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Monday, August 29, 2016

Famous People Slept... Here?

     Did famous people sleep at the old Josephine Hotel?  You bet they did.  Now that I've had plenty of time to study the old Hotel Guest Registers I can give you an astounding YES to that questions. I've got the proof too. Keep in mind, the Hotel register pages I have only represent a small segment of time that is from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960's.  The hotel was open for 60 years before and some 60 years after my study. Who knows who may have graced the threshold of The Josephine.

     As I mentioned in my previous post, there were a few guests who stayed here who were famous or became famous. Several people who stayed here during the period of this study were performers, entertainers, and those who represented the entertainment industry. In this post you'll learn about two such types. One who was becoming famous and the other who represented the entertainment industry.

Let's start with Jack Hayes. See below his signature on the hotel register. Jack Hayes and Party - Then under the residence column he writes Los Angeles California 8417 Beverly Blvd.

He actually wrote the word Buld instead of Blvd. But that's not exactly a mistake. The building that is there was his office and studio that was located in a multi-story office building on Beverly Blvd. When he was here at the Josephine it was the Commercial Hotel at the time. The date of his stay here was around 1955.  He came with at least two or three in his party because they got two rooms. #9 and #10. Now, just who was Jack Hayes?

Jack Hayes born February 1919 and died in August 2011. He was a pretty famous orchestrator and composer, who at the time he was here hadn't yet reached the level of fame that was to come. As a composer and orchestrator he worked on over 200 films during his 60 year Hollywood career.

Hayes began his career early in radio writing music for radio programs. Then at the beginning of the1950's he began orchestrating landmark films like "The Magnificent Seven", "To Kill A Mockingbird", "Breakfast At Tiffany's" and many, many more.

He was such a meticulous and highly skilled orchestrator for such top composers as Elmer Bernstein, Henry Mancini, Randy Newman, Quincy Jones, Marvin Hamlisch, and Burt Bacharach.

Hays was Oscar Nominated twice for adapting the musicals "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" in 1964 and for contributing to Jones' score for "The Color Purple" in 1985.

Hays also composed TV scores including such Westerns as "Riverboat", "Wagon Train", "The Virginian" and "Gunsmoke".

Hayes' solo TV composing credits included "Quincy M.E. and "Laverne & Shirley".

Hayes penned arrangements for singers including Donald O'Connor, Pearl Bailey, and Barbara Streisand.

Michael Giacchino employed him as an orchestrator on nearly all of his films starting with the animated Disney film, "The Incredibles". Some of his last credits were, "Star Trek" and "Up".

Jack Hayes died of natural causes in 2011.  He was 92 years old. Like I mentioned before, when Jack Hayes stayed at the hotel he hadn't even begun to reach the pinnacle of his forthcoming success. It is hard to imagine what a future Oscar Nominee might have been doing in Union Springs, Alabama.  It could have had something to do with Bird Dog Trials out at Sedgefield Plantation. He could have just been passing through, who knows. Either way it's exciting to know that he was here.

Now, I will introduce you to the other visitor to the hotel who was here in the mid 1950's. The name was J.C. but I can't make out the last name. He or she was with "American Barn Dance". The name was written in by the hotel desk clerk. Through much of my study of these sheets I noticed that sometimes the clerk would write in the name. You can tell below when you see that the handwriting is the same as the person just above American Barn Dance.

So, what in the world was American Barn Dance? It was a television show that made its debut in 1953. From what I can tell the show changed it's format a couple of times and later in 1955 to 1959 did shows from all over the country. They would take a crew to a location, set up the band, and the staring singer, and the crew, invite a lot of people to come out and dance. The crew would tape it and the studio would edit in that segment along with other segments from other towns and air the completed version on television.

As you can see the backgrounds look similar but different in each segment that aired. So what this "J.C." was doing here may have been as a scout sent to look for a location to set up the show. When a suitable location is found they send for the crew to come set up. Advertising goes out, excitement builds, people dance, a dog barks, and it a real wing ding of a time.

