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, May 25, 2015

David L. & Monroe Matthew Floyd

Memorial Day weekend and what better way to remember what this holiday is all about then to do a story about two of my second great-granduncles, from my Mom’s side of the family.  They were brothers, who were from Tennessee, but who fought for the north during the American Civil War and who gave their lives for the cause that they believed in.  The following are the only two pictures I have ever seen of these two young men and both look like they have already seen more than anyone should ever have to see.  One of my Mamaw’s first cousins who lived in Madisonville, Kentucky had these two pictures in a little side by side metal frame.  Her Daddy, Luther Floyd, had gotten them from his father, John Henry Floyd who was a younger brother to David and Monroe.

David L. Floyd and his brother Monroe Matthew Floyd, were the two oldest children of Volentine Floyd and his wife Eliza Ann Parker, who were my third great-grandparents.  David L. Floyd was born in 1841 and Monroe Matthew Floyd was born September 18, 1843 both in Smith County, Tennessee.  I have yet to find what David’s middle name was or his full birth date, but thankfully I do know Monroe’s.  The Floyd and Parker families had been in this part of Middle Tennessee from at least the 1810’s.  On the 1850 census in Smith County, Tennessee David is 9 years old and Mathew is 7 years old and on the 1860 census of DeKalb County, Tennessee Mathew is 17 years old and David L. is 15 years old.  Their ages just switched around for whatever reason and Monroe was called Mathew both times.

David and Monroe’s siblings were the following: William Floyd 1845-before 1860, Mary Elizabeth Floyd Bebout 1847-before 1906, James Thomas Floyd 1849-1924, John Henry Floyd 1853-1937 (my direct line) all born in Smith County, Tennessee then Artelia Frances Floyd Wright 1855-1922, Benjamin ‘Bennie’ Marshall Floyd 1859-1942, both born in DeKalb County, Tennessee then Nancy Jane ‘Jennie’ Floyd Bass 1865-before 1891 and Sarah T. Floyd Sullenger 1869-1932, both born in Wilson County, Tennessee.  I don’t have any pictures of the girls, but I do have one picture each of James Thomas Floyd, John Henry Floyd and Benjamin Marshall Floyd, which follow.

David and Monroe, would have had your typical upraising from the time they were big enough to do so, helping with the family farm, clearing the fields, planting, harvesting, etc.  I have been able to walk the areas that this family lived in and there are rolling hills and beautiful fertile valleys, and ancient limestone bluffs, which run around the area near the Cumberland and Caney Fork Rivers.  I love driving through this area and knowing that my family was here, makes it even more beautiful and special to me.  In 2003 and again in 2007, I found out about and was invited to go to a Floyd Family Reunion which was held in Commerce, Tennessee and met some of my Floyd cousins who stayed in Tennessee.   My direct line, Volentine Floyd and family left Tennessee in 1873 and went to Crittenden County, Kentucky where I was born.  The family at the reunion were all mainly from James Monroe Floyd, youngest brother to my Volentine Floyd.  They have been having this reunion for many years and I met some fantastic family, both times I was able to attend the reunion, which is held every October, usually the third weekend of the month at Commerce Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

My Floyd family was not dirt poor as the saying goes, but they weren’t wealthy by any means either.  They led a fairly comfortable life for the most part, but when rumors of war starting coming into their area, things started to get a little more complicated for this family and others, who would soon be choosing sides in a conflict that would pit brother against brother, father against son and neighbor against neighbor.  Tennessee and Kentucky were both split states when it came to choosing sides for and against slavery.  Kentucky stayed in the Union by just a small margin while Tennessee stayed in the Confederacy by just as small a margin.  David and Monroe were approximately 20 and 18 years of age when the war broke out in April of 1861, their parents did not owned slaves and neither had either of their grandfathers and so both of these young men chose to fight for the north.

David L. Floyd joined the Union Army as a private at Brush Creek, Smith County, Tennessee on September 2, 1864 for a term of one year in Company D (tombstone says E), 4th Tennessee Mounted Infantry.  The 4th Tennessee was stationed at Alexandria, Tennessee and was operating against guerrillas in that area.  David was released at the end of the war as a sergeant in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee on August 25, 1865.   During his military service he contracted chronic diarrhea and liver disease which lead to his death, less than a year after he was released from the army.  According to the pension records that his mother filed for in 1888, he was 5 foot 5 inches tall, and had blue eyes, light hair and fair complexion and was never well after returning home.  The pension record does not state anything about where he may have served, only that he was sickly upon returning home and that he had never married or had any children and that his mother needed a mother’s pension for his service to the Union, because her husband, Volentine Floyd, David’s father, suffered from rheumatism that prevented him from working and making a living.  Rheumatism runs in the family, because my Mamaw, Daisy Loftis Fraley, told me that her granddaddy, John Henry Floyd, had to walk with two canes and was all bent over from rheumatism and my Mamaw had it bad too.

