Thirty-two members were treated to an informative and entertaining presentation of historic homes in Memphis by Jimmy Ogle, the Shelby County Historian and Duckmaster of the Peabody ducks at the Mid-Winter Luncheon, February 23, 2017, at the Woodlands Clubhouse.  Always witty and knowledgeable of Memphis and Shelby County history, Jimmy took the descendants via a pictorial slide show to the interesting homes of early Memphians, many of which are preserved and available to visit.  The Mageveney House and the Mallory-Neely House, as well as the homes in Victorian Village, are well worth a visit to see the grandeur of earlier days.

This is “Part One” of Jimmy’s walk through the historic homes and we look forward to seeing Part Two when he has that completed.  Also, we are planning a visit to the Sultana Museum later this Spring and more information will soon be going out about this “road trip.”  Jimmy is also going to lead this tour to Arkansas where the museum and relics of the Sultana are located.  Last year we went to Shiloh with Dr. Doug Cupples and had a wonderful time.

The Descendants will also be having their Spring Social later and we look forward to welcoming new member, John Fain, and perhaps others as well.  If qualified by year of settlement in Shelby County and/or surrounding counties, you may want to send in an application.  See the application form on this website.


David was inducted into the DES tonight after our fall social dinner at the Woodland Clubhouse.  He is a descendant of Joseph Worsley Patrick who settled in what is now Cordova, Shelby County, Tennessee,  in 1835.  David received a warm welcome from the group, a silver pin and certificate.  Dr. Rita Hall gave an interesting presentation to the group after dinner on the history of the Memphis Zoo.


Our own Historian-in-residence, Dr. John Edward Harkins, was honored by the Descendants of Early Settlers of Shelby County and Adjoining Counties at the Shelby County History Awards dinner held recently at Hillwood Hall at Davies Manor Plantation.

William Gotten, President, presented the award to John Edward Harkins, Ph.D., along with Jimmy Ogle, Shelby County Historian.  Dr. Harkins currently is the archivist and historian at Memphis University School and he formerly served as the Archivist for the Shelby County libraries.  He is a prolific writer of historical articles for the “Best Times” and has written many articles for the Tennessee Historical Society and “The Commercial Appeal” including “The Creation of Shelby County” for the Society.

The award recognized his many contributions and commitment to Shelby County’s heritage.  Congratulations to Dr. Harkins! See the presentation and many other pictures of awards presented at the dinner at https://www.flickr.com/photos/thenthere.


Well, we didn’t let a little inclement weather hold us from going to Shiloh last Friday and learning about this historical site and battle that took place just 90 miles from Memphis. Dr. Doug Cupples began his talk on our bus and continued most of the day. He was entertaining and enlightening as he talked about one of his favorite topics in Confederate/Union history. We stopped at the Visitors Center at Corinth before heading off to the battlefield site. We had lunch at the famous Catfish Hotel and then drove through the park, which is beautifully kept. We stopped several times and Professor Doug brought out his maps and explained the importance of the RR crossing of the Memphis & Charleston railroad to the Confederacy as well as Pittsburgh landing, which was close to the site of the two day battle. The railroad was the “spine” of the Confederate army and extremely important for maintaining supplies, so it was not just by accident that the three armies found themselves in this crucial spot. Doug had interesting stories and comments about the generals and the information they had about the location of their enemies. As it turned out, the weather was pretty much as it had been back in 1862 and the movement of the heavy artillery in sloggy conditions and the lack of munitions could be visualized without much trouble. The most famous site was the “hornet’s nest” and our group was amazed at how open it was to a constant barrage on both sides. The number of men who actually died from wounds suffered in battle will probably never be accurately known as many were buried in unmarked graves. Had General Albert Johnson of the Confederacy not been mortally wounded, the outcome of the battle might have been different, but he later died, probably from sepsis as did many others.

It was an interesting and fun trip. Sorry that Darlene and Tom Sawyer had to cancel at the last minute due to Tom’s surgery. Jane Hooker brought her grandson Gabe and two DES applicants, Estie Sheahan and Carol Perel promised to get to work on their applications. Doug has a copy of the movie that they show at the Visitor’s Center and perhaps we can meet and have an opportunity to show it. He says that it is a pretty realistic version of the battle that was taken when the participants have their Shiloh recreation every few years.

Again, thanks from all of us who went on the trip to Doug Cupples.

