Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Quack & A Killer: The Story of A. B. Armstrong & His Sins

Albert B. Armstrong was born March 13th, 1875 in Monroe County, Kentucky to Lucas and Virginia Buford Armstrong. The family eventually migrated to Collin County, Texas, where Albert married Minnie B. Hundley on August 16th, 1896. The next year, he was the father of a daughter, Beatrice. By the time he was 25 in 1900, the life of his life had begun: Albert decided he was a doctor, and he was going to practice as such.

There is no evidence that Albert B. Armstrong ever received any formal medical training. What limited repositories there are for seeking out evidence of medical education for a person have been exhausted, and no record for Armstrong has been found. It is possible that he had an apprenticeship with a doctor at one point, but this would hardly have qualified him as a learned and licensed medical professional. When for the 1900 Census in Dallas County, Texas (1) Albert gave his profession as a “Physician”, he did so because that was what he wanted to be considered, but not because that is what he was.
(1)

Albert was what was called at the time a “quack”. 

This was a person who engaged in “quackery”. Per Quackwatch (2), we can learn a little more about these persons who claim to be and genuinely believe they are medical doctors or professionals:

“Dictionaries define quack as "a pretender to medical skill; a charlatan" and "one who talks pretentiously without sound knowledge of the subject discussed." These definitions suggest that the promotion of quackery involves deliberate deception, but many promoters sincerely believe in what they are doing. … Most people think of quackery as promoted by charlatans who deliberately exploit their victims. Actually, most promoters are unwitting victims who share misinformation and personal experiences with others.”

While most quacks might fall into the latter described category of “unwitting victims who share misinformation”, Albert B. Armstrong belonged to the former category which most people associate with the term quack: “charlatans who deliberately exploit their victims.” This assertion can be demonstrated by the ample amount of evidence provided by newspapers published during Armstrong’s heyday of swindling, fraud, and malpractice which amounted to actual murder.

 Armstrong was fully aware of the fact that he was not an actual physician, but in pretending to be one and presenting himself as one to unwitting “patients”, when his actions caused the deaths of those patients, those actions amounted to premeditated murder.

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[Please note: As we delve into the evidence against Armstrong, for the sake of full disclosure, this author acknowledges that as the nephew (several generations removed) of one of Armstrong’s victims, the dialogue in this article will be perceived as heavily biased. And it is. If it appears that that I think Armstrong was a despicable, pathetic excuse for a human being, it’s because I do. However, when subtracting all of the supplemental dialogue and left only with the facts, one is sure to reach the same conclusion as I have: That Albert B. Armstrong was not a doctor, but a fraud, a criminal, and a killer that unfortunately escaped justice.

While he may now rest in relative peace below the ground, this author has taken it upon himself to ensure that there is clear, succinct and available evidence in existence of Armstrong’s treacherous and cowardly legacy.]

The first of Armstrong’s legal transgressions occurred while he lived in Texas, and came to light after he found himself in trouble with the law in Oklahoma. For the sake of avoiding confusion, his earliest offenses in Texas will be documented after his crimes in Oklahoma are, as that is the timeline provided by the newspaper records that have been found.

(4)

It is unclear precisely when Armstrong came to Oklahoma. His second daughter, Mildred, was born in Texas about 1902, and Albert begins appearing in Oklahoma newspaper records by 1909. He is found in the 1910 Federal Census in Shawnee, Pottawatomie, Oklahoma (4). He was still proclaiming himself a medical doctor in that year as well. In the year before, 1909, Oklahomans got their first taste of Armstrong’s fraudulent practices when he visited the town of Chandler, Oklahoma. At this time, he was asserting himself as “Dr.” A. B. Armstrong. (5)

Albert proclaimed himself an “Assistant State Health Officer” working for the state of Oklahoma. He conducted "investigations" of some local businesses in Chandler, claiming reports had been received of there being unsanitary conditions in some of them. He cited concerns with the conditions of some of the local businesses, and threatened “that if the city health officer did not do his duty the state would”. (5)

“Without letting his business be known he visited the different hotels of the city and made a thorough investigation. He also noted the sanitation of the town at large, and after consulting with the city health officer he stated that the city was in a very bad condition and that steps should be taken to clean up from one end of town to the other. He stated that the city should at once begin cleaning out the sink from the depot to the north end of town and rid that part of the city of the unhealthy condition.” (6)

At the end of his inspection of the town, he said “that he would return to Chandler within a week or two and would take further steps to enforce the laws if found necessary.” (6) He took his ruse so far that he appointed a local doctor (an actual medical physician) named Dr. A. M. Marshal as the “superintendent of health for this judicial district with authority of the state board of health”. Eventually, it came to light that he either blackmailed or accepted bribes from some of the local business owners so that he would “quiet the matter at headquarters”. (7)

(6)

Unfortunately for Armstrong, someone in Chandler apparently grew suspicious of his scheme and contacted Dr. J. C. Marr of Shawnee, who was a genuine state health officer. Dr. Marr apparently informed the people of Chandler that they had been had, and “Dr.” Armstrong was in no way affiliated with the state health office. (7)

Armstrong was arrested and charged with gaining money under false pretense and was fined $8.00 by the court. The criminal complaint of impersonating an officer did not go through. After being fined, he was released from jail, and his “wife and two children” accompanied him home. (8)

Not to be deterred by being prosecuted as a fraud, Armstrong continued to practice medicine. He hired a nurse from Davenport named Willa Keller to assist him with patients in Shawnee. (9) In April of 1910, he was still listed as being “of Shawnee” when the spouse of an apparent patient published an announcement about her “successful operation” of having a tumor removed. However, this man, a J. N. Henderson, felt that he needed to add that he published this announcement “without the solicitation of the doctor and not by his request”, (10) an assertion which reeks of disingenuousness and indicates that Armstrong did in fact ask Henderson to publish this proclamation. He likely did so to demonstrate to locals that he truly was an actual doctor, when the truth is that he likely just got lucky that he did not kill poor Mrs. Henderson since he had no true medical training. His ruse apparently being convincing enough to fool even actual physicians, he even received consultations in Davenport from a Dr. Wade of Shawnee. (11)

(12)

By the month after the above profession of apparent competency from the spouse of a patient, he was listed in the paper as being “of Davenport”, which indicated he either fully relocated to Davenport, or was operating practices in both towns. Apparently, the people of Lincoln County didn’t realize exactly what they were dealing with the first time he came to the area to victimize unsuspecting citizens. His first heinous act of true disregard for human life (not counting however many other surgeries he had conducted where luck was on his side and he did not permanently maim or kill a patient) occurred that month, May of 1910.

“Mrs. Ed Berry who lived about two miles north of Mud College died last Tuesday night. She will be buried today in the New Zion cemetery south and west of town. County Attorney Davis drove to the home yesterday, empaneled a [coroners] jury and an autopsy was held over the body, with the result that Dr. Armstrong under whose treatment the patient had been, was held pending further investigation.” (12)

(13)

And so the first known victim, 26-year old Carrie Berry, was dead at the hands of a fraud that was hired to help her. Armstrong allowed himself to be hired to perform a medical procedure knowing full well that he was in no way qualified to perform such an operation. But out of either arrogance or sheer greed for the poor family’s money, he took on the job and because he was ignorant in the ways of proper medical practices, he killed her.

“Chandler - Dr. [Armstrong] of [Davenport] was arrested there on the charge of malpractice and brought to Chandler where he made a $3,000 bond and was released. Dr. Armstrong recently paid a fine here, charged with impersonating an officer in granting an inspection certificate to a butcher shop, purporting that he held authority from the state board of health.” (14)

If Armstrong had any sort of conscious at all within that unhinged mind, he would have stopped then and there. He would have dropped the ruse, taken his punishment, and assumed the life of a normal person, taking up farming or logging or some other type of profession; he clearly had some sort of oily charm to him to manipulate as many people as he did, so perhaps a career as a used car buggy salesman. But of course, he did not. He fought the charges, and was convincing enough to sway at least a couple of jurors of his innocence, leading to a hung jury.

“The trial of Dr. Armstrong in which many Davenport people were interested was concluded Wednesday and the jury disagreed, there being three who held out for conviction.” (15)

“The State against A. B. Armstrong was tried and [testimony] in the case was given to the jury, who returned with a report of no verdict due to disagreement. This case is one wherein a physician is accused of malpractice.” (16)

And so, as he had to countless others, Armstrong manipulated jurors of his position enough to lead to a non-verdict, and it does not appear that the State attempted to charge the case a second time. This close call would lead a reasonable person to conclude that if they continued on this path of deception their luck would run out eventually. But Armstrong does not appear to be a reasonable man by any stretch of the imagination, and he obviously lacked the foresight to know his jig would soon be up.

Though the local newspapers didn’t go into details about them at the time they occurred, Armstrong accrued new charges in early January, 1911. Armstrong told Hugh Ballard “H. B.” Mann, a Davenport resident, as a “doctor”, that he could procure a very expensive remedy that was the best and only chance Mr. Mann’s wife Anna Evelyn Mann (nee Blair) had to survive her bout with tuberculosis. Obviously, since Armstrong was not a doctor and there wasn’t a cure of tuberculosis at that time, Mrs. Mann still died. (17) Armstrong was subsequently charged with Obtaining Money under False Pretenses and Practicing Medicine without a License, and was released on bond (18) (19), where he was free to victimize still more innocent souls.

(20)

Regardless of all past and present charges, and arrogant enough to believe that he would either not be convicted or have only a fine levied against him as a result of these newest offenses, Armstrong continued practicing medicine as if the deaths of Mrs. Berry and Mrs. Mann had never occurred. In January of 1911, it was an unfortunate newly-married couple that crossed paths with this devil.

Louvica Barnett was born in Madison County, Arkansas to Jackson Barnett and Phoebe Napier, natives of Breathitt County, Kentucky who fled the feud violence of that territory.  She was orphaned as a young girl and brought to Davenport, along with her brother Andrew, to be raised by her elder half-sister, Amanda Barnett Roberts, and her husband, William. She married Richard Cunningham on December 7th, 1910 and began her new life with her new husband. The next month, she needed to undergo an operation, which was reportedly an abortion. The reasons for this surgery being necessary are not known. It is also unknown if the Cunninghams were aware that in just the past few months, their hired “physician” had killed another young woman and falsely led another family to believe that he could save their matriarch. Regardless, they made their decisions, and these were certainly not choices that should have warranted the tragedy that would befall them.

Amanda Barnett Roberts and her husband, William Roberts, and one of their children. This was taken by their home in Davenport, which would have been the home Louvica Barnett was raised in after her parents died.

But alas, tragedy did strike. Obviously performing another operation for which he was unqualified, Armstrong left 17-year old Louvica Barnett Cunningham dead. According to Newspaper records, the date of this incident was January 30th, 1911. As previously noted, he was already out on bond for other pending charges when he killed Vica Cunningham. And while he had escaped justice once already in Mrs. Berry’s case, apparently he realized his chances of exoneration yet again were slim after a second killing in eight months, so he fled.

Louvica's handmade stone; taken in the 1900s by Debbi Mosher Malwick, a great granddaughter of Amanda Barnett Robers and niece of Louvica.

When a person is released from jail on bond while a court hearing is pending, they just adhere to strict rules while out on bond. Among these rules is one that disallows one from engaging in other criminal activities, and not to leave a specified locale, usually restricted to the county or town in which the offender resides or where the offense occurred. In Armstrong’s case, he violated both of these orders, leading the court to issue a warrant for his arrest on the charges for which he had been bonded.

