Posts Tagged ‘Garnett’

In Search of Lawtons & Basingers: A Letter To Home, February 21, 1865

March 31, 2013

This next letter was written by William Starr Basinger to his mother.  I do not have a copy of the original letter, at least not that I can find, but I do have a typewritten copy that is a transcript of the letter.  When reading the letter, remember that the people of Savannah had already surrendered their city to Sherman rather than watch it burn.

Images first, then my transcription of the transcription.






(Small, white envelop, addressed by W S Basinger)

Mrs J S Basinger, Savannah, Ga.

(Written by him across the left end of envelop)

Whoever undertakes the delivery of this will please destroy rather than

let it be intercepted, as it relates solely to private affairs.

(Written across the top of the envelop)

Will call and pay my compliments to Mrs Basinger as soon as possible.

May 25, ….                                          John Screven.

                                                                Trenches near Chafin’s Bluff

                                                                                Feb 21, 1865

My dear Mother

                John Screven having been in Richmond a few days, I have

availed myself of the opportunity to have my photograph taken for you,

which he will seek an opportunity to send you surreptitiously.  And I

may as well try, by the same means, to get a letter to you.  I wrote

numerous letters just before the evacuation, of which I fear none reach-

ed you.  I wrote also a few days ago by flag of truce, sending some stamps.

Yours of Dec 6, and my sister’s of Jany 6, both reached me.  I have heard

of you by other means, as late as the 16th of January.  Do take advantage

of every opportunity, open or secret, to let me hear of you.

                I was sorry to hear of the misbehavior of the negroes;

though it did not surprise me.  If Wm Grant had given the letter to Tupper,

which the letter told you of, it might have saved John and Frank.  However,

that can’t be helped now.  In so great a struggle as this there are other

considerations than those of property involved, of so much higher import,

that the latter sink into comparative insignificance.  I had not many fears

that you would be able to take care of yourselves.  My fear was, and is,

that the triumphant and insolent enemy would, by a species of refined

barbarity, or by undisguised wantonness, subject you to indignities which

would be intolerable; or that the oath would ultimately be required of

even women, and that thus you would be compelled to choose between flat

perjury and the abandonment of all your means of living to wander home-

less and penniless through the land.  I am rejoiced to learn that, however

some (of) our people who are called men have behaved, our women do their

duty, and treat the enemy as becomes them.  I hope you will not, any of you,

abate a jot of that conduct.  It is not only proper in you, but of service

to the cause.  After what has passed, undying hostility to the Yankee is

the only sentiment regarding them that our men or women ought to enter-

tain.  Undying hostility, in peace as well as War, in defeat as well as

in success.  My sister asked me, in her last letter before the evacuation,

whether I had ever thought of finding a home in some other country in

the event of our failure to preserve this.  Say to her that I have; often.

And that I have long since made up my mind, in such an event, to seek it.

But I think we need not anticipate such a result.  We shall, doubtless,

have many trials and much suffering to endure, but I do not, and cannot

believe that we must at last be overcome.  So do not let your heart fail

you.  “Only be strong and of a good courage”, and all will yet be well.

                In one of my letters, in several, indeed, I asked you to de-

stroy some of my papers.  There are some, I think, in the large bureau in

my room.  Throw them all in the fire.  There is also a blank book, partly

written, in the left hand drawer of my office table.  Burn that, too.  I

suppose you will feel no great curiosity about either letters or books.

If you do, I prefer you should not gratify it.  Burn everything without

examination.  I suppose you know where the office table is.  If you don’t

remember, Dr. Martin, of Richardson and Martin, can tell you.  I heard (?)

had left town.  The best thing you can do with my professional papers is

to pack them together in the most compact form, and take measures for keep-

ing them as securely as possible.  Should your wants require it, sell my

clothes and books, the former first.  But I would be glad to have the good

shirts and my new cap, if any opportunity offers for smuggling them out

to me, even one at a time.  I don’t know but it would be well to convert

everything I have into gold.  As to that, I give you carte blanche.  Though

I should be sorry to think of clothes, books, or arms in the hands of the

Yankee.  As to all, however, disencumber yourself of as much as you can.

