Family Records, Pshaw

The final line in my family tree is my maternal grandmother, Sarah Elizabeth Kirkpatrick, affectionately known to me as Gan. Her ancestors were from the deep south, and among them were slave holders. Growing up I had no inkling of her southern heritage, although she exhibited some southern pride in her younger years. Her more immediate ancestors fled the south for Texas before the war, at least partially sparing us the madness of the sin of slavery.

The record begins at a settlement in the early 18th century at the 96th milepost on a trail used by traders and Indians in the colony of South Carolina. This settlement became known as Ninety-Six. A little store supplying traders with such essential items as rum, sugar and gunpowder, is on record as early as 1730. 

Due to the expansion of white settlements, by 1769 Charleston could no longer serve as the only court house in the colony.  Therefore, seven circuit court districts were established and courthouses were set up for each district. One courthouse was established in the village of Ninety-Six and the district was named Ninety-Six District, soon to be called the “Old” Ninety-Six as the boundaries changed.

Two branches of Gan’s family tree go back to the Ninety-Six District of South Carolina in the 1700s: the Kirkpatricks and Joneses in Abbeville and the Bryants and Tollesons in Spartanburg. The Kings, one of which married a Kirkpatrick, lived in Orangeburg. So Gan was a real Southern gal.

The town of Abbeville, South Carolina, home of the Kirkpatricks and Joneses, developed around a spring that was set aside by General Andrew Pickens for public use. Pickens had settled at what is now Abbeville proper, prior to the American Revolution. The name of the town and county were given by Dr. John de la Howe, a French Huguenot settler in Western South Carolina, in honor of his hometown in France. The city was officially incorporated as a municipality within the State of South Carolina on December 20, 1832. 

Abbeville was settled by Scotch Irish and Huguenots. The Scotch Irish are descendants of early Protestant Scots who migrated from Scotland to Catholic Ireland to flee religious persecution by the English. The term Scotch Irish also serves as a euphemism for non-Catholic Irish. It was used by Protestant Irish immigrants to America to obtain jobs from employers who would not hire Irish Catholics. Of course, many employers had no compunctions about not hiring any Irish at all.

The earliest of my Jones ancestors that can be documented is Benjamin Jones. He was born around 1700 in Virginia. He had traveled to Abbeville, South Carolina and had joined a settlement along the frontier known as Long Cane near the Long Cane Creek. But clashes with the Cherokee were frequent. Long Cane Settlement was attacked by Cherokees on February 1, 1760. The following is an eye-witness account told by Mr. Aaron Price.

Yesterday se’n night the whole of the Long-Cane Settlers to the Number of 150 Souls, moved off with most of their Effects in Waggons; to go towards August in Georgia, and in a few Hours after their setting off, were surprized and attacked by about 100 Cherokees on Horseback, while they were getting their Waggons out of a boggy Place: They had amongst them 40 Gunmen, who might have made a very good Defence, but unfortunately their Guns were in the Waggons; the few that recovered theirs, fought the Indians Half an Hour, and were at last obliged to fly: In the action they lost 7 waggons, and 40 of their People killed or taken (including Women and Children) the Rest got safe to Augusta; whence an Express arrived here with the same Account, on Tuesday Morning … Mr. Patrick Calhoon, one of the unfortunate Settlers at Long-Canes, who were attacked by the Cherokees on the 1st instant, as they were removing their Wives, Children and best Effects, to Augusta in Georgia for Safety, is just come to Town, and informs us, ‘That the whole of those Settlers might be about 250 Souls, 55 or 60 of the fighting Men; that their Loss in that Affair amounted to about 50 Persons….

Charles Town South-Carolina Gazette, Saturday, February 9, 1760

Patrick Calhoun had been instrumental in settling this area and to establish a Presbyterian Church there. His son, John C. Calhoun, became famous as a U. S. Congressman, Senator and Vice President and an outspoken supporter of slavery and secession. But also among those settlers were Benjamin Jones and his grown daughter. A somewhat more graphic account was given later. 

But now came a season of dreadful trial to these devoted people. The Indian tribes, which almost surrounded them, became incensed against the whites, and rose in arms to destroy them. The inhabitants of Long Canes, in Abbeville, fled for refuge to the older and more settled parts of the country. A party, of whom Patrick Calhoun was one, who were removing their wives and children and more valuable effects to Augusta, were attacked by the Cherokees, on February 1st, 1760, and, according to contemporary journals, some fifty persons–according to other accounts, twenty-two persons–mostly women and children, were slain, and fourteen carried into captivity. After the massacre, many children were found wandering in the woods. One man brought fourteen of these young fugitives into Augusta, some of whom had been cut with tomahawks and left for dead. Others were found on the bloody field, scalped, but living still. Patrick Calhoun, who returned to the spot to bury the dead, found twenty dead bodies, inhumanly mangled. The Indians had set fire to the woods, and had rifled the carts and wagons, thirteen in number.

One of those slaughtered was Benjamin’s daughter. The bodies found were buried on the site of the massacre. The location of the massacre and the graves is identified by this historical marker. The site is near Troy, just south of the town of Abbeville.

Benjamin died later that year. The rest of his family stayed in Abbeville. His family included his wife Elizabeth Crain, and four sons. There was also a daughter Betsy, who would have been thirty two at the time of the massacre and may have been the one that was killed. I have no marriage or death record for her. 

Fifteen years later, the first land battle of the Revolutionary War in the South was fought there on November 19-21, 1775. About 500 Patriots hastily built a rustic fort, dug a well inside and fought an attack from a much larger force of Tories (loyal colonials). There were no British forces involved. The battle ended in a formal truce. At that battle, under the command of Col. Andrew Williamson, was Captain Adam Crain Jones, one of Benjamin’s five sons.

In 1788, after the War of Independence, Adam Crain Jones, as a representative in the South Carolina legislature, was called upon to vote on whether the legislature would meet in Convention on May 12th to consider ratifying the new Constitution of the United States. Adam Crain Jones, as a representative of the Ninety-Sixth, voted “aye” but the vote was only 76 “ayes” and 75 “nayes”. So South Carolina came very close to not even having a Convention to consider the ratification of the Constitution. However, on May 27, 1788, South Carolina became the eighth state to ratify the Constitution of the United States.

1790 Census

In the first U. S. Census in 1790, Adam Crain Jones, (now “Esq.”) was living in Abbeville, South Carolina with 25 slaves. This is many more than any other household on the census page. Slave populations were counted because of the “Three-fifths Compromise” of 1787 that proclaimed that each slave was worth three fifths of one white male for the purpose of determining how many representatives each state would have in Congress. This gave southern states more Representatives than they would otherwise have had.

Captain Jones’ son, Benjamin Franklin Jones, continued to live in Abbeville, South Carolina, as a slaveholder. He owned or controlled hundreds of acres of land upon the death of his father in 1815, as specified in his will in which he divided his slaves among his children and grandchildren. There are a lot of confusing legal negotiations between Benjamin’s brother, Henry Alexander Jones, and his many debtors, including Benjamin, in which Henry seems to have borrowed a great deal from many people and then went into bankruptcy. Hundreds of acres of land and many slaves were involved in paying off these debts.

Density of Slave Population, 1861

However, Ninety-Six District itself did not have as high a percentage of slaves in the population as the rest of the state. This 1861 map of South Carolina shows that the Ninety-Six District in the far northwest corner of the state has a lower density of slave populations (lighter shading). It may have been that the land was unsuitable for large plantations or just thinly settled. 

In 1828, fifty years after that battle at Ninety-Six, Katherine Obedience Jones, daughter of Benjamin and Mary Townes Jones, married William Hawthorn Kirkpatrick in Abbeville.

The parents of William Hawthorn Kirkpatrick migrated from Scotland. Thomas and Margaret McConkey Kirkpatrick, were married in Scotland and arrived in Charles Town, South Carolina in 1767 as part of the wave of Protestant Irish attracted by bounty land warrants under the Bounty Act of 1761. They settled in Abbeville, South Carolina, where their son, William Hawthorn was born in 1797. He and Katherine Obedience Jones had six children, three sons and three daughters, all in Abbeville. Little is known about William Hawthorn’s life in Abbeville except that in 1843, as the President of the Board of Trustees of the Methodist Protestant Mount Zion Church, he and his father petitioned the South Carolina Legislature for incorporation of the church. 

29 Nov 1843 Edgefield, South Carolina 

In 1846, William Hawthorn packed up all the kids and 6 “Negroes” in a 6 mule wagon and headed west, via Arkansas, to Hill County, Texas. William Hawthorn’s son, Addison, later wrote a book about this trip, The Early Settlers’ Life in Texas, and the Organization of Hill County, suggests a link to Scotland and a second explanation for my daughter’s red hair (the other is John Lattimore and Isabelle Frazier).

My grandfather, Thos. Kirkpatrick, came to the United States from Scotland before the War of 1812, and participated with conspicuous valor in same.” After leaving SC in 1846 and stopping in AR for three years they resumed the trip and, “In 1849 we resumed our journey to Texas and landed in what is now Hill Co. territory that same year; our family being as follows: W. H. Kirkpatrick, my father; two brothers — W. P. and J. R. Kirkpatrick — both older than I, and three sisters, namely: Mary, Antoinette and Alleen. There were seven of us in the family with six negroes. … We stopped for the night at a little log school house and found that the old time preacher, Elder Byers, was to preach there that night. Our crowd composed the greater part of the congregation. My father [WHK] made himself known to the preacher and told him that we were looking for the best country in Texas. Elder Byers told him to go on until he came in sight of the cross timbers on the east side of the Brazos River to a valley known as the Aquilla Valley, and he would find this the garden spot of Texas. So here we landed in 1849 and have been here ever since, and have seen all the changes as they came, transforming this section from a perfect wilderness into a civilized country with all the modern improvements.

The Early Settlers’ Life in Texas, and the Organization of Hill County, by Addison Kirkpatrick

William Hawthorn’s move to Texas with his family takes place in the very earliest days of the settlement of the state. Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1837 and became an independent republic. However, it turned out that Texans were not as independent as they thought they were. All hat and no cattle. In 1845 Texas joined the union and became the 28th state. Hill County was first settled around 1848, when Fort Graham was constructed. So the Kirkpatricks were among its first settlers. But “settled” is misleading. This was still Indian territory. The forts that were built throughout the West were meant to precede and protect settlers as they arrived. In this map, Falls County is just south of Waco at the edge of the frontier in 1849.

William Hawthorn took his family west long before the outbreak of the Civil War. Abbeville, however, would become known as the birthplace and deathbed of the Confederacy. It was in Abbeville that the first meeting leading to the secession of South Carolina was held in 1860 and the place where Jefferson Davis officially acknowledged the dissolution of the Confederacy in 1865.

