Notes for John Hawkins Napier, Sr.: Information from Lt. Col. John Hawkins Napier, III. John Hawkins Napier, Sr. is the grandfather of Lt. Col. John Hawkins Napier, III. John Hawkins Napier, Sr. left his family and his wife, (1) Laura Shanks Napier, divorced him. He married (2) Connell Priestly and they had 3 children. John Hawkins Napier, Sr., successively farmer, schoolmaster, and attorney, was reared and died in Covington Co., Mississippi, but lived most of his life outside it. Born in Simpson County, he grew up on Bouie Creek near Williamsburg (it was he who nearly died of burns when he was three), he attended local schools, Mississippi Norman College in Houston, received his law degree from the Southern Normal College, Huntington, Tennessee and did postgraduate work at the University of Arkansas.
During the Spanish-American War of 1898, he told me that he was designated second lieutenant of an infantry company formed from Covington, Jones, Smith, and Simpson Counties, but that the six-month war ended before it could be organized. Also, in late 1918, in the closing two months of World War I, he attended an officer candidate school for older men in Eugene, Oregon, but was struck down by Spanish influenza from which he nearly died and which turned his hair grey overnght.
He began his law practice in Poplarville, Mississippi, Pearl River County seat (my mother's family's home county since 1816) and in 1907 took as his law partner Theodore Gilmore Bilbo, the future "Stormy Petrel" of Mississippi politics, but he disliked Bilbo and ended the partnership. Bilbo later said, "Mr. Napier, Mr. Tally and Shivers and Shivers were the leading lawyers of the bar when I came out of school." There and in Picayune a later law partner was his younger barother, "Banty Jim." He then wore his hair long, a'la Governor (later U.S. Senator) James K. Vardaman. One night at a dimly-lit church in Picayune, when he pledged $100, a visiting preacher mistakenly called him "Sister Napier" and it stuck.
In 1904, he was Picayune's first town attorney, and in 1907, helped my mother's father, banker E. F. Tate, known as "the Father of Picayune," persuade the Mississippi Legislature to have the Picayune area, then in Hancock County, annexed to Pearl River County. Granddaddy Tate used to retain him by the year. In the early 1950's, an old-timer living out from Poplarville told me, "There's some kinds of lawyers you have to look out for, and when Lawyer Napier started carryin' a load of books to court and arguing, it was time to look out!"
He also practiced law in New Orleans 50 miles south of Picayune, although Louisiana's law is based on the Code Napoleon. Then he left South Mississippi and practiced law first in Memphis, then in San Francisco, in Arizona, and Oregon, where he finally settled. At different times, he was mayor of Reedsport and Klamath Falls, Oregon. On November 11, 1921, he was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, whose Chief Justice then was ex-President William Howard Taft.
Earlier, in 1916, he was involved in a gold mining venture in northern Mexico, until Pancho Villa's raid on Columbus, New Mexico disrupted the Border and the U.S. retaliated with Major General John J. Pershing's Punitive Expedition. In 1949, he had resigned as Klamath Falls Deputy District Attorney and returned to Covington County, Mississippi, where he bought a 105-acre farm at age 74 and lived out his days. In Oregon, he became a Republican and he was a Presbyterian. He became a Freemason (Olive Branch Lodge No.34 in Williamsburg, Mussissippi in 1897), was also an Odd Fellow and member of the Knights of Pythias. He is also buried in the Eminence Churchyard near his father's grave.
Census Place: District 1, Covington, Mississippi---1880 Census Source: FHL Film 1254646 National Archives Film T9-0646 Page 320A Relation Sex Marr Race Age Birthplace Ben B. NAPIER Self M M W 24 MS Occ: Planter Fa: MS Mo: MS Martha J NAPIER Wife F M W 23 MS Occ: Keeping House Fa: MS Mo: MS John H. NAPIER Son M S W 5 MS Occ: Ms Fa: MS Mo: MS J. G. NAPIER Son M S W 4 MS Fa: MS Mo: MS Mary E. NAPIER Dau F S W 2 MS Fa: MS Mo: MS E. M. NAPIER Dau F S W 3M MS Fa: MS Mo: MS
Info from Lt. Col. John Hawkins, III John Shanks was born in Marion District, So., Carolina, son of the Rev. William T. and Rebecca Pitman Shanks, who came to Barbour County, Alabama in 1829. There he studied medicine under Dr. Archibald Carmichael in 1850, but became a teacher instead. He moved to Mississippi before 1857 and married Mary Jane in DeSoto on Jan 18, 1859. He enlisted April 25, 1862 at Grenada, Mississippi in the Dixie Rifles, Company K, 29th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, served in the siege of Corinth, the invasion of Kentucky and at the Battle of Murfreesboro. Afterwards, he was ordered to hospital at Shelbyville, Tennessee April 20, 1863 with appendicitis and was invalided out in 1864. He died March 3, 1881 near DeSoto, Mississippi and his widow June 12, 1912 at Taylorsvile, Mississippi.
More About John Hawkins Napier, Sr.: Akin to Ramona Tucker: 3rd cousin once removed. Burial: Unknown, Eminence Methodist Churchyard northeast of Seminary, Covington, Mississippi.
More About John Hawkins Napier, Sr. and Laura Margaret Shanks: Marriage: October 27, 1895, Lake Como, Jasper Co., Mississippi.
Children of John Hawkins Napier, Sr. and Laura Margaret Shanks are:
+John Hawkins Napier, Jr., b. December 02, 1896, Rawls Springs, Perry now Forrest Co., Mississippi, d. September 24, 1949, New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana.