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Maternal Ancestors

Minnie (Batey) Brown

Minnie Batey was born on September 30, 1905.  She grew up with her mother, Mamie Kirk and her sister, Tennie.  She only went to the fifth grade, but she was very smart, both with intellectually and with common sense.  She gave birth to her son, Wash William Brown, alone at the age of fifteen and placed him in a trunk.  She didn’t tell her mother about the birth for two days but cared for her son alone.  After two days, she contacted her paternal grandmother Liza and told her of the birth and went to live with her grandmother and her father, Wash Batey.  Minnie had a hard time for the next few months because her mother insisted on whipping her for having a baby and there was constant friction between her father, her mother and her.  Baby Wash’s father, Iss William Brown, found out about the birth, went and took Minnie and their son to live with him and his mother, Jennie Kimbro.  They were married June of 1921, their son was five months old and they both adored him.  Minnie, now a wife and mother, showed extraordinary judgment and sensibility at that time for such a young woman.  She could cook almost anything without measuring the ingredients.  She enjoyed cooking and keeping house for her family.  She kept an immaculately clean house, everything had a place and everything should be in its place.  Her husband, Iss, did not share this passion and many arguments ensued over the years regarding same.  She was not a trusting woman and often exhibited signs of that mistrust with friends and distant relatives.  If she did not want people to return to her house, after their visit she would sweep red pepper out of the door behind them.  For her family which included her husband, son, granddaughter and first daughter in law, Violet; Minnie would go to the ends of the earth,   they helped to raise their granddaughter after her parents were divorced.  They, both, adored that granddaughter and taught her many things about life and how to handle life problems.  Iss and Minnie were very much in love with each other and remained married until Iss passed away in 1977.  Although their son, Wash, chose not to tell Minnie of Iss’s death, she instinctively knew.  She often said “I know Iss is dead.”  But, in her more lucid moments, she hoped that she was wrong.  Minnie died in January, 1983.  Most people in Murfreesboro remember “Momma Minnie.”

Minnie (Batey) Brown – est. 35 years old


Iss William Brown

“I wouldn’t take a million dollars for her, but I wouldn’t pay a nickel for another one like her.”

Iss Brown reflecting on his grand-daughter, Minnie.

Iss was born on October 12, 1897 to Jennie Kimbro and William Brown. The name Iss was from Jennie’s brother, Iss. Iss William grew up to be a very handsome young gentleman; quite a lady’s man. He only formally completed the third grade but could read and appreciate very complex subject matter such as Egyptian hieroglyphics, Greek mythology and various travel books and brochures. Reading was very enjoyable to him. He traveled much of the United States working as a porter for Burnes’ Motor company (new car dealership). He delivered new cars to buyers all over the U.S. and Canada. He wanted to visit Cairo Egypt and often remarked that one day he would. He also did a little “bootlegging” which was very common for a young Black man of his day. However, he was very respected by the authorities including sheriff Buford PusserHe and Minnie Batey married and became the parents of a bouncing baby boy who grew up quickly. Minnie and Iss taught their son, Wash, a strong sense of self worth and work ethics. Iss loved Minnie very much and didn’t want her to work outside the home. But, Minnie was a feminist long before the Women’s Movement was ever thought of. She worked whenever she decided to and spent her money to buy extra things from the peddler (a traveling salesman who allowed weekly payments for merchandise.) It is hard to described Iss’s life without adding facts about his beloved wife, Minnie. They would quarrel and argue about subjects that neither knew a great deal about. But both were competitive and enjoy trying to get “one up on the other.”Iss had a knack for charming the ladies, he would smile with that golden smile (all his teeth were gold.) and he had a twinkle in his eye that was hard to resist. Women, old and young, were fascinated by the wiles of Iss W. Brown. Later, he and Minnie became grand parents of a grand daughter who became the “apple of their eyes.” Their grand daughter became their pride and joy and she lived with them for most of her young life. There was nothing they would not do for their grand daughter. They taught her some of the most important life lessons she ever learned; how observe a person’s action and tell what type of person they are, to make sure that you planned how you were react in certain situations, keeping your business to yourself , and not trusting everyone who claims to be your friend. Iss generally taught by using parables and citing examples while Minnie taught by constant reminding when certain incidents occurred. M. Beatrice quickly understood the importance of saving some of her money as her grandfather

