Category Archives: History

Elisha Reavis ~“The Old Hermit of the Superstition Mountains”~ Pinal County, Arizona

Elisha Marcus Reavis, my maternal 2nd cousin, was born in 1827 in Beardstown, Cass County, Illinois. He was the son of James A. and Mary (Harlan) Reavis. After the death of his parents when he was 6 years old, he and his siblings were raised by an aunt and uncle. Elisha attended college before going to California during the Gold Rush. He taught school briefly at El Monty and searched for gold along the San Gabriel River. He married Mary Y. Sexton in San Gabriel in 1862 and they had one daughter and her name was Louisa Maria Reavis.

Elisha went with other gold seekers to the Bradshaw Mountains in Arizona in 1863 but had little success. He returned to California but his wife refused to move to the rugged country in Arizona and preferred to live near her parents. After her death, their daughter went to St. Louis to live with some Reavis relatives.

Elisha returned to Arizona with his uncle who was appointed a judge on the territorial state Supreme Court by President Grant. Elisha worked as a US Marshall before starting a small ranch near Ft. McDowell, There he broke horses and mules, packed for the army during Indian campaigns before moving to a remote valley in 1874. It was on Iron Mountain and was high enough to be cool and beautiful in what became known as the Superstition Mountains. He was known as the “Hermit of the Superstitions” to Anglos, and the “White Devil” to the Apaches.

Elisha cultivated and irrigated about fifteen acres of land on the mountain. He had chickens, turkeys, hogs, burros, two horses and several dogs to care for. His team of horses pulled his disc and shear plow for his large fields. In 1895, He was seventy years old and was still making trips from his mountain valley farm to the small towns in the central Arizona Territory to sell his vegetables. The chores on his farm were enough to keep a young man busy, let alone a seventy-year-old man.

He hunted to supplement his diet with wild game. Early visitors to his place talked about the many antlers he had hanging around His home. He even had several bear skin rugs. These items certainly pointed to the fact he was quite a skillful hunter and tracker. Old pioneers all said Reavis had lived in these mountains for more than twenty years. The two decades Reavis spent living alone in the Superstitions made him a legend in his own time. He had been an outdoors man since the 1850s when he first moved to California from Illinois.

His acquaintance, James Dalabaugh, often checked in on Elisha at his ranch. Dalabaugh knew he wasn’t doing too well in the spring of 1896. It was on April 9th of that year when Dalabaugh was at the ranch with Reavis as he was preparing to make a trip to Mesa to buy seed potatoes. Dalabaugh later stopped by the Fraser Ranch just a few miles south on the 6th of May, almost one month later and found that Reavis had not been there.

Alarmed, he backtracked and found Elisha’s remains four miles south of his ranch on the trail. His mules were tied nearby and half starved. Reavis’ remains were scattered by wild animals. On May 7th, 1896, he was buried at a nearby Indian ruins where the soil was softer under a cairn of rocks. His grave was marked with a stone marker. He had died at the age of 68.

Many stories have been told of him, such as how he was a crack shot with a Winchester causing the Apaches to give him a wide berth after a fight in which he killed three of them. Also, how he faced a bear with a rifle that misfired. Even for the mid-1800s Reavis was quite the sight. With long, unkempt and unwashed matted hair and beard Reavis was the proverbial mountain-man poster child. Beaming small, piercing eyes he maintained a savage and even feral appearance even for the old west. Nothing could be further from the truth. Reavis was quite educated and kept a personal library at his ranch as he was an avid reader.

I have lived in Arizona for over 50 years and I have never heard this story nor knew that I was related to this man. I have lived within 4 miles of the Superstition Mountains for over 28 years! It really is a small world.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

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The Tale of Arthur Taylor Friend

Arthur Taylor Friend is my 3rd cousin twice removed. He was born on May 9, 1886, in Dadeville, Dade County, Missouri, the sixth of nine children born to John Wesley Friend and Margaret Divine. He grew up on a farm that was very prosperous. His family grew Indian corn, oats and wheat and raised cows, sheep, hogs and chickens. They had about 1000 acres of land, and they were able to sell most of their crops every year.

