Monday, July 16, 2018

Military Monday - Letters from Henry part 6

Henry continued to drill and Rosa stayed with him for most of the month of May.

On May 22, Henry wrote:

Dear Parents
This is Wednesday and sure is some hot a real summer day.
I thot I would wrie you a few lines while I have a few minutes time.
Rosa is still here but I think she will leave for home tomorrow so if you go to town or have nothing to do you can get her so she wont be so lonesome for you will want to take a ride in the Ford anyway.
Will John have to come in this next bunch or don’t you know yet. It sure makes us sweat out here drilling now. Rosa comes out here every evening for we can not get up town at the present time so you see we do not get much time to spend together.
How is everybody. Hope the folks are all well and grandma is she getting along like usual? Have you heard from Julia lately. I hope she will be cured of her ear trouble this fime for she sure has had her share of suffering. News is awful scarse here so I will have to ring off for this time hoping this finds you all well. God be with you till we meet again.
Henry & Rosa

Although he doesn't say he is leaving, he ends by saying "God be with you till we meet again" - a phrase he hasn't used before.  It makes me wonder if he knew he was leaving soon......

"Grandma" is Katherine Elizabeth Steinbrecher Steinbrecher - she was born 1839 in Russia and would have been 78 years old.  This picture is ca 1905.

As we suspected, on May 28, Henry writes this postcard:

Dear Parents
We are on our way Passed thro the yards of Buffalo an hour ago. Passed thro Cleveland at 12 last night I don’t know where we are going but will soon find out. 

Monday, July 09, 2018

Military Monday - Letters from Henry part 5

Rosa continued to stay at the camp while Henry intermittently left for exercises and drilling.  She kept busy by doing laundry for the camp.

She wrote 2 postcards -

On May 11 -

Hello Arthur hear I am yet and am going out to see Henry I think that he will go on guard duty some time tonight will write you more later. Just got home from work,
Rosa & Henry

On May 18 -

Hello John this sure is some place here. I only wish you could of see this place last Sun it sure was a sight the people that where out here. Henry is still out on the range think that he will be in the morning.
Your Rosa & Henry

Note: while most letters were addressed to Arthur and "Dear Parents", this one was for Henry's brother John (My grandfather).

Henry returned and wrote a letter - he hints at having to leave soon.

Dear Parents
Will write a little this evening I and Rosa are here in our room just washed our hair and soon will go to bed for I will have to get up at five in the morning to get back by 6. we will not have to drill from 9 till 12 tomorrow for it is mothers day so they will excuse us for a while. You tell the folks we are not allowed to tell when we leave for if they find out we will be punished. But you can keep it to your self they wont have to tell it to anyone as far as I know we will leave this month don’t know where we will go. And when. For they don’t tell us any thing about it only that we leave in a short time. I have heard that we go to Texas till some time this summer and then from there over but that is only talk. By the looks of things we will soon be moved away.
You tell the folks to keep it to them self and you to or I may get into trouble.
Hope this will find you all well the same as it leaves us and don’t forget to ans. With Love and best wishes from us both.
Henry and Rosa

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Those Places Thursday - Mining for Great-grandpa

One of the stories that was passed down in the family was that my great-grandfather Charles Taylor "C.T." Hill had gone off to seek his fortune.  One version was that he went to Alaska for the Gold Rush, another was that he went to Arkansas to mine for diamonds. 

I never heard any more details about the Alaska tale - to date I haven't found anything to substantiate this.

The tale about Arkansas contained a few more details.  One was that he was the bookkeeper at the Red Cloud Mine, the other was that he was the Mayor of the town there called Rush.

I do have a picture of him at Red Cloud dated June 26, 1915.

C.T. Hill in center of photo
I was able to find a few articles online about him while he was there.  One cited the bookkeeper of Red Cloud Mine, Mr. Hill, a "Prince of good-fellows". 

from "Mountain Echo" November 19, 1915
And, there was the report of the first election of the newly incorporated town of Rush listing him as the Mayor - a "wide awake progressive gentleman".

from "Mountain Echo" October 27, 1916
Armed with this information, my cousin and I set off to visit the mine and the town where great-grandpa was the mayor.  First, it became very clear to us that he was mining not for diamonds, but for Zinc.  Zinc was discovered in this area of the Ozark mountains in the 1880's but the mining industry really took off in the years from 1915-1918.  Zinc was used to produce ammunition, so demand was tied to the war effort. 

Selfie at the turnoff to Rush
The town of Rush itself is now a Ghost Town.  Some buildings remain and are now the property of the National Park Service.  

There was a very nice interpretive trail that discussed the boom and bust era of zinc mining and described some of the structures.

While visiting the site, I tried to imagine great-grandpa living in one of these houses,

conducting business in the general store,

or traveling down the path that paralleled Rush Creek to get to the mine.  The path itself becomes impassable during periods of heavy rain, but things were hot and dry when we were there.

Sadly, Red Cloud Mine is gone, but we did see some remains of Morning Star mine along the trail. 

The people of Marion County Arkansas are very proud of their mining history.  Everyone we talked to seemed to have a connection to the mine - someone in their family worked on a mine, lived in Rush, etc.  From the owners of the Silver Run Cabins where we stayed (highly recommended), the Park Rangers at Buffalo Point, the librarian at the county library, the staff in the County Clerk's office at the Courthouse, and the staff at the Yellville Chamber of Commerce (largest town near Rush and county seat) - they were all friendly and willing to share their stories and photos.  It was a wonderful experience mining for information about my Great-grandfather and his life and times.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Military Monday - Letters from Henry part 4

Rosa continued to stay at the camp with Henry - even when he was away drilling.

On May 5, 1918 she wrote:

Brother Arthur,
Just a few lince don’t no very much to write am out on the camp grounds now at the Y.M.C.A. writing some letter. Henry is out on the range has been out every since Thursday morning and wont be in till Tuesday some time but they are going to have a big pade out here so that wh I am here am going to stay and see that I only wish that you could be here now you sure would see some thing you never saw in you life. All the boy’s are going to prade they got about 40 thousand boy’s out here now and still are coming.
I can tell you more when I get home, don’t no when I will be home am going to stay till Henry Leaves now. I think his days are few now the fpoor fellow. I sure do feel sorry for them.
Will tell you more later your sister Rosa & Henry. With love and best wishes to all the folks.

Henry returned from drilling and wrote a postcard on May 11 -

Dear Parents. Sat noon and is raining. And we did need some of it for it was getting quite dusty, we returned on Wed noon, and are drilling everyday. Rosa is working in the laundry here.
She was out here last night for I could not go up town on account of beng on guard.
What are you doing this fine weather it sure has been fine.
We may not drill tomorrow its not yet sure I  hope we do not have to. Best wishes to all
From Henry and Rosa.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Military Monday - Letters from Henry part 3

After Henry and Rosa were married, Rosa went to stay with him at Camp Sherman for a little while. 

From April 24 through May 3, Henry sent 3 postcards and 1 letter.

He talks of drilling day and night, and planning to go out to the Rifle Range.  There is also some talk that they will move to another camp, or perhaps overseas.

Some excerpts are:

Camp Sherman 4-24-18
Dear Parents,
... Rosa is still here. Last night Dr. Schultz took us to the show. Sunday it was so rainy we could not get to see much of the camp. Will try and get to show Rosa around this Sunday if it is nice.
Best Wishes, Henry & Rosa

Camp Sherman 4-28-18

Dear Parents,
Sunday noon and we are drilling. Get it everyday and some nights hear we are going to leave in a week so Rosa will stay awhile yet.
Best Wishes, H.

Camp Sherman May 1, 1918

Dear Parents,
... will try and write a few lines before we will have to drill again for we are in the barracks checking up on the stuff we got.
We have drill every day in the week now drilled last Sunday all day. And tomorrow morning we go on the rifle range for five days. Will stay out there at night live in tents.
Rosa is still here and will stay till we leae here for they have told us we would leave here in a few weeks for another camp. But we do not know where I think it will be for the East some where.
Rosa thinks of going to work for awhile it is too lonesome she says not doing any thing at all. They will send her some clothes for she has not very many with her.
... With Best Wishes from me and Rosa.

Camp Sherman 5-3-18
Dear Parents,
Got the box of eats all O.K. We are on the Range came out yesterday morning, living in tents will stay about 3 more days. Don’t know when we will leave but it will be soon. Many Thanks, Henry

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Society Saturday - Following the Trail of the Moravians

The annual meeting of the Children of the American Colonists was held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The object of the NSCAC  is to promote history and patriotism among young people.  Our members all claim descent from someone who contributed to the 13 colonies prior to the revolution.  Every year, our Geneal Assembly is held with that in mind.

We began by touring Old Salem - a living reconstruction of an early Moravian settlement in North Carolina.  The Moravians were a religious group who originated in Germany and traveled to Pennsylvania, then south to North Carolina.  Old Salem was intended to be a trade center for surrounding towns.  All of the buildings there are original 18th & 19th century buildings, and many have interpreters inside to explain the various trades that took place there.  One interpreter explained how women wore colored ribbons to designate their status - such as child, teen, single sister (young women of marrying age), married women and widows.

We visited the gunsmith shop and saw them making flint lock and pressure rifles.

Next was the Tavern which was a popular stop for "strangers" who visited the town to conduct visits.  Even George Washington stayed there for 2 days in 1791.  The cost of 1/2 bed for a night was equivalent to several days wages for many.  There was a bar that served alcohol, and games of "skill" (not chance) for entertainment.

Down the street were the shops of the turner and the joiner, where we learned how their furniture was made by hand.  Everyone got to try their hand at some of the tools.  All of the wood shavings were recycled to fill in ruts in the road or start cooking fires.

At the silversmith shop, one attraction was a tile stove.  We learned how the molds were imported from Germany, and the tiles were made here in the early 1810's.  The stove itself weighs about 2000 pounds, so it would not have been imported as a whole.

The Moravians were early proponents of education.  The Boys School was started in 1794, and the girls school about 10 years later.  This was very unusual for the time period.  The schools were boarding schools with about 15 pupils each.  The students were able to go home in the evenings and have meals with their families.

Our last stop of the day was to God's Acre - the cemetery.  It was a lovely and peaceful spot.  The graves were very uniform, and in neat little rows.  People were buried in the order in which they died - not according to family groups.

The following day, we traveled to Bethabara.  That was the Moravian settlement started prior to Old Salem.  We toured the Gemeinhaus - or Congregational House.  This was the home of the Minister and his wife, as well as the church.  We were told to enter the Saal (worship hall) by either the Knaben or the Maedchen doors - men and women were kept separate during the service as well as during most daily life.  "Strangers" (ie. non-Moravians) entered through a third, side door.  The minister would sit at the front, symbolizing that he was not any more important than the congregants.  There was a Lot Box on his table - this was the way they would decide important issues - inside were scrolls that said "Yes" "No" or "Wait".  If the community members were in disagreement, or there was a big decision (such as where to settle next), they would pray about it and then draw one of the scrolls, trusting that God had determined the answer.

The minister and his family lived in the other half of the building.  Upstairs was a guest room which was used for visiting dignitaries (ie. church elders), or for newlyweds to stay in for the first few weeks of their marriage before going to separate male and female housing (some honeymoon!).  The minister had 3 tile stoves in his house to keep warm.

Our next stop was at the Potters house.  Pottery was very important to the Moravians.  It was a trade that they had brought with them from Germany and was not very common on the North Carolina frontier.  Thus, they sold their pottery - plates, cups, bowls, etc. to settlers up to 60 miles away.  The potter should have been the wealthiest man in town, but all profits were given to the church and the community.  The National Project of NSCAC this year was to provide new interpretive signage for the Potter's house.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Those Places Thursday - Guilford County

I had a meeting in Winston-Salem, NC recently and took advantage of a few extra days to do some research in neighboring Guilford County.  My Wiley, Burney and Kerr ancestors were there in the late 1700-early 1800's.

I started off at Buffalo Creek Presbyterian Church - this church was founded in 1756 and my Burney ancestors were early members.  In fact, they were involved in a scandal there in 1779 - see

Next, I visited the land owned by my 6th great-grandfather, John Burney (c1725-1795).  He received a grant from the state in 1777 for 640 acres.  His son, my ancestor William Burney received 200 of those acres when he came of age.  That land is within the Greensboro city limits at this point, and some of it is now occupied by low income housing.

Western view of back of housing project.

Then it was on to the land owned by William Wiley (died 1783), another 6th great-grandfather.  He received 2 grants of land as part of the Granville grant - one in Sept 1758, the other in Sept. 1759.  This land was along Birch creek in what was originally Orange County, NC - which later became Guilford County.  Views of this land contained fields and farmland.

A little farther south was his son David Wiley's land.  David was my 5th great-grandfather and lived 1754-1816.  He owned a tract of 100 acres which  is now the site of an abandoned golf course.

Last on the tour of family land was David Kerr (1714-1804), the father of David Wiley's wife Catherine, therefore, another 6th great-grandfather.  His land was located just northwest of William Wiley's land.

Finally, I visited Alamance Presbyterian Church.  This was the church that the Wileys and Kerrs attended.  It was founded in 1762, and was also where the NC Presbyterian synod was founded.

In the cemetery I found 2 stones for my family - there are many no-longer-marked graves, as well as illegible stones, so I suspect other ancestors may be buried here as well.  The two I found were for Catherine Kerr Wiley and her father David Kerr - who has an illegible stone along with a newer stone.

Note:  the locations of land were compiled from land records, map by Fred Hughes, and the assistance of Google.