Miss Willie’s House

July 21, 2019

Miss Willie Rice Wilson lived on Hill Street. When I was a little girl, my mother and LilSis and I would visit her. I didn’t particularly like those visits because we had to sit on a daybed in the main room and be very quiet. The house was closed up against the midday heat and smelled musty. Perhaps she gave us candy or cookies. I’m not positive but it seems like there was a break during the visit that surely included a treat. I never understood why we went to visit her. Now I know. My parents lived next door to her in 1942 and 1943 at 306 Hill Street. Miss Willie lived in the beige house at 304.

This house at 306 Hill Street is where my parents lived when they first were married. They moved in with my mother’s family. Miss Willie’s house is the beige house in the background at 304 Hill Street.

We sat in that front room right there at 304 Hill Street.

My friend Walter, who grew up near Hill Street and who is basically the authority on all things LC, said that the house on the other side of 306 Hill was the company house for the Lenoir Car Works. He thinks that Miss Willie and her husband Mr. Z.B. Wilson lived there while Mr. Z.B. was the manager of the car works.

At any rate, Mom and Dad started their life together next door to Miss Willie, no matter which house she lived in.

Good-night, Miss Willie. I’m thinking of you.


306 Hill Street

July 15, 2019

Some of the items that Cousin Gordie brought in her little tote bag were things to give to Cousin Diane. One item is Diane’s father’s enlistment paperwork for WWII in 1942, living at 306 Hill Street. Strangely, I have an application by my mom and Dad for a ration book, most probably also in 1942 because that is the year they married, and their address is also 306 Hill Street. Mom had told me that when she was pregnant with her first child they were living on Hill Street and that would have been 1943. I figured they had their own place, but it appears not.


We’re at church on the Sunday after the reunion. The BabyGirl is planning on leaving to drive home after the service, so today is bittersweet.

I’m planning on taking the flowers from the narthex to the cemetery. I’m meeting new DNA cousin Jackie there. Firstly, some photos.

Then off to the cemetery.

This panorama is unsatisfactory but here it is anyway.

It was bittersweet to leave Jackie, even though she said that, having met her Webb side of the family, she felt complete. What would Grandma think to know that her grandchildren had met her brother Joe’s grandchildren? It must have been a torturous journey for Joe’s grandchildren, the not-knowing.

One cousin had known Joe and his third wife when he moved to the Atlanta area. He said he didn’t know what Joe had done before he met him, but that Joe was always good to him. He remembered that Joe was a snappy dresser, and that his shoes were always shined.

Joe Ruth


Off to lunch at Cracker Barrel with Tammie and Brian and LilSis and her family. Soon it is time for another adventure.

Tammie and Brian want to know what I want to see. I want one place. 306 Hill Street.

Brian parks in front across the street. I take a shot from the back seat driver’s side window, then I am compelled to get out of the car.

img_6013-1Early 01Earley 02img_6019-3Earley 05

We drive around a bit more, seeing the old houses and remembering who used to live where.

We headed off to Knoxville to check out some more cemeteries. I looked at my photos that I had just taken of 306 Hill Street.

Suddenly I realize that I know this house. I’ve seen it before in an old photo. My mother had written on the back “house on C Street”. But she got that wrong.

This is a photo of my grandfather James Packett, circa 1942ish.

I’m relieved to know the answer as to why I couldn’t find the house on C Street.

How many more mysteries will this town hold?

The Packett-Rawls Reunion, 2019

July 13, 2019

Well, LilSis did it. She pulled together our inaugural reunion.

I’ve been calling it the Packett/Rawls reunion, and she has been calling it the Rawls/Packett reunion, and everyone understands that it doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s all good.

It was quite an amazing event. I was too busy talking to remember that we should take a group photo.

Fortunately, the BabyGirl was there with a cool hand and steady trigger on the camera.

Bet, our nearest neighbor growing up, and YoursTtuly

Len Beardstrong and YoursTruly. Len is a Packett cousin. Our maternal fathers were brothers. I had never met Len before today. It takes a special kind of courage to go to a reunion where you know no one, and that is Len.

