Friday, December 7, 2007

1927 Mississippi River Flood

I received the following information from Chris Hansen of California about the devastating flood in 1927 that affected West Carroll Parish, as well as surrounding areas. My father also told me about this flood, but his information came from other people as he was not born until about two years later.

Ethelyn Williamson Griffin, age 93, was interviewed in Orange, California, September 9, 2007 about the the 1927 flood. Her brother, Leo Williamson, age 92, was interviewed June 7, 1996. He was 81 when he was interviewed in Victoria, Texas. They are the oldest and the only two of seven Williamson siblings still living.

The Williamson Farm was located near what is now Highway 577 and the Plum Grove Road. At the time of the 1927 flood, Highway 577 was a railroad track, in fact the eastern-most section of what is now Highway 577 is called Dummyline Road today.

Leo said that he and his father, Ward Dell Williamson, heard about the flood the day before it actually reached the Williamson farm. Later that night, they heard the roaring of water flowing over the railroad crossties and the cries of the farm animals as the water got deeper. Their house was built 4 feet off the ground, and it survived until the water started rushing out of the area and the foundation collapsed. During the flood, 3 acres did not flood, so they took refuge on "Little Colewa Mount" along with neighbors, animals, and many Copperhead Snakes. Fortunately, no one was bitten by the snakes. The water did not recede from the Williamson farm for about 4 - 5 weeks. during this time Ethelyn was sent to live with the Blackman family so she could continue her schooling in Pioneer. Leo, his father, Ward Williamson, his mother, Lela McElrath Williamson, and the younger siblings stayed on the farm.

The main field of the farm was covered with logs and other debris that had floated in during the flood. Ward Dell Williamson was seriously ill during this time and died at the age of 34 later in 1927. As soon as the ground dried, cleanup was left to 12-year-old Leo Williamson; he borrowed two mules from a neighbor, Dave Pierce, and started dragging the logs out of the fields, but too late to grow a crop in 1927. In the spring of 1928, many of the neighbors came over and plowed the fields to prepare for planting, and they did make a good cotton crop in 1928.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Waiting for Turkey

As I sit and wait for our Thanksgiving dinner to cook, I can't help but think about family past and present. I wish I had someone's diary or journal that would tell me how my ancestors from West Carroll Parish celebrated Thanksgiving 100 plus years ago. Did they have turkey or something else? Maybe they had ham because of all the pigs in the area roaming around.

Today I am thinking about my great grandmother Mary (Cummins) Millikin. They called her "Aunt Pinkie," but I have no idea why. Maybe it was because she was so small. I am in the process of trying to verify who her parents really were. She is either a product of a yours mine and ours situation or born out-of-wedlock. Her death certificate says she is the daughter of John Cummins and Johanna Robbins (Roberts), which means her parents were very young, step siblings, and probably not married when she was born. Some relatives believe she is the daughter of the parents of those two young people, James Cummins and Mary Moore Dempsey Roberts Cummins. That's what I would like to believe because it would make things so much less complicated. I do know that information on death certificates is not always right, but someone obviously believed she was born of those two step siblings or it wouldn't be on her death certificate. Of course, the informant is no longer alive. In 1870, they were living in the same house, so it is possible. I don't know if I'll ever find out for sure after all this time, but I'm hoping I will. I have someone checking on it for me, so we'll see. If anyone out there knows the story, I would love to hear from you. I don't really care what the real situation was, I would just like to know. All of us make mistakes. On this day, I am just greatful for family and all they went through so that I can be here now.

1870 Census West Carroll Parish - Pg 27
Family 222

Mary Cummins 48 F Keeps House
* John Cummins 19 M Laborer
James Cummins 10 M "
Eugenia Cummins 6 F
Mary Cummins 3 F
James Roberts 22 M Laborer
Margaret Roberts 19 F
* Jo Anna Roberts 15 F

My great grandmother was the 3 year-old Mary. The older Mary Cummins was a widow again. Her husband, James Cummins, died in 1867.

