Friday, August 29, 2008

Reuben Potter and Hulda Wright

While visiting the cemeteries at Beefhide I came across the grave of Reuben Potter.

Reuben was the son of Benjamin Potter and Susannah Hollingsworth.  He was the brother of Annie Potter, our great great grandmother who married John Vint Bentley.  He was my great great uncle.  That connects him to me through the Potters and the Bentleys.

He married Hulda Wright.  She was the daughter of James H. Wright and Mary "Polly" Ingle.  James was the son of Joel Martin and Susannah Wright.  That connects them through the Wrights.

The story I had always heard about Reuben was that he joined the Confederate army.  While serving he heard that his children were in need.  They were  

Tandy, age 10
James, 9
Benjamin 6
Mahala "Hala" 4

Hulda was pregnant .  He left his company and went home.  The army sent men after him.  When they came upon him he was making shoes for the children.  He looked up and saw John Wright and his gang coming. He started to run and tried to climb a fence, but was shot by John Wright, Hulda's first cousin.  John was about 18.  Later, he would be called Bad or Devil John Wright.

Samuel Wright cut down a poplar tree from the Board Hollow, hewed it out and made the coffin for Reuben.  He buried him there..

I started to run through the records to see what I could find about this family as backup records.

I found Reuben and his family in Letcher County of 1860.  He was 31 and listed as a farmer.  Hulda was 26.  Tandy was 8 and attending school.  James was 6, Benjamin 5 and Hala 1.

From the U. S. Soldiers and Sailors web site I found that Reuben had enlised as a  private in Comapny D of the 13th Regiment, Kentucky Calvary on October 4, 1862 in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

Those same records show that he deserted on October 5, 1862.

On May 16, 1863 John Douglas Potter was born to Hulda.

I haven't been able to find the family in the 1870 census yet.

I have seen a Joel Potter who was born in 1871 listed for Hulda.  Most of those listings also put Reuben as the father and have his date of death as 1880, but I don't believe that is true.  I think Hulda had a child by another man.

In 1880 she is living with her son, James and his wife, Cynthia Ann Allen in Floyd County, Kentucky. The listing is:

  • James Potter, 25, farmer
  • Cynthia Ann, 20, wife, keeping house
  • Benjamin 2, son
  • George, 1 month,son
  • Hulda, 46, mother
  • John 14, brother
  • Joel, 9, brother
All of them are listed as being born in Kentucky and their parents born in Kentucky.  This would verify that there was another son after John and his name was Joel.

In 1880 Hulda is still living in Floyd County, but now she is living with her son, Tandy and his wife, Malinda J. Frasure.  Here is the listing:
  • Tandy Potter, head, July 1854, 45, married 20 years, farmer
  • Malinda J., wife, July 1861, 38, had 7 children, 6 living
  • Elizabeth, daughter, July 1880, 19
  • James, son, February 1882, 18
  • Hulda, daughter, Janurary 1884, 16
  • Holy, daughter, April 1886, 14
  • Gracie B., March 1888,  12
  • Julia, daughter, June 1891, 8
  • Hulda, mother, May 1833, 67, widow, had 6 children 5 living
James Potter and Cynthia are living next door.

From death certificates I found that:
  • James died in 1920 at age 66.
  • Tandy died in 1936 at age 83
  • John Douglas died in 1941 at age 77
Mahala married and moved to West Virginia.
Benjamin married Lunda and went to California.

Joel "Buck" Potter was 9 in the 1880 census when he was with Hulda at James and Cynthia's home.  He would have been 29 in the 1900 census.

The reason that I am searching for Joel is because of another story I heard about Hulda's children.  The story goes that one day John Wright came by his cousin's home and told her that he had left her a goose down by the creek.  He told her she should go get it so her family could eat it.  She went to the creek and  found her mentally retarded child who had been playing there shot and killed.  If I could find a death certificate or other evidence that Buck grew up and had a family, it would negate this story, but it was told by several members of the family as a true story.

It may have accounted for why Hulda and her children left Letcher County.

I haven't found a death certificate for Hulda nor have I found her in the 1910 census, so I am thinking right now that she died before 1910.

I will keep looking and following her children.  James and Tandy ended up in Greenup county.  I will try to find Mahala and Benjamin in the census records, too.  If any of you know more about Reuben or Hulda, I would appreciate knowing and will update this story.


  1. Ruben and Hulda (Wright) Potter are my great-great-grandparents. My line is Linda Potter Whitt> Lunda Potter 1919>George Potter 1880> James Potter 1853> Ruben Potter 1829> Benjamin 1796. There are some mysteries surrounding this family that I need help in solving. Joel was deceased by the 1900 census. Who was Joel's father? And does anyone else know anything about this story? What happened to Ruben and Hulda's Benajmin?

  2. Hulda can be found on the 1870 Johnson County, KY Census living with Francis Marion Conley and his wife. She is listed as Hulda Patter, keeping house for this family. Tandy, James, and Benjamin are listed as laborers. Halea is too young to work and not in school. John Potter is listed as Potter Patter, age 4. Joel, of course, was not born until 1871. On the 1900 census Hulda lists that she has given birth to 6 children, 5 are living. No one knows knows what happened to Benjamin Potter. He didn't marry Lunda. Lunda is my father's name. I don't think Ruben deserted the day after he enlisted. I don't think the papers were filled out until much later. I do think he deserted and I believe that John Wright killed him. I think this occurred close to the end of the war when John Wright was in the guard. My family told this story matter of factly with deference to both families. Hulda Wright was a very courageous woman to have raised this family alone in a dangerous time. I would love to see a picture of her. She lost her mother when she was just a young girl and when her father remarried and brought more children into the home, Hulda would have helped with the younger children.