Miller County, Missouri

The Livingston Family of Miller County

by Olive Waite Livingston

Miller County home page

[Written in the early 1960s.]

Several relatives in the Livingston family have requested I put in writing what information I have of the early history of the Daniel Livingston family who came from Hart County, Kentucky, in 1855 to settle in Richwoods Township, Miller County, Missouri. To tell of this family would be impossible without also telling the history of the Castleman family who came approximately tenyears before the Livingston family. These two families were so closely connected by marriage that one family is not thought of without the other. Much of my information has been gained through a box of old papers stowed away in the loft of the old house, unnoticed by me until after we had moved away from there. This box contains a packet of letters, tax receipts, and bills of sale. From them, the deeds of this place, and grave stones, I believe the dates to be fairly accurate. Then, too, I have spent almost half of my 72 years living with old people who have told me much of the early history of this part of the country. I am sorry now I gave so little thought to the things I heard and would like to give what knowledge I’ve gained to the younger generation hoping it will be of interest to some.

David Castleman was born May 6, 1813. His wife Louisiana Cayce was born June 4, 1814. The came here from Tennessee about the year 1844 as the deed to this place was made to them in 1845, from Larkin Osborn. The land grant had been made to James Brumley in the year 1820 before Missouri became a state and bore the signature of James K. Polk. The Castleman’s came from a place called Cayce Springs which is not on a map now. Also, the names Franklin and Memphi are mentioned in these letters. Louisiana was the youngest of nine children. There are a number of letters from brother Matthew Cayce who was 10 years her senior. In these he addresses her as “dear little sister” and they must have been real treasures to have been so well preserved. He was 80 years old when the last letter was written. There were at least two other members of David’s family here, who possibly came at the same time; a brother, Abram, and a sister Elizabeth, who married John Aust, the grandfather of Charley Aust. There are a number of old tax receipts, the oldest going back to 1848 which was for one dollar and ninety-five cents for state and county tax on 80 acres of land. These receipts follow year after year and several of the oldest were written on a piece of tablet paper two or three inches wide. Later they were written on form paper from the collector’s office. David and Louisiana Castleman were not old people when they settled on this place. They were the parents of six children, two if not three were born after they came here. Nancy, the youngest girl, died at the age of nineteen. Four of these six children married Livingstons. They were Mary, Jane, Benjamin, and Lewis. Sarah, the second oldest, married Zadoc Casey. She was the mother of John, Mary Ann, Drew, Ray, and Eva Casey. The Castleman’s were not poor people from what I can gather. The furniture they brought with them was of good grade. Tax receipts show that at one time Louisiana paid on two 80 acre [parcels] and three 40 acre [parcels] of land. This may have been for her children as one tract was in range 14 somewhere on Brushy Fork Creek.

On April 26, 1858, this family sat down to breakfast in the west room of the old house. Soon David got up from the table, went across the porch into the east room (there was no door between the rooms), and, after taking a gun from over the door, placed the gun against his forehead with his hat between, and pulled the trigger with his toe. His wife said she knew when she heard the shot what had happened as he had been acting strangely of late. We have to let our imagination carry us through this scene. Someone must go for help and this country was not thickly settled. Probably 14 year old Benjamin was sent. The east room had only been built two or three years then but the blood stains in the northeast corner could never be removed and a new floor had to be layed. Then someone had to go to Tuscumbia to get materials to make a coffin and Tuscumbia was the nearest trading place. These materials were bought of Wilson and Lenox and the itemized bill is still in good shape after one hundred and six years and to me it is very interesting as we compare it with present day burial expenses. The date is April 26, 1858, charged on book account and paid in full in April, 1859.

   10 yards jackenette   @ .40 yd   $4.00 (outside cover)
    7 yards cambric      @ .10 yd     .70 (inside)
    6 yards bleached     @ .11 yd     .66
    5 yards fringe       @ .50 yd    2.50 (trim around edge)
    1 pr. hose                        .25
    1 pr. white military gloves       .35
    1 box screws                      .10
    1 box paper tacks                 .10
                              Total $8.66

There was no graveyard close, so the body of David Castleman was carried across the creek just east of the house, where it was laid to rest. This was the beginning of the Castleman graveyard, later to be known as the Livingston Cemetery. The next year, in May 1859, Mrs. Castleman went to Tuscumbia where she ordered a marble slab through Flemings and Thompson to be shipped by boat from Jefferson City. This came from Commons and Co. And the bill was $2.31. This bill was paid with wheat at 85 cents per bushel. David’s sister, Elizabeth Aust, died the same year and she was buried near him. The marble slab still stands and bears the inscription “David Castleman, age 45 years, eleven months, and 20 days.”

Mrs. Castleman was left a widow at the age of 44. She never remarried.. She must have been an excellent business woman and was also a very religious woman, a Southern Methodist, and church was often held in her home, as there was no church house of any kind, although a circuit rider came through and held meetings in homes or camp meetings where people came for miles in covered wagons and camped sometimes for weeks. One such meeting was held in the branch hollow across the creek from here.

It was in the Castleman home a few men met in 1856 and organized the first school district. This took in what was later divided into Elliott, the Mace, the Hickory Point, the Spearman, and part of the Keyes districts. Louisiana’s youngest child, Lewis, and his wife, Lucy, lived with her until Lucy died. Lewis remarried and went to Kansas where he farmed near Topeka. Letters from him to his mother are among the old letters we have. She was sick and he tells her how he longs to see her but the distance was too great. He went from Kansas to Oregon and lived there until he died at the home of a daughter at Shedds, Oregon in 1929, at the age of 78. He left a son, Rufus, at Dexter, Oregon and four daughters. Levi, his son by Lucy, preceded his father in death in 1928. Levi left one daughter and fur sons, Victor L., Marion Lewis, James A., and Benjamin, all of them of Pleasant Hill, Oregon. This is the last of the Castleman name and some of this family may still be living. Mrs. Castleman died at 79 years, surviving her husband and three of her six children.