(21)

Fortunately, Armstrong underestimated the ability of law enforcement to recognize him from only a written description, and he was quickly detained in Hollis, Oklahoma. He was initially detained by police there on a warrant for having absconded bond for the aforementioned charges of Obtaining Money Under False Pretenses and Practicing Medicine Without A License. While in custody, a warrant for murder arrived.

Newspapers from Altus to Shawnee covered his arrest, finally making his malevolent practices known statewide:

“A. B. Armstrong, of Shawnee, Okla., was arrested at Hollis Monday morning by City Marshal P. M. Porter, of the latter city, on a warrant from Davenport, Okla., charging him with obtaining money under false pretenses and practicing medicine without license. The marshal arrested the man when he came to town with a friend, the officer recognizing him from a description from the sheriff’s office at Chandler, the county seat of Lincoln county, where the crime was committed. The Lincoln county sheriff was notified and O. C. Burgess, a deputy from Davenport, was sent to take the prisoner back.

At Oklahoma City on his way here, Burgess received a message that still another warrant had been issued for Armstrong on the charge of murder by abortion, his victim being a Mrs. Cunningham of Davenport, 18 years old and a wife of three months.

It is alleged that Armstrong, who claimed to be a physician, induced the girl to submit to an operation which caused her death on Monday. Armstrong was under bond at the time for obtaining money under false pretenses, and left the county, coming to Hollis, where he had some acquaintances. City Marshal Porter and his prisoner were met here by Deputy Sheriff Burgess who took the man back to Lincoln county for trial.” (21)

“A. B. Armstrong, a fake doctor hailing from Shawnee, was arrested on Hollis Monday, on a warrant from Davenport, charging him with obtaining money under false pretense. He is also charged with practicing medicine without license, and murder by abortion.” (22)

"The victim was a young woman who had been married three months and her death resulted from treatment at the Doctor’s hands.” (23)

The Shawnee paper was quick to distance its town from the “fake doctor”, stating that “Armstrong has not resided in Shawnee for more than a year, leaving here about twelve months ago for Davenport.” (18) And so Armstrong was brought to Davenport to answer for his absconded bond.

“Dr. Armstrong who was under bond to appear before Justice Robertson, Jan. 26th and did not put in appearance was brought to Davenport Wednesday in the custody of Deputy Sheriff Burgess. He had been detained at Hollis, Okla. He was in time to save the forfeiture of his bond, ten days extension having been granted. The doctor was taken to Chandler Thursday morning on a warrant issued as the result of the death of Mrs. Cunningham four miles north east of Davenport, death having resulted, it is alleged, from an operation performed by Armstrong.” (19)

Armstrong waited in the Chandler jail for his preliminary hearing, which was set for March 3rd and then continued to March 15th. (24) On March 9th, in a despicable display of support for convicted manipulator, 25 or more people of Davenport gathered together to post Armstrong’s $3,500 bond and he was released. (25) Deciding to go even further to display their support for the known fraud, a reception in Armstrong’s “honor” was held by some of the same folks who bonded him out. At this time, he was back to being referred to as “Doctor” in the paper (the only paper continuing to do so, indicating a probable bias by the paper’s editor in Armstrong’s favor), and it was noted that “all enjoyed a pleasant day socially and did full justice to the excellent dinner”. (26)

(26)

Speaking of justice, surely the Barnett and Cunningham families were eager for some, and it is doubtful that they were having a pleasant time while Louvica Barnett Cunningham’s and Carrie Berry’s murderer was schmoozing it up with ignorant townsfolk.

(17)

It appears Armstrong’s murder charge was downgraded to manslaughter, which surely strengthened the positions of support held by some of the people of Davenport, illustrating to them that Armstrong was truly just a man being wrongfully charged with a death they apparently deemed either accidental, or simply irrelevant. So then it must have been to their great chagrin when Armstrong was arrested on yet another warrant, this time issued from the state of Texas.

“A. B. Armstrong of near Davenport was Monday turned over to the sheriff of a west Texas county on an indictment charging him with defrauding Irvin Park, a jeweler of Big Springs. The case was fought out in court here, but he was given over to the custody of the Texas sheriff in spite of all efforts to save him. He left Monday afternoon for Big Springs. His wife returned to Davenport, and it is not known what her intentions are.

Sheriff J. A. Baggett of Big Springs, Texas, arrived last week with a requisition from the governor of Texas to the Oklahoma governor, asking that Armstrong be turned over to that state on a charge of defrauding. He was accompanied by Irvin Park who positively identified Armstrong as the man who swindled him out of a large amount of jewelry.

Mr. Park stated that Armstrong at that time claimed to be an expert on eye, ear and throat diseases, also an optician. [Mr.] Park stated incidentally that he was an expert on the “eye,” having caught him in the first round for a good sum. It is also charged that Armstrong defrauded the First National bank of Big Springs of $100.00, by depositing a check for a large amount on a foreign bank and then drawing a check on the Big Springs bank against the check deposited. Mr. Irvin stated that he understood there were charges against him at Pittsburg and Wichita Falls, Texas, but did not know what the charges were. Armstrong presented affidavits from different people, who swore that he was not at the place mentioned in the indictment at the time stated. This it is presumed will be the basis for his defense. These affidavits were presented at the hearing before Judge Huston, before whom the hearing was had, but he ruled that the case was not being tried upon evidence as to his guilt or innocence but whether or not the Texas officials had a valid indictment and had followed the law in demanding Armstrong’s requisition.

Armstrong, through attorneys, made a strong fight to keep out of Texas. Governor Cruce honored the requisition over a week ago, but habeas corpus proceedings were instituted at once by Armstrong, and he fought every point that came up.

There were two or three cases against Armstrong in this county, but the officers could not help but feel a relief when he was ordered back to Texas. Armstrong brought trouble with him when he came to Lincoln county, and it has followed him all the day of his residence here. He blew into Chandler one bright spring morning and immediately got busy, claiming to be an inspector of pure foods and sanitation. As a result he left on the afternoon train, and took with him some of Chandler’s filthy luere [sic]. But Chandler people got busy, too, and he was brought back the next week on an indictment charging him with impersonating an officer.
After his release, he has been into trouble ever since. One of his recent exploits, was when he accosted H. B. Mann of Davenport and stated that he could procure a preparation that would cure Mrs. Mann who was in the last stages of consumption. He stated to Mr. Mann that this anti toxin was the only thing that could possibly help her but that it was expensive. Mr. Mann told Armstrong to go ahead and get the medicine. Mr. Mann states that Armstrong went to Shawnee and had a mixture of something fixed up and sent to him at Davenport C. O. D. and that the charges were $56.00. This was paid and the medicine administered but the patient died soon afterward.

Many other cases are pending against Armstrong in Lincoln County, therefore we say that the officers and the people both gladly bid him adieu, and wish for him many years of useful toil to the Lone Star state.” (17)

Despite Armstrong’s claims that the charges against him in Texas were a case of mistaken identity (28), his actions after his extradition indicate he knew full well that he was about to be convicted, and then likely sent back to Oklahoma for more convictions. The coward was no doubt convinced that he was above being held accountable for his actions. And so he made his escape. (27)

“Armstrong Out – Two jail birds, who have been confined in the Howard county jail here for some time, took wing last night at some unknown hour and at this writing are still doing their best to continue their flight. They may not be making the speed of the average skiyiator [sic], but its two to one, however, that they are going some. The two gentlemen in questions, who have been watching the rain clouds through steel lattice work, are A. B. Armstrong and J. M. Coley, both of whom are charged with the crime of swindling, but who have, since their incarceration, maintained they were innocent and not the parties under indictment. The scheme they worked to gain their liberty seems to have been the old method of sawing an iron bar of their cell and bending it so as to afford a sufficient opening to crowd their bodies through. At just what hour this all happened is not known but is supposed to have occurred about midnight. It is believed that they received outside assistance, as a ladder that had evidently been raised to a window to allow them to reach the ground was this morning found lying near the jail. The tracks of a buggy were also discernable near the jail.
Armstrong defrauded I. H. Parks, the well known jeweler here, and also succeeded in swindling the First National bank of this city out of $100.00. – Big Springs (Texas) Herald.” (28)

Not satisfied with only being a lying, manipulative, cowardly quack, fraud, swindler, murderer, and now escaped fugitive, Armstrong added to the list of his criminal accomplishments thievery in August, 1911.

“Deputy Sheriff O. C. Burgess received a letter this morning from L. S. Carrington, of Maramec, Okla., asking assistance in capturing one Dr. A. B. Armstrong who left Maramec a short time ago with a team carriage and $75.00 for the theft of all which, the letter says, there is now a warrant out for the doctor. He is said to have started to Shawnee to get his family and all trace has been lost of him. Several months ago Dr. Armstrong was taken from this county to Big Springs, Texas, on a charge of swindling a bank. He later broke jail and this is the first the public has hear of him since.” (29)

(29)

The Davenport editor exposes his bias here again, deciding to continue christening Armstrong with the title of “Doctor”, despite how clear it had become that he was in no way an actual physician. The papers in Chandler, Big Springs, and elsewhere took no issue with stripping Armstrong of this undeserved title, but Davenport’s editor seems to have struggled in letting go of this. Friends like this editor of the Davenport paper, all of whom had clearly been taken in by Armstrong’s ruse, are likely what assisted him in escaping jail, getting back to Oklahoma, laying low in Pawnee County or wherever else for a couple of months, and then allowing him to cleanly gather his family from Shawnee and remove them from the state. And this he did, as he is not mentioned again in Oklahoma papers after theft in Maramec.

But Armstrong did not disappear. He simply ventured where he believed no one from Big Springs, Davenport, or elsewhere would think to look for him. By March, 1912 Armstrong and his family had relocated over 500 miles away from Davenport in Hickman, Kentucky. Hickman lies in far western Kentucky, very near the borders to both Missouri and Tennessee. He set about practicing medicine again there apparently as soon as he arrived, as he is noted as treating a patient in Fulton County at that time. (30)

(31)

Another interesting note is that a few months after his arrival in Hickman, Armstrong had to have surgery (presumably by an actual licensed physician) to remove some ribs which “had been broken and complications developed which necessitated the operation”. (31) Were these injuries incurred during his flight from justice in Texas and Oklahoma? Given the relatively short timeframe from August to May, it seems likely. Living life as a fugitive murderer and criminal is surely bound to lead to occasional injuries. 

(32)

Not only did he change states, but Armstrong changed his name as well. In the 1920 Census for Fulton County, Kentucky, Armstrong is found as George Armstrong. (32) The presence of his wife Minnie and daughter Mildred prove it is the same man; that, and the fact that he continued to pretend that he was a “Physician”, as he listed his profession as such. Consistently undeterred by the regular exposure by others as a fraud, “Dr. George Armstrong” continued his skulduggery despite being discovered as a fraud yet again while in Hickman. Perhaps his ruse had reached the point of being a full blown delusion by this point, and he could not be convinced by anyone that he was not a real doctor; perhaps by this point, rather than prison, Armstrong required intensive therapy at one of the nation’s fine mental institutions.
   
In September of 1916, he was charged with six offenses. On one count of practicing medicine without a license, he was tried by jury and fined $50. On one count of “violating local option law” (dispersing alcohol or liquor illegally—he most likely did so in the name of “medical treatment”), he was tried by jury and fined $60. On a second count of practicing medicine without a license he was found not guilty. The other three cases were continued. (33) In May, 1917, he was found not guilty of a third count of practicing medicine without license, and the other two cases were continued. (34) The results of these final two counts were not located.

