Saturday, September 21, 2013

Cemetery Directions

I got a request for cemetery directions to the Houston Cemetery (or Collier since there are more Collier graves there than Houston), but it didn't give a contact.  Please contact me at karenchat@aol .  I need to know more to give you directions (like if you know where Goose Creek is).  Be glad to help if you email me.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Olvin Houston -- Another View

I became aware of Jonathan McCleese when he posted some items on facebook from materials he was looking through that belong to his mother.  Later, he read the story of Olvin Houston's death on this blog and wrote to give me another view of what happened.

My original story is on this blog and can be found by putting "Olvin Houston" in the search box on the home page.  This is what Jonathon provided to me from the McCleese Family.  In it you will see Olvin called Oliver.  His name at birth was Aulden G. Houston, but he was called Olvin.  He even named a son Olvin Jr.  Aulden/Olvin had a brother who was Oliver -- Oliver Denton Houston.  He went by Denton.  Just wanted to point out the names.  Oliver in this work from the McCleese family is Olvin.

Here is what Jonathan sent to me in messages on facebook:

December 15, 2012

Dear Karen,

I found you by using the email address provided on your blog "Southeast Kentucky Family." I am contacting you regarding the story you posted regarding the death of Olvin Houston at the hands of local lawman "Mac" McCleese.

"Mac" McCleese was actually Herman Frank McCleese. He would be my 2nd cousin, 3x removed. I am in contact with a number of of his direct descendants, including several of his children. They sent me a version of this story as passed down to them by Herman. If you would be interested, I will provide you with the story as long as his descendants don't mind me sharing it. Let me know and I will get to work.

-Jonathan McCleese



Sounds great to me. I never really understood McCleese being charged with murder. I mean, Olvin was out drunk and singing and shooting up the town and many people had asked that the law do something. Now the way it was handled with the guys calling out to him and shooting in his direction seemed a bit off, but the case has always fascinated me. Olvin's son, Olvin, just died last year. I got to talk to him a bit before he died, but he only knew what was said to him since he was pretty much a baby when Olvin Sr. died. I would love to have anything that the McCleese family might share and would add it as a separate story as as an addition and different version to the story.

I would be glad to know more.



December 16, 2012

So glad to hear back from you Karen! I have gotten permission from Tim Alderman, grandson of Herman McCleese, to share the story that he wrote and shared with me. I'm waiting to hear back from him on permission for you to share the story on your blog, but he was enthusiastic about me sharing it with you, so I'm hopeful that he'll consent to you publishing it publicly.

Here is a quote from Tim about the story.

"I wrote this story as I jotted down notes from my Uncle Marcus McCleese who is a son of Herman McCleese by his second wife. He was reading the accounts from the article from the 1920's. Marcus also said that his father had given details from the account. I also remember Herman McCleese's son by his first wife, Herman McCleese Jr. speaking about the account to my father. As Herman Jr. told the story tears streamed down his face as he said that Herman Sr. told him that if there was ever anyway possible to avert killing a man to do it. He said once you kill a man you will live with it for the rest of your life and you will always worry about the family that was left behind."

and now the story...

"Herman McCleese Shooting Incident in Fleming Neon"

"In the early 1920's Herman McCleese and his first wife Bess lived in a small coal mining town in Eastern KY called Fleming Neon. This small town was located in Letcher County, KY.

Herman was asked to be the mining superintendent because the men who were working in the mines had bullied the two previous superintendents off the job. Herman wasn't afraid so he took on the task of overseeing the mines and the production of coal for the company. The men had been making their brags that they were going to run Herman off like the others.

One day while Herman was working in the mines three men with guns came to his house and shot it up while his wife Bess and kids were in the house. These three men shot up other houses en route to the small town of Fleming Neon. They shot up the town and then the sheriff formed a posse to chase them.

The men headed back towards the homes they shot up but by that time Herman had arrived from work and strapped his 45 caliber and 38 caliber pistols to his waist as he went out to chase the men.

Oliver Houston was one of the three men and he opened fire on Herman shooting his hat off his head. Herman thought he had been hit as he thought it took his ear off with the shot. Immediately Herman shot and killed Oliver Houston with his 38 and emptied it.

Then he drew his 45 to shoot the others and it jammed. So at this point Herman charged one of the men who had taken aim at him and he knocked him across the railroad tracks and he kept jabbing his 45 caliber in the man's ribs trying to fire the gun. Herman was knocked off the man he had on the ground and they fled.

Herman quickly reloaded his 38 and when the sheriff and posse finally arrived they asked who had killed Oliver Houston and they said it was Herman McCleese. When the sheriff got to Herman's house he told Herman he was going to disarm him and arrest him. As the sheriff stood twisting his handlebar moustache, Herman pulled his pistol and cocked the trigger and told the sheriff that he wasn't surrendering his pistol and if the sheriff tried to take it he would get the hottest 38 he ever got.

The sheriff never took Herman's pistol and instead he was locked up in the Fleming Neon jail with his pistols strapped to his side. Herman received a jury trial and they found him guilty of murder and sentenced him to death by way of electrocution.

Herman was sent to Eddyville Prison and after serving 6 months he was released by pardon from the first Republican Governor of the state of KY. The governor who pardoned Herman was named Edwin Morrow. He stated that Herman was acting in self defense by protecting his family.

