Thursday, June 8, 2017

Review of Commandant of Auschwitz

At the behest of Polish officials, Rudolf Hoess composed his autobiography in the weeks between his trial for the role he played in the atrocities of the Holocaust and his eventual execution. Commandant of Auschwitz is Hoess’ account of his life growing up in rural Germany, his service in the Germany military, and his various positions of authority in the Nazi government’s administration of concentration camps. Although lacking in prose and form, Hoess’ autobiography leaves readers with an intimate look at the mind of one of the Holocaust’s most notorious criminals.
Rudolf Hoess had a seemingly idyllic childhood in Germany. Hoess’ father, Franz Xavier Hoess, raised Hoess on rigid military principles and in a deeply religious Catholic environment.[1] Hoess asserts that his father taught that the highest duty was to help those in need. Given the religious atmosphere and strong awareness of duty, Hoess was groomed to become a member of the clergy upon his maturation. However, two events occurred that would alter this plan: the death of Hoess’ father and the betrayal of a confessor.[2]
With the outbreak of World War I, Hoess’ life in the German military began. He first joined the Red Cross, and, later served in the same regiment that his father and grandfather had served.[3] While a member of a German volunteer corps, Hoess was complicit in a murder. He was convicted and sentenced to ten years of hard labor in a Prussian prison.[4] After serving six years in prison, Hoess eventually answered Himmler’s call to join the active ranks of the SS. Hoess was trained to become a member of the unit associated with guarding concentration camps. [5] Thus, Hoess’ fate as one of the Holocaust’s most infamous murderers was sealed.
Commandant of Auschwitz elucidates several scenes from Hoess’ life that help readers better understand the inner-workings of the Commandant’s mind. The first involved a confessor’s betrayal and a shattering of Hoess’ religious views. According to Hoess, childhood horseplay in a stairway resulted in a classmate’s broken ankle. Hoess made a full confession of the event to a priest and resolved to explain the incident to his father later. However, the confessor related the event to Hoess’ father that very night. Hoess claims that this event alone destroyed his faith in the sacred priesthood.[6] This event is the first that demonstrates how Hoess places the blame on others for his own actions.
The next significant event of Hoess’ life is the murder in which he played a part, the following trial, and his subsequent prisoner experience. This event, too, shows how Hoess again refuses to accept full responsibility for his decisions and actions. Hoess glosses over an in-depth description of the brutal murder of a man who was a supposed Communist spy. Hoess admits to being present, but denies being the ringleader nor the person chiefly concerned. Admittedly, Hoess was dumbfounded at his conviction and sentence to ten years of hard labor.[7] Hoess writes that as he left the courtroom for the prison that he and his comrades were “in a boisterous mood, shouting and singing our old songs of battle and defiance.”[8] What Hoess seems unable to understand is that he was punished for this murder, when many murders of the same sort were perpetrated but the murderers were not pursued or prosecuted. Other murderers were able to get away with their crimes, but he is punished. Here, Hoess implies that the rules should be different for him. He truly believes that he did not deserve punishment.
Hoess’ propensity to blame others manifests itself while he was serving as Commandant of Auschwitz. The fate of millions of Jews, Polish prisoners of war, gypsies, and other prisoners of Auschwitz is well-known and documented. Hoess shirks the blame for the horrid and inhumane conditions of concentration camp life and the immediate extermination of countless Jews by blaming his superiors and those working underneath him. He claims that he was given too many duties to be able to adequately administer at Auschwitz. “I could not keep step with the rapid expansion of the camp or the constant increase in the numbers of prisoners.”[9] He states that he was constantly being pulled away from Auschwitz on endeavors that did not involve the administration of camp life at Auschwitz.[10] Hoess says that the guards did not obey his wishes, that they were intellectually limited, obstinate, and malicious. He admonishes other officials as being inefficient.[11] In all, Hoess attempts to show that his hands were basically tied and that he did the very best he could given his limited circumstances at Auschwitz.  
            Perhaps the most ironic aspect of Commandant of Auschwitz and Hoess’ life is his personal experience of prison life. Hoess devotes quite a bit of space to the description of his time served in the Prussian prison. He describes prison guards who did not care for the physical and emotional well-being of prisoners. He admits to countless occasions where prisoners complained of the lack of administrative support over prisoners’ worries and anxieties.[12] Hoess’ description of being bullied by three guards seems petty and frivolous, especially in light of the atrocities committed at Auschwitz. Hoess seems to have a complete disconnect between his experiences of prison life and of that of the prisoners at Auschwitz under his command. He is able to distance himself perfectly from the plight and sufferings of millions, but shows disdain that prison guards in Prussia did not show him more humanity.
            Hoess is an avid proponent of work in concentration camp life. He argues that work can serve to make the existence of prison life more bearable. He portrays his own experience with work in prison as a cathartic exercise that spared him hours of useless and enervating self-pity. It is here that readers get close to observing Hoess appreciating an understanding of the inhumane working conditions at Auschwitz. He maintains that work is essential for imprisonment, encourages discipline in prisoners, and makes them better able to withstand the demoralizing effect of confinement. He admits that this work philosophy “only applies where the conditions are normal.” [13] Hoess justifies his administration at Auschwitz by arguing that he made decisions with the prisoner in mind.
            Hoess is able to reconcile his actions by maintaining that he merely followed orders, and generally, those were the orders of Theodor Eicke, a high-ranking SS official. Hoess states that at times he felt that camp life was too severe, but that Eicke demanded even greater harshness.[14] Hoess also blames Eicke for giving form to concentration camps and serving as a model for the construction and administration of the extermination camps. Hoess criticizes Eicke for being narrow-minded and unable to see sufficiently far ahead to better construct and administrate the concentration camps.[15]
            Commandant of Auschwitz is beautifully juxtaposed with the introduction by Primo Levi. Levi humbly states that had Hoess grown up in a different age the his life and the lives of millions of Holocaust victims would have been different. Levi quickly asserts that Hoess’ autobiography is filled with white and black lies, and language that attempts to paint Hoess as the greatest victim. It is easy to imagine the heartbreak Levi experienced as he read Commandant of Auschwitz. Despite the horror, Levi finds Hoess’ account a necessary part of History, calling the work “complete and explicit.”[16] Hoess mirthlessly describes the manner in which so many victims were gassed, and provides at least a baseline for totaling the amount of victims. Levi’s notes and comments throughout Commandant of Auschwitz point out Hoess’ clear biases, distortions, and omissions. While Levi finds Hoess’ account necessary, I find Levi’s short introduction and notes indispensably invaluable.  
            Part of what makes Commandant of Auschwitz so horrifying is the believability of the author’s testimony. While not under strict duress during the writing, Hoess expressed appreciation for the task. He admits to enjoying the work that writing provided. While any event of his life or the descriptions of his fellow perpetrators have to be taken at face value, the perpetration Hoess describes is accurate. I believe he honestly recounts the machinations of concentration camp life from the viewpoint of the Commandant.