William Hawthorn died in 1863 but he had his funeral preached before his death so he could censor it. Given that he was a Methodist minister, it’s a puzzle what he wanted censured. It may have been that he wanted to hide his slave-holding past. My father has a note saying “Milton Kirkpatrick, [former] slave of William, visited Lizzie in Chilton in about 1898”. Lizzie is probably William Hawthorn’s daughter-in-law, who we’ll get to later. In 1840, back in South Carolina, William Hawthorn claimed 14 slaves. In 1850 when the family was stuck in the mud in Arkansas, he claimed 5 slaves. But in 1860 in Texas, he claimed no slaves. If he brought six slaves with him to Texas, he must have emancipated them, as the Civil War had not yet begun and Texas was a slave state.

I looked at the census and found a Milton Kirkpatrick, a former slave born in about 1835 in South Carolina, and living in Falls County, Texas in 1870, where he lived until his death in 1912. If he had come to that very sparsely settled area in the late 1840s with William Hawthorn, he would have been only a teenager at the time. In 1870 he was living with his wife Melissa, also born in South Carolina, and their one year old son. In 1873 Milton married Julia Ann Harding, a native of Texas, and had 12 more children. One of his descendants was among the Tuskegee Airmen. Maybe Milton was one of the six slaves that William Hawthorn took with him from South Carolina to Texas, and wanted to keep the family’s slave-holding history a secret. Or, maybe, some of those former slaves he brought from South Carolina were actually his children. I have been in touch with Milton’s great great grandson, Cary Bible. He lists William Hawthorn as the father of Milton. Of course, there wouldn’t have been any documentation for this. But this is how I learned about the Tuskegee airman.

We will never know the answer to the mystery of why William Hawthorn Kirkpatrick wanted to censor his own funeral. But he probably had some forewarning of his demise. He traveled to Mexico in 1863 to buy some supplies and fell ill of Bright’s disease (kidney disease) on the way home and died in New Braunfels, Texas. If he had chronic kidney disease, then he could have had symptoms warning him that he was not well and not improving.

William Hawthorn and Katherine’s three sons lived to raise families of their own, including James Richard Kirkpatrick, my gr-gr-grandfather. But their three daughters died before the age of thirty. Life and childbirth on the frontier were very hard on women.

I found some interesting information in the the second volume of my mother’s baby book kept by her mother, Sarah Elizabeth Kirkpatrick, my Gan. In it, on about the tenth page, Gan throws a monkey wrench into the history of her family, but only on the maternal branches. She writes that my mother’s “great grandfather – JR Kirkpatrick, [was the] son of Wm Hawthorn and O. A. Kirkpatrick”, no maiden name given, not Katherine Obedience Jones. But she then says that “his mother was a Jones”, apparently referring to JR, whose mother was a Jones. Then she says “his maternal grandmother was a Calhoun” and “she” was cousin of John C. Calhoun, the fire-brand, pro-slavery, vice-president under Andrew Jackson (Gan didn’t write that, I did). Now I have no idea who she is referring to. There is no Calhoun in Gan’s family that I can find. THEN she says that my mother’s great grandmother, who would be JR’s wife, was “Sarah Elizabeth Kirkpatrick”, not Elizabeth Eller (King) Kirkpatrick. 

We can’t chalk this up to old age, because Gan was young when she wrote this. Anyway, Gan’s name was Sarah Elizabeth Kirkpatrick! On the next page of the scrapbook she seems to be copying from a bible record, because she provides dates of the births, marriages and deaths of the Kirkpatricks, all of which match those that I have, even when the initials are wrong, except that NOW she says that J R had two wives, “E. A.” and “S. E.”. The marriage date of JR to “S. E.” and the date of death of “S. E.” match those of Elizabeth Eller King. Since Gan never knew her, and JR died when she was ten, the confusion in the first name is understandable. Gan gives the death of “E. A.” the “first wife” as 1857, which is possible, since JR married Elizabeth Eller King in 1864. Unfortunately, J R does not appear in the 1850 census, probably because he was on the road to Texas. If he were, then we might see the name, or initials of a first wife. We’ll get back to all this in the next essay, as though you hadn’t already had enough.

Remember Milton Kirkpatrick? The black friend of the family who came to visit “Lizzie”? The family tree for Milton lists an earlier wife for JR named Sarah Allen Elizabeth Moore and four additional children. Even her name doesn’t match up with the initials provided by Gan, but it’s close enough. Milton’s tree also lists a second “wife” of William Hawthorn, an unknown slave, as the mother of seven children, one being Milton. Could she be the Calhoun that Gan was so proud of? The Calhouns were slaveholders.

So, let this be a lesson in the dilemma of even first or second hand accounts. They are usually taken as sacrosanct, especially if the source is a bible record. I will keep pursuing this until I give up.

Not a Brilliant Man 

The travails and controversies that plagued the earlier Lattimores continue with John Lee Lattimore, the eldest of the seven children of Samuel and Franny (Compere) Lattimore. He was born in 1836 in Benton, Yazoo County, Mississippi. Like his father, John Lee became a Baptist minister. And like his father and grandfather, his preaching was controversial. Perhaps because of that, he and Franny, never stayed anywhere very long. Each of their children was born in a different town in Mississippi or Alabama. 

One early event may be an indication of his tenacity. While a boy in Macon, Mississippi, he was “furiously attacked by a large dog, and while the animal was tearing his flesh in a shocking manner, he succeeded in killing him with his pocket knife”. Now, that’s a story to hand down to the grand kids.

While attending Howard College in Marion, Alabama, John Lee met and married Sarah Catherine Shivers in 1860. Sarah Catherine was the great granddaughter of Jesse B. Shivers, Sr who served in the Revolutionary War for two years as a musician with Capt. Child’s Company, Col. Hogan’s 10th North Carolina Regiment. He never saw battle (as a musician, he wouldn’t even have a musket) but he was granted a pension in 1819 anyway.

Sarah Catherine’s father was a veteran of the Texas War of Independence. In 1836, Orlando (Offa) Lunsford Shivers had just received his medical degree from Transylvania Medical College in Lexington, Kentucky, when he answered the call for volunteers to enlist in the sacred cause of Texas. He joined Captain Love’s Company in the 1st Regiment, 1st Brigade of the Texas Volunteers on June 4, 1­836 as a lieutenant under General Sam Houston. On that day he was put into temporary command of the unit due to the absence of Captain Love, who was on leave. He also served as a medical officer. After the war he returned east to find that his family believed him to be dead. 

After returning from Texas, Offa Lunsford taught at the Memphis Medical College and practiced medicine in Marion, Alabama. In 1837, Offa Shivers married Catherine Obedience Woodfin and they had nine children. Catherine Obedience was the daughter of James Woodfin and Catherine Steger.  who has a vary interesting family history which takes us all the way back to Jamestown. But I will leave that for the next essay. This one is long enough. 

Little is known about James Woodfin, except his birth, marriage and death. He was probably a planter because in 1850, he claimed 20 slaves. His father, however, was well known in Virginia Colony.  Rev Samuel Woodfin Sr (b 1722) was a blacksmith and a pastor at one of the earliest Baptist churches, Muddy Creek from 1784 to 1832 (48 years). “If father Woodfin had foibles, they were perhaps more conspicuous to himself than others, yet he had enemies disposed to magnify them”. There is no clarification of this. He died in 1832 at the age of 110.

Catherine Obedience Shivers was also a Daughter of the American Revolution, three or four times, I’m losing count. Her ancestry is fascinating, but even this abbreviated account is a bit complicated. Her mother, Catherine McLaurine, comes from a long line of McLaurines with roots in Scotland. The McLaurines can be traced back to the 12th century in Scotland. There are many different spellings. These are not typos. 

The early MacLaurines appear in the book Scots and Scot’s Descendants, published in 1917. The Maclaurins were distinguished in the Middle Ages by their military exploits, but the family was ultimately overcome by more powerful foes and henceforth devoted itself mainly to intellectual pursuits.  The clan McLaren, sometimes called McLaurin, occupied the lands in Balquhidder and Strathearn since the 12th Century, where they were the predominant clan. This land was bordered by the McGregors of Glengyle. One of the earliest records of the Clan Laurin was in 1558 when a massacre took place in a feud between the McGregors and the McLaurins. A monument was erected in the churchyard of Balquidder in 1868 by Daniel McLaurin, bearing the inscription:

In memory of the Clan Laurin, anciently the allodian inhabitants of Balquidder and Strathcairn; the chief of whom in the decrepitude of old age, together with his aged and infirm adherents, their wives and children, the widows of their departed kindred – all were destroyed in the silent mid-night hour, by fire and sword by the hands of banditti of incendiarists from Clendeehart, A,D. 1558.

In modern times the most famous of its members was John Maclaurin, one of the leading divines. His son, Colin Maclaurin, the friend of Newton and the most famous of Scottish mathematicians.” However, my ancestor is not the brilliant Colin, but his brother, John, Jr. Again with the brothers.

The Rev. John Maclaurin, minister at Kilmodan, was a “faithful and zealous evangelical pastor.” As one writer says, “He not only distinguished himself by all the virtues of a faithful and diligent pastor, but has left in the records of his provincial synod lasting monuments of his talents for business, and of public spirit.” He also supervised the completed the version of the Psalms into the Gaelic language, which is still used in Highland churches. John died in 1698. There is a memorial plaque at Kilmodan Church in honor of John McLaren and his sons, John and Colin. The plaque is very hard to read. You can just make out the names: John MacLaurin, son John MacLaurin and son Colin MacLaurin.

John’s son, Rev. John MacLaurin, Jr, has been described as “the most profound and eloquent Scottish theologian of that century.” He was instrumental in the building of Glasgow’s Hospital in 1733, for the “mentally afflicted”. From this sprang the Glasgow Royal Asylum, and all the Asylums in Scotland. Those crazy Scots. So highly valued were his services by the magistrates of Glasgow that at his death in 1754 the Town Council voted the sum of £100 to his daughter. However, this wealthy daughter is not my ancestor, but the son, Robert McLaurine.

In 1750, the Rev. Robert McLarine was sent to Virginia Colony by the Church of England as Episcopal minister. From 1751 until his death in 1773, he was in charge of St. James Southam Parish, Episcopal Church in Petersville, Virginia. The following text is from a history of old Virginia churches published in 1861.

Of Mr. McClaurine, other favorable accounts of his piety and great benevolence have come to me. He preached at Tar Wallett, Manakin, and Peterville Churches: beneath the chancel-floor of the latter he was buried.He was the first of his name in Virginia. He left three sons and three daughters, two of whom lived and died in Cumberland, and the third at Norfolk, during the last war. Of the daughters, one married a Hobson, another a Swann, and a third a Steger. Their mother was Miss Blakely, from the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Robert married Elizabeth Blaikley, whose family is interesting in their own right. Her mother, Catherine Kaidyee Blaikley, lived in Williamsburg, Virginia and was an “eminent Midwife” who delivered “upwards of three Thousand Children,” presumably white and black, slave and free. Her husband was merchant William Blaikley, who died in 1736. During her 35-year widowhood, Mrs. Blaikley lived in the house now called the Blaikely-Durfey House on Duke of Gloucester Street.