Upon release from prison, Herman went back to work in the mines in Fleming Neon and he remained superintendent of the job. Shortly afterwards one of the men who shot at Herman's house came looking for a job at the mines. Herman gave the man a job and the other men complained to Herman that the man would wait for an opportunity to kill him. Herman told them that he would kill him like he killed Oliver Houston. Herman couldn't be bullied from his job and he never had any more trouble from the men at the mines."

Also thought you'd be interested to know that I've been told the Sheriff that took Herman to jail was "Bad" (or "Devil") John Wright.

.---Jonathan McCleese

To Jonathan from Karen:

Nameswise there was an Oliver in the Houston family but that was Olvin's brother Oliver Denton Houston who went by Denton. Olvin's birth name was Aulden G. Huston (the way he spelled it). He went by Olvin. He had a son just before he died who was called Olvin Houston, Jr. He just died last year. I talked to him and his version of the story was pretty much the first part of the blog that I wrote. He added the part that Alma Meade said about Olvin singing and Nathan calling out "Sing it again, Uncle Olvin" and at one time he even knew the song that he was singing when he was shot.

Do you have the appeal? Just in case, here is what I copied from the records I found. I can't remember if I printed it word for word in the blog, so maybe this is the same.

Printed in the Southwestern Reported by West Publishing


(Court of Appeals of Kentucky. March 23, 1920.)

1. Homicide - Conviction of Manslaughter Held sustained

In a prosecution of a deputy town marshal for manslaughter, having killed a person that he was attempting to arrest, evidence held sufficient to sustain a conviction.

2. Criminal Law _ Instruction


In the prosecution of a peace officer for manslaughter, an instruction as to the duties of the defendant in making an arrest was not erroneous by reason of omitting to state that it was the duty of the deceased to peaceably submit to arrest upon the demand of accused, where the court also instructed that it was the right and duty of defendant to arrest the deceased.

3. Criminal Law - Grammatical DeFects IN VERDICT WAIVED BY FAILURE TO OBJECT.

A verdict, "We the jury do agree and fine the defendant guilty and fix his fine at three years confinement in the state penitentiary," was only grammatically incorrect,

and could not be misunderstood, and the accused waived any objection to the defects by failing to object to the form at the time it was read in court, and before the jury was dispersed.

4. Criminal Law - Defendant



A juror who did not know of or recognize any relationship between himself and a deceased in a homicide case could not be biased or influenced by such relationship, and accused could not be prejudiced by his sitting as a juror.

6. Homicide - Officer May Kill Person R ESISTING ARREST IF NECESSARY.

Where a person declines to be arrested and manifests a disposition to fight, an officer has the right to use such reasonable force as is necessary to overcome the resistance offered, even to the extent of taking life.

Appeal from Circuit Court, Letcher County.

Herman McClees was convicted of manslaughter, and appeals. Affirmed.

W. II. May, of Jenkins, and D. D. Fields and D. I. Day, both of Whitesburg, for appellant.

Chas. I. Dawson, Atty. Gen., and T. B. McGregor, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the Commonwealth.

SAMPSON, J. The grand Jury of the Letcher circuit court returned an indictment charging appellant, Herman McClees, and two other persons, Nathan Wright and Thomas Quillem, with conspiring to and willfully murdering Olvin Houston In the town of Fleming, on Sunday, November 30, 1919. A severance of trial was granted, the commonwealth elected to try McClees first, and he was convicted of the crime of manslaughter and given three years in the state penitentiary. From this Judgment he appeals. In his motion and grounds for a new trial he sets forth eight reasons, but he chiefly complains of the insufficiency of the evidence to sustain

the verdict and the failure of the court to properly Instruct the Jury as to the law of the case.

[1] McClees was a peace officer in the town of Fleming and was on duty at the time of the homicide. The deceased, Houston, and a nephew named Grant Wright were intoxicated. In fact they had been drinking Intoxicating liquors all day, and the killing happened about 8 o'clock at night. There is quite a lot of evidence In the record tending to show that the deceased was engaged in the Illicit sale of liquors. At any rate, he appeared to have an unusual supply of moonshine. Houston and Wright slept together at the home of a neighbor on the night previous. Next morning, which was Sunday, Houston gave Wright a quart of moonshine, and they began to drink. Houston had other liquor. They armed themselves with pistols, and later in the day went up and down through the town, firing at random and uttering threats against the peace officers of the town. The defendant McClees worked part of the morning at the coal tipple, but in the afternoon patrolled the town in an effort to keep order. He came home for supper about 6 o'clock, and just as he finished his meal he heard some shots in the edge of town and apparently along the public highway. On making some investigation he learned the shooting was done by Olvin Houston and Grant Wright, whom he had seen in the afternoon in a drunken condition. About the time he received this Information Nathan Wright, a brother to Grant Wright, came along and told McCleos that he should not go down in town in on attempt to arrest Houston and Grant Wright because he had just seen them, and they said to him that, "If you bring him (McClees; down here I will burn the God damned rags off of him." When McClees heard this he asked Nathan Wright to go with him down town in order to preserve order, but Wright went on towards his home, and defendant went back towards his home and procured another pistol, and again started towards the place of the shooting. When he came to the railroad track, which was the principal walkway through the town, he met ^Nathan Wright and Thomas Quillem, and he summoned these two men to assist him In arresting Houston and Grant Wright. The three proceeded In the direction of the shoot- fendant, or upon Nathan Wright or Thomas Quillen, but only a short distance, when they stopped on the railroad track. Shortly they saw two men approaching. One of them fired off his pistol, and was singing. It proved to be Houston and Grant Wright. Houston was carrying a pistol in one hand and a jug of moonshine liquor in the other, while Grant Wright was carrying his 38 Special in his hand. According to the evidence of defendant and his witnesses, Grant Wright, when he came up, said, "Hello, Buddie," to which the defendant replied, "Good evening gentlemen," and then said, "Consider yourselves under arrest," to which Grant Wright responded In substance, "There Is not a God damn thing doing; stand your ground, Olvin," and at the same time threw his pistol into a shooting position, pointing in the direction of defendant, at which time Nathan Wright sprang forward and grappled his brother, Grant Wright, and took the pistol from him. While this was going on, Houston threw up his pistol, striking defendant in the side; whereupon defendant fired four shots in quick succession into the head and face of Houston, killing him instantly. The defendant Is sustained in his evidence by Nathan Wright and Thomas Quillen, but he Is contradicted by Grant Wright, who says that there was not a word uttered before the shots were fired which killed Houston, except Nathan Wright said, "This Is your brother," when he grabbed Grant and took the pistol, and, further, Grant Wright testified that defendant, McClees, fired only one shot into the body of Houston before he fell and fired three shots into his face after he lay on the ground. No one corroborates Grant Wright, and his testimony on other points is very unsatisfactory. However, his statement was heard by the jury and was sufficient, if believed by the jury, to have warranted the jury in returning the verdict of guilty.

