Dewitt & Lawson ~ Emily Jane Dewitt Lawson and Descendants

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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.  

 

Emily Jane Dewitt Lawson

(March 18, 1848-Aug. 25, 1915)

 

Emily Jane Dewitt stepped from the train on Aug. 2, 1890[1] at the old North Springfield depot at Commercial and Washington streets with the change from $20 in her purse and three children in tow. By some accounts, it was the first train to make the trip from eastern KY to the Ozarks.

Fleeing a much younger husband, though married less than a year, Emily Jane left her Sugarloaf Mountain home near Freestone, Rowan Co., KY under the cover of night and caught the train west, buying tickets that would take her as far west as possible.

“Granny” Lawson and her three Dewitt children — George, then 14, Sarah Cora, 11, and Mary Alice, 9 — flagged a ride on a jitney and, for reasons unknown, headed eight miles to Nixa and a rented cabin in Maupin Hollow on the Inman family compound, just southwest of town. As soon as they settled in, they headed for the plentiful Christian Co. woods to chop trees and fashion beds, a table and, with larger trees, seats.[2]

In KY, Granny Lawson left behind a murky past that has eluded resolution. Her husband, the outlaw David Clark Lawson, was not so easy to elude and soon reappeared in their lives. 

Emily Jane's Evans, Dewitt and Indian roots

Granny Lawson's background draws on the Dewitt and Evans families — both of whom made initial moves into the eastern mountain counties of Kentucky or West Virginia before 1800. The families developed in the mountain territory of Morehead and surrounding Fleming, Rowan and Morgan counties, KY. Particularly Rowan Co. had much in common with Christian County. Poor, isolated and lawless after the Civil War, Rowan actually broke into a civil mini-war in the mid-1880s that prompted the Kentucky legislature to debate whether to dissolve the county and eliminate the local officials; the courthouse was burned in 1890, destroying early records and the paper trails of criminals.

The 1850 census confirms that Emily Jane was the daughter of John Dewitt and Malinda Evans.[3]

Malinda was the daughter of Sarah Rayburn (April 20, 1784, KY-Aug. 5, 1867, Rowan Co., KY) and Isaac Evans Sr. (Oct. 28, 1781, Washington Co., PA-Sept. 12, 1857, Rowan Co., KY). With four daughters, only Isaac of all the Evanses in Fleming Co. in 1830 had a family who matched Malinda's situation, and the family lived close to Henry Dewitt's clan in 1830.

Her line dates back to Samuel Evans, who died in 1691 in Calvert or Anne Arundel Co., MD. His son Richard (1670 -March 1703, Calvert Co., MD) married Elizabeth Hall, the daughter of Richard Hall, a planter of Calvert Co., and Elizabeth Wingfield.

Richard’s son Samuel (1690-Sept. 30, 1770, Greene Co., PA) married a woman named Sarah, had nine children and emigrated to southwestern PA before the Revolution.  His son John Evans (1728-1798) married Sarah Davies/Davis in 1754 in Maryland and also relocated to a farm on Pennsylvania’s border with Virginia (West Virginia after 1863).

Son Isaac, the fifth of 14 children, ventured still further west and married Sarah Rayburn, born in Kentucky to Ralph “Rafe” Rayburn and Nancy Ann White, in Montgomery Co., KY in 1801. Malinda was the youngest of their nine children.

John Dewitt Sr. (b. 1819/20) was the likely son of Henry Dewitt (1780s-1840s), who is found on Fleming County's delinquent tax lists as early as 1804 and again in 1828 as an insolvent. The 1830 census suggests Henry (b. 1780s) had at least two sons, John and Jackson, and four daughters. The Henry Dewitt family had lived in Greenup Co., KY and, then, Preston Co., (West) VA in 1820, along with the John and Peter Dewitt households, be­fore returning to Fleming Co.

Henry Dewitt, probable grandfather of Emily Jane, was located in Fleming County in 1830, while Peter was living across the border in neigh­boring Morgan County. Henry still lived in Fleming in 1840, but Peter had died or moved from KY.

