The Story of My Life by Fred Nuffer

Georg Friedrich Nuffer in early 1950s

Another entry from “We of Johann Christoph Nuffer, also known as: Neuffer, Nufer, Neufer,” The book was published in April 1990 by Dabco Printing and Binding Co in Roy, Utah. I will quote from the book itself.

“Being in my 80th year and inclined to reflection I have a desire to put in writing some of the events of my life.  My memory is very clear, even back to the earliest years, and consequently few happenings are left out.  For this reason I am able to go into detail beyond which might be expected.

“I was born January 20, 1864, in the little city of [Neuffen], County of Nurtingen, State of Wuerttemberg, Germany.  My mother died when I was about 2.  I have one brother, John, a year older than myself, still living (1943).  Father married against so we were raised by a stepmother.  She was a very sincere and Christian woman and a good mother.  In 1870, when I was 6, I started in school and graduated from 8th grade in 1878.  When I was 14, my father bound me over to learn the trade of glazier and carpenter to a man by the name of Christian Selter in Stuttgart, the capital of Wuerttemberg.  I didn’t learn much the first two years as I had to do all of the errands throughout the city until a younger boy took my place so I could stay in the shop.

“In 1880, my parents were converted by the Mormon missionaries and wanted to emigrate to Utah.  Stuttgart was about 20 miles from Neuffen.  I received a letter from Father asking if I wanted to go with them.  I did, but my master would not release me.  The folks had to come through Stuttgart on their way, so I started to smuggle my things away and intended to join them.  My master found my trunk empty and suspected my intentions so he offered to let me go for 200 Marks.  I told Father and and he sent the money.  I doubt if my master could have held me by force as I was under age.  Three other families emigrated at the same time from the same town.

“From Stuttgart we went to Mannheim, down the Rhine River, to Rotterdam, then cross the North Sea to Grimsley, England.  From there we went to New York and then to Logan, Utah.  Father bought a house and lot in Providence, a suburb of Logan.

Young Fred Nuffer

“The first summer I went to work for a man named Oslob painting houses for 25¢ a day and board.  All he did was take the jobs and mix the paint.  In the fall, he sent me home and the next spring he offered me 40¢ if I would come back.  I told him I had something better.

“There was a man by the name of Thomas Ricks in Logan who had a contract to lay the rails from Dillon, Montana, to Butte City on the Utah and Northern narrow gauge line.  I asked for a job, although I was only a kid.  But he took me with him and gave me a job dropping spikes along the rails.  I got 75¢ per day and board.  I learned the English language very fast that summer as I got away from the German people.

“Dillon, at that time, was the terminus of the U & N.  It was a very small village.  By fall we got to Silver Bow, 7 miles from Butte.  I grew very fast that summer and was promoted to bolting the rails together on one side, and my wages raised  to $1.05 per day.  It was late fall and winter had started, but we had to get to Butte with the track.  The last 4 miles laid we had to shovel a foot of snow off the grade.  We got the Butte on Christmas Day, and it was the first railroad to that city.

“Mr. Ricks also had a grading job on a railroad along the Jefferson River.  He sent a crew of 6 men over there with a team.  I asked him to let me go along but he said I was too young.  It was about 75 miles south of Butte over a range of mountains.  When the wagons were loaded and they were ready to start, I crawled under the tarp and went with them.  When we got out about 8 miles, I showed myself but they couldn’t do anything about it.  We had a large horse tied to the hind end of the wagon.  He broke loose and ran back toward the camp at Butte.  I, being a boy, was sent back to catch him.  They thought that would be a good way to get me back to camp.

“In fact, I was the cause of the horse breaking loose.  I chased the horse all the way back to camp, caught him, put a bridle on him without anyone noticing me, and started after the wagon again.  I had never ridden a horse.  He was quite frisky and I fell off several times and had to find a high place to get back on.  I didn’t catch the wagon, but got off on the wrong road and landed in a wood camp.  They told me the road was about 10 miles east.  I started out over rough ground and got on the right road.  At that point the road started through a canyon.  There was much snow and ice on the road as it was between Christmas and New Year’s.  It was getting late and was very cold.  I had to keep going to keep from freezing to death.

“About 12 miles further, that night, I came to the halfway house and found the wagon and men.  They had just gotten there ahead of me and were in the house talking.  They also had had a hard time pushing the wagon up the hills through the snow.  I gave them a good cussing for not waiting for me.  I guess it sounded funny in my broken English.  They said they thought the boss would keep me at Butte.  They couldn’t understand how I ever got through, it being so cold.

“The next day we came to our camp on the Jefferson River.  My job was to drive two single dump carts out of a deep cut.  I took one out and dumped it while 4 men loaded another with shovels.  The men were kind to me and corrected my speech whenever I didn’t pronounce words right.  We worked there until spring when the projected suddenly was stopped from headquarters.  The road was completed some years later.  We went back to Dillon by team from there.  With the advent of the railroad, Dillon had grown fast and had become a division.  I took the train back to Providence, Utah.

“As soon as I got home, I went to work for the Jessop brothers, Tom and Tet.  They were railroad grading contractors.  Their campe was located where Lava Hot Springs is built now, in Idaho.  I became a night herder.  My job was to take the horses and mules out on the range in the evening and come back with them at 6 a.m. in time for the teams to start the day’s work.  I got $1.75 per day and rode my own horse.  The next two years I spent most of my time in the saddle.

“I began to master the English language.  I seldom heard German spoken during this time.  This was the spring of 1882.  In this campe, I had a pal of my age by the name of Mark Golightly.  He was a nephew of Joe Golightly of Preston and a near relative of Mr. Jessop, my boss.  He was a privileged character in camp and didn’t have to do anything if he didn’t want to.  He claimed to be a fast foot racer and kept bantering me for a race.  I finally told him I’d run if he accepted my distance.  He said he would run any distance.  I named the distance between our two camps, about 2 miles apart.  I put up my saddle and $15.  He put up a new $40 shotgun.  There was a great commotion in camp when the men heard of it.  They wanted to go right after dinner so they could all see us start.  Some called me a darn fool and said Mark was a professional foot racer.  But after we got started they all bet something on one or the other.  A man went along on horseback.  I had my mind made up to win.  I made it in 14 minutes, Mark in 25 minutes.  Mr. Jessop said I shouldn’t take the gun from the boy.  I said all right, I didn’t want it, but Mark made me take it saying that I had won it fair.

“Our next move was to McCammon on the U & N coming up from the south.  The road we were working was the Oregon Short Line, starting from Granger, Wyoming, and running west through Idaho to Oregon.  McCammon was the western-most point in the construction.  We pitched our camp where the depot now stands.  I got acquainted with the late H.O. Harkness who owned all the land around McCammon and a hotel and saloon.  He had the land fenced for about 3 miles square.  He had put a gate on the further side and wanted me to drive the herd outside every night, but by the time the herd got feeding close to the fence it was time to lead them back to camp since I had to be back so early.  The land was all sagebrush and greasewood and he did no farming at all.  Harkness tried to raise the devil with my boss, insisting on me going outside, but I never did.  Thirty years after this happened, I met Harkness at McCammon.  He was sitting on the porch of his hotel in a rocking chair.  He had aged and was fat.  He didn’t know me but when I told him I was Jessop’s night herder he shook hands and was very friendly.  I asked him if he remembered when I refused to take the herd outside of his land.  He said, “Well, I ‘ll tell you, the land wasn’t mine.”  He called his man, told him to hitch up the cart and took me all over his land, showed me his crops.  It was a different place from 30 years earlier.  He treated me like a lost friend.  Invited me to dinner.  Then a year after that he died.

“I might say the way Harkness got his start was by marrying the widow of a man that owned the toll bridge across the Portneuf River at McCammon.  Before U & N was built there was much freighting by team from Corrine, Utah, the closest railroad point to Butte.  They all had to cross the toll bridge.  It was at McCammon where the Oregon Short Line met the U & N.  The railroads intended to make McCammon a division and build their shops there, as plenty of water and suitable land was about.  But Harkness owned all the desirable land.  He got too greedy and wanted to hold up the price.  The railroads refused and went through the canyon on the same grade with U & N to where Pocatello now stands and made their division point and built their shops (in 1887 – after a year in Eagle Rock).  This land was on the reservation and they got it cheap from the Indians.  McCammon is still a very small settlement and Pocatello is the second city in Idaho, thanks to Mr. Harkness.

“Our next move was to the desert between American Falls and Shoshone, about 75 miles without water.  It took many 4-horse teams to haul water for the camps.  There were dozens of camps in that lawless country.  Many horse thieves and all kinds of bad men.  Whenever one was caught in the act they would raise the wagon tongue, prop it up with a doubletree and hang them on it, dig a hole under their feet and bury them and nothing was said about it.  There were many occasions of that kind, for a man without a horse rarely lived long and for one man to steal another’s was just the same as taking his life and the penalty was also life.  The nearest authority was Boise City and they didn’t care anything about it.  The most general conversation in the camps was about horses and mules, pulling matches, foot races, riding wild horses, penny ante, and stud poker.

“When late fall came my job was ended.  About December 1st, I rode my horse home.  While riding over the desert, I had to buy water for my horse and dog at 25¢ per bucket.  Some distance from American Falls I met some tracklayers who were constantly following the grade builders.  I met several spike drivers whom I dropped spikes for the previous year in Montana.  At Pocatello I went to the section house and got a square meal.  It was the only building in the vicinity.  Not being able to get any feed for my horse, I went over to the river and turned him out and then slept out as usual.  The horse would not leave me and the dog to go very far.

“I stayed in Providence until about March 1.  This was the first time I took any notice of the dear girl who became my wife.  I was beginning to get of shaving age.

“About that time Jessop brought some more grading outfits from George Maler of Providence who was also a railroad contractor.  We loaded the outfit on flatcars at Logan and shipped them to Shoshone.  We rode in covered wagons on the flatcars.  At Battle Creek, near Preston, we stopped several hours, it being a terminal and a very tough place.  Several of the boys got drunk, especially one by the name of George Hovey.  He was continually climbing from one car to another until we missed him.  When we got to McCammon we got a message that the section hands had picked up the remains of a man on the tracks.  It turned out to be George Hovey.  Jessop went back and sent what was left of George to his mother who was a widow.  George had been working with us the previous year and was a very good boy.

“We could go to Shoshone on the train.  The tracks had been laid during the winter.  During the time that American Falls was the terminus there was a tent city across the Snake River with the usual quantity of bad men.  Several men who were known to have money disappeared.  The gamblers were under suspicion of having done the job.  They were ordered out of town and told that it would be too bad if they came back.  While they were gone the lawful citizens organized a vigilante committee.  After a few weeks, the gamblers, Tex and Johnson, came back and were seen going into a bakery.  They were surrounded in a gun battle.  Tex got his arm shot off.  Johnson wasn’t hurt.  A rope was placed around their necks and they were led out on the railroad directly over the falls.  They tied the ropes to the bridge and told them to jump.  Tex jumped and Johnson had to be pushed off.

“In connection with this incident, I happened to be placer mining in 1919 on the Snake River about 5 miles below American Falls.  One day I was walking to town and when I got close to the bridge I saw a bunch of men close by.  I went up to them and asked what the excitement was.  They had been digging post holes for an electric line to a brick yard.  They said they had dug up two men with their boots on.  I told them they were Tex and Johnson.  They had been buried there in 1883.  They asked me how I knew.  I told them I was there at the time.  They said, “You must be right because old Doc Brown, an old settler, told us the same thing.”  They had taken the bodies to town and were told to bring them back and bury them in the same place.  They were in the act of covering them up when I came upon them.  The old grave was on the edge of the rim rock with good drainage and they were in recognizable condition.

