Sunday, June 28, 2009

Together Forever

Once again together, here are Arthur Kenneth and Ocie Sheets. Theirs was a story set on the vast empty prairies of North Dakota. She was from a refined family with an English pedigree. He came west byway of rugged German roots. She was the spinster teacher in a one room school. He was the boy sent off to work on a farm after his mother remarried.

Ocie told how the handsome young man would come by the school house everyday. He helped her clean the boards, sweep out the ashes from the stove and get the school house ready for the next day. It must have been strange for him to spend time there since schools and reading were not familiar to him. But he showed up after the school children left for the day, helped her, and took her home. He soon asked her to marry him and leave the one room school. She said, "Yes!" and never looked back.

They married July 15, 1924. The young school marm and the farm hand. Their home together was a large farm near her mothers home. He bought her a horse she named Tootsie after the popular candy. They raised a family of two boys and one girl there in North Dakota until the dust bowl came and swept their dreams of having a farm away from them.

But still in love they picked up their family, rearranged their dreams and moved on to Indiana. He found a job in a factory and she stayed home to care for their young children.

The children grew, married and had children of their own. Then grandchildren came, and great grandchildren, but one thing never changed, their love for each other.

He continued to work and take care of her as he did in the one room school house. When he found out that he had cancer, she took care of him. They battled cancer together, their love giving them strength. But the battle was not to be won. He passed away August 13, 1980.

Ocie often spoke fondly of Kenneth, their young romance, Tootsie, and living on the farm in North Dakota. She seemed to like to tell the story about how she cooked for the thrashers when they came to work the fields.

Even when her memory began to fade, she never forgot Kenneth and her love for him. October 28, 1994 she went to be with him, the school marm and the farm hand, together at last, "Together Forever."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Grandma's Bible

Grandma Ocie Hallock Sheets' Bible, with Aunt Mildred's hand in the picture. Aunt Mildred has Grandma's Bible. She won't let it out of her hands. She says it's too fragile.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Hunters

