A BOY IN RURAL MISSISSIPPI & Other Stories is the title of a book written by Samuel Grady Thigpen and published in 1966. Thigpen, a native of Jasper County, Mississippi, was a long-time resident of Picayune, Pearl River County, Mississippi. One of the stories near the end of the book is entitled, "Son of a Slave Tells of Slavery." This short story holds a wealth of information relative to the genealogy of the African-American descendants of slaves referenced in the work.
In this story, Samuel Grady, also known as S.G., tells of his slave holding paternal grandfather, William Thigpen, who arrived at Lake Como in Jasper County between 1830 and 1840. William was born in Sumter County, South Carolina in 1810, and he and his family settled in Mississippi after leaving Alabama where they lived in 1830. S.G. goes on to relate that his grandfather was the owner of sixteen slaves who had to be freed at the end of the Civil War. One of the Thigpen slaves was a female who later married a slave or former slave from the Haynes place which was located near the Thigpen Plantation.
Some description of the plantation and life there is given in an earlier chapter of the book. It tells of the two story colonial house built by William Thigpen in 1845. It was built in the midst of the big plantation using lumber planed by slaves. William lived there until his death in 1886. He developed the place into one of the finest plantations in Mississippi. His many slaves labored many hours to get the work done needed to maintain the big place.
Everything needed to operate the plantation of about 100 people was grown and processed on the place. The cloth was grown and processed, and the shoes were made by slaves trained to do that kind of work. All the food was processed on the plantation. Water power was used to operate a grist mill, a cotton gin and a saw mill. The plantation was a self-contained and self-supporting entity
S.F. Thigpen, Sr., the writer's father, passed along many stories to his son and some of them made their way into the book. The elder Thigpen was born in Jasper County in 1863, and he lived out the last years of his life there. A childhood friend of his was an African-American boy named Brice Haynes who was also born in the county around 1872. Brice was one of the sons of the the Haynes and Thigpen slaves referenced earlier.
During their youth and early adulthood, S.F. and Brice were the clostest of friends. They played, worked and hunted together. Brice, like S.G., moved to Picayune and lived out the rest of his life there. He made at least two trips back to Jasper County with S.G. to visit S.F. before he died in Picayune in 1944. S. G. writes that mutual respect and the deepest friendship existed between the two men throughout their lives.
A review of the 1880 Jasper County, Mississippi Census shows Brice Haynes as an eight year old boy in a household headed by Allen Haynes, who was born in Georgia in 1832. The census shows Allen's parents were born in Virginia. Other members of the family in 1880 were Jane, Allen's wife, age 26; Isam, age 9; Sallie, age 4 and Ples, age 2. Jane was born in Alabama, but it is not known where her parents were born. The children were born in Mississippi, probably in Jasper County.
Allen and his family are also found in the 1870 Jasper County, Mississippi Census. The name is spelled Haines on that document on page #504. In addition to Allen and Jane, other members of the family in 1870 were Caroline, age 8; Lucinda, age 6 and Isam, age 1. The census shows all the children were born in Mississippi. If Caroline is the child of Allen and Jane, the couple were together as early as 1862. If Caroline is not their child and Lucinda is, the couple were together by 1864, still before the end of slavery. Jane is listed at age 20 in 1870, but Allen's age could not be determined that year by the census document.
Living next door to the Allen Haynes Family in 1870 were Isam Thigpen and his family. Isam was age 24 and his wife Mary was 24 also. Other members of the family were Frank and Scot(t) Thigpen who were born in Mississippi. Their ages could not be determined. Lucy Agee was also living in the home. She, like Frank and Scot, was born in Mississippi.
Both Isam and Mary Thigpen were born in Alabama as was Jane. Because of this similarity, and the fact that one of Jane's sons was named Isam, there may have been kinship between the Thigpen Family and Jane. On the other hand, they all could have simply been slaves on the Thigpen place together without being related otherwise.
The 1880 Jasper County Census shows the Isam Thigpen family still living near the Allen Haynes family. Isam is shown as being age 32 and Mary is listed at age 29. Both are shown as being born in Alabama. Their children are Frank, age 11; Scott, age 10; Gaura, age 9; Mollie, age 7; Julia, age 5; Henry, age 3 and Mack at just a few months old as he was born in 1880. All were born in Mississippi. Gabe Smith, age 22, was also a member of the household. He is listed as a servant and farm laborer. In addition, Tobe Dixon, his wife Beca and daughter Della were also living with the Thigpen family. Tobe was age 25, Beca was age 20 and Della was age 3. They, like Gabe Smith and the Thigpen children, were born in Mississippi.
It has not been determined where and when Allen and Jane died. Not much is known about their son Isam and daughter Sallie. The 1900 Census shows Brice and Ples living in Hancock County, Mississippi. That year, Brice was head of a household which included his wife Julia, age 20 and a young son named Earnest who was born in Mississippi in 1899. Lester Oneal, a five year old stepson was also a memebr of the family. The census shows Brice and Julia had been married for about five years. The 1920 Pearl River County, Mississippi Census shows Price Haynes in E. D. 155, sheet #8. This is believed to be Brice Haynes. The document shows his wife as Bessie, age 37; Laura, age 19, Earnest, age 19; Bertha, age 18 and Dora, age 16. All the family members were born in Mississippi.
In 1900, Ples was living in a house near his brother Brice in which the only other occupant was John Flood, a twenty-one year old Mississippi-born laborer. Although the exact dates are not known, Ples met and married Bessie. Bessie had daugher Jessie Mae Haynes who met and married Roosevelt Little of Copiah County, Mississippi, son of Ples Little. The children of Jessie Mae and Roosevelt are Louise, Freddie, Ples Alexander, Johnny Mose and James. The roots of this Little Family are in my hometown of Picayune, Mississippi, and they and their descendants live in states throughout the nation.
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LAST UPDATE: September 21, 2009
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Picayune MS African-American Genealogy
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