Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sam Dodson

This is a picture of my gg-grandfather, Sam Dodson. Sam was born in White County, TN, exact year unknown. He was married to my gg-grandmother, Emily Bolin. Sam's lineage is said to go back to the Jamestown Settlement, but I have not seen the documentation that proves it. Sam was also 3/4 Cherokee, and likewise, I have not been able to document that either.
The latter legend, however, I do believe to be true if not totally accurate. My g-grandmother, Belle, talked often of growing up in "Indian Territory," where Sam and Emily ran a boarding house. (It was there in Oklahoma that Belle met the love of her life, Lonnie Grimes.) Belle also talked about how her father spoke fluent Cherokee.
Oddly, Belle wanted no part of her Cherokee roots. I now wonder if Sam's ancestors were among the assimilated Cherokee who married among Europeans and did everything they could do avoid the round up that lead to the Trail of Tears. There is absolutely no way to prove that without further research.
There are way too many legends that come with the name, Sam Dodson. I'm just beginning research into this interesting man, so there will be more to follow.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Emily Bolin Dodson

Emily Bolin was my great-great grandmother. She was Belle Dodson Grimes McCloud Cole's mother who was the mother of my grandma Virgie Grimes Webb.

I know she married my great-great grandfather, Sam Dodson, in the late 1880s. (I found the exact date in a marriage index, but I haven't seen a marriage certificate.) Not much is known about Emily.

When Belle became widowed in 1914, she moved from Whitwell, Tennessee to Sparta, Tennessee to live with Emily. Belle had two children, ages four and two, and one on the way. The one that was on his way is the lad in this picture, my great-uncle, Lonnie Edward Grimes. Uncle Lonnie looks to be about three or four in this photograph, so that puts the year about 1918.

This picture was given to me by my great-aunt Lena in 2004, the last time I saw her. She gave me this picture and a couple of pictures of great-great grandfather Sam Dodson. I love knowing where my mother got her high cheek bones. We always assumed it was from Sam Dodson, but now I see they were a gift from Emily. My mother also has Emily's eyes, set deep and close.

It amazes me that all the summers I spent in Crossville, Tennessee at great-grandma Belle's house with my grandma Virgie, nobody ever mentioned Emily. It never even occurred to me that this woman existed until I became interested in genealogy, yet I most surely carry her Mt DNA as it passed from her to Belle to Virgie to Reba (my mother) to me. Emily's life matters now. It is her existence that ties my life to a greater purpose. Although, she was of simple means and certainly not one for the society pages, Emily was here, and I hope I can honor her.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Angels in the Midst

I am just so happy! I'm happy as a pig in slop! I have a ten year old laptop computer that has about four years worth of research on it that has been dead for over a year. Talk about losing inspiration!
Finally, one of my husband's friends (and yes he has a few) said, "Paula, if you want, I can take the hard drive out of that laptop and see if I can retrieve your data."
Uh, what was that? Did the sky just open? I really thought I heard the sound of wings, because this little offer has changed my life - or at least the life of my research. In fact, this single little act brought my research back to life. I am no longer shackled with the notion that I will have to retrace my steps through history in order to retrieve the 24,000 plus names in my database. I have birth dates, death dates and burial information. I have pedigrees and registries. Where once I was lost, I have found my citations and they are complete.
Burdens have been lifted from my shoulders by my husband's friend. It just goes to show, there really are angels among us.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Random Thoughts About My Father

This is a picture of my dad, Paul Martin Goff, born June 12, 1927. Dad was the fifth of six children, born to Andrew M. Goff and Nellie Hughes. The back of this picture says 1950, and I think it may be in front of the cabin in the Smokies where Mum and Dad stayed on their honeymoon. It appears he was reading a map, something of a foreign concept to the man I knew.
My dad was always neat. He wore only certain kinds of clothes, and the only time he wore blue jeans was when he was working. He has more hair in this picture than he ever had after I came along. There are more pictures of his wavy auburn hair, but I remember that he kept it very short.
Dad was one of a kind. I'm sure everybody says that about their parents, and I'm certain that in all cases it is true. Dad was a strict Southern Baptist. My parents insisted that I was in church every time the doors were opened, and as a teenager, I balked consistently and was consistently overpowered!
Dad loved his bluegrass music. He would drag me around to bluegrass festivals, and I didn't really learn to appreciate the music until I was up into college and recognized what an art it truly is. Since my grandfather played several different instruments, dad always encouraged my music. He bought me a guitar when I was about seven and a 5-string banjo when I was 9. He bought me a flute when I was old enough to join the school band. He paid for voice lessons. Ha, I think if I had just listened to Dad more often, I could have learned how to sing just from hearing him do it. He was an awesome singer, even if the only song he ever sang all the way through was, Froggie Went A-Courtin'!
Dad worked for the railroad for 37 years! The longest I've ever been on a job is five. He loved trains, and after he retired, he would buy and watch all these videos of different trains around the country. I used to tease him that the trains weren't really moving, they just moved the background. He'd get so ticked, and I'd laugh and laugh.
I was an only child, and I was definitely Daddy's little girl in every sense of the concept. Dad brought home my first cat when I was two! It was a black and white cat that he brought in under his railroad jacket. It had a litter of kittens, and he took all of them off, including the mother, except for two little grey ones. Then he accidentally ran over one of those with his car!
He also raised collies. We had one collie that he named Boy, and Boy was my buddy. One time I made my mom really angry, and I couldn't have been more than five or six years old. Well, I knew my mom was going to spank me, so I let Boy loose, and he cornered my mom between the propane gas tanks and the back wall of our house! I was standing back saying, "Good Boy! Yeah!" My mom was yelling at the dog and me, and when Dad got home from work, he was pretty livid. I remember that particular spanking, and I never tried that trick again. (It is pretty funny though, isn't it?) We had lots of different dogs, including a beagle named, Peanuts, and a toy poodle named Trampy.
I miss my dad more than I could ever express. When he passed away on August 13, 2005, time stood still for a long while for me. Paul Martin Goff had fought a twenty year battle against cancer. He had lost his voice to carcinoma in 1986. He fought diabetes, skin and prostate cancer. In 2002, we thought we were losing him to congestive heart failure, when a wonderful doctor finally suggested sending him to the University of Kentucky for an experimental defibrillator. By God's grace, that defibrillator bought him five more years of life. In fact, Dad used to tell people, "I've got the kind of defibrillator Dick Cheney's got, only mine is better, on account it came from the University of Kentucky!"
He fought small cell and non-small cell lung cancer valiantly and with great strength and dignity, not that there is much dignity in dying. When he breathed his last breath, Mum and I were both at his side. I remember telling him in those final hours, "Dad, when you meet your gg-grandfather, (whom we call Richard 1810,) will you tell him to send me some clues?" He was really sick and in a lot of pain, but he laughed and promised to do it. I'm still waiting for the clues, so maybe he hasn't met him yet. Maybe he's still at the feet of Jesus praising Him for the fact that Paul Martin Goff has his voice back.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Poignant Story Dying to Be Told

