Hughes' Views & News

A place called Breland, Louisiana

Posted in Genealogy by tahughesnc on December 17, 2014
This map is from 1900.

This map is from 1900. Click to enlarge.

Recently I learned that my mother’s mother, whose maiden name was Cora Esther Peirce, was born in a place called Breland, Louisiana.  In fact, when Cora was born in May 1891, the U.S. post office for Breland was located on the property of her grandfather, John Ticknor Peirce, and her grandfather’s second wife, Salissa E. “Dora” Peirce, was the U.S. postmaster for Breland.

Cora’s father, Adolphus Elliot Peirce, was later appointed U.S. postmaster for Breland, in August 1904. According to family lore, Cora worked in that post office before her family moved to the nearby community of Sunny Hill in 1905, when she was 14 years old. When she began attending school in Sunny Hill, Cora was assigned to the same class as Robert Milton Breland, my grandfather, whom she married in Baton Rouge five years later.

This railroad map is from 1914. Click to enlarge.

This railroad map is from 1914. Click to enlarge.

This story is interesting to me for several reasons. First, Cora was born in a place called Breland. Then she moved away from there to Sunny Hill — where she met a boy named Breland, who later became her husband.

It also raises these questions for me:  Where was Breland? Why was it called Breland? And, does the community of Breland still exist?

My brother, Brian Hughes, answered the first question by finding maps from 1900, 1906 and 1914 showing Breland located roughly half way between Franklinton and Kentwood. These maps also show Breland’s proximity to Sunny Hill.

As for why the place was called Breland, the earliest record I can find shows that William G. Breland (1839-1890), who was a 2nd great grand uncle to me, was appointed U.S. postmaster for Breland in September 1890. He died just a few months later, in December 1890. (The next person to be appointed postmaster for Breland after him was Salissa E. Peirce, in March 1891.)

Sibila it later came to be called Breland. Click to enlarge.

Sibila, shown on this map from the 1840s, later came to be called Breland. Click to enlarge.

The place was called “Sibila” before it was called “Breland.” My guess, and this is purely a guess, is that it came to be called “Breland” simply because the first person appointed to be postmaster for the place happened to be named Breland.

Does Breland, Louisiana still exist? To the best of my knowledge, it does not. Records indicate that the post office at Breland was discontinued, i.e., closed for good, in 1906. And, although the location of Sunny Hill can still be found via Google Maps, I have not been able to find any mention of Breland, Louisiana, on any current maps of the area.

Do you know any additional details about Breland, Louisiana? If so, I’d love to hear from you!

Advertisements

An 1891 letter from J.T. Peirce in Breland, Louisiana

Posted in Genealogy by tahughesnc on December 5, 2014
John Tichnor Peirce

John Ticknor Peirce

This letter was written by my maternal great-great grandfather, John Ticknor Peirce (1846-1912), and includes a mention of my maternal great grandparents, Adolphus Elliot Peirce (1868-1910) and Etta Bailey Peirce (1873-1952). It is part of a Peirce family scrapbook now held by my mother, Gloria Breland Hughes. Her mother, Cora Peirce Breland, was the first child of Adolphus and Etta.

Breland La 4/25/1891

Mrs. Mary E. Holly

Dear Niece it has been a long time since I have heard from any of you. I think it has been about a year since I received your last letter I would be glad you would write again, and let us know how you are all getting on. I wrote to Anna soon after I came home from Florida, but have never heard a word from her. I do not know whether she received it or not. Have you heard from our friend Dr. Alford. I suppose you heard he has married, as he was returning home from Fla he met her on board the cars, and before three days were engaged to be married. I have never seen her but they say She is young beautiful and very intelligent, but I fear he has made a bad choice, as she is always gone, her home was in Kansas City and she stays most of her time there.

My oldest Son Adolphus was married last August he married a Miss Bailey. Bedford’s son’s wife died last Jany.

Mary I want to hear something more about that visit of yours, don’t you think you can come this year, we would all be so glad to see you all

How was the orange crop last year, and is there a prospect for a good crop this year. My wife says to ask you how your Turkeys are doing this Spring. She has about thirty young ones.

I am through planting my crop we have had a very late Spring and every thing looks bad, Cotton is selling very low here, it is not at all encouraging, there was a poor cotton crop made in this section last year, people expected to get more than they did, but it is still going down.

Mary tell Ann, and, Laura to write. I know some of you can write oftener than you do. The girls send their love to you all. I hope you are all well, our children are, some of them complaining, but I think they will be better in a few days. With kindest regards to you and Mr. Holly I remain your affectionate Uncle.

Send your letters to Breland, Tangipahoa Par, La as that office is at my house.