The Dewitts descended from a family that came to New York City in the 1600s from Holland and gradually spread southward into New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

Of considerable interest here is the issue of Indian ancestors in the family. Mae Inman McConnell proudly notes the native American coloring in an ancient photo of Emily Jane. Some family members were teased and talked about growing up on an Oklahoma reservation. Ted Dewett, Emily Jane's late grandson, said Emily Jane was a full-blooded Indian and his father was too proud to claim an Indian pension owed by the government; sister Flossie Dewett Maness maintained the blood was Apache (impossible); others are investigating Iroquois blood lines that are possible because that Indian nation once roamed the KY-VA mountains.

A more likely tribe is the Cherokees, who lived along the KY-VA bor­der until white settlement encroached on the hunting grounds; the tribe then moved south to TN and AL, but others intermarried into French, German, English and Scot-Irish families or simply stayed behind and as­similated into the mountain settlements. The Cherokees, along with the Shawnee, considered KY their ancestral hunting ground and returned long after the cession to hunt, trap and plunder in the area.

Circumstantial evidence suggests that Emily Jane may have inherited Indian lines from the Dewitts, who lived on the fringe of an already marginal Kentucky mountain society.

No story about Emily Jane as a pure-blooded Indian holds water be­cause she, her mother and sisters were all shown as “white” in the 1860 and other censuses — at a time when Indians were to be identified as such on the forms.

The Evans family had Welsh bloodlines and came from Pennsylvania, where Welsh communities were found around Philadelphia by the early 1700s.

 

John and Malinda Evans Dewitt

John and Malinda Evans Dewitt were married on June 14, 1844 in Fleming Co., KY, and they had at least six children — Susan (1843?), Rebecca Jane (1845), Emily Jane (1848), John William (1850), Amanda (1852) and Sarah E. (1858). In 1850, the census describes John (b. 1820, KY) simply as a laborer with no real estate. The older Malinda's age is given as 32, b. 1818, al­though later censuses would suggest she was born in 1815 or 1820 in KY.

They were living next door to Katherine Hopper, who had another Malinda Dewitt (1822) and daughter Katherine (1849)[4] living in the home. John's apparent brother, Jackson, weas living as a laborer with nearby families.

Except for the birth of Amanda and Sarah after the 1850 census, little is known of the family from 1850 to 1870 except that Malinda and John Dewitt divorced or “separated,” in hill parlance.[5]

John Dewitt and his son, John William, were not present in the house­hold in Rowan Co. in 1870, nor is either traceable in the statewide KY cen­sus index. The eldest daughter, Susan, had left the home, but a young girl, Molly (Mary) Hornbeck, b. 1867, KY, was found there in 1870. Susan may have died after marrying a Hornbeck, leaving daughter Molly.

The 1870s and 1880s were times of flux for the family. Malinda or “Lindy” was living as a divorced “pauper” in the county poorhouse by 1880. Amanda married William Short in 1871, and they had two children, Nancy and Alice, by 1880. Rebecca married widower Jackson Colwell or Caldwell, a neighbor to the family by 1870, on June 7, 1884 in Rowan Co.

Emily Jane's journeys are more difficult to follow. George Lewis Dewett, her son, reportedly was born in Lexington, Fayette Co., to the west, in 1876. Sara Cora Dewitt was born in 1879 in Freestone, Rowan Co., as was Mary Alice Dewitt in 1881. The 1880 Rowan Co. census, though, shows no traces of the family by any surname. George's first clear, early memories were of Freestone, which had 100 persons at its height. Freestone is no longer shown on maps, although his son Ted visited the place in the early 1980s.

(According to the Kentucky Gazeteer and Business Directory, 1895-96, “Freestone, Rowan County, [is] on the C&O [Cumberland and Ohio] Railway, 6 1/2 miles southwest of Morehead, the county seat. Mount Sterling is its banking point.  Population: 100.”) Freestone had telephone and Western Union service along with a post office and three general stores, a feed mill and quarry.

The area today is known as Farmers, KY.

