July 2009 Updates to
“Remembering Lonnie & Belle Burr – A Family History
By Al Burr”
When I wrote Remembering Lonnie & Belle Burr – A Family History there was never a doubt in my mind that I would get a few things wrong, forget to include some things, and later uncover new material. I have included some stories and additions here that will supplement my earlier work.
Although Lonnie & Belle never owned a car during my lifetime, my brother Tim reminded me of some stories passed down about Lonnie and Belle owning a Model A Ford in the early days. They were always having problems with the lug nuts coming loose and the wheels coming off. Lonnie mentioned the problem to someone around Brookside who supposedly was a mechanic of sorts who assured him that he could fix it. He left the car with him to fix and when he went back for it, he discovered that the lug nuts had been welded to the bolts. To make matters worse, the nuts were not tightened before they welded, so the wheels always wobbled a little after that. Whenever a tire went flat, they would have to jack up the car and fix the flat “in place”.
Mother told me that the log house that the Gooch family lived in for a while was originally built by a man whose last name was Cowart.
Lonnie and Belle occasionally raised a few hogs and I remember them butchering one. Lonnie and Belle’s sons came to help and it was a big affair. Uncle Pete shot the hog in the head with a rifle and Dad cut its throat with a hunting knife to make sure that it was dead. A barrel of water was heated with an open wood fire to assist with the hair removal and cleaning. Everybody helped with scraping off the hair, which is a labor intensive process. After that was complete, they used a chain block to hoist the hog in order to remove its entrails and cut it in half. The butchering was completed on their back porch. Belle cooked some of the meat for our lunch. The rest of the meat was wrapped in butcher paper and frozen in their freezer. The fat was rendered into lard by melting it in a large cast iron pot outside with a wood fire built under it. The meat scraps and some of the small pieces were ground up in a hand powered grinder to make sausage. Belle had her own recipe (in her head of course) for seasoning the sausage. I don’t remember all of the spices that she used but I remember her using generous quantities of red pepper, black pepper, salt, and sage.
Although she started using a freezer in the early to mid 1950’s , Belle was a master at canning fruits and vegetables in Mason jars. The food remained edible until the lids rusted off. My older brother, Erroll Ray, reminded me of a concoction that Belle prepared and canned that she called “chow chow”. The best description that I can give of it is that it was similar to a salsa or relish and it was delicious with beans and an assortment of other foods. Erroll Ray asked me if I knew whether the recipe was ever written down and passed on by Belle. If so, I don’t ever remember seeing it. Like many recipes, there were in Belle’s head and she relied on how things tasted rather than mechanically sticking with a recipe. All I remember is that she boiled fresh tomatoes and onions along with numerous spices.
Lonnie had a shed that he used to store corn and fodder (dried corn leaves) for Rodie. He had a hand powered machine that was used to shell corn and he would sometimes enlist help from the grandchildren to help shell the corn. Most of us were always on edge with this duty because a large rat snake frequented the place. Lonnie would not allow anyone to bother the snake because it filled a vital role in keeping the mice population under control. Corn is an easy, tasty food for mice.
In my earlier writing, I listed the names of Lonnie and Belle’s children but I failed to mention when they were born or who they married. Lillian Estelle was born on August 10, 1914 and first married Andrew Fred Grill who was born on March 10, 1908. He died on September 21, 1949 and Estelle later married William A. “Bill” Johnston who was born on October 30, 1898. Bill died on August 7, 1973 and Estelle died on December 20, 1996.
Cora Mae was born on March 16, 1917 and married J.C. McAllister. Cora died on October 1, 1997. Her husband preceded her in death but I don’t know the date..
James Marion was born on October 19, 1920 and married Mary Evelyn Lynch who was born on December 7, 1924. James died on August 1, 1980. At the time of this writing, Mary is still living.
Marjorie Belle “Margie” was born on October 23, 1924 and married Frank Osborn Woodward who was born on September 4, 1919. Margie died on September 5, 2000 and Frank died on October 14, 2002.
Olen Lonnie “Paul” was born on November 18, 1928 and married Melba McConnell. Paul died on October 16, 1957. At the time of this writing, Melba is still living.
Rolen Henry “Pete” was born on November 18, 1928 and married Betty Carreker. At the time of this writing, both are still living.
Earlier, I thought that the full name of Belle’s mother (Dora) was Carmelia Bandora Eastis based on the census information. According to oral history from Shorty Pinyan, it was Permelia rather than Carmelia. Later, I was able to reinforce Shorty’s information while looking at some tombstones at Bivens Chapel Cemetery. Among the Brake markers was one for a child named Tuliane (Tulu Ann according to some sources) who died in 1887. Her parents were listed on the marker as J.M. and P.B. Brake. Most likely, they were James Marion and Permelia Bandora.