“The tent city of American Falls was now moved to Shoshone on flatcars.  While Shoshone was the terminus I believe it was the toughest and most lawless city that ever existed in the west.  There was no authority of any kind.  men gathered there from all the camps, at times about 2,000.  There were stores, gambling houses and dance halls.  Men got killed nearly every day.

“We were camped about half a mile from town on the banks of the Little Wood River.  I had a large, black, curly-haired dog, my constant companion and a coyote killer.  I rode into town one day when a large dog jumped onto mine.  My dog was getting the best of the other when a man ran out of a shack with an axe to kill my dog.  Just as the axe was being lifted I pulled my .44 and just in time.  I told the man to drop the axe or I would fill him full of holes.  He dropped it and ran.  I came within a few seconds of killing a man at that time and I believe I surely would if he had touched my dog.  And there would not have been anything done about it.  I carried a .44 Colt night and day by request of my boss as there were many horses being stolen nearby, but against me and my dog they had no chance.

“By the end of May, we got as far as Glenns Ferry, Idaho.  The first part of June we moved to Burnt Canyon above Huntington, Oregon.  During that trip I had a difficult time as I had to keep the herd out at night and then sleep in the wagon traveling over rough roads during the day.  The herd fed wherever night overtook us.  Sometimes there was very little feed.  One night we were camped where the Weiser grist mill now stands.  I took the herd out on what is now the Weiser Flats.  It was all sagebrush.  Now it is one of the best farm locations in the west.  There were a few log cabins where the Weiser Court House now stands and nothing more.

“Huntington had one store and one saloon.  It was tame to what we had seen.  We got too far ahead of the track gang which caused some delay.  At our camp in Burnt Canyon we had a China cook and a sort of person to cause trouble, it soon became evident.  Jessop’s wife and his grown daughter were the cook’s helpers.  The cook had a sore hand and wanted to lay off.  He said he had a friend in Boise that would be glad to come and take his place.  The boss told him to send for him.  In due time he arrived, about 7 o’clock one day.  The woman was in her tent at that time.  This new Chinaman went into the tent to talk to her.  She was just leaving to go to the cook tent.  She supposed he was following her out, but he didn’t.  Shortly after she went back to the tent to see where he was and caught him in the act of attempting to rape her 7-year-old girl.  She ran toward the dining tent and met me coming out.  She said, “Catch that Chinaman – he ought to be hung.”  I asked what he had done.  She wouldn’t tell me.  Just at that time her husband, Jessop, came riding in from the works.  She ran to him, told him something, then they both hurried over to me and said we got to hang that Chinaman.  He told me what he had done.  The Chinaman’s blankets that had been by the cook shack were gone and so was the Chinaman.  By that time the men had all come in from work for dinner.  No hell was popping.  The boss sent me up the road and he went down.

“There was a China camp up the road one half mile.  These men were working on a rock cut.  All the Chinaman were just coming out of the dining tent.  I ran up to the boss, an Irishman, and asked if he had seen a stray Chinaman.  He said no.  I decided he had not come this way as there were no tracks in the road either.  I arrived back at camp just as the boss did.  He said no one had been down the road so the Chinaman must be in the brush around camp.  All the men were called to hunt.  There were many acres of brush all around the camp, mostly hawthorn.  It was almost impossible to get through them.  Before long we found his blankets in the brush, it being too thick to get them any farther.  Then the hunt was on.  The only way to get him out was to burn him out and that is what was done.  There was much dry brush and it was in the dry season.  I got out on high ground on my horse where I could look over the brush and could see them waving as the Chinaman crawled through.  I directed the men to the spot by yelling the direction to go.  The Chinaman soon came out of the brush and jumped in the creek.  A bunch of men were there waiting for him and took him in charge.  From that point I took no active part.

“They abused him terribly.  One man took his queue over his back and dragged him.  The boss came running on his horse and said they had found a place to hang him.  Previously I had cut a trail through the brush to drive the herd night and morning to the other side of the creek into the hills.  There was a large hawthorn bowed over the trail and the boss had seen that so that is where they hung him.  They dug a hole under his feet and buried him in the center of the trail.  I drove the heard over his grave night and morning.

“There was a Chinaman who was the head of all the China camps in the vicinity.  He happened to be in the camp that I searched.  The fire could be seen for miles and caused some excitement.  This head Chinaman came to our camp to see what was going on.  He saw the Chinaman hanging on the hawthorn.  He had three of what he called our ring leaders arrested.  They were taken to Baker City, Oregon, for trial.  They all denied having a hand in the affair, claiming they were working on the grade at the time.  The timebooks showed full time for all, although no one had worked that afternoon.  So the case was dismissed.  During the hanging, an Irishman in our camp had pulled for the Chinaman saying that we had punished him enough without hanging him, too.  If the Irishman had not got out of their way they would have hung him, too.  That shows how crazy a mob can be.  It is not healthy to interfere.

“The country at that time was waving with bunch grass two feet high, with plenty of elk and deer and other wild animals.  Night herding was an easy job but there were rattlesnakes everywhere.  I could sleep in the grass from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., then round up the herd and get to camp by 5:30; that is if I didn’t mind to sleep with the rattlers.  But I actually did.  I found it was too hot to sleep in the tent in the daytime, so I cleaned a place in the brush and made my bed on the ground and for a week every time the dinner bell rang, I stirred, a big rattler crawled from under the blankets and got away in the brush.  When I think of it I must have been a foolhardy kid as I didn’t pay any attention to the snake.  When I told the boys about this they called me a damn fool.  One day a friend stood by my bed when the dinner bell rang and, with a forked stick, he caught the snake.  He took it to the chopping block and cut off its head.  It still kept rattling.  I cut off about two foot more and it still rattled.  I put it in m pocket with the rattles sticking out, then walked into the kitchen.  The woman folks though I had a real one and all scattered.

“One night I was sleeping in the grass when my dog by my side growled.  As I raised up, the dog grabbed a rattler from the front of my face.  He caught it too far back from the head which permitted the snake to bite the dog several times on the side of the mouth.  It was moonlight and I could see it very plain.  He dropped the snake and walked around shaking his head which had already started to swell.  I took him to camp and tied him to a wagon wheel and went back to the herd.  In the morning, his head looked like a calf’s head.  He laid in the creek all day but went out with me every night.  I chopped up some meat and stuffed it down his through to keep him from starving.  The boys wanted me to kill him.  They said he might get mad, and if I did not kill him they would.  I told them the first one that hurt the dog would be a dead man.  They took my word for it and left him alone.  On the 12th day I heard the first faint bark.  The dog was getting well.

“Sometime in November, I bought two fine large horses and told my boss I was going to ride them home.  He said I’d never get there as it was over 400 miles of unsettled country.  I told him I would get there if I started, and start I did.  I went straight south of Snowville, just over the Idaho line into Utah.  I then back-tracked some and went east to Malad.  From there I went across the mountains to Franklin, Idaho, then south to Providence, Utah, the trip taking 12 days.

“Many things happened on this trip.  I camped wherever night overtook me and bought something to eat whenever I could.  Sometimes I had nothing but jackrabbit fried on the sagebrush.  It was harder on the dog than on me or the horse.  It was warm and dusty for that time of year.  Near Glenns Ferry, Idaho, I came to a house there.  He let me put my horse in the stable and I slept in the stake yard.  During the night the dog growled and as I peeped out from the blankets I saw the man pulling hay out of the stack.  I went to sleep thinking nothing of it.  Next morning my saddle was missing.  I accused the man of stealing it.  He denied it.  He said he hadn’t been out of the house all night.  I knew he was guilty and said so.  I marched him all through the house ahead of my gun, but found nothing.  I told him I’d kill him if I didn’t get the saddle.  It had cost me $50 and I had a long ways to go.  I stayed there a few hours and then he sent his boy off on a horse.  I supposed he went to get help as there were several cowboy camps throughout the country.  I figured that I had better be going so I made some rope stirrups for my pack-saddle, which was an old riding saddle, and put the bedding on the other horse without any saddle.  I started off.  I crossed at Glenns Ferry at about 4 o’clock that evening and went on into the desert.  Next day was a warm one and the dog gave out.  He traveled with his head close to the ground in the dust.  I couldn’t do anything about it.  The horses were getting dry and dying for water.  It wasn’t long until the road went downhill and I came to Snake River again.  I had to lead the horses to water three times before I dared to let them have all they wanted.  After awhile I saw the dog crawling down the hill.  He made it to the river.

“There was a stage station there and I got a square meal.  This place is now called Thousand Springs, and the country is well settled.

“I went through Franklin because I had a letter from my brother, John, telling me that the folks had moved from Providence to northeast of Franklin.  I went up Cub River a ways as that was northeast but found nobody that ever heard of the folks, so I turned south to Providence.  I had my reason to go to Providence.  My charming girl was there.

“John found out I was in Providence and came to get me.  They were located on Worm Creek on a homestead.  I stayed with the folks until spring, 1884, when I went to work on a gravel train and sometimes on a section between Montpelier and Granger.  That fall I took a herd of sheep for George Horn to the winter range on the promontory north of Salt Lake.  The spring of 1885 I met my old chum, Abe Kneiting, in Logan, and we decided to go to Butte.  We worked in a sawmill for awhile, about 8 miles west of Butte.  From there we went to Anaconda to drive a team in a wood camp for W. A. McCune.  I worked a few months in the Anaconda smelter but didn’t like it there.  I got to know Marcus Daly who was head of the smelter.  The wages at the smelter were from $3 to $6 per shift, according to the job.  That fall Daly cut the wages to 50¢ to $1 for the same work.  The way he did it was to shut the smelter down entirely for repairs, as he claimed, and started up one furnace at a time.  In a month, the smelter was in full force again with the wages cut and Daly got a $50,000 Christmas present.  The company wanted him to do the same thing in the mines at Butte.  He said it could not be done.  The union was too strong and he valued his life.

“The mines and the smelter were owned by the same company.  They also had a railroad that ran between the two places.  Mr. W. O. Clark was the head man for the mines.  The general talk by the men around Butte and Anaconda was about Marcus Daly, W. O. Clark and John L. Sullivan.  There was a mill and concentrator west of Butte called the Bluebird Mill, owned by the company.  This New York firm sent a man out to cut the wages in the mill.  The mill and smelter men had no union at that time.  Once, when the New Yorker was strutting along this street at the corner of Main and Clark, a bunch of men were standing there and they were whispering.  All at once they closed in on the New Yorker from all sides.  A few policemen came running.  The mob took hold of the police and told them to walk on down the street and that it was not healthy for them to stop or look back.  They went.  They dropped a rope over the New Yorker and threw the other end over a telegraph pole.  He begged so hard for his life that they told him if he would go back to New York and promise never to come back to Montana they’d let him go.  He promised.  About 100 men escorted him to the depot and put him on the first train.  They say he has never been seen in Montana since.  I worked for A. W. McCune until the spring of 1887 in the mines at Lion City.  The camp was called Hecly and the mine called Cleopatrie.  It was about 15 miles from Melrose, in the mountains.