YoursTruly, BigBroSteve, and LilSis wearing her tiara

YoursTruly and cousin Gordie

See that bag Gordie has? She has old photos! And newspaper articles!

I wanted to snatch the bag off her arm and run away with it. I *knew* I should have brought the scanner.

Tammie and Brian came and they took some photos of the photos. At some point I’ll possibly crop them. Possibly not.

Cake! We had cake! With our candle denoting this was our first reunion ever.

All of these firsts and yet one to go…

DNA cousins Jackie and her brother Phil.

One of grandma’s brothers was Joseph Truman “Joe” Webb. He left his wife and young daughter, and didn’t have contact with them. That was Jackie and Phil’s grandmother and mother. Joe had 6 grandchildren that he never met. Yet all of us grandchildren of his sister had met him. Briefly for most, but still we met him.

That break has been mended.

I can’t imagine a better reunion.

A Floral Tribute and a Welcome

July 11, 2019

The plan for Friday evening before the reunion is to meet up with LilSis at the Trinity United Methodist Church for setting up for the following day.

The flowers had been delivered earlier that day! It had occurred to me that mom and dad’s 77th anniversary would be the day after the reunion, and the flowers could do triple duty by serving at the reunion, the church service, and the cemetery.

After set-up, the BabyGirl took photos of some of the displays. LilSis had ordered ink pens with the reunion date, and I had accumulated some door prizes. No excuse for people saying they don’t have a DNA kit on my watch.

Walter, my oldest and lifetime friend, had let us into the church. He told us there was a greeting on the marquee.

A marquee? My church has a marquee?

Welcome Home!

Tamales and Old Gray Cemetery

July 10, 2019

I’ve finished up at the Lenoir City Cemetery, and heading over to meet my genealogy friends, Tammie and Brian. They are the Rowdy Scots that meet up with me from time to time when they are over near Savannah way. These people have no reason to be friendly and outgoing to me except for the simple reason that they can. They come see me and stay in touch.

They have volunteered to go on an outing to Old Gray Cemetery in Knoxville, where we believe a photo of my mother Evelyn being held by her mother Ruth was taken in 1918 when Evelyn was an infant.

But first. Tamales.

When I was growing up, Grandma would make tamales every year. She could only make them in the season when she could get a good supply of corn shucks. I suppose it was in August, because that would make the most sense to me as to when the corn would have been harvested. Seriously though, I don’t have an exact time of year, so let’s just say late August. Grandma would recruit some of the grandchildren, and she was an equal opportunity employer. Girls or boys, it didn’t matter as long as they had a set of hands, which all of us did. Our job was to sit on the high stool and hold the shuck-wrapped tamale for her to tie off the ends, and a third tie around the middle. She had set out a sink full of cornshucks to soak in water all night long until they were soft and pliable, for she used the cornshucks to wrap the tamale, and then would tear long strips of the cornshuck to use as ties. I remember her mixing the meat mixture in one bowl, adding the spices and seasonings by hand and working the sausage/hamburger mix with her hands. She would portion out enough meat mixture to roll it in the palms of her hands to make a small ball and would place each meatball on a baking sheet in neat rows, I suppose to better help her keep count. The cornmeal mixture, which we might call masa today, was formed by the same method in a larger ball. She would pat the cornmeal mix into a flat patty in the palm of her left hand, place the meatball in the center, and hold and pat the cornmeal mix around the meatball, covering it completely.

Here’s when the grandchild interaction happened. She took several cornshucks and overlapped them until they were wide enough to receive a tamale and be covered completely. The child on the stool held each end of the cornshuck tightly again the tamale while grandma tied the cornshuck tie against each end. Sometimes she would nip our little fingertips with the tie. She would finish by tying a third tie in the middle to ensure that the tamale was safely ensconced.

We should have tamales for the reunion. Why didn’t I think of this? LilSis has already catered the meal, but not one of us would turn away a tamale. Our boots-on-the-ground locals know where we can get some local tamales, and I waited for Casa Fiesta to open. The nice man said they would have an order of 30 tamales ready to pick up at 11 on the day of the reunion.