was the person to come to when the Black community needed a short term loan, such as two or three dollars. He charged twenty-five cents on a dollar per week. Guess he didn’t know about usury. He kept very good records, making note in a small composition book of all transactions and allowed his granddaughter to count monies collected and keep books up to date as debts were either paid on or paid in full. He enjoyed “shooting dice” and apparently was pretty good. He once won a horse that he brought home for his granddaughter to ride; he also won a full house of furnishing but only took certain pieces from the home and wife of the gambler. He had a strong sense of fair play and even though he wasn’t religious in the general way, he was God fearing and tried to live his life treating others as he wanted to be treated. Arthritis ravaged his body late in his life and he was unstable in his gait; but men, older and younger, would come to his house, take him to the “gathering place” where he enjoyed having a drink of “white lightening” two fingers measured on a small glass. Everyone in Murfreesboro knew and remember Iss as “Cuz” because that was his reference for most boys and men in the community. He treated all women with total respect even if he didn’t agree with many of their ways. He passed away in May 1977 after spending his last days in Detroit with his granddaughter who adored him. Stories are still told today in Murfreesboro about the antics of “Cuz or Cuzo.”

Iss is buried  next to  his life’s love, Minnie at the Benevolent Cemetery in Murfreesboro, TN.


Written by his loving granddaughter, Minnie.

Alice (D’King) Kimbro

Based on my research, most of my maternal line can be found in or around Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  One of the earliest ancestors I’ve found so far actually migrated (at some point) from Texas.  I believe this because I actually have a document which is almost as good a the slave narratives.  Ed Bell, the editor of The Rutherford Courier, penned a book in 1948 called, The Lonely People and their strange ways.  The book was about people living in Murfreesboro that Ed met during his time there.  My 3rd Great Grand-parents, George & Alice Kimbro (Kimbrough) were the subjects of one of his chapters, particularly Alice.  A copy of the text has been passed down for a couple of generations and I’m re-printing it here….

An afternoon in February with yellow winter sunshine coming down the small hill on South Walnut and reflecting across the shanties of Blackbottom…

A great bony Negro woman rocking on the porch of a house at the bottom of the hill, a dingy poodle dog at her feet, its belly turned up to the friendly sun… Aunt Alice Kimbrough, who had been living ninety years, talked about her youth, about when she was known as D’King, the champion wrestler of anywhere there is.

She was the most wrestling fool that ever wore a shoe polish skin, and no man nor woman could throw her down…  Except one man and she married him…The folks came from 500 and sometimes 5,000 miles to see D’King…They would flock on the fences like blackbirds to watch her grab them up and lay them on the cold, cold ground… When a nigger man or nigger woman got mean and talked to much, they said, “We get D’King to han’le you” and the bragger ran away and never come back again…

On D’King’s wedding day, when they were fixing her up with fine clothes to marry the only man in the whole world who could throw her down, a bigmouth yellow woman from the north country come along….The yellow said she never been throwed by anybody…”We get D’King to han’le you,” And the wedding guests said…But D’King was a busy woman…The barbecue was cooked, George and the preacher waiting…George was her true love…

D’King told them to go tell that fool ‘oman she had no crow to pick with anybody anymore except George…She was not wrestling again until she was a married woman…but her father said, “You no ‘oman less you kin.”…Which made her courage rise up till she laid by her bridal veil and went out to throw the bigmouth yellow from the north country…She made one pass at her middle and threw her so hard she hit the ground like a shook apple…Before the woman could get up D’King was back in the house ready to marry the only man.

