Attala County, Mississippi


The Star-Herald, Kosciusko, Miss.,April 19, 1979


Eliza Davis Was Born In Slavery

By Joyce W. Sanders   This article originated from notes made in the 1930s when Miss Ruby Haynes actually interviewed Eliza Davis. At this time Eliza was 98 years old and had been born within five miles of Rocky Point in Attala County. Her oldest son was 74 years old at this time. Eliza's father was Bob Story; he belonged to the L. B. Story family. Her mother was Priscilla Huffman who, along with 24 other slaves, belonged to Billie Huffman.   Huffman was an agent who dealt in buying and selling slaves. Children of Billie and Mrs. Huffman were: Rasmus, Russell, Margaret who married a winters, Kurella, Mildred, Anna Retta, Rosetta, Annetta and Yarico, who was named by an old Indian woman and who married "Gum" Williams.

  Eliza was raised in the Huffman house and turned loose when the war was over and she was grown.

Kurella Huffman was her master and on the 12th day of the old Christmas came to Eliza and gave her $3. When Eliza asked why she had been given the money, her master told her she did not belong to her anymore and could do with the money as she wished. The Huffmans moved into Kosciusko and Eliza followed them. She helped raise the children and even slept in the room with them. Eliza gave 50 cents for some "gutta percha" earrings out of her $3 and still had then at the time of this interview.

  When Eliza can first remember, there was nothing much in the country but varmints and Indians. Her master and everybody else had log houses...very plain. It was just a common house with two big rooms and an open hall, with an outside kitchen. The first time she remembers Kosciusko, there was no courthouse on the square. The jailhouse was plank and Adams and

Galloway was the one store.

  After the war and when she was 23 years old, Eliza married Jacob Davis and they lived together 63 years. They had 28 children with one being a set of triplet boys. Four children were still alive: Willie lived at McCool as did Genette Brooks; Nickles lives at Kosciusko and Walter this side of Durant. Some of the other children were named: Hanson, Nero, Manuel and Charlie. Jacob and Eliza lived five miles northwest of town on the Peter Bailey place; they had several heads of mules, goats and other stock.

  I am not sure just when Eliza passed away but know she lived past 100 and was, I believe, the last person left in Kosciusko who had been born in slavery.

  Stand by next time for a glimpse of an "early courthouse ghost."

copyright © 1979, Joyce W. Sanders. All rights reserved.

The above article appeared, as noted, in the March 27, 1980 Star-Herald, Kosciusko, Ms. It is republished here with the knowledge and consent of Joyce W. Sanders.

The Billie Huffman referred to above was in fact William Huffman (1793-1861). His first wife, Margaret Zimmerman died around 1828 in Lowndes County, Alabama. William and Margaret had six children; Russell (1819), Clarissa (1821), Albert (1824), Marcilla (1826), Martha (1827) and Margaret (1828).

William Huffman married his second wife, Olivia Blackmon (1812-1860) on 20 April 1829 in Montgomery County, Alabama. William and Olivia had nine children, four of which were born in Attala County, Mississippi. The children were; Erasmus (1833), Amaretta (1834), Vinyard (1835), Curilla (1839), Rosetta L. (1842), Yarico Bathsheba (1844), Wilbert Asgill (1847), William Austin (1849), Annetta (1854).

The Mildred referenced in the above article was the daughter of Olivia by her first husband. Mildred was less than a year old when her mother married William Huffman. Mildred grew up and married W. W. Tipton of Kosciusko.

The Huffman family moved to Attala County about 1843 and made their home in northeast Attala County, not far from the Natchez Trace. The cabin which Eliza Davis described may well be the cabin that is presently located in French Camp at the junction of the Trace and Hwys 407/413. It should also be noted that William died on 30 December 1861 and Olivia had preceded him in April of 1860. The unmarried, minor children moved to Kosciusko shortly after the death of their father. Curilla, who would have been about twenty-six at the end of the war, never married and would have been forty-four years of age when she died in 1883.


copyright © 2001 by Everette Carr. All rights reserved.

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