So Red The Rose – a bit of family history

It is a rare opportunity to see Southern culture and history combined with one’s own family history being portrayed in a novel – and then being made into a movie, but I have that privilege. I had known that the novel So Red The Rose, written by Stark Young, was about my ancestors. What I had not been aware of was that it was made into a movie. The movie was produced by Paramount Pictures in 1935 (4 years before Gone With The Wind). In the book, the Bowling Green Plantation is called Montrose, hence the title So Red The Rose. Mr. Young was my 4th cousin a couple times removed and based several of his novels on the history of the McGehee family – primarily the families of Hugh McGehee and his son Edward. They were my first cousins several times removed. In the movie the focus is on their neighbors, the Bedford family; the McGehee family plays only a very minor role (they ride up to the plantation to gather horses and men to join the battle).

[07/23/2013 – edited to remove YouTube video clip that no longer exists]

The history that it is based on is the life of a prominent Mississippi planter, Edward McGehee. They lived at Bowling Green Plantation, just outside of Woodville, Mississippi. On October 6, 1864, Union troops routed the Confederates and then galloped up to Bowling Green Plantation which the Confederates had used as their headquarters. The Union soldiers dragged out Edward McGehee, his wife, and daughters, then burned the house. Today, only the porch columns remain, rising out of the undergrowth.

In the fall of 1864, the family of seventy-eight-year-old Judge Edward McGehee of Wilkinson County was subjected to even more egregious treatment by troops of the Third United States Colored Cavalry. On October 6, this unit, commanded by Major J. B. Cook, raided Judge McGehee’s Bowling Green plantation; ransacked the mansion; ordered the judge, his wive and their three daughters to vacate the house within twenty minutes; and burned it to the ground. The pretext for this vindictive act was simply that McGehee had been providing food to Confederate troops in the vicinity. Alerted by a pal of smoke rising over Bowling Green and by the tearful pleas of a faithful McGehee servant, a neighbor rushed to the scene and found “the House in ashes & the family sitting in the yard with a small pile of wearing apparel,” virtually the only items saved from the house. During the course of the incident, according to family members, both the judge and his wife were physically abused by the Negro soldiers. Major Cook, however, categorically denied that any of this men had struck either of the elderly residents. “I would have shot any one on sight had I witnessed such a thing,” he declared vehemently. By all accounts, McGehee behaved with exemplary dignity and restraint throughout the entire ordeal. Whatever the truth concerning the alleged assaults, Major Cook later conceded that the order from his superior to burn Bowling Green was “very cruel and very unjustifiable.”


A Harvard University study concluded that Woodville, Mississippi (incorporated in 1811) best typified a Southern town preserving the traditions, customs, and culture of the antebellum South.

The McGehees had originally emigrated from Scotland to Virginia in the seventeenth century, pushed south to Georgia, and then moved westward first to Alabama, then Mississippi, and eventually, even to Texas. The influence of this enormous, sprawling family upon Young cannot be overstated. From them he received a lasting admiration for family life, a sense of belonging, an awareness of his own identity, and a commitment to high personal standards of honor and integrity. Much of Young’s Southerness and his agrarian humanism derives from the McGehees to whom he always referred as “my people.”

Edward McGehee was a successful planter by any definition of the word. He owned 29,800 acres of land and 825 slaves. His estate before the war has been conservatively placed at $2,717,000. His good friend, President Zachary Taylor, said of him, “the best man I ever knew… I have known him to lift a drunkard from the road into his buggy and take him home.” He offered him the office of Secretary of the Treasury, but Edward declined, preferring the independence of a private gentleman.