In my Webb research, I have confirming documentation as far back as my ggg-grandmother, Margaret Stewart Webb, born in 1826 in Morgan County, Tennessee. Margaret's mother, Nancy Stewart, is listed in the 1830 US Census for Tennessee as head of household with one son and one daughter. Nancy shows again in the 1840 census, also listed as HOH, with her name spelled "STUART," and living with a son, Hiram, and a daughter, Lindsey. While there are many family legends surrounding Margaret and her "Molly Brown" type strength living in perilous times of civil war, famine and disease, very little else has been found on her mother, Nancy, who may have been the among the strongest women on the planet. I'm starting to think that Nancy's is a poignant story that is dying to be told.
I received an email from a very nice woman in California who is also a descendant of my ggg-grandfather, Willis Webb, Margaret's husband. What she has learned through other "Webb cousins" is that Nancy arrived in Tennessee alone except for her son, Hiram, and was very likely pregant with Margaret during the voyage. She believes, but offers no documentation, that Nancy and son arrived in America through the port at Philadelphia. She does not know if Nancy embarked upon the ship across the Atlantic alone with her son or if she had a husband who either perished at sea or simply did not make the voyage at all. I do not have a name for a potential husband, but this very nice woman did tell me that Nancy's maiden name was Davidson. What would have been reasons a woman would migrate to lands unknown without a male chaperone? Was that done in the early 1800s? Could her husband have already been here, and could he have perished before Nancy and his son arrived? It's fun to conjecture all sorts of things such as this, but there is no shred of proof... only questions with no answers.
I have found a couple of Nancy Stewarts on ship manifest indexes published on, but the ages don't really fit. Is it possible that I have a preconceived notion as to what was common in the early 1800s? Is it possible that Nancy could have been in her forties when she migrated to America? I don't think this is really plausible since the 1840s Census lists yet another daughter. She would have been in her late fifties! I'm in my fifties, and I'm way too tired to be having a baby!
If anybody who may read this has any suggestions on how to narrow my search, please share. I would be very grateful, because I think this lady has a story that needs to be told. From what little I have on her, it shaping up to be quite poignant.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cousin Martha & Aunt Lucy

These are pictures of my cousin Martha and my Aunt Lucy. I have a picture of Martha's grandmother, also named Martha, who was an older sister to Aunt Lucy. I can't get the clarity I want when I crop Aunt Martha's picture to a head shot, but we can still see the Webb DNA marching on through time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Lucy Webb Bieber was born March 17, 1906, the fifth child of John (Spoony) Webb and Sarah Hamby. Lucy was quite possibly the strongest woman I've ever known and way ahead of her time.
Lucy was born in Glenmary, Scott County, Tennessee. The Webbs were a strong, self-contained family on a large farm where the hill dropped off drastically on one side, but the views were magnificent as the land ran adjacent to the Emory River. They raised their own garden and canned vegetables to sustain them through the winter. The Webbs raised their own hogs, and slaughtered and butchered their own pork. Like their ancestors before them, they also raised their own sheep, carded their own wool and made their own blankets. The Webbs were always well dressed, and yes, they sewed and tailored their own clothes.
Lucy learned all these life-sustaining chores very young, but Lucy excelled at all of them, a quality that would make her self-sufficient in an age long before women went into the workforce.
When Lucy was 15, she went with a boy from Glenmary by the name of Roger Human. Family lore has it that she had a baby out of wedlock, and the boy refused her. The baby died of unknown causes, and Lucy thought her life was over. She blamed Mr. Human for "ruining her life" and said she would never marry. She would take care of herself!
Lucy migrated to Erlanger, Kenton County, Kentucky in 1932, following her brothers, Will, Jim and John. She settled into a little house on Kentaboo and proceeded to raise chickens in the back yard. Lucy had quite a list of clients who bought her chickens, and she peddled them to restaurants up and down the Dixie Highway. My uncle Buddy remembered being in grade school and spending weekends with Aunt Lucy because she put him to work. He said she always paid him, but she demanded a lot of work!
Lucy sewed for people too. She made beautiful clothes and had steady clientele. She made blankets and quilts that the city people bought. Yes, my aunt Lucy seemed to be able to do it all. During the height of the depression, she was able to help her brothers by sewing clothes for their children and canning vegetables and drying beans.
Even with all these money making ventures of her own, Lucy also worked a job at Holiday Cleaners in downtown Cincinnati. She rode the Greenline bus from her house on Kentaboo into the Dixie Terminal and walked to the cleaners. It was at Holiday that she met her husband, Fred Bieber, a retired postal worker. She and Fred married in 1933, when Lucy was 36 years old. Fred had a son and daughter and was a widower. His son was a medical doctor.
Lucy and Fred lived in her house on Kentaboo for a number of years, but in 1950, they moved to Florida to enjoy their retirement. They lived in and around the Tampa area. I recall visiting them in Plant City, and the last place they lived was in a house in Holiday, Florida.
Uncle Fred preceded Lucy in death. Aunt Lucy died on May 10, 1978. She was 72. She is interred at Hillsborough Gardens in Brandon, Florida.
I loved my aunt Lucy. I thought she could just do anything! She was a snarly old woman by the time I came along, but for some reason, she loved me. She tried to teach me how to knit, but that never stuck. She used to crochet vests, hats and sweaters for me. In fact, even when I was up into high school, Aunt Lucy was still using colors she used when I was in grade school. I didn't appreciate them when I was sixteen as I had when I was six. I still loved her though!
Aunt Lucy embroidered by hand all the tea towels my mom had when I was little. She made these beautiful quilts that kept me warm, and she made clothes for my Barbie dolls that nobody else had! Whenever we visited her and Uncle Fred in Florida, Aunt Lucy always had watermelon for me. I remember how we used to play Yahtzee!
When we would go to the beach, Aunt Lucy would always go along, and I knew she didn't want to be there. She went because family do things for and with one another just so they can be together. She would pack lunch and make a day of it. I was less interested in spending time with her then, as I wanted to be in the ocean. Uncle Fred would walk out to the water's edge with me and show me how to look for shells. Together, they made beautiful seashell jewelry that I still treasure to this day. I never wear it, as it's too fragile, but I take it out of its box every so often and just look at how intricate the artwork is.
Uncle Fred also painted. I thought he was wonderful! He painted churches and barns. I guess that's where I learned to love taking pictures of churches and barns. My mom got all his paintings after Lucy died, but I'm not sure whatever happened to them. I inherited Aunt Lucy's diamond ring. I've worn it everyday since May 21, 1978 when my mother let me have it on my twentieth birthday.
Aunt Lucy was a wonderful woman, full of life and mischief. Hers was a life of extreme highs and plundering lows, but she never seemed to have a bad attitude. She was always jovial and happy to see us. She was a woman of faith, but she didn't wear it on her sleeve. She believed faith had to manifest itself in works, and she worked hard in life. I expect I will see her again someday. I hope she reads this.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Linda Buring

