"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) (Hebrews 6:12) “… those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised."
For many years I have been trying to find who were the parents and siblings of my grandfather, James Massey. The family knew very little. They said he just didn't talk about where he came from … and apparently they didn't ask. His children did remember that two of his sisters [probably Zilphia and Susie] came to visit one time. Through much ”patience” and continued “asking and seeking” the door was finally opened … and I have found my answers.
My grandfather, James Massey, was born December 8, 1859 in Dukedom, Weakley County, Tennessee and died February 8, 1937 in Saginaw, Shelby County, Alabama. He married in Shelby County Alabama on December 7, 1882 to Martha Jane Stamps, daughter of Francis Marion Stamps [1843-1878] and Rebecca Essman [1847-1888]. Francis Marion Stamps was the son of Miles Stamps and Amanda Jane Horton, the daughter of Jonathan J. Horton, who served as a Private in the South Carolina Military in the War of 1812, and she was the granddaughter of John Horton, a Revolutionary War Patriot that died August 15, 1813 in Kershaw District South Carolina. John Horton served in the Militia under Lt.C. Eli Kershaw, Col. Joseph Kershaw, and Francis Marion. Rebecca Essman Stamps was the daughter of Thomas Essman and Martha J. Fulton, the daughter of David Fulton and Rebecca Lindsay and the granddaughter of David Lindsay [1750-1835] and Mary Casey [1750-1847]. David Lindsay was a Revolutionary War Patriot that served as a Private with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th Regiments, Virginia Continental Lines.
The community of Dukedom is on the state line of Tennessee and Kentucky. As a matter of fact, Dukedom is in both Weakley County Tennessee and Graves County Kentucky.
The grandfather of James Massey was Harbard H. Massey, born January 12, 1806 in South Carolina, died May 10, 1881. His father was John Massey [my great-great-great-grandfather], born about 1770 in South Carolina. John Massey was a successful farmer and a vast landowner. On July 31, 1810 he received a land grant from the State of Tennessee. On August 18, 1849, at the time of his death in Humphreys County Tennessee he owned a Plantation of over 1500 acres. When the land was sold after his death, his wife, Elizabeth, and his children signed the deeds with the exception of his son, Isaac E. Massey, who died before 1843. His remaining children were Keturah “Catherine” Massey, 1802-1868 [married Daniel D. Waggoner, son of Christopher Waggoner and Elizabeth Jesper], Holland L. Massey, 1804-1871 [married Martin A. Waggoner, son of Christopher Waggoner and Elizabeth Jesper], Harbard H. Massey, 1806-1881, Elizabeth Massey, David A. Massey, John B. Massey.
As noted in "Humphreys County Heritage – Waverly, Tennessee" [Volume One & Two, 1983] "Although the name Massey is rare in Humphreys County Tennessee today, John was a progenitor of many prominent families in that county."
Harbard H. Massey, my great-great-grandfather, married in about 1825 to Nancy A. Yates, born March 2, 1810 in Tennessee, died in 1881. In 1830 census they were in Humphreys County Tennessee. In 1840, 1850, and 1860 census they were in Weakley County Tennessee. The 1870 census indicates they were back in Humphreys County Tennessee. Harbert H. Massey died on May 10, 1881 in Humphreys County Tennessee. His wife, Nancy A. Massey, also died in 1881.