Family Record of Daniel and Partheny Livingston

Daniel Livingston -- born October 15, 1807. Died July 11, 1864.
Partheny Parish Livingston -- born December 19, 1811. Died March 27, 1894

Parents of thirteen children as follows:

1. Mary Jane - Born Nov. 23, 1833. Died 1909. Married William Shelton Watkins. Mother of five children as follows: Perry, Bowlin, Bird, Emmett, and Lauretta
2. William Noe -- Born Jan. 29, 1835. Died Feb. 18, 1909. Married Mary I. Castleman. Father of ten children: Mary (died in infancy), Joseph B., Richard M., Samuel and Sarah (twins), Mary E., David A. Later married Sarah James and was the father of twins James and Olive, and Frank Parish.
3. John T. -- Born July 27. Died Jan. 31, 1896. Married Mary McCubbins. Father of five children: Martha, Henry, William D., Jesse, and Betty.
4. Joseph B. Born Jan. 27, 1838. Died about 1910. Father of two children.
5. Henry B. Born Jan. 11, 1844. Died June 22, 1869. Married Jane Castleman. Father of one child, Arazona.
6. Elizabeth Ellen. Born Feb. 7, 1842. Died Feb. 1922. Married Zadoc Casey, no children.
7-8. Richard and Peter - Born Jan. 11, 1844 - twins. Richard married Emily Womack. No children. Peter married Albertine Gover. Father of eight children: Augusta, Zadock, Octavia, Malvin and Alvin (twins), Nevada, Cleveland, and Wesley.
9. Martha Susan - Born Jan, 15, date of death unknown. Married Hanks, mother of four children: Charley, Daniel, Elizabeth, and Martha.
10. Virginia - Born March 15, 1848. Died March 18, 1932. Married Benjamin Castleman. After his death she married Henry Bear and was the mother of three children, the first dying in infancy; Willard and Lucy.
11. Lucy Ann - Born June 21, 1850. Died Aug. 17, 1872. Married Lewis Castleman. Mother of two children one dying in infancy; Levi.
12. Laura E. Born Oct. 7, 1852. Died about 1900. Married Simeon Casey. Mother of seven children; Jennie, Milton, Benjamin, Lucy, George, Mary, and Ida.
13. Benjamin F. Born April 22, 1855. Died Sept. 8, 1876. Married Martha Cooper. Father of one child, Viola.

This totals 49 grandchildren and I count 150 great-grandchildren.

“Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house unto a land that I will show thee: and I will bless thee and thou shall be a blessing.” Genesis 12: 1-2.

So Daniel Livingston heard the call as he tended the thin red clay soil in the tobacco fields in Hart County, Kentucky in the year of 1854, but another baby was due in the spring, to make the thirteenth child in the family. Daniel was 47 years old and his wife Partheny was 43. It was getting hard to feed and clothe so large a family and the older children were getting restless. The oldest child, Mary Jane, had married William “Shelt” Watkins and they wanted to seek a new location. Many were going west, which meant anywhere west of the Mississippi River, and they heard there was still plenty of land to be homesteaded in Missouri. The oldest boy, William, was then 19 and it was decided that he should go with Mary Jane and Shelt and look out the prospects for so large a family to settle. In the meantime, Daniel began to make preparations. It was no easy task to start out with a family of 13 with all their earthly possessions, “Not knowing whither he went”. He bought another yoke of oxen from a neighbor by the name of Vance. These oxen, named Buck and Jerry, were used for several years after making the trip to Missouri. How long it took to make the trip and how many wagons were brought I could have learned 50 years ago. It’s too late now. If the custom of moving wagons, camping along the creek on the unfenced land went back years before as it did fifty years ago, we can be pretty sure that is how the families of Daniel Livingston and David Castleman became acquainted in the year 1855. William Watkins homesteaded a part of the farm still known as the Watkins farm and the Livingstons settled on the land joining it on the east.

The Livingstons were a religious family. They had attended Knox Creek Baptist Church in Kentucky where William Paris, a nephew of Partheny, was a pastor. Very soon after coming here Daniel and Partheny, with several of the older children, joined the Hickory Point Baptist Church. Other children and grand-children did the same as the years went by until almost half the church was, and still is, the descendants of this first Livingston family, and the name Livingston has stayed continually on the church roll for 110 years. Ben and Lewis Castleman, who married into the Livingston family, also joined this church and both were preachers for a time. Lewis was pastor of the church for awhile although neither were ever ordained.

The War came on and John, Henry, Peter, and Richard Livingston, Ben Castleman and Will Watkins enlisted in the Union army. Will Livingston was married and he enlisted in the home guards. Among these old letters is one written by Ben Castleman to his wife Jennie. He was stationed near Chicago. He mentioned Henry as being there and several other familiar names. He writes in this letter of sending her $50.00 and two finger rings by some soldier who was going home. Joseph, the third son, was never strong so he stayed at home to help care for the family.

I know more about some members of this family than I do others and for this reason write more of one than another. William, as I have said, was 19 years of age when he met the 16 year old girl who, five years later, became his wife. Judging by his picture he was a very handsome young man, tall and straight, with wavy brown hair and keen blue eyes. Mary Castleman, unlike her sisters who were of light complexion and a little heavy set, was slender and above average height with dark hair and eyes. Will was skilled with tools. He cut a large linden tree and from it carved a bread tray, which is still well preserved although in constant use until a few years ago when it joined our antique collection. He then made a rolling pin and rolling board, a potato masher and butter paddle. These, with the iron pots, skillet and lid, and a set of iron stone china, a plate of this set of dishes is still in use, now, at 105 years old. This is most of the cooking equipment this young couple had. Later Will made a loom, a necessity in every household then. He kept on at carpentry work to some extent all his life. He and Mary settled on land joining his father’s farm on the south until in 1874 he bought the Castleman heirs out and moved in with Mrs. Castleman here in the old house. They lived there until 1882 when both Will and Mary took typhoid fever at the same time. Mary died November 19. They had been married on November 18, 1860. One year later Mrs. Castleman died, November 25. In May 1884 Will was married to Sarah James. Will, being the oldest of the boys, after the death of his father he was looked to as the head of the family and all came to him for advice. Although William was never a rich man, family and neighbors knew if he had any money they could borrow. And borrow they did, from a few dollars to a few hundred and there are still old canceled checks and notes among these old papers still, telling of these loans.