Linda Buring was born in 1938, the first born child of my aunt Thelma Goff.
Linda was long gone by the time I came along, and I only met her once. My father carried this picture of her in his wallet most of his life, along with photos of her half-brothers, Billy and Donny. When Linda came to visit, I must have been in junior high school. She came to dinner with her sister, Brenda, and Brenda's first husband, Bob Kemp. I can't remember if Aunt Thelma was with her. In fact, I don't remember very much about the visit at all, other than the fact that Linda was very beautiful.
Linda looked just like Aunt Thelma. Her hair was coal black, and her skin was like ivory, a trait belonging to the Goffs. I don't think Linda ever identified with the Goffs, however, but she was never forgotten by them.
Linda was sent to California when she was a young girl to live with her father. My mother remembers how my dad cried when Aunt Thelma put her on the train. My parents would have only been dating at the time. I think (but don't recall for sure) that Linda was around ten years old when she left. So the one time I met her, she would have been in her forties.
I found what I believed to be Linda's death certificate online. I don't want to be too specific, because, I haven't sent for it yet, and if it isn't her, well... On the document, her mother was listed as Thelma Somerset, which of course, is wrong. Thelma Goff was born in Somerset, so her children filled in only what little bit Linda had told them about her life.
If anyone has any information about this first cousin, please feel free to share. Her children and grandchildren remain estranged and unknown to us. I would love to meet them if I only knew where they were.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Grandmother & Granddaughter

End of Summer Musings

I took a little sabbatical of sorts through the spring and summer months, but now, I find that I am ready to resume writing about my crazy family. The summer of 2009 has been relatively peaceful. I was able to visit with my cousin, Sherry Goff Turner, and her husband, Ron. My first cousin (once removed) on the Webb side was married earlier this month, and so, I was able to visit with many extended family members whom I only get to see on such rare occasions.
Amidst all the visiting, one thing struck me as very poignant, and that is how much my mother is beginning to look like my Great-Grandmother, Belle. I've written extensively about Belle here on this blog. I loved her dearly, as she always seemed the great paradox. On one hand, she was the epitome of strength and independence; yet on the other, she was very dependent on the men in her life.
My mother carries that trait. She has always been incredibly strong, with a mind of her own. Yet, she loved my dad more than life itself. Losing him changed her in ways she can't even see, but I can. She has developed a love for my dad's dog and cat. One of them sneezes, and off she goes to plunk down money that she really does not have to care for animals that she always said she would get rid of the first chance she got. Well, that didn't happen. My mother made a promise to my dad, as he lay on his death bed, that she would look after his pets, and keeping that promise is akin to keeping her wedding vows.
Belle always had a cat around her house. I remember how she would sit on her front porch with an old black cat in her lap, and how she used to talk to it and love on it. Watching my mother love on her cat is like watching history repeat itself. I've seen that movie before, and even though these women are three generations apart, they look nearly identical now. Their mannerisms, their voices (minus Belle's thick Tennessee hill country accent,) and even the way they can tell the same story over and over like it's the first time we've all heard it... just like Belle.
So, it's my desire to keep writing about the people whose DNA I carry. It's time to get to it, now, isn't it?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Aunt Lucy & Uncle Fred

Aunt Lucy Webb Bieber and Uncle Fred Bieber
Thanksgiving Day, 1954
St. Petersburg, Florida

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Good Old Days When Times Were Bad

