Saturday, March 31, 2012

Grannies and Biscuits and Tupelo Honey

Grannies are wonderful!  Mine were the best cooks and they each made wonderful, but very different, biscuits!  Biscuits are one of my comfort foods. 

My Granny Simmons made tall, fluffy, light, delicately browned biscuits - perfect for fig preserves or as a sausage sandwich later in the day. 

Granny Miller's bicuits were a little heavier, not quite as tall, not even fluffy, but still delicately brown.  And, most important, perfect for "honey sop"!  What's "honey sop", you ask?  I'll tell you in a minute, but first a little about the Tupelo honey.

As many of you know, Granddaddy Miller (Warren) raised honey bees.  I don't know when he started beekeeping, but he had a way with the bees and they rewarded him with the best Tupelo honey in the country  --THE BEST.  I even think he might have been a "bee whisperer"!  Imagine this:  It's early spring, Grandaddy goes down to the creek to check the tupelo trees - and he knows where each and every one is - and he sees they're about to bloom.  He goes back to the beehive and gives those precious bees a little pep talk.  "Ok, my mighty and tireless workers, it's almost time.  Let's get out there to the creek banks and bring back that special nectar that makes the sweetest honey in the world.  Be sure to capture only the best nectar.  When we're done, all of northwest Florida will be astonished when they taste your wonderful creation and will praise your accomplishments and celebrate with a great festivel to honor each of you.  We'll crown your queen, we'll sing your praises, we'll dance a bee jig, we'll......"  Ok, it probably didn't really go that way, but he certainly had a way with the bees.

Anyway, Granny Miller's biscuits were perfect for "honey sop" and here's how it's done.  Put a small pat of room temperature butter (the real stuff) on your plate then smother that with Tupelo honey.  The ratio's up to you, I prefer a heavy Tupelo taste and tend to use a healthy dose of Tupelo.  Mix it up real good until it's smooth and creamy.  Then tear off a piece of biscuit and "sop" it through the honey.  Don't bring the biscuit to your mouth, bring your mouth to the biscuit so none of that precious honey drips on your shirt, or pants, or table.  You don't want any of it to go to waste.  If you have a biscuit like one of Granny Miller's, it won't fall apart and you'll get a good amount of honey sop on the biscuit.  If you have a light, fluffy biscuit, then it will break apart and you'll have to use your fork to mush it through the honey sop - equally as good but a little more work and waste.  When you run out of biscuit, but still have some lefover honey sop, DO NOT WASTE IT.  When nobody's looking - or if you're with family it doesn't matter - use your finger to wipe all the remaining honey sop from your plate and lick it off your finger.  The perfect ending to any meal!

So you can see why my grandparents were married a good long time -- She made the perfect biscuits to go with his perfect Tupelo honey.  A match made in heaven!!

By the way, when we eat at Cracker Barrel, my husband asks if I'm going to "sop".  I always say, "No way - there's no Tupelo honey here."  Yep, I'm a Tupelo snob and proud of it!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Women's History Month - Jane Mariah Long Miller

With all this talk about March being Women's History Month, I think about the women in our family line.  Don't you wonder about those that came before us?  How they lived their day to day lives?  Today, I want to talk about my third great grandmother, Jane Mariah Long Miller. 

Jane was born about 1819 in Alabama.[1]  I don't know when she and her family came to Washington County, but it has been shown that she married Ashley H. Miller in 1837.[2]  A review of the 1840 United States Federal Census shows the household for Ashley Miller with the following persons:

1 male person under 6 years of age  (probably John who was born about 1839)

1 male person 10 and under 15 years of age  (unknown; possibly a brother of Ashley or Jane?)

1 male person 20 and under 30 years of age  (probably Ashley who was born 1817)
1 female person 20 and under 30 years of age (probably Jane who was born about 1819)

In the next Federal census, Ashley claimed the following persons in his household; his occupation is “farmer” and the value of his real estate owned is $1500.  In the 10 years since the previous census, they had 5 more children.

