The Carolyn Noah Graetz Interviews


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Vaiden High School Building


The Vaiden High School Building and Home Economics and Agriculture Building, both have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Vaiden High School Project Committee was notified by Bill Gatlin, from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History that this nomination was accepted on November 5, 2009. 


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Home Economics and Agriculture Building


Regarding the Vaiden High School Project Committee, it meets monthly on the third Wednesday of each month at 5 PM generally at the Vaiden Library. More information on this committee will be forthcoming. 




In January 2008, Carolyn Noah Graetz began an ongoing series of interviews with members of the Vaiden Community.  Through her diligent efforts, these interviews and photos are detailed on this web page.  I am honored and privileged that she has graciously allowed the interviews to become a record of Vaiden’s past, present and future.  Thanks, Carolyn, and thanks to all that were and continue to be interviewed for their role of Vaiden’s history.  Dorothy said it best….There’s No Place Like Home.






Vernon “Buddy” Welch


May 11, 1925 – April 11, 2012


Interviewed by Carolyn Sue Noah Graetz February 21, 2008 in his home in Carroll County , Mississippi . This is his story.


Vernon “Buddy” Welch was born on May 11, 1925 in Carroll, County, Mississippi .  His parents were Connie Self and William Dewitt Welch.


Vernon “Buddy” left Vaiden at the age of 17 and went to Pascagoula , Mississippi to work in the Ingles Shipyard on Department of Defense Ships.   He was there about a year when he went in to get his pay check and decided he would come home to Vaiden. The guy in the Payroll Department told him if he quit he would be drafted.  “Buddy” didn’t believe him and he went home to Vaiden.  In about a week, he was uptown Vaiden when he came in contact with Mr. Owen Miley.  Mr. Miley was the head of the Draft Board in Vaiden. He told “Buddy” “ I have a letter in my office from the shipyard that you had quit, and there is a letter to be mailed to you that you have been drafted by the United States Army.” 


From Vaiden he was sent to Camp Shelby , Mississippi .  Within two days he was signed up and sent to Ft. McClellan, Alabama. At Ft. McClellan he was trained for the Infantry for 14 weeks. 


After he left Ft. McClellan, he was sent to Ft. Mead, Maryland .  He stayed there for a few days before he was sent to Camp Shank, New York for change of orders from Europe to the South Pacific. He stayed at Camp Shank long enough to get new and different uniforms before he was shipped from New York Harbor in a “Troop Carrying Ship” - a converted cargo ship - en route to the South Pacific. 


The ship navigated along the East Coast of the United States, eventually arriving at the Panama Canal . They went through the canal into the Pacific Ocean .  They first landed at New Caledonia.   From there he was sent to New Guinea where he saw his first combat as a member of the 43rd Infantry Division of the United States Army.


From New Guinea the 43rd Infantry Division was sent to the Philippines where they made the Beach Head - that is they were the first Infantry Division to land.  Within a short time General Douglas MacArthur arrived.  He had been in the Philippines before war was declared and he had  to leave because the Japanese overran the US Army.   He went to Australia but returned when the 43rd Infantry and other Infantry Divisions arrived in the Philippines


The 43rd Infantry was met by the Japanese when they landed.   So there was fighting right away. “Buddy” saw many in his division die from the guns of the Japanese.  “Buddy” was in the Philippines for about one year and one-half.  


The Philippines were reclaimed by the US Armed Services including the Army, Navy, Marines, and the United States Air Force.  


After the Philippines were reclaimed, the 43rd Infantry was sent to the Island of Japan .  By this time Japan had surrendered, but the Infantry Divisions were still needed for the Japanese Occupation.  


By this time Harry Truman was the President of the United States and the bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki .


His division was on the Island of Japan for 14 days when they were told to get ready to go home.  They arrived in San Francisco and by train they came back to Mississippi and were sent to Camp Shelby arriving there about the first of December, 1945 .  He was allowed to come home to Vaiden soon afterwards, but was not yet discharged.  He was finally discharged December 1946.  By this time “Buddy” was 21 years old.   


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As a result of “Buddy’s” participation in World War II in the Pacific he was awarded two Purple Hearts, one Bronze Star, one World War II Medal, one Asiatic-Pacific Medal and another medal for honor, efficiency and fidelity. 



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Medals received by Vernon “Buddy” Welch in the Pacific in World War II


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James Murry “Son” Alford


Interviewed by Carolyn Noah Graetz on January 25, 2008 in Vaiden, Mississippi


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Q. Year of Graduation

A. 1956


Q. Your full name

A. James Murry Alford

Q. Your nickname

A. “Son”

Q. Date of birth

A. January 7, 1937

Q. Where you were born

A. Carroll County, out from Vaiden, Mississippi

Q. Your parents’ names

A. Wilburn and Alva Bell Stewart

James Murry started to Vaiden School in the third grade with Miss Lovie Wright as his third grade teacher. 

He dropped out of school his mid-term his junior year of high school in 1952.  He returned to Vaiden High in fall 1954 and joined the 1956 graduating class.


