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Rufus Earl Higginbotham, Jr., 85 Years loved!

Rufus Higginbotham
Rufus Earl Higginbotham, Jr.
25 Mar 1934 – 1 Mar 2020

Rufus Earl Higginbotham, Jr., my father, passed away on March 1, 2020 surrounded by his loving family. It’s taken me quite a while to be able to write this. This was a really hard one. I never thought Dad would last very long without Mom, but he sure gave it a good ole try.

In the end, his heart and body just simply gave out on him because he I know he wasn’t ready to go anywhere even though I know he missed Mom something fierce. He was a fighter til the end.

I thought I would just share here what I wrote out for his Memorial as it sums him up pretty good. I couldn’t read it that day, but my brother Butch read it for me. Dad would have been very proud of the friends and loved ones that showed up for him that day. It was a wonderful tribute to him.

From the memorial:

I would like to say that my Dad was a man of few words, but as everyone here knows, that simply isn’t true.  He had many words, and mostly inappropriate ones.  He was funny and loved a good joke as long as he wasn’t the butt of one.  He loved telling jokes with a good shock factor and in fact, one vivid memory I have as a young teenage girl was him calling me into the kitchen to tell me a joke.  When I arrived, John and all his friends were there, most of which I probably had a crush on at one time or another.  So, Dad called me over by him and they all stood as silent as I did, waiting on the joke.  He put his arm around me and pulled me close and said, “Susie, I’m going to tell you a joke that is going to knock your boobs off.”  He looked down at me, smiled and said, “Oh, I see you have already heard it.”  Of course, the kitchen filled with cackles and I was mortified.  But that was Dad.  I didn’t get to spend much time with him as a kid, his passion was hunting and fishing and that’s where he was most of the time.  But when we were together, he would take me fishing on Indian Head Lake and I loved sharing that time with him.  As I grew older, and Mom and Dad spent so much time at the racetrack, I tagged along.  I loved going to Oaklawn with them.  One time, either Dad or someone else with him super glued a silver dollar to the ground right outside of their row of seats in the main walkway and we spent hours watching and laughing at the people trying to pick that silver dollar up.

My Dad was generous.  If you needed something and you called him, then he would do his best to give it.  He always told me his favorite thing to give someone was credit that they couldn’t get anywhere else, because he believed everyone deserved a chance to make a good living and he wanted to see people succeed.

He wasn’t known much for patience unless he was waiting on that deer to walk by or that fish to bite. But as he grew older, and especially since Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I realized his patience was never ending.  He answered each of her questions, the exact same way, with love and kindness, no matter how many times that day she had asked the same question, and no matter how many times he had repeated the answer.  One time I counted in the car; he handed her a red tube of lipstick 22 times because she couldn’t remember putting any on, and he did so each time with a smile on his face.

Dad and I were able to really bond over the last three years that he lived here with me.  It wasn’t always easy, but we were team Mary Helen and after she passed, we were team Rufus.  I wouldn’t trade one minute, the good ones or the hard ones that I spent with them.  I promised I would never put them in a nursing home and somehow, by the grace of God, I was able to keep that promise and I would do it all over again, if given the chance. 

However, there was a time two years ago, that I didn’t know how I was going to make it, or if I was going to be able to keep that promise, and then Ashlie Tanner showed up.  She brought her “A” game and got me through that hard time, and over the last two years she has guided me through, offered support and comfort and lovingly cared for my parents as if they were hers.  It has been something I truly could never repay to her and I thank you, Ashlie, for everything you have done for me and my family, from the bottom of my heart.  I love you so much.

I also want to thank my kids for sharing me with my parents, for their sacrifices as well, and for being so loving to their grandparents.  I love you both so much.

Of all the things you know about my Dad, there is one thing you may not know about, and that was his faith.  He had a strong faith, and it never wavered.  He prayed for a miracle for my mother right up until she took her last breath.  About a week before he passed, we talked about his defibrillator, and that I thought it was time we turned it off.  He wasn’t so sure about that, and I asked him if he was scared and he said “No”.  I told him I knew Mom was up there waiting on him, tapping her foot and asking Jesus, “What’s taking Rufus so long?”  Of course, Mom was the one that had no patience.  He smiled at that and said he couldn’t wait to see her again.  Three days later, as he was in and out, he grabbed at the air, and said “Come sit here Baby Doll.”  There is no doubt for me, they are together again.  I will miss them terribly, but I have great joy knowing they are together again.

He thought of his friends as family, and I know he loved each one of you here in this room.  I know this because I heard him pray for each of you every night.  Thank you all for coming and thank you for being good friends to my parents.