The Hunter family of Indiana history, type written by H.W. Hunter, in 1940, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, and on two pages.
When I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina in 1985, I began my research of the Hunter family. I looked into the history of James Hunter, General of the Regulators. I found the Alamance Battleground historical site, which is a state park. There I found a statue dedicated to James Hunter, General of the Regulators. Being a northern Yankee, I was embarrassed and tread carefully into my research about the Regulators afraid what I might find out about the Hunters and the Ku Klux Klan.
I called the Alamance Battleground, Burlington, N.C., and identified myself as a Hunter relative. I asked a lot of questions about James Hunter and the Regulators. Feeling comfortable with the way our conversation was going I asked, “Was there a connection to the Ku Klux Klan?” I was told that there was not a connection to the Ku Klux Klan. In fact Mrs. Hunter had started a school for African American girls in her home. A school was later built by the Hunters, and this school was one of the first public schools in North Carolina.
Copies of this family letter have been passed around for years. I first read it around 1967. H.W. Hunter the writer was one of two Hunters: either Harold W. Hunter, b. 25 Feb 1903, d. 1979; or Harvey W. Hunter, b. 17 Sep 1874, d. 30 Jun 1944. Retyping "The Hunters," by H.W. Hunter, I have tried to keep it as close to the original as possible, making only minor changes as *noted.
The Hunters
The Hunters came from Scotland originally. Some of them lived for some time in North Ireland and were called Scotch-Irish, but most of them lived at a town still known as Hunters Town, just north of the border of England and Scotland.
There was almost continuous war between the two countries, lasting about one thousand years. The Scotch were vastly outnumbered and were killed and robbed or driven from homes on numerous occasions.
Some years before the emigration to America they were defeated and after the surrender the British lined them up and shot one out of twenty of them in all of the border towns. In 1739 there was trouble again and it looked like another war was starting. Some wealthy Scotchman had purchased a tract of land (100,000 acres) along the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. This was later increased to 500,000 acres and included a great deal of what is known as the Piedmont district in North Carolina. This was higher land. Ships were chartered and several thousand Scotch-Irish and Scotch people came to North Carolina. Four Hunter brothers and their families were on one boat. This was in 1739. They were William Hunter, James Hunter, Thomas Hunter and John Hunter. They settled along the Cape Fear River. James Hunter later had a large plantation on Sandy Creek in Alamana (*Alamance) County. The others lived near. The land was good and they were all prosperous. The produce was tobacco, tar, turpentine, cotton and grain. This was shipped down the Cape Fear River to Wilmington and then shipped to England and elsewhere. This trade kept up during the Revolutionary War and was prosperous until the Civil War when a blockage was effective. Prosperity does not always mean peace. The Scotch had hated the English for more than a thousand year, and the English were rulers here as well as at home. About the year 1765 Governor Tryon a tyrannical military man became Governor of North Carolina. He was a driver and ordered the settlers to do a lot of things to which they objected. He spent a lot of money needlessly. He built a state house costing $10, 000 (Don’t seem much now under Roosevelt)This aroused the ire of the Scotch and an organization was formed known as the Regulators, later known as White Caps and still later as K.K.K. (*This has been proven not to be true.)
James Hunter was Commander of this armed force and a battle was fought at Alaman Creek which was his home. About 200 were killed and wounded. The Regulators run out of ammunition as only one third of them were armed. There were about 2000 Regulators against 1100 British. The Regulators were desperate, 13 were captured, 1 was hanged, later six more were hanged and six were rescued by their friends breaking down the jail. William Hunter was among the rescued. James Hunter with other leaders fled to Pennsylvania. After about three years he returned to his family, who had been card for by his brothers. His home had been destroyed by Governor Tryon. He re-built his home and was never molested. About three years after this the Revolution broke out and the British left North Carolina. This was in 1776.
John Hunter (the brother of James Hunter, Thomas Hunter and possibly William Hunter) was the father of John Hunter ( the father of Daniel Hunter and four other boys, John, Andy, Sam and William also five girls, Lucinda, Mary, Susana, Cynthia and Margaret) who at (15 yrs) married Geo. Baber (40 yrs) and became the mother of Jack, Aden and As a Baber of Kansas, Ill. John Hunter was born in 1770 in North Carolina and came to Indiana in 1815 settled in Greene County in 1816. He died in 1863 at the age if 93 yrs. His wife long known as Grandmother Hunter was a medical advisor and lived until about 1861. All ten of their children lived until they were grown but were all outlived (except Daniel) by their parents, Daniel Hunter was born in 1798 and died in1864 of black measles which also killed his wife and two of the boys and 1 girl, the girl being Mary Anderson, age 83 and is now living near Solsberry, Indiana. Only part of two families of Hunters came from Scotland at this time, leaving hundreds of families there. I doubt whether it was a good move or not. Only one family moved to Indiana from North Carolina. I think this was a mistake. The bulk of our people are yet in the Carolinas or still back in Scotland and Ireland. Indiana is not so bad but I don’t see why John Hunter dragged (dragged is right) his family over 100 miles of good Hoosier land and settled them N. E. of Tulip on the first poor land that he found. He found a good spring.
H.W. Hunter

Genealogists & Tombstones

Do you ever admire another genealogists work online?
I happened to notice that another lady was working on my husband's family lines. When I looked at cemetery information from Ohio I kept running into Kris Kuhn as the publisher.
After a family wedding last year my sister in law asked me, "Do you know Kris Kuhn?" I told her, "No, but I recognize her name." We made contact and were able to do some cemetery work together in Delphos, Ohio.
Kris has been doing genealogy for years, and has a wealth of knowledge on the subject. At the cemetery she taught me how to mark and read old tombstones without defacing the surfaces. She helped translate the German words to English on the oldest tombstones in the cemetery.
This tombstone for Franz Wiechart was one of the unique tombstones found in the oldest section of St. John's Cemetery, Delphos, Ohio. It is all metal, with a marble base, and has printing on both sides. Because the wording is raised we were able to chalk it and read the inscription.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Saybrook, CT in the Revolution

Saybrook in the Revolution

“Saybrook’s Quadrimillenial, Commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of the Settlement of Saybrook, November 27, 1885,” Hartford, Published by, Press of Clark & Smith, 1886. Pages 46 – 54.
The Rev. John Edward Bushnell, Pastor of the Congregational Church in Fairfield, Conn., also a native of Saybrook, then spoke on “Saybrook in the Revolution.”

