Archive for the ‘Alabama’ Category

In the Land of Cotton

A while back, I visited the Linn Henley Research Library (of the Birmingham, Alabama Public Library) for the second time.   My first visit was several years previous, and I found some things I didn’t notice the first time.  Readers may know my great-great grandmother Emma Luella Lamphere was born in Tuscaloosa around 1854, making me anxious to make use of a stay in Birmingham to learn more.

The main reference room at the Linn Henley Research Library.

The main reference room at the Linn Henley Research Library, Birmingham, Alabama.

I think the experience of visiting a repository more than once is an important one.  In this case, it had been three years between visits.  In those years I have learned more about Russell and Hannah (Andrews) Lamphere including the location of their graves, further information about some of their children, Russell’s future business activities after he left Alabama, and my hard-won determination of Hannah’s Andrews Rhode Island-based family.

What I really want to know

It’s Russell’s business dealings in Tuscaloosa that interest me most.  It’s the earliest family story that exists in my mother’s family – that he went down south, started a business, and lost it in the Civil War.

Here is the evidence I have for Russell’s career:

Early years in Norwich, Conn., as a machinist/cotton mill overseer:

  • Russell’s father left Westerly, Rhode Island by 1805 and worked in some of the early textile mills of Plainfield and Norwich, Connecticut, so Russell, born in 1817, grew up in the mill neighborhoods of Yantic Falls, Norwich.  Russell married in 1838 and appeared in the 1840 census with his wife, new son, and 3 extra adults around their age.  Clearly, he was earning a living.
  • 13 Aug 1845 – Russell and his father together gave a mortgage of $200 for property and half a house to (Russell’s brother in law) Henry Palmer in Greeneville, Conn.
  • 9 June 1847 – Russell Lamphere 2nd purchased for $545 part of the homestead of John J. Denison “a lunatic,” “on the north side of the highway leading from the Methodist Chapel to the Paper Mill Bridge” as the highest bidder at a public auction. Also on this date contracted a mortgage on the property for $400.
  • 16 Sep 1847 – the birth record in Greeneville for Russell’s daughter Caroline M. states that Russell was “overseer in cotton mill.”
  • 1850 census (Norwich, Conn.) – Russell is listed as a “Machinist” with property worth $700.  John Denison’s household is just prior to his on the list.
  • 15 May 1851  – Russell Jr “of Montville” quitclaims for $100 his rights to the property  “at the North side of the highway leading from the Methodist Chapel to the Paper Mill Bridge, at Norwich Falls” to John Eggleston.  Quitclaim means he gives up all rights to the land, whatever those rights or the value of those rights may have been.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama years of building and losing a business, and the Civil War

  • 1855 – Russell appears in the Alabama State Census in Tuscaloosa index (FamilySearch.org) as “Russell Lampkin.”
  • 6 Aug 1859 – An ad appeared for a new business (The Independent Monitor, Tuskaloosa, Ala., August 6, 1859.  Vol XXIII, No. 17, p.2):
New Firm - Murrell & Lamphere, The Independent Monitor, August 6, 1859

New Firm – Murrell & Lamphere, The Independent Monitor, August 6, 1859

  • 1860 – Russell was in the federal census in Tuscaloosa, Alabama with his family.  His unreadable occupation appears as this:
The indecipherable occupation of Russell Lamphere in the 1860 census.

The indecipherable occupation of Russell Lamphere in the 1860 census.

  • 1 Feb 1861 – An ad appeared announcing the dissolution of the business due to the death of partner Wm B Murrell (Independent Monitor, The City of Tuscaloosa, Ala. February 1, 1861, Vol XXIV, No. 42, p. 2):
The Dissolution of the Lamphere and Murrell partnership, caused by the death of Wm. B Murrell. Independent Monitor, Feb 1, 1861, p. 2

The Dissolution of the Lamphere and Murrell partnership. Independent Monitor, Feb 1, 1861, p. 2

  • 28 Aug 1861 – An ad appeared for a tin shop (The Observer and Flag of Alabama, The City of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Volume 15, No. 35, p1):
Tin Shop ad, The Observer, Aug 28, 1861

Tin Shop ad, The Observer, Aug 28, 1861

  • 1866 – Alabama state census White Population – Russell is head of a household of 9 in Tuscaloosa.
  • 1870 – Russell and daughter Emma (my gg-grandmother) were enumerated in Meridian, Mississippi, and he was a “machinist.”

Later career in Rhode Island as a mill overseer

  • 1875 – Rhode Island state census, in Johnston, lists Russell and family. His occupation was “Manufr. of Cotton Goods.”
  • 1878 – Providence city directory: “Lanphere, Russell, overseer, Oriental Mills”
  • Mar 17, 1879 – married Sarah Rawson, his occupation listed as “Overseer in Cotton Mill”
  • 1879 – 1885 – Connecticut Congressman John Turner Wait submits, three times, a bill for the relief of Russell Lamphere (Session 46-2 – H.R. 5889; Session 47-1 – H.R. 3223; Session 49-1 – H.R. 3182).  Any backup papers have not yet been found.
A Bill for the Relief of Russell Lamphere, filed in 1879.

