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XXII

SAMUEL WILLIAM PEGRAM7

SAMUEL WILLIAM PEGRAM7 (Samuel Gilliam6, Edward5, Daniel4, Edward3, Daniel2, George1), was my Grandfather and namesake. He was the youngest child of Samuel Gilliam Pegram and Harriet Jones. He was born in Hardeman County, Tennessee, 8 November 1847. He moved to Tippah County, Mississippi with his parents, when yet a lad of about 11or 12 years of age. He grew up in the Falkner area, where his father owned a farm and a number of slaves. Being the youngest child he was said to have been pampered and waited on by slaves, until they were freed. By this time he was about 17 or 18, and a new age had dawned. Furthermore, he would be married in about five years, and making a living in a war ravaged country, during reconstruction days, with no slaves.

It has been said by members of the family, including his children, that Samuel William lived in North Carolina when he was growing up. They even thought that he was born there. In the 1840 census, his father Samuel Gilliam is shown in Hardeman County, Tennessee with a wife and no children. In the 1850 Hardeman County census all four of his children are listed, and the 1860 Tippah County, Mississippi census shows the entire family, with the exception of the oldest child, Lucy, who was evidently married by this time. Samuel Gilliam and wife are also shown in the 1870 Tippah County census, and so is Samuel William, who was then married.

On 8 April 1918 Samuel William wrote a very interesting account of his religious experiences. He said, "I was about sixteen years of age, and my parents were living  in Franklin County, North Carolina, during the Civil War." He stated that he had a brother-in-law in General Lee's army, and that his brother had already been killed. By that last statement we know that he was writing his experiences in 1863 or 1864, since his brother, A. Jones Pegram, was killed at Richmond in 1863. Samuel W. had made up his mind to join the army, where his brother, John Wesley and his brother-in-law were, and he asked his mother to get his clothes together. She objected, saying that she had lost one dear boy, and that he must not go. She said that you are my baby boy, and the only boy that I have with me, and the other one is in the army. With all of his mother's objections he stated that he was still determined to go. Finally, his mother said to him that if he was going to go that she wanted him to make peace with God before leaving. She said that "you know that you are not prepared to die, and the chances are that you will be killed." That got him to thinking, and for the next week he thought and prayed over the matter, and he described in detail his experiences during that period, at the end of which, in his words, "he knew that he had been converted to God."  He did not go to the army. He mentioned about his sister Lucy being there. Her husband was later killed in battle. This document definitely shows that Samuel W. did live in Franklin County,

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North Carolina for a time during the war. It seems likely that the family went to Franklin County to be at the home of Harriet's mother, her father having died a number of years previously. Whether Samuel William's father, Samuel Gilliam was in Franklin County for the entire period that his family was, is not known. At any rate the family's stay in North Carolina was a temporary one, after which they returned to Tippah County.

I have heard my mother, Ida Pegram Simmons, speak about her father saying that he went to school in Charlotte, North Carolina. His great grandfather, Daniel Pegram, moved to that area about 1813, but there has been no record found to show that Samuel William's father, or his grandfather, ever lived in the Charlotte area; although courthouse records have been searched in Mecklenburg, Lincoln and Gaston Counties, North Carolina, and York County, South Carolina. Samuel William's stay there was surely for a brief period.

Since Samuel William Pegram7 is a direct ancestor of the line being followed, his children and their descendants will be followed to the present day, prior to a discussion of other lines, which is in keeping with the general arrangement. Most of the information concerning Samuel William was related to me by my mother, by other family members, by the study of family papers and official documents and by personal knowledge. I was twenty six years of age when my grandfather died.

Samuel W. Pegram was married to Mary W. McCown 30 July 1869. Mary was the daughter of Alfred McCown and Mary Sannover, thus a sister of the wife of his brother John Wesley. One child, Walter J., was born to this union on 1 October 1871. Mary, Samuel's wife, died 15 May 1872, and his son Walter J. died at four or five years of age (115).

