Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi by The Goodspeed Publishing Co. 1891

J.N. Shirley was born in Lauderdale County Mississippi in April 1858, the fourth in a family of eight children born to J.P. and Sarah Martin Shirley. The father was born in Alabama and resided there until he was seventeen years of age, when he came to Mississippi and located in Lauderdale County, where he still lives. Here he was married, and on the plantation on which he is now living he reared  his family. He has made planting his chief occupation through life, never caring to enter political life, or to hold any public office.

J.N. Shirley began the battle of life for himself when sixteen years of age, and when only eighteen years of age was married to Miss Nancy Dunham of this county, and to them four sons and three daughters have been born: Arabella, Tolitha, Charles (deceased), Arthur, Julian and Justin (twins), and Ora.

Although Mr. Shirley commenced to make his own way in the world without a dollar, he has, by energy and strict attention to business, succeeded in getting a fair start in the world. In 1881 he opened a mercantile establishment, and to this calling has given the most of his attention since that time, but has also farmed more or less, and has been engaged in milling part of the time. He began business in the southeastern part of Lauderdale county, where he remained until 1889, at which time he sold out and moved to his present location, thirteen and a half miles north of Meridian, where he had purchased a plantation of one hundred and twenty acres. On his plantation he opened his store, his stock of goods being worth at least $3,000, from which he derives an annual income of $15,000. He is a young man of excellent business qualifications, and thus far has made a success of the enterprises in which he has engaged, when many others would have failed. He is progressive, public-spirited and intelligent, and makes a point of keeping well posted on the general topics of the day, and up with the times in the business affairs of life. By his honorable methods of doing business and his many amiable and worthy traits of character, he won the respect and esteem of all who know him, and he and his wife are gladly welcomed in the highest social circles. He and Mrs. Shirley are members of the Baptist Church and he has become liberal in his support of this as well as other churches. He is a patron of education; in fact all worthy enterprises receive his hearty support.


Part of a Letter dated March 9, 1982.......from Joe Shirley

Dear George,

I talked to Aunt Bettie who is the only living member of my father's family. She said John Pinkney and William Washington WERE brothers. His family often spent nights with them on their trips to Meridian, MS.Pink stayed with her family much of the time during his last years. Aunt Bettie doesn't remember him, but she remembers the family often talking about him. Her account of his death agrees with yours. She thinks he died the year of her birth (1895) because of her family talaking about him teaching her brother, Grady, to box when Grady was about 3 or 4 years old and Grady was 4 years older than Aunt Bettie. She also says Pink and Sarah Shirley are buried in the Martin cemetary, but she doesn't know the exact location. While I am on the subject of cemetaries: Aunt Bettie told me that your great-grandfather, James Norman Shirley, once owned a store at Whynot near the location of Bethany Baptist Church, which, incidentally was partially destroyed by fire recently. He donated the land for a cemetary to the church. His oldest child, Charlie, is buried there. The cemetary was enlarged recently, but the gravesite was in the southwest corner of the old cemetary.

I asked Aunt Bettie about the location of Shirley Field or Hill and she said she knew it as "The Wade Place". Her family lived there for awhile.

Aunt Bettie knew about the Nancy you mentioned. She said Nancy married a Griffis and had lived near Chunky, Mississippi. She said that two of Pink's boys went to Texas and stayed, John and Benjamin, and that her family had stayed in Texas for awhile after the turn of the century. They came back soon after her tenth birthday (1905)  to Mississippi.

The Shirley’s of Lauderdale County and Clarke County, Mississippi

Early Genealogy

Prepared By

George Norman Shirley, Jr.

February 24, 2002

The Shirley’s of Lauderdale and Clarke County, Mississippi are descendants of Moses Shirley who was born between 1765-1774. He is listed in the 1800 and 1810 Lenoir County, North Carolina census. In 1800, he is listed as age 26-45 with 2 sons under the age of 10 and 1 daughter under 10. His wife is listed as 16-26. In 1810, Moses is listed as age 26-45 again with 1 son 16-26, 1 son 10-16, 2 sons under 10, 1 daughter 10-16, 2 daughters under 10, and his wife 26-45.

Sometime after 1810, Moses moved with his family to Darlington County, South Carolina. In the 1820 census, he is listed as age 45+ with 2 sons 16-26, 2 sons 10-16, 1 daughter 10-16, and his wife 26-45. In 1823 Moses Shirley sold land on the north side of Lynches Creek. This deed was witnessed by John Shirley. Moses Shirley died in 1826 in Darlington County. His estate papers are on file in this county. The estate papers show surety bonds, asset sales, and distribution among heirs. The 7 children of Moses Shirley were listed as follows:

1. John Shirley

2. David Shirley

3. Martha Skinner

4. Nancy Hearon

5. Caty Mozingo

6. Moses Shirley

7. Nathan Shirley

Each of these children received the same distribution which amounted to $91.17 each. John Shirley appears to be the oldest son as he serves as the first administrator of the estate. Serving as his bondsmen were George Mozingo and John Beasley. George Mozingo was the father in law of the Moses Shirley listed above, as his daughter Susan married Moses Shirley, Jr. He may have also been the father in law of Caty Mozingo as her husband was named William Mozingo.

In December, 1826 John Shirley and his wife ELLY sold their plantation in Darlington County, South Carolina. This plantation consisted of 95 acres on the north side of Lynches Creek. This transaction is very significant as it identifies the name of John’s wife as ELLY. Shortly after this, Emanuel Hearon, the husband of the daughter Nancy Hearon, filed for letters of administration for Moses Shirley. The final distribution of the estate is dated January 6, 1829.

By 1830, most of the Shirley family had left Darlington County and moved to Dallas County, Alabama. In the 1830 Dallas County census you can find the following individuals listed together – John Shirley, Moses Shirley, Emanuel Hearon, George Mozingo, William Mozingo, and many Skinner families. Nathan Shirley is not listed in the 1830 census; but, he does witness a deed transaction, along with his brother John Shirley, in Dallas County in 1834 when George Mozingo was selling land to Emanuel Hearon. So, it appears that all of the children of Moses Shirley moved from Darlington County, South Carolina to Dallas County, Alabama with the exception of David Shirley. In the 1830 Dallas County, Alabama census John Shirley is listed as follows:

John Shirley age 30-40

Wife age 20-30 This would ELLY Shirley

2 boys under 5 This would be John Pinkney Shirley and William Washington Shirley

2 girls age 5-10 The names of these children are unkown

In the 1830’s, these families continued to move westward as they relocated to Washington County, Alabama. Part of Washington County later became Choctaw County in the late 1840’s. In 1837 we find William Mozingo and his wife Catherine selling land at Mt Sterling, Alabama, just east of Butler, Alabama. Witnessing this deed was John Shirley. Also in 1836, Emanuel Hearon and his Nancy sold land at Mt Sterling. Witnessing this deed was Nathan Shirley. Nathan Shirley also purchased property at Mt. Sterling. Thus, we have John Shirley, Nathan Shirley, Catherine Shirley, and Nancy Shirley all just east of Lauderdale County, Mississippi in the late 1830’s. The brother Moses Shirley was also in Washington County living a few miles south in the Gilbertown, Barrytown, Womack Hill area along with George Mozingo.

In the 1840 Washington County, Alabama census we find Moses Shirley. John Shirley is not listed but a Helen Shirley is listed just a few names below Moses. It appears that the census taker mistook Ellen for Helen, a very easy mistake to make. Since John is not listed, he must have died. Based on the age of one of their children, it appears he died around 1838. In the 1840 Washington County, Alabama census Helen( ELLY ) is shown as follows:

Helen Shirley age 40-50

1 son under 5 This would be J.B. Shirley

1 son age 5-10

2 sons age 10-15 This would be John Pinkney Shirley and William Washington Shirley

1 male age 20-30

1 male age 30-40

1 daughter age 5-10 This would be Nancy Shirley

2 daughters age 15-20

It is not known who the 2 older males were that are living with them in 1840 and we do not know the names of the two daughters age 15-20; however, they are still unmarried in the 1845 state census.