Blakeley-Durfey House

Robert McLaurine and his wife, Elizabeth, were the first to occupy the St. James Southam parish farm purchased in 1762 to support and house the minister. Somehow, however, McLaurine gradually acquired land for a second farm, totaling 633 acres. A house was built for Elizabeth McLaurine in about 1775, after Robert’s death, to serve as a home for her young family. Sorry, no pictures for this house. Elizabeth McLaurine is shown in the 1783 census as the head of the family of five, with twenty-five taxable slaves. In 1790, Elizabeth was listed with seven blacks over 16, one over twelve, and two horses. Apparently, the twenty-five slaves recorded there in the 1783 census had been distributed to Robert McLaurine’s heirs. 

Robert and Elizabeth’s son James McLaurine was born in Powhatan, Virginia in 1758. In 1789, James married Catherine Steger, the girl next door. The beginning of a family tradition. They set up home across the road from his mother, Elizabeth, in the house he called Edgemont. Catherine was the daughter of another Revolutionary War soldier, Hans Steger. But the most interesting story about her is about her grandmother, Ann Perrat Steger. The following story is from Sarah Catherine Shivers Lattimore through Aunt Polly. “The first Ann Perratt we know of was the daughter of wealthy parents in England. She ran away and married her father’s coachman, Francis George Steger. She was disinherited, but a year after, the young couple was bidden to come home. They married again with parental sanction, then were sent to America in a ship fitted with everything thought to be needed in the New World. When the father and mother died in England their wealth, reputed to be fifteen million dollars, reverted to the Crown as there were no other heirs, and the American ones, being blessed with much wealth, did not care to take the long journey back to England.” 

In February, 1777, James McLaurine enlisted in the Seventh Virginia Regiment of the continental line (infantry). The regiment marched during the winter from Fredericksburg, Virginia to Philadelphia, often sleeping in the snow. At Philadelphia, the regiment was inoculated for small pox (remember the scene in the movie “John Adams”?) and James came down with small pox, which was always a danger. Even still, he marched on to Middleboro, New Jersey, where he was discharged as unfit for duty. Family tradition has it that he wintered with Washington at Valley Forge, but I think that would have killed him and then where would we all be?

For the son of a preacher, James accumulated a lot of land. James believed in voting early and often.  In early days it was the Virginia law that a man could vote in as many counties as he owned property. When he was 80 years old James rode on horseback and voted in several counties, among them Cumberland, Powhatan and Buckingham.

James McLaurine not only broke the long line of McLaurine ministers, but he became a Methodist and burned the barrel of sermons (Episcopalian) that his father had left him to read and have published.  James married Catherine Steger and their daughter, Catherine Obedience McLaurine, married James Woodfin in 1811. Their daughter, Catherine Obedience Woodfin, married Offa Lunsford Shivers in 1837 in Maringo, Alabama. Their daughter, Sarah Catherine Shivers, married John Lee Lattimore, bringing all the names together. 

Catherine Obedience Woodfin Shivers and Sarah Catherine

The following is from a letter from their daughter Nannie E. Shivers Boggess (February 1934) to a Miss Kirtley who was researching families connected with the early days of the Judson Institute for Women in Marion, Alabama.

My father (Offa Lunsford Shivers) moved to Marion in 1841. “With a wife, two babies and a moon-eyed horse”….When he moved to Marion he had just completed his medical studies at a school in Forsyth, Ga. The School I think has not been in existence for many years. My sister, Sarah Catherine [Shivers Lattimore], called then by her full name, was a brilliant and faithful student, a great Christian and a wonderful woman all the days of her life. She was valedictorian of the class of 1857. My father and his family moved to the Judson Institute in the Autumn of ’64, when the Confederacy was tottering to its fall. I have many hazy memories of that time.

Nanny Shivers Boggess

Before the Civil War, Offa Lunsford Shiver was a slave holder. This snippet is from the 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slaveholders. The columns are the number, age, sex and finally “colour”. There is another column for the “number manumitted”, which was zero for that page. In 1860, Offa Shivers claimed 20 slaves. It’s difficult to imagine why a physician would need so many slaves.

1850 Slave Schedule

Although he looks prosperous in this family portrait, after the war, Offa Shivers appears to have fallen on hard times. That was the case with many southerners after the war. With six of his children and his wife to care for, he seems to have taken in a number of boarders. The 1870 census lists three servants, four clerks and four railroad workers. Two of their children died as infants and Sarah Catherine had married John Lee Lattimore.

Offa Lunsford Shiver and Family

However, since John Lee is of the same generation as Edmond J. Gifford and Porter Wallace Roundy, the outbreak of the Civil War interrupted his life as well. He enlisted as a private in the confederate army and was promoted to 2nd Sargent of Company B, 37th Mississippi Infantry Regiment. The 37th Mississippi was under the command of Brigadier General Louis Hébert, who had fought at Wilson’s Creek against the 1st Iowa Infantry, Edmond J. Gifford’s unit.

The muster roll of the 37th Mississippi says that John Lee was captured at Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, the day the city fell, and then released in a prisoner exchange. Vicksburg was the last bastion of the Confederacy on the Mississippi River. Its loss would give the Union army control of the river. Grant’s siege of Vicksburg began in May 17th and ended on July 4th, 1863. On the evening of May 19, 1863, Federal artillery fire began and continued for forty-eight days and nights. The Confederate batteries in front of the Thirty-seventh Regiment were repeatedly attacked. The batteries held, but the assaults continued, inflicting heavy losses. The men served continuously in the trenches, exposed to the scorching midsummer sun and often to chilling nights. There were no troops to relieve them and afford them an opportunity to rest.

Caves of Vicksburg

The siege lasted so long that the citizens of Vicksburg took to digging caves into the hillsides facing away from the Union line in order to escape the bombardment. One resident had to stay awake to keep starving soldiers out of his vegetable garden. By June, half the Confederate soldiers were sick with malaria, dysentery and scurvy.

Then, on July 4th, 48 days after the attack began, the Confederates surrendered. In accordance with the terms of capitulation, the brigade stacked their arms in front of the battle lines, evacuated the trenches and were marched to bivouac in the rear of the works. They were then taken to a camp in Enterprise, Mississippi, where they were paroled and exchanged. It seems that it is more costly to keep prisoners, than to exchange them to fight again. However, with fewer arms, less food and thoroughly exhausted many parolees just went back home.

In November and December, John Lee is listed as “Absent without leave”. His commanding officer Hébert had also been captured, so there was no one to serve. One account that I read said he served until the end of the war. Many paroled officers went right back into battle. There is also an indication that he served as a Chaplain of the 46th Mississippi Regiment.

The following is from a letter written by Nannie E. (Shivers) Boggess, Sarah Catherine’s sister describing how John Lee came home to the Shivers’ house after being exchanged as a prisoner after Vicksburg.

My brother-in-law, Rev. J. L. Lattimore, went into the Confederate Service immediately after the war began. They were married in 1860 and the young wife came to live with her parents [Dr. and Mrs. O. L. Shivers, at Judson College] while he was away in the war. I am not familiar with the Judson buildings now, but the building in which my parents lived was the ‘New Building’. There were only two, the old building…and a two story building containing sick rooms above, a matron’s room and President’s Office on the 1st. The Dining room was in the basement of the new building. My parents’ rooms were on the first floor as was their parlor and the reception room for the school also. My sister’s room in which Judge Lattimore [ John Lee and Sarah Catherine’s second child] was born in 1865, was the 2nd room from the back porch on the south side of the hall, and the kitchen and servant houses were small brick buildings immediately in the rear. Into one of these small houses in the rear, my brother-in-law, Rev. J. L. Lattimore, when he came home after being exchanged after the siege of Vicksburg, was taken, subjected to scrubbings and hair cutting, all his clothing burned, before he was allowed to come into the house. Yes my sister had eight children all of whom grew to manhood and womanhood.

Nanny Shivers Boggess

After the war, John Lee returned to Alabama and he and his wife, Sarah Catherine, lived with his widowed mother, Franny, to help with the care of his two younger brothers, who continued to live with John Lee for some time. One of his obituaries describes how John Lee was persecuted at two points in his life for preaching “all the council of God” concerning baptism and communion. I don’t know what this means, but John Lee must have continued the Lattimore tradition of pissing off the officials of the Baptist church.

John Lee’s controversial sermons forced him to move frequently, eventually arriving in Falls County, Texas in 1874. This is how Sarah Catherine described their life together.

We began our married life in Enterprise, Mississippi, as teachers. The war ended that venture. In 1865 we went to Garlandsville, Mississippi, and taught there. Mr. Lattimore and Cousin Shelby preached much together during the years we lived in Garlandsville and Hickory. In 1868 we moved to Moulton, Alabama and lived there until 1874, when we came to Texas, to Marlin, where Cousin Shelby and Mary were. After living on Blue Ridge at Stranger, Falls County; and Decatur in Wise County; and Alexander in Erath County; we came to Dublin where Mr. Lattimore died on December 1887. He was pastor of the Baptist Church in Dublin when he died. He was a man of great firmness, of unalterable devotion to duty, of pure heart, uniformly courteous and unselfish. Not a brilliant man, but a thoroughly consecrated Christian in every way, inviting love and confidence. He was literally “Sans Pour, Sans Reproache”.

Sarah Catherine Shivers Lattimore


It’s interesting that they began their lives in Enterprise, the location of the parole camp after Vicksburg.

In 1874, John Lee and Sarah Catherine moved to Falls County, Texas. The last three of their eight children, including Bertha Woodfin Lattimore, were born there. But John Lee’s health started to fail. A physician friend of his was traveling to Florida and suggested that John Lee come along to see if a better climate would improve his health. But the travel so exhausted him that, before reaching his destination, he died in a sleeping coach on December 12, 1887.

After John Lee’s death, Sarah Catherine moved in with their daughter, Carrie Foust, in Dublin, Erath County, Texas. In a biographical essay of Sarah Catherine Lattimore, there is this accounting of her children:

From this happy and congenial union were born eight children – Prof. J. C. Lattimore, who was for several years a member of the faculty of Baylor University, and was seventeen years superintendent of the Public Schools of Waco; Senator O. S. Lattimore, of Fort Worth, well known in legal, political and religious circles throughout Texas; Samuel H. Lattimore, a strong and cultured young attorney of Muskogee, Oklahoma; Mrs. R. B. Spencer of Waco; Mrs. J. G. Purvis, of Proctor; Mrs. J. M. Higginbotham, Mrs. C. G. Foust, of Dublin, and Mrs. George C. Butte, of Austin.

