Mildred Motts Hooper (1944-2014)

Mildred Hooper

Mildred Motts Hooper was born in Tallulah, Louisiana in 1944, the half sister of Maggie Motts Raney. Mildred married Leon Hooper and had one son, Levi Hooper, and passed away in 2014 at the age of 69 just before her 70th birthday.

Mildred liked to cook and crochet and was happy as a homemaker.  One of her favorite dishes to prepare was baked cheese grits which she would serve with breaded pork chops and homemade rolls.

She and Leon were married in 1963 shortly before Leon was shipped off to Vietnam.  When Leon returned from his tour of service they settled down in Jackson, Mississippi where Leon worked as a welder and they raised their only son, Levi, who was born in 1973.

However, Leon only lived another two years, dying in 1975, and Levi had no memories of his father.  To help make ends meet Mildred began to sell items from her home, establishing a thrift store at her residence.

Mildred passed away in 2014 after suffering a stroke.

Leon Hooper (1933-1975)

Leon HooperLeon Hooper made a good living as a welder and hardly spoke of his war years.  However, he was quietly proud of his Marine service, first in the infantry in Korea later in a support unit in Vietnam, and kept in touch with his buddies from the war.  Leon did not drink hard liquor as a rule, but on those occasions when he got together with his Marine buddies, mostly those who were with him in Korea, he would have a few shots of  bourbon and turn a bright shade of red if the talk became bawdy.

Leon was born in Jackson, Mississippi and lived his entire life there with his wife, Mildred, and son, Levi.  He did not see Levi grow up, however, because Leon died in 1975 just two years after Levi was born.

Leon would repair bicycles and give them to the neighborhood kids and he also created steam powered folk art which he would roll out and run on the Fourth of July each year.

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Sonny Tate (1936-2003) : Country singer

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Sonny Tate (1936-2003) was born in Opalika, Alabama and displayed musical talent at an early age.  He could mimic Hank Williams from the age of eleven and would stand on his father’s bar and entertain the patrons who were delighted with the youngster’s uncanny ability.  Sonny would later go on to have something of a professional career as a country singer but never making it really big.

He performed on the Lousiana Hayride and even was invited to perform at the Opry for once when he had a Top-20 song but he he was never asked to join the Opry as a member.

After Sonny’s wife passed away, he was left to raise  his son Tully alone.  This he did despite still trying to carry on with his career as a singer.  Tully would travel with him and stand backstage as Sonny performed and was adopted by all the musicians and other performers something like a mascot.

Sonny outlived his son Tully who pre-deceased him in 1993 and is remembered as someone who could sing and sell a song but not hold his liquor. He is also remembered as a loving grandfather to Mike, Tully’s son, who lived with Sonny until 2003 when Sonny passed away and Mike moved to Nashville.

Mike inherited Sonny’ guitar and had some dreams of follwoing in Sonny’s footsteps as a country singer.

Jake McLemore (1951- )

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An American historian in the 19th century described the frontier vanguard in the following words:   

“Thus the backwoodsmen lived on the clearings they had hewed out of the everlasting forest; a grim, stern people, strong and simple, powerful for good and evil, swayed by gusts of stormy passion, the love of freedom rooted in their hearts’ core. Their lives were harsh and narrow; they gained their bread by their blood and sweat, in the unending struggle with the wild ruggedness of nature. They suffered terrible injuries at the hands of the red men, and on their foes they waged a terrible warfare in return. They were relentless, revengeful, suspicious, knowing neither ruth nor pity; they were also upright, resolute, and fearless, loyal to their friends, and devoted to their country. In spite of their many failings, they were of all men the best fitted to conquer the wilderness and hold it against all comers.   

The Anglo-American 18th-century frontier, like that of the Spanish, was one of war. The word “Texan” was not yet part of the English language. But in the bloody hills of Kentucky and on the middle border of Tennessee the type of man was already made. “

These were the McLemores who left Tennessee for Texas.