People have no idea what things were like during the Great Depression. They think now if they have to give up cable television, they're sacrificing, but during the depression, there was no money.
Daddy did whatever he could do. Every morning, he'd walk from Linden Street down to the railroad bridge where it cost him a penny to walk across that bridge to get to downtown Cincinnati, where he'd look for work. If he didn't have a penny, he'd hop a train. Sometimes Daddy would sweep floors, haul ice or throw trash. It didn't matter. There was no shame back then in the work a person did; It was all honorable. Sometimes Daddy would make a couple of dollars a week.
Mom worked too. She would take in laundry for people or ironing. She did whatever she could do to bring in money. She worked in Nell Donnelly's store and even owned her own store, but that was later. Mom could squeeze a dollar out of a nickle, but getting the nickle took a lot of ingenuity. I don't remember Mom or Daddy standing in the bread lines, but they might have. Mom always had a pot of beans on the stove, and we ate our fill of jowl bacon.
I helped Mom around the house. Mom would let me scrub the floors or fold laundry. I'll never forget the time Mom had washed the quilts and hung them outside on the line to dry. I brought them inside, folded them and laid them too close to the fire. They went up in a blaze, and Mom screamed and cried, "Reba's burning up. Reba's going to die." I didn't die, of course, because when I saw them burning, I ran outside and down the street. Needless to say, after Daddy put the fire out, he was waiting for me when I came home. Oh, I'll never forget that spanking, and I never made that mistake again.
Christmases weren't like they are today. There was no money, so we would get pennies from Daddy to buy Mom candy, and we'd get pennies from Mom to buy something for Daddy, usually a railroad handkerchief. I remember one Christmas, Buddy got a harmonica and I got paper dolls. Well, Buddy and I got into a fight, and I threw his harmonica into the fire. He just stood there and looked at me. He didn't say word, but I felt so bad about it, that I picked up my paper dolls and threw them into the fire too. Buddy finally said, "Now that was stupid." Yes, it was, and I never got over it.
The Earls lived next door to us. Mr. Earls worked for Baldwin Piano Company in Cincinnati. Baldwin Piano didn't lay anyone off during the depression. They cut hours way back, but they stood by their employees. Anyway, whenever the Earls kids got candy, they always gave us some. Mr. Earls would say, "One for Margaret, one for Millie, one for Buddy and one for Rebie." Whenever they got to go to the movies, they'd take Buddy and me also. We took many a supper in the Earls' home, and they were like family to us.
That's the thing most people today probably can't understand. We live in subdivisions now where children go home and play video games. Back then, we played on the streets. We knew our neighbors and people in the community looked after one another. We depended on one another. We had to because the times would have been unbearable without friends. Everyone was poor, but everyone was proud. We were scarred for life by the poverty, but we all survived.
Reba Webb Goff
February 10, 2009

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Great Aunts on the Webb Side

I'm not 100% certain about the ladies in this picture. You see, the problem is that all the Webb girls looked a great deal alike. I think this is Laura Webb Kittrell and Bertha Webb Buchanan. It is taken at the old home place in Glenmary, Scott County, TN.
I'm guessing it was taken around 1920. The Webbs made all their own clothes, and by the looks of this photograph, the hemlines had started coming up from the ground. I never knew Aunt Laura, and I met Aunt Bertha only once when I was very young.
Legend has it that Aunt Bertha moved her family to Illinois in the 1950s. Apparently, there was some dispute between her husband, Fred Buchanan, and Annie's husband, Doc Beatty, that resulted in Mr. Buchanan being shot by Uncle Doc. I'm told Uncle Doc wasn't one to mess with; He apparently had the law and the southern powers on his side. There is absolutely nothing to prove nor disprove this story, but it's the kind of legend that adds seasoning to one's family history.
I know that Aunt Laura died in the mid-1940s, but I'm not sure when Aunt Bertha died. I know she was still living when Aunt Lucy died in 1978. My mother was the executor of Aunt Lucy's estate, and there was supposedly bad feelings about that. C'est la vie.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Children Of A Younger Day

This a picture of Lucy Webb (on the right with the bow in her hair) and Martha Webb. Lucy appears to be about 12 here, which would make the date of the picture, about 1915, or thereabouts. It is the only known picture that I have in my collection of Aunt Martha, who died in the mid-1930s.
Martha was born in Glenmary, Tennessee, to my great-grandparents, John "Spoony" Webb and Sarah Hamby Webb, in 1889. Martha was the first daughter and the third child. She married Clarence Hurt, and they had three children, Homer, Eunice and Sarah. Martha was named after John's mother.
Martha died of cancer. Her daughter, Eunice, died shortly thereafter, in the early 1940s, leaving one daughter, Joyce.
Martha is interred in the Webb Cemetery, Glenmary, Scott County, Tennessee.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Belle and Children

This is the last known picture taken of Belle Dodson Grimes McCloud Cole. Belle was born in 1889 and died in 1986. I remember taking this picture, and I think the year was 1980.
Pictured from left to right are Lena Grimes, Lonnie Grimes, Belle, Hubert McCloud and Virgie Belle Grimes Webb. Uncle Lonnie died in 1993. I am not certain of when Uncle Hubert died. Grandma Virgie died in 1996, and Aunt Lena died in 2008.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Grandma Virgie

I love this picture of Grandma Virgie. She is holding my mother, Reba, and my Uncle Buddy. It was taken in the cornfield of the old home place in Glenmary, Tennessee. Buddy was born in March, 1931, and he looks to be under six months old here, dating this photograph to the same year. Grandma would have been 21.
I love the handmade dress and her ankle-strapped shoes. Grandma was always so beautiful to me. She didn't have a gray hair until she was 80, but that isn't a gene I inherited from her.
Grandma hated the winter time and would have hated the ice storm that recently blanketed Kentucky.

Virgie Belle Grimes Webb, b. June 2, 1910, d. Dec. 6, 1997

Sunday, February 1, 2009

We Don't Know Things When We're Seven

John "Spoony" Webb & Sarah Hamby Webb
Grandma & Grandpa Webb
It was cold in Ludlow, Kentucky that winter, 1937. There really wasn't much anybody could afford to do. Every morning, Pop had paid a penny each day for six years to walk across the railroad bridge that spanned the Ohio River. Stepping onto the shores of Cincinnati, he searched for work. The days were long, and Pop did whatever he could to earn money. He swept floors, carried ice, hauled lard, whatever anybody was willing to pay him to do, he did.

Then the floods came. We lived up on Linden Street, so we didn't have flood water in our house, but so many of our friends did. Then Grandma Webb took sick. She came down with pneumonia and died that year. Grandma and Grandpa had moved up here from Tennessee, but there was never a question about where either of them would be buried when it was their time to go. So we boarded a 'troops' train' that carried troops going off to the military. Grandma's casket was in the baggage car bound for Glenmary, Tennessee.

