A lot of time while writing about our ancestors, we focus on those who would be considered successful by current standards. After all, there is usually far more documentation and sources that we can draw from that makes developing the story of their lives much easier. Looking through photos I made a discovery! I have quite a few pictures of my ancestors wearing farmers overalls. The majority of my ancestors spent their whole lives making a home and raising a family on a farm. To them, wearing overalls was a sign of honor, and they were proud of what they did. So to honor these hard-working men I will highlight the life of one of the “overall gang” each week, including the photo and a brief biography of the legacy they left behind.
This week I am highlighting my maternal 2nd cousin Joseph W. Whitfield. “Joe” was born on August 23, 1887, in Van Buren County, Arkansas. He was the 7th of 8 children born to William Whitfield (1851-1904) and Missouri Lockart (1851-1923). He was raised on a cotton farm and that is where he learned the best way to cultivate cotton. He married Dora Mary Burk (1889-1945) when he was 16, and she was 15. They lived with his parents until they had saved enough to purchase their own land near the town of Hot Springs.
They had 8 children, 5 sons, and 3 daughters. Life was pretty tough for the first few years, however Joe really took to growing cotton on his own. He was able to hire a few hands and of course when their sons were big enough they helped in fields. The family was also able to build a new home. They also raised farm animals and Dora had a personal vegetable garden. It seemed they were just cut out to work the land. Joe died on April 21, 1916, at the age of 28.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.