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Jones, John Winston - History

Jones, John Winston - History


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Speaker of the House

(1791-1848)

Born 22 November 1791 in Amelia County, Virginia, Jones graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1813. He practiced law in Chesterfield County, Virginia before being appointed Prosecuting Attorney for Virginia's 5th Judicial Circuit in 1818. He was a delegate to the state constitutional convention 1829 - 1830. Jones was elected as a Democratic Congressman from Virginia and served from 1835 to 1845. He was the Speaker of the House between 1843 and 1845. He then returned to his native Virginia to serve as Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates in 1847.

Jones was elected to a second state House term in November, but did not attend the session due to illness. He resigned his seat on December 17, and was succeeded by his son, Alexander. Jones died 29 January 1848 at his "Dellwood" plantation northwest of Petersburg, Virginia, and is buried there.


Winston's Backstory In John Wick Explained

Aside from its title character, the most important personality in the John Wick action saga is Winston, enigmatic proprietor of the New York branch of the Continental Hotel. These hotels, dotted around the world, serve multiple purposes: Safe neutral harbor for hunters and the hunted, one-stop shop for the violently inclined, and even a cheeky bit of dog-boarding, should the odd need arise. Any manager of a Continental must come from a background that can be described in the simplest terms as "colorful," but Ian McShane, who portrays Winston, isn't immediately interested in coughing up his character's secrets. When asked by Den of Geek if he has crafted any kind of history for Winston, his answer is simple enough: "Yeah, I make up my own and it varies according to how you see it. I'm not going to tell you what it is, but yeah." Director Chad Stahelski is equally evasive in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter: "I like open-ended questions, sometimes, where not everything gets answered. I also like satisfying the audience, but I like leaving a little to your imagination and a little open for debate."

There's more to pick out about Winston than it might seem at first blush in the three current John Wick films, but the answers come from sources not directly connected to him, necessarily. Here's what can be pieced together about Winston's history through his characterization and the world-building around him, and how that might increase in significance as the already-confirmed fourth and fifth entries come together.


John Winston

Actor John Winston (24 October 1927 – 19 September 2019 age 91) portrayed Commander Kyle through all three seasons of Star Trek: The Original Series. He reprised the role in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan . He also portrayed Kyle's mirror universe counterpart, in addition to his regular role, in " Mirror, Mirror ", and voiced the ISS Enterprise's computer in the same episode. The Star Trek Encyclopedia (3rd ed., p. 562) mistakenly listed Winston as portraying an Argelian bartender in " Wolf in the Fold ".

Winston filmed his scenes for "Tomorrow is Yesterday" on Tuesday 29 November 1966. He filmed his scenes for "Space Seed" on Wednesday 21 December 1966, and his scene for "The City on the Edge of Forever" on Friday 10 February 1967. He filmed his scene for "Catspaw" on Tuesday 2 May 1967, his scenes for "Who Mourns for Adonais?" on Wednesday 31 May 1967, his scenes for "The Doomsday Machine" on Thursday 22 June 1967, his scene for "Wolf in the Fold" on Wednesday 5 July 1967, and his scenes for "The Apple" on Friday 14 July 1967. He filmed his scenes for "Mirror, Mirror" on Tuesday 25 July 1967 and Thursday 27 July 1967, and his scenes for "The Immunity Syndrome" between Wednesday 25 October 1967 and Friday 27 October 1967. He filmed his scenes for "The Lights of Zetar" on Wednesday 6 November 1968. All of his scenes were filmed at Desilu Stage 9.

Winston appeared in the Time Tunnel pilot "Rendezvous with Yesterday" along with series regulars James Darren, Whit Bissell, Lee Meriwether, and guest voice actor Bart La Rue. He also appeared in an episode of the television show Max Headroom along with Matt Frewer, Concetta Tomei, George Coe, and W. Morgan Sheppard.

In 1971, Winston had a small part in the television movie Assault on the Wayne, which also featured Leonard Nimoy, William Windom, and Malachi Throne.

Winston lived in North Hollywood. [1] He portrayed Captain Jeffries in the fan-made internet series Star Trek: New Voyages pilot episode "Come What May" (2004), which featured Trek actors James Cawley, Jeffery Quinn, Larry Nemecek, and TOS co-star Eddie Paskey.

Winston died on 19 September 2019, at the age of 91. His death was not announced until 5 June 2020, when it was revealed in the spring newsletter of the SAG-AFTRA actors' union. [2]


The True Story of the ‘Free State of Jones’

With two rat terriers trotting at his heels, and a long wooden staff in his hand, J.R. Gavin leads me through the woods to one of the old swamp hide-outs. A tall white man with a deep Southern drawl, Gavin has a stern presence, gracious manners and intense brooding eyes. At first I mistook him for a preacher, but he’s a retired electronic engineer who writes self-published novels about the rapture and apocalypse. One of them is titled Sal Batree, after the place he wants to show me.

I’m here in Jones County, Mississippi, to breathe in the historical vapors left by Newton Knight, a poor white farmer who led an extraordinary rebellion during the Civil War. With a company of like-minded white men in southeast Mississippi, he did what many Southerners now regard as unthinkable. He waged guerrilla war against the Confederacy and declared loyalty to the Union.

In the spring of 1864, the Knight Company overthrew the Confederate authorities in Jones County and raised the United States flag over the county courthouse in Ellisville. The county was known as the Free State of Jones, and some say it actually seceded from the Confederacy. This little-known, counterintuitive episode in American history has now been brought to the screen in Free State of Jones, directed by Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games) and starring a grimy, scruffed-up Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight.