Why tamales in East Tennessee? Because Grandma’s father along with his parents went to Johnson County, Texas, from 1881-1883. Grandma’s grandmother must have learned how to make tamales in Texas. They returned to East Tennessee, or I wouldn’t be here to blog this story.


Brian and Tammie and I head to Knoxville to Old Gray. Firstly, though, food is required, and Brian wants to go to Jackie’s Dream in Knoxville.

This is Jackie. She is the real deal.

Special of the day on Friday: fried catfish and hush puppies and your choice of sides. My choice is fried potatoes and onions plus slaw.

 Then to Old Gray.


Tammie and Brian suspected this photo was taken at the Brownlow monument. Remember him? The most hated man in Tennessee.

When we entered the cemetery, Tammie gave us me a bit of a history lesson. It is helpful to have a former teacher who specializes in history as your guide.

She said that the fountain had been restored, except now there were plants where there used to be water.


This is lifesize, and quite detailed. Tammie and Brian suspected that we were in the approximate location of the photo. As I was gazing at the fountain, I looked past and saw a Webb marker.

Looks like a reasonable candidate, but something is off. Brian posed to give scale to the marker.


We were all in agreement that this wasn’t the marker in Grandma’s photo, but it was close.

I walked over to the Brownlow monument, which wasn’t right either, and I turned and headed back to the circular area around the fountain. I said, “Come on, Grandma. Give me a break.”

And there the marker was on the other side of the fountain.

Brian and Tammie were there to record history bring made.

My goodness! This marker is huge and set way off the sidewalk.

I am holding my iPhone with the photo of grandma holding mom. It’s the one I’ve posted here on the blog.

And that was a very great moment.

Goodnight, my ladies. I’m thinking of you.

Looking for Lillie Rogers Packett and Finding a Bill for $14

July 1, 2019

I’ve arrived in my hometown in preparation for a family reunion. It’s time to head over to the cemetery to look for some answers.

The cemetery records are kept at the office of the Lee Heights Monument Company. I have no idea how the records came to be kept there. I’m sure there is a back story, but for now I don’t want to overload the system with too many questions.

A few days beforehand, I called the office to lay some groundwork. One of my goals for my trip home was to find where Lillie Rogers Packett was buried. She is the mother of my grandfather James Packett.

I had a faint memory of James’s wife Ruth, who is, of course, my grandmother, telling me that her husband had bought the cemetery plot when her mother Henrietta Collins Webb died. I had no proof that he actually had done this, and I questioned myself as to whether this was the truth, or had I fabricated a memory.

I spoke to a nice lady named Debbie who said that they have the burials in an excel program, and she found Lillie listed as unmarked. Then she said she had the original ledger book and would do a little research to see who owned the plot.


I posed a question on Facebook to my cemetery nerd friends. I posted a photo from September 2017.

Doesn’t it look like there could be a space between the long marker at the left and the next marker?

We will learn later that I am wrong.

Mom and Dad are the long double marker, and Grandma Packett’s brother Charles Webb and her mother Henrietta Collins Webb are next.

Here I am at the cemetery the evening that I arrive in town. I would like to think that the sunbeam in the photo is showing us where Lillie is buried next to her son, but the universe is just playing a trick on us.

This side says “Packett”. Those two indentations are the individual markers for my grandfather James and my grandmother Ruth. Those seem to be the only burials on that side of the marker.

It hits me. If you bought a cemetery plot so that your mother-in-law would have a burial spot, wouldn’t you bury your own mother there? I think you would.

Friday morning, bright and early-ish, I heard back to the cemetery and the monument office to meet Debbie.

She has the original ledger book, and shows me the entry where James Packett does indeed own the plot. He purchased it on May 5, 1934. Henrietta died on May 3, 1934.

She and Glenn show me a form for the layout of a typical cemetery plot. There are 8 spaces total, 4 per side, and it was designed to be “man”, “woman”, “man”, “woman”. My family doesn’t conform.

Glenn walked down to the plot with me to see if he can determine if Lillie is buried there.

