A Strange Tale in Ripley County, Missouri

Recently I stumbled upon an article about an odd double murder that happened nearly a 100 years ago which left me fascinated and delving deeper for more information.  The murders took place in Ripley County, Missouri during prohibition.

Ripley County was an area with a reputation for lawlessness.  Homemade corn liquor poured from stills long before the law forbidding alcohol in the country.  A lack of roads inhibited the law enforcement authorities from cracking down on unsavory types in a region where many of the locals traveled by the many waterways that snaked through the area.

The region was mostly poor; a majority of the population was illiterate.  Many of the people in the area had immigrated to the area during the lumber boom after 1880, most of them from Tennessee.  Small family farms and timber operations were the main industries of the area.

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Lillie Mae Weatherspoon

In 1920 the Bennett family lived on the South Branch of the Buffalo Creek in Pine Township in Ripley County.  The family is headed by 62 year old widow Celia Louisa “Lucy” Bennett.  Also living with her at the time was her 34 year old son, J.W. Bennett, and 17 year old Gertie Bennett, a granddaughter whose mother was deceased.  Lucy claimed to be a farmer and reported that she owned her land.  Living next door to Lucy in 1920 were her daughter Fanny, with her husband Willie Weatherspoon, and their children.  The family had resided on the same land for over 10 years.   My Great Grandmother, Lillie Mae Weatherspoon, was one of Willie and Fanny’s children.

A gruesome discovery rocked the region in June 1926 when the bodies of Ernest and Frank Van Patton were discovered.  The old men had been dead, exposed to the elements and animals, about a week prior to discovery.  The men were misers and local rumors indicated they had a hidden wealth of money which was never recovered.  Local authorities were unable to solve the strange demise of the Van Patton brothers for a year.

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The Springfield Leader Springfield, MO June 20, 1926 pg 1

A break came in the case when 17 year old Cecil Atchinson walked into the local police station and told Joe Cochran a strange tale which implicated his uncle J.W. Bennett and another man, George Williamson, in the murder of the Van Patton brothers by poison in an attempt to rob the men.  Cecil also confessed that he confessed the tale to his grandmother, Lucy Bennett, and the tale shocked her so bad she died.  He claimed that on her death bed she ordered him to turn his uncle in.  J.W. was also implicated in a murder attempt on George Williamson by placing dynamite in his stove causing an explosion which injured the intended victim.

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Simpson’s Leader-Times Kittanning, Pennsylvania May 16, 1927 pg 12

J.W Bennett was convicted of the double murder of the Van Patton brothers and the attempted murder of George Williamson.  He was sentenced to life in Missouri State Prison in November 1927.  J.W. was the only one to receive a murder conviction and he quickly appealed his case.

In May 1928 the Missouri Supreme Court amended the conviction against J.W. Bennett and ordered that he had to be given a new trial.  The Supreme Court found issue with both the confessions signed by illiterate men and by the lack of physical evidence in the case.  The condition of the bodies when discovered had made a cause of death impossible to determine.  J.W. was released and never retried for the crime as far as I have been able to determine.

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The Sedalia Democrat Sedalia, MO May 25, 1928 pg 8

Joe Cochran the man who cracked the Van Patton case went on to have a very successful career.  He made headlines in several big cases involving recovery of stolen Army equipment, the recovery of a stolen mill, stopping a crazed man armed with a gun, and breaking up a counterfeit coin ring.  He also survived at least one assassin attempt.  In 1933 he was elected Vice President of the newly formed Midwest Peace Officers Association which was created as a multi-state agency to fight the rampant crime in the region.  After the mid 1930’s he appears to have left law enforcement.

By 1952 Joe Cochran owned a tavern operating in Doniphan.  He was gunned down during broad daylight on Main Street by a man named Ace Robinson.  Another man was also injured in the shooting.  Ace Robinson was instantly arrested and claimed he killed Cochran in self defense after years of extortion attempts by Cochran.  Ace Robinson claimed Joe Cochran had recently began to make threats against his life and that he shot him when he thought he was going to shoot him.  Joe Cochran was buried in the Doniphan Oak Ridge Cemetery.

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St Louis Post-Dispatch St Louis, MO June 20, 1952

Ace Robinson was found innocent of murder in 1953.  It was decided that he shot Joe Cochran in self-defense.  Ace died in 1956 of natural causes.  He is buried in the same cemetery as Joe Cochran.

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Macon Chronicle-Herald Macon, MO Apr 29, 1953 pg 1

 

What a strange series of events.  More to come on this one…

Cover Photo:

Sterling, Illinois
Mon, Jun 21, 1926 – Page 1

From Crowns to Coal Mines?

The Virginia Branch

I have spent a lot of time lately working on some of my other family lines.  Recently I decided it was time to revisit some of my Shuck ancestors and see if I could get further with some of my loose ends.  I began working on the line of Malinda Claypoole.  Malinda was the wife of George Edgar Shuck and the mother of Perry Addison Shuck from which the P.A. Shuck Cemetery got its name.  That would make her my 4th Great Grandmother.

georgemalindashuck

Malinda was born in 1819 in Buchanan County, Virginia.  Her family had been in Virginia for generations.  Her Great Grandfather, James Claypoole, had come to Virginia from Delaware sometime prior to 1761.  He settled first in Augusta County and later Hardy County.

Malinda was the daughter of Ephraim Claypoole and Lucinda Arbaugh.  Ephraim (1763-1840) was the son of Joseph Claypoole and Abigail Osborn.  Joseph Claypoole (1735-1790) was the son of James Claypoole (1701-1789) and Jane Elizabeth.

The Three James

James, our Virginia settler was the 3rd of his line to carry the given name of James.  His father, James Claypoole II, was born in England about the year 1664.  James Claypoole II (1664-1706) came to the American colonies in 1683 aboard the ship Concord; also immigrating to the new world at the same time were his parents, James Claypoole I(1634-1687) and Hellena, and six of his siblings.  They were Quakers, and closely associated with William Penn.  James I was a successful merchant both in England and in the colonies.  The family made their home in Pennsylvania and Delaware region.

