About Me

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Just to tell you a little about myself, my name is Vickie and I was born and raised in Kentucky. The majority of my ancestors have been in Kentucky since the 1790’s. I have always loved history, a good mystery and puzzles and that is what Family History Research is all about. As a child we would take day trips on Saturdays and head down some dirt road looking for old cemeteries. A lot of the time we weren't looking for anyone in particular, we just like to read the epitaphs. We would have a picnic lunch packed and have lunch at whatever cemetery we were at. If the weather was bad my Dad and I would go to a courthouse and dig through old records in musty old basements looking for our ancestors. So as you can see I have had an interest in Family History for quite some time.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Reed Renshaw

My third great-grandfather is this week’s installment and he is from my daddy’s side of the family, through my grandmother, Jessie Doss.   This grandfather’s name was Reed Renshaw, who was born February 7, 1807 in Knox County, Tennessee the son of John Renshaw and Nancy Reed.  Reed was the oldest son and second child of the seven known children born to John and Nancy.

Reed’s siblings were the following: Matilda Renshaw 1805-1881 who married John Cansler, Temperance Mary Renshaw 1809-1846 who married Plinny Philip Cansler, Enoch Renshaw 1811-1900 who married Melinda McCord, Emily Renshaw 1813-1896 who married Thomas Jayne and then Hiram Bixby, Calvin Renshaw 1815-1816 and Wylie Renshaw 1818-1859 who married Elizabeth Cansler.  Only Reed and Matilda were born in Knox County, Tennessee all the rest of Reed’s siblings were born in Christian County, Kentucky.  The Renshaw siblings married Cansler siblings, who were Lucetta’s cousins, her aunt, Elizabeth Golden Cansler was their mother.

Reed was only one years old when his parents left Tennessee and came to Kentucky in 1808, settling in Christian County on the Brush Fork of the Tradewater River.  Just ten years later, Reed and his parents had moved on to Madison County, Missouri in the summer of 1818.   Reed’s father, John apparently went back and forth from Missouri to Kentucky and while he was back in Christian County, Kentucky on business, he took sick and died on September 9, 1822 at the home of James C. Clark.  Four years later Reed, his mother and his siblings packed up their belongings and went back to Christian County, in the spring or summer of 1826.

Reed mainly worked as a farmer and lived in the Hamby Precinct in Christian County from around 1826 to 1839.  It was while living here in Hamby that he met and married his wife, Lucetta Clark a daughter of Joseph Clark and Mary Ann Golden.  Reed and Lucetta were married September 27, 1827.   The James C. Clark mentioned in the above paragraph was Lucetta’s oldest brother, so these families had known each other for a while before Reed and Lucetta were married.

Sometime around 1839 or 1840, Reed and his family moved to the Bainbridge Precinct, also in Christian County, where he farmed until 1875.  Reed and his wife were members of the Universalist Church from at least 1842, until their deaths.  Reed was also an active member of the order of AF & AM, which stands for Ancient Free and Accepted Masons and was a Republican in politics.  He was a butcher in his early life and for many years was a Magistrate of the county and was also appointed postmaster on November 1, 1855 for Wooldridge's Store in Christian County.  Reed also owned at least three slaves which were listed on the 1850 slave schedules, a female age 40, a boy age 14 and a girl age 6.  In 1860 he only had a young man age 23, which could have been the boy from 1850.  Sometime after 1880, Reed and Lucetta moved into Hopkinsville, where they resided until their deaths.

Reed and Lucetta were the parents of eleven children, namely: Finis H. Renshaw 1829-1915 who married Luvenia Jane Woosley, Emily M. Renshaw 1831-????, Luretha A. Renshaw 1833-1925 who married James W. Woosley, James Clark Renshaw 1835-1919 who married Martha Jane Francis, Eliza Mildred Renshaw 1835-1896 who married Wilson Henry Woosley (my direct line), Enoch B. Renshaw 1838-before 1850, Sophronia E. Renshaw 1840-1903 who married John W. Jones, Dorothy Jane Renshaw 1842-1862 who married Jackenia P’Pool, Amanda C. Renshaw 1844-1886 who married Samuel H. Averett, Adelia E. Renshaw 1847-1887 who married William T. Williamson and Joseph Reed Renshaw 1850-1912 who married Mary M. Yancy.  Three of these Renshaw siblings married Woosley siblings this time.