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Without being privy to the specific court notes to each case, it is interesting that he would be found guilty of practicing medicine without a license once, and then found not guilty on the same offense twice after that. The only explanation seems to be that he sufficiently argued that whatever practices he engaged in in those two cases did not meet the criteria for “practicing medicine”, or else claimed that he gave unsolicited advice that was not meant to be medical orders in nature. Regardless, the first conviction of practicing medicine without a license sufficiently proves the assertion by those in Oklahoma that claimed he did not have a medical license, and therefore proves he was not a true medical physician.

Unlike Albert Armstrong in Oklahoma, “George” Armstrong was able to stay off-the-radar more often than not in Kentucky. The only other newspaper mention of him found was an announcement of his daughter Beatrice’s marriage to a George Bradberry in Union City, Kentucky. (35)

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By 1930, “George B” Armstrong, still posing as a medical doctor, is found residing in Memphis, Tennessee with his wife Minnie (36). Whether he chose to relocate to Memphis or was run out of Hickman when the people there grew tired of his subterfuge is not clear. His daughter Beatrice married a second time that same year in Memphis to a Clarence Pleasant, but that is the only other located record of Armstrong or his family during that time.

(37)

Apparently assuming either the statute of limitations on his offenses in 1911 and earlier had run out, or simply believing that no one was looking for him any long, Armstrong reverted back to using the first name Albert by 1940, where he is found to still be living in Memphis and steadfastly clinging to his delusion of being a medical doctor. (37) Memphis newspapers during this time period have not been digitized, so it is not known at this time to what extent Armstrong continued to trick others into believing he was an actual doctor, or if he was ever held accountable there for continuing to practice medicine without a license.

(38)

In one of Karma’s greatest failures, Albert B. Armstrong lived out his days in apparent peace, and died in Memphis on October 7th, 1948. He is buried there at Forest Hill Cemetery Midtown, under the false title of “Dr.” (38), and an online record of his burial indicates his stone even bestows him the nickname “Doc”. (39) And his official death certificate even reflects the lie that he stretched for nearly 50 years, bestowing upon him the unearned and undeserved title of "Dr." (38) But this sorry excuse for a human being was no doctor. He was never anything but a fraud and a common criminal, and he should forever be remembered as such.

This is a man who stole the lives of two young women, who could today have had a number of descendants between them. My own grandfather, who was quite close with his grandfather Andy Barnett and also knew his sister Amanda Barnett Roberts, likely would have known Louvica as well. He could have told me about her, had stories of who and how she was, and we would have pictures of her to hang on our walls.

But instead, we’ve been left with nothing but the knowledge that this lowlife ended her life and never paid the consequences for it. But we will continue to honor and remember Louvica and the life she lived and should have continued to live. Her handmade headstone, with her name written by a finger in cement, sunk into the ground at Davenport Cemetery several years ago. While visible through the 90s, by 2012 it could not be found.



On October 21st, 2016, cemetery caretaker and local historian, after seeing a picture of Louvica’s stone taken in the 90s, took it upon himself to locate the lost stone. And so after going to the plot purchased by her husband Richard Cunningham, he pushed his shovel into the ground until it hit something solid. And so her stone was found four inches below the ground and brought back to light. Various descendants of Louvica’s siblings are now working together to restore and reupholster her stone to prevent it from becoming lost again. This post will be updated when that project has been completed.

Until then, I encourage anyone who comes across this article and has the time to pay respects to the three women whose deaths were tied this quack Armstrong, two directly at his hands and one by his soulless promise of a cure. Be glad that your own people did not cross paths with this pathetic excuse for a human being, and be sure to honor all those innocent souls whose lives were stolen by the foulest of our kind, the murderers like Albert B. Armstrong.


Bibliography
1. "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M3L2-X63 : 22 January 2015), Albert B Armstrong, Justice Precinct 3, Dallas, Texas, United States; citing sheet 16A, family 283, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,241,626.
4. "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:ML77-M73 : 29 October 2015), Albert Armstrong, Shawnee Ward 4, Pottawatomie, Oklahoma, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 224, sheet 2B, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,375,284.
5. The New Era (Davenport, Okla.), Vol. 1, No. 39, Ed. 1, Thursday, October 21, 1909. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
6. The Chandler Tribune. (Chandler, Okla.), Vol. 9, No. 34, Ed. 1, October 22, 1909. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
7. The New Era (Davenport, Okla.), Vol. 1, No. 40, Ed. 1, Thursday, October 28, 1909. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
8. Carney Enterprise. (Carney, Okla.), Vol. 9, No. 16, Ed. 1, Friday, November 12, 1909. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
9. The Chandler Tribune (Chandler, Okla.), Vol. 10, No. 1, Ed. 1, April 15, 1910. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
10. Cushing Independent. (Cushing, Okla.), Vol. 9, No. 19, Ed. 1, April 7, 1910. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
11. The New Era (Davenport, Okla.), Vol. 2, No. 45, Ed. 1, December 1, 1910. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
12. The New Era (Davenport, Okla.), Vol. 2, No. 15, Ed. 1, May 5, 1910. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
13. Photograph from the Find A Grave Memorial of Carrie Berry, Memorial # 7279112, created 21 Mar 2003 by contributor Angie (#46507705). Picture posted 28 Nov 2010, taken by contributor ancestryhunter2 (#46949759). http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7279112
14. Carney Enterprise. (Carney, Okla.), Vol. 9, No. 43, Ed. 1, Friday, May 20, 1910. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
15. The New Era (Davenport, Okla.), Vol. 2, No. 19, Ed. 1, Thursday, June 2, 1910. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
16. The Chandler Tribune (Chandler, Okla.), Vol. 10, No. 10, Ed. 1, Friday, June 10, 1910. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
17. The Chandler Tribune (Chandler, Okla.), Vol. 11, No. 5, Ed. 1, Friday, April 7, 1911. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
18. The Shawnee Daily Herald. (Shawnee, Okla.), Vol. 15, No. 152, Ed. 1, February 2, 1911. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
19. The New Era. (Davenport, Okla.), Vol. 3, No. 2, Ed. 1, February 2, 1911. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
20. Photograph from the Find A Grave Memorial of Anna Evelyn Blair Mann, Memorial # 17099437, created 20 Dec 2006 by contributor OkieBran (#46530611). Picture posted 21 Dec 2006, taken by contributor OkieBran (#46530611). http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=17099438
21. The Altus Times. (Altus, Okla.), Vol. 9, No. 4, Ed. 1, Thursday, February 2, 1911. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
22. The Blair Progress (Blair, Okla.), Vol. 7, No. 36, Ed. 1, Thursday, February 2, 1911. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
23. Hollis Tribune (Hollis, Okla.), Vol. 1, No. 25, Ed. 1, Friday, February 3, 1911. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
24. The Chandler Tribune (Chandler, Okla.), Vol. 10, No. 49, Ed. 1, Friday, March 3, 1911. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
25. The New Era. (Davenport, Okla.), Vol. 3, No. 7, Ed. 1, Thursday, March 9, 1911. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
26. The New Era (Davenport, Okla.), Vol. 3, No. 8, Ed. 1, Thursday, March 16, 1911. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
27. The Bryan Daily Eagle and Pilot (Bryan, Tex.), Vol. 16, No. 164, Ed. 1, Friday, June 16, 1911. Accessed through the University of North Texas' Portal to Texas History: https://texashistory.unt.edu/
28. The New Era (Davenport, Okla.), Vol. 3, No. 27, Ed. 1, Thursday, June 22, 1911. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
29. The New Era. (Davenport, Okla.), Vol. 3, No. 36, Ed. 1, August 24, 1911. Accessed through the Oklahoma History Society's Gateway to Oklahoma: http://gateway.okhistory.org/.
30. The Hickman Courier (Hickman, Kent.), Page 5, Ed. 1, 28 Mar 1912. Accessed through Newspapers.com, owned by Ancestry.com.
31. The Hickman Courier (Hickman, Kent.), Page 16, Ed. 1, 23 May 1912. Accessed through Newspapers.com, owned by Ancestry.com.
32. "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MHL8-9QP : 14 December 2015), Minnie Armstrong in household of George Armstrong, Hickman, Fulton, Kentucky, United States; citing sheet 8B, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,820,570.
33. The Hickman Courier (Hickman, Kent.), Page 4, Ed. 1, 21 Sep 1916. Accessed through Newspapers.com, owned by Ancestry.com.
34. The Hickman Courier (Hickman, Kent.), Page 8, Ed. 1, 3 May 1917. Accessed through Newspapers.com, owned by Ancestry.com.
35. The Hickman Courier (Hickman, Kent.), Page 9, Ed. 1, 4 Mar 1915. Accessed through Newspapers.com, owned by Ancestry.com.
36. "United States Census, 1930", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:SP7Q-3DH : 8 December 2015), George B Armstrong, 1930.
37. "United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K4CC-W8N : accessed 29 October 2016), Minnie Armstrong in household of Albert Armstrong, Ward 25, Memphis, Civil District 2, Shelby, Tennessee, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 98-163, sheet 7A, family 163, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 3965.
38. "Tennessee Death Records, 1914-1955," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NSNK-PKZ : 25 May 2014), Albert Armstrong, 07 Oct 1948; citing Forest Hill Cemetery, Memphis, Shelby, Tennessee, cn 22860, State Library and Archives, Nashville; FHL microfilm 2,137,402.
39. Find A Grave memorial #74022333. Created 27 Jul 2011 by contributor Ann Lindsey (#46801569). http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=74022333

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Where Is Robert Eversole? – His Life, His Family, and His Resting Place

I.                    Robert’s Mother & His Early Life

Robert E. Eversole was born March 18th, 1858, based on his birth date written into his personal bible. He was born in Perry County, Kentucky to Joseph Eversole and Lucy Huff. Joseph was around 62 years of age when Robert was born, and he appears to have died when Robert was a small child, likely in the early 1860s. He was the last of Joseph’s nine known children.

Robert’s young childhood appears to have been spent in and around Perry County, Kentucky. It is unclear how much contact he had with his half-siblings by his father’s first marriage, the youngest of whom was 18 years Robert’s senior, but it would appear their contact may have been limited depending on how they view their father’s second wife. After Joseph died, Lucy was left to provide for Robert and her two other children, John and Sarah, who went by Sally. This was likely difficult due to Lucy likely being considered of low status.


Photo of Hazard, Kentucky, the capital of Perry County today. Courtesy of Pinterest.

Lucy’s life is difficult to piece together from the beginning. She appears to have been born out of wedlock. Her mother was certainly Hannah Bowling, daughter of the well-known Reverend Jesse Bowling of Breathitt County, Kentucky. There is ample proof of this relationship. Lucy is listed in the Nelson Huff Journal, where he recorded information on the family history; Nelson was a grandson of John Huff, son of Leonard and Hannah. There were no other Huff families in that region of Kentucky except that of Hannah Bowling and Leonard Huff, and she was too old to be a daughter of one of their sons. Her daughter Sally’s Civil War Widow’s Pension application stating her mother’s name was “Lucy Bolin” and her ‘people’ were Bolins, Bolin being a variation of the name Bowling. In 1841, the heirs of Hannah Huff sold the last of their mother’s property to Joseph Eversole, who would become Lucy’s husband. And finally, Lucy can often be found referred to in various family histories as Lucy Huff Bolin.


Pages from the notebook of Nelson Huff. Courtesy of Carolyn Clouse Flynn. Lucy is mentioned on the first of these two pages.