English Roots

As I started to research the origins of James Claypoole before he left England I quickly discovered that extensive research has already been done on the line from this point.  I’m still connecting all the dots but it gets interesting quickly.  It led to places I didn’t expect it to go.

James Claypoole was the son of John Claypoole and Marie Angell.  Sir John Claypoole (1595-1664), Knight of Latham, was a man of substantial means for his time.  During his lifetime he was both knighted and made a Baronet, he was a Member of Parliament, Justice of the Peace, and likely served as Sheriff for his county.  His family home was an estate called Northborough Manor which still stands today.

northborough-manor

Northborough Manor as it is today

John Claypoole was the son of Adam Claypoole and Dorothy Wingfield.  The Find a Grave memorial for Adam Claypoole (1595-1634) had an interesting fact that made me decide to work on the line of Dorothy Wingfield (1566-1619) first.  “Through her father’s lineage Dorothy was a direct descendant of King Edward I of England” the line reads.  Statements like that make me curious but I tend to take them with a huge grain of salt.  Mythology and genealogy can often be close friends.  Upon quick inspection it looks like the information could very well be legit but I’m reserving my grain of salt.

Chasing Royalty

Dorothy Wingfield was the daughter of Robert Wingfield and Elizabeth Cecil.  Robert Wingfield (1532 – 1580) was the son of Robert Winfield I and Margery Quarles.  Robert Wingfield I (1491 – 1576) was the son of Henry Wingfield and Elizabeth Rookes.  Each generation the ancestors appear to have managed at least a relative amount of success in life although nothing extraordinary.

Sir Henry Wingfield (1440 – 1494) seems to have lived a noteworthy life.  He was the youngest of 11 children born to Sir Robert Wingfield and Elizabeth Goushill.  Henry fought for the House of York in the War of the Roses and both Henry and his brother, Thomas, were knighted by King Edward IV at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471.  At the end of his life Sir Henry served as Governor of Orford Castle.  Sir Henry and his wife were both buried in elaborate tombs that featured effigies.  The tomb and the effigies no longer exist.

At this point chasing the possibly royal link led me up the line of Sir Henry’s wife Elizabeth Goushill (1404 – 1466).  Elizabeth was the daughter of Sir Robert Goushill (1350 – 1403) and Elizabeth FitzAlan (1371 – 1425).  Sir Robert and Elizabeth FitzAlan, Duchess of Norfolk, were married about 1400.  Elizabeth was a widow and the couple married without license and as a result King Henry IV seized the lands belonging to Elizabeth.  Family connections helped smooth over the issue and the King granted them a pardon and restored her lands soon after.  Robert was knighted at the Battle of Shrewsbury by the king while still wounded on the battlefield.  According legend Sir Robert was murdered for his valuables on the same day her received his knighthood from the King.  He and Elizabeth had been married a few short years and only two daughters were born to the union.  Sir Robert and Elizabeth are buried in an elaborate tomb in St Michael’s Church in Nottinghamshire, England.

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Tomb of Sir Robert Goushill and Elizabeth FitzAlan in St Michael’s Church Nottinghamshire, England

Elizabeth FitzAlan was the daughter of Richard FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel (1346 – 1397), and Elizabeth de Bohun (1350 – 1385).  She is the connection of the Claypool family of West Virginia to the ancient Kings of England.  Through her father’s side she is the 3rd Great Granddaughter of King Henry the III of England.  Through her mother’s side she is the 2nd Great Granddaughter of King Edward I, known popularly as Longshanks, and the 3rd Great Granddaughter of King Henry the III of England once again as her parents were distant cousins.

Royalty Found

So it does indeed appear that the modern Shuck family and connected lines indeed carry the blood of Kings.  Upon further digging I have discovered that James Claypool of Pennsylvania is already listed as an descendant of Charlemagne through genealogical societies that trace royal descendants which means that cousins somewhere along the line have even proved the information as accurate.  This just goes to prove you truly never know what genealogical research will turn up.  I expect to dig much further into this fascinating family line.

Sources:

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7768707

See inside Northborough Manor and further details on the estate here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2484032/Home-fit-man-felled-King-Manor-house-Oliver-Cromwell-stayed-regularly-aftermath-Civil-War-goes-sale-1-8million.html

Baker

What’s in a surname?

I grew up with a surname I hated.  It was unpleasant to the ears, hard to spell, and easy for school children to mock.  I was eager to get married in life if for no reason more than I wanted to change my last name.

I think I was about 14 the first time I realized in talking to my Great Grandmother that it was only a twist of fate that gave me that much disliked name and that biologically I had zero connection to it.  In a different world, under better circumstances, I would have been born with the last name Baker.  The countless hours I wasted in my life spelling my maiden name could have all been saved if not for that one adoption.

A Dark Page in Family History

My Great Grandmother, Lillie Weatherspoon, was in her early teens when she married her first husband.  His name was Willie Baker and they had one child together, my grandfather Jay Dee.  In the tale shared with me by my Great Grandmother her first husband was a mean tempered man who liked to drink a lot and become physically abusive.  According to the story shared with me while sitting on the front porch of her house on Niagra Street in Flint, Michigan some 60 years later the last night she spent living with Willie was around the year 1930 and they lived near Paragould, Arkansas.  My Grandfather was just a baby at the time.  Willie had gone out for a typical night of drinking.  Lillie said she had reached her breaking point and resolved to not be beaten when he returned home and spent hours wandering the house armed with a knife before finally going to sleep.  She said by some miracle he never came home that night.

Willie did return the next morning.  While sitting at the breakfast table he spilled hot coffee on the baby.  That was the final straw and Lillie laid him out with a cast iron pan to the head, grabbed the baby and started running.   She didn’t stop until she reached Iowa.

The next decade of my Great Grandmother’s life was a dark period that she didn’t like to discuss.  Somehow over that time she managed to make it from Iowa to Michigan and meet and marry the man I would know as my Great Grandfather.  Moman Harold Fulkerson was a childless widower several years older than Lillie who adopted my Grandfather and raised him as his own child, including changing his last name from Baker.

