Annie (Mason) NeelyX

Born: 1854

Location: Madison County

I am Annie (Mason) Neely. My father, Thomas Mayson, was born in Madison County Mississippi in 1854. He was eight years old when the American Civil War began in earnest. My mother, Cornelia Stokes, was born in Mississippi, June, 1864. In 1865, the 13th Amendment was adopted, abolishing slavery, releasing my father and other “colored” people from generations of slavery in the United States of America. My father married my mother, Saturday, June 13th 1885. I was born January 18th, 1886 in Madison County. While my father could read and write, my mother could not. I learned to read and write and do farm labor. After 1910 our family dropped the “y” in Mayson, accepting “Mason” as the proper spelling of our name. For work, I hired out as a farm laborer. I was married twice. My only child was born November 16th, 1907. During the 1930s, in the middle of the nation’s great economic Depression, my son (Willie) and his family followed other relatives leaving the racial and economic repression of the South. They traveled north to Chicago seeking jobs and a better life. They got settled there. I was about 54 years old when I joined them in Chicago. My sister, Mattie Mason Bradshaw, came to Chicago in the 1920s. She managed a barbeque restaurant—The Alabama Barbeque Pit. I and other relatives worked there when we first arrived in Chicago. We lived and worked in an area called the near Westside, not far from the newly opened Chicago Stadium (replaced by the United Center today). I departed this world in 1969, leaving great- grandchildren who called me “Grand Stanley.” Decades later several great-great grandchildren are living in the Chicago area. One great-great grandchild now lives in Australia, and I have two great great grandchildren who were born and raised right there in the Copper Country. I guess you call them “Yoopers.” I must say, it’s all quite distant from the Madison County Mississippi of my youth. Willie Melton III Great Grandson Houghton, Michigan

Contributed by: Willie Melton III, Houghton, Michigan