During the late fifties the gold fields of California were still drawing people in that direction. Will Watkins and Will Livingston both got the get rich quick fever. Livingston joined a wagon train going across country. Watkins went by boat, going down the Mississippi River, across the gulf, around the cape and up the California coast. As I remember the story he was gone about two years and did come back with some gold. I cannot say this is correct but is the story as it was told to me. Will Livingston and the wagons he was with met other wagons comingback with a report that it was not so rosy. Will was already homesick so joined this bunch and came home without ever seeing the gold fields.

Peter’s family was visiting Will’s family one Sunday and the boys were playing marbles in the yard. Zed, Peter’s oldest boy, backed up to the old dug well, the well had no cover on it then. Zed set too far back and went into the well. Will saw what happened and without saying anything to anyone he went in, not taking time to use the toe holds that were built in the rock wall, he braced his elbows and slid quickly down, catching the boy as he came to the top of the water. He later put the top rocks over the well. This story has been told many times to make children afraid to meddle around the dug well.

John took over the old home place after Daniel’s death. He made a trip to Latham in a wagon in January 1896, took pneumonia and died before he got home. His wife and son, Jesse, lived on the place for many years. Partheny died here with her son, John, on the place where she and Daniel had settled. She had been a widow for 28 years. Daniel died on this place at the age of 57 years, ten years after coming here.

Joseph was referred to as sickly and worked in the house instead of the fields. With Mary Jane’s marriage, Partheny had only boys down to 12 year old Elizabeth Ellen and one can imagine how bad she needed help. Knowing Livingston men in later years. I doubt is was hard for Joe or any one of the others to learn housework. Joe became skilled at weaving. He never married until late in life. He left here in the late seventies. There are a dozen or more letters written by him to his brother Will. Some were from Carrolton, Missouri, where he worked in a livery stable. Others were from Pleasant Hill, Missouri. He had some land here he wanted to sell. I have not been able to find where it was. He went from Missouri to Nevada where he hoped to work in the mines but was sick for a long spell with a throat ailment. He went on to California and was married and had two children. One of them was killed by a train. The other may still be living as he [Joseph] died around 1910. They lived at Colton, California. Although he was “sickly” he outlived all his brothers.

Henry was never well after he came home from the army and lived only a few years.

Elizabeth Ellen, called Bet by the family and Aunt Bet by everyone else, was the one I knew best of all the family. It was from her I learned many things about the family. She was an outstanding person in many ways. Unlike her mother and sisters, who were small women with dark eyes, Bet was tall and large boned, with blue eyes. She never married until in her fifties so had no children of her own. She was left a widow in 1913 and with no home, so lived among her relatives. She spent most of the winter of 1914 and 1915 with us. It had always been “send for Bet” when any member of the other families was sick. She sat up with the sick more nights, gave more medicine, dressed more new babies, and watched as the death angel came more than all the rest put together. She was 73 years old while she was with us that winter but she seemed very old and tired. Only one sister remained of her father’s large family, and she lived in the past, as most all of us do at her age.

She told of the time she and her sister Jennie went horseback to the Moreau River to see how their sister, Martha, was as they had had no word from her for sometime. Martha had married a man by the name of Hanks whom the family classed as no good. When they got there they found that Martha had been dead for sometime and Hanks was having a dance in the home. There were four little children, two boys and two younger girls, one only a baby. Hanks willingly gave the children to Bet and Jennie. Each of them put one of the boys behind the saddle and took the girls in their laps. Bet was living with her mother at the time and they took the boys, Charley and Dan, and the oldest girl, Lizzy. Jennie and Ben Castleman had no children and were happy to get the baby, named Martha and nicknamed Toody. Jennie ran to the spring one day leaving the baby on the floor. She squirmed around and got too close to the fireplace and her feet were burned until all her toes came off. She lived with these club feet until in her late teens, when she died.

Lizzie had married Silas McCubbins and died at the birth of her first child. Charley and Dan grew up here, then left and we heard from charley’s family in 1928. They lived in New Mexico.

Then there was the account of the terrible night during the War when Will Watkins came home to see his wife, Mary Jane, and four small boys. A bushwhacker’s bullet came through the window and killed him there before their eyes. Mary Jane was expecting a fifth child, it was born later, a girl, Lauretta Irwin. It was a terrible thing to get out and go for help knowing the murderer was still near. The Livingston home was about a half mile away and I don’t remember who went there for help. It was unsafe to go even as far as the graveyard so they buried him in the garden near the house. The marble slab stood there until a few years ago Ross Livingston had it moved to the cemetery by the side of his wife, Mary Jane.

Aunt Bet was skilled as a weaver. She could operate four treadles with her feet while using two shuttles with her hands and she wove beautiful coverlets on the old handmade loom, as well as jeans for men’s wear and lindsy for the women. She was also a tailor. She cut and made the men’s suits for all the families doing the work by hand for years before there was a sewing machine in the country. I believe there is still a board shaped to fit inside a sleeve that was called her pressing board, around the old house.

Aunt Bet really enjoyed her religion. She was a born again believer of the Hickory Point Baptist church. My earliest recollection of her was seeing her coming to church riding a fat lazy old gray mare with her husband, Zed Casey, walking along by the side of the mare. She wore a white or light colored sunbonnet and a long apron tied around her waist. She rode with a black riding skirt covering all her lower limbs and most of one side of the mare. She sat very quietly through the service until time for the last hymn. Her favorite was “There’s a city of light mid the stars we are told, where they know not a sorrow or care. Where the gates are of pearl and the streets are of gold and I trust in my heart you’ll be there.” This was the first verse, and by the time it had been sung Aunt Bet was on her feet clapping her hands and praising the Lord. Up one aisle and down the other she went exhorting one and all to get ready to go for she knew there was a better place than she had found here. Her feet kept time with her hands flying so fast, in this modern time it would be likened to tap dancing.

