|About The Douglas / Overton Family Tree
On January 1, 1863, Republican President Abraham Lincoln issued the second and final
Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves in territories held by the Confederates.
This document was signed nearly two years prior to the end of the Civil War. Most freed
slaves, were caught between a rock and a hard place, not knowing where to go or what to do, or
even if their slave owners would allow them their freedom. The majority of the newly freed
slaves remained with their "former" slave owners and became “sharecroppers”. Other newly
freed blacks moved on in an attempt to sustain life away from their slave owners dominance.
Most slaves knew only farming, and after receiving their freedom, they chose to do just
that...farm. Many freed slaves remained on their former slave owner's land to work the fields.
By doing so, they received seeds, and tools from their former owners. But, they had to share
more than half of their profits from the fruits of their labor in exchange for housing from
their former slave owners.
Eleven years prior to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the
country experienced the "Gold Rush" between the years of 1848 thru 1859. There was a
mast migration westward. With settlements popping up west of the Mississippi River,
this movement gave rise for the need to build a railway system. Railroad work opened
numerous opportunities to blacks and other non-whites who were blessed with other labor skills
such as blacksmith, carpentry and the like. Even though President Lincoln signed the
Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 which freed all slaves, it wasn’t until December 6,1865, with
the passing of the Thirteen (13th) Amendment of the United States Constitution by Congress,
that slavery was abolished. This occurred eight months after the assassination of Lincoln, a
Republican, who attempted to help people of color get out of bondage. During the
Reconstruction, freed blacks were promised 40 acres and a mule which was passed by
Congress but vetoed by Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson. Nevertheless, both
groups of blacks, sharecroppers and the blacks who opted to venture off from
their former masters, had to beware of the ever present, active and very dangerous
white supremacy groups throughout the north and south who attempted to keep the newly
freed blacks suppressed. Blacks were now subject to “Jim Crow” laws.
In the late 1800's, black people were still considered property and was made to feel inferior
to the white man. For "Negroes" to own property, like their white counterparts, was unheard of
during this time in history. But, William Overton, who was born to a Choctaw woman by a black
man, he was somehow different. This black Choctaw Indian, with black straight hair, worked the
railroads in Tennessee and later migrated to Louisiana. Sometime after arriving in Greensburg,
Louisiana, he met and married Jane Gordon in the late 1800's. Their marriage produced
twenty two (22) offsprings. William Overton used his railroad skills and became a blacksmith
and a farmer. He made hoes, rakes, shovels, plow blades and bored drinking water wells.
William accumulated approximately 50-57 acres of land outside of the Township of Greensburg.
He later became a Methodist minister. Mary Alma Overton, the xxth oldest of 22, was born in
Greensburg on July 4, 1900. Mary Alma was a short, very petite, soft spoken, dark complexed,
In May of 1904, Mike Douglas and Harriet Douglas gave birth to James Alton
Douglas in Wilson, LA. Harriet was a white woman with "long down the back length"
wavy hair. James was the Xth oldest of 11 siblings. James was a tall handsome light
complexed, slim, but strong scraping buck, with a mouth full of gold teeth and cat
eyes (gray). At some point, the Douglas’ moved from Wilson, Louisiana to Greensburg,
Louisiana where James Douglas met and fell in love with Mary Overton. James and Mary married
between 1919 and 1921. In 1921, Mary became pregnant and she lost her first born child,
Wilbert Douglas. In that same year, James and Mary moved to New Orleans. In 1922, the second
child, Clara, was born in New Orleans at Charity Hospital. Clara was the first of eight
Douglas offsprings born in New Orleans at Charity Hospital. The "Depression of 1929" was hard
on the Douglas family in New Orleans. It was hard for James to find work, but Mary was
effectively able to support the family by working at the "Chalmette Laundry" located on Tulane
and Jeff Davis. Mary also worked part time for an old white lady named Ms. Murphy, who was
very nice and generous to Mary.
After the death of her mother, Jane Overton, on August 11, 1939, Mary returned to
Greensburg to care for her ailing father, William Overton. In 1940, Clara Douglas
became the first Douglas to graduated from high school. She later left Louisiana in
route to Philadelphia where she worked and went to school. In 1942, the 10th Douglas
offspring, Floyd Douglas, was delivered, in Greensburg, by a mid-wife, Annie Simms.
During the birth of Floyd, Mary experienced complications. Doctors informed Mary she
should not allow another child to be birthed by a mid-wife. On January 5, 1949, William
Overton died and The U. S. got involved in World War II. In 1946, Mary got pregnant for the
eleventh time. When the time came, Mary heeded the advice of the doctors and
traveled to New Orleans where Martha Douglas was born at CHNO like eight of her other
siblings. Wilbert and Floyd were the only Douglas babies born in Greensburg, LA.
Life was simple in Greensburg. Learning how to live off the land was powerful
stuff. But for some family members, they did not care for it. There were no modern
conveniences or appliances—no television, no radio, no toaster, no fan, no A/C, no
heater, no phone and no running water. The water was retrieved from the well, which was dug by
William Overton with a three foot long galvanized bucket approximately 3-4 inches in diameters.
The well was dug out about 20-30 feet below the ground surface. The galvanized bucket was
dropped into the well, then once full of water, it was pulled from the well providing
clean chilled spring water. There were no indoor toilet facilities. The wooden
outhouse was located about 80 yards from the house. We were fortunate to have a “two-
seater” outhouse with the luxury of having a large "Sears" catalog to view while
handling the business at hand. In the end, the pages were used... in the end as toilet paper.