Q. After high school graduation what did you do?

A. The first year out of high school he worked in a carpet factory in Greenville , Mississippi .


After this year he decided that he would get more education.  He has saved a little and also did janitorial work at the Holmes Junior where he had enrolled.  Tuition was $34 a month including room and board.  His job paid $12 per which was subtracted from his tuition.  Other tuition was paid by money he had saved.  No money came from his family.  He hitched hiked along with many others from Vaiden to Goodman the home of Holmes Junior College


Q. Strictest teacher

A. Miss Shula Armstrong , English teacher for four years of high school.


Q. Favorite teacher

A. Most helpful was Tom Dulin, geometry teacher and algebra II


Q. Uses of the auditorium

A. Chapel fairly regularly on Friday morning with the entire student body present.   Prayer, patriotic songs, announcements, pep rallies, plays (junior and senior)


Q. Rules

A. No student handbook or written rules.  


After graduation from Holmes Junior College he went Delta State College-now Delta State University-in Cleveland , Mississippi . For tuition he received a National Defense Education Act loan at a low interest.  He did not have to repay until he began work.  He was able to get someone to drive him there to take his clothes but after this trip he usually hitched hike there.  He graduated with a degree in math education in 1962.  


After graduation from Delta State , he returned to Vaiden High and taught high school math and general science for eight years.   


After this eight years he became the Federal Projects Coordinator for Carroll County Schools.   It was during his time as Federal Projects Coordinator that he attended Mississippi State University at night, on week-ends and during the summer and received his master’s  and Specialist in Administration degree.    


He was elected Superintendent of Carroll County Schools in 1983.  He kept this job for 12 years retiring in December 1995. 


He married Phyllis Mevelyn Braswell in 1970 in the Kilmichael, Mississippi Baptist Church  and they had one child:  Kristen  was born in 1976.   Kristen married Guy Alderman 1998.  She has one child: Murry Catherine Alderman






Mary Elizabeth “Sissie” Lee Gant Butler


Interview with Mary Elizabeth “Sissie” Lee Gant Butler January 16, 2008 in her home on Highway 35  Vaiden , Mississippi


Q. Year of Graduation from Vaiden High School

A. 1954

Q. Your full name

A. Mary Elizabeth Lee

Q. Your nickname

A. “Sissie

Q. Date of birth

A. August 26, 1936

Q. Where you were born ?

A. Old Salem Community of Carroll County, Mississippi at home and was delivered by Dr. Arrington, doctor in Vaiden, Mississippi

Q. Your parents’ name

A. Father: Johnny B Lee;  Mother: Minnie Odell Noah Lee


Q. When did your ancestors first arrive in Carroll County ?  

A. “Sissie’s” maternal grandfather, Robert Dugan Noe name changed to Noah came from Alabama in 1895.  Her maternal grandmother, Mattie Fisher Noah was from the Harmony area of Carroll County and was part Choctaw Indian.


Regarding her paternal grandparents, her grandfather, Jerry Robert Lee, came from South Carolina . “Sissie” and her brother Dell, do not know where this grandmother, Mattie Weeks Lee came from other than living in Carroll County .


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Mary Elizabeth “SissieLee Fifth Grade Vaiden School



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Sissie” Lee’s Senior Year Vaiden High School



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Sissie” Lee’s Senior Class Photograph 1954 Vaiden High School


Q. After high school graduation what did you do? 

A. After high school “Sissie” stayed at home until she married Murphy Gant on November 6, 1954 .  They were married at the Winona Presbyterian Church Manse by the Rev. Reginald in Winona , Mississippi .


After marriage they rented a house from Mr. Kenneth Jones in the Midway Community of Carroll County, Mississippi where they farmed.


About a year after farming, “Sissie” and Murphy moved to Jackson , Mississippi . They stayed in Jackson about one year before they moved to Greenville , Mississippi where both “Sissie” and Murphy worked at a carpet factory. 


In 1960 they moved back to Carroll County and both worked at the J. A. Olson Picture Frame Factory in Winona , Mississippi .   Murphy died May 21, 1987 and this factory closed.    “Sissie” later worked in Greenwood and Carrollton .   When the cabinet factory where “Sissie” worked in Carrollton closed, “Sissie” retired. This was 1998. 


Their first child, Lathern Gant, was delivered by Dr. Herbert Power at the Vaiden, Mississippi Clinic on March 26, 1956 .


Sissy and Murphy Gant had two other children, Brenda and Michael.  


Sissie” was a widow until she married Wayne Butler, a widower, on December 4, 2000 .


On the date of the interview was at her home on Highway 35  with a mailing address of Vaiden , Mississippi.