She lived several years with her step-daughter, Eva Casey Livingston. Eva had married Peter’s boy, Zed. After her sister Jennie became a widow she made her home with her where she died in January 1923 at the age of 81. Virginia, or Jennie, was now the last one left of the family. She had known so much trouble and sorrow. After the death of her first husband, Ben Castleman, she married Henry Bear. They raised two children, a boy and a girl. The boy, Willard, died a few years before she did and then her daughter, Lucy, moved in and cared for her. She died at the age of 83 not only outliving the rest but to be the oldest of the family.

Laura married Simeon Casey and raised her family about a mile from here on the Iberia road as it run then, and the hill across the creek was called the “Sim” hill for years. I remember her quite well, short and heavy set with soft brown eyes and very kind to a little girl who loved to visit there with her girl of the same age.

Lucy and Lewis Castleman grew up together and then married. The made their home with Lewis’ mother where Lucy died at the birth of her second child.

Benjamin, the baby when the family came to Missouri, married Martha Cooper and lived only a couple of years after he married. He was only a boy of ten years when his father died. Many of the deaths in the family were do to the scarcity of doctors. After someone rode six to eight miles for a doctor they might find he had been called elsewhere, and it might be the next day before he could see the patient. Hence, so many women died in childbirth.

We might say the Livingstons were not the most ambitious people in the world but we must say that they lived by the good neighbor policy. “The latch string is always on the outside”, was a common saying then. It came from the fact that the doors in those days were fastened by wooden latches with two strings attached and a hole bored through the door and one string put through the hole to be lifted from the outside when entering from without, this string was pulled inside to make the door secure against those who were not wanted inside. They were a homeloving people and were satisfied to warm by their own fires. They liked their tobacco and all used it, women and men. They said if you worked in green tobacco you had to get used to the taste of it to offset the sickening smell of the green tobacco. They liked their cornpone bread with a pot of wild greens, both cooked over the fire coals by the fireplace, along with hogs jowl and black coffee. They never saw an outside toilet or a mailorder catalogue. Newspapers were scarce and they knew but little of what went on outside their own community. They knew they had helped fight a war to free enslaved people forever, or so they believed. They had but little of this world’s goods but they knew a happier home life and more peace and satisfaction than their descendents today.

When these early settlers came here they brought what household stuff they could haul but probably more important was their seeds, not only vegetable seed but all kind of fruit; apple, peach, and cherry. The Castlemans brought a little sweet summer apple and a very sour cooking apple and both ripened at the same time. Both these apples have been kept on this place ever since. The summer apple was named the Castleman apple and was grown on many farms foryears. Both were heavy bearers and it was nothing unusual to gather a wagon load of the little sweet apples to be ground into cider. This sweet cider was boiled down in big kettles to a thick syrup, to this was added the sour apples and some cinnamon. This was cooked slowly until no juice would run from it when a spoonful was tested on a plate, then it was ready to be put in stone jars where it kept without any sealing. This apple butter was cooked outside and the aroma was mouth-watering. It also attracted plenty of hornets and yellow jackets. There were no glass fruit jars in those days and what fruit could not be used in season was dried. Bushels of apples and peaches were dried for winter use. Peach butter was also made with the sweet cider. Pumpkins were dried by cutting rings around the pumpkin, peeling, and hanging on a pole suspended from the ceiling over the fireplace, or pumpkin butter was made sweetened with molasses. For winter use, apples were buried, as were potatoes and turnips, to keep crisp and fresh all winter. Enough seeds were carefully gathered from each garden vegetable for the next year’s planting. Hogs were brought in off the range in the fall and unless there had been a good acorn crop they were fed corn awhile before butchering time. Butchering was all done in one day with the help of neighbors. Sausage was made and put in shucks from the largest ears of corn that had already been washed and ready. The shucks were tied tightly at the end and hung in the smokehouse to dry. The joints and bacon were salted down for six weeks, then hung and smoked for several days after which it was packed in ashes or just left to hang. A beef was killed, if one could spare it. There are bills here where beef was sold for 2 _ cents for a front quarter and 4 cents for the hind quarter. Chunks of lean meat from the hind quarter weighing two or three pounds was put in a salt brine for so long a time, then hung and dried. This would keep for a long time. It was shaved off in thin slices such as can be bought in little glass jars now and used the same.

Everyone kept sheep. These were sheared in the spring and picking wool afforded work for weeks. Then it was made into little round rolls on hand cards as there were no carding machines then. These rolls were spun into a fine thread or coarser thread, owing to what weight of cloth was to be woven, if the yarn was to be knitted into mens’ socks or stockings for the women and children. Both the hum of the spinning wheel and the thump of the loom were heard from morning until night. The women didn’t sit down to rest and pick up a paper but her knitting. Nights after the children were put to bed she sat in the firelight until a late hour to finish off a sock or a stocking. Not only was clothing made from the wool, but blankets, also. I never could quite figure out if it was the warmth of the wool or the exercise you got in fighting the itching that kept you warm.

There were always a few chickens for eggs and a pot of chickens and dumplings now and then. Then there were the ducks and geese to be picked regularly for pillows and a feather bed to use over the straw bed. Wild game was plentiful as were fish in Barren Fork Creek, for it was a large stream of water then, you could get all you wanted any day. Wild turkeys roamed the woods and the wild pigeons often broke the timber where they roosted.

There was always a cane patch and molasses making in the fall was quite an event. Again, neighbor helped neighbor. Molasses was put in barrels if the family was large for granulated sugar was unknown and molasses was all there was for sweetening. Once or twice a year a load of corn and wheat was taken to a mill to be ground for bread. This, too, was kept in wooden barrels.

There were no matches yet and the fire in the fireplace was kept banked, covered deep in ashes, summer and winter. If it should all go out one went to a neighbor to borrow or spun fire on the spinning wheel. The spindle was turned so fast it would light a fire, much as the Indians did sticks. Science was never heard of by these early settlers but some of the methods they used to get the results they wanted might baffle science today.