Samuel William married Martha Jane Taylor of Falkner, Mississippi on 11March 1873,  (118). She was born 26 November 1849. They were married by J. A. Norton M. G. Martha Jane was the daughter of James Bryant Taylor and Malinda Sannover. Mr. Taylor was born 12 March 1807 and died 23 December 1875. Malinda was born 24 December 1807 and died 7 January 1880. The mother of the first wife of Samuel William and of the wife of his brother John Wesley was Mary Sannover, a half sister of Malinda Sannover, the wife of James B. Taylor, and the mother of Samuel's second wife, Martha Jane Taylor.

The marriage of Samuel William Pegram and Martha Jane Taylor was an elopement. Incidentally, Samuel W. had asked Martha Jane to marry him before he married his first wife, and, was turned down, but she was available on the second-go-round. As related to me by my mother, her father went to Martha Jane's home at night, with an extra horse and a side saddle. No lady would dream of riding astride a horse, even in pitch dark. Martha Jane slipped out of the house and the horse was led beside a rail fence so that she could mount the side saddle. The rail broke and Martha took a spill, prior to mounting the steed and riding away with her beloved. Martha was not missed until morning. Her mother was having words to say about her daughter's elopement. Her husband, James B. Taylor, who was said to be a quiet philosophical sort of fellow, told his wife to "quieten down", that after all Martha was 24 years old. lola. His wife said, "well she could have waited until after spring house cleaning."

Samuel W. apparently did some farming for a short time. Groups of farmers would carry cotton to Memphis where it would be sold, and supplies bought. They would make camp at night, and some of the wives would go along to do the cooking. Memphis is about 75 miles from Falkner, at that time

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over winding dirt roads, which were very muddy after a rain. Sam, as he was known, must not have farmed very long. He owned, or worked in a store in Falkner. The post office was in the store, therefore he helped out there. The railroad ran by the store and Sam often acted as depot agent, or perhaps he was depot agent. This may have been the McCown Store, since the post office is recorded as being in his store at about that time. In Samuel W's obituary, in the Southern Sentinel of Ripley, Mississippi, on 20 July 1933, it is stated that he was in business in Falkner and later in Ripley. His daughter Ida Pegram Simmons stated that her father did own a store in Falkner, before he opened one in Ripley. He moved to Ripley, the county seat, about 1888 and opened a general mercantile business. The following is a letterhead that was used after his son temporarily joined the business, and one of a later date, about 1911.

In addition to the items listed on the letterhead my grandfather also handled ladies millinery and coffins. He hired one of the early lady clerks in Ripley. Her name was Miss Betty Aycock, and a few people thought that it was not quite proper to have a lady working in a store, where there were only men.

She worked upstairs in the millinery department. Besides Miss Aycock there were two other people that worked in the store, Mr. George Morton and a Mr. Oscar _________. Sam was always about somewhere, but often off talking politics and visiting with cronies.

He evidently made a financial success in his business. In 1894 he decided that his boys needed to be on a farm, although Ripley probably did not have over a thousand people at the time, he probably just wanted to keep them occupied. He sold the store to Lee D. Hines on 18 January 1894. He received the sum of $1300 for the building. No record was noted of the inventory. Deed Book 12, p. 531describes the property as: "all that portion of lot one, in block 23 in the town of Ripley, in the County of Tippah and State of Mississippi. The south side of the wall dividing the brick houses of S.W. Pegram and Dr. J. W. McCarley, being the north boundary line of said lot. In case of total destruction of the brick buildings, L.D. Hines to have the South half of said lot only." According to my mother the store building was on the west side of main street, the second building south of the square. Money bought much in those days. The two story brick building is a substantial structure, in full use as a store to this day, 1983, and valued at about $70,000.