The father of George, Cora and Mary Alice may never be known, and they were almost certainly illegitimate. One family story recalls that George Lewis Dewett was referred to by the mean-spirited in the Republic community as “that bastard Dewett.”

The only clue to the fatherhood of Emily Jane's children are the wit­nesses at her later wedding. David Clark Lawson married Emily Jane Dewitt on Sept. 29, 1889 in Morehead, Rowan Co. before the Rev. F.C. Button, according to records in the courthouse there. The witnesses were Mary A. Johnson, A.W. Young and George A. Johnson.[6]

Two of Emily Jane's children may have been named for George A. (?) and Mary A. (Alice?) Johnson. Emily Jane's sister Amanda Dewitt (Mrs. William) Short also named a daughter Alice.

 

David Clark Lawson

According to family lore, all the children believed that they were Lawsons, the children of David Clark Lawson, and Mae Inman McConnell's 1910 birth certificate lists Mary Alice's maiden name as Lawson. Cora, however, used the Dewitt name when she was married in 1897, while George was still living at home with his mother under the name of Lawson in 1900. George used the Lawson name at least until 1908 for property tax purposes, although he married in 1906 under the name of Dewett after his mother reportedly told him his true surname.

David Clark Lawson, born in TN c. 1859, was at least 11 years younger than Emily Jane, and he would have only been 16 if and when he fathered George. Even if David C. Lawson had been living with the family since the children were quite small, it is unlikely they believed him to be their father; the children were, after all, ages 13, 10 and 8 when the marriage occurred. With common-law marriages commonplace in eastern Kentucky, it is unlikely that David and Emily Jane felt the need to formally marry after several years of cohabitation. He almost certainly was not the real father.

Mae McConnell Inman says the identity of George, Cora and Mary Alice's real father was the subject of speculation among their children, but off-limits with her mother Mary Alice. Neither did George nor Cora com­ment openly on their real father.

Mary Alice embraced the Dewitt designation. George and part of his family formally used Dewett, although Dewitt was the form used in Kentucky. (Emily Jane could neither read nor write, so someone else had to dictate or make up the spelling in both Missouri and Kentucky.)

The family's decision to move to Missouri in 1890 raises further ques­tions. Ed Dewett, son of George Lewis, says Emily Jane and her three young children were living on Sugarloaf Mountain when they decided to come to Missouri. They traveled by night, hiding by day, to reach the Lexington train depot and bought a ticket with all their funds to go as far as possible — Springfield in this case; they seem to have been fleeing David.

If so, Lawson quickly tracked down the family.

Clark Lawson had come to Christian County by 1893, according to state prison records. Lawson was arrested in late 1893 or early 1894 in Christian County and charged with grand larceny. He was convicted on the charges in February 1894 and sentenced to two years in the state peni­tentiary.

Any doubt about his identity was erased by the india-ink tattoo on his left forearm, which said, "D.C.L.," according to prison admissions records. He stated he was 34, which makes his birthdate fall in 1860, probably 1859, just before the Civil War in Tennessee. (He told the 1900 census taker he was 31, but apparently meant 41.) He stood 5'6" tall (or short) and weighed 184 pounds. He was stocky, if not fat, with light hair, gray eyes (the prison officials at the time seemed to think all new commitments had gray eyes), fair complexion and a moustache.

He had “no parents” living, but his wife lived in “Nixie,” MO. (Nixa was not a town at the time, just a post office.) He claimed he was a Baptist; and he had a scar on the corner of his right eye.

Lawson doesn't seem to have been a run-of-the-mill criminal. He was an apparent part of a theft ring. At the same time he was sent away to Jefferson City, five others from Christian County — all charged with some form of stealing — were sentenced and transported, too. None of them had a prison record, at least in Missouri. They were:

• T.F. Rogers, 25, a single Tennessee native and farmer whose parents lived in “Poncaline,” (Ponce de Leon?). He had a “low forehead,” accord­ing to prison records, a reflection of a time when physiognomy (the shape of the head) was believed to shape behavior. He was sentenced to two years for larceny.

