Category Archives: PICKENS

The Longest Day 

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Dad, Mom and me Feb 2017

Dad and me Christmas four years ago

Neurologist Dr Christopher Laganke

This June, I will participate in The Longest Day®, a fundraising event benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association. On June 21, people around the world will do what they love to honor a caregiver, a person living with the disease or someone they’ve lost, while raising funds and awareness to advance Alzheimer’s care, support and research.



I was happy to have in my mail on Wednesday, the death certificate for my great-grandfather, James Harvey Pickens. Here is a picture of James Harvey and family, about 1907.They were married in Cooke Texas 1900.


He was listed as divorced. His wife in Tampa Florida, was listed a s a widow. I do know he left the family somewhere between 1920 and 1930. Wife Alice, my grandfather Harvey H and siblings were in Tampa in 1930. We never knew what happened to James Harvey, except that he is buried with his parents Harvey H and Sarah F Smith Pickens in Hillside cemetery, Purcell Oklahoma. It was reassuring to see I had the right SMith family in the 1860’s in Oglethorpe county Georgia. James’ death certificate verified this.

James Harvey Pickens death certificate

The state of Oklahoma was unable to find the certificates for parents of James Harvey, but, I provided all the information I had , and resent it in hopes of success. James Harvey sister was Tommie Pickens who married undertaker B.H. Rackley. Someone of that family may know something too. I have also posted it to the Pickens and McClain county boards on Ancestry. I hope to put this family back together soon.





One of my recent trips to central Alabama, gave me some insight as to some ancestors burials.I had been in Lowndes county already, and on the way back from the beach, decided on a different route.This trip was full of discoveries and unexpected surprises.

I had known of the Sullivan line in Perry county, from the late 1700’s. This line comes from my father, his father, his mother, and so on. Alice Davidson married a Pickens, my g grandfather. Her family was both from Tennessee and Alabama. Her grandfather was Hewlett Sullivan. This family lived in Alabama and later in Texas. Hewlett’s father was William Dunklin Sullivan. Throughout the family, you see Dunklin, Duncan, Dunkin, Hewlett and Hewett in the boys names.

When I went to the cemetery in Perry county, Marion cemetery, I expected to only find Dunklin Augusta Sullivan, which would have been an uncle. Because, on FindaGrave, he was the only Sullivan listed. So, I expected little, and got lots!! I had been driving through the cemetery, and I spotted a headstone with the name Parrish. I knew that one of the sisters had married Elam Parrish. This was my sign!!! So, I thought, I may be here awhile.

I walked around and started seeing a few Sullivans, taking notes and lots of photos. First, I saw Martha, then Dunklin then the big one!! William Dunklin Sullivan, and wife Mary.

William Dunklin Sullivan, Marion cemetery, Perry county, Alabama

A bit of history on WIlliam Dunklin Sullivan…..born 1791 in Greenville district South Carolina. He later moved to Tennessee where he received a good education in law. Later to Marion county Alabama, where he became Perry county’s first state senator. He married Mary Polly Mayberry, daughter of George Washington Mayberry. William Dunklin Sullivan died in office in 1837 while attending a session of the Alabama legislature. He also served a Probate judge and representative.

William Dunklin Sullivan was my 4th great-grandfather. So, on this trip, I had the pleasure of finding TWO 4th great-grandfathers. Stay tuned, there is more to come……

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I am not fortunate enough to still have my grandparents, but, as a tribute to both sets, here are photos of them.

Ruben and Blanche Ewing Dean, about 1940

Ruben and Blanche lived in Franklin Pennsylvania, where my mother Louise was born.When I was about 13, my other and I started visiting over the summer. Some of the best memories were going to their house on Myrtle  St. Baking with her, and walking around the town.

Harvey and Mamie McCall Pickens, about 1935

Harvey and Mamie first lived in Tampa, where I was born, and my father Hershel. We lived close to them, then we later moved to Bradenton, they soon followed. My memories are always of the beautiful lawn they had, cooking with Nana , in the vegetable garden with Papa picking the things he grew.Even later, even as I was a teen, visiting them was a joy. Most young people can not see the benefit of spending time with grandparents, I certainly did.



My father , who is 77 years old today, was impressed with my recent genealogy trip. He never knew the family came from Alabama, he always thought Texas. I explained the route they took so many years ago. From South Carolina, to Alabama and then to Texas.

