24 Jul 1970: John Horne and Gwen Smith Wed in Liddieville, Louisiana

Today would have been my parents’ golden wedding anniversary. John Dewey Horne and Gwen Smith married fifty years ago on 24 July 1970 at Boeuf River Baptist Church in Liddieville, Louisiana. Their pastor, Rev. Harold Davis, officiated.

Mr. and Mrs. John Dewey Horne cut their wedding cake in the fellowship hall of Boeuf River Baptist Church on 24 July 1970.

I have only a few grainy photos of my parents’ wedding, so I used MyHeritage’s new photo enhancement app to improve the quality of the one above. Look at how young and happy they were!

My mom was eighteen years old and fresh out of high school. She sewed her own wedding dress (it’s still in a closet at my dad’s house). My dad was twenty-three, early in his career with the Louisiana Department of Highways and a member of the Louisiana Army National Guard. After a short honeymoon in Hot Springs, Arkansas, they started life together in the home my dad still lives in today.

I remember the story my mom would share about the morning of their wedding. As usual for the summer months, my Papaw Smith came down the breezeway of their dog-trot house and bellowed, “Ho, ho, ho — who wants to go?” It was his wake-up call for all the kids to hoe cotton. My mom said — for the first time in her life — she didn’t go out to the fields. She thought if there was ever a day not to hoe cotton, it has to be your wedding day.

I’d much rather be throwing my parents an amazing anniversary party instead of writing a blog post. My mom, Gwen Smith Horne, passed away on 15 February 2013. She and my dad were married 42 years. As this date approached, I thought of all the party details: displaying her wedding dress (I’m sure she would have protested), making a photo slideshow, and recreating their cake cutting photo in the exact same spot. It would have been a great day of gathering with friends and family (I don’t want to consider COVID-19 in these daydreams) and celebrating the milestone my parents achieved.

But even without the milestone, the party, or the recognition, my parents did well. They loved each other and lived out that commitment until death they did part. I am grateful for their example.

25 Apr 1881: Alexander Rose Hendry’s Law Office Destroyed by Arsonist’s Fire

On this day — 139 years ago — my 4x-great-grandfather Alexander Rose Hendry’s law office was destroyed by fire. The article below appeared in the 29 April 1881 issue of the New Orleans Democrat (transcription follows):¹

“Winnsboro, LA. A House and Its Contents Destroyed by Incendiary Fire–The Weather and Crops,” The New Orleans Democrat, 29 Apr 1881, p. 1, col. 2; image copy; Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/?clipping_id=32458955 : accessed 25 Apr 2020).


(Special to the Democrat).

WINNSBORO, La., April 26, via Delhi, April
28.–Last night about 8 o’clock the house
owned by Dr. A. R. Hendry, and occupied by
Osborne Perkins as a dry goods store, and
Hendry & Berry as a law office, was entirely
destroyed by fire, with the entire contents.
Osborne & Perkins lose about $3000, insured
for $2000. Dr. Hendry loses the house, which
was very old, and his entire law library, which
was a valuable one. Berry loses his library,
which was small. The fire was the work of an
incendiary. There was no insurance on the
house or library.
We had a fine rain on the twenty-second and
twenty-fourth, and the gardens and fields are
looking well. Cotton seed is selling at six
cents a pound and scarce at that price. Hogs
are dying with cholera.

Oh, what a loss for Alexander! Although he studied medicine at Williams College in Watertown, Massachusetts,² and practiced as a physician in northeast Louisiana for many years,³ he also worked as an attorney. Alexander was admitted to the Louisiana Bar Association in 1847.⁴ The fire destroyed all the books he’d amassed in his 30+ year career — a needless loss at the hands of an arsonist.

I’m unsure where Alexander’s law office, along with the dry goods store, was located. It seems most reasonable that the law office would be near the parish courthouse in Winnsboro. However, Alexander⁵ and his law partner Charles L. Berry,⁶ as well as the likely merchant, A. F. Osborne,⁷ all lived in Ward 7, on New Zion Road toward Liddieville. (If we weren’t in a pandemic, I would visit the courthouse and search for any Hendry-owned property near the town center, but…well, that will have to be a project for another time.)

Alexander lost much of his wealth in the Civil War. On the 1860 census, he reported the value of his real estate as $8000, and his personal property as $500.⁸ By 1870, that value had decreased to $1770, and $391.⁹ Alexander resorted to selling much of his real estate because he lacked cash to pay taxes.¹⁰ The loss of his entire law library was surely a devastating loss to a man near the end of his career.

Alexander died not long after the fire, supposedly on 17 November 1884, in Franklin Parish.¹¹ An authored family history cites this date from an unidentified newspaper clipping.

¹”Winnsboro, LA. A House and Its Contents Destroyed by Incendiary Fire–The Weather and Crops,” The New Orleans Democrat, 29 Apr 1881, p. 1, col. 2; image copy; Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/?clipping_id=32458955 : accessed 25 Apr 2020).

²Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, “Catalogus, Collegii Gulielimi, MDCCCXXXVIII”; image, “U.S., College Student Lists, 1763-1924.” Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2207/32217_622204_0523-00030 : accessed 4 May 2019); citing “College Student Lists,” American Antiquarian Society.

³Alexander R. Hendry, 1839-1844, Medical Daybook. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, Louisiana State University Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

⁴”Admissions to the Bar,” New Orleans Weekly Delta, 1 Nov 1847, p. 2, col. 1; image copy, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/?clipping_id=32458831 : accessed 25 Apr 2020).

