The Bucher/Booker Family, 1686-1990: Chapter IX, Part 3


The Edward Adam Booker Family of Natchez, Mississippi

Edward A. Booker was the eleventh child of Samuel Hodge Booker and Sarah Anne Rouse or Roush. According to his birth record in Macon county, Illinois, he was born the 19th of September 1885. As mentioned earlier, his family moved to Benton County, Arkansas when “Ed” was age three. Later in the early 1890’s they returned to Decatur, Illinois where Ed attended school. Just after the 1900 Census in Decatur, the family returned to Benton County, where Edward found work on an 80 acre apple farm owned by Mary Jane Holt Jackson, the widow of Zachary Pierce Jackson. Zachary had died in 1902. Mary, married at seventeen, had had five children from her first marriage: Mary Audrey, Thomas Luther Lafeyette, George Albert, Edna Irene, and Callie (the second child) who lived only a few hours.

Edward, hired out as an ordinary farm hand, fell in love with Mary. According to Marie Kathleen Booker Vernon, eldest daughter of Edward and Mary, “he’d write these beautiful love letters to her, …you see, he was so young and she [Mary] thought he didn’t really care anything about her…so she told him to go away for a year and after that time if he still wanted to, she would marry him.” Edward left and spent some time in McCune, Kansas visiting his cousins, the Mason family. He returned after a year, and he and Mary were married 10 July 1905 in Centerton, Arkansas.

The Holt Family

Mary Jane Holt, born 10 December 1875 in Benton County, Arkansas was the daughter of George Washington Holt, a school teacher, and Mary Texanne Coffelt. When she was only five years old, Mary’s mother died, and within three months her father, too. Mary, her sister Jennie, age eight, and brother, David Lafayette Holt, age two, were orphans, and their two sets of grandparents disagreed over who was to raise the three children (the Holt children are found on 1880 Census living with their Holt grandparents).

The Coffelts were wealthy for that area of the country, and the Holts were hard working farmers. Eventually, the children went to live with the Holt family, but over the years many Holts as well as Coffelts would visit. According to Faye Alma Booker, “I remember Mama [Mary Jane] speaking of Uncle Sterle [Holt] and Uncle John [Holt] especially. One was a doctor who attended them whenever ill. One was a lawyer. She was also, very fond of Aunt Sarah Holt and a cousin, Minnie Holt” (daughter of Joseph Holt). The three children attended school in a one room schoolhouse in Bergen Valley. The school is still standing being in use over the years. Mary Jane Holt attended high school in Pearidge Academy, a boarding school. Her Coffelt grandparents paid her tuition.

The Holt family came from Grainger County, Tennessee during the 1850’s to Benton County, Arkansas. Mary Jane’s father, George Washington Holt can be found on the 1850 Census in Grainger County, page 23, District #2, dated 20 August 1850 with his father and mother, David Holt (1821 – 1909 Benton County, Arkansas) and Mary (Polly) Walker Holt (1823 – 1922 Benton County, Arkansas). On the 1860 Census, the David and Mary Holt family can be found in Wallace Township in Benton County, Arkansas as follows:

Page 48, date 21 June 1860, Wallace Township:

307/307 David Holt age 34 Male Farmer 350/410 Tenn

Mary 34 Fem. Tenn

James 13 Male Tenn

George 12 Male Tenn

William 9 Male Tenn

Sarah 5 Fem. Ark

David 3 Male Ark

John 1 Male Ark

On the 1870 Census in Round Prairie Township, (Spavinaw), Benton County, Arkansas, I found the following:

Page 48, date 22 August 1870:

320/320 Wyatt Coffelt age 58 Farmer Kentucky

Jane [Sliger] 54 Housekeeping Tenn

James 23 Farmer Tenn

Theodore 14 Missouri

Robert 6 Arkansas

John 85 Farmer Tenn

James 1 Arkansas

Sliger, Rachael 60 Tenn

Coffelt, Texanna 19 Illinois [??]

Page 51

?/? David Holt age 46 Farmer Tenn

Mary 46 Housekeeping Tenn

Henry [James] 24 Farmer Tenn

Joseph 20 at home Tenn

Sarah 14 at home Ark

David 12 Ark

John 9 Ark

Sterling 7 Ark

Jennie 3 Ark

Notice that George is not listed.

The Kaufeldt/Coffelt Family

Mary’s mother, Mary Texanne Coffelt, was the daughter of Rev. Wyatt Coffelt, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and a farmer and a stock raiser in Benton County. On page 142 in Goodspeed’s 1889, History of Benton County, Arkansas, Rev. Wyatt Coffetlt’s genealogy is found: Rev. Wyatt Coffelt, minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and also farmer and stock raiser of Benton County, Ark., was born in Knox County, Ky., February 3, 1812, and resided in his native State until he was fifteen years of age, when he was taken to Monroe County, Tenn. by his parents, Jacob and Susanna (Wyatt) Coffelt, who were born in Greenbriar County, Va., in 1782 and 1786, respectively. Jacob Coffelt was a son of Philip Coffelt [on 1783 tax list Hampshire County, VA], who was of German birth [b. 9 Sept. 1738 – d. after 1788 Hardy Co., now West VA], and served under Col. Washington in the French and Indian War at Braddock’s defeat. He also served through the Revolutionary War. His wife, Ellen (Ryan) Coffelt, was captured by the Shawnee Indians during the French and Indian War, and after eleven weeks’ captivity succeeded in effecting her escape.

She was born in Ireland, and came with her parents to America at the age of five years. Jacob Coffelt was a farmer, and died in 1827, and his widow in 1864. They were members of the Baptist Church. The mother’s father, Samuel Wyatt, also served in the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. Rev. Wyatt Coffelt was reared, educated and married in Monroe County, Tenn., and there learned the saddler’s trade. His wife’s maiden name was Jane Sligar, a daughter of Adam and Catherine (Brown) Sligar. This wife died January 20, 1887, having borne fourteen children, six of whom are living, and September 11, 1887, he married his second wife, Mrs. Louisa C. Sooter. His children were as follows: Louisa J., wife of N. C. Curry; Nancy A., the deceased wife of J. C. Anderson; Nicy A., wife of E. A. Torbuss; Thomas W., who was waylaid, murdered and robbed by some cut-throats in Texas; Enas J., James A., Theo. A. and Robert Lee; four died in infancy and one, a son, died at the age of fourteen years. Mr. Coffelt worked at his trade for twenty-two years, and in 1850 moved to Missouri, and there resided until 1854, when he became a missionary among the Cherokee and Creek Indians, with whom he labored for eight years. In 1860 he moved his family to Benton County, Ark., but he remained in the Indian Territory until the fall of 1861, when they took refuge in the South until the close of the war, and then returned to Benton County. He began life with very small means, and met with many reverses, but is now in comfortable circumstances financially. He has an exceptionally fine orchard, and ships his fruit to all parts of the United States…

Philip Coffelt, born 8 September 1738 on the ship, “Glasgow”, (arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1738), was the son of Christopher Kaufeldt and Anna Sara Degen. Christopher and his family, first settled in York County, Pennsylvania. Christopher’s brothers, George, Johann, and Nicholas and their families arrived in Philadelphia in 1746 aboard the ship, “Neptune”. These brothers also first settled in York County, and later with Christopher, moved to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. The Kaufeldt brother’s parents were Elias Kaufeldt, born 1655, occupation distiller, and Barbara Elisabetha [last name unknown], born 1667. They resided in the area of Contwig and Massweiler, then at the Odenbacher Muhl, located between Massweiler and Herschberg. Elias died at the Weissmuhl, 8 May 1728, age 73 years. Barbara Elisabetha, his wife, died 4 July 1744 at the Weissmuhle, age 77 years. Robert K. Coffelt of Bridge City, Texas, as of January 1990, has just completed a 400 page book on the history of the Kaufeldt/Coffelt/Coffield family. The book should be published in 1990. The Kaufeldt European family records are located in Speir, West Germany.