My great-grandfather, William Ragsdale Massey, son of Harbard H. and Nancy A. Massey, was born June 5, 1835 in Tennessee. On November 12, 1856 in Weakley County Tennessee William R. Massey married Elizabeth Frields [sometimes spelled Fields], born about 1836 in Tennessee, died March 9, 1881 in Humphreys County Tennessee. She was the daughter of Jarrett W. and Zilphia Frields. Their children, all born in Tennessee, were (1) Lucy H. Massey, 1858-1918, married in Humphreys County Tennessee to Robert Lyons Latimer, 1851-1922. They are buried in Bischoff Cemetery in Victoria County Texas. Their children, all born in Tennessee, were William Dorsey Latimer, 1877-1928. Walter Lonzo Latimer, 1881-1958. Lillian Artie Latimer, 1889-1969, married in Jackson County Texas on June 18, 1919, later divorced, Leslie S. Garringer, 1887-1965. They had no children. (2) My grandfather, James I. Massey, 1859-1937. The August 7, 1860 Weakley County Tennessee census indicates that James I. Massey was 8 months old [thus, making him born in December 1859]. (3) Nancy Ann Massey, born about 1862, died before November 27, 1901. Nancy A. Massey married in Humphreys County Tennessee on September 2, 1880 to William A. Gilmer. (4) John Rufus Massey, born about 1864, died August 6, 1901 in Humphreys County Tennessee “from the effects of poison mysteriously administered.” He married in Humphreys County Tennessee on August 12, 1885 to Lou Goodwin, daughter of Payton S. and Kesiah Goodwin. [Lou Massey Hood, 1868-1940, is buried in Mahoney Cemetery in Hopkins County Texas.] The Bakerville Review, Thursday, August 8, 1901, "John Massey died Tuesday at his home near Hustburg from eating poisoned cake…." The children of John R. and Lou Massey, all born in Humphreys County Tennessee, were Richard Holbert Massey, 1886-1952. James D. “Jim” Massey, 1890-1978. Charlie Ford Massey, 1897-1982. (5) William H. “Bud” Massey, born February 22, 1866, died October 2, 1909, buried in Denton Cemetery in Lamar County Texas. He married on October 21, 1894 in Lamar County Texas to Lula “Dee” Jones, daughter of Milton O. and Emily J. Jones. Their only child, born in Lamar County Texas, was Clyde Mahoney Massey, 1902-1938. He and his wife, Mable Davis Massey, 1903-1958, are buried in Mahoney Cemetery in Hopkins County Texas. The obituary, Sulphur Springs Gazette, Hopkins County Texas, October 8, 1909, "Bud Massey died last Saturday, Mahoney, Texas, predeceased by wife, one son Clyde survives." (6) Zilphia Louiza Massey, 1869-1960, married in Humphreys County Tennessee on February 27, 1887 to John C. Ragsdale, 1857-1930. They are buried in Childress Cemetery in Childress County Texas. Their children, all born in Tennessee, were William I. Ragsdale, born September 1887. Robert Wilkins Ragsdale, 1890-1972. Bettie Lou Ragsdale, 1893-1961. She married James C. Fulfer, 1888-1966, and they are buried in Restland Cemetery in Lamar County Texas. (7) Susan “Susie” Catherine Massey, 1871-1957, married March 24, 1890 in Humphreys County Tennessee to William Henry McIllwain, 1871-1915. They are buried in Mahoney Cemetery in Hopkins County Texas. Their children, all born in Tennessee, were William Henry McIllwain, Jr., born May 5, 1891. James S. “Jimmy” McIllwain, 1893-1943. Clyde Malone McIllwain, 1897-1967. Neely M. McIllwain, 1900-1959, is buried in Mahoney Cemetery. He never married. [His twin, Nolie McIllwain, died October 1900 and is buried in Wofford/Watts Cemetery in Humphreys County Tennessee.] (8) Joseph Albert Massey, 1879-1943. On December 24, 1905 in Lamar County Texas he married Pearl Hixie Dennis, 1889-1979. They are buried in Old Fairview Cemetery, Memphis, Hall County, Texas. Their children, all born in Texas, were Roy Alvin Massey, 1907-1993. Walter Winfred Massey, 1909-1935. He never married and is buried in Old Fairview Cemetery. Albert Weldon Massey, 1912-1975.