Hoess, Rudolf. The Commandant of Auschwitz. Intro. Primo Levi. London: Phoenix Press, 1995.

[1] Rudolf Hoess, The Commandant of Auschwitz Intro. By Primo Levi (London: Phoenix Press, 1995), 31.
[2] Ibid., 32.
[3] Ibid., 36.
[4] Ibid., 46.
[5] Ibid., 64.
[6] Ibid., 34.
[7] Ibid., 45.
[8] Ibid., 46.
[9] Ibid., 205.
[10] Ibid., 111.
[11] Ibid., 108.
[12] Ibid., 52.
[13] Ibid., 77.
[14] Ibid., 86.
[15] Ibid., 240.
[16] Ibid., 25.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


1. Juan Trinidad Johnson, Jr. - May 1, 1935 Jim Wells County, Texas
Lydia Martinez
Juan Trinidad Johnson, III
Maria Johnson
Lydia Johnson
Mario Johnson 

2. Juan Trinidad Johnson, Sr. - September 6, 1903 Texas - February 14, 1972 Premont, Jim Wells County, Texas  buried in the Premont Cemetery
m. July 13, 1934 Jim Wells County, Texas
Julia Pena - April 15, 1910 Texas - October 23, 1993 Tarrant County, Texas
Juan Trinidad Johnson
Maria Marta Johnson
Maria Elva Johnson
Tomas Rene Johnson
Abelardo Johnson
Donato Johnson
Albeso Johnson
Enamencio Johnson
Gilberto Johnson

3. Enemencio Johnson - October 31, 1862 Nuevo Leon, Mexico - June 30, 1946 Premont, Jim Wells County, Texas  buried in the Premont Cemetery
m. 1888
Marta Rodriquez 1869 Texas
Paula Johnson
Amanda Johnson
Juanita Johnson
Enrique Johnson
Maria Johnson
Ana Johnson
Enemencio Johnson
Rosa Johnson
Juan Trinidad Johnson
Elena Johnson
Jose M Johnson

4. Pablo Johnson 1820
Februnia Salinas 1840
Ramon Johnson
Rita Johnson
Enemencio Johnson
Merced Johnson
Juanita Johnson

sister-in-law's ex-husband's family

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Review of "Imperial Reckoning" by Caroline Elkins

