The Family of Jack Whitten, Jr.
and Martha Watkins


This page last updated September 12, 2009.

Jack Whitten, Jr. was born in 1878 in the Noxubee Hill community of northern Winston County, Mississippi. He married Martha Jane Watkins on September 13, 1902 in Louisville, MS. Their first child, Parkes, was born in 1904, followed by two girls: Mary Sue in 1909 and Lura in 1910. Lura told me that there was also an infant son who was stillborn and buried in an unmarked grave in Noxubee Hill Cemetery in Winston County, MS. There is an unmarked grave at Noxubee Hill next to Jack's grandmother Caroline Whitten. Could this be Jack's son? This baby was probably born during the five year span between Parkes and Mary Sue. Three of Jack's brothers were involved in the Whitten Killing of November 1908. Jack's son Parkes could remember Jack and Martha taking food at night into the woods to feed Jack's fugitive brothers.

According to their daughter-in-law Girtha Whitten, Jack and Martha were very friendly, but Martha could be mean and Jack contrary and stubborn. Jack wore black, knee-length, stovepipe-style rubber boots, long insulated underwear, and a fleece-line jumper all year long. Granddaughter Louise White said he would not pull his long underwear and jumper off until July and then would put them back on in August. Every week when wash day came, Jack and Girtha would fight because he was unwilling to take off his clothes. Sometimes Martha would have to wait until after Jack had gone to bed for the evening before she could sneak his clothes away long enough to wash them. During the summer, fall, and winter that Girtha was pregnant with her son Garvin, the family killed hogs three times; and according to Girt, Jack wore the same clothes all three times without ever having them washed. She said she was sick to her stomach for nine months because of the stench of Jack and his clothes.

Although Jack was the oldest of the Whitten children, he may not have been the smartest. He had a paralyzing phobia of dogs and snakes. He never met a dead snake he did not try to re-kill. One day Martha asked Jack to go outside and wash some turnip greens for her to cook for their supper that evening. After he did not return for a couple of hours, Martha decided to go outside to check on his progress, and she found him still dutifully washing the turnip greens--with a foot tub and wash board!

Martha was the daughter of Steven Walker Watkins and Mary E. Lyle. According to census records, she and her family were from North Carolina. After Martha died in August 1943, Jack moved in with son Parkes and his family. Jack died in June 1959. Both he and Martha were laid to rest in the cemetery at Poplar Flat Baptist Church in Louisville, Mississippi, where they were both members.


Pleasant William Jackson "Jack Jr" Whitten
Born: November 22, 1878 in Louisville, Winston County, Mississippi
Married: September 13, 1902 in Louisville, Winston County, Mississippi
Died: June 4, 1959 in Louisville, Winston County, Mississippi
Buried: Poplar Flat Cemetery, Winston County, Mississippi
Father: John Thomas Whitten
Mother: Sue Mayo

Martha Watkins
Born: August 4, 1882 born possibly in North Carolina
Died: September 1, 1943 in Philadelphia, Neshoba County, Mississippi
Buried: Poplar Flat Cemetery, Winston County, Mississippi
Father: Steven Walker Watkins
Mother: Mary E. Lyle

  1. Willie Parkes Whitten - Updated!! 9-09
    Born: May 10, 1904 in Louisville, Winston County, Mississippi
    Married: April 8, 1936 in Louisville, Winston County, Mississippi
    Spouse: Girtha Bell Whitten (no relation)
    Died: December 16, 1982 in Louisville, Winston County, Mississippi
    Buried: Doty Springs Cemetery, Attala County, Mississippi

    Parkes was a cotton sharecropper who moved his family numerous times between northern Winston County (near his parents) and western Winston County (near his wife's parents). He finally quit farming and moved his family "to town" in Louisville around 1958. He then worked many years as a private duty nurse. He was well known for his musical talent on the fiddle. He and Girtha had three children: Charles (who died in 1959), Louise (my mother), and Garvin. Parkes died in December 1982 and was buried beside his son Charles at Doty Springs Cemetery in Attala County, Mississippi.

    Parkes' wife Girtha Whitten was the daughter of Felbert and Emma Whitten of Attala County, Mississippi. There has been no kinship identified between Parkes' and Girtha's families. Click HERE for more information on Girtha's family.

  2. Mary Sue Whitten
    Born: February 3, 1909 in Louisville, Winston County, Mississippi
    Married: (1) Burkett Weeks -- April 22, 1933 in Louisville, Winston County, Mississippi
    Married: (2) J. Melvin White -- October 1, 1936 in Louisville, Winston County, Mississippi
    Died: May 29, 1949 in Louisville, Winston County, Mississippi
    Buried: Antioch Cemetery, Winston County, Mississippi

    Mary Sue remarried to Melvin White after her short marriage to Burkett Weeks. Melvin was a widower with several sons already when he and Mary Sue married, and they had one son together: Bobby Donald White. Mary Sue died of cancer when Bobby Don was a young child. E-mail me for further information on this family.

  3. Lura Lee Whitten
    Born: June 6, 1910 in Louisville, Winston County, Mississippi
    Married: (1) Ernest L. "Straw" Williams -- February 16, 1930 in Louisville, Winston County, Mississippi
    Married: (2) Charlie Franklin Reaves -- September 28, 1978 in Louisville, Winston County, Mississippi
    Died: June 26, 1993 in Ackerman, Choctaw County, Mississippi
    Buried: Poplar Flat Cemetery, Winston County, Mississippi

    Lura was a quiet woman who was terrified of storms. She was known to "go visiting" to brother Parkes' house at the first sign of clouds. "Gonna rain?" was the saying for which she is most remembered. However, she and Straw are also remembered for their rice pudding. Everytime I visited, they would produce a fresh batch of rice pudding in my honor. Straw died in September 1977 and was buried in Poplar Flat Cemetery in Winston County, Mississippi. Lura remarried to Charlie Reaves the next year. Lura's house on North Columbus Street was sold soon thereafter to make room for Louisville's new McDonald's restaurant. Although Charlie had children from his deceased first wife, Lura never had children with either husband. Lura died in a nursing home in nearby Choctaw County in 1993, and Charlie died in a nursing home in Winston County in December 1999. Lura was buried next to Straw and near her parents in Poplar Flat Cemetery in Winston County, Mississippi. Charlie was buried next to his first wife in southern Winston County.


Jack's parents, John T. and Sue Whitten, are not present in the 1880 census in either Winston or Choctaw Co. Miss. Considering the steep terrain in which the family lived (at the bottom of a large hill), it is quite possible that the census taker may have intentionally skipped the road down which they lived if the weather were raining. Although Jack Jr. was born in 1878, the first census on which he appears is the 1900 Winston, MS.

1900 Winston County, Mississippi Census: Enum. Dist 96, House 115, Sheet 7
Jack W. Jr, son, Born Jan 1880, Age 20, Born MS, Living with parents John T. and Sussie M. Whitten.

1900 Winston County, Mississippi Census: Enum. Dist 96, House 105, Sheet 7
Martha J., dau, Born Aug 1882, Age 17, Born NC, Living with parents Steven and Mary E. Watkins.

Newspaper article in the Winston County Journal, Louisville, MS on September 24, 1902:
"Married" -- At the residence of the bride's uncle Mr. Watkins, near Sulphur Springs, on the 14th, Mr. J.W. Whitten and Miss Martha Watkins, J.W. Montgomery officiating. The Journal extends best wishes to this happy couple.

Newspaper article in the Winston County Journal, Louisville, MS on February 5, 1909:
"Local Items" -- Born, to Mr. and Mrs. Jack Whitten, Feb. 3, a girl.

1910 Winston County, Mississippi: Enum. Dist 119, House 55/56, Sheet 4
William J. Whitten, head, age 30 (1880), married 6 yrs, born MS, father born AL, mother born MS.
Martha, wife, age 26 (1884), mother of 3 children, 2 were living, born in NC, parents born in the U.S.
Parks, son, age 5 (1905), born MS
Mary Sue, dau, age 1 1/2 (1909), born MS
[My note: Jack and Martha were living next door to Jack's parents, John T. and Sue Whitten.]

1920 Winston County, Mississippi: Supervisor Dist 5, Enum. Dist. 129, House 145, Family 146 (page 705).
Jack W. Whitten, head, age 41 (1879), born in MS, parents born in MS.
Martha J., wife, age 37 (1883), born in NC, parents born in NC.
Willie P., son, age 15 (1905), born in MS
Mary S., dau, age 10 (1910), born in MS
Lura L., dau, age 9 (1911), born in MS
[My note: The family was listed as living on Hughston and Sturgis Road, next door to Virginia Clark, widow.]


Whitten, Jack      21 Nov 1877      W      lives RFD Ackerman MS      Winston MS
The information above was abstracted by Raymond H. Banks from civilian registration cards completed in 1917-1918. All rights reserved. Transcription available at (last retrieved September 12, 2009).
Click HERE to view a scanned image of the original registration card.

Death Certificate #13196 -- State of Mississippi
Place of death: Philadelphia Hospital inside city of Philadelphia, Neshoba County, MS
Length of stay before death a) in hospital: 4 days b) in community: 4 days
Residence before death: Popular Flat (rural precinct) in Winston County, MS
Full name: Martha Jane Whitten -- female, white, married
Not veteran, No social security number
Husband: John Whitten, age 66
Birth date of deceased: Aug 4, 1882 -- age 61 yrs, 0 months, 5 days? Birthplace: City: DK State: NC
Occupation: housewife
Father name: Steve Watkins
Father's birthplace: City: DK State: NC
Mother's maiden name: Mary Foulks
Mother's birthplace: City: DK State: NC
Informant's signature: John Whitten
Informant's address: Louisville, Miss
Burial/cremation/or removal? Burial 9/1/1943 at Poplar Flat Cemetery
Signature of funeral director: Blon Harris     Address: Louisville, Miss
Date of death: Sept 1, 1943 at 12:35 a.m.
Physician certified he attended deceased from 8/28/1943 to 9/1/1943, that he last saw her alive on 8/31/1943. Immediate cause of death: intestinal obstruction due to strangulated hernia. Duration: 7 days


See pictures of Jack and Martha's family in my Whitten Family Picture Album.


| Parents and Siblings of Jack Jr. | Main Whitten Page | The Whitten Killing of 1908 |

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