thanks to Bonnie McMullan of Decatur, MS for the information on
William Jessie McMullan (1859-1952) was my great-grandfather. A farmer in the Midway community, at about 90 years of age he wrote an account of his life. That account was left in two notebooks. One of the notebooks was a Budget keeper. I have called it version 1. The other has the word "TOP" written on it. I am calling that one Version 2. This is a transcription of the materials contained in these notebooks. WJM's capitalization was random, and his use of commas and periods was sparse. I have altered those uses for readability. The text is given entire, with no deletions or alterations. Editorial clarifications are given in parentheses, and prefaced with "ed" to distinguish them from WJM's parentetical comments.
Any old dog will resent alway being kicked around.
(ed. this is a copy of the cover page for the Version 2 Notebook)
Version 2, Chapter 1: “William Jessie McMullan”
William Jessie McMullan was born Sunday 30th of January 1859 in the McMullan bachelor hall 3-1/2 miles north of Decatur Mississippi on the north end of the flat field in a pole log house near the spring on the Decalb road now known as Roy Smoth orchard farm (in 1950). Moved to the James Dunagin farm 3-1/2 miles south of Decatur near the center stob of Newton County Miss. This was the overseers house made of big split logs 18 x 20 feet stick and dirt chimney in east end of house and a door in each side. Was an open shelter with dirt floor on north side of the house. There was a broken down buggy and 3 bales of cotton under this shed during the entire war. Father grew this cotton in 1861 & 1862. Sold 1 bale of this cotton Nimocks in Decatur before he went to the war in early 1863. Delivered it to Nimocks in 1865 after he came home from the war. The merchant had forgotten having this cotton, was glad to get it. Gave father $10 to delivering and for keeping it for him. Father could have kept this bale of cotton then worth $200. He sold the 2 bale for 40-1/2 cents to Masine Watkins in Newton December 1865. He gave $100 of this money to Mr. Jack Hollingsworth to put up a big 2 room house with a 11 foot hall between the 2 rooms, the logs big heavy split logs. Logs hued inside and outside one room. Sealed cracks with split pine boards. Stick and dirt chimney to one room. We moved into this 2 weeks before Christmas, 1865. Christmas was on Sunday. We were father, mother, I and Cornelia (1-1/2 years old), Till and Ponk. P.S. Till was father slave girl from Ga., Pomp was Uncle Tom McMullan slave from Ga. Pomp was waiting boy to his master during the war.
The 1st thing I recollect distinctly is the time I and sister Sallie then 2 years old was playing under the shelter beside the house. I was driving pegs in the ground with fathers hammer when I struck and mashed Sallies finger. It was a real accident. I did really regret it. Sallie cried. I ran under the house to avoid mother’s punishment. (mother came to see about it) Sallie got sick soon afterward with diptheria, did not live but a few days. She was buried in the Dunagin lot in South West Decater, corner of the cemetery. My recollection of this is very indistinct. A boxed cement tomb to her grave. I can’t recollect when father left going to the Army. I know when he came home on furlow twice. Once he went to Loringo division of the Army, then camping south of Newton on the Hilt branch, a fine watering place. He bought a Sorrell pony horse. He a curly main and tail. His name was Bob. He lost this horse at Selma Alabama (at the stampede) in 1865. I recollect Mother and I staid alone while father was in the war 3 years. Mother owned a woman slave named Ann, her boy Wiley, called him Buck. Father had a girl Till in her teens. He got Till and $1000 cash from his fathers estate in Georgia. These 2 wimmin worked with Grandfather Dunagins hands and we got our living that way during the war. Mother had a fine stock of hogs. We had two cows named Bet and Puss, a heifer named Rose. Mother bought a cow Dall (ed. Doll?) for $200 and one from Dee Blalok, Lady for $250. Fathers slave girl Till would bring her bed in and make it on the floor in mothers room for company. In Feb 1864 father came on furlow from Louisville Miss of only 3 days. Got home in the night. One day to stay at home the 3rd day going right back to camp at Louisville. Uncle George Dunagin came to see him the day he was at home. Told him of a piece of land that was for sale. He knew father wanted to buy a home. Father told him he wanted a home for Willie and his mother, if you think it a good trade go make the deal, and Medline your sister will furnish the money, $2000 to pay for it. Said he didn’t know if would get home again. It was a 360 acre piece of land. Father told mother to borrow $1000 of Uncle Toms money to pay on the land then sell Nick the family mare an then replace Toms money. Mother sold Nick for $900 and replaced the borrowed money. Sold Nick to Gen. J. C. Blalack. The track of land (fine land) is where father reared his family.