A Bill for the Relief of Russell Lamphere, filed in 1879.  $50,000.  I almost fell off my chair at the Boston Public Library when I saw that.

  • 1880 – federal census in Providence, R.I., “Works in Cotton Mill.”
  • 1883 – overseer, Oriental Mills
  • 1890s through death in 1898 – mostly boarding with his children

A summary of his career

  1. Skilled with metalworking and machinery, Russell took responsible work in cotton mills when he needed a job.  My guess is that the title “overseer” was more about overseeing the machines, rather than the people, although it could have included both.
  2. Reading between the lines, and hinted by the Relief bills, I believe Russell tried to open his own cotton mill three times:
    1. 1847, at Norwich Falls, on property near the other mills that he purchased from John J Denison, which was very close to other mills. If not, he certainly was making his plans for the Tuscaloosa move, and, possibly, working with a partner to plan the move south.
    2. 1855 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I suspect the south’s growing desire by 1850 to begin processing its own cotton, and not relying on northern mills, drew Russell to Alabama some way, somehow.  I suspect this business, whatever it was, was already dissolved by 1859 when the “new firm” of metalworkers Murrell & Lamphere opened.
    3. 1875 in Johnston, Rhode Island.  This is reasonably certain because it is listed in the R.I. 1875 census.
  3. The family legend, and the size of the H.R. Relief bills, suggest that his business interests were larger than the tin shop business described in the surviving ads.

And this is where things stood as I approached the Birmingham library for the second time.

The records in Birmingham

On my first visit, I stuck with the many volumes of vital and military records that I would never have access to in New England.  Nothing much turned up back then except some compiled military listings that seemed to show that my gg-grandmother Emma Lamphere’s two brothers, Charles C. and William, served in the confederate army. A quick review turned up nothing new.

Being more experienced now, I had several ideas about how to get smaller details that might help me.


I explored the map case.  The first discovery was a map of early roads and waterways in Alabama.  Back in the book section, I also found a map of an inland journey down the Ohio River to northern Alabama taken by Juliet Bestor Coleman, a “Connecticut Yankee in Early Alabama” (Mary Morgan Ward Glass, ed., National Society for Colonial Dames in America in the State of Alabama, p. 17).  These may help me determine, someday, how my ancestors may have traveled to Tuscaloosa.

I managed to find a Sanborn map of Tuscaloosa from 1884 using web access at the library.  Before this trip, I had reviewed the historical materials I had on Tuscaloosa, in particular, The Federal Invasion of Tuscaloosa, 1865 by Thomas P. Clinton and others (Northport, Ala: American Southern, 1965).  I knew that important buildings in Tuscaloosa were burned by federal soldiers in April, 1865 in the waning days of the Civil War, including the University of Alabama and its library, also local factories, warehouses, and munitions.  So a map from 1884 may or may not reflect the Tuscaloosa of the 1850s-60s.  But I examined it closely.

Sanford map of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1884, showing one cotton mill.

Sanborn map of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1884, showing one cotton mill.

Nothing like a visual image to bring a story into focus.  There was one cotton factory in the town of Tuscaloosa in 1884.  One.  Boy, does that clarify the search a bit.  Even if, prior to the war, there were several, what I realized was that this was not a booming metropolis with dozens of cottons mills.  I learned from the Clinton essay that the cotton mill in 1865 was called “Black Warrior” (you can see on the map it borders the Black Warrior River).  I learned on this web page, Tuscaloosa Area Visual Museum, that Black Warrior was founded in 1846.  I checked several resources at the library but could not learn very much about the Black Warrior factory; I learned the names of the series of owners, and traced some biographical info on those folks, with no obvious connections to my Connecticut family.


To prepare for my trip I re-read the various sources of Tuscaloosa history I had found during my last trip, and a couple of books I bought since.  At the library, I examined each history book, probably much more closely than I did on my previous trip when I was still mostly interested in finding my family’s name – a practice that I have come to realize causes you to not think and reason enough, although of course it would always be lovely to find our ancestors in those index pages.

“Hard time of the severest nature prevailed in Tuscaloosa in the last days and directly after the war. Any money available was worthless Confederate currency or city change bills, equally worthless. Acorns were frequently eaten for food. … Population fell to a new low ebb in 1870 with only 1,650 residents.”  (– A History of Tuscaloosa, Alabama 1816-1949 by Ben A. Green, ed. W. Stanley Hoole and Addie S. Hoole, University, Alabama: Confederate Publishing Co, 1980).

I’ve been curious about why my family left Tuscaloosa by 1870 and briefly stayed in Meridian, Mississippi, but I think that snippet is giving me a pretty good idea of why.  If the 1870 census is right, the wife and older children were not with Russell … perhaps now I can understand why they may have been forced to live separately, perhaps just to survive.


