Allen McKenzie: Hoeing Behind the Plow

Allen McKenzie (April 25, 1831 – January 22, 1910)

The child hoeing behind the plow, the young man taking out his frustrations on his brother, the adult marching off to war — this is a man who probably felt himself a Mississippian first, though he had been born in Richmond County, North Carolina three years before his family migrated over the Fall Line and Federal Roads to settle in Covington County, MS. Allen McKenzie was born on April 25, 1831, on a Richmond County North Carolina farm to thirty-eight year old Duncan and his wife Barbara McLaurin McKenzie. The family had close ties to the immigrant Scots community of Stewartsville, NC. Allen’s grandparents lived and are buried there as well as numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins. However, it is unlikely that Allen ever visited relatives in NC. Though all of his brothers wrote at least a few letters to their Uncle Duncan, Allen may not have communicated with his uncle.

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Allen McKenzie (1831-1910)

Following the death of his oldest sibling, a sister Catherine, Allen joined the family of four older brothers also born in North Carolina: Kenneth McKenzie (1820-after 1873), Hugh McKenzie (1822-1866), Daniel McKenzie (1823-1860) and Duncan McKenzie (1826-1878). A younger brother, John (1833-1865) would be welcomed into the family in Mississippi. Little Mary Catherine born in 1838, would survive for only a year. Allen’s oldest sibling rests among close relatives in Stewartsville Cemetery near Laurinburg, NC, probably near her grandmother Mary McLaurin McKenzie, whose headstone survives.

The family arrived in Mississippi January 18,1833, when many people were seeking to stake out claims in the fertile farmland of the state, recently ceded from its native inhabitants. Duncan McKenzie rented a share of property with fellow NC migrants, Allan Johnson and Duncan McBryde. As early as 1833, Duncan appears in the Covington County tax records, although he does not own a substantial amount of land until 1841. By 1846 Duncan McKenzie owned fifteen head of cattle, eight slaves, and enough land on which to grow cotton, corn, oats, peas, and potatoes. The family worked alongside the black men, women, and children enslaved on their farm. Allen would move behind the plow hoeing with the older black children.  In childhood Allen also shared the responsibility of helping his mother care for and entertain his young brother John and several black children on the plantation, those too young to work.

Though the family property was chosen because of its nearness to a school, in general, formal education was not a consistent opportunity. However, residents of Covington County were successful in their effort to maintain local tuition schools. Apparently, one persistent challenge was keeping a satisfactory teacher for very long. During 1838, the younger sons in the family attend a school run by Malcolm Carmichael, likely the son of a friend of Duncan McLaurin’s in North Carolina. In 1840 Allan and John attended school conducted by Mr. Reese Jones, a young man from Philadelphia. He is less learned than he is talented according to Duncan. In the end, Duncan decides the boys are learning well under him and writes to his brother-in-law Duncan McLaurin:

We have a school

in our neighborhood taught by a Mr. Jones from

Philadelphia, he is not a much learnd man

but in reality he brings the children on the best

and fastest of any teacher that I have seen, Allan

reads well and writes a very fair hand for a boy of

his age, John Boy will ere long be able to write you

a letter he fancys he has seen you ——– Yours Duncan McKenzie. (Mr. R. Jones would later marry one of Stepmother’s daughters when she arrives in Covington County. He and Stepmother would both perish in the yellow fever epidemic of 1847 in Mobile, AL.)

The first anecdotal mention of Allen in the Duncan McLaurin Papers appears in June of 1841. Duncan McKenzie writes, “I think Danl and myself will get through the corn in another week Allan and the two oldest of the black children are going a little after us we leave it perfectly clean, and Johny,, is Sowin pease ahead of the plows.” Allen would have been about ten, an age at which many sons of yeoman farmers would have been expected to seriously help with the crops. At ages seven and ten, the white youngsters on the farm are also expected to get an education as far as the family could afford.Mississippi had been unsuccessful in providing a statewide system of public education during the first half of the nineteenth century. Generally, those who could not afford tuition did not receive instruction beyond what was provided in the home. In this particular year, they are attending a school run by Norman Cameron at a location provided by the community and for which each family paid tuition. Evidently, Norman had been a pupil of Duncan McLaurin’s in North Carolina, for McKenzie hopes Cameron will remain as teacher on the recommendation McLaurin has provided in his 1841 letter.

From descriptions in their father’s letters, we can surmise the McKenzie sons enjoy their time in the Mississippi pine woods hunting critters that must have remained somewhat plentiful in the first half of the 19th century. Indeed, Duncan, Sr. relates the story of riding down the road and hearing his son Kenneth with the dogs flushing out a critter. When the critter suddenly bursts from the forest, Duncan shoots. It turns out to be a panther, though Duncan refers to it as a tiger that looked him directly in the eyes. Soon steam power and railroads would contribute considerably to the final destruction of the old growth forests, rendering panthers, wild boars, and other critters very rare. Duncan remarks on the fact that despite the economic hard times around Christmas of 1842, his sons amuse themselves: “The times are hard as to money but the boys will have their fun they have just come in from a swamp drive in which they caught a large wild boar the dogs captured him with ease.”

By 1841, young Hugh and Kenneth, the oldest, had been given the responsibility of working their own land along the Bowie River in Covington County. Their father, Duncan, had promised them land if they worked hard and performed well on developing his property. Kenneth had his own property that was not part of the entered property. He would have to make the land productive for a period of time before he was given the option of entering it or letting it go to someone else. Incentives for enslaved workers on this small farm were based merely on the need to survive. Though economic depression would impede their progress temporarily, by 1846 the family included eight enslaved people on the farm, a farm that became comparatively productive in the face of the vicissitudes of weather and disease.

Allen would have been sixteen when his father, Duncan Sr., died February 28, 1847 of what the family called typhus. He had spent the last fourteen years of his life building  a reasonably profitable small farm. Not so terribly far away another disease would ravage the neighboring state of Alabama, yellow fever. Duncan’s stepmother and her son-in-law, Reese H. Jones would perish in a Mobile outbreak the same year.

The McKenzie family’s grieving for Duncan was, for a while, heavier as they anxiously awaited the return of Daniel and the Covington County Boys from the Mexican War. To their relief Daniel showed up unexpectedly early. Not being regular soldiers in the U.S. Army but volunteers, the group of young men were allowed to return home after illness struck and after one of their number died from a wound received in a skirmish at Vera Cruz. While in New Orleans, Daniel purchased a rifle, which his brothers called Daniel’s “Spaniard gun.” Kenneth writes to his Uncle Duncan, “tell Uncle John that I shot Daniels Spaniard gun and Duncans shot beat Buchannan I beat him I believe I am the best shot Allen killed a fine buck a few weeks since and a few days ago he killed a turkey over 200 yards.” Though they probably did not consider it at the time, perhaps Kenneth and Allens’ hunting skills would benefit them in the turbulent future.

Duncan’s wife, Barbara McLaurin McKenzie appears as the head of household in the 1850 census.  Hugh was twenty-eight and farming, Daniel was twenty-six and teaching school. The other three boys were also farming: Duncan twenty-four, Allen nineteen, and John seventeen. The family owned one thousand two hundred and seventy dollars worth of real estate. John and  Allen both had been attending school intermittently, though only John is in school in 1850. By 1855 Barbara had succumbed to a horrific death from mouth cancer. She was tended lovingly by her sons, especially Daniel — at the time a practicing physician — and her youngest John, who most often stayed by her side.

By the federal census of 1860, the family had drastically changed with the death of Barbara McLaurin McKenzie. When Daniel marries and buys property in Smith County, he encourages the rest of the family to rent the property in Covington County and purchase property in Smith. Smith County forms the northern borders of Covington and Jones Counties. Daniel  McKenzie is thirty-seven and a physician worth one thousand two hundred dollars in real estate and seven thousand two hundred and sixty five in personal estate. In August of 1857, according to Kenneth McKenzie, Daniel married Sarah M. Blackwell, “from a family of high character and well to do.” By 1860 they have two children: John Duncan, two, and Mary Isabelle, about four months old. They live in Raleigh, MS. Allen at twenty-eight is living in Daniel’s household and working as a saddler.

As stated in an 1857 letter written by his brother Kenneth, Allen began learning the saddler trade with a man named J. Isler, who was described as a good man, who generously allowed Allen half the profits. Allen’s real estate is worth two thousand dollars and his personal estate is three thousand five hundred in 1860. This same census year, Allen’s brother Dunk writes, “Allen has been living at Raleigh since we moved to Smith Co he has a trade if you have heard he is a sadler he has been at that business for four years and makes some money at it.”

Saddlery was a skill important to every community, large or small rural or urban, in the 19th century. Although Allan’s skill and access to the most modern tools perhaps did not reach the standards of expectation in larger communities, a good local saddler was essential and would soon be vital to both Union and Confederate military endeavors. Engaging in a trade to supplement their farming income also was important: Hugh would delve into merchandising while Kenneth trained in carpentry, leaving Duncan and John the only brothers focused entirely on farming. The brothers shared interest in what they considered family property, though Duncan was the primary farmer, until they married and became part of their wives’ property concerns. Dunk would avoid military service through his job as postmaster, which would enable him to maintain the family farm. Perhaps the brothers were visionary enough to imagine what they were risking in going to war. Most likely, however, they reassured each other that a physical conflict, if it came, might quickly end due to economic dependence on cotton. After all, about seventy percent of the world’s cotton in 1860 came from the southern United States of America. Few probably imagined that cotton producers in other parts of the world might threaten the US South’s market dominance.

Allen enlisted into state service in the Confederacy at Raleigh, MS in Smith County on June 8, 1861 under Captain William Watkins. He served in the 8th Mississippi Regiment, Infantry Company A, Yankee Terrors. It is one of those names touted at the beginning of wars during the glory days before the reality of the devastation sets in. The name probably appealed very much to the “lost cause” sympathizers after the war. Everyone enlisted for one year’s service at the outset of the war but later were required to sign on for three years or the duration. By 1862 the Confederacy had instituted a draft for men ages 18-35, which was later expanded to the ages of 17-50. Allen McKenzie mustered in as Third Lieutenant with First Lieutenant Benjamin Duckworth and Second Lieutenant James T. Martin but paroled at the end of the war as 2nd Lieutenant, according to Civil War records found on the fold3 military website. In the beginning of the war Mississippi officer ranks were not earned but were the result of popular vote — competence would soon become a necessary qualification for rank. Many years later after Allen’s death, his wife Julia A. Flowers McKenzie applied for a Civil War veteran’s widow’s pension and reported the same information. Older brother Kenneth also served in the 8th Regiment, but transferred from Company C, the True Confederates, to Company A in his first year of service. According to H. Grady Howell’s company listing in For Dixie Land, I’ll Take My Stand, two A. McKenzies were part of the 8th Regiment Infantry: “McKenzie, A. S.; pvt.; C; 8th Regt. Infan.” and “McKenzie, Allen; 3rd, 2nd Lieut.; A; 8th Regt. Infan.” Of the twenty or more entries under Allen McKenzie in the fold3 records, at least one is the record of an A. McKenzie who enlisted in an Alabama regiment.  Kenneth writes his uncle, “Allen is a Lieutenant in Company A in the same Regiment that I am.”