We had a big black Newfoundland dog that kept watch for us. Once he taken a negro down. They were all afraid of him. His name was Dash. When Grandfather was out looking over his farm he would come by our home to see how things were. He owned a good big farm. Lots of negros and mules and oxen. Bill drove 6 mules to the wagon and West drove big ox team. Bill was part Indian and bossed plow hands. Man West bossed hoe hands, big long black. Dock was dumpy, was blacksmith and carpenter. Nathan was mule feeder, locked crib brought key and hung it at head of grandfathers bed. Came in in the morning got key and fed the mules. Judy, Bill’s wife (yellow woman), was grand mothers cook and their family ate their meals in the kitchen. 6 children. Bill was carriage driver. Had nice clothes and wore calfskin boots, was verry polite. The other families cooked and ate in their cabins. Their rations was isued out to them 1 peck of meal, 3-1/2# meet for 1 week. Grandmother would have pot of potlicker for the litl negro children in the evening. She would call out potlicker at the kitchen. The little negros would come running. That was a happy time for them. Grandfather had a brick oven to cook potatoes in, would hold enough for all. I recollect at times some negroes would get impudent and have to be whiped to make them behave. Mothers Ann got impudent. She sent for the overseer to come & bring his whip. He tied her to post & put lash on her, not to much. How she did twist and cry, but that did the trick to have her behave. Some of them got unruly, had to be treated rough. Some owners were mean to their slaves, others treated them good, like one of the family.
These negroes were set free by Lincoln when the confederacy failed
in 1865. The most of them left home overnight. Grand Fathers Bill
staid on that year and the next. G F had 3 boys in their teens
bound to him untill they became of age. Father W M Mcm. had his
slave Till bound to him untill she got 21 years old. She staid
her time was up 21. She lived as one of the family. Till nursed
we children down to Ida. We loved Till next best to own mother.
Mothers Ann left in a few months. She had 1 boy and 2 girls. In
2 years she came back for a while then wanted to work for her and
childrens upkeep. Father would not do it. She left, don’t know
what became of her. Till married lived nearby on our farm part
time, buried at St Hill colored church. I had marker to her grave.
She was 90 years old. Her father was a free negro named Jessy in
Georgia. The negros were franchised, allowed to vote in politcle
elections. The first election they voted with the white voters,
Democrats. The next election some yankey carpetbaggers had come
south and organized the Radical party, and got the negroes all against
their former masters (the White Democrats) and considerable trouble
followed for years. The carpetbagers and scalawags was driven from
the state in the 1875 & 76. Had a negro Lieutenant Governor
Davis once. Newton County Supervisor Willie Donough one term from
beet 4- (Donough was a Baptist preacher). He acted as waiter for
the white members. Got water got wood and made fires in cold weather.
There was U. S. senator negro and Superintendent of Education.
There was near negro riot in Newton in the 70ties, cooler forethout
by some wise whites prevented it. I was a boy down in early teens,
but I kept up with the times and would hollow horah fo Southern
rights and for Democracy. There was big rally in Newton. Barbecue
and speaking, a torchlight procession at night. I carried a torch
light in the streets and the roads in the town and community.