Edward A. Booker and Mary Jane Holt Jackson Booker had their first child, Lon Edward Booker, in Centerton, Arkansas on 25 July 1906. [Lon was named after Lon Williams, a Judge in Bentonville, Arkansas who performed the marriage ceremony between Edward and Mary.] Edward went to work for the Civil Service as a mail clerk on the trains. He moved many times in this job; first to Monticello, Arkansas in 1914; a few years in Cherokee, Kansas, then to Monroe, Louisiana; later to Wamble, Arkansas and in 1917 back to Monticello, Arkansas. In 1918 he sold his portion of Mary’s apple farm, and moved his family to Natchez, Mississippi. Actually, the reason he left the civil service, was that he was fired. Edward was a very opinionated man, and ardent in his beliefs especially concerning politics. He was fired for printing pamphlets on socialistic ideas, and then throwing them out along the way on his mail train. Many of these “radical socialistic ideas” became law such as voting rights for women, equality for all ethnic groups, child labor laws, and social security. At the turn of the century, these ideas were considered by many to be unacceptable and too revolutionary.

Edward and Mary settled in Natchez, Mississippi in 1918 in a home near the slaughter house. By this time Edward and Mary had their four children:

Lon Edward Booker b. 25/7/1906 Centerton, AR, d. 30/12/1971 Natchez, MS

Marie Kathleen Booker b. 28/7/1913 Centerton, AR, Liv. Grove, OK

Ray Irving Booker b. 17/1/1917 Monticello, AR, d. 24/10/1987 Natchez, MS

Faye Alma Booker b. 17/1/1917 Monticello, AR, Liv. Natchez, MS

Marie Booker Vernon relates that when the family first came to Natchez, she remembers Grandpa Booker [Samuel H. Booker] “came to see us, and we had a great big ole house, and a porch all the way around it; and he used to sit out on the front porch, and I’d sit on his lap and pull his beard, I was trying to pull it off his face…and then I’d say ‘You ole hockey.’ And he’d take my hands from his beard, and he’d say, ‘You shouldn’t say that.'”


In 1919, Edward and Mary moved to their next home, “Oakland” on Morgantown Road, bought from R. Lee Parker. Edward began the Booker dairy, starting with ten cows, and a Model T car to deliver the milk. Around 1923 or 1924, Edward moved the family to a newer place they called affectionately the “Cottage Home.” This home was sold after the death of Marvel A. Booker, wife of Lon Edward Booker. Although renovated by the new owners, the old Booker home still stands today.

By 1930 Edward was a very successful business man. He was the first dairyman in that part of Mississippi to pasteurize his milk. By the 1930’s, he had 200 head of cattle, selling different varieties of dairy products, and with the help of his step-son, George Jackson, and his son, Lon Edward, the Booker dairy was delivering milk twice a day. The dairy operated for thirty-three years, until Edwards death in 1949. The Booker’s Dairy slogan was “You Can Whip His Cream, But You Can’t Beat His Milk!”

According to Marie K. Booker Vernon and Faye Alma Booker, daughters of Edward and Mary, the dairy years were good for the Booker family. Although the depression was difficult for many in Natchez, the Bookers prospered. As Marie mentioned, “people had to drink milk and eat eggs…people lost everything…they couldn’t make a living…closed the stores up and went bankrupt…the dairy business went on, whether there was a depression or not.” Faye Booker wrote, the dairy always had many visitors, “cousins from Illinois, Kansas and California visited us during the twenties and thirties…Chester Booker from California, Nora and Ada Booker, also from California, and Myrtle (Mason) Badgley from Detroit…”


Faye Booker wrote, “Mama and Papa were both very talented people. Mama would play the piano and Papa would sing ‘In the Garden,’ ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ and Nearer My God To Thee.’ I think Papa was very sentimental. That’s why he had her play those songs… She (Mama) was a wonderful cook, and could sew. She would take us uptown when we’d want a new dress, and we’d see one in the show window that we liked. She’d come home and get a newspaper and put it on the floor and cut a pattern out, and make it just like that dress…”


On 2 August 1985 at the home of Faye A. Booker in Natchez, Mississippi, I recorded several conversations with Marie and Faye. They told me what it was like growing up on the dairy: Marie: “We had an ole surrey. A way back then anybody that had one of those buggys, had a nice buggy. And we had a big horse that pulled this surrey. Anyway, Mama and Grandpa [Samuel] and I went out to get in the surrey, and started towards town. The horse went away with us and another time Reney, Faye, Ray and I were in the back of one of these great huge wagons…Papa use to have these huge wagons…these were great big ole wagons and two great big strong mules would pull them. We were way out back in the fields what is now Parkers Sub-division…that use to be ours over there… and it was in the late fall, and Reney was cutting wood, putting it in the wagon…we always followed Reney wherever she went… And the horses ran away with us, and threw us out of the wagon. They like to killed all of us….”


Marie continues: “As a child, I’d dress my cats up and put’em in the closet…Faye would play with baby dolls, I wanted dogs, cats, and horses… that was my baby dolls…and we’d get under the house; the house was real high… we’d get under there and play…Mama had these great big Ganders, Geese, and I kept on aggravating this gander one day, and he attacked me and liked to beat me to death…Mama had to come out and beat him off of me…”


Faye: “She (Mama) was very patient, and very compassionate…and I don’t care who came to her house, she never turned a soul away…”


Marie: “Mama use to have the colored people to do our work. We had tenants on the place… Faye and I never knew what it was to work or do anything like that…we use to love to help him (Papa) pay the hands off; they’d line up in front of the porch and wait until their name was called… they’d then come up and get their check…I use to love silage cutting time…their was a lot of activities and all the people were there…Big cutting machines cutting up the silage…Mama would always cook big meals and feed a lot of people…”


In 1940 Edward A. Booker asked his wife of thirty-five years, Mary, for a divorce. Marie Booker Vernon writes: “Papa was a very smart hardworking man. Would have been a very wealthy man, but let women ruin him. He was easily fooled, and died of a broken heart, but he was good to all of his children, …very strict in his household, and very honest. Like when ‘he thought’ he believed this woman, Eugenia; he came forward, told Mama the truth. I was in the kitchen, when he told her. It like to killed her, but she gave in and in doing so, they both gave up a fortune.”


Edward Adam Booker, age 54, divorced his wife, Mary, on 15 July 1940 and remarried Eugenia [Mullins – maiden name] Butler, age 27, on 16 July 1940. Eugenia had two children from her previous marriage to Delta L. Butler. Lon E. Booker, Edward’s eldest son, left the Booker’s dairy where he had worked with his father since 1918, and began his own dairy, “the Purina Dairy.” This dairy was bought from his half-brother, George Jackson, and was just across from his father’s dairy. Those were difficult and emotional times for the Bookers in Natchez. The family watched as Edward Booker’s dairy slipped into decline. Edward’s marriage to Eugenia Butler ended in divorce after five years on 12 June 1945. (Interestingly, Eugenia Mullins Butler Booker remarried just three months later on 10 September 1945, to her ex-husband, Delta L. Butler.) After Edward divorced Eugenia Butler, Lon E. Booker combined his dairy with his father’s. Mary J. Holt Booker lived in Natchez at a home bought for her by Edward. She had always been the one to manage the money and the books at the dairy, and without her the Booker’s Dairy never regained the success it once had. Edward A. Booker’s health began to worsen from leukemia and heart disease and by October 1949, he lay close to death. Faye Booker wrote, “He had me go get Mama on his death bed in the hospital. He asked her to forgive him for the way he had done her. She answered, “You know I do.” Edward died 12 October 1949.


E. A. Booker Passes Away At Hospital

Edward A. Booker died at 11:25 p.m. on Wednesday. He had been in ill health for about a year.

Mr. Booker was born in Decatur, Illinois on September 12th, 1885, being the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Sam H. Booker. Mr. Booker came to Natchez in 1918 and operated Bookers Dairy. He is survived by two sons, Lon E. Booker and Ray I. Booker, and two daughters, Mrs. J. R. Vernon, and Miss Faye Booker. He is also survived by 9 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Mr. Booker is also survived by one brother and a sister, Mrs. Katie Mason of Cherokee, Kansas.

Funeral services will be held from FOSTER’S FUNERAL HOME at 4 p.m. on Thursaday, October 13th and interment will be made in the family plot City Cemetery. Rev. C. C. Clark officiating.

