Tombstone Tuesday: John Wesley Fly

John Wesley Fly was born in Barry County, Missouri on March 7, 1844 to parents Asher Pipkin and Marillay (Cantrell) Fly.  Asher and Marillay were born in Tennessee and John was one of fourteen children born to their marriage. His parents were devout Christians, Asher having first professed his faith in 1840 by joining the Methodist Church and four years later joining the Methodist Episcopal Church. Marillay died in 1860 and Asher married Minerva Doty in 1862 and fathered four children with her.  Meanwhile, the Civil War erupted and the state of Missouri was sharply divided as to its loyalties.  Citizens of Barry County gathered soon after the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter and declared their intentions to remain neutral, fearing civil war could erupt within the borders of their county.  Yet, despite the so-called Gadfly Resolution of 1861 (Gadfly was later changed to Corsicana) the county was indeed divided. According to the White River Valley Historical Quarterly, the county was “sharply divided”1 with northern and eastern parts of the county solidly Union and the western and southern parts favoring the Confederacy. Of course, there were exceptions even around Gadfly where John’s sweetheart Charity Clark lived with her family. John’s entry at Find-A-Grave, taken directly from The History of Fresno County, California2 indicates the Clark family had Southern sympathies, while their future son-in-law joined the Union Army in Fayetteville, Arkansas on January 3, 1863. He served in Company H of the Missouri Cavalry and fought at Little Rock and Camden, suffering nary a scratch. During one furlough John returned home and found Charity had remained true to...

Tombstone Tuesday: Kinnis and Pocahontas Fritter

Several weeks ago I came across an entry at Find-A-Grave which intrigued me – Pocahontas McVeigh Fritter who is buried in Franklin County, Ohio.  Both her first name and married name are both a bit unusual – there must be a story there.  Then I found her husband Kinnis buried in Nebraska, several years preceding her death… definitely a story there! Kinnis Fritter Kinnis Fritter was born on October 10, 1832 in Virginia.  I believe his father was Enoch (or Enock) Fritter, but the name of his mother is unclear.  Enoch married Polly Knight in 1825 in Virginia, where Kinnis was born, but the History of Fairfield County, Ohio indicates Enoch Fritter married a woman named Elizabeth Courtright.  If so, it’s possible Polly was his mother. In 1850 Enoch was enumerated with wife Catherine and four children (Kinnis was “Dennis”). Here I found one of the many frustrating aspects of genealogical research – either the census taker or the transcriptionist butchers the name. In this case, I think it was the transcriptionist. To me it’s clear the name was written down as “Fritter”, but the transcriptionist recorded “Fartter”. In cases such as this, unless a researcher is utilizing a broad search for a particular name they may come up empty-handed and frustrated. Enoch was a farmer and died in 1856. Kinnis set out on his own path to success by becoming an attorney and politician. In that era, it would have been more common for young men to study law with an established law practice rather than receive a formal law school education. Throughout his years as an attorney...

Tombstone Tuesday: Flavius Terry Laffoon

     Flavius Terry Laffoon was born on July 28, 1833 in Lawrence County, Tennessee to parents Matthew and Elizabeth Murrell Laffoon.  In 1840 Matthew and his family were enumerated in Giles County, Tennessee.  Family historians estimate the family migrated to Arkansas around 1845, but by 1850 Elizabeth was a widow and living with her children in Carroll County, Arkansas.  Nine of her children, including Flavius, were enumerated in the same household that year: Thomas (26); Elizabeth (22); Mary (20); Flavius (17); Edward (16); Lycurgus (14); Gideon (12); Evaline (8); Matthew (5). Flavius married Judia (or Juda) Thomas, daughter of Nicholas and Amanda Thomas, on December 24, 1854 and together they had seven children: Thomas, John, William, Andrew Jackson, Amanda, James and Dora. While not everyone in Arkansas supported the Confederate cause during the Civil War, nevertheless the state seceded from the Union on May 6, 1861. Some residents of the northern counties of the state (Searcy, Marion, Carroll, Izard, Fulton and Van Buren), however, were pro-Union and members of the Arkansas Peace Society as noted in another Tombstone Tuesday article published in 2014 (read it here). On June 14, 1862 Flavius enlisted in Izard County and joined the 27th Arkansas Infantry which officially organized at Yellville the following month. Missourian James Shaler was appointed as colonel of the regiment, but soon proved to be unpopular with his charges. Shaler was vehemently anti-Union and focused on liberating his home state from the Union, although the 27th had been organized primarily for the defense of northern Arkansas. Arkansans were outraged when Shaler replaced the Confederate flag with the Missouri flag. More...