The distinguished part borne by Connecticut in the Revolution needs no praise to-day. Her honors are safe, woven into the life of the nation’s history. Enough to say that it was hers to give a Governor, Trumbull, to Washington’s right hand- his “Brother Jonathan” – in counsel; that she advanced her millions for the “sinew” of that war, and sent with this sinew a soul to quicken it, in the persons of 32,000 out of her total 40,000 fighting men-sent out of her own borders, leaving her own precious homes defenseless, that they might of to the continental army. She was the first of the colonies to instruct delegates to the continental Congress to strike for liberty. Her sleepless devotion had ready at hand for the battle of Bunker Hill, 3,000 men, and of those whom Washington commanded at the beginning of the conflicts about New York, more than one-half were from her valiant yeomanry. While then Connecticut was a small star among those that shone upon the old flag that led the Revolutionary forces, she was light up- as it seems to her always modest children-with a luster that was shadowed by none.
My theme is Saybrook’s portion of her lion-share.
But that we wish to-day to honor the details of history, it would be safe and sufficient to say that she bore her share along with her sister towns in the patient, devoted service of that generation. In looking for eminent distinctions in her pages we do not find them. Never did I so earnestly crave a battle-field for the old town, with an honored list of killed or captured, and thrilling adventures by land and sea, and then to be able to take from their sacred resting-place the old war –scarred banners and wave them here, and say to the blooming generation of the present hour; “These are the standards that your fathers held when they drove the British invader from their gates.” And to think that if they had only been quick enough, they might have started the battle of Lexington among the reeds and bulrushes of our own fair streams!
We can wish all this, but it could not be. The war was not here. The plan of it was New York- north and south – cutting off New England from the rest of the continent on the one side and preventing such a division on the other. Except for excursions for booty or malice, there was no motive to bring the enemy to our towns. But while such was the plan and sphere of the war, there remained always the possibility of a change, and the consequent danger felt for Saybrook, so favorably situated for strategic purposes. The British boats hovered about Long Island and menaced coast and river. For their own reasons they did not attempt to possess the river. Perhaps they preferred to have us keep her bar. There is an abundant reason to believe that the people of Saybrook were thoroughly alive to the spirit of the Revolution; the constant view of British patrols passing up the Sound was a daily reminder, if they needed any.
In the record of the colony we find that among the companies which went to the relief of Boston during the Lexington alarms, April 1775, was one of fifty-nine men from Saybrook. In July of the same year the Point was further aroused by the entrance of a British sloop chasing a Colony schooner and examining her, while the militia, drawn by the excitement to the shore, made a few exchanges of shot with them-the first of those grim courtesies of the war.
In the following year, (1776), Gov. Trumbull issued proclamation requesting all persons who were exempt from active military service to organize companies to keep up the war spirit at home. Saybrook was one of the towns to respond heartily.
In August, 1776, a ship was built at Saybrook and passed over the bar; the largest with which this old Neptunian rib had ever had the honor of trying conclusions. In the same season, Saybrook with three other towns raised the seventh regiment for the continental army. In the May previous so zealous were they that an appeal was made to the Legislature, and granted, for building a fort on the site of the old one, to contain six carriage-guns for the defense of the town and river interests. To encourage them the more in this patriotic action, twenty men were sent to their assistance out of the regular army. Needless to say, this defensive enterprise took time, labor, and expense. It was watched with anxious interest by all the colony. With the work of ship-building and fort-raising, in addition to the sending of men away to the frontier lines of service, the eventful year of 1776 was filled for them with sacrifice and the true spirit of the Revolution. The State records are a sufficient witness to the fidelity of her citizens. She has her share of names in the roll of private soldiers who laid down their lives in battle, and of those who were discharged with honorable wounds. A just proportion of them, too, bore the title of Adjutant, Quartermaster, Ensign, Lieutenant, Captain, and if they failed to attain to a Generalship it was because the old wolf-hunter from Pomfret could not spare them from their trusty flint-locks for the idle business of wearing the gilt. We may add incidentally to our previous mention, that the building of the ship at Saybrook seems to have been made a matter of universal concern. Beginning with January, 1776, the records are replete with solicitude about that boat. Capt. X. is appointed to build it. At another date, Capt. Y. is sent to supervise and hasten him. Then follows frequent mention of acts about rigging and duck for that boat at Saybrook, not to speak of moneys sent to lubricate the machinery of progress still more. I am not sure but that it was the cackling of the whole roost full over that one egg which frightened the British fleet from our river. The trouble did not end till the “Oliver Cromwell” was safely over the bar, and certain of the builders were brought to trial for alleged abuse of the building money. Whether she, on the high seas, kept up the notoriety begun on the stays I cannot report, but as Azariah Whittlesey, of Saybrook, was her master, it is safe to say that she never ran from the enemy’s fire.
