Thomas Alvin Sannar – 1 year old – 1941 in LaGrande, Oregon
(Tommy is my dad. He is the son of Charles Alvin and Shirley Marcilee (Kennison) Sannar.)
Thomas Alvin Sannar – 1 year old – 1941 in LaGrande, Oregon
(Tommy is my dad. He is the son of Charles Alvin and Shirley Marcilee (Kennison) Sannar.)
(Edna Coleman – July 6th, 1969, 66 years old, Wallowa, Oregon)
Edna Winifred Weaver was born on November 25th, 1902 in Wallowa, Oregon to Elijah and Mary Pearl (Hulse) Weaver. She was the second born of twelve children.
At the age of 18, on October 28th, 1921, Edna married Harry Kennison in Enterprise, Oregon. The couple made their home in Wallowa’s Lower Valley where Harry worked building roads. He was one of the road builders on the Minam Canyon road that links Wallowa county with Union county.
This great picture of Harry and Edna was taken in 1922 in Shaniko, Oregon. Harry was doing road work down there, so they were living in this sheep wagon.
On the 4th of July, 1923, Harry and Edna’s first child was born, my grandmother, Shirley Marcilee Kennison. Edna was 20 years old. A Dr. Gregory delivered the baby, but Edna had been so toxemic that she was unable to wear shoes for several months before the birth. The baby was born and she was fine but Edna wasn’t doing very well, so the doctor stayed with them at their home for a few days after the birth to help Edna recover.
Son Harry Alvin Kennison, Jr. came along in 1926, and the couple’s youngest daughter, Laurena Winifred Kennison in 1930.
On December 14th, 1934 the family’s life was to change forever when Harry had a sudden heart attack and passed away at the age of only 31 years. My grandmother, Shirley, was the oldest child. She was 11 when her dad died and had to run by herself on a dark night to bring the doctor back to their home. That story always broke my heart a little bit each time I heard it.
After Harry passed away, the family was very poor and got some type of assistance from the county. It was not at all the same as the welfare system is today and was apparently random items brought to their home from time to time. One of the items that the family was given at one point was bed sheets. Their house has a dirt floor, which was not so uncommon in those times and I always heard stories how Grandma’s dirt floor was always swept so clean and hard packed that you could eat off of it. Well, the family didn’t need any sheets, so Edna took them and hung them up on the walls and the ceiling to help keep the dirt out. She was very resourceful, from all accounts that I have heard.
Edna’s parents gave the a milk cow, but they had no place to keep it at their home, so it stayed at her parents house. Shirley, being the oldest, was sent over to her grandparents to milk that cow every morning. There is a family story that her two young uncles, the twins Doc and Marshall, (who were younger than Shirley), thought that the cow should be theirs instead. One morning when Shirley went to milk, the three of them got in a fist fight. Apparently she came home with a black eye but the boys were the worst for the wear!
On February 5th, 1940, at the age of 37, Edna married Trell Haney Coleman in Union, Oregon. From all accounts, Trell was a wonderful man and the family adored him.
(Edna and Trell Coleman, July 1963, Wallowa, Oregon.)
They were married for 29 years before Trell passed away on June 29th, 1969. Edna followed less than a year later on April 29th, 1970. She is buried in the Cemetery at Wallowa.
Wallowa County Cheiftan Newspaper
Enterprise, Wallowa County, Oregon,
dated Thursday May 7, 1970
Edna Coleman Services Held
Mrs. Edna Winnifred Coleman of Wallowa passed away on Wednesday, April 29, 1970 in a La Grande hospital where whe had been a patient for ten days.
She was the daughter of Elijah and Mary Weaver and was born Nov. 25, 1902 at Wallowa where she had lived all of her life. On Oct. 28, 1921 she was married at Enterprise to Harry Kennison who passed away Dec. 14, 1934. On Feb. 5, 1940 she was married at Enterprise to Trell Coleman who passed away June 29, 1969.
