“Have Mercy, Lord”

Have Mercy, Lord:

An original song by Melissa’s grandmother Geneva Henry and great aunt Stella Williford. Recorded March 17, 2012 on her 89th birthday. Happy birthday, Geneva.

Baby Boy Update: The Name, Ultrasound Pics, and Baby’s Gonna Be Here Sooner Than We Thought

Charlie Logan Jones 3D Ultrasound

The Name

The baby boy is going to be Charlie Logan Jones. Charlie is my wife’s father’s name. He’s thrilled beyond words to have a grandson named after him. On my father’s side of the family Charlie Houston Putnam is my great grandfather, so it’s a family name on both sides. I like the symmetry of our kids being Katie, Natalie, and Charlie.

Logan was my pick for a middle name. All of the men on my side of the family have L as a middle initial.

Baby’s Coming Real Soon Now

The original due date was April 15th. Melissa was hoping for an Easter baby. That would have had the memorable birthday of 4/8/12.

As the due date got closer Melissa started saying she would never make it until then. The baby was too big. This wasn’t her first time at the rodeo, so she knew when a baby was coming.

Sure enough. The doctors changed their minds. Mid-March started looking more likely. Possibly even early March. So I spent President’s Day weekend painting, decluttering the house, and disposing of furniture that was surplus to needs to get ready for baby.

We had another ultrasound on Tuesday. As of 32.5 weeks the baby is healthy, 5.5 pounds, and in the 78th percentile for size.

30 week ultrasound video:

Photographing Tombstones / Headstones



Hard to read, innit?

“All those people. All those lives. Where are they now?”
– Kaufmann and Hart, The Man Who Came to Dinner

My wife is into genealogy, so we often wind up in obscure little cemeteries in the mountains searching for her ancestors. When we do, she wants the biographical information from the tombstone for her records and a camera is the easiest way to record the details.

Thing is, photographing tombstones turns out to be harder than I thought. (I’ve included bad photos with this post to illustrate just how hard some can be to read.) Some of the carvings are shallow and the stone surface is often covered with lichens or mold, so there isn’t much contrast between the stone surface and the carving.

Rootsweb has a page of advice. Some of the techniques require altering the tombstone in some way, which I don’t want to do. Some tips of theirs I want to try:

  • Pour water on the stone.
  • Use a reflector to cast shadows across the carving.
  • If you don’t have a photographic reflector they suggest a mirror or aluminum foil.

Couple ideas of my own I want to try:

  • Get the flash off-camera with my sync cord so the light is coming in at an angle to the stone.
  • Use color gels on the flash. While playing around with gels I noticed that while red gels conceal blemishes and such, blue gels exaggerate them.
  • See if an infrared bypass filter will increase contrast.
  • Note to self: remove the flash diffuser. In this case you don’t want soft, even lighting. You want hard light with lots of contrast.
  • Try some shots with and without flash. And vary the flash power – that’s always a good technique for getting the light right.

Restored Babe Simpson Photo

Victoria Infante of de la ber Photo Restoration emailed me this restored version of the Babe Simpson photo.


Babe Simpson was my wife’s relative who was a bank robber and member of East Tennessee’s Clarence Bunch Gang during the Great Depression.

I’m not dead. I was just sleepin’.

We went to the mountains this weekend. It was Melissa’s grandmother Geneva Henry’s 85th birthday on St. Patty’s Day, we the family chipped in for a party and a couple of cabins. Very nice and relaxing. Anyway, when we came back Sunday I didn’t feel like touching a computer.

I almost thought I wasn’t up to the trip. After having a virus two weeks ago and allergies last week I was starting to dread travelling. Friday night I came home from work, went straight to bed, and slept for 14 hours. I felt much better after that.

Here’s Geneva (in purple) with her great-grandchildren, including Katie and Natalie.


Babe Simpson’s Later Family Life

From Rootsweb:

Jesse Edward (BABE) I May 1909-Knox Co Tn -23 May 1978 In Fries, Grayson Co., Va married Lillie Mae Stallings. Divorced. Married 2, Opal Jane Hayes Chamberlain, his brother in law, the Rev. E.R. Allicson performing the ceremony. Married 3/ Vernell_______.
Children: ( which mother is not said)
Bobby, John Edward, Mary Lee.

We knew that after prison he had two wives and three children, but we didn’t know their names. I didn’t know about the third wife, but when Melissa went back and checked her genealogy records she did show him as having three wives. Given that he didn’t marry until later in life and had three marriages I think it’s safe to say he didn’t have the most harmonious domestic relations.

See also:
Babe Simpson, the Bank Robber in the Family Tree

Ida and Rose Simpson

Melissa says: “The shorter sister is my great grandmother, Ida Lee Simpson Henry. She was my grandfather, Thomas Henry’s mother and my mother Jenny’s grandmother. Her husband was George Washington Henry.”