In the same month that this naval thunderer went out of the river, wafted on full sail by the acclamations of soldiers at the fort and the jubilees of her citizens along the shore, another of the town’s sea-princes, Capt. Seth Warner, received commission and money to raise a crew of 110 seamen for duty on the northern lakes. For the few months following, the life of the town is varied by excitements attending watch on British patrol-boats, the going and coming of companies, and the perfecting of the fort.
Letters of 1776 are in the possession of our townsmen, Mr. Tully, written by valiant soldiers of the place, far off in the Massachusetts camps, filled with the exciting news from the very front line of war. Her sons were not to be drawn into the war reluctantly; they were in an even line with the foremost on land and sea.
The year 1777 opened, as we may imagine, with increased fever in the veins of Revolution. In April, the town receives peculiar renown through the scientific genius of one of her sons, David Bushnell, who was born in the Westbrook parish. This man appears before Governor and Council to exhibit a torpedo arrangement for naval warfare. The acute minds of Brother Jonathan and Gen. Putnam were not slow to see the merits of his idea, and the furnished him with the requisite provision, that he might put it to an immediate trial. Making his headquarters at our ferry, then went to work to construct the famous” American Turtle,” by which one Yankee expected to sink the whole British navy. He inventor began with a in the alphabet of the science. His first labor was to prove that gunpowder would explode under water. Then he built the boat. It outwardly resembled tow tortoise shells in contact, seven and one-half feet long, with just room for the captain, who was also the crew in this case, and with air enough to last thirty minutes. Most of the ballast was attached to the keel and could be lowered to the bottom for anchorage. The boat was so arranged with a paddle system that it could be moved in either direction, the paddles being operated by the feet. He had a barometer in the boat by which he could estimate his distance from the surface, and also a compass by which to direct his course. He was especially troubled about the use of light. A flame would consume the air in a short time. A kind of wood was found that was suitable for his purpose except when it was injured by frost, and he wrote to Dr. Franklin to inquire about the use of phosphorus, which he was finally able to substitute.
Gen. Putnam himself was down to see the first experiment, which was unsuccessful, in not grappling the magazine to the enemy’s ship. Other attempts were made, but, alas for human hopes? The British tar still rode the main. The good frigate Cerverus came very near destruction off New London. The torpedo, however, was so stupid as to grapple an inoffensive Colony schooner near her, and demolished it instead. After this blunder “the Turtle” was excused and allowed to put its head within its shell, but not until it had succeeded in alarming the enemy and making them extremely cautious about their naval demonstrations. The inventor then used the same principle in the employment of kegs of powder, which were to explode by a system of machinery, on contact with the hostile ships. A fleet of them was set afloat on the Delaware River and commissioned to drift down the stream and destroy the enemy. But this time it was the ice, (was ever an inventor so beset as ours?) and the kegs, having just as much feeling against the ice as against the British fleet, went bravely to work and cleared the river of it, leaving the English-excepting one unfortunate vessel which went up with the ice-wondering what manner of country it could be where water, and ice, and sometimes schooners, floated up-hill. They were forthwith thrown into a panic, for they ranged the shores along, and fired mercilessly at the floating kegs till they were glad to hide their heads. To-day every American school-lad knows where the “Battle of the Kegs” was contested, when the valley of the Delaware was shadowed throughout by the grim visage of war. As showing the shamefacedness of the English over this event, it may be mentioned that they offered a reward for Bushnell, living or dead. But he escaped to serve his country to the end of the war. This submarine science thus begun, though not as apparently successful as it seemed to deserve, was the beginning of great things. It established forever the principle of submarine explosives and set a whole school of successors (notably Robert Fulton) at work on the same idea; and to-day our government with its thousands of miles of open sea-coast, and without a single ship for the defense of it, worthy of the flag it carries, is rendered almost impregnable against the costliest iron-clad fleets of modern Europe, by that deadly little scourge which works out of sight and brings death and destruction out of the depths of the sea. If then, as seems to be just, the greatest war-defense of our nation, the American torpedo, is the youngest child of the genius which had the “American Turtle” for its first-born, then to Yale College which schooled that genius, which eclipses every other in Revolutionary annals, for the science which was then rudely shapen, at present promises to change every principle of naval equipment and warfare for all nations. During the rest of the war as they began, the people of this town went on, doing their share of the work; sending out men; on guard at home.