Hannah Bowling married Leonard Huff before 1809. The Nelson Huff family notebook, which tends to be cited as the earliest authoritative source on the family indicates that Leonard died in October of 1824; other family genealogies specify October 20th, 1824, but with no citation for the precise date. This date would not have been recorded until decades after Leonard’s death (Nelson was born in 1887), so it is possible the year was off to a degree. A daughter who is believed to have been legitimate, Sarah Huff, who buried Justice Bowling, was supposedly born approximately 1825. So it is possible either Hannah was pregnant with Sarah when Leonard died, or Leonard died shortly after Sarah’s birth. Regardless, Leonard was clearly deceased by March 12th, 1825 when Abel Pennington, who was Hannah’s brother-in-law (married to Hannah’s sister Elizabeth Bowling) and a cousin of Hannah’s mother Mary Pennington, sold 20 acres in Perry County, Kentucky to Hannah Huff and the infant heirs of Leonard Huff. These heirs were listed as: Elizabeth, John, Daniel, Nancy, Sarah, and Rachael. 

Courtesy of Carolyn Clouse Flynn

The above deed states that Hannah could live on the property until she died or remarried. According to Bowling and Huff family records, Hannah died July 22nd, 1837. The 20 acres Abel Pennington had sold to Hannah and an additional 50 acres were sold to Joseph Eversole on October 23rd, 1841. Hannah is not mentioned, indicating that she was indeed deceased by this time, and the sellers were listed as John, Elizabeth [Adams], Rachel [Couch], Daniel, Sarah [Boling], and Nancy Huff. As previously mentioned, this Joseph Eversole would go on to marry Lucy Huff, Hannah’s daughter, who is not mentioned in this record.

Courtesy of Carolyn Clouse Flynn

Outside these relatively established confines of apparent fact, we begin to wade into murky guesswork. Lucy’s age has never been effectively established. There are three records that give her age, and all three are different. The 1850 Census states she is 21, indicating a year of birth of about 1829. Her marriage to Joseph Eversole states her age was 22, indicating a year of birth of 1831. The 1860 Census states she is 27, indicating her year of birth was 1833. I cannot say which is most accurate, but I am most inclined to lean toward her age given in the marriage record, as she would have been present when that was recorded. It is possible she did not answer the questions of the census-taker in 1850 or 1860, and so her husbands could have had her age wrong. In my records, I have her approximate year of birth as 1831.

Regardless which of those three approximations is correct, it is clear from her mother’s and siblings’ purchase of Abel Pennington’s 20 acres in 1825 that Lucy was born several years after the death of Leonard Huff, and therefore he could not have been her biological father. Interestingly, numerous family histories of the Bowling family name a second husband for Hannah Bowling. The 1953 “History of Perry County, Kentucky” by the Hazard Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution appears to be the main source cited by Bowling family members for this second husband. According to these sources, Hannah, daughter of Reverend Jesse Bowling, married first a “Huff”, and second a “Nelse Guy”. I have alternately seen this man listed as “Nelson Gay”. As there actually was a large Gay family living in Clay County, Kentucky during this time, I presume that family to be the one referred to.

There is no record of this marriage having occurred. No court, land, marriage, or bible records formally indicate that Hannah Bowling Huff married a second time. However, this supposed marriage ending up in family histories could be for a couple of reasons. One, a Nelson Gay did actually marry a Hannah, and she was a niece of Hannah Bowling Huff. On November 20th, 1835 in Clay County, Kentucky, Nelson Gay married Hannah Barger, daughter of Abraham Barger and Mary Bowling, sister of Hannah Bowling Huff. Perhaps their names and relations led to confusion.

Or could it be possible that Nelson Gay is the biological father of Lucy Huff, daughter of Hannah Bowling Huff? Nelson and Hannah may have lived together, or they could have even had a common-law marriage. It’s unknown if the two even knew each other. But it is possible that the reason Nelson Gay’s name is tied to Hannah Bowling Huff’s is because the family was aware that he was the father of Hannah’s illegitimate child. I cannot base that theory on any sort of hard evidence. But Nelson was born about 1812, so he would have been old enough to have a love-child by 1831, or even in 1829. He did not marry until 1835. It is possible that during a time in his young adulthood before he married Hannah Barger he had a romantic relationship with Hannah Bowling Huff. It’s even possible that he met Hannah’s niece, Hannah Barger, because of this relationship.

There really is no documentation to support such a scenario, but it does appear feasible when one considers the Bowling descendants who tied Nelson to Hannah Bowling Huff. Nelson did not die until 1899, and the Perry County, Kentucky history book was published in 1953. There were likely Bowling family members who were involved in the writing of that book who knew Nelson Guy personally. And they may have been aware of his previous relationship with Hannah Bowling Huff. Many people, especially in the older days, did not like to talk about illegitimate children and intimate relationships between unmarried persons. So in saying that Hannah and Nelson were married, in the minds of those people, it may have been covering what they considered to be a sticky area of their family histories.




Regardless of who Lucy’s father was she was a child born out of wedlock to a mother who would die when she was a young child. Whether it was in 1837 as Bowling records state, or as late as shortly before the 1841 sale of Hannah’s land, Lucy was left parentless at a young age. It is not known who took her in or who raised her. She was likely raised by either some of her Huff half-siblings, or by Bowling/Bolin/Boling relatives of her mother. In many places, she would have been considered low-class due to her status as a bastard, but it would appear she at least maintained ties with her mother’s Bolin relatives.

Around 1848-49, Lucy married a Joseph Braughton. No marriage record has been located, so it is unclear exactly when and where this marriage occurred. By 1850, Lucy was living in Knox County, Kentucky with Joseph and a one year old son, Anderson Braughton. I have found nothing on Joseph Braughton, nor anything on what became of Lucy’s child with him. On April 12th, 1853 in Clay County, Kentucky, Joseph was granted a divorce from Lucy. Lucy did not appear for the hearing. Six months later, Lucy had remarried to Joseph Eversole, “Sr.”, as he was referred to on the marriage record. Lucy gave her name as her previous married one, Lucy Braughton.

It is not known when Joseph’s first wife, Henrietta Oliver, died, so we don’t know how long after her death that he remarried. We also don’t know how Joseph’s children (ranging from ages 12 to 30 in 1853) felt about this remarriage. Lucy was now not only a woman born out of wedlock, but she was also a divorced woman, which would give even more people an excuse in their eyes to view her as lower-class. What relationship Lucy had with these step-children is as unknown to us as their relationship with Lucy’s children, their half-siblings.

Kentucky began recording births in this part of the state in the 1850s, and the birth registers for John and Sarah Eversole (one has not been found for Robert) are where we gleam what Lucy consider to be her maiden name: Lucy Huff. She is listed as Lucy Huff on both records, though as previously stated her daughter gave her maiden name as Lucy Bolin.

By 1870, Lucy’s three known children are living in separate counties, and Lucy herself is nowhere to be found in Census records. In fact, she doesn’t appear in any located records after the 1860 Census. She was alive until about 1885 based on her daughter Sally’s Widow’s Pension Application. Sally says Lucy moved with her and her brothers to Arkansas (“I came to Newton County when I was 21. My brothers and mother all came together”), and “I was about 29 years old when mother died”. Whether Lucy remarried or even had other children after Joseph’s death, or any other information about her between 1860 and 1885, is a complete mystery.

John and Sally Eversole are found in the 1870 Census in Perry County, living with the family of William Bowling and his wife, Elizabeth Eversole. In family genealogies, William is sometimes referred to as “Bluehead” or “Bluehead Willie”, and Elizabeth is sometimes called “Mary Elizabeth Rachel”. William was the son of Justice Bowling, who was a brother of Hannah Bowling Huff, and therefore was a first cousin of Lucy. Elizabeth was the daughter of Woolery Eversole, a brother of Joseph Eversole, and therefore was a first cousin of Sally and John. Robert is listed in the 1870 Census Owsley County, Kentucky, living with a man named Jefferson Baker and his family. No familial relationship with Mr. Baker has been identified, and it is unclear how long or often Robert stayed with the Bakers.

There are some stories about Robert that have been passed down in the family that relate to his residences in his boyhood. These stories were passed down through the line of Polly Eversole Manus, Robert’s daughter, and told to me by Polly’s great grandson, Keith Whittington. The objects of Robert's pranks were an aunt and uncle, according to the stories. Who these may have been is unclear. It also could have been Mr. Baker, who Robert lived with in 1870, or "Bluehead Willie" Bolin, who his siblings are shown residing with at that tie. 

The stories illustrate Robert as a big prankster in his youth, always making jokes and playing tricks. One of the relatives he stayed with (the "uncle") was a man with a large handlebar mustache, and Robert seemed to like to give this man in particular a hard time. One story goes that the family kept their windows open as they slept. The chickens would nest on the window sills, and leave large amounts of droppings behind. One day, Robert gathered some of the freshest droppings and put them on his uncle's mustache as he was sleeping. He then took a feather and tickled the man's face, who in his sleep would reach up to quell the tickling and inadvertently rub the feces all over his mustache. Robert ran and hid to watch his uncle's reaction. He woke up cursing the chickens, but eventually realized he'd been Robert's victim. Apparently, Robert had to hide out in the forest for two or three days while his uncle calmed down.

The next story is that the family's house was lined with a picket fence with a gate in the middle. The cows would roam around the yard and sometimes leave "pies" behind. A particularly "pie" became situated near the gate, and Robert saw an opportunity to play a joke. So he tied a string between the gate posts. His uncle was returning from a town meeting and was wearing a nice white shirt, as the story goes. He went through the gate, tripped over Robert's string, and land right on the "cow patty".  

His "aunt" would tell him he "had to sleep sometime", and eventually she got him back. While he was sleeping, she tied him down to the bed rack, and then "whooped" him thoroughly. Whether or not this actually deterred Robert from pulling further pranks is not clear. Polly Eversole Manus, who relayed these stories to Keith, was apparently a bit of a joker herself. Keith says that she would often play little jokes like if she could see your "crack" between your shirt and pants, she would drop an icecube down there to teach you a lesson. It's clear she came by her playful ways honestly. 

Little is known Robert’s childhood and young adulthood. He, his siblings, and his mother are all missing from the 1880 Census, though Sally’s Pension Application has the family still living in or in the vicinity of Perry County up until about 1877. Sally says she and her mother and brothers came to Newton County, Arkansas when she was 21 years old. Though it’s clear that late in life she was not sure how old she was (she did not know her precise year of birth and was unable to obtain a record of it), so this year of 1877 could be plus or minus a year or two.

II.                  To Arkansas – Robert’s Residences, In-Laws, & Family

Based on Sally’s testimony and Robert’s homestead application (see below), it is presumed that by 1880, when the family is absent from the census, that they are indeed in Newton or Johnson County, likely in a very rural and remote area. People in these parts enjoyed their isolation and privacy. They may have been too far out in the hills for the census taker to bother coming to see them, or they may not have ventured down to meet him when he came to their area.

This is believed to be a photo of a young Robert Eversole. It has been passed down in the Manus-Eversole family, and there is a resemblance. It has not been confirmed as a photo of Robert. Courtesy of Darla Zegert.

Whether they settled in Newton County or Johnson County after their arrival in Arkansas is unclear, but there are a couple of possibilities. One would be that Sally mistakenly reported that they first settled in Newton County, when really it was Johnson County; she would spend virtually all her adult life travelling between Newton, Johnson, and Madison counties, but she likely did not pay much mind to which county she was actually in at a given time. Another could be that the siblings and their mother may have come together, but not necessarily lived together. This likely would have been the case if Lucy had remarried, which is certainly possible given that she would have been only about 30 years old when she was widowed. Sally may have stayed with her mother or other relatives, or found another place to live in Newton County, while Robert settled in Johnson County. Or perhaps they did settle in Newton County initially, and then moved to Johnson County before finally moving back to Newton County in 1881.

