This one-sentence item ran on the front page of The Fayette (Alabama) Banner newspaper on Thursday, July 3, 1919:
Mr. Thomas Hughes
Mr. Thomas Hughes, well known and highly respected citizen of the Ashcraft Corner community, died last Monday, and was buried Tuesday.
The name of the deceased was given as Thomas Hughes, but I believe this was an error. My great-great grandfather, James Thompson Hughes, was called “Thomps,” which is short for his middle name. “Thomps” and “Thomas” sound a lot alike, especially when “Thomps” is pronounced the way many Southerners would say it — as if it were a two-syllable word.
Thomps is buried at the Ashcraft Corner Cemetery in Fayette County, Alabama, and the date of death given on his headstone is June 29, 1919, which was a Sunday. The newspaper gave the day of death as Monday, which would have been June 30, 1919.
So, if I am right about this, and if the date of death on Thomps’ headstone is correct — then the newspaper managed to pack two factual errors into just one, 21-word sentence.
This Larkin Hughes was not a direct line ancestor of mine, but he was a first cousin of my great-great grandfather. This story was published on the front page of The Pickens Sentinel on June 25, 1914.
Mr. Larkin Hughes Died Tuesday, 23d
Mr. Larkin Hughes, one of the old and honored citizens of Pickens County, died at his home about 4 miles from Pickens at 3 o’clock Tuesday a.m. He developed a case of pneumonia only last Saturday.
Mr. Hughes was a little over 90 years old at the time of his death and was one of the oldest and best known men in the county. His friends were many and they will be deeply grieved to learn of his death. He was born in Pickens County and served in the Confederate Army and was made a lieutenant during the war. During the war he received a wound in one arm and it gave him trouble until his death.
Mr. Hughes was twice married, his second wife and the following children are living: Jas. A., and Alfred Hughes, of Laurens County; Mrs. Charlotte Clayton and Miss Tirzah Hughes of Pickens County, and Mrs. Belle Davis, of Inman.
He was a member of Twelve Mile Methodist church and Keowee Lodge No. 179 A.F.M. The funeral was held at Bethlehem church Wednesday and the body was buried with Masonic honors.
The Sentinel joins with unnumbered friends in extending to the family sincere sympathy.
This James W. Hughes was not a direct line ancestor of mine, but he was a brother of my great-great-great grandfather. The obituary below was published in The Pickens Sentinel on July 21, 1881.
DEAD – James W. Hughes, died at the residence of his son, Larkin Hughes, four miles South of this place, on Friday, the 15th instant, at 6:30 o’clock p.m. Mr. Hughes was born near Pickensville in this County, on the 31st of day of July, 1798, and was consequently eighty-two years, eleven months and fifteen days old. He lived all his life in this County, except about four years which he spent in Georgia, and reared a family of children here who, together with several grand and great grandchildren, survive him. He had been an earnest devoted and exemplary member of the Methodist Church for sixty years or more, and all who knew him had the utmost confidence in his honesty, patriotism and Christian fidelity. He died full in the faith and much esteemed and beloved by all his circle of acquaintance. His remains were interred in the graveyard at Bethlehem Church, Rev. S.P.H. Elwell preached his furneral, and in an eloquent and feeling manner portrayed the moral worth and many Christian virtues of the deceased. To the sorrowing relatives we extend our heart felt sympathies.
As I have written about before, I simply cannot say with any certainty at this point, based on the evidence I have in hand, exactly where my 4th great grandfather, Andrew Hughes (1755-1843) is buried.
The question of where my 3rd great grandfather, Andrew’s son, Elisha, is buried — is fraught with even more uncertainty.
But I can say with great certainty where Andrew’s son, and Elisha’s brother, James W. Hughes (1798-1881) is buried. And, it is that certainty that led me to take my chances on a rainy Saturday and drive more than 2 hours from Charlotte, N.C., down to the countryside outside Pickens, S.C., to see the cemetery where James W. was laid to rest some 133 years ago.
Also buried in the same cemetery is a son of James W., named Larkin Hughes. The fact that I am related to James W. and Larkin has been confirmed by the Y-DNA test I did with Family Tree DNA. A descendant of James W. and Larkin showed up as a match for me in the results I got from that test.
I’ve known about the locations of these graves for some time now. I’ve seen pictures of their headstones on Find-A-Grave and ancestry.com. I’ve viewed the cemetery and its surroundings on Google Earth. But for me, a tremendous amount of value comes from seeing places like this in person that cannot be replicated any other way.
After visiting the cemetery, I find myself left with many questions. Why, for example, is James W.’s headstone, which at this point is no longer legible, of such markedly poorer quality than that of his wife, Mary Jane Smith Hughes, who died 8 years before him? Was his family no longer able to afford to pay for a nice headstone by the time he died?