Friday, November 16, 2007


A lot has been said about DNA lately in the genealogy world, and how it will be the wave of the future for documentation of family members. I personally don't agree with that theory. I think
written documents will continue to be the "proof" that genealogists seek and rely on. However, genetic makeup does have its place in the family puzzles we are all trying to solve.
Some time ago while searching for Millikin ancestors, I found a book at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City full of the Millikin surname. As I searched through the book, I happened upon a picture that blatantly shouted, This person is related to you somehow." The man in the photograph looked so much like my dad that it was almost eerie. The name under the picture was Col. James Millikin. As I continued my perusal of this book, I could not make a connection and have yet to do so; thus, my search for Richard Millikin and his origin. I have posted this picture along the right side of my blog along with a picture of my dad.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Creating a Website

Wow! I just published my first website! Creating one isn't that hard; it just takes some time, especially if you want to add pictures. I'm thinking about making a website for my West Carroll ancestors now that I have a better idea of how it all works. My website is a family newsletter to help my immediate family to keep in touch with each other better. If anyone out there is interested in creating a website, you just need to set up a google account, go to "my account", and select "create page", and away you go. You can create links to other pages and create as many pages as you want. What a great way to get more exposure for your family names and attract researchers interested in the same surnames! Just post a reply if you have questions. I'm certainly not an expert, but I'll help if I can.

Monday, November 12, 2007

West Carroll Statistics

I recently finished a study of the 1900 U.S. census for West Carroll, East Carroll, and Richland parishes. I have ancestors who have lived in each of these parishes, and I wanted to know what the differences were. Below, you will find my report.

The purpose of this historical study is to determine the similarities and differences between East Carroll Parish, Richland Parish, and West Carroll Parish in northeastern Louisiana. To accomplish this task I downloaded images of the 1900 U.S. Census from Heritage Quest for each of the three parishes.
I used images from the specific areas within each parish in which my ancestors resided.
I performed a random survey by adding five families to my database, skipping five families, adding five families, and so on. All data was entered manually. I skipped a few images that were not easily readable and included my ancestors whether or not they fit inside the five families recorded, but otherwise I kept to the original plan. I also consulted the images on when needing clarification of information not easily read. Most of the data was very clear, but the surnames were sometimes my own interpretation; however, I was not as concerned with the surnames as I was with the other data provided. I only included surnames in my database for possible future reference.
Microsoft Access was used to record the data from 50 census images. The database for each parish includes 433 people equaling 1,299 total people surveyed. After gathering the data for each parish, I used Microsoft Access and Microsoft Excel to compare and analyze the statistics.
As with any historical study, some background information is always helpful. East Carroll and West Carroll parishes were previously one parish that was divided in 1877. Richland Parish was formed in 1869 from parts of its surrounding parishes including Carroll, Franklin, Morehouse, and Ouachita parishes. For boundary differences, refer to the maps at the end of this report.[i]
Each of the three parishes has similar geographic characteristics. All are rural farming communities with farming being the main occupation. Many lakes, rivers, and bayous dot the landscape, as well as areas of dense timber. The Bayou Macon separates the Carroll parishes with East Carroll being entirely alluvial, subject to overflow. Farming land is only available in East Carroll on the ridges that follow the waterways; whereas, West Carroll has only two narrow strips of this type. Only 78 percent of East Carroll Parish land is used for agriculture and pasture and 95 percent in West Carroll Parish. Richland Parish uses 84 percent for agriculture, with most of its land situated in a flood plain.[ii]
This information helps us to understand why the number of people working on farms is lower in East Carroll Parish. Of the 433 people surveyed in each parish, 137 worked in some kind of farming occupation in East Carroll Parish, whereas, West Carroll Parish listed 194 and Richland Parish 204. Farming occupations included farmer, farmeress, farm laborer, day laborer, and farm manager. East Carroll Parish had the most diverse occupations of the three listing butcher, carpenter, clerk, cook, housekeeper, logging, merchant, night watchman, rail splitter, shoemaker, and washer woman as occupations other than farming. West Carroll Parish listed cook as the only other occupation.
The most obvious statistic I noticed while entering data was the great number of wives and children who worked on farms in Richland and West Carroll parishes. Generally by the age of ten, children were working as farm laborers, girls and boys alike. In East Carroll Parish, very few children or wives worked, and many children were listed as “at school.”