Ida and Rose were Babe Simpson’s Aunts. Their brother Jesse was Babe’s dad.



Jack Neely on the Clarence Bunch Gang

In Googling around last week for information about Babe Simpson and the Bunch Gang I discovered that Jack Neely devoted a column earlier this year to Clarence Bunch’s end at the hands of Knox Sheriff Wesley Brewer in 1934. In a dramatic end to the career of a Depression-era bank robber Bunch grabs Sheriff Roach’s pistol and Sheriff Brewer blasts him with a Tommy gun.

More on Babe Simpson

Brandon Kincer responded to my earlier post on Babe Simpson:

My grandfather’s brother Clint Rutherford ran around with Babe some. My great mammaw told me that they came in one night drunk, and they both had several thousand dollars. When she asked them how they got the money they got real defensive. Later she heard they had a part in robbing a bank in Georgia. Clint could be described as a tall, muscular man with sandy hair. He lived in eastern Tennessee, near South Holston lake, a place called Jacobs Creek is not far from were he lived. She said that Babe had a good humorous personality, even when he was drinking. She has several pictures of him and Clint together. They were never caught for the robbery or for that matter ever suspected.

I asked Melissa, and she recalls that her grandmother Geneva’s side of the family was friends with some Rutherfords.

See also:
Babe Simpson, the Bank Robber in the Family Tree

Babe Simpson, the Bank Robber in the Family Tree

babe-picture-front.jpgLast week Melissa’s mother Virginia gave her some of aunt Marg’s old family photos and the stories to go with them. The man in this picture is Babe Simpson. Melissa’s mom knew that he was Melissa’s grandfather’s cousin, and was a gangster of some sort.

The photo was apparently taken in Knoxville. The back of the picture is an advertisement for “The Askins Stores, 506 S. Gay St., Knoxville, Tenn.”

Virginia knew that Babe had been a gangster, and had met him a long time ago when she was very young and he was old, but she didn’t know the whole story. Melissa called her grandmother Geneva, who said Babe had been in the Bunch Gang. We had never heard of them, so we went looking.

At Geneaology.com someone had once asked about the Bunch Gang and gotten an answer from Harry Till:

My cousin, Clarence was the leader. He was shot in Knoxville in 1934.

After escaping from the Cocke County jail at Newport Tn on May 15, 1934, Clarence and his gang rampaged through Claiborne, Grainger and Knox Counties. They killed Sheriff Hutchinson of Union County. They stole cars and robbed travellers until they were finally trapped at the home of C T Epperson, described as a bootlegger and a first cousin of Clarence’s mother. Clarence was killed in a hail of machine gun fire as he tried to shoot Sherriff Brewer of Knoxville.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Web site mentions that Wesley Brewer, in his term from 1932-1936, “was Sheriff in an era when the Roger Toughy Gang was headquartered here and Clarence Bunch was killed in a shoot-out with police.”

I emailed Till to see if he had more information, and he responded:


The Bunch of the Bunch Gang was my cousin Clarence. They were primarily bank robbers. They operated mostly in Northeast Tennessee. I know Clarence escaped once while awaiting trial for a bank robbery in Virginia. He was killed in Knoxville in August 1935 [I think he meant 1934 – LJ]. Almost the entire front page of the Knoxville paper was devoted to the shooting, including a morgue picture.

According to this message board post, the front page story was in the August 23, 1934 edition of the Knoxville Journal. The Journal went into a long decline and was sold to its current owners as a shadow of its former self in 1995. I called their offices, and they said I’d need to go to the library to find back issues, so that’s a project for a rainy day.

I’m not sure if Babe was present at that fatal gunfight, but if so he survived. During Father’s Day dinner Melissa and I quizzed her family. They say Babe did a long stretch in the penitentiary. After he got out he visited his relatives in Knoxville. I assume that’s when Melissa’s mother and grandmother met him. He was still handsome enough to make Melissa’s grandmother “weak in the knees.”

His brother Walt Simpson told them that the gang had hidden some of their loot on the banks of the Tennessee River. When the gang tried to retrieve it they couldn’t locate the hiding place. If the story’s true, there could still be a Bunch Gang treasure somewhere along the river.

After he got out of the pen, Babe apparently quit the outlaw life. He moved to Virginia, married, and had three children. This is a picture of him with two of his kids.


Just last night someone on RootsWeb answered Melissa’s post with more information, including Babe’s real name – Jesse Edward Simpson. He was born in 1909 in Petros, Tennessee. He died in 1978 and is buried in Fries cemetery in Grayson County, Virginia. Walt Simpson passed away just last year.