Sunday, September 28, 2008

They tried to bury this Memorial

My grandmother Edith's first cousin Clarence Hudson Lundy was born in 1898 and joined the US Merchant Marines when he was 21 years old. He was over 40 when WWII started but served aboard several Liberty ships that took supplies to the troops in Europe.

On August 19, 1943 he was the Master of the Liberty ship, SS J. Pinckney Henderson when it collided with a Panamanian tanker, the J. H. Senior. J. Pinckney Henderson (1808-1858) was the first governor of Texas and the ship bearing his name was on it's maiden voyage.

Liberty Ship convoys were escorted by US warships and took northern routes across the Atlantic trying to reduce the threat of German U-boats. It was not uncommon for them to encounter bad weather or icebergs on this route. This convoy, number HX-252 had been in heavy fog for three days when the collision occurred off the coast of Nova Scotia.

From the US Navy records: "While steaming in convoy (Convoy number HX-252) and carrying a volatile cargo she collided with the tanker J.H. Senior which was carrying high octane aviation gas on August 19, 1943 when off Newfoundland (lat. 44 12' N, Long 53 58' W). Both ships were immediately drenched in aviation gas and became blazing infernos, the flames spreading so rapidly that there were only nine survivors between them. The Liberty ship was towed to Sydney, Nova Scotia where she arrived on August 31 and was beached. She continued to burn for three more weeks until nothing was left but a gutted hull. Later she was refloated and towed to Halifax, then on January 14, 1944 she was towed to New York where she was declared a constructive total loss. In July of 1944 she was scrapped in Philadelphia. Sixty-one men were lost on the Liberty ship and only three survived. "

"Pinckney Henderson (42): There were only three survivors from this ship. The Boatswain was in his cabin and felt a collision. He stated that it was very foggy, and that the ship which they rammed caught fire. He was very definite that his ship was not torpedoed.

An Ordinary Seaman was on lookout duty at the port midship gun and stated that he saw a blue light on the port side and reported it to the Mate. When back at his gun he saw that collision with another ship which was crossing the bows from port to starboard was unavoidable. This other ship was rammed starboard side "between bow and bridge". Henderson caught on fire almost at once - very probably electrical as this survivor stated he saw "blue flames" in the officers' quarters. This Ordinary Seaman and the Boatswain remained on the stern of the ship for almost two and a half days.

The only other survivor was the Carpenter, and Indian named Albert Cericeros. He stated that he heard an explosion which he believed to be a torpedo "in No. 3 Mess between midships and stern". The ship caught fire and he went over the side with life-jacket on, being picked up about six hours later. He further states that whilst in the water - he does not remember when - he found himself drifting towards a fully surfaced submarine. He saw one gun on deck and six or seven members of the crew, but does not remember seeing any number on the conning tower. He then drifted away from it. This witness was torpedoed in the Caribbean in March, 1943, in Tulsa which was subsequently beached."

In September 1943, the bodies of the men recovered from collision were buried in a mass grave in Harwood Hill Cemetery in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Some of the Canadian sailors who recovered the bodies from the burning ships were also the burial party.

A 800 lb granite marker in the shape of a Cross was erected that read: "U. S. Liberty Ship J.P. Henderson, September 3, 1943. Here lie the remains of officers and crew members, naval and merchant, who lost their lives while serving their country. All members buried with full naval honors."

In 1949 the remains of the Merchant Marines and sailors were returned to the US and buried in a mass grave at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.

In the 1960's Canada offered the original marker to the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY. They had plans to erect it near the waterfront but before it could be installed a new Academy superintendent came along and decided he didn't like it. The memorial was sent to storage in a government warehouse. Somehow it was later buried on the grounds of the Academy.

Forty years later on May 23, 2003 a bulldozer working to widen a road uncovered the marker. It has now, 60 years later been erected on the campus in memory of the men who lost their life.

In May 1951 The US Government and Panama Transport, who owned the tanker, paid claims under the Death on the High Seas Act of 1920 to the next of kin. A payment of $55,000 was paid to Clarence Lundy's wife and children. No fault was placed against either vessel.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Grandpa Tink

Today marks 43 years since my Grandfather, Walton "Tink" Fulford died in the Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton, Florida. He was one of the most respected men in the community and certainly made a big impact on his grand kids.

All the boys who were old enough got the thrill of going fishing with him. We would go out at sunset and get home just before dawn.

It seemed we would only get to sleep about 15 minutes before we had the pleasure of being awakened by his gentle fingers on your arm, neck or anything he could find under the covers. He could grab hold with those big knuckles and bring you to tears in less than a second. "You goin sleep all day?" He always had a long list of things for us to do.

He was also the one who would send us to the store with a handful of money to buy candy like it was an emergency. He never ate any of it but would check out the bag to see what we bought. After supper he would sit on the living room couch with a half gallon of strawberry ice cream and a hand full of spoons for everyone to dig in. I don't think my grandmother appreciated that very much.

The grand kids didn't understand how sick he was so his death was a big shock. I can remember the blank expressions on many young faces. During the funeral they sang O Come Angel Band. It was probably the first time I had heard it. Even today, years later if I hear that song I remember his funeral.

Warning: You can DL the song with the above link but it will stay with you too.

After the service we were in the procession heading out to the Skyway Memorial Gardens cemetery and I looked back and the line of cars went across the Manatee River bridge and into Bradenton, as far as you could see.

I asked some family for their memories and will share them below:

Annie: How could you ever forget that song? I remember it so clear, of course I was older than you. I even remember the dress I wore to the funeral.

Carol: I remember that the flower arrangements filled the front wall top to bottom, and there were so many they stacked them in the back also. Although we were sitting in the family section I could see people standing in the back and out the door of the chapel because the seats were full.