Henry Milner


Interview of Henry Milner on January 25, 2008 by Carolyn Noah Graetz


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Q. Year of graduation

A. 1943

Q. Your full name

A. Henry Stephen (named for Dr. Stephens)  Milner

Q. Date of birth

A. September 28, 1924

Q. Where you were born

A. Carroll County, Vaiden, Mississippi

Q. Your parents’ name

A. William Walter and Pearl Estelle Ferguson Milner

Q. After high school graduation what did you do?

A. Graduated from the Vaiden High School in 1943.  Henry had attended the Vaiden School from first grade through 12th.  He never attended class in this WPA building.   However, his class-class of 1943 Vaiden High School saw the groundbreaking and then were able to use the stage for graduation. The principal was the principal for all grades 1-12.  During a large part of Henry’s school years, Curtis Pullen was principal.   Mr. Pullen was followed by Frank Hawkins who was a Vaiden native. Mr. Hawkins graduated from Sewanee, an Episcopalian college in Tennessee , and the University of Mississippi Law School. 


Q. Henry’s most disciplined teacher

A. Miss Shula Armstrong. 


Q. His favorite teacher

A. Frank Hawkins who taught American Government.


In elementary school, Henry remembered receiving grades in Deportment due to behavior.  Henry said .  “I didn’t have any problems with deportment, I behaved myself.”


There were no rule books but the students understood. 


Q.    After high school what did you do? 

A. Immediately after graduation, Henry entered the U. S. Army.  He was sent St. Petersburg, Florida for basic training.   From St. Petersburg, he went by troop train Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina. He was there for a short time before he was sent to Atlanta, Georgia for training for Military Auto Mechanic School.  From there he was sent to Plant City, Florida- a staging area for determining next base assignment.  From there he was sent to Ft. Myers Air Base for a short time.   Eventually he was sent to the Hawaii Islands he became a Distribution Supply Sergeant.    He stayed there until end of World War II.  After his discharge he returned to Vaiden and joined the Carpenter’s Union that was located in Grenada.    However, Henry lived in Vaiden.  An interesting part of his job was helping dismantle an old military gym at Camp McCain in Grenada County, Mississippi and reconstructing it as a gym for the Vaiden School


Q. When did your ancestors first arrive in Carroll County?  

A. Henry and all of his siblings were first generation Carroll Countians. He dad came to Carroll County from Texas and his mother was from Montgomery County, Mississippi.


Later on Henry worked for the Illinois Central Railroad as a telegraph operator, ticket agent, freight clerk, and baggage agent.   He retired from the Illinois Central after 35 years of service in September 1982.  He also served, at least, 20 years on the Vaiden Board of Alderman.  He says he was instrumental in negotiating with M.r M.. E.  Daves  to bring Cable Television to the Vaiden area.   


Henry Stephen Milner was married to Martha Blanche Pinkston on July 3, 1948.   They were married 52 years when Martha died.  They had one child: Barbara Dianne.   Barbara married Danny Barnette and they had one child: Stephen Barnette.




Frances Jean Johnson Paley



Filled out by: Carolyn Noah Graetz.  Frances Jean Johnson Paley gave the information to Carolyn over phone and in person.



Q.    Year of Graduation from Vaiden High School


A.  1946



Q. Your full name


A. Frances Jean Johnson Paley



Q. Date of birth


   A. November 21, 1929



Q. Where you were born?


A. Lexington, Holmes County, Mississippi



Q. Your parents’ names


A. Samuel Franklin and Alice Alberta Johnston Johnson



Q. When did your ancestors first arrive in Carroll County?


A. Frances’ paternal great-grandfather, Samuel Johnson, arrived in Carroll County from Warren County, Mississippi soon after the Treaty of  Dancing Rabbit Creek between the Choctaw Indians, whose Chief was Greenwood LeFleur (changed to LeFlore) and the United States Government on September 27, 1830. Samuel Johnson paid taxes in Carroll County, Mississippi in 1835.


Q. Where did you attend elementary school?


A.  Beatty Elementary School in Carroll County, Mississippi



Q. Describe your elementary school experience.


A. Teachers who Frances remembered are Grover Bennett and Susie Huffman Miley. There were two rooms in the school and there was an outdoor toilet.



Q. How did you get to school?


A.  Frances rode in a pick-up truck that had a cover on it.



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Q. Describe you high school experience? What classes were required to take to graduate?


A. English, Math and algebra, typing, bookkeeping,



Q. Who do you think was your hardest teacher?


A. Miss Ruby Smith




Q. There was an auditorium at the Vaiden School. What were some uses of the auditorium?


A. Weekly chapel, junior and senior high school plays, graduation exercises and Frances sang solos on the stage with Mrs. Ruby Spencer directing.



Q. Did you wear any special clothing during any of your school years?


A. Street clothes



Q. Tell in detail what you did after graduation from Vaiden High School.


A. In the fall of 1946, Frances Jean Johnson enrolled in Holmes Junior College in Goodman, Mississippi.  She stayed there for one school year. At Holmes Junior, she was the freshman football maid, and was voted by the student body as the friendliest girl on campus.  The next year she went to live with her sister, Lucille Johnson Boykin,  in Greenville, Mississippi. She worked for Sears and Roebuck. From Greenville, she returned to Vaiden and later went to Jackson, Mississippi. In Jackson she worked in Kennington Speciality Store.  Her last job was with John H. Moon and Madison Materials in Ridgeland, Mississippi. She worked there for 35 years.