After the death of Elizabeth Massey on March 9, 1881, William R. Massey married on August 16, 1882 in Humphreys County Tennessee to Mrs. Sarah C. Moore, daughter of John and Polly L. Pinkerton. Her first marriage was to Charles R. Moore. They had one child, Mary Ida Moore, born about November 1870, married in Humphreys County Tennessee on February 13, 1887 to John Brown Lee Baker, 1864-1924. The Bakerville Review, dated Thursday, October 22, 1896, "From Hustburg ... Mrs. W.R. Massey is visiting her daughter, Mrs. Ida Baker, of Perry County this week." After the death of Mary Ida Baker, her husband married in Humphreys County Tennessee on December 8, 1907 to Mrs. Rebecca Ann Peeler, daughter of Jesse J. Fuqua, Jr. Her first marriage was to Walter W. Peeler, Jr. and her last marriage on July 10, 1930 in Humphreys County Tennessee was to W. Henry Rogers. Rebecca Rogers, born September 24, 1881, died July 7, 1952, is buried in New Haven Cemetery in Ridgley, Lake County, Tennessee. Mrs. Sarah Catherine Massey died July 17, 1923 in Davidson County Tennessee and her body was shipped for burial to Humphreys County Tennessee. Her Last Will & Testament dated May 9, 1922 was recorded on February 15, 1923 in Humphreys County Tennessee. Much information on William R. Massey can be found in "Humphreys County Tennessee History and Biographies" published by The Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1887.
The June 9, 1900 Humphreys County Tennessee census indicates William R. Massy, age 63 years, born June 1835 in Tennessee, his father born in South Carolina, and his wife, Sarah C. Massy, age 52 years, born July 1847 in Tennessee, her parents born in Tennessee, married 18 years, 2 children born and 1 living at that time.
The Bakerville Review, Thursday, November 28, 1901, "Assassinated at Hustburg. W.R. Massey was shot and killed near his home at Hustburg last night at about 8 o'clock. He had stepped out to a neighbor's house on business and did not come back as usual which made the family uneasy and they went to look for him and found him on the road dead, with a bullet hole in the face and one in the breast, inflicted by unknown parties. We are not able to get further details at present. This piece of bad news has shocked the many friends of Mr. Massey at this place. Mr. Massey was a highly respected citizen about 60 years of age and had been living in Big Bottom since the civil war. He is the father of John Massey who died about four months ago, as was thought, from the effects of poison mysteriously administered, James [James Massey at that time lived in Shelby County Alabama], Bud [William H. “Bud” Massey at that time lived in Lamar County Texas] and Albert Massey [Joseph Albert Massey at that time lived in Delta County Texas], Mrs. Robert Lattimore [correct spelling Latimer, at that time lived in Victoria County Texas] and Mrs. J.C. Ragsdale [The Bakerville Review, dated Thursday, September 5, 1901, "John C. Ragsdale and family left Saturday bound for Lamar County Texas, where they will reside in the future. They will remain at the home of Mrs. Ragsdale's father, W.R. Massey, at Hustburg, until Friday then take the train for their destination."], all of Ambia, Texas [was located in Lamar County Texas], and Mrs. W.H. McIllwain of Newberg, Tenn. Mr. Massey was a merchant at Hustburg and had the name of being an honest, upright gentleman. The authorities will certainly and should make a powerful effort to ferret out the cause of this bloody murder."