Knight and his men, says Gavin, hooking away an enormous spider web with his staff and warning me to be careful of snakes, “had a number of different hide-outs. The old folks call this one Sal Batree. Sal was the name of Newt’s shotgun, and originally it was Sal’s Battery, but it got corrupted over the years.”

We reach a small promontory surrounded on three sides by a swampy, beaver-dammed lake, and concealed by 12-foot-high cattails and reeds. “I can’t be certain, but a 90-year-old man named Odell Holyfield told me this was the place,” says Gavin. “He said they had a gate in the reeds that a man on horseback could ride through. He said they had a password, and if you got it wrong, they’d kill you. I don’t know how much of that is true, but one of these days I’ll come here with a metal detector and see what I can find.”

On his property, Jones County’s J. R. Gavin points out a site that was a hide-out for Newt Knight. “The Confederates kept sending in troops to wipe out old Newt and his boys,” says Gavin, “but they’d just melt into the swamps.” (William Widmer)

We make our way around the lakeshore, passing beaver-gnawed tree stumps and snaky-looking thickets. Reaching higher ground, Gavin points across the swamp to various local landmarks. Then he plants his staff on the ground and turns to face me directly.

“Now I’m going to say something that might offend you,” he begins, and proceeds to do just that, by referring in racist terms to “Newt’s descendants” in nearby Soso, saying some of them are so light-skinned “you look at them and you just don’t know.”

I stand there writing it down and thinking about William Faulkner, whose novels are strewn with characters who look white but are deemed black by Mississippi’s fanatical obsession with the one-drop rule. And not for the first time in Jones County, where arguments still rage about a man born 179 years ago, I recall Faulkner’s famous axiom about history: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

After the Civil War, Knight took up with his grandfather’s former slave Rachel they had five children together. Knight also fathered nine children with his white wife, Serena, and the two families lived in different houses on the same 160-acre farm. After he and Serena separated—they never divorced—Newt Knight caused a scandal that still reverberates by entering a common-law marriage with Rachel and proudly claiming their mixed-race children.

The Knight Negroes, as these children were known, were shunned by whites and blacks alike. Unable to find marriage partners in the community, they started marrying their white cousins instead, with Newt’s encouragement. (Newt’s son Mat, for instance, married one of Rachel’s daughters by another man, and Newt’s daughter Molly married one of Rachel’s sons by another man.) An interracial community began to form near the small town of Soso, and continued to marry within itself.

“They keep to themselves over there,” says Gavin, striding back toward his house, where supplies of canned food and muscadine wine are stored up for the onset of Armageddon. “A lot of people find it easier to forgive Newt for fighting Confederates than mixing blood.”

I came to Jones County having read some good books about its history, and knowing very little about its present-day reality. It was reputed to be fiercely racist and conservative, even by Mississippi standards, and it had been a hotbed for the Ku Klux Klan. But Mississippi is nothing if not layered and contradictory, and this small, rural county has also produced some wonderful creative and artistic talents, including Parker Posey, the indie-film queen, the novelist Jonathan Odell, the pop singer and gay astronaut Lance Bass, and Mark Landis, the schizophrenic art forger and prankster, who donated fraudulent masterpieces to major American art museums for nearly 30 years before he was caught.

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This story is a selection from the March issue of Smithsonian magazine

Driving toward the Jones County line, I passed a sign to Hot Coffee—a town, not a beverage—and drove on through rolling cattle pastures and short, new-growth pine trees. There were isolated farmhouses and prim little country churches, and occasional dilapidated trailers with dismembered automobiles in the front yard. In Newt Knight’s day, all this was a primeval forest of enormous longleaf pines so thick around the base that three or four men could circle their arms around them. This part of Mississippi was dubbed the Piney Woods, known for its poverty and lack of prospects. The big trees were an ordeal to clear, the sandy soil was ill-suited for growing cotton, and the bottomlands were choked with swamps and thickets.

There was some very modest cotton production in the area, and a small slaveholding elite that included Newt Knight’s grandfather, but Jones County had fewer slaves than any other county in Mississippi, only 12 percent of its population. This, more than anything, explains its widespread disloyalty to the Confederacy, but there was also a surly, clannish independent spirit, and in Newt Knight, an extraordinarily steadfast and skillful leader.

On the county line, I was half-expecting a sign reading “Welcome to the Free State of Jones” or “Home of Newton Knight,” but the Confederacy is now revered by some whites in the area, and the chamber of commerce had opted for a less controversial slogan: “Now This Is Living!” Most of Jones County is rural, low- or modest-income roughly 70 percent of the population is white. I drove past many small chicken farms, a large modern factory making transformers and computers, and innumerable Baptist churches. Laurel, the biggest town, stands apart. Known as the City Beautiful, it was created by Midwestern timber barons who razed the longleaf pine forests and built themselves elegant homes on oak-lined streets and the gorgeous world-class Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.

The old county seat, and ground zero for the Free State of Jones, is Ellisville, now a pleasant, leafy town of 4,500 people. Downtown has some old brick buildings with wrought-iron balconies. The grand old columned courthouse has a Confederate monument next to it, and no mention of the anti-Confederate rebellion that took place here. Modern Ellisville is dominated by the sprawling campus of Jones County Junior College, where a semiretired history professor named Wyatt Moulds was waiting for me in the entrance hall. A direct descendant of Newt Knight’s grandfather, he was heavily involved in researching the film and ensuring its historical accuracy.