Anna Rinderknecht Nuffer, 1933 in Mt Hebron

“In the spring of 1888, I took a layoff for two weeks.  My boss said if I was back in two weeks my job would be ready.  I went to Providence and met my charming sweetheart, Anna Rinderknecht.  I had courted her for the last 4 years.  I told her I came to get married.  She said all right.  We called the local Justice of the Peace, Alma Mathius, to the house.  He married us with her mother and two neighbors for witnesses.  Licenses weren’t necessary at that time.  She was raised in the Mormon Church.  I was baptized into the church when I was 16.  We were married under the condition that she would go with me to the mining camp where my job was waiting.  She said she would go anywhere I wanted her to go and be glad of it.  We were married on April 4, 1888.  We lived happily together for 55 years and 6 days.  She passed away April 10, 1943, at 15716 Saticoy Street, Van Nuys, California.

“Now I am due to tell the story of my married life which was altogether different conditions from my single life.

“We stayed in the mining camp until November, 1888, and went back to Providence.  That winter I went to Idaho and homesteaded 160 acres adjoining my father’s place.  It was between Cub River and Worm Creek.  I got out logs and built a one-room house.  I got a team and farming implements, moved into the log house and started farming in the spring of 1889.  We had a hard going for awhile.  The Cub River-Preston Canal circled our place.  I got a job ditch riding the canal which was great help.

“There was a large cliff of grey sandstone on my father’s place.  I started a rock quarry and got out stone in dimension sizes.  It was used for trimming on the better buildings going up throughout the neighboring towns.  It was much in demand.  The Academy at Preston was started about that time, with my brother, John, as supervisor of construction.  I got a contract to supply stone for this building which called for 2,000 cubic feet at 25¢ per foot at the quarry.  The stone was used for corners, sills and watertable.  The next year I furnished stone for nearly every town in Cache Valley.  That was before the cement age.

“In 1891-92, the Agricultural College at Logan was expanding.  I made contract with Mr. Venables of Ogden to deliver about 3,000 cubic feet of cut stone.  He had tried to get some stone somewhere south of the valley but found it unsuitable.  As I had furnished stone for several buildings in Logan he came to me.  I lived near the quarry at that time.  he inspected and approved the stone.  The quarry was about 10 miles up Cub River Canyon from Franklin, on the left side slope going up the river, on a small tributary of Cub River called Sheep Creek.

“All work was done by hand.  The main ledge was about 20 feet above the ground about 20 feet wide and 400 to 500 feet long.  We used 12 foot church drills and blasted large rocks loose from the main ledge.  We had to be careful how much powder we used so as not to shatter or cause seams in the stone.  We usually had to put  second charge in the opening made by the first charge to dislodge the block from the main ledge.  The block so dislodged was from 6 to 7 feet thick and about 20 feet long.  From then on all tools used were hammers, axes, wedges, and squares.  Grooves were cut with axes wherever we desired to split the block, then wedges were set in the grooves about ten inches apart and driven in with hammers.  Then we dressed them down to the right measurements, allowing one half inch for the stonecutters to take out the tool marks we made.  Venables furnished bills for stone in dimension sizes as needed in the building.

“My brother, Charles August Nuffer, worked on the job the whole time it lasted.  I also had a man by the name of Ed Hollingsworth of Preston, also Mr. A Merrill and Mr. Abel Smart of Cub River, and Mr. Robert Weber of Providence.

“It took part of two years for the job.  The hauling was all done with wagons and horses; 30 to 35 cubic feet was a good load for two horses.  These men did the hauling, John McDonald of Smithfield, Jean Weber of Providence, and Jake Rinderknecht of Providence who hauled more than any other.  He used to leave home at 3 a.m., load up the same day and get back to Logan by 3 p.m. the next day.  It was very hard on the horses.  I also hauled a good many loads with my own team.  All loading was done by hand on skids.  It seems the miles were not so long when we traveled with horses as it does now when we travel in cars.

“I got 40¢ per cubic foot, of which 20¢ was paid for hauling.  We had a hard time handling the name stone to go on the front of the building.  When it was ordered it had 30 cubic feet in it and only one foot thick.  When the stonecutters got through with it they found it too big to be hoisted in place so they made it smaller until there wasn’t much left.

“The most difficulty I had was in not getting my pay from the Superintendent.  We overlooked a large 4-horse load at the final settlement.  A few minutes after I had signed a receipt for the final payment in full I discovered my mistake.  He refused to pay for it, although I produced the bill of lading signed by him.  He didn’t dispute the debt, but said he had a receipt paid in full.  He didn’t have anything and the government property couldn’t be attached, so I was the loser of about $15, which seemed a lot of money to me at that time.  (Mr. Nuffer wrote this part in 1938 – excerpted here – at the request of college officials; it was part of a historical cornerstone insertion to be opened at the centennial in 1988.)

“About 1895 the Mink Creek – Preston canal was being dug.  I got the job to do all the rock work for a stretch of about 10 miles.  Later on, the Utah Power and Light Company built a large canal on the opposite side of the river from the Preston canal.  I had several large jobs on that work.  I was watermaster for one term on both the Preston canals.  From 1896 to 1898 I was occupied mostly with farming, horse raising, and cow milking.  In 1898, I traded my homestead for a farm nearer Preston on the brow of the hill near Battle Creek.  I bought a house and lot in Preston and moved the family there.  I had a few hundred head of sheep and leased 2,000 more from Joe Jensen of Brigham City.  I had them two years when wool and lambs went so low I had to give them up at a loss.  One of my mistakes.

“About this time the cement industry came into being.  I went into the cement business and built the first cement sidewalks in Preston.  I also built culverts, bridges and all kinds of cement work for the city and county.  When cold weather came all cement work was stopped.  Being an old timer, and always on good terms with the village Board, they gave me the job of special police in the winter.  As I had a big family to support it was a great help.  The city of Preston at that time had about 3,000 population and at times an unruly element visited the city and its three saloons.  It kept the policeman very busy, especially at night.  I was on duty mostly at night.

“In 1905, I built the first two-story hollow cement block house in that part of the country which I used for myself.  We lived in the cement house for 4 years.  About that time I heard from my friend who was living in Mexico, near Tampico.  He was raising sugar cane and told me how we could all get rich quick raising it at $400 an acre.  I and a friend went down to look it over.  Mr. Tomlinson, the real estate man at the colony, offered me 87 acres of choice jungle land very cheap if I would move my family down.  There was a large American colony at San Diegeto.  I sold our home in Preston for $5,000 and moved the family down there.  Another mistake.

“I intended to stay 5 years and get the place all planted in cane and then lease it out and come back a rich man.  I bought a lot and built a house in San Diegeto.  The town was 10 miles from the plantation, which was on lower ground along the river.  A bunch of us Americans went down tot he plantation every Sunday evening by train to look after our Mexican workers.  We would come back Saturday evening.  I had from 5 to 15 Mexicans working the clear the ground and do some plowing.  We had to plant tomatoes or corn first to get the ground in good condition for cane.  The second year I had 5 acres in cane and 30 acres ready to plant the next year.  I would have made it in 5 years if it hadn’t been for the Mexican revolution.  We came to San Diegeto in April, 1909.  That same year Mexico had a presidential election.  Diaz was elected again which started the revolution to run him out, and trouble began all over the country.  By 1911 it got so bad we had to leave as it was not safe there any more.

“I gave an old American, name of Tigner, a contract for 5 years.  He was to have the place all planted in cane and return all the implements and animals in good condition.  He thought he could stay on.  He made very good progress for two years when Villa moved in with his band, arrested all the Americans and gave them their choice to stay in jail or leave the country.  Tigner went to Tampico and left on a refuge ship.  I got a letter from him from New Orleans asking me to release him from the contract.  We were in our home town, Preston, when I got the letter.  I couldn’t do anything but release him, so I lost all my investments and was a broke man with a large family.  By that time I was in the cement business again and made a living at it.

“About 1924, a few hundred of us Americans from San Diegeto put in a damage claim in Washington against the Mexican government.  My claim was for $30,000.  The Mexican government agreed to pay $10 million at the rate of $500,000 per year over a period of 10 years.  I was allowed $1,500 and that was cut 50 percent because there wasn’t enough to go around.  Our lawyer in Washington gets 20 percent and our secretary, Mr. Tomlinson, gets 5 percent, so there isn’t much left.  (*The script may have meant 20 years.)

“In 1920, we left Preston and went to Weiser, Idaho, on a farm.  We stayed there 4 years when I got interested in an irrigation project in Butte Valley, Siskiyou County, California.  We did quite well there for a few years until we got in several lawsuits over the water and lost some at every suit.  So we always ran out of water about June 1st each year.

“There was a large cattle ranch in the south end of the valley called the Bois ranch.  This had exclusive right to all the water in the creek called Butte Creek.  The irrigation district bought the ranch for $50,000 in order to get the full rights to all the water.  The district started to take some of the water further down the valley.  The cattlemen and settlers above the valley said if the district can take the water away from the ranch they could do the same.  So they started to put dams in the creek.  As I was the only one that could use dynamite they always sent me to blow out the dams, which I did.

“A rich cattleman defied the district and put in a dam that a few sticks of dynamite could not blow out, as it was built with logs and large rocks and was about 25 feet across.  Our president asked me how many sticks it would take to blow it out and I told him about 100.  He said he would get it, as the dame must come out.  I told him I would not take the responsibility as the man had too much money and could cause me trouble.  He said he would send an officer with me to take the responsibility.  To this I consented.  They sent the local constable with me.  I tired 100 sticks of dynamite in a bundle, put it under the dame on the upper side near the bottom.  It did a good job.  There was no more dam nor a place to build another one near.

“The owner of the ranch wanted $1,000 damage.  About that time we had another lawsuit over the water with the other fellows and this man wanted to bring his case in at the same time.  We all attended court at the county seat at Yreka.  Everybody knew who had blown up the dam.  Between the trials the lawyer asked the constable if he blew up the dam.  He said no, Mr. Nuffer did that.  The lawyer turned to me and said, “Did you blow up the dam?”  I said I did.  He asked who ordered it done and I said our district president, Mr. Snider.  The lawyer turned to Mr. Snider and asked, “Did you order Mr. Nuffer to blow out the dam?”  Snider said he did.

“That was the last we heard of the case.  But the cattleman put in another dam.  In the end, we had so many lawsuits and lost so much water every time that we could not farm successfully.  I went to milking cows and raising chickens, turnkeys and pigs, and did fairly well.

“In 1936, my son, Leon, living in Los Angeles, bought two and half acres in Van Nuys with a house and some chicken equipment.  He came to Mt. Hebron where I was located and asked me to sell out and take charge of his place.  I hesitated but my wife wanted to get away from Mt. Hebron.  I sold at a loss and moved to Van Nuys.  The place had been neglected but I worked hard and made it one of the best places in the valley.  It is now December 30, 1943, and my dear wife has passed away.  We had one daughter and many sons.

Emma Nuffer Nelson

“A short time before our first child was born we went to the Logan Temple where the ceremony was performed, our previous marriage being on a civil rite.  This was on January 3, 1890.  On May 4 our first child, Emma was born.  She married George Nelson and died in January 28, 1919, when the flue was raging.  She left two girls, Lucille, 3, and Virginia, 18 months.  We raised them until they were 4 and 5 when their father married again (Anna Rinderknecht, Emma’s cousin).  Our boys were Fred Jr., Leon, Bryant, Raymond, Lloyd, Glenn, Harold and George (who died in 1914 at the age of two).

 

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Graham – Miles Wedding

William and Lucy Miles are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Mary Elizabeth to William Addison, son of Robert and Edie Graham.  The newly weds were married 27 November 1867 in Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia.