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In letters to their uncle, both Duncan and Kenneth allude to the measles outbreak at Enterprise, MS, where all of the companies of the 8th Infantry would organize. Enterprise was an important muster ground, for it was located on the Mobile & Ohio Railroad. The measles, from which Kenneth and Allen were safely immune, took a number of lives in this outbreak. Their brother Duncan, however, emphasizes the army’s lack of weapons  and claims to have made a number of bowie knives with scabbards for them.

This lack of weapons would not last long. The Chief of the Confederate Ordnance Bureau, Josiah Gorgas of Alabama, would soon organize eighteen arsenals within the Confederacy. He also managed to obtain weapons from Europe through blockade running. Gorgas promoted such military efficiency as collecting weapons left behind on battlefields. Civilians were asked to contribute, or have confiscated, copper from stills and church bell bronze for guns. Citizens were called upon to conserve and donate the contents of chamber pots for making gun powder. Civil War arsenals would also make equipment for the horse cavalry and movement of large artillery. This would require innovative leadership and an array of skilled laborers, including saddlers and harness-makers as the equipment needs and availability of materials evolved over the course of the war.

Kenneth and Allen were apparently in the same places after their first duty together at Enterprise until the end of their first year of service. Duncan writes, “I am agent for the Yankee Terrors, the company which Allen is in from the beginning.” In February of 1862 Dunk would write  that he had received letters dated January 5, 1862 from Allen and Kenneth at Warrington and Pensacola, Florida, “they were tolerable well Kenneth was complaining of severe cold and cough Allen appears to stand the camp life pretty well.” Indeed, the 8th Regiment camped near Pensacola opposite Ft. Pickens, which was held at that time by the Union Army. The 8th Regiment was part of General Braxton Bragg’s forces. By May of 1862, they were on their way to Mobile, AL. At Chattanooga,TN they became part of General J. K. Jackson’s Brigade. In October of 1862 the 8th Regiment was stationed at Knoxville, TN. However, by July of 1862 Allen had served his year’s enlistment but did not immediately re-enlist in the 8th. According to Dunk’s letter of the same month, Allen was intending to join his younger brother John in the 46th Mississippi Regiment:

John joined a company (the 46th MS infantry) some

time since and was stationed at Meridian

Miss, on the Mobile & Ohio RR about 65

miles from home, Allen … thot he would

be better satisfied to be in the same

company with John and at the reorganization

of the company (8th) he would not suffer his name

to be run for the office which he held, it being third

Lieutenant, he … came

home and remained a short time and went

to the company which John was in as a private

I heard yesterday the Regiment had left

Meridian and gone to Vicksburg we will hear

in a day or two the certainty of it — Duncan McKenzie

Apparently, Allen either did not or could not join the 46th but returned to the 8th Regiment. I could find no records of his having been in the 46th. The next reference to Allen is in January of 1863. Dunk writes that Allen was not very well when he wrote on the third of December, just after the Battle of Murfreesboro, TN also known as Stones River, “he was not in the fight owing to ill health his company were engaged and out of 35 men who went into the fight there were five killed and seventeen wounded.” By the 14th of May 1863, Allen’s health had returned, “I received letters from Allen yesterday of different dates the latest date was April 28th he was well when he wrote and was expecting some lively times in that quarter before many days he wrote from Tullahoma, TN…” Meanwhile, Kenneth had been discharged from the Confederate Army, came home, and went directly to see John at Vicksburg. John was in ill health suffering from typhoid fever. He would recover to write his own account to his uncle of service at the Siege of Vicksburg during 1863.

According to fold3 records and a letter written by Dunk to his Uncle Duncan McLaurin in NC in 1866, Allen’s younger brother John, member of the Mississippi 46th Company H, was taken prisoner at the end of the siege of Vicksburg in 1863 but released after signing a loyalty oath. In spite of the oath, he returned to service in the Confederate forces and was captured again in 1864 at the Battle of Nashville. Since by this time prisoner exchanges had ended, he was held in prison at Louisville, Kentucky for a while but transferred to Federal Prison at Camp Chase, Ohio on January 2, 1865. By January 30 of 1865 he was dead of smallpox, pestilence being the greatest killer in the Civil War, especially in prisons. Dead despite the protective instincts of his older brothers, he is buried in the POW Cemetery with a marked headstone at the site of Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio.

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Several fold3 records indicate that Allen was on a list of prisoners taken after the Battle of Murfreesboro and paroled. However, a later record includes a note at the bottom cancelling the entry because his name did not appear “in the column of signatures.” The records also indicate that he was on the roster of Jackson’s Brigade in the Army of Tennessee, 8th Regiment of Mississippi Volunteers under General Braxton Bragg. The 8th participated in campaigns from Murfreesboro to Atlanta. Allen likely participated in the Battles of Tullahoma in June of 1863, Chicamauga in September of 1863 and the Chattanooga Siege in September and November of 1863. The 8th Regiment also served in the Battle of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge after which they retreated towards Dalton, Georgia. At Dalton General Bragg relinquished command, and Jefferson Davis appointed Joseph E. Johnston to command the Army of Tennessee in the Atlanta campaign.

Confederate Veteran magazine in 1894 published a short account by Thomas Owens of Carlisle, KY. The account reveals the harsh punishments for desertion in the Confederate Army. Desertion had become rampant during 1864. Thomas says that at Dalton, GA he witnessed the execution of sixteen men, after being forced to parade before a gathering of their comrades. They were then tied to a cross at the head of their graves, blindfolded, and shot as examples. Commentary on the article implies that the execution account resembled one that happened earlier in the war at Jackson, MS just after the Siege of Vicksburg. It goes on to suggest that Joseph E. Johnston, beloved by his men, was only ever disparaged because he put men in uncomfortable stocks for long periods of time as discipline. The turn of the 19th to the twentieth century was a period of reconciliation between northern and southern whites, but publications of the period sometimes lent themselves to revisionist history.

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By 1862 a substantial Confederate arsenal in Atlanta had been created from the Nashville facilities and by its workers after it was clear that Nashville, TN would fall into Union hands. The new arsenal was large enough to employ about five thousand workers. However, during the summer of 1864, General W.T. Sherman advanced on Atlanta. As Sherman approached, the arsenal was disbursed this time to Macon and Columbus, GA. “A. McKenzie” also appears on a Report showing “the disposition made of the Detailed Soldiers employed at Atlanta Arsenal upon the removal of same from Atlanta, taken from the return of hired men for July, 1864; Occupation Harness Maker; by whom detailed Gen. Johnston; Where and to whom transferred Retained Columbus, GA.” I don’t know how much time Allen spent at the arsenal in Columbus, GA, but I can speculate that serving in the arsenal would likely have been preferable to Allen than battlefield service and certainly an excellent reason for his surviving the war. He was by the outset of the war a skilled saddler and harness-maker. I have no evidence that he was engaged at Franklin or Nashville, but that is where the 8th Mississippi Regiment would deploy after the fall of Atlanta, by then under the command of General Hood. The 8th Mississippi Infantry surrendered at Greensboro, NC and was paroled on 26 April 1865.

The Army of Tennessee would have been divided into a number of increasingly smaller groups: corps, division, brigades. The regiments, smaller groups of men such as the 8th, would have been assigned to a brigade and so on. Evidence from fold3 records indicates Allen was on the roster, “of the Eighth Regiment of Mississippi Volunteers, Jackson’s Brigade, Walker’s Division, Hardee’s Corps, Army of Tennessee.” The loss of soldiers from disease or killed during a battle meant that one company might be absorbed by another in a different brigade. In the absence of direct evidence, it is impossible to do more than suggest where Allen most probably would have been during a particular moment of the war. The 8th Mississippi was present at the following conflicts: Murfreesboro (31 Dec 1862-3 Jan 1863), Tullahoma (June 1863), Chickamauga (19,20 Sept 1863), Chattanooga Siege (Sep-Nov 1863), Chattanooga (Nov 23-25, 1863) Atlanta Campaign (May-Sept 1864), Peach Tree Creek (20 July 1864) Atlanta (22 July 1864), Franklin (30 Nov 1864), Nashville (15-26 Dec 1864), Carolinas Campaign (Feb-April 1865) Bentonville (19-21 March 1865).

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Dunk writes his uncle in July of 1864, “I wish to hear from Allen & John and I fear we will hear bad news from some of the boys, may the kind ruler of the universe protect them and save them in eternity.” In six months, at the end of January 1865, John would be dead. Perhaps Dunk considered his prayers answered when Allen straggled home. Duncan describes his brother’s return in an 1866 letter, “worn down by hardships and ill health to almost a mere skeliton.” Allen did not waste time recovering. Home only months — perhaps even weeks — he married Julia A. Flowers in the house of her father on the 25th day of June 1865. The ceremony was performed by the Reverend Harvey Johnson. According to Dunk’s 1866 letter to his uncle, Allen was once again working successfully as a saddler and harness maker while holding an interest in his father-in-law’s property. At that time he and his wife were the parents of a newborn son, John Lafayette. Apparently, the same survivor instinct, luck, or having mastered a useful skill that kept Allen from harm during the war, served him well afterwards. He seems to have moved on to take control of his future.

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Julia A. Flowers McKenzie (1843-1934)

By 1870, according to the Federal Census, Allen was farming in Copiah County in Townships 1 and 2 West of Rr. He is thirty-six and the value of real estate owned is five hundred dollars. His wife, Julia, is twenty-seven and keeping house. Their three children are John Lafayette age 4, Annie age 2 (She would live to be 98.), and Mary Etta “Mamie” barely a year old. They are living in the same area as Julia’s parents, Hardy L Flowers, who is farming, and wife Mary Ann Sharbrough Flowers. Hardy and Mary Ann’s daughter Martha J. is twenty and living at home. Living nearby is William Sharbrough age twenty-three, who is also farming.