Digging Up Old Skeletons

Willie and the surname Baker became a closed chapter that was more or less forgotten.  Growing up I never realized my Great Grandfather wasn’t truly my Great Grandfather.   It was only by chance that I sat down with my Great Grandmother that one afternoon and started prying into her past.  When I talked to my Father about it I was surprised to learn that he too was aware of the family history but beyond that the topic was laid to rest again.

It would take another 20 years before I would research information about the mysterious Willie Baker.  All my great Grandparents, my grandparents, even my Father were deceased before I decided to dig into the forgotten biological Baker branch.  Relying on hazy memories of that afternoon so long ago I decided to see what I could find out about him.

The Puzzle Pieces

A marriage license from September 24, 1926 in Lake City, Arkansas was my first hit.  Lillie Weatherspoon married W.D. Baker.  I had confirmation that the name I recalled was likely correct.  It was time to hunt up more.  I found the 1930 census for Greene County, Arkansas with William Baker, wife Lillie, and son J.D. living on a farm.  Their divorce was recorded Greene County, Arkansas in 1938.  The 1940 census finds a divorced William Baker still living in Greene County, Arkansas as a lodger and working as a timber cutter.  The last record for Willie Baker is a simple tombstone in the New Friendship Cemetery in Greene County, Arkansas with a death date of 1950.  He never remarried and fathered no other children.

I have managed to find a few details about Willie’s family but nothing extensive so far.  His parents, James Baker and Viola Morgan, were both from Crockett County, Tennessee and brought their small family to Greene County, Arkansas sometime between 1901 and 1908.  Tragedy struck the family and both James and Viola died within months of each other, James in October of 1915, Viola in February of 1916.  I haven’t found a cause of death yet but both pneumonia and malaria was prevalent in the area at the time, Viola received several doctor’s visits in the last couple days of her life.

James and Viola left 5 orphaned children when they died.  The children were split up and boarded out to various different people.  A receipt included in Viola’s estate documents show George Ferguson of Greene County, Arkansas receiving payment for the boarding of Willie; likely the same George Ferguson that is present in the 1930 household of Willie, Lillie, and their son.   Willie would have been about 16 when his parents passed away.  By the time of the 1920 census he had moved on from the Ferguson farm, I’m currently unsure where he was located at that time although records indicate he probably wasn’t far from the area he spent his entire life in.

Questions Remain

In all my research so far I haven’t located much that would reveal the character of that mysterious Great Grandfather that never was.  I can only wonder if the tragedies that befell his early life with the death of his parents and the subsequent experience of being an orphan in rough region led him to become the person my Great Grandmother described.  I haven’t located any indication that Willie Baker ever had any legal troubles during his life.  There was no indication he ever harassed my Great Grandmother after she left him so perhaps Willie recovered from his drinking problem after the loss of his family.  He appears to have lived an uneventful life.

 

 

Part Three: Tearing Down Brick Walls – Spence Family Mystery

Finally a Breakthrough?

My Spence line has been a challenge.  Going into my research on this line I had very little knowledge about this branch of my family.  My Grandmother, my connection to this line is still alive and her mind is intact even at 89 years old, but sadly there just isn’t a lot of family knowledge about her father’s family.  Although my Grandmother reports that her own mother was very interested in genealogy and loved history the passion was not passed down to her only daughter so much information was lost to time.

I have spent hundreds of hours scouring records trying to find the pieces that fit the puzzle I had been given.  Most of my sessions have ended in frustration and more questions than answers.  Finally I think I have had a possible breakthrough in my hunt.

The basic facts I started with were sparse.  I pulled the few details I could out of each record and tried to put together a picture of the events.

Evaluating Evidence

My first basic facts started at the cemetery.  I know where my Great-Great Grandfather is buried without a doubt.  He is buried in a small rural cemetery on land that according to my Grandmother was donated by him prior to his death.  He has a marked grave with his name, birth and death dates all clearly legible[1].  Starting with this information I tracked down every census and vital record I could locate and conclusively determine was the correct James Spence and began extracting further clues.

James was married at least twice although records for only one marriage have currently been located.  He was head of a household with Emily Spence in 1880 census in Ottawa County, Ohio[2].  His oldest two children (Emma and William) report Emma Jane Davis as their mother through life on legal documents.  His second marriage was to Anna Dorman, who his youngest four children report as their mother on legal documents.  Of note, Harry Spence, 3rd child of James Spence was born prior to the marriage of James and Anna so is likely the child of Emma.

I have currently only located two documents recording the possible identity of James’s parents.  One is his marriage record to Anna[3].  He records parents James Spence and Jane Davidsen.  There are no parents recorded for Anna.  The other document is the death record of James Spence[4], his daughter Emma is the informant and she provides a name of John Spence and no mother’s name.  In reconciling these contradictory documents I have given more evidence to the parents recorded by James himself as opposed to secondhand information provided by Emma about an event that happen before her birth and involved people she did not apparently know.

Summarizing the Clues

James Spence is buried in the North Brinton Cemetery in Isabella County, Michigan.  His grave is marked and his headstone is legible, he died in 1940.  His date of birth was 1853 and he was born in Canada.  His parents were James Spence and Jane Davidsen, both of Irish birth.  He was married at least once and had children with two women, Emma Jane Davis and Anna Dorman.  He had six known children, 3 with Emma Davis named Emma Jane Spence, William J Spence, and Harry Spence;  with Anna Dorman he had Mary Ann Spence, Margaret Ellen Spence, and Thomas Spence.

James and Jane Spence of Simcoe County, Ontario

After countless hours of fruitless searches I finally had what I think is a huge breakthrough in research.  At least it is currently the strongest lead found and I haven’t yet located information to rule it out.  Starting on the 1851 Canadian census[5] I locate a couple of Irish birth named James and Jane Spence living in Simcoe County, Ontario.  By the time of the 1861 Canadian census[6] this James and Jane Spence also record a son named James born in 1854.  The 1871 census[7] shows the family again, with James still in the home.  The 1881 census[8] shows an elderly James and Jane Spence still in the same place, son James is no longer noted in the area.  This would correspond with my ancestor being located in Ohio in 1880.  Currently, my assumption is that this James Spence is my ancestor.

