Friday, February 28, 2014

Day 28 - Recap

Last year when I did this challenge, I wrote whatever came to mind. I wrote some things well, others were just lists.

This year, I tried to put it all in order to see if I had enough to write a short story to share with family. I have about 24000 words so I looked it up. I have too many words for a short story and too little for a novel. However, with technology, novelettes are back in favor. When Jane was living, many stories were serialized and the word count would fall between those of a story and a novel. Novelettes were very popular.

Then I went back and looked at the different days. Some have dialog and others are just stating facts. All that will need to be redone but I have something to work with. The next it creative non-fiction or have I crossed enough lines to have to consider it historical fiction? While I would like to think of it as creative non-fiction, I already know the answer.

My goal for next year is to move on to another family line. It's time to look at Farris/Pitchford, my grandmother's side of the family. I have a second cousin making a trip to England this year to the Pitchford Castle. She will come back with lots of information to share. I also know a little bit about the Farris side and there are some interesting characters there.

The Rhea/McCollum story will continue to grow as little pieces pop up. Each new piece challenges what I thought I knew and that's what makes family history exciting.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Join me on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge - April 2014

While I finish the Family History Writing Challenge, I am getting ready for the Blogging from A - Z Challenge. If you haven't tried this one, click on the link and check it out. There is still time to sign up.

Last year I did California Destinations, picking a place for each letter of the alphabet. This year, I am attempting to do family history on the other side of the family. Since I am in the embryo stage of detailed research for the Yeakley/Jones family, this is proving to be difficult. I am writing about my aunts and uncles so we have some sort of record other than basic facts but filling in the other days is harder. To make it worse, I am also doing 52 ancestors in 52 weeks for the same family. I might have bitten off more than I can chew.

I am looking forward to the challenge. Not only does it stretch my skills as a blogger, I am looking forward to meeting new bloggers I haven't yet discovered. You should give it a try.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Day 23 - Jim comes home

Jane quietly closed the door behind her. It the darkened room, Polly was asleep on the daybed in the front room. It had been a rough year for Polly who was not the robust person she’d once been.

She was 61-yrs-old now and time had taken its toll.  The year was 1886 and Polly lived with her youngest daughter Sarah and husband, Henry Depew. She was no longer working and spent most of her time resting. She’d used up much of her strength and energy comforting Jane when John Carter was murdered in 1884. Jane was 8-months pregnant with Lillie on the day that John Brewer shot John Carter. 

Jane tiptoed into the kitchen to find Sarah sitting at the kitchen table, pen in hand. Pausing in her writing, she looked up and answered the question she saw in Jane’s eyes. “Yes, I’m writing to Caroline. I imagine she’ll be shocked. I wonder if she and Robert will make the trip all the way from Oklahoma.” 

Jane looked skeptical. “That’s a long way to go with all those kids and Robert may not be able to leave his job for that long. The lumber business is volatile as it is.” 

“Still,” Carolyn said, “I’m going to let her know. This is the biggest news in years. Do you want to tell Mom?”

“I guess someone has to tell her,” Martha replied. “There’s no time like the present” and with that, Jane headed back to the front room.  She walked over to the daybed and touched her mother on her shoulder.

“Mama,” she whispered. Polly opened her eyes and smiled at her.  “Mama, he’s home,” she said softly.  Polly looked confused. “Who’s home?” she asked. 

“Daddy’s home.”

The kids were excited when they heard their grandfather had come home. Jane wasn't quite sure how she felt. He had been gone a very long time and hadn't been much of a father. Her younger sisters, now parents themselves, did not remember him so they were excited too. She had decided to take a wait and see attitude.

Polly, who had gotten older and bitter as time had gone by, was flat out angry. In fact, she had divorced him some years back. Now, she was living with Sarah and Jim wanted to live there too. That made her even angrier. Jane didn't have room and Caroline had moved. Jim didn't care. This was his family and he was staying. The rumor he had another family in California didn't seem to bother him at all.

Jane wanted the kids to know their grandfather. They had grown up without a father as she had and it was important that they at least knew him. He had wonderful stories to tell from giant trees to earthquakes. He was almost larger than life.

Jim was 35 when he left for California. There are just some people who are drawn to the lure of riches beyond belief and Jim was one of them. He loaded up the horse with supplies he purchased at the Station and without looking behind him, left his family.

He was flooded with relief. Finally, he was moving on. He loved his wife and children but they were stumbling blocks to the life he had planned. He never meant to stay at the station. He was very much like his father. He had heard the stories of how his father had come to the Station for supplies and somehow stayed even though it wasn’t his plan. Now, he was picking up the gauntlet and doing what he father didn’t. It was strange that his dad had disappeared when he was five and sometimes he wondered where he had gone. He was never found and 30 years later, it was still a mystery. No one goes out to chop wood and disappears, especially when he was with John Jr. and Andrew. Both of them were evasive about the disappearance but it was a long, long time ago.

Like many of the gold hunter, Jim headed for New Orleans. Making his way overland, he arrived in New Orleans and boarded a ship that would take him through Panama and arrive in San Francisco. By 1867, he was living in Salmon, California. (Forks of Salmon was originally a settlement in the now defunct Klamath County California.)

Jim didn’t find gold but he did find a lifestyle that suited him. He built a home overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the little town of Trinidad, 18 miles from the largest Redwood forest. By 1870, he had purchased land in Dow’s Prairie and was farming. It was very different from Tennessee. Back home, Jane was married and had three children. Caroline and Sarah had steady beaus who they would also marry. Polly had retired and spent much of her time just waiting for Jim to come home.

In 1855, he was registered to vote as a California resident and he owned 168 acres. He listed the value at $915.00. He grew hay and had farm animals. There is no record that he had a 2nd family and the census does not bare it out but there was the rumor. His name changed several times. He was McCollom and McColloam.

In 1886, Jim came home two years after John Carter died.

Jim moved in with Sarah when he returned to Sneedville. He regaled his grandchildren with tales of bigger than life trees and earthquakes. He talked about the ocean and the storms that blew in. It was a life they could not comprehend and thought he was making it up. He seemed happy to be home even when he learned that Polly had divorced him and wanted nothing to do with him. She was already living with Sarah and it made it uncomfortable.

Polly died in 1886, two years after Jim came home. The girls felt lost without their mother who had been the major part of their lives. Sarah and her husband continued to let Jim stay with them after Polly’s death. Henry Depew would tell Jim every morning when he went out to the fields that he needed to be gone when he got home. Every evening when he returned, Jim would be sitting next to the stove whittling something. It never changed and he said it every day until 1896 when Jim passed away. Jim was buried next to Polly.