Frances married Grover Upton and they had two children: Michael and Susan. 


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They were divorced and she later married Robert Paley. She and Robert had one child, Lara. She and Robert later divorced, also.



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March 18, 2009 Photo






John Brittin (“J. B.”) Bailey


Interviewed by: Carolyn Sue Noah Graetz on March 19, 2009 at the Noah Truck in Vaiden, Mississippi. This truck stop is owned by the brother of Carolyn.


Q. Full Name

A. John Brittin Bailey-Veteran of World War II


Q. Nickname

A. “J. B.”


Q. Date of birth

A. September 09, 1922


Q. Name of your parents

A. Father: Thomas Bailey; Mother: Maggie Lambert



This is “J.B.’s” story:


“J.B.’s” mother died when he was about 10 years old, and he went to live with his sister, Mrs. Katie Bailey Ross. 


When he was about 22 years old he received a letter from the Draft Board. This letter instructed him to report to Camp Shelby in Forest County, Mississippi.  He was there a few days when he was shipped to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma


At Ft. Sill he trained with others from many parts of the country in the Mule Pack Artillery.   They were trained to guide mules and to disassemble and reassemble 75 millimeter Howitzer pack guns.


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The 75 millimeter Howitzer first used in World War I and again in World War II.  According to “J.B.” this is the type Howitzer that he  was trained to use.   They trained for 17 weeks. 


After 17 weeks he was sent to Ft. Carson, Colorado.  They stayed there about three weeks and then they were sent by train to Fr. Ord, California.


This artillery group stayed there a few weeks.  From here this artillery group went by ship to Bombay, India. There was an American Army base in Bombay.  “J.B.” served under General Joseph Warren Stillwell.  


Gen. Joseph Warren Stillwell, U.S.A.

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"Vinegar Joe," "Uncle Joe," "Old Two Shirts."

Place of birth

Palatka, Florida

Place of death

San Francisco, California


General Joseph Warren Stilwell (March 19, 1883 – October 12, 1946) was a United States Army four-star General best-known for his service in China and Burma. His contempt for formal military dress, his concern for the enlisted man, and his caustic personality would gain him two sobriquets: "Uncle Joe" and "Vinegar Joe."


From Bombay this Mule Pack Artillery was flown to Micheneau, Burma.  They camped there and then they began walking with the mules with the 75 millimeter Howitzer pack guns. These Howitzer pack guns were broken down and each mule would carry a part of the gun, and these mules were led by the artillery men. 


From there they marched about 30 days to get to the Burma Road and here is where they met the Japanese.  They knew they would have to fight when they arrived on the Burma Road as there had been reconnaissance missions by Lason airplanes.  The fought for 21 days and the Burma Road was opened up to China, an ally of the United States


In China they rested there for a while and after the Japanese surrendered they were sent to Shanghai.   The artillery group was divided and “J. B.” was placed in the Military Police Group.  They guarded a prison there which at one time held the “Jimmie Doolittle Flyers.” But when this Military Police Group was there the prison held the Japanese prisoners who had been captured by the Chinese and the Americans. 


From Shanghai they took a ship back to Seattle, Washington.  From Seattle they took a train back to Camp Shelby and this is where he was discharged.   After discharge he came home to Carroll County, Mississippi and there is where he lives today.  


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 “J. B.” Bailey March 19, 2009 at the Noah Truck Stop in Vaiden, Mississippi


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“Buddy” Welch and “J.B. Bailey” on March 19, 2009



George Willis Turbeville

05/05/1931 - 10/12/2010


Interview - Carolyn Noah Graetz

147 Links Drive Apartment 18 C

Canton, Mississippi 39046

April 15, 2009


Q. Year of Graduation from Vaiden High School

A. 1949



Q. Your full name

A. George Willis Turbeville



Q. Date of birth

A. May 05, 1931



Q. Where you were born?

A. Carroll County, Mississippi a few miles from the Vaiden City limits



Q. Your parents’ name

A. Father: George Willis Turbeville, Sr.; Mother: Mattie Effie Lee Turbeville



Q. When did your ancestors first arrive in Carroll County?  Where were they from?

A. George’s paternal great-grandfather, Frank Turbeville, Sr. came from South Carolina and settled in Carroll County, Mississippi. The Turbeville place in Carroll County is still occupied by some descendents of this great-grandfather on the date of this interview April 15, 2009.



Q. Where did you attend elementary school?

A. George enrolled in the Vaiden School as a first grade student and he attended this school from first grade throughout his early school life from first grade though twelve.



Q. How did you get to school?

A. George remembers that one of the ways he got to school was in a pick-up truck with a cover on the back driven by Mr. Burl Brown.



