BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ORDER

The Order of the First Families of Mississippi 1699-1817 began as the result of a question. Mrs. Allen Turpin, Sr. of Monroe. Louisiana, wrote a letter to Mr. Charles Owen Johnson, an attorney, historian and genealogist of Washington D. C. and formerly of Monroe, to ask a question. Was there an organization in Mississippi to honor the early settlers of the state similar to the First Families of Virginia or the Louisiana Colonials ? Mr. Johnson did not know the answer but was intrigued by the possibility. He contacted Mrs. Laura Harrell of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. She replied that there was no such organization but Mrs. Herbert D. Forrest and Mrs. Swepson Taylor, both of Jackson, might be interested in organizing such a society.

On July 27, 1967, the following interested persons met for lunch and an organizational meeting at the Downtowner Motel in Jackson, Mississippi: Mr. Johnson, Mrs. Turpin, Mrs. Forrest, Mrs. Taylor, Mrs. T. L. Carraway of Jackson, Mississippi, Mr. and Mrs. Lamar Landfair of Jackson, Mississippi, Mrs. R. C. Upton of Madison, Mississippi, and Mrs. Camilla Frank of New Orleans, Louisiana. Mrs. Clifford Johnson of Monroe, Louisiana, joined the group for lunch. By telephone that same day, Mr. Everette Truly of Natchez, Mississippi, pledged his best efforts to promote the organization and Mrs. J. B. Dawkins of Monroe, Louisiana, also offered her support.

It was decided that the purpose of the organization would be to further the study of the history of the State of Mississippi prior to 1817, when it was admitted to the Union, and to promote educational, historical, genealogical, patriotic, literary, and social activities. Membership would be limited to persons who could prove direct lineal descent from an ancestor who was born in or lived in what is now the State of Mississippi between the years 1699 when the French settled Old Biloxi and December 10, 1817, when Mississippi officially became the twentieth state in the United States of America.

The members authorized to apply for a Charter of Incorporation were as follows: Mr. Lamar Landfair, Mrs. Herbert D. Forrest, Mrs. T. L. Carraway, Mrs. Hugh Watkins, and Mrs. R. C. Upton. Governor John Bell Williams approved the charter on February 2, 1968.

The first annual General Assembly was held at The Carriage House on the grounds of Stanton Hall in Natchez, Mississippi, on October 28, 1967. Mr. Charles Owen Johnson, Member Number 1, was installed as the first Governor General along with a staff of officers to be known as the General Council. Officers would serve a two year term of office. A membership certificate was adopted. Mr. Everette G. Truly of Natchez presented a program on the early history of Mississippi.

The membership increased through the years and the organization started to grow. The first Governor General, Owen Johnson, and some of the other founding members had expressed interest in the organization sponsoring a debutante ball. The first Colonial and Territorial Cotillion of Mississippi was held at The Eola Hotel in Natchez, Mississippi, on Friday, May 8, 1987, with ten young ladies making their debut. There have been eight cotillions held since 1987, in alternate years and depending on the number of young ladies who are interested in participating.

In the early 1990s it was apparent that there was a need for an office/headquarters to serve as a central contact point for officers and members. There was also a need for a place to store membership applications, financial records, and memorabilia that belonged to the organization. Space was available at the Historic Natchez Foundation at 108 South Commerce Street in Natchez, Mississippi. The office opened in February 1994 with Suzannah Patterson as the manager. Mrs. William F. Prince served as manager from 1995 2000 and Catherine Ruth Prince has served as manager from 2000 to the present.

A newsletter was also introduced in the early 1990s. It is published and mailed to members in the winter and the summer. In 2009 The Order of the First Families of Mississippi 1699-1817 came into the 21st century and went online with a website.

Through the years The Order of the First Families of Mississippi 1699-1817 has met the organizing purposes of historic preservation, historical research, and education. It has supported organizations with a similar purpose such as the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the Historic Natchez Foundation, and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. Donations have been made to historical organizations in the communities that have hosted our Fall Gathering such as the Lincoln County Museum in Brookhaven and the Wilkinson County Museum in Woodville. The organization has published lineage books Register I 1981, Register II 1991, and Register III published in 2009. These books contain a record of the lineage of members and a biographical sketch of the ancestors. In 1994 The Order of the First Families of Mississippi 1699-1817, established the Award of Meritorious Leadership in Mississippi History and Genealogy. This award honors persons who have made outstanding contributions in these areas through research, publications, and historic preservation. Members have an opportunity to make nominations for this honor. The selection committee is composed of past recipients who are also members of the organization. This award has been presented to seventeen persons since 1994.

As we celebrate our Golden Anniversary, 1967-2017, just over 1,500 persons have been admitted to membership in The Order of the First Families of Mississippi 1699-1817, with approximately 600 active today. The residency of more than 700 ancestors has been proven. Meetings are held twice a year. The Spring General Assembly is held in Natchez, Mississippi, in the spring. The Fall Gathering is held in different locations throughout Mississippi and occasionally in Louisiana, usually in October. The meetings provide an opportunity for the descendants of the earliest settlers of the State of Mississippi to gather for a time of fellowship and to exchange genealogical information.