  1. Masters of the Big House: Elite Slaveholders of the Mid-nineteenth-century South, by William Kauffman Scarborough
    Page 369
  2. From Lives of Mississippi Writers, 1817 – 1967
  3. Ref:”Edw. McGehee of Bowling Green Plantation, MS” by John Hanson Kennard as quoted in McGehee Descendants, Vol. III)
  4. Some information in this post came from the March 1980 issue of Southern Living, and some came from McGehee Descendants by Ethel C. Woodall Grider

About Stephen Clay McGehee

Born-Again Christian, Grandfather, husband, business owner, Southerner, aspiring Southern Gentleman. Publisher of The Confederate Colonel and The Southern Agrarian blogs. President/Owner of Adjutant Workshop, Inc., Vice President - Gather The Fragments Bible Mission, Inc. (Sierra Leone, West Africa), Webmaster - Military Order of The Stars and Bars, Kentucky Colonel.
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51 Responses to So Red The Rose – a bit of family history

  1. Marguerite Stuart says:

    Bowling Green Plantation was rebuilt after the war by Edward McGehee and was inhabited by his grandson James Stewart McGehee and his wife Caroline who remained childless. Instead they raised the orphaned children of his cousin Archibald McGehee Stuart, Walter Bynum, Clara Belle and Archibald, Jr. Stuart. It later burned again in the 1940’s and the ruins are from that second home.

  2. Thank you so much for the additional background on Bowling Green Plantation. I’ve seen photos of the ruins, and would love to visit there some day.

  3. Shawna Regan Fulton says:

    Last year my family tried to visit Bowling Green.. too much rain the day before stopped us in our muddey tracks. My mothers side of the family is why we began our adventure, McGehee is my mothers’ maiden name (Patricia Earl McGehee). The stories I have listened to through my childhood drove my family to discover part of our family tree. Thank You for this great info I can pass on to my mother, and future generations.

  4. Thank you for stopping by, ma’am. I hope to be able to add more about this if I can. If you get the chance to visit Bowling Green, I would deeply appreciate it if you’d let us know what you find there. Any photos you might like to share would be great also.

  5. B. Chaser says:

    You should stop living in the past. After 50 years of doing McGehee genealogy , there is a lot of new info out there. First of all ,DNA has proven without a doubt that McGehee’s are NOT related to McGregors. And the CW started long before 1861. McGehee’s were involved in raising money and getting South Carolinians and other southerners to go to Missouri in the 1850’s to fight for the right to own slaves . The SC charter posted in 1861 clearly says it is about slavery. Being born and raised in the south and ancestors who founded this country 1607 Jamestown, I would never want to see the old racist south come back in any form. It was cruel and barbarous and only benifitted lazy whites who did not want to lift a finger to work.

  6. B. Chaser,
    I started to write a response but decided against it and deleted it. No sense in getting into an argument. You are, of course, free to believe whatever you want to believe. It’s not my mission to try to “convert” anyone. If that’s your mission, then you can mark this one down as a failure. I’m not convinced.

    Confederate Colonel is aimed at a very specific group of people – the people I cherish as “my people”. You’re clearly not among that group. Since getting into arguments is not what we do here, you’ll probably be happier someplace other than here.

  7. Ruffin Veal says:

    Mr. McGehee:

    I am a Black American, originally from Louisiana, who is in the process of researching my family history. From what I’ve been able to determine so far, the history of my family (the Veals) may be linked to Edward McGehee, owner of Bowling Green Plantation previously located in Wilkinson County, Mississippi.

    The following internet link makes reference to my family name and Bowling Green Plantation:

    Are you able to provide any additional references or family records which may aid me in my research?

    Thank you.

  8. Hello, Mr. Veal. Thanks for stopping by.

    I looked through the index of McGehee Descendants and found the following references to your family name:

    Dean Johnson Veal
    Hubert Gregory Veal
    John Gregory Veal
    Levi Ezell Veal
    Lizzielee Veal
    Mary Belle Powell Veal
    Willie Ben Veal

    These are all in Volume III. There was one reference to Veal in Volume I, but that was for someone born in 1952. Let me know if any of those names match what you’ve found and we’ll see what we can put together on this.

    Again, thanks for stopping by, sir.

