Monday, May 30, 2016

Uravan, the Conclusion

Memorial Day seems like a most appropriate time to share the concluding message of the Uravan story.  Last week we introduced Vesta Price Fitzpatrick as the author of Uravan.  This week we skip to the ending of this poignant story of life on the home front during World War II.  At the end of this blog post, you will find a link to a scan of the last 26 pages of Uravan.

Vesta provides many anecdotes throughout the entire narrative.  This last section begins on page 118 of her typescript with a story about lost hikers.  It includes her observations on the water supply, health & safety, the commissary, the black market and kindness to a new family.

She then begins a very touching conclusion by taking "A GLANCE BACKWARD."  This section tells the story of her happy rural life in Collbran, Colorado.  She includes a tribute to her husband. Collbran was the place where all of her children were born and played on the haystacks.   She describes simple pleasures of parties and picnics, gardens and lawns that become ball fields of a dreamy peaceful existence.  But things were about to change:

"Little did anyone partaking of those eventful occasions, guess that it would be but a few short years when those very youngsters would be living in a world of war and become cannon-fodder for vicious selfish fiends...They were uniting stronger than ever. This new battle would be hard but they could and would win it. Some stood with hands over hearts and repeated the pledge that made them a part of the greatest armed forces of all history.  Others took up various instruments and equipment for production and sent from their hands and minds the most home front backing the world has ever known... they'gave that others might receive, gave their lives that peace might reign and the world be made a better place for posterity."

Vesta describes the news from the Battle of the Bulge:

"The news broadcast, in its horror, gave me courage, a fuller realization of how very much we home front workers meant to our boys on the battle front. The hospitals, the air forces, the navy, the army, wherever our boys served, needed us and our production."

The death of a president:

"people were about to give up but our president had never given up--until death--and his people could not.  They must carry on to the finish, keep the peace that was bound to come..."

V-E Day was joyous but clouded by the terror of Bataan: "Something drastic had to be done..."

The home front workers of Uravan became central to the struggle...

I hope you will take the time this Memorial Day to read the conclusion of Uravan.  Furthermore, I hope you will support and encourage us to get this book published.

Here is the link to the scan of the concluding pages:

Uravan, the conclusion

Monday, May 23, 2016

Uravan- A Memoir of World War II, Part 1


A Memoir of World War II


Vesta Price Fitzpatrick

This view of Uravan, Colorado from the 1980s is from the website which is a tribute to this historic town.

A Note from the Editor

My wife and I recently returned from a trip to visit her mother, Irma Fitzpatrick Harrington in Elko, Nevada.  Irma provided us a copy of this manuscript entitled "Uravan" written by her mother, Vesta Price Fitzpatrick.  Irma has talked many times over the years about her experience living in Uravan during World War II. It was a time of innocence when children were allowed to play on hills of radioactive mine tailings.  Concerns about radioactivity at the dawn of the twenty-first century led to the town of Uravan being declared a Superfund site. Most of the town has been demolished and buried.

Certainly Vesta had no doubts about the significance of her family members' roles in the war effort.  She was proud of her sons and sons-in-law that wore U.S. military uniforms and she would do whatever it took to bring them home safely.  She had no doubts that the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought them all home sooner and safer.  She was also proud of her family on the home front that did their part to support the development of the atomic bomb.

The typescript is 143 pages of double-spaced text from a typewriter.  I have attempted to present the text as close to the original as possible with minor editing described in footnotes.  If you would like to receive a copy of the scanned PDF of the original typescript, please contact me.  This first installment represents the first seven pages of the typescript.

With Memorial Day approaching, it is most appropriate to honor the contributions of all of those who lived and died during World War II.  My plan is to share this manuscript with as many readers as possible by publishing it here on my blog.  My hope is that the descendants of Vesta Price Fitzpatrick can take great pride in their ancestor and her amazing literary achievements.  In addition to this memoir, Vesta Price Fitzpatrick is the author of dozens of short stories and poems.  

Nick Cimino, League City, Texas; 23 May 2016

Vesta Price Fitzpatrick 1890-1988


The author of this manuscript, Vesta Price Fitzpatrick, comes to you with this her first-born in the literary world. It is perhaps her first-born in the literary world, because of her other children, seven in all, who so completely filled all the hours of the days and nights when her brilliant mind was collecting and saving all the little gems of wisdom and human understanding offered herein. 