Did they actually come? Did the folks of Union Springs get to two-step their way on to the television? I can't answer that because it was a little before my time. But perhaps some of my readers may know. It would be great to find out. What I do know is that they were certainly staying at the hotel. And that is something.

Now, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I must end this post here. I have so much new material that I don't want to make the blog posts too long. I promise, it will be worth the wait to see who else visited Union Springs and the hotel. So stay tuned.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Josephine Hotel - A Look At The Old Guest Registers

     I could hardly contain myself. After asking the current owner of the Josephine Hotel in Union Springs, Alabama, if I could have a look at the ominous thick stack of old hotel register sheets. I nearly fainted when Joyce said I could take them home and study them if I like. To me, this was like winning the lottery. 

      As I wrote a post here on my blog in 2014, this partially  damaged pile of Guest Hotel Registers was found in an old wood chest in a closet that is located under one of the back staircases leading from the 3rd floor down to the second. They had been there since at least the 1970's but only found in the 2000's when The Perrins bought the building. Most of the pages are in pretty good shape. The pages were not in their binder that they would normally be found in like the example below.

Below: This is an example of how the Hotel Register pages would be in a binder with the date shown on front. This example is not of The Josephine Hotel.

     Clearly this is a very good example.  But for whatever reason, the previous owners pulled all the pages from the book, leaving us to guess from what years these precious pages of the past would be.

Here's the stack I actually brought home to study:

     Well, I knew I had my work cut out for me. But heck, I thought it would be fun. Joyce had always planned to sit down and go through them thoroughly and see what all was in there. But by always being busy and on the go, she just didn't have the time.  So, since I am always blogging about the building why not see for myself.

     My first objective was to try and determine a date since they weren't in the binder with the date on the outside. At first I thought I would have a hard time with that, but it turned out that the first clue was in the upper right hand corner where the form has a 19--,
the dash is to be filled in. About half of these sheets are like this. Then there were occasional dates written in on the pages where the guests signed in. It was ultimately determined that many of the 19 dash pages were from the mid to late 40's. Another clue was the constant blobs of ink dripped, splattered, and spilled on.  That's because in those days they used a pen and ink well. See below what I mean by that.

Below: In many hotels up to the mid 1950's you would find these at the clerks desk. This is the most common pen and ink well.

Sometimes higher end hotels would have something like this example:

     Later on while going through the pages I saw where the 19 - dash changed to a 195-- This told me that it was the 1950's.

There were hundred of sheets and I actually looked at every single page, front and back, line by line, and name by name. It took every bit of 22 hours to comb through the hundreds of musky smelling pages.

Below: Another indicator I used to determine the age of these registers was the private baths. Somewhere around 1903- 1905 the building underwent a renovation. Prior to the renovation there was one or two bathrooms on each floor to be shared by everyone on that floor. But more bathrooms were added and some would be private and some were shared.  It was like one bathroom that had two doors.  This was good for families with children. Parents would have a bathroom that connected to the next room for their children or other family.

  The results of my study of these Hotel Registers have rendered multiple surprises and I can honestly say it was worth all the time I put in to my search. There are were so many interesting surprises that I will have to break up my future blog posts in order to keep from making them so long. 

     I would have loved for these pages to have gone all the way back to the earliest days. Having those from the 1880's and 1890's when the hotel was actually in it's prime. The hotel was so beautiful in those days.  The d├ęcor, furnishings, amenities, and the restaurant in the building were first class. The hotel was called The Commercial Hotel at the time of the 40's, 50's, and 60's hotel registers I studied.
Much to my amazement the hotel stayed quite busy. Having a hotel right in the middle of town was so convenient to travelers who were in town on business.  I couldn't believe how many people came to Union Springs on business. Let me give you a few examples:

Mr. and Mrs. G.D. Anderson of Dayton, Ohio signed the hotel register sometime in the early 1950's.  They were a husband and wife team who represented a high-end clothing line called, Rolands Originals.  I looked it up. This company made women's suites and jackets. So I am thinking that this couple would have been making a sales call to one of the shops or boutiques in Union Springs at the time. Or perhaps a visit to one of our residents whom they may call upon to show their latest line. I found some example of Rolands Originals here below are just a few.