They produced several colors of dye by different methods. These dyes were fade proof. Walnut brown was made by boiling green walnut hulls in water, then straining and boiling the yarn thread until dark as wanted. This was usually the color used for jeans, from which mens’ suits were made. Green was made by boiling white oak bark in water then adding copperas to the tea. Copperas was also used to produce orange but I’ve forgotten what was used with it. Yellow was produced by saffron which grew in the garden. Then there was a beautiful blue, called indigo, and red which I’ve forgotten how they made. Two of these colors were combined to produce purple.

They never kept toilet soap or any other bought soap. They made their soft soap with any kind of fats they could save and the lye for the soap was made by putting ashes in a large homemade hopper, called an ash hopper. It usually held three or four barrels of ashes. In the spring when the weather began to warm up, usually in March, they started to slowly wet the ashes. Too much water must not be used at one time or it would run through too quickly and the lye would not be strong enough. The big kettle was set up in the yard where the lye was boiled until strong enough to eat a feather, then it was ready to add the grease. This must be boiled very slowly as it boiled over easily, so it took all day, usually, to get soap of the right consistency. This, too, was usually poured into wooden barrels. It had no sweet smell or high sounding names but it cut the dirt in washing, and was also often used as an antiseptic to cleanse wounds both in humans and animals. No remedy has yet been found that will kill poison ivy quicker than lye soap.

They grew gourds of different sizes, not for ornaments, but as useful containers. Some were shaped much like a pumpkin, some with handles, or stems. After these gourds were fully ripe, the handled ones were made into dippers to dip water from the springs, which was the only source of drinking water for many years. There was always one left hanging at the spring for the use of a wanderer who might pass by. For years a dipper gourd and the old oaken bucket tempted passersby at the old dug well and few passed without a cool drink and a short visit with some member of the family. The large gourds were carefully sawed in two, near the top, the top being kept for the lid, the seeds and peth were scraped from the insides and these made containers for the salt, soft soap, balls of yarn, and too many things to mention. Some of thesegourds would hold two gallons or more. I have one yet that I grew which would hold about one gallon.

I might go on telling of life as it was here a century ago but I’ve written enough to give you a picture of the early life of the pioneer, a true picture with much left out. We had the privilege of going through Hart County, Kentucky, in 1963. We made inquiry about Livingston and Parish names and was told they knew no one by the name of Livingston but there were a lot of people by the name of Parish. There is no place on the map called Powder Mills, which was the post office these old letters came from. Had we been in our own car we would have gone to the county seat and looked up some old records.

These early settlers knew many hardships and much sorrow. They were homesick and longed for loved ones and friends they left behind for they never went back. As I reminisce over the years I’ve written of, I, too, grow homesick - for the old people who are gone, for the peace and quiet over the valley as it was fifty years ago when there was no sound of a motor on land or in the air, when the turkey hen called her little ones from the red clover field where only her head and neck showed above the red blossoms and bumble bees hummed instead of electric appliances. For the questions I would ask there are no answers. Louisiana Castleman made this her home for 38 years. William N. Livingston for 35 years, to Frank it’s been home for 76, 53 of these I have shared with him. Will anyone else cherish it as these have? I think not. We are the old ones now and as we sit in the twilight we have peace, the kind that cannot be bought with money or attained by power. “It takes a heap o’ living to make a home” in any generation.


Husband . . . Samuel Berry Livingston Born . . 4 Feb. 1870 Died . .24 Nov. 1950

Wife . . . . . . .Etta Gertrude Waite Born . . 26 Jan 1873 Died .. 15 May 1955

Married 22 Dec. 1894 by John Aust


Guy W. Born 4 Nov. 1895 Died Nov. 1966 Los Angeles, Calif.
Mabel Lefta Born 20 Jan. 1897
Herbert Bryan Born 10 Feb. 1899
Herman Arthur Born 15 June 1901
Berry Cecil Born 2 Nov. 1902
Leslie Everett Born 29 Dec. 1904
Ruby Lee Born 30 May 1907
Harold Raymond Born 27 Sep. 1909 Died 29 Aug. 1979
Norman Clark Born 12 Feb. 1912
Dorris Dale Born 13 Apr. 1914 Died 5 Dec. 1956
Russell Shirley Born 7 June 1918 Died 9 Mar. 1919
Curtis Frederick Born 14 Sep. 1920


Guy and Mae Woody 7 December 1919
Mabel and Clarence Adams 25 December 1919
Herbert and Flossie Lewis 7 April 1923
Herbert and Helen Flaugher 24 November 1948
Berry and Ruth Slawson 4 July 1926
Leslie and Minnie Montgomery 21 August 1926
Ruby and Bluford vonGremp 24 December 1930
Norman and Lorene Shelton 22 February 1934
Harold and Lorraine Checkett 27 June 1936
Herman and Stella Warnock 7 April 1939
Curtis and Ann Berube 6 February 1943
Dorris Dale and Peggy Lenoir 19 October 1946

This could well be called “A Hundred Years of Retrospect” rather than family history since little of it goes farther back than 1866, the close of the bloodiest war of all American wars, which played such an important part in the lives of my parents, John W. Waite and Ellen C. Waite.

I have been asked repeatedly to put into print what I have. This is contained in letters, a family record, war records, and information gathered by Wesley Waite (Walter’s son) and his wife, who were in Ohio this past summer. They went to Georgetown in Brown County where the Waits family lived. They went to the census bureau where they obtained dates on each member of Noah Jefferson Waits’ (my grandfather) family and from the probate court records, the record of the marriage license of John W. Waits to Ellen C. Reed, daughter of John K. Reed, and a note from Enoch Stewart, an uncle, giving consent to marriage since Ellen Caroline was under age. The four living children of the Waite family are all past threescore years and ten and unless this is handed down to the younger generation it will soon be unobtainable. So, with this in mind, I hope to contribute something to my own family and to all the families of my brothers and sisters.

May God bless in the next 100 years as he has in the past 100.