I shall have no use for them while the war lasts, and that will be for

some time yet.  The money they are worth will be of service to you, perhaps.

On reflection, that award of mine, with my name on it, I think I would

prefer to have destroyed, if necessary.

                There is a proposition on foot, indeed, the arrangement is

fully agreed on by both parties, to unite my Battalion with the 60th Ga.

Regiment.  We are now waiting only for Gen. Lee’s order to perfect it.  When

you next hear of me, it may be as Lt. Col. of that regiment.  The Battln

is to go in entire, without disturbing anyone.  Pearson will be Adjt.  It

is possible we may have to consolidate also, under the new Act of Congress.

If so, the arrangement will be modified to that extent, but not more, I

presume.  This is a thing I desire very much.  The Regiment is in Lawton’s

old Brigade, the present Commander of which is a very estimable man.  I

have taken a great liking to him, and am sure all my relations would be

agreeable to me.  Nevertheless, continue to direct your letters to Lawton’s

care at Richmond.  Wherever I may be, he will know; and I would be more

certain of getting letters so addressed.  And you can always find out what

becomes of me, if anything untoward occurs, by inquiring of him, or of

R. (?) Saulsbury, Agt. Geo. Relief Asstn, also at Richmond, or of Miss Eliza

R. Jones, at Mattoax.

                Notwithstanding the residency (?) of the union referred to, I

may offer my services to command a regiment of negro troops.  You may take

it as settled that a large body of such troops will be (?).  And for

many reasons, both of preference and duty, I not only would not hesitate,

but be glad, to get such a command.  If it be done, it will shorten the

war by half.  No doubt some foolish people would clamor against it.  But I

have considered the subject fully, and being much in favor of it.  I am

quite ready to show my faith by my words, regardless of the clamors of

the discontented.  But of the result of all these contemplated projects,

I hope to be able to advise you.

                Of course you inferred from what I said in some of my letters

that I have it in mind to make it a profession of religion.  I should have

deemed it my duty to do this at home, as the place where my example, which

is the chief end of the act, would do most good.  Since that is impossible,

I shall probably do so in the next best place, near Mattoax, and that fail-

ing, perhaps, at Richmond.  You know I incline to the Episcopal Church.  I

do not care a straw about forms etc, and am led entirely by personal asso-

citation.  My sister, I know, prefers that denomination, as your and her

account, between that Church and yours.  Unfortunately, I don’t yet know

what the difference of doctrine is, if any.  And you may be assured I am

not going to announce myself as believing anything I don’t believe.  I

have those inquiries yet to make.  All questions of preference must give

way to the result of those inquiries.  I have some hesitation too, on the

score of fitness.  Could I believe, as some do, that the exper-

ience of all is precisely the same, I should conclude at once that I ought

not to take this step just yet.  For I fear I am very weak.  But I can’t be-

lieve that.  It seems to me contrary to the nature of man and the inten-

tions of God, that it should be so.  I can’t but think it an absolute neces-

sity that men should differ in this, as well as in other intellectual

and spiritual operations.  Nevertheless, and indeed because Doctors (Doctrines?) differ,

I must consider the matter more deeply.  I can’t afford to make a mistake.

                We have had a very severe winter.  I’ve seen more ice and snow

than in all my life before.  Yet I’ve felt the cold less than for several

winters past, at least those just previous to the war.  My clothing is as

usual, too.  The thing that troubles me most is the mud.  It is perfectly

appalling.  That is the only word I can find, sufficiently expressive.  It

absolutely alarms me to look from the door of my shanty.  The worst of it

is, no amount of sunshine or wind dries it, as with us.  Five or six clear

days leave it as bad as ever.  The soil being all clay, you perceive, holds

an immense deal of moisture.  As it is freezing cold nearly every night,

the water, in crystallizing, forces itself out of the earth, sometimes a

very beautiful phenomenon.  When it melts again, it remains on the surface

until evaporated.  But I shall be glad of the return of spring.  Already I

perceive its breath.  My hereditary love of mild weather is very strong;

and I’m free to confess I don’t care to live where ice is made thick enough

to keep.