Once there, he walked the plot while I told him who everyone was. He straddled the approximate location of where Lillie could be buried and pointed out that there were no indentations over a casket which should be there. He pointed out nearby graves that had minimal indentations.

I asked if the ground could be probed. Glenn said in late June, it could not because the ground would be baked as hard as a rock, and most probably there would be nothing there.

We walked back to the office, and Debbie gave me a copy of the ledger sheet where James Packett purchased the plot.

After saying our goodbyes, I went back to the car to study the ledger sheet. There were entries for other people made on the same sheet, like the office was conserving paper since there had been a depression and a war going on.

I looked at the entries where James put down a 25% deposit of $12.50. He made other payments over the years when I realized that he couldn’t have made all those payments because he died in 1944, ten years after he purchased the lot. I suspect my grandmother Ruth made the remaining payments.

Then I notice there is a balance due of $14.

Technically, who owns the lot? And if I pay off the balance, is that in 1934 dollars or 2019 dollars?

And where the heck is Lillie?

The Adventure Begins

June 28, 2019

When there are mountains, and an Airbnb, and soul food and dead people…

A mountain sunset. Somebody is getting rained on.

A koi pond outside the door

The original ledger book with an entry when my grandfather James Packett bought a cemetery plot in 1934.

Lenoir City Cemetery where I look for answers

“Jackie’s Dream”, a soul food restaurant in Knoxville. That’s Jackie.

Fried catfish, slaw, hush puppies, fried potatoes and onions, sweet tea

Who needs an adventure? Come along then!

Milo the Cat

June 28, 2019

Milo is the new name of Mr. YellowBritches.

He was scooped up in our work parking lot last year by a rescue lady who is associated with the Humane Alliance of the Lowcountry.

He is completely an indoor cat now.

From May of last year, he paused for a photo shoot.

I used an app called GoArt to edit his photo.

Have a happy life, Mr. YellowBritches!

‘Knitting Has Always Been Political’: Ravelry Bans Pro-Trump Content, and Reactions Flood In

June 25, 2019

‘Knitting Has Always Been Political’: Ravelry Bans Pro-Trump Content, and Reactions Flood In
— Read on www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2019/06/24/style/ravelry-knitting-ban-trump.amp.html

Robert G. Norton, the Sheriff of Beaufort District

June 22, 2019

We’ve talked about Robert G. Norton before. He married Sarah Mosse, whose sister Martha married Alexander James Lawton. I’ve written about A. J. and Martha a fair bit. As nearly as I can reconstruct, he was born in 1788 and died in 1868.

Now that I’m going through the old newspapers, I find that Robert G. Norton was the sheriff of Beaufort District. This was back in the day before it was called Beaufort County.


To Coosawatchie Gaol on the 1st inst. a Negro Man about 20 or 25 years of age, 5 feet 1 inch high, who says his name is DANIEL, and that he was sold in April last by Mr. Reuben Roberts, to Mr. Minor Wooler, of the up country. Daniel has on a brown woolie jacket, Vest and Pantaloons, and professes to be a Shoe Maker. The owner is requested to come forward, prove his property, pay charges and take him away.

Robert G. Norton.

Sept 4


Sheriff Beaufort District.


In 1849, this document was presented regarding the renewal of the charter of the Blackswamp Academy. A body of men signed, including Robert G. Norton. His brother-in-law Alexander James Lawton signed; they were brothers-in-law because they married Mosse sisters. William John Lawton signed; he was the son of William Henry Lawton which made him the nephew of Alexander James Lawton. John Seth Maner’s family intermarried with the Lawtons and others. James Jehu Robert was a cousin to many of these because of his descent from John Robert, the brother of Alexander James Lawton’s mother Sarah Robert Lawton. I can probably find other family connections with the few remaining signers, but I need documentation, and I’m only using my brain power right now.

Blackswamp Academy 1818-1849 P2Blackswamp Academy 1818-1849 P1Blackswamp Academy 1818-1849 P3

Charleston Courier, February 22, 1853.



Charleston Courier, November 27, 1860



Public Meeting at Robertville.