Monroe Matthew Floyd joined the Union Army as a sergeant in Company A, 5th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment on September 9, 1862 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee for a term of three years.  In his enlistment records he states he was 21 years old, which would put him born in 1841 and so older then David.  I have always wondered which one was really the older, because their ages flip back and forth depending on the records.  Monroe was soon promoted to 1st lieutenant on June 29, 1863 and then to 2nd lieutenant in October 1863, then captain on July 9, 1864 over Company A.  According to the military records I have found at Fold3, on February 5, 1865 during a skirmish near McMinnville with Rebel troops under General Lyon he was shot through the trachea from left to right, and amazingly survived, but the wound has much debilitated him, as to keep him from entirely performing his duties as a captain.   He was released at the end of the war, as a Captain, on August 14, 1865 at Pulaski, Giles County, Tennessee.  He was 5 foot 11 inches tall, and had blue eyes, light hair and fair complexion.  Monroe must have had a girl waiting for him before he enlisted, because while home on leave after being shot, he married one of his fellow captain’s, Joseph H. Blackburn’s sister, Susan Amanda Blackburn on March 29, 1865 in Alexandria, DeKalb County, Tennessee.  They did not have any children together that I am aware of, because Monroe only lived about seven months after their marriage.  Susan remarried in 1869 to Philip Pledger and had two children with him, before she died in 1875, just 10 years after Monroe.

My Mamaw’s oldest sister, Marguerite, use to tell me the following story about her granddaddy’s two big brothers, David and Monroe.  “John Henry Floyd who was Marguerite’s granddaddy told her that the war had been going on for over two years or more and that he and his little brother, Bennie were playing soldiers one day, when a company of Union soldiers came down the road.  The Union soldiers figured John and Bennie were probably rebel brats, for one of them said, let’s shoot those little Reb’s right off that fence.  One of the other men in the company, said to that soldier, you might not want to do that.  Why, ask the soldier as he kept his rifle on John and Bennie.  Because, said the other soldier, those are Captain Floyd’s little brothers.  Well it’s a good thing we didn’t shoot first and ask questions later, said the soldier.  My brother Monroe was a captain and my brother, David was a sergeant and both fought for the Union army.  My Momma worried so much while my brothers were gone.  She prayed night and day that they would come home safe and sound.  Monroe came home first but he was sick with dysentery, plus he had been shot and had lost a lot of weight.  I remember he was just skin and bone and Momma just cried when she saw him.  My brother, David got home about two weeks after Monroe and he was also sick with the dysentery and liver aliments and was just skin and bones.  We buried both of them next to each other just a few months apart, which was the only time I remember my Daddy crying, was after we buried my brothers.”  I am so thankful that I have family stories like these to make these ancestors more than just a name and a date on some paper.

Monroe Mathew Floyd died, Saturday, November 4, 1865 in Alexandria, DeKalb County, Tennessee and was buried at the New Hope Baptist Church Cemetery.   David L. Floyd died, Saturday, June 30, 1866 also in Alexandria and was buried next to his brother Monroe.  From Alexandria you go about 2 miles east on Walker’s Creek Road and the church and cemetery are on the north side of the road.  This cemetery is located approximately 1/2 mile south of the Smith County line.  I have visited their graves and taken pictures, neither stone is in good condition, David’s only has his name and his company, but Monroe’s had his full birth and death dates on it.   I have not been able to locate the pictures I took back in 2003 and 2007, but I found the following which John Waggoner took and put on www.findagrave.com.  David and Monroe had come home from the war, just a couple of weeks apart and died seven months apart, I can only imagine how their parents must have felt.  I will be in Tennessee again in August this year and if I can arrange the time I will go and take some new pictures and see what they look like now.   The following are the pictures of their graves.  I am not sure why one is just standing alone and the other has like a stone box around it.

The following is a picture of the cemetery with what I believe is Monroe’s grave in the picture, which John Waggoner also took and I found online at: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~tnsmith/cempics/newhopecem.htm

In 1873, David and Monroe’s parents, Volentine and Eliza and their remaining children, left Tennessee and moved north to Crittenden County, Kentucky settling in the Sisco Chapel area of that county.  I wonder if they thought it would be better for all of them to get away from all the sadness and misery that the family had endured across those devastating five April’s of the war.   I guess I will never know, what all they endured, but I know my heart breaks when I think about the emotional cost they all paid. 

May we always remember the men and women who have served our country with distinction and bravery and remember that FREEDOM is not FREE, there is always a price to pay.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sarah Jane Frances Humphreys

We tend to not know a lot about the majority of the women that make of half of our ancestry.  But back in the day they seem to have just been over looked for the most part.  A lot of the time maiden names are very hard to find and it seems you usually find them only listed as Mrs. Jones or Mrs. Smith like they didn't have their own identity.  I have written about a few of my female ancestors now, but more about the male ancestors.  Since the beginning of the year when I started this project, I have written about 8 females and 12 males.  So this week’s installment will be about another of my female ancestors, Sarah Jane Frances Humphreys who was my third great-grandmother, on my Mom’s side of the family, through her mother Daisy Elnora Loftis Fraley.

Sarah Jane Frances Humphreys was born, October 27, 1842 in Crittenden County, Kentucky the daughter of Samuel Humphreys and Mariah Austin.  She was the oldest child of her parents, but the third child of her father.  Her father Samuel Humphreys had been married previously to Dorcas Price, April 16, 1836 in Davidson County, Tennessee and they had twins, William Albert Humphreys 1837-before 1870 and Mary Ann Elizabeth Humphreys Bennett 1837-1902, who were born January 9, 1837 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee.  Dorcas Price apparently died sometime after the twin’s birth and before May 14, 1841 when Samuel married Mariah Austin in Livingston County, Kentucky.   I do not know if Dorcas Price died in Tennessee or on the way to Kentucky or after their arrival, so as you can see in this example not a lot is known about Dorcas, but thankfully I do have her maiden name and their marriage date.