William Addison and Mary Elizabeth Miles Graham about 1918 in West Virginia.

Mary Elizabeth Miles was one of at least four children born to Lucinda H Bailey and William Miles on 10 June 1850 in Pulaski County, Virginia.  William was a farmer in the Pulaski County area on the 1850 Census.  1860 just lists him as a laborer, not a farmer (like his neighbors).  It appears he had a farm on the 1850 Census but not for the 1860 Census.  The 1840 shows four individuals in the house, which confirms what we have, there could have been children who died.  There is a ten year gap between children, which probably shows there were some lost.  Mary Elizabeth is the last child we have any record of, which may not be accurate since her mother would only have been around 38 at the time.  We just know so very little about this family.  We don’t know where her parents were born or even where they died.  It seems her parents moved from Pulaski County to an unknown location.

William Addison Graham was the first of at least nine children born to Edith Booth and Robert A Graham 11 April 1849 in Newbern, Pulaski, Virginia.  The Graham family is a massive Western Virginia (which includes the present West Virginia) family that seems pretty well documented.  Robert was a farmer in Pulaski County.  After Edith passed away, he moved to work in the mines of McDowell County, West Virginia and passed away there.

William and Mary were born and raised in Pulaski County and would remain there until after the turn of the twentieth century when they would relocate to McDowell County in West Virginia.  All the censuses for these years 1850 to 1900 were in an area called Wassie, Highwassie, and now mapped as Hiwassie.  Hiwassie is small enough that information is given relating to the town of Draper, which appears to be the nearest town of worthy notable size.  This family is the opposite of the Miles family (lack of information) in that you have to spend time weeding through all the Graham relatives to make sure you have your right person.

Since there are so many Graham’s in the area, I believe that William and Mary’s family have become commingled with another family, or else Mary was very prolific at bearing children.  I hope someone can provide some more information to clarify this, but from the records as I have been able to make out, William and Mary had SEVENTEEN children.  While not impossible, the chances of that many seem unlikely, especially with some of the dates between the children.  But I will lay it out there and let someone hopefully correct me.

Lucy Bell Graham born 7 April 1870 in Newbern and died in 1917 in Welch, McDowell, West Virginia.  She married a W L Dunford in 1891 and James Matthew “Max” Crowder later.

Andrew John Graham born 17 August 1871 in Snowville, Pulaski, Virginia and died 8 March 1912 in Patterson, Wythe, Virginia.  He married Luemma Adeline Dean in 1892.

John William Graham born in 1872 in Pulaski County.

Damey Catherine Graham born 25 November 1874 in Pulaski and died 3 February 1933 in Marysville, Yuba, California.  She married James Thomas Meredith (also known with the last name of Ross) in 1887.

Robert Graham born 1875 in Pulaski County and died 1884.

James Alexander Graham born 20 August 1875 (a twin?) in Pulaski County.  He married Laura Jane Dean in 1892 and Theodocia Elizabeth Flinchum in 1912.

James Alexander and Theodocia Elizabeth Flinchum Graham

Mary Elizabeth Graham born 31 October 1878 in Pulaski County and died 3 September 1947 in Welch, West Virginia.  She married William Harrison Dean in 1895.

Leander Graham born 25 September 1881 in Hiwassie and died 12 January 1970 in Pulaski County.  He married Florida Gunter in 1902.

Ellen Graham born 20 May 1882 in Pulaski County and died as a child.

Emma Jane Graham born January 1883 in Pulaski County and died as a child.

Baby Boy Graham born 15 August 1883 in Pulaski County.  I assume he died as a child, but have no other record.

Nerva Graham born March 1884 in Hiwassie and died in 1964 or 1965 in McDowell County, West Virginia.  She married Ed Gaultney.

Emmet Dewit Graham born 23 August 1884 (another short period between births, maybe a year off?) in Hiwassie and died in 1945.  He married Mary Agnes Bryant.

John Perry Graham born 9 June 1887 in Draper and died 18 February 1965 in Cucumber, McDowell, West Virginia.  He married Florence Collins.

Richard Graham born 20 February 1889 in Pulaski County.  We don’t know if he lived to maturity or anything else.

Nora Graham born 22 May 1891 in Pulaski and died 22 October 1963 in Welch.  She married Floyd Claude Richardson.

Grayson Thurman Graham born 24 February 1895 in Pulaski County and died 29 September 1981 in Bishop, Tazewell, Virginia.  He married Lora Elizabeth Adams in 1913.

Lora Elizabeth Adams and Grayson Thurman Graham

Between 1900 and 1910 William and Mary moved to Adkin (part of Elbert), McDowell, West Virginia.  I assume the move was to work in the mines as both the 1910 and 1920 censuses show him as a coal miner.

In the 1920 Census the two had Grayson and Perry, and their families, living with them for a total of eleven living in the home.  It was during this time that the picture at the beginning of this post was snapped with these last two photos.

William Addison Graham

Mary Elizabeth Miles Graham

William died 19 December 1921 in Gary, McDowell, West Virginia.  I assume this means he died at work in the mines since he walked to Gary to the mines.  We do not know where he is buried.

Mary died 16 May 1925 in Elbert, McDowell, West Virginia.  Her death certificate indicates she died of paralysis.  She was buried the next day at the Murphy Cemetery in Elbert.

Meredith – Graham Wedding

William and Mary Graham are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Damey Catherine Graham to James Thomas Ross, son of James Meredith and Nancy Shepherd.  James and Damey were married 9 August 1887 in Snowville, Pulaski, Virginia.

I am stepping into a bit of a minefield in writing this biography because there is such a wide variety of opinions on the history of this family.  The stories I have were handed down and cannot be verified.  Some claim to have documents but I have been unable to obtain copies of these documents for various reasons.  These purported documents are family records and the public records I cannot find.  Therefore, hopefully documentation will come forward and this post will be altered as that information presents itself.  Poor Damey, not much conversation is available about her because there is so little controversy.

The picture above is of James Ross Meredith, or I assume he was called that at that time.  James Thomas Meredith was born to Nancy Adeline Shepherd 22 September 1869 in Snowville, Virginia.

In 1951, a few months before his death, James was interviewed by his granddaughter, Donna Beachell.  She indicated his mind was very clear.  He indicated to Donna that he was born out of wedlock and that his real father was James Meredith.  He said he was born in Snowville, Virginia.   He also said this James Meredith adopted him when he was about 4 years old and raised him.  He said the courts gave him the name James Thomas Ross Meredith.

The records of Pulaski County indicate this:

“Order Book 5, page 25
September 2, 1873
On the motion of Anderson Linkous, Overseer of the Poor for High Wassie Township for an order to bind James Ross aged 3 years son of Nancy Ross who has become a county charge and it appearing to the Court that said James Ross is now a county charge.  It is ordered that said Overseer of the Poor bind out according to Law to James Meredith the said James Ross son of Nancy Ross aged 3 years until he attains the age of 21 years and besides teaching him reading, writing and arithmetic said Meredith shall be required to pay the said James Ross upon his attaining the age of 21 years the sum of 100 dollars.”

The courts recognized him as James Ross, probably after his mother’s married name.  I have been unable to locate a birth record for him under either name.

He was almost 5 years old when Nancy Ross went into the poorhouse, or at least when the county gave little James to old James Meredith.  I am not sure why they thought he was 3.  Although some records have him born in 1869, and if this was correct, he was just shy of his 4th birthday.  But I will stick with the birthday that he gave during his life.

The county placed James Ross into the charge of James Meredith until he was 21 years of age.  Unfortunately, nobody seemed to ask when this James Meredith was born.  We also do not know when this old James Meredith died, or if he raised him until he was 21 (and paid the $100).  After James and Damey married, John Phibbs (brother-in-law to Fanny Ross) remembered visiting the family in West Virginia and that James’ mother, Nancy lived with her son and daughter-in-law, James and Damey, for much of the time the family lived in West Virginia.    Apparently Nancy was strong enough to carry in heavy sacks of coal and potatoes by herself.  This probably would have been the turn of the 20th century since they were in West Virginia.  No mention is made of old James Meredith who was the father and supposedly raised him.  Nancy must have kept contact through the years, lived close enough, or even got little James back.   We have so many holes to fill with information that we will likely never have.

Clarita Morgan, a researcher in Pulaski County in the 1970’s wrote to Donna and told her it was not uncommon for ladies to be placed in the poorhouse for having a child out of wedlock.  These women were considered a menace and a burden to the community.  At any rate, Nancy Shepherd Ross lived an especially hard life.  It is hard to put ourselves into their scene or time without many more facts.

When James married Damey, the marriage certificate has J. R. Mearideth.  Yet, when all the children were born, James and Damey gave them each the Ross name (or so it seems).  Damey died under the Ross name and no records indicate she ever went by the Meredith name.  James is listed as a farmer.

When James went to the LDS temple on 20 June 1935, he gave his name as James Thomas Ross born 22 September at Snowville, Pulaski, Virginia.  He gave his father as James Thomas Ross and mother as Nancy Shepard.  He also gave his baptismal date as 17 April 1898.  Nothing in any of the records provide any evidence of a James Thomas Ross to be his father, and either the recorder at the Temple put the wrong last name, or James made a mistake because he seems to have clearly known his father was James Meredith (was his father’s middle name really Thomas?).  When Fanny went to the LDS temple on 20 June 1923 she said her parents were James F Ross (misread?) and Damy C Graham.

Now, having said all that, one of the difficulties is that there are tons of James Merediths who lived in Pulaski County, Virginia.  In the 1880 Census, little James Meredith is living with elder James Meredith who was born in 1804 and the family lived in Hiwassie.  It is not uncommon for a 65 year old man to have a child.  However, elder James Meredith has a family of 10 children with his wife.  In that census, only elder and little James are shown as living together.  Elder James’ wife, Sarah (Sallie) Jane Bell Meredith, is “ill” and living with their daughter Sarah Jane Meredith Elkins.  I want to speculate but will not.

For years it was thought that James and Sarah Meredith’s son, James Anderson Meredith, was the father of our James Thomas Meredith.  But this was easily resolved in that James Anderson Meredith died in 1864 in a battle at Lexington, Lexington, Virginia, four or five years before little James Meredith was born.  Others thought that James Meredith, the son of Hugh Meredith Jr elder James Meredith’s brother, was the father.  He is four years older than Nancy and their ages seem more conducive to a relationship.  But, we are unable to track him down and prove anything for certain.  But one thing is sure, elder James Meredith told the census taker in 1880 that little James Meredith was his son.  I guess we have to move forward with that record as the basis for our assumptions.  Would the Uncle (elder James Meredith) of James Meredith (Hugh Jr’s son) ruin his good name by claiming little James Meredith as his own to save the name of his nephew?  I just do not know, but the census gives documentation of a relationship (we all know how terrible the census records are for accuracy other than names of family members and location of living).  (Some of my original research and ruminating on these issues can be found here.)

This begs the question of why 27 year old Nancy would have intimate relations with 65 year old and married elder James.  Ms. Morgan above said it was not uncommon for servants living in the home to be taken advantage of by the homeowner.  But we have no evidence that Nancy was a servant in their home.  If he did this and kicked her out, it could account for her being in the poorhouse and his reclaiming the child in court.  But we have nothing to support the notion Ms. Morgan suggests.

