Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Who Done It: The Butler That's Who

One of my very favorite Rhythm and Blues singers is Jerry Butler. 

His hit For Your Precious Love still sends me back running to the hallway of my memory bank.  I think it resonates more now than back in the day when I was a young lady who fell in love with the song.

In 1958 when the record came out I was hardly in love but I think I was more in a Puppy kind of love or infatuation. In fact the fella that had my eyes all a flutter came back into my life years later.  But what I saw before and what I saw later was much different. 

For that’s what love will do and all that wider and deeper love that was supposed to grow did not happen.

It was kind of like Uhhhhhh what was I thinking.

Anyway back to Mr. Butler.

When he put out the song Hey, Western Union Man.  I went back for some reason to the day my mother got a telegram announcing that her grandfather Joseph Taylor had died. I remember that as if it were yesterday. I stood looking up at her and saw tears in her eyes. 
I think that was the start of me being weary of the Western Union man to bring back any kind of news.   

The next time the Western Union man came was when my father in law Floyd Mitchell passed. This time I had the tears streaming down my face.

Mr. Mitchell was one of the kindest men I knew and also one of the most gifted. He was what you would call a Jack of all trades. He could cook, bake, fix about everything there was to fix and to top it all he could draw the likeness of people at the drop of a hat.

I just wish that my daughter could have gotten to know him. I did share with her though that he was born in Hope Arkansas to Joe and Nancy Cryer Mitchell and that he had a sister Pauline who lived in Altus Oklahoma and a brother Wardell who took up residence in Kansas City Missouri.

I never did send or receive a telegram from my baby nor ask the Western Union man to “send it right away to my baby, Oh Western Union Man get on your bike right away”.  Visualize I must, so here it is below. (click on image to enlarge)

Now the movie The Butler has come out. It’s the historical life story written by Danny Strong and directed by Lee Daniels that chronicles the life of the real Eugene Allen who served as a Butler to eight presidents. Forrest Whitaker plays the part of Mr. Allen.

Forrest Whitaker comes from my research neck of the woods. He was born to parents Forrest and Laura Smith Whitaker in Longview Texas.  Although they lived in Longview, poppa Whitaker went to school in Marshall which is where my maternal lines are from. The family stayed until Forrest Jr was around six weeks old and moved to California.

Then there is Octavia Butler 

Octavia was the leader in African American Science fiction writers. Some of her works were Kindred  and Parable Of The Talents.

She was born in Pasadena California on June 22 1947 and raised by her mother a single parent also named Octavia.

Kindred is the story of an African American woman who travels back to the South to save her ancestor who is also a slave owner. In the interim she has to also save herself.

Octavia passed away after a fall near her home in Lake Forrest Park 
Washington at the age of 58.

Speaking of back in the day. I mean way, way back in the day. I came across an article about the Butler slaves, owned by one of the richest slave owners Pierce Butler. 

Pierce, grandson of Major Pierce Butler was born Mease but changed his last name to Butler in order to inherit portions of his grandfather’s estate.  The change came about because of his grandfathers wishes.

Pierce the grandson squandered most of his money and had to sell over 400 slaves in Savannah South Carolina back in 1859.  He was saved from bankruptcy with this sale but still owned about 500 slaves at Emancipation in 1865. (click on images to enlarge)

Listed below are portions of the newspaper article listed above that was in the New York Daily Tribune April 1859.


Buyers came from all around from Virginia to Texas as well as newspaper folks because this was one of the largest sales in the history of the United States.

This article was listed in the 1938 Atlanta Constitution . Rest in Peace

Here is Liverpool Hazzard in the 1870 Census living in the home of Peter Mack. I wonder if the eighty year old Elsie Hazzard is his grandmother. 


Here is the 1930 Georgia census with Liverpool listed as a widow

Liverpool  Hazzard  is such a strong name to have. I see the name was not taken after his last owner Butler. Another sign of strength is his longevity.