Heath McMeans


The above two named people are my grandparents, one who I knew and the other I never knew. So it is with much difficulty that I am writing a story about them. The stories I am going to relate come from the many stories my grandmother told. We would ask her to tell about the “olden” days and her beloved Booty, Toutant Beauregard Scurlock, who preceded her in death by many years, and she never forgot him. Mama, Camilla Sanford Braswell Scurlock, often told of a recurring dream she had from time to time. The dream went like this, Booty stood at the end of a long mirrored hail beckoning to her and calling her name and saying, “Milla I’m waiting for you”.  This was the reason she gave for not marring again.


Our favorite stories were about trips down the Tombigee River to Mobile on the famous riverboat Robert E. Lee. The women folk would spend the summer sewing and making pretties for the coming fall. When all of the cotton was picked and bailed it was loaded onto the riverboat for the trip south. The planters and their families would board and the festivities would begin. Parties, balls, etc. were held while steaming down the Tombigee on the Robert E. Lee. Courting of course, was in order as well as other activities, the younger people would have picnics at the various stops along the way. Upon arrival in Mobile parties would continue in the homes and hotels. After the cotton was sold, the long way back home was begun and things quieted down. Mama said the reason that she and Booty never had any money was because he thought he was a card shark. But, the bigger sharks always ended up with his money and when they got back to Ararat he would be broke.


In the summer of 1940 my mother’s cousin, Saddie Bush Martin, invited me to spend the summer with her and her family at their home in Miliery, Washington Co., Alabama. James, her husband, was a timber and businessman in Millery. There were two daughters and Jim Bush, another

cousin, a little older than I, was living there. Saddie’s uncle, Uncle Con, Cornelious Bush, came and went. Uncle Con was my grandfather’s best boyhood buddy and knew all of the boyhood secrets. He told me a few and I

 sure wish I had been there with them. They fished, hunted and trapped on

the river and courted the girls. What we in this day and time would call dating. At the time Uncle Con was telling me all of this he was in his seventies and unmarried.  He said, that the reason he never married was that Milla choose Booty over him and he was still in love with her. He said that Booty was very handsome and that he was just an average looking river rat, and that was why Milla choose Booty. Moma denied all of this when I confronted her with all of this juicy gossip.


I not only learned about the world as it was back in the olden days, but also how oxen were used to snake the cut timber out of the swamps of Washington and Choctaw counties. James used only teams of oxen and no machinery for this job, due to the fact that they could get around in the woods better. I witnessed, first hand, the old time art of bargaining and trading by a past master. I would stand for hours while James would trade for a heifer, etc. and the object of the trade would never be mentioned. I am still amazed, to this day, at the results skilled trading achieved. Jim Bush and I tried to follow Booty and Uncle Con’s luck with the girls. All we had for transportation was a beat up Ford pick-up, and when one tries to double date in a pick-up, that calls for real finesse. Had a great time with my county cousins, but the war came along shortly after and the experience was never repeated. There was another suitor who never gave up, and that was Franklin “Tanny” Buchanan Scnrlock, who came to Birmingham in 1931 to ask Milla for her hand in marriage. She turned him down because Booty was waiting for her in the hall of mirrors. In fact, I think he may have been the very first one to ask her to marry. He built the first hotel in Gilbertown, Al after he learned the railroad was coming to town.


Camilla and Beauregard were married February 2, 1891 and lived in Ararat until Booty died in August 1901. There were five children, the last being born just months before his death. After his death she moved to Mobile and became a Registered Nurse in order to support her family. The children were placed in the Sisters of Mercy Convent and educated. Mama moved to Birmingham where they all eventually followed. This was the period just prior to WWI..


tJeanette Elizabeth “Jean” b. September 20, 1992 in Ararat, Choctaw Co., Alabama, d. July 13, 1976 in Gloucester MA, m. George C. Nichols of Gloucester, MA July 3, 1921 in Pittsburgh, PA. John Clifton only child now living in Gloucester, MA.


Received her nurse’s training at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham, Al. Served with the US Army Nurses’ Corps during WWI in France. Is buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Birmingham, Al and has a veteran’s grave marker.

ii. Mary Lucille, b. January 29, 1896 in Ararat, Choctaw Co., Alabama, d. July 4, 1978 in Fairhope, Al, m. Heath L. McMeans June 18 1915 in Mobile, Al, buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Birmingham AL, had four children: 1. Lucille Leigh “Leigh,” b. December 4, 1916 in Mobile, Al, d. August 29, 1992. 2. Lillian Camilla, “Millie or Camilla,” b. November 27, 1918 in Birmingham, Al. 3. Heath L., b. October 19, 1922, in Birmingham, Al, Eugene “Gene” Bare, b. March 27, 1924, in Birmingham, Al.

ilL Frank “Brother” Dennis, d. May 26, 1898, Ararat, AL, died February 1974 at Gulf Shores, Al, buried in Muskegon, MI, m. Regina Wallace of Birmingham, Al. Had two children: Jeanette and Dennis.

iv. Daisy “Dittie” Camilla, b. October 14, 1899, Ararat, Al, d. 7? 1997, m. Paul H. Sarvis and had three children: Paul, Betty Jean, and Doris, buried in Ft. Myers, FL.

v.       Charles “Charlie” Braswell. b. February 4, 1901, d. November 19, 1950 in San Francisco, CA, buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Birmingham, Al.

Was never married. Served in US Army in the Mediterranean Theater during WWII.


Toutant Beauregard Scurlock, born November 25, 1862,died August 1901 in Ararat, Al, is buried in Cornith Cemetery, Choctaw Co., Alabama


Camilla Sanford Braswell, born October 24, 1871, died of heart failure June 9, 1950 in San Francisco, CA, and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Birmingham, Alabama.


They are all gone now, except the grandchildren, who still, cherish the memory of Mama and our parents, aunts and uncles. We grew up with them in the 20’s and 30’s as a close nit family that was separated by a war in 1941