Stories of the Cameron and Brabston Families

These stories were passed along from Minnie Cameron (m. Brabston, Bell) (1856 - 1946), to her granddaughter Virginia Brabston (m. Cook) (1910 - 2008), who passed them to her granddaughter, Laura Virginia Cook (m. Bailey, Beiser) (born 1955), who wrote them down in about 1990.

The story begins circa 1863 during or just after the siege of Vicksburg during the Civil War at the Cameron Plantation which was located in the Bovina, Mississippi community in the present location of Allen Place Subdivision which is north of Interstate 20. Residents of the home in 1863 were Dr. Granville Alexander Cameron (1818 - 1864), his wife, Susan Virginia Smith Cameron (born 1827), and their three daughters Florence Elizabeth Cameron (born 1850), Minnie Cameron (1856 - 1946), and Effie Cameron (born 1858).

Yankee soldiers were hungry and in search of food. It was common practice for food, livestock and other items to be taken from homes and plantations to feed the soldiers. Mrs. Susan Virginia Smith Cameron, the "Ole Miss" of the plantation was asked by the Union soldiers that spread across her lawn that day if they could eat the narcissus (daffodil) bulbs that were planted in the yard thinking that they were onions. Mrs. Cameron said "yes, go ahead and eat them". The soldiers who ate them became violently ill and some may have died. The soldiers later returned and set the plantation home on fire at night while the family was sleeping. The little family dog barked freverently until he awoke the family which allowed them to escape the burning home.

The year after the family home was burned, Dr. Cameron was traveling in a horse-drawn cart with one of his daughters near Bovina, Mississippi, near Bovina Cut-off Road which is close to St. Alban's Episcopal Church. Dr. Cameron was a medical doctor and was on his way to treat a patient when a Yankee soldier shot his gun off very close to the horse's ear. The spooked horse ran away with the carriage and its passengers and eventually over-turned the carriage. Dr. Cameron (age 46) hit his head on a tree and was killed. His daughter survived her injuries.

In about 1865, Minnie Cameron was about 9 years old when she and her two sisters stood in line to receive rations that were being distributed to the local Bovina people by the Union soldiers. People in the Bovina community were starving and some had starved to death because their gardens, livestock and winter food supplies were gone. While they were standing in line, a soldier made a rude comment to her which offended her honor.

Minnie Cameron married Thomas Brabston and had three children: Thomas Brabston Jr., Virginia Brabston (m. Johnston), and John Bryan Brabston. John Bryan Brabston was the father of my grandmother, Virginia Brabston (m. Cook) When Virginia Brabston Cook was a child, her aunt Virginia Brabston and her grandmother "MaMaw" Minnie Cameron Brabston, would pick her up at her home which was located northwest of the present day Interstate 20 interchange in a carriage and take her to church at St. Alban's.

In about 1915, Virginia Brabston (Cook) was a flower girl in her Aunt Virginia Brabston's wedding at St. Albans Episcopal Church when she was about 5 years old. Having been instructed by her mother, Zella Brabston and her Mamaw, Minnie Cameron (m. Brabston, Bell) that she was not to step on the train of the dress, Virginia made a giant hop from one side of the train to the other which created quit a spectacle to the astonished guests.

Minnie Cameron lived from 1856 until 1946 to the age of 90. In 1938 she went to see the newly released movie Gone With the Wind which was about the Civil War. Minnie had experienced the war first hand by the loss of her father, her home, food, and the family's livelihood. Part of the way through the movie, Minnie rose from her theater chair and walked out of the
theater. She was described as a stoic women by her granddaughter, Virginia Brabston Cook.

Virginia Brabston Cook and her mother Zella Byrd Brabston who was a school teacher at Bovina School were standing in the school yard when the school bus was accidentally driven into the side of the train. Several of her school mates were killed. My grandmother could never get this scene out of her mind and she spoke of it often especially when we would cross the rail road tracks on the way to St. Alban's Episcopal Church together.

Virginia Brabston Johnston (known as "Miss Virgie" to friends and "Bubba" to family) spent the last 10 years of her life (1983 - 1993) living in the home of her beloved niece Virginia Brabston Cook at Flowers exit on the South side of Interstate 20, fifteen miles east of Vicksburg. This home was the original Bovina Rail Road Depot building which was moved to Flowers on the roadbed of Interstate 20 and was converted into a home by John Bryan Brabston and his daughter, Virginia Brabston Cook. When Virginia Johnston died, her funeral was held at St. Alban's Episcopal Church. She was buried next to her husband at the Methodist Church in Carrie, Mississippi in the Delta where she spent most of her adult life.

Virginia Brabston Cook was a life-long member of St. Albans (1910 - 2008) where she sang in the choir, taught Sunday School, and was active in the Episcopal Women's group (excepting the years she spent in Jackson, Meadville and Natchez from about 1930-1956). She considered herself to be the historian of St. Albans. Her funeral service was held at St. Alban's Episcopal Church at Bovina with the Reverend Ann Whitaker performing the eulogy service on April 1, 2008. She is buried at Cedar Hill cemetery in Vicksburg next to her Mamaw, Minnie Cameron (Brabston, Bell) and at the head of her mother and father John Bryan Brabston and Zella Byrd Brabston.


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