The following picture was one my dad had, had for many years and I am not sure who he got it from.  A note my dad had with this picture, said that on the back of the original was written Renshaw, then with Reed and Lucetta and question marks.  I would like to think it is them, but I don’t know for certain that it is.  The way this couple looks in this picture and the clothes they are wearing, make me think the picture was probably taken in the late 1870’s or early 1880’s, which would fit perfectly to be Reed and Lucetta.

Reed lost his lovely bride of 56 years, when she passed away November 23, 1883 and he followed almost ten years later, dying on October 15, 1893.  Reed and Lucetta are both buried at what was once called the Curde Cavanaugh Cemetery but is now called the Cavanaugh/Renshaw Cemetery.  You can find this cemetery by going to the intersection of Hwy 68W & Hwy 91N in Hopkinsville, then go down Hwy 91N for approximately 8.9 miles, then make a slight right onto the Old Princeton-Hopkinsville Road for .6 miles and the cemetery is just off on the right hand side of the road.  I was at this cemetery back in July of 2001 and there were only a handful of markers left and Reed and Lucetta’s were no longer there.  Unfortunately many small family and country cemeteries are falling victim to vandals and thieves in Kentucky, probably elsewhere to but I know Kentucky has been extremely hard hit.  Thieves will take the nicer granite stones and grind them down and make new stones.  I wish someone would reach right through the ground and grab one of these thieves and give them a good shake and maybe it would stop all the looting.

Fortunately for me though my daddy took pictures of Reed and Lucetta’s tombstones years ago, so I do know what they did look like and they are the following pictures, along with a picture of one of their grandson’s tombstones that I took in 2001.  George W. Woosley was a son of Reed and Lucetta’s daughter, Eliza Mildred Renshaw Woosley. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mary Ann 'Polly' Jones

Well my ancestor this week, is to me an interesting lady, one who probably led a very tumultuous life to say the least.   Coming from my Mom’s side of the family, she is my third great-grandmother, Mary Ann Jones, who was born February 28, 1834 in the Flynn’s Lick area of Jackson County, Tennessee.  She was mainly known by the nickname of Polly and was the daughter of Elias Jones and Parthena Ellis who were both born in North Carolina.  Polly was number six of the twelve children born to Elias and Parthena, who had two girls and ten boys.

Polly’s siblings were, three brothers names unknown at this time, who may have died young and were the oldest of the twelve children born approximately 1824 to 1830, James William Jones 1828-1902, Thomas Reece Jones 1833-1920, William E. Jones ca. 1835-????, Rebecca Isabel Jones ca. 1837-after 1901, Elijah Jones ca. 1841-before 1880, George Washington Jones 1843-1928, John Anderson Jones 1845-after 1910 and Alexander A. Jones 1847-1923.  All of these children were also born in the Flynn’s Lick area of Jackson County, Tennessee.

Polly was married to at least three different men, but I have yet to find a marriage record for her to any of them.  Polly’s first husband was my third great-grandfather, Labon Lafayette Loftis, who she married when she was about 15 years old.  I know they are together on the 1850 census in Jackson County, Tennessee and the census record says they had been married in the census year.  The census is dated November 19, 1850 so that means they should have been married sometime between November 1849 and November 1850, but like I said I cannot find a marriage record for them yet.  I know a lot of early marriages in Jackson County were destroyed in some way, so that may be why I have not found an actual date yet.  Labon or ‘Fete’ which seems to have been his nickname, was almost ten years older then Polly and the 1850 census is the only time I ever find him on any official records.

I have yet to find Polly, Fete or any of their children on the 1860 census, and I have looked at every page of the 1860 Jackson County, Tennessee census as well as all the surrounding counties, but so far no luck.  I know Polly and Fete had at least five children together, namely: James Madison Loftis 1851-1937, Susan Almira Loftis 1856-1922, Mary Jane Loftis 1858-1930, Thomas Jefferson Loftis ca. 1862-????, and John Bartley Loftis 1863-1935 who was my direct line and my 2nd great-grandfather.  The following is the only picture I have of John Bartley Loftis and he is with his wife Mary Tom Yates in this picture, which was probably taken around the 1910’s to 1920’s in Crittenden County, Kentucky.  My Mamaw, Daisy Loftis Fraley told me that their house burnt down when she was a kid so any pictures they may have had burnt went the house burnt.