By Olive Ethel -- ninth child of John W. And Ellen C. Waite and dedicated to their memory, 1966

Father’s Family

Grandfather Grandmother Noah Jefferson Waits Rebecca A. Parker born 1821 born 4 July 1828 date of death unknown died 22 December 1914

Mother’s Family

Grandfather Grandmother John K. Reed Sarah Burdsall dates unknown born 1839, died 1859

John Waits Age 25 Address 5 Mile, Brown Co.Ohio Ellen Caroline Reed Age 16 Address Marathon, Claremont Co., Ohio

Married 15 January, 1870 (At Grandmother’s homes)

Lived together 58 years and raised ten children who were all living at the time of their death. Five of the ten have already celebrated golden weddings. Both were small in stature. John W. Waite was 5 feet 4 _ inches in height and weighed 125 to 135 pounds. He had curly black hair and dark blue eyes. Ellen Caroline was five feet one or two inches in height and weighed 105-108 pounds.She had very fair skin, black hair, and blue eyes.

Noah Jefferson Waits -- born in 1821, married Rebecca A. Parker -- born in 1829. To them were born nine children as follows: John - born 5 Dec. 1845, David, Lydia Jane, Patience, Tomas, Lyman and William - twins, Anne, and Isaac Newton. This family was all together at the outbreak of the Civil War except the two youngest, who were born later. John, or Johnny as the family called him, was 16 on December 5, 1861 and on December 10 he enlisted in the Union Army. His father had already enlisted as had five uncles. He enlisted in Co. G. 48 Regt. Ohio Infantry Volunteers with the rank of Pvt., Corporal or Sgt. He was in several major battles and was on sentry duty at the old Shiloh Church when the bitter battle of Shiloh broke, also at Corinth, Mississippi. I have had the privilege of visiting these two battle grounds and the cemeteries where hundreds of white crosses mark the named and unknown dead. A small pond on this high ridge that never goes dry bears a plaque which read “Bloody Pond -- wounded soldiers washed their wounds here until the water turned to blood.” This was at Shiloh overlooking the Tennessee River from which the gunboats fired.

Father went on south in new companies formed from remnants of companies almost wiped out. He was never wounded but was left behind at Franklin, Louisiana, suffering from malaria. He was mustered out at Galveston, Texas,in May of 1866. He told of their food giving out and marching for days on beans and hardtack with no water fit to drink. Many of the men were dying of disease. After a long, hard day of marching without food or water they came to water and all lay down to drink their fill only to find out when daylight came that a dead mule lay in the water.

The name Noah Jefferson Waits was seldom mentioned in our home. Father said he deprived his wife and children of so many things becasue of his love for drink. I have always thought of my father as a self-made man. He had no more than a second grade education when he enlisted in the army and he said he saw the need of an education during these years. When he got home he started to school. I don’t know what kind of school but after four years he received a certidicate to teach. David, the next oldest in the family, must have spent all his life around Georgetown for it was he who cared for Grandmother in her later years and she died at his home with cancer at the age of 84 years.

Lydia Jane, called Jane, married a Bradford and they started to Texas about 1891 where land was being settled by claims being filed. They came through Missouri in a covered wagon with two or three small children.. They visited my father and his family then started on going through Indian Territory - no one ever heard of them again. Indians could have taken them - no one ever knew. William and Lymon, the twins also visited our family - neither ever married. I corresponded with a daughter of Patience and of Annie, both my age, in our teens.

There is one characteristic of Noah Jefferson Waite that has been handed down from generation to generation. That is curly hair. All his children had curly hair and some had red hair. Grandmother had very straight, black hair which leads me to believe that grandfather had red or reddish brown hair. In our family which was equally divided - five boys and five girls - there were also five curly haired and five straight haired, five blue eyed and five dark eyed.

The Waits were of Welsh descent. Rebecca Parker came from New Jersey to Ohio. After the passing of Noah Jefferson Waits, she was married to William Miller. Father changed the last letter “s” in Waits to an “e” - Waite. Another family had lived here as recorded in an old school register who spelled the name Wait. There were three children registered and I believe this family was father’s uncle, Billie Waite. They were here only a few years.

Mother’s Family

John K. Reed and Sarah Burdsall were married about 1852. To them two children were born, Elizabeth Ellen Caroline in 1853 and George Hamilton Marcellus in 1855. Sarah Reed died before George was a year old and relatives took the children to raise. John K. Reed had a sister who had never married and she took the baby George. Sarah had a sister, Hester, who had married a Hartman and they took the little girl Ellen. It was customary in the family to give three names to a child and these were usually family names. There was a sister of both John and Sarah who was named Ellen so the little girl was called Ella, pronounced Ellie.

There was a large family of Burdsalls. Sarah’s brothers were William, Edward, and Joseph and there were sisters, Hester, Rebecca, Lydia, and Ellen; perhaps more I have forgotten. All three of the boys and the father were Methodist preachers. There is a cemetery near Marathon, Clermont County, Ohio, that is still called the Burdsall Cemetery. Aunt Sallie Reed, Uncle George’s second wife, was taken back there for burial in 1940. Jospeh Burdsall visited my parents in 1900, the only one of mother’s Burdsall relatives she ever saw after leaving Ohio.

Grandmother still lived in a brick house near Cincinnati then, and the house was still standing in 1940. It was in this house my mother and father were married.

I can remember when Mother recieved a letter telling her of Grandmother’s death. I remember the picture of Mother reading that Grandmother had been left sitting in her chair at breakfast and had slipped out of her chair to the floor and was dead. Soon after Joseph Burdsall had visited here he was walking in the garden late one evening and fell dead.. After the death of Sarah, John Reed married again and there was one child born of this marriage, a girl named Belle.

John K. Reed was a young lawyer when the Civil War started and he enlisted in Ohio V.V.I. Company B. He went from Pvt. To Corp., Sgt., 2nd Lt., then 1st Lt. He served from 18161-1866. He was in several major battles, was buried alive at Shiloh by cannon balls while in entrenchments.. He found later while he was in service that the wife he left in Ohio ran off with another man. He met a girl while in Louisiana whose father had owned a sugar plantation withslaves to do everything. Grandfather married this girl, whose first name was Ida. I don’t remember her last name. They came to Missouri to make their home and settled on the Reed flat about a mile from here. Ida had never learned to work and was not prepared for the hard life of the pioneers here. They had three children, Louella, Olive, and a boy called Bud. Olive died in 1877 at the age of two years and is buried in the Livingston cemetery. They left here soon after this, and soon after, Ida died. Grandfather now settled in Ava in Douglass County and I visited the courthouse in Ava a few years ago hoping to learn something of his late years. I found a few old people who remembered him and the sheriff was very kind in looking through records and showing me the room where he had had his law office and the record showed he had served as prosecuting attorney for several years.