J T Peirce

(Editor’s note:  John’s second wife, Salissa E. Peirce, was appointed U.S. postmaster for Breland, Louisiana, on March 28, 1891 — about a month before this letter was written. )

 

https://www.demographicspro.com/dplug2/dplug2.js

If your name is Breland, there’s a good chance we’re related

Posted in Breland, Genealogy by tahughesnc on October 14, 2014

About a month ago, my wife and I drove from North Carolina to St. Augustine, Florida. Our route via I-95 took us through the town of Walterboro, South Carolina, where I decided to take a little detour.

Breland Cemetery 1Why? So we could visit the Breland Cemetery, which is in the rural countryside several miles outside of Walterboro. It’s a small cemetery that contains about 45 graves and is surrounded by a chain link fence on a plot of ground located between a farmer’s field and the surrounding woods. One of the trees closest to the cemetery has what appears to be a deer hunter’s tree stand attached to it.

My mother’s maiden name is Gloria Dell Breland, and I knew that she was descended from a man named John Robertson Breland, who was born in that part of South Carolina in 1794 but had settled in Louisiana before the War of 1812 began. I knew this thanks to a book, The Breland Families of the Southern States, 1755-1875, that was written by my mother’s older brother, Charles Gregory Breland. Uncle Greg self-published the book in manuscript form in 1987. After Uncle Greg died in 1994, my mother’s younger brother, Hunter M. Breland, arranged for a memorial edition, which he edited, to be published as a hard back.

Breland Cemetery 2

This is Breland Cemetery in Colleton County, South Carolina.

So I figured there was a good chance I was related to the Brelands who are buried at Breland Cemetery. Once we got back home from that trip, I started looking into it, and found that I was indeed related to everyone in that cemetery who was born with the Breland surname. I can’t say that for the wives of men named Breland who are buried there.

If you trace John Robertson Breland back to his earliest confirmed Breland ancestor, you get to his grandfather, a man named Abraham Breland, whose surname was recorded at various times as Breler, Brelar, Breelo and Breland. Abraham was born about 1725 (some researchers say he was born in Pitt County, North Carolina; others say he was born in what later became Germany) and died about 1805 in Estill, South Carolina. The Breland Cemetery outside Walterboro is about 33 miles from Estill.

Abraham was the father of William Breland (1753-1825) who is one of eight Brelands buried at the Breland family gravesite at Rivers Bridge State Park at Ehrhardt, South Carolina, in Bamberg County. That gravesite is about 19 miles from the Breland Cemetery outside Walterboro. The names of the eight people named Breland are inscribed on one side of the headstone at Rivers Bridge State Park. The inscription on the other side reads:

BRELAND
CAME HERE
FROM BAVARIA GY. 1776

As I continued to research the Brelands buried in South Carolina, I learned that many of them trace their ancestry back to the same Abraham Breland as my mother. And, thanks to Uncle Greg’s book, I knew that many of the Breland families in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are descended from Brelands who moved west from South Carolina in the early 1800s.

There are only 2,663 people named Breland listed worldwide on the Find A Grave website. The overwhelming majority of these, more than 2,500, are in the Southeastern U.S. Based on this information, it seems plausible to me that I may actually be related to most if not all of the Brelands in the South. That is certainly not the case for the surname I inherited from my father, which is Hughes. There are more than 100,000 people named Hughes in the U.S. listed on Find A Grave, and I know from my involvement in the Hughes DNA Project that there are many people named Hughes that I am not related to.

As a pilot test for my theory about the Brelands, I decided to research the Brelands who are buried at Mobile Memorial Gardens in my hometown, Mobile, Alabama. One of my mother’s brothers, Lyman Breland, is buried there. But there are several other Brelands buried there that my mother told me she had never heard of, including the Rev. Murphy B. Breland (1910-1997). After researching his Breland line, I came to the conclusion that he is my 4th cousin, twice removed.

So, is your name Breland? Want to find out if we are related or not? If so, then I’d love to hear from you. Email me at tahughesnc@gmail.com.

My grandparents’ wedding announcement

Posted in Genealogy by tahughesnc on October 8, 2014

This story was published on page 3 of The West Alabamian newspaper on Wednesday, August 22, 1917.

Hughes-Doughty

An interesting social event occurred last Wednesday at the residence of Mr. J.H. Doughty, three miles north of Reform, in the marriage of his daughter, Miss Virgie, to Mr. Arlie E. Hughes, of Fayette.

Mr. Hughes has recently graduated in the law department of the University of Alabama and received an appointment to the officers’ training camp at Fort Oglethorpe. He is a young man of excellent character and attainments.

The bride is from one of the best families in the County, and is a young lady of rare accomplishments.

The Alabamian, with numerous other friends of the happy couple, extends congratulations.

 

Left to right: Virginia Ellen Doughty, 1891-1878; Nannie Mae Doughty, 1885-1921;  Annie Lee Doughty, 1882-1964.

My grandmother and her sisters, from left to right: Virginia Ellen “Virgie” Doughty, 1896-1978; Nannie Mae Doughty, 1885-1921; Annie Lee Doughty, 1882-1964. Photo taken circa 1915.