A large, friendly, charismatic man with unruly side-parted hair, he was wearing alligator-skin cowboy boots and a fishing shirt. “I’m one of the few liberals you’re going to meet here, but I’m a Piney Woods liberal,” he said. “I voted for Obama, I hunt and I love guns. It’s part of the culture here. Even the liberals carry handguns.”

For Wyatt Moulds the film is “an idea whose time has come.” (William Widmer) (Guilbert Gates) A fading mural in Ellisville depicts the town's history. (William Widmer) A tattered American flag hangs from a tree in the unincorporated community of Crackers Neck, near Ellisville. For a few years after the war, Ellisville was known as Leesville in memory of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. (William Widmer)

He described Jones County as the most conservative place in Mississippi, but he noted that race relations were improving and that you could see it clearly in the changing attitudes toward Newt Knight. “It’s generational,” he said. “A lot of older people see Newt as a traitor and a reprobate, and they don’t understand why anyone would want to make a movie about him. If you point out that Newt distributed food to starving people, and was known as the Robin Hood of the Piney Woods, they’ll tell you he married a black, like that trumps everything. And they won’t use the word ‘black.’”

His current crop of students, on the other hand, are “fired up” about Newt and the movie. “Blacks and whites date each other in high school now, and they don’t think it’s a big deal,” said Moulds. “That’s a huge change. Some of the young guys are really identifying with Newt now, as a symbol of Jones County pride. It doesn’t hurt that he was such a badass.”

Knight was 6-foot-4 with black curly hair and a full beard—“big heavyset man, quick as a cat,” as one of his friends described him. He was a nightmarish opponent in a backwoods wrestling match, and one of the great unsung guerrilla fighters in American history. So many men tried so hard to kill him that perhaps his most remarkable achievement was to reach old age.

“He was a Primitive Baptist who didn’t drink, didn’t cuss, doted on children and could reload and fire a double-barreled, muzzle-loading shotgun faster than anyone else around,” said Moulds. “Even as an old man, if someone rubbed him the wrong way, he’d have a knife at their throat in a heartbeat. A lot of people will tell you that Newt was just a renegade, out for himself, but there’s good evidence that he was a man of strong principles who was against secession, against slavery and pro-Union.”

Those views were not unusual in Jones County. Newt’s right-hand man, Jasper Collins, came from a big family of staunch Mississippi Unionists. He later named his son Ulysses Sherman Collins, after his two favorite Yankee generals, Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman. “Down here, that’s like naming your son Adolf Hitler Collins,” said Moulds.

When secession fever swept across the South in 1860, Jones County was largely immune to it. Its secessionist candidate received only 24 votes, while the “cooperationist” candidate, John H. Powell, received 374. When Powell got to the secession convention in Jackson, however, he lost his nerve and voted to secede along with almost everyone else. Powell stayed away from Jones County for a while after that, and he was burned in effigy in Ellisville.

“In the Lost Cause mythology, the South was united, and secession had nothing to do with slavery,” said Moulds. “What happened in Jones County puts the lie to that, so the Lost Causers have to paint Newt as a common outlaw, and above all else, deny all traces of Unionism. With the movie coming out, they’re at it harder than ever.”

Although he was against secession, Knight voluntarily enlisted in the Confederate Army once the war began. We can only speculate about his reasons. He kept no diary and gave only one interview near the end of his life, to a New Orleans journalist named Meigs Frost. Knight said he’d enlisted with a group of local men to avoid being conscripted and then split up into different companies. But the leading scholar of the Knight-led rebellion, Victoria Bynum, author of The Free State of Jones, points out that Knight had enlisted, under no threat of conscription, a few months after the war began, in July 1861. She thinks he relished being a soldier.

The Free State of Jones: Mississippi's Longest Civil War

Victoria Bynum traces the origins and legacy of the Jones County uprising from the American Revolution to the modern civil rights movement. In bridging the gap between the legendary and the real Free State of Jones, she shows how the legend reveals a great deal about the South's transition from slavery to segregation.

In October 1862, after the Confederate defeat at Corinth, Knight and many other Piney Woods men deserted from the Seventh Battalion of Mississippi Infantry. It wasn’t just the starvation rations, arrogant harebrained leadership and appalling carnage. They were disgusted and angry about the recently passed “Twenty Negro Law,” which exempted one white male for every 20 slaves owned on a plantation, from serving in the Confederate Army. Jasper Collins echoed many non-slaveholders across the South when he said, “This law. makes it a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”

Returning home, they found their wives struggling to keep up the farms and feed the children. Even more aggravating, the Confederate authorities had imposed an abusive, corrupt “tax in kind” system, by which they took what they wanted for the war effort— horses, hogs, chickens, corn, meat from the smokehouses, homespun cloth. A Confederate colonel named William N. Brown reported that corrupt tax officials had “done more to demoralize Jones County than the whole Yankee Army.”

In early 1863, Knight was captured for desertion and possibly tortured. Some scholars think he was pressed back into service for the Siege of Vicksburg, but there’s no solid evidence that he was there. After Vicksburg fell, in July 1863, there was a mass exodus of deserters from the Confederate Army, including many from Jones and the surrounding counties. The following month, Confederate Maj. Amos McLemore arrived in Ellisville and began hunting them down with soldiers and hounds. By October, he had captured more than 100 deserters, and exchanged threatening messages with Newt Knight, who was back on his ruined farm on the Jasper County border.