Owen McLemore was born in 1790 in Tennessee and married Annabel March in 1816.  Together they worked a sustenance farm in Tennessee and began to build a family outside of Nashville, seeing their first son Jacob McLemore come into the world on  Christmas Day 1818.  Annabel gave birth to six other sons before dying in 1860 by which time the family had migrated to East Texas.

Jacob “Christmas” McLemore, as he was known his entire life, was Jake McLemore’s great-great-great-grandfather.

Jake McLemore’s father, Charlie McLemore, was farmer and later petroleum businessman of Nacogdoches, Texas where Jake was born in 1951 and where he spent his early life. Jake decided to make his way in the world by returning to the family’s old territory of Tennessee and moved to Nashville in 1978.

After investing in several businesses, he came to own a bar, which he had won in a poker game.   He promptly changed the name and settled down as proprietor of McLemore’s Bar in 1984.

By that time Jake had already married and had a son, Lee, in 1982 who would go on to join the army and fight and die in Iraq in 2007.  But not before having a son himself in 2004 (a child Jake knew nothing about) with his girlfriend whom he secretly married shortly before being shipped out.

Jake kept the bar going for several years after Lee died but ended up selling it and buying some land outside of Shreveport, Louisiana near Caddo Lake where he used to go fishing with his father as an adolescent.  Here Jake lived out the rest of his days fishing and shooting the breeze with Mike Broussard and other men from the area until the day Jake met his grandson, Charles, named after Jake’s father – in 2017.

Jake is raising Charles to be a sturdy young man in the long line of McLemore men.

 

Levi Hooper (1973- )

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Parents: Mildred Motts Hooper (1944- ) + Leon2 Hooper (1933-1975).

Paternal Ancestors: Levi1 Hooper (1755-1797); Lester Hooper (1790-1836); Logan Hooper (1819-1879); Leon1 Hooper (1852-1910); Maclin Hooper (1877-1933); Levi2 Hooper (1907-1973).

Maternal Ancestors: Randall Motts (1752-1802); Lucas Motts (1797-1848); Luther Motts (1820-1880); Levi Motts (1845-1864); Lester Motts ( 1876-1951); Donald Motts (1911-2000).

In Levi’s mother’s mind he was named for her ancestor who died in the Civil War.  However, the name Levi was also an old Hooper family name, and Leon Hooper, Levi’s father, chose to name his son after his grandfather who had died the year Levi was born.

Levi Hooper was a descendant of two old Southern families: the Hoopers came into North Carolina in the early 18th century and then migrated to Alabama in the mid-19th century.  The Mott family was an old Louisianan family going back to the 1750s.

Jackson, Mississippi, was where Levi was raised and he never moved away.  His daddy was a welder and made a good living but died just before Levi turned two.  After that Levi’s mother turned the family home into a thrift shop, “Mildred’s House of Values”, putting price tags on everything from lamps and vases to the furniture.

Levi eventually got his own place and met his neighbor from across the street, Lucy Cooper, and began a kind of courtship.  Lucy Cooper was nothing like Levi, she was rebellious and wild whereas Levi was mild-mannered, a church -going man.  But Lucy was strangely attracted to Levi’s wholesome quality and made a real effort at cleaning up her life and trying her best to change.

But as this kind of thing is never really easy, Lucy had trouble straightening out and one thing led to another and she was arrested and sent to the penitentiary to serve eighteen months on a drug charge.

Levi visited her often and told her was waiting for her, but Lucy could not take prison life and ended up over-dosing shortly before being released.  Levi went through a period of drinking and traveling but finally was able to put this tragedy behind him.  He returned to Jackson, dutifully helping his momma while he reflected on life’s strange twists and turns as he tinkered with his daddy’s old Dodge.

Eva Broussard : Extraordinary mystery

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Eva Broussard (1964- , Vivian, Louisiana).

