Siloam

 

    Approaching Mulberry, south of the church and cemetery where the road turns west was Fountain Oliphant’s place. Continuing south toward Ravenna, Siloam Cemetery, now Union, was started “for slaves” on the Smith Plantation. Born February 8, 1842, “Uncle Fount” is there. According to his grandson, Walter Potts, Fountain Oliphant was the “first black man” to enter Fannin County “after freedom” with W. D. Oliphant, from Minden, Louisiana. They settled on Red River near Sowell’s Bluff.                                          

    On April 11, 1877, Fountain Oliphant bought two tracts of land in the Hardin Hart survey. The first was eighty acres, the second, twenty; there were two promissory notes for $250 each. These lands will pass in 1939 under a cloud to the Ravenna banker, John Palmore.

    West from Uncle Fount’s house and Miss Zona’s mailbox was the 1882 “residence” of Thomas Lightfoot. Today a highway sign nearby says “Mulberry.”


    Ruth Dupree Johnson wrote me on September 1, 1993. Her parents were Lucille Em
ma (born Smith) and Samuel Houston Dupree. Her mother was a daughter of Samuel and Emma (Poole) Smith. Her father was a son of Jonas and Fannie (Holland) Dupree (pictured).  Ruth wrote:


    What you’re doing is very much needed.  History, true history, not Fiction.... Jonas Dupree got his name from a slave owner.... My grandfather, Jonas Dupree, changed the spelling of his name because there was a dispute over their mail.... I don’t think Jonas Dupree owned any land. I never had a chance to visit my grandparents (Smiths or Duprees) and ask questions.... I do not know Ben Johnson. His brother, Willis Johnson, married my father’s sister.... Elizah Oliphant married my mother’s twin sister, Lucy Smith, Samuel Smith’s daughter.... I was never able to get any concrete answers from the Black side or the White side of the family.... There was a Taylor King that knew the Sam Smith family and the Jonas Dupree family....

    I am handicapped (wheel chair), so please excuse the long hand writing. I am getting tired, so I will have to come to a stop. I am 85 years, will be 86 the 11th of this month. I wish you luck. The country is in need of more true History, not Fiction.... It is ignorance that has the world divided. We all should know who we are and where we come from.... God Bless You.


    A daughter of Jonas (1851-1945) and Fannie (1861-1945) was Molissa Ellen Dupree (1898-1990) who married William “Willie” Jackson (1893-1926).


    Yes, and among other prominent names in Siloam were the brothers Gent and Taylor King. Gent’s son Herbert (1910-83) married Bernice, a daughter of Haywood and Lizzy (Newcome) Gentry. “We are Family,” Doris King Satterwhite will write.


    Siloam:  “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.” Regardless of the profundity of the great theologians, this simple truth is central in a small Negro Baptist church which celebrated its 100th birthday in 1970 in the Mulberry community.

    And the walls of that small church still ring with the fervor of repeated “amens” to the Biblical interpretations of the ministers in their solemn proclamations of hope as well as doom for believers and non-believers....

    “But what a glorious feeling we have after such a meeting,” they all say.

    Siloam Baptist Church had a humble beginning, as humble a building, almost, as the manger in which their Lord was born. A few colored families gathered together back in 1870 and organized the church. They erected a one-room log building...with the Rev. L. Borns as the pastor and organizer, assisted by J. W. Abernathy and Steve Shoulders, as deacons.


     The first Siloam church was adjacent to the cemetery. When a new structure was built in 1892, the location was moved “about a half mile east.” It was later moved again to stand (today) “about a half mile south.”


    1884 May 10: J. W. Cravens and wife Lucinda sold 106 acres to Stephen Shoulder.

    1888 June 5: Fountain Oliphant borrowed $420 from Palmore and Cunningham. 

    1889 May 24: Reeder, daughter of Charlie and Edna (Dupree) Spencer, was born in Mulberry; she will marry Robert Fulton Hill on December 28, 1908. Charlie Spencer and Fountain Oliphant were brothers.

    1890 July 27: “...prayer by Rev. E. H. Garland.”



photo courtesy of Pauline Fitzgerald Topsy: Class with Rev. Garland (about 1890)

front: Fannie King, Mary Hill, [with book?], Flannel Hill

back: [?], Lucy Smith, Harry Bethman, William Blain Dupree, Lucille Smith


1891 April 5: “Siloam...met at usual hour...prayer by M. Fitzgerald.”



Family of Milton and Meg Fitzgerald

(about 1905)

Crittenden (left), Lovice and Viola




    1892 June 27: Negro trustees of the Siloam Church, Milton Fitzgerald, president, R. J. W. Alexander and C. W.  Cheatham, mortgaged one acre of church property to the American Baptist Home Mission Society of New York for $150.         


right: Samuel Houston Dupree (1880-1950) and Lucille

Emma (Smith) with children Curtis and Ruth.