On the night of October 5, Major McLemore was staying at his friend Amos Deason’s mansion in Ellisville, when someone—almost certainly Newt Knight—burst in and shot him to death. Soon afterward, there was a mass meeting of deserters from four Piney Woods counties. They organized themselves into a company called the Jones County Scouts and unanimously elected Knight as their captain. They vowed to resist capture, defy tax collectors, defend each other’s homes and farms, and do what they could to aid the Union.

Neo-Confederate historians have denied the Scouts’ loyalty to the Union up and down, but it was accepted by local Confederates at the time. “They were Union soldiers from principle,” Maj. Joel E. Welborn, their former commanding officer in the Seventh Mississippi, later recalled. “They were making an effort to be mustered into the U.S. Service.” Indeed, several of the Jones County Scouts later succeeded in joining the Union Army in New Orleans.

In March 1864, Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk informed Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, that Jones County was in “open rebellion” and that guerrilla fighters were “proclaiming themselves ‘Southern Yankees.’” They had crippled the tax collection system, seized and redistributed Confederate supplies, and killed and driven out Confederate officials and loyalists, not just in Jones County but all over southeast Mississippi. Confederate Capt. Wirt Thompson reported that they were now a thousand strong and flying the U.S. flag over the Jones County courthouse—“they boast of fighting for the Union,” he added.

In spring of 1864, Knight's company stayed deep in the swamps, supplied with food and information by local sympathizers and slaves. (© 2015 STX Productions, LLC. All rights reserved) Matthew McConaughey (center) stars as Knight in The Free State of Jones. (© 2015 STX Productions, LLC. All rights reserved.) The house where a Confederate general was shot, likely by Knight (William Widmer) Newton Knight (From the collection of Earle Knight / Courtesy of Victoria Bynum) A photograph of Newton Knight, held by his fourth cousin DeBoyd Knight (William Widmer) A portrait tentatively identified as Rachel (Herman Welborn Collection / Courtesy of Martha Doris Welborn)

That spring was the high-water mark of the rebellion against the Rebels. Polk ordered two battle-hardened regiments into southeast Mississippi, under the command of Piney Woods native Col. Robert Lowry. With hanging ropes and packs of vicious, manhunting dogs, they subdued the surrounding counties and then moved into the Free State of Jones. Several of the Knight company were mangled by the dogs, and at least ten were hanged, but Lowry couldn’t catch Knight or the core group. They were deep in the swamps, being supplied with food and information by local sympathizers and slaves, most notably Rachel.

After Lowry left, proclaiming victory, Knight and his men emerged from their hide-outs, and once again, began threatening Confederate officials and agents, burning bridges and destroying railroads to thwart the Rebel Army, and raiding food supplies intended for the troops. They fought their last skirmish at Sal’s Battery, also spelled Sallsbattery, on January 10, 1865, fighting off a combined force of cavalry and infantry. Three months later, the Confederacy fell.

In 2006, the filmmaker Gary Ross was at Universal Studios, discussing possible projects, when a development executive gave him a brief, one-page treatment about Newton Knight and the Free State of Jones. Ross was instantly intrigued, both by the character and the revelation of Unionism in Mississippi, the most deeply Southern state of all.

“It led me on a deep dive to understand more and more about him and the fact that the South wasn’t monolithic during the Civil War,” says Ross, speaking on the phone from New York. “I didn’t realize it was going to be two years of research before I began writing the screenplay.”

The first thing he did was take a canoe trip down the Leaf River, to get a feel for the area. Then he started reading, beginning with the five (now six) books about Newton Knight. That led into broader reading about other pockets of Unionism in the South. Then he started into Reconstruction.

“I’m not a fast reader, nor am I an academic,” he says, “although I guess I’ve become an amateur one.” He apprenticed himself to some of the leading authorities in the field, including Harvard’s John Stauffer and Steven Hahn at the University of Pennsylvania. (At the urging of Ross, Stauffer and co-author Sally Jenkins published their own book on the Jones County rebellion, in 2009.) Ross talks about these scholars in a tone of worship and adulation, as if they’re rock stars or movie stars—and none more so than Eric Foner at Columbia, the dean of Reconstruction experts.

“He is like a god, and I went into his office, and I said, ‘My name’s Gary Ross, I did Seabiscuit.’ I asked him a bunch of questions about Reconstruction, and all he did was give me a reading list. He was giving me no quarter. I’m some Hollywood guy, you know, and he wanted to see if I could do the work.”

Director Gary Ross recreates the world of Newt Knight, where the pro-Union rebels escaped into local swamps. “My heart lay here,” says Ross of his decade-long effort to bring the story to the screen. (© 2015 STX Productions, LLC. All rights reserved)

Ross worked his way slowly and carefully through the books, and went back with more questions. Foner answered none of them, just gave him another reading list. Ross read those books too, and went back again with burning questions. This time Foner actually looked at him and said, “Not bad. You ought to think about studying this.”

“It was the greatest compliment a person could have given me,” says Ross. “I remember walking out of his office, across the steps of Columbia library, almost buoyant. It was such a heady experience to learn for learning’s sake, for the first time, rather than to generate a screenplay. I’m still reading history books all the time. I tell people this movie is my academic midlife crisis.”

