Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Going to Marshall

I'm heading to Marshall this weekend for a genealogy fair.  It's such a scenic place.  Very near the Buffalo River nestled in the Ozarks.  My great grandmother was raised there.  Every time I visit, I think about how harsh of an environment it must've been.  I wonder how they managed to keep their bellies full and their bodies warm.  If I ever need a reminder of how grand and powerful nature can be, I just go there in my mind.  Feels like home, although I've never lived there.  Can't wait to wade barefooted in the river and skip some rocks...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Johnston Family Stories, told by Tataw...

I remember when I was a teenager, there was a well at the Johnston place. It was about 3 ft high with wood around it and a lid. It was about 60 feet deep. One night, our dog jumped on and fell in. Daddy heard her the next day swimming around. He let me down on the well bucket and put a board on it. He let me down by hand and I was a teenager at the time. I hooked the rope on the dog and he pulled her out. Then he let me out next. Mom was about to have a fit.

The Johnston family homesteaded. They had orchards and raised fruit. It was a big operation. They had orchards all around. They had a concrete tank they built under the ground they'd keep oil in. When I was young, they'd quit using it. Once someone had set the oil inside on fire. They used the oil to light smudge pots to use to keep the crops from freezing.

Uncle Ned Johnston was dating a girl and they were planning on getting married later. They were going to build a house on top of that tank and use it as a basement. He ended up not marrying her, so that plan fell through. He didn't marry until he was up in his 30's.

I remember my uncles on my daddy's side made, "Home Brew" using some kind of berries. It was like a beer and it would take about a week to brew it. They would hide it out.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Johnston Family Picture

This is a family picture of my great grandparents (in the center- seated) and their children, their spouses and grandchildren at the time.  Hal and Sibyl Johnston.  They lived in Dardanelle, AR.  I'll have to check with my dad to see when it was taken...  Will try to get names of everyone to post here, as well.  I could take a stab at it, but I don't want to get any names wrong.  

It was taken in front of the old home place on the farm.  My Great Aunt Mary owns it now.  She is 95 and going strong. :)  I believe her husband, Boyd is on the top row, second from the left side.  Aunt Mary is on the second row, second from the left.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Next Trip to Little Rock

On my next trip to Little Rock (probably Jan or Feb), I'm going to enlist the help of a couple of my cousins and do some research on the Reedy side of my family...

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Gearing Up for Some More Research

My cousin, Anthony has gotten me excited about genealogy again. Here's what I'm working on:

1. I got a mac this summer and need to change my data over from the Family Treemaker software to the Reunion software (mac's version).
2. I am working on adding info for my Keeling/Turnbow cousins. Am needing birthdates/places, full names, parents, etc.
3. On Facebook, we've started groups for the Reedys, the Richards, the Keelings and the Johnstons. Am meeting lots of new relatives this way. Will be a great forum to share information in a more private fashion. Everything I put on this blog is very public, so I'm careful what I post...

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Stories from my Memaw, Sallie Johnston

During the summers, we would all leave Centerville and head to California to work. There were canneries, sugar beet factories, and all kinds of work. We started going out there when I was in the 9th grade because there wasn't any work here. It was during the depression. Mama saved up $500 and bought a Studebaker car. She would take groceries and we'd never stop at restaurants or motels. We just would stop along the side of the road and she'd cook something. One time when we were going out there, we'd had a big meal of ham and eggs and stuff and Johnny Boo (my younger brother) rared back and said, "Oh, what a life! :)" We would go out in the springtime and come back in the fall. Once Johnny and I came back with someone else. It was two men that we knew that were going to TN. We came back to start school.

Years before, back when Grandma and Grandpa Keeling lived in the Shinn Mountains in Pope County, (past Russellville), they homesteaded up there. We would leave Centerville in a wagon.  It wasn't a covered wagon because wagon sheets were expensive.  We went through Dardanelle, Russellville and I think through Dover. We'd leave early in the morning and we wouldn't get up there until late that night. We'd get out and run along the side of the road when we'd get tired of riding. We didn't get to go very often. It would be like making a trip to California or New York nowadays. Sometimes, they'd water the wheels of the wagon to lubricate them to make it less likely that they'd break. It made the wood swell up so they'd stay on. *Tataw piped in- we just had wagons to go into town until my sister, Mary worked in the creamery long enough to save up and buy a Model T. It was enclosed and it was a 1 seater. She had it for a while and then she bought a '28 Chevrolet. It was a better car. Then she got married and later, they bought a '33 Chevrolet. They drove it until '42 and then they bought a new '40 Chevrolet.