    In the NE corner of Siloam Cemetery is “Dupree Family” marker with the names of Jonas, Fannie, Thomas, and Winnie.

    Nearby: Willie Jackson, wife Molissa, and William B. Dupree (1893-1970).

    Children of Jonas and Fannie, all born in Siloam: Georgia,

James Edward, Samuel Houston, Rosie Lee, Eldon, Oscar Franklin, William Blain, Molissia Ellese, and May Ida.

    Children of Samuel and Lucille: Curtis Houston born 1906 in Siloam, and Ruth, Maxey Jerome, and Jonas Clarence Lee, all three born in Eufaula, McIntosh County, Oklahoma.



   List of Members of the Siloam Sunday school, June 3rd 1889, nos. 19-90: 

G. H. Cheatham, W. M. Flenoid, Osben Dorseys, R. O. Oliphant, Henry Murphy, Capt. Agnew, Chas. Oliphant, Grant Johnson, Sim Hill, Henry Jones, Isaiah Dorseys, F. S. Sims, Claude Smith, Miles Oliphant, Tom Bisic, George Lee, J. M. Hill, Henry Vanley, John Williams, Orange Spragin, Ben Hill, Robert Hill, Lewis Dorsey, Excell Hill, Gent King, Taylor King, Willie Ambrose, Libanus Johnson, Willis Johnson, John Johnson, J. L. Coopers, Sarah Coopers, Willie Coopers, Martha Johnson, Jane Washington, Hattie Washington, Melie Oliphint, Angie Oliphint, Tinsy Washington, Emma Smith, Maggie Shoulders, Patty Espy, Daniel Hill, Mittie Pattersons, Mollie Pattersons, Alice Pattersons, Jannie Johnson, Annie Washington, Georgia Dorseys, Effie Flenoid, Serena Flenoid, Mattie Flenoid, Lula Burton, Millie Smith, Ora Lightfoot, Gertrude Abernathy, Alice Davis, Minnie Smith, Fanny William, Merlindie Murphy, Leoda Smith [right, oldest daughter of Emma and Sam Smith, Sr.], Hattie Smith, Marry Hill, Nurvy Luke, Susan Smith, R. J. W. Abernathy, Ned Abernathy, Saw Abernathy, Cazzie Easmon, Lige Oliphint, Henry Spencer, Charley Washington, Sophrinia Fitzgerald.


    1892 January 9: Walter Potts was born in Denison. His mother, Mollie, was the daughter of Fountain and Patsy (Espey) Oliphant. His father, William Potts (b. 1865), had grown up around Denison and Pottsboro, the son of “Joe Burton.” Eva Hogan writing: “No one knows what Joe Burton’s real African name was; Joe Burton was a slave name.” The first child of William and Mollie Potts was LuBerta (b. 1889). Their third child, James Roscoe, was born in 1900.

    1892 June 1: In ordering school board elections Commissioners’ Court granted the petition of “colored patrons” of various districts, including Mulberry, “for the election of three Colored Trustees to control and manage the colored Schools of their respective Districts....”

       

    “The Siloam church grew spiritually and prospered with a large membership, which saw a new church built in 1892. This edifice was completed and dedicated in May 1894.” In 1905 Milton Fitzgerald and wife Maggie deeded land to “Pilgrim Lodge A. F. & A. M., No. 111 through its officers T. E. King, J. D. Dupree and W. J. F. Winston, beginning at the SE Cor of Siloam Church (Col) lot...one half acre.”


    Robert Fulton Hill, first son of Zachariah “Zack” and Rose Anna Person, was born in Georgia on December 1, 1877. J. W. Cravens will deed 185 acres in Mulberry to Zack and Rose Anna on December 17, 1900. Robert will be Sunday school superintendent at the Siloam church “for forty years.” Maria, last child of Zack and Rose Anna, married Samuel “Sammy” Smith, Jr. Their youngest child, Vera Smith Ross, wrote:


   Little is known of Zack Hill before coming to Mulberry (Ravenna, Texas) from Macon, Georgia. He had two cousins, Twillie Hill and Herman Hill, that lived in Denison.