The Texas Women’s Hall of Fame By Sinclair Moreland

You’ll recognize the last appendage, Mrs. George C. Butte, of Austin. Mrs. George C. Butte is Bertha Woodfin Lattimore, John Lee and Sarah Catherine’s youngest daughter. She will marry George Charles Butte. Woodfin was Sarah Catherine’s mother’s maiden name and it was carried down through the Butte generations to my cousin Woody. It is sad that even as this essay extols the accomplishments of a woman, it treats her daughters as unnamed appendages of their husbands. What’s even sadder is that this was probably true. At least Sarah Catherine was a writer of modest repute. In 1914, Incidents in the history of Dublin, gathered from participants and eye-witnesses, by Sarah Catherine Lattimore, was published.

Sarah Catherine Shivers Lattimore and children

Sarah Catherine is in the center of this picture. Bertha Woodfin Lattimore is seated on the right.

Bertha was born in 1878 in Blue Ridge, Falls County, Texas. After George Charles Butte made his way from California to Texas at the age of 10, he and Bertha Woodfin Lattimore were wed in 1898 in Erath, Texas where Bertha’s widowed mother, Sarah Catherine Lattimore, still lived with the family of her other daughter, Carrie Lattimore Foust. Sarah Catherine died in 1917, at age 76.

Before leaving the Lattimores, I have one more tale to tell, although there is disagreement over the veracity of one critical link. But I can’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.

My Veteran Ancestors

This Veteran’s Day I would like to honor my veteran ancestors. These are the ones that I have discovered.

Revolutionary War (12)

William Gifford

Rhode Island State Troops, Col. Lippit 1776, White Plains 1775, Princeton 1776. Reenlisted 1777 Col. Crary’s Regiment, Captain Manchester’s Company reenlisted 1779 twice more.

Uriah Roundy

Served under General Putnam, Major John Durkee, Col. Knowlton, Bunker Hill 1775, Battle of Trenton 1776, wintered at Valley Forge1777-78, Battle of Monmouth, Battle of Morristown. Possibly Washington’s personal guard.

William Reuben Briant

Capt. John William’s Company of Col. Buncomb’s Regiment, wounded at Brandywine 1776, wintered at Valley Forge1777-78, discharged at White Plains; reenlisted, fought at Battle of Cowpens.

Adam Crain Jones

served in the South Carolina Militia under Col. Andrew Williams at the Battle of Cowpens

William Townes

2nd Lieutenant, Cumberland County, Virginia Militia

Hans Steger

served as a 2nd Lieut., Powhatan Militia during the Revolutionary War. Enlisted under Capt. Joseph Carrington for the Minute Service, Amelia District, Cumberland Co., Virginia.

Amos Beard

Private in Hartwood’s Co., Col. Peter Porter’s Co., Col. Paterson’s Regiment, Continental Line, which marched in response to the alarm of Apr. 19, 1775 from Picket Co. Cambridge.

Daniel Roundy

Served in Capt. Gates Co., Vermont Militia, Continental Line.

Jesse B. Shivers

served as a musician in Capt. Child’s Company, Col. Abraham Shepard’s 10th North Carolina Regiment, Continental Line.

James McLaurine

served in Capt. Charles Fleming’s company in the Seventh Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line, commanded by Col. Crockett

Walter Carson

served in the Pennsylvania 10th Regiment, Continental Army

Texas War of Independence

Orlando Lundsford Shivers

served in Captain Love’s Company in the 1st Regiment, 1st Brigade of the Texas Volunteers on June 4, 1836 as a lieutenant under General Sam Houston

Civil War

Edmund J Gifford

Enlisted as a Private in Company K, 2nd Cavalry Regiment Wis. Promoted to Full 2nd Lieutenant on 4 Jan 1862. Mustered out June 11, 1862 due to injury.Served in Company A, 1st Infantry Regiment Iowa, fought at Wilson’s Creek 1861, injured in fall from his horse

Porter Wallace Roundy

Enlisted as a Private in Company K, 2nd Cavalry Regiment Wis. Promoted to Full 2nd Lieutenant on 4 Jan 1862. Mustered out June 11, 1862 due to injury. He reenlisted in 1864 in the 37th Wisconsin Infantry. He served as hospital steward at City Point during the siege of Petersburg.

Herman Frederich Bonorden

Enlisted as a Bugler in Company E, 2nd Iowa Cavalry 2 years after arriving from Germany. Mustered out on 03 Oct 1864. Detailed to payroll dept. the next year, where he stayed until discharge Sept. 1864.

Offa Lundsford Shivers

37th Mississippi, at Vicksburg, taken prisoner and exchanged


George Charles Butte

served as a Capt.& Major US Army, 1914 -1924 during WWI and as

the Chief of the Foreign Intelligence Section of the General Staff, Washington, DC, 1918.


Porter William Gifford, Jr.

served as a Major during WWII and was Chief of the Aircraft Section, Maintenance Division, 2nd Advanced Air Depot Area, IX Air Force Service Command, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star.

Felix Lattimore Butte

Served as a surgeon in the Army Medical Corp. 1942 -1945, stationed in England.

Tempest in a Teapot

Although Daniel and Ann Lattimore had moved their entire family to Indiana around 1810, at least one grandchild returned to the South. This was Samuel Stockton Lattimore, a highly revered Baptist minister who somehow got embroiled in a tempest apparently through no fault of his own. 

Before moving to Jefferson County, Indiana, in 1811, Samuel’s grandparent’s, Daniel and Ann Lattimore, had a son, John Jr., who was born in 1778 when the Lattimores were still in North Carolina. He married Isabella Carson in North Carolina and they also came to Indiana with their own five young children. They settled a little to the north of Daniel and Ann, in Jennings County, where they had five more children. Those pioneer women! But it takes a big family to work a farm.

In those days, Indiana was on the frontier. In 1816, friendly Indians came to John’s door to warn the family that hostile Indians were in the area. John and his wife and their six or seven children, by this time, fled to safety in Madison, 20 very difficult miles away. 

John’s in-laws, the Carsons, also migrated to Jennings County, Indiana from Rutherford County, North Carolina. Isabella’s father, Walter Carson, was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. He initially volunteered in the militia of York County, Pennsylvania. He later moved to South Carolina and served in the militia there as well. As with the Lattimores, Walter Carson took all of his children with him to Indiana and settled near the Lattimores along Grahams Creek. 

John Lattimore, Jr.

John and Isabella’s son Samuel Stockton Lattimore was born in 1811 while his parents still lived in North Carolina. He was one of the few Lattimores that left Indiana and returned to the South. He first appears in Mississippi, where, in 1834, Samuel married Francis Ann Compere, a daughter of English missionary, Lee Compere. 

Lee Compere, was a highly revered, if also controversial, Baptist preacher and missionary. Lee was born in Market Harbor, Leicestershire, England in 1790. In 1815, the Baptist Mission Society (BMS) of England appointed Compere to serve as a missionary among the slaves in the British colony of Jamaica. The missionary efforts of Lee and his wife Susannah Voysey Compere in Jamaica were successful in building a congregation, but the couple angered the BMS by openly opposing slavery. Which, I suppose, means that the Baptists condoned slavery.

Lee Compere

So Lee and his wife Susanna moved to Alabama in 1822 to continue their missionary work with the Creek Indians, but then became embroiled in the struggles between white and Creek slave owners and the issue of Indian removal. The Comperes provided the Creeks with the Western-style education that they wanted for their children but prohibited Christian evangelism, thus ignoring the terms of the official agreement between the Creeks and the Georgia Baptists. Among the Creeks, as in Jamaica, the abolitionist Comperes found a receptive audience for Christianity among black slaves. Creek slave-owners, however, eventually forbid their slaves to visit the Compere’s mission. Lee continued his mission work until late in life and ended up in Texas with his son Thomas. For more information about Lee Compere, click here.

Samuel Stockton Lattimore may have been greatly influenced by his father-in-law, Lee Compere, or he may have already been a Baptist minister when he met the Comperes. But he took a more orthodox position within the Baptist community. Samuel Lattimore appears in three books published in the 19th and early 20th century about the history of the Baptist Church. Annals of the American Pulpit: Baptist. 1860 by William Buell Sprague, The Baptist Encyclopedia – Vol. 2, 1881 by William Cathcart, and A Complete History of Mississippi Baptists, from the earliest times, 1903 by Z. T. Leavell and T. J. Bailey, 1903.

Reverend Samuel S. Lattimore was born in Rutherford County, North Carolina March 9, 1811; removed with his father while a child to Jennings, Indiana. At 14 years of age he became a member of the literary institution at South Hanover, Indiana, supporting himself by his own exertions. He remained at this institution for nine years, until he completed his course in July 1833. During this period he became a member of the Presbyterian Church and remained in this connection for six or seven years.

Leaving college soon thereafter, he went to Vicksburg, Mississippi thence to Clinton and shortly after taught in the school at Society Ridge. In 1834 he was ordained to the gospel ministry and became general agent for the Mississippi Baptist State Convention. In Dec. 1837 he settled at Middleton, Carroll County, Mississippi, where he engaged in preaching and teaching a school under Baptist auspices until 1840, when he removed to Sumter County, Alabama, where he preached to Providence and other churches. In 1845 he was again general agent for the Mississippi Baptist State Convention. In 1847, he was called to the pastorate of Macon Church, Noxube County, Mississippi. Remaining there one year he accepted a very urgent call from the Aberdeen Church, with understanding that he should return to Macon after the lapse of a year. Accordingly he returned to Macon and remained till he again accepted an invitation to take charge of the Aberdeen Church. In this relation he continued until his death.

From 1849 to 1854 he was President of the Mississippi Baptist State Convention. In 1834 he married Frances A, daughter of Reverend Lee Compere. He died suddenly Oct 17, 1857. He was a man of marked ability, of warm & generous affections, eloquent as a preacher, able as a writer and eminently successful as a minister of the Gospel.

The Baptist Encyclopedia

I know the reading is a little tedious but the details matter. The first sentence identifies this as our Samuel.

The third book provides detailed accounts of the meetings of the Mississippi Association, an entity composed of the Baptist churches in Mississippi. The book mentions the many sermons given and roles played by S. S. Lattimore, J. L. Lattimore, W. C. Lattimore, Lee Compere and E. L. Compere. These are Samuel Stockton Lattimore, his sons, John Lee Lattimore and Walter Compere Lattimore, his father-in-law, Lee Compere and his brother-in-law, Ebenezer Lee Compere.

The first mention of S.S. Lattimore is in 1836, when it is noted that he was to become the general agent of the Mississippi Association of Baptist Churches. He continued to serve the Association until 1855 when he “was in ill health, but still in the years of his usefulness. They parted with him with sincere regret.” The book has many references to S.S. Lattimore’s service and sermons. But S.S. Lattimore’s association with the Mississippi Association was soon to become controversial.

