some copies of the book for sale at a very reasonable price (and a part of the purchase price will go as a donation to the society). You can contact her at 903-571-4965 or at P.O. Box 794, Quitman, TX 75783 or by email at Reddot77@aol.com.

Looking Back: Five Flags (Plus) Over Wood County

The land which would some day become Wood County, Texas, USA has been the scene of human habitation for thousands of years providing sustenace and dwelling for various peoples because of the bountiful water, forest, land and lifestyle resouces which still attract people here today.

Evidence indicates human presence here in native American Clovis cultures in prehistoric times. Historical evidence points to the arrival of the native Americans known as the Caddos as early as the first Century, A. D. Living in the forests of the Sabine River Valley and its tributaries (including the Lake Fork and Big Sandy Creeks and their water sheds), the Kadhadacho (as the Spanish called them) were in their early period mound builders and the westernmost people of the Missippian Mound Culture. They had abandoned these practices by the arrival of Europeans in the 1500′s. The Spanish and French noted them as they moved through the Sabine Valley area and traded with the loosely allied groups described as the Caddo Confederation. Hasinai Caddo tribes populated this area during historic times.

Indian artifacts have been found from North to South in the county. Examples include the Caddo Trace area at Winnsboro where Indian and Spanish relics possibly from trading have been found and the discovery of Indian villages and burials in the Quitman area. Also, Native American relics have been found south in the Mineola Nature Preserve area just north of the Sabine River.

This first “nation” having dominiion over the area which is now Wood County had no real flag as they are known by us today.

The first European nation to claim the area of Wood County was Spain,

Spain

and Texas north to the Red River was a part of the vast Empire of Spain from the 14th Century until 1821 as part of Spanish Colonial America.

Following the end of the successful rebellion against Spain by Mexico, Wood County was a part of the Mexican State of Coahuila and Texas

Mexico

from 1821 until its own succesful rebellion against Mexico.

The Republic of Texas was born in 1836 and the area that would become Wood County was in the northermost area of the large orginal Nacogdoches County during the period of

Texas

the Republic. It was during this period that Martin Varner settled in Wood County. Varner is recognized as the first settler and also the person who cut the first road into the county (1840). Then, in 1846, Texas became a state of the United States.

That same year Texas became a part of the United States of America, larger counties were broken up, and Henderson County was formed. It included areas from Houston and Nacogdoches

United States of America

counties including the area of present-day Van Zandt and Wood Counties. Just two years later in 1848, Van Zandt County was created and it included the area that would become Wood County when it was created in 1850. (Creation timing was such that Wood County residents of 1850 are listed on the census of Van Zandt County.)

In 1861, Texas followed the actions of a number of Southern states and voted to withdraw from the United States of America and join the Confederate States of America. With the surrender of the Confederate government following four bloody years of warfare in 1865, Texas

Confederate States of America

entered a period of military government by the United States. In 1866 a nullification of the secession vote was passed by a Texas constitutional convention, and in 1869 Texans were again authorized to vote for members state officers. In 1870, Texas’ elected representatives were allowed back into the United States Congress.

Wood County Court House 1883-1925

cthouse1884

The first brick courthouse in Wood County at the county seat of Quitman was finished in late 1883 and used until it burned in1925. – Photo from the June Preston Collection of photographs donated by June to the Wood County Genealogical Society.

Mae Etta Johnson

Mae Etta Johnson of Quitman, Texas 1958

Mae Etta Johnson

During her presentation to the society’s January meeting, Leatrice Mason paid tribute to her sister Mae Etta Johnson. A part of it is printed here to share with all members and the public in general.

“… Instead, I chose to tell you about – My Hero – a Quitman Hometown Hero that not many people know about.
As Martin Luther King, Jr., died fighting for equality and justice throughout America, so did my baby sister Mattie Mae Etta Johnson.

“My mother and father (Woodie & Erie Johnson) became proud parents of a baby girl that they named Mattie Mae Etta Johnson on December 17, 1940, in the Muddy Creek Community in Quitman. She was the youngest of the four children, three girls and one boy. My older sister and I are the only two living children today.

“She was known as Mae Etta to everyone who knew her well. She attended Sunday School and church services at the Muddy Creek Baptist Church here in Quitman and united with the church at the age of six (1946) under the pasturage of Rev. J. H. Harrington.

