Wednesday, April 8, 2020

2020 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 10: "Strong Woman" - Rebecca Marguerite Kinzer Pittman

Last August when my grandparents moved to their retirement community on a permanent basis, my grandmother gave me a huge amount of material that was relevant to my family history pursuits. Among the mountains of newspaper clippings, funeral cards, and little mementos (all of which was scrupulously organized, God bless her), I found a family tree that had been sent to her by a distant cousin more than twenty years ago, when I was just a little kid. Most of the information was already known to me, but there was one thing on the tree that I had never seen before and was overjoyed to have: two small little pictures of my fourth-great-grandparents, Michael and Rebecca Kinzer Pittman.

The photo of Michael and Rebecca that was sent to me, along
with a booklet of stories about their lives.
I was so excited about finding the new pictures that I posted about it on one of the genealogy groups on Facebook. I wanted to share my excitement with people that I knew would understand. This turned out to be a wonderful idea, because a wonderfully generous lady whose husband is also descended from Michael and Rebecca Pittman sent me a message after seeing my post. She said that she had the full sized photograph that the two little cropped photos on my tree had come from as well as a booklet of stories about Michael, Rebecca, and their children, and asked if I would like to have copies of both. Of course I said yes and thanked her profusely, and eagerly read through the entire booklet when I received it.

It was in this booklet that I found a remarkable story that shows just how much Rebecca fits Week 10's theme of "Strong Woman." I give the story here exactly as it was written in the booklet. If you would like to have a full copy of the booklet, you can download it at this link.
This story was told by a great-grandson of Michael and Rebecca Pittman. Grandson of Anna Pittman Crowder. 
Michael and Rebecca lived in Wyoming County, Virginia (now West Virginia). Michael was inducted into the Confederate Army. His allegiance was to the Union, so he ran away, and came to Kanawha County. He never fought with the Rebels. He tried to join the Union Army, but they did not trust him and refused to enlist him. He settled on Campbell's Creek, Cline Hollow, Trig Hollow. He made salt barrels for the Union Army. Lived in a little cabin, or shelter in Trigg Hollow. He had been there a year or more, when someone from Malden came with the news that his family were at Malden. He did not believe the messenger and told the messenger he would kill him if his message was a lie. The messenger was telling the truth. 
Rebecca Kinzer Pittman had loaded her belongings and children (all except Amanda) into a wagon. Tied the milk cow to the wagon to walk behind to supply milk, sewed the little money she had under patches to her clothes and headed from Kanawha County. The trip took about one year. Along the way a baby was born to her. As they traveled Rebecca cooked and prepared meals for groups of soldiers along the way, sometimes Yankees, sometimes Rebels. This must have been the means of obtaining food for the family. Michael and Rebecca were reunited and more children were born to them. Michael eventually obtained a homestead from the government, and 120 acres on Upper Elk Two Mile across the hill from Cline Hollow, where he had been living. This property is still inhabited by his descendants. The cemetery where Michael and Rebecca are buried is also located here. 
When I read the account of how Rebecca had packed up her entire life and set off in search of her husband, tears came to my eyes. I can't even imagine how hard it must have been in the 1860s for a pregnant woman with at least 5 children in tow to pack up all of her belongings in a little wagon and set off on a long journey to a place she had never seen, with little means of protection. I shudder to think of all the dangers that she and the children faced on the road alone, to say nothing of the different army encampments that she cooked for to feed her kids and maybe make a little money. Michael must have thought he was dreaming to suddenly find his wife and children so near his doorstep, and to hold his youngest child for the first time.

Rebecca Marguerite Kinzer Pittman must have had a will of iron to make it through such an ordeal. She is the very embodiment of a strong woman, and a role model to us all.

~ ~ ~

My descent from Michael and Rebecca is as follows:

Rebecca Margarette Kinser 1837-1921
4th great-grandmother

Drucilla Pittman 1860-1941
Daughter of Rebecca Margarette Kinser

Andrew Jackson Hunt 1882-1968
Son of Drucilla Pittman

Earnest Zacharias Hunt 1921-2008
Son of Andrew Jackson Hunt

Phyllis Carolyn Hunt 1943-
Daughter of Earnest Zacharias Hunt

Lora Marlene Quinn 1961-
Daughter of Phyllis Carolyn Hunt

Allison Quinn Kessinger
You are the daughter of Lora Marlene Quinn

Sunday, April 5, 2020

2020 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 9: "Disaster" - Hurndon Lindsay Shawver

Hurndon Lindsay Shawver
When I was planning my posts for 2020's edition of the 52 Ancestors challenge, I knew that I had to write about my 3rd-great-grandfather, Hurndon Lindsay Shawver, for week 9’s theme. The "disaster" theme does not have anything to do with how he lived as life. From all accounts, he was a wonderful man and a loving husband and father. The "disaster" part comes into play in how he was tragically taken before his time, leaving a grieving widow and twelve children.

Hurndon Lindsay Shawver was born on 27 May 1865 in Meadow Bluff, Greenbrier County, WV, to Andrew Shawver and Amanda F. McClung Shawver. At some point before his marriage to Virginia Belle Cavender on 3 June 1893 he moved to Pinch, Kanawha County, WV, where he and Virgie set up their homeplace. Many of their descendants still live on Cavender Drive, where their house stood. Hurndon and Virgie had twelve children together: Effie May, William Walter, Dollie Frances, Andrew Newton, Davis E., Avis E., George Hurndon, Nora Maggie (my great-great-grandmother), Lovell Albert, Charles Allen, Virginia Dovie, and Fannie Amanda.

Virginia Belle
Cavender Shawver
The youngest child, Fannie Amanda, was only five months old when disaster struck. On 27 November 1912, Hurndon was working on an oil rig when an accident happened, killing him instantly. No death record or newspaper articles survive and few people in the family ever wanted to talk about such an awful accident, so the nature of the accident isn't remembered. He was laid to rest in the Rummell Community Cemetery in Pinch, WV, where three generations of his wife's family were already buried. His wife would be laid to rest by his side 28 years later.

His wife, Virgie, became a 38-year-old single mother of twelve children in the blink of an eye. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been for her to make ends meet, with no measures like Social Security or life insurance in place. Subsequent census records show that she continued to live in the house that they built together, and that she never remarried. She must have had a will of iron to survive all of those years as a widow and single parent of twelve children.

Although Hurndon's passing was certainly a disaster, it is fortunately not his only legacy. His large family went on to have large families of their own, and the total count of his descendants now numbers in the hundreds. And hopefully, they will remember him for the loving husband and father that he was, instead of the terrible way that he died.

~ ~ ~

My descent from Hurndon Shawver is as follows:

Hurndon Lindsay Shawver 1865-1912
3rd great-grandfather

Nora Maggie Shawver 1904-1971
Daughter of Hurndon Lindsay Shawver

Madaline Eva Moore 1923-2017
Daughter of Nora Maggie Shawver

Phyllis Carolyn Hunt 1943-
Daughter of Madaline Eva Moore

Lora Marlene Quinn 1961-
Daughter of Phyllis Carolyn Hunt

Allison Quinn Kessinger
You are the daughter of Lora Marlene Quinn


Welcome to Rooted Heritage Genealogy! This blog is dedicated to both telling my ancestors' stories and to helping others to do the sam...