It is not known exactly where in Newton or Johnson counties the family settled initially, but these Kentucky hill folk were the clannish type, and tended to end up near their kin and neighbors that came with or before them from Kentucky to Arkansas. Many people of the common surnames in their part of Kentucky (Bolin, Combs, Evans, Eversole, Holland, Hensley, and many more) began settling in this area around the same time as them. They seem primarily relegated to an area around what is today parts of three counties: the southwestern area of Newton County, the southeastern area of Madison County, and the northwestern area of Johnson County. If they settled in Newton County, it was likely in the vicinity of Fallsville or Capark, which are just over the border from Red Star in Madison County. When Robert states he lived in Johnson County prior to December, 1882, it was likely in the vicinity of between Oark and Spoke Plant (in southern Madison County).

Robert Eversole made his pre-emption filing for 120 acres under the Homestead Act of 1862 on December 7th, 1882. According to the National Archives website, the Homestead Act of 1862 required the claimant to “file an application and lay claim to 160 acres of surveyed Government land. For the next 5 years, the homesteader had to live on the land and improve it by building a 12-by-14 dwelling and growing crops. After 5 years, the homesteader could file for his patent (or deed of title) by submitting proof of residency and the required improvements to a local land office.” (https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/homestead-act/)

He formally filed for his patent on March 27th, 1889. He reported having lived in Johnson County prior to the filing, where he worked as a farmer. He reported that 150 of 160 acres of this land was timber land, primarily oak, and states he moved onto this homestead on or about April 1st, 1881. He further reports: “I established my residence off the homestead by mistake and did not discover my error until I had my lines run out in March, 1888. I moved on the homestead as soon as I discovered my mistake.” He reports that for the past six years he has voted at Boston Township in Newton County. The town he would have voted in was most likely Fallsville, which is in Boston Township; its Post Office was active from 1883-1955. He most likely also got his mail at Fallsville until a Post Office was established at Capark (sometimes spelled Kapark) in 1886. The Post Office at Capark closed in 1902. (http://genealogytrails.com/ark/newton/postoffices.html)

This is from the Bureau of Land Management website. The darkest orange square was the patented homestead of Robert Eversole. The red dot marks the approximate spot where Jesse Radford's home was.

Robert goes on to report that he left his homestead only twice from 1881 to 1889. In the fall of 1884 he left for two months to pick cotton, and again in the fall of 1885 to pick cotton for one-and-a-half months. He reports that only his wife and one child (Elige, born March 14th, 1888) reside with him. He states that he built his current residence in 1887, and that it measured 16 x 18 feet with a stone chimney. He had also built a smokehouse and a stable. He reported owning three head of cattle, ten hogs, and six sheep. He had planted corn and oats for seven seasons. His Notice for Publication was printed in the Republican Echo based at Jasper, Newton County, Arkansas. He named as witnesses Joseph W. Roberson, T. D. Marshall, and John Pruitt of Capark, and John Estep of Fallsville. He was also named a witness for Joseph W. Roberson’s claim, and was listed to be “of Capark”. Robert’s application for patent was granted, and issued to him June 28th, 1890 by President Benjamin Harrison.

Robert Eversole's patent notice published in the newspaper.

Within a few years of the Eversoles settling in Arkansas, another family that they would ally themselves with closely moved to the same region. The family of Jesse Radford and his wife, Grace Holland, came to Arkansas in May, 1881 from Leslie County, Kentucky. The Radfords were from the same region of Kentucky, having lived primarily in Clay County. They brought with them ten children from their marriage, plus at least four others sired by Jesse with a niece of his wife.

On March 5th, 1883, Jesse Radford made a pre-emption filing for his own 160 acres under the Homestead Act of 1862, just as Robert Eversole had four months prior. He filed his final patent application on January 11th, 1890. Radford’s application stated that prior to this filing he had resided in Kentucky as a farmer. He described his land as originally containing 150 acres of timber; he had cleared 55 of these acres by the time of his application. He states that at the time he moved onto the land, it was occupied by A. J. Burns, and that he purchased the rights to the claim from him. Burns was Andrew Jackson Burns, who is buried at the Radford-Freewill Cemetery that Jesse owned. One of Jesse’s daughters later married a son of A. J. Burns.

Jesse reports that he has lived on his homestead continuously since 1881 other than three weeks-long excursions when he “went south to pick cotton”, and has voted at Boston during that time. He said he’d lived there with his wife (which would really be wives, as he was widowed and remarried during this timeframe) and 15 children. He built his current 18 x 20 feet home in 1884, and owned 13 head of cattle, 20 hogs, 17 sheep, and 2 horses. He grew corn and wheat on his farm, and supplemented his income in the fall by picking cotton in Johnson County for “[Don?] Hogan, Mr. Burns, Mr. Marion, Mr. [Dugal?], and [Boss Spencer?]”. His Notice for Publication was published in the St. Paul Republican (St. Paul, AR), and he named as witnesses J. E. Reavis, J. H. Sands, Albert Davidson, and Jason Davidson, all of Boston, AR. His patent application was granted to him on August 4th, 1890.

Jesse Radford's patent notice published in the newspaper.

The locations of Robert Eversole’s and Jesse Radford’s homesteads were approximately 3.15 miles apart geographically. Their homes would have been about that far apart in a straight path from one to the other. But depending on what roads they utilized at the time, their distance of travel between their homes was likely longer, perhaps 5-6 miles apart by road. The people residing at Robert’s homestead likely consisted only of himself, possibly his elusive brother John, and most likely his mother Lucy, his sister Sally, and Sally’s son (bore out of wedlock by a man named Jim Bailey), William Garrett Eversole, who was born March 26th, 1883. He was probably born on Robert’s homestead.

From MyGenealogyHound.com. Jesse's homestead was southeast of Boston.

At this time, Jesse’s post office was most at Boston (in Madison County—not to be confused with Boston Township in Newton County), which was northwest of his homestead. Boston’s post office was established in 1880 and closed in 1974 (http://genealogytrails.com/ark/madison/postoffices.html). His post office switched to Red Star when it was established in 1902 (it closed in 1967).  As mentioned previously, Robert’s post office at this time was at Capark. According to a 1950 article in The Informer (Jasper, AR), the school was right next to the cemetery and by that time, the school was falling apart (Source: Linda Pruitt Family Tree, http://www.genealogy.com/ftm/p/r/u/Linda-Pruitt/WEBSITE-0001/UHP-0002.html). Today, the cemetery is all that remains of the town..

From the Newton County Historical Society website. Note the locations of Capark and Fallsville. Robert's homestead was directly between them.

While Robert’s post office was at Capark, his children most likely attended school at Valley Grove, which was south of them but north of Fallsville, due east from the Radford-Freewill Cemetery in Madison County. We have a photograph of Robert with two men, one of whom was his wife’s cousin and would later marry the sister of Robert’s daughter Nancy’s husband, William Roberts. The Roberts family also lived in the vicinity of this school. William’s brother, Elijah Roberts, was murdered near the school in 1921. This information, including the school’s approximate location (which has yet to be conclusively determined) comes from Joy Russell. I have recreated a map that she sent me outlining the area where Valley Grove would have been in relation to Robert’s and Jesse’s homesteads.

The back of this photo is labelled as Rich Combs on the left, Robert Eversole in the center, and William Roberts on the right. William married Amanda Barnett, whose brother Andrew married Robert's daughter Nancy Eversole. William's brother Elijah was murdered at Valley Grove in 1921. Original in possession of Nathan Vaughan Marks.

One will find that most of the locales associated with these families and in this area barely exist now. Red Star, Capark, Dutton, Fallsville, Catalpa, Spoke Plant, Valley Grove, and others were all gathering spots (usually with a school and/or church and sometimes an accompanying cemetery, and sometimes a nearby store, but not usually enough to qualify them as “towns”) that were well known to these folk, but you’d be hard put to find many people today that know a lot about them outside of those who still live there. Some information on these locals can be gleamed at the Shiloh Museum in Springdale, where their helpful library staff will be glad to assist anyone wanting to learn more about these fascinating old villages.

Their close proximity indicates the neighbors knew each other well and likely banded together for various activities, chores, and any community gatherings. The two families certainly became well-acquainted enough for them to intermarry twice. On July 28th, 1886 Robert Eversole united in marriage to Eliza Radford, the third eldest (and likely eldest living) child of Jesse Radford and Grace Holland. They could have married in Madison County or Newton County; no marriage record has been found. The date comes from Robert’s bible.

Grace Holland, Eliza’s mother and Jesse’s wife, died in late 1886 at their home in Madison County. There are conflicting dates from Jesse and the various witnesses of Grace’s death who gave testimony in his pension application. It appears she died on or about December 2nd, 1886. She was almost certainly buried in what is today the Radford-Freewill Cemetery. There is no legible stone marking her grave; however, there are dozens of unmarked fieldstones marking gravesites around the cemetery. What came to be known as the Radford-Freewill Cemetery (or sometimes just Radford Cemetery or Freewill Cemetery) started being used around this time. The earliest legible marked stone today is dated 1890. Information on the cemetery has always stated that it stands on Jesse Radford’s homestead. (See Madison County Cemeteries, Volume IV by the Madison County Genealogical and Historical Society and numerous cemetery websites, family trees, and family history publications.)

Jesse's patented homestead are the four dark orange boxes, per the Bureau of Land Management website. The red dot is where his house was, according to his granddaughter Joyce Turner, and the cemetery is the blue dot. Both of those locations were part of the Davdison patent, indicating that Jesse likely purchased those plots from Davidson.

However, in viewing a map one will see that the cemetery actually lies just outside Jesse Radford’s claim. Additionally, if part of Jesse’s claim had been dedicated to a cemetery when he submitted the application for his patent in 1890, the cemetery would have been mentioned on the application when he described how his 160 acres were being put to use. The northernmost part of Jesse’s homestead was the Southwest ¼ of the Northwest ¼ of Section 3, Township 13. However, the cemetery lies in the Southeast ¼ of the Northwest ¼ in the same section and township. That section is part of the homestead of James A. Davidson, who was likely a relative of the two Davidsons that Jesse appointed witnesses to his homestead application. There are also at least two Davidsons buried in the cemetery.

The most likely explanation for this is that James Davidson dedicated that portion of his homestead to being a cemetery. Jesse may have then purchased that section from Davidson later on, or he may not have. The name Radford being associated with it could be due to Jesse’s close proximity to the cemetery (his home was less than a mile from it), or due to there being several Radfords buried there. Grace Holland Radford may have even been the very first burial there, and that could also have played a factor in the cemetery being named after the family. Support for the theory that Jesse bought the portion of land where the cemetery lies from Mr. Davidson is supported by the testimony of Jesse's granddaughter, Joyce Turner, who insists that Jesse's house was before the fork in the road shown on the map above; that land she indicates was also part of Mr. Davidson's patent. All who could have answered this question have passed on, so we are left only to theorize.

Just four months after Grace’s death, Jesse married Robert’s sister, Sally Eversole. They married March 3rd, 1887 in Madison County according to their pension application. The two would go on to have four children that to Robert and Eliza’s children would be both first cousins (as children of Sally) and aunts and uncles (as children of Jesse).

Sarah "Sally" Eversole Radford. Courtesy of Joyce Turner.

