Once again I was searching through my family trees and I noticed that there were quite a few photos of the homes that my ancestors had lived in. Some of them were built way back in the early 1600s. They varied in size, style, and construction material. They are all as equally unique as each of my ancestors!
Robert Cleveland was born on January 8, 1744, on his fathers Plantation in Orange County, Virginia. He, along with several of his siblings migrated to western North Carolina sometime around 1769 when he was 25 years old. He settled near the Yadkin River on a tract of land that had been granted to him. About 1779, Robert Cleveland built his house on the Parsonville Road in western Wilkes County. Here he farmed and made whiskey. He had 13 children by his first wife, Alice ‘Aley’ Mathis. He died April 26, 1812. Hundreds of descendants have visited the house of their ancestors. For many years the house stood vacant, slowly decaying, a refuge for an occasional stray animal. In 1987, the house was purchased by Old Wilkes, taken apart and brought downtown to Wilkesboro, where the task of reassembling began. The original logs were used with only a few having to be replaced, and the mountain rocks that mad the chimneys were washed, stacked and reused in the two large chimneys and fireplaces. All the original beams are exposed; however, the floors and rafters had to be replaced. The rafters were cut from the Cleveland land and are held together with wooden pegs, which was the way it was originally constructed. It is believed to be the oldest house in Wilkes County.
Sailing up from Plymouth, shortly after it was settled, came the Men of Kent. They discovered this harbor and realized its future possibilities of farming and trade. The first plantations of “Satuit” were laid out by the Men of Kent before 1623 on Third Cliff and here the first windmills merged with the soft sounds of the breezes which turned their great sails.
The name Scituate is derived from an Indian word which the early settlers understood as “Satuit”, which means “Cold Brook”, and referred to the small stream flowing into the harbor. In some part of the years 1627 or 1628 a group from Plymouth increased the population of this area by bringing new arrivals from the County of Kent in England, and they formed the first permanent settlement. They laid out their village a mile or so back from the coast behind one of the cliffs, established a main street, which they named Kent Street, and assigned spaces on this street to the various householders forming the Company. They were of course under the jurisdiction of the General Court at Plymouth, and it was not until 1636 when the population had increased that permission was given to elect certain officers and to some extent carry on their own affairs. They referred to this act as the incorporation of the Town, and its boundaries were established at this time.
No other part of our country was more difficult to clear for planting than this dense New England jungle with its horse briers, elderberry, sumac and other dense undergrowth throughout which is strewed with granite rocks and stones. To clear the undergrowth, fell the trees and clear land of rocks and stumps would have been an unpleasant task, and without horses and oxen would have been almost impossible. But meantime, horses, oxen and cows had to be fed, and it was the marshlands that, in the interim, produced this feed. The hay of the marshlands of Scituate harbor and its North River was its fundamental economic factor. Corn was the only major crop grown in the area, but beans, pumpkins, rye and squash were also grown in limited quantities. The settlers learned how to grow the crops thanks to the Wampanoag Indians who lived in the area.
The Men of Kent Cemetery is a historic cemetery on Meetinghouse Lane in Scituate. The cemetery dates from the earliest days of of the settlement, estimated to have been established in 1628. It is the town’s oldest cemetery, containing the graves of some of its original settlers. The 0.75 acres cemetery is also the site where the town’s first meeting house was built in 1636.
The Williams-Barker House, which still remains near the harbor, was built in 1634 making it is one of the oldest buildings in Massachusetts. The house is believed to have served as a garrison during King Philip’s War when it was owned by Captain John Williams and the walls were reinforced with bricks. The thick wooden walls and beams were “once pierced for portholes.” The Williams and Barker families occupied the house for seven generations.
John Otis Sr, my 9th Great Grandfather, was born in 1581 in Barnstaple, Devon County, England. He married Margaret (unknown) in 1603. They had 9 children, 3 sons, and 6 daughters. In 1631, John and his family left England for the Plymouth Colony and arrived in Hingham, Plymouth Colony aboard the Ambrose. They quickly made their way to Scituate. During the division of lands in that town, a lot of 5 acres were granted to John and it bears the date, June 1, 1631. It was located in the meadow called the Home Meadow next to the cove. Here he built his home on the side of a hill.
