Tullison Monroe “Tully”Tate was the direct descendant of the major landowner and planter of Perry County Alabama, Thomas William Monroe but was not considered an heir because he was an illegitimate offspring. Tully was just another cotton sharecropper, on his grandfather’s land with no more status than any other black farmer in Alabama around the turn of the 20th century. The reason he was not acknowledged as a true Monroe heir was not simply because he was born outside of marriage, but more importantly, because his grandmother was a slave whom Will Monroe had impregnated in 1844. The result of this miscegenation was Tully’s mother Celsie Monroe.
Celsie was briefly married to a white man, Joshua Tate, and Tully was their only child before separating. Josh Tate was unusual for that time, he was sympathetic to the plight of negroes and his marriage to Celsie was one of love. After the war the years of Reconstruction were hardly less violent than the war itself. Joshua Tate wished to see the local political power elites toppled and sought to help the Republican elect suitable progressive candidates, including whenever possible negro men. And he was shot down in 1867 at one of these elections when he confronted a mob that was attempting to control who was allowed to vote.
Tully was a cotton farmer whose status within the community was complicated by the fact of his heritage, which everyone knew, calling him Monroe’s Tully (see song “King Cotton“). After leaving Tully’s father, Celsie would go on to marry Mingo Harper, also a former slave, and they would have four other children, two of whom would play a not insignificant role in the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and ’60s.
Tully Tate would marry Pearl Robison, the daughter of Ruby Robison and Levi Motts resulting in the birth of Hazel Tate. Hazel would in turn marry Virgil Raney, descendant of Lonsom Raney producing a son, Vernon Raney, husband of Molly Motts. This created the complicated reality that Tullison Monroe Tate’s mixed blood ran through the various strands of the Tate, Raney, Motts and Robison families.
Almost exactly one century later there would be another Tully Tate, the son of a country singer in Louisiana.
Coleman Broussard was a first cousin to Levi Motts and both fought for the Confederacy. They also shared a love for Ruby Robison, fragile young prostitute in Shreveport.
Coleman was older than Levi by three years, and almost the complete opposite in character. Levi was a rake and rounder whereas Cole was sober and straight-forward. However, they both fell in love with Ruby, and the love was reciprocated by her to both, although Levi excited her imagination while Cole represented husband material.
Cole and Levi both joined up with the Rebels in Shreveport as soon as the war commenced. But while Levi saw the war as a great adventure, Cole was more clear-eyed about it and joined the fight out of a sense of duty but really to keep an eye on Levi.
Sadly, Levi died on the field at Mansfield, leaving Cole to return, alone, to Ruby, whom he married (see song “Levi, Ruby & Cole“). He knew she was pregnant with Levi’s baby, and took on the responsibility of raising this baby girl, Pearl. He and Ruby enjoyed a long marriage, having four children of their own and celebrating their 56th anniversary shortly before Cole died in 1910.
Levi Motts and Coleman Broussard were cousins, and each one loved Ruby Robison and she loved them both, as well. Levi and Cole were Confederates, and fought at Mansfield. But Levi died that afternoon, leaving Ruby and Cole to carry on together.
Levi, Ruby & Cole WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE
Cole was strong and steady
Straight as a rail Levi was born ready
Always raisin’ hell Ruby loved Levi all the way
But Cole was who she chose
Levi might grow up some day
But, who knows
Ruby knew Cole loved her
But Levi charmed her heart
Cole was down to earth
Levi sparkled like a star
The War broke this trio up
Only one came back home
Ruby had two loves
Levi and Cole
Cole knew he and Ruby
Would never have
The kind of magic love
She and Levi had
Just taking care of her
For Cole, it was enough
He ain’ the apple of her youth
But theirs was also love
Molly Motts was born in Delta, Louisiana, a tiny hamlet at the Louisiana-Mississippi border, just across the river from Vicksburg. Because of a difficult home life, she often dreamed of getting out of Delta. Vicksburg just across the river looked like a dream garden to her and she thought she’d do anything to get there. She did: marrying Vernon Raney, nearly twice her age, but a good husband to her (see song, “When Molly Motts Married Vernon Raney“) .
They had three children, Lonnie, Ronnie and Ginny. Molly was an ambitious girl and decided early on to piggy-back a drug distribution business onto Vernon’s already prospering bootlegging enterprise (see song, “’57 Fleetwood to Memphis“). After all, bootleg whiskey was going out of style since by the mid-‘60s, liquor by the drink was legal and there was little demand for bootleg whiskey except out of nostalgia.
Molly got her oldest son, Lonnie elected sheriff as a way to offer protection to her and her second son, Ronnie, as they operating the drug business with little interference from law enforcement. This they did and quickly established a distribution network of dealers from Natchez to Memphis (see song, “Louanne in Vicksburg“).
Molly lived to see both of her sons die violent deaths: Ronnie was murdered by his wife, Louanne Borden, and Lonnie was killed in a violent stand-off with DEA agents. As the drug network wound down, Molly grew into her role as grandmother to Ginny’s children, living a quiet life in Vicksburg.
Delta is a village in Madison Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 239 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Tallulah Micropolitan Statistical Area.
As the birthplace of Madam C.J. Walker, the first African-American woman to become a millionaire by her own business achievements, it has been included as one of 26 featured sites on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.
Majorie “Marjy” Littlejohn was the daughter of George and Emily Littlejohn, the maternal grandmother of Levi Hooper. Marjy not unlike her own mother married into a somewhat disreputable family, the Motts. However, also like her mother, the Motts she chose for a husband, Donald, was one of the better characters among the rest.
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 (see song, “Mildred’s House of Values“).
Mildred passed away in 2014 after suffering a stroke.
The Langfords and the Littlejohns WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE
The Littlejohns were ner-do-well
Soon as tell you hello as “go to hell”
The whole bunch was on’ry and mean
They’d fight for the least little thing
The Langfords on the other hand
Were a church-goin’, peace-lovin’ clan
When Emily turned sixteen
She was George Littlejohn’s dream
When George Littlejohn came to court Lige Langford wouldn’t open his door
George stayed on the porch all night
Just a-singin’ in the yellow moonlight
Next mornin’ he was still there
Snorin’ in the rockin’ chair
Alma kicked him and said “come on in”
Emily hid a sly little grin
The Littlejohns were ner-do-well …
Now George wasn’t like the rest
Emily brought out his best
The lone white sheep in a fam’ly of black
She made sure he kept comin’ back
At the weddin’ Lige stood next to Anse
They drank, laughed and shook hands
When Em’ly married George Littlejohn
The two fam’lies were joined into one
When Em’ly married George Littlejohn
Those two fam’lies became one