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 viewed 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 married 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.
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