Looking Closer…

The demographics of this Spence family match up with my James Spence but there are smaller clues that also help point to this being a successful match.  James and Jane Spence had several children, one of which was named Thomas Spence.  Thomas Spence later went on to settle in the United States…in Michigan, the same place where James later settled when he came to the United States, although they settled hundreds of miles apart in different parts of the state.  Another detail of note regarding Thomas Spence is that my James Spence named one of his sons Thomas.

Only DNA Can Tell For Sure

Are James and Jane Spence my Great-Great-Great Grandparents?  Currently my guess is yes.  I am going to continue researching this family and hope that at some point I can conclusively declare that yes these are indeed my ancestors or no they are definitely not my ancestors.  At this point it may take DNA testing of living members of the family to give the evidence needed to successfully answer this question.

 

 

[1] http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=15977253&ref=acom

[2] Year: 1880; Census Place: Danbury, Ottawa, Ohio; Roll: 1056; Family History Film: 1255056; Page: 441C; Enumeration District: 069; Image: 0382 Ancestry.com

[3] Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952 Ancestry.com

[4] Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950 Ancestry.com

[5] Year: 1851; Census Place: York, York County, Canada West (Ontario); Schedule: A; Roll: C_11760; Page: 121; Line: 23 Ancestry.com

[6] Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Census Returns For 1861; Roll: C-1072 Ancestry.com

[7] Year: 1871; Census Place: Gwillimbury West, Simcoe South, Ontario; Roll: C-9960; Page: 39; Family No: 141 Ancestry.com

[8] Year: 1881; Census Place: Gwillimbury West, Simcoe South, Ontario; Roll: C_13250; Page: 72; Family No: 336 Ancestry.com

What Do 2 Hangings, a Burned Body, and an Axe Murder Have In Common?

Odd Coincidences

Today I read the tale of Alice Lake.  I came upon the tragic story of Alice while researching my own family tragedy in the death of Rebecca Cornell and the subsequent hanging of her son Thomas Cornell II for her murder.  Rebecca and Alice both suffered horrible deaths.  Rebecca was possibly murdered and her body burned past recognition while her family ate dinner in the next room.  Alice was hung for witchcraft after being plagued by haunting visions of her lost child.  Rebecca and Alice also shared one other detail in common; their daughter in law was Sarah Earle.

The Hanging of Alice Lake

Alice is thought to have been born about 1614 in England.  Details from her life are nearly nonexistent.  What is known is that about June 5, 1652 in Suffolk County, Massachusetts Alice was hung for witchcraft.

Alice was no witch.  Alice was a young puritan mother, her husband was a man named Henry Lake, and they were raising a young family near modern day Boston.  Shortly before her death in 1652 Alice gave birth to a child that died.  Likely in response to the grief of losing her child Alice began to report that she was having visions of her deceased baby.  Her highly superstitious neighbors feared she was being plagued by demons.  As a result she was tried and convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to hang.

Before Alice Lake was executed she was given a final chance to recant her claims of seeing her dead baby, a possible chance to save her own life.  Alice responded to her opportunity at mercy by confessing that she was being punished by god because she had engaged in sexual relations prior to being married.  As a result of her actions she had become pregnant and attempted to perform an abortion on the pregnancy.  Alice felt that she was paying for her previous sins and deserved her sentence.

Alice left behind several young children when she was executed.  Her husband, Henry Lake, quickly left town abandoning their children to be orphans.  David Lake was around the age of 3 when his mother was hung and his father abandoned him.  Twenty-five years later in the year 1677 he would marry Sarah Cornell, widow of Thomas Cornell II who was hung for matricide four years previous.

Another Look at the Cornell Case

I must admit that like many who have read the case of Rebecca Cornell’s murder so much about the case just doesn’t sit well.  It seems so hard to believe that Rebecca could be killed and set on fire while her family ate dinner in the next room with no one noticing.  Thomas did seem to have motive to possibly kill his mother because the two were frequently at odds and impressions from the time were that Thomas resented the control his widowed mother maintained over his life.  On the same token he also stood to lose the most by setting her on fire in the same home he and his family resided.  In the end Thomas went to the gallows maintaining his innocence and requesting to be buried near his mother.  His final request was not granted and his estate was seized.

It’s hard not to take a closer look at Thomas Cornell II’s widow, Sarah Earle.  Sarah was by some considered to be involved with the death of her mother in law.  Despite the accusations Sarah was never tried for any involvement in Rebecca’s death and she later fought to regain her share of her husband’s estate and won.  By all accounts it seems as if Sarah emerged from this tragic chapter of her life in relatively good circumstances.  Sarah gave birth to her daughter, Innocent, after Thomas died and then not long after that she married the man with whom she would live out the rest of her life, David Lake.

What if Sarah was the one that truly had the motive to see not only Rebecca but also Thomas eliminated from the picture?  Could there have been some secret involvement between Sarah and David prior to the death of Rebecca which led to the old woman’s demise?  It is certain that as residents of the same town they would have known each other.  Did the tragic tale of Alice’s death help motivate star crossed lovers to eliminate the two people preventing their happiness?

Curse of Sarah Earle

Hundreds of years later Sarah Earle keeps surfacing time after time in regards to tragedy.  It almost seems as if a curse is associated with the name.   Both of her mother in laws suffered horrible deaths, one possibly murdered, and one executed for witchcraft.  Her first husband was hung for murder.  Sarah was also the 4th Great Grandmother to Andrew Borden who was murdered with his wife in the Lizzie Borden case.  It seems almost unbelievable.  One can only wonder if the family has been plagued by a murderous streak or a curse of bad luck.

Sources:

http://www.alicemariebeard.com/genealogy/maternal/lake.htm

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=114857953

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=35514344

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~rinewpor/Cornell.html

Matriarch Monday: Cassandra Burnell Southwick Persecuted Quaker

Well it’s Monday so it must be time for a Matriarch Monday post.  I have been researching more into the lines of my paternal 3rd Great Grandmothers, sisters Harriet Cornell Eckler and Cornelia Cornell Ashley.