Appellant insists that the instructions are erroneous and prejudicial, but we have carefully examined them, and have compared them with instructions heretofore approved by this court in similar cases, and find they contain no prejudicial error.

Instruction No. 4A is assailed because it does not require the deceased to peaceably submit to arrest. This instruction reads:

"The court instructs the jury that in making the arrest of the deceased, Olvin Houston and Grant Wright, or either of them, it was the duty of the defendant to notify them, or the one about to be arrested of his intention to arrest them, or him, and of the offense charged against them, or either of them, for which he was making such arrest, unless they, or either of them knew that they, or either of them, were about to be arrested and the offense charged, if he had a reasonable opportunity to do so, or unless the said deceased, Olvin Houston or Grant Wright made an immediate attack upon the de-

Quillen and thereby prevented him from so doing."

Appellant urges that this instruction should have contained a clause, in substance, as follows: It was the duty of the deceased to peaceably submit to such arrest upon the demand of defendant.

[Z] The trial court could very properly have added this to the instruction, but inasmuch as the Jury was told that the defendant, Herman McClees, was a deputy town

marshal, and as such had the right and it was his duty to preserve the public peace and to prevent any and all breaches of the public peace, and to arrest offenders In order to preserve the peace, and, further, that McClees "had the right and it was his duty to go to said Olvin Houston and Grant Wright, or either or both of them, and to use such force as was reasonably necessary to prevent the continuance of said conduct, and if said deceased, Olvin Houston, or Grant Wright, or either of them, refused to obey or so conduct himself, or themselves, in the presence of the defendant, or defendant had reason to believe or believed that said deceased, or Grant Wright was then and there about to kill defendant, or Grant Wright, or Thomas Quillen, or either of them, or do defendant, or Nathan Wright or Thomas Quillen, or either of them, some great bodily harm, and defendant believed and had reasonable grounds to believe from the conduct of the said Olvin Houston, or Grant Wright, that to avoid such danger, either real, or to him, or them, or either of them,

apparent, It was necessary to shoot said Olvin Houston, you will find the defendant not guilty," It was unnecessary to restate the principle In the manner suggested, because, as the Jury was told that the defendant had the right to arrest Houston, It necessarily followed that it was the duty of Houston to peacefully submit to the arrest

[3] The verdict is awkwardly constructed, and of this appellant complains. It reads:

"We the jury do agree and fine the defendant guilty and fix his fine at three years confinement in the state penitentiary."

While it is oddly stated and grammatically incorrect, it would be practically impossible for any reasonable person to misunderstand the meaning of the jury. Had the appellant objected to the form of the verdict at the time it was read In court and before the jury was dispersed, the court would have required the jury to retire to its room and reform the verdict, but in failing to ask this, the appellant waived his objection, and cannot now be heard to complain of the grammatical defects of the verdict.

[4] One of the jurors who tried the case was a distant relative of the deceased Olvin Houston, but at the time he was accepted on the Jury and tried the case he did not know of the relationship, and did not regard himself as related until after the trial was over and the question was raised by counsel, whereupon the commonwealth's attorney approached the discharged Juror and inquired If he was related to the deceased, and was answered In the negative. An investigation was then had in open court to determine whether the juror in question was of kin to the deceased. Several witnesses, including the juror, were called, and while it appears that the juror was in fact related to the deceased, it equally well appears that the relationship was wholly unknown to the juror at the time he was serving on the Jury, and he was not therefore influenced by it in any manner whatever. A Juror who does not know of or recognize the relationship between himself and a defendant, or other party, to an action cannot by any course of reasoning known to us be biased or influenced thereby. If on the investigation had in the circuit court it bad appeared that the Juror knew of the slight relationship which existed between him and the deceased, we would be much Inclined, in a case like this, to set aside the verdict.