The census reads as follows:

Ashley Miller  - 33
Jane                  31
John                  11
Ann                   10
James                 7
Georgia              5
Mary A.             3
Harriet               1

Ten years later, in the 1860 Federal Census, Jane appears to be running the farm on her own with a total of  7 children ranging in ages from 21 to 4. 

Jane      41
John      21
Ann E.  19
James   17
Mary    13
Harriet  11
George   7
Georgia  4

Wait!  Did you see that???  In 1850 Georgia is 5 years old but in 1860 "Georgia" is 4.  Hmmmm, I can only think of a few possible scenarios for this.  Maybe the census taker made a mistake and wrote her age as 4 in 1860 when it should have been 14 (or maybe 15); maybe Jane made a mistake when she gave the census taker the information; or the Georgia who was 5 in 1850 may have passed away and when the next girl was born, she was named Georgia in her memory.  I don't know if we'll ever know.

After the 1860 census was taken, I believe life for Jane was about to become extremely hard.  The Civil War was about to begin and her two oldest sons would go to battle.  She was left with 5 children, two under the age of 10, to tend to the farm.  The Civil War was brutal on families in the south.  There was always fear that Union soldiers would pillage and destroy farmsteads.  Confederate money eventually had no worth and families had to rely on each other to survive.  There was very little communication available and families had no idea how their men were faring in their fighting. 
In early Fall of 1863, Jane’s oldest son, John, was injured in the shoulder and sent home.  I don’t know if he ever went back to the battlefield.

In addition to personal hardships, the women in Jane’s community may have contributed to the war efforts by providing clothing to the troops.  Also, any surplus food and supplies was probably shared within the community and/or sent to the soldiers to help sustain them.

To get an idea of how Jane and her children may have spent their days, I found a perfect description here:
I don’t know where Jane Mariah Long Miller is buried or even when she died.  But I do know she must have been a strong woman to have raised her children through the war and especially the lean years that followed.

What an amazing woman she must have been.

[1] 1850 United States Federal Census; 1860 United States Federal Census

Friday, February 17, 2012

Millers in Love - Mary Kathaleen Miller and Roger Bruce Simmons

As I was getting ready to write this post about my parents, Bruce and Kat, I realized I didn't really know about their courting or wedding days.  Be sure to ask your own parents about their courtship before it's too late!!

It was a gorgeous day in west Florida in May, 1953, when Mom and Dad tied the knot.  Both being raised in Vernon, Mom and Dad knew of each from their school days, but since Dad was a few years older, they didn't run in the same circles and had never dated. 

Dad had already joined the Navy and was stationed at Milton;  Mom was still in school.  Dad was home one weekend when he and his friends had gone to a school basketball game where Mom was cheerleading.  She noticed him and mentioned to a girlfriend she thought he was really cute and would like to date him.

Shortly after, Dad's brother, Skeet, who was in Mom's class, set up a date for them.  Unfortunately, Dad never arrived.  Because there were no phone lines out in the country (where Mom lived), he couldn't call her to tell her he couldn't get off the base that night.  He called Skeet and asked him to drive out to the country and tell her.  When he got there, Mom was ready to go but didn't have a date.  Mom's not one to pass up a good time so she just went out with Skeet and his friends.

Several weeks later, Mom had to go to town for an errand for her father and she saw Dad at McFatter's store. They talked a few minutes and scheduled another date.

After several months of dating, they knew they were destined to marry.  The big day was May 31, 1953 at the New Hope Methodist Church in New Hope. 

The ceremony was held at the New Hope Methodist Church in New Hope.  Mom's sister, Louise, was the maid of honor.  When I asked about the best man, Mom couldn't remember who it was.  The ceremony was officiated by Brother Guy.   There was no reception or honeymoon.  After the wedding they went to their folks' homes to say goodbye, changing their clothes and getting their suitcases.  Mom also mentioned that when they went to Dad's parent's house, Granny Simmons had baked a cake to take with them (I'll almost bet it was a coconut cake!!) 

A copy of their Marriage License lists the witnesses as Mrs. J. C. Guy and James Kenneth McFatter.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Millers in Love - R.C. (Rosewell or Dick) Miller and Madeline Register Miller

R. C. (Rosewell) Miller and Madeline Register were married on April 15, 1933 in Vernon, Florida.  Witnesses were J. T. Hightower and Herbert Johnson.  The ceremony was conducted by C. R. Melvin, Justice of the Peace.