  9. Ruffin Veal says:

    Mr. McGehee:

    Thank you for your response.

    This is the first reference to these names that I have encountered. I am just beginning my research so any leads I come across will be helpful.

    The LSU/Baton Rouge library has some reference material concerning the McGehee family of Mississippi. I am not aware if you know of this material so it is listed below.

    Thanks again for your time and help. It is greatly appreciated.

    -Research Leads

    Natchez-Area Manuscript collections in The Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections at Louisiana State University

    McGehee, J. Burruss (John Burruss), 1836-1913. Papers, 1816-1951. 15 linear ft. Location: C:34-35, UU:54-60, P:1, OS:M, Z. Plantation owner in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, and Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Collection includes letters, newspaper articles, business papers related to Burruss’ plantations, and genealogical notes. One item records damage to Bowling Green Plantation during the Civil War, and a map (1874) shows an area of racial uprising.

    McGehee, James Stewart, 1860-1945. Family papers, 1826-1912 (bulk 1903-1904). 35 items. Location: C:26, A:3. Planter and businessman of Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Papers include family letters, McGehee’s autobiography, the history of a slave family, and financial documents. Includes items related to the destruction of Bowling Green Plantation in Mississippi by U.S. Federal and African American troops.

    McGehee, James Stewart, 1860-1945. McGehee family collection, 1724-1929 (bulk 1862-1880). 5 ms. vols. Location: H:1. Planter and businessman of Wilkinson County, Mississippi, and St. Louis, Missouri. James’ grandfather, Edward McGehee, owned Bowling Green Plantation in Mississippi, and was president of the West Feliciana Railroad…Includes an account of the Veal family, a family of slaves associated with the McGehees.

  10. This might be helpful…

    Lizzielee Veal, Willie Ben Veal, Dean Johnson Veal, and Mary Belle Powell Veal are all the children of Susan Amelia Blanton (b. 4 SEP 1844), who married Levi Ezell Veal (b. 16 NOV 1836).

    Susan Amelia Blanton was the daughter of Lucinda Malinda Hill, who married Ben Blanton, and second marriage to Henry E. Wilkinson. It is unclear (to me anyway) which of her husbands was the father of Susan Amelia Blanton.

    Lucinda Malinda Hill was the second child of Amelia Walton Hill, who was the first born child of Sarah “Sallie” McGehee, who married Thomas Hill. They were married 28 July 1799.

    I hope this help. Best wishes on your search!

    By the way, here is our family web site –

  11. Donna Hodges says:

    I stumbled across Bowling Green plantation today, and took some photos in the cemetery. If you will will send me your address, I will forward them to you

  12. John says:

    I’m currently on the Bowling Green site doing some work and would love to help you with some pics. Let me know what you need.

  13. John,

    That would be GREAT! Donna Hodges sent some excellent photos of the cemetery area, and I am going to do a post using those photos right after the current series is finished (or maybe I’ll insert it in as a break from the series). If you could send some photos of the ruins of the house and anything else that looks interesting on the site, that would really help a lot. We’ll have a nice post so that folks can see what it look like now.

    Again, thank you for your generous offer. I’ll be sending you an email so you’ll know where to send them.

  14. Martha Roark says:

    One of my grandfather’s nephews Dr Thomas Dudley Isom spouse’s surname was McGhee. Their antebellum home is located on Jefferson Street in Oxford, Ms. What a wonderful tradition to step back in time and see Southern History as a rewarding subject and hobby I would enjoy stepping back in time and seeing what really happened. The tapestry this era created is unique and definitely a catalyst for the problems we face today.

    Today, in many cases and in my opinion, we are in a state of anomie as forlorn as the wandering slaves were after they received their freedom.

  15. Martha, what a great illustration! I’ve never thought of it in those terms, but you’re right. We, as a people, have stood and watched as conquering culture attempted to strip away our heritage. For some, it has been “successful” and resulted in the same sense of drifting that comes from losing the anchor that land and history and heritage provide. When we read the first-hand accounts of former slaves, we see time after time the feeling of being cut loose and aimlessly drifting.