On the same day that Samuel W. sold the store he bought the Hindman place, with 300 acres of land, one mile east of the courthouse, from W.R. Alvis. The home was built by Colonel Thomas C. Hindman in 1842, Figure 18. There were a number of tenant houses on the place which Sam kept occupied with negro families that worked on the farm. The property is described in deed book 12, p. 532, Tippah County, Mississippi, as follows; "The West half of the South East Quarter of Section eighteen in Township four of Range four East. One hundred acres of the East part of the South West Quarter of said Section 18, Township four, range four, East, and all of said Quarter except what was conveyed to S.N. Talbot and Lafayette Ragan by Wade Leawan, and forty eight acres of the North West Quarter of said Section 18 in Township four of Range four East, and being all of said Quarter except 100 acres conveyed to S. N. Talbot by Wade Leawan, and 12 acres conveyed to T. Y. Morton by Wade Leawan.

Much history is connected with this home. Wilson McKinstry of Blue Mountain, Mississippi published a detailed and fascinating story about it. The title is "Captain Courageous", and was

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published in the Southern Sentinel of Ripley on 2 June 1932. The following excerpts add interest to the story of this home.

Traditions of the Old South hover about the "Hindman House", ante-bellum mansion one mile east of Ripley, Mississippi. At one time, several years before the civil war this big house, painted white, with its front to the south, sheltered two friends who later became Generals in the Confederate h y . Thomas Carmichael Hindman and Patrick R. Clebourne were two, who were to leave the stately plantation home of Thomas C. Hindman Sr., flanked by its peaceful cotton fields, to return to it only in memory. . . . Not far from the house enclosed by a brick and concrete wall, is the family burying ground. . . . In July 1856 Col. Hindman was killed accidentally while inspecting a cotton gin on his plantation. . . . On one tomb in the little enclosure is engraved the words: "killed at Ripley, Mississippi, by W.C. Falkner, May 8,1849.'' It is the tomb of Robert Holt Hindman (son ofThomas C. and Sarah Hindman), whose career was cut short at 27 years of age.

Col. W.C. Falkner was later a prominent attorney, wealthy, and a political power in the area. He was most influential in the building of the railroad through Ripley. He was one of its incorporators, and its first President.

Falkner who was a Colonel in the Confederate Army, has been described as the possessor of a brilliant if restless mind - ambitious, proud, sensitive and hot headed, also over vain and a little arrogant (117). Falkner wrote several books, and was the great grandfather of William Falkner, the novelist of Oxford, Mississippi. Col. Falkner killed another person in addition to Mr. Hindman. The incident presented by the Grand Jury for the March term of court in 1851is worth repeating.

 "We the Grand Jury do find. . . that William C. Falkner, laborer, not having the fear of God before his eyes but being led and seduced by the instigation of the devil did. . . with a certain pistol of the value of ten dollars then and there loaded with gun powder and a leaden bullet. . . inflict upon the left side of the face of the said Eresmus W. Norris one mortal wound to the depth of six inches and the breadth of three inches, of which mortal wound said Erasmus W, Norris then and there instantly died." The case went to court and Falkner was acquited on 12 March. As Andrew Brown (117) stated: "It can hardly escape notice that one of Falkner's bondsmen was his uncle John W. Thompson, who was District Attorney at the time."

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This diversion may give the reader a clearer idea of the historical plantation which Samuel W. Pegram chose as a home to complete the rearing of his children. The house originally had no attached kitchen, this being in the back yard. My grandfather added an "L" on the back of the house for a dining room and kitchen. According to my mother, he also weather boarded the original log structure and painted it white. The statement made in "Captain Courageous", that the house was white prior to the Civil War is in error. However it was the most stately mansion in the entire area, with its large white columns and landscaped grounds, which later deteriorated, Figure 18. The boys of Samuel William did not take well to farming. The older two left for other fields after a short time, and the younger ones were in school. According to my mother, her father went to town every weekday after they moved to the country. If the weather was good he would walk, and if in the farming season would go by the fields to see that all hands were at work. He would check on them again when he returned in the afternoon. Apparently the hands were not his sons, at least to any appreciable extent, but rather tenants on the place. His time in town was spent visiting with friends, discussing politics, religion and law. He was also taking care of business. Even before he left Falkner he was buying real estate, and he kept buying and selling land over a long period, although he was not in the real estate business, but rather dealing individually as a business investment. He was especially active in this enterprise in the 1890s. While in Falkner he purchased, with all improvements, eight lots from Richard J. "Dick" Thurmond, on 6 December 1881. These were on the east side of the railroad. On 11May 1882 he bought thirteen additional lots from Mr. Thurmond, and on 2 May 1884 he bought four lots in Falkner from Gen. M.P. Lowrey. After moving to Ripley the County Deed Records show that he bought considerable farm land. A casual examination revealed some two dozen tracts of land, or farms, that he bought and sold in Tippah County, mostly in the 1890s. This no doubt added to his assets.