I did some more research on Dora (Permelia Bandora) and found some information from research done by descendants of the Hodge family. The information was a little confusing at first but I think that I have sorted it out in my mind. I will start by listing an excerpt from their family tree and then try to add more to it from my own research.
Descendants of Leroy H. Hodges
Generation No. 1
1. LEROY H.1 HODGES was born 1806 in South Carolina, and died Aft. 1880 in Jefferson County, Alabama. He married (1) PERMELIA Abt. 1828. She was born 1802 in South Carolina, and died Bet. 1860 - 1870 in Jefferson County, Alabama. He married (2) DORCAS COOK SKELTON Abt. 1870. She was born 1830 in Blount County, Alabama.
More About LEROY H. HODGES:
Burial: Hodges Cemetery, Republic, Jefferson County, Alabama
More About PERMELIA:
Burial: Republic, Alabama
More About DORCAS COOK SKELTON:
Burial: Hodges Cemetery, Republic, Jefferson County, Alabama
Children of LEROY HODGES and PERMELIA are:
i. WILLIAM PRESLEY2 HODGES, b. 1830; m. (1) SUSAN ELIZABETH BAGLEY; m. (2) MARY JANE SHORT.
2. ii. JOEL BRADFORD HODGES, b. 1832, South Carolina; d. 24 Feb 1903, Jefferson County, Alabama.
iii. DANIEL FRANKLIN HODGES, b. 1835; d. 07 Jun 1908; m. MIRANDA G. WILKS.
iv. MARTHA HODGES, b. 20 Apr 1837; d. 13 Jul 1919; m. WILLIS EASTIS.
v. THOMAS DANIEL HODGES, b. 08 Jun 1839; d. 09 Apr 1907; m. (1) ELIZABETH SUSAN JONES; m. (2) MEDORA JANE JONES.
vi. MARY ANN HODGES, b. 30 Jun 1843; d. 02 Feb 1915; m. WILLIAM MONROE BILLINGSLEY.
Children of LEROY HODGES and DORCAS SKELTON are:
vii. PERMELIA SUSAN2 HODGES, b. 1871; m. WILLIS C. WINGO.
viii. JOHN ALEXANDER HODGES, b. 1872; m. MATTIE ABNEY.
ix. ROBERT AUSTIN HODGES, b. 12 Dec 1874; d. 14 Aug 1949; m. MARTHA JOSEPHINE PENNINGTON
What is especially confusing is that there are two Permelia’s listed on the report but neither of them is Belle’s mother, Permelia “Dora”. Permelia was the name of Leroy Hodges first wife. Leroy and Permelia had a daughter named Martha who married Willis Eastis. Martha and Willis had a daughter whom they named Permelia Bandora. To add to the confusion, Leroy later married Dorcas Cook Skelton and they had a daughter whom they named Permelia Susan.
Leroy and his family were listed in the 1850 census in Woods Beat District 32 in Jefferson County, Alabama. I am not familiar with that location. According to another column of the census that is not shown in the excerpt, the entire family was born in South Carolina. The ages of Leroy, Permelia, and William P. are ambiguous due to the peculiar number writing of the census taker. Based on their ages in later census reports, it appears that Leroy was probably 46, Permelia was 48, and William P. was 20. The names of the children agree with the report from the other researchers. Note that Martha (Belle’s grandmother) was 13.
The 1860 census (above) showed that Leroy and family lived in the Forks Road Precinct in Jefferson County. I am not familiar with that location either. Note that son Thomas lived on one side and son Presley (William Presley) lived on the other. This census also showed that the entire family was born in South Carolina except for James M., the son of Thomas and Elizabeth.
I was unable to locate the Leroy Hodge family in the 1870 census but I did find them in the 1880 census. When I first looked at the census page containing their family, I thought that it looked familiar. As noted on the census excerpt below, they were neighbors of James Marion Brake who at the time was married to Margaret Ellen Wheeler. Later, James Marion married Leroy’s granddaughter, Permelia Bandora. Note in this census that Leroy’s wife is Dorcas.
After considerable research, I was able to discover a significant amount of new information on the early Burrough families and the history of John Bowden’s wife, Ollie Parker Bowden. These findings are presented in The Burr/Burrough Family History book.
The history of William Speer, a Brake ancestor, is presented in William Speer – An Old Soldier of The American Revolution. In the mid 1850’s, William applied for a pension due to his service in the Revolutionary War. Fortunately, much of the paperwork involved with the application process has been maintained in the records at the National Archives and provides a wealth of information about his past. After reading many of the documents, it is obvious that the government was a bureaucracy even back then and questioned many of the details of his application. Although the delays were frustrating for William, the volume of correspondence made on his behalf elicited considerable insights about his past.