    The war ended nearly a century and a half ago, yet it – and especially the “Reconstruction” era that followed – has an enormous impact on American society even today.

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I look forward to hearing from you again.

  16. Landon Anderson says:

    I live at Holly Grove in Wilkinson County, MS. Catherine Stewart of Holly Grove married J. Burruss McGehee, son of Judge Edward McGehee. Her brother Duncan Stewart married JB McGehee’s sister Caroline. It was their daughter who was about to be born when Bowling Green was burned. I have read that the William Veal in ‘So Red the Rose’ was patterned on a Stewart butler. I do know there were Veals as freedmen at Holly Grove in the 1870’s. Ruffin Veal, maybe you have some connection to the Stewarts. There is a slave cemetery at Holly Grove but only 2 headstones.

  17. Ruffin Veal says:

    Mr. McGehee:
    Thank you for contacting me with this additional information.

    Thank you for the information. This adds another clue to the search into my family’s heritage. I will purchase the novel “So Red the Rose”. I know I will find it even more interesting because of “William”.

    Did the Stewarts own a plantation? If so, what was it’s name and would “William”
    have worked on the Stewart plantation instead of Bowling Green?


  18. Landon Anderson says:

    Mr. Ruffin,
    I don’t know much about the slaves at Holly Grove. There were over 300 listed in the 1860 census. Holly Grove Plantation was begun by Duncan Stewart. His father owned slaves in his home on South River in Bladen County NC. After serving in the NC legislature and senate, he and his family moved to the Tennessee Territory in 1794 and he served in the legislature and senate in the new state of Tennessee. He was a surveyor and a land dealer in the Clarksville area of Tennessee. He and his relatives relocated again in 1809 to the Mississippi Territory. If they brought slaves it is not known but probably did. Duncan Stewart served in the Territorial Legislature and became the first Lt. Governor of the state of Mississippi. When Duncan Stewart died in 1820 he owned 65 slaves. In the 1860 census there were 346 slaves listed. The family remained at the Holly Grove Plantation until 1924. Land records note the quarters area of the cotton plantation. A slave cemetery is also noted and exists even today. There is a black church in the area called Holly Grove. I might guess that it was originally on the plantation. We do know that a William Veal and a Henderson and Spoten Veal contracted as freedmen to work on Holly Grove after the Civil War. Also other freedmen last names include Stewart, Flower, Cage, Keller, Hersen, Taylor, Washington, Day, Seaberry, Briggs, Seals. It is the William Veal from Holly Grove that was supposedly the Willaim Veal in ‘So Red the Rose.’ Stark Young the author got his information about the McGehees from Louise Stewart whose father was raised at Holly Grove. Her mother was a McGehee raised at Bowling Green. Duncan Stewart (the grandson) and Caroline McGehee Stewart lived in West Feliciana Parish at Laurel Hill. The Stewart family were also connected to other plantations in West Feliciana, Pointe Coupee, East and West Baton Rouge, Terrebonne and Iberville Parishes. I hope this can help you make a connection and I would be interested if you do to know what you find.

  19. Landon Anderson says:

    Mr. Veal,
    I was rereading the above. The James Stewart McGehee papers at LSU that you noted may contain some clues. I have not seen them. James Stewart McGehee’s mother was Catherine Stewart and the granddaughter of Duncan Stewart who built Holly Grove Plantation. She grew up at Holly Grove before marrying John Burruss McGehee who grew up at Bowling Green. Their siblings married; Caroline McGehee married Duncan Stewart. Both families lived at Laurel Hill near each other on land given them by Judge McGehee of Bowling Green.

  20. Sam Crenshaw says:

    I’m curious about the Levi Ezell Veal mentioned above as having been born 16 Nov 1836, married to Susan Amelia Blanton.