I don’t know anything about Mariah Austin, Sarah’s mothers either.  I know her birth, death and marriage dates, but I know nothing about her growing up years, her parents, siblings, etc.  Mariah’s death record states that she was born in Tennessee, as do the census records, it also states that her father was born in England and her mother in Virginia.  When Mariah married Samuel, William Humphreys who I believe was Samuel’s older brother, gave proof of Mariah’s age, which makes me tend to believe she did not have any parents still living who could verify that for the marriage record.  Again as you can see not a lot is known about this female ancestor either.

Sarah’s full siblings by her parents, Samuel and Mariah, were the following: Lewtisha Mary Ann Humphreys 1844-before 1860, Charles Edward Humphreys 1848-1916, Henrietta Carlene Necitie Tennessee Virginia Ann Humphreys Bebout 1850-1917 (she went by Etta), Nancy Mariah Humphreys Hall 1852-1909, Samuel Jefferson Humphreys 1854-1918 and he had a twin sister, not named, that died at birth or within a few days.  Again I know Lewtisha’s name and that she was born in 1844 but I don’t know when she died, but sometime after 1850 and possibly before 1860, and Sam’s twin sister, did she live a few hours or a few days or was she stillborn, things like this did not get recorded most of the time, or if it did the record did not survive.  Thankfully Sarah’s other sisters all lived to adulthood, married, had children, etc. so I do know more about them.

Now pictures for this side of the family are hard to come by as well, I do have one of Sarah’s father, Samuel Humphreys, but none of her mother Mariah Austin.  The following is of her father, Samuel which was from an old tin type, so the quality is not very good.  The next picture was taken in 1924 and is of eight of the children of Charles Edward Humphreys, Sarah’s brother, he had 19 children all together, with three different wives.  If anyone knows who these eight kids are I would love to hear from you.  I wish I had written down who I got these pictures from, but unfortunately back in the day, I was more excited about finding stuff then I was about recording where or who I got things from.

Sarah I am sure had a typical, normal childhood and as was common in Kentucky, she was married when she was 16 years old.  Sarah married first to my third great-grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Yates on December 8, 1858 in Crittenden County, Kentucky and they were married by a cousin to Thomas, the Rev. John T. Yates.  Thomas was born December 8, 1839 in Livingston County, Kentucky and was a son of John Yates and Martha Jane Henson and was number three of the seven children born to them.  Sarah and Thomas had three children together: John Henry Yates 1859-1929, Mary Tom Yates Loftis 1862-1938 (my direct line) and Anna Marie Yates Gilland 1864-1935.  The following is the only picture I have of Sarah’s daughter Mary Tom, my second great-grandmother who is with her husband John Bartley Loftis.  The next two pictures are of Sarah’s daughter, Anna Marie and her husband William Gilland.  I don’t have any pictures of any of her other children, but I would love to see some if anyone has any they would like to share.

Thomas was the right age to have been in the military, in the fighting that was tearing a nation apart, brother against brother, father against son.  From the following records, Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865, I found Thomas J. Yates, age 23, married, farmer, lives in Crittenden County, Kentucky subject to military duty, dated June of 1863.  However, I have never found that he actual did go and fight.  One record I found years ago said he died November 9, 1864 in battle with the Union Army.  Another source said he died August 10, 1865 which would have been after the war.  Either way Thomas apparently died either in the war or as a civilian, because on December 25, 1866 his wife Sarah married his older brother, Henry Bartlett Yates in Crittenden County, Kentucky.  If someone has an actual record that clearly shows when Thomas died, I would love to see it and get a copy.

Henry Bartlett Yates was born May 10, 1833 also in Livingston County, Kentucky.  I do know for a fact that Henry did serve during the Civil War in the Union Army in Company E, 48th Kentucky Mounted Infantry as a private.   The following shows that he filed for an invalid pension and then that his widow, filed for a pension after his death.

I have even found Henry’s obituary which reads as follows: From the Crittenden Press issue dated March 12, 1896 - Died at his home near Levias, January 6, 1896 Henry B. Yates, after many years of suffering with that dreadful disease, rheumatism.  Brother Yates had suffered with that disease since the War.  He was born May 10, 1833 was married December 25, 1866 and professed religion during a meeting held at Siloam Church about 1878 and was received into the Methodist Church at that place.  He leaves a wife and 5 children and 3 step-children, one brother and one sister.

Sarah and Henry had been married for 29 years when he passed away in 1896.  They raised Sarah’s three children by Thomas and they also had six children together, who were the following: Martha Ellen Yates Perrin 1867-1911, Sarah Caldonia Yates Wright 1870-1954, Emma S. Yates 1874-1876, Benjamin Lewis Yates 1877-1918, Cora M. Yates Summers 1880-1939 and Nora B. Yates Binkley Little 1882-1961.  Sarah and Henry were faithful members of the Siloam United Methodist Church.  Brenda Joyce Jerome, states in a record entitled ‘Early Crittenden County, KY Churches” that in 1843, William Hickman deeded land to the trustees of a newly organized church, Siloam.  A log church was used at this location until 1879.   The church records begin in 1886.

I never had a picture of Sarah until just a couple of years ago when a cousin of mine sent me one that was in her father’s old pictures.  Sarah is the older little lady in the black cape, but the others in the picture are unknown to me and my cousin at this time.  My cousin said the back of the picture just said this is your great-grandma Yates in the black cape.  If anyone knows who the other three people in the following picture are please let me know.  The older gentleman could possibly be Sarah’s son John Henry Yates and maybe the other woman is his wife Mollie Jennings, since it was one of his great-granddaughters that I got the picture from.

