Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Rest of the Story

Chapter 2
Once Upon a Time

In the last post, or the one prior to the pictures, I ended with William Morris having died in 1838, leaving his wife Mary to continue the farm/plantation - with the help of her sons - some having married and moved to their own farms nearby.

Enoch Lafayette Morris is the main character in this final chapter of the story.
Enoch, who was known as FATE MORRIS throughout the area, was 29 when his father died. He had married at age 21 and already had 3 children in 1838.

Living close to his mother's plantation, Enoch Lafayette Morris farmed his own land, his own plantation. Mary outlived William Morris by more than 20 years. She was close to 80 at the time of her death.

Enoch lived with his parents until he married Elizabeth in 1830, at the age of 21.

Enoch and Elizabeth Morris had 8 children, 3 boys and 5 girls.

Siney E., Mary Cameron, Susannah A., Margaret Jane, William, Martha E., John Wesley, and Abel H.

I have the dates of their birth and their spouses, but I think I might lose my reader if I name those. Perhaps I've already lost my reader. There's an amazing turn of events in this story if you'll just hang in there.

Here it is. Elizabeth and Enoch had been married 19 years when, in 1849, Elizabeth was accidentally shot by her brother as they sat talking in her home. During their visit, her brother "slapped" his gun causing it to fire and strike Elizabeth. She lived for 16 hours following the fatal accident.

Looking at the birth dates of her children, they were 18, 16, 13, 11, 9, 6, 3, and 1 when their mother, Elizabeth, died. Enoch was 40 when his wife died.

Such shock and grief, and waiting those 16 hours - before she died.

I've tried to imagine the time of day - a visit it seems would have been early afternoon - making that long vigil last through the night and early into the next morning. Where were the children? Who was there? How did her brother suffer from that event? The horror of it. And Enoch being without his Elizabeth and having his 8 children to love and nurture. It was said that his mother lived more than 20 years after her husband's death - therefore she could still have been living when her son and grandchildren suffered this severe loss.
This is what we are told.
After Elizabeth's tragic and untimely death and with the help of his 18 year old daughter, Siney, and his servant, Julia, Enoch cared for and nurtured his younger children. He remained a widower for almost 3 years.

And because of that tragic event E. L. Morris's next family unfolds - the family of which I am a descendant. That blows my mind - knowing about our Sovereign God - over all of life's events - which is too big for me to wrap my brain around - He is a mystery yet He reveals Himself to us - So Amazing!

In 1852, Enoch married Rachel Irena Calloway, who was born in February 1831. She was 21 and Enoch was 43 when they married. There was a close family connection -the culture seemed to be connected in those small communities in the late 1800's. Rachel Irena Calloway was the sister of Joshua Calloway, Sr. She was the aunt of Joshua Calloway, Jr., who married Enoch's & Elizabeth's 4th child, Margaret Jane.

Enoch and Irena Morris, after their marriage in 1852, had 9 children - 2 boys and 7 girls. Adding to the 8 children Enoch and Elizabeth had, this made 17 children for Enoch and Irena to parent. Siney, the oldest, would have been about 21 when her father married Irena.

The children of Enoch and Rachel Irena were

James Abram, Frances Caldonia, Enoch Lafayette, Jr., Sarah Tom, Nancy Ann, Laura Dora, Sereny, and Carlie.

Enoch was 65 and Irena was 43 when their last child was born.

Sarah Tom Morris was the 4th child of Enoch and Irena's 9 children, or the 12th of their combined 17 children. She was born in 1862. The Civil War began on April 12, 1861. Alabama had seceded from the Union on January 11, 1861.

Below are some images from that time - the men who voted for secession, the cover of a book which has been written about life in Southern Alabama during the Civil War, and a map showing the battlefields of Alabama. It shows no battles in Conecuh or Monroe County - which tells us that perhaps there was a sense of safety from the bloodshed of the war, not emotional, but physical safety. In these same records, which I have, it is told that Enoch's 3rd daughter from his first marriage to Elizabeth was Susannah. Susannah lost her first husband in the Civil War. He died in 1867. Susannah was 31 when he died. She married her second husband and she was 40 when he died. She married a 3rd time and she was 67 when he died. I am ascertaining she had learned from her father how to handle grief and trials. It is a descendant of Susannah who has afforded us this information regarding William Morris through Enoch and Irena Morris.

Enoch was 53 and Irena was 31 when Sarah Tom was born. I have no information of his involvement in the war.

Sarah Tom Morris married James Nelson Northcutt on December 12, 1878. She was 16 and he was 21 when they married. I just called my sister to ask her how many children "Mama Sally" and "Grandpa" had. She thinks it was 9 or 10 and said, "hold on", as she started spitting out their names to herself, while I waited on the phone. I scribbled down their names as she was mumbling them to herself - she knows them by their affectionate names, as we heard our Mother and Aunts tell their stories over the years.