Pretty cool, huh? Well, there were other representatives who came from all over to do business right here in Union Springs. There was a man named, W. S. Bethell, who traveled here from Birmingham, Alabama. He was a writer for a magazine called "Progressive Farmer".  I noticed he came here quite a bit. Bullock County was known for it's cotton farming, as well as other types of agricultural farming. He was probably here to write stories or interview farmers, or talk with the kids of the local 4H Club.

Below are a couple of examples of the magazine from the same era as the hotel register sheets:

     Next we have someone by the name of H.B. Woodward Jr. of The University of Alabama who checks into room number 10. I did some basic research on the University of Alabama's website and learned that in the 1950's, Mr. H. B. Woodward Jr. was in fact a faculty advisory board member for the Fraternity, Alphi Xi. There is no telling what he would have been doing in Union Springs. But he wouldn't have signed under the address column "University of Alabama", if it weren't for school business.

     During my study of the guest register sheets I also noticed on a regular basis a check in from the Orkin Pest Control man. Yes, on a Monthly basis it was quite normal for the Orkin man to check into the local hotel and service all his customers on his route over the course of a two or three days.  I found an old Orkin statement mixed in with the guest registers where he also serviced the hotel too.  $10.00 to service a three story building? Wow, what a deal!

Another interesting couple of guys here on business. T.J. Bain and Charles Mayo checking in and here as representatives of Hallmark Productions. Oh, this I had to research. It turns out that beginning in the mid 1940's Hallmark was beginning to expand its brand. This is when you would see more prevalent card displays and this was the time when they came up with their signature slogan, "When you care enough to send the very best." That slogan carried them into the next phase of branding and brand recognition during the 1950's. Hallmark approached NBC in 1951 about sponsoring and original night time opera, "Amahl and the nighttime visitors".  It was a huge success and the name Hallmark has been a household name ever since. To date, the Hallmark company has won 81 Emmy Awards, thanks in part to it's humble start in 1951 and to it's own cable channel today. These two men were most likely into town to service accounts at the local drug stores.

One thing I noticed over and over were men who checked into the hotel on a very regular basis. At first I was like, "What in the world does C of GA/ RR, mean?" I mean if anyone brought business to this hotel, it was these guys.  Well, I figured that out pretty fast. C of Ga/RR means Central Of Georgia Railroad. Aaahhh, I see. Well that makes sense. The train came right through here. I believe this was a stopover point for rest for the crew who would switch out here in Union Springs. That makes sense. This was great for the hotel. They always had a steady flow of crew checking in for rest. The hotel was so near to everything they could need. Restaurants, laundry, drug stores, or whatever they wanted to do for fun.

These examples I've given of the many company representatives who came to the town of Union Springs were just a snippet of the many, many who came here in hopes of making sales, expanding their product lines, or just making sure their customers where happy. Whatever the reason none can top these two guys whom I found in the midst of regular hotel guests. Nothing could have prepared me for the bona fide belly laugh I got from Hobo Ben and Ben's Buddy. Yes, from what I could make of what might have happened is this... One guy who drives for a company called Manifest Freight and the other drives for Red Ball Express. So, they are truck drivers, who may know each other or have just met, I don't know. But these two go into the hotel sign in and between the two of them can't pay the rate of the room. Both are determined to find a place to sleep and looks like they struck a deal with the hotel clerk for a place to lay their weary heads. Hobo Ben gets the lobby couch and Ben's Buddy gets to sleep on the floor in the lobby. Well, that's one way to get a good nights sleep. But let's not underestimate the compassion the hotel clerk had shown the two sleepy truck drivers. Here's to Hobo Ben and Ben's Buddy who ignite the eternal flame for kindness and compassion right here in Union Springs... or something like that.