Ancestors:  Henri Broussard (1753-1802 ); Jean-Claude Broussard (1773-1829 ); Henry2 Broussard (1795-1858 ); Michel Broussard (1818-1877 ); Coleman1 Broussard (1842-1910) + Ruby1 Robison (1843-1933); Lucas Broussard (1866-1936 ); Coleman2 Broussard (1897-1961); Luther Broussard (1924-2003).

Parents: Mike2 “Sarge” Broussard (1948-2014) + Annie McCaffery (1952- )

Children: Mike Tate (1982); Colt Broussard (1996)

Eva Broussard is an interesting character.  She grew up in Vivian, Louisiana the only daughter of Mike and Annie Broussard, both very average, normal folks.  Why Eva turned out to be so extraordinary is a mystery and something no one in the extended Broussard family could ever figure out.

Eva married Tully Tate, against her father’s wishes it might be said, but nevertheless, Tully was a good man.  Mike’s reluctance to bless the union was no doubt related to the fact that Tully’s father was a failed country singer.  In any event, Eva and Tully had a nice life, three children, but over time Eva became more and more erratic.  She would disappear from time to time, leaving the children unsupervised and forcing Tully to find her and bring her back.  Finally, he just lets her stay gone.

After leaving Tully and bouncing from place to place, she finds herself in Meridian, Mississippi (the Southern Hotel) where she gives birth to a strapping boy.  This is Colt Broussard, whose father she can’t or won’t name.

Tullison “Tully” Tate

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Tullison “Tully” Tate (1958-1993 , Opelika, Alabama).

Ancestors: Jonathan Tate (1758-1833, Ulster, Ireland) Scots-Irish immigrant to colony of New York.  Joshua Tate (1828-1904, Marengo County, Alabama).  Tullison Tate (1852-1924, Marengo County, Alabama).  Hazel Tate (1886-1963, Linden, Alabama).  Joseph “Sonny” Tate (1936-2005, Opalika, Alabama).

Tully’s father was country singer Sonny Tate.  Tully married Eva Broussard (born Vivian, LA; father, Mike “Sarge” Broussard) who was an unstable woman and runs off repeatedly from the family home.   Although born in Alabama, after his marriage Tully and Eva lived in Hosston, Louisiana and he works at the Springhill pulp paper mill driving a timber truck.  Lifelong friends with the Broussard and Thibodaux families.

A good time fellow who likes to drink and party but overall, a decent sort.  His main problem in life is his marriage to Eva Broussard, will disappear from time to time, leaving their kids unsupervised.  For years, Tully would track her down and bring her back home until finally, once the kids are almost grown up, he gives up on her.  He continues to live in Hosston, although his job in Springhill  ends when they shut down the paper mill, working for a whle at the ccorrugated box factory and then at the cross tie plant.

Ruby Robison : Young prostitute who falls in love

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Ruby Robison (1843-1933).  Young prostitute on Fannin Street; has daughter, Pearl, with Confederate soldier Levi Motts.  After learning that Levi is killed at the Battle of Mansfield in April, 1864, Ruby marries his cousin Coleman Broussard and has four other children.

Ruby came to Shreveport during the Civil War, perhaps with Union troops up the Red River from New Orleans following the occupation of that city. Born in Ireland in 1845, her family may have been among the large numbers of Irish immigrants who sought refuge in America during the potato famines of the mid-nineteenth century.  She most likely resorted to prostitution as a means of survival.

Ruby had a room in one of the dozens of brothels in downtown Shreveport area around Fannin Street, but her life took an unexpected turn when she met Levi Motts.  Ruby and Levi began to have serious feelings for each other and Levi swore that he would find a way to get her out of the life she’d known as a prostitute.  But the war got in the way, sending Levi off to fight and die in the Battle of Mansfield.

Ruby had let Levi know of her pregnancy and she gave birth to a daughter in 1865, Pearl Robison.  Levi’s cousin, Coleman Broussard chose to marry Ruby and they had four children together.  However, Pearl would never use the name Broussard, preferring to keep Robison as her surname.