“As a small child, her favorite place to play was under, up and in a tree in the backyard of our house. Her favorite story on the radio was “Uncle Ben”. Her favorite books were the Bible Story Book in Pictures and a book of poems titled, “Pearls along Life’s Sea Shore.” We didn’t have a television and of course no computers back then, so we all read a lot as children. Mae Etta purchased these books with money she saved from her weekly allowance. She realized at a young age that saving money was important as well as studying the Bible. She used some of her savings to purchase her first bible. She loved going to church and was active in the Sunshine Band, YWA, BTU, youth choir and usher board.Mae Etta worked faithfully on 4-H projects and her good-natured disposition made her an idol of her time. One of her greatest anticipations was being a delegate to the district board meetings. She became a regular delegate to the Cypress District Sunday school and BTU Congress and Cypress District Association.If our mother was unable to attend with her, because she had to work, our Aunt Irene Hunter would gladly take her.

“Mae Etta attended W.B. Clark School in Quitman and graduated with honors from high school in 1958. While she was in high school, she began to make preparation to enroll in Bishop College in Marshall, Texas. Bishop College was founded by the Baptist Home Mission Society in 1881. Their drive was to establish a Texas college for black Baptists.

“Mae Etta was well accepted in the Bishop College family. One of her dearest friends and classmates was Thomasine Parker Cleaver who was also a Quitman native. They both entered Bishop at the same time and continued their friendship. Mae Etta maintained her high academic standing throughout her stay at Bishop.

“In 1960, the struggle for equality, freedom and human dignity was strong on the minds and hearts of many students at Bishop including my sister. She gladly displayed her courage by giving a new dimension to man’s hope that one day segregation would end. and defined the Christian faith and affirmed in an unmistakable manner the dawn of a new day. With God’s help, she believed it could be done as she continued to work on God’s program at Bishop College. She was president of the Wednesday night Bible Band and seemed to gain much strength through studying God’s word.

“As a budding junior at Bishop College in 1960, she participated in a sit in demonstration against lunch counter segregation in Marshall, Texas. Several black colleges all across the South were also active in the lunch counter segregation movements during this time. She and many other students were arrested, charged and fined for picketing stores as well as staging mass demonstrations on the Harrison County courthouse lawn. She was fined $50.

“In a few short years, my baby sister achieved the maturity some never reach in eighty years. She saw clearly and wholly the ultimate implications of the struggle for human dignity and identified her future with it. We, the family, wondered how else could she suffer to be arrested without ever once losing the cheerful smile and the utterly wholesome outlook on life which she always possessed? How else could this letter that I will read to you be explained that she wrote to our mother less than 24 hours after she had spent 26 hours in a Marshall jail at the age of 19?

“Here is the letter:

April 3, 1960,
Bishop College
Marshall, Texas

Dear Mother,
How are you? I am fine. I guess you know by now we were arrested Friday evening. We were carried to jail at 8 p.m. Friday evening and we stayed there about 26 hours. We got out Saturday night about 10 o’clock. There were 27 of us girls in my cell. Our lawyer is from Dallas. We were bonded out by Negro citizens of Marshall. We are under $600 bonds. The night in jail was not too pleasant, but it was a comfort to know we’re in there to serve a good purpose. We were in for a good cause and none of us minded it really. If it takes a few days in jail to get equality, I feel it’s worth it. I feel that’s the least I can do. I know that God is with us because he has the whole wide world in his hands. I hope they haven’t given you a rough time. What has been said? Be sure and write and tell me. Give everyone my love. I am going to class and study now. Tell UNK hello. Be sweet, I love all of you. Forgive me if I’ve caused you worry. I have lifted a burden from my heart because of my stand. In God’s name we are going to get out freedom.

Your Baby, Etta

“Our family had a real togetherness and supported her in her struggle. We were devastated when we received the news on August 16, 1960, while Mae Etta, her attorney and another student were driving back to their boarding house, that a railroad­switching engine struck the car and killed her and the attorney instantly. The other student was seriously injured. The accident stunned the Marshall community and the legal cases against the students were dismissed. Shortly thereafter Marshall’s public facilities were de-segregated. We do not understand all the ways of God. We cannot comprehend the reason this beautiful and promising life was ushered so suddenly from time into eternity. Her Christian faith can be shared with all; that God does have the whole wide world in His hands.

“Remembering those who dedicated their lives for civil rights such as Medger Evers, John F. and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others, Mae Etta dedicated her life for the cause of getting freedom for her people. She would be proud to see President Obama and his family occupying the White House today.

“We may never see a bronze statue of Mae Etta in a hall of fame somewhere or her letter from jail as a required reading as it once was for every student entering Bishop College, but her epitaph is written in the hearts of all who knew her. No tribute can be too much because Mae Etta did not die in vain.
“The people of Quitman should be proud to know that Mattie Mae Etta Johnson is a part of Black History.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 147 other followers