Pall bearers; Lon Booker, Jr., Charles Booker, Earl Booker, J. P. Vernon, Earl Holt, and Smylie Hudnall.

Funeral Rites Held Today For Mr. Booker

Funeral services for Edward A. Booker, prominent local dairyman, were conducted today at 4 p.m. from the Foster Funeral Home. Reverend C. C. Clark, pastor of the Jefferson Street Church, officiated at the rites. The deceased was born in ….[same as above]. Mr. Booker became a resident of Natchez in 1918 and remained here permanently. Survivors are two sons …[same as above]…one brother William Booker, Decatur, Ill.; one sister Mrs. Katie Mason of Cherokee, Kansas… Interment was made…[same as above].

Almost to the day, Mary Jane Holt Jackson Booker died 8 years later in Natchez, Mississippi, and was buried next to Edward in the family plot in the Natchez City Cemetery.

Funeral Services for Mrs. Booker This Afternoon

Funeral services for Mrs. Mary Jane Booker, who died at 7 p.m. Sunday are to be held today at three o’clock from the Bruce Funeral Home with the interment in the city cemetery.

Mrs. Booker had lived in Adams County since 1914. She was born December 20, 1875 in Benton County, Ark. She was a member of the First Baptist Church of Natchez. She was the widow of the late E. A. Booker.

Survivors include eight children, Mrs. P. D. Miller, George Jackson, L. E. Booker and Miss Fay Booker, all of Natchez, Luther Jackson, Hood River, Oregon; Mrs. F. C. Sheets, Huntington, West Va., Mrs. J. R. Vernon, Baton Rouge, La., and Ray I. Booker, Melford, Del., a brother, D. L. Holt, Natchez, fifteen grandchildren, and sixteen great grandchildren.

The services will be conducted by Dr. D. Lewis White, pastor of the First Baptist Church and the Rev. W. J. Hughes, pastor of the Morgantown Baptist Church.

Named as pall bearers are Charles Booker, Lon E. Booker, Jr., Leon Vernon, Connell Miller, Jimmie Webb and the Rev. Ralph Marshall.

Edward Adam Booker, my great-grandfather, was a man of passion, a man of strong beliefs and work ethics, and yes, a man with weaknesses. In listening to my great-aunts describe him, I can’t help but wish that I could have known him personally. Edward was also an author. His collection of poetry and short stories are in my possession. They are very beautiful and full of his warmth and personality. Although, this collection of writings are family heirlooms, they number above a hundred, and could not be added to this book. Hopefully, I will someday publish them for our family. Here is my favorite poem by Edward written 20 January 1947, two years before his death:


Sweet Life, so infinite,

What art thou, and wither goest?

Why do we cling day and night

To the mystic depths of thee?

Sensing thou must be eternal

In the mystic schemes of things;

Sensing that another chapter

Awaits our living

Beyond this vale of tears,

That perhaps thou art

Beckoning us to truer

And finer years.

Life eternal, can not stop here.

The Hells we suffer, the stop gap,

Like Death brings,

Are but as stepping stones to Life’s

Higher and better things.

The Lon Edward Booker, Sr. and Marvel A. Graves Family

My grandfather, Lon Edward Booker, Sr., was a quiet man, who loved the dairy business and devoted his life to it. In 1927, while on his daily dairy route in Natchez, Mississippi, Lon delivered milk to the Piggly Wiggly, a drug store, across the street from the old Mississippi Power and Light Generating Plant. There was a pretty young lady who would pay him for the milk, but both being very shy, neither would speak to each other. One day, Lon picked a big magnolia blossom, carried it into the drug store, and gave it to her. That broke the ice and from then on they were sweethearts. Lon married my grandmother, Marvel Agnes Graves, on 16 July 1927 in Natchez.

Marvel, born on 12 November 1908, was the daughter of Thomas W. Graves and Mary William Gupton of Union Church, Mississippi. Marvel saw her father twice, and only from a distance. Her mother, Mary W. Gupton lived with Thomas W. Graves only four months before she left him. There is not much known about the Graves, except that according to the divorce records, Thomas W. Graves was a resident of Franklin County, Mississippi.

The Gupton/Patterson/McCaa Families of Union Church, MS

The Gupton Family can be traced back to old Richmond County, Virginia in the late 1600’s to a William Gupton. Mary’s parents were Wesley Woolford Gupton and Clara Drucilla McCaa both of Union Church. Drucilla’s father was Albert H. McCaa, veteran of the Civil War, fighting for the Confederacy in Company C, Fourth Regiment, Mississippi Cavalry. Drucilla’s mother was Martha Cater. Albert H. McCaa and Martha Cater were married 5 January 1850 in Jefferson County, Mississippi. Mary Gupton Graves’s grandparents were William Wesley Gupton and Flora Patterson. The Pattersons, staunch Presbyterians, were some of the original settlers of Union Church in Jefferson County, Mississippi, having moved there in 1814 from the Scottish settlement in Robeson County, North Carolina. Flora’s father was Angus Patterson, who was born 3 May 1768 in Scotland and died 22 November 1837 in Jefferson County, Mississippi. William W. Gupton’s father was Garland Gupton of Green County, Kentucky, (born 20 November 1792 in Culpepper Co., VA) and a Sergeant in the War of 1812 in Capt. John W. Shirley’s Company, Barbee’s Regiment, Kentucky Militia. William Gupton’s mother was Melinda Neeley, daughter of Colonel William Neely’s first marriage. Col. Neely was a resident of Claiborne Co., Mississippi. He died 27 August 1818 in Clark Co., Kentucky, just after marrying in June 1818 to his third wife, Ann B. C. Irvin. Melinda, born most likely in Virginia on 12 March 1796, died 25 April 1822 in Jefferson County, Mississippi. For more information on the Guptons see The Guptons and Related Families by Annis Gupton Shipp and Georgia Gupton Beard, pub. 1975. Central Kentucky News-Journal 222 E. 1st St. Campbellsville, KY, also Gupton Lineage from The Van Hook and Allied Lines, by Keister, pages 263 and 264.


Lon Edward Booker, brought his bride, Marvel, home to live at the Booker dairy on Morgantown Road just outside of Natchez. Lon and Marvel wasted no time in starting their family. They had five children:

Lon Edward Booker, Jr. b. 12/11/1928 Natchez, MS, Living Cleveland, MS

Charles Lee Booker, Sr. b. 28/1/1930 Natchez, MS. Living Brandon, MS

Everett Earl Booker b. 27/7/1931 Natchez, MS. Living Perkinston, MS

Mary Louise Booker b. 10/10/1932 Natchez, MS. Living Humble, TX

Marilyn Faye Booker b. 7/4/1939 Natchez, MS. Living Idaho Springs, CO

Lon Edward Booker, Sr. died 30 December 1971 in Natchez, Mississippi:

Lon E. Booker Sr.

Funeral services for Lon Edward Booker, Sr., 65, of 114 Booker Road, Natchez, will be at 3 p. m. today at Morgantown Baptist Church, Rev. Charles Holifield officiating. Burial will be in Greenlawn Memorial Park under the direction of Laird Funeral Home. He died Thursday at Jefferson Davis Hospital. He was a real estate agent and member of the Real Estate Brokers Assn. of Mississippi. He and his father operated Booker Dairy on Morgantown Road a number of years. When the dairy closed, the land was sold to Greenlawn Memorial Park, Morgantown school and Cottage Heights subdivision. He was a charter member and deacon of the church.

Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Marvel Booker; three sons, Lon Jr. of Morton, Charles of Laurel, and Earl of Biloxi; two daughters, Mrs. Mary B. Herring and Mrs. Marilyn Forbess, both of Natchez; two brothers, Ray of Gretna, La. and George of Natchez; three sisters, Mrs. Irene Sheets of Huntington, W. Va., Mrs. Marie Vernon of Grove, Okla. and Faye Booker of Natchez; 18 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Pallbearers will be J. M. Hall, Charles Wells, Bobby O’Quin, Wilbur Huber, James Waycaster and James Holder.

Marvel A. Booker died 25 July 1978, and was buried next to Lon Edward Booker, Sr. in the Greenlawn Memorial Cemetery in Morgantown only ten feet from the Booker home. I have been unable to find her obituary.