Every five years or so I sit myself down with determination to try to figure out this controversy. And every time, I throw up my hands in disgust. But, for your sake, here I go again. Two pamphlets were published by A. Newton and our Samuel Lattimore:

The Conspiracy exposed, and Rev. S. S. Lattimore unmasked, by A. Newton and S. S. Lattimore, 1841

Examination of the last new school book on baptism: Or a plain statement, in relation to certain difficulties between Rev. A. Newton and the author of this pamphlet by Samuel S Lattimore, 1843.

The first one is available on line, but not the second. Supposedly written by both Rev. A. Newton and Rev. S. S. Lattimore, it starts this way.


One word, if you please, before you lay this pamphlet down. Had you heard any thing before of the subject, which is brought to your notice upon these pages? Not a word, says one. Then it is just as you please whether you read this paper or not I do not care to disturb the equanimity of your temper, or to trespass upon your time with any personal affair of mine. I would be pleased to have you read to be sure – but I allege no claim upon your time or your patience. And although you may be amused, I am not sure that you will be benefitted; except it may be, that, in turning over another page of the history of human depravity, you shall be better able to resist the influences of the hollow-hearted and false among your fellow-men.

I have heard something of this controversy, says another. I am sick of what I have heard already. I care not to hear any more about it.

Patience, friend! You say you are sick. How do you suppose I feel? Take a full dose, and perhaps you may be relieved. You have not heard all about it, that is certain. However, you can do as you please. One thing, let me say, I have a right to ask, not as a favor to any to any one, but as an act of justice to all. You will, of course form no opinion in the case, if you decide not to read. You cannot decide not to read, and reserve to yourself the privilege of approving or condemning, as caprice or prejudice or interest may dictate. Solomon says, he that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly unto him. You would not be guilty of such folly, would you? Then read and judge for yourself. You may then form and express whatever opinion you please.

The Conspiracy exposed, and Rev. S. S. Lattimore unmasked

And it just gets worse. You can perhaps see why I have been both intrigued and infuriated. This is the beginning of the introduction to a 191 page “pamphlet”, with 91 pages of supporting documents and 100 pages of outrage and self pity apparently arising from Mr. Newton taking umbrage at being accused of spreading falsehoods concerning whether or not Mr. Lattimore denied attending a masquerade ball in New Orleans, or perhaps a brothel. The documents involve apparently countless Baptist ministers and church officials, as well as documents written by Mr. Lattimore. There seems to be no other portion of the pamphlet written by Mr. Lattimore, despite the claim of joint authorship and the implied endorsement.

I’m not sure why this tempest in a teapot fascinates me so and yet I cannot bring myself to get to the bottom of it. Newton certainly provides enough documentation and argument to justify his feelings of being slighted. But I guess that is part of the problem. This controversy is of such little importance and yet the amount of verbiage is so vast that I am unable to sustain the necessary effort to plow through it. But how can there be nothing there? And there is another pamphlet! In past years I felt that there must be more substance to this controversy. However, more recently I’ve become aware of just how petty and vindictive people can be for no good reason whatsoever.

At the time this was going on, Samuel was the president of the Judson Institute and very active in the Baptist community, of which he was a long-standing, highly regarded and respected member. Alas, mental exhaustion forces me to leave it to the reader to decide if there is any there there. Please let me know if you are successful.

At this time, Lee Compere was not doing so well, either. There apparently were still some Baptists who resented Lee’s opposition to slavery. In 1857, there was “material for a sad paragraph in two resolutions passed at the session.” The first resolution was passed “to raise funds for the assistance of the venerable Lee Compere. To the credit of the body, a response was made, but it appears feeble and limited. Ten persons proffered $5.00 each. Lee Compere, born in England, missionary to Jamaica, the benison [sic] of the Creek Indians, father-in-law of S. S. Lattimore, in old age and in want, and a public collection taken for him of fifty paltry dollars! What a frowning wall before the Baptist ministry of Lee Compere, brainy and brave, prompt and pious, famous foreigner, God chosen vessel, in old age and in want!

A second resolution “was double in its intensity. S. S. Lattimore, the pulpit prodigy, was dead. Generous to a fault, his family was left in ‘straitened circumstances.’ His name is in Foster’s Chronicles. He could ‘insinuate himself into the very soul’. He held the fierce lightnings in his grasp, and stood on seamless granite. His head was bathed in the exhilarating atmosphere not breathed by the vulgar herd of men. The gifted Lattimore was gone, and his family in straightened circumstances, and a collection to be taken in the churches to liquidate his debts.” Baptist ministers were not well paid nor, apparently, well kept by the church in their declining years. He and “Franny” had seven children before he died in 1857, age 46, when the youngest was only two years old.

Later in 1857, this note appeared. “S. S. Lattimore had been the subject of scurrilous attack, by some secular newspaper. The Choctaw had long honored him, and much revered him. He was in very feeble health, and as his step was unsteady, he had been accused by merciless enemies of drinking. This stirred the blood of the Choctaw Baptists. But before the Association arose from its labors, the sad news reached them that the gifted Lattimore was dead. A good report was written, expressive of their sorrow. As to the life, and death of this great orator, much has been written in the history of the Aberdeen Association. Suffice it here to say that in discursive thought he has had few equals among our brethren, and no superiors.” Well, at least a good report was written.

However, the effort to honor Samuel continued to be wanting. There seemed to be some irregularities. “He had been such a popular preacher that there was an offering taken throughout Mississippi for a memorial. In 1860, there was a resolution of the Association, making inquiry concerning J. K. Barry, appointed by the Aberdeen Association, to raise funds for the erection of a suitable monument at the grave of S. S. Lattimore, and for relief to his widow, and requesting that Association to obtain, if possible, from the said Barry, a full list of contributions made to him for these objects, and that the same be published in the Mississippi Baptist.”  However, before the memorial could be built, a person grabbed the money belt where all the money had been put and rode off on a horse. He was never caught and Samuel was buried in an unmarked grave in Odd Fellows Rest in Aberdeen, Mississippi.

After Samuel’s death, Franny could not take care of her seven children, or at least the five youngest ones. Her mother, Susanna Compere, had died in 1834, a year after the birth of her ninth child. Her father, Lee, had remarried in 1836. So when he was in “straightened circumstances” in 1857, he continued his Baptist ministry in Mississippi and then appears in Navarro County, Texas with his second wife and a grandson in 1870, next door to his son Thomas and his family. At 79, he was trying his hand as a farmer, having given up preaching. He died a year later.

So, when Samuel died, Franny was on her own and also in “straightened circumstances”. Apparently, she never remarried. In fact we don’t know what happened to Franny, except that she apparently died in Jennings County, Indiana, where her husband’s family lived. Maybe her in-laws took her in. Her two youngest sons, William and Walter, went to live with their eldest brother, John Lee, who was still a minister in Alabama. William eventually went to live with his grandfather, Lee Compere, in Texas.

Samuel’s and Franny’s son John Lee Lattimore also became a Baptist minister and traveled around the south before settling for a while in Falls County, Texas, some time between 1870 and 1880. There, the youngest of John Lee’s daughters, Bertha Woodfin Lattimore, would meet George Charles Felix Butte.

On the Road Again

My great grandfather, George Charles Felix Butte, married the charming Bertha Woodfin Lattimore. My Lattimores go back to the earliest days of the Virginia and Carolina colonies.  They made their way from Pennsylvania down the Great Wagon Road to settle amongst the Indians that still lived there.  The Stocktons were some of the earliest settlers in Virginia Colony and left their mark on the land.  Like the Renfros who moved from Kentucky to Illinois, the Lattimores also left the South for Indiana.  

From “The Lattimores, A Family History”, by Esther Lattimore Jenkins, we have the following, perhaps fanciful, account. In about the year 1690, three brothers, John, Daniel, and Samuel Lattimore, sailed from Ireland to Philadelphia. John and his brothers were probably “Scotch-Irish”.  They may have been orphans and they probably arrived in Philadelphia as “bonded” (indentured) servants.  Bonded servants were of two categories, voluntary and involuntary.  In the first category were those men and women who desired to come to the colonies but were too poor to pay the costs of transportation.  Of their own accord they bound themselves to an employer for a specified time in return for transport and maintenance.  The involuntary category included orphans, vagrants, paupers, debtors, and convicts.

John Lattimore, the youngest, was then a mere boy and had red hair and blue eyes.   There are several John Lattimores in a row here, so I will refer to them as “John the Immigrant”, “John Sr.” and John Jr.”   John the immigrant left Philadelphia and settled in Virginia with his wife Sarah.  This migration was part of a general trend.

Around 1732, the first large group of Scotch-Irish settlers migrated to Virginia from Pennsylvania along the Great Wagon Road. By the year 1736, Virginia was flooded with Scotch-Irish Settlers. In Prince William County, Virginia, the Lattimores settled near an old Indian Trail leading south to the Carolinas. This trail was used as a major road by the settlers, and became known as “The Old Carolina Trail”. It is likely this is the trail the Lattimores used on their trek south, always after more and better land.

They settled in the wilderness of the western Carolinas until after the Revolutionary War. Around the beginning of the nineteenth century, when more land was opening up, most of the Lattimores pushed on west. Although one branch of the family stayed in North Carolina, others went to Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana, always taking up land and starting churches.

The Allegheny and Appalachian Mountains prevented settlers from moving directly west.  Instead, they moved southwest along the valleys carved in the Allegheny Mountains by the various rivers.  Once in Virginia, settlers could cross into Kentucky along the Wilderness Trail and through the Cumberland Gap, as the Renfros did.  Or they could continue south where the road ultimately reached South Carolina.  And by now we know where those big Conestoga wagons came from.

A map of the most inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole province of Maryland with part of Pensilvania, New Jersey and North Carolina. Drawn by Joshua Fry & Peter Jefferson in 1751, published by Thos. Jefferys, London, 1755. This landmark map, unusual in that it relied on firsthand surveys, is the first correct depiction of the Allegheny Mountains, complete with ‘The Great Road from the Yadkin River through Virginia to Philadelphia distant 455 Miles’ – an accurate survey of what would come to be styled the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road.

John the Immigrant and his wife Sarah had a son, John Sr. who married Isabel Frazier, who is known only for having had three sons and three daughters all with red hair and blue eyes except Sarah, who had black eyes and black hair.  And almost all of them married a Stockton:

Francis Lattimore (ca 1744-1817) married Rachel Stockton
John Lattimore, Jr (1745-1821) married Jamima Stockton
Margaret Lattimore married Newberry Stockton
Daniel Lattimore (ca 1750-1831) married Ann Stockton

Jamima, Rachel and Newberry were also siblings. And Ann was their cousin.  Daniel and Ann are my ancestors.