This next picture is John Bartley Loftis’ old house in Crittenden County, Kentucky and the gentleman standing in front of it is my Mamaw’s first cousin, Carlton Loftis who lives in Michigan.  This picture was probably taken in about the 1950’s or so.

I have often wondered if Polly’s husband, Fete, may have joined up with the Confederate Army or possibly even the Union Army, during the Civil War and may have been killed or died of some kind of a disease during the war, but again I can find no record to prove this theory either.  What I do know is that by 1865, she is now married to Nathan H. ‘Tosh’ Huff and again I can find no marriage record, but I do have some courts records where Polly and Nathan are filing for divorce from each other.  Mainly, Polly is filing for cruel punishment and Nathan is not wanting to pay for any of the court costs.   Nathan doesn't say he isn't cruel, he just won’t pay for the court costs.  The first filing dates for this divorce are in June of 1867, but they are still together on the 1870 census.

Other court records I have found have Nathan Huff being charged with the murder of Thomas J. Meadows which occurred on January 31, 1872 in Jackson County, Tennessee.  Thomas J. Meadows’ father, James W. Meadows would not appear in court and so the charge of murder against Nathan Huff was dropped.  Now I know that different people I have talked to and stories I have found on the internet say that Nathan Huff’s own family, called him the meanest man in Tennessee.  Maybe James W. Meadows was too scared of Nathan to come to court and confront Nathan about the murder and I can sure see why Polly would want to get away from him as well.  It seems from court records that I have seen so far, that Nathan Huff, must have intimidated a lot of people because he would be hauled to court and charged with different offenses, but then no one would ever testify against him.

I do know for a fact that Polly and Nathan had at least four children together before she was finally able to get away from him.  These four children were: Sidney Stanton Huff 1866-1946, Nathan H. Huff, Jr. 1867-1951, Samuel H. Huff 1869-1950 (I wrote about him on week #3), and Elvira Elizabeth Huff 1871-1957.  All four of these children were also born in the Flynn’s Lick area of Jackson County, Tennessee.  Nathan Huff had at least eight children with his first wife Eliza Wolfe and at least one child with his third wife Louisa Newman.  I do know that after February of 1871 and before February of 1873, Polly has finally left Nathan Huff and gone to Crittenden County, Kentucky taking her two Loftis daughters, Susan and Mary, and the one Huff daughter, Elvira, with her.  The boys Loftis and Huff all stayed in Tennessee, until after 1880 then some of them also came up to Crittenden County, Kentucky including my direct line, John Bartley Loftis.  The following picture of Polly was probably taken in the late 1870’s or early 1880’s.

On the 1880 census, Polly Huff is living in Crittenden County, Kentucky and she says she is widowed and is working as hired help in the house of John Fritts.   Polly’s two Loftis daughters are both married now and her Huff daughter, Elvira, is living with her half-sister, Susan Loftis Haney.   I wish there was an 1890 census so I could see what Polly was up to, but I do not find her again until the 1900 census where she is going by the last name of Keens and living with her daughter, Susan Loftis Haney in Lyon County, Kentucky.  So far I have not found who this Mr. Keens was, his first name or where this marriage may have occurred at.  The 1900 census also says that Polly was the mother of twelve children, but that only ten were still living.  I have names for nine children, five Loftis and four Huff, and I know that Thomas Jefferson Loftis disappears after 1870, so I have always assumed he passed away young.  Maybe Thomas ran off, possibly getting away from an abusive step-father???  If I could find the 1860 census maybe that tenth child would be listed there and then I would know who he or she was, if indeed the 1900 census record is correct in the amount of children born and living, that Polly had.