In Hollywood, he says, the executives were extremely supportive of his research, and the script that he finally wrestled out of it, but they balked at financing the film. “This was before Lincoln and 12 Years a Slave, and it was very hard to get this sort of a drama made. So I went and did Hunger Games, but always keeping an eye on this. ”

Matthew McConaughey thought the Free State of Jones script was the most exciting Civil War story he had ever read, and knew immediately that he wanted to play Newt Knight. In Knight’s defiance of both the Confederate Army and the deepest taboos of Southern culture McConaughey sees an uncompromising and deeply moral leader. He was “a man who lived by the Bible and the barrel of a shotgun,” McConaughey says in an email. “If someone—no matter what their color—was being mistreated or being used, if a poor person was being used by someone to get rich, that was a simple wrong that needed to be righted in Newt’s eyes. He did so deliberately, and to the hell with the consequences.” McConaughey sums him up as a “shining light through the middle of this country’s bloodiest fight. I really kind of marveled at him.”

“He was a beacon of a man, ahead of his time,” says McConaughey of Knight. (© 2015 STX Productions, LLC. All rights reserved)

The third act of the film takes place in Mississippi after the Civil War. There was a phase during early Reconstruction when blacks could vote, and black officials were elected for the first time. Then former Confederates violently took back control of the state and implemented a kind of second slavery for African-Americans. Once again disenfranchised, and terrorized by the Klan, they were exploited through sharecropping and legally segregated. “The third act is what makes this story feel so alive,” says McConaughey. “It makes it relevant today. Reconstruction is a verb that’s ongoing.”

Ross thinks Knight’s character and beliefs are most clearly revealed by his actions after the war. He was hired by the Reconstruction government to free black children from white masters who were refusing to emancipate them. “In 1875, he accepts a commission in what was essentially an all-black regiment,” says Ross. “His job was to defend the rights of freed African-Americans in one of Mississippi’s bloodiest elections. His commitment to these issues never waned.” In 1876, Knight deeded 160 acres of land to Rachel, making her one of very few African-American landowners in Mississippi at that time.

Much as Ross wanted to shoot the movie in Jones County, there were irresistible tax incentives to film across the border in Louisiana, and some breathtaking cypress swamps where various cast members were infested with the tiny mites known as chiggers. Nevertheless, Ross and McConaughey spent a lot of time in Jones County, persuading many county residents to appear in the film.

“I love the Leaf River and the whole area,” says Ross. “And I’ve grown to love Mississippi absolutely. It’s a very interesting, real and complicated place.”

On the website of Jones County Rosin Heels, the local chapter of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, an announcement warned that the film will portray Newt Knight as a civil rights activist and a hero. Then the writer inadvertently slips into the present tense: “He is actually a thief, murderer, adulterer and a deserter.”

Doug Jefcoate was listed as camp commander. I found him listed as a veterinarian in Laurel, and called up, saying I was interested in his opinions on Newt Knight. He sounded slightly impatient, then said, “OK, I’m a history guy and a fourth-generation guy. Come to the animal hospital tomorrow.”

The receptionist led me into a small examining room and closed both its doors. I stood there for a few long minutes, with a shiny steel table and, on the wall, a Bible quotation. Then Jefcoate walked in, a middle-aged man with sandy hair, glasses and a faraway smile. He was carrying two huge, leather-bound volumes of his family genealogy.

He gave me ten minutes on his family tree, and when I interrupted to ask about the Rosin Heels and Newt Knight, he stopped, looked puzzled, and began to chuckle. “You’ve got the wrong Doug Jefcoate,” he said. “I’m not that guy.” (Turns out he is Doug Jefcoat, without the “e.”)

He laughed uproariously, then settled down and gave me his thoughts. “I’m not a racist, OK, but I am a segregationist,” he said. “And ol’ Newt was skinny-dipping in the wrong pool.”

The Rosin Heel commander Doug Jefcoate wasn’t available, so I went instead to the law offices of Carl Ford, a Rosin Heel who had unsuccessfully defended Sam Bowers, the imperial wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, in his 1998 trial for the 1966 murder of civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer. Ford wasn’t there, but he’d arranged for John Cox, a friend, colleague and fellow Rosin Heel, to set me straight about Newt Knight.

John Cox, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, is critical of the movie’s historical treatment of Newt. (William Widmer)

Cox, an animated 71-year-old radio and television announcer with a long white beard, welcomed me into a small office crammed with video equipment and Confederate memorabilia. He was working on a film called Free State of Jones: The Republic That Never Was, intended to refute Gary Ross’ film. All he had so far was the credits (Executive Producer Carl Ford) and the introductory banjo music.

“Newt is what we call trailer trash,” he said in a booming baritone drawl. “I wouldn’t have him in my house. And like all poor, white, ignorant trash, he was in it for himself. Some people are far too enamored of the idea that he was Martin Luther King, and these are the same people who believe the War Between the States was about slavery, when nothing could be further from the truth.”

There seemed no point in arguing with him, and it was almost impossible to get a word in, so I sat there scribbling as he launched into a long monologue that defended slavery and the first incarnation of the Klan, burrowed deep into obscure Civil War battle minutiae, denied all charges of racism, and kept circling back to denounce Newt Knight and the simpering fools who tried to project their liberal agendas on him.

“There was no Free State of Jones,” he concluded. “It never existed.”

Joseph Hosey is a Jones County forester and wild mushroom harvester who was hired as an extra for the movie and ended up playing a core member of the Knight Company. Looking at him, there’s no reason to ask why. Scruffy and rail-thin with piercing blue eyes and a full beard, he looks like he subsists on Confederate Army rations and the occasional squirrel.