Black/White Ratios
The black/white ratio was the most surprising statistic. In West Carroll Parish 30 percent of the people were white and 32 percent in Richland Parish, but East Carroll Parish was only 5 per cent white. Because the parishes were not completely surveyed, it’s possible that the area surveyed in East Carroll happened to be more black than white. With the diversity of occupations in that parish, I would have expected East Carroll to have a higher percentage of white people rather than lower.
Something should be said about total population at this point. The population counts in 1900 for East Carroll and Richland were similar being 11,373 and 11,116 respectively. The population for West Carroll Parish was only 3,685.[iii] Assuming that the cross-section of people surveyed was typical for each parish, 1,106 people in West Carroll Parish were white. Even though the percentage of white people in East Carroll Parish was low, there were still 569 whites. Richland Parish’s percentage of whites, along with its higher population, makes it the parish with the majority of white people - 3,557. This could be a possible reason why one of my ancestor families moved from West Carroll to Richland Parish. I’m sure that some black/white tension still existed in that area of the United States at that time.

Male/Female & Read/Write Ratios
Male/Female ratios were fairly equal. They compare as follows:
· East Carroll – 50% male & 50% female
· Richland – 52% male & 48% female
· West Carroll – 46% male & 54% female
West Carroll Parish was the only parish in which more women than men could read.
Can Read
· East Carroll – 20% of men & 15% of women
· Richland – 21% of men & 20% of women
· West Carroll – 21% of men & 22% of women
Can Write
· East Carroll – 19% of men & 15% of women
· Richland – 18% of men & 15% of women
· West Carroll – 20% of men & 20% of women

Families & Rent/Own Ratios
The average number of children per family was calculated counting only those families with children and also counting only children under18 years of age. East Carroll Parish had 180 children, and the average number per family was 2.77. Children in Richland Parish numbered 204 with 2.96 per family, and West Carroll Parish had 217 children and an average of 3.1 children per family. These numbers seem to indicate that the people in West Carroll Parish had more children, which helped with the farming. The average age of the “Head of Household” was as follows:
· West Carroll – 38 years
· East Carroll – 41 years
· Richland – 43 years
In general, most people living in these parishes had little money and had to rent their property. Of the 253 people in East Carroll Parish who were 18 years or older, only 8 people were listed as owning their property. Ninety-eight people rented and 147 had no property. West Carroll Parish’s statistics were a little better with 216 adults, 17 people owning property, 123 renting, and 76 having no property. Richland Parish seems to be the most solid place to live with 30 people owning property, 68 renting, and 131 having no property. The “Head of Household” average age is consistent with the ownership of property as a younger person is less likely to own property.
Places of Birth
The majority of the 433 people surveyed in each parish were born in Louisiana. West Carroll had the highest percentage at 80 percent and East Carroll and Richland both at 72 percent.
The most common places to be born other than Louisiana were Mississippi (8%) and Alabama (6%). Birthplaces of parents were a little more diverse. The most unusual birthplaces of parents for all three parishes surveyed were England (7 parents), Germany (8 parents), Ireland (17 parents), Scotland (1 parent), and Sweden (12 parents). All other parents were born within the United States. West Carroll Parish had the highest number of parents born in Louisiana with 61 percent of mothers and 47 percent of fathers.
Only six percent of the children in West Carroll and East Carroll parishes were not born in Louisiana. In Richland Parish, however, 13 percent of the children were born in places other than Louisiana. Other places of birth for all three parishes include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Sweden (2 children).


The study of these three parishes has given me a better overall view of the lives of my ancestors. Before doing this study, I felt that East Carroll Parish was the most ideal parish in which to live. Before Carroll Parish was divided into the east and west parishes, the county seat was moved from West Carroll to East Carroll. East Carroll seemed to be the most modern, up-and-coming community. As per this study, more children seemed to be attending school. The occupations in this parish were more diverse, possibly attracting immigrants with specialized occupations.
Those who loved farming and a more rural atmosphere would probably have preferred West Carroll Parish. Those who wanted to live in communities that were more white than black, would have preferred Richland Parish. Much opinion should be given to the personal preference of individual families as to where they resided, but this study shows all aspects of the differences in these three parishes so that a researcher will know what other aspects might have influenced a decision of where to live.
[i] Louisiana parish census maps, online, data downloaded 10 November 2007.
[ii] Louisiana parish information, online, data downloaded 8 November 2007.
[iii] U.S. government census population counts for Louisiana, online cencounts/la190090.txt>, downloaded 4 November 2007.

