The Mississippi Years
This is my Great-great Grandfather, Christopher Columbus Jones and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Booker. Chris, or CC as he was known, was born in South Carolina 19 January 1833. The family moved to NE Mississippi in 1835 with six kids, the oldest being Joel (10) and the youngest was Chris at two. Must have been some trip. Are we there yet?
The Mississippi years are the important one for this family group. Most of the children grow up and marry, and while father Ben tries to put down roots, by the time the war is over and Reconstruction is underway, a good portion of his family has moved on.
Around 1837-8 Ben purchased land in sections 33 and 34 just east of Smithville (always thought that was ironic…Joneses living in Smithville) and started to build up a good sized farm and by the time 1840 rolled around, two more boys had been born, he had almost a full section counting the land in Itawamba county and three slaves. While not in the planter class, he and his family were comfortable. I’ve cross-hatched the Monroe county land on this map just where highway 23 turns and heads north into Itawamba.
By 1846, the family was complete with 11 kids. They were:
- Joel Wesley — 9 March 1825
- Mary Ann — 30 August 1826
- James Willison — 19 Feb 1828
- Marshall — 23 Oct 1829
- Thomas Oliver — 17 Jan 1831
- Christopher Columbus — 19 Jan 1833
- Stephan — 19 Mar 1836 (first born in MS)
- Benjamin — 4 Oct 1838
- Elender Elizabeth — 20 Jul 1841
- Robert Calvin — 25 Aug 1844
- Ira — 1846
By the 1850 census Joel has just married Mary Wilkerson and is living next door to the nuclear family. Mary has married John Meadow and is living in Pontotoc county. I assume James Willison has either passed away or moved on because he is unaccounted for and is not mentioned in the probate packet in 1860. And all the other siblings and Ben and Mary are accounted for. A big, happy family living the good life in the Hill Country of Northeastern Mississippi.
There’s a book on the history of Smithville by Jessie Pierce, published in 1958. The book reads like an oral history transcription and she evidently knew my ancestors:
The Jones owned from Mrs. Martha Jane Cowley’s home to the Gene and Holston Elliot home in Itawamba. They built the house near the family cemetery and Uncle Marshall Jones taught school until he died in manhood. A part of what was once a fine old home is still standing back of Mr. Albert Stevenson…
Now back to the Jones family. There were eight of the brothers: Ira, Benjamin, Christopher, Westley [Joel], Robert, Marshall, Oliver, and Stephen. Only one east of the Mississippi River bears the Jones name, Buford of Memphis. The Ben Harmans are the descendants of Benjamin Jones…
Sometime previous to the War a Mr. Merith Meadors owned all the land between the Christopher Jones place (now the Elliot farm) up to Turon church. He also had dozens of slaves. He was the grandfather of the Booker family.
Chris eventually marries one of the Booker girls.
Things start to come undone in 1858. Mary Meadow dies leaving four kids. At the end of the year, Ben dies (4 Dec). One month later, Marshall dies (6 Jan 1860). Ben didn’t leave a will, but oldest son Joel takes charge and files as executor of the estate and asks the court to let him run the farm for the time being because selling it now would cost them a bunch of money. The court okays that idea and lets them put it off a year, just in time for war to break out.