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USGenWeb Archives for
Mordecai Family & Walnut Grove
By Sabra N. Sudberry, as published in the West Alabama Gazette,
Millport, AL 3/26/03
© Sabra N. Sudberry, 2003.
Lamar Co.Heritage: Mordecai Family and Walnut Grove
Mordecai Moses Mordecai
The Lamar Co. Genealogical and Historical Society was in one of the feature
stories in this month’s “Alabama Living”magazine that is sent to members of
Tombigbee Electric Cooperative. Writer Kay Marshall came to the January
meeting and interviewed Bo Morris. When she learned he came from the Burrow
family (his great uncle was Rube Burrow), she had a new lead for a story
her son was writing. Anyone wanting to get a copy of the magazine can go by
the office in Guin.
Week before last the genealogical society met at night after the
deadline of this newspaper. It was a very long, but productive meeting. We
have some major plans for some things we need to do for this next year. We
need all the support we can get, so if you have not renewed your membership,
please do so, and if you have never been a member, it’s time you joined!
Send $16 to P.O. Box 793, Vernon, AL 35592. One of the things we decided
was to go from marble markers to granite to mark the abandoned cemeteries.
Granite holds up better, and is cheaper. We decided that we could mark more
cemeteries this way.
Anyone can donate money for a monument to mark a cemetery. It tells a
little history of the cemetery if known, name of the donor and date donated.
Presently the cost is $75. We also accept donations for road signs to
identify the location of these cemeteries. It lists the name and donor of
the sign. The cost for these is $55. Seems a little strange doesn’t it,
that a metal sign costs almost as much as a granite stone!
Curtis Graham attended our meeting last week. It was good to have him
and his support. Hopefully we will be working closely with him in the next
year to accomplish some major goals for the preservation of county records.
Stay posted, and hopefully I will have more information in the months to
Thursday, March 20, a number of folks met at Walnut Grove Cemetery to
do a cemetery survey. I am proud to announce that it is completely finished!
Some arrived early, and left in the early afternoon, some arrived later and
stayed 'til dark, and some stayed from early morning until dark. If you know
me very well, you can guess which one I was! Many, many thanks to Flora
McCool and her sister Faye, Kay Koonce, Jim Dierking, Rachel McReynolds,
Billy and Jeanette Lawrence, Arnold and Faye McReynolds, Thurman and
Margaret Shackleford, and Bobby and Rachel McReynolds, and one jealous
donkey, [see photo] who kept us
entertained, and who resided next to the cemetery. He kept braying when we
had contact with each other or did not acknowledge him.
Kay, Jim and I were at it until it was absolutely dark. If it had
taken any longer, we’d have had to get the flashlights out! I have been
known though to pull the car up to the markers before when I had no
flashlight! Rachel finally came looking for us as it was getting so late. We
followed her home and had the most wonderful meal. I was sick I ate so much.
Forget the macrobiotic diet! For a little while I forgot I had cancer!
Rachel makes the best peanut butter cake I have ever had. In fact,
everything she made was great. Thanks so much Rachel! After dinner (some got
to eat lunch and dinner there!) we retired to the living room, where Rachel
pulled out a copy of a book she had entitled, The Millers of Millersburg. I
was exclaiming and gasping that this book was exactly what I had been
writing when I wrote the McGee stories. It seems Sharlene Stough’s research
was taken from this book, except for the John Russell McGee section. This
book was written in l922 by John Bailey Nicklin, Jr. Clinton Fortner had a
copy of it that Rachel copied. I must give credit for most of that research
therefore, to Mr. Nicklin, who of course has long since passed away. This
book had history of many Lamar Co. families, including the Kuykendalls,
Millers, Beenes, and many, many others. Mr. Nicklin was some genealogist.
I must make a clarification about last week’s column. If you read it
you noticed it said “This week’s photo is…” twice. I asked Peyton that one
of those be removed, but it was not, so that is why that sounds strange.
That is okay, for I would have used all of the pictures eventually anyway
-just wanted to explain that.
My thoughts and prayers go out to my cousin, Janea Butts and her
family. Times are rough right now, and her mom suffered a stroke recently. I
am very sorry to hear about this. Likewise, my friend, Lois Morris, who also
suffered a stroke, is now home from the hospital, and determined to recover.
She’s a fighter, all the way around.
Last week I began discussion of the Mordecai family. With this article
is a photo of Mordecai Moses Mordecai, whom I discussed. He was born in 1727
and died in l809. A note in Keith Mordecai’s research describes the original
portrait: “This portrait, here illustrated in a photograph obtained for the
author by D.A. Byck of Savannah, was first shown to us in l961 by its owner,
Mrs. Marie Grady of Savannah. From its inscription, “born Telz, Jan. 16 in
the Masonic year of light 5727 (l727), the author identified the portrait as
that of Mordecai Moses Mordecai of Telz. Subsequent research
proved Mrs. Grady’s direct descent from Mordecai. The portrait, apparently a
pen and ink drawing on ivory, shows the subject wearing a Masonic emblem and
an apron inscribed, And God said, ‘Let there be light! And there was light,’
Mordecai Moses Mordecai was born in the Lithuanian town of Tels (also
written Telz, Telshi). His father was evidently a rabbi, Moses, son of
Mordecai. On his arrival in America, our Mordecai discovered a Moses
Mordecai residing in eastern Pennsylvania. Probably to avoid confusion our
subject styled himself with his father’s and his grandfather’s names as
Mordecai Moses Mordecai, usually adding “Telz.” He left his birthplace in
northwestern Lithuania to become the first known Jew from his area to arrive
in North America.
When he first appears in public records, the year is l760, and he has
just married Zipporah de Lyon of Easton. The DeLyon clan had arrived in
Easton from Savannah, but along the way Abraham de Lyon, father of Zipporah,
had died. Abraham’s widow, nee Esther Nunez, and at least four of her five
daughters settled in Easton, where three of the daughters found husbands.
On June 1, l760, Mordecai and his bride became the possessors of a
piece of property in Northampton County on the site of the subsequent
Allentown, but they seem to have made their home in Lancaster. For on May 4,
l761 Mordecai wrote from Lancaster to Philadelphia’s rising young merchant,
Michael Gratz, that his wife was expecting their first child in December,
and was losing weight from morning sickness.
I include part of a letter that Mordecai wrote, all of it not included
in this column due to space this week: … “I wish to inform you that I
arrived, thank the Lord, on Monday, Hoshana Rabbi (i.e. the 7th day of the
Feast of Tabernacles=October l9, l76l), here to my house before noon in
peace and without any harm. I hope the same is true with you (that you are
well). I also wish to inform you that Mr. (Joseph) Simons was well pleased
with the (black) wench. I hope he will pay for her and that you will send
her through Weiner Kaiser to whom we gave order to bring and take care (of
Next week will continue this interesting story about the Mordecai
family. If you need to contact me, please email
write P.O. Box 972, Sulligent, AL 35586, or call 205-384-4001. Notes can
also be left for me at the Vernon library to be placed in my box there.
Webmaster's Note: Sadly, Sabra has passed away since
submitting this article to the site.
little friend at Walnut Grove Cemetery March, 2003 (photo courtesy of
Kawatha "Kay" Koonce)