Imperial Reckoning
            Caroline Elkins is a professor of history and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya is a sober recounting of Britain’s attempt at imperialism in Kenya. Not just a British-version of colonialism in Kenya, what sets this book apart from accepted histories of colonialism in Kenya is Elkins’ attention to the Kikuyu version of Mau Mau.
Imperial Reckoning presents the Mau Mau rebellion from the point of view of the Kikuyu and explores the atrocities they faced during the uprising. The Mau Mau rebellion is normally presented as a brutal and savage perpetrated by the Kikuyu. The Kikuyu did commit their share of violent crimes on British colonials living in Kenya. This, coupled with their refusal to disavow Mau Mau oaths while under detainment have been used as evidence of Kikuyu savagery. However, Elkins asks readers to reconsider this assumption and examine evidence against the numerous atrocities committed by colonial forces.
            Elkins lays the foundation for the uprising by examining land in Kenya. For the Kikuyu, land was fundamental to being Kikuyu (14). Given the British’s imperial habits in other parts of the world, land was fundamental to empire. In Kenya, the British saw an African population for labor, and land that would meet their needs for imperialism (15). Elkins explains the social hierarchy that emerged in Kenya: landed British colonialists at the top, African tribal chiefs somewhere in the middle, and landless African laborers at the bottom. The Kikuyu had previously been a stateless society, governed by councils of elders and lineage heads (18). The Kikuyu had previously used the land to meet their needs without restriction. Elkins argues that the colonization of Kenya took place to exploit the country’s natural resources and labor (55). In time, the Kikuyu, under the influence of London-educated Kenyan native Jomo Kenyattta, would foment a rebellion known as Mau Mau.  
As the rebellion unfolded, the governor of Kenya, Sir Evelyn Baring, and colonial official Thomas Askwith devised methods of detainment and rehabilitation to quell Mau Mau. Elkins lists many administrative and governmental measures taken to punish the Kikuyu: repressive laws, taxation, imprisonment, legal floggings, and terror. For Baring’s part, his State of Emergency produced communal punishment, curfews, control of mass and individual movements of people, confiscation of land and property, censorship and banning of publications, disbanding of all African political organizations, control of labor, suspension of due process, and detention without trial.
Straying from the traditional argument that the Kikuyu were the brutal party, Elkins describes the manners in which Mau Mau suspects were subjected to upon intake and detention. During the initial screening process, suspects would be interrogated in order to elicit information and confess Mau Mau affiliations (63). There were two outcomes for the Kikuyu after this screening process. The first would be deportation to Kikuyu reserves, which was territory set aside especially for the Kikuyu people, but land that could not agriculturally sustain the enormous numbers of Kikuyu sent there. The second outcome of screening was deportation to a detention camp. These camps were used for the Kikuyu who refused to confess Mau Mau oaths or affiliations.
It is generally at this part of Imperial Reckoning where Elkins upholds her thesis and begins her assault on the “paternalism” of the British in Kenya. She begins to explain in severe detail the conditions in the Kikuyu reserves and detention camps. Kikuyu would be subjected to extreme humiliation upon arrival at detention camps. Strip searches, sanitation dips, and brutal beatings greeted the Kikuyu (134). In addition, the British supposed Africans had lower health and sanitation standards, permitting disease to run rampant (143). Several compounds held the designation as the place where “hard core” Kikuyu would be sent. There, Kikuyu were met with intense pain and degradation as the foundation of camp life (156). The vituperation experienced by detainees is incredibly unimaginable.
            I think Elkins provides an interesting and normally silent account of life in the detention camps of Kenya. Despite the terror of camp life, the detainees created their own social world and rules to survive their detention. Survival and resistance strategies abounded. For instance, in order to speak without subjecting themselves to beatings, some Kikuyu would feign mental illness and pretend to speak to the wall or yell incoherently. It was only the Kikuyu who could understand, thus undermining the constant control they were normally subjected to while in the cruelty camps.
