January 3, 2015

Donna Douglas (1933-2015)

Donna Douglas was born Doris Smith in Pride, East Baton Rouge Parish, LA in Sept., 1933, to Emmett Ratcliff and Elma Robinson Smith.  If she ever had a middle name I was unaware of it.

Emmett was the son of Tullie Cornelius Smith and Amelia Etta Walker. Tullie was my great-uncle and brother to my maternal grandmother, Lillian Smith Roe.

The last time I saw her was in Sep., 2009 when we attended the wake of another cousin, Abiah Perkins "A.P." Smith, Jr. in Baton Rouge.

As a kid living in Baton Rouge, we often visited with Emmett and Elma, either at their home or ours near downtown Baton Rouge.  I remember her as a teenager and someone that "babysat" me on one or two occasions while our folks went out for some reason or another.

Source: The Baton Rouge Advocate
Date Unknown
The purpose of this blog is to outline her genealogy as I have researched it and, to publish it for my children and other cousins who have a desire to know about this amazingly talented woman.

Doris' father and my mother were first cousins, descendants of Angus McNeil and Mary Amelia McClendon Smith.  They were also distantly related through their common ancestry with Joseph Pullam and his wife Elizabeth Tickell.

Adeline, a daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Tickell Pullam married Andrew Jackson Walker and they were parents of Amelia Etta Walker. Another of Joseph and Elizabeth's daughters, Elizabeth Frances Pullam was my maternal great-great grandmother.

Angus was a son of John William Smith and his wife, Lenora E. Lee.

John William Smith was born in St. Helena Parish, LA on Aug. 2, 1832. He lived for a time with the James L. Belue family until his marriage to Lenora in Liberty, Amite Co., MS on Sep. 2, 1853. According to my grandmother, a grand-daughter of John, he was a life long blacksmith who passed on his talents at that trade to her father, Angus.

John and his family appeared in the 1860 census at Greensburg in St. Helena Parish.  There were two children in the household; Marzilla, a female, aged 11 and Angus, age 4.  I do not know who Marzilla was.  Lenora had been briefly married in 1851 to Thomas Morgan and Marzilla may have been their child.

When the Civil War began, John Smith enlisted in Co. H., 27th La. Reg., Captain John T. Spencer, Commanding. He was slightly wounded in a leg during Siege of Vicksburg. Smith, when applying for his CW pension replied that he was at Liberty, Mississippi on detail at the surrender. In response to another pension application question, he reported that he was at the surrender of Vicksburg, was paroled and released to his regiment. He said that he did not take the oath of allegiance to the US Government. When asked how many children, and what sex they were, Smith replied that he and his wife had one boy and four girls.

Though not found by me in the 1870 census, they are found in 1880, East Feliciana Parish.  In addition to John and Lenora, there was William, a son, age 17 and Perkins, another son, age 14.  Next door to them was the Angus Smith family with wife Mary and daughters Adda (Addie) and Mary. Angus and Mary married on Nov. 23, 1876 in East Feliciana Parish.

By 1900 John and Lenora were residents of East Baton Rouge.  In Nov., 1901 he applied for a Confederate pension in Clinton, East Feliciana Parish.  John died on Nov. 5, 1905 in Ponchatoula, Tangipahoa Parish and was buried at the Ponchatoula Cemetery. In Feb., 1906 Lenora applied for his pension and she died in 1908.

By 1900, Angus and Mary Amelia had nine children.  My maternal grandmother was their youngest, born on Aug. 6, 1900 in Baton Rouge.  She once told me that she had siblings born and died before her but did not give names.

Angus was born in Feb., 1857 in East Baton Rouge and died on May 10, 1935 at Pride.  His death certificate reports that he was buried at Bluff Creek Baptist Church cemetery in East Feliciana Parish but, a grave marker is not found.  The church has no records of earlier burials but I know that the cemetery is larger than the current fenced boundaries.  He may be outside in what is now wooded with no visible markers.  Mary died in Aug., 1925 at what was called Stoney Point, LA, near Pride and is said to be buried at a small cemetery at that place.  I have visited the cemetery but have not found a marker for her.

I know from growing up in the household with my maternal grandparents that my grandmother had several siblings that did not die until well after I was grown and married.  Her brother Tullie and his wife lived in Pride and we visited with them quite often.

Uncle Tullie and Aunt Amelia had three children, one of which was Emmett Ratcliff, born Apr. 27, 1907 and died Oct. 7, 1988 when he accidentally drowned while fishing in the Mississippi River near Port Allen in West Baton Rouge Parish.  He and Elma Robinson, a daughter of John R. and Mary A. Manning Robinson, were married c1929 in East Baton Rouge Parish.  Elma was born c1910 at Olive Branch in East Feliciana Parish and died on Dec. 31, 2003 at Zachary in East Baton Rouge.

They were the parents of only two children, Emmett, Jr., born c1930 and Doris.  She died nearly 11 years to the day following her mother's passing.

A brief description of her life in "show business" can be found at The Baton Rouge Advocate On-line.

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