[6] On a review of all the evidence in the record, we incline to the opinion that the great weight of the evidence is in favor of the defendant, and we wonder what influenced the jury to find him guilty unless it was the evidence of Grant Wright. The testimony of this witness was so palpably untrue with reference to the liquor which he and his uncle had obtained, as well as other matters which transpired during the day preceding the homicide, that we can scarcely believe the Jury attached much Importance to It. Defendant appears to have been a sober, peaceable citizen, and good officer. The deceased, while bearing a bad name, was intoxicated and armed with a deadly weapon at the time of the difficulty. It was the duty of the officer to arrest Houston, ' but according to the weight of the evidence, Houston declined to be arrested, and manifested a disposition to fight. Under such circumstances the officer had the right to use such reasonable force as was necessary to overcome the resistance offered, even to the taking of the life of the deceased. One of the age and experience of Houston must have realized the danger of the life he was leading and the menace he was to the community. Too much consideration should not be given to those who deliberately arm themselves with deadly weapons and willfully intoxicate themselves and start out to terrorize the community. While we find no prejudicial error in the record to justify the' court in reversing the judgment of conviction, we incline to the opinion that this is a case which might properly be presented to the chief executive of the state for clemency. Judgment affirmed.

End of document

Grant and Nathaniel "Nathan" were sons of Olvin's sister, Hannah Houston and Alexander Wright. I thought they both left the area and went to West Virginia. I know for sure Grant did. and I am thinking, but not looking at documents that Nathan went with him. They were out drinking and scuffling around and someone (maybe Nathan) but Grant in a bear hug. Grant hated this and was able to work his pocket knife out of his pocket with the intention of stabbing the arms and making the person holding him let him loose. Instead he stabbed himself and died 8 days later from peritonitis. He was brought back to Millstone and buried in the Five Fawns Cemetery.

Thanks for sharing, but if he gives his ok, I will put it on the blog. I used to do a story every day but some emails and commits just made me feel it wasn't worth it so I stopped.


December 16, 2012

From Jonathan McCleese

Permission granted! Tim said to feel free to use the story on your blog if you'd like. Please give credit to Tim Alderman & the descendants of Herman McCleese for providing it. If you'd like, you can direct anyone seeking more information on the McCleese family to the McCleese Family Genealogy page on Facebook.

Thanks for sending me all of that additional info! I love details and they make stories come alive for sure. You have done such a great job on your blog! I think your work is just fantastic and I'll probably be dropping by there just to read the great tales of old.

Jonathan McCleese

 Thanks for Jonathan McCleese and Tim Alderman for sharing another version of the death of Olvin Houston.







Tuesday, December 27, 2011

John Vint Bentley & Annie Potter

This is Annie Potter and John Vint Bentley. I never thought to find a picture of them. It was taken on the porch of the home of their son, James Monroe Bentley.

Here is how I came across the picture.

I was in Kentucky a few years ago at Memorial Day. I went to go along with my Wright cousins who have a tradition of meeting on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to visit the graves of their loved ones to clear them off and 'decorate' them. We used to call Memorial Day Decoration Day. On Monday, Memorial Day, I went to McRoberts to attend the Memorial Day services there. It was held in front of the church of Christ building at the Military Memorial for the soldiers from the are who lost their lives in various wars. The VFW post from Pound was doing the honors.

It was pouring rain that day. There was a room at the senior center next to the church which was being used to meet and sign in. I was with my Uncle D. V. . He was talking to folks he knew and I was standing by the sign in. One of the fellows in the VFW group came up to sign in and noticing his name tag said Bentley, I said, "Hello, Cousin". He grinned and we talked a bit. He said his family was from Virginia and he didn't believe we were related. I said, well, if you want to tell me your parents and grandparents, I sure will try to check it out. He just grinned.

After the service, we went in for cake and more chat. Jack Bentley came up to me and asked if I were serious about looking into his family. I said sure, got his parents and grandparents names and his email. I asked if he had any pictures and he said no.

I went to my files and he his grandfather was a son of James Monroe Bentley. I worked on this line and sent Jack a file giving him all the pictures, stories and info I had starting with him.

About a year later he wrote me and said he had lost the file, could I send him another since he wanted to print one. I said, sure, but give me a day or so to check just in case there is something more I can find. And I found this picture. I couldn't believe it. It was on an ancestry file and said it was used at a family reunion. The picture was so good, I just couldn't imagine it being the parents of James Monroe and John Martin because the picture of John Martin and Malinda Addington is awful quality wise. So I wrote the lady and asked her who identified it and how they had come across it.

In the meantime I took the name off the picture and emailed it to Jack and asked if he knew who it was. He wrote back right away -- it was one of his grandparents and it was on his wall. It seems when I asked if he had any family pictures and he said no, he meant none in an album or box, and hadn't thought about what was on his wall. The lady wrote me back and all matched. She said it was taken when they were in Virginia visiting James Monroe and all the Virginia Bentleys had the photo. I guess none of us still in Kentucky had gotten it.

So that is how I got the picture of John Martin and James Monroe Bentley's parents.