            Elkins examines the rehabilitation methods as put forth by Askwith. Under Askwith’s rehabilitation plan, detainees would be offered domestic and agricultural classes, education, and other skills that would ease assimilation into British society. After intense research, Elkins was able to find little if any evidence of rehabilitation taking place in detention camps. When British officials were questioned about the rehabilitation process, they would either lie or completely fabricate rehabilitation measures. I think that it is in the realm of rehabilitation measures that the British erringly regard their imperialist actions as to the benefit of Kikuyu society. However, from the Kikuyu point of view rehabilitation was non-existent.
            As detention camps came to represent unimaginable repression and brutality for the Kikuyu, Governor Baring instituted a new policy of villagization. The goal of villagization was to contain, control, and discipline Mau Mau women (240). British colonialists considered Kikuyu women the foundation of Africa. Women faced forced communal labor, public terror, torture, and malnutrition. Many women also had the responsibility of caring for and providing for children. Elkins describes villagization as detention camps in all but name. These villages were surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. Villagization served to disrupt the supply line between women and the remaining forest fighters, thus helping to root out Mau Mau (250).
            The most brutal detention camps were reserved for hard-core male Mau Mau suspects. These men experienced a form of violent and systematic brutality officially sanctioned by Governor Baring (328). Under the tutelage of district officer Terrance Gavaghan, Kikuyu men were under a perpetual atmosphere of fear and uncertainty that intended to break them of their Mau Mau support (244). Gavaghan’s compound, Mwea, was the site of indescribable sexual and physical abuse, public torture, and violence. After reading Imperial Reckoning, it is hard to imagine any other perspective of Mau Mau that could be believably brought forth other than inhumane violence. Elkins convincingly argues and provides evidence that British colonial leaders repeatedly “obfuscated the facts, skirted the issues, and lied” about the procedures taking place in detention camps (332). 
            Interestingly, Elkins points to Jomo Kenyatta as being implicitly complicit in the cover up of British brutality in Kenya. Kenyatta refused to speak of the past horrors that Mau Mau suspects survived. Elkins argues that Kenyatta sacrificed the past Kenya for the future Kenya. Mau Mau men, women, and children have never been memorialized. No African loyalist or British official was prosecuted (360).
            Part of what makes Imperial Reckoning so clarifying for history, is Elkins’ use of sources to formulate and construct her narrative. Not satisfied with the limited British sources, Elkins conducted oral testimonies of not just Kikuyu who lived through the Mau Mau rebellion, but also the interviews of British officials complicit in the adherence to colonial policy in response to the uprising (374). Elkins admittedly struggled with the believability of the Mau Mau suspects’ harrowing ordeals in camps and on the reserves. However, she was struck with the consistency of oral testimonies over time and space. Elkins was also able to corroborate the oral data with what little did survive in the written record after the British denial and cover-up.  
            British imperialism operated under a cloak of protective civilization. I think this book, better than any other this semester, demonstrates how the British continually justified imperialism by holding on to paternalism. The British believed they had a duty and moral obligation to redeem the heathens of the world (5). Elkins found little evidence of the British in Kenya as paternalistic reformers. Imperial Reckoning serves as evidence of the British’s brutality. The author’s investigative skills are impressive. Despite the British’s attempts to cover-up notorious atrocities, Elkins presents a view from the Kikuyu side. In the end, the British won the long, hard war against Mau Mau, but lost the war for Kenya (353).