Owing to the location of the town, there was frequent contact with that subtle kind of foe which works without sword, by stealth and in the darkness-the enemy within the gates. The British on the Sound were glad of the Tory aid which brought them contraband supplies from up the river. We are proud to learn that in their passage down the river, they found a sleepless watch at the Point. And this brings us to the only sanguinary battle of the Revolution fought on Saybrook soil. A mass of contraband articles had been taken from the Tories, and a young man- William Tully- was set to watch it, in the house formerly owned by Capt. John Whittlesey, still standing at the Point.
On a certain night eight Tories came to the house and demanded entrance. Tully begged to be excused from opening the door. They broke in without further parley and rushed forward. Tully’s flint was faithful to the trip of the hammer and struck fire. The musket ball passed through the first man, and to Tully’s surprise he still advanced, but the man directly back of him dropped dead. Tully then surrounded the other six men and would have incontinentally put them all to the bayonet (and did wound one of them), had they not contrived to escape by the windows. The first man whom Tully shot finally discovered that the ball had passed through him, and dropped dead with one hand on the window and the other grasping a chest of tea. The retreating forces left a quarter of their number dead on the field-or floor- and a quarter of the remaining were carried away wounded in their arms. It is, perhaps, noteworthy that the continental army did not lose a man.
About the same time a Mr. Charles Williams of the Point also constituted himself a continental army, and hearing one night the rubbing of boat-keels on the beach, ran out and cried to the passing winds; “Turn out, guards! Turn out!”and the enemy fled, pursued by imaginary legions of the adversary. This man’s name takes us gracefully over to Groton. His son, Daniel Williams, he allowed to go as substitute for another man at Fort Griswold, receiving in payment a hogshead of cider, the legal tender for debts in those days. Young Daniel reached the fort on the day before the massacre, and was killed while passing powder to the soldiers in the fort. He was the youngest member of the garrison. Of Saybrook men killed at Fort Griswold, there were in all five; several others were wounded. Among those taken prisoners was a Saybrook man, Lieutenant Jabez Stowe, who seems to have been a valiant soldier. The government afterward remunerated him for the losses and hardships endured by him in the service, and it was even proposed to give him a medal of honor.
It is, I may add, a tradition in my own family circle that there was also a brother of this Lieut. Stowe present at the attack on Fort Griswold, who escaped death by concealment among the bodies of the slain, and after the slaughter walked to this town, to his own home, bringing the first intelligence of the disaster.
Such are the fragments of history which make up the story of our town in the fevered days of the Revolution.
If that part were not a conspicuous one it was certainly a faithful: heroic, in that they did all that God or man could ask of them.
To know what the town was then, we must divest our fancies of those colorings which make it now to us the fairest corner of the globe. They fought for homes, humbler far than those which adorn its streets to-day, but they were homes as precious to them. Perhaps a dozen of the dwellings then standing are standing yet- those changed, and all else how changed! Suppose the homes that make the town for us all gone; remove both church edifices now standing; put the predecessor of this one, where we now are met, across the street on the public green; gather by fancy into that plain meeting-house for weekly devotion all the people of the town, and at the head of that Christian fold put that venerable and illustrious man, Rev William Hart, for fifty-two years the honored and honoring pastor, who through his long and useful ministry was known as one of the very foremost thinkers, scholars and debaters of his day; form our streets remove those stately trees which are now our pride; take the paint from most of the dwellings, and on the remaining substitute the plain, not costly, red of that day; destroy the fences and abridge the walks to narrow unkept paths; think of the men as walking about in homely garment, spun by the hands of their good wives and ruddy daughters, and earning their living by their own hard industrious tilling of the soil where God had ordered it; ascribe unto them the princely spirit of the sons and daughters of God, who scorned the fear of man, with whom liberty was synonymous with life, and who were willing to do and die for the sweet sake of that liberty; and we have Saybrook in the Revolution.