Before we move on with the Lattimores, I want to tell you a little about the Stocktons.  The paternal grandfather of Ann and her cousins, Rachel, Jamima and Newberry, was Davis Stockton.  There is a lot of baloney in online genealogy, and off-line as well, so I spent two days believing that Davis Stockton was related to a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  I even wrote it up, with references and everything.  But then I stumbled upon a description of how DNA evidence proves this to be untrue.  However, Davis was a very interesting person in his own right without needing to be related to anybody and left his own mark, literally, in the pre-revolutionary Virginia Colony.

Davis Stockton’s origins are unknown.  He is believed to have come from Ireland but there is no evidence.  He first appears, with his family, in the Ivy Creek area of Albemarle County, Virginia on March 12, 1739 when he obtained a grant for 400 acres.  So we don’t have any record of where he or his children were born, including Samuel, Ann’s father.  Even the name of his wife is disputed.  But Davis left his mark, or marks, on Virginia.

Among the earliest settlers in the western part of the county, who came as is said under the leadership of Michael Woods, was a family named Stockton. Though their name has entirely disappeared, they have in a number of ways left their mark behind. They consisted of several branches. They erected perhaps the first mill in that section of the county. The north fork of Mechum’s River still bears the name of Stockton’s Creek, the south fork in early times was called Stockton’s Mill creek, and the first name by which Israel’s Gap was known was Stockton’s Thoroughfare. The famous abbreviation of D. S. is also ascribed to the head of the family. One story recites that Michael Woods and Davis Stockton landed at Williamsburg, and came to the wilds of Goochland together, that arriving at D.S. [which is just a tree], they advanced in different directions, Woods continuing straight forward to Woods’s Gap, and Stockton bearing to the left along the foot of the mountain towards Batesville, and that as a memorial of the place where they separated, Stockton carved his initials on a tree.

Albemarle County in Virginia, by Rev. Edgar Woods, 1901, pp. 319-320

The D.S. Tree remained a landmark for many years.  It even appears in orders from the Goochland County Court for building roads. “Road to be Clear’d . . . On the Petition of . . . Davis Stockdon . . . Sam. Arnett [Samuel Arnold], Richard Stockdon, Thomas Stockdon . . . Leave is given to Clear a road from Thomas Morrisons to the D.S. tree in Michael Woods road.” 

In fact, an early map of the road that became a part of the Three Notched Road clearly marks the “D.S.” tree, which is about half way between University (of Virginia at Charlottesville) and the Mechum River. Eventually, a tavern was opened at the D.S. Tree.  Taverns played a very important role in Colonial America.  This is where local residents went to meet and share news.  Travelers stopped to eat, refresh their horses and stay overnight.  They were the cell phones, restaurants, newspapers, gas stations and motels of those days.

D. S. Tavern is one of Albemarle County’s few remaining early ordinaries and the only one in the region to preserve its original bar cage. Tradition holds that the tavern marks the site of the D. S. Tree and the zero milepost of the Three-Notched Road, a principal artery from Richmond to the Shenandoah Valley in the 18th and 19th centuries. “D. S.” is said to stand for [Davis] Stockton, who blazed the trail from Williamsburg and carved his initials on the tree. 

Virginia Landmarks Register, edited by Calder Loth, 1999, p. 11

This next map, made in 1864, identifies only the dwellings and the names of the owners.  The D.S. Tree would be at Dr. Stevens house, which was probably used as a tavern.  The road running south from there is the way Davis went a century before.

Map of Albemarle County / from surveys and reconnaissances made under the direction of Albert H. Campbell Capt. P. Eng. & Chief of Topographical Dept. D.N.V. by Lieutt. C.S. Dwight.

The tavern still exists today.  It started as a one-room log structure and was expanded over the centuries.  The original building is probably on the left.

D.S. Tavern

Most of Davis’ children left Virginia, which probably explains the disappearance of the name at Israel’s Gap and Stockton Creek Mill.  Only his son Thomas, father of Jemima, Newberry and Rachel, died nearby, in Charlottesville.  

Davis’ son Samuel, when he was about 18 years old, served in the Albemarle County Militia in 1758 to protect the frontier from Indians.  Virginia was the frontier.  Shortly thereafter, Samuel married Prudence Torbet and they had three children.  At least, only three are mentioned in his will.  Their only daughter, Ann, married Daniel Lattimore in 1770 in Albemarle County, Virginia.  

During the next two years, Daniel and Ann, and maybe Samuel, can be traced through land purchases and sales from Virginia to South Carolina to North Carolina, where their children, and many grandchildren, were born in Rutherford County, North Carolina, just over the state line from Spartanburg County, South Carolina, where the Bryants lived.  I’ll get to them later.

But around 1810, Daniel, Ann, their children and grandchildren, were on the wagon trail again, crossing the Appalachian Mountains along with thousands of other adventurous souls, to Indiana.  This became possible when the Wilderness Trail opened and the Cumberland Gap was widened, in 1775, by Daniel Boone and his buddy, James Renfro, Jr., to allow for the passage of wagons through the gap. 

Once again, some of my ancestors are in the same area at the same time.  But this time these are my mother’s ancestors on the same path as my father’s ancestors. However, these families didn’t come together until my parents met 130 years later in Dallas. But this is not too surprising.  The new country, as well as its population, was small and those who eventually met in Iowa and Texas would have had to travel  through the same gaps and along the same roads that opened in the mountains and the frontiers as they became “settled”. 

As with all my Southern ancestors, I will not shy away from their participation in America’s original sin, slavery. Here is a newspaper advertisement placed by Samual Stockton offering to sell some of his land for “half the value of it money in negroes.” It is very distressing to see such a casual reference to his willingness to trade land for humans in bondage. 

However, for Daniel, the move from the southern states may have been due to slavery.  Daniel Lattimore was a staunch Presbyterian, and Presbyterian ministers were preaching abolition even at this early date. Although the 1790 Census shows that Daniel’s brothers Francis and John owned slaves, Daniel did not.  Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois attracted many settlers from the slave states because the act creating the Northwest Territories specifically prohibited slavery and involuntary servitude.

In 1811, Daniel Lattimore arrived in Jefferson County, Indiana Territory with his family, including his son John and his wife Isabella (Carson) and her parents, Walter and Mary Carson. Indiana Territory was mostly unclaimed land and considered to be still in hostile Indian Territory.  Daniel erected a large two story home out of hand made bricks, with walls 18 inches thick. According to Mrs. Jenkins, the house was still standing on the road between Deputy and Kent, was well kept, and was being lived in in 1982.  

Daniel Lattimore died 12 February 1831, and Ann Stockton died 28 March 1838.  Lattimore descendants remained in Jefferson County, Indiana for generations.  But remember what I said about my mother being 99% southern stock?  So, Indiana not being in the south, someone had to make the return trip.  That would be Daniel’s grandson, Samuel Stockton Lattimore, who had made the trip north with his parents, John and Isabella (Carson) Lattimore, as an infant and would return south to live a very different lifestyle.

Look Who Dropped By

Virginia and I were just finishing up at the barn one evening, having just put the chickens in the coop, when I heard my husband yelling from up at the house. He seemed to be pointing right at us and I couldn’t understand what he was saying. Then I heard him yell “LOOK, LOOK!” and realized he was pointing just above our heads. I turned around to see a GIANT hot air balloon coming over the chicken coop.

It was so fantastic; I could almost reach up and touch it. All I could think to do was yell “Hello!” and started laughing and screaming with excitement. The chickens were going crazy in the coop and the dogs were losing it up at the house. It was getting lower and heading for the house when I finally realized that the pilot was asking for permission to land. I yelled back “Of course!” and then heard him say something about sheep. I looked into the pasture by the house where the balloon was headed and the sheep were scampering about in one direction then another. I called them to the barn and then realized that I had a camera in my phone and should take some pictures.

Fortunately, Virginia was ahead of me.

The pilot missed the pasture he has headed for because, as he later explained. he was worried about landing on the sheep. The balloon looked like it was headed straight for the house but as it got lower, I saw it go through the ruin onto the back yard.

“You’re landing in the ruin!”

And there it was, towering over the house and cider house. Without any control over this massive blob, the pilot had managed to just barely miss the fence, the stone ruin, the house and the cider house. I just stood there in disbelief.

The Landing

We all introduced ourselves and the pilot asked for our address so he could give it to the driver of the truck that was trying to keep up with the balloon. But now what? There’s no room in the yard to deflate it. They needed to get it back over the fence and into the pasture. While the pilot raised the basket off of the ground, Virginia and one of the passengers tugged the basket toward the fence, which was unfortunately going back against the wind.

Once the balloon is in the pasture, the pilot let the hot air cool and the balloon starts to deflate. The basket is then tipped over and the crew laid it out and folded it up.

In all the excitement, I barely heard my husband looking for one of the dogs. Red didn’t seem to be anywhere. We started to worry that she had gotten out of the yard when we opened the gate for the truck. So we missed the final loading of the balloon while we searched for Red. But we waved goodby and I thanked them for the most exciting day I had had in years. They left us a bottle of champagne.

I went down to the barn to check on the sheep and found them huddled up against the barn. They were very happy to go in. We finally found Red under the porch. She refused to come out until adequately bribed. The next morning, when I let the dogs out, they looked up at the sky to see if the monster was still there.

Cider House, Part 8

Now that it is blisteringly hot, it’s time to work on the sunny side of the cider house. Actually, Virginia and Michael have been working on this side in Part 7, it just seems particularly cruel that they are here again in July. Now they are replacing the rest of the sill on the west side and repairing and rehanging the sliding door.

They have decided that they will do the interesting stuff whenever I walk away for a few minutes to check on sheep or spin or bake bread. That’s why I missed the toppling of this post. Both of the posts here have been cut off for reasons I can’t explain and so they must be lengthened. This one could be removed to be repaired because there is no tie beam attached to it. That makes the repair easier. The corner post has to be repaired “in situ”.

Toppled post

A concrete and stone foundation wall that was built under these posts has been demolished and will be repurposed as a small mountain for the sheep to climb on. That’s good for their hooves.

Broken concrete wall

The corner post was sitting on an upended stone which itself was just sitting on the ground. After taking the weight off of the stone, Michael trimmed it to begin repairing it in situ since there is a tie beam attached to it.


While I stepped away to collect eggs or pull weeds or trim all those boxwoods, they put it the rest of the sill on this side of the cider house. It seems a little bassackward but now Virginia is placing stones under the sill for the foundation. Whatever works.

Building the foundation

Once the corner post is repaired, it is secured to the sill. Then the repaired center post is put into place.

This completes the structural repairs to the west side of the cider house so the rigging can be removed. Now you can see scarf joint in the sill and the three repaired posts.