I also learned, from a microfilm copy of the 1855 state census, that Russell Lamphere headed the following household in 1855 (Department of Archives and History, Montgomery. Alabama State Census, 1855: Tuscaloosa County, p. 75, entry for Russell Lamphere):

  • White males under 21:       2
  • White males over 21:          2
  • White females under 21:    2
  • White females over 21:       2
  • Slaves:                                    1
  • Total inhabitants:                 9

Previously, I had only seen a brief listing of his name from this census. For a family that had just arrived from Connecticut a couple of years prior, it seemed astonishing to me that a slave was counted in the household. There is no way to know if the enslaved person was male or female. A perusal of the census shows a very large enslaved population in Tuscaloosa, and the next household on the page was occupied by Robert Jemison Jr. with 162 slaves.  Were the Lampheres renting on his property?  A check of Tuscaloosa deeds that I did at the Family History Library in 2015 shows no property owned by Russell.  I’m troubled that Russell and Hannah owned another human being, although possibly, they were paying for the service of a slave owned by others.  I’ve always thought of Russell as not so much a dreamer, although he had big dreams, but an ambitious schemer. One assumes he acclimated himself quickly to southern life.

Checking the “7th Floor Records Project” of the Tuscaloosa Genealogy Society for local records which are gradually being digitized (yay for those folks, what an outstanding job) and its compiled index, I found two entries for “Russell Landfier” in the Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Subpoena Docket Book 10, 1854-1859, dated 19 Sep 1856 and 19 Dec 1856; both were subpoenas issued for cases involving Robert Jemison Jr.  I wonder what else I could ever learn about the case involved and Russell’s testimony, if any.

“James Goodrum vs Robert Jemison Jr.”  “139”  “4th” – not sure what those indicate.  Looks like witnesses for the defendant are James Little, Reuben Searcy, and Russell Landfier.  With thanks to the 7th Floor Records Project.

Robert Jemison Jr.

I got curious about Robert Jemison Jr (see a photo and flattering biography here) and learned that he was a local politician and business leader.  He was involved in many business ventures and, among other things, owned plantations that produced a great deal of cotton.  Could he be the person that enticed Russell Lamphere to move south and help start a cotton mill?

Mr. Jemison’s papers are housed at the University of Alabama.  I was curious if he had any correspondence with Russell and did a search.

3 letters

I found, in the University of Alabama digital archives, three items that relate to Russell Lamphere.  One was, amazingly, an 1867 letter written by Russell Lamphere.  I’m not sure of my rights to reproduce that here, so I leave the link.  Here is a transcription:

DeSoto Miss July 12/67

Hargrove & Fitts


your letter of the 2d is at hand and its contents noticed in relation to that business I left with you.  I will be perfectly satisfied with anything you think best about the Accounts.  I think they are all togeather however I will write to my wife to send the Book to you just put the thing through and I will and I will pay the bill. I do not know when I can come but if it is nessary you can drop me a line.

Yours Very Respectfully

R Lanphere

(on reverse) R. Lamphere

July 12th 1867

I also found a letter written by Mr. Jemison to Russell Lamphere.  It contained intriguing suggestions of business activities.  Surprisingly, this was from 1860 when Russell was in his Murrell & Lanphere “guttering/piping/repairing” years (see above) … any cotton mill seemed to have been left behind.  I’m confused by this; Russell didn’t have a son named Russell, and indeed the very name Lamphere seems virtually unique in Alabama in this period – there was, presumably, only one Russell Lamphere. Would he be running the cotton mill and the tin shop at the same time? Here is a transcription:

Tuskaloosa 7 January 1860

Mr. R. Landphere

D Sir

Messrs Hines and [blot] applies to me for the use of the two small lathes belonging to the Cotton Mill.  If yourself & Mr. McLester shall think you can accommodate them without prejudice to the Company’s interest I have no objection to its being done.

Very Respectfully

R. Jemison Jun

[illegible] M. Co.

Robert Jemison Jr and “Mr. McLester” ( Robert McLester?) do not immediately bring up many ties to cotton mills, but they were wealthy Tuscaloosa businessmen who could possibly have partnered with Russell Lamphere if they aspired to start a cotton mill.  I now have wonderful new clues (albeit confusing and conflicting ones) about Russell’s ties in Tuscaloosa and Mississippi.

And lastly, I found a 1980 inquiry from a descendant of Russell Lamphere’s son, Charles, that gave me some additional evidence that Charles stayed behind in Tuscaloosa and joined the Confederate Army.  More on that another time.

Lessons learned

  • Looking at the 1855 NEIGHBOR of Russell Lamphere is what led me to the University of Alabama Archives and ultimately to these letters.
  • I should have checked the University of Alabama archives website many times, not just once, years ago.  Records are being digitized all the time, and local universities have MANY archival materials relating to local residents.
  • I had used, over the years, a briefer index of the 1855 census that did not help me realize who Russell Lamphere’s neighbors and household were.
  • I have not searched hard enough for war materials relating to Charles C. Lamphere.

This feels like a huge breakthrough, to have the name of a possible business partner or colleague.  Next stop:  Learning everything possible about Robert Jemison, Jr.