                Lest you should think I am withholding confidence from you,

I allude to certain reports about myself which grew into circulation last

summer, only for the purpose of saying they were not true.  How that busi-

ness will result, I cannot tell.  I don’t know exactly what to make of its

present aspect.  It will work itself out, at last, I suppose;  like every-

thing else.

                George is quite well, and lazy as possible.  Pearson ditto.

All the officers are very well.  Tell their friends.  Stiles has been at

Hospital some days, but is getting well, and will probably resume duty

soon.  Tell his mother he received a letter from her last week.  Bob Stiles

(son of the person) is in this command.  The men are generally quite well,

and hearty as bucks.  Symone has been sick, but is convalescing.  Young

Snider, son of Mrs. Peter Laurens (?), died on the 12th.  His grave is mark-

ed.  His disease was typhoid dysentery, I think.  Tell the Minis, Elliott,

Garrard, Postell, Duncan, Woodbridge, every one that asks, their boys are

well; hungry as wolves, and hardy as Indians.  Find Joe’s wife, and tell

he has suffered a good deal; this climate is too cold for him.  Mrs. Jno.

Sheridan lives in that range of little houses near the Albany and Gulf

Depot, the second from the Yard, facing Liberty Street.  Let her know he

is as well as can be.  When you write, tell me about her and Joe’s wife,

too.  You can find the latter by inquiring at Screven’s.  She belongs to him.

                Uncle C is either at Macon or Columbus.  We don’t know which.

The mails are now interrupted, and we hear nothing from any body.  I hope

Aunt A. recovered from the effects of her fall.

                Send word to Mrs. Jno. Hopkins that her boy George is very

well, and waiting on me at present.  It may please her to know that with

proper government, he is an excellent boy.  By the way, Joe is of the es-

tate Tom Clark.  Perhaps you had better tell Geo. W. Davis, or his wife,

if he has gone that I will take care of Joe.  And ask those owners what

shall be done with their pay.

                Thinking of money, I remember you have some notes and bonds.

Had you not better send them to me?  That is, if you cannot use them.  I

had to borrow the other day to pay for a coat.  And that reminds me, I owe

W. R. Norriss, tailor, a bill.  If you can, use that Confed. money, perhaps

it would be best to pay him, if he will take it, as I’ve no doubt he will.

And tell him about drummer Louis what you say about George to Mrs. Hopkins.

                What have the enemy done with the Armory?  Screven tells me

he sent you several things belongs to the Corps, before  left.  Take

good care of them.  If we unite with the 60th, I shall send our colors and

the books to Miss Jones, to be kept till the war is over.  Remember this.

                I do not think just now, of anything else.  The spring cam-

paign is about to open, and will probably be a desperate and sanguinary

one.  Notwithstanding my conviction and yours, that I will survive this

war, I may be mistaken.  This may be the last letter I shall ever write you.

Should I be, indeed, cut off, I will fall with a firm hope and belief that

we shall meet hereafter, where no wars disturb.  My greatest regret would

be to leave you and my sister, is a world torn upside down, to labor, pos-

sibly, for bread.  But the same God in whom you have so constantly trusted,

would then only the more carefully provide for you,  and do not forget, un-

der any circumstances, that all things are preferable to the dishonor of a

willing submission to our unprincipled enemy, whom God will yet surely pun-

ish for his most wicked injustice.  If I should be wounded, do not come to

me unless sent for.  By the time you could hear of it, the matter would be

settled one way or the other.  If able to move, I will be either at Miss

Jones’ or Lawton’s; more probably the former.  In view of late events and

these possibilities, I cannot but regard it as Providential that I had the

opportunity last summer to make those friends.  I regard them so securely

so, that I would not hesitate to cast myself upon their hospitality in case

of any such mishap.  Therefore, do not be unusually anxious about me.  I will

promise faithfully, in case of any serious danger to be apprehended from

sickness or wounds, wherever I may be, if there is an opportunity, to let

you know.

                                With my love to my sister and Aunt A, I remain

                                                                Affly Yours –

                                                                Wm. S. Basinger.

I forgot to tell you that we are now in the Division of Maj. Gen. Custis

Lee.  I have renewed my acquaintance with him, and he is very kind and

considerate.  You see I am fortunate in finding friends wherever I go.


(Aunt A is his Aunt Adeline Starr, the sister of his mother.)

