Dewitt & Inman ~ Finley Glover "Bud" and Mary Alice Dewitt Inman

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April 2006

 

Randy has generously shared these for publication with the Christian County Mogen Web site.No data may be reproduced or published without permission of the author. Please note that web host to delete names and data of the living altered the manuscript. 

 

Mary Alice Dewitt Lawson (Oct. 19, 1881-March 18, 1939) on Nov. 8, 1896 married farmer Finley Glover “Bud” Inman (March 6, 1869-Oct. 2, 1914) before Justice of the Peace Irvin Wright Edwards in Porter Township, Christian Co.

Bud, the oldest son of John Wesley (1842-1927) and Nancy Lavanda Wilson (1846-1929) Inman and grandson of Elkanah (1815-1867) and Sarah Moore (1818-May 1894) Inman, was born March 6, 1869 in Christian Co., named for his uncle and great-uncle.  The family had moved to TX in 1884, but returned after a disastrous stay. Bud made the “run” into the Cherokee Strip in 1893, but returned home without a stake.

Bud and Mary Alice settled on a 24-acre tract within the 120-acre fam­ily compound founded by his father.  John Wesley provided similar plots for two other sons, and yet another lived with him at his home. Another cabin on the compound was available as a rental, and there Emily Jane Lawson and her children, including Mary Alice, settled by late 1890.

Mary Alice gave birth to the couple's first child, Grace (or Gracie) Bell, in the Inman compound on Nov. 20, 1897.

Her second delivery was more hazardous, however. In one version of the story, the young Inman family had struck out again for OK to resettle when an exodus of such Christian County families were headed for the new Indian Territory. The Inmans, however, thought better of resettlement after the brief trip and headed home. The timing was badly off because pregnant Mary Alice went into labor at Cassville, where son Robert was born under the wagon on Dec. 19, 1899.

Robert, however, said Bud and Mary Alice had left by wagon for Arkansas and the Boston Mountains to fetch Bud's brother John, who had been avoiding testimony in a trial, John's new wife Cora Frazier Inman and little son Edgar. (Robert said John was wanted to testify in the murder trial of Uncle Jack Inman and cousin Will Wilson for the murder of Uncle Dan Stephenson, but that trial occurred in 1883.)

Part of this second story makes sense because John Grandison Inman married Cora Frazier of Scott Co., AR where his uncle and aunt, Joseph and Sarah Catherine Wilson Inman, lived.

Robert jested that under the circumstances, the young family must not have expected him to live because, unlike his brothers and sisters who survived infancy, he was not given a middle name. (In the 1900 census, he was identified erroneously as Evart F., indicating that a middle name, probably Finley, had been granted.)

Added to the family back in Christian Co. were George Riley in 1901; Lonnie Elmer, 1904; Fred Otto, 1906; Ida Mae, 1910; Mabel (who died as an infant), 1912; and Frances Laura, 1913.

Little is remembered of Bud, but Mae recalls he had the reputation of a "man who, if he told you something, he meant it." She found out all too well as a toddler when her father instructed her not to leave the wooden plank front porch of their home to play. Mae spotted an oak branch that she wanted and disobeyed. "I got to play with it, but not the way you would imagine," she says of the whipping she got.

Bud was more active in the community than much of the family. In October 1898, he became a charter member of the Nixa lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF).

Like his brothers Jim and John, Bud maintained a sweet potato cellar where neighbors came in the winter to pick up the produce and take it to town to swap for coffee. Unlike other vegetables, sweet potatoes keep best in a warm, dark place, and the Inmans had devised cellars with heat.

The brothers, while allotted specific sections of the farm, did not take title, at least through 1920. Land atlases show Will and Bud, for example, shared a 40-acre tract, but the 1920 census indicates that Will, John, Jim and Bud's widow Mary Alice were all renting their farms from father John Wesley.