    Does anyone know if this is the same Levi Ezell Veal who was a 1st Lieutenant with Company A of the 49th Georgia Infantry, known as the Wilkinson Invincibles, from Wilkinson county, Ga?

    The records I’ve seen show the soldier referenced to have a birthday of 16 Nov 1835, and dying on 14 Aug 1910 in Barnesville, Ga.

  21. Mr. Crenshaw,

    The Levi Ezell Veal that is listed in McGehee Descendants shows the following:
    Born 16 Nov 1836
    Died 14 Aug 1912
    Married Susan Amelia Blanton on 1 Oct 1870
    Susan was born in Barnesville, Georgia

    That’s all the information I have on him. I hope that helps.

  22. Ruffin Veal says:

    Landon Anderson:

    Thank you for the Holly Grove Plantation information. I’ll add it along with Bowling Green as a possible site where my ancestors worked.

    Mr. Crenshaw:

    In researching the McGehee Descendents provided by Mr. McGehee I too came across references of a Levi Ezell Veal who was a 1st Lieutenant with Company A of the 49th Georgia Infantry, known as the Wilkinson Invincibles, from Wilkinson county, Ga.

    I, of course, donot know if the individual you reference and the one provided by Mr. McGehee are one and the same. But the name and references to date of birth and death are too close to believe otherwise.

    What the information I discovered did tell me is that a white family of Veals had an association with the McGehees. Because freed slaves usually took the last name of their former masters, could the Veals mentioned by Mr. McGehee have been the masters or former masters of the black Veals mentioned by Landon Anderson?

    Did the white Veals own a plantation and/or slaves at some time (in Mississippi or elsewhere)? I have not been able to find such a reference.

    Another thread for me to follow.

  23. Alexis says:

    I just received a silver spoon from my great aunt. She told me it belongs to Mary Lousia McGehee (it is engraved with those initials), who would be my great, great, great grandmother.

  24. Wow, now that’s a genuine treasure! If you haven’t already done so, may I suggest the following:
    Write down everything that your great aunt knows about that spoon and who owned it, etc. (pen and good quality paper – not on the computer). An added “bonus” would be to get a photo of your great aunt holding that spoon. I have found that a box of string tags from an office supply store is great for tagging things like that.

    This is essentially what I did when my uncle gave me his pocket watch years ago. It didn’t have the kind of history that your spoon does, but without that information written down, it becomes just another item from a pawn shop to your descendents.

  25. John Olds, Attorney says:

    Mr. McGehee:
    Looking for leads to documents to establish John Hanson Kennard, Jr. and Thomas Cushman Kennard were the sole heirs and descendants of John Hanson Kennard and Ann McGehee Burruss (two other sons died in childhood). Been to the cemetery at Bowling Green (saw the old home columns through the woods), all beautiful and enchanting, and several courthouses to no avail. Probate documents would be optimal but affidavits of heirship, family Bible etc., would be good too. Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank You, Sir.

  26. Barbara Woods says:

    I am tracing the Jeter/Geter family. I can trace back to Argulus Jeter in Woodville, MS. to 1800. In researching, I found George William Jeter’s will, Bowling Green Plantation. Would he have been working there? I found this at the courthouse in Clairborne Co., Ms.

    Any information on the Jeter family would be great. I believe Argulus Jeter’s father died in Davidson Co., TN. in 1792. His name was Argulus as well. His wife’s name was Nancy. She remarried a William Stuart.

    Thank you,
    Barbara Geter Woods

  27. McGehee Descendants Volume III includes two Jeters:
    Marvin Jeter, Jr. (married in 1990, so no luck there)
    Mertice Vinton Jeter (married in 1954, so probably no strong connection there either)

  28. Lisa Masters Reeves says:

    My grandmother, Faye Minnette Martin Masters, was born and raised in Picayune, Miss. I was always told that her grandmother, Molly McGehee Spurlock, provided cousin Stark Young with most of the family stories that became the book So Red the Rose. I am just beginning to learn more about this side of my family. So fascinating!