Q. Did you have a favorite teacher, and if so tell why?

A. Mrs. Margaret Anderson who taught commercial arts was a favorite teacher of his. She wore a smile and was kind. Mrs. Anderson taught typing, shorthand, and bookkeeping.



Q. There was an auditorium at the Vaiden School. What were some uses of the auditorium?

A. Friday assembly. In assembly they sang patriotic songs, heard announcements.



Q. Describe where you had lunch?

A. Had lunch in the lunchroom



Q. Tell in detail what you did after graduation from Vaiden High School.

A. After graduating from Vaiden High School in 1949,George volunteered for the U. S. Air Force during the Korean War. His duties consisted of training squadron members in San Antonio, Texas where he was stationed.  After four years in the Air Force, George returned home to Vaiden and enrolled at Mississippi State University.



After receiving encouragement from fellow citizens he became a candidate for Carroll County Circuit Clerk and Deputy Chancery Clerk at Vaiden. He won the election in a landslide. In this office he helped young folks by giving them jobs to do that they got paid for. My sister, Sarah Lou Noah (later Planer worked for him in this office). George served at this post for two terms as he was unopposed for the second.



George was in this post while he was attending Mississippi State University. He politicked during the day and took night classes at Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi. In 1960 George was selected as the Director of the Department of Human Services, and years later he became the Regional Director of the Department of Human Services.




In 1999 George retired from the Department of Human Services, and was encouraged by Vaiden citizens to run for mayor of Vaiden. In 2009 George is serving his second term as the mayor of Vaiden. He will retire after his term is up in July. After retirement George told me, Carolyn Graetz, the interviewer that he was going to rest.



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George Turbeville, Mayor of Vaiden, Mississippi



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George and his wife Miriam Alexander Turbeville have been married 41 years. They have three children Lori, Kim and Melissa. George and Miriam have three grandchildren.




James Cox


Interview by Carolyn Noah Graetz on January 24, 2008 in James Cox’s home in Vaiden, Carroll County, Mississippi


Q. Year of Graduation from Vaiden High School

A. 1943

Q.  Your full name

A. James A Cox

Q. Date of birth

A. August 23, 1925

Q. Where you were born?

A. Holmes County, Mississippi out in country from West, Mississippi

Q. Your parents’ name

A. Father-William Winfred Cox; Mother-Bessie Manuel Cox


Q. When did your ancestors first arrive in Carroll County

A. James is not sure when his ancestors arrived in Carroll County, Mississippi nor did he know where they had come from to Carroll County.  He did share what he knew.  Great- grandmother Leumanda was born September 24, 1827- died September 27, 1894. She was a full blooded Choctaw Indian.  She was married to Samuel W Cox who was born in 1823, and it is likely he was born in Carroll County.   Samuel W died April 21, 1896.  He was shot on a Saturday night near Black Hawk, Mississippi.  He died from the effects of these wounds on Tuesday morning at three o’clock.  Samuel W Cox and his wife Leumanda are buried in the Old Salem Cemetery in Carroll County, Mississippi.


Q. Tell about your school experience

A. Started school in West, Mississippi and attended there for two years.  His family moved to Emory, Mississippi, and he went to school there four years.  From Emory his family moved to the Old Salem Community in Carroll County.  While they lived there he began school in the seventh grade at Blackmonton School in Carroll County, Mississippi but his family moved back to Emory and he graduated from the Emory grade there.  


He began ninth grade at Vaiden High School September 1939.  He rode to school in a pick-up truck with a homemade wooden body driven by Marion McClellan “Sonny” Jones.  Frank Hawkins was the school principal.  His class’s graduation ceremony in 1943 was held in the new Vaiden High School building auditorium that was built with the help of the WPA. But he and his classmates attended their classes in the old school building  However, they had observed the building of the new Vaiden High School from ground up.


After high school graduation what did you do? After graduating from high school in April 1943, James volunteered for the Marine Corps in August 1943.  He received an honorable discharge from the Marines in April 1946.   After serving in the Marine Corps, he worked for Bell Telephone as a lineman three to four years. 


Following this job with Bell Telephone he worked in sales until 1960.  In 1960 be began work on riverboats ending his career as a river boat Pilot.  As a river boat pilot, he went up and down many rivers including the Mississippi and the Ohio Rivers.   


James married Anne Gambal in Greenville 1948, and they had five children

1. Julie Anne

2. Abigail

3. Amy Sue

4. Lisa Renee

5. Matthew Gambal


Divorced in 1960 and married Geneva Marie “Jenny” Rapp in 1962.


In this interview on January 24, 2008 James and his wife “Jenny” live in Vaiden, Carroll County, Mississippi.



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James Cox in his home in Vaiden, Mississippi January 24, 2008


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“Jenny” Cox, wife of James Cox in their home January 24, 2008




Billy Layne Noah


Interviewed by Carolyn Noah Graetz, sister of Billy Layne Noah on February 26, 2008 in his home in Columbus, Mississippi.  

