In Loving Memory of Lubertha Fairman Porter

By Willie L. Robinson

She was born on April 16, 1902. On April 10, 2002, the Lord called home one of His most faithful servants, Lubertha (Luberta) Fairman Porter, six days before her birthday of one hundred years. Cousin Luberta was born near Brookhaven in Lincoln County, Mississippi, to parents Johnson Fairman and Missouri Black Fairman. Her father was a son of Sam Fairman and Mary Payton Fairman, and her mother was a daughter of Peter Black and Elizabeth "Beth" Mitchell Black.

Cousin Luberta was the fifth of nine children born to the Johnson and Missouri, who were the parents of five girls and four boys. She was the third oldest girl. Cousin Luberta outlived all of her brothers and sisters. Her siblings were Otis (1891-1931), Levi, Mary Ida (1896-1969, Betty Alma (1901-1975), Cleveland (c. 1905-1970), Bessie (c. 1906-1961), Prentiss (1911-1991) and Minnie (1912-1979). Levi died young. Her father passed away in 1918, and her mother lived until 1944.

She received her early education at Siloam School in Lincoln County, MS. Cousin Luberta later attended school at Mt. Zion School in Bogue Chitto, MS, where she completed junior high school. She went on to further her education at Prentiss Institute in Prentiss, Jefferson Davis County, MS. Her obituary shows she was a graduate of Alcorn A&M College in Lorman, MS.

At the age of nine years old, young Luberta united with Siloam Missionary Baptist Church in rural Lincoln County. The church was under the leadership of Rev. Kelly at the time. Many of her relatives are buried in the church's cemetery. Later after moving to the Mt. Olive Community, she became a member of Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church. It was during that time that Cousin Luberta met Ivy "Buddy" Porter, whom she married in 1929.

After Cousin Luberta and Buddy moved to Norfield, she united with Norfield Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. She was very active in the Mission Society, serving as church Sunday School and Mission Treasurer. She remained dutiful until she became ill, but she was faithful until the end with tithes and offerings. Buddy preceded Cousin Luberta in death passing away in 1960. She had no children, yet she was a mother to many as stated on her obituary. Her funeral was held at Mt. Olive on April 13th. Interment was at Mt. Olive Cemetery. The officiant was Rev. R.C. McCall, formerly of Norfield Bethel, and R.E. Tyler & Daughter Funeral Home of Brookhaven was in charge of arrangements.

Cousin Luberta leaves to cherish her sweet memories a host of loving nephews, nieces, grandnieces and grandnephews, friends and church members. Her special family members are the children of the daughter of her brother Otis, Evelyn Fairman Tillman (Freddie Lee). They are Grady Lee, James Edward, Rose Mary, Bobbie Ann, Willie Earl and Fred Tillman, Jr. (Pamela Denise).

Cousin Luberta had an influence on the lives of many young people in Lincoln County as a school teacher at Mt. Kingdom, Mt. Zion, Norfield, Pleasant Grove, McNulty School and Lincoln County Training School. Some of her former students attended her funeral and shared some of their experiences during their school days with her. She was also one of the first Head Start teachers in Lincoln County.

At her homegoing celebration, acknowledgments of her good deeds during her ninety-nine plus years of life were made by many of those who had come to pay their last respects to a truly remarkable woman. One neighbor, who is a descendant of Constantine Montgomery, spoke of how Cousin Luberta went to her home following the untimely death of her son and took over the responsibility for preparing the food during the time of the family's loss. She was about seventy-five years old at the time. The neighbor later introduced her husband who sang a song as others in attendance joined in. Others also spoke of her kindness and generosity.

I have known of Cousin Luberta's connection to my Robinson family for almost as long as I can remember. I have also known of her kindness, as spoken of by some in attendance at her funeral. In 1933 at the age of ten years old, my father, Willie Ivy Robinson, lost his father due to injuries he received in an accidental fall from a wagon loaded with hay near their home. Five years later in 1938 at the age of fifteen, my father's mother passed away leaving him and his five siblings without parents. My father was the second oldest child born in 1923, three years after his oldest sister Mary Elizabeth was born in 1920.

While life was generally difficult for most families living in the area at the time, it was especially difficult for the parentless Robinson children. Neighbors were aware of the family's situation and they generally did what they could to help support them. Cousin Luberta and her husband Buddy were very helpful during those difficult days, and I am sure that their kindness was a contributing factor to the fact that my father and his brothers and sisters always remembered her, and never failed to stop by to see her while visiting in the area after they moved away from Lincoln County.

Although I have known her for almost as long as I can remember, I became closer to Cousin Luberta in the early 1990s when I started to visit with her whenever I could after I became interested in genealogy. She has been very helpful to me in my genealogical research. Because of her generous assistance, I have a better understanding of my family history. I also learned facts about Cousin Luberta's family history during my many hours of interviews with her that would have passed away with her had she not shared them with me I am sure.

From interviews with Cousin Luberta, I learned that her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth "Beth" Mitchell Black was the daughter of a white woman and a black man. She was born in Franklin County, Mississippi in February 1846. The 1850 Franklin County census shows Elizabeth, also called Beth by family members, living with Hezekiah and Susan Mitchell. She was four years old. Hezekiah was thirty-two, and Susan was twenty-four. Hezekiah and Susan were also born in Mississippi. They were married on June 26, 1845.

Not much is known about Hezekiah, but Susan was Susannah Kennedy, daughter of Cade Levi Kennedy, Sr. and Mary Calcote Kennedy. Neither Hezekiah nor Susan has been found in the census of 1860. However, Beth was living in the home of Allen Smith and his family in that year. She was listed as a free mulatto on the census as was customary during slavery for children with a black and a white parent to assume the status of the mother. Allen was the husband of Emmeline Kennedy Smith, Susan's sister. Hezekiah is listed on the census document as being a man without an occupation.

Cousin Luberta said her grandmother told her mother Missouri many times that "Something happened to my daddy". Each time she spoke those words to me she followed by saying, "I know what happened to him", as she paused in silence as if she had mentally traveled back in time to before the Civil War to witness personally her great-grandfather's demise in rural Franklin County more than a hundred and thirty years earlier.

Several times during interviews with Cousin Luberta, she shared with me a story in which one of Beth's white uncles carried her to the slave market to sell her after he no longer wanted her as a member of the family. "Where's Beth?", asked the uncle with whom Beth was living after he arrived home and didn't see her with other members of the family as usual. After learning of the family members's plans to sell Beth, her uncle rode hurriedly to the slave market on horseback and intervened to stop efforts to sell his niece into slavery. "Yes Sir", replied Beth in the voice of a frighten little girl after her uncle asked her if she was ready to go back home, as she stood before those in attendance at the auction. "Here, jump up here on this horse", instructed the uncle, as Beth did as she was told and the two of them left the slave market and rode off in the direction of their home.

The uncle carried Beth home and later went to the other uncle's home and threatened to kill him if he ever set foot in his house again. It is not known exactly which of the uncles tried to sell her, but it is believed that the uncle who rescued Beth was Allen Smith. Susan brothers were William Riley, Cade Levi Jr., Stephen Calcote and Andrew. The household of Cade Levi Jr. was located in close proximity to the Allen Smith household. Also living nearby at the time were Susan's sister Catherine, her husband Josiah Sirman and their children.

At least to some extent, Allen's attitude about race may have been reflected years later in the actions of his grandsons, Nicholas J. "Bud" Smith (abt.1872-1928) and Purly "Pearl" Smith (1873-1960), sons of John Jasper Smith (b. 1851). Bud and Pearl were known for their association with black women, and they publicly acknowledged their black "families". Pearl even requested of his white family members to be buried in the cemetery at Siloam M.B. Church. His request was not granted. Pearl was buried instead in an unmarked grave in the cemetery at Demascus Baptist Church in rural Franklin County. Cousin Luberta knew Bud and Pearl well and recognized them as being cousins of her grandmother, mother and thus, herself. This seems possible based on the census information found which relates to the families.

Around 1866, Beth married Peter Black and they started a family. Her connection with the Smith and Kennedy family members continued for many years. The 1870 Lincoln County census shows the Black household consisted of Peter, Elizabeth, Monroe and a thirty year old man named Willis or Willie Dunn. Dunn, incidentally, is the maiden name of Elizabeth, mother of my paternal grandfather Thornton Edgar Robinson. I have not been able to determine the connection of the Black family with members of the Dunn family. Peter died of consumption in June 1879, and left his wife to care for their four children, Monroe, Missouri, Annie and Jesse. Beth later developed a relationship with Edmund "Clark" Bowie, a Civil War Veteran of the Union Army.

The 1880 Franklin County Census shows Clark (Buie) was living near Beth and her family that year. Their daughter, Elizabeth Bowie, was born the following year in 1881. Beth and Clark later went their seperate ways. He married Caroline Middleton and they lived in Meadville, Franklin County, Mississippi before moving on to Louisiana. Clark died in 1933 while living in Ferriday, Concordia Parish. He and his wife Caroline are buried in the National Cemetery in Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi. Many of their descendants live in Louisiana.

Elizabeth, the daughter of Clark and Beth, was married to Grant London, and later to Bartlett Smith. She was the mother of Grant London (1902-1991), and Delia Smith King of Brookhaven. Beth, called "Betsy" later in life, died while living in Lincoln County around 1904. She was married to Jacob "Jake" Rancifer at the time of her death. They had two sons together, Wilburn (1889-1982) and Reid (b. 1896). Betsy's story was passed on to her daughter Missouri and later to Cousin Luberta. With the sounds of her hens and roosters in the background blending with the sounds made by the car and truck traffic traveling up and down Highway 51, Cousin Luberta shared her grandmother's story with me several times between 1992 and 1995.

Many of Betsy's descendants and other relativies still live in and around the counties of Franklin and Lincoln, as well as in other areas of the country. Through my research, I have learned that Cousin Luberta's ancestry is possibly documented back to Richard Buck (1582-Bef. 1624), an Anglican Minister who is known for having performed the marriage ceremony of Englishman John Rolfe and Native-American Princess Pocahontas in Virginia in the Spring of 1614. Research also shows that her roots may extend to Englishman Hercules Calcote (1640-1648) through his 3rd great-granddaughter Mary Calcote, a likely 2nd great-grandmother of Cousin Luberta.

I am willing to share information I have with others who have an interest in this area of research, and I welcome additional information that relates to this subject.

May she forever rest in peace with her Lord and Savior!


DATE CREATED: April 16, 2002

LAST UPDATE: April 16, 2016


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