He married Myrtle Montgomery (1891-1964) on April 11, 1906, when he was 19 years old and Myrtle was just 15. They had four children, one son, two daughters and one child who died at birth. They made their home on a cattle ranch outside the town of Morgan. In 1912, he moved his family to Mansfield, Missouri where he pioneered the Mansfield Mining District. He was also Vice President and general manager of A.T. Friend Mining Co. He owned the town drug store as well as many other businesses and properties in the county. He was a member of the Fuson Camp # 611 and The Woodsmen of the World. He was a very wealthy young man, but he was also very arrogant.

It is said that he had a very bad temper and a big ego. Although most people just avoided him because he “owned the town”, there were some men who had no problem attempting to put him in his place. Many men were fired from their jobs in the mines for “disrespecting” him. The following account is from the Mansfield Missouri Newspaper account dated July 4, 1918.

The trouble began on the morning of June 10, 1918, when Arthur and a man named Chester Crain got into an argument. According to the story the two men had several previous “difficulties” over the months leading up to this day. That evening the two men, once again encountered each other on the town square in front of the O H Garage. After the altercation Arthur attempted to leave, heading north. Suddenly shots rang out, 5 in all from a .38 calibre revolver as Chester began to chase him. Arthur began to run through a vacant lot between Reynolds Garage and the Nugget, and then back again to the sidewalk on Commercial Street where he collapsed. One bullet had entered his Lumbar vertebra and another one entered his right arm about 3 inches from his shoulder. He was quickly picked up by some of the men on the square and carried to his home. Drs. J.A. Fuson and R.M. Rogers were called to attend him but his wounds were beyond medical skill. He died about a half-hour later. He was 32 years old.

Chester was taken into custody and sent to the county jail in nearby Hartville. He was released on a $10,000 bond two day later. The bond was put up by several local businessmen and others in the community. He had over 20 prominent persons volunteer as signers on the bond raising it to $200,000! Chester pled self-defense which was backed up by several witnesses. He stated that Arthur accosted him and threatened his life with a gun and Chester was just defending himself. He was eventually declared not guilty and was released.

Arthur’s funeral was a lavish one and was attended by hundreds of people. One person in attendance said that there were 2 types of people who attended the funeral. The first were those who were just making sure he was dead and those who loved his parents. Such a sad commentary of one person’s life. He was buried in the Friend Cemetery in Bona, Dade County, Missouri.

Myrtle his wife, sold everything they had, and she married Paul McCallister. The family moved to Visalia, Tulare County, California where she died in 1964 at the age of 68.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Hughes, Memories, Missouri, Murder, Pioneers, Uncategorized

Oops! ~ I Should Have Thought That Through ~ 52 Ancestors Week #49

This week’s prompt seems very fitting to me. I recently spoke with a cousin, “John”, I had connected with on Facebook. Although he had been on my friends list for several years the extent of our “relationship” had been responding to each other’s posts. I try not to overwhelm my family with information about our shared ancestry, but whenever asked about it I gladly share.

A few weeks ago I posted that if anyone had any stories about our mutual ancestors that I would love to hear them. John responded that he had a lot of stories and he wanted to call me so we could discuss them. I was elated! He was from a branch that I had not heard any stories from. We set up a time for the call and I awaited excitedly. We were on the phone for about and hour and I furiously too notes and asked questions. When the call ended, I got to work trying to verify some of the stories he told me about.

The first bit of information was one I had heard before. My Hughes line was related to Jessie James! I remembered doing a quick search about the possibility of Jessie being a relative, but I didn’t remember the outcome. I had already researched our connection to John Wesley Hardin and John Hardin Clements, the notorious Texas outlaws but I had never added Jessie to the tree. When I started researching I realized why. There was no way we were related, no matter how far back I went. So I put that possibility in the “no way” pile.

I moved on to the next story. It was about our ancestors, whom he named, that supposedly helped to dig up and rebury Civil War soldiers that had died and were buried on the grounds of The Anderson House in Lexington, Missouri. Again, I did some research and found nothing. I had been to this house and the museum that they had on the grounds, so I knew if I called the office, someone may be able to answer the question for me. The poor lady must have thought I was nuts! She was so nice though, and she told me they get calls all the time trying to prove some ancestors’ connection to the battle that was fought there or things happening on the grounds. She informed me that nothing like this ever happened here. My “no way” file just got bigger!