At age 45, Bud died on Oct. 2, 1914 from typhoid and pneumonia, and he was buried in a wooden coffin in McConnell Cemetery. (Pneumonia repeatedly is cited as the cause of death among early family members; The diagnosis apparently was a catchall — much as dozens of viruses and severe colds today are considered "the flu.")

Finley Glover's first name is spelled "Findley" on his gravestone, but all early records omit the "d" and spell the name like the Finley River and his uncles.

 

Life after Bud

Prospects seemed dismal for Mary Alice after Bud's death. The family of eight was crammed into a two-room house with a bedroom and kitchen, although Mary Alice somehow managed to accumulate the capital for her family to add a separate bedroom for her sons later. The financing may have come from the sale to the Slays of the Guin Prairie Dewitt farm, in which Mary Alice had one-third interest.

"There was no such thing as a job" in those early Ozark days, Mae says, so the family joined its neighbors in eking a living from the hard, rocky soil.

The family raised chickens, but had to save the eggs for sale in Nixa to generate cash for store goods. The Inmans couldn't afford a cow, but "bor­rowed" one from a neighbor. The children stripped cane, and the family took the stalks to a molasses mill, owned by Uncle John Inman, for process­ing. "To this day, I still yet don't allow molasses cookies or cake in my house," says Mae, who bears the scar from a cane knife wound.

Mary Alice maintained pumpkin and tomato patches, and the children collected and shelled dried cowpeas, which added variety to the pots of green beans and cabbage that she kept boiling on the woodstove — tradi­tional Tennessee and Kentucky fare.

Little was store-bought. Mae remembers the "ash hopper," a barrel where ashes from the woodstove were dumped and treated periodically with water to produce lye. The lye was poured into kettles of animal fat to make soap.

The Inmans were not destitute for the time, however. They were able to range a horse or two, and the family had a crank telephone — a luxury unavailable in many areas of the country. As Mae recalls it, the phone ser­vice was provided without charge: the men strung wire on fence posts, and each subscriber was on the same line.

Above all, there was Mary Alice's steely conviction that poverty could be endured in dignity and with discipline. "She was clean...and she was a good cook," Mae recalls. The house "all had to be white," even the heavily traveled floors. On "wash day," the children were assigned to soap the floors and rinse them down with water carried from a nearby pond.  After each threshing season, the family's straw-bed ticking was washed meticu­lously and restuffed.

Mae remembers two types of regular neighborhood get-togethers: hog butcherings and "protracted" church meetings at Union Hill. Killing and dressing seven or eight hogs could occupy an entire day with neighbors. At noon, when the menfolk were called to eat, the children were posted out­side to protect the carcasses from dogs — and they sliced off pork and roasted it over an open fire for their own meal.

The onset of hog-killing season brought a barrage of local newspaper advertisements with sales on lard buckets.

 

Union Hill Church

Union Hill Church began life in 1912 when John Wesley Inman, Bud's father, donated an acre of ground and neighbor Jim Young the lumber for a building. Each family bought a pew until enough seating was available.

In 1914 the first "revival" was held in the church, and a predominantly Missionary Baptist congregation was organized with the Rev. Wes Coughron as pastor. But the non-denominational church opened its doors to evangelists of most faiths, much the same as churches did back in Tennessee where the families originated. The sessions were known as "protracted" meetings because, unlike later revivals, they had no set completion date and often lasted four to five weeks. The Ozark newspaper in 1899 noted that one at a Porter Township chapel on the James River lasted for three weeks, leaving 100 persons ready for baptism.

Mary Alice and her children attended the Union Hill services every night, and she was in charge of firing up the woodstove to heat the build­ing. During cold weather, she often shared the duties with children Mae and Frances, who walked past the church on the way to and from Rosedale School.

Going past the church, the trek to Rosedale School covered four miles; it was a typical one-room schoolhouse of its day with eight grades; no high schools operated in the area until 1906 and, even then, the Nixa High School only had two grades.