Marie Kathleen Booker

Marie Kathleen Booker married James Reynolds Vernon in Natchez,

Mississippi 19 April 1986. Marie and Reynolds had two children:

Reynolds Leon Vernon b. 28/4/1937 Natchez, MS. Living in Grove, OK

Sylvia Dix Vernon b. 28/9/1942 Baton Rouge, LA. Living in Grove, OK

James Reynolds Vernon died in Grove, Oklahoma, and Marie Kathleen still makes her home there.

Ray Irving Booker

Ray Irving Booker spent twenty-two years in the U. S. Navy, a veteran of World War II, and the Korean Conflict. Upon his death, his eldest daughter, Faye Booker McKnight, wrote a beautiful eulogy to her father, and read it at his funeral services:

October 26, 1987

Eulogy to Ray Booker, deceased October 24, 1987

My name is Faye McKnight, Ray Booker is my father. Daddy was an alcoholic. He spoke openly about his alcoholism and was proud of his sobriety. His sobriety allowed he and I the opportunity to speak candidly to each other for the first time in my adult life, when I visited with him for a week last June. I asked to speak today because some of what my father said to me in June has to do with people in this room, and I would like to share his thoughts with you.

My father talked a lot about this town, Natchez. He said he loved to travel, enjoyed every place he had ever been. But those other places were for “going to,” for “working in,” “partying in.” Natchez was for “coming home.” Natchez was the place to be when the world made you feel rotten. It wasn’t necessary to be here physically. He could be in Natchez whenever he needed to “be home”, just by remembering. Of course, the people made the town important. No matter where we went, he gave a commentary about someone he knew, dated, or fought with. He pointed out those who had hard times, overcame hard times, or according to him “was a hard time.” Judging wasn’t his thing, he judged himself too harshly to judge others. His remarks were spoken with humor, concern, sometimes impatience, but also with love.

The Booker/Jackson family was high on our conversational list. His love and respect for his mom and dad, love for his brothers and sisters and their families underlined every statement. He was not blind to family problems and imperfections. He would spout off about this one or that one, waving his hands all over the place! Then he would calm down, smile, shake his head, mumble “hell, they’re all better than I’ll ever be. Wish I could tell them that; wish I knew how to tell them a lot of things; wish I knew how to tell them all I love them.”

Dad had a unique relationship with one particular family member, his twin sister, my Aunt Faye. He called her Faye, Sr. and me Faye, Jr. He told me he could really get mad at her for making him do the things he should do, but was too lazy to make himself do. Then he got even madder at himself for making her feel bad. He truly loved you Aunt Faye. He had a strong love/hate for the navy. Called it his “mistress.” Said it came between every person he loved. Stole time that should have been spent on his family. Yet he never felt more productive or secure than when he was wearing his Chief’s hat.

Not many people are given the chance to meet someone they’ve known all their life. I met my father last June. We met on a level that was intimate, painful and beautiful. For some reason we both felt it was not time for small talk. We had been given precious time to heal some hurts, misunderstandings and confusion. I had questions, and I asked them. If I asked “why” once, I must have asked dozens of times. If he could, he gave me the reason or explanation. But just as often he had to say “I don’t know”, and he often added “but I’m sorry.” And we both healed a little more.

My father loved his three daughters very much. One of his deepest regrets, according to him, was the way he handled his relationship with each of us. “I love you kids,” he told me, “seems I could have found a way to let you girls know that,” yet he said it was doubtful he would be smart enough to do anything differently if he had the chance to do it again. In typical Ray Booker fashion, when I said, “I love you too,” he grunted and complained I had put too much mayonnaise on his sandwich and he didn’t want to eat anyway and why was I always trying to feed him!

AA was important to my father. He threw himself into it with all the compulsive energy he could muster. I think he listened extra hard so he could keep everyone busy with his questions. He wanted sobriety. Wanted it enough to do the work and feel the pain of self-examination. Wanted it enough to do what was suggested. Some of what was suggested was foreign to his way of thinking. However, the consequences of a closed mind were too great. Taking that first drink was too great a price to pay for rebellion. He had finally come to a place in his life where he loved life too much to die drunk, and thank God, he didn’t.

We talked a great deal about the Bible (at times we talked rather loudly). We discussed God, creation, sex, family responsibilities, Jesus Christ, salvation. He knew who his Savior was and knew where he was going when he died. He belonged to Jesus while he lived, and I believe he is with our Lord right now, experiencing “the peace that surpasses all understanding.” (Phil. 4:7)

He would want me to be glad for him. I can hear him yelling at me to “quit slobbering all over the place and get on with it!” And I shall, I shall.

Ray I. Booker’s obituary:

Ray I. Booker

Services for Ray I. Booker, 70, 11 Linden Drive, who died Saturday (Oct. 24, 1987) at Jefferson Davis Memorial Hospital, were held at 11:30 a.m. Monday (Oct. 26) at Laird Funeral Home.

The Rev. Odean Puckett officated. Burial was in the Natchez City Cemetery. Mr. Booker was born Jan. 17, 1917, in Monticello, Ark., to Edward and Mary Jane Booker. He was life long resident of Adams County and served 22 years in the U.S. Navy. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Natchez and a member of the Angler’s Sunday School Class.

Mr. Booker is survived by three daughters, Mrs. Robert (Faye) McKnight and Mrs. Terry Skinner of Orlando, Fla, and Mrs. Janet Davis of Church Hill; three sisters, Mrs. Irene Sheets of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Mrs. Marie Vernon of Grove, Okla., and a twin sister, Faye Booker of Natchez; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Pallbearers were Judge Curtis Collins, Jennings Dixon, Jamie Marlow, George Pierce, Hubert Shaiffer and V. J. Stephens. Members of the Angler’s Sunday School Class served as honorary pallbearers.

Ray I. Booker was married several times. His children are from his first two marriages. Ray married Mary Angelini in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 3 August 1938. He and Mary had two children:

Faye Marie Booker b. 26/4/1939 Philadelphia, PA. Marr. 15/1/1955 to Robert Brayton McKnight in Philadelphia, PA. Living Orlando, FL

Marion Irene Booker b. 7/8/1941 Philadelphia, PA, Marr. twice, (1) May 1958 to Paul Brown in Phil., PA, (2) 1986 to Terry Skinner in Orlando, FL. Living Orlando, FL

Ray Booker divorced Angelini during the 1950’s. He remarried to Edna Inez Rushing in July 1959 in Natchez, Mississippi. This marriage ended in divorce. One child was born:

Janet Darlene Booker b. 11/1/1960 Natchez, MS, Marr. twice, (1) 29/7/1979 to Cecil Paul Haines, Jr. in Natchez, MS, (2) 14/2/1987 to Glenn Edward Davis in Natchez, MS

Faye Alma Booker

Faye Alma Booker, daughter of Edward A. Booker and Mary Jane Holt, was married three times. Her first marriage was an elopement with James Carter. They were married 2 October 1932 in Monroe, Lousiana. After this marriage ended in divorce, Faye remarried 20 June 1950 to Tom H. Moore in Vicksburg, Mississippi. This marriage ended in divorce as well, and Faye married again on 3 August 1962 to Edward J. McKee in Natchez. Faye ended this marriage, and returned to Natchez. She’s never had children, but she’s had her music. She has started a second career in music. She performs solo on piano at a cat-fish restuarant called “Cock of the Walk” which is located at Natchez-Under-The-Hill, fifty feet from the Mississippi River. She is an excellent pianist, and the audiences love her playing.

Charles Lee Booker, Sr.

On 27 May 1947, my father, Charles Lee Booker, was required to write a report for school on his family. Dedicated to “My Mom and Dad”, he called the report “Chas.’ Chatters.” In his foreword he wrote, “I write this book only because Mrs. Livingston asked for it. If it didn’t count on my credit for English, I would much rather take a flat zero. The book was hard work, but after it’s all over, I am glad that I will have something to show for my Junior year in high school. I will love and cherish it for the rest of my days. CLB”

Abstract’s from “Chas.’ Chatters”

My Honorable Parents

My Dad [Lon Edward Booker, Sr.] was born in Centerton, Arkansas, in 1906. At the age of eight, the family moved to Monticello, Arkansas. He stayed a few years in Cherokee, Kansas, and then moved to Monroe, Louisiana for two years. When he was twelve years old, he moved to Natchez. In his family there were two boys and two girls. They went to school in Centerton, Arkansas, and all about, and ended up in Washington High School, just outside of Natchez. My Dad worked on a mail train with his father until they moved farther south. Before this, his father sold apples from his farm in Centerton, Arkansas. He owned a two hundred acre apple orchard an sold apples all over the country. Once, my Grandfather [Edward] took my Dad on one of his trips selling apples in Oklahoma. They had to stay all night with some Indians and were nearly scared to death. They were scared that they were going to steal the apples and kill them.