Sarah lived another 15 years after her husband, Henry died.  My Mamaw, told me that she lived out by the Union Baptist Church close to Levias in Crittenden County in a little two room cabin, her Mamaw had told her that.  I have also been able to find Sarah’s obituary which was located in the Crittenden Press issue dated March 30, 1911 - Mrs. Yates, mother of Rev. B. L. Yates, died at her home near Levias last week, she had been ill several months.  Her son who has charge of the church at Lafayette, Kentucky was here to see her several times this year.  I have also found her death certificate which follows.

Sarah died March 28, 1911 of tuberculous, she was only 68 years old.  This death certificate and other records I have seen, say that Sarah and Henry were buried at the Yates Family Burial Ground.  Does anyone reading this have any idea where that may have been?  I am assuming that it could possibly have been near Levias, since that is where they lived, but I have no clue.  I am coming home to Kentucky in August this year and would love to be able to see where it was if anyone knows.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

George McKinsie Doss

I couldn't sleep well a few nights ago and so I starting wondering who I should write about for this week’s installment and my great-uncle George, just would not leave my mind.  This was my Daddy’s uncle, his mother Jessie Doss’ older brother.  Daddy never knew him because he had died when my Mama Jessie was just 15 years old.  Mama Jessie talked about him all the time when I was a kid growing up in Kentucky.  She loved all of her siblings, but there was a special place in her heart for this particular brother.  Another reason to write about Uncle George is that just this past week a granddaughter of Uncle George’s older brother, Fred Raymond Doss, contacted me and just yesterday she sent me a big packet of old pictures to look through and try to identify.  It has definitely been a Doss week, loving it.

George McKinsie Doss was the fourth child and second son, born to his parents George Samuel Doss and Nancy Lougena Woosley.  George was born August 20, 1887 in Clay, Webster County, Kentucky.  His oldest sister, was born in Christian County, Kentucky but all of the rest of his siblings were also born in Clay or Clayville as it was called during that time.  George’s siblings were: Lena ‘Lenie’ Alice Doss Boyd 1879-1960, Lillie Mildred Doss Worsham 1881-1937, Fred Raymond Doss 1885-1952, Lloyd Robert Doss 1890-1982, Verla ‘Verlie’ Leona Doss Smith 1893-1971, Anna ‘Annie’ Luretha Doss Johnson 1896-1976 and Jessie Holeman Doss 1899-1984 (my grandma).

From all the stories my Mama Jessie told about her brother, George, he must have been the family clown.  According to her, he was always smiling, laughing, telling jokes and pulling pranks, not only on his siblings but on his parents as well.  He would throw snakes and frogs on the girls and even put a snake in his mother’s flour bin at least once.  That would have been the last prank he pulled on me, I would have tanned his hide good, once my heart started beating again.  J  This must be where my Daddy’s brother, Donald Ray, or Uncle Duck as most of us called him, got his mischievousness from.  Duck because he would talk like Donald Duck and make all of us kids smile and laugh when he did.  Uncle Duck would call my Daddy with a new joke all the time and then Daddy would call us kids and tell us the jokes Uncle Duck had just told him.  I am sure if Uncle George had access to a phone back in the day he probably would have done the exact same thing.

He apparently loved to sing too, because Mama Jessie said, he was always singing no matter if he was doing chores, walking down the road or setting at the table, he would just bust out singing.  From gospel songs and old time country songs to bawdy songs, he would sing at the top of his lungs.  Now his mother loved the gospel songs and she didn't mind most of the old time country songs either, but when he burst out with some bawdy song, he had heard at the mines or some bar he had stopped at, she would chase him down with her rolling pin and smack him right on the shoulders.  I can only imagine how that must of hurt if she caught him good, but Mama Jessie said it never did stop him from singing those songs, mainly because he knew it would get his momma, hopping mad.  J

The following is the only picture I have ever seen of him.  If I remember right Mama Jessie use to have a large oval frame with this picture in it, but I don’t know whatever happen to it.  Hopefully one of my cousins has it in their home.  This picture was probably taken sometime between 1905 and 1910, just five to ten years or so before he passed away.  He was a good looking young man for sure.

George worked at a lot of different jobs, farming and cutting timber with his dad and brothers, fishing along the river and coal mining which was becoming really big especially in Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky.  Some of his sisters had married and moved with their families over to Southern Illinois around the Harrisburg area, because of the chance of getting good work and pay in the mines.  George did the same thing and soon was working in the O’Gara #4 mine in Harrisburg.  I found the following history about the mining in Saline County, Illinois where most of the family was living for a time.  I included all the different mines so that if any of my cousins that read this know the mine number of the mines their family members might have worked in then they will have a little history for their ancestors as well.

