Category Archives: Genealogy

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!!

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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.

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Category: Genealogy, Stories | Tags:

RIP – Gary Higginbotham

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Oh boy, this is a hard one to write.  My Dad’s first cousin Gary Higginbotham passed away last night from a heart attack.  I don’t even have the words right now to describe what Gary meant to me.   He was my buddy, and I loved him so dearly.  My heart will have an empty hole in it forever more.

Please pray for Bessie his wife, and their children and grandchildren.  It will be tough days ahead.

Bessie and Gary Higginbotham

Bessie and Gary Higginbotham

Remember our deal, Gary, and I’ll see you when I see you.

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Category: Genealogy

Around the Compound – Fly By’s

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I thought I would share this video with you my brother John Higginbotham made.  I’m always referring to our place as the compound and in this video you will see why.  My brother has a helicopter and using GoPro’s he filmed our area.  My nephew William Higginbotham is playing the piano, and later in the video my brother John is playing the guitar.  I’m totally impressed and hope you will be too.

You can see my house around 1:10 in the video.  He comes up from behind my barn and chicken coops and then flies over the house and the next house is his.  When he flies over my parents house, they are surrounded by so many trees you can’t see much but he flies over comes over his pond and around the highway back around the other side of Dad’s property and you can then see his row of Bradford Pear trees.

To give you an idea of the layout of the land, I labeled this shot taken from his video.

The Compound

Awesome video John, thanks for letting me share it.

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Category: Genealogy

Yesterday was one of the most AWESOME days EVER in my family history world.

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Wanna know why? First, I received the DNA kit in the mail from, got Mom to do her spitting in the tube, and got it back in the mail! Can’t wait to see how her results compare to mine. Then, I received a disc in the mail with a lot of genealogy information on it from my 3rd cousin, Jim Dawson.

This jewel of a picture was among the documents.

Kenady Wade Ball Family Photo

Kenady Wade Ball Family Photo

Standing, left to right: Samuel Hartwell “Bye” Ball, Venetia Juanita “Nyta” (Ball) Barrow. Sitting, left to right: James David “Dave” Ball, Kenady Wade Ball, Venetia Clarissa (Smith) Ball. Child in the lap of Kenady is Mamie Hoskins (Ball) Destree, and the child standing is Henrie Venetia (Ball) Payne, both are daughters of John Franklin Ball, son of Kenady and Venetia Ball.

Since 2007, I have been hoping to find a picture of Kenady Wade Ball, my 2nd-great grandfather. I had pictures of his wife Venetia when she was older, but none of her at this age. It’s also really cool that my great-grandfather, Bye Ball is in the photo as well.

I wish I had a nickel for every person that told me there probably wasn’t a picture of him.

I say, “Never give up!”

You just don’t know what all of your cousins have information out there, and what they have.

P.S. I thought this blog post was already posted, but it never did, I found it in the drafts. So, it should have posted on the 22nd, which is why the post is dated like it is, but just posted today.  April 21st was actually the best day ever for my family history! 🙂

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