He wanted to meet me at Jitters Coffeehouse & Bookstore in Laurel, so he could show me an old map on the wall. It depicts Jones County as Davis County, and Ellisville as Leesburg. “After 1865, Jones County was so notorious that the local Confederates were ashamed to be associated with it,” he says. “So they got the county renamed after Jefferson Davis, and Ellisville after Robert E. Lee. A few years later, there was a vote on it, and the names were changed back. Thank God, because that would have sucked.”

Joseph Hosey, a Jones County forester who was an extra on the film, honors Knight’s legacy. “One of the things we do is clean up the graves. We keep Newt’s grave looking nice, and Rachel’s. We’re proud to do it.” (William Widmer)

Like his grandfather before him, Hosey is a great admirer of Newt Knight. Long before the film, when people asked where he was from, he would say, “The Free State of Jones.” Now he has a dog named Newt, and describes it as a “Union-blue Doberman.”

Being in the film, acting and interacting with Matthew McConaughey, was a profound and moving experience, but not because of the actor’s fame. “It was like Newt himself was standing right there in front of me. It made me really wish my grandfather was still alive, because we were always saying someone should make a movie about Newt.” Hosey and the other actors in the Knight Company bonded closely during the shoot and still refer to themselves as the Knight Company. “We have get-togethers in Jones County, and I imagine we always will,” he says.

I ask him what he admires most about Knight. “When you grow up in the South, you hear all the time about your ‘heritage,’ like it’s the greatest thing there is,” he says. “When I hear that word, I think of grits and sweet tea, but mostly I think about slavery and racism, and it pains me. Newt Knight gives me something in my heritage, as a white Southerner, that I can feel proud about. We didn’t all go along with it.”

After Reconstruction, with the former Confederates back in charge, the Klan after him, and Jim Crow segregation laws being passed, Knight retreated from public life to his homestead on the Jasper County border, which he shared with Rachel until her death in 1889, and continued to share with her children and grandchildren. He lived the self-sufficient life of a yeoman Piney Woods farmer, doted on his swelling ranks of children and grandchildren, and withdrew completely from white society.

He gave that single long interview in 1921, revealing a laconic sense of humor and a strong sense of right and wrong, and he died the following year, in February 1922. He was 84 years old. Joseph Hosey took me to Newt’s granddaughter’s cabin, where some say that he suffered a fatal heart attack while dancing on the porch. Hosey really wanted to take me to Newt Knight’s grave. But the sacred rite of hunting season was underway, and the landowner didn’t want visitors disturbing the deer in the area. So Hosey drove up to the locked gate, and then swiped up the relevant photographs on his phone.

Newt’s grave has an emblem of Sal, his beloved shotgun, and the legend, “He Lived For Others.” He’d given instructions that he should be buried here with Rachel. “It was illegal for blacks and whites to be buried in the same cemetery,” says Hosey. “Newt didn’t give a damn. Even in death, he defied them.”

There were several times in Jones County when my head began to swim.

During my final interview, across a brightly colored plastic table in the McDonald’s in Laurel, there were moments when my brain seized up altogether, and I would sit there stunned, unable to grasp what I was hearing. The two sisters sitting across the table were gently amused. They had seen this many times before. It was, in fact, the normal reaction when they tried to explain their family tree to outsiders.

Dorothy Knight Marsh and Florence Knight Blaylock are the great-granddaughters of Newt and Rachel. After many decades of living in the outside world, they are back in Soso, Mississippi, dealing with prejudice from all directions. The worst of it comes from within their extended family. “We have close relatives who won’t even look at us,” says Blaylock, the older sister, who was often taken for Mexican when she lived in California.

As great-granddaughters of Newt and Rachel, Dorothy Knight Marsh, left, and Florence Knight Blaylock revere their past: “It’s a very unusual, complex family,” says Blaylock. (William Widmer)

“Or they’ll be nice to us in private, and pretend they don’t know us in public,” added Marsh, who lived in Washington, D.C. for decades. For simplification, she said that there were three basic groups. The White Knights are descended from Newt and Serena, are often pro-Confederate, and proud of their pure white bloodlines. (In 1951, one of them, Ethel Knight, published a vitriolic indictment of Newt as a traitor to the Confederacy.) The Black Knights are descended from Newt’s cousin Dan, who had children with one of his slaves. The White Negroes (a.k.a. the Fair Knights or Knight Negroes) are descended from Newt and Rachel. “They all have separate family reunions,” said Blaylock.

The White Negro line was complicated further by Georgeanne, Rachel’s daughter by another white man. After Rachel died, Newt and Georgeanne had children. “He was a family man all right!” said Marsh. “I guess that’s why he had three of them. And he kept trying to marry out the color, so we would all keep getting lighter-skinned. We have to tell our young people, do not date in the Soso area. But we’re all fine. We don’t have any. problems. All Knights are hardworking and very capable.”

In the film, Marsh and Blaylock appear briefly in a courthouse scene. For the two of them, the Knight family saga has continued into the 20th century and beyond. Their cousin Davis Knight, who looked white and claimed to be white, was tried for the crime of miscegenation in 1948, after marrying a white woman. The trial was a study in Mississippian absurdity, paradox, contradiction and racial obsessiveness. A white man was convicted of being black the conviction was overturned he became legally white again.

“We’ve come to terms with who we are,” says Blaylock. “I’m proud to be descended from Newt and Rachel. I have so much respect for both of them.”

“Absolutely,” says Marsh. “And we can’t wait to see this movie.”