Tombstone Tuesday: The Trials and Persecution of Reverend Joy Hamlet Fairchild (Part One)

“I am either the worst of men, or the most persecuted and injured – either a knave or a martyr. Let the public read my story and judge for themselves.”  J.H. Fairchild, Exeter, N.H., December 1844 While browsing through my list of potential Tombstone Tuesday articles, I stumbled across an interesting story, as they say “ripped from the headlines” of the 1840s and ’50s, about a minister unjustly tried for adultery in the Boston Municipal Court. Joy Hamlet Fairchild was born on April 24, 1790 in Guilford, Connecticut to parents Lewis and Mehitable Waterous Fairchild.  Lewis’ first wife Sarah Waterous was Mehitable’s sister and Joy was the eighth and last child of the second marriage.  Lewis died when Joy was but thirteen months old and credited his mother’s prayers and counsels for his later successes in life — perhaps even his ability to face unthinkable challenges and controversy. This article is no longer available at this site.  However, it will be enhanced and published later in a future issue of Digging History Magazine, our new monthly digital publication available by individual purchase or subscription.  To see what the magazine is all about you can preview issues at our YouTube Channel.  Subscriptions are affordable, safe and easy to purchase and the best deal for getting your “history fix” every...

Tombstone Tuesday: Charles C. Mack

Charles C. Mack was born on January 4, 1810 to parents Jesse and Mary Ann (McCollister) Mack in Washington County, New York.  It appears that Charles might have still been living with his parents in 1830, but around 1832-1834 he married Sophia Brown.  Their first son, Jesse William, was born on Christmas Day of 1834.  Three daughters followed: Emily (1836), Sarah (1839) and Emma (1841). Emily died in 1841 at the age of four years, about eight months before Sophia gave birth to Emma.  Sophia died on October 21, 1846 and Charles married a woman by the name of Caroline (maiden name unknown).  In 1850 the Mack family was enumerated in Washington County, but not long afterwards, perhaps around 1852-1853, they migrated west to Minnesota Territory. Charles Mack and his family were among the first settlers of what would become Blue Earth County, an area familiar to readers of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book series. Mankato was the most prominent early settlement in the county. By the spring of 1852 most of the land around Mankato had been staked into 160 acre plots and more settlers began to arrive. The area was also home to Sioux Indians, but on February 14, 1853 the United States Congress ratified two treaties which stripped the Indians of all land in Blue Earth County and beyond. A few weeks later on March 5, Blue Earth County was created by an act of the Territorial Legislature. Initially, the county was quite large, embracing “all of the State of Minnesota south of the Minnesota river, except the counties of Wabasha, Dakota, Goodhue, Rice, Scott, Filmore and...

Tombstone Tuesday: Mary Susan Ann Rebecca Yankee Doodle Jay-Ho Bonaparte Dekelter Payne Spencer

I don’t recall exactly how I came across this most unusual name, but knew there must be a story (and I was right!).  There may not be many records which document her life, but I located an article written by her great-granddaughter Dr. Theresa Greene Reed and included in a book about the heritage and history of Amherst County, Virginia. Mary (called Lucy by her slave owners) was born to parents Nathan and Susan Emaline Payne, slaves of Colonel Philip W. Payne of Campbell County, Virginia, on July 12, 1848.  After Colonel Payne died in 1840, she and her mother were sold to Dr. Robert Wingfield and his wife Elizabeth Sisson Wingfield, owners of a plantation in Amherst County. The Wingfields were married on December 20, 1841 and Emaline (“Mammy”) helped raise the Wingfield children after developing a close friendship with Elizabeth. Dr. Reed doesn’t mention what happened to Nathan when his daughter and wife were sold to the Wingfield family, but they were later reunited following the Civil War. Mary and Emaline lived in a slave cabin near the Samuel Spencer plantation. On June 25, 1863 Mary met one of his slaves, Warwick Spencer, as they hid in the bushes at Gallows Field. Five slaves of General Jerisha Washington Dillard were hung that day, accused of killing their master. Not exactly an ideal way to meet your future husband, but perhaps it was love at first sight. Almost two years passed before Mary and Warwick would see each other again. They met again in the spring of 1865 at Appomattox Court House, site of General Robert E. Lee’s...