James Monroe Bentley

I originally had this photo with a story about John Martin Bentley. I had been given the picture by an aunt who said it was John Martin. Recently, my cousin, Janice, saw the picture and said she thought she had seen it and something wasn't right. She went through her mother, Edna Bentley's pictures and found it along with other pictures that were taken the same day. This is not John Martin Bentley, but his brother, James Monroe Bentley.
In the picture is Otho Bentley and Elbert Bentley, seated. They are nephews of James Monroe.
Standing is Laura Bell Bentley, a sister to Otho and Elbert and niece of James Monroe, James Monroe himself, Mary Webb Bentley wife of James Monroe, Caldonia Bentley Watkins sister of Otho Elbert & Laura and none of us could quite figure out who the last man was though he is very familiar looking.
What happened was Uncle Willie, Otho's son, and his wife, Edna Bentley took Poppy (Otho), Uncle Elbert, Aunt Laura, and Aunt Caldonia to visit their uncle and his great uncle. Here are the other pictures that were taken that day:
Aunt Laura Belle Bentley who married Sherman Bentley and Aunt Edna Bentley who married Willie Bentley. Laura was the daughter of John Martin Bentley and Malinda Addington. Edna was the daughter of Sherman Bentley and Ada Sergent.
James Monroe Bentley and Laura Belle Bentley.
James Monroe Bentley, son of John Vint Bentley and Annie Potter, and his wife, Mary Webb, daughter of Benjamin Webb and Eleander Pace.

James Monroe Bentley and Willie Bentley, son of Otho Bentley.
James Monroe & Mary Webb Bentley
James Monroe Bentley home with visitors on the porch.
Edna Bentley, wife of Willie Bentley, and Willie's aunt, Laura Bentley.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mystery Photo Identfied: Sharon Craft

I got an email from Gordon Hart. He identified the Craft Mystery picture 1621 as his niece, Sharon Faye Craft. Sharon was the daughter of Ira Comb Craft and Ruby Helen Hart. Ira was the son of Archelous Columbus “A. C.” Craft and Pricy Adkins. A C is the brother of my great grandmother, Lettie Craft Hall. A. C. and Lettie were the children of Enoch Arden “Chunk” Craft and Mary Ann “Polly Ann” Caudill.
A. C . and Pricy had 17 children:
Polly Ann married Maylon Brown. Polly had eight children. She died young. Maylon married a second time, Susie. All three of them are in the Chunk Craft Cemetery at Millstone.
Lily Mae Craft married Moses Webb.
Rachel Virginia “Virgie” Craft married Arlie Brown. They moved to Owensboro, Kentucky.
Enoch Arden Craft died at age 3. He is in the Chunk Craft Cemetery.
Mattie E. Craft married Johnny Hall. They raised their family in Kite, Knott County, Kentucky.
Ranie May Craft died the day after she was born. She is in the Chunk Craft Cemetery.
Sarah J. Craft married Lee Hall, a brother of Johnny Hall, sons of Thomas Hall and Martha Fouts. They also moved to Kite, Knott County, Kentucky to raise their family.
Benjamin J. “Bennie” Craft married Pebble Taylor.
Druscilla V. Craft married Ace Davidson. She is living in a nursing home in northern Kentucky.
Lewis Frank Craft married Hennie Ritter Hall, daughter of Joe Hall & Dianah Webb. They divorced and he married Myrtle Combs. Lewis and Hennie Ritter were the parents of Bill, Joella and Frankie Craft. Bill wrote the music about the Millstones at Millstone and has several CD’s out of music he has written and performs. Joella Craft Collier just passed away earlier this year. She wrote a history of the Craft family.
Daniel Morgan Craft married Louisa Matilda Baker. They made their home in Millstone.
Archelaus C. Craft, Jr. married Florence Meade.
Oma Sabrina Craft married Warren McClintock.
Ibby Victoria Craft was born in 1920 and only lived seven months.
Ira Comb Craft married Ruby Helen Hart.
John David Craft was born in 1923 and only lived seven months.
Watson Garrett Craft married Minerva Back. He lives in northern Kentucky.

Gordon wrote me the following:
I first met Ira when I was about 4 years old. He then, was a private in the Army, stationed at Fort Benning, near Columbus, Georgia. Ira was dating my sister, Ruby Helen Hart.

At the time, we were living in the small town of Junction City, located about 35 miles east of Columbus. How the two ever met is unknown to me, however, during this same time, Ira's double-first cousin John Wilburn Franklin, son of Ben and Sarah Craft Franklin, also of the Millstone, Kentucky area, was dating another of my sisters, Carolyn Frances Hart. I think that perhaps, they were all drawn together by yet another sister of mine, who was dating, and ultimately married another Ft. Benning soldier. This one was from our area and probably introduced his buddies to the rest of my sibling sisters. This was during the wartime era, most likely around 1941. Just remember that I was only about 4 years old at the time, so a lot of this is early memory, but I do know that they all three married my sisters in this time frame and left them in Junction City, to go to fight in Europe.

I also know that both Ira and John took part in the D-day invasion, John was in the Ranger battalion, and was wounded early in the war and I think, not too long later, Ira, who was an army medic, was also wounded. John was wounded with a bullet through his head, leaving him color blind, Ira had shrapnel wounds and carried a lot of shrapnel in his back and legs for the rest of his life. Both men were highly decorated for their action.

After the war, both men moved their families to Kentucky for a time, trying their hand at cold mining, which proved to be a failing proposition at that time. They finally moved back to Georgia. Ira worked as a machinist in the cotton mill in Manchester, I think John went to work as a fireman at Fort Benning.
Ira and Ruby had three children. Their only son is still living and working in the Talbot County area. They had two daughters, Sharon Faye Craft, who became ill in her late teens, which made her almost an invalid until her death in 1978 at the age of 31. She had just married and was on her honeymoon when the illness occurred, the illness and subsequent invalid status of Sharon, evidently was too much for the young couple to take, so the marriage was annulled. Ruby and Ira's other daughter, Deborah Kaye Craft, married, had two children of her own and passed away in 2009.