(The previous summer, he met, at the house of the Jones Family in Mattoax, the Jones sisters, along with a Miss Emily Read, and Miss Margaret Roane Garnett.  He later returned and proposed to Miss Margaret, they married and moved to Savannah, then moved yet again to Athens, Georgia, which is where they were living when they died.)

One Hundred Years And Counting; Or, Happy Birthday, Mama Florrie!

February 25, 2013

One Hundred Years!

The social event of the year happened on February 1, 2013, at the Bull Durham Building in Estill.

Friends and family from far and near gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Mama Florrie’s birth.


She makes her way into the building under her own steam with the aid of her walker and her two escorts.














There were possibly one hundred people there, a guest for every year!  I hardly knew anyone there except for Miz Florrie’s immediate children and neighbors.

It was a great evening of celebration!

Happy birthday, Mama Florrie!



Lucille Catches A Break, Part 2

December 12, 2012

Lovely Lucille went back to the vet on Monday for a follow-up visit. Sugar and I were pleased to see that she had put on 1/2 pound. The vet was not so pleased, for she said that the weight gain might just be the way Lucille was standing on the scale (I must remember that line. “I haven’t gained weight, I’m just listing on the scale a bit”.).

The vet recommended that Lucille be euthanized.  I have to say that I don’t agree with her one bit.

Lucille is old.

Lucille has arthritis.

Lucille has worn-down nubs for teeth.

Lucille is thin.


Lucille eats well.

Lucille wags her tail.

Lucille is mobile, although shaky.

Lucille has good control over her bowels and bladder.

Lucille has bright eyes.

Lucille responds to people.

Lucille has a home.



Euthanize?  I don’t think so.

Sylvia’s Dilemma

October 26, 2012

Sylvia is the first cat I’ve ever owned, and it was completely accidental.

Richard from Garnett reported one day, years ago, that there was a pregnant cat hanging out at the liquor store.  There was a bit of a worry that this was not a safe location for an unwanted cat who was going to produce more unwanted cats.

I talked to the lady who owned the liquor store, and offered to have the cat fixed and vaccinated, if she would take the cat back.  No, she did not want the cat back.  It wasn’t her cat, and she already had a cat, and the new cat was eating all the cat food left outside for the resident cat.  The woman also said that some of her customers did not like cats, although I’m guessing that if I needed a drink, and the only thing standing between me and a drink was an old alley cat, I’d get my drink on.

So I had the bright idea that I would find a home for the cat.  Sugar and I set a trap, went off to have lunch in the nearest town about half an hour away, and he twitched all through lunch.  He was worried about the cat.  Maybe she was in the trap, and she was getting hot.  Maybe the sun was shining on her.  Maybe she was upset and thrashing around.  Maybe, maybe. maybe.  Gotta have something to worry about.

So we headed back, and sure enough, the cat was in the trap, sitting quietly, giving us a wise stare.

Back at home, cat and trap in hand, I set up a large dog crate with bedding, food, water, and a litter box, and managed to get the cat from the trap to the crate by just opening the trap door and letting her walk into the crate.  She cooperated beautifully.

Did I mention that I’m afraid, yet fascinated, by feral cats?

This cat was odd.  She had a look that would go right through you.  I attempted to scratch her head with one finger, and she let me.  A few times she, without warning. grabbed my hand with both paws, claws extended, and bit my hand, never breaking the skin, just holding my hand between her teeth.  When she was ready, she let me go, and I learned not to push my luck.

I decided that she was not so feral, just odd, and she graduated to the laundry room in anticipation of having her babies soon.  One day she walked right up to me, and head-butted my hand to be petted.  She started to drool, copious amounts of drool, which was alarming, but I learned that some really happy cats drool when they are really happy.

Fast-forward to this week.  I never pet Sylvia until she asks me to, or she just might rip me up.  She doesn’t want to sit on my lap, but she might sit in the same general area.

Sugar loves Sylvia, but he is too smothery.  He wants to hold her and talk to her in babytalk.  He always says, “Where’s Silly?”, and then he wants to pick her up, and he even says, “I want to hug you.”  I warn him EVERY TIME, and yet, he does it.