I don't need to tell you that in spite of bucking this tough old world all these years, she has come through with a rare sense of humor and kindness. Always, she sees only the best in everyone, even those in whom I am so often convinced that there is no "best".  She really can't help it that all the 'parasites of the world' look like good, loyal Americans pitching in to win a war and protect their country. Vesta Fitzpatrick has recorded in this book the war, as it looked from where she stood, and as I am sure it looked to many defense workers and anxious mothers, fathers; wives and sweethearts.

When you have finished reading this manuscript, lay it gently down, for it is part of the life and soul of the most innocent, the, best and sweetest woman in the world. You see, I am amply qualified to say all this. She is my mother.

Clara F. Reay


In this book I have endeavored to portray the life of a mining camp of busy people working for the defense of our country in wartime and building unity for peace of all countries; to depict a view of the real west of today, arid as it was when uranium was being mined and processed for the atomic bomb that ended the war.

With apologies to authorities on the English language, I have tried to put a touch of the west into the story to maintain its traditions and give the world a glimpse of the grandeur of its wide open spaces and good people.

Except for a few who have given consent for the use of their names, the characters are purely fictitious.

Vesta Price Fitzpatrick

Not much is left of Uravan today, this view from the 2000s shows the two remaining buildings.  Go to to see more pictures and read the history of this town that played such an important part in the Manhattan project.

Vesta Price Fitzpatrick

Vanadium, uranium, Uravan. Uravan? Who ever heard of such a place? But it is becoming known all over the world.

In the years to come Uravan, Colorado, will stand out before the world as a great, grand monument to Peace-- Peace, for humanity.

The greatest, fiercest, most devastating explosion the world has ever known wiping out two whole cities, taking Nagasaki and Hiroshima off the map, is the very same explosion which put Uravan on the map, figuratively speaking, and made a little mining camp famous.

Away in the wilds of the Great American Desert, nestled deeply within the high rock and jagged cliffs of the Rocky Mountains in Montrose County, Colorado, is the little secluded mining camp of which we speak, located on the very banks of the San Miguel[1] River.

At various times of the year the San Miguel is a mad rushing torrent of mud and debris from the mountains, claiming a life now and then, and at other times affording a delightfully refreshing place for picnickers and fishermen; but never failing to give for the necessary power and water need to keep a big industry alive.  And indeed, a big industry it is that yielded the precious metals which made it possible for firing to cease and for our service boys to start home.

When all America joined hands in the big common cause to whip the enemy and preserve our democratic way of life for the world, none of us knew just whom we were joining hands with, nor did we care.  Our most despised neighbor had sent his son or daughter.  Our most ignorant and lowly acquaintance had rolled up his sleeves, spit on his hands, grabbed a pick or shovel or whatever he needed to do his part in the big struggle to get his boy and ours home safely, forever.

So, where be the man, woman or child not big enough to brush off petty grievances and join hands?  Certainly not in Colorado.  For in this state all men were created equal, and as the progress of a mighty nation moves forth in united efforts, just so in Colorado—that united wee part of the nation we love and cherish.

And still smaller, almost as small as the atom itself as compared to the world, is Uravan.  Nevertheless her power is not to be compared with anything.

It was from the very hills, that surround the little mining camp of Uravan, that the uranium ore was taken from which the famous Curies discovered radium.  These same hills of sand rock gave the priceless metal for the atomic bomb.

One very early July morning before the sun had dared to peep over the yet snow tipped Grand Mesa and while it was still cool enough for a wrap, which I had left at home, found me at the bus station looking around for the San Miguel bus.  I intended to take that bus for Uravan where my men folk had gone to work.  Until then I had not felt a part of the big war.  It was all so awful, sending sons and sons-in-law off to foreign soils and just seemingly doing nothing myself.  But as I fully realized that I was soon to be in defense work, I felt big and important.