Census and Tax Records for Winston County Alabama

Census records provide the information needed for you to trace your ancestors as they moved from one place to another. By carefully looking at the neighbors you can often find other family members living close together. A census search is one of the most important things you will do in your family research.

Hancock County was renamed Winston County in 1858. Any census listings for 1830-1850 can be found on the following page:

1860 Winston County, Alabama Census

1866 Winston County, Alabama State Census

1870 Winston County, Alabama Census

1880 Winston County, Alabama Census

1890 Winston County, Alabama Census

1900 Winston County, Alabama Census

1910 Winston County, Alabama Census

1920 Winston County, Alabama Census

1930 Winston County, Alabama Census

1940 Winston County, Alabama Census


Miscellaneous case files 1821-1900

  • Miscellaneous case files, Adkins, W. R. – Miller, Albert, 1821-1900 – Film #1221969, Item 2
  • Miscellaneous case files Adkins, W. R. – M. Livingston & Sons, 1887-1900 – Film #1426404, Item 2 – Film #1409071

Winston County Alabama Probate Records

Probate records are used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. The probate process transfers the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title. The transfer is to an executor or executrix if the deceased had made a will, to an administrator or administratrix if the deceased had not made a will, or to a guardian or conservator if the deceased had heirs under the age of twenty-one or if heirs were incompetent due to disease or disability. Most probate records were created on a county level, though many were later sent to the Archives. The contents of probate records vary greatly depending on the prevailing law and the personality of the record keeper. The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time of the probate proceeding are quite reliable, though there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members and those who have previously received an inheritance, or the spouse mentioned may not be the parent of the children mentioned.

Probate Records may give the decedent’s date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their places of residence.

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    This collection includes images of probate records from the state of Alabama. The records for Winston County Alabama cover the years from 1841-1958.

9 Comments:

the green cornice is probably copper

Thank you for this fine write-up of the restoration we conducted @1010. Bigdog it is copper.

Question: I am looking for a publication date for the John C. Winston Co. issue of Charles Kingsley’s novel _Yeast_ (originally written 1848, but see above that the J.C.Winston publishing company didn’t start until 1884. –The preface Kingsley wrote in the volume I have sounds like what journalist Bill Moyers and others were saying in Chautauqua, NY early in July 2017. It’s not the same preface Kingsley wrote for later editions the later preface (found on-line) had to to with improvements on the issues Kingsley cared about. My question, to sum up: is it possible to find the publication date of the copy of _Yeast_ I have described?

I have a copy of David Hume’s “The History of England” Volume 3 published by The John Winston Co., but the title page has no publishing date. Does anyone know what year this was published?

A close examination of the facade reveals the original drive in and drive ovt(six) portals since converted to doorways….too narrow for any vehicle now, likely perfect for Model T trucks built in the 1910-20s

Thanks so much for sharing this bit of Philadelphia’s manufacturing history. Facinating!

I appreciate your information. I’d love to see the building as it looks today. I have a PreciousPromises New Testament printed in 1913, I just located in my things. It’s been very interesting to find history of who printed this precious New Testament many years ago.

A 1906 add for a “Gold Girl”, Wanted, experienced girls to lay on gold or metal best wages and steady work. Apply John C. Winston Co., 1006 Arch street. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/64446298/gold-girls-john-c-winston-co/

John C. Winston&Co. published The Memorial Story of America 1492 – 1892 by Hamilton W. Mabie. My copy states it was printed in 1894. This copy’s cover is red leather and printed in gold reads: Story of America. I have found later editions of this book bound in Teal cloth. Can anyone give me any information about this book?


John Paul Jones

John Paul went to sea when he was 12, and his youth was adventure-filled. He was chief mate on a slave ship in 1766 but, disgusted with the work, soon quit. In 1769 he obtained command of the John, a merchantman that he captained until 1770. In 1773, while Jones was in command of the Betsy off Tobago, members of his crew mutinied and he killed one of the sailors in self-defense. To avoid trial he fled. In 1775 he was in Philadelphia, with the Jones added to his name Joseph Hewes Hewes, Joseph
, 1730󈞻, political leader in the American Revolution, signer of the Declaration of Independence, b. Kingston, N.J. He moved (1760) to Edenton, N.C., and became a wealthy merchant and shipper.
. Click the link for more information. of Edenton, N.C., obtained for him a commission in the Continental navy.

Revolutionary War Hero

In 1777, Jones was given command of the Ranger, fresh from the Portsmouth shipyard. He sailed to France, then daringly took the war to the very shores of the British Isles on raids. In 1778, he captured the Drake, a British warship.

It was, however, only after long delay that he was given another ship, an old French merchantman, which he rebuilt and named the Bon Homme Richard ("Poor Richard"), to honor Benjamin Franklin. He set out with a small fleet but was disappointed in the hope of meeting a British fleet returning from the Baltic until the projected cruise was nearly finished. On Sept. 23, 1779, he did encounter the British merchantmen, convoyed by the frigate Serapis and a smaller warship. Despite the superiority of the Serapis, Jones did not hesitate.

The battle, which began at sunset and ended more than three and a half hours later by moonlight, was one of the most memorable in naval history. Jones sailed close in, to cut the advantage of the Serapis, and finally in the battle lashed the Bon Homme Richard to the British ship. Both ships were heavily damaged. The Serapis was afire in at least 12 different places. The hull of the Bon Homme Richard was pierced, her decks were ripped, her hold was filling with water, and fires were destroying her, unchecked yet when the British captain asked if Jones was ready to surrender, the answer came proudly, "Sir, I have not yet begun to fight." When the Serapis surrendered, Jones and his men boarded her while his own vessel sank. He was much honored in France for the victory but received little recognition in the United States.