Dad has told us many of his experiences that he and some of his boyfriends had. He said they used to catch their horses and try to go as far away over the mountains as they could and try to get lost from each other. Then, another time, they would go swimming in the hot spring in Arkansas. He said the water would look like it was about two feet deep because it was so clear, when it was actually about twenty feet deep. They used to dive under the water for pebbles on the bottom, and they used to hand-fish under the water.

Upon moving to Natchez, my grandfather bought a dairy and went into the dairy business…On the milk-route was where my Dad met Mom. Mom’s family had just moved to Natchez from southwest Mississippi. Dad decided to run a dairy of his own, and has had one right across the road from my grandfather ever since.

My Household

When I wake up late in the morning, after everybody else has been up an hour or so, I can usually tell where everybody is and what they are doing. I can assume that Dad got up on schedule, as usual around four-thirty. He called Bob and Andrew, two negroes that work for us, and probably got up and had everything going in about half an hour.

Bob doesn’t have but one arm because his wife shot his left one off, about six years ago in a fight. Since then, he has been with us and we have taken care of him… Andrew is young, around twenty-eight years old…and takes care of most everything on the place. He has a car and a truck and we use them all the time to run around in…he likes to go fishing and hunting with us…

Dad has always liked his business. He said it wasn’t so hard after you got used to it. Yes, right now, he is probably bringing up the last of his milk from the barn, which is to be sent to town in the truck. My Grandmother [Mary W. Gupton Graves] is probably in the kitchen, waiting until I get up so she can have breakfast ready for everybody. Mom is on the telephone, calling the neighbors and telling them the latest gossip and things she’s heard lately. My, My, I couldn’t talk that long if I had to!

My brother, Earl, has some red hot cowboy music on the radio going full blast. I wish he would turn it down a little lower, for I’m so sleepy.

My sister, Mary Louise, is still in bed, also. She is so lazy! Why, she should be out of bed and cleaning house by now.

My baby sister, Marilyn Faye, is outside playing cowboys. And has probably been out in the yard for an hour already. She thinks she is Roy Rogers and her tricycle is Trigger. Oh, what fun she is having, for now I can hear her fighting her pet dog as if it were a robber. I pity that poor dog!

I Arrive

On a cold, Monday morning about three o’clock on a January morning, I was born. I weighed 7 and 1/2 pounds and had black hair and dark brown eyes. I was the second child in the family. Everyone said that I was a very ugly baby when I was little; but that I was so ugly until I was cute. I never did take a bottle. I always drank milk from a glass, along wih some crackers. I loved milk and crackers better than anything else. I was always meddlesome and curious about everything… All the other kids had pretty curly hair when they were babies, but I didn’t. My hair was just long and straight, and had hardly any curl at all. I never did like to take a bath. If I had to take one, I would want my brother to get in the tub with me…

High Scahool Highlights

When I came from Washington High School to Natchez to the tenth grade, I was cared stiff. Everyone had told me that Natchez was hard. They said that I couldn’t pass and even told me to go back to Washington, but I didn’t. I said I would stick it out if I did fail. Besides, I wanted to get into the sports at Natchez High more than anything else.

…Last year, I went out for basketball, and the coaches liked the way I played. The first day out, Jack Foster yelled out, “Look at that old Washington boy; thinks he can play basketball.” Well, that burned me up! I told him that I was in Natchez High now. The hardest subject I took last year was Geometry….


My first in working. That’s pretty hard to tell. But, if I had to work, I would rather drive a tractor in a field than any other hard work I know of. It’s not too hard to do, but you have to know what you’re doing. I remember the first time I ever drove a tractor by myself. Dad had told me that I could use the tractor to pull a log up to the barn from the bayou. After an hour of cranking a tractor, I found that I had not turned the gas on…

The first in sports leads to baseball. I would rather play baseball than any other sport I know. I long to be a great baseball pitcher some day. The next best in sports is swimming…

What I like most to do with my leisure time is just get off by my self and dream and admire the works of nature. I never found a companion so companionable as solitude. Most of the time I get on my horse and ride over to the woods and try to find new places that I have never been before.

My Job

Every summer, I have a special job to do. It starts around March or April, and lasts until September. The general outline of it would be plowing up of the land, planting of the crop, cultivating of the crop, and then the harvesting of it.

Around the first of March, I start oiling the tractor, plow, and all the equipment, so that I will be ready to start without any trouble. When the time comes, I always break the first ground with a plow. For the last three years, I have been the first to break the ground. The first few days is really fun, watching the plow throw the dirt way out and hear the familiar roar of the tractor and the sqeak of the plow. I would rather hear that sound than anything else in the world. I love to get up about five o’clock and start plowing, for the clover smells so sweet as the plow cuts through it. There is a cool spring breeze in the air, that feels so good before the hot sun heats you with its blistering rays.

After the ground is plowed up in rippling waves, the discing starts. The ground is usually disced twice, so as quickly as we disc it once, we start right back over it again. Then the planting starts…

By that time, school has come to a close, so I can put all my time for work. I really don’t mind, for I’d rather work any day than go to school…

It is really something unusual if you have never seen this kind of work before. By that time, [harvesting] the dreaded school starts again, so back to the old prison for nine months of hard labor. Forward Looking Thoughts “When I grow up, I’m going to own the largest cattle ranch and horse ranch in the country. There will be pretty green pastures in the lowlands and huge forests on the highlands”….That’s what I said when I was twelve years old.

Well, most of that still goes, for when I graduate, I want to go to college and take an agricultural course in specialized and scientific farming…

But it’s hard to tell just what I’ll do. I like baseball better than anything else in the world. Maybe someday I’ll get signed up with some of these baseball leagues and stay in that until I’m a ripe old age…

Seeing that I’m going to be a great cowboy someday, maybe some talent scout from Hollywood will come by and spot me and I will play in pictures…

Will I ever get married? Sure, everyone should. Why, I’ll need someone to help me on my farm to take care of everything. I don’t expect to be an old hermit and live by myself, but that’s a long time off now, for I don’t expect anything like that to happen until I’m about twenty-five.

I’ll be glad when I do get old just so I can see what I’ll make of myself.

My father, Charles, married twice. First, he married my mother, Mattie Sarah Williams, on 7 July 1950 in Fayette, Mississippi with his older brother, Lon E. Booker, Jr. and his wife, Kitty, as witnesses. Charles, age 20, and Sarah, age 16, had eloped that day, and for two weeks no one knew they were married. Children of Charles L. Booker, Sr. and Mattie Sarah Williams:

Charles Lee Booker, Jr. b. 20/2/1952 Natchez, MS, Living in Severn, MD

Forrest Andrew Booker b. 18/5/1954 Natchez, MS. Living in Nashville, TN

My father and mother divorced in 1960, and my father remarried to Margie Carol Jackson on 9 September 1960 in Meridian, Mississippi. Children of Charles L. Booker, Sr. and Margie Carol Jackson:

Michael Dwayne Booker b. 4/8/1961 Natchez, MS. Living Colorado Springs, CO

Wendy Charlene Booker b. 4/6/1966 Butler, AL. Marr. Timothy Pinkerton. Living Birmingham, AL

Lee Todd Booker b. 11/4/1969 Meridian, MS, d. 29/7/1979 Jackson, MS. Killed in car accident. Bur. Meridian, MS


Charles Lee Booker, Jr.