Another relative likely living in the Hinds County area was George Augusta Sharbrough, a brother to Allen’s mother-in-law, Allen’s wife’s uncle. According to newspaper accounts, on January 25, 1877, G. A. Sharbrough had an encounter with Hardy L. Flowers and his son, Dr. Wiggins Flowers. Hardy L. Flowers was killed right away and Dr. Wiggins Flowers mortally wounded. Both victims are buried under the same headstone in Cayuga Cemetery in Hinds County, MS located just off the Natchez Trace. Allen’s wife’s uncle and perpetrator of this crime apparently died the same year and may have been buried in Bethesda Presbyterian Cemetery in Hinds County, MS, though no headstone remains. No known records or family stories have have surfaced among McKenzie or Flowers descendants, beyond the newspaper reports, that would shed light on the nature of the conflict or the circumstances of Sharbrough’s death. Neither news account gives any more detail about the incident, though reference to a cut on one of G. A.’s fingers might indicate a knife as the weapon.

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“Proclamation.” The Clarion-Ledger. Jackson,MS.28 March 1877, Wednesday. 4. Newspapers.com. Accessed 27 August 2019.

A description of Sharbrough appeared in The Clarion-Ledger on Wednesday, March 28, 1877: “George A. Sharbrough is about 37 years of age; 5 feet, 9 inches high; light hair; small brown eyes; narrow between the eyes; long thin, bridge nose; thin, red beard; weighs about 135 pounds; florid complexion; small cut on middle finger of right or left hand.” This description, as did so many newspaper descriptions of 19th century criminals, probably emphasized features of the perp that would make him appear more sinister and dangerous. In reality, Sharbrough was a Civil War veteran, having been wounded in the leg during the war. Toward the end of the war, after surviving the horrific Battle of Franklin, TN, he was taken prisoner. From there he was sent to Louisville, KY then by January, according to fold3, on to Ft. Delaware, where he would have been incarcerated from January to June of 1865. A somewhat contradictory description of Sharbrough, from twelve years earlier, appears on his Oath of Allegiance upon his release from Ft. Delaware on June 14, 1865: “Place of residence Jasper Miss. Complexion light; hair dark Eyes grey; height 5 ft. 10 in. Remarks: Released June 14, 1865.” A note at the bottom of this document reads, “Name appears in Column of names as Geo A Sharbrough.”

It is likely that Allen knew G. A. Sharbrough very well. He was at Enterprise MS with the 8th Mississippi Regiment, Company D, at the same time Allen and Kenneth were deployed there. He must have fought in some of the same bloody battles as Allen, maybe more. Having no sound evidence of the root cause of his criminal behavior, we may speculate that, just as veterans today are sometimes afflicted with post traumatic stress syndrome, Civil War veterans must have been too and less likely to find treatment for it — even a decade later. Pain in his wounded leg may have driven him to drug dependency. Wiggins Flowers was by then a practicing physician and may have had those drugs at hand. Upon Sharbrough’s death he left a wife and children.

The murder of Allen’s father-in-law in 1877, widowed Mary Ann Sharbrough Flowers. Allen may have moved the family from Copiah County to the Cayuga property in Hinds County. According to the Federal Census of 1880, the Allen McKenzie family is living at Cayuga in Hinds County: Allen is forty-nine, wife Julia is thirty-seven, John Lafayette is thirteen, Annie is twelve, Mary Etta is eleven, Mattie is seven, Julia Flowers (Birdie) is four, and Hardy Duncan is two. Born the year of the 1880 census, Hugh Allen, youngest of Allen’s children, is not listed. This census also shows that Allen was born in North Carolina and Julia in Mississippi. It attests that both of Allen’s parents were of Scottish descent.

Julia McKenzie, Allen’s wife, would write many years later with gratitude that all of her children grew to adulthood. However, her two older sons would not reach their fortieth year and Hugh Allen would die at age sixty. By the 1900 Federal Census, Allen is sixty-nine, Julia is fifty-nine, Mattie is twenty-seven, Birdie is twenty-five, and Hugh Allen “Huey” is nineteen. The older children are not listed in the household. Allen is farming and Hugh Allen is working as a farm laborer. Mattie is a dressmaker and Birdie is in school. They are living in Hinds County Beat 3, Township 14 near Albert Stout, who is married to Mary Etta “Mamie” McKenzie; Albert and Mamie have children: Eliza Mae is eight, Ambrose L. is seven, Albert M. is five,Thomas H. is three, and Eunice B. is only three months. Albert and Mamies’ older children are at school and Ambrose is farming. Both Allen and Albert own their homes without mortgages. Annie is living in Utica, MS with her husband Charles Hubbard, Hardy Duncan is either attending business school in New Orleans or working as a merchant in Louisiana. John Lafayette, their firstborn, died in 1893.

A newspaper clipping of Cayuga news appearing in a Jackson newspaper in 1908 announces that Allen and Julia have recently returned from visiting their daughter Mamie Stout in Vicksburg. At some point after the 1908 clipping; Allen, Julia, and Birdie move to Warren County, Mississippi, where they are living in Vicksburg, likely on Farmer Street. Allen dies on January 22, 1910, only a few weeks after his son Hardy Duncan passes. Hardy Duncan dies in Vicksburg but has been living just across the Mississippi River in East Carol Parish, Louisiana operating a business. Hugh Allen travels to Louisiana to settle H.D.’s hand-written will in probate court. Though the illness that took both family members is unknown, the Vicksburg newspaper reports that Allen’s youngest son, Hugh Allen, is in from Louisiana and staying at a local hotel during the family illness and deaths. The Allen McKenzie family publishes a message of thanks for help and concern of neighbors in a March Hinds County newspaper after the January deaths. It is signed by Julia A., Birdie, and Hugh Allen.

Following this family tragedy, Hugh Allen helps his mother Julia buy a home at 1230 Second North Street, where she lives with her daughter Birdie until Julia’s death on August 1, 1934. The choice to stay in Warren County was probably precipitated by Mamie’s residence there as well as Julia’s sister Martha’s Flowers Lewis and family. Both Allen and Julia are buried in Hinds County at Cayuga Cemetery along with John Lafayette, Hardy Duncan, Mattie Hackler and her daughter Lucille (died in Paducah, KY), and Julia Flowers McKenzie “Birdie.” Julia’s parents, Hardy L. Flowers and Mary Ann Sharbrough and their son Wiggins, are also buried there as well as a few of Julia’s siblings.

Birdie lived until 1957, taking on boarders at the house on Second North Street from time to time. She worked as a seamstress at home. Her first cousin, Mary Lewis, boarded with her for about twenty years. During those years Mary Lewis worked as both a gift wrapper and a laundress. Birdie never married but enjoyed her brother Hugh Allen’s family who always seemed to be nearby. Following WWII Hugh Allen’s grown children Junius Ward and for a time Hardy Lee lived in Vicksburg. His son and namesake, Hugh Allen, Jr., lived in Vicksburg for a while and later located with his family to nearby Hinds County.

Mary Etta (Mamie) McKenzie Stout is buried in Cedar Hills Cemetery high on the hill a distance from Hugh Allen and his family but in the same cemetery. Annie McKenzie Hubbard, who was living an active life at age 96,  is buried with her family in Utica Cemetery. Allen’s daughter, Mattie, married Martin Hackler, who died in 1929. Martin and Mattie’s son Murray Alec Hackler, “Mike”, was working in Paducah, KY as a machinist in the busy Illinois Central Railroad Shop. Mattie and her grown daughter, Lucille, relocated to Paducah in the early nineteen-thirties, where the three resided until their deaths. Their first home there was an apartment on the 700 block of Jefferson Street where Mattie was step grandmother to Louise Lynn, whose mother, Lillian, had married Mike Hackler. Lucille worked at the Illinois Central Hospital in Paducah. Mattie died in 1946 at age seventy-four, Murray Alec in 1950 at age forty-six, and Lucille died in 1951 at forty-nine. Lillian provided the death certificate information at Lucille’s death. Both Mattie and Lucille were buried in the family burial plot at Cayuga, MS. Mike rests alone in the Maple Grove Cemetery in Paducah, not far from where he spent much of his adult life. His stepdaughter, Louise, gained local notoriety when she became one of the first group of military wives to be allowed to live in postwar occupied Japan with their husbands after WWII.

Allen’s youngest child, Hugh Allen “Huey” McKenzie, married Eddie Lou Lee of Canton, MS. Their children were Hardy Lee “HL”, Hugh Allen, Jr., Junius Ward “JW”, and Mae Louise, all buried at Cedar Hills Cemetery in Vicksburg with the exception of Hardy Lee, who is buried with his wife Edna Laminack in Greenlawn Memorial Gardens in Greenville, MS.  According to information dictated by JW McKenzie to his wife Emma Gene Haley, Hugh Allen, Sr.’s family had lived in a variety of places in and near Mississippi. Hugh Allen’s major work was farming, sometimes as a plantation supervisor. They lived in Panther Burn near Tribbett, MS when JW was born. In Rolling Fork they lived near the highway bridge on a high mound. The older boys enjoyed pushing JW down the hill in his baby buggy. Arcola, Mississippi; Alteimer, Arkansas; and Bourbon, Mississippi were other locations as well as New Gascony, Arkansas. The boys attended a private school at Lake Dick in Jefferson County, Arkansas.

In 1940 Huey died suddenly and the family relocated to Cleveland, MS, where Eddie Lou ran a boarding house. The three boys had been driving trucks and described driving through the Ozarks reportedly dropping cigarettes along the mountainous roads to a brother below. Despite the fact that the Prohibition amendment was not repealed officially in Mississippi until the 1960s, they hauled whiskey for their Uncle Johnny Lee, who had a store in Indianola, Mississippi. This trucking involved some risk. Once the truck was hijacked around Haiti, Missouri. Luckily, they were able to recover the empty truck the next day.

When WWII began the three brothers enlisted, each in a different branch of service: Hugh in the Army, HL in the Army Air Corps, and JW in the Marine Corps. All returned safely home at the end of the war, though this was a particularly trying time for Eddie Lou, having so recently lost her husband. The close family relationship is revealed in war letters home from JW and Hugh. After WWII and his recuperation at Charity Hospital from a tropical illness contracted during service in the South Pacific, JW first worked in construction but later became a member of the Vicksburg Police Department. His wife Emma Gene worked as a Registered Nurse. Middle brother Hugh Allen worked in road construction and at the same time became an astute and beloved horse trainer. His wife Joyce “Jackie” Haley worked for and retired from McRae’s Department Store. Hardy Lee became involved in Civil Defense activities, worked as a body shop mechanic, and later as an insurance appraiser and his wife Edna worked for the Bell Telephone Company as a switchboard operator. After retirement she indulged in her superb homemaking skills. Having served in the Army Air Corps, H.L. held a lifelong interest in aircraft. Mae Louise married Rex M. Anderson in the early nineteen-sixties, her second marriage. Mae Louise worked for a time alongside her mother and sister-in-law at the Vicksburg Infirmary. Rex and Louise Anderson had one child.