John took the oath and was made a freeman of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay on March 3, 1635. On March 15, 1646, his house was burned to the ground, but it was soon rebuilt, and he continued to live here until his death. His wife, Margaret died on June 28, 1653. John married a widow by the name of Elizabeth Whitman Stream that same year. He died on May 31, 1657, in Scituate, at the age of 76. He was buried in “The Men of Kent” Cemetery just outside the town limit, however there is no headstone remaining.
This Hometown Tuesday blog will be a little different. Have you ever wondered why your ancestor left their home along the east Coast and moved inward into the Midwest? I have many who were farmers who just seemed, for no reason, to just pack up their families and make the long trek to western Tennessee or into Missouri. I always thought they did this because they were adventurous. Then I discovered an interesting article. It was too long to post, so I will recap it.
In the spring and summer of 1816, a persistent “dry fog” was covering parts of the eastern United States. The fog reddened and dimmed the sunlight. Nothing, not even rain or wind dispersed the “fog”. It has been characterized as a “stratospheric sulfate aerosol veil”.
The weather was not in itself a difficult for those who were used to long winters. The real problem was the weather’s effect on crops and as a result, on the supply of food and firewood. At higher elevations, where farming was a problem even in good years, the cooler climate was horrible for agriculture. The cause of all this bad weather was the eruption on Mount Tambora on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia, between April 5-15, 1815. The eruption had a volcanic explosivity index (VEI) ranking of 7. It was the world’s largest since the eruption of Paektu Mountain in 946 AD. In May 1816, frost killed off most crops in the higher elevations of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, as well as upstate New York.
On June 6, snow fell in Albany, New York, and Dennysville, Maine. In Cape May, New Jersey, frost was reported five nights in a row in late June, causing extensive crop damage. New England also experienced major consequences from the eruption of Tambora. Though fruits and vegetable crops survived, corn was reported to have ripened so poorly that no more than a quarter of it was usable for food. This moldy and unripe harvest wasn’t even fit to feed the animals. The crop failures that ran the length of the Eastern seaboard caused the price of many staples to rise sharply.
In July and August, lake and river ice was found as far south as northwestern Pennsylvania. Frost had extended as far south as Virginia on August 20 and 21. Rapid, dramatic temperature swings were common, with temperatures sometimes going from normal or above-normal summer temperatures as high as 95 °F to near-freezing within hours.
A Norfolk, Virginia newspaper reported: “It is now the middle of July, and we have not yet had what could properly be called summer. Easterly winds have prevailed for nearly three months past … the sun during that time has generally been obscured and the sky overcast with clouds; the air has been damp and uncomfortable, and frequently so chilling as to render the fireside a desirable retreat.”
Regional farmers were able to bring some crops to maturity, but corn and other grain prices rose dramatically. The price of oats, for example, rose from 12¢ per bushel in 1815, which is equal to $1.68 today to 92¢ per bushel in 1816 which would be $13.86 today. There was also no transportation network established in this area so it was impossible to bring any crops that had survived in other areas to this region.
High levels of tephra, which are ash particles that get ejected by a volcanic eruption, caused the atmosphere to have a haze hang over the sky for a few years after the eruption. It continued to lessen the ability of the sun to shine through this haze. With no guarantee that this disaster would quickly come to an end, thousands of people migrated west over the Appalachian Mountains into other States and/or territories. My ancestors gave up their current homes to venture out and find a new Hometown where they could prosper.
Lancaster is one of the oldest inland cities in the United States. It is 71 miles west of Philadelphia and is snuggled along the north and west by the mighty Susquehanna River. German immigrants, known as Pennsylvania Dutch, were the first to settle in the area in 1709. At that time it was known as “Hickory Town”. The Honorable James Hamilton laid it out in building lots and out lots, and on May 10, 1729, it became the county seat. John Wright, a prominent citizen, gave it the name “Lancaster” after Lancaster, England where he formerly lived. The city is known as the “Red Rose City” due to its link to the one in England. Lancaster became a borough in 1742.