Well, if this is not enough to confuse the matter, lets jump back in time before James was born to where Nancy married Harvy D Ross 7 June 1860 in Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia.  She married Harvy at 19 years old. On 9 September 1861, Harvy enlisted in Company F, 54th Infantry Regiment Virginia for the Confederacy.  He left for military service and we have few details of when he returned.  She bore James Meredith in 1868 and as far as we know, Harvy had not yet returned from the war.   By 1870 Harvy was back living in Alum Ridge, Floyd, Virginia after the Civil War. We do not know when he left Virginia for the “west”.  William Andrew Ross was born on 10 October 1873 in Snowville.  The birth index for Pulaski County lists William as a bastard, but his death certificate lists Harvy Ross as the father!  (Death certificates are highly unreliable for parental information.)  But why they were not back living together in 1870, we do not know.  He was back in the area and could very well be the father of William.  I just wish we had more information.  He supposedly moved to Tennessee or Kentucky and passed away there, never having anything to do with his son William, if he really is the father.  William was raised by Nancy and was told by her that Harvy was his father.  William never had a memory of meeting his father.

Now that I have given more history of Nancy Adeline Shepherd in this biography of her son and daughter-in-law, we can move on.  Our documentation is weak of who little James Meredith’s father is and where he was until he married Damey.  Although, I should mention that a cousin who claims he is in possession of the journals of James Meredith (or Ross) indicates that he was raised by elder James Meredith to believe that elder James was actually his father.  Well, rephrased, he never had any doubt elder James Meredith was his father.  Therefore, we move forward on that assumption even though I have only hearsay from a cousin (as I cannot get a copy of the book) and an 1880 census record.

Damey Catherine Graham was born 25 November 1874 in Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia to William and Mary Graham.  William, her father, was a laborer on farms who moved to the mines.  As a miner he moved where the best paying jobs for mining were located.  In Virginia, the family worked in the iron mines.  Damey met James and probably knew him and his family growing up.  Hiwassie appears to be a very small town, even today.  I cannot imagine that James and Damey did not know each other growing up.    The two married in 1887 and began to raise their family.  All four children were born in Virginia.

Robert Leonard Ross was born 25 April 1888 in Draper, Pulaski, Virginia.

John “Jack” William Ross was born 2 September 1890 in Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia.  Read more about John at this link: Ross-Sharp Wedding

Fanny Elizabeth Ross was born 18 November 1893 in Reed Island, Pulaski, Virginia.  Read more about Fanny at this link: Calvin and Fanny Phibbs

James Thomas Ross was born 19 October 1895 in Radford, Montgomery, Virginia.

Damey chose to be baptized into the LDS faith 27 February 1898 (a few months before James).  Family tradition holds it was in West Virginia but does not seem to hold up with the rest of the story.  James and Damey were supposed to have followed her family to West Virginia to the mines.  James and Damey do not seem to appear on the 1900 Census but Damey’s family were still in Hiwassie on the 15 June 1900.  Damey’s family moved shortly after 1900 to West Virginia to work in the coal mines of McDowell County.  James and Damey (and James’ brother, William) followed and were living in McDowell County, West Virginia for sure in 1906 when Fanny married Calvin Dickerson Phibbs in Welch, McDowell, West Virginia.  The first three children all married in McDowell County.  James Jr returned to Mayberry, Carroll, Virginia in 1913 to marry his wife.  On 10 May 1910, James and Damey were living in Big Creek, McDowell, West Virginia.

James and Damey Ross left Pulaski County about 1913 or 1914 and headed to settle in Rupert, Minidoka, Idaho.  James confirmed his brother a member of the LDS church 26 October 1913, so it had to be after that date.  As mentioned above, Fanny had married Calvin Phibbs and most of the Phibbs family of Virginia had moved out to Rupert in 1912.  The opening of the new farm land in Minidoka and Cassia Counties, a new sugar factory at Burley, Cassia, Idaho, and an economic downturn in McDowell County propelled the move for both families. Robert, John, and James Jr followed later as it does not appear any of the children went with James and Damey when they left.

James & Damey Ross

James & Damey Ross

James and Damey set up house in Rupert for a time probably living with Calvin and Fanny until they could find and afford a suitable place to live.  We do not know exactly where James and Damey lived for much of their time in Idaho because they appear to have rented.  Robert listed his parents as living in Idahome, Cassia, Idaho when he registered for the World War I draft in 1918.  That fall, James and Damey apparently moved to Paul, Minidoka, Idaho to work on the first sugar beet campaign of the newly built sugar factory in Paul.  They remained there until about 1926.  Robert married Rose Sanders (nee Clawson?) in Burley, Cassia, Idaho in 1919.  John met Ethel Sharp Streeter in Paul while visiting his parents in 1919 and married her in early 1920.  James and Damey somehow fail to appear on the 1920 Census, or their names are transcribed incorrectly.  James settled in Vernal, Uintah, Utah and attempted a short move to Rupert in 1922-23 to be closer to family before moving back to Vernal.  Milo Ross, James and Damey’s grandson, remembers his grandparents living on the north side of the tracks in Paul when he lived there 1925-1926.

In 1925, James and Damey’s daughter-in-law, Ethel Sharp Ross passed away.  John, their son, sought work and James and Damey took in all four of the children of Ethel.  The baby, Earnest Jackson Ross, died in September in Rupert, where he was being tended by the Phibbs.  By the spring of 1926, James and Damey were impoverished enough that they asked Ethel’s family to come get the children from Paul.  Apparently shortly after, the family moved again.

By 2 April 1930, James and Damey had moved to Bend, Deschutes, Oregon.  Robert apparently lived in the area and Robert’s son, Orson Lee Ross, was also living with James and Damey.  Robert is in Portland but appears to not live there, so this home in Bend may have been Robert’s or James and Damey were tending Orson, who was 9.  Robert later died in Bend in 1944.

Beulah and Damey

Beulah and Damey Ross

James’ journals indicate they lived in Merced, Merced, California for most of the 1930’s.  Damey passed away in Marysville, Yuba, California 3 February 1933 of colon cancer.  Her death notice in Rupert indicates she died after an operation for cancer of the stomach.  She had been in the hospital for five months previous to that.  The obituary also mentions that John lived in Manteca, San Joaquin, California, James in Lapoint, Uintah, Utah, and Robert in Marysville.  Fanny was still living in Rupert.

James returned to Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah and on 20 June 1935 he was endowed, saw Damey’s proxy ordinance work was completed, and was sealed to her.

By about 1936, James was back visiting family in the east.  He spoke at a Conference of the LDS church that had met in Grundy County, Tennessee.  James spoke that morning to the assembled crowd.  That same day, James’ nephew, Howard Ross was baptized.  These conferences were a big deal because it was an all day event for James’ brother’s family to travel all the way from Gary, West Virginia to Tennessee, spend the day in meetings, and then go home.  Howard remembers meeting “Uncle Jim” for the first time that day.  Many people enjoyed the sermon he gave and came up to give their commendation to William and Sarah on his fine speech.  William’s wife, Sarah, had to set them right, that it was William’s brother, James who delivered the sermon.  Howard did not hear the sermon because in those days unbaptized children were not allowed into the meetings and even though he was to be baptized that day, he was not baptized yet.

“Uncle Jim” returned with the family to West Virginia and stayed for a couple of weeks.  James was so disappointed that the family did not have a cow for milk that he went out and purchased one for the family while he was there.  When James left, he took and sold the cow too.  The family recalled how rare it was for them to have milk, and it was many years before they would have it again.  James was also noted by the family for his girth and the sheer capacity to each large amounts of food.  Howard thought he must have pushed to near 300 pounds.  Howard also remembers that Uncle Jim was missing a finger and upon asking, James indicated that he had been bit by a spider and that the Dr. took off the finger to save his life because the finger had started to rot.

The story goes that James married while he was visiting the family in West Virginia.  Family history records have James marrying Etta on 6 June 1936 in Snowville, Virginia.  However, later information indicates this was Henrietta Fountain who was born in Sacramento, Sacramento, California and died in Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona.  How she met James and why they would have married in Virginia does not add up, especially where she was from the west.  A cousin has the marriage in Sacramento which seems much more accurate.  A death certificate at some point will rest the case.  Her full maiden name was Henrietta Fountain and she was a widow of Charles Henry Lowell in 1925.  She died in 1946 according to the memories of Milo Ross and he is accurate.

James and Etta relocated to Lakeport, Lake, California after their marriage.  Lakeport was a town for the wealthy and Ms. Etta must have brought the money into the marriage.  It was here that James applied for Social Security 4 November 1937.  Due to the requirements he use his legal name, James went by James Ross Meredith the remainder of his life.  He began receiving his benefits 6 January 1938.  On 21 April 1938 he received a letter indicating he would have to have been a resident of California 15 years to receive the payments and no further payments were made.

James then married a widow by the name of Nora Brewer.  Her full maiden name was Martha Elnora Cackler and her late husband, Daniel Gordon Brewer, had passed away in 1943.  James and Martha were married in Fresno, Fresno, California 14 July 1947.  She had been born in 1877 in Iowa and died in Fresno in 1974, just short of 100 years old.

James lived until 13 April 1951 when he passed away in Fresno.  He was buried in Belmont Memorial in Fresno.  The last few years of his life, he took back the Meredith name.  Milo Ross, his grandson, indicates this was for Social Security benefits which had to be claimed under the birth name.  Either way, his tombstone reads James R Meredith.  His last letter to Donna Beachell was signed James Ross Meredith.

When he passed away in 1951, he was living at 344 Theta Street in Fresno the home of his widow.  One last thing, apparently while living in Fresno, he served as a Bishop of the LDS church.  We do not know when or where, but several lines of the family were all aware of this.  More information will be needed to share more.  The fact he was called upon to speak at a conference of the church in Tennessee seems to show he held some position but we don’t know anything more.

Shout from Idaho

I am writing from sunny and green Idaho.  The amazing thing is another rain-storm is pondering the roll through right now.  The reservoirs are all full and life seems to be looking pretty good here.  The locals say it has been a bit humid for the past few days, but I can handle 20 or 30% humidity with little issue.  Especially after 100+ Oklahoma with a heat index into the cent teens.  I thought I would share a couple of thoughts of our little trip.

This morning found us at the bright and beautiful Twin Falls Temple.  I will have to post some pictures later, but it was a full session.  It was a clear morning and we could not have asked for more.  We ran into my cousin on the session and it was fun to catch up with her.  We took some pictures after we got out as Dad and Jan were going in.  Amanda needed some R&R so we came back and crashed for this afternoon.  We did have lunch with Ms. Felicia Poteet and her cutest daughter, Evie.  I am glad I have friends, that I get to hang out with them, and learn from their life experiences.  Where would we be without family and friends?

The week was busy getting Derek off into the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Provo.  All went off, pretty much without a hitch, on Wednesday.  His farewell went well, he spoke well, and the family congregated to the Hemsley home in Kaysville.  All enjoyed the food, spent some good quality time with family, and plenty of stories.  I was exhausted after the whole thing and I didn’t even have a role to play in the open house.  There must have been 50-70 people who came through the home during the open house.  We helped Derek pack, finish shopping, fulfill a few last requests, and enter the MTC.  We also had a meeting or two with friends of Amanda’s from high school to catch up on old times.  We stopped to visit Amanda’s Grandpa in Springville, Utah as well.

We drove up to Idaho yesterday but took our time doing it.  We took the old highway from Snowville up through Strevell, Bridge, City of Rocks, Oakley, and home.  Everything was so green from all the rain and it looked good.  We enjoyed the drive.  We took some pictures of the old homes in Elba, Idaho.  Someday we want to design our own home with a design that is both unique but that has some classic designs, one of which is found in the early pioneer homes.

