The Old Burleyson Home

Only a few homes of the olden days remain standing here, but among those revered because of its saturation with love, gallantry, hospitality, and purpose, as well as warfare, is the old Burleyson Home, which is located near Belen, in the center of a big plantation, and which was once owned and occupied by J. J. Burleyson and his family.

It is of the usual antebellum architecture, built of logs, having two large front bedrooms with a hall between and two side rooms, as they were called at that time.

The old family graveyard where members of the family and their friends were once interred, is now almost a back yard for the place.

Mention of Mr. Burleyson’s being the first person to vote in Quitman County is given elsewhere in this history.1

Shine Turner Home

On the Banks of Coldwater River, almost eight miles from Lambert, a home still stands, the atmosphere of which bespeaks old-time living.  Like most homes of that time, it was built of logs, and in the style of the day.  Two large bedrooms form the main part of the house and two shed rooms are added.  typical_dogtrot_floorplan-1It has a hallway, where used to hang hunting horns and guns, and where men, coming in from work or hunting, would stop at an impoverished washstand to get “cleaned up” before going to dinner.  The wooden bucket, containing water and a gourd dipper, was also kept here.  Just back of the house is an Indian mound which served as a place of refuge during the floods of 1882 and 1883, and in front of the house is a very large Catalpa tree.  This house was occupied by the Shine Turner family at the time Quitman County was organized and is still owned by these children, but it is supposed that it was built by the Hatch family, who lived there before the War between the States.

Miss Jennie Simpson, who afterwards married Mr. Turner, was the first school teacher on the place.  “Mr. Shine” was a member of the locally notable Turner family, and is survived by a daughter, Mrs. John Allen, Sr., of Lambert, who is the owner of her father’s farm and old home, and a son, George Turner, prominent citizen of Tallahatchie County.2

Gibson Home

Mrs. Alice Gibson, seventy-four years of age, is the proud owner of a typical home of the olden times, and it is here she now lives with her daughter, Alice, near the village of Belen.  There have been several changes made to modernize the appearance, but on investigation, one finds that it is truly antebellum and is of the architecture of that day.

A grand old open fireplace has been left intact and has the old andirons and shovel made at the shop where all things pertaining to the “big house” and farm were welded or molded.  A large orchard with fruit trees of various kinds peculiar to this climate is fenced in, around the house.  Various garden paths wind through borders of jonquils, violets, many rare roses, as well as trees of crepe myrtles and weeping willows, add much to the loveliness of the place.

To visit this hospitable home is a treat, and the trend of conversation often drifts to the past, when Mrs. Gibson will proudly recount experiences in connection with her coming to the county; this was after her marriage to M. M. Gibson, “Mack”, as he was called by the settlers, who came here from Cumberland Gap, Virginia, in 1874, when Quitman County was a part of Tunica County.  He paid taxes in Austin, Tunica County, and later assisted in clearing the land, hitherto a wilderness, for the town of Belen, in 1880.  This was one of the first settlements to be opened in the county and was peopled only by a very few whites and small number of blacks, who had been slaves to the old Hatch and Hill families.3

The Davis Home

The R. S. (Bob) Davis Home is among our old home sites.  In fact, this home and the S. E. Jones Home are the two oldest sites in the county and was first known as the Maddux Home.  Robert B. Maddux, with his wife and four children, Hugh, Lou, Ula, Musie, came here from near Friars Point and bought a tract of woodland from the state.  A seven-room house, along with the slave quarters, were made with logs hewn by the slaves.

After Mr. and Mrs. Maddux’s death, the children went to Cotton Plant, Arkansas, to live with an uncle, and there, Lou Maddux, age sixteen, married Robert Simpson Davis, age seventeen, on October 18, 1871, after which they returned to the old home site; then Ula married Captain Elliot.  The property was divided and the heirs “drew straws” to see who would get the home place.  Lou Maddux Davis was the successful one, and about 1872-1873, the place became known as the “Davis Home.”

Later, Lou Maddux died, leaving two children, who lived only a short time after their mother’s death.  Sometime after this, the county line was run through this place, leaving a part of it in Coahoma County, and home-site in Quitman County.