RIP in Dad. I love and miss you terribly.

Category: Memoriam | Tags:

Mary Helen Higginbotham, 83 Years Loved!

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Mary Helen Higginbotham
March 30, 1936 – May 18, 2019

My beloved mother, Mary Helen (Parks) Higginbotham passed away on May 18, 2019 after a 13 year battle with Alzheimer’s. There aren’t enough words to convey how deeply we feel this loss and what a terrible nightmare Alzheimer’s really is. We honored her wish to stay at home, and she died surrounded by her family, and she was loved and nurtured every minute of her life.

The one thing that gets me through, is knowing she didn’t know how bad it was. She no longer lives in fear and constant confusion every day because she didn’t know the people surrounding her. Her mind is restored and she is free from the burdens of that ugly disease and I have no doubt she is smelling every flower in God’s garden right now.

Oh, how she loved her flowers and yard. She worked tirelessly in her yard, and it was so beautiful. We took so many trips to flower shows, garden centers, beautiful gardens and anywhere she wanted to go to see some flower or a tree, or a new yard ornament she needed.

Most of all, I would like you to know how giving my mother was. If she saw a need, it didn’t matter if you were family, a friend, or even a stranger, she did her best to help. She went above and beyond. My favorite Christmas as a little girl was when she sponsored a family, and absolutely filled their home with everything they needed and more. I will never forget the joy in those kids eyes at their new clothes and toys, and how their mother just cried and hugged my mother endlessly it seemed to me. I felt such pride and joy as I helped place all the food in the their cabinets and knew they were going to have as good of a Christmas as we did. Christmas was my mother’s favorite time of year! Oh, how she loved her Snow Village and I just remember how mesmerized all of her grandkids were standing around looking at all the buildings, lights and moving parts.

She and Dad were married for 54 years, and her unconditional love for him was truly amazing. She wasn’t apart from him very much, but when she was, all I ever heard about was how great of a man he was, how much she loved him and she never wavered on that. Not once did I ever hear a bad word about him come out of her mouth. If they ever argued, I never once heard it. She taught me to love, and to love hard and to hold on to those you hold dear. That every single person deserves compassion and care.

When I was 13, she took me for the first time to War Eagle Mill for my first craft show. We went every year after that until about 10 years ago when it just became too hard for her to go. Every year that I went, at her suggestion, I bought a dish for my “hope chest” which turned into just adding them to my collection. I went yesterday into my cupboards and counted 24 pans. 24 years of a week long vacation with my mother that I have so many treasured memories from.

I could go on an on about just how special my mother truly was, but if you knew her, you already know this! No explanation needed. If you didn’t know her, you missed out on one amazing woman!

I would love for you to share a memory of her with me below if you have one, or please sign her online memorial at :

Rest in peace, my beautiful Momma. I love you, a bushel and peck. A bushel and peck, and a hug around the neck. And I’m talking in my sleep about you!!

Category: Genealogy | Tags: ,

Sign Me Up For Dead Files, My Ancestor Is Still Here!

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I’m serious.  No, really.  I am.

I have recently secured top secret information that my 4th Great-Grandfather is haunting the residents of Jackson County, Florida, and is known as “The Ghost of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church”.

Ok, it’s not really top secret, any google search for Francis Tyler Allen, aged 76, who died at the Battle of Marianna, in Jackson Co., Florida on the 27th day of September, in the year of our Lord 1864, will tell you that he was burned alive in a church by Union soldiers and that he still haunts the area.

I wrote a while back about my unusual attachment to the dead, I never dreamed when I wrote that a couple of years ago that I would actually, maybe, not really, but I should, call in some people to send gramps to the other side.

I mean, really, how can I leave him out there floating around in despair?

I’m sure you would really like some clarification of the actual events, and I will do my best to relay what I have found. First, here is my link to Frank Allen.

Lineage from Susie to Frank Allen

Lineage from Susie to Frank Allen

First, I had this bible record, of my 3rd great-grandfather, John James Triggs.  He was married to Nancy Allen, my 3rd great-grandmother and the daughter of Frank Allen.  In this bible record, recording the date of his wife’s birth, John Triggs writes, “Nancy Allen was born in Columbia County, Georgia September 21, 1821.  She was the daughter of Francis T. Allen and Jane Allen”

Then I found Frank’s headstone on Find A Grave.

Frank Allen Headstone

Frank Allen Headstone


So I thought, ‘Battle of Marianna? Let me just see what I can find out about that.’ Which led me to the website of “The West Florida War” by Dale A. Cox.  He states the following regarding Frank Allen:

Allen, Francis “Frank.” A senior deacon and Sunday School leader at the Greenwood Baptist Church, the 76-year-old Allen was the oldest man killed in the Battle of Marianna. His body was burned beyond recognition in St. Luke’s Church.