The south half of the upper level of the cider house

Now we need some siding. Virginia dragged old floor boards from the north end of the upper level and power washed them to make “new siding”.

So then I sent off to do some plying with Red’s help but she just doesn’t seem to understand how the process works.

Plying with Red’s help

When I came back a drainage ditch was dug, the large doorway was framed out, the siding was up and they were repairing the old barn door.

After adding a plywood backing and replacing the bottom of the door, it was very heavy. Fortunately, Michael read a book about how to move heavy stuff.

And it works!

Closing the barn door

Although the south end still needs a new sill as well, this won’t require lifting it, it’s already where it belongs. So Virginia can now finish repairing the siding, install windows and paint.

The front (south side) of the cider house now has windows and Virginia has replaced some of the siding around them. The door is original and has the date “1859”. With a fresh coat of paint/stain, it’s almost as good as new.


The east side was finished some time ago but has now been painted and looks really spiffy.

On the north side, the door will get a small roof to keep the rain from getting on the sill and prevent the rot that destroyed the old sill.

North side

Finally, the west side, which faces the house, has a person door and the large sliding door.

The room in the south half of the upper level still needs a floor so there will be another post once we get the flooring and joists from the sawmill. And the cider house will also get a new metal roof, but that will be next year.

In the meantime, here’s Ivy out grazing with the lambs.

Ivy and the lambs

Spring at Last

After this long, cold, scary winter, it’s wonderful to be able to go outside without a winter coat and boots. Of course there were some bright spots in the fall. breeding season was fairly smooth. But Priss kept coming back into heat so she could spend more time with her handsome ram, Briar.

Priss and Briar

The sunset came earlier and earlier but with the flies gone we could switch to deep bedding so we didn’t mind putting the sheep to bed earlier.

Glorious Sunsets Every Night

Virginia devised a contact-free feeding system using a large funnel and some pipes for Briar and his buddies for when I was feeding on my own. Briar figured it out real fast.

Briar with the new feeding system

With the heavy snowfall all the sheep could do was stand outside their shed in a small cleared patch. It was a great relief when it melted.

Finally the snow melted

When it wasn’t too cold there would be lots of snuggling. Stirling still liked to climb in my lap.

Out of boredom Stirling taught himself a trick.

Stirling’s Trick

Finally April came and the lambs began arriving. Last year we had bred late and got five ram lambs. This year, we decided to test the theory that you get more ewe lambs if you breed early. It worked! All girls. The first to deliver was Ella and this time she decided she would let the lamb nurse so no more headlocks. We named the lamb Billie and she is just as friendly as her brother Stirling.

The next day we stepped out of the shed and the was our first time mother, Little Bit in labor in the yard. She had twins with very straight, black fleeces. They will probably turn grey just like their mother. And like their mother, they are very shy. They are Trixie and Mimi.

The last to arrive was Savannah’s little girl, Taylor. Her chocolate fleece will probably turn light like her mother as well.

As adorable as these little girls are we still had lots of the animals needing some loving. It’s a full time job.

Then there are the worst dogs ever.

Nothing tires them out

Cider House, Part 7

Now that the long, cold, snowy and thoroughly depressing winter is over, it’s time to move upstairs to add the floor above the lower level. Then we can have barn dances and parties and such. But before Virginia and Michael can do that they have to replace another sill and somehow get the last floor joist in.

The last joist goes just inside here

There are several problems to deal with here. The new sill is almost in place but must be shoved under this post over the interior stone wall. On the right, behind the staging, there is another post that is too short. Then the new joist has to go inside behind these posts.

Ironically, the sill goes in first to sit under and support the posts. A cant hook and mallet do the trick.

The short post gets an extension so it will sit on the sill. The other post is securely locked in place.

The left end of the sill will be attached to what’s left of the original sill. Here you can see the gap where the last joist has to go. It will be partially supported by the dropped header below.

The sill in place

Now, on to the joist. First Michael gives it a few final touches with a chisel while Virginia finishes rebuilding the stone foundation under the sill.

Using log rollers, timbers and various tools, Michael aims the joist toward its final resting place and shoves it in.

After a lot of finagling, the tenon on the end of the joist sits above the mortis where it’s supposed to go. Using the staging and the hoists, Virginia maneuvers the other end while Michael pries the tenon down towards the mortis.

All seems to be going well and they are ready for the final push.

No one panic

Not to be deterred, they use the hoists and a rock bar to get the joist back into position. All that’s needed now is a little nudge.

Stoppa stoppa

With the one end in place Michael lowers the other end onto the center stone wall. Originally, there was a mortis and tenon on this end as well but the stone wall works just fine.

Pusha pusha

It’s still stuck, but with Red supervising all it takes is a final stomp to get this end in place.


With all the sills in this half of the cider house repaired or replaced and the joists in, the floor can finally be laid down using new 1 1/2 inch planks. The old floor boards have been power washed and are now being used as siding.

For the first time I can stand in the middle of this room and look up at the beautiful interior structure. Happy days.

Now that the north half of the cider house is just about complete, Virginia, the former scenic artist, starts the onerous job of painting it with a combination paint/stain. Barn Red, of course.

Murder, Mayhem and Madness

Wow, where to begin?  The Buttes were a very accomplished bunch.  All the ones that I knew (aunts, uncles, cousins) were brilliant.  It’s tempting to just give you the list of their accomplishments written up in their obituaries.  However, it’s more fun to hear the stories.  So here goes.

Charles Felix Butte-Caspari was born in Holland in 1830.  His parents were from Italy.  They apparently never immigrated. In 1853 a “C. Butte”, born in 1831, arrived in New York on the F J Wickelhansen.  When he next appears in the 1880 Census, he is married with three children and is a civil engineer in San Francisco.  His wife, Lina Clara Stoes, was born in 1850 in Austria and came to America alone in 1868 on the ship Hermann when she was 18 years old. 

She gives no profession but is listed as being in a “cabin upper level”.  Somehow she or her parents, or maybe her future husband, managed to pay for this.  Somehow Charles and Lina met and married, appearing in San Francisco in 1880 with their three sons, George, Charles and Paul, who had been born there.  The eldest, George, was three years old, so Charles and Lina married in about 1876, several years after her immigration. In 1886 Charles received a patent for a fruit drying machine. He is later listed as a superintendent at the California Dryer company. Charles and Lina remained in California until their deaths in 1900 and 1910.  However, somehow young George was in Texas at age 9 living on a farm.  But before we get to that mystery, I have to tell you about Charles’ other son, Charles.


Charles Felix, his father’s namesake, was a prosperous civil engineer and San Francisco “clubman”.  He married Lenore May Hughes in 1907 and they had three sons.  But in 1934, Charles divorced Lenore, and, that same year, married Emily Maude (Rice) Zigler, “well known in San Francisco and Indianapolis social circles”.  Though what she was know for, I cannot say.  Lenore then sued Emily for $100,000 for Alienation of Affections and Charles turned “approximately $500,000 in property over to his sons”.  This notice gives a little of the background of Charles’ relationship with his first wife.

The resulting financial distress proved fatal.  Using a “curtain pole”, Charles “bludgeoned his socially prominent wife and then heeded her dying request for a farewell kiss”.

Two psychiatrists agreed that Charles “was perfectly sane when he clubbed his wife to death” just  before their second honeymoon after a six month separation.  “She opened her eyes after I struck her the last time and said ‘kiss me goodbye-I’m dying,’” Charles told Detective Yoris. “I knelt down and kissed her and then she was dead.”

But aid was on the way.  Charles’s brother, George Charles Felix Butte (I know, it’s confusing) was reported to be arranging to fly from Mexico to Seattle to provide legal advice to his troubled brother.  

You see, George had made a few headlines himself.  He had been the Dean of the Law Department of the University of Texas, the Republican candidate for Governor of Texas, the Attorney General of Puerto Rico, Vice Governor of the Philippines, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.  He could probably have gotten Charles off even after he kissed his wife goodbye.  George, the accomplished brother for once, is my ancestor.

But, in the end, George didn’t come.  

Charles died in Walla Walla, Washington at the age of 63 after serving a life sentence and apparently getting paroled at some point.  But that’s not all.  Of the three sons of Charles Felix and Lenore, one was named … wait for it … Charles Felix Butte. However, he always referred to himself as Charles Butte.

The immigrant Charles Felix Butte-Caspari’s eldest son, my great grandfather, was George Charles Felix Butte LLB JD.   The Buttes were worse than the Renfros in unimaginative names.  He named one son George and another, my grandfather, Felix.  

Anyway, as I mentioned before, George Charles was to come to the aid of his murdering younger brother, Charles, in 1938.  But he didn’t.  He was in Mexico at the time and died there two years later, at age 62, of an “intestinal blockage”.  But in those 62 years he made quite a few headlines and was the predominant topic of conversation at our family gatherings with the Butte aunts and uncles in Austin and San Antonio.  There was a great deal of pride in his accomplishments and they are so numerous that I could never keep them straight.  George even had his own Wikipedia entry but it disappeared for some reason.  Here’s part of it:

Butte was born [in 1877 in San Francisco, California, to Charles Felix Butte and the former Lena Clara Stoes. When he was nine years old, Butte’s family moved to Hunt County, east of Dallas, Texas, where he was reared on a farm near Commerce and attended public schools.

In 1895, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Austin College in Sherman. He moved to Dublin in Erath County near Stephenville, where on August 21, 1898, he married the former Bertha Lattimore (November 23, 1878–July 13, 1926). Thereafter, he received another bachelor’s degree and in 1904 a Master of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin.  He studied at the University of Berlin in Berlin, Germany from 1911–1912, and received a degree in jurisprudence from the University of Heidelberg in Germany in 1913. He also studied at the École de Droit in Paris, France. Butte was admitted to the Texas bar in 1903, the Oklahoma bar in 1904, and the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1907.

From 1904-1911, Butte practiced law in Muskogee, Oklahoma, when he left the practice to travel and study in Europe. During World War I, Butte was chief of the Foreign Intelligence Section of the General Staff of the U.S. Army, based in Washington, D.C., with the rank of captain and then major.

Now I can tell you the rest of the story.  Notice that George received his first bachelor’s degree in 1895 when he was 18 years old.  Then, after he married, he received a second bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas in 1903.    

One of George’s daughters, Pauline, was an avid family genealogist. According to Aunt Polly’s research, young George went to live with his maternal uncle, Henry Stoes, at Rockwall, Hunt County, Texas in 1887, at the age of 10.  This was long before the scandals in San Francisco, so he wasn’t being sent to get away from all that negative attention.  But that also would mean that Lina Stoes did have family in Texas.  I was able to find Uncle Henry in a later census record in Las Cruses, New Mexico.  But I don’t know why young George was raised on a farm in Commerce, Texas.  And, of course, we don’t have the 1890 census to verify any of this.  The town of Commerce, also in Hunt County, is very proud of its history. “In 1885, the year of incorporation, Commerce had twelve businesses in addition to a hotel and livery stable, a wood shop and wagon factory, and a steam mill and gin, as well as a church and school.” The biography above says he came with his family to Hunt County in 1886.  According to the Census, his father died before 1900, but I don’t know where, and his mother, who died in 1910, and brothers remained in California.  So why was he sent to Texas? I don’t know.