Last week, he went through the silly/babytalk/huggy portion of our program, and then put her down.  And then, he. did. it. again.  And I said again, “Don’t do that.  She’s going to rip you.”  Because Sylvia only has so much tolerance, and then she’s done, and she will rip you.  Respect the cat.

When he picked her up again, from behind as usual, because she will not tolerate wasting her gaze on humans, he hugged her to him, and her legs stiffened out straight and her body got stiff, like always when he does the huggy stuff, because she really hates it, even from Sugar.

And she turned in one supersonic instant and grabbed his forearm with teeth and nails, and ripped him, and let go, and walked off, because clearly they are now disengaged.  He looked a bit surprised, and it was hard for me to be sorry for him.


Sylvia: “Maybe next time I’ll sit in Sugar’s lap.”


Sylvia: “Or maybe I’ll simply bite Sugar’s face.”


Sylvia’s not mean.  She’s not cuddly, either.

Respect the cat.

A LawtonFest Family Reunion, June 1-2, 2012, Part 2

June 3, 2012

Our Saturday morning started off mild and sunny.  Tropical storm Beryl had dumped lots of rain on the area a few days prior, and indeed, it had rained Friday evening right up until the kick-off dinner.  It was going to be warm and breezy with low humidity.  A perfect day was in store.

We had drafted a new Lawton cousin of Sugar’s.  She was a McIntosh by birth, born in Savannah, and had been inundated her whole life by McIntosh stuff.  She knew very little about her grandmother’s side of the family, and she was about to get a whole overdose of LawtonFest.

We three started toward Estill, but first stopped in the beautiful graveyard at the Robertville Baptist Church in – where else – Robertville.  Robertville was named for the Robert (French Roe-bare) family.  (There is a separate Robert Cemetery that will be a probable blog post in the future.  It has been recently tended, and should be photo-ready, thanks to a Lawton committee.  I’m getting requests from people through to go photograph their ancestor’s grave markers, so, soon, people, soon.)

I drove Sugar’s van right over the grass to the edge of the cemetery. It is accepted and expected that you will drive on the grass almost all places you go in this area. I’ve lived here ten years, and I still can’t get used to it.

We three piled out, and Sugar and his cud’n went on a tour while I snapped photos.  That’s how cousin is pronounced here.  Cud’n.  Yeah, it’s crazy I know, but nonetheless true.  If you read Kilgo’s “Daughter of My People”, that’s how he spells it.

Sugar and his cousin are not exclaiming in awe over Joseph Lawton’s grave. They are just talking with their hands.

to the Memory of


who died

at Blackswamp, S.C.

March 5, 1815

Aged 61 years

He lived and died a pious Christian

and good Citizen

Lying on the ground behind this marker is the original marker.  The one you can read is a replacement.  I like that idea.  They replaced the old marker before time and the elements erased the inscription. The tombs in the background of the photo are some of Sugar’s peeps.  Joseph Lawton had about 7 children.  One was Alexander James Lawton who is buried in one of those tombs, and you can read the post about his obituary in the Savannah Morning News by clicking here.

I can’t read it either.  We’ll have to go back and make a rubbing, but we had bigger fish to fry today. Below is Mrs. Cordelia Lawton, Alexander James Lawton’s 2nd wife.

Mrs. Cordelia Lawton. Yes, I am standing on her tomb. Sorry about that, but it’s the only way to get this photo. I left my ladder at home.

Here’s close-up of the lower part of the inscription.

 Life’s labor done, as sinks the day.  Light from its land the Spirit flies.  While heaven and earth combine to say,  How blest the righteous when she dies.



A LawtonFest Family Reunion, June 1-2, 2012

June 2, 2012

Can you believe that it’s already been a year?!  What’s that, you ask?  Why, it’s the Lawton and Allied Families Reunion.

We met at the Presbyterian Church in Estill, SC, on Friday evening for the welcome dinner and photo presentation.  There were approximately 30 people there, many that we had met last year, and a few new faces. 

The photo presentation was about 230 photos taken from approximately 1954 until 2000.  The photographer was fellow named Dwight Moore who is now deceased.  He left behind thousands of negatives, each set in an envelope with typewritten headings as to the date, the subject, the place taken, and incidental information, like whose truck was in the background and how many caught fish were on the string.  You get the idea. 