From this site http://hinton-gen.com/coal/saline_mines2.html we read the following: “Coal Mines in Saline County = The year 1905 was an important one in the Saline County coal industry.  The O'Gara Coal Company was organized with a capitalization of six million dollars.  Thomas J. O'Gara was president, Thomas J. Jones, treasurer, and W. A. Brewerton, was secretary.  The company purchased many mines in the county, and became the largest producer of coal in this part of the State.  At that time, the county was producing annually approximately four hundred and twenty five thousand tons of coal with an underground employment of slightly over four hundred miners.  By the end of 1906, the O'Gara Company had purchased most of the shipping mines in the county.  At that time, there were fifteen shipping mines and seven local mines.  Approximately one thousand miners were employed, and they produced half a million tons of coal annually.  The year 1906 saw the O'Gara Company gain a virtual monopoly of the deep shaft mines in the county.  Almost without exception, they stretched alongside the Big Four Railroad tracks in the county.  The O'Gara Company purchased both these mines on October 15, 1906, and renamed them O'Gara No. 10 mine, and O'Gara No. 11 mine.  In this same period, another company, the Harrisburg Big Muddy Coal Company, was organized.  The principal owner was T. J. Patterson.  A mine was sunk on the railroad in Muddy.  The shaft was sunk through a fault, and Patterson thought he had reached the No. 5 vein, when he really had penetrated the No. 7 vein.  The O'Gara Company purchased this mine on July 1, 1906 and designated it as its No. 12 mine.   The Carrier Mills Coal Company had sunk a mine in the Thompson community, near Carrier Mills, and on May 22, 1906 sold this property to the O'Gara Company.  It was designated as the No. 13 mine, although it had been purchased before the No. 12 mine.  The interesting thought arises from this transaction that Thomas J. O'Gara bore an Irish name, and probably was somewhat superstitious, inasmuch as the No. 13 mine was shut down immediately on purchase, and never was operated thereafter.  The Ledford Coal Company had sunk a deep shaft mine to the No. 5 vein of coal in 1905 a short distance north of the village of Ledford.  The O'Gara Company purchased this property on July 12, 1906 and designated it as its No. 14 mine.  At the same time when sinking the "Green Gravel" mine, J. J. Morris, together with Joe Coslett, Alex Morris, Dan Dewar and Charles V. Parker sunk a deep shaft mine north of Carrier Mills.  This mine was sold to the O'Gara company on April 15, 1906 and was designated the No. 15 mine.  These purchases rounded out the acquisition program of the O'Gara Company.   The Harrisburg Mining Coal Company was changed to O'Gara Coal Company No. 4 in 1906.  1906 Annual Improvements:  The O'Gara Coal Company, at Harrisburg, has changed its No. 2, 3 and 4 mines from hand to machine mines, and has introduced the Morgan-Gardner electric machines.  The electric plant is located at the No. 3 shaft.  The cable is on top of the ground to numbers 2 and 4 shafts, so that the one electric plant does the work for the three shafts.  Two Erie automatic dynamo engines have been installed at No. 3 mine.  These are 19 by 18 inches, making 210 revolutions per minute, and will develop at this speed about 240 H. P.  They are belt connected to two 150 K. W., 250 volts, Morgan-Gardner generators. These machines do good work in this coal, each machine getting out from 150 to 200 tons a day.”

Uncle George was killed in a coal mining accident at the No. 4 Mine of the O'Gara Coal Company in Harrisburg, Saline County, Illinois on February 6, 1915.  He was only 27 years old and had never been married and had no children with anyone that I am aware of.  From the history I gave you in the above paragraph I also found the following: “O'Gara Coal Mine No. 4, O'Gara Coal Company 1905-1918, the last production reported was in June 1918, and one death was caused by a gas explosion.”  It does not give the person’s name, but it would have to be our Uncle George.  Some newspaper accounts that my Daddy said he had found, say a number of men were killed in the cave in that killed Uncle George, but the above report says only one person was ever killed in #4.  I need to see if I can find any of the old newspapers myself and see what they say.  Just four years later in 1919, Uncle George’s brother-in-law, Leonard Worsham, was also killed in a coal mining accident there in Saline County, Illinois.  Leonard was his sister Lillie’s husband.  Coal mining was and still is a pretty dangerous occupation to have.

From stories that Mama Jessie told and from the ones Daddy use to tell me too, just as George and his brother-in-law, James William Webster Smith, aka ‘Smokey Bill’, were almost to the mouth of the mine a big slap of slate fell from the roof of the mine and crushed George and he lived for about 3 or 4 days after.  His brother-in-law, Will Smith, husband of Verlie, somehow raised that big old piece of slate off of George and dragged him out from under it.  Will had somehow been missed by the falling debris.  Before George died some of his friends came over and sang, ‘In the Sweet By and By’, and George sang some with them and everyone wondered how he did it.  He called in all the family to talk to them before he died and the last one he called in was his sister, Jessie, who he always called Judy.  He told her to not be sad and to always try and be good girl and a few minutes later he died.  I remember so many times hearing the stories Mama Jessie told about him, and I don’t believe she ever got over the death of her beloved brother George.   I wish I could have known him too, he sounds like such a fun loving man.

The following picture is of my great-uncle, James William Webster Smith, aka ‘Smokey Bill’ on the left and his cousin Volie Smith on the right with the ears.  Volie Smith was also my great-uncle for a short time, having been married to Uncle George's sister, my great-aunt, Anna 'Annie' Luretha Doss for a couple of years.  This picture was probably taken around the time of Uncle George's death or shortly after.

The following picture is of my Mama Jessie, taken just a year or so after her brother, George died.  I think she looks pretty sad still.

Every time I think about Uncle George or Uncle Leonard or other family members that have died in coal mining accidents, I always think of the following song, one my Daddy use to sing quite a bit and I still know most of the words too.  The following is a you tube video that someone did for this song with John Prine singing it.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEy6EuZp9IY


By: John Prine

When I was a child my family would travel
Down to Western Kentucky where my parents were born
And there's a backwards old town that's often remembered
So many times that my memories are worn.