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My Mom and Dad, Patricia and Sandy MacLean,  participated in several efforts towards fair housing and civil rights locally in Rhode Island in the 1960’s.  But Mom was able to participate in two events farther away: the March on Washington in 1963, and the last leg of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.  The March on Washington story was told in a previous post.  The Montgomery story, below, is much darker, and more complex.

Mom and Dad gave me a booklet given to them by Dad’s brother, a Unitarian minister, in the period following the march.  The Unitarian Universalists had a special interest in the Selma to Montgomery march because they had sent three ministers to Alabama for the march and only two returned alive.  Their book is called “To Bear Witness” and presents a mostly pictorial essay about the march, and its meaning.  Unfortunately I cannot reproduce the photographs here but I will include some snippets from the book and from a talk my mom wrote when she returned home.

To Bear Witness

The March from Selma To Montgomery, Alabama, 1965

Despite the 1964 Civil Rights Act signed by President Lyndon Johnson, voting rights denials and segregation problems were escalating in Alabama and other places.   Selma was a particularly oppressive location with fewer than 1% of blacks in the county registered to vote, and the struggle to register voters was centered there.  Violence or arrests by government officials in response to nonviolent protests were common, sometimes with deaths resulting.  The death of voting rights demonstrator Jimmie Lee Jackson in February  prompted the call for a march from Selma to the Alabama capital, Montgomery, to request protection for voter registration.

Sunday, March 7

On March 7, 1965, about 600 people marching from Selma to Montgomery, the state’s capital, in a voting rights protest, were brutally attacked by state troopers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.  Called “Bloody Sunday”, the images of that day were broadcast widely to a shocked nation.

Two of the march leaders, John Lewis, today a Congressman from Georgia, and Amelia Boynton, lifelong voting rights activist, were at the front of the march, and among the first to be clubbed.  The image of Amelia laying dazed or unconscious on the street that day was a call to all Americans.  This website tells the story of Amelia Boynton in the About and Video sections.  The short video about Amelia’s amazing life was very moving.

[from To Bear Witness:] On Monday, March 8, 1965, Martin Luther King sent telegrams to many religious groups in North America. He sent one to the Unitarian Universalist Association in Boston:

“In the vicious maltreatment of defenseless citizens of Selma, where old women and young children were gassed and clubbed … we have witnessed an eruption of the disease of racism which seeks to destroy all … It is fitting that all American help to bear the burden.  I call therefore … join me in Selma … In this way all America will testify that the struggle in Selma is for the survival of democracy everywhere in our land.”

With the nation, Unitarian Universalists responded.

Tuesday, March 9

On Tuesday March 9, a larger group was in place but was unable to have more than a prayer ceremony at the bridge due to a restraining order.

[from To Bear Witness:]  THE TRAGEDY.  On March 9, after being turned back by Alabama’s troopers on Route 80, Martin Luther King said, “Let’s return to church and complete our fight in the courts.”  But Selma’s time of trial was not over.  That night James Reeb, Orloff Miller, and Clark Olsen ate a quiet supper at Walker’s Cafe.  As they walked away, a group of white men ran toward them, shouting, “Hey, niggers!”  All three ministers were beaten from behind.  Jim Reeb was clubbed across the side of his skull.  He died two days later.

The march into Montgomery, Thursday, March 25

On Thursday, March 25, with their First Amendment rights reaffirmed in a court decision, the march finally made its way to the end of the 50-mile walk to Montgomery, and was joined by as many as 25,000 people from all over the country.  The call had gone out for support leading up to that day, and many thousands responded.  The job was to bear witness – to stand next to those who were being violently and systematically attacked on all sides.  To dare the “officials” with the clubs to beat, gas, and imprison hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of Americans who demanded the right to vote for all Americans.

The civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.  Photo by Peter Pettus.  Library of Congress  LC-USZ6-2329

The civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. Photo by Peter Pettus. Library of Congress LC-USZ6-2329

Mom’s story

Mom gave a talk at her church when she returned to Rhode Island.  The first and last paragraphs, below, are from a different talk mom gave, at her current church, in 2003.  The rest are from the 1965 talk at her church in Warwick.

I responded to the call.  The R.I. Council of churches chartered a plane.  We drove to Boston and flew out of Logan airport late at night.  We arrived in Montgomery in early morning. The airport was crowded.  Black people with cars were waiting to drive us to the place where the marchers were to assemble.

We waited more than 3 hours to start the march in the muddy fields at St. Jude’s School, where the marchers had camped the night before.  We were tired when we started.  The group from Rhode Island fell in near the end.  Thousands had gone ahead of us.  As we went out through the gates and into the Negro community, six abreast, women on the inside, I immediately forgot how tired I was.  I will never forget the faces of those people.  They waved to us and we waved back.  Every house had a front porch and from them old people and children smiled at us.  We passed a school where every window was filled with children and their teachers.  Several times I heard “Thank You” and “God Bless You.”  One of the spectators brought out a jar of water and it was passed back from hand to hand.  We sang “We Shall Overcome” and the words seemed to have a great deal of meaning — “Black and white together, we are not afraid, we shall overcome.”