My Mother’s Family

I was born in Natchez, Mississippi, on 20 February 1952. My mother, Mattie Sarah Williams, born 15 March 1934 in Natchez, Mississippi, was the youngest child and only daughter of Alonzo Tucker Williams and Minnie Lee Judge. Alonzo, born 19 May 1886 in Wayne County, Mississippi, was the son of Daniel Cicero Williams and Martha C. McCarey. Daniel’s parents were James T. Williams of Georgia and Mary A. of Alabama (see 1880 Census of Wayne Co., Mississippi).

Martha C. McCarey’s parents were Benjamin McCarey and Margaret Summerall. The McCarey family can be traced back to Richard McCary, Sr. in the 1700’s to Albermarle and Amherst Counties in Virginia. Richard, Sr. served in the 2nd Division of the Virginia militia (see Rev. War Pension records of John and Peter Cash). Richard McCarey, Sr., and sons, Richard, Daniel, Samuel, Benjamin (my line), wife, Susannah, and four daughters moved between 1782 and 1786 to Edgefield County, South Carolina. Benjamin, son of Richard McCarey, Sr. had a son, Tandy, who moved to Alabama.

Tandy’s son, Benjamin was the father of Martha C. McCarey. More information on the McCary family can found in Ben C. McCary’s book, The McCary Family and Several Allied Families, pub. 1972, Tidewater Press, Worth Higgins & Associates, Inc., Richmond, VA. There is a copy on file at the National Archives.

Martha C. McCarey’s mother, Margaret Summerall, was the daughter of Jacob Summerall (1804 S.C.- 1873 Wayne Co., MS) and Mary Ann Friday (1810-1874). Both are buried in Choctaw Co., Alabama at Mt. Zion. Jacob was the son of Levi Sumrall (1772 S.C.- 1857 Clarke Co., MS) and Agnes Gibson. Levi was the son of Thomas Sumrall (1740 – 1821) and Ann Thomas @1760 Edgefield, SC. Thomas received pay from South Carolina for supplies furnished to the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War. More information on the Summerall family can be found in Emma Barrett Reeves’ book Keahey Clansmen and Their Kin, pages 222-243, pub. 1969 Texian Press, Waco, TX.; also, The Families, Somerville, Somervail, Summerall, Summerell, Summerill, Summerlin, Sumlin, Sumrall and Sumrill by James H. Hines, and co-authors Mrs. E. L. Davidson, Dr. & Mrs. James M. Martin and Emma Barrett Reeves, copyright 1981, Lib. of Congress Catalog Card No. 81-53023.

My maternal grandparents, Alonzo T. Williams and Minnie Lee Judge, were married 8 September 1917 in Forrest County, Mississippi. According to family tradition, Alonzo left home at a very young age to work in Silver Springs, Mississippi. Supposedly, Alonzo was married once before meeting Minnie Lee Judge, and had one child named Johnny by his first wife. Minnie Lee Judge, born 26 August 1898 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, was the daughter of Thomas M. Judge, born in May of 1868 in Jasper County, Mississippi and Sarah Ann Walker, born in 1863 in Jasper County. Thomas Judge was the son of Hilliard Judge, and Hilliard’s second wife, Martha McClendon. Hilliard was a veteran of the Civil War, having fought with Company C., 37th Mississippi Infantry Regiment throughout the war. He was captured, released on probation, returned home, rejoined his unit and was captured again towards the end of the war.

The Judge family can be traced back before the Revolutionary War to Halifax County, North Carolina. Hilliard’s father was William C. Judge, and his grandfather was the Revolutionary War veteran James Judge, Sr., (1756-August 1813). Hilliard’s grandmother was Christian Hilliard (1760-November 1816). In the Revolutionary War James Judge, Sr. is listed as a Private in Granberry’s Company, Halifax Co., NC; later he is listed as a 1st Lieutenant on the Pay Roll in Capt. William Brinkley’s Company, 2nd Regiment of NC., commanded by Colonel Sam Jarvis, and then on 14 October 1783, he is allotted 228 acres for 30 months service as an officer and soldier in the Continental Line.

Thomas Judge’s mother, Martha McClendon, was the daughter of Lewis McClendon (b.1804), and Susannah Sides (married in Copiah County, Mississippi on 16 May 1826). Lewis was the third son of Shadrach McClendon (1751-1855), a Revolutionary War veteran, who served under Col. Robert Anderson’s Regiment, 13th Continental Line, South Carolina, also the same regiment as his father, Lewis McClendon (1728/30-1778). Shadrach made application in 1826 for pension from Copiah County, Mississippi where he was living. In his pension, Shadrach stated he was in the siege of Savannah where he lost his left eye. He was captured by the British and held prisoner for fourteen months, then escaped. For more information on the McClendon family, read The McClendon Family, published 1983; by Melba Goff Allen of Pascagoula, Mississippi. She traces the McClendon family back to Dennis MacLennan of Scotland who migrated with two other brothers, John and William McLennan, to Perquimans County, North Carolina in January 1696.

Thomas Judge married Sarah Ann Walker on 16 December 1889 in Newton County, Mississippi. Sarah Ann was the daughter of William Walker, Confederate veteran of the Civil War, and grandaughter of Benjamin J. Walker of Newton County. In Goodspeeds, Memoirs of Mississippi, page 969, there is a paragraph written on the Benjamin J. Walker family. It states that Benjamin was born in 1790 in the Edgefield district, South Carolina, and was married in Wayne County, Mississippi in 1818 to Catherine Huston, who was born in the state of Kentucky in 1800. They had eleven chidren. In 1826 they moved to Simpson County and in 1834 to Newton County. Sarah Ann Walker Judge died in 1899 just after her daughter, Minnie Lee Judge, was born.


My early life was full of continual moves throughout southern Louisiana and Mississippi, but always returning to Natchez to stay with my Grandmother Booker (Marvel). Marvel holds a very special place in my heart. She was always supportive, and I suppose she spoiled me. I see now that she was the most consistent stabilizing influence in my early life.

My great-grandmother Gupton (Mary W.), whom we called “Ganga”, lived with my Grandmother and Grandfather Booker. I remember spending a lot of time with her in the kitchen, her kingdom. Beginning early in the morning, she would be up, and cooking biscuits, grits, oatmeal, eggs and bacon for everyone. During the day, she would be baking and shucking corn, snapping beans, and she always had a story to tell the grandchildren while she worked.

In southern Mississippi I lived in Natchez, Gulfport, McComb, and in Louisiana, Baton Rouge and New Orleans (Gretna). As mentioned earlier, my mother and father divorced in 1960, and my brother, Forrest Andrew Booker (Andy), and I again lived with our Grandmother Booker for awhile. My father, Charles, was living in Meridian, and my mother lived in New Orleans. Charles remarried to Margie Carol Jackson on 9 September 1960 in Meridian. Carol, born 5 March 1943 in Butler, Alabama, was the daughter of Grady Shields Jackson, born in Mt. Sterling, Alabama and Margie Gay Barr, born 25 July 1923 in Alabama.

Just after my father remarried, my mother, Andy and I drove to Richmond, Indiana to live with my great-uncle, Hilliard Judge (son of Thomas Judge) and his wife, Edna. My mother worked in a steel factory, but was layed off, forcing her to send Andy and I back to my father who by then lived in Natchez with his new bride. Andy and I flew to Jackson, Mississippi by plane, and being our first flight, the pilots invited us up to the cockpit (pre-terrorist era) to view the clouds and the earth below.

My father and Carol met us in Jackson and drove us to Natchez. We did not see our Mother until spring. My father and Carol had their first child, Michael Dwayne Booker, on 4 August 1961. Dad got a new job, working in the Gulf of Mexico as a oil worker, so we packed up and moved to Greenwell Springs, Louisiana, just outside of Baton Rouge. Those two years in Greenwell Springs are fond memories for me. I learned to enjoy school, especially history and music. In the fifth grade, my teacher, Mrs. Paulson, introduced me to American history. She had the students write their own plays about episodes in American history, and then had the children act out the scenerio. In the sixth grade (1963-64), I received my first musical instrument – a shiny cornet given to me by my older cousin, Eddie Booker, who became disinterested in music after discovering football.