On October 20, 1878, Davis married Martha McEchen Webb, of Abbeville, and to them were born six children.  In 1899, the log house was torn down and the one that now stands was built.  A large screened-in front porch, made comfortable for loungers with swings and cushioned chairs, is quite inviting; a ten-foot hall is joined by two rooms on the left and two on the right, each of these being eighteen feet square; kitchen and dining room are built on an ell; dining room extends through the hall.  A screened-in porch joins the kitchen at the side.

Mr. Davis died June 9, 1928, at the age of seventy-five, after living at this one place for fifty-eight years.4

S. E. Jones Home

The site of this home was among the first places to be cleared while Quitman was yet a part of Coahoma, Tunica, Tallahatchie, and Panola counties, and it is difficult to separate the story of the Jones family from that of the old edifice itself.

It is learned from Myrtle and Julius Jones, that their father, James W. Jones, was originally from Henry County, Tennessee, and that on coming to this part of the state, decided to settle here, and bought a farm consisting of 155 acres.  This land was purchased from J. S. Sims on February 19, 1878, for $4,000; in 1888, it was sold to his brother, J. D. Jones, but in 1891, J. W. Jones bought the land back for $6,000 and was kept in his possession.

After settling at this spot, which is four miles southwest of Belen, Jones lived alone for several years.  This house comprised one large room, with a smaller one attached at the back, with a foundation of rudely constructed logs; there was a small porch across the front.  Not long after the completion of this, two other rooms were added, with a hall between, and it was here on May 11,  1879, that he brought his young bride, Sara Ellen Brooks, from Tennessee.  The furniture consisted of a home-made bed, a one-eyed stove, an old trunk, and two buckskin bottomed chairs.  Holes were bored in the wall, where wooden pegs were placed to hang clothes on.

Practically all the land was a wilderness, and it took long, toilsome days to get it into cultivation.  Being a man of powerful energy and ability, Jones stayed with the little tract of land and acquired enough money to buy another place.  Being constructively economical, this couple prospered throughout the years, and about 1899, built the home which now stands, but which has undergone recent changes–architecture being modern and attractive; a hall separated the two rooms on the left from the four on the right.

A screened porch about seven feet wide encircled the house; twelve feet apart were small columns that ran the length of this porch; the house was painted pure white, with deep red on the windows and doors.  The roof treatment of the one and one-half story sections of the house followed the simplest of structural lines; shingles were made of cypress; one large room upstairs had three windows at the front, directly above the hall door on the lower floor, and at the back, were two windows; this home had windows and door in abundance–twenty windows, twelve doors.  A grape arbor was at the front entrance, but this soon became so dense that it was torn away; a boardwalk also extended from the front steps out toward the road, but eventually, this was removed.

Unfortunately, Mr. Jones did not have the opportunity to enjoy this home with the vast improvements over the one he and his family had previously lived in.  There had been born to them seven sons and four daughters, all of whom are still living, except one son, Luther, who died in 1905.  These children now live at close range to one another in this county, with the exception of one, H. C., who resides at Holly Springs.

Mr. Jones’ greatest desire after having built this home was to install an artesian well.  So, after his death, which occurred in 1904, the courageous little wife, with the aid of her elder sons and daughters carried on the management of the farm quite progressively; during 1905-1906, the well, with a depth of eleven hundred feet, was completed.

In 1920, the house was modernized by having the porch on the north side walled in with long strips of wood fiber; a partition between has made it a comfortable sleeping porch; there are eleven windows in these two rooms, and doors lead to each adjoining room and onto the porch across the front.  On the south side of the house the porch has also been removed, and in its stead has been built a porte-cochere.  The partition to the front bedroom on the left has been taken out, a spacious living room, where French doors lead into the small hall that connects the two back bedrooms.  Here, one finds the stairs to the half-story; in addition, it is equipped with a bathroom on the southwest and one on the north, while the remainder of the house is still the same.  It is also equipped with a fireplace and heaters so as to take care of the heating, which facility is an integral part of the home.  The entire house is an expression in cypress of today’s beauty in frame construction, which was abundantly employed in this section of the country at the time this home was built.

Crepe myrtles, spireas, altheas, cannas, roses, and arborvitaes adorn the yards; the lawn is beautifully shaded with huge pecan and walnut trees; the driveway makes a half circle across the lawn, and along the edge of this drive are four rows of jonquils and narcissus; at the back of the house is an orchard containing peach, pear, apple, fig, and cherry trees.  All in all, this is one of the most comfortable and attractive farm homes in the county.