Cassandra Burnell Southwick

While researching their lines I discovered the tale of a woman by the name of Cassandra Burnell Southwick.  Cassandra Burnell Southwick was the 5th Great Grandmother of the Cornell sisters and my 10th Great Grandmother twice over.

Cassandra Burnell was born in England in 1598.  She married a man by the name of Lawrence Southwick and together with their children they immigrated to the American colonies in 1638.  They set up home in Salem, Massachusetts where Lawrence was one of the first glass makers in the new world.

A Dark Page in Salem History

Most people recognize the name Salem, Massachusetts for its dark history involving witch trials in the late 1600’s but Salem has a dark and tragic history of crazed persecution that dates back even farther than the witch trials.  Long before Rev Cotton Mather’s name became famous another dark man terrorized the people of Salem.  His name was John Endecott, he was the Governor of Massachusetts, and his victims were the Quakers.

The Puritans came to America to escape religious persecution but that did not create compassion for others suffering the same fate.  The Puritans were known for harsh treatment of anyone who did not follow the strict doctrine of their faith.  The Quakers were a frequent target of Puritan ire.

Quaker Persecution

During the year 1657 Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick were living in Salem and were found to be associating with Quaker preachers, a crime in Puritan Massachusetts.  Lawrence and Cassandra were both arrested.  Lawrence was released but Cassandra was imprisoned for 7 weeks and fined for possessing a paper written by the visitors, a heretical act under Puritan law.

In 1658 the Southwicks were once again found to be breaking Puritan law for being Quakers.  Lawrence, Cassandra, and adult son (my ancestor) Josiah were all arrested and sentenced to serve 20 weeks in jail.  The family’s personal property was confiscated to pay for the fines levied on them and their younger children still at home were left penniless with no livestock or goods to sustain them.

Sold into Slavery

The following year, 1659, the youngest children of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick, a daughter named Provided and son Daniel, were ordered sold into slavery in Barbados to pay outstanding fines related to the families Quaker activities.   The children were hauled up to the auction block but no ship captain would agree to transport them forcing Gov. Endecott to rescind that part of his punishment.  The tale of Endecott attempting to sell the children into slavery led to the Ballad of Cassandra Southwick written by John Greenleaf Whittier which details the experience from the perspective of daughter Provided.

Exile

In 1660, Endecott managed to finally get rid of his problem with the Southwick family of Quakers.  After the failed attempt to sell the Southwick children into slavery he had the family banished.  Lawrence and Cassandra were both in their 60’s at the time and their physical condition was no doubt much deteriorated after their long ordeal which involved being whipped and starved during their imprisonment.  The family sought refuge on Shelter Island in New York where Lawrence and Cassandra died in December 1660 within 3 days of each other.

lawrencecassandrasouthwick

Inscription on the memorial placed in 1884 at the Sylvester Manor Burial Ground on Shelter Island, New York.

“LAWRENCE AND CASSANDRA SOUTHWICK
Despoiled, imprisoned, starved, whipped, banished,
Who fled here to die.”

The Ballad of Cassandra Southwick

                By John Greenleaf Whittier

To the God of all sure mercies let my blessing rise today,
From the scoffer and the cruel He hath plucked the spoil away;
Yes, he who cooled the furnace around the faithful three,
And tamed the Chaldean lions, hath set His handmaid free!

Last night I saw the sunset melt though my prison bars,
Last night across my damp earth-floor fell the pale gleam of stars;
In the coldness and the darkness all through the long night-time,
My grated casement whitened with autumn’s early rime.

Alone, in that dark sorrow, hour after hour crept by;
Star after star looked palely in and sank adown the sky;
No sound amid night’s stillness, save that which seemed to be
The dull and heavy beating of the pulses of the sea;

All night I sat unsleeping, for I knew that on the morrow
The ruler said the cruel priest would mock me in my sorrow,
Dragged to their place of market, and bargained for and sold,
Like a lamb before the shambles, like a heifer from the fold!

Oh, the weakness of the flesh was there¯the shrinking and the shame;
And the low voice of the Tempter like whispers to me came,
‘Why sit’st thou thus forlornly,’ the wicked murmur said,
‘Damp walls thy bower beauty, cold earth thy maiden bed?

‘Where be the smiling faces, and voices soft and sweet,
Seen in thy father’s dwelling, hoard in the pleasant street?
Where be the youths whose glances, the summer Sabbath through,
Turned tenderly and timidly unto thy father’s pew?

‘Why sit’st thou here, Cassandra? Bethink thee with what mirth
Thy happy schoolmates gather around the warm, dark hearth;
How the crimson shadows tremble on foreheads white and fair,
On eyes of merry girlhood, half hid in golden hair.

‘Not for thee the hearth-fire brightens, not for thee kind words are spoken,
Not for thee the nuts of Wenham woods by laughing boys are broken;
No first-fruits of the orchard within thy lap are laid,
For thee no flowers of autumn the youthful hunters braid.

‘O weak, deluded maiden!¯by crazy fancies led,
With wild and raving railers an evil path to tread;
To leave a wholesome worship, and teaching pure and sound,
And mate with maniac women, loose-haired and sackcloth-bound,

‘And scoffers of the priesthood, who mock at things divine,
Who rail against thy pulpit, and holy bread and wine;
Bore from their cart-tail scourgings, and from the pillory lame,
Rejoicing in their wretchedness, and glorying in their shame.

‘And what a fate awaits thee!¯a sadly toiling slave,
Dragging the slowly lengthening chain of bondage to the grave!
Think of thy woman’s nature, subdued in hopeless thrall,
The easy prey of any, the scoff and scorn of all!’

Oh, ever as the Tempter spoke, and feecle Nature’s fears
Wrung drop by drop the scalding flow of unavailing tears,
I wrestled down the evil thoughts, and strove in silent prayer
To feel, O Helper of the weak! that Thou indeed wert there!

I thought of Paul and Silas, within Philippi’s call,
And how from Peter’s sleeping limbs the prison shackles fell,
Till I seemed to hear the trailing of an Angel’s robe of white,
And to feel a blessed presence invisible to sight.