In the 1845 Mississippi state census for Lauderdale County we find ELLY SHIRLEY listed as follows:

Name Number of Males Number of Females


Three of the males would be John Pinkney Shirley, William Washington Shirley, and J.B. Shirley. The 4th male is unknown. The three daughters would be Nancy and the older daughters who are not known. ELLY is listed next to an Asa Waller and a Tedder. These families lived near John Pinkney Shirley as in 1880 John Pinkney Shirley sold land to a Robert Waller. Also listed just a few names from ELLY was a Miles G. Turner. We know that William Washington Shirley, Pinkney’s brother, named one of his son’s Miles Turner Shirley. This indicates a strong relationship between the Shirley’s and this Miles Turner. It is possible that one of the daughters married Miles Turner. His wife’s name was Catherine. The location of this Elly to this Miles Turner also indicates that she is the mother of John Pinkney Shirley and William Washington Shirley. The use of the name ELLY also connects this family to the Darlington County John and ELLY Shirley.

ELLY’S last name is unknown. One possibility is that she was a ward of George Mozingo. In Darlington County, South Carolina, George Mozingo was appointed guardian of three Seger children, one of which was an ELINOR SEGER. Another of the Segar chidlren was Abijah Segar. Abijah Segar can be found in Dallas County, Alabama in the 1820’s and could be the reason why George Mozingo and the Shirley’s went to Dallas County, Alabama in the late 1820’s. Further work is needed to verify her last name.

In 1850, we find John P. Shirley in the 1850 Lauderdale County, Mississippi census. He is living next to his father-in-law Daniel Martin. Daniel Martin lived on the Lauderdale/ Clarke County line in Section 34, Township 5, Range 17E. This appears to be in the same Township and Range as ELLY Shirley was living in 1845. We also find Nancy Shirley, age 18, living in Choctaw County, Alabama just across the line with a Mrs. Arabella McRae. None of the other children of John and Elly Shirley can be located in the census nor has Elly been found in the census.

2010 Update:

1850 Lauderdale Co MS Census

Nathan A. Shurly 41 Farmer
Emily A 34
Sarah C 13
Martha J 16 (is this another family?)
Moses 11
Louisa 6
Asberry 4 (m)
Nathaniel 6/12

1850 Lauderdale Co MS Census

John P. Shirley 22 AL
Sarah 21 MS
John 2 MS

1850 Choctaw Co Alabama Census

Moses Shirley 40  NC planter
Susan 39 SC
Mary 16 AL
Eliza 13
James 9
Sarah J 7
Susan 4
?Martha A 1

John Pinkney Shirley lived the rest of his life in Lauderdale County, MS. He was born either in Darlington County, South Carolina or in Dallas County, Alabama. In the census records, he states consistently that he was born in Alabama. However, in Biographical Memoirs of Mississippi in an article about James Norman Shirley, one of Pinkney’s sons, it is stated that Pinkney was born in South Carolina and brought to Alabama when he was a small child. It also states that he moved to Mississippi when he was about 17 years old. This would be about 1844. This would be consistent with being a child of ELLY SHIRLEY in the 1845 Lauderdale County, Mississippi census. He can be found in the 1860 and 1880 census records.

In 1860 John Pinkney Shirley and William Washington Shirley lived next to each other in Lauderdale County. Living in Pinkney’s house was a J.B. Shirley, age 22. Per family records, John Pinkney Shirley married Sarah Martin, the daughter of Daniel Martin and Susan Baxter, in 1846. In 1862, he joined the Confederate Army. He was captured at the Battle of Vicksburg and pardoned on July 9, 1863. At the time he was a private in Company C, 5th regiment of the Mississippi State Troops. In 1868 Pinkney was listed as a member of the Buckatunna Baptist Church along with his wife Sarah and brother William Washington Shirley. He was later a member of Bethany Baptist Church and in 1872 served as a delegate to the Liberty Baptist Association. John Pinkney Shirley was a charter member of Center Grove Baptist Church which was founded in mid 1800’s. Sarah Martin Shirley died on July 5, 1883. After Sarah died, John Pinkney Shirley married a Mrs. Martha J. Smith on April 13, 1887. This marriage was witnessed by one of his sons, James Norman Shirley. She was the daughter of Irby Reynolds and is listed next to Pinkney in the 1880 census. John Pinkney Shirley died on July 11, 1894 and his death is recorded in the Liberty Baptist Association minutes. He is believed to be buried in an unmarked grave in the Martin Family cemetery which is located on the Lauderdale/ Clarke county line between Causeyville and Energy. Per family history, Pinkney stopped while walking to one of his son’s house and sat down beneath a tree and simply died. I would assume this was a heart attack.


