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.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Growing Up on the River

I was born and raised in Western Kentucky in counties that border the Ohio River.  In Crittenden County where I was born across the river from Cave-in-Rock, Illinois and in Henderson County, across the river from Evansville, Indiana.  From the time, I was big enough to walk it was always, don’t go near the water, stay away from the river, etc. from my Momma.  We never lived real close to the river, but would go for picnics and such nearby.  My Mamaw had told me stories about the floods of 1937 when she was a young woman and how bad it had been then; whole towns were under water and lots of people lost their lives, homes and businesses.  All my grandparents, had at one time or another, told stories about someone they had known or stories they had heard about someone drowning in the river or the floods that hit hard, especially after early spring rains.  So, all us kids were always cautioned to be careful anytime we were near water and especially near the river.  The currents on the Ohio can take even a strong swimmer down quickly.

The floods of 1937 along the Ohio River took place in late January and February of 1937, when over 16 inches of rain fell in just a 3 to 4 day time period.  There was death and destruction stretching from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania all the way to to Cairo, Illinois.  Over one million people were left homeless, with approximately 385 people dead and property losses reaching at least $500 million and that was in 1937.  I am not sure what the total monetary value would be in today’s standards.  70% of the city of Louisville, Kentucky was submerged, 35,000 people in Paducah, Kentucky were evacuated.  The flood stage in Evansville, Indiana is 35 feet but in 1937 it rose to 53.8 feet, the previous high flood stage in Evansville had been 48.4 feet in 1884.  The Ohio River floods of 1937 surpassed all other recorded floods for the previously recorded 175 years before that time.

My great-grandmother, Amy, lost her first love, Lafe, and the father to her oldest child when he was tying up a boat during a storm at the Cave-in-Rock docks in 1913.  He had been knocked overboard and was caught up underneath the plying’s of the dock where they found him the next day.  I wrote about him and his untimely death for my blog back on March 26, 2017 if anyone wants to go back and read about that.  I have seen the ferry crossing closed between Marion, Kentucky and Cave-in-Rock when the river has been over flood stage and there is no way I would want to be on the river during that time anyway.  There is always lots of debris and logs floating during floods that could take out a small boat and even larger boats if they were to hit just right.

One of the people who has made the most comments about my blog posts is a distant cousin and we never had a chance to meet, even though we had been corresponding since 2012, but I feel like I really knew her.  She especially liked the story about Lafe and Amy and his drowning there at Cave-in-Rock, as that is where she had grown up as a child.  She had even known the McConnell family whose boat, Lafe had been on that fateful night.  After reading my story, she started telling me about different accidents that she remembered and some that had happened to her as well on the river.  I had told her that her stories would make a great short blog post and I ask if she could write them down for me to add to my blog.  She said that I could write about these and she would be honored to know that they were out there for others to read.  I was busy and didn’t get a chance to write the stories down at that time, but had saved her messages, so that when I got the chance I could do that.  I had posted a couple of more stories on my blog and realized I had not heard anything from Pat, on my last couple of post which was unusual for her.  So, I sent her a message in June and she said she had been busy, but I think she had been sick and just didn’t want to worry me.

On July 2nd, Pat’s niece Jackie, sent me a message and said that Pat had ask her to let me know that she was sick and 3 days later Pat was gone, she was only 83.  Barely three months after telling me some of these river stories, Pat died and I just didn’t feel like writing about the river at that time.  Now feels like the right time to write about the stories Pat told me, as well as others I have run across through the years.

I googled Pat’s name just to see if I could find an obituary and ran across a blog post one of her granddaughters had written about her after her death.  If anyone wants to read about Pat you can go to this link: https://onmogul.com/stories/to-my-grandmama-patricia-walker-mcdowell her granddaughter did an amazing job.

Now on too Pat’s stories, some funny and some sad, I wish Pat was here to tell them herself though.  This is probably the first one she told me.  “One time a cattle truck from St. Louis drove into the river.  My brother, Charles worked on the ferry while in high school.  Ferry was on the other side, when Charles saw the accident and tried to wake up the captain, but the captain was drunk.   Charles was 17 or 18 years old and piloted the ferry across the river.  Two men had gotten out, one was still in the truck.  Charles took off his shoes and went under the water and got the other one out.  So many stories he told me, I had never heard about growing up.  Funny, funny and sad too.”

“One time Charles said a car load of people drove down the hill and broke the chain on the ferry and went into the water.  No one was saved.  I think he said one or two had jumped into the river.  They were way out in the middle.  Raised on the river, it's a miracle nothing happened to any of us.”