Jane made peace with her father. She was not spiteful and had a loving heart. By the time Jim came home, she had lost her husband and his presence was good for the kids.

In 1886 when Jim came home, Mary Leoni was 18. Laura was 16. Floyd was 13. Luvena was 11. Della was 9. Victor was 6. William was 4 and Lillie was 2. Missing John as much as she did, the arrival of the children’s grandfather helped fill the void. With his experience out West, he kept the kids entertained.

Caroline had Ida who was 11. James was 8. Launa was 7. The twins, Victor E and Ollie were 6. Bonnie was 4. William R was 2. Charles was born the year Jim came home.
Edger was born 3 years after he came home. Bessie was born 7 years after he came home and was 3 when he died. He didn’t see these children. They had moved to Virginia and only met them at Polly’s funeral.

Sarah’s children were:

William Lafayette 13
James N (named after his grandfather) 12
Mary 8
Alice 7
Kenneth 6
Ida 3
Mack 1
Effie, Levy, Leonard, and Carl were born after Jim came back. All of them got to spend time with their grandfather too since he lived with them. It must have been pretty crowded.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Day 21 - Lillie Bower Rhea

Lillie Bower Rhea and William Nelson Snodgrass

It is never good to assume you know something. Lillie's birth and death dates are taken from the census and find a grave. Find a grave only shows years on the site. There is a photo of the headstone but it only shows years. I have a month, day, and year, brought back by my mom when she copied family Bibles. Then I checked for new hints and found a Social Security Death Index with totally different dates. Who's right? I am not using Social Security. It says that Lillie Snodgrass died in August 1976, 24 years after the date on the headstone. The headstone identifies her as Lillie Rhea Snodgrass. Social Security does not show a middle or maiden name and could be someone else. 

So we start. Lillie Bower Rhea was born in November 1884. That's what the 1900 Census shows. She never knew her father who was killed before she was born. 

Lillie married William Nelson Snodgrass in 1914. We don't know how he got to Tennessee because his family is all in Virginia. Lillie, like William and Victor, married late at age 30 and I know she was still living at home.

Even after she married, they lived in the valley until the 1930 census shows them in Virginia, Nelson's family home. I am left to wonder if she stayed in Sneedville until Jane died in 1926, just to be there for her mother.  

In the letters Jane wrote to my grandparents, she mentions Lilly and Nelson. 

 Oct. 10 - 1919
Lillie says come out and help her quilt some evening and she will help next evening. She is quilting 2 and wants to quilt 3 more. 

Lillies baby Ross, is a fine looking boy. He favors my Wm a good deal. is a large boy of his age. Lillies health some better the past 6 months. 

Nelson Snodgrass is sending a check for the rents, which is 5 dollars and 44 cts. Him and Lillie still lives where Floyd did live when you was here. 

Lillie and Nelson had three children, a girl and two boys. Ross, who is mentioned in the letter, Esther and Kyle. 

Lillie died in 1952 at the age of 68. Nelson died in 1959 at the age of 90. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Day 20 - William Ogden Rhea (my grandpa)

Finally, an easy one. Well not really so easy. I knew my grandpa as a grandpa and not a person. I was 12 when he died.

William Ogden Rhea was born in Rural Hill, Tennessee on September 15, 1882. He was the 8th child of Martha Jane McCollum and John Carter Rhea. He was two years old when his father was murdered.

My grandpa was tall and never slouched. He was ramrod straight. He smelled like something I couldn't identify but he chewed tobacco all his life. I didn't figure that out until I was much older but I love the smell of chewing tobacco.

He was quiet and let Granny run his life. I will get to her later. He married late like all his brothers. I don't know where he met my grandma but have to believe that it was in Oklahoma. Laura had moved there and he must have gone to visit. My grandmother bounced all around Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas which leads me to believe Oklahoma is the likely spot.

He was devoted to his mother like the rest of his siblings. We didn't hear that from him but in a letter written to Victor after Jane died.

He married Mellie Farris on Oct 24, 1914. I don't know if they lived in Tennessee for a short time or if they stayed in Missouri where they were married. Granny apparently knew Jane or had a least met her. They moved to Montana in 1917. The bought land next to the Yellowstone River and started a farm. Ralph was born in 1915 before they moved. Howard was born in Billing, Montana in 1919 and my dad, Ernie, in 1921.

They farmed next to the river. It was a great place for the boys who talked about the fun times they had there. It seems to me that they were little more delinquent than they should have been and some of their stories would have gotten me a paddling. They all talked about their dog "Ring" and the horse that hated them.

Mellie, Howard, Ralph, Ernest (my dad), and William

They were still living on the river when Grandpa found employment. He was walking to town along the railroad tracks when a train came by. The engineer hollered out, "Hey Slim, you lookin' for a job?" Grandpa said he was and he worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad, retiring as foreman for 1947. The nickname "Slim" stuck.

My grandparents spent a lot of time traveling but not necessarily together. My grandmother would arrive at the Depot in downtown Los Angeles once a year and stay for several weeks before getting back on the train and heading to San Francisco to visit my uncle and his family. The depot holds lots of happy memories for me.

My grandpa had tuberculous and spent his winters in Mesa, Arizona. He had a tiny one room apartment in a park. I remember the smell of lard and chewing tobacco. We would go to Arizona and visit with him there. When my parents married, Grandpa and Granny came to visit. This photo, taken in 1947, shows Grandpa and my dad at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.

Christmas 1961, Billings, Montana. The entire family. Grandpa died seven months later on July 1, 1962 at the age of 79.
In case you're wondering, I am wearing a white blouse, sitting next to Grandpa. Granny is on the end, next to the adorable Billy, my cousin. If I start naming the rest if the family, I will get sidetracked and do all their stories too.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Day 19 - Victor Edwin Rhea

Victor Edwin Rhea is easier to write about. My cousin, Patty, and I had to good fortune to meet Sheldon Livesay and his wife, Linda, last year when we made a trip to Tennessee to find our “roots”. Sheldon manages “Of One Accord Ministry”, an outreach that feeds and ministers to those in need. It’s a great program and we were blessed to have the chance to see it in action. Sheldon is our 2nd cousin and Victor’s grandson.

Sheldon and Linda

Not only did Sheldon share the work he does, he took the time to show us where the family lived and all the places they would have been. It was a great experience. We were disappointed to find the Home Place gone but the foundation was still there. He showed us Victor’s home but the forest is reclaiming it too. We saw the river and the land they farmed. Sheldon also unearthed a treasure trove of photo's that Victor's daughter Jewelle had saved. It was a fantastic find and added so much to the research. 

Victor was the 7th child of John and Jane. He was born July 13, 1880. 

Victor was the son closest to Jane. Her letters to my grandparents were all about what Victor was doing. My grandmother wrote to him and told him after Jane died, that anything she had should go to him as "he has been faithful to his mother". 

Victor married Cornie Hutson when he was 35-years-old in 1915. She was 24. They had three daughters. I think it was to offset the seven boys Floyd had. 

Jewelle Leona Rhea was born in 1917 and passed away in 2002. Opal Olive Rhea was born in 1920 and died in 2002. Mossie Rhea, Sheldon's mother, came along 5 years later in 1925 and died in 1992. 

Cornie, Victor, Mossie, Opal, and Jewelle

Victor and Cornie's home

Victor's farm was not far from his childhood home. He and Cornie lived there until they were much older and then moved to Rogersville to live with Jewelle. 

Victor passed away in April 1973 and Cornie joined him in July of the same year. He outlived all his siblings and was 92 when he died. 

Cornie and Victor Rhea

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Day 18 - Fidello Florence Rhea

Fidello (Della) Florence Rhea was born on August 11, 1847. Of all the children, she was probably closest to her mother. In the letters we have between Jane and my grandparents, Della is mentioned a lot.

She had a hard life in spite of her brothers and sisters close by. She married Mack Henry Hatfield in March of 1893 at the age of 16. They had 10 children. Roy was the oldest.
Roy Hatfield and Maud Conrad in front. Floyd and Eliza in the back. 

I don’t think that Roy had been discharged from the service when the photo was taken but his homecoming would not be as hoped. During the war, he had been part of the group that had been attacked with Mustard Gas. I don’t pretend to know anything about it other than, many times, it was fatal. That was not so with Roy. He survived the attack but soon after returning home, he was sent to the US National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The diagnosis there was arthritis.  We know that he was back in Sneedville in October 1919 because Jane writes:
“Roy and Sam still running trucks.”
Sam was Roy’s younger brother and both of them worked for the mining company. I haven’t spent much time with Della’s family other than to document the notes my mom made when she went to Sneedville, Tennessee in 1982. She talked to family and had a chance to look at some old family bibles. There are many missing details but what struck me about the family was the amount of tragedy is a small space of time. The Hatfield’s upset me. Roy Hatfield died in 1938 at the age of 43 by committing suicide. One has to imagine that the war had something to do with his state of mind and health.

How sad for the family so I thought I’d look at the rest of the kids.

Jessie Hatfield is hard to find. We have a birth year for her but no death date.

George Dewey Hatfield is the next in line. He had moved from Tennessee to Indiana and died at the age of 69.

Sidney Hatfield is next. We only have the year of his birth but no other information is available. However, the notes we have say that he committed suicide.

John Hatfield lived to age 82 in Indiana.

The next sister was Carrie Hatfield. There is not much information for her either.

Next comes Sam Hatfield who Martha mentions in her letters. We have no death date for him either. Again, there are more notes that say he had cancer and committed suicide.

Edna Hatfield lived to the age of 92. According to the note left on Find A Grave, her granddaughter posts a glowing report of how wonderful her grandmother was. That was nice to see. 

Grant Hatfield also moved to Indiana and lived to be 72.

Ray Hatfield, age unknown died of lung cancer.

Luke Hatfield had also captured my attention because Jane said he “Favored my Wm a great deal.” William was my grandfather. Unfortunately, Luke died in 1937 at the age of 18 in a car accident.

We have Roy, Sidney, and Sam who committed suicide. Ray died of lung cancer and Luke died in a car accident.

Della Hatfield was her mother’s child. She was also a strong woman who had the ability to rise above whatever life threw at her. However, the saddest part of all is when Mack Henry Hatfield was 81, he also  committed suicide. We don't know why but maybe he just couldn't deal with the death of his 5 sons. 

So much heartbreak but Della hung on for another 15 years and died at the age of 83. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Day 17 - Washington Floyd Rhea

One way to carry on the family name is to have seven boys. Washington Floyd Rhea and Eliza Manerva Seals did just that. It is a pleasure to report that the youngest son, Robert is still living and despite Alzheimer's, is still at home with his wife. June takes good care of him and their two daughter help as well. June shares bits and pieces of what she remembers of the past. It is always a treat to hear from her.

Washington Floyd Rhea, called Floyd, was born on January 2, 1873 in Sneedville, Tennessee. Jane and John already had Andrew, Laura and Leona when Floyd came along. Two more sisters came after him. Della and Luvena were just babies and not much fun to play with.

Floyd was seven when Andrew died and he missed him a lot. He was at that age when sisters were just icky girls. He followed Andrew around and tried to do everything he did. Victor was born just months before Andrew died and Floyd vowed he would be the best big brother ever.

The Rhea boys grew up without their father. I know they were close to their mother and as adults, worked to make her life better. Even my grandfather, who moved far away, lived at the Home Place until he married. Floyd and Victor never left Sneedville and were very much a part of Jane’s life.

Floyd was 30 when he married 17 year old, Eliza Manerva Seals. The Seals were also a large family living in Sneedville and there were lots of Rhea/Seals marriages.

In later years, Jane would write that Floyd had made molasses or had a fine crop of tobacco. She would share that Eliza was waiting for a letter from my grandparents.

Floyd died on February 3, 1929 at the age of 56. Although there is a death certificate, the cause of death is illegible. It must have been a hard year for everyone because Jane died a month later on March 22, 1929. In a letter my grandfather wrote to Victor, he mentions Jane’s passing but nothing was said about Floyd. We don’t have any other letters between the brothers. Eliza lived a long life, passing away on November 11, 1961 at the age of 75. 

Photo taken the same time as the top picture, this is Floyd's family. On the left is his mother, Jane. The oldest child is Robert and he is in both pictures. Floyd is holding Guy and Eliza is holding Homer. The picture is one that Sheldon Livesay, my second cousin,  found and shared with me.

Photo was taken in the mid 1980's when my parents went to Tennessee for the first time to meet the family. My dad is on the left, Hugh, and Howard, two of Floyd's children are on the right. This is the Home Place.  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Day 16 - Luvena (Luvenia) Finetta Rhea

Luvenia is in the family picture. She is on the right side of Jane.

As robust as Andrew had been, Luvenia wasn’t. She was a sickly baby and a sickly toddler. By the time she reached school age, she was never well enough to go. Jane kept hoping she’d outgrow it but nothing changed.

In 1875, when Luvenia was born, there were no tests to find diseases of the heart. The only doctor around was Doc Campbell but he serviced Sneedville and the surrounding areas and was not up on the latest technology. He barely made it though each day with his services needed far and wide.

Dr. Campbell was aware of Luvenia’s illness and suspected a hole in the heart. He also knew that if a child made it past adolescence; they had a pretty good chance of living a longer life. He had explained all of this to John and Jane when Luvenia was about two. He suggested they take her to a specialist in Knoxville but money was tight and the trip was expensive. They decided to save up and take her when she was a little older but any spare money was spent when Andrew died. At 5-yrs-old, Luvenia was not strong enough to run and play with the other children but she seemed happy enough doing small projects where she excelled.
They put off the trip to Knoxville and started saving again.

When Luvenia was nine, John Carter was murdered. Of all the children, she felt it the most. Her father was her hero. He never let her tire herself out and carried her almost everywhere. Any kind of exertion left her breathless and it hurt him when she couldn’t catch her breath. She was his little princess.

Jane was aware of Luvenia’s suffering. She was pregnant, had four-yr-old Victor and two-year-old William, who were very active. Trying to keep the boys from getting into trouble and dealing with her husband’s death left little time for Luvenia. It wasn’t until her mother suggested teaching Luvenia embroidery that she found a solution that worked for her unhappy daughter.

Both John and Jane valued learning and could read and write so Luvenia was schooled at home. Her father had insisted that she have the same education as her siblings. Even though she didn’t attend school, she was a better reader than her brothers and sisters.

Needlework was considered a part of a girl’s education and Polly believed that it would be the perfect outlet for Luvenia. In the evening after leaving work, she made her way to her daughter’s house.
“Girls,” Polly shouted as she walked into the house, “Come see what I have.” Laura at 14 and Leoni, 16, were not interested in sewing. They had done enough and were quite frankly tired of it. “It’s not sewing” Polly told them, “It’s decoration.” Nothing she could say would make them pick up the colorful floss and a needle. Della, who was seven, looked decidedly interested. Luvenia approved of the colors but wasn’t quite sure what she was supposed to do with it.

“We are going to make a sampler”, Polly said.

“What’s a sampler?” Luvenia asked.

“It’s a way to show off what you can do with a needle. You can decorate your piece anyway you want. You can make the alphabet, create an animal, and write a saying. There are different stitches to learn.” Polly replied.

Della looked slightly less interested. “I don’t want to Grandma,” she said.

That’s fine,  Della, you don’t have too” said Polly.

“How about you Luvenia?” Polly inquired.

“What would I make?” she asked.

“I have a suggestion if you’ll let me,” Polly said. “I thought it might be nice if you made something for you to remember your papa. You could sew his name at the top with his birth date. We could find a nice verse in the Bible you and he liked. At the bottom, we could put the day he died and finish it with a fancy border. When it’s done, one of your brothers could make a nice frame and we could hang it on the wall.”
Luvenia’s eyes lighted up. “That’s a lovely idea, Grandma. I want to get started right away. I want to make something special for Papa. Show me how.”

Polly was pleased that the young girl had something special to do. That first night she showed her the basic stitches and helped her draw out the beginning pattern. As the weeks went by, Luvenia learned more and more until she was more than proficient. As promised, she finished the sampler in no time at all and Floyd built it a fine frame. It was hung in a place of honor in the parlor, soon to be joined by other equally impressive pieces.

Luvenia was born on December 19, 1875 and passed away on April 22, 1913 at the age of 37. She is buried in the Depew Family Cemetery next to her mother. She never married and left no legacy. She is one of the forgotten ones because no one lived after her to tell her story. Luvenia Finetta Rhea was my great aunt and her life matters to me.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Day 15 - Laura Isabelle Rhea

Laura Isabelle Rhea was born on February 15, 1870. She was the second girl, two years younger than Leona. She had been a baby when the family moved to the Home Place.

She was five when Luvenia was born and seven when Della was came along. She had visited the Cliff House with Andrew hundreds of times and was glad they didn’t live there anymore. It was way too small and the bedroom at the Home Place was big enough for all the girls. By the time Lillie was born she was already 14 years old and had more concerns than just another baby moving into the bedroom.

Her daddy had been murdered and there were times when she thought she couldn’t stand it anymore. Fortunately, there were many tasks to do daily that helped her keep her thoughts at bay.

There were also cousins who came to visit. Carolyn’s kids were younger; Ida was 5 years behind her and a pain in the backside. She liked it when they came from Virginia to visit but Ida was closer to her brother Victor. It seemed the two of them were on a campaign to drive not only her and Leona crazy but their parents as well.

Caroline and Robert made the trip to Sneedville in the summer of 1890. Laura was 20-years-old by the time and had conned Leona into helping her make fruit pies for the guests. The apple tree next to the house had produced an abundance of apples and they needed to use them up.

Leona explained to her husband how Laura needed to learn some basic baking skills and needed her help. Columbus only smiled and said he would spend the day with their year-old-daughter, Bobbie, while she went off to bake pies.

Laura and Leona spent the entire morning working together to make enough pies to serve at the big family dinner planned. The fact that Caroline and Robert brought all eight of their children added to the overabundance of family already gathering at The Home Place. 

The kitchen smelled delicious and although it seem cliched, they set the pies on the window sill to cool. They were proud of their handiwork and were looking forward to the compliments they knew they’d receive.
What they didn’t count on was Victor and Ida. When they were smaller, they took delight into dumping the older girls into the river from the boat. The older girls had learned never to get in a boat with them.

Leona took off to check on Bobbie and Columbus. Laura made the trek to Polly’s house. It was her job to make sure her grandmother got to dinner safely. Neither gave any thought to the pies left out to cool.
Victor and Ida had been watching. They were hoping to get a piece of pie but the girls had shooed them away. The stalked away, taking up a hiding place to watch. If they had a chance, they were going to get some pie when no one was looking.

The opportunity arrived when they watch them leave the house. The kitchen was empty and the pies were on the window sill. They crawled to the window and snatched a pie. Sitting with their backs to the side of the house, they took a slice each. It was so good and before they knew it, the pie was history. In fact, it was so yummy, they decided another taste was in order and grabbed one more. They polished that off in no time flat and were reaching for the third when they heard voices. Scrambling through the bushes that lined the house, they disappeared from view.

It was Jane who noticed that there were only six pies on the window sill. Surely Laura and Leona had made enough for the whole family. She set off to find one of them. Six pies were cutting it close. As she came around the side of the house, she noticed two empty pie tins on the ground below the kitchen window and knew immediately who had taken the pies.

When Laura came back with Polly, Jane pulled her aside to tell her about the pie theft.  Laura was mad. Ida and Victor had crossed the line. It was too late to make more so Jane decided that when it came time for dessert, the two of them wouldn't get any. They needed have worried; Victor and Ida didn’t eat dinner. After consuming both pies, neither of them was hungry.

As they got older, Laura and Ida became good friends. In letters Ida wrote letters to family, she shared several things she and Victor did as kids usually at the expense of Laura and Leona.

Laura looked back on those times with fondness. Two years after the pie fiasco, Laura married Hamilton Green. He was 10 years her senior and had grown up in Sneedville too. His farm was not far from theirs and he was a family friend. They first eight children were born in Sneedville and the ninth when they moved to Narcissa, Oklahoma in 1910.

Hamilton died at age 60 in 1920, ten years after they moved. Laura lived to age 95. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Day 14 - Mary Leona Rhea

It was awful. She couldn't take it all in. Papa was dead and there was so much confusion. At 16, she was the oldest child and a lot of the responsibility fell on her. She wanted to go somewhere and grieve but no one would let her. It was “Lonnie this and Lonnie that” and no one seemed to understand that she missed her papa too. She remembered when Andrew died. He was her big brother and she really missed him but even though she helped with the smaller children, she wasn’t stuck with them like she was now.
She sat rethinking her idea of having children. She wanted to be free, to roam outside but was stuck with her younger brothers and sisters. Mama was lying down and there was a stream of people in and out of the house.
She knew she was pouting but she didn’t care.
“Lonnie”, William asked. “Will you play with me?”
She looked at the 2-yr-old William and was about to say no when she realized he just needed someone to pay attention to him.
“Yes Sweetie, I will,” she responded.
Taking him by the hand, she rounded up 4-yr-old Victor and headed them to the clearing across the road. It was better to be outside than cooped up in the house. She got them to play tag and for the first time in days, found a little time for herself.
She wished that the dark cloud that seemed to hang over the house would go away. How could Papa be gone? Why did that awful man shoot him? She would like to kill him herself. Uncle Sterling said they would catch him but it wasn’t good enough.
Her uncles had ridden over to the Brewer farm but he had already gone. There was a scuffle and it seems that Uncle Jim had knocked down on of Brewer’s brothers. They had come back all puffed out. She was disgusted with them. She didn’t quite understand why beating his brother would make any of this better.
“Lonnie”, William said, tugging at her skirt. “I’m hungry.”
“All right, lets go see what we can find.”
The brief time outside had helped clear her head. She found some bread and butter for William and Victor and sent them off to play. Aunt Sarah was sitting in the kitchen.
“Leona, come sit and keep me company.”
Leona slumped into the chair opposite her. She could see the river beyond the field and somehow it made her feel better. Like everyone in her family, the river was a constant in their lives and where they seemed to draw their strength.
Aunt Sarah was saying something so she turned her attention back to her. “How are you doing?” she asked.
“I’m fine,” she said.
Sarah looked at her closely. “I don’t think so,” she retorted. “I know you feel like everyone is depending on you. It’s a big burden, especially when you miss your papa.”
“Oh, Aunt Sarah, what is going to happen to us?” she cried.
“You will get through this, Sarah quietly answered. “It’s going to take some time and it will not be easy but your mama is strong.” You have all of us and you know things will get done. You don’t need to worry.”
“It’s just so awful. I want to run away somewhere so I don’t have to think about it anymore”
“Lonnie,“ Sarah said. “Take a break. Go out and visit one of your friends. Take the punt and go across the river. I know you've been here the whole time taking care of the little ones. I’m here now. I’ll take care of the kids. See if Billy wants to go with you. Just come back before dark.”
Leona didn’t need a second invitation. Sarah watched her talk to Billy and then the two of them headed for the riverbank where the boat was tied. She felt sorry for her niece, heck, she felt sorry for all of them. John Carter Rhea had been a good man and a good husband. She wondered what Jane would do. She couldn't see her remarrying; John had been the love of her life. Sighing, she got up and went to check on the youngsters.
Mary Leona Rhea would look back on the time with sadness. She missed her papa more than anyone realized. On her wedding day, she missed him the most. She dithered around trying to decide who to ask to walk her down the aisle. Fortunately she was spared the decision. 15-year-old Floyd came to her.
“Lonnie,” he said and then stopped. He looked at her sheepishly. “Um, I know a little about weddings and your father is supposed to walk you down the aisle. I know I’m not Papa but I would really like the honor.” He bowed his head waiting for her response.
Tears came to her eyes. She had considered her numerous uncles and older cousins, even her fiance’s brother but none of them seemed right. Then, out of nowhere, Floyd comes and asks. It was right. It felt right.
“Washington Floyd Rhea,” she said. “I would be honored to have you walk me down the aisle. There is no one else I would rather have.” And with that, she reached up and gave him a big hug.
Jane had been watching them from the balcony. She wasn’t quite sure what was going on but both of them looked happy. Considering that her oldest two often disagreed, she was glad to see them smiling at each other. Leona was leaving her and she was sad. She wasn’t going far and she could see her everyday if she wanted, it was just that she was her one child who had always been there. She knew she depended too much on her but Leona never complained. She was always willing to pitch in. Jane wondered how she had been given this great child who was going to be a great wife and mother.
She walked back into her room and went to the chest where she stored important papers and treasures. Digging to the bottom, she found what she was looking for. It was an old prayer book that her mother had given her on her wedding day. It was time to pass it on and although she had other daughters, it belonged to Leona.
She came down the stairs as Leona came in the front door. Jane smiled at her.
“What was that all about?” she asked.
Leona smiled back at her. “Floyd has just asked if he could have the honor of walking me down the aisle”, she replied.
“From the look on his face, you must have said yes?” she asked.
“Yes, it is the best idea. If Papa isn't here to do it, Floyd will do nicely.”
Jane was delighted. She agreed that Floyd should be the one to give his sister away.
“Come and sit with me a minute,” Jane said, gesturing at the sofa. “I have something for you.”
Once seated, Jane pulled the prayer book from her apron. “My mother gave this to me on my wedding day. It was given to her by your grandmother on her wedding day. I would like you to carry it with you as we have all done.”
On Oct 21, 1888, 20-year-old Mary Leona Rhea, escorted by Washington Floyd Rhea, married Columbus Reed Ross. She floated down the aisle in a dress made by her mother and aunt and decorated with embroidered flowers, by her younger sister. She had never felt so loved. In her hands, she carried a bouquet of flowers and wrapped in a fancy hankie, an old worn prayer book. As she had told her mother, it was something she would cherish.
Jane was overcome with emotion and like many mothers, cried. She realized this would be just one of many weddings but it was the first. For a brief moment she let sadness overtake her. Andrew should have had a wedding and John Carter should have been there to share this wonderful moment with her. But taking one look at her daughter’s triumphant face, she realized this was what life was about and felt the joy her daughter was feeling wash through her.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Day 13 - Murder

The dirt road snaked through the rolling hills and it was only when it made a bend that the house showed itself. If wasn’t that it was hard to find, it was the trees sheltering it from view. Upstairs on the balcony, the view of the river was always changing. It was a comfort to hear the rushing water unless it was raining. That was when the river became the adversary. It was a long ranging war, the river and the Rhea’s.  Built long ago, the house had earned its place on the dusty road. Floods had tried to take it but it stubbornly refused to move. The rocks that supported it would not give and the house remained firmly in place.

These were happy years. The kids grew and more arrived. The land had been cleared and the tobacco and corn crops thrived. The family raised hogs for meat and the garden provided an abundance of vegetables. The house they built was large enough to accommodate the growing family.

The leaves on the trees were turning along the Clinch River. It was September 21, 1884 and there was a definite chill in the air promising an early winter. Martha worked slower than usual. Seven months pregnant with her ninth child, she was grateful that the older children had stepped in to help. 

The little ones needed tending. Leoni and Laura had taken on the task of getting Victor and William up and dressed. Della and Lavena spent more time in the kitchen learning how to cook. Martha had a chance to sit back and guide them as they made a mess with the flour. Children learned skills early in those days. Everyone helped. Floyd were out early with his father, storing corn for the winter. They were all in a hurry to be done with the days chores. John Brewer was coming with the deed to the land bordering their house and the river.

John was excited about gaining access to the land. It had sometimes been a bone of contention between the Rhea’s and the Brewer’s. The Rhea farm had many acres but this one small piece would give them more room for river planting. They could extend their crops all the way to the bend in the river. With all the mouths to feed, this was a blessing.  The Brewer land wasn’t well marked and occasionally, the Rhea crops would encroach on their land. The Brewer’s usually waited until the corn was high and then harvested the errant corn as their own. It wasn’t that the Rhea’s were trying to steal excess land. Every year, they marked the boundaries but somehow the rocks would move or disappear on their own. It wasn’t healthy to complain so they pretty much let it slide.  When Brewer suggested that they make a trade, John was happy. It would not only give them more planting space, it would end the constant battle over the boundary.

Using the bend in the river as a border was even better. The river didn’t change its boundary all by itself. Only the floods did that.  Brewer wanted John’s best rifle. The Hawken was almost as good as the more expensive Springfield’s and it was the weapon of choice for the Confederate soldiers. Handmade in St. Louis, John had purchased the rifle during his time in the war. The Hawkins was more accurate than some of the other mussel loading rifles out there. It was a much better rifle than any Brewer owned. 

Dinner was done and cleaned up when they heard Brewer arrive. Martha heaved herself out of the chair and followed John out of the door. Instead of taking the stairs, she decided to wait on the porch. John, Andrew, and Floyd walked out to meet Brewer. The girls and younger children waited with their mother. 

The two men shook hands. Martha couldn't hear the conversation over the sound of the river but it looked like it was going well. Brewer walked back to his horse and retrieved the deed from the satchel. Walking back to John, he handed him the deed as John relinquished the rifle. He wasn’t sad about giving it up; he had saved up for the much-prized Springfield. 

John turned to look at Martha, a big smile on his face. Turning back to Brewer, the men shook hands and John started to walk away flanked by Floyd.  As he reached the little tree, a shot rang out. Shocked, Martha looked to see who was shooting and saw John crumble to the ground. They all watched Brewer run to his horse and gallop away.

Martha raced to John’s side but he was already gone.

“Stay on the porch”, she told the kids.

“Floyd”, she yelled, “Go get Uncle Sterling.” Sterling lived about a mile away. 

She sat on the ground, not feeling the chill in the air. She wondered what would become of them and then put all those thoughts away.

“Leoni, go get the quilt off the chair and bring it to me.” Leoni came back with the quilt her dad had used in the war.

Jane slowly got up, straightened her back as best she could, and covered John gently before climbing the steps to the porch. 

She surveyed the faces of her children. Not one of them had made a sound. Putting her arms around as many of them as she could, she hustled them into the house. 

“We will wait for Uncle Sterling,” she told them, “He will know what to do” 

John Brewer killed John Carter Rhea on September 21, 1884. He shot his with his own rifle. The story goes that he fled to New Mexico to avoid prosecution but in fact, my 2nd cousin, Bill Rhea, has the original arrest warrant for John Brewer in Texas. John Brewer was never apprehended.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Day 12. Caroline and Sarah

Just a little scrap of a photo but it is so much more. The lady on the left is Caroline McCollum and to her right is Jane McCollum. 

In 1870, Polly McCollum had a house full of people. Jane had married and moved out but 18-yr-old Caroline and 20-yr-old Sarah were still there and they weren’t the only ones.
Polly’s sister Eleanor had moved in. She had bounced around a lot since the death of their parents and had finally given in at Polly’s insistence. At 30, she was in the position to take over the domestic job that Polly had held for years. The family in Sneedville was pleased that Eleanor was able to step in when Polly could no longer do the heavier tasks.
Polly was not in the best of health. Supporting the children after James left had taken its toll. He would occasionally send money but it had never been enough. Her frail body was a testament to the damage arthritis could cause. Although she had ignored it for years, she could no longer do the lifting and heavy cleaning needed. Polly had asked Eleanor to come stay with her but she was an independent woman who didn’t want to be beholding to anyone. Now that Eleanor had a way to share the load, she moved in gratefully.
The two sisters got along well. Eleanor liked the thought of being a part of the McCollum family. Jane was already married and gone when Eleanor arrived but she wasn’t far away. Eleanor adored Jane’s three small children. She didn’t have much time to run and play with them but they loved it when she read to them. Maybe not so much the baby but Andrew and Leoni would curl up with her whenever they had the chance.
Eleanor was also entertained by the girls. Caroline didn’t seem to be interested in finding a man to marry but Sarah was always on the lookout. Eleanor had never married so she found the two attitudes interesting. She had once felt like Sarah but understood Caroline. The three of them had lively discussions about the role of women in the society and Eleanor was of the opinion that women were held back. Caroline was the one who agreed with her most of the time but Sarah just wanted to find a man and get married. Polly didn’t get involved. She had her own opinion of men.
Although Polly was not making money, Eleanor gave her most of what she made. Polly wanted to add to the income and decided to plant tobacco on two acres behind the house. Polly and the girls lived on the river, east of Rhea Hollow. It was still family land that John had been given by John Elijah. To farm the land, Polly needed help so she asked their nearest neighbor Joseph Depew. He didn’t have any children to spare but did mention he had a nephew who was looking for work. Henry Eli Depew came to see her and she liked what she saw. At 20, he was a dependable young man who was willing to work for room and board plus a little spending cash. That was a perfect solution for her.
It is not clear if Polly noticed right away that Sarah also thought it was a good plan. Henry Depew was handsome albeit a little shy. Sarah had grown up around lots of boy cousins was not afraid of Henry. She thought him exceedingly handsome. His short brown hair was neatly combed in place and he kept his mustache trimmed. At 16, she was smitten by the young man.
It was Eleanor who alerted Polly.
“Sarah’s in love.” She told Polly.
“Really?” was Polly’s response. “She’s in love all the time. She falls in love once a week”
“No, really, Sarah is in love with Henry”, Eleanor retorted.
Polly looked at her sister and realized she was serious.
“Sarah’s in love”. She asked.
“Watch her around Henry. Watch her eyes. I don’t think he knows it yet but mark my words, she is going to snag him,” Said Eleanor.
“She’s still a little young”, said Polly.
Eleanor laughed. “You were an old maid of 23. Jane was out of here at 17. Sarah is 16. Mark my words; she and Henry will be married before she is 20.”
“I guess I will need to pay more attention. If you’re right, how long will it take Henry to figure it out?” Polly replied.
“We’ll see.”
Caroline knew. Sarah had informed her that she was going to marry Henry. Like her mother, Caroline was used to Sarah falling in love so she didn’t put much stock in what Sarah said. But as time went on, she noticed the Sarah was not flirting with the other boys any more.
“You are serious about Henry, aren’t you?” Caroline had asked.
“Didn’t I tell you I was going to marry him?” Sarah rolled her eyes. “No one gets it” she exclaimed.
“Okay, don’t get mad. Did you tell Henry? She said.
“You just don’t tell Henry” Sarah replied. “He has to figure it out on his own. I am willing to give him some time before I start pushing but I want to get married by the time I’m 19”
“Well, good luck,” Caroline responded. “That gives the poor guy about two years.”
Sarah looked at her and scowled. “At least I have a guy,“ she said smugly.
“You don’t have a guy at all” Caroline retorted. “You have a dream and it’s certainly not set in stone.”
From the kitchen came Polly’s voice. “Ladies, that’s enough.”
It wasn’t that Caroline was not interested in marriage; she was, in her opinion, a little more selective. There were not many young men who were willing to provide a spouse nicer clothes, a nicer house, or a more upscale life. Caroline did not want to spend her life in Sneedville. She wanted more.
She and Jane had gone round and round on the topic. Jane was a homebody and really didn’t care much about social niceties. The idea of moving up was not something Jane was interested in and didn’t see why Caroline would want more. Caroline didn’t understand why Jane was so content with almost nothing. Jane wore her clothing without ornament. Caroline poured over the most current papers on fashion and jewelry and was always trying to copy it.
So while Sarah finally got Henry to see that he was in love, Caroline kept waiting.
Sarah and Henry married in 1871. True to her word, she was under 20. Caroline was 21 and the last single sister. Eleanor kept telling her that there was nothing wrong with waiting for the right guy. Caroline knew that. She loved that Jane had a bunch of kids and Sarah was happy with her new husband but she still wanted more.
Robert P. Tyler came into Sneedville in 1873. He was a lumber dealer from Rye Cove, Virginia, which was 26 miles away. He came with the special order shutters that John had ordered. It was a surprise for Jane who had wanted real shutters on the house.
Robert dressed well. He had an air about him that spoke of success. Jane and John invited him to stay for dinner and invited Polly, Eleanor, and Caroline. Caroline was immediately taken with the 26 year old lumber dealer. As he spoke about the business, she hung onto every word. She wanted to know about his home town and he told her it was also near the Clinch River. Rye Cove, he said was full of caves to explore. He never tired of exploring.
He seemed to be taken with her too. He asked if he could write to her. She, of course, said yes.
Jane and Polly were amused. Caroline had found her man. She was 24 and they had all but given up on her finding someone suitable or that could meet her standards. She went around quoting him on business and the caves. She was insufferable.
They wrote constantly and in late 1873, she moved to Virginia to live with his family. Polly missed her and although it wasn’t that far away, she didn’t have the money to make the trip or the strength. Caroline sent her a chatty letter in March of 1875 to inform her that she and Robert had had a daughter they had named Ida Belle. This was news to Polly as she hadn’t known that Caroline was pregnant and was sure that her daughter would not have married without telling her.
She wrote back expressing joy about the baby but disappointment that she had not been informed of the wedding. Caroline wrote back to her quickly telling her that the wedding would be in May and that she hadn’t missed it. The baby was a surprise for her and Robert too and they had not planned it. Ida Belle was the most perfect baby and they would be coming to see her after the wedding.
True to her word, Caroline, Robert, and the baby arrived for an extended visit. In fact, the Tyler children spent a lot of time growing up in Sneedville. They got to know all their cousins and in later life, shared some of the fun times they had together in letters. Ida turned out to be the family historian of sorts. Each of her letters described where he siblings were living, how many children they had. She spent a lot of time reminiscing about her mom and Aunt Jane. The letters have been preserved. There was only one problem. Her writing is awful and it is hard to read them and decipher what they say.
This will be finished when I get through the letters to see what else she has to say. It was a surprise to learn that she was born before her parents married and that would have been taboo in those days.
She probably was sent to Virginia to have the baby but that needs a little more research. Would they have accepted her in Sneedville, pregnant and not married?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Day 11 - Andrew

Andrew was sick. Jane noticed that his appetite had changed and he was no longer “starving” like he always said when he came in from the fields. At 14, he was an eating machine so it worried her that he wasn’t hungry.
On Tuesday, he came in complaining of a headache. That too was unusual for Andrew who was the most robust of all her children. He had a fever and that was worrisome. She sent John Carter into town for the doctor. She usually treated the children herself using what she had learned from her Cherokee grandmother but this was scaring her.
On Wednesday, the doctor arrived. Andrew had a red rash on his chest. The doctor took one look at the rash and knew what he was seeing. He had seen plenty of this during the Civil War. The symptoms were those of Typhoid.
“Jane, are any of your other kids sick?” he asked. “Does anyone else have headaches or spots?”
“No,” said Jane. She had checked.
“Has Andrew been anywhere where the other children haven’t?”
Jane had to think. “No, except to the Brewster’s on the other side of the river. He took some corn over for them.”
“I think we need to take him to the hospital in Loudon. I think he has typhoid fever. They have new medicines there I don’t have here. I will take him myself. If he was indeed infected at the Brewster’s farm, we will need to warn the other residents to stay away. They may have bad water. I will send the Sheriff over to check it out. Jane, pack a bag for Andrew and yourself and I will pick you up in the buggy in an hour. It’s a couple 100 miles, a three day trip but if we travel from sunrise to sunset, we can make it in two.”
Andrew looked scared. “Am I going to die?” he asked.
“No baby, you’re not. They have better medicine there to make you well.”
“Jane, how long has he been sick?” the doctor asked.
“Well, his appetite dropped off about a week ago but the rash is new.”
John Carter looked scared too. He carried his son to the buggy and helped him get settled. Andrew was tall for his age so it was difficult for him to get comfortable. John rigged up a makeshift cover. He hugged his son and giving him a quick kiss, bid him goodbye.
John hugged his wife. Because she was worried, so was he. When it came to the kids, he took his clues from her.
“Is he going to be all right?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied. She always told the truth and so her answer was more awful than he could bear.
“Take care of my boy,” he said and with bowed shoulders, walked away.
“Papa”, said Della who was three, “When will Mama and Andrew come home?”
John Carter looked at his daughter and unlike his wife lied. ”Soon,” he said.
The doctor was true to his word, making the trip in 2 days. It was rough and with Andrew getting sicker; it felt like an eternity. She hoped the rest of the kids would be OK but her only concern was getting her oldest child better.
The hospital was a frightening place. Jane who had never been out of her valley was appalled at the noise and the people. They seemed to be everywhere. There was no quiet and no river. Loudon was smaller than Knoxville but to her, it was the big city.
Andrew was put in a ward with many men. He was terrified. There was groaning and crying. It smelled awful. The nursing staff did their best to make the young man comfortable but he was getting worse and nothing helped.
Within two days, Andrew had a raging fever. He was in pain on his right side. The doctors decided that he might have bleeding inside if the organs had ruptured and they prepped him for surgery. Jane sat at his side, sleeping in the chair beside his bed. He was afraid and needed her. The nurses tried to get her to go rest but she refused. He was her baby.
They rolled him into surgery. Jane walked with him until she could go no further. Kissing him she told him how much she loved him and would see him soon. She leaned against the wall, slide down to the floor and started to pray. When the doctor came back, she already knew. Joseph Andrew Rhea died on September 15, 1879.
Doc Campbell carried the body to the buggy. Jane did not cry. Crying was for times when she was alone. It would do no good. She sent a telegram to John Carter. She wanted him to know before she got back. He would do what was needed. She wanted him buried next to the Cliff House. They had saved a small plot that would be used as a cemetery if needed. She had hoped to die before her children and never have to use it but it was up high with a view of the river. Andrew loved the river like she did.
Della heard the buggy first. Screaming as she ran down the stairs, she hollered, “Mama and Andrew are home.” 10 year old Laura and 12 year old Leoni came running too. They hoped to get to Della before she got to the buggy. Papa had told them about Andrew but Della was too young to understand.
There was nothing for her to do. Once John Carter had received the telegram, the family had gone into action. His brothers split the tasks. Sterling, James, George, and Abijah constructed a wooden casket. His sisters Elizabeth, and Sarah and Jane’s sister Sarah lined the coffin with bleached muslin and edged it with lace. They added some extra cotton under the muslin so Andrew would be comfortable. They covered the box with black cambric and added some gold braid. Jesse, Robert, and Lafayette went with him to the Cliff house to prepare the grave site.
Jane washed and dressed Andrew in his best clothes. Della kept coming into the room, trying to get Andrew to wake up. There was nothing Jane could do to help the child understand that Andrew was no longer there. John Carter would come and carry her from the room. Finally, Sarah took her home with her. Jane combed Andrews unruly light brown hair thinking that it made no difference. There was no way to tame it. In death, as in life, his hair had a life of its own. She kissed him goodbye and allowed John Carter and George to put him in the coffin.
On a cold, blustery day, they laid Joseph Andrew to rest. He was buried on the knoll behind the cliff house. The Cliff House was Andrew’s favorite place. He was the only child who had memories of living there and it held a special place in his heart. When Jane couldn't find him, she knew he would be there. She always respected his privacy and left him alone.
It seemed the whole valley had made the trek. The Rhea’s were well liked and everyone loved Andrew. Of course, there was family and that was no small number. Caroline made the long trip alone from Virginia but family mattered. Grandma Lucy and Grandma Polly stood with their children. Both of them had suffered loss and knew the darkness that filled their children’s souls. The only thing they had to offer was their support and love. It wouldn’t be enough, it never was.
The Preacher talked about Andrew being in Heaven. He read from 2 Corinthians, sharing verse 4. “Who gives us comfort in all our troubles, so that we may be able to give comfort to others who are in trouble, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
At the end of the service he asked all of them to join in singing, "God be with you till we meet again."
The old and the young together sang as one voice.
God be with you till we meet again,
By His counsels guide, uphold you,
With His sheep securely fold you,
God be with you till we meet again.
Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.
Jane believed that she would see Andrew again. She knew that God would comfort her but she was not yet ready. She was the last to leave, there was one more thing she needed to do. She sent everyone away, not wanting to make things worse for her children. She waited until everyone reached the road below and then sat down and cried.