"And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the green river where paradise lay?"
"Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away"

Well, sometimes we'd travel right down the Green River
To the abandoned old prison down by Adrie Hill
Where the air smelled like snakes and we'd shoot with our pistols
But empty pop bottles was all we would kill.

"And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the green river where paradise lay?"
"Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away"

Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.

"And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the green river where paradise lay?"
"Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away"

When I die let my ashes float down the Green River
Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester dam
I'll be halfway to Heaven with paradise waitin'
Just five miles away from wherever I am.

"And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the green river where paradise lay?"
"Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away"

No matter if it was underground or strip mining, my family played a part in the early coal production in Western Kentucky and Southern Illinois.  I still have cousins to this day that work in the coal mining industry.  My first cousin Debbie’s fiancĂ© Eddie was killed when he was crushed working in a mine in Madisonville, Kentucky in July of 2006.  Ninety-one years after my great-uncle George and it is still a very dangerous occupation to have.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Nathaniel Riggs

The ancestor I will be talking about this week is one of my husbands, through his mother’s side of the family.  The majority of my husband’s ancestors did not come to America until after 1855, but the man I am getting ready to tell you about was from early, I am talking 1633, Massachusetts Bay Colony settler, Edward Riggs, from Essex, England.  This man is my husband’s second great-grandfather, Nathaniel Riggs, who was born August 5, 1797 in Newport, Campbell County, Kentucky.  That must be one of the reasons why I fell for my husband, because he had a Kentucky ancestor, which is always cool in my book.  J

Nathaniel was the youngest child and son of Bethuel Riggs and Nancy Lee.  His father, Bethuel had served as a private, then lieutenant and finally a captain, during the Revolutionary War and was at the battle of King’s Mountain and was also according to many histories that have been found, “A fire and brimstone breathing, Baptist Minister”.  Other records say that Bethuel Riggs, became a Baptist at the young age of 18, so Nathaniel would have grown up in a very religious household.  Also a number of his uncles and cousins, as well as his grandfather, James Lee, all from his mother’s side of the family were Baptist ministers as well.

Nathaniel’s siblings were: Jane Riggs Webb 1781-1859, Elizabeth Riggs Smith 1783-????, Mary Riggs Shaw 1785-1855, Jonathan Riggs 1788-1834, Margaret Riggs Durham 1790-????, Sarah Bell Riggs Webb 1792-before May 1869, Rebecca Riggs Armstrong 1794-1871 and Samuel Riggs 1796-1835.  The first child was born in Pennsylvania, then North Carolina, then Georgia and then the rest were all born there at Newport, Kentucky at least according to all the different records that have been found over the years.  Bethuel’s pension records stated that he had lived in North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri and Ohio since the end of the war.  Since he was a minister I am sure he was just traveling around to preach to different congregations or groups of people on the frontier.

Living on the wild frontier in those days, would not have been easy and a young man such as Nathaniel would have grown up quickly.  Indians would have been terrorizing the settlers that were starting to come into the dark and bloody grounds of Kentucky.  Then by the time Nathaniel was married things were starting to settled down some in Kentucky, but the family up and moved on to a new frontier that was still pretty lawless and had Indians to boot.  Can you just image taking a young family into a fairly new area and again beating down the brush, cutting timber and plowing up virgin earth in hopes of being able to eke out a living and grow the needed food to sustain your family?  I am glad it was them and not me, because I just don’t think I would have lasted long in those circumstances.

I have yet to find an actual marriage record for Nathaniel Riggs to his first wife Rachel Weldon 1797-before 1859.   They would have been married around 1818 to 1819, and their first three children were all born in Kentucky, so we can assume that is where they were married as well.  They could have even been married by Nathaniel’s father and maybe it just never got recorded at the local court house.  Either way Nathaniel and Rachel soon became the parents of eight children, the first three being born in Kentucky like I said previously and the last five being born in Missouri.  These eight children were: Samuel Riggs 1820-1853, Joseph Weldon Riggs 1822-after 1859, Margaret Riggs Stuart 1825-before 1859, Stephen Riggs 1829-before 1863, Elizabeth Riggs Campbell Tomlin 1830-1875, Leonard Riggs 1833-before 1859, Rebecca Riggs Parish 1834-after 1870 and Mary A. Riggs Fruit 1837-after 1853.

It was while living in the Salt River area of Missouri in Ralls County that Nathaniel first heard about the Mormon Church in the winter of 1830.  Coming from such a religious household is probably one of the reasons Nathaniel took note, when he first heard about some new ministers/missionaries in the area, especially since they were of a different denomination then his own family.  These missionaries had left New York in October of 1830 and were on their way to preach to the Indians in the Indian Territories of present day Kansas and Oklahoma when the winter storms probably caused them to stop for a while in Nathaniel’s area.   

From the following web site: https://history.lds.org/article/doctrine-and-covenants-lamanite-mission?lang=eng we read:  “Their travel in late December and through the month of January was difficult because of what has been called “the winter of the deep snow.” Parley P. Pratt described how the missionaries had to halt for a few days in Illinois on account of extended storms “during which the snow fell in some places near three feet deep.” With their original plans frustrated by ice in the river, they renewed their journey on foot, traveling, as Pratt wrote, “for three hundred miles through vast prairies and through trackless wilds of snow—no beaten road; houses few and far between; and the bleak northwest wind always blowing in our faces with a keenness which would almost take the skin off the face. … After much fatigue and some suffering we all arrived in Independence, in the county of Jackson, on the extreme western frontiers of Missouri, and of the United States.”