But it’s a good thing he was because George Butte and Bertha Lattimore met and were married in 1898 in Erath County, Texas, where Bertha’s mother, Sarah Catherine (Shivers) Lattimore lived.  Hunt County and Erath County are on opposite sides of Dallas.  Maybe they met in Dallas.  

Bertha was the first wife of George Charles Butte and the mother of all of his children, including the first born, Felix Lattimore Butte, my grandfather, who was born in Sherman, Texas, north of Dallas in 1901.  Bertha’s brother Samuel, that “strong and cultured young attorney”, as we will find out later, followed them to Muskogee and remained in Oklahoma the remainder of his days.

Bertha died young at age 49 in 1926 of a ruptured appendix, when her youngest child, Pauline, my Great Aunt Polly, was just 9 years old.  Aunt Polly wrote this about her memories of her mother:

Because I was not quite nine years old when she died, I have only snatches of memories which I believe are distinct from the things told to me later about those early years.  I remember her singing the old favorite hymns as I stood very close to her in church. She had a sweet clear singing voice and was often asked to sing at friends’ weddings—some of her favorites were “Oh Promise Me” and “Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms”.  Trying to write this evokes a deep sadness (and a lump in my throat) because I lost her so early in our lives together. 

I’ll cover the Lattimores and their ancestors in the next post. 

I never met my great grandfather George, but the thing I remember the most was hearing about his third marriage to a Filipino woman, Angela Montenegro, whom he met while serving as the acting governor of the Philippines.  Although this was somewhat scandalous, the grownups all agreed that she was a lovely woman and made George very happy.


One thing that was not discussed in any detail was the nature of his run for Governor of Texas in 1924.  Based on appearances, he was entirely surprised to be nominated by the Republican Party.  Then Dean of the University of Texas Law School, he was returning home from Europe when he received the news.  “I was overwhelmed,” he said on his arrival in New York. “I am virtually a nobody in Texas politics. Why, I wouldn’t recognize the State’s political leaders if they strolled down the pier to meet me.”  

The thing the grownups didn’t even whisper about was the influence of the (un)desirable Ku Klux Klan vote.  If the Republicans were to have a chance at winning the Governorship, they could not afford to alienate the Klan.  The importance of the Klan vote was evidenced by George’s need to defend himself by stating “I am not now and have never been a member of the Ku Klux Klan. I have not now and never will have any alliance with it.” 

The former governor, and husband of the Democratic nominee, “Ma” Ferguson, charged that, failing to find anybody on land, the “Republican – Ku Klux” crowd had “finally jumped on one poor ignorant professor away out in the middle of the ocean and thrust upon the poor devil the Republican – Ku Klux nomination for Governor.”

I don’t really understand the ins and outs of Texas politics in the ’20s, or any other time for that matter, and I think that is a positive attribute.  But it seems that the Klan’s loathing of the Democratic Fergusons lead them to vote for Uncle George.

Mrs. Ferguson’s Republican opponent in the general election was George C. Butte, dean of the University of Texas law school. Ferguson attacked him as “a little mutton-headed professor with a Dutch diploma,” who was taking orders from the “grand dragon” of the “Realm of Texas,” Z. L. Marvin, “the same as Felix Robertson did [another Felix?].” According to the New York Times, the November 4 election signified “the greatest political revolution that ever took place in Texas.” Tens of thousands of rock-ribbed Democrats cast a ballot for a Republican candidate for the first time. Klansmen deserted wholesale to Butte, who was not in sympathy with the organization, as did a number of anti-Ferguson Democrats, outraged that Ferguson should return to power through his wife. [“Texas in the 1920s” Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association]

He also benefited from the Suffragists’ abhorrence of “Ma” Ferguson.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, many of the former suffragists found themselves unable to bring themselves to support Ferguson. Instead, they did what was then almost unthinkable in Texas politics. They crossed party lines and supported the Republican candidate, George C. Butte, dean of the University of Texas law school. Ordinarily, Republican candidates for governor polled between 11,000 and 30,000 votes statewide. In the election of 1924, Butte received over 294,000 votes — most of them from women. [“Women’s Suffrage Movement in Texas”, Texas State Library and Archives]

But that was not enough to win the election.  

The Texas Klan quickly died out after that. “It was all over,” recalled a former Klansman. “After Robertson was beaten [in the Republican primary] the prominent men left the Klan. The Klan’s standing went with them.”   


The Buttes were blessed with brilliance but plagued by mental and emotional problems. But George and Bertha’s children were some of my favorite relatives when I was a child.  The eldest was Felix, my grandfather. More on him below. The next, George, I didn’t know.  Woodfin, or Uncle Woody, was a lot of fun.  He also was a law professor at the University of Texas.  He had a son, Johnny, who was absolutely brilliant.  Uncle Woody and Aunt Pat had two grand pianos in their house so that Uncle Woody and his son could play duets together.  It was astounding.  Tragically, their Johnny suffered heat stroke his first year at Yale, and lived in a vegetative state thereafter. 

George Charles and his sons

Then came Catherine, whom we all called Aunt Ta, my most favorite great aunt.  She was funny and had a glass eye.  When she was young she was sitting in the stands watching a baseball game when the ball flew right into her eye.  Even with no depth perception, she was a great pool player.  And her son, Woodfin, one of my favorite cousins, followed the family tradition and became a judge. His older brother, Stephen, was a Chess Master as a senior in college. His younger sister, Casey, was wild and was frequently the topic of family conversation.  I think she came to a tragic end. 

Beth, Polly and Sara

Finally, there was little Sarah Pauline, or Aunt Polly.  She was only a few years older than her niece, Beth, and often visited at the Butte house in Dallas on Maplewood Avenue.  Next door lived the Gifford Family and Beth and Polly came to know the Giffords’ son, Pete, who was about Polly’s age.

Now, to my grandfather, Felix Lattimore Butte, George and Bertha’s first born. During his youth he lived for a while in Austin and then Muskogee, Oklahoma while his father practiced law there.  Later, he benefited from his father’s stays in Berlin, Heidelberg and Paris while George was obtaining (more) advanced degrees.  He followed the family tradition of being very accomplished, playing the violin, becoming not only a doctor but eventually the Chief of the Orthopedic Surgery Department at Baylor Hospital in Dallas.  Always a point of pride in the family.  He worked there, literally, until the day he died in 1962.

While Felix was studying in Austin he met a very vivacious young lady from Chilton, Texas, Sarah Elizabeth Kirkpatrick.  They married on September 17, 1924. The marriage announcement in the San Antonio Press September 13, 1924 had Elizabeth’s name wrong, referring to her  as “Mary”.  She must have been furious.

Elizabeth and Felix 1924

Felix and Elizabeth were separated for a year or two while he was at medical school in Galveston.  Elizabeth had graduated from the university and was back in Chilton teaching school.  His letters are very passionate and creative in the greetings and closings he uses.  Or maybe that was just how young twenty-somethings wrote in the early twenties.  After their marriage, Felix became a professor of anatomy at Galveston from 1927 until 1933. There are a lot of pictures of them with their daughters Rose Elizabeth and Sara and son Felix, Jr at the beach.  Rose, my mother, changed her name to Beth because she got tired of the other children calling her “Rosie Butt”. Galveston also became a frequent destiny for our family summer vacations when I was little.  

Beth, Sara, Elizabeth, Felix, Jr and Felix

Next Felix and his family moved to White Plains, New York, so that he could train further in New York in the specialty of orthopedics. Felix’s medical career was interrupted by military service from 1942 to 1945.  Their children were in their early teens and did not see much of their father during those years.  He served as military doctor in England.  There was family gossip, via Aunt Sara, that he fell in love with a nurse and must have considered leaving Elizabeth, because she and the children knew of the affair.  However, he returned home and was a very devoted husband and father.

Elizabeth and Felix

After the war Felix’s peers considered him a superb technician, and his main clinical interest was the spine.  He is thought to have been the first to use a particular type of fixation in the stabilization of spines. He became well known for the treatment of scoliosis.  I have a box with with his spine, skull and hand (well, not literally his).

Felix always referred to Elizabeth as “Pretty”. Elizabeth loved to write poems.  I received one every year on my birthday, as did everyone else.  Here is an early one that she wrote to Felix.  It is in a plain envelop so it may not have been mailed, but delivered by her hand.

Elizabeth loved Dallas society and was a very active member of the Dallas Garden Club.   She made very elaborate flower arrangements and entered them into contests.   She had come a long ways from the little town of Chilton.  She also taught piano.  I was one of her worst pupils.  

My grandfather loved sports cars.  He had an MG and Elizabeth (all the other grownups called her Libbo) had a pink Caddy or Lincoln Continental with “suicide doors”.  Not to be outdone, my father bought my mother an Austin Healey.

I remember when I was very young Aunt Sara and “Uncle T” would come “home” to visit during the holidays.  Since they were aunt and uncle, I thought they were husband and wife.  Sara must have been living and working in New York by then and Uncle T was in the navy.  Here’s a picture of him in his uniform.  I look like I’m 2 or 3 years old.  Shortly after that, he had a mental breakdown and was eventually diagnosed as a schizophrenic.  

The family gossip (via Aunt Sara, again) was that Felix could not see that his son was ill.  He must have expected a great deal of his son.  Young Felix Jr had attended Yale and would, of course, be as gifted as all the other Buttes.  Some said that early treatment might have prevented such a serious illness.  After his breakdown, Uncle T lived in the Veterans Administration hospital in Topeka, Kansas for many years.  

Many years later, after my mother’s death, that my father told me of his almost life-long infatuation with Polly.  Polly married in 1940, so she was out of the running when he came home from the war.  Not everyone was pleased that Pete married Beth.  His sister Marjorie said to me, at the hospital where my mother lay dying, that “Pete should never have married her.  Her mother pushed Beth on [poor little] Pete.”  As if his mother had nothing to say in the matter.  That was the last conversation I had with my very unfavorite Aunt Marjorie.  Maybe the marriage was simply his mother’s (Eveline Bonorden Gifford) way of keeping her only son near her in Dallas where Beth’s parents lived as well.  

After my mother died, Pete and Polly had an intense love affair. But Polly had hepatitis and was too ill to be a constant companion for him.   She could never leave San Antonio but Dad might have moved there to be with her. I begged her to let him just adore her.  But Polly said he deserved better than a dying woman.  Polly died a couple of years after Dad remarried.  But he continued to see Polly until her death, which infuriated that other woman.