Friday, October 07, 2005

Ozark Hill People

Visited my people in Arkansas last week--old homesteads and cemetaries. I feel such a connection to these hills. A big chunk of my family came up the Mississipppi to the White River, then the Red River to the area around Pangburn to settle. The mosuitoes in the river bottoms were too much for them so they moved to the uplands that were more like where they came from in TN. We've been hill people ever since. In the picture you can barely see Greer's Ferry Lake. It was named after a relative of mine. Aunt Rhoda Greer sat on the podium with John F. Kennedy when he dedicated the dam that formed the lake.

This is my Mamaw, Louise Butler. I adore her. She is sweet, always looks great and is very sassy. She and my Aunt Judy drove around with me to visit our sleeping folks and old places. In this picture she is standing by her grandmother (Maggie Manervia Greer) and grandfather's (William McLester) grave at Sidon. The McLesters formed a settlement near Pangburn, AR called McJester. It was pretty much just my great-great grandparents and some of their kin. One of my aunts ran the post office and when she sent off an application for McLester to be a federal post the government misread her handwriting and called the place McJester, which has been its name ever since. We can trace the McLester family back to Virginia in 1695.

Here Mamaw is ignoring my request to take her picture by the Henderson family monument (we did get one on the other side). One of my other great-grandmothers was a Henderson. These are the folks who couldn't handle the mosquitoes. A bunch of them came to Arkansas together and donated the land for this cemetary. If you go there you'll see a group of about of 40(?) white rocks marking their graves. The graves probably would have had wooden markers which have long since disentegrated. Imaging equipment let us know where there were bodies and the stones were placed to mark them. The big monument gives the name of the original settlers. The Hendersons are one of the uber-clans in Scotland. We can trace them back to 1650. The Hendersons were descended from Vikings, which might help explain my temper. John Henderson in Gent, Fifeshire, Scotland was my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather (I've always wanted to write that). I've never been a huge fan of plaid, but my aunt assures me that ours is one of the more attractive ones. I wonder if I'm related to Florence Henderson who played Carol Brady on the Brady Bunch.

We had so much fun on our trip. All of the cemetaries are within about 20 miles of each other. Mamaw knew right where to go in each one.There were a couple of family cemetaries back in the hills that only my Uncle Larry can find. There aren't any roads to them and it is way too snakey this time of year to walk there, so we are supposed to go back this winter. My Aunt Judy spent two more days going over all that we know about who was who, where and when. I'm amazed at how much work she and my cousin Kara have done. Aunt Judy has found amazing photographs. I'll try to post a few here sometime and some information about the other side of the family--the Butlers. They have interesting Civil War connections.


Anonymous jennie said...

I'm highly impressed by the knowledge you've obtained regarding your family. I should do the same.
LOVED seeing the pictures of Mamaw. I haven't seen her in a while, but you're right - she looks great!
Thanks a lot for swinging by Little Rock to say hello while you were in Arkansas. I really appreciate it. Hmph.

11:14 AM  

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