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Edna Davis Fairley

birth: June 1883
location: Texas

father: James Anderson Monroe Davis
mother: Malissa Jane Castellaw

spouse: Cornelius Ethel Fairley

1900 census

1910 census

1920 census

1930 census

1940 census


children with Cornelius Ethel Fairley:

H C Fairley - 1903

C E Fairley - 1910 census

1910 census
location: Scurry County, Texas
date: April 20, 1910

C E Fairley  head  male  white  32  married - 10 years  Texas  farm labor
E P Fairley  wife  female  white  26  married - 10 years  3, 3  Texas
H L Fairley  son  male  white  9  single  Texas
H C Fairley  son  male  white  7  single  Texas
U M Fairley  son  male  white  4  single  Texas

"United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 April 2017), E P Fairley in household of C E Fairley, Justice Precinct 3, Scurry, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 234, sheet 5A, family 80, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1588; FHL microfilm 1,375,601.

C E Fairley - 1920 census

1920 census
location: Kern County, California
date: February 4, 1920

C E Fairley  head  male  white  41  married  Texas  machinist  oil company
Edna Fairley  wife  female  white  36  married  Texas
Herbert L Fairley  son  male  white  19  single  Texas
Houston Fairley  son  male  white  17  single  Texas
Uel Fairley  son  male  white  14  single  Texas

"United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 April 2017), Edna Fairley in household of C E Fairley, Township 16, Kern, California, United States; citing ED 112, sheet 53A, line 5, family 489, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 100; FHL microfilm 1,820,100.

C E Fairley - 1930 census

1930 census
location: Los Angeles, Long Beach County, California
date: April 16, 1930

C E Fairley  head  male  white  53  married  Texas  oil field
Edna Fairley  wife  female  white  46  married  Texas
Dr. H C Fairley  son  male  white  27  single  Texas  dentist

"United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 April 2017), Edna Fairley in household of C E Fairley, Long Beach, Los Angeles, California, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 1131, sheet 23A, line 22, family 691, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 130; FHL microfilm 2,339,865.

Felix Davis - 1920 census

1920 census
location: Pleasanton, Atascosa County, Texas
date: February 4-5, 1920

Felix M Davis  head  male  white  41  married  Texas  tank labor
Nellie Davis  wife  female  white  39  married  Texas
Percy H Davis  son  male  white  17  single  Texas
Leon E Davis  daughter  female  white  14  single  Texas
Graham Davis  son  male  white  11  single  Texas
Warren D Davis  son  male  white  9  single  Texas

"United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 April 2017), Felix M Davis, Pleasanton, Atascosa, Texas, United States; citing ED 11, sheet 13B, line 77, family 48, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1773; FHL microfilm 1,821,773.

Felix Monroe Davis - death

location: Pleasanton, Atascosa County, Texas
date: December 8, 1948

"Texas Deaths, 1890-1976," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 5 December 2014), Felix Monroe Davis, 08 Dec 1948; citing certificate number 50266, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2,223,077.

Felix Davis - 1930 census

1930 census
location: North Pleasanton, Atascosa County, Texas

Felix Davis  head  male  white  51  married  age @ 1st marriage 20  Texas
Nellie Davis  wife  female  white  50  married  age @ 1st marriage 19  Texas
Grayum Davis  son  male  white  22  single  Texas
Warren Davis  son  male  white  20  single  Texas

"United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 April 2017), Nellie Davis in household of Felix Davis, North Pleasanton, Atascosa, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 12, sheet 2A, line 35, family 36, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 2288; FHL microfilm 2,342,022.

F M Davis - 1940 census

1940 census
location: Atascosa County, Texas
date: April 8, 1940

F M Davis  head  male  white  60  married  Texas  car inspector for railroad
Nellie Davis  wife  female  white  58  married  Texas
Davis Davis  son  male  white  20  single  Texas

"United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 April 2017), Nellie Davis in household of F M Davis, North Pleasanton, Justice Precinct 8, Atascosa, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 7-12, sheet 4B, line 71, family 69, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 3979.