It was cold and snowing, and there wasn't anyway were were going to get Grandma to the Webb Cemetery if we took her to Webb Mountain to be laid out in the parlor of the old home place. A lady in Glenmary let us lay her out in her home at the foot of the hill. I wish I could remember who she was. It was custom that when someone was laid out in the home, someone had to stay with the body at all times; so mom and I stayed up watching Grandma sleep all night.

The next day we had Grandma's funeral. The roads were bad and the undertaker said we couldn't get a hearse up the hill. Uncle Doc, Uncle Jim, Homer and Pop spent the night digging Grandma's grave. I'll never know how they were able to do it with the snow coming down. When Pop came inside the house, his hands were red and nearly frozen. Mom ran warm water over them and applied lineament to ward off frostbite.

The undertaker had the men load Grandma's casket onto a flat wagon, and a mule hauled her body up the hill to Webb's Cemetery. The family walked behind the wagon all the way up the hill. I remember being so scared that Grandma was going to slide off the wagon. The snow was merciless, and the mountain seemed so steep. When they went to lower Grandma's casket into the grave, Uncle Doc fell in! Buddy started to laugh, and Mom reached down and yanked him back to silence. I started crying because I thought Uncle Doc was going with Grandma, and it was bad enough losing her.

After the funeral, we did go up to the Webb farm. Uncle Doc and Aunt Annie were living there then. I remember Aunt Annie made pallets on the living room floor in front of the fireplace for Buddy and me. After everyone had gone to sleep, Aunt Annie came walking through the room, and Buddy reached out and grabbed her ankle. Aunt Annie screamed and woke up everyone in the house. Buddy got his bottom smacked, but Aunt Annie was so timid. It really didn't take anything to scare her out of her wits. She was very kind and gentle.

When we all came back to Ludlow after Grandma's funeral, it was still cold, and we were still poor. The thing was, everybody was poor. Nobody had any "extra" money. Grandpa Webb went back to his house, which was right across from the Baptist Church. Grandma and Grandpa always went to church. Grandpa never went out of the house that he didn't have on a nice pair of pants with good shoes and nice shirt. He nearly always wore a jacket, and he used a cane and sometimes wore a hat. He was a very dignified man, and people probably thought he was better off than he actually was based on how he dressed.

I remember later in the summertime, one time Buddy and I were playing with our friends in the street. I don't even remember what we were playing, but Grandpa came walking down the street. He hollered, "Rebie, come over here. I want to see my grand baby."

Buddy ran over to him, but I was too busy. At first I ignored him. Then I finally, said, "Grandpa, I'm playing." He talked a little bit to Buddy and then he went on back home, and I watched him walk into the house and close the screen door. I've never forgotten that, and I've always felt guilty about it. All he wanted was to see his grandbaby, and I acted terrible to him. I just wanted to play. He never said anything else about it. Buddy and I never talked about it. I was a kid, and kids can be mean. We don't know when we're seven what we'll regret when we're 80.

Grandpa died in 1941. We took him back to Tennessee on a train too. It was nearly a repeat of Grandma's funeral, but we laid Grandpa out in the Webb house; however, we did carry him to the cemetery on a mule-pulled wagon. Mom, Aunt Lucy, Aunt Annie, Sarah, Joyce and I stayed up with the body all night, while the same men who dug Grandma's grave dug Grandpa's. Things were very different then, very different.

Written by Reba Webb Goff

February 1, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Aunt Lucy & Aunt Annie Early 1900s

Automobiles and Train Stations

I love this old photograph. From left to right is Aunt Lucy Webb Bieber, Sarah Hamby Webb, Virgie Grimes Webb and John "Spoony" Webb. The children are Reba (my mother) and Buddy Webb.
My mother was born in 1930 and Buddy in 1931; and given that Buddy looks to be about four, I'd mark this picture as having been taken in 1935. I'm not certain of the setting, but it looks to be the old rail yard in Ludlow, Kentucky, during the height of the Great Depression.
I know that my grandfather did not have a car, because I have heard my mother talk about how Pop had to pay to walk across the railroad bridge to get to Cincinnati in order to look for work. I've never heard mention Spoony Webb having an automobile; although it is quite possible that Aunt Lucy's husband, Fred Bieber, may have had one. It is entirely possible, even probable, that they merely had their pictures taken in front of these cars because they were "just there."
Every picture I have ever seen of Spoony Webb, he is wearing a tie. Sarah is always wearing what appears to be a cotton house dress. "Presentable" is a word that comes to mind. The Webbs were poor during the depression, but the entire family had moved from the farm in Glenmary, Tennessee to Ludlow, Kentucky. Being in the city provided comforts not afforded to them in Tennessee; so the little they had was more than they had left behind.
Having said that, they must have longed for the farm and the old home place. Sarah and Spoony are buried in the Webb Cemetery in Glenmary, Tennessee, where four of their children rest nearby. When the railroad came through Glenmary, it opened the world for the Webb family. They left Tennessee on a train; and when they took their last ride home again... well... it was on a train.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Grandma Webb

This is one of my favorite pictures. It's about 30 years old and probably taken at Christmas. This is my Grandma Virgie with four of her grandchildren. That's Virgie Grimes Webb on the left. Seated on the floor are Rhonda Webb and me. Jeff and Steve Webb are seated on the couch. Jeff was in from the service; Rhonda was still in middle school; Steve was married to Sandi, but I don't think Brian and Jonathan were here yet. I was home from college at Morehead State.

I love the innocence on our faces. We weren't shackled by mortgages, tuition, jobs we didn't like. We still understood what it meant to live in the moment.

Holidays found us gathered around the table for a huge meal, followed by presents, and usually, games. We played lots of games like Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, Euchre and Pictionary. If Grandma played, she usually won. Grandma Virgie taught us all how to play Chinese Checkers. To this day, nobody in my family will let me play Chinese Checkers because, just like Grandma always won, well, let's just say, she taught me very well.