It wasn't until Mary brought a number 3 galvanized metal tub back from New Orleans that
bathes seem to be pleasurable. Before that, all bathes were taken outside in a "cut in half"
wooden barrel. If water needed to be warmed, it was done on the wood burning stove
or in a huge black cast iron pot which was located outside in front of the house "On the hill".
There was no electricity. After dark, kerosene lamps were used. The meager six room house
consisted of the main bedroom with a fireplace, guess bedroom, girls bedroom, boys bedroom,
kitchen with a wood burning stove, and a dining area with a huge wooden picnic table. The
house was very drafty with only that large wood burning fireplace in the grandparents bedroom.
On cold nights, one would have to stand in front of the fireplace or stove, warm up, then run
jump into the bed to warm your spot. The only convenience to speak of was the “chamber pot”.
A little white porcelain pot with a red or blue stripe around the top of the pot.
The "chamber pot" was used as a toilet late at night saving one a trip in the dark to
Greensburg became the annual meeting place for all of the Douglas’ offsprings and
their families on July 4th. Not only was the 4th a national holiday, the 4th had
another significant meaning to the Douglas clan...it was Mary Overton Douglas
birthday. To celebrate this occasion, the Smalls, the Taylors, the Darensbourgs, the
Conners, the two middle Douglas brothers, and the Sparks would drive to Greensburg
from New Orleans with their families. While the Askews, would travel from Riverside,
California in their motor home, the Bells would drive in from Denison, Texas, the
oldest Douglas brother family would track in from Reno, Nevada, and the baby boy
would come in from Los Angeles, California. For years and years, the Douglas
siblings and their offsprings continued the tradition and gathered on “The Hill” to
share the love on this special date. James and Mary Douglas were only the beginning...they were
the source of inspiration for the family. James, a strong black male figure and Ms. Alma, the
soft spoken matriarch of the family, strived very hard to keep their children, their
grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren going in the right direction. They steered our
hearts toward God, and they taught us to share with and to love one another. Those family
traits we should NEVER FORGET...because WE WERE RAISED THAT WAY! We are family !!! We are
Douglas descendants...and proud of it!!!
As our beloved Douglas Family members began to suffer from age and various illnesses, our
Heavenly Father began calling them home. We now celebrate their lives and their memories in
our hearts, minds and in our spirits.
The cause of death and the burial location of Wilbert Douglas is unknown at this time.
On June 23,1965, our beloved grandfather, James Alton Douglas Sr., affectionately known as
"Pawpaw Jim or Big Daddy", was called home as a result of lung cancer. His remains were laid
to rest at the grave site located at Turner Chapel in Greensburg, Louisiana.
On September 3, 1978, Clara Douglas Small succumbed to breast cancer. She was laid to rest at
the grave site located at Turner Chapel in Greensburg, Louisiana.
On December 2, 1978, our beloved grandmother, Mary Alma Overton Douglas, affectionately known
as "Big Mama" succumbed to cancer of the pancreas. Her remains were laid to rest at the grave
site located at Turner Chapel in Greensburg, Louisiana.
On February 4, 1979, Bernice Douglas Askew succumbed to cancer. Her remains were laid to rest
at the grave site located at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.
In June 1986, Marguerite Douglas Conner succumbed to her illness and was laid to rest at xxxxx.
On April 20, 1992, Ida Mae Douglas Darensbourg succumbed to her illness and was laid to rest at
On April 23, 1993, Geraldine Douglas Bell succumbed to her illness. Her remains were laid to
rest at the grave site located at Fairview Cemetery in Denison, Texas.
On August 6, 1995, James Alton Douglas Jr. succumbed to his illness. His remains were laid to
rest at the grave site located at Restlawn Park and Mausoleum in Avondale, Louisiana.
On January 29, 2007, Martha Douglas Sparks succumbed to a cardiac arrest. Her remains were
laid to rest at the grave site located at Turner Chapel in Greensburg, Louisiana.
On November 27, 2008, Floyd Alexander Douglas succumbed to cancer. His remains were laid to
rest at the grave site located at Turner Chapel in Greensburg, Louisiana.
On February 4, 2013, Earl Wicker, James Douglas Sr. son out of wedlock, succumbed to a heart
attack. His remains were laid to rest at the grave site located at Turner Chapel in
On xxxx, xx, 20xx, Fred Buster Douglas succumbed to his illness. He was laid to rest, with
military honors, at Restlawn Park and Mausoleum in Avondale, Louisiana.
I am the third child of Clara Douglas Small. Clara was the second offspring of James and Mary
Douglas. I have extremely fond and everlasting memories of my grandparents, parents and all of
my maternal aunts and uncles ...The Douglas Clan. Since 2009, I have taken on this task of
attempting to inform the younger descendants of the Douglas/Overton lineage, especially the
Douglas side of the ledger, as to the history of that era and how life was as I was growing up,
as a Douglas descendant. Also, how it was being around my grandparents, in Greensburg,
Louisiana, during those summer months while on summer vacation from school in New Orleans. My
inspiration in taking on this monumental task stems from Alex Haley book/movie "Roots". Thanks
for the inspiration Mr. Haley.
Anthony Rubien Small Sr.
NOTE: CHECK OUT THESE FOUR VIDEOS ON 'YOUTUBE'
1.) VTS O1 1 The Douglas Family Collection Part1 and Part2".
2.) "My Brother Be Blessed"
3.) "Celebration in NOLA Saturday 9-17-2016"
4.) "Da Temptations EIB 2005"
COPY one of the above videos, GO to youtube.com, PASTE the copied video into the search box and