  29. Thank you so much for passing that along. If you hear anything more about it please let us know. I’ll have to look and see if I can add anything to the puzzle.

  30. M. KinKaide says:

    Who are the owners of the Bowling Green Plantation property now?

  31. Good question. My guess is that it would take an inquiry with the county property appraiser’s office to learn that, although my guess is that it is owned by some public entity rather than being in private hands. That’s just a guess though.

  32. Lisa M. Headlee says:

    I just happened to find your blog-site. Bowling Green Plantation is not in the hands of a public entity. It is still owned and maintained by McGehee descendants. I visited with a family member in Woodville and was given a private tour of the remains of the Estate at the end of 2010. I was doing historical research–my ancestors were former slaves who worked on the plantation immediately following the Civil War.

  33. Lisa,

    Thank you so much for the report. I’m envious of you being able to have a private tour like that – what an opportunity to get a first hand view of history!

    I suspect that it was fairly common for freed slaves to continue working for their former masters. In this post – – I’ve got a photo of my grandfather’s sawmill crew, including the son of the former family slave known as “Uncle Henry”. Part of the reason was probably the very practical one of work being hard to find and (then as now) having connections makes a big difference.

    Best wishes to you on your genealogy project. If you come across any anecdotes or stores that you’d like to pass along, I hope you’ll consider sharing them here. Thanks for posting!

  34. Ruffin Veal says:

    Ms. Lisa M. Headlee:

    Just read your post concerning your ancestors working at Bowling Green plantation.


    During your research, have you come across any reference to Veal family members (slave or free) working on the plantation before and/or after the Civil war?

    I too am researching my family’s history and there may be a link to Bowling Green Plantation.

    Thank you.

  35. Lisa Headlee says:

    To Stephen: One small correction… My ancestors did not continue to work for their Slave Master after the Civil War. Instead, they (Duncan and Milton, half-brothers who were both fathered by their Master) were given paid employment by Edward McGehee, the owner of Bowling Green. (Although I’m sure the pay was quite low since it took each of them 20 years to buy their own plots of land.) During slavery, they toiled on the nearby Forest Home Plantation which was owned by the Burton family. [If interested, Bowling Green Plantation history in connection with the history of American composer, William Grant Still (my grandfather), can be found in the biographical book, My Life, My Words ( Many thanks to you for the good wishes.

    To Ruffin: Unfortunately, I do not recall seeing any information during my research about the Veal family members. But I will take another look.

  36. Ruffin Veal says:

    Mr. McGehee:

    Just finished reading the book, “So Red the Rose” by Stark Young. My interest was the reference to William Veal, a butler to the McGehees. The book also references a “Captain Ruffin”, a U.S. Senator and a visitor to Portobello, home of the Bedfords a neighboring family of planters. I found it interesting that both my first and last names were mentioned. Who was the first of my ancestors the have my name? That has been one of the primary objectives of my research.

    The book also provided some interesting insights into the political and social climate of the time. I really enjoyed reading it.

    I am continuing to research my Veal ancestors and any links they may have to Bowling Green plantation and the McGehee family. The book, “So Red the Rose” has added another positive aspect to my research.

  37. I have really enjoyed following your search – thank you so much for sharing it with folks. It’s an inspiration to see someone following leads and tracking down their own personal history. I do some of that, but mostly just reading what others have researched on our family. What you’re doing is real digging.

    I have “So Red The Rose” sitting in front of me on my book shelf, and am embarrassed to admit that I have not read it. So many good books to read and so little time…

    Once again, thank you so much for stopping by and keeping us posted on your genealogy search. You will never know how much that means to me – and I’m sure, others – to share the joy of your discoveries.

  38. Donald Jones, Jr. says:

    Hello Mr. McGehee,

    My name is Donald Jones and like Mr. Ruffin and Ms. Headlee, I am researching my African American family history and the McGehee’s are mentioned prominately in both printed and oral history accounts. My maternal family history traces back to Wilkinson County, Mississippi and Laurel Hill, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. According to my maternal Great (x2) Grandfather’s obituary published in 1941 in the Woodville Republican, Oliver Henderson (109 years old) had been owned by Col. W.R. Haile who was the (apparently deceased) owner of Woodlawn Farm, where Oliver lived until his death. The obituary continues by saying that J.S. McGehee referred to him as “Uncle Oliver” and that he had been a servant of J.B. and J.S. McGehee for 70 years. The oral history mentions a Stewart or Stuart McGehee and Henry and Charlie McGehee. It is believed that Oliver and his wife, Amelia Wells Henderson are likely buried in a cemetery associated with the McGehees and Woodlawn Farm. The oral history also indicates that Oliver Henderson travelled by train from Woodville to Laurel Hill as a youth (early 1840’s). This seems to have been the West Feliciana Railroad owned by Judge McGehee. If you have any information relating to Oliver Henderson and his wife and family, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  39. Hello, Mr. Jones. Thank you for stopping by.

    I checked through the index of McGehee Descendents, Vol. III, but there was no mention of an Oliver Henderson. There are 32 Hendersons listed, but none of them even have an initial “O”. I also looked for “Col. W. R. Haile” but found no one by that last name, and no one fitting those initials in the last names that were spelled similarly (Hail, Hall, and Hailey).

    I wish I could be of more help, but at least that might eliminate a few possibilities. Have you tried looking on They have a free trial period that should tell you if it would be worth subscribing. I hope you find the links that you’re looking for – perhaps others reading this will know something they can share. If you’ll give me your permission, I will forward any email or replies that I receive to the email address you used when you posted here (I never share such information without explicit permission). That way your email address remains private, but I can still contact you if I learn anything.

    Again, best wishes to you, sir, on your search. There are far too few people today who understand the need to make connections with those who came before us.

  40. Mr. Jones, your mention of “Uncle Oliver” bring up another piece of history that I have always found interesting – that is the use of “Aunt” and “Uncle” as a title of endearment given to some slaves. Commercial examples are Aunt Jemima syrup and Uncle Ben’s rice. A family example is Uncle Henry – the slave of my own ancestors. This post Slavery – From My Family’s Perspective goes into that a bit and has a photo of Uncle Henry’s son, who continued to work for the family well into the 20th Century.

  41. Donald Jones, Jr. says:

    Thank you for your swift reply. Thank you for the reference link regarding the term “Uncle”. I have an account and have received many hints that has helped my ancestry search but nothing as yet concerning the connection with the McGehees other than that previously mentioned. I’ve been working on my family history since 1984 and will continue to follow up leads. I would be happy to receive any information you or anyone reading your page and do give my permission for share my e-mail address. I will be traveling to Laurel Hill and Woodville soon to research this further and will be happy to share any McGehee information I might uncover.
    By the way, were any of the McGehee names that I mentioned familiar to you?

  42. The McGehee names you mentioned are familiar, but only in an indirect way. That branch of the McGehee family is several layers “up the tree” from me, so I haven’t spent any time adding those pieces to my own genealogical puzzle.

    I take great joy in seeing folks, like yourself, understanding the importance of making connections to our ancestors. Holding their accomplishments up as examples to follow – and their mistakes to avoid – makes us better men and women. Life is tough enough to get it right – I’d hate to have to do it without examples to follow and learn from.

    Again, best wishes to you, sir. I’ll be sure to pass along anything that I hear of that might be of use to you.