After Birdie’s death in July of 1957, JW renovated the house at 1230 Second North Street and moved in with his family in May of 1958. Moving day for me consisted of walking multiple loads of my possessions three houses down the street. Our family had lived at 1206, with my grandmother since about 1951. We lived joyfully and gratefully in “Aunt Birdie’s House” until 1968 when it was sold. Two of JW’s children currently reside in Vicksburg with their families. HL and his wife Edna Laminack lived in Vicksburg on Harrison Street before moving in the early sixties to Greenville, MS where they lived happily on Garden Drive until their deaths. Their daughter, who lived in Greenville for most of her life, resides today in Knoxville, Tennessee near her daughter and family. Hugh and his wife, Jackie Haley, and son lived in Jackson, Hinds County. Hugh passed in 1966 and Jackie in 2018. Hugh Allen, Jr.’s son remains in Hinds County with his family. His mother Jackie is also buried in Cayuga Cemetery. He has purchased burial plots in this cemetery and repaired Aunt Birdie’s headstone, ensuring the care of the cemetery, where his great grandfather Allen rests, for years to come.

I never knew my grandfather Hugh Allen but treasured two books given first to his daughter, Mae Louise, and then passed to me: The Story of the Trojan Horse and a book of Alfred Lord Tennyson poems appealing to children. My grandmother Eddie Lou McKenzie would, on some years, recall her husband’s death on Christmas Day of 1940. At those times she never quite enjoyed the holiday as much as the rest of us, though she threw herself into preparing excellent family dinners and a joyous gathering – always for her grandchildren.

The following are excerpts from letters written by the Duncan and Barbara McKenzie family to Barbara’s brother Duncan McLaurin in Laurel Hill, Richmond County, NC. The excerpts contain insights into the life of Allen McKenzie. According to his brothers, Allen wrote letters, but none of the letters he may have written to his Uncle Duncan have survived in the Duncan McLaurin Papers.

Quotations from letters referencing Allen McKenzie

1838-3DMcKDMcL – Danl has once more commenced the study of Latin under the instruction of a Mr Strong late principal of the Clinton Academy Hinds Co. Mi Joshua White and others of the neighborhood Succeeded in getting a school for Strong in 4 miles of me I procurd  a pony for Danl to ride, he is in class with Lachlin youngest Sone of Danl McLaurin and Brother to Dr Hugh Fayetteville of your acquaintance of yours ——– Danl tho 3 years from that study appears to have retained it tollerable well — Malcolm Carmichael, Squire Johns sone has a small school near my house Dunk Allan and Johny are going to him, he Malcolm came here early in January and took a small school worth say $20 per month —

1840-4DMcKDMcL – We have a school in our neighborhood taught by a Mr. Jones from Philadelphia, he is not a much learnd man but in reality he brings the children on the best and fastest of any teacher that I have seen, Allan reads well and writes a very fair hand for a boy of his age, John Boy will ere long be able to write you a letter he fancys he has seen you ——– Yours Duncan McKenzie

1841-6DMcKDMcL     I think Danl and myself will get through the corn in another week Allan and the two oldest of the black children are going a little after us we leave it perfectly clean, and Johny,, is Sowin pease ahead of the plows he Johny,, pains to know as much about his Uncle Duncan and Carolina as anyone on the place ———— Norman Camerons school is out he only engaged to teach three months he is as yet in the neighborhood also his brother John who has been Sick of chilling fevers, Peter has a school in Jones County he has also been sick of chills and fevers, I wish I could keep Norman as a teacher in our neighborhood, and perhaps the few remarks made in your letter may keep him

1842-12DMcKDMcL   The times are hard as to money but the boys will have their fun they have just come in from a swamp drive in which they caught a large wild boar the dogs captured him with ease

1845-3DMcKDMcL     In the next place Hugh, Dunk, Allan and the rest of us were busily engaged in getting off the cotton and finishing ginning this being done by the 8th Feby then preparation for the crop was necessary this being in progress and advancing    One day when we were busily engaged in log rooling your old Friend judge Duncan McLaurin came I was not surprised at seeing him as he is in the habit of visiting us occasionally but in the course of some time the old man remarked that he must now tell his business which was that he had come after one of the boys I told him they were scarce enough for myself now but the judge insisted I finally told him that there they were on which he turnd his address to Hugh who bluffd him at once he then addressd Dunk who askd him what he proposed giving the judge told him he could not promise him money but would give him eight Bales cotton on which they agreed Dunk will no doubt have a hard task to keep between 45 to 50 hands at work this the old man told me that he and his sone John would help Dunk all they could — Kenneth and Dunk being out of the crop Hugh Allan and the ballance of the folks will be at least busily engaged, we do not intend planting cotton this year but will try to make a bountiful crop of corn at least we will plant plentifully this will enable Hugh to devote some time to waggoning it being his favorite occupation and one by which he can make more than at anything else in the same length of

time

1846-2DMcKDMcL    on reaching home the boys were burning the bricks they made last fall the bricks being burnt I became head carryer to an old brick mason who has put up … of the chimneys and has the other in fair progress the boys are progressing slowly preparing for the coming crop

1847-9KennethMcKDMcL – tell Uncle John that I shot Daniels Spaniard gun and Duncans shot beat Buchannan I beat him I believe I am the best shot Allen killed a fine buck a few weeks since and a few days ago he killed a turkey over 200 yards then with gun

1849-5KennethMcKDMcL    Daniel is teaching school, stays at home, profitable business a great deal moreso than farming Duncan has taken to the farm and Allen they are able and strong plenty Hugh was down on the Bay of St. Louis tho now at home, he made some money, he thinks to return soon I am at nothing much yet what perhaps I am best fit for John is working away in the crop I had the blues like the D — C

1851-4KennethMcKDMcL     Daniel is teaching school has a tolerable good one I believe Mother enjoys perhaps better health than usual tho age and cares have left indelible marks on her general features John is grown weighs near as much as I do Daniel is the smallest of the tribe Allen is the largest strongest and swiftest.

1855-4KMcKDMcL  It is in anticipation of a painful future that I write this so soon after a letter written a short time since Mother is declining fast and from present appearances must soon be no more.her words are generally inarticulate. The sore on her mouth is progressing rapidly she is verry low, Miss Barbara Stewart was staying with her but went home to prepare for Presbytery held at Zion Seminary and has not returned since. John stays with her constantly using every effort to soothe her suffering Neighbors are generally kind in visiting — (Death of Barbara McLaurin McKenzie, Allen’s mother)

1856-12KMcKDMcL   By the solicitations of Allen and John and in compliance with the spirit of my own feelings I in response take my pen as the most interesting part of relatives letters is the intelligence of the condition of health I can say the family are all well Daniel not being heard from within the last week as perhaps you have learned lives in Rauleigh in an adjoining county was also well a few days ago… It being more expensive to keep two houses than one, the family consisting of the farming portions of the McKenzies, have moved together where I expect our house will be the home of all until a separation will take place by a marriage of some number of the family or until death will suspend terrestrial action.

1857-9KMcKDMcL     Allen is working at the saddlers trade with a young man named Isler giving him a decided advantage over him by giving him half the profit of their labour Isler is a good workman and an agreeable man, and Allen knew but little about work of that kind

1857-11KMcKDMcL     I have sold some land I was in need of some active capital to enable me to meet the demands and enable me to have a surplus to catch tricks with tho not enough to catch many if I go to Mexico I shall carry perhaps a thousand dollars which according to the statement of Morgan and Jesse Lott will buy from sixty to 75 horses or perhaps 100 head … This sheet appears soiled this morning I was at the lot gate looking at some sows and pigs all in peace and harmony when Allen came there and said that I had to gather up my ponies and leave a damned loafer I made him some evasive and perhaps insulting answer when he caught me by the hair and struck me several blows before I could extricate myself from him I have given him no reason for this abuse … I shall have him arrested I will not be treated in any such manner by him or any one else.

1858-3DMcKuncleDMcL    we are all at home this year that is Hugh, Allen, John, myself Kenneth is at work at the carpentering business how long he will continue I cant say I expect you have heard about the trouble he gave to Daniel in setting up the estate which is now wound up or nearly so — Daniel is living in Raleigh Smith County where he has been for some time, but is now living to himself keeping House I have seen him and Sarah his wife several times Since they were married and am glad to say when I get there I feel that I have as near a sister as I could have in a brothers wife there are a large conexion of the Blackwell family …  we have ofered our land for sale last winter at about $4 per acre there is about 960 acres in all but did not find any purchasers our land here is good enough and enough of it for us yet for some time but we cannot divide it agreeable if we can sell our land here we can get new land at a reasonable price in Smith County Daniel is very anxious for us to sell here and buy in Smith he has land enough for all of us for a while he bought 600 acres last fall for 2300 dollars and could sell it now for 3000 … I expect to go in a few days to New Orleans where I have never been yet, we are carrying on a sadler shop which gives us trouble to collect the material to work and we cannot get it here in the country and by going there I can get such things as we need at low rates

1858-5-16DMcKuncleDMcL    Allen got very badly hurt yesterday we were very busy in the field and Allen went to mill with the wagon and two yoke of oxen it was warm and the oxen contrary and fretful run the wheel over a log he was seting up on the sloop and fell off I fear fractured his hip joint he canot walk nor stand only on one foot,

1858-7DMcKuncleDMcL     Allen has got over his fall from the wagon I believe I told you how it happened

1859-9HughLMcKDMcL    We shall be hard pressed for money this winter owing to the high price of corn during the summer but if the price of cotton keeps up I think perhaps we can get through without much difficulty if we try, Daniel and Dunk trade too much and are both bad hands to collect, I will not trade on a credit nor collect for them if they never collect anything that is due them The country is generaly healthy consequently Daniel does very little practice although he done $5000 worth last year …  We have five hundred and fifty acres beside 94 that Daniel owns individually I will send you the plot of it there is about 40 acres in the hills the rest is all in Leaf River Swamp and not five acres but may be cultivated with very little draining we have about 50 acres cut and piled since we finished laying bye our crop that with the 40 acres that we cleared last spring is enough of open land for Daniel and Dunk the neighbors say they will never give Allen John and myself an equal interest with them in the place how they know I know not but time will determine the correctness of their Prophecy the Title was made to them by Damron. Say nothing about this land matter if anything is wrong I shall inform you