Mrs. Sara Ellen Jones was always active in the women’s clubs and religious organizations, even though she had very poor eyesight, and in her later years, became almost blind.  Since her death in 1932, the two children, Myrtle and Julius, aforementioned, have kept the home and farm in excellent condition.5

A. O. Peterson Home

A long time ago, L. H. Ellison, directly from Grenada, but a native of Ohio, obtained the land now known as the “Peterson Place,” and built a plantation home in a picturesque spot on the banks of Coldwater River, two and one-half miles from Lambert, and lived there with a large family of children.  One of these, Mrs. W. A. Cox, wife of W. A. Cox, the first mayor of Marks, and still a prominent citizen of this place, and another daughter, Mrs. Fern Dorris, teacher of geography in the State College for Women, Milledgeville, Georgia, spends her vacations in Marks.

In 1900, J. D. Johnson, of Desoto County, purchased this fertile land from Mr. Ellison and moved his family there.  The house underwent some improvements, and the famous “lily pond” was made in the southeast corner of the lawn. Johnson’s son, J. D., Jr., was killed during the World War, and the “J. D. Johnson Post” of Marks, is named in his honor.  Mr. Johnson sold the place to P. M. B. Self, of Marks, in 1917, and moved to Blytheville, Arkansas; in 1922, A. O. Peterson, of Greenwood, who came to this state from Sweden when he was a young man, bought this place from Self, and has made it his home since that time.

In describing the home, one should begin at the beginning, which is the moment you approach the rambling old farmhouse.  Typical of many old southern homes, the house sets in the center of a spacious lawn, where willow and pecan trees, shrubs, and flowers grow.  There are two large rooms at the front, and an open hall with a long porch across the front, and seven rooms built to the back; the open hall has been closed with double doors and is used as a room; the house is built of cypress, with pine posts and window casings; a long front porch, screened from insects, faces the east, and swept by the breeze from the south, is where Mr. Peterson can be found these days reading his paper and smoking his Swedish pipe; Mrs. Peterson sits doing her needle work.  The interior is now a modern farm house, having water and lights throughout.6

J. J. Dickey Home

A neat farm house stands southwest of Lambert, on Buckskin Lake.  It was in 1894, or thereabouts, when J. J. Dickey of Tennessee, drifted into Quitman County, “the land of milk and honey,” and bought a large tract of land–twenty-two hundred acres–from J. W. Cutrer, wealthy and prominent lawyer of Clarksdale.  Dickey moved his family into the crude plantation house, which had two large front rooms, wide open hall, front porch, a small back room, which was used for dining room and kitchen.  He added three rooms to the back of the northeast corner to accommodate his large family.

At the time Mr. Dickey bought the land, he found only 160 acres in cultivation, but being a progressive farmer, the virgin land was soon transformed into a picture of fields of fine cotton and waving corn.

During the time he lived on Buckskin Lake, Dickey served two terms as member of the Board of Supervisors, and on the first Monday of each month, “Uncle John” (as he was familiarly known), saddled his horse and rode to the county seat, where he participated in governing county affairs.  In 1912, when he saw the need for better schools for his children, he decided to sell his farm to C. W. Partee, a Confederate veteran, at Belen.  Dickey moved to Lambert, where he became notable in history as the town’s most useful and staunchest citizen, being a member of the Board of Aldermen for several years.

The land was sold the same year to J. B. Anderson, of Sumner, who is the present owner.  The original house, with many improvements, still stands in the spacious lawn, filled with magnificent shade trees.  The windows and porches are screened; exterior is clean and white, with white wash, waterworks have been installed, etc. This house is used for the plantation manager, while the owner lives in a modern home nearby, and those possessed with imaginative minds, can yet see this grand old man (he died in 1919) in his early home, a three-room house located in almost a wilderness.7

M. E. Denton Home

In a spacious lawn on the banks of the Coldwater River, stands a fine example of Colonial architecture–having that simplicity of style which characterizes the colonial tradition of Virginia and New England–a home suitable for southern hospitality.  However, it was built only thirty years ago.