In conclusion of this post, a reminder, that this was just the beginning of my blog posts about these incredible hotel guest registers.  The upcoming posts are going to be worth watching for and worth the read. So stay tuned.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Robert & Josephine's daughter Lola *An Update w/Photos

     I am so excited that I finally have some photographs of Lola J. Fleming. Thanks to Lola's Great Granddaughter, Marcia Henshaw. It was a few weeks back that I got a lead one day while searching on  I found a link to a few photos that I couldn't see but would need permission to have access. I sent a message to the owner of this profile and before too long I received a message back. Since that time we've sent several emails back and forth. Marcia was so gracious and kind to not only send me some fantastic photos, but sent along some very useful family history. I guess now that I have gushed over them long enough, it's time to share them with my readers. 

     In case you've forgotten who Lola is or if this is your first time viewing my blog, I'll give you a quick refresher. You can also go back to the original blog about Lola, entitled "What ever happened to Lola?"

     Lola Josephine Fleming is the only child to Robert and Josephine Fleming. Dr. Robert Fleming, known for having built The Josephine Hotel and named it in honor of and as a tribute to his virtuous and accomplished wife. The Josephine Hotel is located in on Prairie Street in downtown Union Springs, Alabama. It was erected in 1880 and opened in October of that same year. It was a beautiful hotel and one of the finest in Alabama. The food served in its dining room provided the best meal you could get in the area. People came from all around to eat there. The hotel was not run by the Fleming's, but instead was managed by a Mr. T. W. Brown. He was regarded as one of the best hotel managers in the country. Dr. Fleming wanted nothing but the best and he got it. 

     The hotel continued to operate for nearly 11 years under the ownership of Dr. Fleming. At some point Dr. Fleming became ill and died on September 27, 1891. For the next 11 months his grieving widow, Josephine, could not bare to be without her beloved husband. She too passed away on August 20, 1892.

     The responsibility of the Josephine Hotel would now fall upon Robert and Josephine's 29 year old daughter, Lola. She was set to marry James D. Williford later that year. But first she would have to bury her Mother and figure out what next to do. 

     Lola turned 30 years old on December 6th, just before her marriage to James on December 15th 1892.  I can't imagine it was a large wedding at all. With her Father passing away just four months earlier, her mother's passing, probably put a damper on any formal wedding. Lola would have opted for a justice of the peace type wedding. 

Below here's your first look at Lola:

Below is James David Williford, Lola's husband.

     After Lola and James were married, at some point they move to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. James was a druggist. I believe we call them Pharmacists today. It seems that during this time Lola put The Josephine Hotel up for sale sometime during the following year. Lola and James began starting a family and settled into the community where they lived in Tuscaloosa. Before long, Lola gave birth to her first child, whom she named after her Father.  Robert Fleming Williford born in 1894. 

     Then in January, 1895 the Josephine Hotel was sold to a person whose name I can't read on the promissory note. The fancy writing back in those days is sometimes a little hard to read. Both James and Lola would have had to come back to Union Springs to take care of this business. The promissory note states that the person buying the building will be making payments of $389.00 per month to her for a period of time that I cannot read. It includes the Hotel and the three spaces on the ground floor which had three different businesses inside. Both James and Lola sign this document.

Below is the Promissory note. Sorry for the quality, they are scans of copies and quality gets lost in the process.


     Later in the year of 1895, after the business of the Hotel is complete, Lola gives birth to a second child, James David Williford Jr., born on Nov. 1st, 1896 and named after his Father. 

     Here's a look at this beautiful family portrait of the Williford family. From left to right: James Williford, , Robert, the baby is James David Jr. and then Lola.

