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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Searching for Pigman Taylor

Last week I spent a large portion of my time performing one of the quintessential jobs of a reference librarian: squinting at microfilmed records. We subscribe to a great genealogy database,, which has the capability to let you go through some microfilmed records. Anyway, while looking for someone else entirely, I ran across a man named Pigman Taylor in the Kentucky marriage records. Pigman Taylor! Can you believe it? What in the world do you think his parents were thinking? "Oh, honey, let's name him Pigman; he's pretty chubby."

Another great resource we have here was compiled by workers in the WPA. (The Works Progress Administration, or later, the Work Projects Administration, which was signed into effect by FDR.) County histories were researched across Mississippi, and along with them, the family histories that make these such a valuable tool for genealogists today. If you'd like more information about the WPA files, I highly recommend this article from

Culling these files can be monotonous work. Sometimes, though, you run across a nugget like this:
Captain Ayers served for fourteen years as chancery clerk of Benton County, and at the time of his death was auditing the sheriff's books, in DeSoto County.
He died suddenly, and later a shortage was discovered in the sheriff books, and it was the suspicion of a great many people that Captain Ayers was poisoned. However no proof of this could be gotten and nothing was ever done.
This actually reads as "later as hortage was discovered" in the WPA files. I spent at least five minutes trying to find out if hortage were some sort of rare poison. I'm almost sorry I figured out the typo! Also, a whole town suspecting foul play makes me think about old English crime novels, for some reason. Here's an excerpt from the Trees of Note section:
A very large magnolia tree on the lawn of the old Falconer Place (now the Francisco apartments) is of interest to citizens of Holly Springs, in that it was once the trysting place of Sherwood Bonner, the author, and Kinlock Falconer during a rather serious romance in their early maturity. This tree measures 80 inches in circumference.
In their early maturity! That just kills me! You know that I needed to know what happened to our erstwhile lovers. Sherwood married after the Civil War and had a child, but the marriage was unhappy and unfulfilling. She moved to Boston to further her writing, and while there, published two novels, and befriended with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. She eventually divorced, and then died of breast cancer in 1883. ( Kinloch was a soldier in the Civil War and afterwards, was elected Secretary of State of Mississippi in 1878. ( Unfortunately, this was the same year of the Great Yellow Fever Epidemic. Kinloch went home to nurse his father and succumbed to the illness himself. (

By the way, Pigman married Almedia S. Anderson in February of 1852. I'm sure they had a long and fulfilling life together, hopefully uninterrupted by war or Yellow Fever.
State-wide Historical Research Project. Marshall County WPA project microform. Works Progress Administration for Mississippi, 1938.

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