Upon approach, one wonders whether the site was selected to suit the architecture, or whether the architecture was chosen to suit the site.  It doesn’t matter, for the combination is that of a delightful southern home.

The house built in 1908–though not antebellum–is of architectural importance. Simplicity distinguishes this house containing nineteen rooms.  In addition to the twelve rooms on the ground floor, there are seven on the second floor; the first floor has two large rooms connected by a wide hall extending through the full length of the house; there are two long, wide windows, though the panes are divided into small rectangles in the front of each room; these large windows are well placed for inside livableness, and give clear, broad vistas of gardens and landscapes, and allow wide wall space for furniture arrangement.  The hall is closed in on each side of the double doors of glass with front panels and a transom above.  A deep porch is built across the front, extending around the left of the house; the first-floor plan is repeated in the second, with the exception of a balcony instead of a porch across the front, and to the left of the house.  Thirteen square columns support the spacious porch and balcony; the sloping roof has three dormer windows–the middle one is double and directly above the double glass doors on the first and second floors; back and sides of the house are similar to the front.

As I looked at this old house, it seemed to beckon to me its friendly portals, and I drifted into a reminiscent mood.  I recalled that the credit was given the owner of this house for the beginning of the town of Marks; he persuaded L. Marks to sell the land upon which it was proposed to build a new town.  In 1895, he began to practice law in Quitman County, and his first public office was serving the State Legislature through a period from 1892 to 1896.

For eight years he served as Chancellor for the 7th Chancery District; Judge Denton was a leader, not only in material changes which have occurred but also in elevating the moral tone of the entire county.  At the time of his death, June 1935, he was serving as Senator from District 34.

During the troublous days of the World War, money was raised in every way possible to be used for the winning of the war, and it was in this home that a dance, netting $300, was given.

Mrs. Denton served as president of local women’s clubs and was president of the Women’s Federated Clubs of this district, and women of this district and over the entire state, recall with pleasure its numerous meetings, receptions, and teas they attended in the Denton Home.  It was a home of true southern hospitality; the same gracious reception was given the illiterate and unfortunate, as was given the educated and the rich.8

Relics in Possession of Individuals

Mrs. Mary M. Stone, of Belen, has a chest of drawers brought by her grandfather, Daniel Rather, when he moved to Holly Springs, Marshall County, in 1838.  It came from near the mountain peaks of Otter, Virginia, of which section he was a resident.  This chest, made of walnut, has a dull finish now but has the same glass knobs on the drawers that it had when it was bought.

A Masonic Emblem, the shape of a keystone, was made from a twenty dollar gold piece with the inscription, “Mrs. S.C. Stone, date 1854.”

A serving basket of teakwood and of ordinary size is owned by Mrs. Reba Bizzell, who says it was brought to America by her forefathers over one hundred years ago.

When Allen Wilkerson moved to Mississippi from North Carolina, he brought a coverlet which was woven and dyed by his daughter, Mary Jane.  The colors are rich in mulberry and ivory threads and it is eight feet square; the wool came from his own flock of sheep.  It has been handed down through generations to Mrs. Reba Bizzell, of Marks, and she states authoritatively that it is 175 years old.

A poke bonnet was worn over one hundred years ago by an ancestor of Mrs. Speed, of Marks.  It is a rare little article, made of fine straw and trimmed with brocaded taffeta ribbons, which form a band for the crown and hang off as streamers; tiny red rose buds add to the piquancy of the off-the-face feature, and a black veil of Chantilly lace, which is so old as to fall to pieces if handled.

A knife owned by T. D. Bannister, of Marks, is most unusual.  It is four and one-half inches long, one and one-half inches thick, and has fifty-two blades, each one being different.  G. H. Grosvenor, of South Carolina, bought the knife in Germany 150 years ago for twenty-six dollars, and Bannister acquired it from him.  It has a mother-of-pearl handle which is broken on one side, and which is decorated a little with inset of silver of almost an inch.

[Multi-blade folding knife]

A quart-size bullet pot, fashioned after an ordinary wash pot of iron, with three little legs an inch high, was brought from Ireland in 1799 by George Marion Cox, who settled in Tallahatchie County, and later gave it to Miss Annie V. Turner, great-great-granddaughter, who is the present owner.  Children of today are surprised to learn that the real use of the pot was to melt lead for making bullets with which game was killed.