I do not know for sure when, but probably after 1901, Polly leaves Kentucky and goes back to Tennessee and Flynn’s Lick.  Different records I have found say that Nathan Huff died in either 1897 or 1901, but I haven’t found him on a 1900 census, so I am thinking the 1897 death date is probably the correct one.  Again I am assuming that Polly did not go back to Tennessee, until she was absolutely sure that Nathan Huff was dead, and I can’t say I would blame her if that was the case.  I believe she may have left shortly after the following picture was taken.  The people in the picture are Robert Marion Pogue 1864-1946, his wife Elvira Elizabeth Huff 1871-1957 and their three children, William Vernon Pogue 1894-1921, Lela May Pogue 1899-1986 and Henrie Melma Pogue 1901-1969 and the older woman is my grandma, Mary Ann ‘Polly’ Jones Loftis Huff Keens.  The baby, Henrie Melma Pogue was born August 6, 1901 and she looks pretty small in this picture, so I am thinking probably the fall of 1901 for the time frame of this photo, which was taken in Crittenden County, Kentucky.

I believe that when Polly goes back to Flynn’s Lick, she probably lives with her son, James Madison Loftis and his family, because Polly is buried next to James’ wife, Filena Allen Loftis, and some of her grandchildren at the New Salem Cemetery.  The following is a picture of James Madison Loftis and his wife Filena and six of their twelve children, and this picture was taken in 1903.

The death records from Tennessee state the following: Pollie Huff, age 75 years, white, female, married, died December 28, 1909 in Flynn’s Lick of old age.  Now why she is listed as married I don’t know, she says she is widowed on the 1880 and 1900 census, but the weird thing is she is listed as a Huff.  If it had been me I would have gone back to the surname of Loftis or kept the surname Keens that she had on the 1900 census, I sure wouldn't have used the surname of Huff.   If she was living with her son and his family one of them would have probably been the informant, but the records for 1909 do not have the informants name listed most of the time.  I do know that on her tombstone she is listed as a Loftis though.  The following pictures are of her tombstone and of the sign going into the cemetery, pictures I took when I went there on Sunday, October 17, 1999.  It was so cool to be able to stand there and see that she had a marker and was not forgotten by her family.

Seventy-five years, none of them easy, but what I can tell you is that Polly did leave some wonderful descendants.  My Mamaw, Polly’s great-granddaughter, Daisy Elnora Loftis Fraley, was one of the finest people that ever walked on this earth, loved and missed by all who knew her.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Alva Rich Porter

The ancestor I am talking about this week is my husband’s uncle, Alva Rich Porter, who was married to my mother-in-laws only sister, Anna Isabel Mortenson.  Alva Rich Porter was born February 19, 1907 in Central, Graham County, Arizona the son of Alva Sylvenus Porter and Eliza Bratton Porter.  He was the next to the youngest and only surviving son of his parents, having had two brothers that died the same day they were born and also seven older sisters.   As far as I know he never went by his first name, but always used his middle name of Rich instead.

Uncle Rich’s siblings were: Joseph Lyman Porter 1887-1887, Mary Hazel Porter 1889-1921, Birdie Electa ‘Verda’ Porter 1891-1976, Cora Eliza Porter 1894-1968, Millie Viola Porter 1896-1899, Nancy Mildred Porter 1899-1979, Afton Luella Porter 1901-1978, Athena Pearl Porter 1904-1968 and John Parley Porter 1911-1911.

The following is a family picture of Uncle Rich, his parents, and four of his sisters taken in about 1915 in Webb, Cochise County, Arizona from left to right: Mildred, Cora, Alva, Eliza, Rich, Afton and Athena.

We loved going and visiting with Uncle Rich and he always had fantastic stories to tell, most of them my husband had heard over and over since he was just a little kid.   Uncle Rich wasn't much of a talker if there were a lot of people around, but just one or two and he would get started and could go on for hours.  We always loved listening to his stories.