 Vaiden High School graduate 1962


Q. Your full name


A. Billy Layne Noah

Q. Your nickname


A. “Judge” by his father


Q. Date of birth


A. September 18, 1944

Q. Where you were born?


A. Carroll County, Mississippi - home mailing address was Coila, Mississippi. He was home-delivered by Dr. Arrington

Q. Your parents’ name


A. Father: Robert Randall Noah; Mother: Susie Evelyn “Dollie” Mann Noah



Q. When did your ancestors first arrive in Carroll County?


A. The first ancestors of Billy’s were the Johnson’s - through his great grandmother Annie Johnson Randall, who was born in Carroll County.  The Johnsons came to Carroll County, Mississippi from Warren County.  Billy’s great-great grandfather, Samuel Johnson paid taxes in Carroll County in 1835.  His grandfather, Thomas Anderson Noah, was the only grandparent of Billy’s who was not born in Carroll County.  “Tom” Noah as he was known was born in Alabama and arrived in Carroll County, Mississippi at the age of nine with his father Robert Dugan Noah and other members of his family. “Tom” lived the rest of his life in Carroll County and is buried with his wife Willie Mae Randall Noah in the Old Salem Cemetery in Carroll County.   


Q. After high school graduation what did you do?


A. After the 1962 graduation, Billy began work for Bob Lancaster on the highway putting down sod and highway fencing.  He was working in Oxford, Mississippi when James Meredith integrated the University of Mississippi “Ole Miss.” He was 18 years old.  In January 1963, he began working MacGregor Shirt Factory in Winona, Mississippi and worked there for two years.  It was rumored that Billy was the first name on the draft from the draft board.  Feeling he had to get it over with he went with a high school classmate, Jerry Summerhill,  to Greenwood to the Air Force Recruiting Office where he enlisted.  He took his test for the Air Force in the back seat of Jerry’s car.  This happened in January 1965.  From Vaiden Billy went to Jackson, Mississippi and flew to San Antonio, Texas to Lackland Air Force Base.  From here he went to Admin Tech School in Amarillo, Texas. He stayed there three or four months. 


In mid 1965, he was sent to Vandenberg Air Force Base, North of Santa Barbara, California.   He worked as a clerk there for about 14 months. 


After 14 months, he was sent to Boling Air Force in Washington D. C where he was in training to become an Honor Guard.   He could not become an Honor Guard because of deficient hearing.


In November 1966, he received orders to go Than Chanute Air Force Base, Saigon, Vietnam. Billy and I, Carolyn Sue Noah Graetz, his sister drove to California together.   He stayed in Vietnam for 359 days.    He was in the Administration Department as a clerk typist.  He was discharged at Keesler Air Force in October, 1968.



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Billy Layne Noah in his U.S. Air Force uniform


After serving in the Air Force, he attended Holmes Junior College in Goodman, Mississippi for three years.  From there he went to the University of Southern Mississippi.   


Since 1994, Billy has been employed for Sysco, Inc. in Columbus, Mississippi and he lives there with his wife Pat. 




Helen Claire McEachern Elliott


Interview by Carolyn Sue Noah Graetz on February 22, 2008 at the Circuit Clerk’s office at the Vaiden, Mississippi Courthouse.

Year of Vaiden High School graduation- 1949

Your full name- Helen Claire McEachern Elliott

Date of birth –June 25, 1931

Where were you born? _ Hopewell Community of Carroll County, Mississippi. She was home-delivered by Dr. J.P. Stephens, who was the medical doctor in the Town of Vaiden.

Your parents’ name – Father- Robert Coleman McEachern   Mother-Mattie Irene Hatcher McEachern


When did your ancestors first arrive in Carroll County? –Helen Claire’s ancestors were in Carroll County early eighteen thirties.  

Where were they from? –Daniel and Mary McDougal McEachern, great-grandparents of Helen Claire McEachern Elliott came to Carroll County, Mississippi from Port Gibson. They were associated with the Union Presbyterian Church, and Mary McDougal McEachern helped establish seven Presbyterian Churches in Carroll County.  On this February 22, 2008, Helen Claire McEachern Elliott is a member of the Shongalo Presbyterian Church, one of the churches that her great-grand mother helped to establish.

After high school graduation what did you do?  Helen Claire went to the Holmes Junior College and graduated from there after two years.  After that two years Helen Claire went to University of Mississippi “Ole Miss” where she received a degree in Business Education.   She was working on her master’s degree at the University of Mississippi when she was recruited to teach at the J. Z. George High School in Carrollton, Mississippi in January 1953.


On June 25, 1954 she married Fisher Elliott from Black Hawk, Carroll County, Mississippi at the Shongalo Presbyterian Church in Vaiden, Mississippi.  She was given in marriage by her first cousin, W. G. McEachern.  After marriage she moved with her husband to Black Hawk. 


In July 1954 she began work in the Carroll County Superintendent of Education as secretary, worked there for five and one-half years. 


From 1960 to 1980 she worked as the Deputy Clerk for the Chancery and Circuit Clerks of Carroll County at the Carrollton, Mississippi courthouse.