“The Ohio almost got me 3 times.  When I was 5 and Charles was 11, Dad and Mom’s boat turned over in the river.  Dad thought it would be fun for us to ride the waves from a paddle wheel boat on the Kentucky side.  We crossed over, we were in a rowboat and of course, the boat turned over.  We were in the water for hours.  Dad put me in the limb of a tree, and Dad and Charles could not turn the boat over.  A man way back in the flood water heard Mom calling for help.  He was gathering drift wood.  He took Mom and me to the Illinois side, then went back for Dad and Charles. They told me later I was so traumatized, they had to pry one finger at a time from the tree limb!  I was screaming and could not stop. Needless to say, I never learned to swim.  Two other times I fell in.  What a life. 😫 Crossing even 18 years ago, (for a reunion) I could barely breathe.”

“The day of this accident when I was 5, we had gone down to Elizabethtown to do our weekly shopping.  We lost all that in the accident.  When the river went down, Dad went back to the scene and dug the canned goods from the mud.  The labels were gone from the cans and we never knew what we were going to have for supper.  Dad even found my little red purse in the mud.  The dime was still in there.  Now, isn’t that the funniest thing.”

“There is a story from long ago, of a man and wife (she was pregnant) crossing the Ohio in a rowboat. They both lost their lives.  I read it years ago.  It told their names, but I never knew them.  There was a drowning years ago.  A man was fishing at the Lock and Dam 50, up river from the cave.  My Dad, was a commercial fisherman, he found the body, I was about 6 or 7.   I ran down to the river, slipped thru the crowds and saw the body as Dad and another man pulled him from the river.  "It was a sight I should not have seen!" He had been in the water for days.”

I wish Pat had, had the time to tell me more of her stories, she told me she had lots more, but unfortunately, she never got the chance.  I have really missed her comments on my blog posts and the stories she would sometimes tell me.  She was a special lady.

I have a couple of different newspaper subscriptions and so I thought it would be a cool idea to go through and pick out some articles of different people who drowned or nearly drowned either on the river or elsewhere or in accidents on the river that seemed interesting, as well as telling the stories that Pat told me.  Here are just a few that I have run across.

From the Crittenden Press in Marion, Kentucky in the issue dated Thursday, May 4, 1893
A 2-year-old and 10 year, children of Mr. & Mrs. Godfrey accidentally drowns.

From the Crittenden Press in Marion, Kentucky in the issue dated Thursday, June 15, 1899
W. J. Hill and Lewis Horning almost drown, saved by Ernest Hill and W. B, Crider.

From the Crittenden Press in Marion, Kentucky issue dated Thursday, Nov 16, 1899
Boy by the last name of O’Neal drowns.

From the Crittenden Press in Marion, Kentucky issue dated Thursday, Apr 28, 1904
Mrs. Mary Perry & her baby, and her sister, Eliza Deboe, narrowly escape drowning.

From the Crittenden Record-Press in Marion, Kentucky issue dated Friday, Jan 5, 1906
W. B. Stembridge narrowly escapes drowning.

From the Crittenden Record-Press in Marion, Kentucky issue dated Thursday, Apr 4, 1907
Mrs. Aiken and her 6-year-old son, rescued by her 12 year old daughter.

From the Crittenden Record-Press in Marion, Kentucky issue dated Thursday, May 23, 1907
Jack McElmurry almost drowns.

From the Crittenden Record-Press in Marion, Kentucky issue dated Thursday, Apr 14, 1910
Lon Simmons falls in river, rescued by 7-year-old Virgil Cooksey.

From the Crittenden Record-Press in Marion, Kentucky issue dated Thursday, Sep 23, 1915
Clyde Green, son of Dan Green, fell from bridge and drowned near Nashville.

From the Crittenden Record-Press in Marion, Kentucky issue dated Thu, Aug 29, 1918
Virgil Binkley drowns, son of Jess Binkley

There are so many more stories from old newspapers that I could be here for the next year looking them up and telling you about them, but I just wanted to give some examples of the tragedy’s waiting when people live near rivers and streams.

Monday, July 24, 2017

My Uncle George

While I was back home in Kentucky in May and June of 2017, I went and visited and talked to a number of different family members, but only one would let me video him while he told stories about himself and his family.  That was my Uncle George, my Daddy's oldest living brother and I did the following videos that I have posted on YouTube and provided links to here on this blog post, on May 30th at his home outside of Murray, Kentucky.  Please excuse any shakiness or anything else funny in the videos, this is the first time I have ever done anything like this.

My Uncle, George Anderson Beard, son of Aubrey David Beard and Jessie Holeman Doss was born in Crittenden County, Kentucky in October of 1927 according to him, but 1928 according to the Kentucky birth index and census records.  Uncle George swears that his mother, told him that he was born about 15 or 16 month after his sister, Helen who was born in June of 1926.  If Uncle George wants to be 90 years old this year then that is his prerogative and who am I or anyone else to say different.  😉  The following is a picture I took of him outside of his work shop the day I did the recordings.