You’re probably wondering how Dwight’s photos came to be presented.  He left them to a fellow photographer, a young man in his 40’s, right there in Garnett, who prepared a powerpoint presentation which first involved having the negatives scanned by a lab.  It was an incredible meld of past and present.  The crowd was charmed, and many folks could call out the names of people on photos. 

I noticed that there were no pictures of Dwight’s wife and children, and when I got home I did a little ancestry stalking.  I started a family tree for Dwight on, and he never married. 

Thank you, Dwight, for an amazing gift to the future.  A half-century of photos of small town life saved forever.  Sleep well, my friend.

Miz Florrie’s 99th Birthday, Or In Which I Learn Soul Cooking

February 5, 2012

Miz Florrie’s daughter Rose called me two weeks ago to remind me that her mama’s birthday was on February 2, and that there was a par-tay to be had on Saturday, February 4, 2012, at noon.

The last party that I went to at Miz Florrie’s was back in July, 2011, right before Sugar bought the grooming business and I became sweat equity.  Rose had told me the party was on July 4th, but when we showed up, she said the party had been two days before on July 2.  Something about the 2nd and the 4th of the month gets switcharooed in that family.  But it hardly mattered that we were two days too late, there was still food available.  Most of us probably can’t fathom that kind of cooking on that grand a scale.  At least I know I can’t, but that was before I met Rose.

It gets even more amazing than that.  Rose cooks from scratch. 

So now the stage is set for a birthday extravaganza for Miz Florrie’s 99th.  I had told Rose that I’d be late because I had to work that day until noon, and secretly I knew that there would be food still available.  I was a bit concerned when I got to Miz Florrie’s house, and there was only one car there – Rose’s car.  I thought I’d slipped into a Twilight Zone episode and mixed up the 2nd and the 4th of the month thing.

When I rang the doorbell, Rose called for me to come in and said that they were just talking about me, although my ears had not been burning.  Rose was in the kitchen with Rachel, who once went with Rose’s son Kenny, and Rose said that Kenny letting Rachel go was the biggest mistake he ever made, and when I saw Rachel in action in the kitchen, I knew why.  Also, in the kitchen was teen-aged Eula, who was Rose’s oldest brother’s youngest daughter, plus a girl of about 7 or 8, whose name I have already forgotten. 

I got there about 1:30 PM, and they had been working in the kitchen since 10 AM.  Rose had done cooking and domestic type work for many years, and should actually be retired, but when someone needs for her to help, like eldercare or babysitting, Rose is there.  Rachel has cooked in restaurants and grocery store kitchens, plus catering and domestic work, her whole life, and I watched her open two institutional-sized cans of green beans with a butcher knife.  I am in awe of her skills.  Rachel and Rose are the stuff, and pretty soon Eula and Little Bit will be able to take over in the kitchen.  Rose anticipated that the meal would not be ready before 4 PM, because there was still serious chopping and mixing and preparation to be done.

Miz Florrie was in her bedroom, dressed up in anticipation of the big day of the family coming.  I visited with her a bit, and she said that she’d be out in the living room soon so I went back to the kitchen.  I watched Rachel cut bell peppers into impossible small pieces using only a small knife and no cutting board.  We sat at the table and Rose cut onions for what she called a “vej-a-bull” salad.  On the table, there were several cans of tuna, several bottles of barbeque sauce, a bowl of raw chicken parts, several cans of evaporated milk, a bowl of hard-boiled eggs, and other assorted boxes and bowls, including a box of band-aids. 

Rachel directed Eula on how many cups of milk to make the pudding for an elaborate dish called a “Punch Bowl”, that was actually made in not one, but two – you guessed it – punch bowls, made up of layers of sliced yellow sheet cake (yup, homemade, baked in a catering-style aluminum foil pan), pudding, bananas, strawberries, and whipped topping.  I was beginning to believe that we were going to be eating dessert, a rice dish, and some chicken, when Rachel opened the oven door.