Bless the Lord for all his mercies!¯for the peace and love I felt,
Like the dew of Hermon’s holy hill, upon my spirit melt;
When ‘Get behind me, Satan! ‘ was the language of my heart,
And I felt the Evil Tempter with all his doubts depart.

Slow broke the gray cold morning; again the sunshine fell,
Flocked with the shade of bar and grate within my lonely cell;
The hoar-frost melted on the wall, and upward from the street
Came careless laugh and idle word, and tread of passing feet.

At length the heavy bolts fell back, my door was open cast,
And slowly at the sheriff’s side, up the long street I passed;
I heard the murmur round me, and felt, but dared not see,
How, from every door and window, the people gazed on me.

And doubt and fear fell on me, shame burned upon my cheek,
Swam earth and sky around me, my trembling limbs grew weak;
‘Oh Lord, support thy handmaid, and from her soul cast out
The fear of men, which brings a snare, the weakness and the doubt.

Then the dreary shadows scattered, like a cloud in morning’s breeze,
And a low deep voice within me seemed whispering words like these:
‘Though thy earth be as the iron, and thy heaven a brazen wall,
Trust still His loving-kindness whose power is over all.’

We paused at length, where at my feet the sunlit waters broke
On glaring roach of shining beach, and shingly wall of rock;
The merchant-ships lay idle there, in hard clear lines on high,
Treeing with rope and slender spar their network on the sky.

And there were ancient citizens, cloak-wrapped and grave and cold,
And grim and stout sea-captains with faces bronzed and old,
And on his horse, with Rawson, his cruel clerk at hand,
Sat dark and haughty Endicott, the ruler of the land.

And poisoning with his evil words the ruler’s ready ear,
The priest leaned over his saddle, with laugh and scoff and jeer;
It stirred my soul, and from my lips the soul of silence broke,
As if through woman’s weakness a warning spirit spoke.

I cried ‘The Lord rebuke thee, thou smiter of the meek,
Thou robber of the righteous, thou trampler of the weak!
Go light the cold, dark hearth-stones,¯go turn the prison lock
Of the poor hearts though hast hunted, thou wolf amid the flock!’

Dark lowered the brows of Endicott, and with a deeper red
O’er Rawson’s wine-empurpled cheek the flash of anger spread;
‘Good people, ‘ quoth the white-lipped priest, ‘heed not her words so wild,
Her Master speaks within her¯ the Devil owns his child!’

But gray heads shook, and young brows knit, the while the sheriff read
That law the wicked rulers against the poor have made,
Who to their house of Rimmon and idol priesthood bring
No bonded knee of worship, nor gainful offering.

Then to the stout sea-captains the sheriff, turning, said¯
‘Wish of ye, worthy seamen, will take this Quaker maid?
On the Isle of fair Barbados, or on Virginia’s shore
You may hold her at a higher price than Indian girl or Moor!’

Grim and silent stood the captains; and when again he cried,
‘Speak out my worthy seamen!’ no voice, no sign replied;
But I felt a hard hand press my own, and kind words met my ear,¯
‘God bless thee, and preserve thee, my gentle girl and dear!’

A weight seemed lifted from my heart, a pitying friend was nigh,
I felt it in his hard, rough hand, and saw it in his eye;
And when again the sheriff spoke, that voice, so kind to me,
Growled back its stormy answer like the roaring of the sea.

‘Pile my ship with bars of silver, pack with coins of Spanish gold
From keel-piece up to deck-plank, the roomage of her hold,
By the living God that made me! I would sooner in your bay
Sink ship and crew and cargo, than bear this child away!’

‘Well answered, worthy captain, shame on their cruel laws!’
Ran through the crowd in murmurs loud the people’s just applause.
‘Like the herdsmen of Tekoa, In Israel of old,
Shall we see the poor and righteous again for silver sold ?’

I looked on haughty Endicott; with weapon half-way drawn,
Swept around the throng his lion glare of bitter hate and scorn;
Fiercely he drew his bridle-rain, and turned in silence back,
And sneering priest and baffled clerk rode murmuring in his track.

Hard after them the sheriff looked, in bitterness of soul,
Thrice smote his staff upon the ground, and crushed his parchment-roll.
‘Good friends,’ he said, ‘since both have fled, the ruler and the priest
Judge ye, if from their further work I be not well released.’

Loud was the cheer which, full and clear, swept round the silent bay,
As, with kind words and kinder looks, he bade me go my way;
For he who turns the courses of the streamlet of the glen,
And the river of great waters, had turned the hearts of men.

Oh, at that hour the very earth seemed changed beneath my eye,
A holier wonder round no rose the blue walls of the sky,
A lovelier light on rock and hill and stream and woodland lay,
And softer lapsed on sunnier sands the waters of the bay.

Thanksgiving to the Lord of life! To him all praises be,
Who from the hands of evil men hath set his handmaid free;
All praise to Him before whose power the mighty are afraid,
Who take the crafty in the snare which for the poor is laid!

Sing, O my soul, rejoicingly, on evening’s twilight calm
Uplift the loud thanksgiving, pour forth the grateful psalm;
Let all dear hearts with me rejoice, as did the saints of old,
When of the Lord’s good angel the rescued Peter told.

And weep and howl, ye evil priests and mighty men of wrong,
The lord shall smite the proud, and lay His hand upon the strong.
Woe to the wicked rulers in his avenging hour!
Woe to the wolves who seek the flocks to raven and devour!

But let the humble ones arise, the poor in heart be glad,
And let the mourning ones again with robes of praise be clad,
For he who cooled the furnace, and smoothed the stormy wave,
And tamed the Chaldean lions, is mighty still to save!

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_and_Cassandra_Southwick

https://archive.org/stream/essexinstitutehiv16esse#page/2/mode/2up

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=6783049&PIpi=48313012

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ballad_of_Cassandra_Southwick_(poem)

Grandpa Got Hung

My Mom’s Uncle helped get my Dad’s Grandpa hung… well that escalated quickly!