The Bakerville Review, Thursday, December 5, 1901, "Hustburg's Tragedy. Fuller Details of the Untimely Ending of W.R. Massey. The revolting murder of W.R. Massey at Hustburg, of which mention was made last week, has been the theme of nearly every man's conversation since that time. The first impulse of the public mind after learning of the crime was directed toward Jesse W. Jones, a neighbor of Mr. Massey, from the reason that hard feelings existed between the two men which arose from the supposed poisoning of John Massey, a son of the murdered man, last August. Jones is a prominent ... cropper and a very noticeable intimacy sprang up between Jones and Massey's wife. Massey got sick, and after recovering he expressed himself that he had been poisoned, which caused some confusion in his marriage relations, but he still lived with his wife, and some time last August he was plowing at the back of Jones farm which, owing to the distance, made it necessary to carry his dinner to the field. Mrs. Massey fixed up his dinner and put a nice cheese cake in the basket for his finishing desert, and when Massey had finished his regular meal he commenced on the cheese cake and after swallowing two large mouthfuls he took another bite, but it tasted so bad that he spit it out and remarked to a colored man who was present that there was something bad in the cake. In a short time Massey turned blind and fell, but regained self-composure in a few minutes and started home, but fell again when nearly out of the field with hard spasms. He was found a short time later and hauled home. Mrs. Massey and Jones went to and came from the field together in a buggy and their conduct was suspicious. Massey came to his right mind and accused Jones and his wife of poisoning him. Massey lived several days and died in great agony. W.R. Massey, the father of John Massey, was terribly wrought up and the report has gone abroad that he threatened the life of Jones and wrote letters to several confidential parties to come and help him "do up" Jones, all of which has been denied on the other hand. Matters grew so warm around Hustburg that Mrs. Massey left and went to Kentucky while Jones hired men to guard his premises. After a time the excitement lulled and not much was said about the poisoning. At the November term of circuit court the work of investigation commenced. Mr. Massey attended court and also Jones who had other matters to look after. Massey came home from Waverly Wednesday and after supper went to a neighbor's house to make arrangements for two ladies to attend court next day as witnesses, and was killed on his way back. Jones left Waverly at 12 o'clock Wednesday, ostensively for Hustburg. Dude Chappell, who works with Jones, confesses that he and Jones met Massey for the purpose of killing him that evening. Chappell says Jones offered him two mules and a wagon or horse and buggy to kill Massey, but that they had both concluded to shoot Massey and his heart failed him and he told Jones that Massey had never done him any harm and he did not want to shoot him and that he must do it himself, which Chappell says Jones did do in his presence. As Massey made a turn in the lane Jones shot twice with a shot gun and Chappell ran for fear Jones would reload and shoot him. Jones was the owner of the land where Massey fell. Massey was found three hours later with a pistol in his pocket. He was shot about 8 o'clock Wednesday night. A report is current that Jones can prove by five or six reputable men that he was in Waverly at 8 o'clock Wednesday night. Jones arrest followed the confession of Chappell. Bloodhounds were sent for and Mr. Robertson, of Union City, came with two dogs and went to the place where Massey fell, the place being guarded until the dogs could arrive. The trail was caught and went toward Jones' house. Chappell made a denial until he was the bloodhounds. He then wilted like a leaf and told a horrible tale of the whole plot which is kept from the public. However enough was made known to cause the authorities to have Mrs. John Massey arrested and brought to Waverly where in default of making a $5,000 bond, was placed in jail along with Chappell and Jones. Chappell refused to make a small bond, preferring to stay in jail for safety rather than risk his for outside amidst the high state of excitement. The grand jury being in session last week indictments were found against Jones, the woman and young Chappell for murder in the first degree. For fear of mob violence Jones and Mrs. Massey were removed from Waverly to Nashville and also Dr. J.B. Harrington who shot and killed Alex Wright. Many conflicting rumors are flying thick and fast and a confessed state of mind exists. Most every man feels that the law has been outraged, but as to Jones' true part in the atrocious crime all are at sea in view of the stone silence of the accused at every turn in the affair. Two of Mr. Massey's sons [William H. “Bud” Massey and Joseph Albert Massey] arrived from Texas and were at his funeral Sunday. The body was kept out of the ground four days and then laid to rest in the Hustburg Cemetery. Dude Chappell is the son of the late Hosea Chappell who figured in a bad scrape or two on Sugar Creek in Hickman county, nearly forty years ago. Dude is also a nephew of Wyatt Chappell who killed three men in Hickman county and wile under a life sentence broke jail at Centerville, together with Munk Wynn, who killed a young man by the name of Thomas on Richland Creek. Chappell has not been heard of in this country since. The above sketch is written with an unprejudiced hand and stands open for the correction of any errors. Monday's Nashville Banner says a Banner reporter called on the prisoners at the jail this morning. Both of them emphatically deny any knowledge of the shooting of W.R. Massey, or of the poisoning of his son, John Massey, four months ago. Jones said he has not heard of the shooting until the following morning and knew nothing about it but what he had heard. When asked about Chappell's confession, he said: "Well, I think it is all a put-up job. You know a fellow gets a few enemies in the neighborhood and they won't stop at anything to get him into trouble." He said it was true that he had been connected in a bastardy suit with Josie Cunningham from whose home Massey was coming when he was shot. He denied having been intimate with Mrs. Massey, and said that there had been nothing improper in their relations. When asked about the poisoning of John Massey he declared they had been the best friends in the world and recited at great length a story of an ailment from which Massey suffered for several months before his death, the symptoms of which were the same as those which attended his fatal sickness. Mrs. Massey denied having any knowledge of either of the crimes and said she was being made the victim of designing enemies. She broke down after talking to the reporter for a few minutes and sobbed pitifully, saying: "It was hard enough to have to give up my husband and now they have taken me away from my children, too, and without cause." She occupies the hospitable apartment, sharing it with Annie Rogers, the Montana bank note woman, who has had it furnished nicely so that it is a very comfortable room."