1859-12HughLMcKDMcL   Daniels little boy has been verry low with Typhoid Numonia but has nearly recovered his usual health … We have bought the place Taylorville from Daniel and his father in law for which we gave $5.00.00 It contains 2 acres of land a large and good store house grocery lot and stables cribs we then invoyesed the goods at New orleans cost for $2200,00 and I am now selling goods we have bought in Mobile $2000 00 worth more making in all over $4000 worth of goods and I am selling over $ 50 00 worth per day, how long it will I know not if it does last and we can collect we can make money … If Daniel and his wife is lucky there will be another added to their family shortly, and not long after that time Dunk may look for some additions in his family … Day after tomorrow John will find his lost rib in the person of a Miss Susan Duckworth and sister to Dunks wife I think though she is poor, John does very well, they Dunks wife and Johns intended has done all they could for Allen and myself, but it is no go I cannot marry any woman that will marry me because she can do no better how Allens case is I know not I think the same

1860-1KMcKDMcL    John is married to a sister of Duncans wife, your nephews are marrying smartly, Hugh Allen and myself still holds on I do not know how it is with Hugh and Allen tho as for myself my future is hidden in obliviousness

1860-8DMcKuncleDMcL      Daniels widow and children are well and bear their loss with Christian fortitude, I have been at her place but twice since Daniels death, Sarah came home with me and staid with us near two weeks and apeared to be verry cheerful, Allen has been living at Raleigh Since we moved to Smith Co he has a trade if you have heard he is a Sadler he has been at that business for four years and makes some money at it, Sarah has ample means to support her self and children with a little atention of her friends, Daniels business was very much scatered owing to his profession he never would push a settlement with any man and consequently he has many long standing claims tho mostly on good men … August the 25th On Sunday the 26th Rev A R Graves will preach the funeral of our deceased Brother at Raleigh which is 16 miles from Taylorsville I and probably all the family will be there, Parson Graves preached mothers funeral as I expect you heard

1861-9DMcKuncleDMcL    Allen and Kenneth is at Enterprise on the Mobile and Ohio RR about fifty miles from here and was on last accounts well with their friends from Smith County all generally well except the measles a greater portion of them have had before they left Home if the mail brings any news I will write again

1861-10DMcKuncleDMcL   I have just received a letter from Allen he says he is well but there is considerable sickness in the army where he is measles and camp fever is the disease which prey upon the poor soldiers mostly, it appears there is a scarcity of arms in this state particularly the Brigade which Allen is a member of has been in camps two months and they have not a single gun yet altho they have some knives Swords and pistols which was on hand and have been made by their friends and given to them, which I myself have made about fifteen good available knives and finished them of which cases Belts and c and given them to the soldiers others who could make has given or sold to them also, I write with ink which Martha made me out of some berries Shoe make berries I believe it does not write good

1861-10KMcKDMcL   I have for some time anticipated writing to you but an opportunity equal with the present not offering I have deferred to the present having embarked on the 30th day of July last as a private in a Company called True Confederates, and since the Regiment has been organized designated by the letter D which takes the 3rd position from Company A or the head of the regiment company B or the 2nd company take the extreme left, Company C the right Center and Company D the position on the right wing, the Brigade was formed and transferred on the 18th Inst to the Confederate Service containing near 1800 men of whom Eight have died Since the time of our encampment here, the measles have Scourged the citizen Soldiery heavily but all are now on the recovery, tho some linger yet, Allen and myself are well and have been with that exception incidental to a change into Camp life both of us having had measles years ago …  Allen is a Lieutenant in Company A in the same Regiment that I am

1862-2DMcKuncleDMcL     I am agent for the Yankee Terrors the company which Allen is in from the begining and now Kenneth has a transfer from the true confederates to the same company and I am also the agent for the Destitute wives of Volunteers comissioned by the Board Police which is a great trouble and not much profit to me or in fact I do know what alowance will be made for my services be it much or litle I think it a duty which some one has to attend to and I had as well do it as any one else there is a good many in this county women and children who are in a destitute condition as to Eatables and they must be suplied with enough to sustain life the legislature has thought proper to assess and colect 30 per cent on the state and county tax for the purpose of supporting the destitute women and children

1862-7DMcKuncleDMcL   it appears that Miss, is a subject for the Yankees to prey upon or has been for some time past and even now they are in large numbers on the Miss, River congregating in the vicinity of Vicksburg I am afraid to hear from them for fear that they will have to surrender the hill city of Mississippi to the vandal Hordes of Lincolns Hirlings there was great preparations making and made to defend the place and I really hope it will be done to the destruction of every house and everything else valuable on the soil of Mississippi John and Allen is both there I suppose from what I hear John joined a company some time since and was stationed at Meridian Miss, on the Mobile and Ohio RR about 65 miles from home, Allen has been in the service since last August and his time being near out he thot he would be beter satisfied to be in the same company with John and at the reorganization of the company he would not suffer his name to be run for the office which he held, it being third lieutenant, he got a dismissal and came home and remained a short time and went to the company which John was in as a privateI heard yesterday the regiment had left Meridian and gone to Vicksburg we will hear in a day or two the certainty of it

1862-7JMcKDMcLVburg     I got a letter from home a few days ago all were well Hugh Dunk and Allen are at home Kenneth is in Alabama near Pollard which is on the state line between Ala and Fla I heard from him a few days ago he was well, we are stationed five miles north East of Vicksburg

1863-1DMcKuncleDMcL     Allen was not verry well when last heard from on the 3rd Just after the Battle of Murfreesboro Tenn he was not in the fight owing to ill health his company were engaged and out of 35 men who went into the fight there were five killed and seventeen wounded, and of the 8th miss Reg 244 men went into the fight there was 25 killed and 121 wounded Some of them seriously and some slight, the Col which was a gentleman and well beliked in the Regiment was also wounded and I hear since dead He was the son of old Allen Wilkinson I think of your state

1863-5DMcKuncleDMcL      I received letters from Allen yesterday of different dates the latest was expecting some lively times in that quarter before many days he wrote from Tullahoma Ten

1864-6DMcKuncleDMcL    we received a letter from Hugh a few days since he wrote from Blue Mountain in north Alabama he is in a cavalry Regiment he was well when he wrote but knew nothing of the fight at Aalton (Altoona) or Richmond only they were fighting I wish to hear from Allen and John and I fear we will hear bad news from some of the boys, may the kind ruler of the universe protect them and save them in Eternity

1866-9DunkMcKDMcL    Allen returned home from the war worn down by hardships and ill health to almost a mere skeleton, but has married since the surrender and has a fine boy two months old he is living about 12 miles distant from me, he is carrying on his trade as Sadler and Harness Maker also has an interest in his father in law’s farm.

1867-2DMcKuncleDMcL     Allen and I have been separate with our interest about 14 months or nearly so and on making a final settlement on the 1st day of March we agreed to blend our little concerns again together and try our luck as here to fore as we have passed the best and happiest and youthful days together and have succeeded in making an honest living we have, thot, we still could do so, it is a pleasure for me to think that our fathers estate was subject and in my hands from the time of his death which has been twenty years and twenty-five days and when a brother wishes to draw out he was satisfied with my account, you know the number in family at first and last, and as there is only myself and Allan who can see each other we will live nearby again, I should have excepted K as he is odd and not like the others I hope he, K, will do well and do beter than to return to Mississippi, if Kenneth would do like a brethren should do, I would like to see him but I know him so well that the feeling which should always be in a Brothers Bosom vanishes from his verry often he has always claimed after an arbitration a balance portion of all other effects which was left.

1867-4DMcKuncleDMcL       Allen received a letter from Kenneth a short time since which I have not seen but suppose he, K, is not doing very well he stated he is out of money and out of employment but he is young with a young wife consequently he need not fear as all young people has to make a beginning and now is his time for Honey Moon, he will live on the interest of his lawsuits if he could be his own Judge Court and Jury he would yet be vastly rich, but it would have to come very fast, or it would be spent as fast as gained

Letters written from Mississippi to Duncan McLaurin in Richmond County, NC. Boxes 1 and 2. Duncan McLaurin Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscripts Library, Duke University. Transcribed by Betty McKenzie Lane.

Other Sources:

“A Card of Thanks.” Hinds County Gazette. Raymond, MS. 4 March 1910, Friday. 2. Accessed 5 March 2017. newspapers.com.

Allen McKenzie and Julia Flowers Marriage Certificate. 25 June 1865.

“Application for Pension: Allen McKenzie by Julia A. Flowers McKenzie.” Form #3a. Mississippi Office of the State Auditor Series 1201: Confederate Pension Applications, 1889-1932. Mississippi Department of Archives and History. 243, 244, 246.

Bridges, Myrtle N. Estate Records 1772-1933 Richmond County North Carolina. Hardy-Meekins. Book II. “Effy McLaurin will – October 1861. Brandon, MS Genealogy Room.

Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Mississippi. NARA M269. National Archives 586957. Record Group 109. Roll 0171. Eighth Infantry, L-O. Allen McKenzie. 29. 1861. Accessed 23 May 2016. https://www.fold3.com/image/72253862, 72253865, 72253868, 72253871, 72253875, 72253878, 72253881, 72253889, 72253892, 72253895, 72253897, 72253900, 72253903, 72253906, 72253908, 72253911, 72253915, 72253924, 72253927, 72253930, 72253934, 72253938. George Augusta Sharbrough 70190409, 70190340, 70190361.

“Cayuga.” Hinds County Gazette. Raymond, MS. 19 June 1908, Friday. 5. Accessed 31 May 2017. newspapers.com.

County Tax Rolls, 1818-1902, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, accessed June 20, 2017, http://www.mdah.ms.gov/arrec/digital_archives/taxrolls/

“Eighth Regiment, Mississippi Infantry.” Family Search Wiki. https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/8th_Regiment,_Mississippi_Infantry. Accessed 25 August 2019. Updated 1 September 2018.

Faust, Patricia L. ed. et. al. “Gorgas, Josiah.” Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War. Harper Perennial. 1986. 316.

Graham, David. “History of the 8th Mississippi Infantry Regiment.” 2008-2019. Wikitree. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:8th_Mississippi_Infantry_Regiment. Accessed 26 August 2019.

“Hardy L. Flowers’ Murderer Escapes.” “Proclamation.” The Clarion Ledger. Jackson, Mississippi. 28 March 1877, Wednesday. 4. Accessed 16 September 2017. newspapers.com.