NO WAY!!!!!  I’m not going to lie, I cried.  What a horrible way to go.  My gramps must have suffered something horrible.  To further my pain in this situation, I ordered Dale’s book, “The Battle of Marianna, Florida” to which I found this account by Armstrong Purdee, an eight year old boy who watched the scene from horseback.

All of the soldiers were off their horses.  Orders were given to fire the church.  Three men, two with long poles, and one with what seemed to me to be a can, threw something up on the church and the other two having something on the end of their poles, seemed to rub it high as the poles would reach, after which something like twisted paper was lighted and placed to whatever was put on the church and it blazed up.  Men were shot down as they came out of the building.

Only Frank Allen didn’t run out of the building, he stayed inside.  Along with three other men, John Carter, Littleton Myrick, and Woodbury Nickels.

According to the West Florida News, on October 3, 1864, Frank and John Carter were “only recognized by articles on their persons, or the parts of their bodies not entirely consumed.”

How horrific!!!  There is greater detail of this battle and of the firing of the church inside Dale Cox’s book.  It’s an interesting read, but tragic for me.  My poor gramps.  What a hero!  The sacrifice he made that day, is the reason I am here today, and I will forever be grateful for that.  I’ve reached out to Dale Cox, and I hope I hear back from him.  I would love to know if Mr. Cox can shed more light on this whole situation for me, and give me more information on Frank.

Now let’s get to the root of this blog post, according to another one of Dale Cox’s books, “The Ghost of Bellamy Bridge“, Frank is still hanging around as the “Ghost of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church”.  Here’s a small clip from Dale’s very interesting book:

According to accounts given by several elderly members of the church in the 1980’s, St. Luke’s was said to be haunted by the shadowy figure of a Confederate soldier.  He supposedly frequented the lower levels of the church and could be seen there at night, drifting along and apparently oblivious to those who witnessed him.  The figure was invariably described as an “old man, with a long beard.”  He carried a musket and never spoke or otherwise recognized that he was appearing to the people in a time other than his own.

Of the two men found inside the ruins of the church (after the burning in 1864, John Carter age 22 and Frank Allen age 76), only Francis Allen would match the description of the elderly ghost.  At age 76, he was one of the oldest men to fight in the battle.  Since the ghost is described as an elderly man with a long beard, it seems likely that it represents Mr. Allen, although no photograph or portrait of him is known to survive.

Nooooooo.  Say it isn’t so.  Now I’m going to have to find Steve Di Schiavi and Amy Allen (Wait, what?  What if Frank is her ancestor too??) and see if they can put gramps to rest.  I don’t know how much I believe in all that ghost stuff for real, but if there is any chance my gramps is hanging around reliving the most horrible day of his life, and his death, that’s got to stop.

If this doesn’t work, who you gonna call?  Ghost Busters!!  Sorry, I had too.  I’m an 80’s girl and with the recent remake of the movie, which I LOVED, I just had to go there.

Either way, maybe next summer I’ll have an opportunity to take a road trip down to Jackson County, Florida and see if I can get gramps put to rest.  I would say after 152 years, it’s time he got a well deserved break.

Category: Genealogy, Stories | Tags:

Family Tree Maker to Retire

The genealogy community is all a buzz due to the announcement two days ago by that they would be retiring and no longer supporting their software program, Family Tree Maker.  As a FTM user, this news was very upsetting to me. I have spent many hours of my life building my family tree online with, using FTM. You can view their announcement at their blog site,

Since the announcement, I have calmed down and the initial panic has worn off.  I have decided to sit this out for a while before I make any major changes to the way I do my genealogy work.  After all, we have until January of 2017.  I know other family tree software companies will use this time of panic to make sweet offers for the panicked masses of FTM users to switch to their products, which is tempting I admit. But for now, I will wait it out and see what else happens or comes about.

First though, I have to say to that your timing on this deal is pretty crappy.  You won’t be offering FTM for sale after Dec 31, 2015 and you announced this on Dec 8, 2015.  Seventeen days before Christmas.  I’m sure most people, like myself, are already budgeted to the max.  I bought the program and downloaded it to my laptop, without ever getting the setup disk.  So of course I would like to now buy the disk so that if my laptop crashes, I can at least add the program back to a new computer.  That would be $79 I wasn’t expecting to spend with such short notice, right in the middle of the holiday season.  My children thank you.  They will now have to believe again in Santa Claus if they want their stocking filled up.