• Quill Rich, 22, a farmer who had a wife and mother in Springfield. He was enormous for the time — 6-foot-1 and 202 pounds. He was sen­tenced to two years for grand larceny.

• William Gardner, 22, a Missouri native and farmer whose mother lived at Ozark. He was single and tall — 6-foot-3/4 — but skinny, 158 pounds. He was sentenced to three years for burglary.

• George Meadows, 20, a Missouri native and farmer whose father lived in Ozark. He, too, was single. His left foot had been cut off, leaving him at a severe disadvantage in a poor farm economy that demanded hard physical labor before disability benefits were available anywhere.

• George Moore, 30, an Illinois native whose mother still lived in Springfield, the state capital. He was a bookkeeper — a little guy, only 5' 4 1/2" who belonged to the Universalist Church. Of the six, he was the only drinker, or “intemperate,” according to prison records. Like Gardner and Meadows, Moore could read and write, of course; the others couldn't. He was single. Moore received the stiffest sentence — four years.

David Clark Lawson was discharged from the State Penitentiary on Sept. 11, 1895, under the “3/4” law, but he served an extra 11 days, proba­bly for a code violation such as gambling or fighting inside. Like Granny Lawson, David Clark Lawson couldn't read or write.

If she had fled Lawson to come to MO, Emily Jane decided to recon­cile, if futilely. The late Robert Inman, her grandson, said Lawson simply walked off and abandoned her one day. Tax records indicate Lawson had purchased a 40-acre farm from a railroad land sales company on Guin Prairie by 1896.  He was not an acceptable provider for a farmer; in June 1896, his farm stock consisted of a horse and two pigs. By 1898, he has dis­appeared from the tax rolls, although the farm remained in the family for at least 10 more years. George "Lawson" continued paying taxes on the property, which was considered land belonging to three persons, until at least 1908.

More than likely, David Lawson was in jail when he seemed to aban­don the family. In September 1899, he was indicted for grand larceny in Christian County. In November he was sentenced to three months in the county jail on the reduced charge of "larceny from home," or petty larceny.

The 1900 census found Lawson, who said he was 31 but gave no year and month of birth, living with the George Meadows family in Ozark — the same George Meadows who had served time with Lawson in Jefferson City for theft. Both men were “junk dealers.”

Ed Dewett contended that David Lawson died in the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, but comprehensive records of admissions do not cite him after 1900. Lawson may have died in a county jail.

 

Granny Lawson's final years

Older members of the family agree that a Hallie or Rebecca Caldwell, the daughter of Emily Jane's sister Rebecca and Jackson Caldwell, came to live with the family. In one version, Jackson and Rebecca came west in a covered wagon, but returned to KY, leaving their daughter behind.[7] Mae Inman McConnell said her mother thought the world of Hallie, and Robert Inman said the girl remained until she was of age. Because Rebecca and Jackson weren't married until 1884, Hallie should have lived with them until after the turn of the century.

But the 1900 census records show that Emily Jane was living, “divorced,” with her son George in Porter Township, Christian Co. Although the family owned the farm on Guin Prairie, Emily and George still were living in a log cabin in Maupin Hollow on the property of her son-in-law and daughter, Bud and Mary Alice Dewitt Inman. It is unlikely that the Dewitt/Lawsons ever lived on that farm because it apparently had no house.

In 1902, Emily Jane's daughter and son-in-law, Cora and Francis Marion Hicks, moved to Republic, and Granny Lawson and George followed. Mae Inman McConnell says her grandmother's home in Republic, for a time, was a "strawberry shed" south of Miller Street. "She had a hard old life," Mae says.

There, too, are darker, yet tantalizing sides to memories of Emily Jane, including her penchant for telling fortunes by reading coffee grounds or tea leaves and other uses of the occult. In Rowan Co., KY, witchcraft was not only accepted, it was revered, and Emily Jane may have mastered some of the techniques. She often was referred to as a “gypsy.”