John spent about 15 minutes telling me all about his paternal heritage, how they were descendant from Irish Kings, and he told me outlandish stories about them. This line I wasn’t concerned with, nor did I even attempt to do any research of it because he and I aren’t connected through his fathers line.

Now John is bugging me about when I am going to write up the stories he told me and let the family know about Jessie James! I told him that we were not related to him, and he exclaimed “That’s what my Dad told me, and he’s not a liar!” I told him that maybe he was related to Jessie through his Dad’s line, and I told him I have never researched that line since I am not really connected to it. I tried to calm the situation down by telling him that when I have free time I may be able to look into it for him. I then told him the genealogy mantra: “Genealogy without documentation is mythology.” He understood and at least he didn’t unfriend me!

My oops moment was not thinking through the post about wanting stories. Maybe I should have just contacted a few cousins at a time and ask them if they had any information on the family. I could then, at least, give a few guidelines and explain about oral traditions. These stories can be wonderful and add a lot of character to your family history, as long as we state they are stories and are not proven facts. Lesson learned!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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My Ancestor’s Signature #36 ~ George Ennis

How many of you have searched for any kind of photo of an Ancestor and you weren’t able to find one? Especially for one who lived before photography was invented? Have you ever looked through documents like wills, or marriage licenses and you discover that your 3x Great Grandpa had signed it? This signature is a little piece of him that was left behind. By posting it online we can preserve it for future generations.

My 5th Great Uncle

George Ennis 1770-1835
Marriage Bond Dated December 24, 1795

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Sunday’s Salute #38~ Benjamin Strother ~ Revolutionary War

Benjamin Strother, my 1st cousin 7 times removed, was born on June 25, 1750, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He was the youngest of 5 children born to Anthony Strother (1710-1765) and Behethland Storke (1716-1753 ). He joined the Virginia State Navy in 1768, at the age of 18. After 3 years of service he was promoted to midshipman which was a rating for an experienced seaman. He was then assigned to the ship the Tempest, at Frazer’s Ferry under the command of Captain Collier Saunders.

During the American Revolutionary War, the provisional government of the Virginia Colony authorized the purchase, outfitting, and manning of armed vessels to protect the colony’s waters from threats posed it by the Royal Navy. The Virginia fleet primarily patrolled the Chesapeake Bay, and was perpetually undermanned and poorly armed. Some of the ships were used in commerce, sent on voyages to the West Indies and even Europe. Between 1775 and 1779 the fleet captured 15 prizes, but also lost several ships the same way. The British raided the shipyard at Gosport in 1779, destroying stores and several unfinished vessels.

The arrival of British forces in South Carolina in 1780, and increased raiding activities by the British in Chesapeake Bay created increased demand for naval defense, and Virginia had to resort to forcing some men to serve as seamen. After a British fleet landed troops led by turncoat Benedict Arnold in December 1780, Virginia in desperation, hired privateers to assist the Navy. Even so, Arnold advanced up the James River as far as Richmond. A fleet of over twenty small Virginia ships and privateers pursued him, and in a one-sided engagement in April 1781 (The Osborne’s), the British captured twelve and the rest were either scuttled or burned. The Tempest was one of the ships destroyed.

The disaster on the James left the Virginia Navy with a single ship, the Liberty. She supported operations that resulted in the Siege of Yorktown later in 1781, as did three additional ships hired by the state. When Cornwallis was forced to surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, citing financial reasons, discharged most of its seaman. This is when Benjamin enlisted in the Continental Army until the end of the war.

Benjamin married Catherine Price (1753-1805) in 1778 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. They had 5 children, 1 son and 4 daughters. They moved to “Forest Park” near Charles Town, Jefferson County, Virginia (now in West Virginia). Here he died on October 10, 1807, at the age of 57.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Here’s Your Sign #20 ~Archdale Hall, Dorchester County, South Carolina

For many years I have been collecting photos of and information about the various signs that have been placed in honor of some of my ancestors. These signs are a glimpse into some event and/or place where they lived. Some of the signs are small like a placard with a few poignant words, some are large, and they go into great detail, and then there are those that are somewhere in between. Each one gives added life to those ancestors.

The sign reads:

Archdale Hall Plantation was established in 1681 by a royal grant of 300 acres to Richard Baker. The plantation, later expanded to more than 3000 acres, produced indigo and rice. The house which once stood here, built before 1750, was a fine example of Georgian residential architecture. It survived the Civil War only to be demolished by the Charleston earthquake of 1886.