This picture was taken when I still felt close to my cousins. I idolized Steve, and Jeff was more like a brother. I miss those days, but I'm so grateful to have had them. I miss Grandma Virgie more than words can say. She would have been exceedingly happy today, watching history unfold as we usher in a new era for American democracy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Southern Authors

I am going to take the time to write about something other than family history today. I'm going to use my blog as a place to vent about a trend that is bothering me. Southern Writers.
I long for southern writers like Eudora Welty, Jesse Stuart or William Faulkner. I don't understand why so many southern fiction writers go out of their way to make southern people look silly. Most of the southern people I know are wonderful. They are smart, funny, educated. Even the ones who aren't particularly well educated are perfectly delightful people whom I am proud to call family and friends. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about some of the characters in some of the books I've read lately.
I was reading Margaret Maron's book, Death's Half Acre, and found rum runners, white folk who live in the big house and black folk who live in the sharecropper house. I realize this may have been the way it was even 50 years ago, but is this truly the way the south should be depicted now? I am reading Sandra Brown's book, Witness, and it is filled with racist creatures who won't invite the town "colored folk" to a wedding, hill jacks who take to vigilante justice when the courts don't suit their liking. This last one is a filled with suspense, and I think there is at least a repudiation of that backward way of living; and the protagonist is a southerner herself. Thus, Brown's book has a redeeming quality.
Please don't misunderstand what I am saying. I love the south. My family hails from the south! But for crying out loud! The war is over. The powder is no longer burning! Every state that tried to succeed from the union has had full representation in government since the day Lee signed the surrender at Appomattox! Can't we please move on?
I want to read about the struggles of the southern people, but I don't want to read the stereotypes that for far too long we have allowed to remain part of our daily education. I want to read about the descendant of slaves who became a stalwart of the community. I want to read about the white/black conciliation, and the journey toward understanding. I don't want to read anymore about rum runners who are powerful because folks are still afraid of them! I don't want to read a chapter about how to fry pork chops unless I'm reading a cookbook. I want to read about southerners from an author, an wordsmith, who truly respects the culture, where it has been, where it is now and where it is going.
Thank you ever so much for allowing me to use this forum to vent. I welcome comments and discussion.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Margaret Stewart Webb

I've posted this picture before, but I'm bringing it back because I have recently become acquainted with a lady who had information about Margaret Stewart Webb that I didn't have. Although I have not documented this, and I am trusting her that documentation exists within the Morgan Co./Scott Co., TN Historical Societies, I am posting it anyway. The reason I do so is because her story rings true to what has been handed down through the generations from my family.
Margaret Stewart was born around 1828 in what is now Morgan County, Tennessee. Her family was of very humble means. She met Willis Webb while in school, and they married in 1941. Willis and Margaret moved from the Webb homestead to a hillside where they Willis built her their first home, wherein she gave birth to her first five children, William, Samuel, Hiram, Martha and Nancy. (Martha is my gg-grandmother.)
She had a sheep that she kept for wool. She would shear the sheep herself to make clothes. One night she spent all evening carding wool, and the next morning all her wool was gone. She finally found it under the floor of the house where a pack rat had carried it. She had to dig a place under the floor so she could crawl under and get her wool. She could not afford to lose it. (Flo Zimmer)
My great grandfather was known for his sheep and the wool from it. I have several blankets that were made from carded sheep that were raised on the Webb farm.
In 1853, Willis built the family a home made from chestnut logs. The house in this picture is that old homeplace. The Webbs lived here until the the farm was sold in the 1970s.
During the Civil War they lived on the borderline between Yanks and Rebels. Willis left to join the Anion Army. He had their home nearly finished (this must be the house you were talking about of chestnut logs) except for the doors and windows and the neighbors helped her put them in. Then eldest son Samuel was 18 and he and some neighbors sons hid out in a cave in the hills to avoid being forced into the Rebel Army. At night when her other children were asleep, Margaret would slip out, get on an old white work horse and ride through the woods to take food to the boys. She had to be careful and not run into any Rebel soldiers, who would raid the farmers for food, clothes, cows and horses. When the Rebels were in the area she would hang her red petticoat on the line to show the boys there was danger. When it was safe she would hang her tablecloth on the line to invite the boys for food. She had to keep her horse hidden. (Flo Zimmer)
My family has stories identical to this one that have been handed down from generation to generation. It is known by the Webbs that Margaret kept her children safe, but the cost of the war on her family was tremendous.
One experience she had was with a neighbor (last name was either Redman or Hinchae). (I looked and in the census that lists Willis Webb...there also in that area was Redman's and Hinchae's). This neighbor was too old for the Army and was told that the Rebels killed men too old for conscription. When he heard they were coming this neighbor and his wife hid out in caves. When the Rebels found them gone, they told a negro slave of theirs that if they were not back by morning their home and barn would be burned. The slave didn't know what to do and came to Margaret Webb for help. She went and got her old white horse from it's hiding place and was able to bring the neighbor home just before sun-up. The Rebels let him go and didn't burn his house because he had came back. Another time when Rebels came to burn Margaret's house, she invited them in and offered them what little food she had. They searched her home and took what they wanted, but didn't burn it because of her kindness. (Flo Zimmer)
Up until this time, I did not know of the Webbs having slaves. This is something new to me, particularly since Willis chose to fight for the Yankees. I had heard stories, however, from my family in Tennessee about how the Rebels would come through and kill anybody they thought might be hiding people from the war.
When anyone died they used grandma Margaret's parlor to "lay out" the body. It did not seem to bother grandma and she'd go right to sleep, but to Siddie the thought of a dead person in the next room terrified her for weeks after --giving her nightmares.Even at 84 years of age her (Margaret's) mind was clear and bright as when she was young. On her death bed, she was able to recall for her neighbor the date her neighbor had bought his own farm and what he had paid for it. This neighbor was about to lose his farm, as the heirs of the former owner were trying to take it. She died three hours later, so to the very end of her life she served and helped her fellow man. (Flo Zimmer)
There have also been stories of funerals that took place inside the old homeplace handed down through the Webb generations. My grandma Virgie, often told of how they would "dress" the body for viewing, then "lay it out" on a table in the parlor. Somebody would have to stay up with it all night, although I'm not sure why, and if anybody knows, please enlighten me.
Margaret died when she 84 years old on her bed in the old homeplace. The year was 1912. She is buried next to Willis in Carpenter's Cemetery in Glenmary, Scott County, Tennessee. She surrounded by her children.
I loved learning this about my ggg-grandmother. It rings true with the legends handed down through my family, and I cannot wait to start documenting these very things.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ram Shackle Paradise