As I waited in the station, large busses roared in and out from either direction, but they were not for me.  When the San Miguel bus rattled in, I’ll have to admit I lost a lot of my pent up importance.  I could hardly believe my eyes.  Until that time I had never seen anything like that this side of the dump grounds.  However, in so speaking, I hold a grand respect and admiration for the transportation company and its drivers who struggled so faithfully over those long dusty mountain trails, successfully transporting supplies and people to and from the railroad centers to the most isolated yet most important little places in this part of the world.

The bus was a battered up mess of steel with some spots of yellow paint still clinging here and there and with at least one window glass left unbroken and still in place. The big tires on the wheels were apparently in splendid condition and I learned later that was the all important thing--the tires tor the roads we were about to tackle.

I must have presented a funny spectacle to my bus companions with my new permanent wave, my pretty black dress with crisp white collar and cuffs, dainty little one-ear hat cocked coyly over my curls, white gloves and high heeled pumps. I felt very much dressed up--when I started on my journey to Uravan.

The bus was one of those accommodation affairs with space for the baggage in the rear directly behind the seats. The baggage consisted mostly of bed rolls—a half dozen of them, some suit cases, boxes of groceries, packages, two large spare tires and a crated alley dog puppy.

There were nine passengers. One middle aged woman who had a big sore on one cheek and an eye that was drawn to one side by a new scar, sat down by me and enlightened me with the fact that she was returning home to Nucla after being away to Denver. She had been receiving treatment for injuries suffered in a car wreck. The car had gone over a high embankment on that very road and she would show me the exact place when we got to it. "Oh! It is a terrible bad place" and she hoped our bus driver knew his business or "we will never make the turn with this old wreck," she explained. Her dress was a very plain grey suit that had probably been her wedding outfit at least thirty years before, with tennis shoes and a brown bandana tied over her head.

Two young women took the seat directly behind, the driver and after giving me a "once over" look, one said to the other, “Wonder where that came from?  She sure don't know where she's headed for or she wouldn't put on them glad gay rags. She'll learn."

The woman by me laughed heartily and said to me, "You city folk don't know much do ya, about these mountain roads."

The audacity!  I was no "city folk" and certainly not an easterner.  I was just a plain Colorado native, a farmer's wife and the mother of seven children, all nearly grown by this time. Nevertheless, I had been taught always to look my best at all times and I certainly had not reckoned with the sort of trip I was experiencing. The girls were dressed in Levis and plaid shirts with bandanas on their heads—very sensible garb as I was to learn.

The other passengers were men all in work clothes--men that one might meet in any place where work is all that is uppermost in the mind. These men were not different and yet each was a distinctive individual.  All had but one thought; the idea of defense work, licking the Japs and Germans so that the Joes and the Bobs and the Bills could get back. And if they didn't? Their teeth clenched down harder and their faces took on an even more determined look of vengeance.  They were determined to win the war with just their muscle and brawn alone and buy bonds for Uncle Sam.

Conversation among them ran in this channel: each telling of his son or brother or other relative in the armed forces and each with a nasty word for the so-and-so who turned him down and wouldn't let him carry a gun or fire a cannon. "Why, dad-gummit,” two or three fingers off or a short leg or being, past sIxty-five wouldn't keep them from being good soldiers. But they guessed someone had to stay at home and do the little jobs on the home front.

The girls were going back to their jobs at the boarding house.  They had been to town to shop but, for the life of me, I couldn't see, anything they had purchased.  However, as time went on, they talked of shopping for dresses and, believe it or not, one produced from her huge purse an envelope that contained a beautiful rose pink silk, knee-length frock. What a laugh!  No one in the world could picture that "dame of the desert" in anything half so beautiful or feminine like--but time would tell. The time would come, the occasion arise when she and others of the little mining camp would stand out, as fairies in their gay colors and ruffled finery.

But back to my journey.

By eight a.m. we were rolling along over a smooth oiled highway.  Early morning breezes wafted in through the open windows and bore the lovely fragrance of roadside flowers and fields of new mown hay.  I was receiving the impression of there being real pleasure in bus trips when, all at once, a right turn in the road threw me up into the air, off the seat and all but landing me into the aisle in a heap.