Mae proved recalcitrant in particular to attend school. "I would cry ev­ery morning because I didn't want to leave Momma," she says. The feelings were omens: Mae's school attendance was erratic, and she never finished grade school.

 

Tully O. Campbell

Life in Mary Alice's family changed abruptly with the reappearance of Tull(ey) or T.O. Campbell in the community.

Tully (January 1883-Nov. 6, 1941) was the posthumous son of John Phillip Campbell (May 22, 1857, MO-Oct. 7, 1882) and wife C.A. McAlister of Center Township, Greene Co. Although he owned property in Porter Township, John P. Campbell lived near Willard, with his father, H.H. Campbell (April 30, 1822-April 26, 1889), and brothers, William R. (1860-1943) and J.M. (1849-1933).

Tully's maternal grandfather, William H. McAlister (Dec. 15, 1823-Aug. 30, 1895), came from a line of Tennessee McAlisters, but his wife Sarah A. (Sept. 1, 1836-after 1900) was born in nearby Georgia. William H. was the son of Wesley McAlister (Aug. 15, 1802-Sept. 6, 1880) and his wife Sarah (March 27, 1806-Jan. 29, 1898), both Tennesseans who moved to Center Township, Greene Co., before they died.

Tull's mother also is said to have died young, and the orphan was liv­ing in Porter Township in 1900 with his grandmother from Georgia, Sarah A. McAlister , and a cousin, America Cain, next door to another cousin, widower Cyrus R. McAlister (Jan. 12, 1876-July 12, 1907), who had six young children. (Tully had at least one brother, born in August 1879, but his fate is unknown.)

According to his Missouri State Penitentiary records, Tully was a long, tall, skinny drink of water — 5-feet-10 1/4, 137 pounds, black hair, hazel eyes and dark complexion. When he attended, he went to the Methodist Church. He wasn't much of a drinker and had finished grade school.

In 1901, Tully Campbell married Effie Chaffin Rhea, the stepdaughter of John Edwards and daughter of Callie Clemens Chaffin Edwards, of the Porter Township area, with Tully's guardian-grandmother signing for the underage groom.

Tully and Effie moved to Springfield and had two children, Walter and Lester. But Tully ran afoul of the law — stealing meat from his Chaffin in-laws, according to step-son Robert Inman. Tully was arrested for burglary in 1906 in Christian Co. and sentenced to three years in prison in August. The records suggest he was stealing in tandem with a newcomer to the community, James Burnett, 21, a Wisconsin native, who was likewise sen­tenced to three years for burglary. Burnett became mentally ill in prison and was sent to the State Asylum in Fulton; with apparent good behavior, Tully was released from prison on Dec. 3, 1908.

Effie sued for divorce and won a final decree on May 14, 1915 in Greene Co. as well as custody of the children. Her half-brother, an Edwards, still lived in the Nixa area, and Tully began working as a farm hand there.

No records or memories remain to explain how Mary Alice met Tully or why she was attracted to this ex-con day laborer, with the possible ex­ception of loneliness and poverty. The Edwards family did live nearby. Tully and Mary Alice were wed in 1921, and the couple decided to move to Springfield. Grace had married and left the household by 1918. The boys — Robert, George, Elmer and Fred — opted to remain on the farm and "batch it”; Robert, before he died, spoke with disdain of his stepfather, which his brothers appeared to share.

The Inman boys were willing to endure considerable hardship for their independence.  Recalled Robert: "We all were cooking. We'd eat it, and we thought it was good. We'd throw it out and the dogs wouldn't even eat it." The boys eventually dispersed to other farms in the area and married.

 

Tully and Mary Alice Dewitt Inman Campbell

Joining the newlyweds in Springfield were Mae and Frances along with, for a time, Tully's two sons, Walter and Lester Campbell, now de­ceased.

Despite the attitude of the Inman brothers, Frances and Mae called Tully "Dad" for they had never known their real father except in the haziest of memories. The new family shuttled among a succession of rooming houses and other rentals as Tully took odd jobs. The girls attended, among others, the old Nichols School while living in Springfield.