Emily Jane's skills, too, were celebrated in the Ozarks, where commu­nications were poor, even for that time. Robert Inman told of relatives and neighbors who consulted Granny Lawson and her tea leaves or coffee grounds to determine whether traveling kin were safe.

Between 1908 — when George paid the property taxes — and 1912, the farm in Christian Co. passed into the hands of the George W. Slay family.

Emily Jane had moved in with daughter Cora in Springfield when she died on Aug. 25, 1915 at age 67 after struggling with cancer of the womb for three and a half months. Mae recalls that Mary Alice and her sons took the family wagon to claim the body and attend the funeral.

Emily Jane, although she was never forced to live in the Greene Co. almshouse, is buried in the Springfield municipal potter's field, now known as Hazelwood Cemetery South; the potter's field was reserved for interring those who could not afford funerals, as a public health mea­sure.

The family evidently chose to inter the body in Hazelwood because of its proximity to Emily's last residence with Cora; no embalming was avail­able except to well-to-do families, and funerals occurred the day after death, Aug. 26 in the case of Granny Lawson. Otherwise, the family could have interred the body in McConnell Memorial Cemetery, which was free of charge and where Mary Alice's young husband Bud Inman had been buried the year before.

A stone for Emma J. Lawson marks her grave in Hazelwood South Cemetery.

 

George Lewis (Lawson) Dewett

(March 18, 1876-Oct. 16, 1942)

According to son Ed's information on the death certificate, George was born while Emily Jane was living in Lexington, Fayette Co., KY.

George on March 29, 1906 married Mildred "Millie" Ruhama Harrington (Feb. 7, 1888-Oct. 19, 1922) of Republic, the daughter of William Enoch and Elizabeth Abigale “Ab” Land Harrington. The couple appar­ently had met when George and his mother moved to Republic after 1902. The marriage came in a double ceremony, with Millie's brother Sigel "Sig" Harrington and Ellen Link also taking their vows.

George remarried after Millie's death to Eva R. Buckner. Son Ed Dewitt told a family interviewer that his father brought home a woman he intro­duced as his wife around 1928; she stayed about a week and left, Ed said. George and Eva were divorced on Feb. 5, 1931 by dafault on George's part. Her former name was restored by court order.

The Dewett family lived on farms east of Republic and near Nichols Junction, northwest of Springfield, before George settled in a small house in Republic before his death. In 1921, the children were attending Buleh School on Highway M.

Records indicate that the family vacillated between a “Dewitt” or “Dewett” spelling of the name. George and Mildred's headstone carries the name Dewett at their gravesite in Harrington Cemetery.

 

Children of George Lewis Dewett

and Mildred Ruhama Harrington

 

Ed Lewis Dewett (June 30, 1914)

Ed, of Republic, married Lucille Handy Armstrong (Oct. 4, 1913). Lucille Handy had been married to Frankie Leroy Armstrong, who died of a heart attack before their first and only child, Frankie Leroy Jr., was born.

Ed worked as a mechanic and school bus driver before he later served on the local city council; after World War II the family lived in a home that was a converted school bus. Lucille and Ed had two daughters, Launia Ozman and Damarius Ainzlee, a nurse living in Denver, CO. Ed wanted to make sure his daughters had unique names, and he succeeded.

 

Teddie “Ted” Edwin Dewett

(Dec. 3, 1918-July 14, 1991)

Ted was born in Nichols Junction, lived in Cupertino, CA after serving in the Navy and married Frances Elizabeth Gooch of Nixa, the daughter of a McConnell-Kenamore family cousin, Thomas Shirley Gooch and wife Mintie Louvanda Cox. Ted and Frances had two sons: Edwin David, who was killed in an airplane crash Jan. 25, 1985 (m. Kathy Lynn Wetterstrom, children Trisha Lynn and Bryce Alexander); and Lewis Mark, who is a minister (m. Margaret Ann Propert).