Meanwhile, Robert and Eliza began a family of their own. Their children were: Elige (called “Lige), born March 14th, 1888; Joseph (called “Joe”), born January 9th, 1890; Jesse (called “Jess”), born March 3rd, 1892; Nancy, born September 12th, 1894; Mary (called “Polly”), born March 22nd, 1897; and Dill, born July 28th, 1900. It is assumed all these children were born on their father’s homestead near Capark, or possibly on their grandfather Jesse’s homestead near Red Star.


These photos belonged to Nancy Eversole Barnett. They are not labelled, but appear to have been taken in Arkansas in the early 1900s. They are brief glimpses into the lives of the people who lived in this part of the country. Originals in possession of Nathan Vaughan Marks.

The Eversoles’ Radford kin almost certainly attended the Freewill School, which was just down the road from Jesse’s homestead and may have actually been on Jesse’s homestead, or else just outside of it. Where the Eversole children went to school during this time is unclear. They likely went to school at either Capark or Fallsville, or they may have been another school in between. Regardless, by 1900 the Census shows the family still on their homestead in Boston Township, Newton County, Arkansas. We have little information on Robert during this time, but it is presumed that he continued in farming and logging, while likely picking cotton in the fall for supplemental income.

III.                To Oklahoma & Back

Exactly when and why Robert Eversole and his family sold their homestead, packed up and headed west to Oklahoma is not clear. It is known his son Jesse’s obituary that this occurred “around the time of [Oklahoma] statehood”, so they likely moved between 1906 and 1907. Several of their Radford relatives did the same, though not Jesse and Sally, and so did many of their neighbors and distant kin who had previously come from eastern Kentucky to Arkansas. These distant relatives and neighbors included members of other Eversole families, as well some from the Roberts, Combs, Newman, Bolin, Anglin, Evans, Bowers, and Holland families, and more. Several of Eliza’s siblings also made the move from Arkansas to Oklahoma, including Dillard Radford, Mahala “Halia” Radford Lewis, Eliga Radford, Syrus Radford, and Thomas Radford. Other than Halia, however, most of the Radfords made their way to Lincoln County after the Eversoles had already moved back.

Aunt Mahalia "Hallie" "Halia" Radford, daughter of Jesse Radford and sister of Eliza Eversole. Original in possession of Nathan Marks; the back of the picture names her and states "Buried at Davenport". 

This migration of families seems to have started in the early 1900s and continued into the 1930s and 40s. These people tended to settle in one of two areas primarily: modern-day Sequoyah County and the surrounding counties of Adair, Leflore, and Cherokee, which are geographically quite similar to where they had lived in Arkansas, and modern-day Lincoln County, which is hilly but not nearly as mountainous as where they’d come from. Their reasons were likely economic in nature, if they were struggling in Arkansas they might have wished to start over in a newer, cheaper state, or they may have simply been looking for a change.

Leaving around the time of Oklahoma statehood, it is not known where Robert and his family initially settled after from their Newton County homestead, but they were settled in at South Fox Township near the town of Davenport by 1910. Living with him and probably having moved with them was Eliza’s aforementioned sister, Halia Radford Lewis, and her young son. The census records Robert as a farmer and renter of his property. He and his family are scarcely mentioned in the Davenport newspapers.

Notice Davenport between Stroud and Chandler. This 1905 map comes from the blog of Doug Dawg at dougdawg.blogspot.com. 

Robert and the family did not stay long. In August, 1913, some of his sons (how many and which ones aren’t specified) were arrested and held in the county jail. The newspaper does not specify their crime in any issue I have scoured. A week after their arrest, according to The Stroud Democrat, twenty or so citizens of Davenport travelled to Stroud to provide an alibi for the boys in whatever they had been accused of committing. Their testimonies apparently proved reliable, and the boys appear to have been released.

Courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society's Gateway to Oklahoma History at okhistory.org.

What led up to this arrest and what else may have frustrated Robert about his new home up to that point is unknown. But it appears this incident was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, and The New Era (Davenport, OK) reported less than a month after the above arrest and release of his sons that Robert had “sold out” to his landlord and was returning to Arkansas. It isn’t clear if all his children came with him, or if some stayed in Oklahoma if they already had jobs they wanted to keep.
There were likely a multitude of factors that played a part in Robert’s return. Jesse Radford’s pension application indicates that by this time his health was in decline, so perhaps Robert moved closer to his old friend so that he, his wife, and their children could on hand to help if needed. Perhaps the family wasn’t earning as well of a living as they were in Arkansas. Or perhaps since his children were getting to be of the age to marry and start their own families, and he thought he’d like them to marry folks from back home in Arkansas. Whatever the motivation, the family all moved back to Arkansas and settled down on a 40 acre plot in northern Johnson County.

From Bureau of Land Management. Darkest orange square is the plot that Robert Eversole bought when he returned to Arkansas. It was originally part of the Samuel May Patent. The red dot is where Spoke Plant was. The blue dot is the location of Patterson Springs Church/School/Cemetery.

Back home in Arkansas, his children did indeed begin to grow up, marry, and head off to start their own families. It appears the older children moved back and forth between Arkansas and Oklahoma, most likely in employment-related endeavors. They would have been working as farmers and farm laborers, timber workers, and roughnecks.

Lige is still listed as a resident of Lincoln County, Oklahoma when he registers for the World War I draft in 1917, so he may not have accompanied his parents back to Arkansas, or he may have gone and come back. He reports that he is working as a farmer, and that he is helping to support his mother and father. He married his first wife, Stella Baker (whose family was from around Davenport and Stroud), near Stillwater, Oklahoma in 1920. They divorced soon after, and Lige returned to Johnson County, where he married Florence Blutha “Bluthey” Anglin in 1926; he listed his residence as Spoke Plant at that time.

Copy of a photo of Lige Eversole and his sister, Nancy Eversole. Courtesy of Susan Stallings.

They would later move to Texas where he worked as a laborer, before returning to Johnson County and residing near Patterson Springs for several years. Several infant children of his are buried at Patterson Springs Cemetery. The church by the cemetery was the church his parents attended, and if they were still in school when the family returned to Arkansas, then his youngest siblings would have attended school at Patterson Springs. (Don Pennington of the Johnson County Historical Society confirms there was a school at Patterson Springs, which was about 1.5 miles down the road from Robert Eversole’s farm.) The family eventually moved to Mississippi County, Arkansas, where Lige died February 9th, 1953. His family later moved to Arizona, where most of his descendants reside today.

On June 18th, 1994, Dr. Barbara Schneider, who is currently a research professor at Vanderbilt University and is a granddaughter of Dill Eversole, the youngest child of Robert Eversole and Eliza Radford, interviewed Nannie Anglin Eversole, the wife of Jesse Eversole, another son of Robert and Eliza. Nannie relayed numerous stories and anecdotes about the Eversoles, and Dr. Schneider transcribed the interview and sent it to me. I will include excerpts of what Nannie had to say about her Eversole in-laws.

Nannie: “I think Lij was the oldest, and then Joe.  Lij lived in Arkansas a lot, he came here a time or two and stayed a while.  But he and his first wife separated.   Some of his grandkids didn't know he had been married before.  Vanessa didn't know that.  Lij stayed with us after he and his first wife, Stell Baker separated.  You'uns probably knew Ez Baker there in Stroud, didn't you?  Well, Stell was his sister.  She and Lij didn't live together very long.  I don't know what their problem was.  'Course she had been married before and had two boys.  I don' t think I ever saw the boys, but I used to see Stell every once and a while.  After they separated, he married Blutha [Anglin], Mace [Anglin’s] daughter.  They were such little akin to us, I couldn't even tell you what it was.  Maybe fourth or fifth cousins.  But anyhow they lived near us.  Bluthy and Lij were just here and there a lot.  I couldn't tell you why they didn't stay in one place.  Lij was the nicest looking person.  … They had 3 sons, Wayne, Kellen, and Art, and one daughter.  Art Eversole was the father of that girl whose picture I showed you.  Audrey said she thought Lij's boys still lived in Arizona.”

As Nannie said, Joseph “Joe” Eversole was the next oldest. He registered for the WWI Draft in Johnson County in 1917 as a resident of that place, with his precinct/township listed as Hill, which was where his parents lived. He listed himself as a farmer working for himself, so he may have had his own farm by this time. He lists himself as supporting his wife, Maudie Nichols, who he married in Johnson County on February 11th, 1917. When he married her, he listed himself as a resident of Catalpa, which is a now non-existent locale east of Oark and southeast of Patterson Springs. When he registers for the draft, he lists himself as a resident of Fallsville, but that is in Newton County. Like his brother Lige did on his draft registration, he may have been listing his place of birth rather than his residence. Or else there may not have been clear boundaries of where Fallsville began and ended, so the general area southwest of there may have been referred to as Fallsville by some Johnson County locals even though it was in a different county.

Joe and Maudie Eversole. Original in possession of Nathan Vaughan Marks.

According to Nannie, Joe and Maudie separated and he then married to a woman named Hazel. No information on Hazel or when this marriage occurred has been found. Joe had four children by Maudie, and ended up in Kern County, California, where he worked as a crossing watchman for the Southern Pacific Railroad. He lived in California for 37 years and died there May 29th, 1975. Regarding Joe, Nannie said, “Joe Eversole lived in California the biggest part of the time.  He was married to Maudie Nichols there in Arkansas.  I don't know how many children they had.  He and she separated.  Then he married that lady I told you was Hazel, and they didn't have any children.  Joe had Ted, R.L., and Lilly and Juanita.  Lilly was the oldest child, and their daddy got custody of them.  As they got older, they lived with their mother.  The last I heard, Ted and R.L. were still out in California, and Audrey got a big long letter from Lilly about  two weeks ago.  Juanita lived in Arizona, I think.”

Next in the family was Jesse Eversole. According to his wife Nannie, they met when she was “12 or 13” (so about 1916-1917) but she saw him infrequently as he often alternated between Oklahoma and Arkansas. They likely met at their families’ shared church, Patterson Springs, whose member roster includes Nannie’s parents, Thomas and Mary Anglin. In 1917, he lists himself as a farm laborer for a John Anglin, and a resident of “Fallsville”, even though he was registered for Hill Township in Johnson County like Joe was. He does not report that he is supporting his parents or anyone else. He is not found in the 1920 Census, but was likely near Lincoln County, as Nannie reports he was living there when her family moved there when she was about 19 years old, so approximately 1923. Jess would go on to marry Nannie and have a large family. He died in Cushing, Oklahoma on June 15th, 1973.
Nancy Eversole Barnett and Jesse Eversole. Original in possession of Nathan Vaughan Marks.

Regarding Jesse, Nannie stated: “I was probably about 12 or 13 years old before I met Jess, because he was in Oklahoma a lot.  We came to Oklahoma in 1919, and I met him again.  We started dating and we got married. … When Jess and I got married in September, we bought out Dill and Opal's share of the crop, because Jess and Dill were farming together.  Jess stayed with Opal and Dill a while, and they farmed that year together.  After we bought their share, I don't remember where they went… We lived on Mr. Westover's place back in the 1930's when we had those droughts that were so bad that you couldn't raise anything.  One year we had just chopped cotton about half a day. … We were having a hard time.  Roosevelt started up the WPA and the CC camps.  Jess got to work for the WPA.  There was a garment factory in Chandler, and the women could work there.  They'd give these clothes to people who didn't have anything left.  We knew the caseworker over there, and every now and then, she'd bring me a bundle of clothes. We'd always butcher a big old fat hog and make a bunch of sausage.  We'd smoke our own meat, so we made it all right.  Whoever we rented from would always want Jess to work for them, if they ever had some fence that needed fixing or anything like that.  We always made it, I felt like, better than most people did.” She told a lot more stories about their lives together, but as this is a post focused on Robert, giving several long paragraphs to Jesse Eversole’s life will not add much to the narrative on his father.