When I was little, mama sent me, Johnny and his girlfriend, to bring in some stovewood. They started throwing wood at me.   Momma had to come out and make them leave me alone.  I was probably about 6 or 7 years old and Johnny was a year younger.

 When we lived at that same place, we had a bunch of sapling trees. Boug and Leonard would bend down the trees and put me in the top of them. Then they'd let it go and I would go flying in the air.  If I cried, they would tell me that they wouldn't let me play anymore.

I had a hard time keeping up with my brothers. They were really rough.   I was little and I didn't weigh 100 lbs. until I was about grown.  Usually, Leonard would start things.  He might just come along and hit me in the back of the head.  It didn't hurt, but it would make me mad.  Then Leonard and Boug would get into a fight because Boug was always taking up for me.  They were both pretty good fighters.  They didn't usually pick on Johnny Boo.  They must have picked on me because I was the only girl.  I had to play as rough as they did.

I started school when I was 5 and didn't turn 6 until January. I didn't know how to act.  I got up and went to the trash can to throw some paper away.  The teacher got onto me and the boys teased me.  I didn't go back to school another day.  Mama would take me to school and every time she would turn around to go back, I would go back, too.  She had a switch and she would whip me all the way back home, leaving whelps on my legs.  This happened a few times.  Then she would get me ready to catch the bus because the boys rode the bus.  I just refused to go.  I was so hard headed that I didn't end up going back to school that year.

Once when I was in the 6th or 7th grade, we were playing ball at school.  The teacher was trying to make me apologize to Mary Ellen George over something.  Every time, I'd say, "Mary Ella, I'm sorry, but I'm NOT..."  She never did get me to apologize without saying, "I'm NOT."  You talk about hard-headed...

I would stay with my aunt Rosie and Uncle Jess' house a lot.  My cousin, Elnora was their daughter and we were very close.  Once on the radio, they said the world was coming to an end.  I decided I wanted to be home with my brothers and my parents if that was going to happen, so Jess had to take me home. It scared me a lot.  I was all right after I got home, though.

Then I married Bud and he was the only boy in his family.  His dad was content to have just girls.  He said he didn't know what his wife would want with a boy because he was satisfied with all girls.  

Stories from my Dad, John Johnston

They built a dam to make Lake Maumelle when I was in grade school. They'd dug holes from some of the area that would eventually be underwater so that they could use the dirt to make the dam. Grundy (his grandfather) loaded a bunch of us into his truck. It was me, Terry and Bart Moreland, Judy, Betty Taylor, Jeanie Horsey and a bunch of us. We went to one of the water holes that they'd dug in the bottom of the lake. Grundy had us spitting on the hooks and we caught a bunch of bream. Judy would spit on her hook and sling the line out with the cork. It would make a big splash and she would catch a fish every time. Grundy said it was because she was making so much racket with her cork. I don't know how the fish got in there, but they were there and we were catching a lot of them.

One time, Leonard Carl and Grundy were running a trot line and they caught an eel. Grundy had a new pair of pliers. He was holding onto the line, trying to get the eel off the hook, but he was afraid of the eel. That eel wrapped around his arm and he slung the whole thing into the water, pliers and all...

Once, we all went to bear creek with Grundy. It was me and my Keeling cousins and Judy. We went on the other side of Lake Nimrod to Bear Creek. When we were on our way back, David started crying because he realized that he had left his new rod and reel he'd gotten for Christmas back at the creek. Grundy turned around and drove back to get it, but Leonard Carl and I jumped off the truck and hitched a ride back home. Grundy didn't know it. He didn't whip us, but he scolded us good. He was worried. He didn't realize we'd hopped out. I remember we always had to sit on the left side of the back of the truck because Grundy spit tobacco out the driver side window and it would hit us if we were sitting on that side of the bed of the truck.

