By Jonathan K. T. Smith
Copyright, Jonathan K. T. Smith, 1996

(Page 25)


THE JACKSON SUN, June 18,1923

Former Slave, Rich. Wants To See "White Folks" In Jackson Again

        "Uncle" John Merriwether, negro farmer residing near Austin, Texas, who left Denmark, Tennessee 50 years ago to go to Texas with George Merriwether, brother of his owner, is on the road to wealthbecause oil wells flowing 1,000 barrels per day were recently found on his place, wants to see his "white folks" who now live in Jackson.
        "Uncle" John, was formerly owned by David Merriwether, head of the family of Merriwethers who owned thousands of acres of land around Denmark and were the most influential settlers in that territory.
        Fifty years ago David Merriwether's brother George decided to try his fortunes in the then far West.
        Not wishing to set out without a faithful friend and body-servant, George asked David to permit "Uncle" John, then a strapping young negro, to go with him.
        David Merriwether granted his brother's request and the two of them started on the long and perilous journey. The Union Pacific had not long been built when the white man and slave rode across the rolling and sun-parched prairies of Texas, fearful all the time of an attack by Indians. The redskins were at the zenith of their hostilie activities at this time, and the Denmark man and his frightened colored companion had good reason to ho afraid. Daily attacks on train were being staged by the feathered warriors.
        Time passed. George Merriwether's spirit winged its way on the Long Trail and "Uncle John" was left in Texas. The emancipation proclamation had meanwhile freed him from slavery and he was free to go or come as he pleased.
        With money his dead white friend had given him, he bought a small farm. For fifty years he plodded along, ekeing out a base existence.
        Then oil was discovered in his neighborhood! Oil men swarmed all over his little farm finally offering to sink a "test" well for him.
        Unwilling to give up his farming activities the aged negro again feebly protested, but he soon found that the needs of the oil industry must be served.
        It was then that "Uncle" John capitulated and saw the oil drillers bring in a ___-barrell per day well near his humble cabin.
        A thousand barrels of oil daily Whew! Not many people would fret over farming as "Uncle" John does if they had that amount of precious fluid swamping their land.



In Memory of J. M. Williams

        Many indeed were the aching hearts and tear dimmed eyes when the sad news passed from lip to lip that "Jimmie Willisins is dead."
        As light hearted and cheerful an ever in life, he left his wife and babes about 4 o'clock on Tuesday evening, Sept. 3d, never again to return to them alive.
        The boiler at Savage & William's gin exploded, and without a minute's warning. J. M. Williams was knocked unconscious. All that human power could due was done to revive him, but all in vain. He lived about two hours and quietly passed away. James M. Williams was born May 10th, 1867, died Sept. 3, 1901, being 34 years, 3 months and 13 days of age. He had been in this county only about five years, having moved here from Madison County, Tenn., in the winter of 1896. He was married to Miss Minnie Allison, December 23, 1890.
        Graduating from the Jackson College June 6, 1889, he taught school a greater part of his time until about two years ago, when on account of his had health, he took up the occupation of ginner and miller, and followed this until his death.
        He leaves a grief stricken wife and five small children, besides a large number of friends and relatives to mourn his loss. Mr. Williams leaves two brothers and two sisters, to wit Mr. Willie Williams, of Stephenson, Tenn., Mrs. Emma Larry, of Memphis, Tenn., Mr. Ben Williams and Mrs. Mary Mason, both of Deport, Texas.
        It has been said before "a place is vacant that can't he filled," but never before has this community realized or felt so deeply the meaning of these simple words, as it does now. No organization was formed for the upbuilding of the country or the good of his fellow-man, but what Jimmie Williams was a leader on account of his upright, Christian life. He was made a deacon in the New Providence Baptist church. He was superintendent of the Sabbath school in which he was a great worker. He was secretary of the B. U. W. lodge, No. 669, secretary of the Dovie Telephone Co., Postmastar at Pinoak, Texas, besides other offices, all which he filled to perfection


THE JACKSON DAILY, Sept. 13, 1901


        J. Frank Lanier died at the home of his parents, Mr. & Mrs. H. Porter Lanier, near Ararat church, eight miles west of Jackson, last Sunday night of typhoid fever, aged 33 years, 10 months and 2 days.
        Deceased was one of Madison county's purest and best young men. He became a Christian at the early age of 12 years and joined Ararat church, and did his part as faithfully as most young men. He loved and honored his pastor and was always generous in his support, courteous and polite to everybody. His friends and admirers were legion. In sickness, distress, or whenever help was needed, Frank Lanier was always ready to lend a helping hand. He was ill four weeks and until a week before his death, his recovery was hopeful but suddenly he grew worse, and the bust medical aid, skilled, loving, tender, nursing and the prayers and tears of saints, availed nothing. The good Lord had need of him in a higher, purer and sweeter sphere, and took him. He was conscious to within a few minutes of his death and gave assurance again and again to his pastor, family and all that he was dying trusting in Jesus. His death was as gentle and sweet as the sleeping of an infant and was a triumph of the Christian faith. He died in the midst of an unbroken family and a host of friends all kneeling in tears, with the soft hand of his bethrothed tenderly and lovingly pressing his noble and manly brow. His remains were laid to rest Monday afternoon at Ararat cemetery. Rev. Ross Moore conducting the funeral services. The family have the sympathy of the entire community In this their great affliction.

Sept. 11, 1901




At Ararat Cemetery:
November 6, 1872-Sept. 8, 1901


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