This is a brief biographical sketch of my Castleberry grandparents Charles Rufus Castleberry (1878 – 1963) and Eliza King Castleberry
1959). They resided in
James K. Harrison
Chapter 13 - Charles Rufus Castleberry
(1878 - 1963)
"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please."
--- Mark Twain
grandfather was Charles Rufus Castleberry (24
Oct. 1878 - 21 July 1963). He was a
Charles Rufus Castleberry was
In Pontotoc, Mississippi, the Castleberry clan belonged to the Pontotoc Baptist Church where Charles Rufus was baptized (Friday -- 23 June 1893) when he was 14 years old.1 His father, William Castleberry, who died in 1882 when Charles Rufus was only three years old, was a merchant in Pontotoc in business with his father-in-law, Daniel T. Coleman (1800 – 1873).
Charles Rufus had two brothers and two sisters, all older than him. He never completed more than about six years of schooling. After my Big Daddy’s father died, his mother, Annie Coleman Castleberry, with five young children ranging in age from 3 to 16 years old, continued to farm and run the family store for another fourteen years.
In 1896 (when my Big Daddy was 18
years old) Annie Castleberry sold the store and
The deed to the
During the last part of Bick’s
growing up years (from age 18 to about age 24) he
Not long afterwards he went to work
for the United States Post Office Department as a
railway mail clerk on a run
Around 1903 Bick left the railroad
and took a job as a post office clerk in
On 25 June 1907 Bick presented himself for membership at the Durant First Baptist Church (this was two and ½ years after his marriage to Eliza King in that church). His church letter arrived on 26 July 1907 probably from the Baptist Church in Aberdeen, Mississippi. [Rev Matt Brady e-Mail on 14 Aug ’06---Records of Durant First Baptist Church]
My Big Daddy left the postal service around 1907 and went into the coal and ice business in Durant. He was in that business in 1910, according to the census. My mother often talked about the pleasure she got from eating ice cream at her daddy’s ice plant when she was a small girl in Durant.
My mother always said that Bick and Granny were given a house as a wedding present by Granny’s father (Tom King). But, according to the Federal census Bick and Granny were renting a house in Durant in 1910. However, ten years later (according to the 1920 census) they were owners of a house in Durant that was mortgage free. Maybe Tom King’s generous gift did not occur until after 1910.
In 1919, after his Durant coal and ice plant was destroyed by fire, Bick decided to move to Moorhead, Mississippi, where he established himself in the same business (in Moorhead his ice plant was located behind the Baptist church and near the railroad tracks). Temporarily leaving his family behind in Durant, he commuted on the railroad for a couple of years until his wife and three children joined him at the local hotel (The Phoenix) where they all lived for about a year (until about 1922) while the family home was being completed on the northwest corner of E. Cherry and Walnut Streets (the front faced south toward the Junior College).
The records of the First Baptist Church of Durant, Mississippi, show that the Castleberry Family moved their membership in November 1922. The family members were: C. R. Castleberry, Mrs. C. R. Castleberry, C. K. Castleberry, and Annie F. Castleberry (my mother who was 13 years old at that time). [Rev Matt Brady e-Mail on 14 Aug ’06---Records of Durant First Baptist Church]
Another fire destroyed Bick’s ice and coal business in Moorhead several years later. By 1930 (according to the Federal census) he was in the oil and gasoline business where he became the distributor in Moorhead for the Gulf Oil Company. Later, around 1935, he became the distributor for the Lion Oil Company and was the owner of a Lion Oil Service Station (located on south side of W. Washington Street and the east bank of the Moorhead Bayou).
Starting in 1925 and continuing through 1941 Bick served several times on the Moorhead Board of Alderman.2
In 1951 at the age of seventy-three he went into the mercantile business (country store) in Blaine, Mississippi. He commuted from Moorhead each day about 20 miles round trip six days a week! This final venture ended in failure after about five years forcing Bick to retire. He lived another seven years departing this world on 21 July 1963 at the age of eighty-four. Charles Rufus Castleberry is buried beside his wife in the Mizpah Cemetery in Durant, Mississippi.
The children (seven generations after the German immigrant Henry Castleberry) of Charles Castleberry and Eliza King were:
a) Charles King (1907 – 1986)
b) Annie Frances, my mother (1909 – 1969)
c) Thomas Coleman (1913 – 1989).
Chapter 14 - Eliza King Castleberry
(1883 - 1959)
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."----- Albert Einstein, 1879-1955
My grandmother (or Granny), Eliza King Castleberry, was born in Holmes County, Mississippi, on 24 May 1883 (at Blue Mountain College she gave her age in the June 1900 Federal census for Tippah County, Mississippi, as 17 making the 1882 date on her tombstone in error). She was undoubtedly named after her father’s mother, Eliza Shipp King, who died in 1883. Eliza King Castleberry had two sisters and four brothers. Her two sisters, Annie and Ellen, I knew from frequent family visits. I never knew her brothers. According to a family story, one brother, I believe Thomas, killed a man during a dispute in a poker game and escaped to South America to avoid prosecution. Very little was ever said about this. In fact not much was ever said about any of Granny’s brothers. It was always regarded as too sensitive a subject for discussion.