My tree of Pickens goes from


                                                                                    Patricia Ann

                                                                                  Hershel Harvey

                                                                                  Harvey Hershel

                                                                                   James Harvey

                                                                                       Harvey H

                                                                                      William H




                                                                                 Robert Andrew

                                                                                  Andrew Picon

My dad….

Hershel Pickens Air Force Collage

Daddy and me Christmas 2011


Samuel Pickens, my 4th great-grandfather

This was the perfect opportunity for a genealogy trip. My in-laws were going to the beach……they asked me to come along. I knew that along that route were some places I had been longing to visit. This is the story.

I left on Thursday, August 9, 2012. I had planned my trip to go south, and to make stops at specific places along the way. My first stop after Montgomery , was Hayneville, Alabama. This is a very small town, but, everyone was so nice, and answered all my questions. I was looking for a marriage record for my 3rd great-grandparents that married there in February 1841. I knew it was a long shot, but, it was worth a try. No records were kept there. The young lady suggested the archives in Montgomery. She also recommended I visit the library across the street. I did, and there was a book on the History of Lowndes county. I searched through to find the main names of Pickens and Kirkpatrick. Many mentions of those names, but, not particular to those in which I was searching. However, it did mention that both names were prominent members of Little Sandy Ridge Presbyterian church, just south of there, near Fort Deposit. I did know already that Samuel Pickens was buried there, so off I went.

When I got back on Interstate 65, I saw that the town of Fort Deposit was west of the interstate and the church was east. I had time. I headed to the town of Fort Deposit. It too, was a small town, worn from the years, like Hayneville. But, it had character. Above the buildings that were abandoned, I saw spires. I followed them along a side street and saw a beautiful church. Fort Deposit United Methodist stood strong against the older structures that did not survive as well as she. I took some photos, and off I went again.

Letohatchee old grocery

The cemetery was easy to find. I just followed hwy 185 to hwy 79, headed south for a few minutes, and there it was. My goal was to take my own photo of Samuel’s headstone, and, hopefully find a few more relatives. Dead relatives that is. There were also several photo requests here as well, and wanted to help those looking for photos too. It was not too large, only about 500 burials. I started walking…..I saw large headstones with Pickens, these were not the ones. They were too new. I looked further back, and I saw some Kirkpatrick headstones. BAM!! There he was next to them. He married a Kirkpatrick, Eleanor Kirkpatrick, daughter of Valentine Kirkpatrick. There it was, I was excited! After I had seen all I could of my family, I proceeded to search for the requests. Then, I saw a car pull along the fence and turn around. It stopped at the main gate. An older gentleman got out, came into the cemetery, and introduced himself as Joseph Cates. And he knew all about this cemetery. In fact, later in the day, I would find he documented all he could about it in 1963. He spoke to descendants of those buried there, got stories and information on them. He put it all in a binder. Yep, he knew all about this cemetery. He asked me which names I was looking to find, and I told him. He helped me find some others, and told me of his family Cates.

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He said he had something I would be interested in seeing if I had time. Not too far was an old homestead of Kirkpatrick. I told him I did have time. He went to get in the car with is wife Nancy. He could not get his car started, so I gave them a ride about 500 yards to their home.

My story gets better from here.

” I live just down the road, I’m sorry to trouble you”. It was most assuredly no trouble to take them, he had helped me a great deal already. ” I live on the old Lloyd Pickens property”. WHAT????? Lloyd was the son of Samuel, and bother to my 3rd great-grandfather, William H. Pickens. I could not believe this. He was definitely the right person to come along. He then told me the homestead was only a mile or so down the road, if I would follow them. I did, and he stopped on the side of the road. I didn’t see anything at first. The, I got out, he pointed to a sign. And said, ” You take as long as you like, then I will tell you what I know”.

Valentine Kirkpatrick property

He remembered the old home, that had been gone several years. He described it as if it was still there. The area was know as Kirklville. I told him he made my day! We went back to the cemetery, because, I had one last photo request I could not locate. He got his book and told me where to look. He told me young people are never seen in cemeteries. They don’t appreciate it. This is one person, although, not exactly young, who can truly appreciate the history and reverence that should be given to our ancestors. I thanked him, he gave me his contact info, and I hope to be in touch with him.



My parents, July 23, 1960. 52 years today. And Happy Anniversary to my in-laws, Mike and Mary Nelle Black, July 23, 1961. 51 years today.


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