Ira was one of my favorite, of my many brothers-in-law. Being much younger than he, and without my father. who had died in my early childhood, Ira seemed to take me under his wing and helped me through some of the bad spots. Of course, one thing that I remember so well was his teaching me how to drive. My family had no cars, so he was always there to lend me one. I remember an old strip-down 36 Ford he had, which had no body attached, and only a seat and hood over the engine. This vehicle, he would let me use to ride the back-county roads around Junction City, I think even before I was old enough to have a license. I do remember that he fibbed to the license issuers about my age so that I was able to obtain my license at 15. Ira and Ruby were always there to help my mother, me and my older siblings whenever we needed. Every Sunday night we would all load up in his big 48 Chrysler and go to the movies in Butler, about 15 miles away, the nearest entertainment around. I will always be grateful to Ira, and also John, two of the finest men I have ever known, for always being there when we were growing up.
Sadly, in their later years, Ira and Ruby seemed to grow apart, which ended in divorce. A few years later, Ruby was killed in a fire which destroyed her home. Ira lived a few years longer and died in 1996 in Taylor County. Georgia.

Ruby and Sharon share a plot in Pine Level Cemetery in Taylor County, GA. Ira is buried a few miles away in Moore's Chapel Cemetery.

John and Carolyn had four children, the first two being twins who were born while John was overseas. Sadly, one of the twins died before his 2nd birthday. His twin sister, and two younger siblings, survive today. Carolyn died of leukemia in 1955 at the young age of 32. She was interred in Pine Level Cemetery.

John subsequently went on to remarry, living a long successful life as a fireman at Fort Benning before retiring. He died in 2008 and is buried with his second wife, Odessa Foster Franklin, in Junction City Cemetery.

I am sorry that I learned little from both men, of their families living in Kentucky. I just remember as a child, John and Carolyn once took me on a vacation trip there to visit with his parents, Ben and Sarah Franklin. This was perhaps one of the first times I had ever been away from home and I treasure the memory of the trip with them. I recall how wonderful the folks were there, how they welcomed me so. And those mountains around Millstone, to a young lad from the flatlands of Georgia, wow!

Here is the picture of Sharon:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Booker Mullins who went to Texas

I was thinking about James Mullins and his first wife, Agnes Little. I always heard that they never had any children, but raised two of the children of Booker Mullins, his brother. The story was always that Booker's wife, Martha Mullins, daughter of Ambrose James Mullins and Nancy Mullins, had died about 1840. Booker left his daughters, Sarah and Nancy, and went to Texas to make a new home.

What I rememered that I had found was Sarah, age 12, living in James and Agnes household in 1850. Old Booker Mullins, father of James and Booker F (who went to Texas) father. I thought I had found a census with Booker F and a daughter Sarah who was too young to have been the daughter of a new wife in a Texas census. So I set out to find those records and see what I could figure out on them. I couldn't find ANYTHING on Booker in Texas with a Sarah. So I started over.

James Mullins is in Perry County, Kentucky in 1850. Listed in his household is

James 64, farmer
Agnes 58
Sarah 12
Booker 88.

This is the start of the family legend I heard.

I found Booker Mullins, age 39, no occupation living in Titus County, Texas by himself.

After much searching around, I found that Booker had married Cynthia Clayton about 1847.

Cynthia was the daughter of Daniel Clayton and Lucy. Daniel was from North Carolina and was in Logan County, Kentucky at the time of his death. At some point this family was in Henry County, Tennessee. Cynthia married Bennett Caudle, son of James Caudle (or Caudill as it came down our side of the family) and Mary Pertis. James was a son of James Caudill and Mary Adams. This James was a brother to Stephen Caudill and Matthew Caudill (both my ggx grandfathers). James, Stephen and Matthew all went from North Carolina to Letcher Count, Kentucky.

The son, James Caudle, who married Mary Pertis, moved first to Henry County, Tennessee in the 1820s.

Bennett Caudle's brother, Marcus, married Cynthia Clayton's sister, Rebecca in Henry county. These two couples -- Bennett & Cynthia Clayton Caudle and Marcus & Rebecca Clayton Caudle -- along with other Caudle family members moved to Texas.

About 1846 Bennett Caudle died. They had seven children: William Hawkins, Mary Ann Elizabeth, Daniel Clayton, Sarah Francis, Mahala Jane, James Hatley and Bennett Harrison.

Cynthia married Booker Mullins. They had a daughter, Rebecca Louisa in 1848.

While Booker is listed alone in the Titus County Census, Cynthia is listed as head of household in a separate listing for Titus County. She uses the Mullins name and even uses it for the children who were fathered by Bennett Caudle. Their enumeration is:

Family 413
Mullens, Cynthia, 39, KY
William 21, laborer, KY
Daniel 15, TN
Sarah 13, TN
James 9, TN
Bennett 7, TX
Louisa 2, TX

I found Cynthia in the 1860 census. She is still living in Titus County, in Sparks township. She has taken back the name of Caudle and is listed as a widow.