We had left the main highway and were jolting off over rough alkali roads. These were taking us across the Gunnison River and bearing up into the mountains away from the beautiful Gunnison and Grand Valleys into the sand rocks and cedar trees of the foothills. As I hurriedly grabbed for the seat in front of me to steady myself, the man across the aisle held out a big brawny arm that· looked to me husky enough to hold the bus itself but without touching me, he merely watched me settle back into my seat as he said, “Be careful, lady, this is rough goin’.”

A “smart" young guy from another direction grinned at me and said "Didn't ya bring along yer spurs?  You'll need 'em to ride this here thing.”  The girls giggled and one said, "Sure 'nuf.  I wouldn't think of comin' this trip without my spurs any more'n I would without my Levis.”

By now I had begun to realize how very much out of place my garb was for that trip. The four inch crack in the door together with the open windows, or rather pane-less windows, was letting in clouds of white dust. My pretty white collar was beginning to wilt down—like a snow ball in summer--under the strain of the hot air borne in with the dust that was turning my pretty black dress to an ugly grey. I had given up trying to keep my hat on my head. But neither would it stay in the seat beside me, so I was forced to hold it with one hand and my purse with the other.  It took only a short distance over that road to make me know that I had to hold on with all the force I could muster from both hands and both feet or else I would be on the floor jolting around with the junk that was heaving and sliding from the back of the bus up under our feet as we climbed the Nine-mile Hill.

And nine miles it is. But the longest nine miles anyone ever traveled.  That was the old road.  A construction company was busy then building a new road down the canyon that would out off considerable distance as well as eliminate the steep climb.

The conditions were terrible but the crowd on the bus was jovial.  I was game.  I had to be. Very soon I accepted the crowd as the well-meaning people they were and listened to the interesting tales they told of the various places and things along the way.  Well up in the Unaweep Canyon is the skeleton of an old stone house, a once beautiful structure from all appearances. An old legend has it that a wealthy young Englishman once owned it and had established a dude ranch there where he lived in luxury with a valet. These two people disappeared.  So the 'story ends. Nevertheless, it affords much food for interesting tales of wandering imaginations.

My seat companion had moved to another seat and as we came to a somewhat smoother piece of road, had dozed off to sleep. Likewise the howling little puppy in the crate became quiet and slept after his master, Charlie, had given him a meal of warm milk from a thermos bottle.

Charlie talked. In fact, he, talked most of the time-- if not to the pup then to most anyone or no one in particular--just rattled on.  He had prospected most of the hills in that part of the country for gold in the earlier days and was still gold crazy. But the new black carnotite[2] metal was luring him at this time. He talked on "I don't know what all they do with vanadium besides hardening steel but they say they get radium out of uranium and what Uncle Sam wants with it, only God knows, but if Uncle Same wants it, we'll get it for him. Does look like he could wait till the war's over and let us guys all have jobs in the ship yards or somewhere where we could do some good, but he thinks he needs this stuff so we'l. get it mined. Yonder is a big vanadium vein. Watch up that gulch for the mine dumps."

Despite the rough roads, the heat, the wind, all the discomforts, I was thrilled when I got my first glance at a vanadium mill at Gateway.  We were passing through some of the most beautiful country in the Rocky Mountains. We had climbed over three thousand feet up the mountains through the fertile valley and low table lands where cattle and sheep are plentiful, over the divide and were going downhill and up, it seemed, at the same time.

[1] Spelling of San Miguel was corrected from original manuscript.
[2] Carnotite is a potassium uranium vanadate radioactive mineral with chemical formula: K2(UO2)2(VO4) 2· 3H2O. The water content can vary and small amounts of calcium, barium, magnesium, iron, and sodium are often present.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Welcome to Utah: Genealogical Mecca

The Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), Salt Lake City, Utah

Every genealogist should have a trip to Utah on their bucket list.  My latest pilgrimage to Salt Lake City is in progress.  The Family History Library in SLC is the largest collection of genealogical material in the world.

The FHL has remodeled their first floor to receive first time visitors into a Family Search computer room.  Having prepared myself with a list of books to search, I headed directly to the U.S. Book collection on the third floor.  There is also a help desk on the third floor with consultants available to help you achieve your U.S. research objectives.  In addition, the basement floor 1 has International specialists available to assist with your research in foreign countries.

