Sunday, April 14, 2013

John Buel Bynum (1895-1972)

John Buel Bynum

John Buel Bynum was the oldest of thirteen children born to the marriage of James Benjamin "Ben" Bynum and Annie Jane Sumrall.  He was born in Marion County, Mississippi on August 7, 1895.

In November of 1921, John married Flora Jane McIver, daughter of Evander Wilder McIver and Lillie Tufford.  

The following children were born to the marriage of John and Flora:
Jessie Lois (Livingston)
Johnnie Louise (1. Riley; 2. Luper)
Mildred Annette (Edmonds)
James Wilder "Jimmie" (m. Mikell)

Part 1 of 3, Memories of John and Flora McIver Bynum from their son, James Wilder "Jimmie" Bynum:
Pa, as we called him, was an educator and athlete.  He was good in both fields because he believed in hard work and dedication.  When he attended school at Sumrall, he would walk or run the five miles both ways.  Often he would do this with one of his younger brothers or sisters on his shoulders.  When he was a junior in high school he represented Sumrall in a track meet at Purvis, and entered the pole vault, broad jump, mile race, and hundred yard dash and won every event.  After graduating from high school, he was awarded a baseball scholarship to Millsaps College in Jackson Mississippi, but was unable to take advantage of it because he didn't have the money for train fare from Hattiesburg to Jackson.  Instead, he enlisted in the Army.
In 1916 he was stationed at Camp Jackson, Mississippi, before being sent to active duty as a Sargent in Company D, 155 Infantry, in the European Theater in France during
World War I.  He served for three years and was honorably discharged from the Army on July 22, 1919.  While in the Army, he was still an active athlete and was on the army professional boxing team and football team.
After being discharged from the Army in 1919, he started working for the J. J. Newman Lumber Company part time and went back to school at State Teachers College in Hattiesburg.  He also played for the lumber company's semi-pro baseball team.
He met Flora Jane McIver, who was teaching school at Rocky Branch near Sumrall and they later married in November of 1921.  Twins, Jessie Lois and Johnnie Louise, were born in 1922 and were so identical, that my mother had difficulty giving them medicine, being afraid of overdosing one.  Mildred was born in 1926 and I was born in 1928.  With all these additions to our family, Pa still graduated from the State Teachers College.

His teaching began at Grandby, then Clem in Jefferson Davis County, from there to Hopewell near Columbia, and then to McLain in Greene County.  When we lived at McLain, I was five years old and the depression was going strong. 

The warrants that were issued were not good; there wasn't any money to back them up.  So the teachers could not be paid.  Good credit at Backstrom's Store, the kindness of friends, Pa's hard work and faith that things would get better, helped us hang on.      (Part 2) (Part 3)
In 1947, John Buel Bynum was elected to the office of Superintendent of Education for Jefferson Davis County, Mississippi. 

Superintendent of Education
He went on to receive a Secondary Permanent Professional License from Mississippi Southern in 1953.
Secondary Permanent Profession License
In 1965 he became the Executive Secretary of the Jefferson Davis County Chamber of Commerce.

It was from this office that he wrote his granddaughter the following letter on March 13, 1967:

John Buel Bynum passed from this life on June 2, 1972.  He is buried alongside his wife, Flora Jane McIver Bynum in the Prentiss Cemetery in Prentiss, Jefferson Davis County, Mississippi.  Tombstone photograph is courtesy of Gene Phillips at

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