    Zack and Rose Anna Person Hill were married and had four children when they came part the way to Texas in a covered wagon from Macon, Georgia; came the rest of the way by train.

    After Granny (Rose Anna) got too old to live alone, she came to live with us. (My parents were Maria and Sammie Smith.) I was the only one too small to work in the fields to chop or pick cotton, so I stayed at the house with Granny. I can remember her telling me about when she was sold from her mother at the age of 12 years. Her master, who was her father, raised her. She never saw or heard from her mother again. She told me of having two brothers, Joe Person and Selma Person, somewhere in Georgia. Granny also told me about her going to the river once to get water, and being attacked by a panther. She had a long scar on her neck from the attack.

    Zack and Rose Anna had nine children: Robert, Benny, Excell, Fletcher, Chester, Linwood, Flannel, Mary and Maria. They all lived to get grown, but lost Fletcher as a young man while away in college. The other boys grew up on what is known as the “Hill Farm,” ...deeded...land for farming and wooded area for fire wood. All the boys married, had families, built homes on the farm, where descendants still own [the land] and live today [1995].




























Family of Zack and Rose Anna Hill  (about 1900)

back: Excell, Mary, Robert Fulton, Flannel, Benjamin

front: Maria, Zack, Rose Anna, Lenwood, Fletcher, Chester


        Joe Choice, growing up on Caney Creek, remembered frequent meetings with Uncle Fount Oliphant (1842-1927) in his buggy, pulled by a “big ol’ poor horse.”

    Hear  Joe’s own words....

 

    One day Joe went rabbit hunting with his younger brother and two older boys. They followed Caney Creek downstream, passing under the bridge. It started to get dark, and before long the boys thought they might be lost. Caney seemed wider. Maybe they’d crossed the river and were in Oklahoma. Then the boys saw a house on the side of a hill. “Smoke was rising from the chimney, and a man was chopping wood in the yard.” Trying to stay out of sight, they came nearer. Then Joe said, “I know that man. That’s Mr. Loss Hope.” The boys came out of the woods. Mr. Hope told them to follow the road past his house and they would come to the store in Mulberry. At the store, they should “turn right.” They would go past the Parks home place and be on to the old road to Ravenna. But Joe was getting tired, and the other boys went ahead. At the store they “turned left.” Joe could only follow. When they came back, he said, “If you’ll just stay with me, I’ll take you home.” At the Parks place they dreaded going on by the old road with its dark turns. Joe decided to turn at the corner and go past Uncle Fount’s house. “Over there’s a fence,” he said. “If we follow it through the field, it will come out on the road at my house.” They went that way, still carrying three rabbits, and got home long after dark. Joe said there were white boys around Ravenna who sometime tried to “beat up” on the black boys. His father often sent him out on errands, “and when he said Go, you went.” Joe’s father also said, “Don’t come cryin’ back to me if you’re not willin’ to fight for yourself, ’cause when you get here, if you didn’t fight ’em, I’ll whip you, too.”


    The following is my transcription of “Miss” Pauline Topsy’s recorded interview

with Audry (Brown) Rayford of Bonham, probably in 1996:


   ...born February 21, 1903. Mother was Margaret. We called her Maggie Fitzgerald. Papa [Milton Fitzgerald] was from Alabama.... I had two sisters and I had two brothers, two sisters and two brothers
, besides myself.... [Do you remember any highlight in the year, anything you looked forward to?] What did I look forward to? I looked forward to Christmas because Minnie and Millie were going to get my nice Christmas things. My daddy was blind. See? And Minnie and Millie was Uncle Wes Smith’s daughters, and they were school teachers, and they seen that I had everything that I wanted and needed. At Christmas time. Dolls. If I needed a dress. They helped my mother. Then I had an uncle that helped my mother, down in Marshall. That’s how come I was in Marshall after I married. He owned 850 acres of land in Marshall, and eight rent houses. I had three cousins down there, his children, you know, and I went down there and stayed with him in ‘39 and stayed with him two years. My mother got sick and I couldn’t stay. I wasn’t gonna stay. I come back to Ravenna, and I moved on the John Palmore place. He built us a house. He wanted Henry to come back, and he built us a house, and we stayed there until ‘42. And then I went to Whitewright because crops failed and it had taken all the money that we already had, ‘cause when I was in Marshall my uncle gave us all we need, ‘cause I was stayin’ there takin’ care of him. His wife died, and his children lived in town and they didn’t want to live in the country. So I went to stay there with him down in the country, and takin’ care of him. My house burned down, to the ground. [Where?] Marshall. Our house burn in Marshall and that’s why I moved back, and then John Palmore was buildin’ me a house, and I stayed with my brother until he got the house finished. And after he finished the house we moved in his and stayed three years, and we couldn’t make nothing. Henry made good crops, but we couldn’t make no cotton, and cotton looked really promisin’ and then fall off, and just wouldn’t have nothing, and I wasn’t gonna work a crop and lose what I had and have to work for my clothes, and I left for that, and moved to Whitewright. That was in ‘42. I worked for a woman by name of Willis. [Let me ask you this before you go on to Whitewright. What time was it you taught? What years did you teach?] I started to teach. Now, wait a minute. Le’ me get this fixed. I married in 1921, and I was already teachin’ that year—’21—I taught in ‘21. Because I went with him down there to Windom. He was workin’ and I stayed, and I come back home and went to work. [Where did you teach?] Now the first school that I was offered was way down yonder, what they call the Morgan Farm, way down. That was the first school I was offered. Offered, now. I didn’t teach there. I went to Honey Grove, and a black man that run a drug store there told me I was too young to go down there. I wasn’t but sixteen, and I was too young and he wouldn’t advise me, and I went down there with my sister’s husband, and he said he wouldn’t advise me to stay down there where the agriculture was too rough. This Morgan Farm, that’s where Morgan had a plantation, of Negroes and things, and they done everything on that place, but they had a school down there and they wanted somebody to teach and so. My superintendent, a Spencer, right here in Bonham, and he went to college in Whitewright. That’s where he went to school, and after I couldn’t teach down there I come back home and I told my daddy, which he was just so glad. [Do you have any idea how many years you may have taught in Ravenna?] I taught. Well, I tell you what, I taught six years. [Do you remember anybody that you worked with?] Oh, yes. I worked with, my first woman I worked with was Eva Potts. Yeah, Eva Potts. That’s who. Me and her taught together. And then the other was Cousin Fanny King, Edna’s mama. And then after that, well we, you know, probably got to the place where the school didn’t have two teachers. I had from the 1st to the 3rd, and she had the upper classes. See? She [Eva Potts] was from the 4th on, and I don’t know how far it went, but she started at the 4th. Yeah, we went to the 8th grade, ‘cause they turned us out down there at the 8th grade. See? When we was turned out down there, myself, Melissa Jackson and Jesse Mae Davis went to summer school at Jacksonville, Texas. And that’s where we made our certificate. I didn’t make it there. We taken exam there, but I come back here. I made my certificate here at this Courthouse [in Bonham]. I got my certificate in 1921, and that’s when I started teachin’. That’s when I got my certificate. I went to teachin’ that year. See? Fifty dollars a month. The teacher over me got seventy-five. That’s the reason I wasn’t lookin’ for no, but when I got it I got quite a good little sum. In Whitewright I had done taught school there two years, and then I quit and I went to cookin’ for the school. Well, here’s the way it was. You see, you had to keep up school, and I couldn’t do it, so I just quit and went to cookin’ for the school that I taught in. And then I cooked in the white school there. [In Ravenna, do you remember who was on the school board?] The school board was white. One was John. Wait a minute. Oh, shucks. Right on my mind. Pierce Donaldson. And one was Mr. Perry, and I can’t think of his first name. Perry Parks. That was the man, and I don’t remember. There were three. I know Perry Parks because he always signed my certificate. He’d laugh and say, “Pauline, you gonna get the school this year.” You know, you had to go ‘round every year and see the trustees. I might think of the third one later. I know Perry Parks, and Mandy was his sister. Anyway, my first teachers was E. H. Garland, Professor Owens, Maggie Hamilton and Mrs. [?] here in Bonham. And my next teacher was J. W. Powell. That’s the last one. That’s when we graduated. We graduated under J. W. Powell. We went to the 9th grade. Professor Powell was a real good teacher, and he carried us to the 9th grade. When we left the 9th grade, then we was goin’ to Summer Normal to Jacksonville. I tell you who went with me. B. J. Johnson, her name was Myrtle. Yeah, Myrtle went with me, and a girl from here. Me and her roomed together.  We went to this Normal six weeks. That’s where I first met Holiness. They said they didn’t jump off the porch, but if they didn’t jump off the porch they fell off....