How to Prepare for a Visit to the FHL

As with any research trip, a genealogist should prepare by making a list of documents that you want to search.  Start by identifying what you already know about your family with a timeline of events with dates and places where an ancestor resided.  Then decide what countries, states and counties will be your focus.  Perform a search of the FHL catalog using the state and then the county for example: Alabama, Randolph.  I like to focus on the books rather than the microfilm because I can order microfilm from home and have it delivered to a local Family Search center.

I recommend that you either bring a laptop or a mobile device to review ancestor profiles or you can print pedigree charts, family group sheets and individual timelines for reference.  I bring my laptop and my mobile phone.  I carry all of my materials in a back pack so I can pack up quickly if I need to leave my work table.  I use my mobile phone to take pictures of the pages in the books.  Do not forget your charger cords.  The work tables and microfilm reader stations are equipped with AC outlets.

Where to Stay

We have stayed at a variety of hotels in Salt Lake City.  There are dozens of hotels within walking distance of the FHL.  The closest hotel is the Salt Lake Plaza which is very convenient.  Lately we have been staying in Park City and driving into downtown SLC.  We get a good rate on the off season timeshares in this ski town. It is a very scenic mountain drive on Interstate 80.  We saw a couple of moose grazing on the hillside on our morning drive.

Creature Comforts

I find it really hard to take breaks for creature comforts when I am at the FHL.  There are so many wonderful resources at your fingertips, that it is hard to justify taking the time for a restaurant meal but there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance. PB&J is always a great plan with a bottle of water and a few snacks in the back pack.  You cannot consume food or drink in the library with the exception of the snack room on the first floor.  The vending machines are well equipped, with sandwiches, microwaveable foods, fruit, beverages and snacks.

I recommend that you dress in layers with a light jacket or a sweater as it is easy to get chilled after hours of sedentary activity. If the weather is good, you can take a break outside or walk across to Temple Square and eat your lunch or your snacks. I have been known to take breaks on occasion but the thrill of the search usually keeps me inside.

U.S. Book Collection

When you arrive on the third floor, ask the information desk about the binder guide to the U.S. Book collection.  This binder has tabs for all U.S. states which list the row, section and library call number for each U.S. county and parish.  For example, I was searching in Randolph County, Alabama.  The binder told me that I could find the books about that county in Row 14, Section 365.  All of the Randolph County books began with the call number 976.157.  Armed with the row, section and call number you can zero in on the location of the genealogical gold!

Sometimes I am selective and only pick the books that I have identified in advance.  When I want to be more exhaustive in my search, I grab all of the books that I can carry from the shelf for my county of interest and take them to my table.  I write down the title and the call number for each book on a legal pad. I review the index for my surnames of interest and make note of the pages that include my surname.  I underline each page number as it is searched. I make note of any interesting finds and I take pictures of the title page of the book, the introduction and the explanation of how to use the book.  I then take pictures of all of the pages that include references to my surnames of interest.  I often copy additional pages in that section of the book to get the full context in which the ancestor was mentioned.

There is so much more to tell about a visit to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  I will post more about my visit to Utah next week.  Let me know if you have any questions about how to prepare for a visit and what to do once you get here.  I am booked up with client work on this visit but let me know if you have any research requests for my next trip.

You may notice that I am posting on a Sunday rather than my usual Monday.  The explanation is that the Library is closed today but open from 8 AM to 5 PM on Monday.  Tuesday through Thursday the FHL is open from 8 AM to 9 PM.  We will see if I can make it that long on Tuesday!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Centenarian Holds Clues to Immigrant Origins

The greatest challenge in tracing the family history of our immigrant ancestors is identifying the name of the home town in the old country.  The first place to start when searching for the home town is to talk to the elders in your family. Parents, grandparents and great grandparents will often have the clues that you need to discover your immigrant origins.

I am currently working for two sisters that are planning a trip to Italy with their parents. Their immigrant ancestors were Marco Oliva and Catherine Graffigna who met and were married in New Orleans in 1862.  Locating the home town of Pre-Civil War immigrants can be especially challenging. Fortunately, Marco and Catherine Oliva had a daughter named Pauline that lived to be 109 years old.