According to all of our family records and the membership records of the LDS Church, Nathaniel Riggs, listened and accepted the message that these missionaries were preaching and was baptized on January 17, 1831.  However, Nathaniel’s obituary states the year was 1834, either way, Nathaniel was a very early member of the LDS ‘Mormon’ Church.  Things were not all roses though, Nathaniel’s father was furious and tried to persuade Nathaniel to give it all up and come back to the Baptist Church.  His wife and his siblings, also tried to convince Nathaniel, but to no avail.  Nathaniel’s father even helped Rachel to start divorce proceedings, but he died before the divorce was ever finalized.  The final court dates that I have found in Monroe County, Missouri for the divorce, show that it was not until April of 1850 before the last records about the divorce are mentioned.  The record states that Nathaniel had left and gone with the Mormon’s out west.

Nathaniel stayed true and strong in the Mormon Church his entire life.  He was a member of Zion’s Camp, with the Prophet, Joseph Smith in 1834 and he attended most if not all of the reunions for surviving, Zion’s Camp members, which were held in Salt Lake City, after 1850 until his death in 1869.  For your information, Zion’s Camp was a group gathered by the Mormon’s as a means by which the Saints were to try and settle the Missouri dispute, which was caused by Missourians who had taken control of land that was bought and owned by members of the Mormon Church.  The Saints were warned that if all peaceful remedies failed they might have to occupy their rightful lands by force.  By the time Zion’s Camp crossed the Mississippi River into Missouri, it numbered 185 individuals.  In June, I believe is when Nathaniel joined up with Zion’s Camp as they were camped at the Salt River in Missouri, close to Nathaniel’s home.  Nathaniel previous to this time had gone to Kirtland, Ohio to meet Joseph Smith and others, so he was ready when the camp arrived in his area to travel on with them to Independence.  The Prophet, Joseph Smith had arranged to meet his brother, Hyrum Smith’s company from Pontiac, Michigan there at the Salt River.  The camp was now at its largest: 207 men, 11 women, 11 children, and 25 baggage wagons.  The Prophet explained that the only purpose of Zion’s Camp was to help their brethren be reinstated on their lands and that their intent was not to injure anyone.  He said, “The evil reports circulated about us were false, and got up by our enemies to procure our destruction.”  

Some information about Zion’s Camp was obtained from the following web site: www.lds.org. The following is a map of the route taken by members on Zion’s Camp on their way to Missouri.  Where the arrows join in Missouri is almost exactly the area where Nathaniel and his family were living when the camp came through and stopped for a short time.

Nathaniel continued living in Missouri and raising his family, even though his wife, Rachel, was constantly at the county court house trying to obtain a divorce.  By 1847, Nathaniel was living in Winter Quarters, Nebraska where he met and married Hannah Parsons Peck Page 1797-1861.  Hannah’s first husband, Warren Peck had apparently died in New York and she and her son, Thorit Peck, had gone to Missouri to be with the Saints there and then on to Nauvoo, where she then married Ebenezer Page in 1845 and who she was divorced from by 1847.

Nathaniel, Hannah and an Elizabeth Jane Riggs, who was born in 1840, were part of the Allen Taylor Wagon Company which left Council Bluffs, Iowa for the Salt Lake Valley in July 1849 and arrived in the Valley in October of 1849.   From a letter written by Allen Taylor to Brigham Young in September 1849, found at the following web site we read: https://history.lds.org/overlandtravels/trailExcerptMulti?lang=eng&companyId=298&sourceId=6195 “We have got along so far with good success, our teams are in tolerable condition. We have, however, had 2 or 3 heavy stampedes and unfortunately considerable damage was sustained and one life lost. Sister Wm. Hawk who was run over by the cattle and lived only 24 hours. The first stampede we had 2 wagons broke, 6 sheep killed and 20 horns knocked off cattle. The same morning, after we got them in the corral and yoked up, they started again and nearly killed 2 men, but are both nearly well. We feel, however, as tho' we had got thro' our stampeding, having had none since we left Chimney Rock and many in our companies [illegible] feel sanguine that they can go to the Valley without help, should they be so providential as to keep their cattle alive thro' the alkali regions. Many of us, however, would be glad of a little help and indeed will undoubtedly require it before we can climb the mountain heights.”

All records we have found to date say that Elizabeth Jane Riggs was a daughter of Nathaniel and Hannah, but Hannah’s son Thorit states in his life history, that he was the only child of Hannah Parsons.  I believe that Elizabeth may have just been an orphan child that Nathaniel and Hannah took to raise, but all her family records that I have run across so far, also say that Nathaniel and Hannah were her parents. 

Nathaniel and Hannah were divorced sometime in 1851.  Elizabeth Jane Riggs married Samuel Henry Smith who was from England, in 1857 in Salt Lake City.  By 1870 they had moved to Iowa and then by 1880 they had moved to Washington where they both died, Elizabeth in 1900 and Samuel in 1908.  Hannah remarried after her divorce from Nathaniel to James Mattison Hendricks in 1852 and had died in March 1861, in Salt Lake City and is buried at the Old Salt Lake City Cemetery up in the avenues.