Felix Monroe Davis

birth: May 12, 1878
location: Athens, Henderson County, Texas

father: James Anderson Monroe Davis
mother: Malissa Jane Castellaw

spouse: Nellie Martin

1880 census

1910 census

World War I draft card

1920 census

1930 census

1940 census



children with Nellie Martin:

Oliver Davis - 1902
Hubert Percy Davis - 1903
Leon E Davis - 1906
Grayum Davis - 1909
Warren David Davis - 1911

Monroe Davis - 1910 census

1910 census
location: Live Oak County, Texas
date: April 25, 1910

Monroe F Davis  head  male  white  31  married - 10 years  Texas
Nellie Davis  wife  female  white  29  married - 10 years  4, 4  Texas
Oliver Davis  son  male  white  9  single  Texas
Percy Davis  son  male  white  8  single  Texas
Leon Davis  daughter  female  white  5  single  Texas
Grayum Davis  son  male  white  2  single  Texas
James Davis  father  male  white  77  widowed  Georgia

"United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 April 2017), Nellie Davis in household of Monroe F Davis, Justice Precinct 1, Live Oak, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 93, sheet 5B, family 82, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1574; FHL microfilm 1,375,587.

Margaret Amanda Davis

birth: May 1876
location: Texas

father: James Anderson Monroe Davis
mother: Malissa Jane Castellaw

spouse: Charles Madison Kelly

1880 census

1900 census

1910 census

1920 census

1930 census

children with Charles Kelly:

Eva Kelly - 1894
Elizabeth Jane Kelly - 1896
Charles B Kelly - 1898
Ida Kelly - 1901
Warren Kelly - 1903
Melba Kelly - 1906
Wallace Kelly - 1908

Charles Kelly - 1930 census

1930 census
location: Bailey County, Texas
date: April 2, 1930

Charles M Kelly  head  male  white  69  married  age @ 1st marriage - 23  Missouri
Maggie Kelly  wife  female  white  53  married  age @ 1st marriage - 17  Texas

"United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 April 2017), Charles M Kelly, Precinct 2, Bailey, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 3, sheet 1A, line 33, family 11, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 2289; FHL microfilm 2,342,023.

Charles Kelly - 1920 census

1920 census
location: Sylvester, Fisher County, Texas
date: March 12-13, 1920

Charlie M Kelly  head  male  white  58  married  Missouri
Maggie Kelly  wife  female  white  49  married  Texas
Warren Kelly  son  male  white  16  single  Texas
Melba Kelly  daughter  female  white  13  single  Texas
Wallace Kelly  son  male  white  10  single  Texas
Henry Williams  hired man  male  black  widowed  Louisiana

"United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 April 2017), Wallace Kelly in household of Charlie M Kelly, Sylvester, Fisher, Texas, United States; citing ED 77, sheet 9B, line 59, family 176, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1796; FHL microfilm 1,821,796.

Charles Kelly - 1910 census

1910 census
location: Midland County, Texas
date: April 26-26, 1910

Charles Kelley  head  male  white  49  married - 16 years  Missouri
Maggie Kelley  wife  female  white  34  married - 16 years  7, 7  Texas
Eva Kelley  daughter  female  white  16  single  Texas
Bettie Kelley  daughter  female  white  14  single  Texas
Charles Kelley  son  male  white  12  single  Texas
Ida Kelley  daughter  female  white  9  single  Texas
Warren Kelley  son  male  white  7  single  Texas
Melba Kelley  daughter  female  white  4  single  Texas
Wallace Kelley  son  male  white  1 4/12  single  Texas

"United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 April 2017), Eva Kelley in household of Charls Kelley, Justice Precinct 1, Midland, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 163, sheet 6A, family 83, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1576; FHL microfilm 1,375,589.