Friday, November 9, 2007

"Old Floyd" Courthouse

Isn't this a great picture! It came out in the Madison Journal. Geneva Rountree Williams, a lady who volunteers and helped to set up the Hermione museum, sent it to Sally Jo Gibson, and she sent it to me. I know that many people must have pictures just like this one that would benefit everyone. I would love to put them on my blog, so be sure and post a way for me to contact you.
I have been taking a college class called Computers in History. It's a genealogy class teaching us how to use the computer in our genealogical work. This blog was created because of the class. I've been learning about wikis, mailing lists, social networking sites, websites, etc. I'm learning so much and making contact with so many people that it's almost overwhelming, but I love it. The more contacts you make, the more information you'll find.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Genealogy Website List

I just found a new genealogy website list. The URL is: . Kip Sperry, a professor at BYU, alphabetized and made the list available to all on the internet. I'm really glad that someone keeps updating lists like that because new sites become available almost daily.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Musings From My Dad

Fourteen years ago I interviewed my dad, Robert C. Millikin, about his life growing up in Louisiana. I thought maybe some of you out there might enjoy hearing about it. They lived on the Millikin plantation in West Carroll Parish and grew dates and cotton. There was a big cedar tree in back of the house with a gigantic bell in it, and when dinner was ready (2:00 - 3:00 pm), someone would ring the bell. This happened mostly during the harvest. This was the main meal of the day. Everything was cooked on a wood stove, and at night they used coal oil (kerosene) to see by. The bedroom section of the plantation house was built in a big round circle with the bedrooms around the outside and a fireplace in the middle. The bedrooms were all pie shaped. At one end of this section was the veranda that went into the other section of the house, which included the kitchen, dining room, and sitting room.
Outside in the yard was bare dirt with chickens running around to keep the grass out of it. They had no lawn mowers and were more interested in farming. Growing grass and mowing it were wasted efforts. Besides, there were enough green pastures and trees around to satisfy the craving for green things. There were four or five outbuildings close to the house.
My dad remembers sleeping on cots with no legs. They were hung from the ceiling by chains, and as long as you didn't roll over you were all right. There were snakes all over, as well as tarantulas and other creeping things, so the beds were hung so these things couldn't climb up and get in bed with you. My dad didn't actually live in the plantation house. That was where his grandma and grandpa lived. My dad's family lived in a shack on the property with chickens flying in and out as they were eating, and that was pretty typical for the time period and place.
My grandmother didn't really like living there because of all the disease, especially tuberculosis. Several family members died of this. Her parents lived in Dallas, Texas, so she would insist on going there periodically and staying for awhile. Grandpa wasn't very happy because then he'd have to find a job and all he wanted to do was farm.
My father's Ggrandfather, Richard Millikin, was supposed to have buried some gold (in a big black wash pot) that he acquired during the civil war. He buried it around the plantation somewhere, and my dad remembers digging and looking for it. Just before my grandma died, she believed that one of the cousins got it because all of a sudden this cousin turned up with more money than he was supposed to have. Who knows what the real story is! My dad remembers relatives coming and digging at various times during his growing-up years. Supposedly this gold was the reason Richard was shot and killed by carpetbaggers. They confronted him and demanded that he turn over the money to them or tell them where it was, and during the discussion, he tried to escape and they shot him.

Anyone interested in reading about life during this time period in West Carroll Parish should check out the following URL . Chris Hansen's mother-in-law says it's factual for the time. It is the history of one family in West Carroll Parish during the depression to WWII.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Griffin Family

I received the following information from Chris Hansen. His wife's family is from West Carroll Parish. He had some great pictures with his text, but I couldn't get both to transfer to the blog. If he sends me the pictures separately, I think I can do that, so I'm waiting to hear from him.

William G. "Bill" Griffin Sr. was born in 1853 on Gray's Plantation near the town of Floyd in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana. He was a farmer, cattleman, and timber buyer for the Pioneer Cooperage (Barrel) Co. of St. Louis, Mo. They employed 500 people in Pioneer and vicinity.
The 1860 US Census shows William G. Griffin, age 7, as living in Floyd, Carroll Parish, LA. He is shown in the census as living in a house owned by Sarah Rollins, age 53. Also living in the same house was his mother Peninah Haynes nee Cathey, age 28.
On February 10, 1878 William G. Griffin II born. He was the son of William M. "Bill" Griffin and Laura Beard Honeycutt. He was a farmer in West Carroll Parish, LA. William G. Griffin Sr., William g. Griffin II and his mother Peninah are buried in the Bayou Macon Cemetery in Pioneer, LA

Friday, November 2, 2007

Buildings in Old Floyd

Jerry Lowery emailed me about the Old Floyd buildings. The following is what he wrote.