One of Uncle Rich’s stories is one I will never forget and one Uncle Rich never forgot either.  That was the day that he meet a world famous aviator, none other than Amelia Earhart on September 12, 1928 in McNeal, Cochise County, Arizona.   Amelia Earhart was on a solo flight heading to Los Angeles and going across Southern Arizona when she noticed her plane was running low on fuel.   Just below her was the tiny little farming and ranching community of McNeal.  McNeal is about 20 miles north of Douglas and about 25 miles northeast of Bisbee.  Uncle Rich was working at the little mechanic shop there in McNeal when he saw her plane headed right towards them.  Amelia set her plane down safely, but unfortunately the mesquite tree needles punctured her tires.   Uncle Rich always told how he took the tires off the plane and got them fixed for her.   While Uncle Rich and the other men got Amelia’s plane back in working order, members of the Ladies Aid Society from the area, fed her and visited with her while her plane was being fixed.  I also have the old newspaper, from the Douglas Dispatch, that Aunt Anna saved, that shows Uncle Rich with Amelia Earhart in McNeal, now all I need to do is find it so I can get it scanned and add to this little bio.

The following picture is Amelia Earhart at McNeal on September 12, 1928.  She apparently posed for a picture while she was there and this photo is found at the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, in Bisbee, Arizona.

This next is a newspaper report that I found of her landing in McNeal, Arizona dated Thursday, September 13, 1928 from the Oregonian a newspaper in Portland, Oregon.  This article says McNeal had an airport but they really didn't, it was just a dirt field barely big enough for her to land.  If it had been an actually airfield she probably wouldn't have gotten mesquite needles in her tires.

The next picture is of Uncle Rich, which was taken on July 24th, which was Pioneer Day, in Whitewater, Arizona which is a little town about 26 miles north of Douglas.  Not sure what year this was taken, but I am assuming in the 1930’s, though it could be even a little later say early 1940’s.  The back of the picture just said, Rich, Pioneer Day’s on it.

I can see why Aunt Anna, said yes when Uncle Rich ask her to marry him, he was a good looking young man.  Rich’s family lived there in Webb and Anna’s family lived in Whitewater both in Cochise County, Arizona, two tiny little towns about 26 miles north of Douglas and the Mexican border, which are both now called Elfrida.  Both families were from early LDS pioneer stock and they attended church there together.  Rich and Anna were married there in Webb on September 28, 1932.  Unfortunately, Rich and Anna never had any children of their own, but Anna was a surrogate mother to many of the children in the area.  All of her nieces and nephews thought the world of her and always made sure and stopped to visit with Uncle Rich and Aunt Anna, anytime they were home for a visit.  They had huge pecan trees around their house and we would always stop and pick up all we wanted anytime we were there for a visit.

Uncle Rich also served as the second Bishop of the Whitewater LDS Ward from August 2, 1942 until February 16, 1947.  Before the Whitewater Ward was made a ward it had been a small branch of the LDS Church there in the Sulpher Springs Valley of Cochise County, Arizona.  At the time he was Bishop the members meet in the old church house that was there by the cemetery.   The building was so old that it was being propped up by 2x4’s, when Uncle Rich was Bishop.   It was during his time as Bishop that he was ask to go to Salt Lake City and met with Apostle, Joseph F. Merrill to see about getting a new chapel built there in Whitewater.   He was able to get the needed approval and land was soon bought on Highway 666, just down from Gleeson Road in March 1948 from Bessie Shirley and the ground breaking for the new chapel was July 17, 1948.   The new building was finished on June 23, 1952 and the members of the LDS Church in the area still go to that building to this day.  The following pictures show Uncle Rich when he was Bishop, the old building in 1932, the ground breaking for the new chapel in 1948 and the new building in 1968.  The new building was built from native rock quarried from the hills in nearby Gleeson.

Uncle Rich did many things for his community and for those less fortunate.  He would gather up old items of clothes and toys and in his work shop by the side of their house he would fix and repair items that people had thrown out such as toasters, irons, ovens, anything mechanical and then take all of these items across the line to Aqua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico and give to the poor Mexican’s, mainly members of the little LDS Branch there in Aqua Prieta.  He also would buy food and pass it out as well on his trips across the line.  People knew that Uncle Rich did this all the time, so they would just drop stuff off at their house, Aunt Anna would fix up the clothes when needed and Uncle Rich fixed anything else.

