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We all have a story to tell. Some speak louder than others. Listen closely to hear the stories of our ancestors echoing under our footsteps. They are the authors. We are the keepers.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Surname Saturday: B is for BLANTON

I am a descendant of the 1836 Republic of Texas Blantons of Red River County. 

John Blanton - David Blanton - John Martin Blanton - Isaac Washington Blanton - Ora Alberta Blanton Perkins - Ola Mae Perkins Hogan - Horace Vaughn xxxxx - Living xxxxx - Me

There are several wonderful family historians out there who have researched the Blanton family. One to whom I am most grateful is Debbie Blanton McCoy of Blanton Family Roots. She has done extensive research on my line in particular (cuz we're cousins - it's her line too). I wish to honor her research appropriately and desire only to add my own experiences with this post. Please visit her wonderful website for more information on the family.

When I think of the Blantons, one image comes to my mind every time - the headstone of my 3rd great grandfather, Isaac Washington Blanton deep in the rural woods of East Texas, south of Linden.  It has been twelve years since I first encountered that stone, and the circumstances surrounding its discovery guaranteed that I would never forget it. 

That time, the reason for the trip to East Texas was a sad one. It had been five years since my grandparents had passed. The time had come to pack up the rest of the house and get it ready to sell. For one week it was just my father and I. It was a very special time, though the task at hand weighed heavy on our hearts. My father is the type of man that carries the weight of the world on his shoulders but never allows it to tumble down around those he loves. We laughed. We took walks. We reminisced. We visited family that knew more about me through secondary conversation than first hand. One of those people was Effie Dollard. 

     Effie was my great grandmother's sister. She was a small, cuddly woman with a high, sweet voice and the brightest sparkle in both her eyes. Born in 1907 she was still sharp as a tack. Not only that but she was a talker AND she loved talking about her family! Her parents were Ora Alberta Blanton who married Sidney Lee Perkins. If you have been following my posts you know that Janine from Landailyn Research and Restoration recently restored a photo of this family in her online tutorial, "Restoring a Partial Fade" on Effie was born the year after the photo was taken. 
     The photo shows the family in front of their farmhouse in the Sardis Community of Cass county. The farm originally belonged to Ora's mother Willie M. (Clark) Blanton Brown. Effie's father, Sidney, settled at Willie's farm and worked as a sharecropper growing cotton. Willie had two daughters and when it came time to ask Ora to marry him he cleverly referred to the sharecropping tradition of taking half. "That's the way he asked to marry her," Effie said. Sidney Lee ended up owning 400 acres of land adjacent to Willie's and bought Willie's farm after she died. Effie said that Sidney's land was located between Lake o' the Pines and Lone Star, Texas. 
     Willie was born 05 Apr 1863 to William Thomas and Texana C. (Felker) Clark. She married Isaac Washington Blanton. Their first child, Oscar, died at the age of 17 months on 23 Jul 1881. They had three more known children: Ora Alberta (1880/2), Eddie (1884), and Minnie Pearl (1886). Effie said Eddie was "mentally retarded" and lived with his mother until her death afterwhich his sister Ora took over his care. Willie's husband, Isaac, passed away at the age of 31 on 27 Mar 1887 leaving Willie a widowed young mother of a 5 yr old, a developmentally disabled 3 yr old, and an infant. Understandably, she remarried (a man whose last name was Brown) and had at least one more child: Carlton W. Brown "Carl" (1905). Effie referred to him as "Uncle Bud." The 1910 Federal Census shows that Willie was again a widow with a young child. Carl was only 5. This time she remained a widow and worked the farm that she herself owned. Effie called her, "Nanny." Both she and my great grandmother, Ola Mae Perkins Hogan, loved her very, very much and kept her memory alive their entire lives. I wouldn't hesitate to say that Willie was an extremely remarkable woman. She passed away from cancer of the womb on 15 Jan 1936. She is buried next to Isaac and their baby in the Old Bear Creek Settlement Cemetery also known as the Old Bear Creek Tabernacle, south of Linden in Cass county, Texas. Effie said that her son Ed is also buried next to them in an unmarked grave. 