We were divided into small groups for the day, to stay together and watch out for each other.  My group included my friend Avis Stone, Rabbi Rosen from Hillel House at Brown University, and Rev. Homer Tricket, minister of the First Baptist Church in America in Providence, R.I., founded by Roger Williams.

We marched for an hour and a half.  As we left the Negro section there was a minister standing at the edge of the road, holding a little sign.  It said – “Keep Smiling.”  We tried to keep smiling but it wasn’t easy.  Some of the white people looked at us with outright hatred in their eyes, even the children.  Some laughed at us, some made remarks, but in all fairness, not many.  There were a few confederate flags in evidence.  Many of the white people looked to me as if they were simply amazed by it all.

We climbed the hill to the capital and over it we saw the Confederate flag and under that the flag of the State of Alabama.  No American flag.

At the rally we could not hear the speeches very well.  It was hot and it had rained on us three times.  The last time no one bothered to put raincoats on – it felt good.  I saw tired marchers sleeping in the street.  Finally Avis spread her coat down on the street and said “Here sit down.”

We moved up closer to hear Dr. King speak. When he was finished we were warned to be extremely careful going back to the airport. We walked down the hill past hundreds of Alabama National Guardsmen and boarded buses which took us back to the airport.  The bus took us again through the Negro section.  The people waved goodbye to us as we went along.

Participants, some carrying American flags, marching in the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. Photo by Peter Pettus.  Library of Congress LC-USZ62-133090

Participants, some carrying American flags, marching in the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. Photo by Peter Pettus. Library of Congress LC-USZ62-133090

I arrived home at about 4 a.m.  When I got up at 7:00 and turned on the news, I heard about the death of Mrs. Viola Luizzo.  She also had left her home and children to go to Montgomery.  She had gone to help with voting registration.  She was riding with some black people in a car after the march and she was shot.

The march from Selma to Montgomery and what took place on the Edmund Pettis Bridge changed the hearts and minds of America.  Because of television we could see the senseless violence and brutality.

It is noteworthy that at both marches, Mom ran into my Dad’s brother, Kenneth Torquil MacLean, a Unitarian Minister.  Each meeting was a surprise and, particularly at the March on Washington, an incredible coincidence considering the huge crowd that day.

In conclusion

The idea of bearing witness, of showing up, of noticing a wrong … of throwing so much light on something by the mere fact of thousands of eyes witnessing it … is a powerful one, then and now.

The most wrenching pages from To Bear Witness show, on facing pages, an atmosphere that Mom described well:  a photo of a group of 6 whites on a sidewalk, the adults with arms folded in front of them and sneers that look centuries old, the teenage boy with a newer, less practiced, and somehow more tragic, sneer, facing, on the opposite page, a photo of an old house and porch with about 15 black children dangling their feet over the front edge, shod in white socks and school shoes, looking a little scared, with three or four black adults behind them looking hopeful, with a hint of triumph.

To Bear Witness contained some amazing and moving photographs; you can view some of them in a special gallery on the website of one of the photographers, Ivan Masar.

There are many more pictures of the Selma voting drives and the attack at the Pettus Bridge as well as the several-week struggle to finish the march to Montgomery on the Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement website.

Several months after these events, the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed into law.


MacLean, Patricia L.  Address to the Warwick Congregational Church, Warwick, R.I., Spring, 1965.  Published here with permission of the author.

MacLean, Patricia L. Presentation to the First Presbyterian Church, Holland Patent, NY, January 19, 2003.  Published here with permission of the author.

to bear witness: Unitarian Universalists from Selma to Montgomery.  Boston: published by the Department of Adult Programs, Unitarian Universalist Association, 1965.

The post you are reading is located at: https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2013/09/24/to-bear-witness-montgomery-1965

This was the second post of a two-part series.  The first post, Mom and the March on Washington, is here.

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My search for the story of my ggg-grandfather Russell Lamphere’s 20-year stay in Alabama before, during, and after the Civil War has had two recent developments.

1. Russell Lamphere files a claim for Civil War losses

John Turner Wait

Congressman John Turner Wait (Norwich, Connecticut) filed H.R.5889 on April 19, 1880 for War Claims relief for Russell Lamphere.  This past winter I was able to view the bill on microfilm at the Boston Public Library.

Have you ever sat at a microfilm machine in a quiet library and shouted “WHAT!!”  Well that’s the embarrassing thing that happened (and luckily no worse) when I saw the amount  of the claim – $50,000, in 1880.  I’m quite sure that no funds were ever received.  But it made me curious about three things:

H.R.5889 A Bill for the Relief of Russell Lamphere

  • What was the business Russell owned?  I later learned, through microfilm, that around 1859-1860, he owned a tin and metalworking shop.  Was that it?
  • On what was this huge claim based?  Thanks to the efforts of a “research buddy”, I learned that the National Archives does not have any details of this bill, other than the bill itself.  Whatever documentation had existed is not there.  I have not completely given up finding information somewhere else.  I’ve really only begin to look.
  • What was Russell’s relationship to Congressman Wait?  I suspect Congressman Wait was related to Russell or possibly Hannah.  At the time the bill was filed (and refiled two more times) Russell lived in Providence, Rhode Island, not in Wait’s district at all.