 

Opel Dewett (Sept. 28, 1908-Dec. 28, 1911)

Flossie Ann Dewett Maness

(Jan. 30, 1907-July 19, 1978)

Flossie married Raymond Maness (Oct. 9, 1905-Oct. 28, 1982) of Republic on Aug. 15, 1925 and eventually moved near Boaz. The couple raised exotic fowl and rabbits, and the wildly overgrown place sported a bountiful crop of wild blackberries that attracted cousins, distant and close, and june bugs in the summers.  Raymond was retired from Lipscomb Feed and Grain of Springfield.

Raymond was the son of Homer Elliott Maness (1887-1981) and Effie May Short (1886-1915), a descendant of a pioneer family that originally settled on Wilson's Creek National Battlefield.

Flossie, Raymond, her sister Opal and son-in-law Gene Jones are in­terred at Harrington Cemetery.

Bertha Mae (living, data withdrawn)

 

Luther (May-Dec. 12, 1916)

 

 


Sarah Cora Dewitt

Hicks Bussard Haskins

(March 19, 1879-June 1,1958)

Cora married three times, the first to Frances Marion Hicks (June 6, 1873) on Nov. 3, 1897 by Justice of the Peace Jim Wright McConnell in Porter Township, Christian Co., MO.

“Marion” was the son of James Hicks (Dec. 15, 1815-April 27, 1898) of Preble Co., OH, and his second wife, Sarah McLaughton (October 1843, TN-1900). Marion was apparently born in Marshfield, where by family leg­end his body was shielded by another man to save him from the devastat­ing 1882 tornado. James' first wife, Julia York, had died of tuberculosis on the wagon train from Ohio, leaving nine children: Aaron (m. Rhoda Rhea); John; Bill (m. Ella) of Galena; Emma (m. Ralph Riley Rhea); Eunice (m. Parker); James W.; George (m. Matilda M.); Elizabeth “Liza” (m. Parks); and Alice J. (m. Mayfall Parks and Milligan).

Marion fathered all three of Cora's children, and they originally lived in Porter Township with his mother, Sarah.   Cora and Marion moved to Republic in 1902 and Springfield in 1910, and she lived there until she died. Cora began work as a domestic for Springfield families, and her oldest daughter recalls these “rich” folk sent cars to pick up and return her mother.

Cora divorced Hicks on Sept. 11, 1919, by default, in Greene County and gained custody of the two youngest children; Lula by then was mar­ried. Cora waited but a month to marry Charles E. Bussard on Oct. 11, 1919, but he died less than two years later, on May 5, 1921. He is buried in Bellview Cemetery northeast of Springfield.

Cora then married William T. Haskins (Jan. 30, 1867-Aug. 11, 1946) on May 24, 1928. He is buried in Eastlawn Cemetery in Springfield (Lot 72, Section 5, grave 4).

Cora was living on North Rogers in Springfield when she died at Handley (City) Hospital from cardio-renal disease. She is buried at McConnell Cemetery near Nixa.

 

Children of Sarah Cora Dewitt

and Francis Marion Hicks 

 

Lula Maye Hicks Buttram

(Dec. 28, 1898-Dec. 20, 1998)

Lula Maye married Eddie Buttram, a preacher, and resided in a Springfield nursing center before her death.

Eddie was born Dec. 25, 1892 in McClurg, Ozark Co., MO, and died Dec. 10, 1982; the couple is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery.

Eddie was the son of John Embree Buttram (Feb. 20, 1870-Sept. 17, 1918) and Minnie Lovella Cowdrey (March 30, 1875-Aug. 8, 1939). John Embree was the son of Jacob Buttram (March 19, 1849, McMinn Co., TN-Nov. 6, 1916, Collinsville, OK) and Mary Melinda Matilda Mahan (Feb. 8, 1850-Aug. 19, 1915, Muskogee, OK). Minnie was the daughter of Loren Glazzier Cowdrey (July 10, 1839, Athens, OH-March 1, 1909) and Barbara Ann Elizabeth Friend (Jan. 14, 1841, Rush Co., IN-Oct. 4, 1926), who are buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Springfield. Loren was a Civil War lieu­tenant.