Richard Baker is my 7th Great Grandfather. He was born in 1630 in England. His parents are unknown. He emigrated to Saint Philip, Barbados in 1648. Here he married Elizabeth Wilson (1630-1734) in 1656. The had 7 children, 4 sons, and 3 daughters. In 1680, he moved his family to Dorchester County, South Carolina and there he founded Archdale. He was a member of Commons House of Assembly, and he served from the Third Assembly representing Berkeley and Craven Counties in 1696-1697. He died in 1698 at the age of 68.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Proud ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks ~ Week # 42

I have been giving this prompt a lot of thought. I wasn’t sure which way to go with it. Should I write about my ancestors that fought heroically in every war since the first English settlement was founded here? Maybe I should write about some of the wealthy ancestors I have? Or maybe those who served in the political arenas? What about those who founded towns or those who explored the wilderness, blazing trails for others to follow? Then there are those who were outlaws. And last but not least, those who tilled the soil and raised crops and provided for their families.

I wasn’t able to pick just one, so I started trying to determine what criteria I would use to measure the pride I had in individual ancestors. By now my head was spinning. How could I be proud of my more successful ones and ignore the those who struggled through life? With this in mind I made a decision!

I am extremely proud of all of my ancestors as they made me who I am today. The farmers who gave me a love of growing thing, the politicians who have spurred me on to make a stand for things I believe in, and those whose served and/or fought in the many wars as they gave me my fighting spirit! I got my curious nature from those who founded towns and roamed the countryside. Those who fought in the Civil War, on both sides, have strengthened my resolve to pursue justice. There are many pastors in my trees making me aware of the importance of knowing and serving God. Last but not least the outlaws have taught me about following the law as a way of life.

Each one of these have contributed something to my life and taught me many lessons. Because of this I can honestly state that “I am proud of all my ancestors”.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Here’s Your Sign #19 ~ Salem Village Meeting House

For many years I have been collecting photos of and information about the various signs that have been placed in honor of some of my ancestors. These signs are a glimpse into some event and/or place where they lived. Some of the signs are small like a placard with a few poignant words, some are large and they go into great detail, and then there are those that are somewhere in between. Each one gives added life to those ancestors.

This sign is dated 1672 and states the following:

“Directly across from this site was located the original Salem Village Meeting House where civil and military meetings were held, and ministers including George Burroughs, Deodat Lawson, and Samuel Parris preached.

The infamous 1692 witchcraft hysteria began in this neighborhood on March 1accused witches Sarah Good, Sarah Osburn and Tituba were interrogated in the meeting house amidst the horrific fits of the “afflicted ones”. Thereafter numerous others were examined including Martha Cory, Rebecca Nurse, Bridget Bishop, Giles Cory, and Mary Esty, Many Dire, as well as heroic deeds transpired in the Meeting House.

In 1702 the Meeting House was abandoned, dismantled and removed to this site until the lumber “decayed and became mixed with the soil.”

In 1992 a memorial was erected here to honor the witchcraft victims, and to remind us that we must forever confront intolerance and “witch-hunts” with integrity, clear vision, and courage.”

In 1675 Sarah Hood, my 9th Great Aunt, married William Bassett Jr who was the brother of Elizabeth Bassett Proctor, wife of John Proctor. On the 23rd Day of May 1692, Sarah was accused of witchcraft and was immediately sent to prison. The month before Sarah was accused; her husband’s sister Elizabeth and brother-in-law John Proctor had also been accused, arrested, tried and convicted of witchcraft. They had been sentenced to hang. They all three spent the next few months together in the prison in Salem. On the 19th of August, despite no evidence to the charges and in spite of numerous testimonials to the character of John Proctor he was hung on Gallows Hill for the crime of being a wizard. This left Sarah and Elizabeth to care for each other. Sarah spent a total of 7 months in this prison, and she was pardoned because the charges against her could not be proven.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Sunday’s Salute #36 ~ Bacon’s Rebellion ~ Thomas Hayes

Bacon’s Rebellion was an armed rebellion by Virginia settlers that took place in 1676. It was led by Nathaniel Bacon against Governor William Berkeley.