Russell’s exact ancestry in the Lamphere line is something I have not settled yet, and Hannah’s ancestry is uncertain, so all clues are welcome.  There is one here — Congressman John Turner Wait shares a name with one of the five associates mentioned in Russell’s grandfather – (Daniel Lamphere’s) will – Wait Clarke. Clues like that may mean nothing.  But they’re kind of fun.

And one last issue confuses me – I think that those who filed claims for war reparations needed to be loyal northerners whose property was confiscated or destroyed by the northern army during the war.  I’m really not so sure that applies to Russell, since I’ve seen his name on a local militia sign-up.  Was he just lying?  Until and unless I find the backup of that bill, I’ll never know.

2. I find a link to a cotton mill

Tin shop aside, I’ve always wondered how Russell’s skills as a cotton mill overseer (noted in 1843 birth record for daughter and 1880 census) were used during his stay in Alabama. I suspect he may have used his metal-crafting skills to maintain machinery in mills.  I’ve never been able to connect him to a cotton mill in Alabama.  At last, I found something, but it’s pretty strange.  Is there any part of this story that’s not unexpected?

Last night I saw that there were some new Alabama vital records added to familysearch.org.  Although I have almost no official Alabama records, I always check, so I looked up Lamphere (and many other spellings).  I was surprised when something came up:

“Alabama, County Marriages, 1809-1950,”  William Lanphere, 1859

William Lanphere marriage

William Lamphere is Russell and Hannah Lamphere’s oldest son, born in Connecticut.  Apparently he married Bridget A. Hearn or Bridget O’Hearn – I’m not sure – on January 7, 1859.  I don’t think the $200 “bond” was anything but a formality; it’s on every record.  Note that the record is from Mobile County – far to the south of Tuscaloosa.

What I found on the back of the record was the surprising part:

William Lanphere marriage-page 2

The location of the wedding was the “Dog River Factory”.  Now I’ve had a lot of non-church weddings in my ancestor’s files, in fact, mostly non-church weddings.  But in a factory?  with the inelegant name of Dog River?

I thought about this for a while and realized that in the mid 1800’s many factories were surrounded by factory housing, thereby becoming villages, so I tried to find out about this Dog River Factory area.

I found two sources:

  • a master’s thesis on antebellum cotton manufacturing (Miller, Randall M. The Cotton Mill Movement in Antebellum Alabama. New York: Arno Pr, 1978. Print. Preview available on Google Books)
  • a report of an 1853 outbreak of yellow fever in the village (1853 YELLOW FEVER DEATHS NEAR THE DOG RIVER COTTON FACTORY & ST. STEPHEN’S ROAD. From: Report on the epidemic yellow fever of 1853. New Orleans. Sanitary Commission 1854) Available on the Alabama Pioneers website.

Caring for yellow fever patients, Mississippi, 1870

What I learned was the factory began as a cotton mill around 1849.  To quote from the second (1853, “Yellow Fever”) source:

The Dog River Cotton Factory is situated Southwest of Mobile, about five miles, and has within its inclosure of some twenty or thirty acres, about 300 operatives, including their families. The houses are built in a hollow square, and form a complete village.

From the first (“Cotton Mill” source):

[p. 73]  Two cotton factors, Garland Goode and William Ledyard, joined [Phillip] Phillips as directors and purchased the summer property of James Battle, on 35 acres on Dog River.

[p. 74] During the summer of 1849, the owners laid the cornerstone of Dog River Factory, and by April, 1850 the mill was ready to receive cotton machinery. …  The original factory contained 176 looms on the first floor, 40 cards on the second, and 5040 spindles on the third with additional machinery where necessary.  A motor-driven conveyor system transferred the work from one room to another.

[p. 75] The owners purchased the cotton machinery “of the most improved kind” and in “the very best style” from the Mattewan Works of New York …  By the end of the year 1850, Dog River Factory was in complete operation.  The factory manufactured Osnaburg, sheetings and yarns, which it marketed in Mobile.  The owners usually hired female white labor to run the spindles, although in 1850, most employees were men … The 1850 census reveals that with but two exceptions skilled positions at the Dog River Factory were occupied by natives of the British Isles or the Northern states.”

By 1853 a change in management and a fire (and resulting long wait for replacement machinery from the North) caused a delay in profitability until at least 1857.  More famously, the factory was the scene of a Civil War encampment, and may or may not have been a weapons factory during the war.  But that’s not a part of my story.

Girl working at cotton mill

All of this gives me some idea that the factory might have taken young William (born in 1840) on as a factory hand, although the factory seems so remote from his home in Tuscaloosa. Did they have a connection to it? A more remote possibility is that the wife was from Dog River Factory and they went down there for the wedding. The thing I am quite sure about is that Russell’s family did not live in Mobile during 1859-1860 since I have newspapers that show his residence in Tuscaloosa.