At the close of the Mexican War, a conch shell was brought to Mississippi by an unknown soldier, who gave it to the Cox family in Tallahatchie county.  It was used as a dinner horn on the Cox Plantation, near Enid, as well as for a door stop; it also has a place in the old-fashioned whatnot in the parlor.

Mrs. R. W. Barham has in her possession a coverlet, handwoven from linen thread in colors of dark red, white, and dark blue, with a trace of rich green of dark hue. The design is of birds, trees, and conventional motifs, and is reversible.  It is almost the size of an ordinary quilt with heavy fringe which is considerably worn from usage.  The story is that Dr. Sampson Bannister went home on a furlough, and a friend accepted, but was carried home to his sister-in-law, Rose Bannister, who left it to her daughter, Mrs. Barham.  In one corner is a block six inches square with the following inscription woven into it:

J. Biesec
Ker x Jr x
New – In –
Vention x
Frank –
Lin x T x Ad x
Co x 1840

An interesting piece of old furniture is a chair which came from the old capitol building in Jackson.  Judge M. E. Denton was a member of the Legislature which planned and appropriated for the new capitol, and in the disposition of the old furniture, he received the chair and desk used by him in the House.  It is of walnut and was originally upholstered in black leather, which has been replaced by a tapestry in a quiet pattern.  It is quite different from the present-day auditorium chairs, having a rather high back, with a crest or Coat of Arms at the top.

A walking stick belonging to Dave L. Sistrunk of Lambert has been in the Sistrunk family for five generations.  It goes to each “David.”

A treasured quilt was made from Mrs. L. V. Ruth’s wedding dress in 1857;  Mrs. Ruth also has a pair of tan, brass-toed shoes that belonged to one of her ancestors, Mrs. J. H. Bryant of Pittsboro.  These little shoes are sixty-seven years old.

Mrs. Bob Baker has two pairs of glass curtain knobs that are 150 years old.  Mrs. R. C. Ingram has a Methodist Hymnal that her grandmother won as an attendance prize at Sunday School over one hundred years ago at Raleigh, North Carolina. Baird Freeman has a razor that belonged to his grandfather, Mr. Zacharias Freeman, eighty years ago.  It is in good condition yet; a clock one hundred years old, which keeps perfect time, is a relic belonging to W. A. Allen; a unique dinner ring belongs to Mrs. J. P. Walker.  It came into her possession through her father, L. T. Gaines, of Iuka, and is about two hundred years old.  A walnut cradle over eighty years old is cherished by Eugene Harris; his grandmother, Mrs.Charles Harris, of Oxford, rocked her ten children in this cradle, then J. W. Harris used it for his three children.  Dan Ashford is the proud owner of a sword that his great-grandfather, Col. Jim Knox, used in the Battle of Bull Run.

Mrs. Sam W. Jones, of Belen, is the possessor of a piece of home-spun linen and a pair of odd home-spun pillow cases that were made during the War between the States, while the lace, 125 years old, is prized by Mrs. Ross Ingram, of Lambert.

A hand-axe in the possession of J. W. Woods, Marks, is only a bit larger than an ordinary hatchet but much heavier.  It was bought in Houston, Texas, by J. S. Woods, a volunteer in the Mexican War of 1846; it was carried into that war and used by the Buena Vista Rifles, Jefferson Davis commanding.  Later, it was carried in the War between the States and came into good use to cut timber to build a pontoon bridge across the Potomac River, so as to enable the soldiers to go to their forward march with Washington.

Among the prized possessions of Mrs. Van Savage is a beautiful black lace shawl that has belonged to her family for a period of 150 years.  It is a dainty lace pattern, triangular-shaped, with scalloped edges.  So often black material loses its sheen and newness but this shawl has been well preserved and is as fresh and black as a new one; it was used by Mrs. Savage’s great grandmother, Jemima Johnson, of North Carolina, as part of her trousseau, and also used for dress occasions.  Mrs. Johnson having no daughter, left this valuable shawl to her son, Zora Needus Johnson, who gave it to his daughter, Helen Buford Johnson, wife of S. N. Fewell, of Vance.  At her death, Mrs. Savage came in possession of this prized antique.  Her daughter, Catherine, wears this shawl as a light wrap at social functions, and as a decorative scarf in music recitals.