Tonight we head off to a melodrama at the restored Wilson Theatre in Rupert.  Tomorrow morning we have the Scout Breakfast at the Rupert Square and then we will watch the parade.  Tomorrow is also Dad’s birthday.  Jan’s was last week.  We treated them to dinner last night and the show tonight.  I am certainly looking forward to the parade.  Then we drive back down to Kaysville to watch fireworks at fly out Sunday Morning.

Tuesday Derek and I went hiking up Adams Canyon near Kaysville, Fruit Heights, Layton.  We hiked it very quickly and then pretty much jogged all the way down.  I sure did hurt the next day.  I thought I was getting old but Derek felt the same way the next day so it wasn’t just me!  We also got some pictures at the waterfall which I will have to share as well.  Anyhow, no nuggets of truth in this entry.  I don’t do them as often as I used to.  Someday I will be smart and have something to offer…

Pulaski Roots

Speaking of roots, I had a dental appointment on Friday.  Due to Measles as a baby, I have ameliogenesis imperfecta with several of my teeth.  Basically, some of my teeth have deformities.  One of which is that the nerve in one tooth reaches quite a bit higher than normal.  Also linked with the deformity of the drugs (legal!) I took in the early 80’s, those teeth are weaker and more susceptible to problems.  Many, many years ago I had a filling put in the tooth that touched on that high reaching nerve.  Over the years that nerve touching the filling, in addition to a slight tapping from the tooth having moved (from squash racket trauma about 2000), and just normal advancement of time that root has decided to pass away.  Yes, I am the owner of a slowly dying tooth.  I have been placed on antibiotics to keep the nerve from getting infected as it decays.  In the next few weeks I will experience my first root canal. 

On an interesting note, once Dr. Spitzer saw my x-ray of the teeth he quickly noted how long the roots are on my teeth.  Amanda confirmed to me later that during the freak show discussion that ensued my teeth roots were measured at 25 mm long.  Amanda tells me that the normal individual has roots approximately 15 mm long.  The dentist commented how he may have to order some longer tools to work on the tooth.  Whether it was in jest or not, I have come to appreciate how different I really am.  Deep down inside I always knew I was special.  Now I know it is a good 10 mm deeper why I am special.
So we have frantically tried to figure out how we would pay for what a root canal and crown would cost without insurance.  When in the mail today I received an invitation to join the insurance for my work.  As generous as they are, I will now have dental insurance.  Now I just have to find how long of a waiting period I will have with a tooth that has become highly sensitive to hot and cold with slight throbbing from time to time.
Anyhow, on to the story of Pulaski County, Virginia.  My Ross line left Pulaski County about 1912 and headed to settle in Rupert, Idaho.  The daughter, Fannie had married a Phibbs from Pulaski and Carroll County and moved out previously.  Her husband was the Minidoka County Judge in Rupert.  With the opening of the new Sugar Factory at Paul, the rapid expansion of irrigateable farm land, and an economic downturn in Pulaski it was time to move.  James Thomas Meredith Ross who I have written about before followed his daughter Fannie.  His other three children would follow to the west.  James would later settle in the Vernal area.  The Phibbs would eventually end up north of Sacramento, California.  John would roam for many years marrying in West Virginia, Colorado, and Wyoming.  He would die in Alameda County, California.  Robert we don’t really know what happened to other than he died in California about 1944.
While I have written about all of that previously, James Thomas Meredith Ross would leave behind his half brother William Andrew Ross.  William would marry and move to West Virginia.  He lived in Gary, WV most of his life and raised his family there.  He worked in the mines coal mines.  He and Sarah (Sallie) had 12 children.  The youngest of which is Howard Ross born in 1925.
It was Howard we went to visit this weekend.
Howard is the only remaining individual of his family.  He was born in Thorpe, West Virginia and moved to Bluefield, West Virginia many years ago.  He lives in a home perched on the side of a hill on Essex St.  He had 3 children, and a step child he helped raised.  He worked in or with the mines all his life.  His wife past away a few years back and he lives in the home with his grandson and future granddaughter-in-law.
I knew of Howard because he had spent so much of his life pursuing family history.  Grandpa gave me a copy of one of his books he had written about 1972 on the Ross family.  That is how I knew who he was and that he was related.  By the time I came home from my mission I did not expect him to be alive anymore until one day in Twin Falls I was visiting with a missionary who had served in the West Virginia Mission.  I told him of Howard (I knew he was LDS) and the missionary not only knew of Howard, he had his address and phone number.  He gave it to me and I called Howard.
I have looked forward to meeting Howard for several years and of visiting the famous Pulaski County.  The valleys surrounding Pulaski County had already been home to the Graham and other families for over a hundred years by the time Pulaski County was formed in 1839.  There Meredith, Martin, Booth, Shepherd, and other families were well entrenched.  But my main interest was in going to the area where my family left before heading west.
Friday we drove out to Pulaski County and arrived after dark.  We spent the night in a hotel at Claytor Lake just over the border into the county.  The next morning we drove into Pulaski and just got a feel for the town and then headed for the hour and half drive to Bluefield to see Howard.
Bluefield turned out to be what you would imagine a town 50 years ago.  The little streets, little yards, flags on every house, and a good percentage of people sitting on their porch.  It was a lazy, hazy, day in summer.  We wound through the streets of Bluefield following our directions to Essex St.  Wow, as if we were not impressed.  One side of the street was wood and the other side of the street were homes perched on the side of a hill probably 75 to 100 feet up.  This hillside was probably at a 45 degree angle.  We found the home and climbed the steep stairs to the rickety old porch.
I don’t mean to sound negative, but we had entered what you joke about with rednecks.  These homes sat precariously sitting on the side of this hill and had not had any care in the last 40 years.  There was a hand made 2X4 railing up this terribly steep hike and at the top the porch wood buckled with every step.  Howard met us in the open door and invited us in.  We sat there in a relic of the 1930’s with only the television and sofa to remind us we were actually not in the mid 20th century.
Howard sat there talking with us in a most happy manner with his eye patch and asking for us to repeat often what we said.  Moreover, he spoke with that thick gentleman manner which so permeates the old confederate ideal.  His joking ways were jovial and we had quite the good conversation.
I took him with my computer through all the descendants of William Andrew Ross and he updated quite a bit of my information.  We also showed him a number of pictures I thought he would be interested in from my side of the family.  He then told us a few stories.
Uncle Jim (my great great grandfather who went west) had come to visit in the 1930’s where they lived in Gary, West Virginia.  It was the late 1930’s because the family had all gone to attend a Conference of the church in Grundy County, Tennessee.  One of the speakers that morning was Jim Ross, Howard’s Uncle.  The children did not attend but afterward all these people kept coming to his mother and commenting about how powerful Mr. Ross had been in his preaching.  Howard’s mother had to set them all straight that it was not her husband but her brother-in-law.  Howard remembers the day because it was the day he was baptized.  They would meet for the morning meetings and then have a big meal and baptisms in the middle, and go back to conference in the afternoon.
They went back home after the conference and Uncle Jim came and stayed for a spell.  Howard remembers Uncle Jim taking the wash basin out to the fields and coming back with a huge amount of corn.  He then told Howard’s mother to cook all the corn and they would eat it for dinner.  When Uncle Jim found out they did not have any milk, he went out and purchased a milk cow and brought it back for them to have milk.  (This isn’t necessarily all the same night).  Howard remembers that he was so thoroughly struck by how much Uncle Jim could eat.  Howard swears Uncle Jim must have pushed near 300 pounds and that man could eat.  Howard laughs and laughs about how when Uncle Jim left he went and sold the cow and they didn’t have milk for years afterward.
Howard remembers Uncle Jim was missing a finger.  He doesn’t remember which one, but he did ask how he lost it.  Apparently he had been bitten by a spider and as the finger started to rot and decay he finally just cut it off.  The Dr. apparently told him he had saved his life by taking the finger off.
That was about all he remembered of Uncle Jim.  He knew he moved to California after Idaho and Oregon.  While in Fresno he served as a Bishop of an LDS ward for quite a few years.  Uncle Jim was always a Ross to him even though he took the Meredith name back after moving to California.  The timeline in relation to the name I have told previously.
John Ross, or Jack as he was known, also made a trip out to West Virginia to visit.  He came out after his second wife had passed away (my great grandmother) and tried to convince his first wife to marry him again.  She wasn’t having any of that and Jack left empty handed.  Howard never met Hobart Day, Jack’s oldest child with his first wife.
Howard doesn’t remember ever meeting any of the rest of the family.  Donna Phibbs Beachell came out to visit in the 1970’s and spent quite a bit of time with Howard.  They wrote often over the years, some of which letters I mentioned were sent to me in the papers of Howard from John Ross.
Howard was very interested in what I had found out on the Meredith family and I told him what I was pretty sure to be correct.  He related to me more of the stories of what he believed happened to his grandfather but until further information comes out to prove the James Meredith story of the Harvy Ross story, we still really don’t know for sure.  I think mine is pinpointed quite a bit more firmly than his.
Howard then gave us a bit of the history of the LDS church in West Virginia.  He had us drive him down to the Bluefield Ward Building over the border in Bluefield, Tazewell County, Virginia.  He gave us a tour of the building.  We met the Bishop and a few other people.
We went back to the house and he asked that I give a blessing to his daughter, Sarah who lives next door.  She has MS and various other problems that come with smoking, MS, and the redneck lifestyle.  I will tell you now, I was alarmed that 82 year old Howard regularly climbs and descends those stairs out front.  They were so steep I didn’t feel safe especially with an old man struggling up them.  I gave a blessing to a woman who didn’t want it but whose father insisted.  Talk about a little awkward of a position.  We then went next door where he asked I give his future granddaughter-in-law a blessing.  Not only did he want a blessing for her, but the unborn child as well.  That was my first experience I remember blessing a baby in the womb.  Both turned out to be special events.  I enjoyed them and Howard became choked up after the second of the two.  My oil holder had become cracked and did not stay together any more and so we had to make due with a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a small glass bowl.  Under the circumstances it was the best we could do and we were richly blessed on the occasion.
Interestingly, the kitchen is exactly how you would have found it in the 1940’s.  The sink, the ironator, cupboards, and more were all of proper vintage.  Sadly, that was probably the last time they were cleaned.  It was quite humbling to see the faith of this man in such humble circumstances.
We left with my promising to do the ordinance work for his son and him after he had passed away.  He joked, part seriously, that through family history he had prepared the way for hundreds to enter heaven despite his own lack of achieving the same goal.
Amanda and I left and wound our way back to Pulaski County.  There we wound our way through the desolate parts of county roads trying to cross the New River.  We found our way across and went through the little towns of Allisonia, Hiwassie, and Snowville.  All towns of which were heavily populated by those of my ancestry.  It was interesting to drive along and recognize names on mailboxes and say to Amanda, “They are probably related.”
We drove back across the river up to Newbern, past Dublin, and back to Pulaski.  There we enjoyed our dinner, as we had our breakfast, at the Sonic Drive-In with gift cards that had been given to us for helping a lady move into the ward.
Afterward we hit the road to try and make Tennessee for some souvenirs and then across Southern Virginia to other ancestral locations.  We realized we were too far from Tennessee too late in the day to make it so at Rural Retreat (how is that for a name?) we turned and headed east.  We drove through Independence (Grayson County) and crashed for the night in Galax (Carroll County).  Both counties are heavily tied to me as well.  Sunday morning we awoke and made our way to Hillsville (Carroll County Seat), Martinsville (home of the Martins of which I am related), over to Danville, north to Keysville and Farmville, and home to Richmond.
It was a long weekend but very worthwhile.  I really enjoyed getting to see Allisonia, Hiwassie, and Snowville.  Maybe someday we will get to go back.  Maybe Howard will be around when it comes time for us to head back west in a year.