Did James W. ever meet his nephew, James Thompson “Thomps” Hughes (my great-great grandfather)? Did he know that Thomps, after being born in Habersham County, Georgia, ultimately settled in “the other Pickens County” (in Alabama) and lived the rest of his life there?
And what about Larkin Hughes, who was Thomps’ first cousin — did he ever meet Thomps? Both Larkin and Thomps fought as Confederate soldiers in the Civil War, and both suffered for the rest of their lives as a result of that experience. Were they even aware of each other’s existence?
There’s a good chance I may never find the answers to those questions. And, there’s a good chance I’ll never know for sure where my ancestors Andrew Hughes and his son, Elisha, are buried.
But, I feel better now after having seen the grave of James W. Hughes in person. Because that may be the closest I’ll ever get to the grave of any of my ancestors from that era.
This obituary was published on page 2 of The Tuscaloosa News on Wednesday, March 12, 1969.
Arley Ezra Hughes, 78, of 1519 Fifth Ave., died this morning at Druid City Hospital.
A native of Pickens County, he had lived in Tuscaloosa for 50 years. Mr. Hughes was a graduate of the University Law School in 1916 and worked for many years with the Alabama Power Co. here.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Strickland-Hayes Chapel with the Rev. Allan Watson officiating. Burial will be at Evergreen Cemetery.
The body will lie in state in the funeral home until servicetime.
Surviving are a daughter, Mrs. C.C. Davis Jr. of Marietta, Ga.; two sons, H.L. and A.E. Hughes Jr. of Mobile; seven sisters, Mrs. Naoma Ashcraft of Tuscaloosa, Mrs. Floy Patterson of Columbus, Miss., Mrs. Pluma Franks of Columbus, Mrs. Dorothy Hill of Philadelphia, Miss., and Mrs. Annie Mae Sanders of St. Petersburg, Fla.; three brothers, Eli Hughes of Tuscaloosa, Charles Hughes of Columbus and Auvin Hughes of Marietta, and nine grandchildren.
Active pallbearers are Lee Hughes, Charles Davis, Larry, Mark, Lowell and Howard Hughes, Robert and Johnny Doughty.
Honorary pallbearers are Roscoe Gibson, Wilburn Christian, Ed Mathews, Glenn Partrich, Joe Brown, Alton S. Shamblee, and the adult men’s Sunday School classes of Calvary Baptist Church.
This obituary was published on the front page of The Commercial Dispatch newspaper in Columbus, Mississippi, on March 21, 1957.
RITES SET FRIDAY FOR J.H. HUGHES
Well-Known Farmer Of New Hope Community Dies At Age Of 89
Services for James Harvey Hughes, 89, well-known farmer of the New Hope community who died about 9:30 p.m. yesterday at Doster Hospital, will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, New Hope.
The Rev. J.F. Sansing will officiate. Burial will be in the Mt. Zion Cemetery. Memorial Funeral Home, in charge of arrangements, announced that the body will lie in state at the church from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., tomorrow preceding the funeral.
Mr. Hughes, a native of Pickens County, Ala., had lived in Lowndes County for 36 years and was a member of the Mt. Zion Church.
He leaves his wife; four sons, A.E. Hughes and E.T. Hughes of Tuscaloosa, Ala., C.G. Hughes of Columbus and A.J. Hughes of New Orleans, La.; seven daughters, Mrs. William Stinson, Mrs. Belton Patterson, Mrs. Titus Patterson and Mrs. Jack Franks, all of Columbus, Mrs. Ingram Ashcraft of Tuscaloosa, Mrs. Ozie Sanders of Gainesville, Fla., and Mrs. Breland Hill of Philadelphia; three brothers, A.E. Hughes of Tuscaloosa, M.E. Hughes of Fayette, Ala., and A.W. Hughes of Kennedy, Ala.; a sister, Mrs. Clersie Livingston, Jacksonville, Fla.; 24 grandchildren and 31 great-granchildren.
Active pallbearers will be James Arvin Jr., Herbert Lee Hughes, Billy Hughes, Lowell Hughes, Howard Hughes, J.C. Patterson, all grandsons.
Honorary pallbearers will be Birney Imes Jr., Audie Pennington, Franklin Brown, Dr. D.D. Griffin, Henry Daves, V.A. Deason, Grover Sprouse, Dr. A.E. Brown, Dr. Bernard Ellis, Robert A. Ivy, Willis Pope Sr., Willis Pope Jr., Clarence Waldon, Sidney Camp, Ben Christopher.
Serving on the flower committee will be Mrs. Clarence Walden and Mrs. Eubanks McCrary; and the granddaughters.