In other news, I noted the death of Agnes Crisci, who was a long time member. I never met her, but I’m sure that many of you knew her. I noted that she was a member of the DAR as well.

Also, you may not know that Rita Hall received her Ph.D recently. Her thesis was on the Memphis Zoo, which is certainly a timely subject. Rita has been invited to speak at our Fall Social event. A date has not been determined for this at this time.

I hope that everyone has a very pleasant summer.



The Descendants of Early Settlers enjoyed a great evening made even more enjoyable with the talk of Jane R. Hooker, Ph.D. on her research and writing about Messick High School, which has a truly historic past.  Begun by Elizabeth Messick, who was the first enrollee at the University of Chicago, and a scholar in her own right, Messick was the high school of many prominent Memphians.  Jane, who is a fount of knowledge about the school, was most  enjoyable telling stories of the events of her own twelve years at the school that were both funny and revealed a mischievous young girl just a few years ago.

President Gotten introduced three new members to those attending, Tom Sawyer, Richard Kelsey and John Feild, all of whom received their membership pin and certificates.  Mr. Gotten indicated that the club was in excellent condition with new potential members in the wings.  Registrar Darlene Sawyer receives and processes the applications.  Members must be able to show through recorded proof of their ancestry as settlers of Shelby County and the other adjoining counties prior to 1870.

Brian Kelsey, whose parents are members, dropped in to say hello to Jane, to whom he is distantly related, and to congratulate family kin, Richard Kelsey.  Brian, a Tennessee State Senator, is a candidate for the 8th Congressional District and a bright, energetic young man.  He is pictured below with Darlene Hooker Sawyer, also a distant cousin.

P1060839Tom Sawyer 2P1060844Richard Kelsey 2P1060841John Feild 2DSCF0005DSCF0007DSCF0008P1060856

The weather cooperated this time (we were snowed out 3 times in 2015) and many members of the Descendants of Early Settlers (“DES”) enjoyed a very pleasant morning at the Morton Museum in Collierville, TN.  A catered lunch from Fire House Subs was provided to those present and we had an opportunity to see the wonderful exhibit there on display “Slaves and Slaveholders of Wessyngton Plantation.”  The members heard the museum’s director, Ashley Carver, give the history of the plantation and its history, as well as seeing a power-point presentation of the items that are part of the exhibit.

After lunch and a time to see the exhibits, the members visited the ante-bellum home of the Porter family, “Porter Place” as guests of Jane Porter Feild, which is still used as a family residence of her son, John Porter.  Located on an original land grant from the Indian owners (with deed to prove it) the house is in remarkable condition and the grounds and house are enjoyed by the Jane’s  grandchildren when they visit there.

The members of the Descendants of the Early Settlers of Shelby and Adjoining Counties and their guests met Thursday evening , October 8, 2015, at Woodlands Clubhouse.  Approximately 44 people were in attendance. President William Gotten presided.

DSCF0008 DSCF0009 DSCF0010 DSCF0007 Those present were treated to an interesting and informative presentation by Carol McCarley, M.L.S., on her experience of finding, reviewing and cataloging the papers of noted author, Shelby Foote.  Mr. Foote is most famous and well known for his 3 volume set on The Civil War, which was the subject of a documentary film by Ken Burns and shown on PBS.  Mr. Foote was the principal historian who commented during the film.

Ms. McCarley noted that Shelby Foote very rarely threw anything away and kept voluminous writings and responses in his house located in Memphis.  He wrote in long hand and used pen and ink when he wrote and kept a personal diary that he wrote in daily for 30 years.  His fame increased dramatically after the PBS series and the last years of his life were filled with meeting celebrities and responding to fan mail, of which there was plenty.  He rarely autographed his works and an autographed 3 volume set has become a collector’s item.

The Society welcomed two new members, Flora Maury Bratten and Roscoe Field.  Mrs. Bratten received her membership pin and attended with her husband, David Bratten.

Mr. Field was out of town and unable to attend or be presented, but is well known to many members.  He will be presented his pin at the Winter Social in February, 2016.

A wonderful catered dinner was provided by Mike, Brenda and Vickie Vernon and was enjoyed by all.  Many compliments were expressed for the fine meal and service.

Following dinner and Ms McCarley’s talk, President Gotten reported to the membership of the events and activities during the past two years, which included the Winter, Spring and Fall Socials, and talks by Darlene Sawyer of her activities at the Cordova Historical Museum, Vincent Astor on Memphis movie theaters of the past, Michael Webster of Memphians who fought in both World Wars, Jim Lee on the Lee Steamship Company and the river boats that plied the Mississippi River.