With Effie's notes scribbled on a yellow legal pad it was this cemetery that my father and I ventured out to find. Equipped only with a xeroxed map, a huge cell phone, and an old diesel pickup truck we turned off the highway and faded into the tangle of backwoods dirt roads. We had been at the courthouse in Linden all day and dusk was approaching. As every genealogist knows there's just something inside that overtakes all common sense when you get that close to finding a grave; we had to go. After awhile we realized that the map we had was not drawn to scale and that our destination was nowhere in sight. The cell phone had lost signal a long time ago. Each turn took us deeper into the unknown and we prayed, "Now would not be a good time to have car trouble." Then, there it was - the old tabernacle. Having asked around we had heard stories of trespassers, vandals, and bonfires gone wrong. Every image swirled in my head as we slowed down. I had never seen a cemetery of that size so old, broken, and overgrown. It was DEAD silent. The stones were beautiful. Their stories hibernated behind the neglected seclusion. The only thing left separating us was a broken gate and the sinking sun. My father shifted the truck into reverse and my heart sank. I knew we couldn't stay. One of our headlights had gone out the night before and it was a race back to the ironic safety of the highway. 

We did return before the trip's end and we did find our family. Here is a list of ancestors buried at the Old Bear Creek Settlement Cemetery:

Isaac Washington Blanton
Willie M. (Clark) Blanton Brown
William Thomas Clark
Texana C. (Felker) Clark
Caroline E. Felker
Reuben Felker
Plus several aunts, uncles, siblings, children, and cousins 

Headstone: Isaac Washington Blanton, 1856-1887. Old Bear Creek Settlement Cemetery/Old Bear Creek Tabernacle, South of Linden, Cass County, Texas. Photograph by Herstoryan. Houston, Texas. 1997

  • Cass County, Texas. Birth Records: Book 34, p 241, (Parents) Willie M B Clark - Isic Blanton, (Child) Minnie Pearl Blanton; County Clerk's Office, Cass County Courthouse, Linden, Texas. 
  • 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls. Year: 1930; Census Place: Precinct 2, Cass, Texas; Roll  2306; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 11; Image: 211.0. [Eddie Brown]
  • Headstone: Willie M. Brown, 1867-1935. Old Bear Creek Settlement Cemetery/Old Bear Creek Tabernacle, South of Linden, Cass County, Texas. The actual gravestone (viewed by Herstoryan, 1997) reads "At Rest Willie M. Brown 1867-1935."
  • Headstone: Ora A. Perkins, 1880-1963. Hughes Springs Cemetery, Hughes Springs, Cass County, Texas. The actual gravestone (viewed by Herstoryan, 1997) reads "Perkins - Sidney Lee 1870-1957, Ora A. 1880-1963."
  • Headstone: Isaac Washington Blanton, 1856-1887. Old Bear Creek Settlement Cemetery/Old Bear Creek Tabernacle, South of Linden, Cass County, Texas. Photograph by Herstoryan. Houston, Texas. 1997 The actual gravestone reads "Isaac W Blanton Born Jan. 1856 Died Mar. 27, 1887 Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord."
  • Effie Perkins Dollard. Personal Interview (1997) Lake o' the Pines, Marion County, Texas.
  • Mrs. Willie Brown, death certificate (1935), Cass County Courthouse, Linden, Texas. [Dates differ from those on headstone. Headstone was purchased by descendants years after her death. Death certificate is closer to original event hence deemed more accurate.]


  1. I very much enjoyed this story. As you described your journey to the cemetery - I felt as if I was there. I could also feel the closness with your father, beautiful story!

  2. I enjoyed reading about the stories that you received from aunt as well as your trip to the cemetery. That had to be so exciting even if done during a time of sadness.

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting!

    This is a great post. I like the way you combined the family story with the tale of your trip.


  4. Your story is beautifully written! Thank you so much for your kind words.