The woman in this photograph is my great grandmother, Belle Dodson Grimes McCloud Cole. The older child is my mother, Reba Webb Goff. The three children are my my second cousins.
My mother looks to be about nine or ten years old, so that dates the picture around 1940.
I love it because they look so happy. My great grandmother didn't have hot and cold running water in her house until she was 92, so this truly was what one might call a "ram shackled house." Yet, in the summers, I loved to visit her. This picture doesn't show the cornfield we had to go through to get to the privy. Nor does it show the chickens pecking around on the ground. In fact, what little Belle did have in material possessions is not seen in this picture, but when I look at it, I see love.

Aunt Thelma and Uncle Bud

Look back at the picture of Bill. Can you see why I say I always knew him? DNA really does matter.

My Cousin Bill

I didn't get to meet Bill until I was in my mid-thirties. We met at Todd's wedding. Todd is Bill's nephew and my first cousin once removed, the son of Bill's sister, Brenda.
Bill is the eldest son of my aunt Thelma Goff Buring Jeffers Buring. One could not deny that DNA matters when comparing a picture of my aunt with that of her son. I knew what Bill looked like as a child, because my father carried his picture around in his wallet all his life.
Bill was estranged from the family for most all my life. A product of divorce, Bill and his brother, Donnie, lived in the custody of their father. (I have not met Donnie to this day, although I am happy to say that my father was reunited with him prior to my father's passing in 2005.)
Having said all that, I have never not known Bill. I knew him before I knew that I knew him. Before being introduced, when I saw him across the room at Todd's wedding, I knew who he was. When he spoke, I had heard his voice before, and when he laughed, well, I you get the picture. I don't know how these things happen, whether it is the DNA that passes from one generation to the next that causes knowledge of such things, or if it was merely Bill's striking resemblance to his mother that sealed the acquaintance. Whatever it was, it was very special.
I see Bill now, if I'm lucky, about once a year. He's married to a beautiful woman, Jan, and they live not far from my mother. I love Bill. He is my cousin. He is my blood. I'm so thankful we met in this lifetime, but I would have known him in Heaven.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

John Milton Goff

John Milton Goff was born June 20, 1915 in Strawberry, Pulaski County, Kentucky. He was the second child born to Andrew Montgomery Goff and Nellie Hughes Goff.

When Johnny was seven years old, the family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where Andrew became foreman for the Southern Railroad. Johnny grew up in Ludlow, Kenton County, Kentucky, the oldest of five surviving children. When Johnny was ten, he came down with rheumatic fever, and although it left scars on his heart, he would grow up to serve his country in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Johnny married Helen Elizabeth Houston on June 19, 1937. They had four children, Tommy, Ronnie, Darlene and Donna Sue. The family settled in Independence, Kenton County, Kentucky in a white frame house that Johnny built. His children went to Simon Kenton High School, and the family held membership at New Banklick Baptist Church, where Johnny served as deacon and lay minister. Johnny inherited his musical gene from his father, and he played the guitar and sang. Johnny and Helen traveled throughout Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana singing and preaching the Gospel.

Johnny was my uncle; my father, Paul, and he were brothers. I remember being at Uncle Johnny's when I was young. I can remember Uncle Johnny standing me up on the piano bench and saying, "Sing, Paula Kay. Sing." I can remember him playing the twelve-string guitar and he and my dad and I sang convention songs from what we called the Red Back Hymnbook. Aunt Helen always had a Broadman Hymnbook, and occasionally we'd sing from that.

Johnny died in April, 1972, at the age of 56. He joined his brother, Herbert, who had died in infancy a year before Johnny was born. They are together in that great cloud of witnesses watching the rest of us finish the race. Sometimes, I think I can almost hear the strum of the twelve-string and a far away fiddle making joyful noises to the Lord.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Photo by Paula Goff Christy, 2002
Somewhere in Texas

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Thelma, the Prodigal Daughter

Thelma Goff was born in Somerset, Kentucky on February 12, 1920, the third child and only daughter to Andy and Nellie Goff.

Night had not yet come to the Cumberlands in 1920, so the Cumberland River had not yet been damned. The family lived on the outskirts of town, where Andy worked for the Southern Railroad, and Nellie kept house. When Andy accepted a foreman's position, the family moved, by train, to Cincinnati, Ohio, eventually settling into the section house, owned by the Railroad in Ludlow, Kentucky.

By all indications, Thelma was the wild child of the family, head strong and beautiful enough to keep the family in turmoil. Although Andy and Nellie were both short and Irish in appearance, Thelma inherited the Dutch Irish genes. She was tall, with coal black hair, skin like porcelain and black eyes that could look through a person, no doubt she could stop traffic.

Thelma ran away from home when she was 14, which would have been 1934, the height of the Great Depression. Knowledge of her "lost years" is practically non-existent, but when she came back to Kentucky, she was married. Her daughter, Linda, was born during her lost years. Linda was a beautiful child with dark hair, like her mothers and piercing eyes. When Thelma and her husband divorced, Linda went to California to live with her father.

Thelma, later remarried and had two children, Donnie and Bill, by her second husband, William Jeffers. That marriage was short lived, and Thelma remarried. Her third husband was Albert "Bud" Buring, a cousin to her first husband. She married February 28, 1946 in New York City. Bud was in the U.S. Army, and Thelma lived the military life until her daughter, Brenda Jean, was born on April 5, 1947. Upon Bud's discharge from the service, the family settled in Ludlow, Kenton County, Kentucky. Albert Jr. was born on February 22, 1952.