Inside the oven were two more aluminum foil pans covered with aluminum foil.  The one on the top shelf had a picnic ham, garnished with pineapple slices and cherries, and the bottom pan was full of ribs.  The ribs were just that, ribs in the pan covered with aluminum foil, and the juices were cooked out of them, bubbling hot, and Rachel exclaimed that she was not going to pour out the juices, because that would be perfect to take home and make some collard greens, and she worried that she would have to pour them down the drain.  She commanded Rose to hand her some hand towels, and she pulled the pan out of the oven, commanded Rose to close the oven door, and then she maneuvered the pan and poured the juices into the rice pot, then commanded Rose to open the oven door, and slid the pan of ribs back into the oven without losing a drop of juice or a single rib. 

Rose continued to work on her vegetable salad, and then her potato salad, and another rice dish using jasmine rice.  Rachel started another pot cooking with the green beans and some meat for seasoning, and then she made a masterpiece of a macaroni and cheese dish.  She took yet another aluminum foil pan, filled it with cooked macaroni, still steaming hot, sprinkled three packages of shredded cheese over it, poured three or four cans of evaporated milk over that, and poured several beaten eggs over everything, covered it with more aluminum foil, and slid it into the oven, along with another aluminum foil-covered pan filled with chicken parts. 

I was in awe.  I make spaghetti in a small electric cooking pot made by Procter Silex, and pour ready-made Newman’s spaghetti sauce over it and call it done. 

There were still the bottles of barbeque sauce on the table but Rachel wasn’t having it.  She was going to make her own.  I headed to the local store to get mustard, ketchup, and a bag of ice.  When I got back, she mixed the mustard and ketchup and vinegar and a bit of brown sugar, and tasted, and mixed, and added, and mixed, and tasted, until she was satisfied. 

The birthday girl was sitting in the living room, just beaming and enjoying the day.

When Rachel asked Miz Florrie what she was doing, she replied, "just chillin'." Note her rhinestone-embellished rose-colored glasses. The epitome of chill. Also note the inkpen secured in her braid. The woman loves to keep an inkpen handy.

 Those ladies in the kitchen continued working until everything was done, somehow magically all at once.

Barbeque ribs.

Barbeque chicken.

Baked ham.

Hopping John (a great recipe here, although Rachel used some kind of small red pea/bean.)

Jasmine rice with seasonings.

“Vegetable” salad, with macaroni, peppers, onions, tuna, and hard-boiled eggs, and mayo-based dressing.

Baked macaroni and cheese.

Potato salad.

Green beans seasoned with pork.

Punch-bowl dessert.

Sweet tea and lemonade.

Rose works her magic.

Rachel works her magic.

And the birthday girl works her magic…

A LawtonFest Family Reunion, June 10-11, Part 3

June 22, 2011

Lawton folks. These ladies are reading "Our Family Circle" by Annie Miller, a book long considered as gospel for the Lawton and allied families. Annie Miller compiled this book in the early 1900's. That's right. No computers. I'd imagine that she used those famous index cards for organizing such a huge database. The book is a work of art and a labor of love.

The morning led off with a continental breakfast and a gathering of Lawtons related by blood and marriage.  After introductions, a business meeting, and some discussions, the speaker was introduced.

It was none other than Stephen Hoffius, an editor of the book Northern Money, Southern Land, The Lowcountry Plantation Sketches of Chlotilde R. Martin.    He presented an entertaining overview of the book.  One of my favorite quotations about the book is the following: 

“In the 1920s, as poverty and weather ground away at South Carolina’s formerly grand plantations, Sam Stoney of Medway was known to say, ‘Lord, please send us a rich Yankee.’ Chlotilde Martin’s engaging articles provide fascinating insight into an overlooked era of history that largely determined the shape of today’s lowcountry landscape. As a native South Carolinian, I often thank the Lord for the rich Yankees who decided that their adopted land was too beautiful to despoil, and consequently helped launch one of the nation’s most successful conservation movements.”— Dana Beach, executive director, Coastal Conservation League

Afterwards, there was – what else – a book signing and sales of Mr. Hoffius’s latest book, Upheaval in Charleston: Earthquake and Murder on the Eve of Jim Crow.  Sugar had taken his copy of “Northern Money, Southern Land” to be signed, and also bought another two books that he did not have (he’s a collector of sorts). 