Cordle, Cintha, 50, widow, KY
Bennett H. 17 TX
Rebecca L. 12 TX
John W. 6 TX
James H. 18, day laborer TN

So who is John W.? It appears that Cynthia is his mother. Would he also be a son of Booker?

I have Cynthia's date of death as March 29, 1895. I have not found her in the 1870 or 1880 census records. When I started this search I was told that there were no records for this part of the country because of Indian uprisings etc. I will just say I haven't found them yet.

About 1861 Booker married Susan S. Lynn from Kentucky. They have at least six children:

Martha J. born 1863
John Riley born 1865
Annie Agnes born 1866
Mary Etta born 1873

My first impression was that Susan had died leaving Booker a widower. And the first census I found sort of made that possible.

I did not find him in 1860 or 1870, but in 1880 Booker Mullins is the head of household in Palo Pinto County, Texas. The census reads:

Mullins, Booker F, head, 70, laborer, KY TN SC
Smith, Martha, daughter, 17, keeping house, TX KY KY
Smith, William A, son-in-law, 27, works on railroad, TX FL FL

So here is Booker, alone, with his daughter and her husband.

Then I started following the other children.

John Riley Mullins, son of Booker and Susan, married Bertha Irene Thompson from Illinois. In the 1900 census for Little River, Cleveland County, Oklahoma it shows:

Mullins, John R. 35, head, Feb 1865, married 11 years, TX WV KY farmer
Bertha I. 28, wife, Oct 1871, had 4 children, 4 living, IL IL KY
Cordelia, 8, daughter, Aug 1891, Indian Territory TX IL
Jessie G. 6, daughter, Oct 1873, TX TX IL
Minnie F. 4, daughter, Dec 1895, Indian Territory TX IL
Lonnie L. 1, son, Oct 1898, Indian Territory TX IL

Bertha Thompson Mullins died on June 30, 1903.

John Riley Mullins married Organ Peary in 1908 in Oklahoma.

In 1910 they are in the Holdenville, Hughes County, Oklahoma census as follows:

Mullins John R, 44, head, marriage 2, 2 years, TX WV KY
Mullins, Organ, wife, marriage 1, AK AK AK
Mullins, Cordelia, 18, daughter, OK TX IL
Robertson, Jessie, 16, daughter, widowed, TX TX IL
Mullins, Minnie, 14, daughter, OK TX IL
Mullins, Royal, 6, son OK TX IL
Mullins, Susan, mother, widowed, had 7 children 6 living, KY KY KY.

Susan was alive in 1880 when Booker was living without a spouse in his household in Titus County Texas. I have not found her in 1880 or 1900, but I am still looking.

So basically, Booker's first wife, Martha died. He left his two daughters (some say there is a third, Rhoda) with his brother, James, and left for Texas. In Texas he married a widow, Cynthia Clayton Caudle, with seven children and had one (Rebecca Louisa) or two (John W. Mullins) children with her. They did not live together in the 1850 census. In the 1860 census Cynthia has taken back her Caudle name. In 1861 Booker married Susan Lynn and had about seven children with her. In the 1880 census he is alone in a household with his oldest daughter and her new husband. I can't find Susan in 1880 or 1900, but in 1910, she is living with her and Booker's son, John Riley Mullins. So many holes to fill in.

I have all the census records which I listed plus others for other members of the family. I have a few pictures of some in this line. If Booker's line and what happened to him is of interest to you, or if you other information to share, please write to me at and I will share what I have with you. I will share with members of the family. I don't want to even talk to you if you have all this information and can't or won't tell who you are and how you are connected to the family. I have had a few of those on other articles and they were nothing but a pain and totally useless.

I will still keep looking for that census that I thought I found listing the other Sarah, and will update if I come across more.

Update 1

I was following Booker and Susan's daughter, Annie Agnes Mullins. She was born in 1866 in Texas. She married Berry Crittendon Wilkin. In 1880 they were living in Cooke County, Texas in the Wilhight family home as boarders.

Wilkins, Berry, 21, laborer, TX MS TN
Anna, 13, TX MS TN

They had a child, Berry Crittendon Wilkins in May of 1883. Wilkins Sr. either died or they separated.

In 1894 Annie married Edward Mushany who was born in Missouri. His parents were from Baden, Germany.

In the 1900 census Annie and Edward are:

Mushaney Edward, head, Jan 1840, 60, married 6 years, MO Germany Germany farmer
Mushaney, Anna, wife, May 1866, 34, had 2 children, 2 living, TX IA KY
Mushaney, Walter, son, Mar 1896, 4 TX MO TX
Mushaney, John E. son, Aug 1898 1 TX MO TX
Wilkins, Crittendon, stepson, Mar 1883 17, TX TX TX, farm laborer

I have seen some family trees on ancestry where they have changed the name to McShaney and claim that Edward was Irish, but when I followed the family back to Missouri, his father was listed there as a widower with the Mushaney name and said he was from Germany. The writing looked clear to me on both census records, so I believe the name was Mushaney not McShaney.