     It was in 1897 when James and Lola had a third child, a girl, whom they named Lola. Sorry, I don't have a photograph of little Lola. Though a photo may turn up one of these days. 

      In December of 1899, tragedy struck the Williford family. James, Lola's husband, suddenly passed away. He was 46 years old when he left behind his beloved Lola, who at 37 was now a widow with three small children under the age of 6.  I believe Lola returned with her children to Union Springs for a time. I don't know for how long, but I suppose it was to be nearer to some of her family. Then tragedy struck again and Lola's daughter, six year old Lola died on the 6th of November 1902. This was an unimaginable loss to Lola as it would be expected when a woman loses a child. Lola never remarried.

Below: I am told this school was in Union Springs. Both of Lola's boys Robert and James attended here. They are in this photo somewhere. 

Below: Here is another of both boys in front of a house somewhere in Union Springs. The oldest, Robert is on the right. He's wearing a baseball glove.  On the left is James David.  He is holding a cat.
I would only be speculating when I say, this could have been the home of Robert and Josephine Fleming, when they were alive.  I say that because I know that the home and the property were not sold until 1912.  So this could be Lola's childhood home. I also know that where the house is believed to have been located was where the Telephone Company is now, which sits across from the Presbyterian Church, of which Robert, Josephine, and Lola attended. Also many of the Cowans' attended the same church.

          After the house was sold, Lola and her boys moved to Akron, Ohio. I believe either before moving to Ohio, I learned that Robert did attend Alabama Polytechnical Institute for about 2 years but dropped out. Robert did serve in WWI. James David also served in military in WWI also. Prior to serving, James David was working for The Goodyear Tire plant.  His draft registration says that he was 20 years old and single.  It also said that he has a dependent and lists his Mother, Lola as his dependent. It's dated May 31st, 1917.

Below: Registration for the draft card for James David Williford.

Below: James David Williford, (Far Left), at the Georgia Military Institute. I am guessing this is where some basic training took place. 

Here's another nice portrait of Lola in later years. 

And here's one more photograph of Lola J. Fleming Williford in her later years.

Lola's oldest Son, Robert married a lovely lady named Nellie Freck. She was born in England. James, her other son married a lady by the name of Minnie Arvella, nicknamed, Abba. Lola lived with James and Minnie until her death in 1933.  She was 71 at the time of her passing. 

Below: A photograph of James and Minnie.

You know, we can sit back and read about someone's life and say, "Awwwhh, that is so sad." At first glance we see on the surface that Lola had profound loss in her life and we think, "Gosh, I don't think I could go on living." While that is true for some, I think there are people who possess tremendous inner strength and courage that while they do hurt, their pain is mitigated by turning to their faith. Lola must have had this kind of faith to help her go on and have a life that she could bare and still find some joy and happiness. She had two wonderful boys, whom she adored and they must have thought the world of her.  It's nice to see that they cared for her to the end. Very nice. We can all take a lesson from Lola's courage and strength. We can let life's trials set us back or we can look to our faith for the will to go on and have a great life in spite of our pain and set backs. Good for you Lola, good for you. 

I'd like to say thank you to Marcia Henshaw for these wonderful photos and allowing me to write and share a little piece of her Great Grandmothers life with all of my readers.  

 **The years listed for births and deaths may not exactly match those of others who have also done research. I get my dates from the Census, and other databases that I use. My apologies if they may not reflect the same. I try so hard to see to it that my information is as accurate as possible. I also would never purposely disrespect or question the integrity of anyone's research. My intentions are genuine and I consider it a privilege to research this fine family and it is my sincerest hope that the information presented in my blog will reflect their stories through my hard work and joy that goes into each post and that every word is as truthful as I know it to be. **

Be sure to check back and see the latest right here on this blog...
Oh, that Josephine

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Josephine Fleming's oldest sister, Maldie.

