Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

There are many signicant events which happened in our family in 2008. Here first are some of those who we lost during the year.


Edna Mae Bentley, born September 27, 1908 to Sherman & Ada Sergent Bentley married Willie D. Bentley, son of Otho & Sadie Collier Bentley. Aunt Edna died on March 3rd of this year.


Wayne Lee Greene was the son of Glenn Walter Greene and Stella Elizabeth Bentley. He ws born on September 22, 1935. He died in Sharonville, Ohio on May 8.


Lake Bentley Pass was born on December 21, 1919 in Letcher County, Kentucky to Otho & Nancy Alice Hall Bentley. She married Asberry "Berry" Pass. She died on June 5, 2008.

Lester D. "L. D." Bentley was the son of Benjamin E. "Ben" and Lola Bentley. Benjamin was the son of Elbert and Sabrina Craft Bentley.

This is the obiturary that ran in The Mountain Eagle:

Funeral services for Lester "L.D." Bentley, 81, of Millstone, were held June 14 at Everidge Funeral Home. Burial was in Green Acres Memorial Park at Ermine.
A son of the late Ben and Lola Lark Bentley, he died June 10 at Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital. He was a brother of the late Kenneth Bentley and Roberta Maggard.
He was a member of Lonesome Pine Masonic Lodge #884 and the Millstone Methodist Church.
Surviving are his wife, Billie Jean Bentley; four sons, Gary Bentley, Lakeland, Fla.; Daniel Gail Bentley and Ben Bentley, both of Millstone; and Tim Bentley, Georgetown; a daughter, Lisa Fleming, Neon; a sister, Millie Ann Burke, Green County; nine grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.


Jonah Mac Stodghill was only five days old when he died on December 20th. He was the great grandson of Jimmy & Vicky Long through their oldest daughter. He was the son of Alicia and Joseph Stodghill.

But there were additons to the family, too.

There was also an additon by marriage. James David Mullins and Casie Newkirk married on October 31st, their favorite holiday. "Jimbo" as we called him when he was young is the son of Jesse James Mullins and Debra Purvis.

We also had additions by birth....

Claire Elizabeth Mullins, daughter of Jason and Erika Mullins. Jason is my son. Claire is my granddaughter.

Elaina Noel Dursch decided to come on the day we had hurricane force winds from Ike which were called a dry hurricane in Ohio. Hundreds of thousands of people were without electric -- some for weeks from that 'dry' storm. Elaina is the daughter of Christina and Michael Dursch. Christina is the daughter of Gary & Donna Mullins Dursch. Donna is my sister.

Our Military Losses

There are three men that died within the last thirteen months who I would like to remember here at the end of the year -- only one is related by blood.

Ben Buster Taylor is related to us through the Bates. He retired from the military. He died in December of last year. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington Cemetery in January of this year.

Leapin' Larry LePage was a retired Navy Seal and Diver who died in the fall. He was a good friend of our cousin, Joe Bates. Joe sent me an email from John Roberts about the kindness and care that Joe took in Larry's care.

Last, our friends, Lynn and Cecelia Stiles, lost their son when he was killed while actively serving in Afghanistan. Lynn and Ceese are friends of the family who attend our Mullins family reunion from time to time.

Each of these men deserves his own blog entry.

Ben Buster Taylor

Ben Buster Taylor

Email from Joe Bates on January 6, 2008

His dads name was Bill Taylor who died when Ben was very young. Bill
Taylor was in the same line as Blaine Taylor in Whitaker -- above Seco,

His mother was Mattie Bates Taylor. She was in the same Bates line as Martin Bates of Thornton, Kentucky.

We moved to Millstone when I was 12 years old. Ben was 18 or 19 years old.

He rode an Indian motorcycle. He was good to me and let me ride behind him, and from then on I admired him.

He joined the army in 1948, on the way to Louisville to be sworn he got into a fight on the bus, he bit the other fellow’s fingers off and he was sent back to Millstone until 1949.

He went into the army in 1949 and stayed until he retired about 1972.

He was the Letcher county sheriff for 8 years.

Ben and I would come home on leave at the same time and spent most of our time in The Pound or Norton, Virginia drinking and fighting whomever cared to take us on. We were both single until I was 30 and he was older before we settled down.

He spent about all of his military time in the airborne and Special Forces, I spent most of my time as a diver.

Ben and I talked a lot about him working from the sky and me working underwater.

Back to bens mother, she raised Ben and his sister by having a one room store on the old road in millstone in competition with the southeast commissary and she did well. Her little store was still going when the commissary closed.

Ben was a combat soldier of Korea and Vietnam wars and was highly decorated. He was the most decorated veteran from Letcher County, Kentucky.

He was a big brother to me and I have been heartbroken with his passing.
I wanted to go to Arlington but could not due to some biopsies that had to be taken that day.

May his soul rest in peace.

Joe Bates

Late sheriff will get honors at Arlington

Mountain Eagle 12/19/2007

Ben Buster Taylor of Millstone, a highly-decorated veteran and a former Letcher
County sheriff, died December 12 at the age of 71 after a long battle with cancer.

His ashes will be buried with full military honors January 4 at Arlington National Cemetery.

At Letcher County's annual Veterans Day celebration this year, the day of November 10 was declared "Ben B. Taylor Day" in honor of the retired sergeant major with the United States Army Special Forces, known also as the Green Berets.

Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward said of Taylor, who was unable to attend the event, he "bravely served his country for over 20 years through two wars and remains today as one of the county's most highly decorated war veterans."

Taylor served in both Korea and Vietnam and was one of the first regular Army soldiers to join the Special Forces. Taylor represented the Green Berets as a pallbearer during the funeral of former President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in November 1963. His rank of sergeant major is the highest an enlisted person can hold in the U.S. Army.

After leaving the military, Taylor owned and operated a trucking company before being elected Sheriff of Letcher County.

In 2004 he established the Letcher County Veterans Memorial Museum. He spent countless hours gathering military-related memorabilia for the museum so community members can view some of the military history of the county.

"I wanted to have something to show Letcher Countians about veterans of this county," Taylor told The Mountain Eagle in August 2004.

Remembering Ben 'Buster' Taylor

Mountain Eagle January 8, 2008

To the Editor:

On January 4, 2008, it was my privilege and honor to witness the burial of CSM (R) Ben "Buster" Taylor in plot 64 of Arlington National Cemetery. It was clear, cold, windy day unable to shake or quiver the professionalism of the soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry (the Old Guard) and the Masons that helped to lay to rest Ben Buster.

As I stood there, I wondered if the citizens of Letcher County realized what a tremendous loss to our nation the passing of Ben Taylor was.

Around me were men Ben had served with in the fields of Vietnam. I wondered what stories they could tell about the experience of serving with "Jake". Ben told me the first time I met him in the old Whitesburg Post Office (former site of the Letcher County Veterans Museum) that his nickname when he was a soldier was "Jake."

Ben was in the first U.S. Army unit designated as a Special Forces unit. Special Forces are often the first in and last out. They operate in 12-man teams working with indigenous forces trying to mold and shape U.S. foreign policy. Their tasks are thankless and their motto is "de oppresso liber" - free from oppression. They are the silent warriors that protect our nation and its way of life. Ben was one of the founding members of this elite group of warriors that today serve across the
world helping to liberate from oppression.

As many folks in Letcher County know, Ben was selected to be the Army Special Forces representative to help escort President Kennedy's caisson from the U.S. Capitol building to its interment. In the visitor center of Arlington National Cemetery is a picture of President Kennedy's casket (on the caisson) with members of the Department of Defense escorting it. If you look real close, you can see a Green Beret (Ben "Buster" Taylor). In an organization of so many special people (all volunteers), what kind of man is selected to represent a unique breed of warrior? What kind of soldier represents those silent professionals is arguably one of the greatest moments of grief in our nation's history - the funeral of President John F. Kennedy? The answer is Ben "Buster" Taylor.

Ben went on to achieve the rank of command sergeant major (CSM), the highest enlisted rank a soldier can achieve. In order to achieve that rank he was promoted nine times. In order for an officer to be promoted nine times he/she would have to achieve the rank of lieutenant general. How many people get promoted nine times in their job? Ben "Buster" was a silent warrior and his career as a soldier epitomized those special and unique abilities required for success as a Special Forces professional.

I only met Ben twice (both times in Whitesburg). He was older and did not move as fast as he once did, but his eyes were intense and focused. He was a soldier that served four tours in Vietnam and one in Korea. Five years away from his beloved eastern Kentucky in a 22-year career.

I have served in four wars (Operation Just Cause, Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom) and I know what a soldier looks and acts like. I have led men into combat and seen what men must do in war. I was humbled to be in his presence. Only time and cancer could do what no man was able to do to this silent warrior - defeat his body.

Our nation is lesser because of his loss. I only hope there is some young man or woman in the hills of eastern Kentucky that will pick up the torch of freedom that Ben "Buster" so courageously carried.

My greatest fear is when my day of reckoning comes and I meet my maker, I see CSM Ben "Buster" Taylor guarding the pearly gates. Before I can get to see God and stand before the book of life, I must pass through Ben "Buster". I only hope my life as a soldier and a man can stand up to the scrutiny of a Special Forces soldier that lived, loved and served our nation as honorably and courageously as he did.

Ben "Buster", until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

G.D. GUTHRIE Lieutenant Colonel U.S.

Leapin' Larry LePage

Larry LePage
Email from John Roberts to Joe Bates and others

Teammates and Friends,

Our old friend and Teammate 'Leaping Larry' LePage passed away a little over two months ago. I had the pleasure of knowing him for many years, from our time in the Teams on the Silver Strand in the late '60's up until recently in Louisiana. For the last dozen years or so I was his unofficial 'Duty Driver' there on the Westbank. Though Larry could be a bit of a pain in the ass at times, as many of you know, he was a good guy at heart, and I recall our many escapades and adventures with much affection.
During his final illness I was out of the country, and another good friend of many years, both of mine and Larry's, stepped in to render all the assistance he possibly could to a dying Shipmate. Joe Bates was with Larry nearly every day from the time he learned of his illness right up to the time he passed away, and at the request of Larry's daughters, took possession of Larry's remains after cremation.
I had the honor of taking possession of Larry's ashes from this fine friend, CPO and Master Diver Joe Bates, and I brought them with me to San Diego to return to his family. Friends of Larry's signed the attached letter I have just sent to CPO Bates in appreciation of his noble service to a Shipmate. I also include photos of when I took possession from Joe, and of where his ashes rested at Rat Miller's in Texas until the two of us brought Larry the rest of the way home, home to the Silver Strand where he spent the best years of his life.

I was able to talk to many of Larry's friends while in San Diego, friends from his Class #19, from Team 11 and SEAL Team 1. Without exception they all remembered Larry fondly and every one had some sort of story to tell and every Man Jack of them considered Larry to have been a good operator. His awards received in the heat of combat in Viet Nam also attest to this. No SEAL could ask for a better epitaph.

Larry had many friends in the New Orleans area as well, friends from the days after his retirement from the Navy when he was a Diving Supervisor for Taylor Diving & Salvage, and in the years after that when he was a Diving Consultant and Welding Inspector. Three of the best of these, who did many favors for Larry, especially after his stroke, were Mike Large, Rocky Mandible and Butch Jones. SEAL Roy Grey also was a part of this group prior to his death.

Farewell Larry, you were an ornery old SOB but we loved you and you were a damn fine Teammate as well.

Rest in Peace,

John Roberts

. . . . . . . .Joe Bates at his home in Louisiana.

Jon Stiles

Dayton Daily News
November 18, 2008

Spc. Jon Stiles, a no-nonsense outdoors enthusiast with Miami Valley ties who refused medical leave after being injured in a bombing in October was killed Thursday, Nov. 13, in another bombing in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, the Defense Department said.

Lynn Stiles, the soldier's father who lives in Butler Twp., said his son lived in the Miami Valley from 2004-06 after he was discharged from the Marines and Army.

He moved to his childhood home in Colorado to join the National Guard. Jon Stiles, of Highlands Ranch, was 38.

"He had a great, great sense of honor," Lynn Stiles said Monday, Nov. 17.

Jon Stiles was awarded the Bronze Star for the October incident that left him with vocal chord and lung damage. A transport vehicle traveling in front of Stiles' vehicle was bombed. He crawled under it to free two soldiers under heavy fire, Lynn Stiles said.

On Nov. 13, an "improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle" and caused the injuries that led to his death, according to the Defense Department.

After growing up in Colorado, Stiles enlisted in and spent nearly 13 years in the Marines after high school. He spent more than two years in the Army before moving to the Miami Valley to help with his father's printing equipment business, Miyakoshi America.

"On the day he left (the Army), he said, 'I should have stayed,' " Lynn Stiles said.

Jon Stiles joined a National Guard unit in Colorado slated for deployment to Iraq. When those plans were postponed, he moved to a unit set for deployment to Afghanistan.

Stiles was assigned to the 927th Engineer Company (Sapper), 769th Engineer Battalion, Louisiana Army National Guard in Baton Rouge. His specialty, Lynn Stiles said, was "hitting very small targets from very far away."

Stiles' interests leaned toward outdoor life. One famous family photo shows him fishing in temperatures 20 degrees below zero. "He would go fishing in a blizzard," Lynn Stiles said.
Today, Nov. 18, would have been Stiles' eighth wedding anniversary, his father said.

Dayton Daily News
News Death Notice

STILES, Spc. Jon of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, died November 13, 2008 after being wounded by a roadside bomb in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Jon, a decorated war hero, was a member of the Colorado Army National Guard State Honor Guard. He was a Soldier in the 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery, but was augmenting the 927th Engineer Company, Louisiana Army National Guard. He was mobilized for Afghanistan in March 2008.

Jon was 38 yrs. old, born July 6, 1970, in Bartlesville, OK. Jon loved serving in the armed forces as evidenced by his service in the Marine Corp., the Army, and in the National Guard. Jon was a proud patriot who enthusiastically re-enlisted to serve his country.

Jon is survived by his wife, Launa Stiles. He is also survived by his father Lynn Stiles with wife Cecilia and brother Kenneth of Dayton, Ohio. His sister, Sr. Airman Natalie Stiles at Lackland AFB San Antonio; Texas, his brother Charles Lynn Stiles, with his wife Laura and their children Nathan and Jessica of Grandview, MO., his mother Linda Barnett and her husband Larry, of Springfield, MO; and his grandparents, Maxine and Kenneth Stiles in Lockwood, MO. Jon also leaves a large extended family of cousins and friends.

Jon enjoyed playing golf and was an avid fly fisherman. Funeral arrangements have not been finalized, but memorial services will be held at Mountainview Community Christian Church, in Highlands Ranch, CO. Date and time will be posted on the churchs web site:

Jon will be laid to rest at Ft. Logan National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the Stiles family suggests donations to the Colorado National Guard Foundation, 6848 S. Revere Parkway, Centennial, CO 80112 or to a charity of your choice.

These pictures were on of the arrival of Jon's body and his funeral.

Please click on this link or copy and paste it to go the blog where Jon's arrival home and his funeral were captured in moving words and pictures:
There is also a slideshow of pictures taken at the funeral and one of Jon in happier times at his address:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Devil John Wright by J. Frederick Quillen

This is part of a chapter that was sent to me about Devil John Wright. He was my great grandfather, William Jesse Wright's brother. He is probably in the Kentucky portion of the family, one of the most well known persons in the family. Many people in Eastern Kentucky trace a connection to him. He is known as a hero to many. He was a Devil to others. Others think of him as romantic because of his many women. I have never understood that view.

Let a woman have one man outside of marriage and she is a whore. And let her have a child out of wedlock even if the union was brought about against her will and she is damaged goods. John Wright is thought of as quite a ladies man. I do not think of him as a hero or a romantic figure.

I thought John learned to be hard and to take life in the Civil War. Then I read the accounting of the death of Reuben Potter. I know the general story goes that he was in service and heard that his children were without shoes and he deserted to take care of their needs. Not quite true. He joined one day and deserted the next. I have that story in its own blog. .

John helped the coal companies to steal the mineral rights from his family and neighbors. He wanted his uncle, Sam Wright's, mineral rights and Sam refused to sell. John threatened the lives of Sam's children if he did not sell. He didn't do the killing himself. He talked a nephew into doing the work and had Joel Wright and his wife Margaret Greer killed. Sam got 25 cents for his mineral rights.

I have a lot of stories that I have picked up from interviews with family. I am sorry that the article which follows is not complete. I would love to have the rest of the chapter and the entire book. I would would love to know who J. Frederick Quillen was and if he were a descendent of Elizabeth Wright and Henry Quillen.

This is not your typical story about John Wright.

. . . . .Devil John Wright by J. Frederick Quillen .

During the turbulent time of the Federal Union’s War against the Southern States to the beginning of the 20th century, one of the wildest and most lawless areas of the civilized world was the high-mountain country along the border between Southwest Virginia and Eastern Kentucky.

The country was torn by personal squabbles, shifting alliances, and deadly feuds among individuals, families, and local governments – one day’s law enforcement officers and bounty hunters might well be the next day’s outlaws and bushwhackers. Physical confrontations, killings and murders were common occurrences.

Wise County was the worst – men such as Talt Hall and Doc Taylor rampaged across the mountains, yet they were gifted with warm eccentric, engaging personalities and, by the time they were hanged, they had evolved into folk heroes.

But the blackest heart of all the Wise County bad men apparently possessed no redeeming qualities – John Wright was a cruel and evil man, who well deserved his popular title, Devil John Wright.

John Wright was an inveterate liar and braggart. What little good that may have existed in his tortured soul was smothered by his own grandiose self-promotion and by his cruel, shameless deeds.

John Wright was born in Letcher County, Kentucky, sometime around 1842-1844. His mother was a Bates, a family which included a myriad of colorful characters. The famous giant, Captain Martin “Baby” Bates, was John Wright’s uncle.

Shortly after the Civil War began, John Wright joined the loosely-organized Confederate forces in the area and soon ended up riding with Lt.-Colonel Clarence Prentice and his 7th Battalion Confederate Calvary, a mixed bag of Virginia and Kentucky intellectuals, criminals, mountain men and misfits.

Wright claimed that he was a scout and courier for the Confederates. In later life, he was fond of relating numerous heroic adventures during his time in the service. He claimed to have been wounded several times and proudly exhibited scars on his body. He attributed his pronounced limp to an encounter with the Yankees.

It is known that John Wright was both an organizer and patron of the infamous wartime brothel at Castlewoods. After Castlewoods’ chief pimp, Sid Cook, was killed by a homeboy on leave from Confederate service, irate citizens burned the whorehouse, and John Wright fled to his parents’ home, taking one of the prostitutes with him. John’s father, however, forbade his son bringing the whore into the home, so John set her up in a nearby cabin. The kindhearted whore, Mattie, subsequently gave birth to several of his children – she was, by all accounts, a good woman and a loving mother, but she was badly mistreated by John.

John Wright’s career shifted continuously from outlaw to law officer to bounty hunter; sometimes he wore all three hats at once. A man of strong persuasion and fearsome temper, violent men gravitated toward him. He frequently formed gangs, which operated first on one side of the law, then on the other. Wright, to whom loyalty meant nothing, would “apprehend” members of his own gang if the reward was substantial. At times, Wright signed on with the hated Pinkerton Detective agency. He even worked for the Yankee coal-mining companies, strong-arming the local citizens into selling their beloved land (or mineral rights) for little or nothing.

Wright avoided fair fights and preferred “to get the drop” on his adversaries and to shoot first and ask questions later. Whether in a fair fight or foul, Wright was a crack shot. He also had a flair for the dramatic. He boasted: “I could shoot from a galloping horse – Indian style, by swinging down the opposite side of the horse holding on to the mane with one hand and firing my pistol from under the horse’s neck.”

When not killing, bushwhacking, capturing, robbing, or swindling his fellow man, John Wright’s leisure time was given over to sloth, alcoholism and the practice of cruelty. Vicious savageries were inflicted upon his several wives and whores, upon his many children, and even against his farm animals and horses.

He was overly fond of liquor and stayed drunk a good deal of the time. Wright supervised a profitable moon shining business, whose day-to-day operation of the stills and barrel houses were supervised by two of his elder sons, James and Joel. The Wrights were also known for their excellent peach and apple brandy.

In the cold winter months, John Wright spent most of each day in bed, with a mound of covers pulled over his head, occasionally rousing from his drunken stupor to spit out orders to the members of the household. And, woe to the woman or child who did not jump fast enough – it was said that you could instantly identify a member of Wright’s household by the horrendous bruises, cuts and scars upon the victim’s face and arms. It was rumored that he had beaten to death at least two of his female companions and an unknown number of his children.

John Wright was dishonest and stingy. He would hire workers to labor upon his large, prosperous farm, then refused to pay them or pay only a fraction of what he had previously agreed. He bragged that he worked from sunup to sundown; but, in later years, a son bitterly complained, “If that old devil ever hit a lick at a snake, I never seen it. He was as lazy and triflin’ as they come.”

John Wright disliked farmers and he abused common working people; he fawned over professional men – judges, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, etc. He was addicted to telling greatly inflated and exaggerated stories of his exploits to the well-to-do, and they, in turn, created a glowing legend of John Wright.

The story Wright told of the treasured pistol he constantly wore at his side is a good example of both his flights of fancy and his extreme conceit. He claimed that the legendary Frank and Jesse James, having heard of Wright’s fame, traveled to Wise County to seek his advice and friendship. The James boys supposedly presented the pistol to John Wright in appreciation for his words of wisdom and encouragement. At other times, with equal fervor, Wright claimed that he took the pistol from a Yankee laid low on the banks of the Mississippi.

Even by mountain standards, Wright went to horrible extremes in his cruelty to animals. He delighted in arranging for animals to tear each other apart – cockfighting was a favorite, but he also set dogs against dogs, dogs against bulls, and even dogs against hogs.

Wright especially loved to torture pigs and hogs. While area farmers and stockmen humanely killed swine with a shot or a quick heavy blow to the head, John Wright slicked the flesh open with a knife or hatchet and gleefully watched as the animal ran around the farm squealing in intense pain, until I finally dropped dead from loss of blood. In another barbarous amusement, he would heat an iron or poker until red hot, then ram the iron into the animal’s ….

And that is all that was sent to me from the excerpt from the book containing a chapter on John Wright. I would love to see the rest of the chapter. I would love to see the entire book. I would also like to figure out who J. Frederick Quillen was – where he fell in the Quillen family and if he were a descendent of Elizabeth Wright who married Henry Quillen. If you know more about the book or Mr. Quillen, please let me know.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mary Houston

. Mary Houston

Mary Houston was the daughter of Nathaniel "Thaney" Houston. She was their oldest child and was born in 1867. She never married, but had five children some with Samuel Bentley and the last two by Reuben Potter.
When Mary had her first child, her sister, Lavina "Viney" Houston and Viney's husband, Rhodes Meade said he would take care of her with his family so long as she had no more children. Mary got pregnant again and Rhodes stopped helping her. He simply couldn't afford to feed any other mouths.

Mary's children were Annie, John, James, Maggie Jane and Leonard that I know of. The 1900 census said she had 5 children and 5 were living. In 1910 it said she had six children and six were living.
When Maggie Jane was a teenager she started going to my grandmother Cora's home to help cook and clean for the church and for the boarders that Cora kept. Eliza Jane would be around and this was during a time when Eliza was running around. Mary's sister, Hannah, told Mary that on one night when Maggie stayed all night that Maggie was actually out running with Eliza and Morg Reynolds and another man who was involved in the KKK in Letcher county. When Maggie came home Mary said she had had children without being married but she would not let that happen to Maggie. She nearly beat her to death that day. Alma said that Maggie had not been out running around and never understood why Hannah had told that story. Maggie had just been cooking and cleaning.
Some in the family asked Mary why she never married and why she had children by Reuben Potter. She said it was just the way things were and she had not wanted it that way. Reuben was married to Arminda Hall. For a while he would bring two sacks of meal to Mary on Friday nights and spend time with her. Mary said had it not been for Reuben she could not have fed her family.
Sam Bentley was the son of John Manuel Bentley and Elizabeth. Sam came thru the Daniel Bentley line. Sam was born in 1867. He died on July 14 of 1897. If that is true, then I don't know who the father of John and James were.

Reuben Potter was the son of Isaac and Elizabeth Emeline Bentley Potter. Reuben married Arminda Hall.
I have an Annie as a daugther of Mary and Sam. I don't know her birth date or what happened to her.
John Huston was born in May of 1889. He married a lady named Alice June. He died in 1962.
James Houston was born in 1891. I don't know who he married, but he had a son named Charlie Houston. Charlie has a son named Carolos. Carols has a daughter named Pamela.
Leonard born in July 1899. He married Goldie and they had a daughter named Helen Janet. Helen married Harley Murphy.
Maggie Jane was born December 27, 1894. She married James Monroe Hall. James was the son of Samuel Q. Hall and Louisa Angeline Baker. This was his second marriage. He was first married to Nancy Ooten. They had ten children. James was born in 1867 so he was quite a bit older than Maggie.
. Maggie holding Dewey, James M. Hall & little James in front

. This is another picture of Maggie's family. It is tiny and that's the way it came to me.

Maggie and James had five children: Dewey William, Leonard, George "Rattlesnake", James and Marie.

. Dewey, Leonard & George Hall

Dewey married Effie Blanche Lucas. They had Freda June, Dewey, Verita, and Eyvonne. June married a Whitehead.
. Dewey William Hall

. Dewey William Hall (1916-1991)

. Dewey & his wife, Effie Lucas and their daughters.

Leonard married a Hall. He died at Thornton in 1988.

George "Rattlesnake" married a Baker. He died in 1989.

James died in 1991.

That in a nutshell is what I know about Mary and her family. There are cousins who descend through Mary, but I haven't gotten any information about their families or lives to add to this though the pictures I have of Dewey and family came from cousin June.

I was so glad to find a picture of Mary. I think she looks very stylish in it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Eliza Jane Wright Houston Bentley

Eliza Jane Wright Houston Bentley

Eliza Jane
Eliza Jane

Ma Murphy (Glenn Murphy's mother - Glenn married Vera Mullins daughter of James Mullins and Cora Wright), Mr Perkins (a neighbor) and Eliza.

David Bentley and his great aunt Eliza. David is the son of Lonnie and Ival Collier Bentley. Lonnie was the son of Cora Wright.

I have talked about Susan Wright. She was the first child of William Jesse Wright. Her mother was Mary Brummett. Jesse had no children with his first wife, Elizabeth Moore. When he married the third time to Maggie Perdue they had two children: Cora Emmazetta, my grandmother and Eliza Jane Wright.
Eliza Jane was born on July 4, 1886.

She first married Oliver Denton "Denton" Houston. Denton was the son of Thaney and Betsy Houston. Denton was a brother to Annie Houston who married Joshua Mullins and Olvin Houston who married her sister, Susan.

I guess in our mixed up family this means that since Annie and Joshua were the parents of James Mullins who Cora married that Cora's sisters, Susan and Eliza were her aunts by marriage.
Druscilla "Siller" Houston was born on May 27, 1903. Maggie Elizabeth was born May 10, 1905. Susan T. Houston was born on July 24, 1907.

Little Susan died on August 23, 1907. She is buried up on the hill behind Denton's house at Goose Creek. She is one of the little graves that was supposed to be beside Janie McCray's grave. It was not marked with a stone, though we could tell the area it was in.

Maggie had an illness when she was a baby that left her deaf. They took her all over for treatment, but she never regained her hearing.

Eliza was not a faithful wife, and she and Denton divorced. Maggie and Siller stayed with Denton.
.. Maggie and Siller Houston

Eliza next married Samuel Bentley. He was the son of Solomon and Mary Jane Bentley Bentley. Samuel was the brother of Ermon Bentley. Ermon was Cora Bentley's first husband. So again, now Cora's sister, Eliza was also technically her sister-in-law. If we work at it a little we can probably fit that song "I'm My Own Grandpa."

With Sam, Eliza had seven more children: Ola Mae, Lona Mae, Cora L., Nora Hazel, Samuel L. Lola Bernice and Viola.

Ola Mae married Martin Holbrook. I haven't done a lot of work on them, but so far I know that they had three children: Woody, Marty and Joe.

Lona Mae was born in 1913. She died on August 19, 1915. The death certificate said she died of an accidental gun shot round in the head. The death was at 6 a.m. The information was provided by Ermon Bentley, Sam's brother. Alma said that Lona pulled a shotgun out of the closet and it went off killing her. The part I didn't get on the death certificate was that it was marked as a suicide. Accidental I can buy, but I don't understand a two year old having "suicide" on their death certificate.

Cora married Luther "Red" Anderson. They moved to Arizona. I don't know that she ever suffered with TB as her siblings had, but they never returned to live in the mountains.

Eliza's husband, Sam, died of pulmonary tuberculosis in 1934.

Nora Hazel married Leon Sturgill. She was only 19 when she died of pulmonary tuberculosis in 1936.

Samuel L., Jr. married a Crennia. He died of pulmonary tuberculosis in 1941 when he was 21.

Lola Bernice married Chester Patterson. She had a daughter Eliza F. Patterson. Lola died when she was 16 of pulmonary tuberculosis. Her baby was a year old.

Viola married a Holland.

Siller Houston holding baby Sam Bentley, Maggie Houston, Cora Bentley Anderson in front of Siller and Nora Hazel Bentley next to Cora.

Siller had 8 children with R. B.: George Earl, Mac, Earl, Denton, Archie, Lorean, Douglas & Esti. Archie is the one who described the Houston Cemetery to me so that I could locate Thaney and Betsy's graves. Siller lived to be 83. She died in 1986.

Maggie never married. She lived most of her life with Siller and R. B. Her obituary read:

Maggie Elizabeth Houston passed away Friday, April 27, 2001 at the
Whitesburg Applaachian Regional Health Care Center. Maggie is the daugther of Denton and Eliza Jane (Wright) Houston. She was born May 10, 1905 being 95 years, 11 months and 17 days of age at the time of her passing.
Surviving are 7 nephews: George Meade of Potters Fork, Denton Meade
of Ohio, Archie Meade of Fleming and Mac Meade of Louisville, Woody Holbrook,
Marty Holbrook and Joe Holbrook all of Mayking, 1 niece Loraine Armstrong of
Lorain, Ohio and 1 half sister Ola Mae Holbrook of Mayking along with a host of
great nieces, great nephews. Other relatives and friends to mourn her passing.

Maggie was prededed in death by 5 sisters: Siller Meade, Viola Holland, Cora Anderson, Lola Bentley and Nora Hazel Bentley and 1 brother, Samuel Bentley.
Funeral services for Maggie Elizabeth Houston were held on May 1, 2001 at the Fleming Church of God. Officiant Marvin Sherlin. Concluding services at the Green Acres Cemetery, Ermine, KY. Letcher Funeral Home of Whitesburg, KY in charge of the arrangements.

Eliza went to Arizona to visit Cora and Red. She, too, decided to stay and never lived in the mountains again. Viola followed her and lived and died in Arizona, too.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Susan and Olvin

Olvin was not a good husband. He was tolerable for a while. Susan's sister (half sister) Eliza married Olvin's brother Denton. Eliza began having an affair with John Potter. Susan helped her to hide it by letting Eliza and John meet at her home. When Olvin found out what was going on he changed toward Susan. He didn't try to hide that he was seeing other women. He even brought them home with the children that he had had with them and made Susan cook and clean up after them. The child Alvin that I had listed as Olvin and Susan's child was actually one of the children that Olvin had with one of the women that he brought home.

When Olvin was killed Susan was pregnant. Their son, who she named Denton, was born after Olvin died. She took in wash and eeked by a living. Cousin Alma said she had other men in her life, but that she definitely married a Yonts before she married Noah Burcham. She said Noah was good to Susan and they were happy together.

Alma said the sisters Susan, Eliza and Cora all had different men in their lives when they were young, but that after they married and matured they were all good women. She called them "rounders" in their youth.

Susan went on to be known as Mother Houston.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Archelaus Craft

Archelaus Craft was born on December 25, 1749 in North Carolina. He married Elizabeth "Betsy" Adams on December 1, 1785.

He was a Revolutionary War Soldier. In his pension application he states that he was born on the Roanoke River in North Carolina on Christmas day, 1749. He served three tours in the North Carolina Militia. He first volunteered in 1778 for three months and marched against the Indians while assisting the British. In 1780, he volunteered for nine months and took part in the Battle of Hanging Rock and fought at Eutaw Springs. In 1781, he volunteered for three additional months after which he was honorably discharged at Saulsberry, N.C.

He migrated to Upper Kentucky River Valley in 1804 and is recognized in a Highway marker two miles east of Whitesburg, Kentucky at Ermine, JCT KY 119 & 2034. He was a founder of the Indian Bottom Church.

In the 1850 census for Letcher County, Kentucky Archelous was listed as 96, a farmer born in North Carolina. He was living with his second wife Scena who was 80 and a 15 year old Harvy Pritchet, the grandson of Charity and Harvey Pritchard.

A bicentennial article in the Greenup County paper reports that Archelous split 100 rails on his 100th birthday. He lived to be 103.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Olvin Houston - the family story

I called my cousin, Alma. Olvin Houston was her uncle. Olvin's sister, Lavina who married Rhodes Meade, was Alma's mother. Olvin died in 1919 when Alma was one year old.

In the court appeal the story goes that Olvin and his cousin, Grant Wright, were out drinking and causing general mayhem by shooting around town when they felt like it. Olvin, known for singing, was doing that also. They went to bed at a relatives house and got up and started over again. Henry "Mac" McClees, the local deputy sheriff, was aware of the goings on. Grant's brother went to McCleese home and told him if he went after the pair that they had already said they would shoot him (McClees). Mac finally did go after them and even though he had first refused to go, Nathan was with Mac and Thomas Quillen when the arrest was attempted. Grant greeted the trio with a "hello buddy", and Mac told them they were under arrest. Grant pulled his gun to shoot which Nathan was able to wrestle away from him. Olvin shot Mac in the side and Mac returned fire killing him. Quillen and Mac both told that story. Nathan testified that there was no conversation before Mac shot Olvin except him saying "I am your brother," to Grant before he wrestled the gun away from him.

It is a strange story to me. I wondered why Mac would be found guilty when this happened during an arrest situation, but he was found guilty and the appeals court though sympathetic to the defendant, upheld the verdict.

Alma told me the story that was told to her as a girl and as she was growing up. She said Quillen, Nathan and McClees went after Olvin to kill him. Grant was with Olvin down by the railroad tracks, but they weren't sure exactly where Olvin was standing. Nathan hollered to Olvin to sing a song, which he did thus letting them know where he was in the dark. Nathan shot and killed Olvin. He then ordered Grant to shoot him saying that if he refused he would testify that Grant did the killing. Grant shot Olvin after he was dead. Then Mac, took it on that he had killed Olvin.

I asked her why Mac would take the blame if he didn't shoot Olvin at all. She said she didn't know. They never knew why Nathan killed him except some of the Wrights would just shoot people for no reason.

Did Mac take the blame thinking that he would not be charged or spend time in prison if he were supposedly in the act of arresting Olvin? Was there maybe no warning that he was the law and there to arrest Olvin and Grant making the townspeople feel that it was out of the scope of Mac's duty as the law? Obviously, there was more to the story than the words in the appeal.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Olvin Huston

While researching Susan Wright Huston's children, I ran into this court appeal for the man who shot Olvin. I did not know that Olvin had been shot. I had not run into a death certificate. It always amazes me when the deaths which are homicide don't end up having a death certificate that you can find.

The gist is that Olvin was drunk and disorderly and Henry McClees was trying to arrest him and shots were fired. Obviously, since he was a sheriff and this could easily have been declared a man being shot in the line of duty, there must have been something else going on for Henry to have gone to trial. Henry was found guilty of murder and sent to prison for three years. He appealled the decision. This is the court record I found of the appeal.


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

1. Homicide — Conviction of Manslaughter Held sustained by Evidence.

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.


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.


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 RESISTING 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.


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 McClees 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 Quillen, and he summoned these two men to assist him in arresting Houston and Grant Wright. The three proceeded in the direction of the shoot out, 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 defendent Quillen and thereby prevented him from sо 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.

[2] 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.

This information was found online in a digital book called The Southwestern Reporter starting on page 1065.

Baby Huston Johnson

I have been reading interviews that contain bits and pieces about Olvin Wright. He must have been as mean as they come. In one piece it talked about him having a son, Alvin by another woman than his wife, Susan Wright. It said he brought the boy and his mother home and Susan had to let them in and not say anything. It said she was scared not to do what Olvin said.

In an interview with Alma Meade Bolling, Flossie Meade and Roy Meade they went on to say that Baby Johnson was originally called Mary for Susan's mother, Mary Brumett. Olvin got mad at his mother-in-law and forbid anyone to ever call the child Mary again. Now I know from the birth record that she was originally called Cora E. However, having a name given at birth is no guarantee that that child will keep or even be called anything like their birth name. So Cora, called Mary, then Baby was a result of anger with Susan's mother, Mary by her son -in-law, Olvin Huston.

The second birth named Cora was referred to as Cora Lee by Alma and her siblings. I am going to ask Alma to talk to me about Susan and Olvin.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Jonah Mac Stodghill

Uncle Willie and Aunt Edna Bentley had a daughter named Atha Delores Bentley. She married James Keith "Jimmy" Long. Delores and Jimmy's son Jimmy was born in 1951. Jimmy married Vicky. Their oldest daughter lost her grandson, Jonah Mac Stodghill.

Jonah Mac Stodghill, five day old son of Alicia and Joseph Stodghill passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, December 20th in Guymon. Funeral services are being planned for Wednesday, December 24th.

Jimmy, the child's great grandfather, sent me this information and a link for little Jonah's guest book that we could sign, but the link did not work for me.

Keep Jimmy and his family in your prayers during this loss of Jonah. Jimmy said, "

this is our great grandson, please keep his mother. father and grandmother
(our oldest daughter) in your prayers as they go through this trying
time especially at this time of year, Jonah, great grandpa and
great grand ma love you, we know that you are with GOD now, why, we don't
know but we know he has bigger needs for you
we love you

Susan's Children

Well, this is interesting to me. When I was going deeper into Susan's children I started by trying to find out who Baby was so that I would know who Susan was upset with. What I found was that she had two children named Cora.

The first Cora was born Cora E. Houston. She was born February 4, 1912.

The second Cora was born September 18, 1914.

Susan had a sister named Cora Emmazetta, my grandmother.

Apparently, the person she was angry with was my grandmother. Then she began calling the first Cora, Baby. It also seems likely that she got over the anger and named the second daugher Cora.

Cora E. "Baby" Huston married Morg Johnson. I found the death certificate for Baby Johnson. It said she died on September 8, 1996 in Loraine, Ohio. Her birthdate was listed as February 4, 1912. Her father was listed as "Houston" and her mother "Wright". That would account for Baby.

The second Cora married a Teague. She died January 27, 2002 in Kentucky.

Also, in the 1910 Census there is a daughter listed as being one month old who was named Anna. In the 1920 Census there is no Anna. Based on birthdates though, Velva was born April 12, 1910. I believe the daughter who was first called Anna became Velva making her name either Anna Velva or Velva Anna or just a new name that Susan called her later on.

I heard that one of the Hargis Hustons went to jail. I don't know whether it was Susan's child or one of the ones in another generation. I did find that Velva Huston was listed as the mother of Hargus Hall who was born in 1948. I would like to talk to this Hargus to see what he knows of family history. I don't know yet what Hall that Velva married.

Mother Houston Part 2

Susan Wright (1879-1978) and Aulden "Olvin" Huston (1880-1919)

Susan, Olvin, Hargis and Charley.

I wrote about Susan Wright in June. I knew at that time that she was the daughter of William Jesse Wright and his second wife, Mary Brummett.

She was married three times that I knew of: first Samuel Vanover. She married him when she was 13 to get away from her step-mother. She was a widow at age 18. She next married Auden G. "Olvin" Huston who was the son of Thaney and Betsy. They had seven children: Baby (who was born after 1901 and died before 1910), Hargis, Charley, Anna, Velva, Baby (who had another name, but when Susan got mad at the namesake she called her Baby ever after), Cora, Olvin and Jame Denton. She also took care of two children that Olvin had with other women, one of whom was Alvin.

Aulden -- and their names have always driven me crazy since they were called something else, is the O. B. Huston whose tombstone I found at Goose Creek. He died in 1919. He had another child with Mary Collier, daughter of Stephen and Mary Meade Collier. Her name was Hattie.

Now my thought were that poor old Susan pined away after Olvin died until she married in 1945 to Noah Burcham. Ha! She married at least two other times. I am reading the interviews of my cousins and will update the story when I get through them. Susan was married at least five times.

The reason I did bring her up is I found pictures of her and I did not want to wait til I got through the research before sharing them.

Susan was my grandmother, Cora Wright's half sister. I can't wait to get through the interviews and tell you more about Susan.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Guess who is coming to dinner?

I found this among some Mullins pictures. It was taken on Mullins land and reminded me of a story that I heard from Uncle Glen and Aunt Vera last year. This coon is no where near the size of the one in the story.Here is the story:

January 27, 2007

Tonight I attended the wedding of my cousin, Laura’s son, Billy. While talking with Uncle Glenn I mentioned that I was fine and so were the coons in my attic. He started chuckling and asked if I had heard about the folks who kept a raccoon as a pet. I had not and he proceeded to tell the following.

James Mullins (his father-in-law and my maternal grandfather) lived next door to relatives named Quillen who kept a raccoon as a pet. It was kept on a chain outside in the yard like a dog would be. One day the Mullins had the Quillens over for dinner. The Mullins house had a screened in porch on the front and the back of the house. They were all sitting around the dinner table when they heard the back door slam and they all waited to see who else was coming in to dinner. Enter the raccoon. Uncle Glenn said that James Mullins didn’t hold to having ANY animals in the house and proceeded to get up and yell at the raccoon to GET OUT. It just looked at him and stood still. James rared back to kick the raccoon and before he knew it the raccoon wrapped around his leg and went to nipping at him. James and the raccoon danced toward the back door and by the time he got to the back door the raccoon was finally off of his leg and up in one of the apple trees in the back yard.

Several dogs in the neighborhood circled the raccoon while he was treed as James and the family watched to see what would happen. Soon all but one of the dogs tired of circling the tree and left. Uncle Glenn indicated that this coon was about 3 feet tall when he stood up. The coon got directly over the remaining dog and jumped down on his back and then flipped him over and held him there for some time. I am glad the raccoons in my attic are not someone’s wayward pet that have grown to that size.

As he finished the story Aunt Very came over and he reminded her of the dinner where the raccoon latched on to her dad’s leg. She said “ oh yeah, and did you tell them about the dogs in the back yard?” and proceeded to recount that the raccoon was “this” high and showed the exact same measurement that Uncle Glenn had used to show us how big the Quillen’s pet raccoon was. The only thing I don’t understand about the story was that James didn’t get a gun and shoot him out of the tree or that he stayed a pet after that dinner. I guess he respected the rights of others even when they strayed over the line into his rights.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wood Tag

Cousin Hazel told me about a game they played as children. She said if you were standing on wood you were safe, but if you were not then you had to run and tag someone who was not safe.

She said that when Hayes Bentley, who was buried in the Goose Creek cemetery I just visited, came home and was in uniform and played this tag with them just like he was a little child and not one who was going overseas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thaney & Betsy Houston

I have a better picture of Betsy and Thaney. I also found out a few more stories about Thaney.

Cousin Hazel said that "Uncle Thaney" was a very small fellow. "Aunt Betz" was big and dark. Sometimes he would fall out of the bed. He would get up and say, "well why did you let that happen?" Sometimes they would sit in the rocking chair together and she would rock him back to sleep.

Uncle Thaney carried the mail.

Once Devil John went to see Betsy's mother, Annie. Annie Wright was married to Fightin' Fred Fleming. Annie was his aunt, a sister to Devil John's father, Joel Ellis Wright. John had a big horse and wanted it to be fed. Thaney asked him how it should be fed. John said to feed the horse high. Thaney thought John might really mean that he wanted the horse to be fed a lot, but he asked John if he should put the feed in the tree so the horse could get high feed. John, not wanting to correct himself, said "yes, put the feed in the tree." Thaney did, and when reporting to John he said "I fed that horse and put that feed corn so high in the tree that I doubt he can even reach it, but it's certainly high." He was always pulling pranks.

Thaney would tell them not to marry too close in the family. He told them back off was fine, but if you married too close, you could tell it because the children would have an extra eye at the end of their noses.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Booker Mullins and the Bear

I originally found this version of the story of Booker Mullins fighting a bear:

Boyd J. Bolling, interviewed by James Talyor Adams in Flat Gap, Wise County on March 11, 1942.

"Guess you've heard about old Booker Mullins. He as said to be the greatest bear hunter and fist and skull fighter that was ever in this part of the country. I've heard my father talk about him. Said that one time him and his brother were out bear hunting and they run upon a big bear.

Booker told his brother to hold the dogs and let him fight the bear, which seemed willing for the match. They had around and around and at least the bear got Booker in hits hug and was about to squeeze him to death. He holldered to his brother, "Turn the dogs loose!" "Not do such a thing!" his brother said, "Im not going' to show foul play in a fight. And he didn't, but Booker finally killed the bear. Booker called him(self) the champion fighter , and I guess he was.

One time he (Booker) was traveling through Kentucky and passed where they were raising a house. He boasted around some, and after he went on one of the fellows said, "Jis wait til he comed back by and I'll beat he devil out of him. Well that evenin' Booker come back by and this fellow picked a fuss with him. They went into it. And Booker whipped him and three others who run in and took hit up for him.

Now that was what I found in oh about the mid eighties or nineties.

Today I ran across this article which was published in Norton, Virginia and written by Connie Bolling. I don't know the name of the newspaper but Norton shows on the clipping at the top of the page. Connie celebrated his 100th birthday this year. Connie is the son of Jesse Boyd Bolling & Fannie Williams. Jesse was the son of Jesse Bolling who was the son of Jeremiah Bolling.

The story of how Bear Fork got name

It appeared that my great uncle, Booker Mullins, of the upper Pound region,
enjoyed bearding the bears in the early 1800's.

When Paw told me the tales about Booker and the bears, he called him Uncle
Booker and said that he didn't know where or why he called him uncle, but maybe
he came from his mother's side of the family.

Anyway, this the way Paw told me the scary tale about Booker and the

In about 1800 or a little later when the Pound River country was settle,
Uncle Booker Mullins was a man with muscles like ropes all up his arms and down
his shoulders and around his chest, and when he was 22 and stood six feet six
inches tall and weighed about 250 pounds he could "ride" any man that scuffled
with him.

Anyhow when he couldn't find anyone who could stand in with him, he started
out to find a 1-year-old bear to fight and he said he knew he would kill it with
his bare knuckles and feet.

Well, Big Booker began begging my Grandpaw Jeremiah (Jerry) to go out and
hunt for the bear and Grandpaw kept telling him that he was crazy to tackle a
bear that way and such a bear like that would kill him. But Big Booker would
shake his head and say, "Nuh! Nuh! that bear's not going to tech me. I'll knock
the breath out out'n him with my first kick in the ribs with my hob nailed boot

Big Booker kept after Grandpaw to go with him back in the Cumberlands to
look for a bear for him to fight and he kept on at him until finally Grandpaw
said, "Well if you just have to, I'll take you, in the morning, to the far

I saw signs of how the bears was a raking in the leaves for chestnuts as I
was coming back from Kingdom Come about a week ago."

"But I warn ye if that bear tears you up, don't blame me, I've told ye,"

Again Big Booker only shook his head and danced around and around punching
and jabbing his big fists towards Grandpaw.

Now Big Booker was jumping with joy as he headed for home on the head of
Cumberland. The next morning bright and early Booker was stomping on Grandpaw's porch raring to get going.

Grandpaw said, "I'll take my two bear dogs along and we'll just lead them
and we'll have them in case we have to track some bear down."

"Oh no! no! Jerry. " Booker said, "You be shore and hold'em dogs back cause
I want to track the bear myself and if I find one to fight, hold'em dogs and you
mustn't turn'em loose no matter what happens."

"Well, go after him ye fool," Grandpaw said, as they wormed their way
through the laurel and ivy and out onto chestnut flats on the crest of the ridge
on far creek.

"This is it," Grandpaw said "this is where I saw where the bears had been
eating the chestnuts -- now we must slip along so the old bear won't hear us in
these dry rattling leaves. Oh! be quiet Booker, with ye big noisy boots you'll
roust any bear up a mile yards away."

Booker hunkered down and began to crawl along and ever once in a while he'd
look up at grandpaw and say, "Do you see 'em yet?" Do ye see anything?

About that time, Grandpaw whispered, "Be quiet! Be quiet! I hear something
a raking in the leaves behind that big dead chesnut log over yonder."

Booker eaased upright and his eyes, followed Granpaw's finger pointing
toward the log and about that time, just a little bit of a bear's head heaved up
and down above the log.

"That's one, that's one," whispered Big Booker as he pulled his big long
wet middle finger from his mouth and held it straight up and said, "The wind is
a coming from him to us; so now he cain't wind us and smell us'n the dogs and
I'm goin to slip right onto him and if'n he ain't too big I'll jump right on his
back, and don't you turn them dogs loose."

"Git goin, ye big fool and if'n he eats you up I'm not turning nary one
loose," Grandpa said, as Big Booker went a crawling toward the big log and the

Well, he crawled right up to the log and just as he touched the log a big
bear's head bobbed up just so his eyes could see over the log. But he
never did see Booker and he went on a raking back the leaves and eatin'
chestnuts like nuthin wuz a happinin.

Big Booker looked back at Grandpaw an seen him motion with his hand to go
on after the bear. That's all it took -- Booker was on the log like a cat
after a mouse, and he landed on the big bear's back with his big hobnailed boot

Booker kept bobbing up an down and all the time he wuz a kickin and a
kinckin the 'le bear in the back and the ribs. All at once though the bear
gave a might growl and he came up with Booker in a bear hug and he screamed at
Grandpa, "Turn them dogs loose."

For God's sake, Jerry, turn 'em dogs loose; this bear is tearing my mortal
leaders out", screamed Booker again.

Still, Jerry held onto his dogs and yelled, "I show no foul play.
Booker, you told me never to turn the dogs loose, so go get him like you

About that time they both went down behind the log and such a rattling and
thumping like you never heard before.

Grandpa was uneasy 'cause he wuz afraid that the old bear was a chawing on
Booker, so he run up to the log and looked over and there laid Booker one way
and the old bear the other way, both a panting; they wuz tired to death. Grandpaw's dogs wuz already loose by now and they pounced over the log and began nipping at the 'ole bear's tail!

But just one good nip by the dogs and he old bear was awake and went shambling down trhough the leaves snappng aback at the dogs as they chased him.

By now Booker was up and a leaning back on his elbows and said, "you know
what, Jerry, that bear wuz a two-year-old; I saw his teeth."

Well... I never knew Booker was so tall. So I learned he was six feet six. And again we have one of those recreational fighters. Remember my grandpa Fleming was called "Fightin' Fred" Fleming. I had always assumed it was fighting in the Civil War until I learned they used to punch each other silly til one of them passed out, died or gave up.

I was wondering about those hobnails. I looked them up and those are the pictures at the beginning of this story.

Guess I will be on the lookout for more stories by Connie Bolling.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Middle Millstone School 1940s

This is one I know some of you can help me with. I recognize the twins, Jimmy & Can in this group. Jimmy is in the front row fifth from the left. Can is in the second row third from the right. Who else do you all know?

This is Jimmy Bentley born June 30, 1939. This is how I recognized him in the picture.

This is Can Bentley born June 30, 1939.

This picture is too young for this one because the twins would only have been two years old. It does give a reference point as to what John Vint looked like at this point in his life. He was 7.

Here is John a little older.
It is possible that Fred could have been in this group unless he was a little too young. Maybe between John and Fred we can identify some of these folks.