⁵1880 U.S. census, Franklin Parish, Louisiana, enumeration district (ED) 34, p. 41-A (penned), p. 206 (stamped), A. R. Handry; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6742/4241369-00624/8848208 : accessed 25 Apr 2020); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 453.

⁶1900 U.S. census, Franklin Parish, Louisiana, Ward 7, enumeration district (ED) 47, p. 5-A (penned), p. 69 (stamped), Charles Berry; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7602/4120180_00045 : accessed 25 Apr 2020); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 565.

⁷1880 U.S. census, Franklin Parish, Louisiana, enumeration district (ED) 34, p. 46-B (penned), p. 209 (stamped), A. F. Osborn; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6742/4241369-00629 : accessed 25 Apr 2020); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 453.

⁸1860 U.S. census, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Pine Woods, p. 136 (penned), dwelling 1003, family 979, A. R. Handry household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7667/4231221_00135 : accessed 4 May 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication M643, roll 410.

⁹1870 U.S. census, Franklin Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, p. 4 (penned), dwelling 29, family 29, A R Hendry; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7163/4269414_00068 : accessed 4 May 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 513.

¹⁰Carolyn Yvonne White, et al., The Descendants of Alexander Rose Hendry and Mary Minerva Manning (self-published, 2000), 5.

¹¹Ibid., 7.

Spring 2020 Research Project: Mahala Faulk Fowler

With a global pandemic halting most of our family activities, I decided there was no better time to dig into my Spring 2020 research project. Family Locket also announced a 14-day Research Like a Pro Mini Challenge on Facebook during this time, so I jumped on board.

Well…it’s been 32 days, and I finally finished my research report. Crisis schooling my two young children and an extended stay in Louisiana slowed me down, but I’m still happy with the results. Because I was in Louisiana and deserted cemeteries are a great place to social distance, my father, sons, and I visited the grave of the research subject, my 3x-great-grandmother Mahala Faulk Fowler.

Grave Marker of Mahaley [Mahala] E. Faulk Fowler
(Photographed 22 March 2020 by Jessica Horne Collins.)

Mahala and her husband James S. Fowler arrived in the Brooklin community of Jackson Parish, Louisiana, about 1855. They were likely founding members of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church where Mahala is buried. You can read more about Mahala’s background in the research report at the end of the post. Pleasant Hill Baptist Church still meets in rural Jackson Parish, and it was nice to visit the community where these ancestors lived. It’s just an hour from my hometown, but I’d never been.

Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in the Brooklin community was organized in 1855. (Photographed by Jessica Horne Collins, 22 Mar 2020.)
Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Brooklin, Jackson Parish, Louisiana (Photographed by Jessica Horne Collins, 22 Mar 2020.)

Other researchers probably believe Mahala’s parentage is proven and that she is the daughter of Philip Faulk and Elizabeth Soles. I agree, but there is no direct evidence of this fact. In working on my application for the General Society of Mayflower Descendants through this line, I realized the only evidence linking Mahala to Philip Faulk and Elizabeth Soles was an authored source with no citations. While this authored source was sufficient for another line’s application six years ago, I’m unsure if I’ll run into issues. So my Spring 2020 research project was to study this authored source and determine if any records supported its claims.

Was Mahala the daughter of Philip Faulk and Elizabeth Soles of Pike County, Alabama? I believe so:


Learning More About John McMurry from Federal Land Records

Because my recent research has focused on Mary Smart McMurry, I decided to obtain her husband John McMurry’s federal land records. I needed to expand my “reasonably exhaustive research” — a tenet of the Genealogical Proof Standard — to her closest male relative in the absence of records for Mary. John patented approximately 160 acres in Gaar’s Mill, Winn Parish, Louisiana, in 1898. His land patent application could give more clues about his family structure, including Mary’s origins or her date of death.

Location of John McMurry’s Patented Land in Winn Parish
S 1/2 of NW 1/4 and N 1/2 of SW 1/4 of Section 22, Township 13N, Range 2W

So I hired my first NARA researcher to retrieve the records. Brian Rhinehart from Rhinehart Roots was easy to work with — affordable, professional, and quick. He goes to DC almost monthly, and I placed my order with him while he was on a research trip. Because of this great timing, I received his photographs of John McMurry’s homestead application within 24 hours!

Continue reading Learning More About John McMurry from Federal Land Records

Colorizing a 1920s McMurry Family Photo with MyHeritage In Color

MyHeritage has an intriguing new feature — MyHeritage In Color. As its name suggests, this feature adds color to black and white photos.

I decided to colorize the only childhood photo I have of my granny Ethel McMurry. It shows her with mother Lula McKaskle McMurry and younger brother John Wright “Unc” McMurry. I’m not sure where the photo was taken. There are telephone wires in the background, so it wasn’t on their farm in Liddieville, Franklin Parish, Louisiana. But John, born in 1918, appears about 3 to 5 years old, which dates this photo to the early 1920s.

Here’s the before and after with MyHeritage In Color:

Original Photo
MyHeritage In Color

Wow! The photo is so vibrant and has so much life. I wonder if that’s a function of our modern-day brains thinking “old” when we see black-and-white photos, but “current” when we see color. The colorizing algorithms had trouble with Granny’s left leg, around Unc’s knees and hands, and with Lula’s left ankle. But, overall, I love the effect. And now I wonder if Granny was a blonde in her early years…

Upload your own photos to MyHeritage In Color and give this new feature a try. I’d love to see your results!