Version 1, Chapter 1: “William Jessie McMullan”
William Jessie McMullan was born Sunday January 30th 1859 in the McMullan brothers bachelors hall 4 miles north of Decatur Mississippi, now the Roy Smith farm. The house was near the spring on the north end of the flat bason field. Moved to the Dunagin farm in the overseers house in 1861- 3 miles south of Decatur near the center stob of Newton County Mississippi. This house was made of big split logs 18 x 20 feet dirt chimney in east end door in each side, and open shelter on north side, dirt floor. To this shed there was 3 bales of cotton, and a buggy stored under this shed. Father grew this cotton in 1861 & 1862 sold 1 bale to Nimocks in Decatur before he went to the war, delivered it to him in Decatur in 1865, and sold the 2 bale to Masin Watkins in Newton for 40-1/2 cents a pound in 1865.
The first thing I recollect is the time I and sister Sallie then 2 years old was playing under the shelter beside the house. I was driving pegs in the ground with fathers hammer, when I struck and mashed Sallies finger. It was a real accident. I certainly did regret it. She cried, and mother came to see about it. I ran under the house to evade mothers punishment. Sallie got sick soon after with diptheria, didnt live but few days. She was buried in the Dunagin lot in Decatur Cemetery in the South West corner, a boxed tomb to her grave. I cant recollect when father went to the army. I know when he came home on a furlow twice. Once he went to t he Loring division of the Army. Then fathers slave girl Till would bring her bed in our big room and make it down in the floor of mothers room for company. We had a big black New Foundlan dog, that kept watch for us. He once taken a negro down. They were all afraid of him. His name was Dash. When grandfather was out loking over the farm he would come by our house to see how everything was. He had a big good farm, lots of negroes, plenty mules and ox team, a six mule wagon. Bill was mule driver. 3 yoke ox team, and West was ox driver. Dock was blacksmith. Nathan was mule feeder, would bring crib key in and hang it at grandfathers head of bed, and come in and get it in the morning. Judy, Bills wife, was grandmothers cook and their family ate in the kitchen. Bill was carriage driver. The other families cooked and ate in their cabins. Their rations were issued to them 1 peck of meal, 3-1/2 # meet a week. Grandmother had a pot of potlicker, and bread in it for the little negro children in evening. Would call out in the evening potlicker down at the kitchin. Then the little negros would come running. That was a real happie time with them. Grandfather had a brick oven made to cook potatoes in for the croud. It would hold quite a lot at once. I recollect at times some of the negroes would get impident and the overseer or driver would have to fasen them up and give them a lashing to make them behave. I recollect mothers woman Ann got impident with mother, and she sent Till after her brother Wm to come and bring the whip. So he tied her Ann to a post, and put the lash on her not to much, but how she did cry, and take on, but that did the trick to have her to behave for a time. Some of them got unruly and had to have rough treatment. Most of them were abidable, and pleasant. Some owners were real mean to their slaves, others treated them well, like one of the family.
I cannot recollect when father went to the war. I know when he came home on furlow twice. Once he went to Loring division of the Army then camping south of Newton. On the Hilt branch a fine watering place. He bought a pony horse a Sorral with curly main, tail. His name was Bob. He lost this horse at Selma Ala in 1865. I recollect mother, and I staid alone while he was in the war 3 years. Mother owned a slave named Ann, and a boy Wiley (called him Buck). Father had a girl in her teens got from his fathers estate in Georgia and $1000 dollars cash. These 2 wimin worked with grandfather Dunagin hands, and we got our living that way. Mother had a fine stock of hogs, we had 2 cows named Bet and Cuss and heifer named Rose. Mother bought cow Dall (ed. Doll?) for $200 and one from De Blalock named Lady for $250.
Fathers slave girl Till would bring her bed in our room, and make it down on the floor in mothers room for company. We had a big black New Foundlan dog that kept watch for us. He once taken a negro down. They were all afraid of him, his name was Dash. When grandfather was out looking over his farm he would come by our home to see how everything was. He owned a big good farm. Lots of negroes, and plnty mules and oxen. Bill drove 6 mules to the wagon, and West was ox driver. Bill bossed plow hands and West bossed hoe hands. Dock was blacksmith and carpenter. Nathan was mule feeder, would bring crib key in and hang it up at head of grandfathers bed and get nex morning to feed.
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