I talked to Joe (R.C. and Madeline's son) and he didn't know whether his parents had a church ceremony or were married at the Courthouse.

They were always a beautiful couple!

Millers in Love - Still Waiting for Those Submissions!!

What a great day!  Mom (Kathaleen) and I spent an exhausting day at the Washington County Courthouse searching for Marriage Licenses.  Thank goodness most of our Miller ancesters were married in the same county!  We came away with copies of 19 licenses (some from my Simmons side of the family).  I'll be posting copies of those licenses soon. 

We also attended the "First Tuesday" luncheon of the Vernon High School Alumni Association.  Mr. Perry Wells offered to open the Washington County Historical Society Museum for those that wished to stop by.  What a great place!  Lots of historical photos, news articles, ledgers, furniture, farming implements, etc.  I guess I was so awestruck at their collection I didn't even think to take pictures! 

They also had a collection of funeral home documents and copies of obituaries.  I will definitely be back to search through those documents and make copies.

Here's the link for the Washington County Historical Society:

If you're in Chipley, stop by and see them. 

As for the "Millers in Love" junk I mean submissions ("junk" was Joe's term and when he said it today I had to laugh because it was the perfect male response!!), don't think you need to give me a novel about you or your Millers.  Just a picture or the date of the ceremony will do fine.  If I have a copy of the Marriage License, I'll add that to the post also.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Millers in Love ~ The Story of Mary Alice and Dan

Here's our first "Millers in Love" story which has been submitted by Mary Alice.  She was unable to send pictures since she and Dan winter in Arizona and her pictures are home in Iowa.  I can't wait to see the pictures!!

In September 1966 my girlfriend and I were planning on attending the Freshman Dance at Arlington State College where we attended classes. She said she would get us a ride with a guy she knew. When they picked me up that night, I found out that her friend, Dan Dias, didn’t realize that he was picking me up for the dance too.

After we got to the dance, our mutual friend spent the evening dancing with a guy that she had met and ended up having him take her home. That left Dan taking me home. When I got home and as we were saying good night, I asked Dan how did he spell his last name; he replied, “Said spelled backwards.” So I wrote in the air “said” spelled backwards and got “Dias.”

We dated the rest of the semester. In December 1966 we went out to dinner at the Candlelight Inn; over dinner Dan proposed to me and gave me my engagement ring. We didn’t set a date right away. The determining factor in the date was made after Dan and I had our car accident in May 1967. We had driven to Houston to see the new Houston Astrodome. It was early morning when we decided to return to Arlington to finish up our college semester. Dan had a 1965 Marlin which had a metal dashboard (back in those days). He has a magnetic flashlight that he had placed on the lower part of the dashboard. As we were driving down the interstate about 3 a.m. Dan hit the flashlight with his knee. As he did this, the flashlight fell down to the floorboard. As Dan bent down to pickup the flashlight, he turned the steering wheel to the right just enough to drive off the side of the road and hit the embankment. As we hit, I jolted to the floorboard and my right leg met the floorboard as it came into the car. I broke my right leg. Dan finally got the police and ambulance there after running across the country side trying to find a house that he could call from. (Remember, there were NO cell phones back in these days).

I was in a cast for 6 months. Neither Dan and I finished our college. I went home to Mom and Dad’s (Velma and Tex) to recuperate in Duffau, TX. Dan was already in the Navy Reserve doing his weekend duty at NAS Dallas in Grand Prairie; he decided to go active duty to keep from being sent to Vietnam. He was stationed at NAS Dallas for all but 1 ½ of his 21 years of military time. Grand Prairie is North of Duffau – about 2 hrs. Dan would visit me every weekend when he didn’t have duty at NAS Dallas. After coming for about 3 months, we decided that I could clean our house as well as I could help Mom clean hers. So we decided we would set a date.