Charles Madison Kelly - 1900 census

1900 census
location: Scurry County, Texas
date: June 16, 1900

C M Kelley  head  white  male  Jan 1862  38  married - 7 years  Missouri
Maggie Kelley  wife  white  female  May 1876  24  married - 7 years  3, 3  Texas
Eva Kelley  daughter  white  female  Feb 1894  6  single  Texas
Bettie Kelley  daughter  white  female  March 1896  4  single  Texas
Charles Kelley  son  white  male  June 1898  2  single  Texas

"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 April 2017), Maggie Kelley in household of C M Kelley, Justice Precincts 3-5, Scurry, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 135, sheet 11B, family 196, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,668.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Spies in Arabia - Review

Spies in Arabia
Priya Satia, writes Spies in Arabia: The Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain’s Covert Empire in the Middle East to examine the establishment of the pre-war intelligence community in the Middle East and the eventual establishment of Britain’s covert empire following World War I. Of particular focus is the cultural characteristics of Edwardian intelligence agents and Britain’s use of air control in Arabia. Satia greatly contributes to the scholarship of British occupation in Arabia, and Spies in Arabia is a lively and interesting work.
            Satia begins by answering the question of why Arabia was important to the British. The region provided a land route to India where the British ruled indirectly as we read in Ideologies of the Raj by Thomas R. Metcalf (3). Arabia also provided a place for heroic action, which took the form of intelligence gathering. This beginning is important for our purposes because we can better understand why the British desired a presence in Arabia and how they overcame obstacles there. The British relied on intelligence agents for information from the interior of a land shrouded in mystique. Due to a weakened military force in South Africa, the rise of German power and imperial ambition, and political rumblings inside the Ottoman Empire, it became ever more important for the British to improve intelligence gathering methods in the Middle East (15).
            The cultural world of British agents proved the most interesting for me to read. Satia argues that upper-class British citizens with an eye towards literary careers found in Arabia a place to exploit their dreams (61). The agents sought a respite from political changes happening in Britain. In short, Arabia provided redemption from industrial, social, and political life in Edwardian Britain (72).  Satia argues that British agents’ fascination with Arabia shaped information gathering. “Interest in Arabia flooded Edwardian society just as that society had begun to steep itself in metaphysical enquiry” (96). In general, the British considered Arabia as a land of myth, mystique, and wreathed in an atmosphere of unreality (91). No other region had a biblical past quite like Arabia and Satia surmises that that past added a sense of otherness and mystical aura (84). Desert travel was travel back in time that required the agents to be healthy and not dependent on the trappings of everyday Edwardian society. Gertrude Bell believed that minimalism in the desert was ideal for spiritual and aesthetic redemption (92). Most agents argued for immersive travel through the Middle East to gather greater insight into the area. They were profoundly interested in the deepest secrets of creation while at the same time gathering information on politically- and militarily-useful information (97). It is understandable that the romantic years of the war and post-war offered opportunities for intelligence gatherers to fulfill dreams of adventure and storybook ardor (80). Arabia was the natural choice for adventure-seeking intelligence agents.
            In laying the groundwork for a covert empire, Satia explains the challenges the British intelligence agents had as they attempted to “Orientalize” themselves while collecting information. Despite adopting styles, habits, and mannerisms of Middle Eastern peoples, they experienced quite a bit of trouble in their endeavors. British agents characterized the Middle Eastern people as never telling the truth, estimating, or otherwise being coy. Natives were also known to mix fact with mysticism. For example, in a report submitted as intelligence by Mark Sykes, he relayed a mythical story as told by a sheikh in response to an inquiry about agricultural activities in the area. The sheikh went on to tell a story about two owls falling in love and the issues they encountered. Sykes made use of the story because it was generally believed by the agents that even the most outlandish recounting contained some truth or useful information (100). This is just one example of many that Satia uses to clarify for readers the difficulty agents faced. They were left to their own devices to translate what they had gathered into useful information. In addition, it is clear from Satia’s chapter about the cultural world of the agents that they used the intelligence gathered as an outlet to hone their literary skills.