 

George Leslie Hicks (March 10, 1901-Feb. 10, 1979) 

Les was born in Christian Co. before the move to Republic, and he married in 1928 to Nellie Plank, the daughter of Walter (Jan. 25, 1878-July 2, 1967) and Sophronia Melton Plank of Nixa. Les and Nellie are buried in Jones-Chastain Cemetery near Highlandville, MO.

 

Vesta Jane Hicks Kynion (Aug. 26, 1905-Feb. 25, 1985)

Janie was born in Republic and married William Eldridge “Doc” Kynion on Sept. 6, 1922. Doc (Jan. 12, 1893-Oct. 26, 1960) and Janie are buried in National Cemetery.

 

Mary Alice Dewitt

(aka Lawson) Inman

(Oct. 19, 1881-March 18, 1939)

Mary Alice (Lawson on her license) on Nov. 8, 1896 married farmer Finley Glover “Bud” Inman before Justice of the Peace Irving Edwards in Porter Township, Christian Co.

The Inmans had come to the area in late 1852 from Giles Co., TN, where they were relatively well-to-do tobacco farmers. Their prosperity continued in Missouri until the Civil War when bushwhackers apparently stripped the family of its money, a son died in combat and Elkanah Inman, head of the family, died young.

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-c. 1883) 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 (Oct. 19, 1881-March 18, 1939) 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.

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 Edwards 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.

The family degenerated through death, distance and dissolution. "Walter just fell apart when Grace died," says Ora Marie "Bobbi" Barnett Aliff, his niece.

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 Sparkman 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

 

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.

Mabel Inman (d. Aug. 7, 1912)

Little Mabel succumbed shortly after her birth at the Inman family compound. Along with two other, unidentified infant Inmans, she was buried in a grove of cedar trees, then surrounded by a fence. Over the years, however, the fence and family plot fell into disrepair, and pasturing and other farm work have obliterated traces of the original three graves. Virtually all the Inmans since have been buried in McConnell Cemetery.

 

Frances Laura Inman Harrington Gray

(Sept. 20, 1913-Nov. 24, 1990)

Frances married two railroad workers, first Dale Harrington and, after she divorced him over infidelities, Don Gray (May 17, 1911-Sept. 13, 1976).

The Harringtons were related by marriage to the family: Frances' un­cle George Dewitt had married Millie Harrington, Dale's aunt. With Don, Frances lived in a Springfield home.

Frances, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, spent her final days in a Crane convalescent home. She was buried beside Don at White Chapel Cemetery.

 



[1] Emily Jane's granddaughter, Lula Hicks Buttram, keeps a notebook that shows the date as Aug. 2, 1889. But because Emily Jane was married in Rowan Co. later that fall, the year for the MO arrival almost certainly is 1890.

[2] Much of this information came from Lula Buttram's family notebook, although stories handed down through Ed Dewett, Ted Dewitt, Ida Mae Inman McConnell and the late Robert Inman have been used to flesh out the early days in Missouri.

[3] John Evans is shown as the father of Emily Jane Lawson on her death certificate, based on information provided by daughter Cora. John A. Evans (b. 1820/1) instead was the apparent elder brother of Malinda Evans Dewitt, who was a source of support after the divorce of Malinda and John Dewitt. John B. may have been a surrogate father to the family.

[4] Melinda Dewitt, age 25, and Catherine Dewitt, age 10, are found in the household of Rebecca W. Turner, age 60 (b. 1800) in Catlettsburg, Boyd Co., KY in 1860. Melinda's age perhaps should have been 45, based on the 1850 census. The relationship between these women and John Dewitt is uncertain although Rebecca was an Evans family name, and a Turner Evans lived in Fleming County.

[5] The 1880 Rowan Co. census shows Lindy Dewitt was divorced.

[6] These witnesses may have produced some of the family names, e.g., Mary Alice Johnson/Dewitt and George Johnson/Dewett.

[7] The Caldwells likely returned to KY because Mary Alice's children corresponded with a cousin in KY, Henry Caldwell, but his address has been lost.
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