My life has never been the same since picking up that instrument. The summer after the sixth grade, my brother, Andy, and I visited my mother in New Orleans who was by then working at a hospital there. It was a great summer, staying in my mother’s apartment, and enjoying the swimming pool. That summer I discovered girls, the Beatles, and Vietnam. I remember vividly hearing about some American Naval ships being attacked near a place called Vietnam. Everyone was outraged that our ships would be attacked without provocation, and everyone was for going over there and punishing the Communists.

When I returned to my father that fall, Dad and Carol had bought a forty acre farm near Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The farm was near a little town, (two churches and a general store) called Eastabutchie. My brother and I went to school in a suburb of Hattiesburg called Petal. We lived on the farm for one year, and I believe I’ve never worked so hard in my life. That Christmas (1964) Andy and I each got from Santa Claus a horse, saddle, and two angus calves. Besides these four legged animals, we had chickens, and turkeys on our farm, not to mention, “Max”, our German shepherd. In the spring Andy and I worked in the garden after school for at least one hour. Every morning and afternoon were full of chores, feeding the animals, working in the garden, and cleaning the barn, but always there was time for exploring the forests and fields, horseback riding, swimming in our own pond, and in Andy’s case – hunting. Looking back now, I realize it was one of the happiest times of my life. Also, I practiced my trumpet continuously, having made “first chair” in the trumpet section in the school band.

Dad and Carol moved our family again to Butler, Alabama at the end of my 13th year. In Butler I joined a “garage band” and actually made money performing. I also began arranging music, even improvising on the rock music of the time. I began to listen to other forms of music, classical and jazz. On 4 June 1966, Carol gave birth to my sister, Wendy Charlene Booker, born in Butler, and on 11 April 1969 my youngest brother, Lee Todd Booker, was born in Meridian, Mississippi. At the end of the 1966 school year, my brother, Andy, and I wanted to make some extra money, so Carol bought us a snowball machine, and we sold snowballs in May, June and July next to the courthouse. The money I made went into buying a new silver Conn Constellation Trumpet with a gold plated mouthpiece. That summer my brother and I visited my mother and her husband, Jesse A. Trevino, who was a Sergeant in the Air Force stationed at England Air Force Base at Alexandria, Louisiana. Andy and I remained with our mother after summer vacation and went to school at Brame Jr. High School in Alexandria. At the end of the school year, I received the award, “Most Enthusiastic Band Student.” During the summer of 1967, our step-father, Jesse, was transferred to Korea for thirteen months. Before he left for his new assignment, Jesse moved my Mother, Andy and me to San Antonio, Texas, where Andy and I attended school in the South San Antonio area.

About this time 1967-68, I joined a soul-rock band in San Antonio and we performed all over southern Texas. I was the only white person in the band. Until this time in my life, I never really thought to much about what was going on in the Civil Rights Movement. The education I received with this band could not be found in any school. I’ll never forget performing in Palacios, Texas, and being told by a resturant owner that we (the band) would have to go to the kitchen in back to eat. The 1967-1968 nightly news was full of casualty lists from Vietnam, the Tet Offensive, the Seven Days War in the Middle East, the assasinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the Democratic Convention in Chicago and the election of Richard Nixon in 1968. Like many of my generation the memories of those years are still very much with me.

At the end of 1968, Jesse returned from Korea, and we moved the family to O’Fallon, Illinois, just outside Scott Air Force Base. Andy and I attended O’Fallon High School, performing with the school band. I found another “soul” group to perform with and made a little money.

In May 1969, Jesse was discovered to have Hodgkins Disease, a form of cancer. He was flown from Scott Air Force Base to Wilford Hall Hospital in San Antonio, Texas for surgery and treatment. Mom, Andy and I moved into a house near the base, and we waited to see what would happen next. Jesse surprised everyone, including the doctors, and his cancer eventually went into remission. Jesse was temporarily medically retired, and Andy and I went to school at John Jay High School. After having been to five high schools in three and a half years, I decided to graduate in January 1970 and enter college that same month.


I attended San Antonio College from January 1970 until May of 1971. My first semester was spent taking mostly music courses. In June 1970 I began dating a young lady from school who was perfoming on drums at a local theatre group. I brought my trumpet to one of the performances and “sat in” the orchestra pit. Next to me was a cute brunette playing first trumpet, and I might add, doing a great job. Anyway, the drummer “dropped me”, and I began dating this trumpet player. Her name was Claudette Marie DeRocher, and following in the footsteps of my parents, Claudette and I eloped six months later. We were married 5 March 1971 in San Antonio, Texas.

Claudette M. DeRocher, born 12 March 1951 at Iron Mountain, Michigan, is the daughter of Robert John [Pecore] DeRocher and Catherine Marie Menger. Robert was the son of Donald Peter Pecore and Mabel Ann Vandervest (family line from Belgium near Brussels, arrived in America in 1850s’) of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and the grandson of John Pecore and Anna Nelson (from Sweden). John Pecore, a French-Canandian born in Canada, was the son of Peter Pecor’ or Picard, who brought his family to the United States from Quebec Province of Canada in the late 1880’s. When Claudette’s father, Robert, was stationed in San Antonio at the end of World War II, he met Catherine Menger, daughter of Claude Charles Menger and Helen Lucille Babcock. He married her 7 June 1950 in San Antonio, Texas. Catherine’s Menger family can be traced back to Windecken bei Hanua, Kurhessen, Germany to William A. Menger. William, born 15 March 1827 in Windecken, died in San Antonio on 18 March 1871. He was the son of Johann Menger and Margaretha Hochstadt. William was a cooper and a brewer. He came to America in 1847, and built the first brewery in San Antionio, and likely the first in Texas in 1855. “Menger Beer” became very well known. Mr. Menger built the Menger Hotel, and was also Captain of the Volunteer Fire Department. He purchased San Antonio’s first steam fire-engine in New York.

Claudette and I rented an apartment on San Pedro Avenue; she worked, and I continued attending San Antionio College. In the evening I performed on my trumpet at different night clubs in San Antonio, and in September 1971, I transferred to St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Tiring of school, on 9 October 1971 I joined the United States Army as a trumpet player with assignment to the Fifth U.S. Army Band at Fort Sam Houston, Texas after training. I would enter basic training on 5 January 1972. A week after I joined the Army in October of 1971, Claudette and I were told by the hospital that we would be expecting our first child the following summer.

Just a few days before entering basic, my Grandfather, Lon E. Booker, Sr. died on 30 December 1971. Claudette, and I along with my mother and brother, drove to Natchez. During the funeral I realized how much I was going to miss this soft-spoken man, and I must have cried throughout the entire service.

My Life In The Army

Basic training in the Army is no picnic, but Private Charles Booker survived, and Claudette and I were reunited in San Antonio in April 1972. We packed up our 1965 Rambler Classic and drove to Norfolk, Virginia to the Armed Forces School of Music. I attended the school from April until the first of September. During that time I began to write music for the jazz bands that rehearsed everyday at the school. My first attempt seemed to be disastrous, but a Navy instructor must have heard something promising. After pointing out my mistakes in the music (there were many), he told me to rewrite it. He said he would play it again the following day. We did this over and over till I got it right. At the school and in my first two years in the Army, I must have written at least one new arrangement a week. During my stay at the “School”, The Studio Band, the Army’s premier touring jazz band (part of the Army Field Band) came to perform there. I was really impressed with the ability and high musical standards achieved by this group, and I remember telling Claudette that maybe someday, I would be in that band. On 24 June 1972 Claudette gave birth to our eldest son, Erik Lee Booker. At that time fathers were not allowed in the delivery room, but the nurse finally brought Erik out to meet his father. My first sight of my son was him sucking his fingers, and staring at all the lights with the most beautiful blue eyes I had ever seen. This might account for Erik’s aspirations later in life to be an actor.

After the School of Music I moved my family back to San Antonio, and started my career as a trumpeter with the 5th Army Band. That Christmas, President Truman was very ill, and our band was put on alert to fly to Kansas at a moment’s notice. We were to support any funeral ceremonies that would be held at the President’s home. The day after Christmas we got word that President Truman had died. That evening we boarded a C-130 at Kelly Air Force Base and flew to Kansas. All I can remember was how cold it was. When we got to our destination around midnight, the Army planners put the band in with hundreds of other soldiers in an elementary school gym. The next day we rehearsed our part of the ceremony, and the following day we took part in a nationally televised memorial ceremony at the President’s house just next to his Presidential Library. That evening the band returned to San Antonio. Two months later President Johnson died, and once again we took part in that service, too. It seems as if it was even more colder in the “hill country” on President Johnson’s ranch than it was in Kansas.