The marriage couldn't have been easy, as Bud suffered from tuberculosis and underwent a stay in a sanitarium in Phoenix. Bud suffered an aneurysm in 1968, and remained incapacitated until he passed away in 1975. This, however, was the marriage that lasted for better or worse, and literally, in sickness and in health. For Thelma cared for Bud all his life.

Thelma Goff Buring Jeffers Buring was certainly worrisome for Andy and Nellie. They were strict Southern Baptists, and Thelma was their prodigal child. She returned to the fold in her later years, however, having made her profession of faith in Jesus Christ at the Covenant Christian Church in Newport, Campbell County, Kentucky. When Bud passed away, Thelma moved into Andy and Nellie's home in Covington, where she remained until her own health forced her into a senior citizen's apartment in Florence, Kentucky. Thelma suffered from lung cancer, and moved in with her daughter, Brenda, in Florence until she passed in September, 1986.

Thelma remained estranged from her daughter, Linda, and son, Donnie; they never reconciled in her lifetime. Bill and Thelma, however, had reconciled prior to her death. Brenda and Albert remained devoted to her throughout her life.

Thelma is the perfect example of Nellie Goff's understanding of child rearing, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart." Proverbs 22:6. She did come back to the Lord. She did come back to her family. She was a wonderful aunt! She always had a warm hug for everybody. She was strikingly beautiful, but in her later years, it was an inner strength that made her radiant. She is among that great cloud of witnesses watching us run our race, and she will be among the first to greet us at the gates of Heaven and tell us all about it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Andrew & Nellie Goff

Andrew Montgomery Goff was born June 28, 1892 in Burnside, Pulaski County, Kentucky. Richard Goff was married to Mary Ellen Stephens, and Andy was their first child. Richard had five other children by a previous marriage.
Andrew was born into a family of farmers. His father farmed; his grandfather farmed; and his great-grandfather farmed. The family was not one that was well to do, and when Andy came into the world, the Tennessee Valley Authority had not yet damned the Cumberland River. Power was still a luxury in the Cumberlands, and the railroad was still young.
Nellie Hughes was born July 10, 1892, also in Burnside, Pulaski County, Kentucky. Nellie had a twin sister, Ida, but the girls were separated at the age of eight when their mother, whose true identity is currently unknown, died of a snake bite.
It is known, through tax and property records, as well as census records, that the Hughes' farm and the Goff's homestead were in close proximity. It is unknown how they met, but Andrew Goff and Nellie Hughes were married in Huntsville, Tennessee on the 29th day of April, 1913, by Justice of the Peace, James McDonald. They returned to Burnside where they set up housekeeping and Andy got a job with the railroad.
Andy and Nellie had six children. Herbert Goff was born February 28, 1914 and died March 21, of the same year. On the 20th day of June, 1915, John Milton Goff was born in Strawberry, Pulaski County, Kentucky. Thelma was born on February 12, 1920 in Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky.
By 1923, Andy was established in his job with the Southern Railroad. Andrew accepted a job as foreman for the company, and that required a move to the Cincinnati area. Richard Goff was born November 17, 1924, in Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio. By the time Paul Martin was born on June 2, 1927, the family had moved into what was called "the section house," in Ludlow, Kenton County, Kentucky. The section house was owned by the Southern Railroad, and it was there that Abel was born on April 2, 1930.
Andy's job required him to be away from the family a great deal. Nellie had only a second grade education, and her method of child rearing came straight from the Book of Proverbs, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6, KJV) She adapted her methodology straight from the King James Bible. It is safe to say that execution of her methodology would probably not be tolerated in today's society. She was tough, and she meant what she said.
Even though Andy did have steady work, the family was among dirt poor. Nellie took in laundry and ironing to help offset the expenses of a large family. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Nellie watched her sons, one by one, go off to war. Richard served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Morrison which was struck by a kamikaze. Richard spent a great deal of time in the VA Hospital in Columbus, Ohio before being honorably discharged for his service to his country. Paul enlisted shortly after Richard was injured. He served in the U.S. Army in the military police at the fall of Italy. Abel enlisted and served in the Korean conflict. The Goff brothers never spoke of their military service except in the context of family history.
Andy and Nellie were active members of the First Baptist Church of Ludlow, Kentucky. Andy wore a Sunday School for 30 some odd years of perfect attendance. Each of their children came to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
When Andy retired from the railroad, they bought a house on East 18th Street in Covington, Kentucky. The house is still standing to this day, although, the years have not been kind to it. If the grandchildren could walk inside, they could still probably remember the aroma of Andy's pipe, or feel the hunger pains from the smell of Nellie's chicken and dumplings on the stove. They might even feel the warmth emanating from the wood stove that took up half the living room or the coolness of Gramma's venetian blinds masked by the softness of the white curtains that hung in front of them. They could probably hear the willowy whine of the fiddle strings being tuned up and primed for a little Ragtime Annie, or the tinny clang of the claw string banjo as Andy plucked out choruses of Cotton-eyed Joe.
Nellie's health was poor throughout her autumn/winter years. She succumbed to colon cancer on December 4, 1972. Nellie was interred on December 6, 1972 in Floral Hills Cemetery, Kenton County, Kentucky, to be joined by Andy on May 16, 1976. Reuniting with Herbert, they have since been joined in Heaven by John, Thelma, Paul and Abel, as well as two of their grandchildren, Ronny and Darlene.
Perhaps the greatest lesson derived from the lives of Andy and Nellie is to live in the moment. They were contented to be in the moment and each had a deep abiding joy in the depths of their souls. Knowing this world is temporary, their treasures were surely laid up in Heaven. Perhaps their greatest reward is knowing their whole family will someday be reunited.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year!

I promise to return to this blog! I know it has been since Thanksgiving since I posted anything, but if you'll bear with me until I can get my scanner fixed, I promise to return to telling the stories of our family members, those still here and those already gone to be with the Lord.
Happy New Year! 2009 is going to be a great year!