My grandfather kept many records throughout his life. I have his record book for 1904, and the weather for every day of the year is recorded. It was raining and cold on January 1. Cotton on the New York marked was 13.20 cents per pound on January 4, and the ginners report was 8,576,000 bales on January 5. Three snows were recorded in January, and cotton had dropped to seven cents by December 28, 1904. On December 30, 1904 he stated: "My estimate on crop of 1904 to September 1, 1905 is 13,287,536". This was, of course, bales of cotton. On 1 January 1904, when he was 56 years of age, he recorded that he was six feet and two inches in height and weighed 175 pounds. I can vouch for the fact that he was as straight as an arrow until he died at 85.

He was elected the Judge of the Justice Court, a Gentleman Justice in earlier days, while still living on the farm, and he held frequent trials for cases coming before that court. He had a good law library and studied intently. He was for the remainder of his life known only as Judge Pegram.

Sam loaned money to farmers to finance them during the summer, while they were making a crop. He would take a deed of trust on their cotton for security. In the fall he would get some cotton from these farmers, in addition to that which was raised on his own place. He would store the cotton and hold it for the best price. My mother remembered when the tenants would haul cotton to town for sale all day, two bales to the wagon. Sam did not trust the bank, and always brought his money from the sale of the cotton home with him. He kept all of his cash at home until it was invested, mostly in loans or land. This practice later ceased especially when his first cousin, once removed, Thomas E. Pegrarn8, became president of the Bank of Ripley. It is rather amusing that the bank failed during the great depression, while his cousin was president. This was a common occurrence in those days. My mother stated that her father did not lose any money.

Samuel W. was a devout Christian, and a well informed student of the bible. He read the entire book through several times, besides studying it regularly. He was a Methodist, and he had very distinct likes and dislikes regarding his preachers. He sometimes hired preachers that he especially liked to come to Ripley from another area, and hold week long meetings. They would stay at his home, and he would make arrangements for them to preach at the courthouse, in an available church, or he would hire a building especially for the services. He believed that preachers should be "Sanctified", and the ones that he would get to preach were "Sanctified." Sanctified means to be set apart. I suppose that the preachers certified to their own Sanctification.

My mother married in 1906, and so did her brother Walter. This left only William, the youngest

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child, age 15, at home. He was in school and before too long would be going off to business college. My grandparents decided that they should sell the farm and move back into town. Samuel W. sold the place to Mr. Jodie Booker on 12 May 1906, just one month and four days after my mother married. The sale by Judge Pegram was such that he kept possession of the place until 1 January 1907. This was to clear notes given to him at the time of purchase, (Deed Book 20, p. 374). It was stated in selling the property that it was free of all encumbrances. Mr. Booker lived on the place for many years.

This beautiful and historical home was completely destroyed by fire in 1938. An article concerning the fire and giving some history of the home was published in The Southern Sentinel at Ripley. The house is pictured in Andrew Brown's "History of Tippah County", (117), in "Tippah County Heritage", (118), and in "Descendants of John Simmons of North Carolina 1760" (119, and in this book.

When Samuel W. and Martha moved to town they bought a smaller house, on the northeast corner of Middle and West Streets, where they both died. Sam never really seriously entered into any gainful enterprises after moving back to town. He mostly lived from investments, and taking advantage of opportunities which arose, or which he created. Mostly he spent his time discussing his favorite subjects with friends. He was elected County Supervisor in 1916, and spent four years in that office. Martha Jane, Samuel's wife and my grandmother, died 27 May 1919, at the age of 70 years. She was buried at Wier's Chapel Methodist Church, four and one half miles southeast of Ripley, where she had been a member for many years. My grandmother was a woman of strong character and determination. She was a devout Christian and a church worker. She was born on Tuesday, 26 November 1849, converted on Tuesday, married on Tuesday, was sanctified on Tuesday and died on Tuesday. She was a devoted and affectionate wife and mother, and by personal knowledge, a loving grandmother.