Property records are very limited on John Pinkney Shirley. In 1880 he sold to Robert Waller the following property: NW1/4 of the SW1/4 of Section 26 and the E1/2 of the NE1/4 of the NE1/4 of Section 34, Township 5, Range 17E. This property is adjacent to Daniel Martin and is assumed to be where ELLY SHIRLEY lived in the 1845 census. ELLY SHIRLEY lived next to Asa Waller. We know by looking at the names adjacent her in the 1845 census that she lived in this area. No record has been found where Pinkney purchased this property. In 1878, Pinkney is listed as owning the following property in Lauderdale County: the SW1/4 of the SE1/4 and the SE1/4 of the SW1/4 of Section 24, Township 5, Range 17E. In 1886 Pinkney purchased the following 40 acres from the Vicksburg and Meridian Railroad: The NE1/4 of the NW1/4 of Section 30, Township 5, Range 18E. In 1888, Pinkney mortgaged this property for $515 payable to his son James Norman Shirley. This mortgage is interesting since he also gave as collateral a chestnut mare called Ribbon and known as the Butler mare, 1 horse called Bill, 3 cows and calves, 30 head of sheep, 20 hogs, and 1 yoke of oxen and wagon, known as the William Shirley oxen. This mortgage was satisfied in full on December 7, 1891. He is listed in the 1889 Lauderdale County property tax records as owning this land. In 1889, he also sold this property to J.A. Butler. In the 1880 agricultural census John P. Shirley was shown as living next to his son James Norman Shirley and owning the following:

60 acres of tilled land 40 acres of woodland Value of farm - $ 500 Value of equipment - $ 5

Value of livestock-$345 Value of fences - $ 30

Farm production - $ 212 Number of horses – 3

Number of milch cows–7 Number of sheep – 10

Number of swine – 21 Number of poultry – 16

Products included Indian corn, oats, cotton, sugar, peaches, eggs and bees

Children of John Pinkney Shirley and his wife Sarah Martin were as follows:

1. John Martin Shirley

Born April 9, 1849 Died July 26, 1919

Buried in Big Creek Cemetery in Shepard, Texas

Married Elizabeth Chatham on June 20, 1868

2. Sarah Celeta Shirley

Born March 15, 1852 Died February 28, 1932

Buried in Shepard, Texas Died in Huntsville, Texas

Married James Wesley Hayman

3. William Washington Shirley

Born February 14, 1855 Died October 10, 1909

Buried in Martin Family Cemetery near Energy, Mississippi

Married Martha Jane Hendersen

4. James Norman Shirley

Born April 25, 1858 Died July 21, 1917

Buried in Desoto, Mississippi( Clarke County ) Cemetery

Married Nancy Catherine Dunnam

5. Susan ELLEN Shirley

Born February 1, 1861 Died April 16, 1937

Buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Meridian, Mississippi

Married Wade Hughes

It is important to note the significance of her name. Susan was the name of Sarah Martin’s mother and Ellen( ELLY ) would be the name of Pinkney’s mother.

6. Margaret Emeline Shirley

Born May 25, 1864 Died February 20, 1935

Buried in Center Grove Baptist Church Cemetery in Lauderdale Co.

Married Eli Dunnam

7. Benjamin Pinkney Shirley

Born April 9, 1867 Died October 18, 1923

Buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Livingston, Texas

Married Ella Cornelia White


Some people also believe that there was another child named Hulda Mcquire Shirley who was born on March 28, 1870 and died on October 20, 1872. However, I have no proof of this.


William Washington Shirley was born on January 1, 1830. Per census records he was born in Alabama. This should be in Dallas County, Alabama. In the 1900 census, he states that his father was born in North Carolina. He can be found in the 1860 Lauderdale County, MS census and the 1880 and 1900 Clarke County, MS census. He married Mary Buckalew, the daughter of Zebulon Buckalew and Mary “Polly” Railey. Mary was born on October 12, 1831 and died on October 16, 1900. W.W. Shirley also served in the confederate army and was captured at Vicksburg. He enlisted at Meridian. William Washington Shirley was a founding member of Mount Zion Baptist Church. He died on July 5, 1907 in Clarke County, MS and is buried in the Mount Zion Baptist Church cemetery. In the 1880 agricultural census for Clarke Couny, MS he is shown owning the following:

Number of tilled acres – 80 Number of woodland acres – 200

Value of farm - $ 1,000 Value of equipment - $ 4

Value of livestock - $ 400 Value of farm production - $ 620

Number of horses – 1 Number of oxen – 2

Number of swine – 16 Number of poultry – 59

Products included eggs, Indian corn, cotton, sugar, and potatoes

His children were as follows:

1. Frances E. Shirley

Born 1855

Married George Williams

2. William Bruner Shirley( Bruner was the name of Mary Buckalew’s brother)

Born August 2, 1857

Buried in Carmichael

Married Lou Ella Goodman

3. Miles Turner Shirley

Born January 9, 1859 Died May 16, 1940

Buried in Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery

Married Margaret M. Roberts

4. Jessie B. Shirley

Born March 3, 1862 Died August 29, 1938

Married Laura Bynum

5. Washington Forrest Shirley

Born June 19, 1864 Died April 23, 1950

Buried in Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery

Married Piety P. Tims

6. Mary Catherine Shirley

Born April 1, 1866 Died April 8, 1892

Buried in Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery

Married William Edward Goodman

7. Con Boyd Shirley

Born April 18, 1868 Died Febraury 14, 1932

Buried in Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery

Married Cicely Tims

8. Callie P. Shirley

Born November 20, 1869 Died January 14, 1947

Buried in Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery

Married Warner A. Tims

9. Ellis C. Shirley

Born 1872

Buried in Cleveland, Mississippi

Married Mattie Still

10. Nannie Shirley

Born October 19, 1873 Died June 17, 1918

Buried in Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery


It is important to note the name of child number 3 – Miles Turner – as this serves as a marker to Elly Shirley.

Accordingly to Bettie Reynolds, granddaughter of John Pinkney Shirley, Pinkney had a sister named Nancy who married a Griffis and lived near Chunky in Newton County, Mississippi. In the 1850 census for Choctaw County, Alabama we find an 18 year old Nancy Shirley living with a Mrs. Arabella McRae. Living just 2 houses from this Nancy was a H. Griffis. Two houses from H. Griffis in the other direction is Mary Buckaloo who married William Washington Shirley, living with her father Zebulon Buckaloo. This Nancy Shirley was born March 7, 1831 in Dallas County, Alabama. Apparently, the first wife of Harrison Griffis died and he remarried Nancy Shirley. Harrison and Nancy were members of Mount Zion Baptist Church. Harrison Griffis was one of the founding members. They lived in Clarke County, Mississippi and also Mobile County, Alabama. Harrison and Nancy eventually moved to Newton County, Mississippi and lived just northwest of Chunky. They are buried in the 16th Section Church Cemetery which is also called the Mt. Pleasant Church Cemetery. The ages on the tombstones for Harrison Griffis and his wife Nancy Griffis match the ages of the H. Griffis and Nancy Shirley in the 1850 Choctaw County, Alabama census. One of their children was Catherine Elizabeth who married a John Van Gressett. When she died in 1946, her death certificate stated that her father was Harrison Griffis and her mother was Nancy SHIRLEY. They had the following children:

1. Angie Griffis

2. Ceasar Griffis

3. Mary Alice Griffis

4. Tishie Griffis

5. Charles Harrison Griffis

6. Ellis Parker Griffis

7. Catherine Elizabeth Griffis

8. Nathan Troupe Griffis

9. Ella “Dutch” Griffis

10. Richard Clay Griffis

Included in the household of John Pinkney Shirley in 1850 is a 22 year old J.B.Shirley. This J.B. Shirley is also believed to be a son of ELLY and John Shirley. He appears to have died in the War Between the States. Confederate records list a J.B.Shirley who died at Charlottesville, Virginia on August 15, 1861. This J.B.Shirley was a member of the 13th Mississippi Regiment. One of the military cards on him lists his name as Pinkney Shirley, age 22. As can be seen, this is the same age as the J.B. living with Pinkney. No other records can be found on this J.B.Shirley.

The names of the other children are not known. The 2 daughters listed in the 1845 Lauderdale County census would have both been age 20-25. So, it is very probable that they married before the 1850 census. Unfortunately, the marriage records for this period in Lauderdale County, Mississippi do not exist. Also there is no record of the other male who would be 15-20 in 1850. It is possible that ELLY remarried and moved. But, I would guess at this point that she died sometime between 1845 and 1850.

Please direct any additions or corrections to:

George Norman Shirley, Jr.