     All of the siblings of Josephine Fleming have now been accounted for.  Including their spouses and children. Now we've made it to the oldest of the siblings. Maldonetta Cowan Buford, also known by her nickname, Maldie. She was born in 1836.  She is the only one of the Cowan children who was born in Blount County, Tennessee, in the town of Maryville before they moved to Eufaula, Alabama.

     Below is a portrait of Maldonetta Cowan.

     On March 22, 1854 Maldonetta married Samuel Wallace, (Born 1831). He was the youngest son of General William Wallace and Margaret Chamberlain. 

Below marriage recorded in Eufaula, Alabama:

     General Wallace was commissioned in the War of 1812.  After the war, General Wallace was elected Sheriff of Blount County, Tennessee. He served as Sheriff from 1820 - 1842.

     Below is a portrait of General William Wallace. He and his wife had 7 children, one of which was their youngest, Samuel, who later marries Maldonetta Cowan.

     Here's a notice that "Sheriff Wallace" puts in the newspaper regarding the sale of land that will take place at the courthouse.

     Below: Gen. William Wallace announces his candidacy for Presidential Elector.

     Below: General William Wallace wrote a letter to his friend and soon-to-take-office, President James Polk. Sends his regrets for being unable to be more active in the election.  Explains illness and the death of his wife soon after the election.

     Then later, more sad news is received that after only 13 months of marriage, Maldonetta's husband, Samuel died. He died on April 19, 1855. The cause is not know to me. I've looked everywhere possible and can find no cause of death. Then after the passing of some five years, Maldie marries her second husband, James Buford on June 14, 1859.  James Buford was half brother to Jefferson Buford. 

     Below Portrait of Jefferson Buford.

     Yes, there is a story when it comes to Jefferson Buford.  There are many connections to the Cowan family and beyond. Let's start with Jefferson Buford though, He served in the Creek Indian War of 1836 (This is when they ran most of the Creek Indians out of this area of Alabama). But he is more famed for the "Buford Expedition To Kansas". He was a Barbour County lawyer best known for attempting to move pro-slavery settlers into Kansas territory during the mid-1850's to ensure slavery wouldn't be outlawed in the state as it entered the Union. He was also owned a plantation with slaves of his very own and it was located on the Chattahoochee River. This is the same river that the town of Eufaula is situated on. 

     Jefferson Buford was a partner in one of the most successful law firms in Alabama, located in Clayton. (Barbour County) He was partners with, Senator James L. Pugh, and Edward C. Bullock. If you recognize those names it's because I've already mentioned that James Pugh is the brother to Anna S. Pugh Cowan, Josephine and Maldonetta's Mother.  As for Edward C. Bullock, he was a brilliant and successful attorney leading up to the Civil War. He served as a Colonel during the war. Our county is named after him. Bullock County was carved out and created for the purpose of honoring him Edward Bullock. Parts of Macon, Pike, Montgomery, and Barbour counties were given up in order to form a new county and named in his honor. 

     Maldonetta's soon-to-be husband, James Buford, graduated college at Columbia, South Carolina. He returned to Eufaula after graduation and spent some time studying law, and learning before he subsequently attended a law school in New Orleans. James graduated law school in 1852 and was admitted to the Alabama Bar in the same year.  James then returns again to Eufaula and becomes the editor of "The Spirit of the South" newspaper, prior to and during the Civil War.  

      Then on a sunny day in June of 1859, (The same year her Father passed away.), a Barbour County Justice of the Peace joined James McClure Buford and Maldonetta Cowan Wallace in holy matrimony.  By this time, James was 35 years old and Maldie, just 23 years old was about 12 years younger than him. 