I continued with my writing and playing trumpet for the next two years, and even did some conducting at the Ft. Sam Houston Playhouse Theatre. For several months I was the musical director of the play “Zorba” that was performed there. I left the Army at the end of my enlistment and moved my family to Denton, Texas, just before Christmas of 1974. I had decided to reenter college at North Texas State Universiy in the Spring, majoring in composition. After two months of college I realized how much I missed the camaraderie and hands-on excitement of an Army band. In May 1975 I re-enlisted into my old unit at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, and moved Claudette and Erik back to San Antonio. That summer, Claudette and I bought a house and settled down (we thought) to the routine of Army life. In August 1975, my Bandmaster offered me some free tickets to see The Army Field Band of Washington, D.C. perform at Trinity University. At first I said no thanks, but at the last minute I decided to go. As luck would have it, one of my senior sergeants was at the concert and pulled me back stage at the intermission to talk to the Commander of the Band, Major Fricano. The Major told me he had heard I was good arranger, and wanted to know if I would be interested in auditioning for the position of musical arranger for the Field Band. To make a long story short, in October I flew to Ft. Meade, Maryland (their headquarters) just outside of D.C. for the audition, and was accepted.

In March 1976, I sold my house, packed up the family and drove to Ft. Meade and moved into post housing. I immediately began writing new music for the Field Band for their spring tour in late April. I continued to write for the band during the spring and summer, but occasionally I’d sneak over to the Studio Band rehearsals to listen, pick up new ideas and try to get them to play my music. By September of 1976, I knew I wanted to do more than just write music for the rest of my military career. I not only wanted to write it, I wanted to conduct it, and someday, hopefully become the Director of the Studio Band (later became the Army’s “Jazz Ambassadors”). To do that, I would have to become an Army Bandmaster, a Warrant Officer. When I reported to Major Fricano, the day before he left on the band’s fall tour, I told him I wanted his permission to request admission into the Bandmaster course in January 1977. He smiled, and said, “I was wondering when you were going to get around to it.”

Army Bandmaster

On the first day of December, I was accepted for Bandmaster training at the School of Music beginning in January. In four weeks, I cleared quarters, raced my family back to San Antonio to stay with Claudette’s parents, and flew to Norfolk, Virginia. The course of instruction was for six long months. We began with eighteen candidates, and only ten of us graduated. Claudette and Erik drove up from San Antonio for the graduation, and she pinned on my Warrant Officer bars at the ceremony. That was a great moment for me; one I’ll never forget.

My first assignment was at Ft. Polk, Louisiana for three enjoyable years as Bandmaster of the Fifth Infantry Division Band. I was twenty-five and the youngest Bandmaster in the Army. I was full of an overabundance of energy and the will to succeed at everything. Looking back now, I believe I must have been exasperating to my sergeants, especially the older ones. They survived and taught me how to be a good officer. What I remember most of about Ft. Polk, was that Claudette and I were blessed with two more children, Adam Sherard Booker on 17 June 1978 and Colleen Alicia Booker on 15 March 1980.

In 1978 while Bandmaster of the 5th Infantry Division Band, the band flew to West Germany for Reforger ’78. We performed for six weeks throughout the military exercise area (near Frankfurt), and enjoyed the German hospitaliy, especially the beer and snitzel. That was my first taste of German culture, and I loved it. Just before leaving for Reforger ’78, my grandmother, Marvel, died. I will always miss her.

In 1979 my little brother, Lee Todd, was killed in a car accident near Union, Mississippi. This tragedy was devastating to the entire family, and I regret to this day that I never really got to know my youngest brother. I had already left home when he was born. I do remember that he was a quiet, happy little boy who loved baseball.

In 1980 I received orders sending me to Frankfurt, West Germany as Bandmaster of the Third Armored Division. I flew to Germany first, and six weeks later Claudette and the kids followed. We lived on the northern side of Frankfurt in the suburb of Preungesheim on Gibbs Kaserne.

In January 1981, the American Hostages held in captivity by the Iranian government were released. Our band performed for their departure from Rhein-Main Air Force Base to the states. I remember conducting the band during “God Bless America”, and suddenly found myself being hugged by one of the released hostages who was crying and thanking me for being there.

During my time in Germany, I made a lot of German friends, and we still correspond today. Claudette rediscoverd her German relatives in Windecken which is outside of Frankfurt, and just north of Hanau. Each year the band provided music at the memorial service at Margraten, Netherlands, and at the annual Nijmegan Marches, also in the Netherlands.

I also managed to get a Bachelors Degree while in Frankfurt. In 1983 the Bookers were once again moved by the Army to Brooklyn, New York where I became the Commander and Bandmaster of the 26th Army Band, “The Army Band of New York City.” During this time the band provided music for all visiting heads of states, for Mayor Koch’s city ceremonies and in 1986, for many of the activities in support of the Centennial of the Statue of Liberty. In 1984 I became deeply interested in the origins of my family, which resulted in this book. Much of my off-duty time was spent doing research at the New York City Library in Manhattan or at the National Archives Branch in Bayonne, New Jersey. In 1985, I left my family for eleven weeks to attended the Warrant Officer Advance Course at Indianapolis, Indiana. Around the middle of May 1986, I received a phone call from the executive officer of the Army Field Band. He asked me if I would be interested in becoming the Director of the Army’s “Jazz Ambassadors.” I took about one second to think it over and said, “When do I start?”

In August 1986, I reported to the Field Band for the second time in my life. By October I was on a 40 day coast to coast concert tour of the United States with the Jazz Ambassadors. When I returned from tour, Claudette and I moved the family into our new home on 1852 Statesman Court in Severn, Maryland just outside Ft. Meade.

Since that time, I have taken the Jazz Ambassadors on many tours throughout sections of our great country. In February and March of 1989, the Department of the Army sent the Jazz Ambassadors on a 30 day tour of India. We performed in New Delhi, Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Bangalore, and Poona. We even paid a visit to the great Taj Mahal. After our return to the United States, two weeks later we flew to Los Angeles, California and spent 40 days working our way back to Ft. Meade, Maryland. In June and July of the same year, the band did a 26 day tour of six countries in western Europe which included performances at the Nice Jazz Festival in France, the North Sea Jazz Festival at The Hague in the Netherlands, and the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. During all this time, I continued to work on our family history.

My wife of nineteen years, Claudette, works as the Secretary for the Provost Marshall at Ft. Meade, Maryland; she loves it, and comes home with some great stories. My eldest son, Erik, after taking one semester in college decided to enter the Army in March 1990. He will become a linguist and an interrogator for Army Intelligence. Adam has been playing the viola for the last three years in school. He also loves choir, science and recently, has discovered baseball. Colleen, my very studious, and independent daughter, loves to write poetry, short stories, and has quite a wit, driving her brother, Adam, crazy.

So what do I do next? I’ve been thinking about writing a book on my wife’s families…


I left the military in 1993, and for one year I was the Director of Bands at Fork Union Military Academy. I missed my home and family in San Antonio, and moved there in the summer of 1994. I became assistant editor of Southern Music, finished my Masters degree in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Texas at San Antonio; was adjunct faculty at the University of Incarnate Word and for one year was acting Director of Bands at Trinity University; received my Teaching Certificate from Southwest Texas State University in 1997, and taught public school music until appointed to my current position as Director of Jazz Studies at Westark College in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.

My oldest son Erik is now a miltary intelligence officer in the Army, and he and his lovely wife, Morissa, have given us grand children, Alex, Brennan and Colton. Adam, our second child, is a professional upright bassist, living in San Marcos, Texas and working throughout the country. Colleen is finishing up her first year of college at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos majoring in English and minoring in Philosophy. Although my children remain in Texas, Claudette and I love this part of country. We are at the foot of Ozark Mountains, and are finally settled in for the first time since leaving the military. We invite any Bookers or Buchers to visit us.

The Bucher/Booker Family, 1686-1990 © 1990 Charles Lee Booker Jr.


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