Granny’s mother, Annie Montgomery King, died in 1898 at age 39 leaving seven children ranging in age from four to twenty. Granny was fifteen years old and the oldest daughter, therefore on her shoulders fell much of the burden of caring for the family. She often said that she raised her younger brothers and sisters, her own three children, and two of her grandsons (me and Tomberry).
Granny’s father, Thomas Rhorea King, was born in 1850 in Holmes County, Mississippi, and died at the age of 85 on New Years Eve 1935. He married Annie Montgomery in Holmes County, Mississippi, on 21 December 1876 (after she died in 1898 he was remarried to Elma Merritt in 1902). The King family home was outside Durant and was owned by the Howard family after my great-grandfather died. It burned to the ground around 1970. A local artist using photographs of the house did a portrait in 1989.
Granny was baptized in June 1899 at Durant’s First Baptist Church. She was 16 years old. Six years later she was married in the same church. [Rev Matt Brady e-Mail on 14 Aug ’06---Records of Durant First Baptist Church]
Granny attended Blue Mountain Female College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi, (Tippah County). She was enrolled there in June 1900.1 She may have graduated in 1901. She was fond of recalling how when she went to college the students arrived on the train in the fall and remained there until Christmas vacation. Then, on returning after the Christmas break, they remained until the school year was completed.
Around 1904 Eliza King met Charlie Castleberry. He worked at the post office with Eliza’s older brother, John. Charlie and Eliza were married at the First Baptist Church in Durant on a Wednesday, the 25th of January 1905, the coldest January day my grandmother ever knew---so she often said. In South Africa on this date the worlds largest gem diamond, later named Cullinan (3106 carets), was found. I doubt that this discovery was of much interest to the newly weds. After the wedding and the customary festivities the new bride and groom retired, each to their respective domiciles. They could not yet afford a place of their own, so Granny said.
Granny was a strict disciplinarian and frugal to a degree that is scarcely conceivable today. She would bleach the large cloth signs advertising Pennzoil motor oil (which she got from Bick’s service station) and make underwear for Tomberry (my brother) and me. Tomberry laughingly told this story years later to a group of fellow students in a dormitory room one cold winter night at Mississippi Delta Community College adding that when he would turn his underpants inside-out the picture of oil cans could still be plainly seen!
Granny’s moral habits were Victorian. She was an extremely domineering person and was fairly intolerant of those whose morals did not conform to a straight and honest pattern of living.
She always spoke of her ancestors in glowing terms, especially her father, Tom King. She had a tremendous amount of pride in her family heritage and generally thought that the flat landed Mississippi Delta where she lived the last 40 years of her life was a backwater region of the state compared to her beloved Holmes County in the Mississippi hill country.
I never heard her utter a profane word or knew her to partake of any alcoholic beverages except once when on the advice of the Moorhead physician, Dr. Lynch, she drank a glass of beer nightly just before retiring to increase her weight and provide a more restful sleep. This she did for several months quitting when the desired results did not occur. She had several odd remedies for her medical problems. For example, she always slept with an old high heel shoe pushed against her side at night to prevent “gas pains.” Many times I have seen her gag herself with her fingers to force herself to throw-up to get relief when she had an upset stomach. She often used a muster plaster on her chest for exactly what ailment I don’t remember. She and Bick always took a pinch of senna leaves at night before retiring.
She always referred to her husband and my grandfather (Bick) as “Mr. Castleberry”, even when speaking with him face to face.
She was a staunch member of the Moorhead Baptist Church. The Women’s Missionary Union was her special interest. She made a remark a few years before she died that I have always thought curious in view of her many years of devotion to church work. Some one brought up the subject of the life hereafter. To this Granny remarked that “she had done all that she could for the Lord and if that was not enough she guessed she would just have to go the bad place”.
Granny had a very keen intellect. She loved to read and received many hours of pleasure playing the card game solitaire. She was an expert seamstress. In my early years most of my clothes were made by her. She had a Singer sewing machine that was powered with a foot petal. She took a lot of pride in the fact that she not only raised three children of her own but two grandchildren (my brother, Tomberry and me) as well. The two of us lived with Granny and Bick from 1938 to 1946 (from the time she was 55 to 63 years old and I was 3 to 11 years old).
Granny died in her sleep in November 1959 after suffering for several years from Parkinson disease. She is buried beside her husband in Durant, Mississippi, in the Mizpah Cemetery.
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