Confederate Colonel Henry Gray, later Brigadier General

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Henry Gray, Jr. (January 19, 1816 – December 11, 1892) was an American lawyer and politician who served in the state legislatures of Mississippi and then Louisiana. During the American Civil War, he was a general in the Confederate Army and subsequently served in the Confederate States Congress.

Gray was born to a military family in the Laurens District of South Carolina. He was a son of Henry Gray (a captain in the United States Army during the War of 1812) and Elvira Flanagan Gray. His grandfather Fredrick Gray had been a captain in the American Revolutionary War.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Gray enlisted as a private in a Mississippi infantry regiment in January 1861,until his friend Jefferson Davis called him to go back to Louisiana to raise a regiment. In April and early May 1862, Gray organized the 28th Louisiana Infantry at Camp Taylor and was elected as its colonel. He and his men were mustered into the Confederate Army on May 2.

On April 14, 1863 Gray was wounded in the fighting near Bayou Teche, Louisiana. Department commander Edmund Kirby Smith ordered his promotion to brigadier general on April 8, however the Confederate Congress disallowed it. Gray was given brigade command in Polignac’s Division in April.

Gray saw action around Vicksburg and in various battles within Louisiana while leading his brigade. He assumed the command of a division during the Battle of Mansfield on April 8, 1864, following the mortal wounding of Alfred Mouton.

Gray was elected to represent his northwestern Louisiana congressional district to the Second Confederate Congress, a position he had not sought nor had any knowledge of until notified of his election. He subsequently left the army in camp at Camden, Arkansas, and traveled to Richmond, Virginia. He was promoted to brigadier general on March 17, 1865, backdated to the Mansfield fight, and Gray rejoined his brigade in Polignac’s Division until the end of the war. There is no record of his being paroled from the U.S. Government.

Levi Motts (1845-1864). Young confederate soldier in love

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Levi Motts (1845-1864).  Young confederate soldier in love with Ruby Robison.  He fights and dies in Battle of Mansfield, April 8, 1964.

Ancestors:  Randall Motts (1752- 1821); Lucas Motts (1797-1875 ); Luther Motts (1820-1871).

Randall Motts was an Englishman who came to the Colonies in 1782, entering first at Pennsylvania and then making his way across the mountains into Alabama.  He amassed twelve sections of land planted for cotton and became quite wealthy.  His son Lucas headed west and settled in North Louisiana where he found land ideal for growing cotton and created his own large plantation.  Lucas was Levi’s grandfather.

Lucas’s son, Luther Motts, Levi’s father, was something of a ne’er-do-well.  Happy to live off his father’s largesse and not one to get his hands dirty, much less calloused, Luther spent his time playing cards, drinking and visiting the growing number of brothels in the new town of Shreveport.

Levi was nothing like his father and spent most of his time growing up being instructed by his grandfather in the ways of the world and how to conduct himself in business.  However, when the canons fired upon Fort Sumter, Levi volunteered in 1862 to fight in the Rebel cause.  Mustering out of Monroe, Louisiana in Colonel Henry Gray’s brigade, the Louisiana Gray’s, Levi eventually found his way, like his father, to the now quite busy red light district of Shreveport where he met and took up with one of the young sporting girls there, Ruby Robison.

Ruby and Levi defy the conventions of the time and begin a serious relationship with plans of marrying.  However, Levi’s company is called up to fight in the Trans-Mississippi campaign waged by the Union troops who are marching into Louisiana.  Gray’s brigrade is opne of the units in Gen. Robert Taylor’s army confronting Nathaniel Bank’s invading force at Mansfield.

While the Battle of Mansfield is a Confederate victory, Levi Motts is one a about a hundred men who died there on April 8, 1864.  As he goes into battle, Levi knows that Ruby is pregnant with their child, who is born in early 1865, a girl, Pearl who because of her illegitimate status will use the name Robison for most of her life.

Lucas Motts lives to bury both his son and grandson and watching as his the Mott family fortunes are destroyed by the war and Reconstruction.