Lancaster was one of seventeen original townships in Lancaster County. It was the smallest of the townships with its boundaries defined by the Conestoga River, Manor Township, the Little Conestoga Creek, (East) Hempfield Township, and Manheim Township. A two-mile square was later cut out of the northern part of Lancaster Township to create the county seat and Lancaster City. Early settlers started moving to the area in 1717 following the “new surveys.” With the establishment of the county seat came an influx of merchants, physicians, and lawyers and the Township’s population grew to approximately 200 people. The development of the Township was strongly influenced by the growth of Lancaster City.
Between 1730 and 1742 the major tracts of land were almost all laid out in residential lots, each with their own street patterns. In 1744, Lancaster served as the meeting place of the treaty-making sessions among the Six Nations of Indians and the colonies of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Visitors to the area were greatly impressed by the sophistication of this town in the wilderness. By 1760 Lancaster had become a borough of major importance in colonial America, economically, politically, and socially. A large number of skilled artisans and mechanics moved to the area, who, coupled with established industries and experienced merchants, thrust Lancaster into the role of making and supplying goods for the French and Indian Wars, the Revolutionary War, and the subsequent westward expansion.
The area that became Lancaster County was part of William Penn’s 1681 charter. John Kennerly received the first recorded deed from Penn in 1691. Although Matthias Kreider was said to have been in the area as early as 1691, there is no evidence that any Europeans settled in Lancaster County before 1710. The oldest surviving dwelling of European settlers in the county is that of Mennonite Bishop Hans Herr, built in 1719.
Sarah Dyer, my 5th Great Grandmother, was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on June 1, 1716. She is the only proven child of John Dyer (1687-1761) and Hannah Green (1701-1780). She married George Hayes (1714-1747) on June 1, 1730, when she was 14 years old and George was 16. They had 6 children, 4 sons, and 2 daughters. I descend from two of their children, Thomas (1740-1829) and Molly (1742-1829). The family moved to Virginia sometime before 1742. Her husband died in 1747, leaving Sarah to raise the children, ranging in age between 3 and 13 years old, by herself. She passed away on June 1, 1800, at the age of 84.
The last two months have been difficult, to say the least. My oldest son has been diagnosed with an inoperable cancerous tumor. It is a rare cancer and it is growing at an alarming rate. He was moved into hospice yesterday.
I have spent many hours in the hospital listening to the doctors and nurses use medical terms that most laypeople may not understand. To be honest, I had to look up definitions of some of the terms they used after they left the room.
So, I decided I need to do something to push back what is a dark time. Just for fun let’s look at some “definitions” of some commonly used medical terms.
Artery – The study of fine painting
Bacteria – The back door of the cafeteria
Benign – What you are after you be eight
Bowel – A letter like A, E, I, O or U
Cesarean Section – A neighborhood in Rome
Cat scan – Searching for kitty
Cauterize – Made eye contact with her
Dilate – To live long
Enema – Not a friend
GI Series – A Soldier ball game
Impotent – Distinguished, well known
Labor Pains – Getting hurt on the job
Medical Staff – A doctor’s cane
Morbid – A higher offer
Nitrate – Cheaper than day rates
Node – Was aware of
Organic – Church musician
Outpatient – Person who fainted
Post Operation – A letter carrier’s job
Recovery Room – A place to do upholstery
Secretion – Hiding anything
Seizure – Roman Emperor
Terminal Illness – Getting sick at the airport
Urine – Opposite of you’re out
Thank you for indulging me. Sometimes it is better to just laugh instead of cry.
I grew up in a very dysfunctional home. The only stability in that home was my Dad. He was the person who influenced my life the most while growing up. He showed me unconditional love, even through all the craziness of my teen years. I never really appreciated him until after he was gone. In honor of this remarkable man, this blog is to celebrate his life on what would be his 102nd Birthday.
Benjamin Douglas “Doug” Hughes was born in Pettis County, Missouri, August 18, 1915. The day he was born his Uncle who, was blind, died. His parents named him after this uncle. He was the 8th of 11 children born to Charley and Virginia Bell (Hayes) Hughes. They lived on a farm in rural Lexington, Missouri, raising all their food, and raising cows and award-winning horses. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s they were fortunate enough to not suffer as others did because they were self-sustaining. They shared what they had with others in the community and I believe this is where my Dad developed his giving spirit!