Ross Family Album

I was finally able to upload the Ross Family Album.  I ran out of monthly space and then just got busy.  Finally, I have posted the photos related to the Ross’ in their own album.  I have not uploaded my own family yet.  This is just what I have under the Ross files on my computer.  This includes mostly photos of my Grandpa and Grandma Ross’ family, my Aunt Caroline’s family, and a few other random photos of related Ross people.  There are a couple of my half-siblings when they were younger.

Here are some of the family groups.

James Thomas Meredith Ross

Born Ross, raised and adopted Meredith, legally Meredith, married Ross, baptized Ross, children named Ross, endowed Ross, married again Meredith, died Meredith.

22 Sep 1868 – Snowville, Pulaski, Virginia

13 Apr1951 – Fresno, Fresno, California

Married

9 Aug 1887 – Snowville, Pulaski, Virginia

Damey Catherine Graham

25 Nov 1874 – Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia

3 Feb 1933 – Marysville, Yuba, California

Children

Robert Leonard Ross

25 Apr 1888 – Draper, Pulaski, Virginia

John William Ross

2 Sep 1890 – Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia

Fanny Elizabeth Ross (married Phibbs)

18 Nov 1893 – Reed Island, Pulaski, Virginia

James Thomas Ross Jr

19 Oct 1895 – Radford, Montgomery, Virginia

Married again

? – ?

Etta

Married again

14 Jul 1947 – Fresno, Fresno, California

Martha Elnora Cackler (married before to Brewer)

3 Oct 1877 – Otter Creek, Lucas, Iowa

31 Jul 1974 – Fresno, Fresno, California

John William Ross

2 Sep 1890 – Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia

13 Jun 1948 – Livermore, Alameda, California

Married (Divorced)

6 Jul 1910 – Squire Jim, McDowell, West Virginia

Nannie May Day

6 May 1892 – Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia

19 Jan 1971 – Bluefield, Tazewell, Virginia

Children

Hobart Day

1 Jul 1911 – ,, West Virginia

Apr 1983 – Fairlawn, Radford, Virginia

Married again

12 Jan 1920 – Fort Logan, Arapahoe, Colorado

Ethel Sharp (I have written more about this marriage at this link: Ross-Sharp Wedding.)

9 Apr 1898 – Plain City, Weber, Utah

6 Aug 1925 – Plain City, Weber, Utah

Children

Milo James Ross

4 Feb 1921 – Plain City, Weber, Utah

Paul Ross

14 Feb 1922 – Paul, Minidoka, Idaho

John Harold Ross

7 Nov 1923 – Burley, Cassia, Idaho

Ernest Jackson Ross

16 Jul 1925 – Plain City, Weber, Utah

Married again

29 Nov 1926 – Rock Springs, Sweetwater, Wyoming

Zana Cogdill (Married before to Coffey)

7 Nov 1892 – Dixon, Carbon, Wyoming

2 Oct 1966 – San Diego, San Diego, California

Milo James Ross

4 Feb 1921 – Plain City, Weber, Utah

Married

4 Apr 1942 – Plain City, Weber, Utah

Gladys Maxine Donaldson

20 Sep 1921 – Ogden, Weber, Utah

25 Aug 2004 – Ogden, Weber, Utah

Children

Milo Paul Ross

Judy Ethel Ross

Caroline Ross

John Harold Ross

7 Nov 1923 – Burley, Cassia, Idaho

24 Oct 2004 – Syracuse, Davis, Utah

Married

19 Nov 1946 – Evanston, Uinta, Wyoming

Colleen Fowers Hancock

2 Oct 1929 – West Weber, Weber, Utah

12 Aug 1969 – Ogden, Weber, Utah

Children

Terry Jay Ross

3 Oct 1947 – Ogden, Weber, Utah

Married again

2 Dec 1974 – West Weber, Weber, Utah

JoAnn Payne

5 Jan 1934 – Ogden, Weber, Utah

Children

Jody Valate Ross

Caroline Ross

Married (Divorced)

Lynn J Taylor

Children

Kristy Lynn Taylor

Cindy Lou Taylor

Lonny J Taylor

Married again

Abe Maxamilia Gallegos

Milo Paul Ross

Married (Divorced)

Victoria K Feldtman

Children

Scott James Ross

Jeffrey Paul Ross

Becky Collette Ross

Married again (Divorced)

Sandra Jonas

Children

Paul Norwood Jonas Ross

Andra Ross

Married again

Janice Faye Higley (Married before to Osterhout)

California Ross Letter

Donna is the granddaughter of Fanny Elizabeth Ross (married Phibbs).  This is my Great Grandfather’s sister.  Quite an interesting find.  Amanda and I were planning on going to out see Howard Ross in Bluefield, West Virginia.  Howard thought after the shootings at Blacksburg we better wait since Montgomery County would be too busy to go sightseeing and visiting.  But prior to going I e-mailed his nephew John Ross who is a doctor in Beckley, West Virginia.  I told him we were coming out and I would like to see him.  I knew Howard Ross had given John all his research papers and I was very interested in a copy of them.  John is a busy Dr and said he would just mail them to me.  So I received a stack of papers about 6 inches high of research letters, notes, and other various things.  This letter was in that stack.  Most of the stack is on Howard’s Adams lines which doesn’t interest me.  So some of the stack is quick moving.  I am glad when I find those things related to my bloodline.

PO Box 1894
Burney, Ca  96013
Aug. 13, 1985

Dear Howard,

Your letter arrived in the mail yesterday.  I have also wondered about Nancy Adeline’s life but it is very hard to understand from our perspective.  It’s hard for us to really understand  the hard life they had.  I find people today do not very often understand what I tell of my life as a child in a small town farming community in Idaho.  And that was only 50 years ago and I’m still here to tell about it.  We lived on a small two acre place with no running water and we had an outhouse.  All drinking water had to be carried from the neighboring farm where they had a well.  And all water for washing or bathing was carried from an irrigation ditch that ran along one side and down one portion of another side before it went through a culvert under a road to the farm across the road.  We did have electricity and we had electrically run appliances such as a wringer type washing machine and a refrigerator.  Also, living here in Burney which is about 250 miles from San Francisco I find people who think of San Francisco as “Sin City”, but I grew up there and love it.  There are somethings I don’t like about the city and it is always changing, but I have many good friends who still live there and also many cherished memories of my life there.  There are murders and drugs and everything that I abhor and do not want in my life right here in this small remote mountain town of Burney.

I say all this as I think its very hard to put ourselves into the scene or time and place that Nancy Adeline lived.  My mother’s father’s mother was
also born out of wedlock in Carroll County Virginia.  Her maiden name was BOLT and I had heard she was born out of wedlock before from her own son.  I didn’t think to question him I knew him to be a good man and honest.  He had served as a Missionary for the church and prior to that when I was about twelve years old had lived with us in San Francisco.  He was divorced from his first wife who came to our home and raised a ruckus one night while he was there.  After he came home from his Mission he married again.  This time to the divorced wife of his own brother.  His brother had a problem with drinking.  Aunt Bertie’s children, and she had fifteen, can’t seem to accept her decision.  I was told when we were visiting Carroll County in 1972 the following “The Bold women were beautiful blue eyed blonde women and considered the most beautiful women in the area.”  I was also told my great grandmothers mother was never married.  But the census records indicate she had four children.  She also had at least one or two sisters who never married but had some children.  I recently asked John Perry Alderman, is a Federal Judge at Roanoke.  But he was District Attorney of Carroll County and had his law offices with his father also John Alderman when we were visiting there in 1972.

Life certainly can get complicated can’t it?  While someone in the future may be able to construct some of my life from a few legal documents I know they would not be able to know all about me.  My life has been full of things that are not written down.  It’s also true of the Bible and that is
why there are so many religions with each on interpreting according to their own interpretation right?  I hope all this makes sense to you.  At any rate I cannot judge Nancy Adeline (SHEPHERD) ROSS nor can I judge my other great grat grandmother Adeline BOLT.  I understand you are a little closer to the situation than I am in that Nancy was your father’s mother.  And your family name hinges on the truth.  I really have no answers except the few legal documents that we uncover.  I have no knowledge as to who is the older, your father or my great grandfather.  I only saw James Thomas Ross Meredith on the one occassion a few months before he died in Fresno, California in 1951. His mind was very clear and he told us a little about his life.  Such as he had been born out of wedlock and that his real father was James Meredith who had adopted him when he was about 4-6 years old.  He also said the courts gave him the name James Thomas Ross Meredith.  He said he was raised by his real father.  I do not recall his telling anything about his brother or even knowing that he had one until years later.  When he went to the temple for his Endowment and had an Endowment done for Damey Catherine Graham he gave his birthplace as Snowville.  The Temple Index Bureau tells me there was no sealing done.  He did tell us that he reverted to the name Ross in order to save his mother from embarrassment with the Missionaries.

When he was married his name was listed as J.R. Mearideth and his death certificate shows James Meredith with his father as James T Meredith.  But all of his children were brought up as Ross and his sons brought their children up as Ross.  He didn’t go back to the name Meredith until years
later.  Damey Catherine’s death certificate gives her last name as Ross and she died in 1933.  So it was after that time.  Evidently, Nancy Adeline also lived with James and Damey for sometime while they were living in West Virginia as my great uncle John Phibbs whose mind was also very clear when I interviewed him about 1958 remembered James Rosses mother.  Uncle John was a friend to the Ross boys Uncles Bob and John Ross in particular and said he lived with the Ross family for a time.  He thought she was about 90 years old and that couldn’t have been, but then many young people believe old people to be much older than they actually are, right?  He said she was a strong old lady and could carry heavy sacks of coal and or potatoes slung over her shoulders.  I’m convinced most of us are weaklings compared to our ancestors even if we are much larger in general.

Mrs. Clarita Morgan said, she believes Nancy had an incredibly hard life. She said women were put in jail for having children out of wedlock.  She
also said James was taken away from Nancy when he was bound out to James Meredith.  She got this from the Count Orders Book of Pulaski County.  She just stated that Nancy was in the poorhouse at that time.  Mrs. Morgan’s husband became critically ill last spring and she has promised me as soon as she can to get back into the records for me.  She has seen the original will of Frederick Shepherd and said while it mentioned his wife Elizabeth there was no mention of any children.  I have recently sent her more information regarding the marriages out of her own book showing the marriage of John Shepherd to Levica Martin naming his parents as Felty and Elizabeth Shepherd, as well as telling her that we believe that John was a brother to our William Shepherd as well as Levica Martin being a sister to Nancy Martin Shepherd.  I also sent her the copy of the records from the Tennessee Civil War Veterans on Calvin Sheppard.  You will note that it is copyrighted and not to be reproduced.  But it gives a good description of his family that we would find hard to get anywhere else.  I spoke to Mrs. Morgan after that and she said “Why that Shepherd/Sheppard Family is a very old one here”.  She then said “It is hard to imagine that he treated Nancy like he did.  Meaning that he took her son but didn’t marry her.”  She also told me she has some more information for me but has not gotten back into the records yet.