Howell, H. Grady, Jr. For Dixie Land I’ll Take My Stand!: A Muster Listing of All Known Mississippi Confederate Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines. [Madison, Miss]: Chickasaw Bayou Press, 1998.

Landin, Mary Collins. “Cayuga Cemetery” and “Bethesda Presbyterian Church Cemetery.” The Old Cemeteries of Hinds County, Mississippi From 1811 to the Present. Hinds History Books: Utica, MS. 1988. 186-192.

Johnson, Robert Underwood. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War: Retreat with Honor Vol IV. Castle: Secaucus, NJ. 1889. 290. “The Struggle for Atlanta.” 293-344.

McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. Oxford University Press: New York. 1988. 319.

“Murder of Hardy L. and Wiggins Flowers.” The Yazoo Herald. Yazoo City, MS. 2 Feb 1877, Friday. 2. Accessed 21 July 2019. newspapers.com.

National Park Service. U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007. Original data: National Park Service, Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, online <>, acquired 2007. Year: 1850; Census Place: Covington, Mississippi; Roll: M432_371; Page: 309B; Image: 207. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&db=1850usfedcenancestry&h=3391941.

“Ninety-six Years Young.” Clarion-Ledger. Jackson, MS. 17 March 1964, Tuesday. 14. Accessed 3 June 2017. newspapers.com.

“Overview: Horse equipment in the Civil War.” confederatesaddles.com. Updated 13 January 2018. Accessed 12 September 2019.

“Penalties For Desertion.” Confederate Veteran. Volume II. 1894. 235.

United States Federal Census. Year: 1850; Census Place: Covington, Mississippi; Roll: M432_371; Page: 309B; Image: 207. Allen McKenzie

United States Federal Census. Year: 1860; Census Place: Smith, Mississippi; Roll: M653_591; Page: 353; Family History Library Film: 803591. Allen McKenzie

U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918 for Allen McKenzie. ancestry.com. U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: Records of the Internal Revenue Service. Record Group 58. The National Archives at Washington, DC.

Sheehan-Dean, Aaron. Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War. Oxford University Press: New York. 2009. 66-67.

Sifakis, Stewart. Compendium of the Confederate Armies. FactsOnFile. “160. Mississippi 8th Regiment Infantry.” Index of soldier’s rank, regiment, and company.

Thayer, Bill. “Atlanta Arsenal: History.” Last modified by John Stanton 16 April 2019. Accessed 12 September 2019. http://www.fortwiki.com/Atlanta_Arsenal.

United States Federal Census. Year: 1870; Census Place: Townships 1 and 2 west of RR, Copiah Mississippi; Roll: M593_727; Page: 212A; Family History Library Film: 552226. Allen McKenzie.

United States Federal Census. Year: 1880; Census Place: Cayuga, Hinds, Mississippi; Roll: 648; Page: 255B; Enumeration District: 010. Allen McKenzie.

United States Federal Census. Year: 1900; Census Place: Beat 3, Hinds, Mississippi; Page: 16; Enumeration District: 0064; FHL microfilm: 1240809. Allen McKenzie

U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1929. Ancestry.com.U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2011. Julia McKenzie (wid Allen) h1230 2d N.

Wert, Jeffry D. “Arming the Confederacy.” Historynet. accessed 25 August 2019. https://www.historynet.com/arming-the-confederacy.htm. Originally published in the January 2007 issue of Civil War Times.

Year: 1860; Census Place: Smith, Mississippi; Roll: M653_591; Page: 353; Family History Library Film: 803591. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll? indiv=1&db=1860usfedcenancestry&h=38861910.

Hugh McKenzie: Kind in His Family and to His Friends

Hugh L. McKenzie (1822-1866)

4c Carting Cotton Bales
“Hauling Cotton to the River,” from Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, March 1854. Vol. 8 Issue 46. p. 460

Hugh McKenzie can be imagined as a kind, sure, and calm man, perhaps as “unobtrusive” as his spinster Aunt Mary McLaurin – possibly a family trait, for the word is inscribed on Mary’s tombstone in Stewartsville Cemetery. Early in life Hugh engaged in driving a wagon, perhaps a large flatbed wagon, stacked with 400 to 500 pound cotton bales. Hugh may have sat atop these bales or they may have towered behind the youth as he sat on the buckboard. Alone under a canopy of night stars with only the mules for immediate companionship on his long journeys, the sense of solitude and escape from his daily farming routine must have been stunning. Perhaps he felt, at first at least, that this was an improvement over the back-breaking farm labor he had done for most of his life.

He was a boy of eleven in 1833 when the family arrived in Covington County, MS after a forty-five day journey from Richmond County, NC. Hugh was old enough to have significant responsibilities on the farm. Though times were hard the boys enjoyed running free in the dwindling old growth forests, hunting for wild critters like the boar and bear and panther that would soon disappear from the Mississippi landscape. At sixteen when he makes his first “waggoning” run to Mobile he is likely among a small caravan of wagons with other drivers from the Covington County area: young Duncan McLaurin, son of Daniel McLaurin, and a Mr. Lee. Meanwhile an anxious Duncan and Barbara McKenzie await their son’s return. Though  encountering unsavory characters on the road was likely a justified concern, and inclement weather an unpredictable hazard, they need not have worried so much in the case of Hugh’s sense of responsibility, for he was probably as steady and grounded a young man as any one of their six sons would be.

DraymenOilPants1860
Perhaps some sort of weather protection was around during the 1840s and 1850s when Hugh enjoyed his occupation as drayman, hauling baled cotton to distant markets. This advertisement appeared in the Vicksburg Daily Whig 4 January 1860.

On this first trip from Covington County, MS to Mobile, Alabama to haul a neighbor’s cotton, he would have absorbed unfamiliar surroundings. The bustle  of a large port city must have been thrilling for the youth, perhaps posing temptations, but leaving him with a sense of accomplishment to have fulfilled such a significant task. Duncan McKenzie, Hugh’s father, is at first proud that his son has taken an interest in this occupation but later worries that it is not safe. Often he could be found riding out to meet the wagon on the return route. Their Covington County home was not ten miles from the Williamsburg court house, which was right on the Mobile road . After Hugh’s first successful trip as a drayman, Duncan says he will allow Hugh to go on a waggoning trip once a year if he likes it. He did. Though still residing with his parents, Hugh would be at times away from the farm, driving wagons as far as Covington, LA near New Orleans.

Hugh’s father describes the first waggoning trip: “the load that Hugh took to Mobile was not ours, he took it for Old Danl McLaurin on freight, … I would prefer selling in the seed and taking freight of the land to go down and get our supplies of groceries and all heavy articles.” He specifies the goods they were able to procure for the return trip: “all are well Their cotton sold at 13 cts They gave 25 per sack for salt 11 1/2 cts for sugar, 18 cts for coffee, 8 cts for grain Hugh likes waggoning very well.”  By 1842 Duncan says of  his son’s wagon trips: “Hugh is now from home and is expected to return to night from Covington Louisiana whither he went with the 3rd load of cotton this fall the distance is about 100 miles he will require to go at least three more before all is sent off thus you find he will necessaryly travil 1200 miles in hawling off say the amount of 30 bales of cotton.” Duncan laments that the family has not profited well in the current economic climate by making cotton their primary crop. Though Hugh’s labor is probably missed considerably on the farm, their father describes his sons Daniel and Hugh as the worst cotton pickers in the labor force, picking only about one hundred pounds a day.

Hugh L. McKenzie was born in 1822 in Richmond County, North Carolina to Duncan McKenzie and Barbara McLaurin McKenzie, both twenty-nine. When he was born the family was farming there. After migrating to Covington County, MS, they paid a dollar in property taxes, sharing rent for land adjacent to Allan Stewart’s farm with Allan Johnson and Duncan McBryde. They moved onto cleared land, though their shelter was probably an early yeoman farmer house on stilts for which they may or may not have had a chimney. In a later home on nearby purchased property, they would need to bake their own bricks to provide an indoor chimney for cooking. By 1838 Hugh’s father had accrued property at Dry Creek near Williamsburg, enough to have paid one dollar and eighty-two cents in taxes, and in 1841 owned six hundred and forty dollars worth of land at Dry Creek. Son Hugh owned one hundred and twenty acres worth one hundred and sixty-three dollars on the Bowie River for which he paid ninety cents in taxes. His father writes that he has given the responsibility of making a tract of land productive to his oldest two sons, Hugh and Kenneth.  The family is listed as owning eight slaves by 1846, though the tax rolls show the family owning none in 1833, when they arrived in Covington County. However, an impression from the correspondence is that one enslaved person may have traveled with the family. It is possible a number of people for slave labor were purchased very soon from North Carolina, as John McLaurin writes of a contingent of slaves being taken west to Mississippi. In addition, Duncan McKenzie reports back to Duncan McLaurin in a letter that a particular enslaved person has defied her reputation and given him no trouble. Likely it was more advantageous to a small farmer to know the background of the people with whom the family would be working very closely on the farm.

By the Federal Census of 1850, Hugh’s father had died (1847 of typhus), but Hugh was still living with his mother, who is listed as head of the household. He was twenty-eight years old and working as a farmer. The value of Barbara McKenzie’s property was one thousand two hundred and seventy dollars. With the death of Barbara in 1855, the fabric that had held the brothers in a shared farming relationship probably began to fray. It would be only natural that the brothers would eventually create families of their own. However, their prosperity had always depended on each other as part of the workforce on a farm. A few years later Hugh’s brother Daniel married Sarah Blackwell of Smith County. Daniel, having his own income from years of teaching, owns property there. He encourages his brothers to leave the Covington County farm and purchase in Smith County. They do. Since their father’s death, any attempt to settle up a division of property interests on the Covington County farm has met with difficulty, so an alternative would have been to sell their father’s farm. Hugh writes the following in December of 1859 to his Uncle Duncan McLaurin in North Carolina:

We have bought the place Taylorville

from Daniel and his father in law (John Blackwell) for

which we gave $5.00.00 It contains 2 acres of land

a large and good store house grocery lot and

stables cribs we then invoyesed the goods at

New orleans cost for $2200,00 and I am now

selling goods we have bought in Mobile

$2000 00 worth more making in all over

$4000 worth of goods and I am selling over

$ 50 00 worth per day, how long it will

I know not if it does last and we can

collect we can make money … — Hugh McKenzie

On the verge of the the cataclysm that would change everything for Hugh and his family, the Civil War, the 1860 census shows H L, Hugh, at thirty-seven years old. He is working as a merchant in Smith County. His real estate is worth two thousand dollars and his personal estate worth two thousand five hundred. The records reveal Hugh is part of a large household that of his younger brother Duncan, listed in the census as a farmer. The household includes also Duncan’s wife Martha Ann Duckworth McKenzie and their four month old daughter Barbara Elizabeth, known as Bettie. Also in the household are listed younger brother John, twenty-seven and farming as well as his wife, sixteen-year-old Susan Duckworth McKenzie. Another household member is twenty-four-year old Malvary Johnson from Alabama working as a farm laborer. At some point after this census, Hugh also marries into the Duckworth family and sets up his own household. He marries Sarah, Martha’s sister, who already has three children from a previous marriage: R. C., Susan, and Laura Keyes or Keys. What must have been a short time before his marriage, he writes in 1859 regarding the marriage of his youngest brother, John:

Day after tomorrow John will

find his lost rib in the person of a

Miss Susan Duckworth and sister to Dunks

wife I think though she is poor, John

does very well, they Dunks wife and

Johns intended has done all they could

for Allen and myself, but it is no go

I cannot marry any woman that will marry

me because she can do no better

how Allens case is I know not I think the same — Hugh McKenzie

Evidently, it did not take much time for Hugh to change his mind. He and Sarah were probably married by 1862 because he is the father of three children born during the Civil War: Mollie C., James C. and Daniel F. McKenzie.