Samuel W. Pegram married N.E. Wood on 8 November 1919. About 1921Samuel W. and W .B. Simmons went into the livestock feed business together. This was an interesting partnership, since both were my grandparents. They were both retired and mostly opened this business to keep themselves occupied, and to be in town each day where they could see people and talk to friends. Their store was on the east side of South Main Street, one building north of Walnut Street. After a time my Grandfather Simmons bought Judge Pegram's interest. He did not continue in business for long, but sold the store to W. J. Nance, shortly before he died in 1923.

The latter years of Judge Pegram were spent much as he liked them, reading (which he did for hours each day), and discussing politics, law and religion with friends, among them being the late Simon S. Finger, who owned a general merchandise store on the west side of the Ripley Courthouse Square. My grandfather was ordinarily a rather quiet man, but artful and vigorous at discourse on his favorite subjects. He not only expounded his convictions and theories about politics, law, the state of the nation and other favorite subjects, to those who might think differently, or who cared to argue a point, but he occasionally put his ideas into print. As an example he wrote a long article in The Southern Sentinel of Ripley, entitled "Sin, Greed, Graft and the Depression." The article is too lengthy to be reproduced here, but he minced no words in diagnosing and prescribing a cure for the Great Depression. The date of the article is missing, but was written during the Depression, and prior to 1933, when he died. In the same issue of the paper he advertised for a pocketbook that he had lost in Ripley on the fourth of August. It contained his name and fourteen dollars, four of which the finder could keep. It also contained a receipt for $2.13 from M. L. Finger and Sons.

To me, my grandfather appeared stern and aloof. He never gave me nickles and dimes, as did my Grandfather Simmons, and he had little to say to us kids. I always thought of him as being very close with his money, and in many ways he was. His actions belied his appearences. His eldest son, Luther he sent to Dental School, and set him up in practice. For his second son, Homer, he built a nice home and enabled him to open a modem grocery store in Pontotoc, Mississippi. He gave his son Walter a home in Ripley, and to my mother Ida, he gave a farm, house, lumber mill and cotton gin in the Shady Grove Community, west of Ripley. To his youngest son William, his favorite, he gave a house in Lexington, Kentucky, some extra lots, and helped him financially. His eldest daughter, Dora married early to a well established older man, and apparently her father thought that she did not need his help. My

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mistaking his generosity was because I did not realize that it did not extend to frivilous things, then too, I did not know the extent of his generosity at the time.

After his last wife died, he would take his meals, and later began to sleep, at the home of my parents, about three blocks from his home. He would usually walk to town each day for a few hours, and then return to his home, which was between town and my parent's home. There he would read until late in the afternoon, and then proceed to my mother's for dinner, and to spend the night. My brothers and sisters had the same impression of our grandfather that I did. They found, however, after he began staying with them, that he really did have a good sense of humor, and they became quite fond of him. They found him to be quite a tease. I am sorry that I did not have the opportunity to experience this side of his personality. In summation one could say that Samuel W. Pegram carried on the inherent characteristic independence of his ancestors.

All of Samuel W's children, (except Walter J., previously mentioned) were by his second wife, Martha Jane Taylor, with whom he spent forty six years. They were a devoted couple. My mother said that she never heard them quarrel during her entire life.