Nancy Elizabeth Eversole, the first daughter in the family, married Andrew “Andy” Jackson Barnett on September 11th, 1914 in Soper, Choctaw County, Oklahoma. Andy’s family, like Nancy’s, were from Kentucky (Breathitt County), and then moved to Arkansas and later eastern Oklahoma before he spent his late childhood in and near Davenport, Oklahoma. Nancy and Andy must have met there, and they likely corresponded when the Eversoles moved back to Arkansas, and later decided to marry. Andy continued working around the Stroud area while Nancy stayed with her parents in Arkansas. They lived in Oklahoma City by 1919, when their daughter Leola Marie was born. They continued living in Oklahoma City and the surrounding area until their later years, when they eventually settled in Wapanucka, Johnston County, Oklahoma. Nancy died at their Wapanucka home on July 3rd, 1974.

Nancy Eversole and Andrew Barnett on their wedding day. Original in possession of Nathan Vaughan Marks.

Nancy Eversole Barnett and her daughter, Leola Marie Barnett, approximately 1920. Original in possession of Nathan Vaughan Marks.

Nannie said: “Nancy lived at Oklahoma City then, but I don't remember what year she got married to Andy Barnett.  She was married to Andy before we ever came to Oklahoma, because I remember that Andy was out here working somewhere and she stayed there in Arkansas with the folks.  I went home with Nancy to Grandma and Grandpa Robert's house and had dinner with her folks one Sunday. … Andy said Nancy and her mother didn't get along at all, that her mother didn't get along with anybody very well.  She and I made it pretty well because I guess I was the boss.  Nancy brought Grandma down to stay a while, and Nancy told me, "Now you have to let her do what she wants to, that's what she's used to at Polly's." 

Polly Eversole Manus on left, Eliza Radford Eversole in middle, Grady Manus on the right. The girl between Eliza and Grady is likely Opal. The child on Polly's lap would either be William or Ruby. Original in possession of Nathan Vaughan Marks.

Mary Eversole, who went by “Polly” and sometimes “Ollie”, was married to Grady Manus, most likely in Oklahoma. When applying for Social Security, she reported having been born in Jasper, Arkansas, which is in Newton County, several miles from Robert’s homestead. They may have had to go that far to see a doctor when Polly was born. They lived near her parents in Hill Township and purchased the family farm when Robert passed away. They’re later found in Hutchinson County, Texas in 1930 (where Lige is found the same year), and they eventually settled in Kilgore, Texas, which lies in both Gregg and Rusk counties. Eliza Radford Eversole appears to have primarily lived with Polly’s family after Robert’s death. Eliza died in Kilgore in 1945. Polly and Grady would later move to Bokchito in Bryan County, Oklahoma. She died there May 26th, 1981 and is buried in Boswell, Choctaw County, Oklahoma. Nannie had little to say about Polly; other than information on Polly’s children, all she said was, “Polly Manus used to come every summer to visit, but they never did live around close to us.“

Dill Ance Eversole was the youngest of the brood. In 1917, he registered for the draft at Bristow, Creek County, Oklahoma. He listed his residence as Stroud, but reported his employed to be his father, Robert Eversole, of “Spoke Plant, Madison County, Arkansas”. He is not located in the 1920 Census, but was likely in the Stroud area. He married Opal Mae Mathes on February 10th, 1923 in Lincoln County, Oklahoma. He died November 21st, 1978 in Iraan, Pecos County, Texas.

Dill Ance Eversole. Original in possession of Nathan Vaughan Marks.

Nannie gives an excellent timeline for Dill’s life: “Dill and us kids used to go to school together.  Dill was our little booger.  He was always doing something to pester us kids along the road.   He used to go out of his way to talk with us.  We used to have a lot of fun together.  Dill went to Sunday school with us. … Dill and Opal got married just before Jess and I did.  We all got to see each other a lot then.  Dill and Opal went to someplace in Kansas for a while, but I don't know what they worked at out there.  Anyhow, they were there 2 or 3 years before they came back to Stroud.  They lived at a little town called Key West near Stroud. … I don't know what year Dill and Opal went to Texas, but Ralph was born in Texas.  Now Zelma was born at Key West.  She's the same age as Eddie.  Ralph was about the same age as Helen, and Dill and Opal came back on vacation when Ralph and Helen were about 6 months old.  We had a good vacation, because the kids thought Uncle Dill was about it.  When Dill and Aunt Opal would come we'd have ice cream, and cook and have everything good.  … I don't remember what year Dill and Opal moved to Texas, but they lived in Kilgore or Longview or somewhere and worked for an oil company before they moved to that town [Iraan, Texas] where they lived so long. … Oh, he [Dill] would just do anything in the world to be funny, to make you laugh, and it sometimes seemed he would do anything to make you mad.  He would pester us and tease us about some old boy he knew we didn't like.  Then he'd always get us laughing before he'd go home.  He'd never leave us when he thought we were mad at him.  He was a monkey.”

The Eversole Boys, sons of Robert Eversole. The order appears to be Dill, Lige, Joe, and Jesse. Original in possession of Nathan Vaughan Marks.

Joe, Jess, Nancy, Polly, and Dill Eversole. Original in possession of Nathan Vaughan Marks.

Nannie also knew the Radfords. From what she says, they would travel quite a ways from their home south of Red Star to come to church at Patterson Springs. Jesse is not listed on the church roster, but his wife Sally and son Jack are. Nannie reported: “When we first met the Radfords, it was about 1912.  Eliza was a Radford before she married Robert.  They lived 8 or 10 miles from where we did, but they used to come over and go to the Baptist church where we went. … Now I didn't know a lot about the Radfords, except I knew Grandma's daddy [Jesse] because he used to come over where we went to church, when they'd have a big association meeting or singing convention.  Mr. Radford was a good old man.  I don't think I can remember his given name, but he was a large guy, red complected, with sandy colored hair.  I don't know how many kids they had.  Grandma [Eliza] had two brothers [that Nannie knew], Si and Tom.  Si Radford married Becky Durham and Tom married Mary somebody [Bowers].  I don't know her last name.  Mary used to live at [Drumright], after Tom passed away.  I've been to her house and Si's, both.  They had a bunch of kids, but I couldn't tell you their names. … We used to go over to Valley Grove to church and the Radfords lived in that area.  We used to go over for all-day singing conventions and week-end preaching.”

Sarah Eversole Radford on left, Jesse Radford on right. Behind them is Ollie Eversole Bowers. On Sarah's lap is Edward Radford, son of Jack and Ollie. Edward died not long after this photo was taken and is buried in the Radford-Freewill Cemetery. Original in possession of Carol Radford-Chowning.

After Jesse Radford died June 12th, 1917 and was buried in the Radford-Freewill Cemetery just a stone’s throw from his homestead, his wife, Sally Eversole Radford, continued living on her homestead with her son, Jack. Jack continued to live on or near the homestead after his mother died, and his children spent their early years living around there and attending the Freewill School just south of there. Joy Russell of the Madison County Genealogical and Historical Society graciously took the time to send a good deal of information on Freewill School, including school rosters from the late 1930s which proved Jack’s children attended there. Jack has one living child, Joyce Radford Turner, who lives in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. She was born in 1931 in Madison County.

I have interviewed her a few times, including on a visit to her home last year, in 2015. In our interviews on August 19th and 20th, 2016, she relayed some information about her childhood near the Jesse Radford homestead. She reports that when heading west from the Radford-Freewill Cemetery, you’re to take the first left you come to; the turn off is less than ¼ mile from the cemetery. The road goes south a ways before forking southeast and southwest, and she states that Jesse Radford’s home was on the east side of the road less than ¼ mile from the turn off, “way before” the fork in the road. 

She says the Freewill School stood less than a mile from the turn off, also on the east side of the road and approximately ½ mile south of Jesse’s home. She also said Jesse’s barn was a little way down the road between his house and the school. She visited the sites in 1999. All that remained of Jesse’s home was a pile of stone where the well stood. Nothing remained of the school except the flattened area of land where it stood. She reports that a remarkably old and large tree for the area is the nearest landmark to where the school was, and that if the tree is still there it is noticeably and significantly larger than all the other trees around it.

When asked about where her family went to church, she reported that her father, Jack Radford, always insisted on going to a Baptist church; he would not attend anywhere else. She could not recall the Patterson Springs Church, indicating he’d stopped attending there by her childhood in the 30s. She reported that for church on Sundays, they would head west from their home and cross the Little Mulberry Creek. There was no bridge. People would fell logs on both sides and put them across the river for people to go across. If the water was too high, then they did not go to church that day. She could not remember what church she went to as a child, but seemed to remember it was near either Boston or Pettigrew. She said it was not as far north as Red Star. It may have been the New Home Church, which was closest to the Radford farm, but it is not known what denomination the church was. There was also a Baptist church at Muddy Gap, which would have been the next-closest after New Home. She said when they went to church they made a day of it; stayed all day, picnicked there, and sang songs and listened to sermons well into the evening.

Joyce Radford Turner, 2015.

Joyce’s mother was Ollie Bowers. Three Bowers sisters married three Radford brothers. Ollie married Jack, Mary married Thomas, and Alma married Dillard. Her grandfather was James G. Bowers, who she reports was a travelling preacher who did not have a congregation of his own. Apparently, the “Radford boys” had a “pretty rough name”, and he did not approve of Ollie’s marriage to Jack, and they were estranged for a while after their marriage. Joyce said that the Bowers family thought Jack’s was “raunchy”. She said her Grandpa Radford was “ornery” and she did not think he went to church much.

She also gave testimony about a more mysterious part of the family. Wright Radford was a son of Jesse Radford, a product of his affair with his mistress, Mary Bowling. Though he married in 1916 and was working in War Eagle (Madison County) in 1920, Joyce said he “wasn’t right”. He was kept “hush hush” by the family, and was, as she described him, “retarded”. Whether he was born this way or became this way because of a disease or an accident is unclear. She has distinct memories of him visiting her childhood home every few months. She vividly remembers his large, scraggly beard, and said he was covered in sores and bites from being infested with lice. He would come and stay briefly every once in a while. Her father and mother would feed him and boil his clothes for him before he moved on. He was apparently a transient. She reports he was still alive when the family moved to Oklahoma about 1939-1940, but it is unknown what became of him.

IV.                Where is Robert Eversole Now?

Little is known about Robert in the time between his return to Arkansas from Oklahoma, and his death. Even less is certain about where ended up after his death. It is known that he travelled to the town of Dutton in Madison County to vote, where he paid a poll tax in 1918. It is apparent from records on Dill and Lige that the family considered themselves a part of the Spoke Plant “locale”, despite residing in Johnson County while Spoke Plant is in Madison. While Robert went to church at Patterson Springs and his children would have attended school there if at all, there doesn’t appear to have been a store at Patterson Springs, and there certainly was not a post office. When arriving in Johnson County about 1913, his closest post office would have been at Catalpa. The Spoke Plant Post Office was established in 1915 (http://genealogytrails.com/ark/madison/postoffices.html), and that would have been a much closer destination for him.

Robert Eversole. Original in possession of the family of Gary Manus.

In March, 1920, Robert was enumerated for the 1920 Census in Hill Township, Johnson County, Arkansas. On September 17th, 1921, his wife and heirs sold the family farm to Grady Manus, his daughter Polly’s husband. So Robert died within that 18 month timeframe, but it is not known precisely when. It is known from his daughter-in-law Nannie’s testimony that Robert was an exceedingly kind, generous, and loving man. Regarding Robert, she reported:

“Grandpa Robert used to meet us young folks at the door and shake hands with us, and brag on us for being at Sunday School.  He was so glad to see us. … Grandpa was always happy and jolly and helped the neighbors. … When he came over to go to church, he was as friendly and nice as he could be.  And Robert was good, he was the best old person. … He was always helping people.  People used to help people when they would clear off fresh land.  They would have log-rollings, and put the logs in a pile and burn them.  He used to help people when they would be putting a new roof on their house.  Jess said whenever they would finish up a house roof, that Robert would get up and stand on his head on the roof, just to be funny.  He was a small guy, he just weighed about 118 or something like that.  He was about 60 when he died, in about 1920 or 1921.  He had a real bad stroke.  But he really could work and help people.” Regarding Robert’s relationship with his wife, Eliza, who was known to be rather cantankerous, she said: “I never heard of Jess saying that they had any problems.  Some said he had her spoiled to death.”

This testimony regarding Robert is one of two pieces of evidence indicating the significant role that church had in Robert’s life. He appears to have been a pious, Christian man based on both what Nannie said about his love of seeing others at church, and from his well-read bible, which I possess. Overlooking it’s age in general, it is clear from the minor marks, stains, and spots on the pages that it was read and carried frequently. This is as good an indication as any of where Robert was likely buried: the cemetery at Patterson Springs Baptist Church, where he was a member.

Partial list of members registered at Patterson Springs Baptist church from 1915-1970. The full list is much larger, but these excerpts include families allied to the Eversoles. Courtesy of the Shiloh Museum Library.

Not only was he a member of the Patterson Springs Church, also apparently sometimes called the Corinth Church, that was 1.5 miles down the road from his farm, but the accompanying cemetery is also the closest cemetery in proximity to his farm. We have no death certificate, obituary, or family record to tell us where he was buried. All the family has known is the simple assertion that he “was buried at Spoke Plant”. As indicated above, it appears that large areas surrounding a particular locale were often referred to as being a part of that locale. Just like some of the Eversole boys said they lived at Fallsville while living in Johnson County, others said they lived at Spoke Plant even though they lived in Johnson County. Neither the stores or schools of those villages were actually in Johnson County, but they lived close enough to them that their area was considered to be a part of those areas.

In measuring the geographic distance between Patterson Springs Cemetery and the surrounding locales, one stands out as being quite a bit closer than the others. Keep in mind that these distances calculate straight shots from Point A to Point B; they are not representative of the distance by road between these points, but they still indicate the general distance. The cemetery to Oark is almost exactly 4.0 miles. The cemetery to Fallsville is about 4.9 miles. The cemetery to Catalpa is about 3.6 miles. But the closest locale is Spoke Plant, at about 3.25 miles. Based on this, Patterson Springs could have easily been considered a part of the Spoke Plant area, as it was the closest store and post office to it, and so by the family recalling that Robert is “buried at Spoke Plant”, they could certainly be referring to Patterson Springs.



Pages from the Robert Eversole bible in possession of Nathan Vaughan Marks.

Cemeteries often mark a somewhat central point around pockets of people. Despite this region being largely rural and sparsely populated in general, there were several other cemeteries in the vicinity of the Robert Eversole farm. Nearly all these cemeteries have buried in them distant relatives of this Eversole family, by both blood and marriage. Additionally, nearly all the families buried at these cemeteries had come from the same region of eastern Kentucky as the Eversoles and Radfords had.

The cemeteries I explored as possibilities for Robert’s burial location are as follows: Evans Cemetery (near Spoke Plant), Reeves Cemetery (north of Red Star), Old Bethel Cemetery (north of Red Star), Kapark Cemetery (north of Bob Eversole’s original homestead), Dutton Cemetery (northwest of the Bob Eversole farm in 1920, where Bob would go to vote), the Oark Cemetery (in Oark SSE of the Bob Eversole farm in 1920), and of course the Radford-Freewill Cemetery. Reeves and Old Bethel had the least likelihood of being where Robert was buried, as he never appears to have been associated with those areas despite living in a general proximity. Kapark would have been the likely answer if the family still lived on the old Eversole homestead, but unless Robert’s mother is buried there (which is possible; it is the best candidate as a burial location for her) or he and Eliza had infant or stillborn children who died and would likely have been buried there or at Red Star, then it is unlikely the family would have gone out of their way (over 8.5 miles from their 1920 farm) to have him buried there.

Bob’s only connection to Dutton is that he voted there, so that is not a likely candidate. Similarly, his only connection to Oark is that he lived near it, but he probably did not visit often as it does not appear to have offered anything more than he could find at Spoke Plant. The third-best candidate would be the Evans Cemetery. Burials at that cemetery include Holland relatives of Eliza’s mother Grace, and at about 3.4 miles, it is the second-closest cemetery to the Eversole farm in 1920. The second-best candidate would be the Radford-Freewill Cemetery. Bob obviously had a close connection to the Jesse Radford family, as his wife was Jesse’s daughter and his sister was Jesse’s wife. He would have grandnieces and nephews buried there, and various other in-laws, and he certainly spent significant time there over the years. It was only 2.8 miles from his old homestead, second only to the 2.5 miles to Kapark.

But by the time Robert died, Jesse was gone and only his sister and nephew Jack remained in the area of the cemetery. It would have been about a 4.25 mile trek to the cemetery from his farm in 1920. Considering that Patterson Springs was only 1.10 miles down the road from his home, and the likely attachment he would have had to his house of worship, Patterson Springs still stands out as the most likely burial location. Further, if he had been buried at the Radford-Freewill Cemetery, we would assume the family would say he’s “buried at Red Star” rather than “buried at Spoke Plant”, since the family was obviously very familiar with both cemeteries.

Spoke Plant Post Office/Store, 1938. From Rita Ficht's Family History Site: http://www.argenweb.net/madison/ritaficht/spokeplant.htm


Spoke Plant School in the early 1940s. From Rita Ficht's Family History Site: http://www.argenweb.net/madison/ritaficht/spokeplant.htm

Spoke Plant School in 2015. From Rick Henry's Hiking blog, http://henry411.blogspot.com

There is another factor that indicates Robert is buried at Patterson Springs. It is that there may actually be a handmade stone for him. Online cemetery resources indicate there are at least four, and possibly five handmade concrete markers at the Patterson Springs Cemetery bearing the name “Eversole”. No first names, no years, no other information other than the name “Eversole”. One visitor claimed that she counted five markers, but she did not photograph them. Another went to photograph the cemetery; he photographed only four, as he only found that many. Whether there are four or five, four of the stones belong to infant children of Lige Eversole, Robert’s son. Lige’s still-living son, Artis Eversole of Arkansas, does not recall the names of his siblings, but does remember there were four buried there and they were all children of his parents. The 1940 Census indicates one of them would have been named Juanita.




These four photos were taken by Chuck Lorfing of Clarksville, Arkansas and uploaded to FindAGrave.com. Whether or not there is a fifth stone marker as found by Bea Smith Daniel when she visited the cemetery in 2008 is unclear. 

If there is a fifth Eversole marker, it is almost certainly Robert’s. But they are indistinguishable from one another, so it would be impossible to know which was Robert and which were his grandchildren. Regardless, the presence of these grandchildren of Robert Eversole in this cemetery, though buried there over subsequent years after Robert’s death, lends credence to the assertion that Robert too is buried there. Though Lige could have buried his children at any of the other aforementioned cemeteries in his vicinity as he lived in and around Johnson County, he was sure to bury them at Patterson Springs. I believe that that is because his father was buried there, and he wanted his children to be buried near or with his beloved father.

Robert Eversole and Eliza Radford Eversole. Taken about 1915-1920. Original in possession of Nathan Vaughan Marks.

This is all the information we have to go on in discerning where Robert is buried. Without a date of death in that 18 month timeframe, there is little chance of uncovering an obituary. It has been confirmed that he has no death certificate on file anywhere. There were no funeral homes in that area to have made arrangements for him, it is unlikely that the family could have afforded a funeral home, or would have used one even if they could. These Ozark mountain folk and their Appalachian ways dictated their own burial practices. When Robert died, family, friends, and neighbors from all around would have come down to the farm as they received word of his death, and as a community they would have prepared the remains, built his coffin, dug his grave, and brought him to his final resting place. It is hard to picture the funeral procession travelling 3.4 miles or more to a cemetery other than Patterson Springs, the place where Robert worshipped and the place where Robert’s grandchildren would later rest.

A somber ceremony most certainly took place at Robert’s old church that day. As his family and neighbors remembered his kindness, his generosity, and his life of good deeds, they were surely sorry to see him go. I’m sorry that he gone. And I hope that his memory will live on among his descendants, and his legacy will continue through their own kindness and good deeds.

Map created using Zeemaps.com. Plots residences of Robert Eversole and Jesse Radford, along with relevant schools, churches, cemeteries, and other locales mentioned through this article.



I want to thank again the people and resources that helped me in this project, including but not limited to: my grandfather Clyde Marks, Joyce Turner, Nannie Anglin Eversole (R.I.P.), Barbara Schneider, Carolyn Clouse Flynn, Joy Russell and the Madison County Genealogical and Historical Society, Rachel Whitaker and the Shiloh Museum, Rita Ficht and her research on and photographs of Spoke Plant, Rick Henry and his hiking blog, Darla Zegert, Keith Whittington, Susan Stallings, Artis Eversole, Carl Radford-Chowning, Doug Dawgz Blog, Don Pennington and the Johnson County Historical Society, the Newton County Historical Society website, Google, FindAGrave, Genealogy Trails, and all the other Eversole and Radford descendants and researchers out there.

Please note that I utilized Google Maps to determine the GPS positions of the points marked on the map I created, and double-checked using Google Earth that actual cemeteries lay on those spots or remnants of those villages are to be found in the vicinity of those points. Boulter.com allowed me to determine the geographic distance between each GPS marker. Zeemaps.com allowed me to make the map plotting out all the different points and adding county lines.

I am listing here the GPS points that I complied and utilized in this project. Some were gleamed from FindAGrave.com, some from Google searches, and some I had to find on my own based on written directions. Feel free to use any of these in making maps of your own.

Bob Eversole Farm, 1920 (Approx. Center): 35.758312, -93.547628
Patterson Springs Cemetery: 35.742131, -93.541797
Dutton Cemetery: 35.81470, -93.69580
Radford-Freewill Cemetery: 35.81717, -93.52599
Spoke Plant Hollow: 35.768969, -93.589632
Evans Cemetery: 35.75170, -93.60810
Fallsville: 35.776469, -93.465461
Red Star: 35.866746, -93.530742
Bob Eversole Patent (Approx. Center): 35.826489, -93.477304
Jesse Radford Patent (Approx. Location of House): 35.814724, -93.531449
Reeves Cemetery: 35.891920, -93.509731
Old Bethel Cemetery: 35.88223, -93.52474
Kapark/Capark Cemetery: 35.85940, -93.45860
Boston, Arkansas: 35.840635, -93.601299
Oark, Arkansas: 35.689525, -93.572409
Dutton, Arkansas: 35.816746, -93.693801
Muddy Gap Church: 35.80502, -93.60421
New Home Church: 35.842347, -93.572681
Freewill School (Approximate): 35.808908, -93.532871
Catalpa (Per Google): 35.691395, -93.526562