Messrs, Editors:–At a large and enthusiastic meeting of the citizens of St. Peter’s Parish, and other portions of the State, held at Robertville, on Monday, the 19th of November, ROBERT G. NORTON, Esq., was called to the Chair, and EDWARD BOSTICK, Esp., appointed Secretary. The following preamble and resolution were introduced by Col. S. LARTIGUE in a few well-times and pointed remarks:

Whereas, the Federal Government, which was instituted by our fathers, for the protection and security of our citizens, having passed into the hands of a sectional majority, which, by all of its antecedents, and in its present covert or avowed purposed, is pledged to the overthrow of our institutions and the destruction of our equal rights in the Union; and, whereas, the Legislature of South Carolina having unanimously provided for the call of a Convention to disrupt our connection with that Government and establish independence out of it: Be it

Resolved, That the people of St. Peter’s Parish, and other portions of the State here assembled, send to their brothers from the mountains to the seaboard, their congratulations in the auspicious signs of the times, and pledge themselves, heart and soul, in the glorious movement which has been inaugurated, looking to the early organization of a Southern Confederacy.

Mr. A. P. Aldrich, of Barnwell, having been then introduced to the audience, made on of his best efforts in support of the resolution. His speech was at once spirited, bold, defiant, counselling resistance by the State to Abolition rule, “at every hazard, and to the last extremity.” Mr. Aldrich was listened to with wrapt attention and applauded to the echo.

Mr. DeBow, the able editor of the Review, which bears his name, being present, yielded to a very general call to address the meeting. His address was received with most marked attention. Mr. DeBow said that it had been his proud fortune to be present in Charleston when the first Palmetto banner was flung to the breeze, and was received with shouts for a “Southern Confederation,” which went up from a thousand hearts. The time has come indeed, for such a Confederation, if we were worthy of our glorious ancestry; and the eyes of the whole country were now upon South Carolina. If she faltered the day was lost. She was earliest in the field and had never struck her flag.

Had her counsels prevailed, the day of retribution would not have been delayed so long. It had been fashionable to revile South Carolina, and he, one of her sons, had felt in other quarters, what it was to be proscribed on that account; but that day was passed. The glorious services of the old Commonwealth began now to be recognized, and it was perceived that her warnings had been, as it were, an inspiration from heaven. She it was that perceived early in the day the poison that was concealed under the wings of the Federal Government, as Mr. Randolph expressed it. When South Carolina moved, her sisters at the South would which could not even frighten children. With the resources in their hands, which had made this a great nation, a Southern Confederation would, in all of the elements of wealth and power and security, be unmatched in ancient and modern times. We have the Cotton bale, which makes the treaties and determines the diplomacy of the world. Interest, and not sentiment, governed nations; and by that relation of interest we have the world bound hand and foot. The fleets and navies of Britain are ours, if we want them, for without our Cotton, it might be said of them, “Othello’s occupation’s gone.”

Mr. DeBow continued this course of reasoning at considerable length, and closed with an eulogium upon the men of 1776, who knew how to defend their liberties, and who were not represented in 1860, thank Heaven, by descendants who would prove unworthy of them. Better this quick death, if that be needful, of the brave man, than the gradual sapping of our life-blood, which could only be the result of further adhesion to a Government which had now fallen into the hands of those who have given every evidence of vindinctive hostility to us, greater than ever before was felt by one people for another.

At the conclusion of Mr. DeBow’s remarks, it is scarcely necessary to say the resolution was unanimously adopted.

A resolution was then passed requesting the Charleston Courier, Mercury, and Beaufort Enterprise, to publish the proceedings.



Many daughters of Carolina graced the occasion with their presence, and lent inspiration not to the speakers only, but to all around them.

It appears that Robert G. Norton was a man of local and national politics. Leslie and I had not heard that he was the Sheriff of Beaufort District. At that time, Beaufort District would have covered a large territory. The Coosawhatchie jail is not near Beaufort or Robertville, so our best guess is that Robert Norton did not attend to the daily business of running the jail. Presumably a jailer did that, although I don’t have proof of that.

The people of old Robertville continue to surprise me.