We went to Greer's Ferry with Grundy and he bought Barbara Sue, Leonard Carl, David and Robert McMullen. Me and Judy drove up in our parents car. Me and the other boys slept on the ground under the tarp. We caught a bunch of crappie and brought them back. There was a big mud hole and we stripped off all our clothes. We didn't want to get our swimsuits dirty. There was so much mud caked on us that you couldn't tell. We went out in an old homemade wooden boat and a storm came up. We barely made it back. We were baling water. Everytime we hit a wake, we could see the boat twisting. When we camped, he let us just run wild.

Random Stories and Thoughts from Tataw

One of Grandpa Johnston's sisters was married to a man named Marceles Davis. He was a Colonel in the Civil War. He was also a lawyer. They lived in Dardanelle, AR. I remember he had some old pistols and stuff from the Civil War on his office walls. He also had his old saddle from the Civil War. It was a confederate saddle. It had an opening down the middle over the horse's backbone. She had it under the house and she gave it to Uncle Frank. I don't know what he ever did with it.

I remember reading in an old copy of the Post Dispatch about a wharf on the Arkansas River in Dardanelle. They said it was the "Cotton and Johnston" wharf. I think they loaded cotton on steamboats there.

I wanted my sister, Nina to be a brother. I was 6 years older than her. Momma said, "I don't know why you'd want a brother." She said it'd be like cousins Bink and Frank Lee. Bink was 6 when Frank Lee was born and he didn't want him tagging along all the time. Nina was the last kid she could have. She was 40. I guess she would let us nurse for a long time, so she didn't get pregnant very often. She said she'd had all the babies she could. There were 5 of us and they were all born over about 12 years. Most were about 2 1/2 years apart. I had 4 sisters.

Papa (Tataw's dad) was married before to Ethel Cates. She died in childbirth and her baby did, too. For years, we just had a rock to mark the grave. Many, many years later, my mom had a small tombstone made for them. Papa remarried and they had Tataw and his sisters. Grandma Johnston was 3 years older than him and she told Tataw that she was the one who proposed. She was 26 and he was 23. She was getting to be an old maid... I suppose Grandma Johnston knew his first wife. They were neighbors and when I was growing up, she had relatives that were our neighbors. There were a few Cates left up there and they were buried at New Hope Cemetery. I don't think there are any others up there. *side note- when I was born (Nikki), Papa came to the hospital and cried like a baby when he found that mom and I were healthy and well. Tataw said Papa was emotional*

Boyd George married my sister, Mary. I knew him and his brothers and sister. His sister was a good friend of Rena's (my sister). Boyd was 6 years older than me. I remember Boyd coming out when he was a teenager. He bought 2 or 3 banty chickens from us. I guess he walked out from town. At that time, it was about 2 miles. Boyd's family lived in town. I never knew what his dad did for a living, other than bootlegging. He and his wife didn't live together too long. The wife raised the kids. He lived in town. His name was Sam George. *Side note- Memaw's brother, Boug went to Boyd's mother's house when he had his leg amputated as a child (rather than staying in a hospital). She took care of Dr. Christian's patients at the time and took in boarders. Memaw was always close to Mrs. George all of her life because she'd known her for so long. They were good friends, despite the age difference. *

Tataw's version of when He and Memaw got married: B. McElroy was going with Reba Fay on a date and he set us up. He was going on a date and wanted someone else to go. He said, "She's a cute girl!" and so I told him, "Well then you take her and I'll go with Reba Fay"... So we went on a date. When we dated, we'd go over to the honkey tonk a lot and to Lake Nimrod for picnics and fishing. *Memaw piped in- We just dated on two furlows we had until he got out of the military. I was living in California and I came back just to see my grandmother (Grandma Bell), but I went straight from California to Little Rock and saw Tataw. He was living with his sister, Mary there in Little Rock. We decided one night that we were going to get married, so the next day, we went to the Yell Co. Courthouse in Dardanelle. David McClure filled out the paperwork. There was a 3 day waiting list, but he back-dated it for us. We went out to the Centerville store and picked up Reba Faye, first. Ol Pockus was a justice of the peace and he had a store and barber shop. At the time, they were both dating someone else... Bud didn't like it because she was going with someone else, so Sallie said, "Well we might as well be married!" so they got married. Bud didn't go see his girlfriend in Little Rock for 3 or 4 days... He'd gotten married. His girlfriend was named Dorothy Gaden. She called the fire station to ask what was wrong and he told her he'd gotten married. She cried. Bud never talked to her anymore. She'd been married before, but he and his mom were mean to her. After they married, they lived in Little Rock with Boyd and Mary for about 6 months. Butch was a baby. Grandma Nell and Grundy and all the family was glad. They all liked Bud because he was such a good guy. Bud's family were all allright with it. He supposed they were glad he was married. He was 26 and she was 20. For a while, they just wrote letters. When he was in parachute school, he sent her a jump jacket, a bouquet of flowers and a packet of chewing gum. Chewing gum was hard to come by during the war. Sallie wrote back and said that she'd come home to her apartment and those flowers were waiting for her. She was living in Crockett, CA then. That was when they'd dated.