Apparently Edward died or they separated (too many times they go separate ways and the woman will tell the census taker she is a widow) because in the 1910 census it shows:

Family 9
Mashiney, Annie, head, 43, widow, had 4 children 4 living, TX KY KY washerwoman, public
Mashiney, Walter, son 14, TX TX KY
Mashiney, John E. son 11, TX TX KY
Mashiney, Robert L. son, 9 TX TX KY
Mashiney, Freddie, son 4, OK TX KY
Mullins, Susan, mother, 73, widowed, had 6 children 5 living KY TX KS

So here on the same page of the census a brother and sister are both claiming that their mother, Susan is living with them. Regardless, it shows Susan Lynn Mullins was still alive in 1910.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Susannah Wright

This story was orginally published on December 30, 2008. It concerns two pictures which have been identified as Sarah Waldrup and Susannah Wright. I got my first copy of the picture most often identifed as Sarah Waldrup from Nadina Osborne. She gave me a xerox copy. I didn't know enough at the time to get who gave it to her and who identified it. Unfortunately, Nadina isn't around for me to ask. I have seen this picture on the internet for decades identifed as Sarah.

When I got copies of the picture again, and a second picture which came from Devil John's home from his grandson, they were identified over and over again as pictures of Susannah Wright. It made me go back and try to see what the sources were first of the picture of Sarah. I couldn't find anything on where the people who had it posted as Sarah had been given their identification. Personally, I would like for it to be Sarah so I would have pictures of two grandmothers rather than one. But my sources -- which I name -- have told me that they are both of Susananah Wright, the wife of Joel Wright and mother of Joel Ellis Wright.

I have been told that the second picture is Susan Wright. Her granddaughter gave me a copy of the ONLY picture ever taken of Big Susan, the daughter of Joel and Susannah. She has original copies of Betsy and Thaney Houston, Annie Houston Mullins and many other old family pictures which are now all over the web. And so far, the identification that I have seen has pretty much stayed with them. I hate to see things mislabeled and misidentified.

Recentley I have seen many of my family on trees who are totally wrong. They are even folks not generations and generations back, but ones I knew myself who are attached to wrong parents, or pictures which have had the names changed on them even though they show that they were taken from family trees where the identification was there and correct.

You can't make people change things that you know are wrong. You can't stop information that is incorrect from being posted. What it proves is that you always have to do your own investigation and make your own decisions about the information that you put in your family tree.

In the case of these pictures, I have lost a relationship with a cousin over their identification. He thinks I am on par with the devil for posting this story and spreading wrong information. I have just posted whatI learned and my sources. He has never been able to give me his sources which would change my mind. He told me one source and then backed off of it. He identified the picure first as Charity Wright, then as Big Susan -- both of which I know are wrong. I even have on tape the woman he says who identified the pictures for him saying he visited her home but she gave him no pictures. She gave them to another cousin who then shared them with him. Later, he said that the picture is Mattie Humphrey Wright, wife of Devil John. He uses another family website as a source -- one in which he told me was incorrect and not to be trused. Now I am in that category for him. And this has made him so mad he asked me to take any pictures I had taken of him off my stories and to not mention or imply that we had ever worked together. The pictures I removed. And it is easy to say we didn't work together because we didn't. We visited some graves together which I enjoyed very much, but they were ones I had general directions to and would have visited eventually. We never wrote anything together. We obvisoulsy couldn't have even a discussion about these two pictures. I am just posting what I found from my research. I am not bothered that he disagrees. I haven't been able to change my mind about who the pictures are because he has changed his identification at least three times and he hasn't been able to say who identified them.

So, look at the pictures. Read why I say they are who they are. Make your own decisions. I haven't had my cousin Almy ever steer me wrong on my identifications. This is my work. If you disagree, more power to you. Here is the original article:

We have always been told that there was Indian in the Wright family. The story that I did on Mary Wright and her Indian doll, plus her looks in some of the pictures her granddaughter, Daisy, had would support that. The story that Mary handed down to Daisy was that Joel went from Virginia to North Carolina for an apprentiship. He met an Indian woman and married her. She was given the English name of Susannah. She had no English name of Bates or Bentley as is sometimes given to her.

In another version of the story she was an Indian who was in or near Letcher county, but basically the same story.

Her daughter, Margaret, only spoke the Indian language. That is why she was termed "idiotic" by the census takers, who could not understand her.

Others say she was Dutch.

Jesse Wright, Bad John and Kinky Haired Sam were brothers. Their paternal grandparents were Joel Martin Wright and this Susannah. Their maternal grandparents were John Wallis Bates and Sarah Waltrip.

This picture has always been identified to me as Sarah Waltrip.

When Bad John died, one of his grandsons moved into his home. There was a bag of pictures left which belonged to John. In it, two were identified as Susannah Wright -- one a little older than the other. One of them is the picture I had previously been told was Sarah Waldrup. The grandson positively identified this picture as Susannah.

Here is the second picture of Susannah.

For myself, I have had the Sarah Waldrup picture ID for 40 years. I can't account for its source except from the internet and those who posted it in books which I had purchased.

Alma Meade Bolling, a great granddaughter of the first Susannah, also identified the two pictures as both being Susannah Wright. She is the daughter of Rhodes Meade and Lavina Houston. Rhodes was the son of James Madison Meade and Letitia Wright. Letitia was the daughter of Susannah "Big Susan" Wright. Her father is unknown. Big Susan was the daugther of Susan and Joel Wright.

Alma said her grandmother, Big Susan, looked just like the first Susannah. She said the pictures were not pictures of Sarah Waldrup and that they were not pictures of Big Susan.

So, from Alma, Mary, the grandsons of Devil John and names on the pictures themselves, these are two pictures of Susannah, the wife of Joel Wright.