This newspaper clipping was found at US Genweb site.
File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by:
Rhonda Anderson June 4, 2006, 7:30 pm
Source:             Times Picayune
Photo can be seen at:
Image file size: 235.4 Kb

   A hundred years of living adds up to a lot of memories, both happy and sad, and Mrs. Pauline Oliva Dutilh, who reached the century mark Monday, doesn't dwell on the sad ones.   And perhaps that is the real secret of her longevity.    In fact, her sense of humor and good health belie her years. Her only complaint is, "I do not hear so well anymore."
   Mrs. Dutilh, who was born in New Orleans October 9, 1872, lives in Metairie with her son-in-law, William Louis Mayer.  She does the housework, with occasional help for the heavy cleaning and the cooking.
   According to Mrs. Dorothy Mayer Shall, a granddaughter, Mrs. Dutilh is quite a cook.  "We may cook the same dishes, but even the children can tell the difference.  Ma Ma just does something a little differently."
   She also does her own grocery shopping.  Once a week Mrs. Shall calls for Ma Ma in her daughter's low slung sports car for a trip to the market, an outing Mrs. Dutilh looks forward to.
   Mrs. Dutilh was the youngest of three daughters of Marco and Catherine Graffigna Oliva who were married in St. Louis Cathedral where she was later christened and made her first communion.  Both were from families of cheese-makers, he from Genoa, she from the Italian Alps, and Mrs. Dutilh recalls stories her father told of storing cheese in caves near his boyhood home in Italy.  
   Her family spoke Genoese at home, a lanquage Mrs. Dutilh finds most beautiful.  She learned French from the Marianite nuns at "Sisters school" on Hospital street, which she explained, is now Govenor Nicholls Street.
   Mrs. Dutilh said, "I've always liked lanquages."    And she had an aptitude for them.  She learned German and Spanish, too.    She also attended McDonogh #15 school, which was near the family's home on Barracks street near Chartres, and St. Mary's Italian Church.
   As a child she recalls rolling a hoop around the block and playing "ring around the rosie."  Her favorite outings were sailing with her father on Lake Ponchartrain and going to Milneburg on the old Smoky Mary.
   She loved to sing and as a young lady was often asked to perform at soirees and balls held in the large homes on Esplanade avenue.
   Mrs. Dutilh said her oldest sister, who was a fine seamstress, taught her to sew.  She married Francis Theodore Dutilh, a Frenchman from the High Pyranees.  A master plumber, Mr. Dutilh had his place of business on Royal Street.  He died of a heart attack at 36, she said when their two children, a son and daughter were seven and nine.
   To raise her children, Mrs. Dutilh put her sewing skills to use.  She went to work at Godchaux's then located at Canal and Chartres where she altered men's clothing for 12 years.  
   When her daughter, Ercilia Dutilh Mayer, died leaving five young children she began raising her second family.    "The youngest was 20 months old," she recalled.
   Her family has now grown to include seven grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren.     "And another is on the way," she added.
   Sunday members of the family came from as far away as Wisconsin to help Mrs. Dutilh celebrate her hundredth birthday.  And no one enjoyed it more than the petite and sprightly Ma Ma, to be sure.  

File at:

This file has been created by a form at

File size: 4.1 Kb

Newspapers have often published these types of human interest stories about centenarians.  Searching for these interviews of ancient ancestors can have obvious benefits when searching for their origins. Even if your ancestors made it into their 80's or 90's, there may be articles like this available.  Mrs. Pauline Dutilh lived to 109 so there are several more articles that made it into the newspaper annals.

Mrs. Pauline Dutilh at 104
Mrs. Pauline Dutilh at 107

Mayor Morial wrote a letter congratulating Mrs. Dutilh

Mrs. Pauline Dutilh at 108 holding a certificate from the governor
I was incredibly lucky to have found all of these articles online.  The volunteers of the US GenWeb have done an incredible service by placing these articles in their digital archives.  If you have access to online newspapers you may also get lucky and find articles like these.  Newspapers often have archivists that can be helpful. Newspaper microfilm can be searched around the birth dates. Local libraries and genealogical societies often have clipping files that can be accessed through an email, phone call or letter.  The archives of the mayor or the governor might include information compiled for certificates or letters.