California, 1961 Grundy and Grandma Nell (William Ernest and Nell Keeling)
I hadn't ever seen this picture until I found it in Memaw's trunk today. Memaw and Daddy pose with Grandma Nell, Grundy and me when I was a little baby... It was taken on their front porch.
Grundy and his tobacco plants

Mildred and C.J. Erbacher's Christmas Card

Mildred's maiden name was Ross. Her father (Claude Ross) and my great, great grandmother (Sibyl Ross) were siblings.

Ross Family Picture

This picture was taken at the Ross' family house. The house doesn't stand anymore.
Left to right: James "Buster" Ross, Clarence Ross (James' dad), Ina Norman Ross (Clarence's wife), Mildred Ross, Norma Ross (Claude's wife, Mildred and Faye's mother), Faye Ross, Claude Ross (Mildred and Faye's Dad), James Alexander Ross (Pa Ross... Called him Alex), Gran Ross (Alex's wife), Sibyl Ross Johnston, Mary Cabel Johnston (baby), Harold Banks Johnston

Ross Pictures

Faye Ross
Mildred Ross

Sharon Meeks: On the back of the pictures, it says, "Sharon Ann Meek Age 5 years. April 23, 1961. She loves to dress up. Sharon is dressed up in an old dance suit of Mary Clyde's."

James "Buster" Ross

Another one of James Ross...

Ross Family Stories from Tataw...

Dictated by Harold Ross Johnston, who is my grandfather. His mother's maiden name was Ross.

I had cousins named Mildred and Faye Ross. We were kids in Dardanelle on a farm and we raised cotton. Cotton was a cash crop then, but it got down to a nickel a pound... They lived down at Conway and their dad had a restaurant. They were more well-off than we were. They would send Grand (my grandmother) a package once and a while. They'd maybe have some school supplies in it and some clothes. I remember one time they sent (back in the '30's during the depression) they sent leather boots that came up nearly to their knees. They were girl's boots. They wouldn't fit any of the girls but they fit me, so I wore them. They laced up on the sides. I don't remember who took us down to Conway, but we went down there in a Model T with an open top. We drove down from Dardanelle. I don't know why, but I was the only kid who got to go. I went with my mother and my grandmother and whoever was driving the car. The Ross cousins had a cafe across from the train stop in Conway. I don't remember, but I think "Martini" was the cook's name. My grandmother would talk about how he could cook. She said he could take any kind of piece of meat, and make it tender. He wouldn't tell his secret on how he did it. We visited at their house there in Conway. I remember there was a street and there were steps up into the yard. It was a very nice house to us, anyhow. We ate lunch down at the cafe and went back home that afternoon. I was about 10 or 12 years old. Both Mildred and Faye were older. Faye was a school teacher. She came and lived at Dardanelle the first year and she taught school. She taught me music and I was in elementary school. She taught me "do, re, me..." and she had us sing in high pitched voices. I remember she stayed with Joe Gault's family. I think he might've been kin to her mother or someone, but he wasn't kin to us and she stayed there... Mildred and Faye were my first cousins. Their dad was my mother's brother. His name was Claude. I don't remember much about him. They would come to visit every great while. I remember my mother telling about how he was a good swimmer. The Arkansas River was high at Dardanelle. Someone bet someone else $5 that he could swim it, so he agreed to swim. They went on the other side of the river across the old pontoon bridge. It was there until 1927. He swam across. There was a row boat following him. He made it across, but it took him downstream a ways. The river was about 1/2 mile across there. They hadn't put in lock & dams yet. He was a young man back then. Uncle Claude and Mama had another brother named, "Clarence". Sister Baby was Clarence Ross' daughter, but he died before she was born.. Ina (Harmon) Ross was his wife. She would've been about my age. Sister Baby's name was Mattie Ross, but we called her, "Sister Baby". I grew up with her and she married Ernest Gray. We called him, "Onions". He drove a truck for a living, I think. He died before she died. They had 4 or 5 kids but I can't remember their names. Sister Baby's older brother's name was James and her older sister was Nellie. Not long after I was married, James had a heart attack and died. He lived in Kalamazoo, Michigan. There was snow and ice and he was pushing the family car by hand or something. He had a heart attack and died. He married the sister of the man who I bought a 29 chevrolet (the first car I ever had). Some of her kids are still back around Russellville. That was back when they'd take the body of the dead person back home for a wake. Aunt Ina hated to bury him. I think she kept him nearly a week. I remember going up to see him in her living room. They embalmed people there at the house back then. I remember seeing them embalm Joe Taske. He was our neighbor and was a Bohemeon. He'd been spreading fertilizer behind a wagon and had a heart attack and died. Uncle Frank Lee found him. I was down at the funeral home that night and went in there to see him and they'd cut an opening in his stomach and had a gallon jug of embalming fluid. They put a tube in and poured it in him. Then they sewed it up. I was nearly in high school then. Graves were dug by hand then. Usually friends and family would dig the grave by hand, even if the ground was frozen. It got really cold then. I remember the Arkansas River freezing over at Dardanelle back then. I remember my dad telling about how they drove a wagon across it frozen many, many years ago.