Mary: When we were all in the family Room I looked up to see that Mac had come in the back door of the building. I told Buster Griffith to have him come into the Family Room as he was family too. The flowers were from the front to the back and around the wall. Buster said that they would be sending some to Nursing Homes.
When we were going to France, "Sug" Raymond on AMI cut a Cedar tree so that we could have Christmas in November before your Dad left. What a thrill when Buster sent the list of who got the flowers to learn that Mrs. Sug Raymond in a nursing home had received some. The grave marker was donated and is marked "From Friends of Tink."


Bradenton Herald September 24, 1965

'Tink' Fulford, Pioneer's Son, Dies At 62

Walton "Tink" Fulford, 62, of Cortez died Wednesday (Sept 22,1965) at Memorial Hospital. Mr. Fulford was born and lived all his life in Cortez and was the son of the late Captain William T. "Billy" Fulford who was a pioneer settler in Cortez.

Captain Fulford came to Perico Island in the 1880s from the eastern coast of North Carolina, near Moorehead. He met and married Miss Sallie Adams of Moorehead, N. C. in Florida and their first daughter, Mrs. Dora Adams, now 75, was born on Perico Island. With his brothers, sisters and family Captain Fulford moved to Cortez in the early 1890s, which was then named Hunter's Point, later changed to Cortez.

Mr. Walton Fulford owned and operated one of the largest fishing fleets on the west coast of Florida and shipped fish all over the eastern part of the country. In 1940 he opened the Fulford Fish Company in Cortez. He was a member of the Cortez Church of Christ.

Survivors include his widow, Mrs. Edith Wilson Fulford; four daughters, Mrs. Mary Green of Tallahassee, Mrs. Belinda Porterfield of Montgomery, Ala., Mrs. Irene Taylor of St. Petersburg, Mrs. Anna Dean Riddick of Hollywood, Fla.; three sons, Ralph M., Wayne W. and Gary D. Fulford all of Cortez; four sisters, Mrs. Dora Adams, Mrs. Grace Guthrie, Mrs. Sallie Moore, all of Cortez, Mrs. Bessie Henning of St. Petersburg and 13 grandchildren.

Funeral services will be Saturday at 10 A.M. at Griffith - Cline Funeral Home with Olin Hastings, of Oneco Church of Christ and Charles Geer, of Cortez Church of Christ, officiating. Burial will be in Skyway Memorial Gardens. Pallbearers will be J. O. Guthrie Jr., Thomas Fulford, Woodrow Green, O. K. Drymond, Paul Taylor and Manley Bell.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Wedding Planner

My uncle Alton Green has the family record for the most weddings.

Uncle Al for many years made a living playing music. He played the trombone in swing bands in the 1930s and 40s. I guess it was not a career that lent itself to a stable family life. After WWII he took over a candy vending machine business from my Dad in Jacksonville, Florida but it didn't help his love life.

His first wife was Frances Scott who he married in 1927 in Sarasota, Florida. In 1936 he married Beatrice Armond in St. Johns County Florida. In 1941 he married Alta Pauline Catherine Wells Perry in Jacksonville, Florida. In 1951 he married Gladys Williams in Jacksonville, Florida. His last wife was Era "Dinah" Dorough.

He officially was married to five women but he married Dinah twice once in the late 1950s and again in 1963. Later in life he lived with a common law wife named Mary. I never knew her last name. The amazing thing is that with all the women in his life he never had any children!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

He married an Indian Princess

There are a couple stories you hear over and over when doing genealogy research.

Such as, there were three brothers who came over on a ship from England/Scotland/Ireland in the 1700s and got off at different cities. All of the (whatever surname) in America can be traced back to the three brothers. I have seen this story dozens of times.

Another one; he cleared a homestead in North Carolina, Georgia or Alabama in 1820 and married the daughter of Chief "About to be move to Oklahoma." She was an Indian Princess but took on the manners and dress of a white woman.

The last one, having Indian blood in the family tree is a strange one for me. I can't imagine any of my grandparents ever claiming to be part Indian, Native American, Cherokee or Seminole. Growing up in the South, having any connection to a minority group in the 1950s would have been very unusual. But today, many people claim to have a full blooded Native American great grandmother, or father when the reality is very different. In fact I haven't been able to document any family connection to Native American blood and have run down probably ten or more stories.

I had people on both sides of my grandmother Ila Rowell Green's family tree claiming that the other side was full blooded Cherokee. They even sent me photos to prove that this or the other ancestor was Indian. But they both claimed it for the other side. One side said Joseph Rowell was Cherokee and one side claimed it was his wife, Versanoy Smith.

In my research I have proof that neither were Native American. Joseph Rowell's father was William Rowell who came from South Carolina to Florida soon after it was sold to the US. He settled in what is now Taylor County Florida. Now some would say he had to be Indian. If so then he fooled a whole lot of people because he was chosen as a Captain in the Florida Militia during the Florida Indian Wars. He served several tours, very successfully driving the Indians south so the northern part of the State would be available to settlers. I found an old newspaper article about his military exploits at the University of Florida library.

So it must have been Versanoy who was passing as white, right? Well her father, Seth Smith was a well known Missionary Baptist minister and elder who founded the Missionary Baptist church in Taylor County. His father was a Methodist minister in Georgia. Pretty white bread on both sides.

Monday, September 1, 2008

25 free iTunes

This is the subject line on emails I send to my kids every so often. With it I am sure they will click on and read the email.

Normally it contains a link to an article about how important it is to use sunscreen. Both my parents had red hair and fair complexion. One family tradition I wish we could break is having to deal with skin cancers but considering the matching set of genes and growing up in Florida that probably won't happen. My grandfather on my mother's side died from melanoma in 1965 and not only both parents but all my siblings have had at least one case of skin cancer.