After this retirement she was recruited for various jobs including working as a librarian at the Vaiden High School, a teacher at Carroll Academy for one year and working at Welfare Office both in Carrollton.


Later she worked in the Winona Elementary and Winona High Schools in Winona, Mississippi.  She finally retired in the 1985.


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Figure 1 Helen Claire McEachern Elliott      In the Vaiden Library May 20, 2009


An accomplished volunteer, she volunteers at the Shongalo Presbyterian Church in Vaiden.  She is a member of the Triple L Senior Citizens at the First Baptist Church in Winona, a member of the Senior Citizens Group of the Vaiden Baptist church. 


Helen Claire is the secretary for the Hopewell Cemetery in Carroll County, is a member of the Brownline Homemakers club, Friends of the Vaiden Library and serves on the Vaiden Historical Preservation Commission.


In 2001 she received the Homemaker of the Year Award and Outstanding Education Chairman Award from the Carroll County, Mississippi Homemakers Club. 


 Helen Claire’s husband, Fisher Elliott, died young at the age of 42 in 1961.  After his death she moved to Vaiden where her mother was living on Lee Street and that is where she lives today on February 22, 2008.




James Robert Devine


Interview on May 23, 2008 by Carolyn Sue Noah Graetz at the Vaiden City Hall


Year of Graduation from Vaiden High School: 1953

Your full name: James Robert Devine


Your nickname: ”Sleepy”   

Date of birth: February 03, 1935

Where you were born? Home delivered at his parents home in the Midway Community of Carroll County, Mississippi

Your parents’ names: James Kimble and Eva Irene Baskin Devine


When did your ancestors first arrive in Carroll County? James Robert’s paternal great-grandfather, John Gilbert Devine was born on May 29, 1840 in Leake County, Mississippi. His wife, Epsie Seals was born either in Mississippi or Georgia.  All of John Gilbert Devine’s and his wife Epsie’s children were born in the Midway Community of Carroll County, Mississippi.  John Gilbert and Epsie Devine had eight children all of them boys.  Their second child was James Andrew Devine was born on November 20, 1863 in the Midway Community of Carroll County, Mississippi. His wife was Susan Elizabeth Garner came to Carroll County in the early 1870’s.  They had 11 children and their eighth child was James Kimble Devine who was born on July 10, 1905 in the Midway Community of Carroll County.


James Kimble Devine was married to Eva Irene Baskin on November 26, 1932 in Carroll County, Mississippi.  Eva Irene Baskin was born on October 05, 1905 in the Midway Community of Carroll County.  Both James Kimble and Eva Irene Baskin Devine are buried in the Midway Methodist Church Cemetery in Carroll County, Mississippi.



James Robert’s maternal grandmother, Rebecca Jane Simpson was born on January 22, 1862 in North Carolina.  She was 10 years old when she arrived in Carroll County, Mississippi.   Rebecca’s father, William C Simpson who was a Confederate soldier in the 45th Infantry Company D and was killed June 11, 1862 at Halifax, North Carolina.  Her mother Sally Boone Simpson later married John B York.


 Rebecca married Robert Ren Baskin in Carroll County, Mississippi on March 01,1882 in Carroll County, Mississippi. Roy Ren was born May 03, 1854 in Carroll County, Mississippi.   Both Robert Ren and Rebecca Simpson Devine are buried in the Midway Methodist Church Cemetery in Carroll County, Mississippi.


Where did you go to school?  James Robert went to the Midway Elementary from the first grade through the third grade, to the Blackmonton Elementary for the fourth grade and in the fifth he transferred to the Vaiden School and graduated from the Vaiden High School in 1953.  All of these schools are in Carroll County

After high school graduation what did you do? James Robert graduated from Vaiden High School in the spring of 1953. That fall he entered Holmes Junior College-renamed Holmes Community College- and graduated from Holmes Junior in the spring of 1955.  From James Robert, “They made me take four semesters of French, I was resistant but I was told ‘then you will not graduate’ so I took four semesters of French.”


In the fall of 1955, he entered Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi. He dropped out in 1958 prior to graduating to join the Mississippi National Guard.  This decision was made because he knew he would be drafted otherwise.  He was active duty National Guard for six months.


After those six months he went to work in Jackson, Mississippi selling ladies shoes at Bakers. He was at Bakers for 10 months, was promoted to Assistant Manager and sent to Memphis, Tennessee.  Four months later he was transferred Little Rock. He stayed in Little Rock 18 months and they didn’t have a National Guard Unit there that he desired to belong so he was reactivated into the US Army Reserves.


He was sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina and worked as a medical person in the hospital at Fort Jackson for one year. In 1963, he was released.   The summer of 1963 he enrolled at Mississippi State University at Starkville, Mississippi.  Classes had already started.  He found out they were not offering the course he needed to graduate so he was allowed to take an advanced physics course. Didn’t pass this.