It is my theory that my grandfather, James Massey, after the death in 1881 of his mother and both of his grandparents, [and possibly after the second marriage of his father on August 16, 1882] came to Shelby County Alabama, met Martha Jane Stamps and they were married on December 7, 1882.
James and Martha Jane Massey had a total of twelve children, all born in Shelby County Alabama. Their child Charles "Charley" Massey, born and died in infancy between 1900 and 1910, as indicated in the April 23, 1910 Shelby County Alabama census records, is buried in Elliottsville Cemetery in Shelby County Alabama next to his father, James Massey. However, there is no “marked” grave marker. The remaining children were Francis M. "Frank" Massey, born July 15, 1884, died March 19, 1952 in Shelby County Alabama. He is buried in Elliottsville Cemetery, no grave marker. Hugh Washington Massey, born February 19, 1888, died September 12, 1967 in Shelby County Alabama. He is buried in Elliottsville Cemetery. Azalee "Lee" Massey, born about May 1887, died about 1913 in Marshall County Alabama. Her last marriage was in Shelby County Alabama on July 18, 1911 to John W. Williams, 1871-1940. Her first marriage on April 7, 1904 in Shelby County Alabama was to Rufus Franklin Hale, born July 24, 1862 in Alabama, died February 19, 1910 in Shelby County Alabama. Their son, Willie J. Hale, was born March 19, 1909 in Shelby County Alabama. Rufus F. Hale and his mother, Polly Ann Hale, 1834-1923, are buried in Elliottsville Cemetery. Polly Ann Hale does not have a grave marker. His great-grandmother was Elizabeth Lindsay that married Joseph Hale. Elizabeth was a daughter of David Lindsay and Mary Casey. Lee Williams died in Marshall County Alabama “giving birth to a son” and is buried in Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery in the Pineywoods. However, she or her two children have no grave markers. Robert Lee Edward "Bob" Massey, a Baptist Minister, born July 3, 1891, died October 30, 1959 in Jefferson County Alabama. He is buried in Village Falls Cemetery in Mulga, Jefferson County, Alabama. Ida Alice Massey, born May 20, 1893, died March 11, 1960 in Shelby County Alabama, married on April 12, 1914 in Shelby County Alabama to Charles Albert Emery. They are buried in Elliottsville Cemetery. Ada Grace Massey, born August 20, 1894, died March 6, 1917 in Shelby County Alabama, married in Shelby County Alabama on April 30, 1916 to James Andrew Jackson "Jim" Barnett. Ada Grace Massey [died from “measles” at childbirth] is buried in Elliottsville Cemetery. Eugene "Boss" Massey, born June 2, 1895, died March 15, 1949 in Shelby County Alabama. He married on February 7, 1939 in Shelby County Alabama to Mrs. Lula Belle (Seale) Carden, a sister to my father. They had no children. He is buried in Elliottsville Cemetery. Myrtle Mamie Massey, born May 20, 1898, died November 10, 1946 in Jefferson County Alabama. She married on April 13, 1919 in Shelby County Alabama to Lucius Grover Brantley. His parents were Levi Gaines "Lee" Brantley and Ann Elizabeth Rutherford. They are buried in Elliottsville Cemetery. James Smith "Jim" Massey, born March 15, 1903, died April 5, 1977 in Shelby County Alabama. He is buried in Elliottsville Cemetery. Mattie Martha Jane Massey, born May 25, 1907, died December 2, 1993 in Shelby