More Lawton book collector types

Bookish Sugar waits his turn.

When Sugar finally got his turn in line, he mentioned that his parents met at Colony Gardens in the Beaufort area.  Colony Gardens was mentioned by Hoffius as one of the places that was developed with northern money, and Mr. Hoffius seemed interested to hear more about Sugar’s parents.  Nice touch, Mr. Hoffius, connecting with your peeps.

Then, yay, it was time for lunch, and we all determined to meet after lunch at the Estill Museum, and then to sojourn to the Lawtonville Cemetery. 

Our charming hostess, Mrs. DeLoach. She loves this town so much, she came to work on her day off just for us Lawton-lovers.

“I’m Mrs. DeLoach.  We’re delighted to have you here.”  The Estill Museum is the tiniest little building.  To get to the second floor you have to go outside and up the stairway. 

Here’s some photos of some random Estill stuff that is in the museum.  You can left-click on any photo to enlarge it once, then left-click on it again to enlarge it yet again.

Estill Stuff

In the 1930’s, twenty mule teams and their drivers pose at the Van Peeples farm located at Solomons Crossroads. Photo courtesy of LaClaire Laffitte.

Lots of the photos were in those shiny acrylic frames so you’ll see some weird other-worldly reflections on the photos. 

A copy of the plat of the town of Estill, SC.

A corn grinder.

This photo was taken through the glass case so you get extra-special reflection. You're welcome.

Cotton hook thingies. Looks dangerous to me.

Estill office equipment. I think I learned to type on a typewriter like this.

And if the office equipment weren't excitement enough, here's a photo of a service station in Garnett.

Then we headed up the outside stairway to the second floor.  Thank goodness for air-conditioning because by this time it’s prime-time for scorching Southern heat.

Love me some quilts.

Closer examination of the quilt and its accompanying booklet shows an interesting twist of coincidence and time.  This quilt is over fifty years old, and it is from the St. John’s Methodist Church in Garnett.  That’s the church that Sir Richard of Garnett goes to when it’s open for services on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month.  We went to that church one Sunday when he played his guitar and sang for the church service. 



CIRCA 1949








APRIL 22, 2010


And another bizarre twist.  When we moved to SC 10 years ago, we didn’t know anyone.   BabyBoy met some folks in high school, and one friend, Amanda, is the granddaughter of Jean Wiggins Taylor.  We didn’t know any of that connection then, because we lived an hour away.  Ms. Jean’s maiden name is right there on the quilt.  Her mother was Annie Chisholm Wiggins, who lived in the big house across from Sir Richard (I’ve posted photos of that house before), and she knew Miz Florrie, age 98, who still lives in the area. 

The center of the square is Mattye Riley Chisholm and her husband Jesse Chisholm , who was the postmaster back in the day.

As if that wasn’t enough excitement, we still had to tour the cemetery.  I’ve written about the cemetery before in this post.

Last time we were here, the fields around the cemetery were planted in cotton. This time, it's corn.

This group of Lawton folks listen to Mary Eleanor Wiggins Bowers and Lawton O'Cain expound about Lawton history. I'm in the shade, thank you.

Here's Rev. Winborn Asa Lawton. You saw his photograph in the post with the Lawtonville Baptist Church Museum.

Winborn's wife Lucinda.

This is Anna, Winborn and Lucinda's daughter.

This is about the time when I sat down and the fire ants found me.  So that concludes this post for tonight, even though, there’s more Lawton excitement to come.

Happy Mother’s Day, 5/8/2011!

May 8, 2011

Today we went out and about.  We had a super-fun lunch at the Distillery in Savannah, then went to the health food store, then headed out to see Ms. Florrie.  She’s 98 years old!  I made a little video of her for her granddaughter in New York.

Miz Florrie, Age 98!

February 12, 2011

The queen on her throne


This shot was taken a few days after her birthday on February 2, 2011.  Sugar and I drove out with a red velvet cake and a birthday card.  The queen was on her throne in the den, the gas wall heater was a blast furnace, and the TV droned out some shiny western program.  She was happy to see us and happy to receive her card.  She directed Harold to put the cake in the kitchen.

We can’t even imagine how much longer she can live at home.  Y’all cross your fingers for luck.