     The Bufords didn't waste any time starting their large family. Maldie was a baby making machine, giving birth to 8 healthy children. Here are their names:
William Cowan Buford - (Names after her recently deceased father)
Carrie Elise Buford
Jefferson Pugh Buford
Annie Ester Buford
Rosa Theresa Buford- (Named after 2nd youngest sister)
LeRoy Eaves Buford
Mary Melton Buford- (Named after a sister that died as a baby.)
Emily Alexander Buford-(Also named after a sister who died,)

     Now, back to James. When the war was over the paper he'd been editor of had now changed it's name to "The Eufaula News". James remained the editor of that paper until 1874. I guess he was still practicing law while being the editor. He may have practiced at his brother's law firm at least until November of 1883, when he moved himself and his family to Atlanta where he practiced law at a firm there for about five years.  At some point around May of 1887, it appears that Alabama must have been calling him home for an opportunity, this time in Decatur, Alabama.  So, once again, the family uprooted from Atlanta and moved to Decatur.

     This is where I lose the family's whereabouts. There is a period of time that I can't completely account for. Some how the Bufords wind up in Portland, Oregon. Why? That's a good question. I don't know when they went, what they were doing there or how long they stayed. Well, maybe I know how long she stayed. Maldie passed away in 1899 at the age of 63. She is buried at River View Cemetery, there in Portland. 
Here's her grave marker below:

     Maldie's husband, James died just a few short years later on May 10, 1904. He was laid to rest in Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. Maldie and James were married for 40 years. Though they may be buried so far apart, I have a feeling their still together. 

     I wish I had more information about Maldonetta, but like most of the Cowan sisters, they must have been contented in staying out of the limelight. They each married successful men who went to work and provided for the family. But the Cowan women were strong and smart at running the home and caring for the children, seeing to their education, teaching manners, teaching them to respect authority and elders, and teaching them to pray and to always be thankful. It was a full time job that required strength, self discipline, and faith. The Cowan sisters were raised with good values, lived virtuously, were deeply committed to their faith, served in their churches, and honored their husbands. They were role models to their children in hopes they would also grow up to be good adults. I think that's a great way to be. 

     Well that's all for this post. Coming up in the next post is very exciting. I will be updating what new and wonderful information I now have about Lola J. Fleming. (The only child to Robert and Josephine Fleming, of the Josephine Hotel.) I have several photos I have received from the Great Grandaughter of Lola.  She graciously shared them with me so I could share them with you, my readers. So stay tuned. You're gonna love them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Josephine Fleming's only brother, James G. Cowan.

     By now, you've been introduced to a couple of Josephine's siblings. There are still two more to go, One is the oldest sister Maldonetta, who we will get to in a later post. The other is the only male sibling Josephine and her sisters had.  James G. Cowan was his name, also named after an uncle. I have found him to be a very remarkable man for a few reasons.  His service to his family, country, and his community to name a few.  

     James G. Cowan was born in 1840 in Eufaula, Alabama. His Father, Dr. William Cowan was one of the founders of Eufaula only it was known as Irwinton at the time. His mother, Anna Silva Pugh Cowan, was the sister to Senator James L. Pugh. James is the third child born to the Cowans. He had two older sisters, Maldonetta and Josephine. He also had two younger sisters, Rosa and Willie. There were also three other sisters born between he and sister Rosa. They were Mary, Ann, and Emily, but they all died either as young children or as babies or even at birth. So, James was not only the middle child, he was the only son to Dr. Cowan. 

     James was extraordinarily smart and brave. He must have possessed a passion for leadership and service. So, when it was time to go off to college there was only place he had in mind. The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

 Below: This is what his West Point Cadet Uniform would have looked like his day.

     Did you know that the United States Military Academy was founded in 1802?  Guess who it was founded by? Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

Below: A senic view of it's earliest days around the time it was founded.

Below: This is what a drill looks like for a cadet around the time when James attended West Point.

 Below: If you were graduating from West Point around the time James G. Cowan did, this is what your class photo would have looked like.

     After James graduated from West Point, he join the Confederate Army. He served and fought in the Civil War as an officer until it ended. After the war he returned to Eufaula long enough to say hello, pack, and leave for law school. When James completed law school he moved to Abbeville, Alabama to begin practicing law. 