My Dad worked his entire life. He worked on the farm, planting and caring for the vegetables and fruit trees. He tended and milked the cows and he helped his Dad train
their horses. In 1934-35 my Dad participated in the Civilian Conservation Corp implemented by President Roosevelt. He served in Lake Tahoe, California. Here he learned to work with wood and stone masonry. These skills helped him the rest of his life. After the CCC he worked as a coal miner, worked on the railroads, he was a butcher and for the last 19 years of his life he worked in the construction field.
He was married 3 times; the first was when he was 22 years old in 1937. He married Mildred Shockley and they had a son Benjamin Benjamin died at 2 months old from Typhoid. Mildred was placed in a sanitarium and died 3 weeks later from the same thing. My Dad was devastated. He married a second time in 1944 to Mildred McQuillen. She had a daughter name Loretta whom my Dad accepted as his own. They never had children and I don’t know what happened but they divorced sometime before 1948. The third time was my Mother, Emmajane Smith in 1948. My Mother had a son, Gordon and once again my Dad took him as his own. My Dad and Mother had known each other for over 10 years because my Dad’s youngest sister Margaret and my Mother were best friends! My sister Mary Leella was born in 1951 and I was born four years later.
We left Missouri when I was 11 months old and moved to Southern Arizona. My parents bought a house on a corner lot in a new subdivision just outside the Tucson City limits. My Dad took pride in the yard. He taught me all I know about plants and landscaping. I loved spending time doing yard work and helping him build things. He laid bricks for planters, he built a large trellis for the patio. He poured the cement for the patio, he even made the lawn furniture and picnic table. I just loved being with him. He was always ready and willing to help any of our neighbors with whatever they needed. Everyone liked and respected him. When I was 12 years old my Mother had a mental breakdown and the next 7 years were pure hell! My Dad refused to have her committed and he took care of her even through our moves back to Missouri for 2 years then out to California for 5 years. He showed me that you don’t give up on people because the situation is not ideal. He showed strength of character and resolve that I have always admired.
In the Fall of 1973 my Dad went to the doctor for a cough that wouldn’t go away. After many tests and x-rays we were told he had lung cancer. He had surgery to remove his right lung then endured several rounds of chemo and radiation therapy. He lived for 9 months and he passed away at home on June 24, 1974. He was 58 years old. This was 43 years ago and I still think about him every day. I still strive to be the kind of woman, wife, mother and Grandmother that would make him proud. I know that I am proud to be his daughter!
Mary Leella “Le” Hughes was born on February 17, 1951 in Lexington, Missouri. She was the first child of Douglas and Emmajane (Smith) Hughes. Le is my older and only sister and although our relationship was very rocky she was always the closest person to me. Because of this relationship it is very difficult to write about her. Try as I might, I cannot remember one good thing about her.
For the first four years of her life she was spoiled by everyone. We have an older brother, Gordon, who was fourteen years older than Le. He overindulged her. When I came along she was jealous, she was no longer the center of everyone’s world.
My very first memory was when I was three years old. My maternal Uncle and his family had come to Arizona from Missouri for a visit. Le, three of my cousins and I were playing in the back of my Dad’s 1953 Ford pickup truck. To be honest, no one liked her because she was extremely mean, so the cousins were avoiding her and were just chasing me around the bed of the truck. Le got mad, picked me up and threw me over the edge of the truck. I landed on a 2×4 board that lined the driveway. My right arm was broken in three places, including having my wrist bone come through my skin! My Dad and Uncle rushed me to the doctor and he set my arm and put on a cast. I was so small that I used a regular sized bandana as a sling. Le never got in trouble.
This was the first of many, many incidents that happened not only throughout our childhood but on into adulthood. Le never married or had children and she lived with our Mother until her death in 1999. Le had diabetes and had to have both of her legs amputated just below her knees. After Mother’s death she had to move into a nursing home. Le died on September 22, 2012 at the age of 61.
I struggle with writing about both my sister and my Mother, because of the broken relationships I had with them. Also, so many things happened during my childhood that sounds so unbelievable, I hesitate to write about them. So the question is how much should I write about them since there isn’t much nice to say. How much truth is too much truth? What does the future generations really need to know? So much about writing about my sister brings many things a little “to close to home”.