Uncle Rich drove a really old pickup truck and the back of it would be filled with all matter of things for the poor.  It is a good thing he passed away before 9-11 or the border agents would have never let him cross into Mexico with his treasures for those less fortunate.  I know he was still driving that old truck up until at least a couple of years before he passed.  I don’t think he ever went over 30 miles per hour those last few years.  We use to joke that we could leave the same time as Uncle Rich, we just lived a mile down the road from him, and go to town in Douglas get our groceries, stop at the bank and be back home before Uncle Rich ever made it into Aqua Prieta.

Another thing that Uncle Rich did, which benefited not only the Mexican’s, but anyone else who needed it was that he made tombstones out of concrete for anyone who was being buried at the Whitewater Cemetery.  He did this for those who could not afford a traditional stone and I doubt he ever charged anything for them, but if he did, I doubt it was even enough to cover the cost of the concrete.  He made the mold and letters and when it was set he would take and place the stones at the cemetery.  You can see his handwork all over that little desert cemetery.  Some people have in recent years, had new stones placed for their ancestors, but may have left Uncle Rich’s concrete stones there by their loved ones graves for the most part.

Apparently Uncle Rich didn't like having his picture taken, because pictures of him are hard to find.  We have lots of Aunt Anna, but very few of Uncle Rich himself.  The following picture of Uncle Rich and Aunt Anna was taken in 1968 in their home in Elfrida, Arizona and I am not sure when the next one was taken, but probably after 1968, since they look a little older in that one.

Aunt Anna loved doing family history as much as I do and after she passed, Uncle Rich gave me just about everything Aunt Anna had ever collected.  I do know that he gave the majority of his Porter family history to a nephew of his, possible Fred Stope, but I don’t remember for sure.  The following is a picture of Aunt Anna working on her family history, if she wasn't doing this she was sewing, canning, etc. she was never idle and neither was my mother-in-law, her sister, Elnora Mortenson Thompson.

Aunt Anna died of cancer on May 20, 1987 at their home in Elfrida, almost seven years later Uncle Rich joined her when he passed away on March 13, 1994 at the hospital in Douglas.  They were both laid to rest side by side in the Whitewater Cemetery in Elfrida, Cochise County, Arizona.  The following pictures are of the gate going into the cemetery and of their stone, which my brother-in-law, Dan had made for them after Uncle Rich died and also you can see the type of stones Uncle Rich made out of concrete just like this one he made for his sister Verda after she passed away.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Meriam Eddy Stillwell

My ancestor this week is from my Mom’s side of the family and is my 8th great-grandmother, Meriam Eddy.  Meriam Eddy was born January 29, 1708/1709 in Woodbridge, Middlesex County, New Jersey the daughter of Scottish immigrants, John Eddie and Elizabeth Edwards who were married in Woodbridge on March 31, 1706.  After her mother died Meriam’s father married Janet McCullough in about 1731.  Meriam was the second child of her parents and she had ten siblings and four half-siblings and all of them were born in Woodbridge.

Meriam’s siblings were: Allison Eddy 1707, James Eddy 1710, Jeane Eddy 1712, Elizabeth Eddy 1715, Robert Eddy 1717, John Eddy 1719, Gavin Eddy 1721, William Eddy 1723 and Thomas Eddy 1725.  Meriam’s half-siblings were: Samuel Eddy 1732-1809, David Eddy 1734, Agnes Eddy 1736 and Alexander Eddy 1738.

I have yet to find the actual marriage date but sometime around 1731, Meriam Eddy met and married Elias Stillwell and they became the parents of at least nine children.  These children were: Elizabeth Stillwell 1732-1804, Obadiah Stillwell about 1735-before 1780, Jeremiah Stillwell 1739-1821, Joseph Stillwell about 1740, Rebecca Stillwell 1742-1836, Sarah Stillwell 1744-1801, John Stillwell 1746-1823, Rachel Stillwell about 1748 and Mary Stillwell about 1750-after 1813.  My direct line is their daughter Elizabeth Stillwell who married James Thomas Graham.