I finally got the chance to do some real research today after weeks of real life responsibilities killing my groove.  I decided to grab up one of my loose ends and start digging in.

The line I chose was one that I suspected I connected to twice.  Work smarter, not harder right?  I’ve been doing genealogical research long enough to not be surprised by cousin marriages anymore.  They are almost like a bonus because it narrows down the number of lines I need to research in the end.

My line in question was the Cornell line which was in New York around the early 1800’s.  I had a Cornelia Cornell and a Harriet Cornell, both of who were my 3rd Great Grandmothers.  Their Grandchildren, Myron Ashley and Sarah Eckler, were my father’s maternal grandparents.   I was off and tracking the line, making progress at a pretty good pace, killing two birds with one stone.

The data was interesting but not noteworthy for countless generations as I followed the trail.  The family is connected to the university that bears their surname, founded by some Cornell relative I haven’t bothered to connect yet.  They trace back generation after generation, an American colonial family helping to forge a new world out of the frontier.

Cornelia and Harriet were sisters.  They were the daughters of Wilbur Cornell land Sylvia Mosher.  Wilbur was the son of Joseph Cornell Sr and Abigail Allen, Joseph’s parents were Zebulon Cornell and Ruth Allen.  Zebulon was the son of Daniel Cornell and Elizabeth Allen.  Daniel Cornell was the son of William Cornell and Mehitable Fish.  William Cornell was the son of Stephen Cornell and Hannah Mosher.

That brings me to Stephen Cornell’s parents.  Thomas Cornell II and Elizabeth Fiscock were his parents, the time period is the 1600’s, and they were my 10 great grandparents.   At this point things got interesting in my research.

Rebecca Briggs Cornell Burned to Death

Thomas Cornell II has a very interesting footnote in history.  In 1673 he was hanged for the murder of his mother, Rebecca Briggs.  According to records from the time it was a farce of a case, most of the evidence being that his uncle had a dream in which Rebecca’s spirit visited him pointing the blame at Thomas.

One of the other noteworthy witnesses to offer testimony that led to the hanging of Thomas Cornell II was a local town Constable at the time.  The town was Portsmouth, Rhode Island and the Constable was none other than George Soule.  I’ll have to research further to confirm but I believe this would be my 10th great uncle, as opposed to my 10th great grandfather of the same name due to the year.  That’s right my mother’s ancestor helped get my father’s ancestor hung….probably a good thing they didn’t know this when they got divorced!

Weak Case

By modern accounts the testimony against Grandpa Thomas was shoddy at best.  In a court of law today there is no way Thomas Cornell II would have been hanged.  Present researchers think Rebecca Briggs probably burned to death when an ember from her pipe fell on her igniting her clothing.  In the end the result was the same, Thomas Cornell II was hanged in Rhode Island for the death of his widowed mother in May 1673.

Murderous Legacy?

His wife went on to give birth to a daughter after his execution.  She named the child Innocent.  As a further interesting side note many researchers believe that Innocent Cornell went onto marry Richard Borden and is the 4th great grandmother of the infamous parent murdering Lizzie Borden.  So maybe Gramps wasn’t so innocent after all….

Not bad for a morning dipping back into the research pool.  I tracked two lines for the price of one and discovered an unexpected connection between my maternal and paternal relatives hundreds of years before they would cross paths later to create little ole me.

Did my 10th Great Grandfather burn my 11th Great Grandmother to death or was she the victim of a tragic accident for which her son would lose his life in a quest for justice?  Some mysteries will always be mysteries….

 

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=35513988

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Cornell_(settler)

Throwback Thursday

I decided a few old photos would be a good way to fill the void while I continue working on my latest blog.  These are some of my favorites.

Barefoot and Bearing Serpents

This photo strikes me as interesting because it is a 4 generation family photo.  The old lady in the back right is Jennie Osborn Brown and she is surrounded by 3 generations of her descendants.  The man in the black suit is her son, James C. Brown.  The two younger women are his daughters Della and Minnie.  The children are Della and Minnie’s children.

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Early 4 generation photo

It is everything one would expect of a family photo for the time and region at a first glance.  A closer inspection reveals the stick with the large snake dangling from it.  I’m still researching but I don’t think the snake is related.  Unique photo prop to say the least.

Grandpa Needs a Safety Lesson

This second photo is of my paternal Grandfather, Jay Dee Fulkerson Sr.  He died 3 years before I was born so I didn’t know him and know very little about him.  He was killed in a horrible accident.  Despite the unfortunate photo pose, no he did not suffer a firearm injury.  He was cut in half by a malfunctioning street sweeping machine while working for the city of Flint.

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Jay Dee Fulkerson Sr a pose worth a thousand words

Strong Genetics

The final photo is actually of one of my hubby’s paternal ancestors.  This picture actually made me look twice the first time I saw it.  It’s uncanny how much my hubby’s aunt resembles her Great-Great-Great Grandmother, Nancy Penrod (1798-1868).  It’s amazing how strong some physical traits can be.  I enjoy looking at old photos and watching physical characteristics that are passed down generation after generation.

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Nancy Penrod my hubby’s GGGGreat-Grandmother

I Visited Geronimo’s Grave…Maybe?

Cemetery Tourist

It seems as if frequently genealogy and a love of cemeteries go hand in hand.  Visiting old cemeteries seems to be a natural part of most genealogists’ hunt for old ancestors.  My own personal love of genealogy was born in an old family cemetery.

When I travel to new places I enjoy visiting historic buildings and old cemeteries.  Over the years I have visited such notable graves as Doc Holiday, Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, and Calamity Jane.  During my travels I have visited old Confederate cemeteries full of unknown dead soldiers and even a cemetery full of nothing but mules, donkeys, and goats who served as base mascots for Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.

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Mascot Cemetery Fort Sill, Oklahoma

Recently one of the cemeteries I visited was the Fort Sill Indian Agency Cemetery in Oklahoma.  The cemetery, also called the Beef Creek Apache Cemetery, is noteworthy for containing the graves of Apache prisoners of war, including the grave of Geronimo and several of his family members who were held at Fort Sill.