He had married again after the death of Ida and had three or four sons. All had left Ava and no one could tell me where they went. Grandfather was buried in the old soldiers cemetery near Ava and I hoped to visit his grave but the plot had never been deeded to the county and the then present owner of the farm had bulldozed all the gravestones off and no sign was left of those who had sacrificed so much for their country. Mother never saw her father again after he left here.

Family Record of John W. and Ellen C. Waite

John W. Waite was born Dec. 5, 1845. Died Nov. 22, 1928 Ellen Caroline Waite was born April 24, 1853 and died July 22, 1934


Osmond Marcellus. Born Feb. 20, 1871. Died May 1941. Married Mabel Jones. No children. Adopted a baby boy.

Alveretta Iona. Born Jan. 26, 1873. Married Samuel Livingston. Mother of 12 children: Guy, Mabel, Herbert, Herman, Berry, Leslie, Ruby, Harold, Norman, Dorris Dale, Russell, and Curtis. She died May 17, 1955.

Cora Bell. Born Sept. 24, 1875. Married Henry Livingston. Mother of seven children: Slyvia, Charles, Spurgeon, and Ralph. Three died in infancy. She died Aug. 21, 1947.

Charles Rutherford. Norn Nov. 2, 1877. Married Mila York. Father of 7 children. First fied at two years, then Ruth, Paul, James, John, Bob, and Mila. He died Oct. 11, 1948.

Arthur Garfield. Born Nov. 2, 1880. Married Della Bond. Father of six children: Ned died at 8 years, Clarice, Martha, Allen, Fern, and Artie. He died Sept. 27, 1951.

Elmer Sheriden. Born Oct. 15, 1883. Married May James. Father of four children: Earnest, Norris, Gene, and Edna Irene. Later married Alpha Apperson.

Hester Anna. Born March 13, 1886. Married Martin McNeal. Mother of six children: Archie, Gladys, Maurice, Verna, nina, and Joy. Gladys, Maurice, and Joy preceeded her in death. She died May 16, 1941.

Mildred Estella. Born March 28, 1889. Married Wesley Livingston. Mother of five children: Earl, Karl, John, and Winona, and one died in infancy.

Olive Ethel. Born Oct. 11, 1892. Married Frank Livingston. Mother of six children: Iris, Wilma, Ellis, Bryan, and two that died in infancy.

John Walter. Born Jan. 23, 1896. Maried Georgia Harper. Father of three children: Wesley, Fred, and Ruth.

Father never seemed to give special attention to his children, however, he named all but three of us. Osmond Marcellus was called Bud. Alveretta Iona was from a book he read of an Indian girl by that name. Her name was shortened to Etta. Charles and Arthur were born on election day and given the name of the candidate he supported. Sheridan was for his commanding officer. He named Mildred Estella which was shortened to Millie or Mill. Mother named Hester Anna after her aunt and she named me after her half sister and John Walter was to bear his father’s initials.

John W. Waite and Ellen Caroline Reed were married January 15, 1870. In March of that year they started to Missouri, choosing this state because Ellen’s father and brother George were here, also the aunt who raised George. Grandfather Reed had settled on a farm about a mile from here, still called bymany the Reed place on highway 17.

John and Ellen came by boat down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to St. Louis, there they got a train that brought them to Hancock, as this was as far as the Frisco R.R. was finished. There had been a March thaw and Mother said when they stepped off the train she sank in mud almost to her shoe tops and a more desolate landscape she had never seen. She begged father to take the train back east. The same train made the return trip to St. Louis. Father was never one to give up so they made their way to her father’s home. There they stayed until they found a cabin that had no floor except the ground. This was their first pioneer home.

One night as they slept on a bed of shucks (shucks from corn were shredded and put in a bedtick to make a sort of mattress), Father spoke saying, “Ella, don’t move - there is a snale in our bed. I felt it crawl across my arm.” Mother was paralyzed with fright and couldn’t move. Father found a light and discovered a big blacksnake. It could well have been a rattler as they were plentiful here then.

Father began teaching school at first 10 dollars and then on up to 20 dollars a month. The school terms were four months. He taught in Elliott District in 1871 and taught in all the adjoining districts. I am not sure how many years he kept at this. He had no way of getting to shcool except walking and in some districts his day’s walk totaled 15 miles per day. He loved to walk and kept his military walk, and few, if any, could walk him down. He often took shortcuts through the woods. One time he got lost, he came to a house and called “Hello!” Mother came to the door and he said “What are you doing here?” He thought he was miles from home and did not recognize the backside of his own home.

He did day labor wherever he could find it between school terms, helping neighbors for a bushel of corn or wheat to be ground for bread or perhaps a piece of bacon.

Mother was always a timid person and spent many lonesome days with hber babies, alone when a storm raged was probably the worst, as she was always afraid of a storm. She was an expert with a needle and had brought two beautiful appliqued quilts she had made before her marriage, with her to Missouri. She found they did not fit in with the furnishings of her log homes. She sold or traded one for a sewing machine. There were very few sewing machines in this country then, and neighbor women came from far and near to get her to sew for them. They offered to wash or do any other work she had if she would “stitch” a ruffled sunbonnet or make a dress.

Mother’s wedding dress was dove grey, a blue grey, cashmere, made basque style (a close fitted waist with a full skirt) and a quaker style bonnet of the same material tied under her chin. This was her best dress for several years and an old lady who remembered her well, once told me she was a very pretty young woman with her fair skin, black hair, and blue eyes.

Mother pieced and quited more quilts than I would attempt to count. They moved from place to place until Grandfather Reed decided to leave here and sold father the Reed place which in a few years father traded for the place where the five younger children in the Waite family were born. We all think of this as home and both our parents died here.

