Life in Old South Central Alabama

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South of Birmingham, Alabama, United States
I am an antique trader in central Alabama....I love old houses... My log home was built in 1817 by my ancestors Benjamin and Hannah Harless Wilson .............. Outside the house are herb gardens and lots of pass-along plants................ No one in Alabama is in a hurry about anything......... Visitors think that the garden needs weeding and the furniture needs polishing....I am a direct descendant of Joseph Towne, whose two sisters Rebecca Towne Nurse and Mary Towne Easty were hanged in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692 as witches. I am also a direct descendant of Pocahontas and husband John Rolfe.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Joseph H. Cunningham (1793-1857)

Joseph H. Cunningham, my great, great, and one more great grandfather, was born in Wilkes County, North Carolina to Lt. John Cunningham and wife Keziah Chandler Cunningham of Lunenburg County, Virginia. John and Keziah moved to Charlotte County, Virginia for about six years, then dropped down to North Carolina for twenty more, before making a final move to the hills of Tennessee. 

How do you know that?  you ask.  Because I read his application for a Revolutionary War pension.  In it, he mentions his "family bible" with names and dates.   I wish I had that. 

Joseph is their youngest son.   He came to Alabama as a single man in his 20's and married his first wife in 1819,  Elizabeth Welch.  They had six children.  After her death in 1832, he married Lucretia Griffith Wilson in 1836 and had ten more children.  Among the ten children were three boys.  I descend from the second boy, Benjamin.

Joseph died on his plantation in 1857.  800 acres. At the time, it was prime cotton land, worth $10 an acre.  

Of all the personal property listed in the estate inventory that I would like to see, I think the "family carriage" valued at $700 in 1858 would be the most interesting.  It probably looked something like this: 

This is Joseph's grandson, my great grandfather, and his nurse. She is on the plantation inventory in 1857 with husband Charles. Her name was Pleasant. She and Charles and another man named Skinner were willed to my great great great grandfather's first wife by the wife's father, Thomas Welch of Dallas County, Alabama who died in 1832. She and Charles lived to be free and are listed as husband and wife on the 1870 census. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mercy Hurd ( 1600-1693 )

Behold ye the image of Mercy Hurd.  

                                                Born about the year 1600 in England. Depicted later in life. Wearing an extravagant round ruffled collar.   
Back of Portrait. Unsigned. Round presentation in a large gilt molded plaster over a round wooden frame ( 20" x 20" ) .

The wife of Thomas Bingham, William Hunt, and Edmund Rice. 
Died in Middlesex County, Massachusetts in 1693. Most of the genealogies mention the first husband. Some researchers disagree on the other husbands. ( see one of the replies to this post) 

She has been wrapped up and hidden away for a very long time. As far as I know, she was forgotten in a New England attic.  This is the first time to my knowledge that her image has been made public with this posting. 
Update:  Good news. She has been returned to her a direct descendant in New York who is having her fully restored. 

Colonial Dough Bowl worth saving

I bought this dough bowl from an estate in Connecticut.  Someone a long time ago kept it together by mending the wood splits with wire.  

It has a 20" diameter and stands 5" high.  The catalog described it as "18th Century Colonial Maple Turned Dough Bowl."  

I placed it on a standing dough box in the front room of my log house.  Most of the items in the sale were expensive porcelain, china, and  fine art. This was the only primitive. Mine was the only bid. 

I made sure this was not one of the fakes that are being sold on the popular auction sites. Those also have "repairs" made of tin and wire. Nobody would nail a piece of sharp tin to the inside of a dough bowl back then...your fingers would be cut every time you made biscuits. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Henry Clay portrait purchase : unidentified elderly man.

Being on Auctionzip has allowed me to view live sales all over the country.  The framed canvas above was up for bids in an auction house in New Orleans.  The catalog description said,  " Portrait of an elderly man...on canvas...presented in a period oval gilt and gesso frame.  15 3/4 in. by 13 in.   " 

Since I am more familiar with people who lived before 1860 than those who are active today,  I recognized the face as that of the great Kentucky Senator Henry Clay.  I bid the minimum and won.

There was a time I would email people and volunteer information about things they had for sale but didn't know much about. Those days are over.   I guess I'm not the road-show type anymore.