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Beef Creek Apache Cemetery, Fort Sill, Oklahoma

Geronimo’s Grave

Geronimo has a large headstone easily spotted from the road of the cemetery.  It is in the shape of a pyramid with an eagle standing with spread wings on its top.  A closer inspection of the memorial reveals countless items left on and around it.  Feathers, coins, tobacco, all little pieces of tribute left for the great chief by visitors to his grave.  The large stately grave of Geronimo stands out among the sea of simple stones that fill the cemetery.  It seems like a peaceful final resting place.

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Tributes left at Geronimo’s Grave

More to the Story

There is more to the story of Geronimo that goes beyond the date of his death in 1909.  The grave of Geronimo has been the subject of more than one conspiracy story indicating all or part of his body has been removed from his Ft Sill grave.  During more recent times there have been fights to exhume his remains and remove them from the Army base by Native American groups looking to honor his final wishes.  Even in death it seems it’s hard for Geronimo to stay put.

Skull and Bones

The first and probably most well known story involving the removal of Geronimo’s remains involves a prestigious secret society at Yale, the Skull and Bones Club.  According to lore several club members, to include Prescott Bush, stole Geronimo’s skull as part of a club ritual during World War I.  This story has been disclaimed by both members of the club and officials at Fort Sill but still remains a source of mystery.

Elk Mountains

The second story is less known and has less evidence to support its credibility but still bears mentioning.  In 2009 a man from Wichita, Kansas told a story to a reporter, Amanda Warner, of the Times Record News that indicates the body of Geronimo may have never been there for the club to steal.  According to Gene Keeler, a Comanche descendant, the body of Geronimo was secretly moved by a group of men that included his Grandfather, Samuel Dave Cerday, shortly after his death.  According to details relayed to Keeler the body of Geronimo had been moved to the Elk Mountains near Indiahoma, Okalahoma to unmarked grave to remove him from Army control.

I Visited Geronimo’s Headstone

Does Geronimo truly rest under that elaborate stone?  We may never know.  So far efforts by his descendants to have his remains moved have been unsuccessful.  Short of actually exhuming the remains to see if some or any are contained in the grave there is little chance of finding out.  One thing is for certain even over a century after his death; the countless tributes left in his honor indicate he left a lasting mark on the world that lasts long beyond his life.

 

Sources:

http://www.timesrecordnews.com/news/comanche-descendant-geronimo-not-buried-at-fort-sill-ep-433460263-335546011.html

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=387

Matriarch Monday

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Lucy Brown standing

 

Monday is all about honoring female ancestors who showed strength and perseverance in the face of adversity.  Today’s Matriarch is my maternal Great Grandmother Lucy Bell Brown. 

Early Years

Lucy was born on Feb 6, 1897 in Greenbrier County, West Virginia to James C. Brown and Laura Hanshew.  She was the 3rd of 4 children.  When Lucy was young her parents divorced.  Records are scarce on Lucy’s childhood but family stories indicate she was “adopted” out to a couple to be raised after her parents separated.

 

 

Lucy found love with a man named Archie Jamison.  The couple married in 1914 in Nicholas County, West Virginia.  Four children, Steward, Orelo, Archie, and Juanita, were born to the couple between 1915 and 1921. The 1920 census shows the family living in Richwood, Nicholas County, West Virginia and Archie is reported as being a cook in a restaurant.

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Richwood, WV fire 1921

During August of 1921 the town of Richwood experienced a massive fire which destroyed blocks of the town.  According to accounts of the event it appears the fire stopped blocks from where the young family of six lived during the period.

September 1, 1923 tragedy struck when Archie Sr. was killed after being hit by a train.  Lucy was left a young widow with 4 young children.

 

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Lucy with Steward, Orelo, Archie Jr, and Juanita Jamison

A Second Chance at Love

In 1926 Lucy wed for the second time to Dallas Finley Shuck in Nicholas County, West Virginia.  Over the next decade the couple would have 6 children, Dallas, Mary, Elden, Wilson, Laura, and Jeannetta, bringing their family to size to 12.  Her husband, known as Finley, supported the family working in the coal mines.

Duty Calls Her Sons to War

 

Adversity was not behind her as Lucy settled into her life as a coal miner’s wife.  Life was a daily struggle in the poverty stricken mining communities.  Even opportunity was a double edged sword when three of her sons enlisted in the military and all three were sent to the Korean War at the same time.

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Page from the local paper showing 3 Shuck brothers have a reunion in Korea

Lost in the Woods

At some point Lucy began to develop dementia.  I can only wonder if its onset helped lead to one occasion where Lucy became the star of the local news.  She was 78 years old when while out squirrel hunting with her husband she became lost in the woods in October of 1975.  Rescue parties were formed, and searchers looked for her all night long before she was found the next morning.  Apparently, between her faithful hounds and trusty shotgun she was unfazed by her ordeal and planned to continue hunting.  Lucy yet again faced adversity and somehow managed to handle a situation that would have devastated a lesser person.

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newspaper clippings courtesy of a granddaughter of Lucy

Lucy and Finley celebrated over 55 years of marriage before Finley passed.  They had buried 3 children by his death in 1982.  By the time he passed she was suffering pretty heavily with dementia.

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Lucy and Finley

1984 saw the death of another of Lucy’s children when Steward died.

I have hazy personal memories of when Uncle Steward died.  As was still the custom in that area at the time, they had the funeral at home.  A downstairs room was used to set up the body and afterwards it would be buried in the family cemetery across the road.

I don’t know if Lucy was ever truly aware of the fact that it was her son they had set up in the parlor.  I remember conversations of her being upset telling people to get the body out of the parlor before Finley got home from work.  Finley was two years dead and that body was her son.  Perhaps dementia was fates way of sparing her even more grief in life.

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Lucy Brown Jamison Shuck

Final Years

Lucy lived out the final years of her life in the house of her daughter, Mary, in the same little area known as Hell’s Half Acre where she had lived a majority of her life.  She died in 1989.  Her funeral was held in the White Oak Methodist Church on the same road she had lived and she is buried in the P.A. Shuck Cemetery next to Finley.