     Through my research I've learned that in addition to his law practice in Abbeville, James was the editor of the local newspaper from 1869 to sometime in the 1870's.  James never did marry. He served his community with humility and grace until he died. 

     James died on March 4, 1906 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Below: I found this obituary written about him in the Montgomery Advertiser:

     James G. Cowan, who practiced law at Abbeville, in Henry County, many years, died at Tuscaloosa a few days ago.   He was over sixty years old and served in the Confederate Army.  Among lawyers he ranked high, but was of such shrinking modesty that he never made the reputation a man of his intellect could have easily made by any sort of energy.  He was a nephew of Senator James L. Pugh and has many relatives in the state.  He never married.

     James was 66 years old at the time of his passing. Still young by today's standards. I can't help but like this guy.  Who wouldn't? Here is a man so intelligent, graduates from the prestigious West Point Academy, serves and fights in the Civil War, goes to law school, becomes a lawyer, who is bright, intelligent, and far above average and yet, is so humble, modest, and gentle that he is perfectly contented to settle into a small community where he quietly goes about his life.  This is conducive to his upbringing.  As I've pointed out in previous posts on this blog, the children of Dr. William and Anna Cowan were all remarkable individuals. Yes, they had money, but were not ridiculously wealthy and they put more value into the practice of their faith, family, and community.  The place of his burial is unknown to me at this time. I plan to check into some cemeteries in and around Abbeville to see if he's buried there.

     Now comes the part where I have to admit that I almost made a mistake of confusing two cousins with the same name. The headstone below is that of James G. Cowan. I know this had to be the source of much confusion for any genealogists eager to fill in the empty slot of their ancestor. The headstone below is not the same James G. Cowan I am writing this blog about. This James was HIS cousin.  The one below was the son of Dr. Daniel Cowan, who was the brother to Dr. William Cowan, James' Father. Remember, this James, who this blog is about, was born in 1840 and the one below was born in 1846. Still strange to me, they both served in during in the Civil War. This means that the one below was only 15 years old at the start of the war. As you can see below, this head stone says he is a Confederate Veteran. While searching for more information, I stumbled upon yet another James G. Cowan. Yes, related to the same family. Another brother of Dr. William Cowan thought it would be a dandy idea to name his last son, James G. The "G" is for Good Lord... Now I have a headache.  

     Well, I would feel terrible if I didn't mention what I did learn about the James G. Cowan who lies beneath this headstone. I learned he was Editor the Union Springs Herald for years and years. He also was a publisher of several smaller periodicals and specialty publications too. He was the recipient of what you see in the photo above.  That is the distinguished Southern Cross of Honor.

This is how Wikipedia defines the Southern Cross.

The Southern Cross of Honor was a military decoration meant to honor the officers, noncommissioned officers, and privates for their valor in the armed forces of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. It was formally approved by the Congress of the Confederate States on October 13, 1862, and was originally intended to be on par with the Union Army's Medal of Honor.

The design for the face of the medal consists of a cross with a Confederate battle flag surrounded with a laurel wreath, with the inscription "The Southern Cross of Honor." On the back of the medal is the motto of the Confederate States of America, "Deo Vindice" ([With] God [As Our] Vindicator), and the dates 1861 1865.

      Well now that you're good and confused, I will conclude this post about James Cowan, the brother to Josephine Fleming. He was a humble servant to his community, a brother, cousin, son, and probably someone everyone could call a good friend. 

     As I have said before in previous posts, you may never know what impact you've made on this world. But after you're gone many may know you for more than what your money could buy.  It is what is in the heart and the good it did as well as the impression left on the people you were surrounded by. Integrity, humility, and goodness cannot be bought.  They are a product of a life lived that puts others before themselves, a giving and open heart, and living in grace through faith in God.

     My next post will be about the last of Josephine's siblings, Maldonetta Cowan Buford.