Nancy Martin Shepherd, could have been married to her daughter Charlotte’s father Jackson Bryant.  Those records would evidently be in North Carolina. I’m trying to check the 1850 Census for Surrey County at least I have it on order.  I’m wondering if I can find William and Polly (Bayes) Martin there. Do you know?  I recall you also had Nancy Adeline as possibly born in Ashe County North Carolina.  Until I find them and a  marriage record for William Shepherd to Nancy Martin or Bryant, I don’t know too much.  It appears from earlier records that William was married in the 1840 Census with a family. But who can tell for sure perhaps they were both married before they married each other.  William Shepherd is listed in Pulaski Co., in 1850 with wife Nancy and two children older than our Nancy Adeline.  They are William Shepherd and Charlotte also listed as a Shepherd.  But we find from Charlotte’s marriage record while Nancy Shepherd was her mother her father was Jackson Bryant.  But William Shepherd the son disappears and we don’t know if he is also Nancy’s son or if he is William’s son from a former marriage.  Until we can find more evidence that remains a mystery.  But it is great that we have Calvin’s record telling us who his parents are and also mentioning his grandfather William Martin.  And it is apparent from that record that William Martin was married before he married Polly Bayes.
None of this is unusual there were some divorces in those days but lots of people died much younger and of all kinds of diseases in those days that we don’t have now.  And many people remarried.

I also believe that the Census Takers were not qualified to always know whether a person was “Idiotic or wahter.”  I have two adopted children and both have Cerebral Palsy.  People as well as Doctors have labeled them. Cerebral Palsy, therefore mentally retarded for years.  It isn’t necessarily so.  David will be 20 years old in October and he walks with a limp and is called Moderate Cerebral Palsy.  Since he was in an institution for mentally retarded from 3 years until 12 and 1/2 years he picked up some traits which appear to be those of a mentally retarded person.  Had he been in a home with a loving family all those years he would probably not have had those characteristics.  I’ve had a young woman who has Cerebral Palsy and lived with her family who was married and had a child and worked for the Cerebral Palsy Office in Oakland, California tell me, “Oh yes people always think we are mentally retarded.”  It’s obvious to me that is not so.  My daughter Noel (pronounced as Noelle) is called Mild Cerebral Palsy and it is not apparent to most people that she has any anything.  I think it is between that person and the Lord.  I am not angry at you for any of your thoughts and I understand it is normal to wonder about all of these people.  But it is also FASCINATING to find whatever information we may be able to find regarding our ancestors.

Charlotte’s last name was shown as Martin though and that does lead one to believe she was born out of wedlock.

The John Perry Alderman that I mentioned before has done a wonderful job of research spending over 25 years and is publishing books on the Carroll County people.  I have his book called, CARROLL 1765-1815 THE SETTLEMENTS. I have found several of my early lines in there the
SHOCKLEY’S-BOLT’S-FRANKLIN’S-WORRALL’S and the NEWMAN’S.  He did it from the Deed Books the Will Books the Census the Marriage records as well as documented information that has come to him from descendent sources.  It is all well documented.  My PHIBBS FAMILY didn’t come into Carroll until the 1840’s from Guilford County North Carolina and he doesn’t know much about them.  But I have some Guilford records on them and I belong to the Guilford County Genealogical Society.  In addition to all of this I am gathering information on my fathers lines.  His father’s is in Central Pennsylvania and his mother’s is a Vermont and New England Family.  As well as doing research on my hunsband’s family.  His Perry family came from Ohio after 1855 to Iowa from there to Kansas after 1882 to California by 1910.  His Warrren line from somewhere in Virginia (wife born Germany) to Ohio to Missouri to Washington to California.  Another Vliet from Virginia to Illinois to Kansa to Washington Territory, Mrs. Vliet’s – Wheeler Family, her father came from South Carolina and mother from North Carolina their older children were born in Tennessee but their daugher Louisa my husband’s children were born in Tennessee but their daughter Louisa my husband’s 2nd great grandmother was born in Illinois where she and Garrett Vliet married. And on his mothers side her father came from Sweden and luckily some
relatives over there have sent quite a lot of that information.  Then his mothers mothers line Beard came from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to  Ohio to Indiana to Iowa to Missouri and finally to California before 1880.  His third great grandfather Beard was born in Sept. 1799 in Pennsylvania and died in the 1890’s near Fresno California.  He is buried in an old Pioneer Cemetery at a place there called Academy, there had been a school there that was the Academy.  He also has ancestors who were married in Santa Clara County California in 1856, the husband was born in Ohio in the late 1820’s and his bride in Iowa in the 1830’s.  Well enough of that, but I am working on all of these lines.  Plus helping a few friends here and there.  That story you told me of the woman who killed her baby.  I have heard that before and the story was told by Grayson and Laura (Adams) Graham.  They said it was Mary (Graham) Deane.  I would have to do some digging to be sure of her married name.  It may have been Dean (this is correct).  They said she overlaid or rolled over her child in the night and it died.  That was a fairly common occurance, with babies sleeping in the same beds with their mothers.  Mary was a sister to Grayson and my great grandmother Damey Catherine Graham.  It was a tragic incident.

I hope this is of some help to you.  It appears Nancy Adeline was never married to anyone but Harve D. Ross.  I agree the marriage was undoubtedly commsumated.  After all they were listed as living together with her parents in 1860.  Obviously, Nancy was capable of having dhileren and could have born them.  Perhaps the trouble lies with Harve unless he is actually your father’s father and anything is possible including that not everyone gets pregnant right away.  It is possible Nancy Adeline worked as a domestic in the Meredith home and was forced into an uncompromising position.  Women were treated like chattel in those days and I don’t know if her parents were still living at that time or if they had left Pulaski County.  She was listed as you said with her Aunt Levica and what had become of John Shepherd.  Were these men in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.  It is said that Damey Catherine Graham’s father William Addison Graham was enlisted at age fifteen three days before the War ended.  I can find no record of him through the National Archives but then they can’t tell me about William’s father Robert A Graham either who also served from Pulaski County.  Mrs. Morgan says she has records of those from Pulaski County.  I have also checked with Richmond as they may have been in the local militia.

The National Archives also had nothing on Calvin Shepherd/Sheppard.  The problems which resulted in the Civil War was going on for years before and the effects lasted years after.

I lived in San Francisco during World War II and even though I was 11-15 years old I was aware of much of what was going on around me.  We moved from the small farming community in Twin Falls County Idaho (a dry state) to San Francisco California in early 1942.  I had spent two weeks in California in July of 1941 before I turned eleven.  I was aware alcohol was sold everywhere.  I had never seen anyone drunk until I came to California.

Talk about CULTURE SHOCK.  At any rate it was quite an experience and I will never forget it.  I had a very straight laced grandmother who had never smoked or drank in her life.  But I found out many years later she had been about six months pregnant when she was married.  I don’t love her anyless, she was special to me.  My grandfather her husband like to go to a place called the pool hall.  No respectable woman would be caught dead there. When we arrived in California and the first evening (this being July 1941 and I was 10 years old) and I heard my own grandmother (mother’s mother) Fannie Elizabeth (Ross) Phibbs, day she would go with them to buy liquor.  I was shocked!!!  Many of the family on that side consider me a snob to this day.  It was just CULTURE SHOCK.  My grandmother Fannie and two of her daughters died of Cirrhosis of the liver or alcohol related deaths.  Another who was only six months older than I committed suicide by shooting herself through the head as her father my grandfather did.  She had had an injury and was given some drug by prescription for it but she also drank some and as we know they don’t mix.  Aunt Florence as you will remember is the oldest and she turned 78 in June of this year and she looks better than my 73 year old mother and both of them are very clear.  Mother needs hearing aids for both ears (she was just checked out last week), but we have been aware that
she needs them for a while.  She fought the idea I think it was more the expense than anything.  They have one other sister who is younger who is
still living and she is in good health.  She is Viola and she just turned 67 last month.  There are three brothers also living Bill will be 65 in October
and he is okay.  He had some problems which resulted in his not being able to use sugar and it was not diabetes.  They said he was bad until they found what the problem was.  He dosn’t smoke or drink at all and hasn’t for years.

Then there is Orval, he is about 62/3 years of age, he is dying of cancer of the lung.  I haven’t seen him for years another brother Arthur died of
cancer of the lung two years ago he was only 57 year old at the time.  The youngest brother is Rick and he will be 58 on Dec. 25th, and he is not in
very good shape he is rather crippled up I don’t know what from.  Again I haven’t seen him for years.  But he writes every Christmas and sends a card to me.  The only other brother they had died in 1977 and he Jimmy was the eldest of the boys, he was born in 1916 and he died of the disease that the Baseball Player Lou Gehrig died of.  He was sick for quite a few years, he drank quite a lot and smoked besides.

I’m glad we have the principal of repentance and forgiveness or I’m sure none of us would ever make it.  We have all made mistakes and I’m told by church authorities once we make the proper repentance if need by through our Bishop, we don’t owe anyone an explanation.  It is between ourselves and our Heavenly Father.  So if the Lord can be that gracious to me or any other person who makes a mistke I’m sure he understands Nancy Adeline (Shepherd) Rosses and Adaline Bold’s and my grandmother Dorothy Ketcham (Balis) Beachell’s and my grandmother Fannie Elizabeth (Ross) Phibbs and anyone elses problems and I am glad to leave it up to him to decide since each case is different and individual.

When James Thomas Ross went to the temple in Salt Lake City to be endowed it was June 20, 1935.  He gave his name as James Thomas Ross, born 22 Sept. 1870 at Snowsville, Pulaski, Virginia.  Father was given as James Thomas Ross and mother as Nancy Shepard.  He also gave his baptism date as 17 Apr 1898 and Damie Catherine Graham as born 25 Nov. 1873 born Pulaski Va. died 3 Feb 1933.  Father Wm. Addison Graham mother Elizabeth Miles.  He didn’t give a marriage date but said she had been married to him.  He gave her baptism date as about 1897.  When my grandmother was sealed they took down her information as follows: Name in full Fanny Ross born 18 Nov. 1893 at Radford, Radford, Va.  Father Jas. F. Ross mother Damy C. Graham.  She was endowed 20 June 1923 and her baptism is given as 5 Jul 1906.  I have understood she and her brother James Thomas Ross were baptized the same day at Welch, McDowell, W. Va.  This brother was called Tom Ross, but I have his death certificate and it says James Thomas Meredith aka (also known as) James Thomas Ross born Oct 19, 1895 in Virginia died July 16, 1964 at Los
Angeles County General Hospital.  My grandmother was baptized the same year she was married.  She was married in Dec of 1906.  I have talked to someone in Salt Lake at the Genealogical Society and they said I should write it all down and send it in.  He probably didn’t realize in 1935 how important it would all be to be so accurate ect.  In a book of records kept by my grandfather he gives my grandmothers birthplace as Reed Island, Virginia.

I’ve also worked in hospitals doing nursing ect and I have personally seen people die of Cirrhosis of the Liver and know it isn’t any too pleasant,
I’ve often said I have no illusions.

I’ve certainly written a long letter here.  I hope it is of some help to you.  I’m waiting to hear from Mrs. Morgan again and I hope it won’t be too
long.  And I hope we will be able to gain further knowledge regarding these families.  Mrs. Morgan lives behind a Phibbs relative of mine in Pulaski
City.  They are good friends and she told me to come and stay with her if I get back there.  She also said you are going to write a book aren’t you?  I haven’t gotten to that point yet.  Anyway I had better stop here and get my family fed.

Happy Hunting,
Your Cousin
Donna (Beachell) Perry