Father was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and nothing caused a lump to come to my throat more than seing the “Boys in Blue” march from uptownin Iberia to Hardy Park, two abreast as their band played “The Star Spangled Banner” and medleys of other ballads of their fighting days. Their uniforms were so much a reminiscence of the past with their gleaming brass buttonsand braid. A war had been fought to free all men.

Father served three terms as county surveyor. I have never seen better penmanship than his and I wish I could transfer some of his writing to this paper that all who read it might see it. I have quite a bit of his writing and notes and figures from his surveying work.

Father was gone from home so much I suppose all us children give Mother the most of the credit for our upbringing. Father was very strict as a teacher and as a father and to him goes the credit of strict obedience, respect for elders, honesty, etc. We knew when he spoke we had better heed. We knewbetter than to put in when older people were talking or to push to get to the table first. I never had but one switching from each of my parents but I knew it would come. We could beg Mother out of punishing us very often, not so with Father. His punishment most of the time was to set us on a chair telling us to set until he told us to get up, then he would get interested in something else and forget us.

When Father and Mother were married he was a member of the Newlight Church and she a member of the Methodist Church, having been sprinkled as a baby. They agreed to join whichever of these churches they found here. The Methodistswere holding services in the Elliott schoolhouse as they had no building and no Newlight Church was known of here. They placed their membership with the Methodist Church. Father was superintendent of the Sunday School and they attended this church until they moved it to a building in Iberia sometime later. By then the older children were attending the Hickory Point Baptist Church and two or three had already joined there. There Charles was ordained as a minister in 1903 and soon after Mother placed her membership there and was immersed in baptism by her son Charles. Father continued to support the Methodist Church as long as he lived but did not attend anyplace. Nine of their ten children were at sometime members of the Baptist Church at Hickory Point.

My first recollection of going to church was at the age of 6 or 7 years. Mother had her sidesaddle put on the old family horse named Jeff. She took Walter, three years old, in her lap and I was placed astride behind the saddle. Mother seldom let the horse travel faster than a walk but when he started toward home it was hard to hold him back. We rode to the Elliott schoolhouse to hear a Methodist preacher, a distance of about three miles, and I remember nothing of the service but remember so well how tight my arms were around Mother’s waist when old Jeff hit a pace. He was a good traveler but I still remember how I felt when lifted from his back when we got home.

Childhood Memories

The morning of July 11, 1900 was clear and hot. After breakfast the menfolks went in different directions. Father went to check the fences around the corn in the creek bottom, the boys hired out to neighbors to do odd jobs. Mother built a good fire in the cookstove to heat the irons so my two sisters, 11 and 13, could iron. She also put the iron dinner pot on the stove with beans to cook. Then she told me to get my cat and go with her to the corncrib where she was to shuck out some corn to take to mill for meal. I was having quite a time helping my cat find mice and altogether we were making a lot of noise when sister came screaming the house was on fire.

The house consisted of one large room downstairs with a room above. This was of logs and had a fireplace with a porch across the front while across the back was a kitchen built of lumber after the fashion known as a lean-to. Theceiling was low and only a stovepipe went up through the loft. The fire had caught from the pipe and as we carried water from a spring there was no hope of getting it out. Mildred and I started for help while Mother and Anna began carrying stuff from the house. This they put on the wrong side of the yard and the fire blew over and caught it and scarcely anything was saved.

I was a little barefoot girl of not quite 8 years but the picture of those hot flames as log after log fell in burned a picture into my mind that never has been erased. Perhaps what hurt most of all was my mother’s tears as she threw her apron over her face and sobbed “everything gone - what will we do - all our pictures our papers - “

There were still seven children besides our parents, all homeless and almost naked. Neighbors were very kind helping rebuild and giving of household stuff as well as clothes and we soon had a home again; but the family soon broke up after that. This was probably the worst shock my mother ever had.

We were not an unhappy family, we were poor, but so were our neighbors. We raised most of what we ate. Mother was an excellent cook and never wasted food. We never went hungry, neither did we have all the rich food that’s wasted today. Our vitamins came from the new ground through our vegetables.

We were a healthy family, I suppose, as one could count on their fingers the times the doctor was called. Mother doctored us with her home remedies. When we were babies it was catnip tea and assafetida for colic - for colds it was a greased chest with hot flannel cloth, etc.

We were a happy family, all loved to song and one or more was using their voice most of the time. Mother had a sweet voice and sang or hummed most of the time as she went about her work. Especially I remember her humming mingled with the hum of her old spinning wheel as she walked back and forth hour after hour. Father’s voice sounded like two frogs croaking together and it amused us most when he trotted one of the grandchildren on his knee and sang “Billie Boy” or the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” We had no musical instruments except a French harp, a Jewsharp or fiddle.

After all the family except two or three were gone Mother bought me an organ. I spent many hours at it after the last sister left home. Mother , Father, and I spent much time together as Walter was in school and often in the twilight I chorded and sang the old songs they loved and they would drift off into the past and talk of loved ones left in Ohio. I could have recorded more history then.

It fell to my lot to be the only child to be at the bedside of both of them as the death Angel came. Both lived to be in their eighties and had seen many changes. Their lives have lived on in their children.

Calvin Coolidge said, “It seems impossible that any man could adequately describe his mother.” Lyndon Johnson said,”Where can there be found words to describe one’s mother? What adjectives can portray her infinite patience, her unfailing tenderness, her loving understanding, her intense loyalty, her self-sacrifice?” We have no words to describe ours. Mother often said she had missed a mother’s love. Perhaps that was one reason she gave so much of hers. She was one of the most consecrated Christians I have ever known. She loved her church and was always in her place unless hindered by sickness. She walked twelve miles a day many, many times to attend both morning and evening service, carrying a lighted lantern to light her way at night never dreaming that this tiny flame would be a symbol to light her children’s and grandchildren’s way to follow her footsteps onward and upward. She died as she lived, trusting in God.

Mary Lynn Reed

Miller County home page

Last update: 19-Mar-2018