All of this evidence is contradicted by William’s appearance in the 1860 federal census with Russell’s family in Tuscaloosa (with no Bridget).  But there were very few Lampheres (of any spelling) in Alabama at that time, so I have little or no doubt that this William/Russell father and son combo are the right ones.  I wonder if by any chance, Bridget died.

Any actual evidence is extremely valuable to me. Dog River Factory ties the family, once again, to cotton mill work … I wonder what it means?

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A story of race and family

When you grow up in New England you don’t hear much about slavery. Despite many Rhode Island “shipping” fortunes based in the slave trade, slavery seemed to be from a remote time and place. Rhode Islanders, more than most, had reasons to want to put those days behind them.   My mother’s Rhode Island roots are distant from the seafaring communities, so I don’t suppose we had much of a role in the slave trade.  Occasionally, around 1700, one sees a slave or two in their farming homesteads, but no more than that.

Or so I thought.  I think for one part of my Rhode Island family, slavery was very real.  One of the only things I knew about my great great grandmother, Emma Lamphere Darling, was that she was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She reportedly said, concerning her family’s move up to Rhode Island in her late teens, that her father had lost his business in the Civil War, and besides, a “white woman” wasn’t safe down there.

Emma Lamphere Darling, 1857-1927

I guess you would have to know my family to understand how strange this seems to me.  My parents deliberately rejected the racial prejudice they may have observed in childhood and set out, in the 1960’s, to make the world a more equitable and loving place.  They were involved in local civil rights efforts, and were adherents to the philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King.  Those are stories for another day, but my parents built a family that now contains grandchildren of all colors.  Two of those are my beautiful daughters, so my sympathies are closely aligned with my daughters’ interests, and their ancestors who were, undoubtedly, slaves.

But I think part of studying family history is uncovering everything, whether it’s flattering, happy, attractive, reasonable, or none of those things.  If you learn with great interest about the experiences of a Revolutionary War ancestor, wouldn’t you want to know about an ancestor who lived through an equally turbulent and polarizing time in American history?

The only artifact I have of Emma Lamphere is her picture, taken before the removal up north, and another picture which I believe to be her as a middle-aged woman.  No notes, letters, diaries, or possessions.  The usual records a genealogist might use reveal only glimpses of her, and may be the work of others: sadness about her mother’s death in 1878, and listing her oldest son as a resident of her household in Providence in 1910 even though he was living with his wife and two babies 10 blocks away.

possibly Emma, around 1903

I set out months ago to learn more about Emma’s father, Russell Lamphere.  I purchased some microfilm newspapers from the Alabama State Archives.  I did, indeed, learn more about Russell’s business; he had a tin shop.  What I also found were indirect clues to Emma’s life story.  No history class ever really prepared me for the atmosphere that was reflected in The Tuscaloosa Observer.

The roll I purchased commenced in 1860.  Stories of the day were detailed at length: the presidential election, John Brown’s trial, and the need for the South to become more self-sufficient (such as “Southern Insurance”, or boys withdrawing from northern colleges).  But every single page was also filled with strident and outraged defenses of slavery.  And not infrequently, the buying and selling of slaves was clearly illustrated.

From the Independent Monitor, January 14, 1860, vol. 23, no. 39. p.1:

FLOGGED AND ORDERED TO LEAVE – The Lexington (Miss.) Advertiser of Friday last has the following:

We understand that a man by the name of Miller was unceremoniously stripped, flogged and ordered to leave the neighborhood, by several citizens of Tobula on one day during last week.  Although Miller claimed to hail from Perry county, Ala., still his conduct and intimacy with the negroes in the neighborhood, created the belief that he was a secret abolition emissary. We learn that he passed through this place a few days ago.  He alluded, we understand, to the whipping he received, in good humor, although he complained that the strap with which he was whipped “hurt awfully”.

From the Independent Monitor, January 21, 1860, vol. 23, no. 40. p.2:

MORE AFRICANS COMING. – The Sea Coast (Miss.) Democrat learns from good authority that a cargo of African slaves is expected in Ship Island Harbor the latter past of the present month.  They will be landed without secrecy, the consignees trusting to the predominant sentiment of Mississippi for an acquittal, in the event of a government prosecution.

From the Independent Monitor, April 5, 1861, vol. 24, no. 52. p.3:

ADMINISTRATOR’ SALE    By virtue of the order of the court of probate, of Tuscaloosa County, the undersigned Administrator of the Estate of William L. Bealle, deceased, will sell at PUBLIC SALE, at the Plantation lately occupied by said decedent, in said county, on the 17th day of December next, the following slaves, belonging to said estate, viz: Marin, Mary, Harriet, Mipta, Ellen, Henry Fox, Henry Cody, Moses, Jake, George, Dub, Tom, Alfred, Orry, Mary Ann, Sophia, Francis, Evaline, Edmund, Tol, Ad, Richmond, Steph, Martha and her child Tiny; together with other personal property belonging to said estate, to wit: Horses, Mules, Oxen, Cattle and Hogs, and one Carriage, one Hack, Wagons and Farming Utensils.

TERMS OF SALE:  Notes with two approved securities, payable first of March, 186(?), with interest from the day of sale.