The reason I use the FTM program is because I need to print my work out, run reports, see cousin relations, etc. I also use the program, to catch errors, and make mass changes at once.  Here is an example of a report I always use when researching.  I keep this right in front of me when working on a line, this way I know all the players and dates for reference.

Me to John Floyd Ball

The main reason I will sit this out before switching to another software program is the tree sync feature that FTM offered with  I spend many hours working on my family tree.  Sometimes I work from, and sometimes I work directly in the software, offline.  When I go back online, FTM automatically syncs my data from the software to my tree online.  That means, any changes I made on is downloaded and updated to my software program, and any changes I made in the program is uploaded to and my tree there is updated.  This means I do not have to do double the work, and my tree is exactly the same in both locations, online and offline.

At this point if I switch to another software program, any changes I make to my tree, will have to be manually made in two places.  In the program, and on my tree. In the past, before I used FTM tree sync, this meant I would get on a roll, working away on and not even really remember what all I had changed, and then have to remember to make the same changes in the software program. Inevitably, this meant I would forget to make one or two of the changes and then my data is comprised and not correct, and doesn’t match in both places.

And yes, I know I can just do my work on and then extract a gedcom, upload in my program and then they match.  I don’t want to go through that every time I make changes.  I want a program to sync with  Hopefully, one of the other programs will step up and make the sync with a possibility, and if they do, that is who I will switch to.

The other major problem with them discontinuing the program, is all the reporting that the software program has, that does not have.  I use these reports daily, in one way or another, and only offers reports that you have to pay to get.  I’m definitely not paying them to print out a copy of the work I have done myself. Never will that happen.  In fact, if they would just add the reporting abilities to their website, then I would be more than happy to do most of my work online on their website and then back up my tree to my computer any time I make changes.

This announcement two days once again fostered my fear of what will happen to my family tree when I am gone?  How do I keep my work up to date, all together, less confusing and easily accessible to my descendants or any family members that are interested? What if the one way I have decided to keep my information becomes obsolete and all my work is lost before another family member becomes interested?

I know for a fact, all this paper work I have lying around, will probably just get trashed when I am gone.  My kids are not going to look at all the data I have collected in these binders and boxes.  My hope was to get all this information, photos, maps, letters, diaries and etc, integrated into my tree, easily accessible on the computer and then maybe someone would be interested if it was all easily searchable and organized all together.  I know, I know, you are laughing at me right now.  No family historian ever really accomplishes this.  But I had planned to die trying.  LOL!

So, my new goal for 2016 will be to come up with a plan for all my work, and figure out the best way to save all this for future generations so that it doesn’t end up in the dump when I die, or better yet, die out with an obsolete computer program.

In a way, I guess this is a big thank you to for waking me up enough to realize that my work will not survive solely in a computer program, with reports lying around in binders.

Throwback Thursday – Chairs From The Past

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This picture of my Dad and I, as you can see, goes way back.  The chair he is in, has been in the barn for the past decade or so, along with its mate.

Me and Dad

Me and Dad

I realize you can only see the back of the chair, but it’s the only picture I could find of the chair actually being used.

Every time I mowed my yard and put the mower up, there sat the chairs.  One of them held the grease gun for the mower, and it just happens to be the only picture I have of it before we took it apart.  You can see the left over mess the grease gun left.  I just couldn’t stand seeing them in the barn, especially when I could use a couple of good chairs.

Old Chair

Old Chair

So I drug them from the barn to the house and Phillip and I spent part of Valentine’s Day taking them apart. Then a few days later I recovered the cushions, with the help of Phillip’s upholstery gun. Man I loved that thing.  I wanted to staple everything.  Even my finger got stapled once.

New Cushions

New Cushions

Next, I used his sander, and sanded the chairs really good, and then spray painted them with a combined paint/primer spray paint i bought from Lowe’s.  Cause I don’t have time for multiple paintings.  By the way, I used 2 1/2 cans for these two chairs.

Chairs being painted

Chairs being painted

Then I made patterns out of the old pieces of leather Phillip took off of the top parts of the chairs with freezer paper.  Ironed the shiny side of the freezer paper to the new fabric, and then cut them out and it worked perfect.  Then I added some shiny brads to the back to add a little detail.

Adding details to the chairs

Adding details to the chairs

Please ignore laundry day going on in the back ground.  Phillip then screwed the cushions back on, and here they are.  My redone chairs that hold special memories for me.

Finished Chairs

Finished Chairs

How is this for a before and an after?

Before and After

Before and After

All in all, I am so pleased.  I saved some family heirlooms from the barn, and added new life to them.

I also got to spend Valentine’s day with a great guy.

Thank you Phillip for helping me.

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