            If the agents had trouble gathering information, Satia describes how perhaps the environment itself gave them more trouble. The British agents had never before encountered a region as filled with mysticism and history as they did in Arabia. Arabia was a land wreathed in an atmosphere of unreality. Not only did the British have trouble surveying the area, for a time they thought it an impossibility. Agents described the land as infinite, immeasurable, interminable, and featureless. How could the British map a country that was constantly blown into a new form every day? The Royal Geographical Society admitted that Arabia was almost wholly without survey in any scientific sense (105).  I think Satia’s treatment of how the British reacted to the land of imprecise borders, mirage, and myth is her greatest gift to Britain’s history in Arabia.
            Satia expertly weaves together the difficulties experienced by the agents in gathering useful information and the trouble the agents experienced with the environment. The author makes it seem like air control was a foregone conclusion in the attempts of colonialism by the British in Arabia. Surveillance practices and methods of coercion became dependent on air control; this turned Arabia into an arm of the British Empire but without outright British occupation.
Given the fact-finding issues with native Middle Easterners and the challenges of desert life and travel, I think Satia presents a convincing argument that the British were faced with more challenges in Arabia than either India, Africa, or China. T.E. Lawrence is credited with being the first to realize the need for aerial control over the region. Satia expertly sets up the need for aerial surveys. By utilizing aircraft, agents were able to extract truth from an essentially deceptive land (159). Air control allowed easier communication between tribes and agents. The Royal Air Force was able to aerially patrol Arabia from a network of bases and coordinate information from agents on the ground in order to bombard subversive or corrupt villages and tribes (240). Air control meant control without occupation and a secret, covert empire.
Agents on the ground in Iraq believed that country was especially suited to aerial surveillance. Given the nature of the environment in Iraq, there were many landing zones, little cover to insurgents, and the British were able to make use of far-flung bases allowed the British to radiate power throughout the country. The British justified air control by believing that air control was chivalrous warfare (242).
Overall what Satia is able to prove, is that although the British began with knowledge gathering in mind, their quest evolved into a struggle for power in Arabia. “The quest for knowledge became entangled with a quest for power” (137). To gather knowledge, the agents simply needed to immerse themselves in Middle Eastern culture and landscape (138). As the war ended and the use of air control increased, the quest for power manifest itself in the covert empire. Air control was used because the more overt colonial rule was a political impossibility (262). The only way the British could keep their hand in Middle Eastern matters was to rule aerially, and thus, covertly. Satia ties this to today’s events in the Middle East where it’s more economically and politically acceptable to control from the air (think: the bombs recently dropped in Syria) than “boots on the ground.”
Generally, I liked this thematically organized book. The reader’s initial impression may be of a haphazard and overwhelming organization, but as one reads the chapters Spies in Arabia becomes easier to comprehend. This book is not for the common reader, nor someone with no prior knowledge of British Imperialism in the Middle East. Satia gives few hints on what an Edwardian character was, nor does she clarify the cultural or political differences between a consul, intelligence gatherer, or agent.
I think there was one aspect missing from the work, and that is the tie between aerial control and wireless technology. One could not have been very useful to the British without the other. While Satia does write that ground agents did not become indispensible with the rise of air control, she never actually examines why.

Finally, the similarities between the problems encountered with mapping the area during the British colonial project in Arabia call to mind Google’s general problem in the same area. If you pull up Google Street View, “Arabia” is a blank map, especially when compared to other parts of the world. Although the reasons why are different, even today the region still maintains an aura of mystery. Today’s society has the benefit of high-technology satellites, drones, GPS, and imagery mapping, but “Arabia” is still shrouded in mystery on one of the Internet’s greatest travel tools.  

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Catherine Smith loose ends

Name:Andrew SmithAge:48Birth Year:abt 1802Birthplace:South CarolinaHome in 1850:Division 11, Carroll, Georgia, USAGender:MaleFamily Number:416Household Members:
Andrew Smith48
Nancy Smith53
Margaret Smith18
Sarah Smith16
Martha Smith14
Nancy Smith13
Catharine Smith10
Stephen Smith6

Name:A Smith
Birth Year:abt 1810
Birth Place:South Carolina
Home in 1860:Beat 2, Cass, Texas
Post Office:Hickory Hill
Family Number:248
Value of real estate:View image
Household Members:
A Smith50
A Smith63
S Smith30
C Smith20
J A S Smith18