Hugh was literate thanks to his North Carolina teacher Uncle Duncan McLaurin. In adulthood, Hugh pens a number of the letters in the Duncan McLaurin collection. When he becomes a merchant in 1859 from Smith County, he writes his Uncle Duncan a revealing letter describing the store. He is a merchant before he marries and is lamenting his lonely life, except when the business of the store draws a congregation of local people, likely most of them male. Merchandizing allows him a great deal of social contact that he seems to find rewarding in a job that could often be solitary. It is possible that due to his quiet nature Hugh did a great deal of listening when customers congregated at the store. Having been raised by parents who did not tolerate alcoholic beverages, he may not have sold them at his store or done much drinking himself, though his customers might have. The following account from a letter written to his uncle in 1859 may or may not have happened at or near his store. He surely heard the story there:

Sometimes I feel lonesome

by myself then crowds come in

and keep me all day from my dinner

and sometimes late in the night

We have some fighting a Mr.

Powers a member of the Presbyterian

Church loaded a pistol and said he

intended to kill a Mr. Little Powers

went to Little and told him if he would

come out of the house he would beat

him to death Little came out and

powers drew the pistol and shot at Little

but missed Little picked up a sick (stick)

and began beating Powers

and Powers running until L beat him

to the ground Powers is badly hurt

and Littles ear is powder burnt

some booth are respectable men — Hugh McKenizie

War loomed on the horizon and none of their lives would ever be the same. Hugh’s brothers John, Allen, and Kenneth all joined infantry regiments from Smith County during the Civil War. Hugh, according to his own account and his brother Dunk’s, served as Captain in a Cavalry Unit that was not called into action until around the time of the Siege of Vicksburg. H. L. McKenzie is listed in a database of Civil War Soldiers with the 12th Mississippi Cavalry Regiment, Company H. He enters as a private and ranks out as a sergeant. In September of 1863, Hugh writes, “I must take my chances with the rest or take the bushes with the deserters which I do not expect to do for a while.” Dunk remains on the farm for the duration of the Civil War, serving as Postmaster. The Postmaster position likely kept Duncan from conscription, since owning less than twenty slaves rendered you subject to conscription by the Confederate Army. At home Dunk would have to deal with Confederate deserters hiding out in the woods very near his Leaf River farm but in Jones County. They would steal his cotton cards and burn his newly built bridge.  At the outbreak of the war, the family had become more successful and may have purchased more than the original eight slaves their father owned in the 1840s. Still they would have been yeoman farmer status, and may have been expanding their farm or labor force on credit. After the Civil War ended, Hugh intended to leave Mississippi with his family and migrate to Texas, where some of his wife’s Duckworth relatives had migrated. However, he would never leave.

Perhaps he stayed after his own health began to deteriorate. His brother Duncan writes in 1866 that Hugh is doing very well. Possibly Hugh’s health had been compromised by the extreme deprivations endured by soldiers on the battlefields of the Civil War. Duncan could not have foreseen that his brother would be dead before the year was out. Hugh died on the 14th of December 1866 of typhoid fever leaving Sarah Duckworth McKenzie a widow for the second time but with six children now. Her three oldest children are from a previous marriage. According to the 1870 Federal Census, the rest of Hugh’s family is surviving. Sarah is thirty-seven and has personal property worth four hundred dollars. She is head of the household in Jasper County, MS, which includes “Robert C – 17, Susan – 15, Laura – 12, Mollie – 8, James C – 6, and Ella – 4”. Sarah has no other occupation listed other than keeping house, which was probably the employment status of many war widows. She lives near her younger sister, Susan, the widow of John McKenzie, Hugh’s youngest brother. Susan is also keeping house with personal property worth three hundred dollars. Susan lives with her three children: “Daniel – 10, John Duncan – 8, and Allen – 6”. A decade later according to the 1880 Census, Hugh’s widow Sarah continues to live in Jasper County with all of her children except Susan, who has likely married.

On the cusp of war in 1860 the forty-nine year old father of Martha, Sarah, and Susan McKenzie, R C (Robert Cooper) Duckworth, lived in neighboring Jasper County with his forty-seven year old wife Elizabeth. The Duckworth household also included Benjamin, twenty-three; Elizabeth, fourteen; Robert G, twelve; Wilson, ten;  and Joseph, six. R. C. Duckworth farmed with real estate worth one thousand eight hundred dollars and personal property worth seven thousand dollars. His son Benjamin worked as a clerk. Duckworth and his wife had migrated much earlier from South Carolina to Mississippi with a large contingent of relatives. Robert Duckworth would die during the siege of Vicksburg and another son, Cooper, would be killed at Missionary Ridge, GA. Benjamin would be wounded at Vicksburg but recover. John McKenzie recovers from the typhoid fever he suffers while at Vicksburg during the siege but is captured at Nashville in 1864 and died at POW Camp Chase in Ohio. After the war R.C. Duckworth writes to a nephew in Bastrop, Texas, describing the family losses during the war: “Hugh McKenzie Married Sarah Margaret, and Died in Dec. after the Surrender, leaving Both the girls (Susan and Sarah) widows and the children on my hands there was property enough to have Supported them Hansomely if they could have retained it .”

Hugh and Sarah’s son James Cooper McKenzie, born in 1863, married Ella Josephine Wilson b. 1875. James Iived out his life in Jasper County, where he was working as a farmer in 1900. He died in 1906 and was buried in Bay Springs, MS Cemetery. James Cooper and Ella had five children: Bernice was born in 1896, James L. in 1899, William Oma in 1901, Grace T in 1903, and James C in 1905. James C. McKenzie’s widow Ella McKenzie married James A. Erwin to whom were born three children.

Hugh’s brother, Duncan McKenzie, writes poignantly about family deaths in a letter dated February 25, 1867. Following Hugh’s death, Duncan’s oldest daughter died of a brief illness. The loss of his daughter Bettie, age seven, has compounded his grief. Still he writes of his brother: “Hugh also is gone, on the 14th December he breathed his last of Typhoid Fever Hugh was a good man and kind in his family and to friends.” What greater tribute than to have been remembered as a good and kind man by one who knew him well.

Hugh’s Letters to his Uncle Duncan McLaurin

1853 — During this year Hugh is prompted to open correspondence with his uncle by receiving a number of postage stamps from him. In his May 1853 letter Hugh writes, “I received the stamps you sent me and only had to regret it was not something that I could keep as a keepsake to your memory.” Hugh’s uncle was not only a relative for whom he had close childhood memories, he was Hugh’s childhood teacher and a former postmaster at Laurel Hill, NC. The stamps Hugh receives were some of the first ever issued after 1847, George Washington three cent stamps. One remains to this day attached to an archived letter in this collection.

Hugh tries to interest his Uncle by offering sensational stories about several murder cases, one involving a husband ordering his wife to kill their child. The accused has died before the judge could sentence him to hang. In another case character witnesses for the accused were discovered apparently in deceiving the court. One only has to peruse southern newspapers of the 1850s decade to recognize evidence of the general violence and fear growing among southerners over slavery. Hugh relates a story from Lawrence County Mississippi of two young men in pursuit of a runaway Negro:

(They) found him in an ale house the Negro finding

himself hemmed rushed out at the door

and after he passed sufficient not

to endanger each other both fired on the

negro the negro was gone some days and

came in with three Buckshot in his back

one above his sholder blade and one each

side of his back bone between the

Sholder Blade he is geting well — Hugh McKenzie

Another of Hugh’s brothers completes a letter begun by Hugh but does not sign his name. It is likely Duncan or Kenneth. This person relates two more criminal incidents. In Simpson County a mulatto belonging to a Thomas Hubbard was executed after being sentenced, escaping to Mobile, being re-sentenced, and finally hung. A white man in the same county accused of murder under “very plain” circumstantial evidence escaped sentencing by having the case dismissed. The jury deliberated for fourteen hours and could not reach a verdict.

Hugh reports that the family is well except his brother Kenneth has been suffering from his usual chronic rheumatic illness. However, in the next month’s letter he reports that the flu and measles are making the rounds. Hugh offers his opinion on the practice of medicine, concluding that “without the assistance of nature (it) is all of no use.”  It is with pleasure that he remarks upon his Aunt Isabella’s return to sanity. Unfortunately, Isabella relapses and in 1857 will be admitted to the first North Carolina Insane Asylum, later known as the Dorothea Dix Hospital. His brother Daniel will begin fulfilling his lifelong dream of practicing as a physician in a few days. Hugh also remarks on the marriage of Cousin John McKenzie in North Carolina to Sarah Ann Hasty and mentions his McCall and Douglas cousins. The brother who finishes one of Hugh’s letters adds that he has visited the “hatter John McNair,” an acquaintance of his uncle’s. He writes, “When I informed him that I was a grand son of Hugh Balchellish (Ballachulish), his eyes appeared to Sparkle with the full vigor of youth.” McNair then clasped his hand and said, “I loved Balchellish I love Duncan, I love them all.”

Their crops are a bit late but they have a great deal of corn since they planted an extra fifty acres in land they rented for a dollar an acre. By the next month, Hugh is lamenting the lack of rain.