Meriam and Elias and their family lived in New Jersey up until about 1745 when they had moved to Frederick County, Maryland.  However, by 1765 they had moved up into Pennsylvania.   They lived in an area that is now the present day counties of Bedford and Fulton.  They lived along the Tonoloway Creek and the following little history about the Tonoloway area was taken from the Heady Family Newsletter that I found at the Salt Lake Family History Library many years ago.  "The stream now known as Tonoloway Creek, but called 'Konolawa' by the Indians living along its bank and 'The Conolloways' by the white settlers, follows a meandering course through the southern part of present Fulton County, Pennsylvania crossing the boundary line into Maryland about three miles before it joins the Potomac at a point just below that river's northern most bend.   The Big and Little Tonoloway Settlements lay about five miles north of the Potomac along branches of Tonoloway Creek and immediately west of the large and small basins named, respectively, the Great (Big) Cove and Little Cove.   These settlements had been founded by a few Scotch-Irish immigrants, at least one Welch family (that of Evan Shelby), and a band of Monmouth and Middlesex county, New Jersey families which included those of Moses Graham, William Linn, Joseph Warford, Adam Stiger, John Melott, Benjamin Truax and Elias, Richard and Jeremiah Stillwell, Thomas Heady, Gavin Eddy, Samuel Hedden, the Coombs, Belieus, Applegate's and no doubt others.   Whether the Monmouth and Middlesex county families came as a unit or over a period of several years, is not known but they were all there by 1765 or earlier.”   

For your information the Eddy’s, Stillwell’s, Graham’s, Warford’s and Truax’s are all blood lines of mine through my Mom’s side of the family.

Life in Pennsylvania which was considered the frontier during those days, would have been wild and dangerous to say the least.  I am sure they lived in forts or close to each other to help in protecting the people in the area as well as everyone’s livestock and crops to keep the Indians from stealing the livestock and burning down the crops.  Things would not have been easy for anyone and illness, epidemics and every day injuries would have been common place and deadly in the majority of instances.

Stories that have been passed down through the years, state that Meriam was a great doctress, and examples of her handwriting show she was a woman with an education.  We are talking America before the French & Indian and the Revolutionary Wars.  It was not a common thing for a woman to be educated, that was left to the men back in those days, and here in America during that time would have been something very rare to say the least.  Even in Europe and the British Isles that would have been rare.  Unfortunately I don’t have any examples of her handwriting, so I need to see if I can find some, so I can see for myself.   

Meriam, I am sure knew all of the common folk medicines and possibly even regular medicines that would have been used during those days and she apparently had a knack for doctoring which would have been a very handy occupation to have on the frontier.  I wonder if her talent was more towards being a midwife and delivering babies then it was being a regular doctor, but if she knew anything at all about medicine, she would have been someone you wanted to have in the fort with you.

Meriam lived to a ripe old age and again this was a rare occurrence in America and really anywhere in the world back then.  In the summer of 2002, I was able to go to the Tonoloway Primitive Baptist Church and cemetery just outside Warfordsburg, Fulton County, Pennsylvania where Meriam and her husband Elias were buried and others of their family, and you could still read their tombstones, somewhat, even as old as they are.  Meriam’s stone reads, “In Memory of Meriam Stillwell Wife of Elias Stillwell Esq. Who departed this life Oct the 19th Anno 1803 aged 95 years, My loving mate I did survive And true my age was great, I lived the years of 95 But here behold my fate.”  Elias’ stone reads: “Elias Stillwell departed this life Feb the 4, 1792 Good God on what a strand Hang everlasting things The eternal fates of all the dead Upon life's feeble strings.”  You could tell that the stones were probably placed very close to the time of their deaths, because of the style that was used, and not ones that were added years after their deaths.

I took a lot of pictures when I was there that day, but unfortunately I have not been able to find them.  I thought I had scanned most of my cemetery pictures, but apparently not these ones.   I also took some pictures of the old church building which was built in 1828, but so far no luck in finding any of them yet.  If I run across them I will post to this article later.  I know that www.findagrave.com has some pictures that others have taken and placed on that site, of the church and Elias and Meriam’s graves so check there to see those if you would like.

Well it took a few days but I finally found the pictures I took on July 6, 2002 and here they are.  First the old church house and for your information this building has been standing here since 1828, but the church was started here in the mid 1700's.  Then Meriam's marker, then Elias' marker, then the church house again in the background with me in the picture this time.