I had ask Uncle George a number of different questions after we had picked him up that day and gone into town for lunch, so that after we got back out to his place we could start recording.  He was so excited to be able to talk and tell his stories and to have them recorded for posterity.  We both wished we could have stayed longer and done more, but it just wasn't possible to do so, plus I could tell he was getting a little tired as well.

The following is just a brief little outline of Uncle George and his family.  Mama Jessie had ten children all together and Uncle George was number four of these ten children and my Daddy was number nine.  These ten children were the following, William Teague, Harold Walls, Helen Beard, George Beard, Dale Beard, Donald Beard, Jack Beard, Violet Beard, Frank Beard and Bobby Corley. Uncle George and Uncle Bobby are the only two we have left now.  I also visited with Uncle Bobby but he wasn't to keen on being videoed, though I did get a picture of him and Aunt Charlene at least. The following is a picture of Bobby and Charlene at their home in Franklin, Kentucky.

Uncle George was married twice, the first time to Donna Beair in 1951, they were divorced in the early 1970's. Second to Louise 'Lou' Jones in 1974.  Uncle George and Aunt Donna had six children, Janice, David, Nancy, Henry, Helen and Kevin.  Aunt Lou had five children when she and Uncle George were married and they are, Shirley, Jim, Larry, Mary and Patty.  I don't really know Shirley and Jim, but the other three I have meet quite a few times.  Also, Henry passed away the same year that Aunt Lou and my Daddy and Aunt Helen all passed away in 2009.  2009 was a sad year for all of us, Daddy passed in July, Aunt Helen in August, Henry Joe in September and Aunt Lou in October. It was really rough on Uncle George though, his wife, son, brother and sister all within 4 months of each other, he is a strong man though and he has persevered.

The following 13 videos were all done on May 30th, 2017 in the workshop behind the home of George Beard outside of Murray, Kentucky.  I have titled them with what he was mainly talking about in each video.

I hope you enjoyed my little video clips of Uncle George, sharing his memories and his stories with all of us.  I know I sure enjoyed being with him and listening to him talk about so many who have gone on before.  

I would like to dedicate this post to a friend and a distant cousin who I never had the opportunity to meet, but who always made comments on every blog post I made since I first started this journey, her last comments were on June 13th.  She encouraged me to continue writing my stories and she always had something to say about every post. This will be the second post I have made since she passed away suddenly just a few weeks ago. She had found out she had cancer and it was so far progressed that the doctors just made her as comfortable as they could for the short time she had.  Pat you will be missed greatly by your loving family and friends and by me too.  I will write those river stories you told me, as well as others I have found and been told about, but you will just have to read them in heaven now. The following is a poem her niece, Jackie, had written about her and Jackie is the one that let me know that her aunt had passed away.  Until we meet, God speed you on your journey, Pat.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Riggs Family & Mark Twain in Missouri

My next blog post while on our vacation from May 23rd to June 5th is after we left Kansas City and before we headed on over to Kentucky.  This day was Friday, May 26th and we followed the trail that my husband, Roy's 2nd great-grandfather, Nathaniel Riggs, followed back in 1834, except we started at the ending spot in Independence, Missouri.  Nathaniel had been part of Zion's Camp with the Prophet, Joseph Smith and had joined the camp near his home in eastern Missouri when the camp stopped to recruit more members somewhere between Paris and Florida, Missouri.  Nathaniel had joined the Mormon Church in 1831, less than a  year after it had been established.  I have a book entitled, "Sacred Places, Missouri A Comprehensive Guide to Early LDS Historical Sites, Volume 4" which told about the camp and where the trail followed and so that is why we took the roads we did across the state from west to east.

We went from Kansas City to Independence then over to Richmond where we got on MO10 and stayed on that road until we got to Carrollton, where we got on Hwy 24 and followed it over to Keytesville.  We stopped in Keytesville and took some pictures of the historical marker and the county boundary sign, because my good friend Malia's, mother-in-law had ancestors, Houston Moore and Thursa Ann Miller that were married there on 18 September 1838. Here are the county boundary sign, city limit sign, and the historical markers from Keytesville.

After leaving Keytesville we stayed on Hwy 24 and followed it until around the tiny town of Goss where we turned south on to Hwy U and followed it east over to Mark Twain State Park.  We went through the visitor center and took the tour there since Roy and I are both related to Mark Twain. Roy through his Mom's side, through their Reynolds line and me through my Daddy's side through our Clark line.  Mark Twain is Roy's 8th cousin twice removed and he is my 4th cousin three times removed from our common ancestors.  Mark Twain Lake is right by the tiny town of Florida, Missouri and this is where Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain was born in 1835. The Clemens family lived in Florida until Mark was about 7 or 8 years old when they moved up north to Hannibal, Missouri where Mark grew to manhood.  Following are just a few pictures of the Visitor Center and some of the area around there.