On page 55 of Florence Stewart McKoin's book, Between the Rivers, she wrote, "In 1855 there were enough votes west of the Macon River to move the parish seat from Lake Providence to Floyd. George Wilson and Sylvanis C. Floyd donated 2.5 acres of land for a courthouse square. In December, 1856, W. A. Doles was awarded a contract to build a two-story building of modern design, plus a brick jail for the sum of $3100. (This is verified by Clerk of the Court records.) Do you suppose these are the buildings in your picture?

I believe he is probably right about the buildings. I would guess there has to be some significance to the buildings, otherwise why would someone take pictures of them. If anyone has a better idea, I hope you'll let me know.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Shaw Sisters

I recently subscribed to a mailing list for West Carroll Parish through rootsweb. The URL is listed on my blog page if anyone is interested in subscribing. While looking through old posts to the mailing list, I noticed one about some Shaw sisters. As I read further, I found that one of them was my GGgranmother! I was pretty excited, but knew that the post being four years old might dampen my success in contacting the person. I emailed anyway and got a prompt reply. We have been exchanging information for a few weeks now, and I've found out quite a bit that I hadn't known before. A lot of the information I've received is also documented, which is even better. I will give a brief overview of these sisters here, and if anyone is interested in them, please blog about it and I'll provide more info.

Virginia Shaw
Born 1822 in Louisiana
Married James L. Cawthon 23 Oct 1859 in Carroll Parish
Died Btwn 1900 & 1910 in Richland Parish
Children - Thomas W., Albert H., and Benjamin F. (she also raised four children from James
L.'s previous marriage - James A., Mary A., George C., and William H.

Charlotte E. Shaw
Born 1824 in Louisiana
Married Amos R. Strong 17 Feb 1848 in Chicot County, Arkansas
Married David McCaskill in Chicot County, Arkansas
Died Abt 1878 in West Carroll, Louisiana
Children - Laura, Amanda, Rosana, Frank, and Amos

Margaret M. Shaw
Born 1825 in Louisiana
Married Richard M. Millikin 8 May 1845 in Carroll Parish, Louisiana
Died Abt 1883 in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana
Children - James Shaw, Robert C., Creed Tanner, Richard M., John D., and Margurite

Mary Shaw
Born 1826 in Louisiana
Married Henry Cooper 25 Dec 1845 in Carroll Parish, Louisiana
Married John Aaron 20 Aug 1859 in Carroll Parish, Louisiana
Children - Ellen, Mary V., George M., Margaret F., William (all Coopers) and Matilda A.

Georgia Ann
Born 1829 in Louisiana
Married Enoch Guthrie 12 Oct 1847 in Carroll Parish, Louisiana
Died Abt 1910 in Texas
Children - Minerva, Florence, Ada, and William

The parents of these girls are listed as Samuel Shaw and Mary Dempsey - so far this is not documented. If anyone has more information, we would sure like to hear it.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

William Clarke Quantrill

The man standing to the left in the picture with the four gentlemen is my Great Grandfather's brother, James S. Millikin. I learned from a Louisiana history book that he rode with Quantrill's bushwhackers and was present at the burning of Lawrence, Kansas. That was hard for me to believe as he was very young at the time. But, for my Hist 220 class I've been reading a book about Quantrill and his exploits and apparently it was common for him to recruit young teenage boys. Most of Quantrill's raids occurred in Missouri and Kansas, but apparently he ventured into Louisiana at some time for the purpose of recruiting. James S. Millikin also slept between the James boys at times. I chose to read about Quantrill because I wanted to know why he committed the atrocities he was famous for.
It seems he was a young man with big dreams and plans gone awry. Feeling like a failure, he got in with the wrong crowd and eventually took up their ways becoming their leader. This is such a familiar story even in our day. From other histories I've read, West Carroll Parish was a favorite place for Frank and Jesse James to lay low for awhile.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Millikin Farm

Before my father passed away, he gave me directions to the Millikin Farm. He said to go north 5 - 7 miles from Pioneer. Take Leggitt Crossing Rd east about 2 miles. The Millikin Farm is on the left side of the road and the burials are in the left hand corner as you face the property. The plantation house is now a hunting cabin.

Who are these people?

Sally Jo Gibson sent me this picture of the "Old Floyd" Courthouse, but didn't know who the people were. If anyone knows who they are, please let the rest of us know. Just post a reply.

Old Floyd Courthouse

Old Floyd Courthouse

Buildings in Old Floyd

Buildings in Old Floyd