D’King and her good friend who was name Cassie Ann were the strongest niggers anywhere there is…They could stand in a half-bushel measure and shoulder three bushels of wheat…If D’King hestitated, her father said, “You no ‘oman less you kin.”…Then she lifted it without one word more.

She was the healthiest pickaninny slave down in Texas…It was because she got so much sugar to eat…And the way she got all the sugar was by busting her bare big toe against a rock and running to the Missus to medicine it with turpentine and sugar…D’King ate the sugar off the toe and got fat.

After her marriage to George Kimbrough, she settled down because George done her good…He never called her fool or liar like all the other nigger’s husbands who called their women everything but a cedar bush…The night of the wedding there was happy doings at the white folks’ house and D’King and George got so many chickens for presents they had to get two somebodies to help carry them home…They lived together many years doing good and having seven children… Of these she was proudest of a double-jointed nigger named Iz… Iz hit a Kentucky mule in the head with his fist once and the mule didn’t live any more.

That was the tale Aunt Alice told me on a yellow winter afternoon a long time ago—I saved it to tell when she died.

George and Alice also had a daughter named Jennie.  Jennie’s son, Iss William Brown is likely Iz’ namesake.

Booker S. Brown

Booker Sampson Brown was born in May of 1836.  While my research has not determined the identity of Booker’s parents.  Family legend suggests that Booker cared for his younger brother Hillery during the latter years of slavery.  Later, according to the marriage certificate, he served as a witness to Hillery’s marriage to the former Bettie Roberson.

In January 1864, during the darkest days of the Civil War, Booker was “enrolled” into the 17th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry for a three year tour of duty.  Although I’m not fortunate enough to have a photo of Booker, his enlistment record describes him as 5 feet, 10 inches tall, dark complected with Black Hair.  For the privilege of spending his new found freedom as an enlisted soldier in the army, Booker owed $26.43 to the U.S. government for the uniform(s) provided.

Clearly, this enrollment (or the experience of service itself) was not to Booker’s liking; and February 2nd of the same year, Booker “deserted.”  Booker Booker’s service is on display on plaque Plaque Number: B-34 in the African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1999.  By 1870, Booker settled down with his wife, Frances, and had a total of nine children.

booker's regimet pic2

Hillery G. Brown

Hillery Gould Brown was born in 1859 in the last years of slavery.  The first record I located places Hillery in the probable town of his birth, Murfreesboro, Rutherford County, Tennessee.  This census record finds Hillery married (11/20/1881) to the former Bettie Roberson with two sons and two daughters (William Hobart, Henry Lee, Fannie Irene and Ellen Lorrelle) .  Hillery was a farmer who could read and write.  Hillery worked a variety of jobs throughout his life and lived until at least age 71.

3rd Great Grand father

5 Responses

  1. WOW these people inspire me .They have been through so much for us its almost like they sacraficed thier lives in hope to get out of thire illtreated conditions. I would love to find my family aswell

  2. In reading your post, you mention “Tennie”. Is there any further info on her? My gr-gr-uncle married a Tennie who was from TN. His name was Millard Smith.

    • Hi Sheila. My Tennie was Tennie Posey. She lived from 1909 to 1974. I don’t have your Millard in any part of my research, but its not exhaustive on this part of my family. Do you have any other information on your Tennie that would enable us to compare notes?

  3. my name is jacqueline jennings-mcgowan. the names you mentioned seem very familiar. jacquejai@yahoo.com

    • Hi Jackie, yes this is a part of your family also. I am Wash Brown’s daughter and remember you and your brothers when we are children. Your brother, Melvin, and I were close when we were young. You and I saw each other briefly a couple of years ago at the Red and Black celebration. My grandmother, Minnie Brown was the neice of your grandmother, Tillie. Your father and my father and mother were dearest friends and remained close until Wash and Mister passed on. Let’s stay in touch. This site was started by my son, Richard. Take care

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