Organizing Officers – July 1967 - October 1967

  • Governor General Mr. Charles Owen Johnson, Washington D.C.
  • Deputy Governor General Mrs. Herbert D. Forrest, Jackson, MS
  • Secretary General Mrs. Allen Turpin, Sr., Monroe, LA
  • Deputy Secretary General Mr. R. Lamar Landfair, Jackson, MS
  • Treasurer General Mrs. Hugh Watkins, Jackson, MS
  • Deputy Treasurer General Mrs. J. B. Dawkins, Monroe, LA
  • Registrar General Mrs. R. C. Upton, Madison, MS
  • Deputy Registrar General Mrs. Fred Amman, Monroe, LA
  • Historian General Mr. Corbin Turpin, Monroe, LA
  • Chaplain General Mrs. T. L. Carraway, Jackson, MS
  • Chancellor General Mr. Everette Truly, Natchez, MS
  • Librarian General Mrs. Kenneth Fleming, Canfield, OH

Officers First Term – October 1967 - October 1969

  • Governor General Mr. Charles Owen Johnson, Washington, D. C.
  • Deputy Governor General Mrs. J. Balfour Miller, Natchez, MS
  • Secretary General Mrs. Herbert D. Forrest, Jackson, MS
  • Deputy Secretary General Mrs. Allen Turpin, Sr., Monroe, LA
  • Treasurer General Mrs. Hugh Watkins, Jackson, MS
  • Deputy Treasurer General Mrs. J. B. Dawkins, Monroe, LA
  • Registrar General Mrs. R. C. Upton, Madison, MS
  • Deputy Registrar General Mrs. Thomas Hendrix, Jackson, MS
  • Historian General Mrs. Kennedy Abington, Monroe, LA
  • Chaplain General Mrs. T. L. Carraway, Jackson, MS
  • Chancellor General Mr. Everette Truly, Natchez, MS
  • Librarian General Mrs. Cary Noble, Natchez, MS

Charter Members – Persons who became a member in the first year.
Membership numbers 1 through 43.

  1. Mr. Charles Owen Johnson of Washington, D.C.
  2. Mrs. Elaine Briggs Fleming of Canfield. Ohio
  3. Mrs. R. Chester Upton of Madison, Mississippi
  4. Mr. Robert Lamar Landfair Jackson, Mississippi
  5. Mrs. Hugh Watkins of Jackson, Mississippi
  6. Mrs. Joseph Brooks Dawkins, Sr. of Monroe, Louisiana
  7. Mrs. Herbert D. Forrest of Jackson, Mississippi
  8. Mrs. Mary Louise Flowers Hendrix of Jackson, Mississippi
  9. Mrs. Thomas Luther Carraway of Jackson, Mississippi
  10. Mrs. Lucile Carlotta Corbin Turpin of Monroe, Louisiana
  11. Mr. Everette Geoffrey Truly of Natchez, Mississippi
  12. Mrs. J. Balfour Miller of Natchez, Mississippi
  13. Mrs. Laura Drake Satterfield Harrell Sturdivant of Jackson, Mississippi
  14. Dr. Clifford Uriah Johnson of Monroe, Louisiana
  15. Mrs. Lawrence Wilburn Long of Jackson, Mississippi
  16. Mrs. Grace Gibson Tufts of New Orleans, Louisiana
  17. Mrs. Percy A. Benoist of Natchez, Mississippi
  18. Mrs. Herman Evans of Jackson, Mississippi
  19. Mrs. Elizabeth George Foster Abington of Monroe, Louisiana
  20. Mr. Frank Edgar Everett, Jr. of Vicksburg, Mississippi
  21. Mrs. Margaret Wood Foster Haile of Natchez, Mississippi
  22. Mrs. Cary L. Noble of Natchez, Mississippi
  23. Mrs. Frederic Charles Amman, Jr. of Monroe, Louisiana
  24. Mr. Corbin Jefferson Turpin of Monroe, Louisiana
  25. Mr. Allen Thurman Turpin, Jr. of Monroe, Louisiana
  26. Mrs. Carl A. Chadwick of Natchez, Mississippi
  27. Mrs. Doris Odeal Varnado Green of Natchez, Mississippi
  28. Lt. Col. John Hawkins Napier, III of Alexandria, Virginia
  29. Mrs. Eva Whitaker Davis of Vicksburg, Mississippi
  30. Mrs. Wesley G. Avery of Jackson, Mississippi
  31. Mrs. James Smith Lawson of Jackson, Mississippi
  32. Mrs. Lawrence W. Long, III of Yazoo City, Mississippi
  33. Mrs. Isaac McMurphy Edwards of Canton, Mississippi
  34. Mrs. Juanita Magee Lott of Union Church, Mississippi
  35. Lt. Col. Randolph Hampton Percy of Monroe, Louisiana
  36. Mrs. Everette Geoffrey Truly of Natchez, Mississippi
  37. Mrs. William Calvin Wells, Jr. of Jackson, Mississippi
  38. Mrs. Katherine Mary Hill Thornhill of Monroe, Louisiana
  39. Mr. Roger Harrington Lambright of Jackson, Mississippi
  40. Mrs. Katherine A. Leary Roberts of Brookhaven, Mississippi
  41. Mr. Thomas Owen Roberts of Brookhaven, Mississippi
  42. Mrs. Ruth Audley Britton Wheeler Beltzhoover of Natchez, Mississippi
  43. Mrs. Charles Christopher Scott of Jackson, Mississippi


In Memoriam

Mr. Charles Owen Johnson
18 August 1926 11 August 2017

Membership Number 1

Organizing Governor General 1967

First Governor General 1967-1969

Chancellor General 1989-1993 and 2005-2007

Recipient of the Award of Meritorious Leadership in Mississippi History and Genealogy 2002

The Order of the First Families of Mississippi:  1699-1817
P. O. Box 821  —  Natchez MS  39121  —  601.442.0018