Charles S. Bealle, Administrator

“The slave sale is indefinitely postponed”

As 1860 turned to 1861 the war went from a skirmish to a drawn out  battle.  The paper suggested that any young man who had not enlisted be derisively “bonneted” by the local women.  Jeers at the north filled much of the paper.  I realize now that my ggg-grandfather Russell Lamphere could never have remained loyal to his Connecticut roots in that atmosphere.  I have a record of an “R. Lamphere” enlisting in a  regiment at the Tuscaloosa City hall on April 25, 1860 in response to a call from the Alabama legislature … I suppose that was him.

As for Emma, she was born in 1857 so the Civil War and the slaves being freed were among her earliest memories.  I can only imagine the talk she grew up with, of hating the north, resenting the growing destruction and poverty all around her, and fearing these people who suddenly had gained the rights of human beings. Given what I read in the paper, an impressionable young girl could easily be convinced of the righteousness of the south’s cause.  How much she must have resented her pragmatic father for turning about and returning to New England!

Emma grew up in an atmosphere of hate and oppression, and war.  The defense of slavery is soul-crushing for all parties, and it’s something that she lived with.  She was probably insecure about her northern roots, and once up north, lonely for her southern roots.  All in all I suspect Emma’s happiness was a casualty of that war.  In the end she died too young, leaving children and grandchildren to mourn her.  But somehow I know that the fact that her descendants stepped far beyond racism to a more loving, peaceful place is something that she would not resent.  I suspect her life was hard enough that she would not wish it on anybody.  So Emma, we are not living your life.  But we are living your legacy.

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I remember my grandmother once mentioning that one of her grandmothers was from the South.  This was surprising to me but I didn’t get much further information.

My gg-grandmother Emma was born in Alabama. Wait, what?

But you know how family stories are.  It was only partly true.

Emma Luella Lamphere was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on 19 Apr 1857.  This is gleaned from the Rhode Island State Census of 1905, and to a lesser extent from other census records and her death record. I have no birth record.

Emma’s parents were Russell and Hannah (Andrews) Lamphere.  Russell was from an old Westerly, Rhode Island family.  Hannah was from either a Connecticut or Massachusetts family that is a bit of brick wall for me.  Russell and Hannah had five children that I know about:

  • William H Lamphere  1840 – 1912
  • Sarah E Lamphere 1843 – 1905
  • Charley C. Lanphere  1846 –
  • Caroline M. Lamphere 1847 –
  • Emma Luella Lamphere 1857 – 1927

The first four were born in or near Norwich, Connecticut.  Some time between the 1850 census and Emma’s birth in 1857 the family relocated to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  They are in the 1860 Federal Census, page 11 as found on Ancestry.com.  I won’t show you the whole thing, but trust me it’s them.  What I would love people to look at is Russell’s occupation:

A What’s My Line moment from the 1860 census

Manuts – St – Marchad???    really?  any ideas?  please??  I examined the handwriting on the rest of the page but my only conclusion is that the middle word is NOT Ste. but is St.  Not helping.

What I do know is that in most previous census records Russell was listed as a machinist.  Family lore says that they went down to Alabama in the 1850’s to start a business.  After, or possibly during, the war the business failed.  After moving to R.I. in the 1870’s, Russell is listed as a mill overseer at the Oriental Mills, Admiral Street, Providence (now the Union Paper Company building).  Oriental Mills was one of many cotton fabric mills in Rhode Island.  I can’t help but think he must have used those machine skills down south and been a part of a fabric weaving mill startup … perhaps with partners.  After the war the family was unhappy during the upheavals of reconstruction, had lost the business, relocated for a while to Meridian, Mississippi, and then moved back North.  But this is despite Russell’s 1860 enlistment in the Alabama militia.  I sense they were committed to the south but then gave up.

A recent photo of the Oriental Mills building by Marc N. Belanger (public domain, thanks, Marc.)

After moving to Providence, Rhode Island in the 1870’s, Hannah (Andrews) Lamphere died in 1878 “after a long and painful illness” which was only noted as gall stones (“biliary calculi”) on the death certificate.  Daughter Emma married, on 5 Mar 1879, Addison Parmenter Darling, a silver engraver in Providence. The father also remarried in 1879.

Emma and Addison had 3 children, the first of whom was my great grandfather, Russell Earl Darling.  Grace Luella  and Addison Jr. soon followed.  Emma’s somewhat difficult life ended tragically at age 69 in a streetcar accident on Broad Street, Providence while on the way to a family function.  The family waited for her and she never arrived.  She lingered in pain for a day or two at the hospital and passed away 2 Feb 1927.

So I am seeking help on two fronts: reading the handwriting from the 1860 census, and also, understanding the business climate in Tuscaloosa in the 1850’s.  Were there cotton mills there? What evidence remains?  I haven’t explored Tuscaloosa deeds yet, but it’s possible Russell owned the property for the business, or owned a home.  Perhaps he paid taxes on the business.

Any leads on collecting this info would be great.  As the blog title suggests, I am way up here in R.I.!


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