The ultimate indignity followed: the family moved to a tent pitched beside the Inman boys' home. Better times followed around 1922 or 1923, when Tully and Mary Alice moved south to first one and then another home in Riverdale, a historic milltown that is becoming chic residential de­velopment today on the Finley River. "It was the best we ever had," Mae says of the Riverdale days. "They were better houses" than all the others. There, the children attended Harmony School.

But in 1923, Tully and Mary Alice returned to Springfield, and the nest quickly emptied as Mae and then Frances married. Less is known of Mary Alice's life in her remaining years because of communication and trans­portation problems in the underdeveloped Ozarks. At one point, she and Tully moved in as companions/caretakers for a Nixa family, but life gen­erally was a succession of Tully's day labor and rented houses in Springfield. From 1929 to 1930, while living at 304 W. Elm, the Campbells took care of Mary Alice's granddaughter, Lela May McConnell, who died of whooping cough.

Mary Alice's final home was a small house along an alley in the rear of 758 W. Elm in Springfield. There, she died after an eight-day struggle with pneumonia at 9:30 p.m. March 18, 1939 at age 57. "Old Doc Williams (her physician) said she didn't have it," Mae says, "but she said she did because she'd had it before."

Mary Alice was buried beside her first husband, Finley Glover "Bud" Inman, in McConnell Cemetery. The dates on Mary Alice's stone are incorrect. They show she was born in 1879 on the same date as her sis­ter. The correct years are 1879 for George, 1880 for Cora and 1881 for Mary Alice, although her death certificate says yet another date in 1878.

Tully Campbell married a third time, to Alice Snyder, shortly after Mary Alice's death. But he passed on Nov. 26, 1941 from complications of surgery to remove a benign prostate tumor, and he is interred in Clear Creek Cemetery four miles southwest of Willard. The cemetery tombstone index does not show his grave, although that of his third wife, Alice, is in­dicated. His plot may be unmarked.

 

Children of Finley Glover Inman

and Mary Alice Dewitt

 

Grace/Gracie Bell Inman McConnell

(Nov. 20, 1897-Nov. 27, 1929)

Grace married John Walter McConnell (Dec. 21, 1892-Aug. 25, 1960), known better as just Walter, a World War I veteran and the older brother of Mae's husband, Henry. Although federal census records suggest that none of the Inman children attended school in 1910, Mae says that "Grace probably had the best schooling of any of us," attending Rosedale south­west of Nixa.

Grace and Walter married before he entered the Army and World War I in 1917. During his tour of service, she moved back into the Christian Co. home with Mary Alice and the Inman family. In 1920, the couple was living on the Lindsay Patton farm south of the James River and northwest of McConnell Cemetery, when their first child was born. Within two years they had moved southeast of Springfield.

On several occasions, while pregnant or recovering from a birth, Grace was joined by her sister, Mae, to help with the family. Grace "had a hard old go of it," Mae said. "The kids were so close together."

By the late 1920s Grace and Walter, an alcoholic farm laborer, settled into the VonWagen house south of Brookline in Greene County. In the "big house" on the so-called Anderson farm next door were his father William Alexander McConnell and whichever wife was current.

Grace was pregnant again when she died in 1929 from the complica­tions of miscarriage and pneumonia. She was buried in McConnell Cemetery on Thanksgiving Day.

Walter died at the Veterans Administration hospital in Fayetteville, Arkansas, after a later life as a panhandler and transient. Despite his drinking and continuing complaints about how well his in-laws and siblings were raising his children, Walter had his appealing side. "He'd come and stay for a while and then go off for a weekend. He'd come back with all the (neighborhood) stories. He could be right good company," said Mae.

Walter, who never remarried, is buried beside Grace in McConnell Cemetery.