We are still looking for more clues to pinpoint the parish and churches of Marco Oliva and Catherine Graffigna.  These memories of cheese makers in the old country are priceless.  We now have some clues that will help us get to the right neighborhood in Italy.  This reunion has been facilitated by the memories of a centenarian.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Slaves Named in the 1861 Divorce of John H. Crisp and Mary R. Bowles

This article is a continuation from last week of the slaves named in the 1861 divorce of John H. Crisp and Mary R. Bowles, widow of Green Berry Bowles. The names of these slaves were transcribed by Annette Bowen, one my colleagues in the Bay Area Genealogical Society of Houston, Texas.

Slaves belonging to Mary R. Crisp at the date of her marriage with John H. Crisp (3 Sept. 1851) and of their increase since that date
Taken from Exhibit A, in a suit in District Chancery Court at Holly Springs, Mississippi at the January Term 1855
Jim aged about 70 years
Hal aged about 70 years
Maria                    65
Jordan                  28
Albert                   19
Isabel                    45
Lem                       41
Jinney                   41
Hartwell               19
Cela                       21
Jack                        17
Leatta                   16
Pegues                 13
Sarah                     11
Granville              8
Dred                      6
Lewis                     4
George                 30
Dilly                        30
Clara                      14
Frances                   about 12
Betsy                     11
Ephraim               65
Tabby                    45
Jo                            21
Jerry                      29
Martha                 29
William                 30
Harriet                  19
Taylor                    24
Eliza                       25
Mary                     4
Albert                   22
Arun                      25
Albert                   37
Nancy                   28
Clara                      7
Patsy                     5
Laura                     28
Leonidas about 6
Jim (Jane?)         17
George                 17
Tom                       14
Watt aged about 13
Davy                      18
Frank                     28
Slaves born since the marriage
Henry aged about 1 year
Rufus                    2
Maria                    3 months
Stanfield              3 months
Nelly                      2
Archy                    2
Jerry                      1
Ellen                      2
James                   1
Ephraim               2
Ellen                      1
John                      2
Peterson             7 months
Adelaide              1 year
In all Sixty one slaves (Note: apparently one name was left off of this list, which was a certified copy.]

Mary Robert Harwell Bowles was the widow of Green Berry Bowles who was a physician, having attended medical school at Yale in 1821 and graduating from the Medical School of Maine at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1822. Children of Green Berry Bowles and his wife Mary R. Harwell are:

  1. James R. Bowles, born 1827 in Virginia; died 1876, buried in St. Peters Cemetery, Oxford, Mississippi married Martha Anne Ragsdale, 22 December 1847, in Monroe County, Mississippi
  2. Mary Ann Bowles, born 1833 in Virginia, died between 1860 and 1870 married Dr. Paul H. Otey, 19 March 1847, in Nashville, Tennessee
  3. Timoxena Bowles, born 3 April 1835, in Hardeman County, Tennessee, died 13 September 1912 in Florida married DeWitt Clinton Herndon, 6 June 1854, in Lafayette County, Mississippi
  4. Catharine Theresa Bowles, born 10 August 1837, in Lafayette County, Mississippi; died 13 May 1887 in Jackson, Mississippi, buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Jackson, Mississippi married William Dunbar Holder, 6 June 1854, a double wedding with her sister Timoxena at the Bowles home in Lafayette County, Mississippi
  5. Andrew Jackson Bowles, born July 1839, in Lafayette County, Mississippi; died 7 August 1912, in Rains County, Texas married (1) Mary Jane Moore, 15 June 1864, in Monroe County, Mississippi married (2) Elizabeth Bloom, 13 March 1889, in Rains County, Texas
  6. Green Etheldred Bowles, born 3 December 1841, in Lafayette County, Mississippi; died 4 January 1844, buried in Bowles Cemetery, Lafayette County, Mississippi
  7. Rufus Oscar Bowles, born 13 June 1843, in Lafayette County, Mississippi; died 13 January 1844, buried in Bowles Cemetery, Lafayette County, Mississippi
  8. Green Berry Bowles, Jr., born February 1846, in Lafayette County, Mississippi; died 12 October 1924, in Austin, Travis County, Texas married Florence Yates
Annette has published more Bowles family history online here: 