A wreath of hair flowers, which belongs to Mrs. J. W. Edwards, is truly interesting, being almost perfect in its representation of shasta daisies, bachelor buttons, periwinkles, pine burrs, apple blossoms, and ferns, all woven from hair.  She came by it through a friend, Mrs. Charlie Bowers, many years ago.  During the War between the States, this particular kind of art was much in vogue, and when one morning as General Grant stopped with his regiment in Cincinnati to water their horses, a young woman went out and asked of the soldiers a contribution from the tops of their heads, meaning hair, of course, to put into the wreath she wanted to make; gallantly the request was granted from the soldiers, as well as from the general himself.  (There is a certain flower from the general’s hair, which is slightly gray, and there is also, a showing of very stiff white hair which came from the mane and tail of General Grant’s white horse.)  This wreath is encased in a deep wood frame, which is thirty-six inches square, heavily carved and very deep, being covered with heavy glass.

Marion Hamblet has a sampler that belonged to his mother and is ninety-seven years old.

Mrs. Johnnie Jones possesses a silver waiter, two goblets, and a finger bowl that was brought to her from Vicksburg by some ancestors after the War between the States.  Mrs. Jones also owns a necklace of old gold with a cameo breast pin; Waverly novels that were published in 1829; a dresser china set that consists of two perfume bottles and a powder bowl.  These were imported from England, and are over 140 years old.

Mrs. Sam Davidow has in her possession a silver wine cup that was brought from Russia by her mother.  It was buried during the World War through fear of its being taken; she also has a set of teaspoons made from hammered silver dollars; Mrs. E. Tidwell has her father’s (Mr. Van Landingham), pegging awl which was used during the War between the States; Mrs. O. Garner has a vase and sugar bowl that belonged to her great-great-grandmother, Mrs. Matilda Quertermous, in Kentucky, before the War between the States; Mrs. John Rich treasures a yellow gold lace pin and earrings; also an onyx pin that is over one hundred years old.

Mrs. Martha Hayward owns a daguerreotype of her Grandfather Gates; a loving cup that belonged to her great aunt, Jane Burnett, who won it at a fair in Monroe County for quilts, flowers, needlework, (1856); a heavy china plate which belonged to her mother, Mrs. Marina Gates, and which is seventy-five years old; mother’s white stockings and father’s white kid gloves used in their wedding over sixty years ago.  She also has a beautiful black lace shawl that is over one hundred years old.

Mrs. J. Thompson has in her home a turkey platter of blue imitation Wedgewood over one hundred years old; a blue flowered china saucer, sampler, and black brocaded shawl which belonged to her mother.9

The first marriage license issued after Quitman County was formed, uniting J. J. Blackmon and Miss Thirza Hatch, is shown on the county records.10

A letter written by Claiborne is in the possession of E. E. Boone, lawyer of Marks, Mississippi.11

1 Mrs. Beulah Ashmore, Marks, Mississippi
2 Mrs. J. S. Allen, Sr., Lambert, Mississippi
Mrs. Lelia Turner, Marks, Mississippi
3 Mrs. Alice Gibson, Belen, Mississippi
4 Mrs. Blanchard Ingram, Marks, Mississippi
5 Mr. Julius Jones and Miss Myrtle Jones, Lyon, Mississippi
6 Mr. U. B. Ross and Miss Lily Peterson, Lambert, Mississippi
7 Mrs. J. H. Morris, Marks, Mississippi and
Mrs. Jesse Austin, Lambert, Mississippi
8 Miss Alice Jamison, Marks, Mississippi
Douglass Carr, Marks, Mississippi
9 Mrs. Blanche Denton, Jackson, Mississippi, observations at Historic Exhibit.
10 County Records, circuit clerk’s office
11 E. E. Boone, Marks, Mississippi

Works Progress Administration for Mississippi, Source Material for Mississippi History, Quitman County, Vol. LX, Compiled by State-Wide Historical Research Project, Susie V. Powell, State Supervisor, Illustrated, 1936-38, Chapter VI, pages 49-62.

Featured Image By Billy Hathorn (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Typical Dogtrot Floor Plan By User:Altairisfar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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