County Alabama. She married in Shelby County Alabama on March 19, 1927 to George Washington Stagner, son of Elijah Franklin Stagner and Lizzie Carden. They are buried in Elliottsville Cemetery. Naomi Massey, my mother, born October 27, 1908, died March 8, 1985 in Shelby County Alabama. She married in Shelby County Alabama on May 14, 1927 to Charles Audry "Charlie" Seales. They are buried in Elliottsville Cemetery. My mother, Naomi Massey, married Charles Audry "Charlie" Seales, born March 11, 1899 in Shelby County Alabama, died February 17, 1986 in Shelby County Alabama. He was the son of John Ford Seale, 1852-1935, and Mary Ann Cabaniss, 1860-1918. Their children, all born in Shelby County Alabama, were *Charles Eugene Seales, born April 14, 1928, died January 11, 2016 in Shelby County Alabama, married on December 16, 1951 in Lowndes County Mississippi to Martha Earline “Martine” Knowles, daughter of Arthur Thomas Knowles, 1895-1976, and Bertie Alma Alexander, 1898-1981. Their children are (1) Thomas Eugene Seales. (2) Phillip Dale Seales. *Paul Leon Seales, [twin] born March 4, 1929, died November 20, 1931 in Shelby County Alabama. *Robert Lee Seales, [twin] born March 4, 1929, died March 5, 1929 in Shelby County Alabama. *Wilburn Audry Seales, born March 2, 1932, died July 29, 2016 in Shelby County Alabama, married in Shelby County Alabama on December 29, 1956 to Patsy Ruth Thacker, born January 15, 1939 in Jefferson County Alabama, died February 4, 2013 in Shelby County Alabama, daughter of Marshall Charles Thacker, 1906-1950, and Era Mae Maxwell, 1915-1984. Their children are (1) Wilburn Anthony “Tony” Seales. (2) Debra Marie Seales, married on July 22, 1995 in Shelby County Alabama to David Keith Bailey, son of Starlyn Bobo Bailey and Elowese Anita Smith. *Jewel Marie Seales, born December 20, 1933, died December 20, 2012 in Shelby County Alabama, married on May 22, 1953 in Jefferson County Alabama to Norman Rockwell Brasher, born August 14, 1930 in Shelby County Alabama, died April 3, 2002 in Shelby County Alabama. He was the son of William Horace Brasher, 1882-1931, and Mary Jeanette Bramblett, 1895-1935. Their children are (1) Norman Michael Brasher. (2) Joyce Marie Brasher, married on June 22, 1996 in Shelby County Alabama to Douglas Andrew Gardner, born April 25, 1960 in Arlington County Virginia, died May 29, 2007 in Shelby County Alabama. He was the son of Wilbur Lewis Gardner, Jr. and Elizabeth Haislip. *David Lathon Seales, born January 26, 1939, died May 31, 2014 in Shelby County Alabama, married in Shelby County Alabama on July 3, 1964 to Lola Mae Hall, daughter of John Thomas Hall, 1915-1970, and Lois Irene Holcomb, 1917-2013. Their children are (1) Angela Darlene Seales, married on June 14, 1985 in Shelby County Alabama, later divorced, to Gary Scott McGuire, son of Jack Arlan McGuire and Ann Elizabeth Street. (2) Cynthia Lynn Seales, married on September 2, 1995 in Shelby County Alabama to John Robert Brothers, son of Robert Melvin Brothers and Judy Faye Baggett. *Bobby Joe Seales, born February 4, 1945, married on December 6, 1969 in Shelby County Alabama to Diane Brandenberg, born August 18, 1946, daughter of Homer Lewis Brandenberg, 1924-2008, and Bessie Marie Walton, 1925-2000. Our “wonderful” children are (1) David Michael Seales and (2) Joshua Caleb Seales.