 

Robert Inman (Dec. 19, 1899-May 1991)

Robert married Frances Ophelia Jones (April 18, 1905-Nov. 7, 1972) on Sept. 23, 1922 before JP Jim Wright McConnell. She was the daughter of Charles and Clara Jones of Porter Township and a distant cousin of Robert; Ophelia was the granddaughter of Nancy Anna Frances Inman (Mrs. William Jesse) Jones, who was the cousin of Robert’s grandfather, Elkanah.

After Tully and Mary Alice moved to Springfield and Riverdale, brother Fred helped Robert move northeast of Nixa. Brother Elmer was hired to work at the farm next door, and Robert was employed as a carpen­ter in Springfield in the 1920s.

In 1930, Robert returned to build a home on the original site of his grandfather John Wesley's family stake; he had held onto his 20-acre share of the land while the other Inmans had sold out and the compound was overgrown with brush and briars. Besides farming and carpenter work, Robert also worked as a mill hand for a feed company.

When he turned age 91, he still was living alone in the same home. Unable to see well, he nevertheless persisted in refusing to install a tele­phone. That Christmas, he caught the devil from his sole surviving sister Mae after he fell and cut up both arms while slipping and sliding on the icy swatches outside and fell into a corner of the house.

At his 91st birthday party, thrown by both the McConnell and Inman sides of the family, relatives notice a cough that proved to be an ill omen: Robert died the next spring of lung cancer at Mt. Vernon Park Care Center in Springfield. He is buried beside Ophelia in McConnell Cemetery.

George Riley Inman (Jan. 4, 1901-July 16, 1953)

George married Lucy Onteria Sparkman (Jan. 7, 1905-May 22, 1977). After their marriage, for unknown reasons, George adopted the spelling of "Inmon," and that version appears on the monument at McConnell Cemetery.

George likely was named for his uncle Dewett and an Evans uncle, Rawleigh, pronounced Riley.

George worked as a farmer and farm hand at Route 1, Nixa until his death from cancer. After George's death Lucy was remarried to Warren Cavender, but she is interred beside George.  He and Lucy had three chil­dren:

 

Lonnie Elmer Inman

(Nov. 14, 1904-Nov. 20, 1966)

Elmer married Marcellia/Marcella Shadwick (1905), who still lives in Springfield. Elmer, also known as "Mutt," worked for Springer Produce of Springfield for many years, but later had to retire because his arm was am­putated after a blood clot formed.

The couple had one son, Jimmy, who while pampered as an only child, later disowned his parents. Jimmy left the area, resurfacing at least once in Texas. The family was unable to contact him when Elmer died in 1966. Elmer and Marcella were separated for many years, but never divorced. Official records document the rocky rela­tionship: from March 6 to 15, 1951, Marcella checked into the county almshouse until Elmer picked her up.

At the time of his death, Elmer was living on North Main in Springfield while Marcella had a house on State Avenue.

Like his brother, Elmer decided to change the spelling of the family surname, but his brothers and sisters insisted on the Inman version for his monument at McConnell Cemetery. His legal first and middle names, however, are reversed on the stone. He was known as Lonnie while a child, but Elmer as an adult.

 

Fred Otto Inman (May 15, 1906-Dec. 16, 1996)

Fred lived with his second wife, Leola, in Seymour, MO. Fred, unlike many of the Inmans, did not settle permanently in the local community be­cause, as a Pentecostal minister, he found callings in several Midwestern states. On July 22, 1924, he married Tilda Marina Jones (July 22, 1906-April 23, 1969), the cousin of his sister-in-law Ophelia Jones Inman, and remarried after Tilda's death.

Tilda was the daughter of John Henry Jones and Allie Fair Willhite. She and Fred were cousins, although they seemed not to know about the relationship. Tilda was the granddaughter of Nancy Anna Frances Inman Jones, who was the cousin of Fred’s great-grandfather.

On Fred and Tilda's monument at McConnell Cemetery, the date of his birth is incorrectly listed as 1907 rather the 1906 verified by the family Bible.

 

Living Children Deleted.

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