By Bert Blackmon
July 11, 2006
I have just finished reading June Allen's fascinating article on Uncle Greeley (In the family he was know by his middle name). Your article presented a wonderful insight into his life from another perspective and, for the most part, jives exactly with the way he was perceived by the rest of the family. It is interesting that I found the article this morning as my Wife and I just attended the home coming service at West Bethel Church in Conecuh Co. Alabama where his family worshipped for many years and I just received a new Confederate Soldier tombstone for his grandfathers grave to replace the broken original.
I can only remember seeing Greeley once when I was quite young but his name was always spoken with a tone of awe and he was looked upon as somewhat of an adventurer and a charming rogue. No one ever seemed to know exactly what he was up to but he seemed to do whatever it was quite well.
As to his father being a sharecropper, that was a bit of an exaggeration. The South of Greeleys youth was very poor and still suffering from the ravages inflicted upon it during the War of Northern Aggression but Greeleys father, James Rufus Pinkerton was very well propertied and had a hand in several very profitable businesses. He did indeed get sentenced to prison for arson but, when one reads the records of the case, it is very possible that he was set up. He did, however, lose most of his property except for some small tracts, one of which my Grandmother and Grandfather obtained near Georgiana, Alabama.
Greeleys mother did die insane, but she did not die penniless. I have her probate records and she had a bank account. It was not a fortune but, for that time and place, it was better than most.
His sister Bessie did commit suicide. It is unclear why but her children turned out quite well. They were poor at that time but her husband went on to become a police officer and a solid middle class type. My Grandmother pretty much raised her daughter Mary Francis who was one of my and my Dads family favorites and her son John Jack, who is still living, is about as solid as a man can be.
As to Greeley working the fields, I have no doubt that is true. Every Southern man has worked the fields whether he did or not. It is a rite of passage in the South to plow a mule, chop and pick cotton, etc. Every Southern man also prides himself on his gift of gab and his use of colorful imagery. In this he was no different from the rest of us except that his tongue may have been a bit quicker. As to his accent, What accent? We are really getting tired of all you people with funny accents trying to infer that we speak with an accent when everyone knows that the only really pure, true, unaccented English anywhere on earth is spoken in the American South.
Once again, thanks for the
wonderful article, and if you happen to have anything else about
him laying around ( written material, family data, pictures,
etc.) we wouldn't be adverse to having copies as everyone from
that era is now gone and I have only one picture of him that
he sent my Grandmother from Germany and know nothing of his
wife or children.
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