Nathaniel after his divorce from Hannah met and married Anna Reynolds 1819-1904, who became my husband’s second great-grandmother.  They were married January 19, 1852 in Salt Lake City and they had four children together, making twelve children that Nathaniel had with two of his wives, Rachel and Anna.  Nathaniel also help raise at least four other children, Elizabeth Jane Riggs Smith 1840-1900, Polly Ann Reynolds Penrod 1836-1909, who was Anna’s daughter as well as Anna’s son who was actually the son of William Alma Young, who Anna was married to, but from whom she was divorced, when she was four months pregnant.  Nathaniel and Anna named this child Nathaniel Riggs, Jr. 1852-1903, as well as Thorit Peck 1826-1858, who would have been pretty much grown, when his mother Hannah, married Nathaniel.  Now that everyone is totally confused, I will go on with the children that Nathaniel and Anna had together.  J

Nathaniel and Anna’s children were the following:  Nancy Jane Riggs Boren 1853-1920, Susan Delithy Riggs 1855-before 1860, Rachel Isabel Riggs Kerby 1856-1922 (my husband’s line and who we named one of our daughters for) and William Lee Heber Riggs 1859-before 1870.  The following pictures are first, Nancy Jane Riggs and her husband Coleman Bryant Boren, and second a couple we have of Rachel Isabel Riggs and her husband, Francis Kerby III.  I have never seen any pictures of their two children who died young, but I doubt that any were ever taken, nor do I have any of Nathaniel’s children he had with Rachel Weldon.

Nathaniel and Rachel continued living in the Salt Lake Valley, but by 1856 they had moved down to Provo where they lived until the mid-1860’s, when they moved into the little town of Payson not far from Provo.  The next is a picture that my husband’s, Aunt Anna had and she was told by whoever gave it to her that it was Bethuel Riggs, Nathaniel’s father.  However I believe it is probably really Nathaniel himself, since Bethuel died in 1835 and Nathaniel did not died until 1869.  Also both of Nathaniel’s brothers died in 1834 and 1835, so I don’t believe it could be one of them either.  Photos were being taken in the early 1800’s, but they were very rare and on the frontier of Missouri, would have been very rare indeed.  I believe this photo was probably taken in Utah in the late 1850’s or early 1860’s.  I was told by my husband’s Aunt Anna, that at least one of Nathaniel’s sons, by his wife Rachel, actually came to Utah before Nathaniel died and visited with their father.  So far I have found no record to prove this, but it could have been a possibility.

Many years ago I was able to find Nathaniel’s obituary in the Deseret News.  The issue is dated June 16, 1869 and is located in Volume #18, page #217, SLFHL Microfilm #26591 and reads the following: In Provo City on the 5th ult., Nathaniel Riggs, of neuralgia of the bowels.  Deceased was born at Newport, Cammell (Campbell) County, Kentucky August 5, 1797.  He was baptized Jan 17, 1834 (1831) in Monroe County, Missouri and soon after made a visit to Kirtland, Ohio where he met with the Prophet Joseph, and made arrangements to go up to Jackson County.  He then returned home and when the Camp of Zion came along he joined it, on Salt River, Missouri.  He accompanied the Camp to Clay County, and afterwards shared with it the trials of the return journey, during which, through exposure and privation, he contracted diseases which he carried to his grave.  He came with the church from Missouri and settled in Nauvoo from thence to the Bluffs in Iowa and from the latter place to Salt Lake City in 1849.  He moved to Provo City in 1851.  He was taken sick December 1, 1868, and has endured a great deal of pain and misery for the last five months.  He went to sleep rejoicing in the new and everlasting covenant.---Com

I do not know for certain where he was buried and unfortunately his obituary did not say where either.  However after doing some research, I believe that he may have been buried at the Temple Hill Cemetery.  The proximity to where he lived, and his being part of Zion's Camp, make me believe that he could have very well been buried at this cemetery.  I also found a listing of just a handful of names of known burials for this cemetery and Katherine Radford was buried there.  The Radford family married into Anna Reynolds Riggs family and Anna and her daughter Polly were living with John Radford and his family in 1850, after she had arrived here in the valley and before she married Nathaniel Riggs in 1852.

A little history of the Temple Hill Cemetery, was that it was located on the bluff above the intersection of 800 North and 200 East in Provo, and is now occupied by the Karl G. Maeser Memorial Building on Brigham Young University.  Temple Hill Cemetery was rejected as a cemetery in 1880 and approximately 60 bodies were still buried there at that time.  These bodies were relocated to the Provo City Cemetery, but some had already been moved by families to that cemetery as early as 1854.   Block 5, Lot 62 of the Provo City Cemetery was reserved for bodies removed from this and other cemeteries in the area as well as private isolated plots.  Some headstones are present in Block 5, but most are unmarked graves.  I talked to a sexton there at the Provo City Cemetery on July 31, 2013 and she said there was never any record of the actual burials that took place at Temple Hill, Fort Field or Grandview Cemeteries in the area.  Every now and again a church record, family bible or a newspaper obituary will mention that a burial had taken place at one of these cemeteries, but without a record like that saying that Nathaniel was buried at Temple Hill or one of the others we cannot have a marker placed for him at the Provo City Cemetery.  One of these days hopefully I can find a record of where Nathaniel’s burial actually took place so that a marker can be placed for him where ever that may be.

Nathaniel’s wife Anna and their two daughters Nancy and Rachel all ended up moving to Arizona before 1900, where they died and many of their descendants still live to this day.  Also Anna’s oldest child Polly and Anna’s son, Nathaniel Jr. also moved to Arizona where they died as well.

Nathaniel Riggs, a good and faithful servant to the Lord until the very end, died June 6, 1869.  He was truly a man who endure many trials for the new faith, which he had embraced 38 years before.