The first child above, James R. Bowles received the transfer of these slaves from John H. Crisp during the divorce and then transferred them back to his mother who had returned to Lafayette County, Mississippi during the process of her divorce from John H. Crisp.  Here is how Annette told the story to me: 

She left Dr. Crisp and moved back to her plantation home in Mississippi in December 1854.  Mary sued Dr. Crisp to recover her dower in a law suit in Marshall County, Mississippi, referenced in the divorce.  Apparently Dr. Crisp transferred all the property which he had acquired by marriage to Mary's oldest son, James R. Bowles, and James immediately transferred it to his mother.  They agreed that neither would be responsible for the debts of the other.  

So it appears that these slaves were probably emancipated in Lafayette County, Mississippi. Searching for blacks named Bowles in the 1870 census of Lafayette County, Mississippi we found 62 people with that name.  There were seven more persons named Bowles identified as mulatto.  There were no former slaves named Crisp in Lafayette County in 1870.

Annette Bowen has published a list of more slaves in the division of slaves in the estate of  Dr. Green Berry Bowles here:

 Additional information was found describing the Bowles Plantations here:

The original BOWLES PLANTATION which was divided between the children at time of the father, James E. BOWLES death [WILL proven in Nov term of Court in 1840] was abt. 1280 acres, [Section 6, Township 8S , R 2W and Section 12, T. 8 S R. 3 W. on both sides of the Old Woodson Ridge Road now known as C. R. 215. His son, Green Berry Bowles Plantation was between Graham Mill creek and Cambridge Church with abt 4500 acres. Green Boles Sr.'s Plantation was northeast Quality Ridge now known as Woodson Ridge as well as some property near College Hill. 

In the Mississippi Wills and Probate Collection at there is a probate for Mary R. Bowles that was administered by her oldest son, James R. Bowles.  Here land is described lying in Lafayette County, Mississippi as 450 acres of Section 29, Township 7, Range 2 including the northern portion of the section and the SW 1/4 of Section 20, T. 7, R. 2.  Her estate was insufficient to pay her debts and was declared insolvent.
Name: Mary R Bowles
Probate Place: Lafayette, Mississippi, USA
Inferred Death Place: Mississippi, USA
Case Number: 1030
Item Description: Chancery Court Minutes, Case File 1016-1066, 1866; 19 images

Further searching of Mississippi Wills and Probate Collection at found another slave list in the probate for Green B. Bowles Sr.

Name: Green B Bowles Sr

Probate Date: 1848
Probate Place: Lafayette, Mississippi, USA
Inferred Death Year: Abt 1848
Inferred Death Place: Mississippi, USA
Item Description: Chancery Court Minutes, Case File 285-348, 1847-1848
Image 1043 of 1133

Additional slaves in the estate of Green B. Bowles from his probate on file at

 This is a great example of the gold that is buried in the new Probate collection.  This list appears to be an update to an earlier list showing additional slaves that have been born and some that have died since 1846.  This list is especially useful as it includes the names of the mothers and the dates of birth.

Hugh M. Lee, guardian of the minor heirs of Green B. Bowles dec'd. reports the following list of births and death of negroes belonging to said:
Births                                      Deaths
Minneys Child Green Born 1847-died March 1848
do       do   Mariah do Feby 1848
Mary Overtons [sp?] child Sarah Born Jun 1849
Prissilla child Marthaann Born August 1848
Charlotts child Mary Ann Born Oct 1849
Fanny Bowles child Jersy [sp?] Born 1847-died May 1848
 do    do     do John Born June 1848-died July 1849
Elizabeth child Josephine Born Feby 1849
Amanda's child James Born July 1849- died August 1849
 do       do   Milton Born July 1849
Silvie's child Jas. Polk Born 1846-died April 1849
 do       do   Clarissa Born April 1849
Bose child Georgiana Born April 1849
Louisa child Dread Born Oct 1849
Benson's child Green Born March 1848
Lucy's child George Born Decm 1848-died July 1849

The list goes on to describe mules and horses by name acquired or died in the intervening period.  It is also heartbreaking to note that of the 16 children born, 6 of them had died young.

Hopefully someone will be able to use these lists to solve their "Ancestor Puzzle."