Dan is Catholic and since I wasn’t strong in any religion at that time (even though I was raised Baptist), I decided I wanted to take Catholic instruction and be married in the Catholic Church. I started Catholic instruction in September 1967 and was married on Friday, October 13, 1967. I had a walking cast on my leg. Mom had made me a dress for my high school senior prom out of white brocade. This dress was converted into my wedding dress with a train and pointed sleeves. She also made me a boot out of the white brocade (yes, we were able to find the matching material almost two years later ) that covered my cast. The R shoe was covered in the same matching white brocade. When you look at our wedding pictures, the photographer happened to catch my covered cast foot as we were walking back down the aisle to the front of the church after the ceremony. Dan has labeled that picture – catching the best foot forward.

After 44 years, we are still catching the best foot forward.

Mary Alice

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Millers in Love - Call for Submissions

This is another shout out to all our Miller relatives!  I previously made an announcement here to challenge all of you to submit your stories about how you or your ancestors met, courted, fell in love and married for special posts for February.  Mary Alice was quick to respond with her own story ~ thanks so much Mary!!

If you don't know how they met, a wedding picture or just a newspaper announcement will work just fine.   Really, even if you don't have that, certainly you know they did get married!  Just a tidbit about their wedding day or honeymoon would be perfect.

I have a few items that I can share - wedding pictures of my grandparents (Warren and Thelma) and my parents (Bruce and Kat), but I need lots more!!  Please e-mail me at and let me know what you have!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Millers in Love ~ A Valentine's Day Challenge

This is a challenge to all family members.  In recognition of Valentine's Day, I would like to post our Miller love stories!  Between now and February 1, I would like each of you to write a short story describing how you or your Miller parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, really any Miller family member found each other, courted, fell in love and married.  If all you  have is a wedding picture or even a newspaper announcement, that would be great also. 

To give you an example, here is a recitation by Grandaddy (Warren Miller) and how he found Granny (Thelma):
In June, 1922, I went to Gore, Oklahoma to build a bridge across the Arkansas River.  I first stayed in Gore, Oklahoma and in July, 1922, I moved across the river to Webbers Fall, Oklahoma.  I was living with Mr. John Wooly and his wife Mrs. Alma Wooly and they was sure fine people.
In August 22, 1922 I was invited to a young lady's birthday party.  It was her 18th birthday.  I met her and her name was Thelma T. Tittle.  So I dated and courted her until March 14, 1923.  We got married on March 14, 1923, at Muscogee, Oklahoma.  We continued to live with Mr. and Mrs. Wolly until the last of April 1923.  We went to Lawrenceville, Illinois.
Direct and to the point ~ that was Grandaddy!!  But, what great information he provided.  He wrote quite a bit more that some of you may have seen at prior reunions and I'll definitely share here soon.

Gather up your stories, pictures, documents and anything else you care to share for our Valentine month postings!  I need everyone's help to get these stories out there!!  E-mail them to me at  If you have a picture or document that's not scanned, let me know and we'll figure out how to get it done so we can post it.  If you know a relative that's not following the blog or doesn't use the computer, then submit their story for them.  It would be great if we could amass enough stories for each day in February!!

By the way, I have several marriage certificates I ordered from the Washington County Clerk's office several years back and will share those during February.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday, Rosewell C. and Madeline R. Miller

 Rosewell C. Miller was the fourth child of Colquitt and Amanda.  I always knew him as Uncle Dick but others called him RC.  I think Uncle Dick was quite a character and Aunt Madeline did her best to keep him in line!  Aunt Madeline and Uncle Dick had been married 59 years.

Rosewell C.
Nov. 19, 1905
Aug. 21, 1992

Madeline R.
Mar. 24, 1914
Jan. 10, 2008

Wed Apr. 15, 1933

New Hope Methodist Church Cemetery
New Hope, Washington County, Florida

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Vida Rucker King and Richard E. Rucker

Vida (Miller) Rucker King was the third oldest child of Colquitt and Amanda Miller.

Vida (Miller) Rucker King
B:  Dec. 13, 1903
D:  Oct. 19, 1977

Richard E. ("Buck) Rucker
B:  Sept. 24, 1901
D: Mar. 17, 1972

Parkhill Cemetery
Columbus, GA