Later Life

After the Revolution Jones was sent to Europe to collect the prize money due the United States. In 1788 he was asked by Catherine the Great to join the Russian navy he accepted on the condition that he become a rear admiral. His command against the Turks in the Black Sea was successful, but political intrigue prevented his getting due credit. In 1789 he was discharged from the Russian navy and returned to Paris. There in the midst of the French Revolution he died, without receiving the commission that Jefferson had procured for him to negotiate with the dey of Algiers concerning American prisoners.

Although he is today generally considered among the greatest of American naval heroes and the founder of the American naval tradition, his grave was forgotten until the ambassador to France, Horace E. Porter, discovered it in 1905 after the expenditure of much of his own time and money. The remains were removed to Annapolis and since 1913 have been enshrined in a crypt at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Bibliography

See his memoirs (1830, repr. 1972) A. De Koven, Life and Letters of John Paul Jones (1913) F. A. Golder, John Paul Jones in Russia (1927) L. Lorenz, John Paul Jones (1943, repr. 1969) G. W. Johnson, The First Captain (1947) S. E. Morison, John Paul Jones: A Sailor's Biography (1959, repr. 1964) E. Thomas, John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy (2003).


Gov. John Anthony Winston

JOHN ANTHONY WINSTON was born in Madison County, Alabama Territory, on September 4, 1812. He was educated at LaGrange College (now the University of North Alabama) and at Cumberland College (now the University of Nashville) in Tennessee. Winston was a colonel in the Eighth Infantry of the Confederate States Army, but resigned due to illness. In 1834 he became a planter and cotton commissioner in Sumter County, Alabama. He established the John A. Winston Cotton Commission House in 1844, an enterprise he continued throughout his life. Winston entered politics in 1840, serving in the Alabama House of Representatives. He was reelected in 1842, and he was elected to the Alabama Senate in 1843. He remained in the senate until 1853, serving as president from 1845 to 1849. Winston also represented Alabama at the 1848 Democratic Convention in Baltimore and in the 1850 convention in Nashville. Winston became Alabama’s 15th governor on August 1, 1853, and he was sworn into office on December 20, 1853. During his term, he encouraged public education, and he signed a bill in 1854 creating Alabama’s public school system. Also during his tenure, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad was charted, the Alabama Educational Association was organized, and the Republican Party was organized. The U.S. Congress also passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repealed the limitations on the expansion of slavery. Winston was reelected to a second term on August 6, 1855. Winston remained active in politics, serving as a delegate to the 1860 Democratic Convention held in South Carolina, and he was on the ticket as a presidential elector for Stephen A. Douglas that year. He also was an Alabama commissioner to Louisiana in 1861 and a member of the 1865 Alabama Constitutional Convention. Winston was elected to U.S. Senate in 1867, but was disenfranchised when he refused to take the oath of allegiance. He died on December 12, 1871, and he is buried in the family cemetery in Livingston, Alabama.


Economic Reformer and Staunch Monarchist

Howard also said the Labor Party had left the country's finances in tatters and announced a series of economic measures. He promised to increase job opportunities and reduce the unemployment rate, which hovered above eight percent the youth unemployment rate was 28%. Then he proposed spending cuts of eight billion dollars, the sale of the government's 50.4% stake in the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and the sale of Telstra, a publicly-owned communications company. In addition, he promised a tax rebate for people who used private health insurance, rather than a government health plan, and proposed a new one billion dollar fund to deal with environmental problems. Yet he also angered environmentalists when he lifted the ban on the exporting of Australia's uranium reserves and attempted to raise revenue by selling uranium to Indonesia, Korea, and Japan for nonmilitary purposes.

The election of Howard also slowed Australia's growing republican movement, which supported a change in the nation's constitution that would sever Australia's links to the British monarchy. An Australian-elected head of state would replace the British monarch, the figurative head of Australia. Howard, however, is a monarchist. He believes the current relationship with the United Kingdom works well and sees no reason for change. This is in spite of opinion polls that show most Australians are against retaining the monarch as head of state.

Howard has pledged to strengthen ties with Europe and the United States but has also reassured Australians that he does not intend to reverse foreign policy. During his successful election campaign, he accused Prime Minister Keating of ignoring Europe and North America. He claimed Keating had shifted Australia's foreign policy, which had been centered around relations with the United Kingdom, Western Europe, and the United States, to one that centered on the Asian-Pacific region. He has recently made it clear, however, that he is not anti-Asian. He has stated that closer relations with Europe and the United States do not exclude the integration of Australia with Asia, pointing out that two-thirds of Australia's foreign trade is with Asia and that relationship is important. Nevertheless, he has mentioned human rights abuses in Asia, such as the existence of sweatshops where children are overworked under hazardous conditions, and has stated that Australia would not sacrifice its values and principles simply for better trade relations. He has scheduled summit meetings with Asian leaders in an attempt to open lines of communication and has had cordial relations with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed, who had been a vocal critic of Australian policies when Keating was in power.

Outside politics, Howard is an enthusiastic sports fan. He takes in an occasional cricket or rugby match and enjoys playing golf and tennis. He married his wife, Janette, a teacher, in April 1971. They have three children Melanie, Tim, and Richard.


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