He reported that the Society had honored Darlene Sawyer and Jane Hooker for their dedication (2014) and Walter Wills, III (2015) at the Shelby County Historical Awards dinner.  He also indicated that during this term, the Society has welcomed many new members, among whom are: Bob Kelsey, April Branch, Henry Gotten, Mike Cody, Dick Magevney, Darlene Sawyer, Jane Hooker and Betty Jack.

In addition, the new Membership Directory for 2015 listing members, addresses and other important contact information has been mailed out to members.  This directory has brought the membership rolls current.  It was noted that a number of previous members had been removed from lack of activity or failure to pay their dues for several years. He also indicated that an addendum listing new members, Flora Bratten and Roscoe Field, will be sent out to update the directory.

Mr. Gotten further indicated that a membership application had been just received from John Leake’s guest, Richard Kelsey.  Other guests present were: Madeline Faber and Emily Faber, guests of their grandmother, Joanne Moore; Dale Ivy and her parents, Jack and Carolyn Ivy, who were guests of Paul Matthews. It is expected that Dale will soon submit her own application for membership.

Also present as guests were: Jonathan Large of Memphis University School, guest of John and Georgia Harkins, Ann Broadfoot, guest of Betty Brown and Jane Williams, guest of John Fain.

Mr. Gotten, in the absence of Treasurer, Frank Stewart, Jr., reported that the balance in the bank account is $8,366.94 before paying expenses connected with the Fall Social, but that the Society has no debt and is good financial condition.  He also remarked that the Society had received a bequest of $1,000 from the estate of Betty Hughes, a long-time member.

He reported that the Board of Directors had met on Monday, October 5, 2015, at which time the board voted to increase the cost of social dinners from $25 to $28 in the future, primarily to take into consideration the increase of these functions as well as to prevent confusion with the amount of the dues of $25, which will remain the same for 2016.

Mr. Gotten thanked Pamela Gotten and Camille Gotten for the flower arrangements on the tables which added to the festive nature of the dinner.  He also thanked his officers and directors who have served this past two years and noted that there were a few persons who would be completing their service in this regard, namely Jeanne Crawford, Secretary,

Rita Hall, Register, Joe Saino, Publicity Chairman and Frank Stewart, Jr, Treasurer.  The time devoted for fulfilling the duties of these offices is greatly appreciated.

He mentioned further that he had prepared a packet of information about the Descendants that outlines the mission statement, membership requirements, organization and duties of the officers and directors.  These packets are available for any member who may have a prospective applicant to become more familiar with the activities of the Descendants.  Anyone seeking an application is welcome to contact him and one will be sent by email or regular mail.  Email is encouraged as that is the easiest and  best way for communication with the members.

Mr. Gotten then called on the chairman of the Nominating Committee, Nick Gotten, who reported that the committee had met and made the following recommendations of persons to serve for the 2016-2018 term:

President William M. Gotten

Vice-President Milton L. Knowlton

Secretary Betty Brown

Treasurer Adam Simpson

Register Darlene Sawyer

Historian Dr. John Harkins

Parliamentarian Sara Holmes

Membership Chair Dr. Nicholas Gotten, Jr.

Director at Large Ceylon Blackwell, Jr.

Director at Large Joanne C. Moore

Chaplain Kenneth Jack

Publicity ChairRita Hall

Immed. Past Pres.Joseph T. Getz

Mr. Gotten then asked if there were any other nominations for the offices to be filled and receiving none, asked for a motion that the nominations be closed, which was duly made, seconded and passed by the members present and voting.  Mr. Gotten noted for the record that a quorum was present and exceeded in that over 30% of the membership was present, a quorum being 10%.

Mr. Gotten then asked for a motion that the slate of officers and directors as read be elected by acclamation, which was duly made, seconded and passed.  These officers and directors will officially assume their duties on January 1, but they may either continue in their duties or assume their new duties, such as the Treasurer, Mr. Simpson, doing what is required to satisfy any bank requirements for the transfer of authorized signatories for the account.  Mr. Stewart will meet with Mr. Simpson to accomplish this.

It is anticipated that the Winter Social will convene at the Morton Museum in Collierville in February, 2016, weather permitting.  The Winter Social in 2015 had to be cancelled due to snow conditions making driving hazardous.  Although the meeting was rescheduled 3 times, it was finally cancelled.