Starting in the 1650s, as English colonists began to settle the Northern Neck frontier of Virginia the Chicacoan, some Doeg, Patawomeck and Rappahannock Indians began moving into the region and joined then local tribes in disputing the settlers’ claims to land and resources. In July 1666, the colonists declared war on them. By 1669, colonists had patented the land on the west of the Potomac as far north as My Lord’s Island. By 1670, they had driven most of the Doeg out of the Virginia colony and into Maryland.

Thousands of Virginians from all classes, including those in indentured servitude and races rose up in arms against Governor Berkeley because of his lack of leadership. They chased him from Jamestown, Virginia, and ultimately torching the capital. The rebellion was first suppressed by a few armed merchant ships from London whose captains sided with Berkeley and the loyalists. Government forces from England arrived soon after and spent several years defeating pockets of resistance and reforming the colonial government to be once more under direct royal control.

Modern historians have suggested that the rebellion was a power play by Nathaniel Bacon against Berkeley and his favoritism towards certain members of the court. While Bacon was on the court, he was not within Berkeley’s inner circle of council members and disagreed with him on many issues.

Bacon’s followers used the rebellion as an effort to gain government recognition of the shared interests among all social classes of the colony in protecting the “commonality” and advancing its welfare.


Nathaniel Bacon

According to the Historic Jamestown National Park website, “For many years, historians considered the Virginia Rebellion of 1676 to be the first stirring of revolutionary sentiment in North America, which culminated in the American Revolution almost exactly one hundred years later. However, in the past few decades, based on findings from a more distant viewpoint, historians have come to understand Bacon’s Rebellion as a power struggle between two stubborn, selfish leaders rather than a glorious fight against tyranny.”

Thomas Hayes, my 7th Great Grandfather, was born in Ireland in 1645. He arrived in Surry County, Virginia in 1665. He married Prudence Flake (1657-1702), in Surry County in 1677. They had 6 children, 5 sons, and 1 daughter. As a witness in a lawsuit, he made a deposition stating that he was 23 years of age in 1668. He took part in Bacon’s Rebellion, 1676, and had to flee the James River valley after Bacon’s death. In vengeance, Governor Berkeley hunted down every known participant in that popular uprising. Thomas Hayes found refuge in Maryland and then in Northumberland County, VA where he dies in 1715 at the age of 70.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Here’s Your Sign #18 ~ Jamestown, Colonial Virginia

For many years I have been collecting photos of and information about the various signs that have been placed in honor of some of my ancestors. These signs are a glimpse into some event and/or place where they lived. Some of the signs are small like a placard with a few poignant words, some are large and they go into great detail, and then there are those that are somewhere in between. Each one gives added life to those ancestors.

The sign states the following: “Nearby to the east is Jamestown, the original site of the first English colony in North America. On 14 May 1607, a group of just over 100 and boys recruited by the Virginia Company of London came ashore and established a settlement at Jamestown Island. They constructed a palisaded fort there within the territory of the Paspahegh Indians, who with other Virginia Indians had frequent contact with the English. In 1619 the first English representative legislative body in North America met there and the first documented Africans arrived. Jamestown served as the capital of the Virginia colony from 1607 to 1699. Historic Jamestown preserves this original site and the archaeological remains.”

I have many ancestors who were early settlers of Jamestown. My earliest one, John Dods, came over on one of the first 3 supply ships, The Susan Constant. In 1608 he accompanied Captain John Smith on a voyage into the Pamunkey River, and on December 29, 1608, he was among the men who accompanied Smith to Werowocomoco, Powhatan’s village on the York River. On February 16, 1624, John and his wife, Jane were, living at Bermuda Hundred. They were still there on January 24, 1625, at which time he was described as a 36-year-old household head who was very well supplied with stored food and defensive weaponry. In May 1625, when a list of patented land was sent back to England, he was credited with 50 acres in Charles City and 150 acres in Tappahannah land to which he was entitled as an ancient planter.

John was born in 1571, in Great Neck, Yorkshire, England and his wife Jane is said to have been born in 1584, but little more is known about her. They had two sons Jesse and Benjamin, and I descend from both of them. John died in 1652, in Jamestown at the age of 81.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Here's Your Sign, History, Immigration, Jamestown Colony, John Dodson, Markers, Uncategorized, Virginia