As for politics, Hugh says Governor Foote has been trying to unite the unionists and secessionists in the state. Hugh reveals his propensity for casual listening without getting involved when he remarks on the political ignorance in an overheard conversation. The conversants cannot see why Andrew Jackson had to be “turned out of the office of the President and if he is not qualified any longer why not put Governor Brown of Miss in his place.” Though there were no term limits for the Presidency, Andrew Jackson had been dead for the better part of a decade. Hugh continues to comment that, “You may think this is all burlesque but I heard the conversation between two Locos.” Locos, short for Locofocos is a pre-Civl War political moniker Whigs often used for the Democratic party.

1855: This year the family farm has experienced drought. It has been a scattered drought affecting the McKenzies and neighbors Duncan McLaurin, a Mr. Gray, and Duncan B. Easterling. Their Irish potatoes did not grow, though cotton sold for 10 to 12 1/2 cents per lb. Their returns are at Columbia, though they have not been there to receive them due to a smallpox outbreak in the area. The birds, squirrels, and raccoons are, “devouring our corn the worst I ever saw.” The brothers hunt the raccoons at night. Daniel shoots at birds and squirrels during the day.

In politics Kenneth has switched from Whig to Democrat. Senator Brown has embraced the Locofoco platform and calls it democracy. Hugh says, “the fleece and not the flock is the object of Senator Brown’s words.”

Some neighbors in Covington county are intending to sell out. Hugh mentions that Duncan McLaurin will relocate to Hinds County and his brother Daniel will migrate to Texas. It would make Hugh happy if his Uncle Duncan would move to Mississippi and settle on newly vacated Duncan McLaurin place. Hugh’s brother Daniel intends to relocate to Raleigh in Smith County.

Education in Mississippi is improving and Hugh knows his uncle’s interest in that subject. He mentions there are 145 students this session at Zion Seminary in Covington county under the supervision of Reverend A. R. Graves. In Marshall county Oxford University is run by Methodists and Baptists and ranks as one of the best in the country in Hugh’s opinion. One Professor Longstreet, author of Georgia Scenes, is President. Hugh promises to send a published letter by Longstreet to his uncle.

1856: This April letter is a short one and begins with Hugh expressing his uneasiness to hear from his Uncle when he does not write regularly. However, Hugh himself does not appear to write regularly. He reassures his uncle that his remaining unmarried is not due to the example of a number of his life-long bachelor relatives. He says to tell his McCall and Douglas cousins that it is time for them to step up and marry. Some of the McKenzie brothers are evidently courting during these years. Earlier Hugh had written to his uncle that a marriage might be in the future for someone in the McKenzie family but that is, “entirely broke up.” His Uncle Duncan has perhaps been lamenting the fact that he has few, if any, great nieces and nephews. A little over a decade later, Duncan would outlive the only nieces and one nephew, all childless, that might have carried the surname of Hugh McLaurin of Ballachulish.

Hugh reports the death of one of Duncan’s acquaintances, Alexander McDonald. He died in his field after appearing fine at breakfast. Plowing his field for about an hour, he complained of a headache. He tried to sit on a log but missed, sitting on the ground instead. His youngest son Neill came to him asking if he was sick. He replied that he thought he might be dying. Neill sent to the house but his father never spoke again after that. Alexander McDonald was buried at Charles McNair’s in Simpson County where his mother-in-law was buried.

1859: September of this year finds the family on their new place in Smith County. Hugh writes, “their is so much to do that we hardly know which to do first.” Their crop was planted, “too rough and too late,” to be very productive. They will be, “hard pressed for money,” during the winter since the price of corn was up during the summer. It is typical of Mississippians during these years to depend on cotton to save them. Hugh writes, “if the price of cotton keeps up I think perhaps we can get through without much difficulty if we try.” He continues to explain that they are still clearing their land, building houses, and picking cotton. Hugh continues by describing their land:

We have five hundred and fifty

acres beside 94 that Daniel owns

individually I will send you the plot

of it there is about 40 acres in the

hills the rest is all in Leaf River

Swamp and not five acres but

may be cultivated with very

little draining we have about

50 acres cut and piled since we

finished laying bye our crop

that with the 40 acres that we

cleared last spring is enough of

open land for Daniel and Dunk

the neighbors say they will never

give Allen John and myself

an equal interest with them in

the place how they know I know not but time will determine

the correctness of their Prophecy — Hugh McKenzie

The last few lines regarding their brothers not sharing equal interest proved not to be true. At least the war would soon intervene to make the “prophecy” irrelevant. Possibly the source of this rumor about the brothers was the same as earlier rumors — Kenneth. He may have spread rumors which had sewn discord among the brothers and once caused Allen to become physically violent with Kenneth. Hugh also criticizes his brothers, Daniel and Dunk, for trading too much. He says they are “bowth bad hands to collect,” and he will not trade on a credit or collect for them. He says they never collect anything that is due them. Duncan will later confirm this tendency regarding his brother Daniel’s work as a physician.

Hugh mentions that Daniel does not do much practice as a physician, but he did “$5000 worth last year.” Whether or not he collected that much, Hugh does not say. He does also mention that the country is generally healthy. Daniel and his wife have joined the Methodist Church in Smith County. According to Hugh they, “joined .. last Sunday week under the eloquence of a Drumkin Irishman I hope they will do better than their pastor.” He says that Dunk’s wife has, “joined the Babtists last spring.” Later Dunk will write to his uncle that he also has joined the Baptist faith. Hugh sends his love to his Uncle John and all of his aunts.

By December of 1859 Hugh writes that they have purchased the Taylorville place from Daniel and his father-in-law, John Blackwell. The purchase is two acres of land upon which there is a, “large and good store house grocery lot and stables cribs.” This is when he begins his merchandising. They are looking at “promising crops.” Perhaps this will serve to hold them over for at least the early years of the war. They will have to haul bricks twenty miles to build a chimney for the store.

According to Hugh, John married Susan Duckworth on the 15th of December. In the same letter Hugh mentions that Daniel and his wife are expecting another child. Also, Dunk and Martha are expecting their first child.

1863: Hugh begins this wartime letter by reassuring his uncle that they are all relatively well and have plenty to eat, though that is through lucky escape:

Yet Lincolns thieves have not molested us

but how soon they will I cant tell there is

nothing to hinder them as Johnsons army

is all gone from the state with the exception

of three cavalry Brigades and Lorings Division

of Infantry We have some state troops

just enough to be an expence to the state

and no proffit I  had a company of state

cavalry and was conscripted I then obtained an

order to rais a company to wait on the conscript

Branscough what next I know not but

I cannot keep out of the army any longer  — Hugh McKenzie

On his way to mail the last letter Hugh will write to his uncle, he stops by John’s place.  John is finishing up a letter to Kenneth, who has survived his trip to North Carolina to visit his uncle. Hugh and John combine their letters to send in one envelope to their uncle’s address at Laurel Hill, NC. Hugh writes that John’s health is improving since the Siege of Vicksburg, though he worries that, “he will not be able to make an efficient soldier … his constitution is not verry good at best.” John’s inability to recover his former health is likely the reason he does not survive the pestilential conditions as a prisoner of war in 1865.

In 1861 their Aunt Effy, Barbara’s favorite sister and childhood companion died a spinster. Her property of enslaved people is sold and a small portion of the proceeds are inherited by Barbara’s children and grandchildren. Hugh kindly tells his uncle to keep his portion since, in his old age, his uncle may need it more. He remarks upon what his uncle likely knows that any amount in Confederate money will probably be worthless soon. Hugh also says that beef drivers from Texas to Covington county have rumored that “France will interfere on our behalf to save the Mexican teritory.” Hugh remarks that if France does “interfere” on behalf of the South, it will either prolong the war or may be a means of saving the Confederacy. His opinion probably leans toward prolonging the war as he comments about any secessionist or unionist who has not been sobered by this war:

All the consolation that I can have is

in Saying to the un cowed that I hope they

will get a full gorge of Secession and

that any sane man could see that the

democratic wagon was going down to the

abolitionists it has been the wrath of the

Democratic party to rule or ruin the fairest

Government that ever did exist but it is

now gone hopelessly gone and the

innocent has to suffer if we conquer

a peace on any terms we are ruined in

fact I see nothing but ruin let the

conflict end as it may — Hugh McKenzie

At age 41, three years before his death, Hugh poignantly ends this last epistle to his uncle by asking Kenneth to share with him descriptions of people and places they remember from childhood in NC. He jokingly asks Kenneth about paying a long-held childhood debt to a Mrs. Mayfield — if he has not, Hugh would pay.

Ask Kenneth to write to me

I think he could if he would …

tell him to give me his

impressions from childhood about

persons and places a recollect — Hugh McKenzie

SOURCES:

Bynum, Victoria E. The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War. The University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill. 2001. 32, 76, 41, 64, 128.

Covington County Tax Rolls, 1818-1902, MDAH, accessed June 20, 2017, http://www.mdah.ms.gov/arrec/digital_archives/tax rolls/

Fox-Genovese, Elizabeth. Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1988.

Letter from R.C. Duckworth to his nephew Sam Duckworth of Bastrop, TX. 24 May 1868. Duckworth-Smith-McPherson Family Papers, 1838-1885, 1940, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Letters from Duncan McKenzie to Duncan McLaurin. 29 January 1833, 7 November 1838, 9 December 1842, 6 June 1843, 28 December 1845, . Boxes 1 and 2. Duncan McLaurin Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Letters from Duncan McKenzie to Uncle Duncan McLaurin. 25 February 1867, 4 April 1867. Boxes 1 & 2. Duncan McLaurin Papers. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Duke University.

Letters from Hugh McKenzie to Uncle Duncan McLaurin. 4 May 1853, 16 June 1853, 24 July 1855, 17 April 1856, 11 September 1859, 13 December 1859, 2 September 1863. Boxes 1 and 2. Duncan McLaurin Papers. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Duke University.

Letters from Kenneth McKenzie to his Uncle Duncan McLaurin in Richmond County, North Carolina. 19 April 1855, 15 September 1857. Boxes 1,2. Duncan McLaurin Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.

National Park Service. U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, U, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007. Original data: National Park Service, Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, online <>, acquired 2007.

“Oil Jackets and Pants.” Vicksburg Daily Whig. 4 January 1860. 4. Accessed 24 December 2018. newspapers.com.

U.S. Federal Census 1850; Covington, Mississippi; M432_371; 309B; 207. Family Search (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4LC-38N:accessed 16 September 2015.. citing family 305, NARA microfilm publication M432(Washington, D.C.:National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

US Federal Census 1860; Smith County, Mississippi; Roll: M653_591; Page: 243; Family History Library Film: 803591.

US Federal Census 1870. Jasper County, MS. South West Beat. Roll: M593_732; Page: 626B; Family History Library Film: 552231.