  43. Landon Anderson says:

    Donald Jones,
    Woodlawn Plantation at Laurel Hill, West Feliciana Parish was the home after the Civil War of J. Burruss McGehee, son of Judge McGehee of Bowling Green, Wilkinson Co. and his wife Catherine Stewart, of Holly Grove Plantation, Wilkinson Co. The neighboring plantation to Woodlawn, Laurel Hill, was owned by Duncan Stewart (brother of Catherine) and his wife Caroline McGehee (sister to J. Burruss McGehee). Woodlawn became the home of J. Stewart McGehee (the son of JB McGehee) until his death in the mid 20th century. The plantation and its contents were sold at auction. The portraits of Catherine Stewart McGehee’s parents, James Alexander Stewart and Julianna Randolph Stewart, which were at Woodlawn until it was sold are now back at their first home, Holly Grove Plantation, Wilkinson Co.
    As to graves at Woodlawn or Laurel Hill I do not know. The two families of Stewarts and McGehees from Woodlawn and Laurel Hill are buried at Bowling Green.

  44. Donald Jones, Jr. says:

    Thank you very much for your assistance. My ancesters had a bit of an accent or maybe their own particular pronunciation of certain places where they grew up. For instance the area I found on a map of the Laurel Hill area revealed a couple of roads designated “Cheerful Valley”. This location was referred to in my family’s oral history as the home of my Great (x2) Grandmother, Amelia Wells and her father Willis Wells. However what heard was “Chairfull Valley”. As for the cemetery at Bowling Green, I suspect that this is the location of the graves of Oliver Henderson, his wife Amelia and my Great-Grandparents John Haley Jr. and Catherine “Kate” Haley. My Grandmother and her siblings referred to this cemetery as “Bul Gay”. Thank you very much.

  45. Osbern Sterling says:

    Dear Mr. McGehee, I was wondering if you know of a connection between the McGehee/Stewart families and the Stirling families in the St. Francisville area of Louisiana. I like many people who are writing you are currently looking up their family history.

  46. Hello, Mr. Sterling. Thanks for writing.

    I don’t know of any of my branch of the family living in that area, but as I understand the history of the name “McGehee”, everyone who spells it that way can be traced back to a man who came to America from Scotland and changed the spelling of the name at the time of his move. There are those who dispute that version of history, and the facts will likely never be known. From what I’ve read though, I’m convinced enough that I’m going with the McGregor-to-McGehee story.

    None of that answered your question though. No, I’m afraid that I have no direct knowledge of what you’re looking for. If you don’t already have an account set up with, I’d strongly recommend getting one. At least use their free trial period to see if you can find a road worth exploring.

    Best wishes on your search!

  47. Osbern Sterling says:

    I’m not sure if its the right person but I may have some info to help Mr Donald Jones Jr. There was a slave ower in 1848 names W.R. Stewart or Stuart. That transported slaves from Baltimore to New Orleans abord a vessel named Barque Pioneer. He transported 20 in 1848 and there was one named Edward Henderson,age 20. I hope this Info helps. Mr Mcgehee, thanks for the info above.

  48. Thank you, Mr. Sterling. I have Mr. Jones’ email address and have notified him that he might want to check this again.

  49. Landon Anderson says:

    In answer to Osbern Sterling: James Alexander Stewart and Juliana Randolph of Holly Grove had a daughter Penelope who married Jacob Bowman Stirling of W. Feliciana Parish. Jacob was the son of Henry Stirling and Mary Bowman. Henry Stirling was the son of Alexander Stirling and Ann Alston. Penelope Stewart Stirling was the sister of Duncan Stewart who married Caroline McGehee and sister to Catherine Stewart who married J. Burrus McGehee–see my previous note.

  50. Kendric Perkins says:


    I was searching for Mr. Donald Jones Jr. email in the messages, but I couldn’t find it. I believe we are relatives. I’m a native of New Orleans, but the branch of Perkins that I descend from originate out of St. Francisville, West Feliciana. According to his information on Oliver Henderson would be considered my 4th Great-Grandfather. His granddaughter Lucille Woods would marry my 2nd Great-grandather Ben Perkins. If you could connect us it would be greatly appreciated.

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