One of my mom's brothers was in the Spanish American war. He was young when he went in. I think he lied about his age. His parents saw him on the steamboat when he was leaving. They didn't know he was going, but he was recruited and went. They made him a drummer boy. Gran gave me his hat and his belt buckle. It was brass and it had US on it. I had that hat for a long time. When I got older, it had a wide brim. I cut the brim down around and wore it. The last we saw, it was in a hat box at my mom's house years ago. I don't know what happened to the belt buckle. It was there when I went into the army but haven't seen it since. They had saloons up in Dardanelle, then. A friend of his sold his cotton and was in a saloon drinking and gambling. The boy's dad tried to get him to leave and he wouldn't do it. The father asked my uncle to go in and get him to leave. The saloon owner didn't appreciate that because he was getting so much of his money. The saloon owner got into an argument. He called my uncle an "SOB", so my uncle jumped him and the saloon owner shot and killed him. I think the saloon owner was named, "Burns". He wasn't prosecuted. When I was growing up, saloons were illegal. Liquor was illegal, too until the 30's sometime. There were bootleggers, though. I imagine it slowed down some people's drinking, but I wasn't old enough to drink then.

When my mother was about 13, her family sold their farm in Dardanelle and went to homestead in Oklahoma. Her uncle was Dick Blackwell. My mother's mother was a Blackwell. The town of Blackwell, Oklahoma was named after him. There were lots of outlaws back then. He was well-to-do and he disappeared and was never heard from again. My mama said those Indian boys would ride ponies and come by their wagon, whooping and hollering, but didn't hurt them. They were just scaring them. She talked about how the wind would blow and in the wintertime, the cattle would run out. There were no fences. In the morning, the cows would be up against the house, trying to stay out of the wind. It was pretty rugged out there. They didn't stay and decided to come home to Dardanelle. They were able to buy back their farm in Dardanelle and they lived there until they died. Aunt Mary Johnston owns the old Ross place now.

We called my grandfather on the Ross side, "Pa Ross". My mom never talked about his folks much. He died when I was about 13. He fell and hit his head on the root of a big elm tree. He'd been over to the neighbors and brought back a toe sack of peas that they had given him. He came back in the yard and fell and died. They think he had a heart attack.

They said he'd dug out a spring and when he'd finished working each day, he'd take a bath in that spring. There was another spring, too. They'd dug a well and it wasn't bricked up, but it was about 1 1/2 ft across. It was on the porch and had wood around it down to the ground. We used to put watermelon down in it to keep it cool. Butter and milk, too.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Grandma Nell and Grundy

(Memaw's late parents- my great grandparents)