The Clemens home, that has been preserved.

Some of Mark Twain's famous sayings.

Mark Twain Lake from the Visitor Center.

The town of Florida, Missouri.

Roy's ancestor, Nathaniel Riggs who was with Zion's Camp owned almost 400 acres of land in Monroe County, Missouri and this property was located approximately 4 miles south and east of Florida, Missouri.  Nathaniel probably even got supplies from Mark Twain's father as Mark's father owned the mercantile store there in Florida when Mark was born and until the family left and went up to Hannibal, Missouri.

There was also one of the earliest branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Mormons, at the Allred Settlement just a couple of miles south of Florida, Missouri and we believe this is probably where Nathaniel meet with Joseph Smith and decided to join up with Zion's Camp and go over to Independence, since his property was only a couple of miles from the Allred's.  This area is about 130 miles northwest of St. Louis.

I had found on the BLM site the land grants that Nathaniel had and so we were able to go very close to where his property was located.  Most of it is now under water as there was a dam built back in the 1960's or 70's I believe it was, that now covers a lot of his property,  I found maps that showed the modern roads and then we were able to drive almost right up to the property lines in some places.  We did take quite a few pictures and got really close, if not right on some of the land and it was so cool to be able to feel the presence of this family, the struggles, the hardships, the love that was probably felt while they lived in this area.  Following are just a few pictures of where Nathaniel's property was.

After leaving Monroe County, Missouri we headed southeast to Lincoln County, Missouri and the area that Nathaniel Riggs, parents and some of his siblings lived.  Nathaniel's father, Bethuel Riggs was a Baptist Minister and started a church in his home just north of Troy, Missouri in either 1813 or 1823, depends on which history what the year was, but nevertheless he did start a church which was called the Sulphur Lick Baptist Church.  I personally believe the year was really 1823 as I don't find him in the state of Missouri for the first time until 1809 when he came to Missouri and first settled on Dardenne Creek, in St. Charles County, where he lived for the next eight years.  He then left St. Charles County and settled north of Troy, Missouri by the Sulphur Lick Spring.  If he indeed lived for eight years on Dardenne Creek then that would put the year he first moved into Lincoln County at around 1817.  However, I have found him listed on a state territorial census record in 1817, living in Upper Cuivre Twp, St. Charles County, Missouri Territory so he could have moved up to Lincoln County shortly after that time.

According to one history I found, Bethuel started the church in his own home and then around 1827 or 1828 they built a meetinghouse approximately four miles west of his home.  That church was replaced in the 1850's with a new building and when we went to the church, which is one of the oldest continuous Baptist Churches in the state of Missouri, the date on this newer brick building said it was built in 1977 and it is on the same spot as the original church which was built in 1827/1828, how cool is that????

Bethuel Riggs was born in Mendon Twp, Morris County, New Jersey on December 13, 1757 and died on July 25, 1835 in Lincoln County, Missouri. He was married to Nancy Lee on February 15, 1778 in Wilkes County, North Carolina.  Nancy was born in about 1758 and died sometime after Bethuel, but before 1840 it is believed.  They became the parents of nine children with Roy's ancestor, Nathaniel being their youngest.  The other eight children were the following: Jane Riggs, 1781-1959, married Clayton Webb; Elizabeth Riggs, 1783-1851, married Andrew F, Smith; Mary Riggs, 1785-1855, married James Shaw II; Jonathan Riggs, 1788-1834, married Jane Shaw; Margaret Riggs, 1790-????, married ? Durham; Sarah Bell Riggs, 1792-before May 1869, married Statia Webb Sr.; Rebecca Riggs, 1794-1871, married Leonard Armstrong; and Samuel Riggs, 1796-1835, married Elizabeth Sutton.

Bethuel Riggs was also a Revolutionary War soldier and served at the battles of Ramsour's Mills, Catawba River, Guilford Courthouse and Kings Mountain. He had enlisted as a private, but was at the rank of captain when he was discharged after the war.  His son, Jonathan Riggs also served during the War of 1812 and in the Indian Wars as a  Lieutenant under Captain Callaway and because of his bravery his was made a general of the militia and was known as General, Jonathan Riggs until the day he died.

Here are some pictures of the church and the cemetery by the same name which is just a couple miles further west from the church as well as a video I did at both places, the Sulphur Lick Baptist Church and Sulphur Lick Cemetery.

The following is the video I did at the church.

The following is the video I did at the cemetery.

It was such a neat experience to be able to walk on the same ground some of our ancestors walked. They felt so alive while we were there and we could feel their spirits and almost hear them talking to us, asking us to never forget the hardships, the things they did to help make this country a free place for us as their descendants to live.  If you get the chance, walk in the footsteps of your ancestors, you won't regret it.