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The Susie Blue Book

By Sara Richardson

 

The Rankin County Historical Society has in its library a book we call “The Susie Blue Book”. Its cover is blue, but it is not named for its cover, of course, but for Susie Blue Buchanan. It contains notes that she took and records that she kept of events that occurred in Rankin County throughout the years. Naturally Susie Blue had access to courthouse records as she worked there for a long time. We have always thought that she intended to write a detailed history of the county. It is unfortunate for us that she did not live to put her notes into book form.

Some years ago Bettie Webb McClendon, Rankin County Historical Society member, while visiting Miss Margaret, Susie Blue’s sister, obtained copies of part of Susie Blue’s papers for us. Recently, Mrs. John Rollins of Centreville, niece of Susie Blue and Miss Margaret and daughter of James Buchanan, called to inquire about obtaining a copy of our book, A History of Rankin County, Mississippi Vol. I. She told us that she has in her possession two volumes of Susie Blue’s historical notes. She invited us to come to Centreville to look at what she has as she is reluctant to part with it, even on a loan basis. We can understand that.

Any page of the Susie Blue book we have is likely to contain a variety of items. It seems obvious that she was making note of things she considered important in a given time period. For example, there is one page in our collection which includes the following unrelated items:

(1)  W.E. Craig made shackles for the prisoners;

(2)  Superintendent of Education’s salary for four months $50.00 (1877);

(3)  Ned Richardson was appointed overseer of the road from Brandon beyond A.P. Miller’s place, (1876);

(4)  Doctors—Dr. J.C. Rice (County), Dr. D.B. Gunn, Dr. H.C. McLaurin, Wm. Aills (1878), Dr. W.H. White;

(5)  Holbrook Precinct, 1876. James Holbrook School House in Beat 3 instead of Drake’s Church as formally.

She lists the public schools in each of the five beats of the county, giving a total of 31 schools for white children and 22 for blacks. Apparently some schools were rated higher than others, for the salary for teachers at First Grade Schools was $40.00 per month and at Second Grade Schools $25.00 per month, in 1877.

On the same page, she has recorded a social note, which says: “A Wedding of Interest” as copied from The Brandon Republican Brandon, Mississippi, May 1877.

“At the residence of the bride’s mother, Mrs. Bettie C. Henry, on Thursday, May 31,1877, by Rev. J.M. Lewis, Mr. Robt. S. Maxey and Miss Bettie Henry”.

“We congratulate our friends on this consummation of their fond desires and hope they may be blessed with lives filled with the richest pleasures that wedded love bestows. We are almost sorry Miss Bettie, one of the most beautiful and attractive of our belles, has married, for she has left a void in the society of the single that will be hard to fill. Still she has the best wishes of her friends, though some of them may envy the possession of the fair jewel. The fortunate husband may well be proud of the prize he has won. Immediately after the ceremony the happy couple took the train for Virginia.”

Journalism style has changed dramatically since 1877. Today’s newspapers report weddings quite differently.

Our collection of Susie Blue’s historical notes contains approximately 175 pages of typed material on legal-size paper. It includes a number of newspaper clippings. Those of us who are interested in Rankin County’s past are indebted to Susie Blue Buchanan for providing us a wealth of information not easily obtained elsewhere. Also, we appreciate the help of Bettie Webb McClendon, always a staunch supporter of Rankin County Historical Society projects, and that of Miss Margaret Buchanan in providing this material for our use.

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