He left Mississippi State and went to Jackson and again worked for Baker’s in Jackson the same place he had worked in 1958.  He worked there for about a year. While he was at Baker’s he enrolled at the Mississippi College in Clinton, MississippiMississippi College transferred the credits to Mississippi State, and in 1964 he received his degree in General Science from Mississippi State University.


James Robert gave a job for job work history:  


In late 1963 he was employed by First Texas Pharmaceuticals and he stayed with them almost two years.  


In 1965 he moved to Aberdeen, Mississippi and had a job with American Potash. He was there for three years. 


In 1968 he moved to Ripley, Mississippi and took a job with Ripley Shoe Products.  He worked there five years. 


In 1973 he moved to Winona, Mississippi where he worked for J. A. Olsen Picture Frame and stayed there for five years.  After this five years he worked for Kimco Auto Products where he stayed for six years.  Company closed. He then went to work for Winona Packing Company and worked there until 1989.  Business was slow so he went to work Multi-Automotive and stayed there for two years.  Following this he went back to Winona Packing and worked there until May 1997. From there he retired and moved back to Carroll County.


James Robert Devine and Sammie Lee Crane were married in September 22, 1961 at the Grace United Methodist Church in Jackson, Mississippi.  James Robert and Sammie have two children, Michael Stanley and Robin Denise Devine. 


Michael Stanley is married and lives on Highway 430 just outside of Vaiden. He owns Pharmnet which is located in Winona.  Robin is married and lives in Nashville.


James Robert and Sammie Crane Devine live next door to their son on Highway 430 just outside Vaiden, Mississippi in Carroll County.   



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Figure 1 Sammie and James Robert Devine photo on May 23, 2008





Clarence Albert Pierce, Jr.



Clarence Pierce- Interviewed by Carolyn Noah Graetz on December 13, 2007

Your full name: Clarence Albert Pierce, Jr.

Your nickname: “Cap.” This nickname was never used in Vaiden only when you he started college at Holmes Junior College in Goodman, Mississippi the folks there picked up on the initial of CAP for Clarence Albert Pierce

Date of birth- October 1, 1928

Where you were born?  Bee Lake in Holmes County, Mississippi at home.


 Year of Graduation from Vaiden High School: 1946


Your parents’ names: Father-Clarence Albert Pierce, Sr. Mother-Alice Vaiden Herring Pierce

When did your ancestors first arrive in Carroll County? Father was born in Ebenezer area of Holmes County, Mississippi. This branch of the Pierce’s came down the Ohio River to Cairo, Illinois and then down the Mississippi River to Natchez, Mississippi. Clarence’s parents moved into the home of his mother’s parents in Vaiden when he was seven years old.

Where were the Herrings from? The Herrings came to Mississippi from North Carolina.

The Town of Vaiden is named for Dr. Cowles Mead Vaiden who was married to Elizabeth Whitfield Herring (Vaiden). Dr. Vaiden and his wife did not have any children.

Dr. Vaiden’s sister married  Lewis Whitfield Herring. Elizabeth Herring married Dr. Vaiden. The Whitfield Herring’s had three children. However, when the brother - Whitfield Herring- of Mrs. Vaiden died, Dr. Vaiden and his wife Elizabeth Whitfield Herring (Vaiden) either adopted (no adoption papers have been found) or became foster parents to one of their nephews. His name was Cowles Mead Herring, but Dr. and Mrs. Vaiden added Vaiden to his last name and this nephew became Cowles Mead Herring Vaiden.

In this way Clarence Pierce, Jr. is connected to the Vaidens. Clarence’s mother was Alice Vaiden Herring (Pierce) and she was the daughter of Joseph Herring, Sr., one of the sons of this Whitfield Herring.


Vaiden School information: Clarence began Vaiden School in the second grade in the fall of 1935. His second grade teacher was Miss Lovie Wright.


Mr. Curtis Pullen was the principal when he started there in second grade, Mr. Frank Hawkins followed Mr. Pullen but after Pearl Harbor, Mr. Hawkins went into the service.  Mr. Frank Prewitt from Weir became the principal of Vaiden School in the fall of 1943.


Who was your toughest teacher?  Mr. Rufus Smith.  Mr. Smith graduated from Mississippi State and had a law degree from Harvard, and talked over our heads. 


Who was your favorite teacher? From Clarence “By all means, Frank Hawkins.”

Clarence graduated from the Vaiden High School in 1946.  After high school graduation he enrolled in Holmes County Junior College-Goodman, Mississippi. After finishing two years at Holmes he went to “Ole Miss” which is University of Mississippi. He received a history degree from there in 1950. As a student at the University of Mississippi Clarence was a member of the Beta Theta PI Fraternity.


In the fall of 1951, he was elected to the Mississippi State House of Representatives from Carroll County, Mississippi.  From the beginning he was interested in the highway system.  From 1970 to 1980, Clarence was chairman of the Highway Finance Committee of the House of Representatives.  He was awarded a standing ovation by his legislative colleagues for his integrity and hard work during the April 1972 Legislative Session.