This is what I heard Mary Ann say: "Let's see, there was Walter, Enoch, Jim, Elbert, Charlie, Mattie, Annie, Bertha, and Aunt Sissy - yes, I think that's it".

I'll begin the ending of this story - I notice that Mama Sally, who was Sarah Tom, 12th child of Enoch and 4th child of Rachel Irena Calloway Morris, named one of her sons Enoch Layfayette Northcutt and she named my granddaddy, Elbert Calloway Northcutt, after her mother. Probably the others were family names as well. Enoch who was known as Fate Morris must have had a strong character to instill such a sense of family and committment and perseverance, and a love and enjoyment of life. He was well known throughout the county for his musical talent. With his fiddle in hand, one could usually find him providing the music for many of the social gatherings of Monroe and Conecuh Counties.

Enoch was 91 and Irena was 69 when the 19th century came to a close and the 20th century began. They both died during the first decade of the new century and are both buried in Monroe County.

Fate(Enoch) Morris was an old man when his grandson, Elbert, was born. Irena wasn't as old, but probably felt her age just as much as Fate did, seeing as she had given birth to 9 children and mothered 17. I wish I knew Elbert's affectionate name for his grandparents.

Elbert married my grandmother, Mary Ella Henderson, in about 1915 or perhaps December 25, 1914 - as the New Year of 1915 was about to unfold. Because my cousin interviewed Ella before she died we heard her answer his question, "How soon after you married did you and Elbert start having children?" She laughed a bit and looked around and said, "Well, about as soon as it takes." and she was still snickering. Apparently they might have had Lucille 9 months after they married. Mother was born 3 years later, and Florence 3 years after that. Mary was born in another 10 years. Elbert and Ella must have figured something out - seems there was a bit more pregnancy management than their parents and grandparents had had. I did research the history of birth control - seems Margaret Sanger was beginning to influence our culture in that regard, about that time. She was causing quite a stir.

Mother and her sisters always had stories about walking up to Mama Sally's and Grandpa's house. I think the day Mary was born, Mother was 13, Florence 10 and Lucille 16, they were told to walk up to Mama Sally's during the delivery. They walked up the railroad track to get to her house. Mother said this to me, once, about Mama Sally, "She was just so kind and sweet". Mother was always in awe of how she raised "those 5 big 'ol boys". They were tall people. I think probably Elbert inherited Mama Sally's temperament and then Mother inherited Elbert's. I didn't get that gene. When we named Sarah, it wasn't directly after Mama Sally, because Charlie has an aunt named Sarah. We liked the name and knew that we had two close family members with that name. So our Sarah became Sarah Edith Rhodes.

Sarah Tom was 72 when she died. James Nelson was 97 when he died.

Elbert died in 1966 and Ella died in 1990.

Mother died in 2006 and Daddy died in 1993.

And now we living out 3 more generations who descended from William and Mary Watson Morris of Virginia and North Carolina.


ann said...

That really is unbelievable. It's hard to follow, but I think I got it.

Paula Dubuisson said...

I am so excited that you posted this information !!! My grandmother was Itura B. Helton. Her mother was Carlie Morris and her father was James Franklin Helton. Thank you so much for writing the history of our family. Frankly I have been overwhelmed with sorting the children out. Do we have a connection to Anslem Sawyer (revolutionary patriot)? Again what a wonderful gift you gave me tonight!!!

Paula Dubuisson said...

I am so excited that you posted this information !!! My grandmother was Itura B. Helton. Her mother was Carlie Morris and her father was James Franklin Helton. Thank you so much for writing the history of our family. Frankly I have been overwhelmed with sorting the children out. Do we have a connection to Anslem Sawyer (revolutionary patriot)? Again what a wonderful gift you gave me tonight!!!

Elizabeth said...

Paula Dubuisson - I hope you'll return to this post and see that I'm answering your comment. with what you told me, Your grandmother, Itura B. Helton, was first cousin to my grandfather, Elbert Calloway Northcutt. His mother was Sarah Tom Morris and she married James Nelson Northcutt. I don't know anything about Anslem Sawyer. I'm curious about where you live and your age. I am 62. My mother, Edith Northcutt, remembered Sarah Tom very well and they called her "Mama Sally". I live in North Alabama but all of our family was from Conech County in South Alabama. My Dad's family was from Troy, Pike County, Alabama. How in the world did you find my blog post. You can email me to the email below if you prefer.

Paula Dubuisson said...

Elizabeth, I thank you for writing me back. Would it be possible for you to send me the previous Ch.1 of the story? I accidently was sent to your blog when I googled Irena Morris. I was born in Mobile and very interested in my grandmother's family history. Please e-mail me pcjouana@gmail.com. My 91yr old aunt will be so happy for me to get this info. She is as sharp as can be, and has published genealogy books in Moblie with the University of South Alabama. I live in Ocean Sprngs, MS now and will be 64 in October. Thank you again, Paula