Errors in Genealogical Records: A Case Study

Posted in Genealogy by tahughesnc on June 26, 2014

UPDATE (posted Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014):  I am way overdue in posting this, but I am happy to report that the Alabama Department of Public Health has amended this death certificate as I requested.

I started my search for my great-great grandfather’s death certificate armed with what I thought was all of the correct information, which I provided on the application form that I sent to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

As the form requested, I gave his full name — James Thompson Hughes. I also gave the names of his parents, the dates of his birth and death, and the two Alabama counties where I thought he was likely to have been when he died, Fayette and Pickens. I even included a print out of his Find-A-Grave memorial, which showed that we was buried in the Ashcraft Corner Cemetery in Fayette County, when I mailed in my form and the required $15 payment.

After some time had passed, I received a letter saying they had conducted a search of death certificates from Fayette County but were not able to find one that matched the information I had provided.

However, I knew at the time there was a death certificate on file reporting that Thomas Hughes, an 89-year-old white, male widower, died near Millport, in Lamar County, Alabama, on June 30, 1919. My great-great grandfather was called “Thomps,” which was an abbreviation of his middle name, and which sounds a lot like “Thomas.” According to his headstone, “Thomps” died on June 29, 1919. And, he was an 89-year-old white, male widower at the time of his death.

Millport, Alabama is less than 15 miles from the cemetery where Thomps is buried. So, I ordered a copy of the death certificate for Thomas Hughes, which is shown below. I believe this is the death certificate for my great-great grandfather and that his first name was simply recorded incorrectly.

0478_001Notice that the physician who certified the cause of death was A. W. Clanton. He was Albert William Clanton, and he also happened to be the nephew of Thomps’ first wife, Epsey Clanton.

In addition, in 1900 when this Albert W. Clanton was 19 years old, he and his mother lived in a household in Palmetto, in Pickens County, that was headed by Essie Cornelia Dollar Hughes. In 1900 Cornelia, as she was called, was the widow of John B.D. Hughes, who was a son of Thomps and his first wife, Epsey Clanton.

All of these factors taken together convince me that the man whose death is recorded on this certificate was not “Thomas Hughes” but was instead my great-great grandfather, Thomps Hughes. I have submitted an official request asking the Alabama Department of Public Health to amend this death certificate accordingly. So far I have not received a reply to that request.

What are the take-away lessons for me in this? When doing genealogical research, sometimes you won’t find what you’re looking for if you only search for what you believe to be the “correct” name of your ancestor. In such cases, you need to consider the possibility that your ancestor’s official records, including death certificates, may have been recorded under an alternate spelling of your ancestor’s name, or even under the wrong name. You also need to consider the possibility that the county where your ancestor is buried may not necessarily be the county where your ancestor died.

 

Newspaper (mis)reports the death of James Thompson “Thomps” Hughes

Posted in Genealogy by tahughesnc on April 29, 2014

This one-sentence item ran on the front page of The Fayette (Alabama) Banner newspaper on Thursday, July 3, 1919:

The front page of The Fayette Banner from July 3, 1919 (as seen on microfilm).

The front page of The Fayette Banner from July 3, 1919 (as viewed on a microfilm reader).

 

Fayette Banner 2

This 21-word sentence contains two factual errors.

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.

Obituary of Larkin Hughes (1824-1914)

Posted in Genealogy by tahughesnc on April 22, 2014

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

Larkin Hughes (1824-1914)

Larkin Hughes (1824-1914)

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.

Obituary of Larkin Hughes

This is a screen shot of the front page from the June 25, 1914 issue of The Pickens Sentinel.

Obituary of James W. Hughes (1798-1881)

Posted in Genealogy by tahughesnc on April 22, 2014

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.

James W. Hughes (1798-1881)

James W. Hughes (1798-1881)

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.

Obituary of James W. Hughes

This is a screen shot of the obit from The Pickens Sentinel.

This may be the closest I’ll ever get …

Posted in Genealogy by tahughesnc on April 21, 2014

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.

James W. Hughes (1798-1881)

James W. Hughes (1798-1881)

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.

This is Bethlehem Church Cemetery, about 1.5 miles outside Pickens, S.C.

This is Bethlehem Church Cemetery, about 1.5 miles outside Pickens, S.C.

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?

The headstone of James W. Hughes is on the left. His wife's headstone is on the right.

The headstone of James W. Hughes is on the left. His wife’s headstone is at right.

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.

 

 

Obituary of my grandfather, Arley E. Hughes (1891-1969)

Posted in Genealogy by tahughesnc on April 16, 2014

This obituary was published on page 2 of The Tuscaloosa News on Wednesday, March 12, 1969.

A.E. Hughes

This photo of my grandparents, Virgie Doughty Hughes and Arley Hughes, was taken at their 50th anniversary celebration in 1967.

This photo of my grandparents, Virginia “Virgie” Doughty Hughes and Arley Hughes, was taken at their 50th anniversary celebration in 1967.

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.