Apparently before my mother was born, her father bought a mantel clock at a household sale. It is a Seth Thomas, Plymouth Hollow, Connecticut split column and cornice model, 26 inches tall. It is weight drive, time and strike, and runs thirty hours on one winding. It was made about 1858 or 60. My grandfather was winding this clock each night as early as my mother can remember, and she was born in 1885. It originally had a painted tablet, or glass, below the dial, but my grandfather always kept the picture of his favorite politician in it. I seem to recall a picture of William Jennings Bryan. This clock ran consistently until his death in 1933. It was carried to Mesa, Arizona afterwards, by his son William Jr. He kept it running until his terminal illness. He died in 1973. Being an antique clock collector, later a Director and Fellow of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, and this being my grandfather's clock, I was most anxious to obtain it. William's surviving wife let me have it. I expected that it would require rebuilding, but upon examination I found it needed little except cleaning and new weight cords. I did not even rebush it. It is now in my possession and in good running order. It is not an expensive clock, but it is one of my most prized possessions.

Samuel William Pegram7 died 16 July 1933, while sitting on his porch reading the paper. He would have been 86 years of age in November. He was buried at Wier's Chapel beside his wife, Martha Jane, with whom he lived for the most of his life. His third wife, N.E. Wood died before he did. His Obituary follows:

OBITUARY OF SAMUEL WILLIAM PEGRAM

The Southern Sentinel, Ripley, Mississippi
Thursday July 20, 1933.

Sam W. Pegram, well-known Ripley citizen and former supervisor, died suddenly at his home here Sunday afternoon. Judge Pegram, as he was generally known, had since the death of his wife a few months ago, made his home with his daughter, Mrs. Britt Simmons, but was accustomed to return to his own home, not far away, after his meals and spent much of the time there. Sunday afternoon as he was sitting on his veranda, he asked a neighbor to go for a physician. A short time later, and before the physician could reach him, he was called and failed to answer. Examination proved that his life had quietly ebbed away, as he sat in his chair. Judge Pegram would have reached his 86th., birthday in November. His oft expressed wish that he be permitted to pass quickly and quietly away, and in his own home, was gratified. He was the last surviving member of his family, and came with his parents to this county from North Carolina 44 years ago. J. Wesley Pegram, who died at his home in Chalybeate several years ago, was his brother, and he was a cousin to the late Dr. Pegram, the father of Judge Thomas E. Pegram, of this judicial circuit. The surviving children are William Pegram of Lexington, Ky., Homer E. Pegram of Memphis, Mrs. Dora Alvis of St. Louis, and Mrs. Britt Simmons of Ripley. Several grand-children also survive. Funeral services were held at the residence Tuesday afternoon, with the Rev. S.V. Gullett, Baptist minister of Blue Mountain, in charge, assisted by the resident pastors of the Ripley churches. Services were concluded at Wier's Chapel, east of Ripley, with an appropriate talk by Mr. S. S. Finger, a lifelong friend. Interment was at Wier's Chapel, Methodist church, where Mr. Pegram placed his membership many years ago. The pronounced and distinguishing qualities in Judge Pegram's character were emphasized by those in charge of the services, and Mr. Finger dwelt especially upon the Fact that he was a man of strong convictions, and never without the courage to express his views.

Several years ago Judge Pegrarn retired from active business, but before that time he had for a number of years engaged in business at Falkner, and later here. He served on the board of supervisors as the member from the second district, and established a record for economy in the conduct of the public's affairs. In his views as to government he was a strict conservative, insisting that public business should be administered along the same lines as a sate business man could follow in the conduct of his private affairs. He served far some time as magistrate, in which office he was a close student of the law. He was a great reader, and continued to keep in touch with the progress of events.

An uncompromising advocate of temperance and sobriety, it is said to be a matter of local history that his knowledge of the law and his skill in carrying his point was responsible for preventing a saloon from coming to his community. Later those who disagreed with him came around to his
way of thinking.

Judge Pegram was married three times. The mother of his children was his second wife, and was before her marriage Miss Martha Taylor of this county. After her death he was married to Mrs. Ella Woods of Pontotoc County, who preceded him in death only three months.

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Source: Samuel W. Simmons, The Pegrams Of Virginia And Their Descendants (Atlanta Georgia, 1984) All rights reserved
 
2006 Nola Duffy, Winona Solomon or individual contributors.  No portion of any material on this site is to be used for other than personal research.  Copying or reposting in any format is specifically denied. 

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