Her survivors include two daughters, Mrs. Alvin (Shirley) Sannar and Mrs. Ray (Laurena) Vance, both of Ketchikan, Alaska; one son, Harry Kennison of Baker and one stepson, Edward Coleman of Enterprise; two sisters, Mrs. Chas. (Blanche) Schaeffer of Wallowa, and Mrs. Francis (Myrtle) Armon of Perry; five brothers, Wayne Weaver of Pagosa Springs, Colo., Lloyd and Martin Weaver, both of Wallowa, Kenneth Weaver of Yakutat, Alaska, and Selby Weaver of LaGrande; and seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Memorial services were held Monday at 2 p.m. at the Wallowa Christian Church, conducted by the Bollman Funeral Home with Rev. Gary Johnson officiating. Mrs. Wanda Sorweide was organist, and Mrs. Catherine DeBoie sang “In The Still of The Night” and “In The Garden.”
Casket bearers were: Keith L. Weaver, Beryl Weaver, Gregory Weaver, Lowell Armon, Dallas Armon and Mike Holloran. Interment was in the Wallowa Cemetery.
Please pass on any stories about Edna and her life so that I can add them here. I know some of you remember her~!
“This is my Aunt Edna..Dad’s sister..and all of you that attended Wallowa High School..Trell Coleman was our favorite janitor!!! Such a kind caring man..” ~ Janice Weaver McLaughlin
(Edna is my great-grandmother, the mother of Shirley Marcilee (Kennison) Sannar.)
George Washington Carper was born on April 7th, 1831 to Joseph and Virginia (Shumate) Carper, the third of eleven children. The family lived in Brush Creek, Virginia when George was born and lived there for his entire childhood. Brush Creek is part of West Virginia now and is a small unincorporated coal town.
When George was eighteen, he married Delilah Phipps on November 29th, 1849 in Fayette County, West Virginia. (Then Virginia, as well.) The couple took up residence in Frederick County, Virginia where George is listed as a Farmer on the 1850 census.
In November of 1851, George and Delilah’s first child was born, a girl, Mary Elizabeth. Mary Was born in Raleigh, Virginia and was the oldest of fourteen kids, including my own great-great grandmother, Eliza Ann.
The 1860 census finds the family living in an area called Scotts Ridge in Raleigh county, Virigina. The nearest post office was in a small town called Table Rock. I’m not sure if the town is still in existence, though the post office is not. George was again listed as a Farmer.
The Civil War began in April of 1861. On September 12th, 1862 George enlisted in Charleston, Virginia. He was 35 years old and listed as a Private in the 36th Regiment Battle Unit of the Virginia Infantry, Company C, 2nd Kanawha Infantry – The Raleigh Rangers. It looks like the Rangers unit was reorganized in May of 1862 and maybe George went home then, because in late December of 1862, George and Delilah had another daughter born to them. He was certainly home sometime during that spring! You can read a bit more about the 36th Regiment here.
The 1880 census finds George and Delilah still living in West Virginia, (which by now IS West Virginia, having seceded from Virginia.) George is still listed as a Farmer at 49 years of age. About 1885 they have emigrated to Promise, Oregon where Delilah passes away on April 4th, 1904 at the age of 70 years.
George is a preacher as well as a farmer. This is a 1901 picture of the congregation of the Wallowa Christian Church in Oregon where it is said that George preached.
This one was taken in 1910 at a Carper wedding in Promise, Oregon that George officiated. He is the gentleman with the white whiskers and black hat on the left hand side of the picture. (These two photographs, the one of the church congregation and the one of the wedding were shared by a user on Ancestory.com. Thank you for that!)
George was lonely after Delilah passed away, so in 1905, at the age of 74, he married Caroline Lyon Griffith in Wallowa, Oregon.
George passed away January 5th, 1910 at the age of 79. He is buried in the cemetery in Promise, Oregon.
Following is the text from his obituary printed in a local paper:
Pioneer Preacher Dies at Promise
Rev. G.W. Carper 40 years in ministry-First Preacher in Promise
Rev. G.W. Carper, first preacher in Promise and one of the first settlers in that community, died at his home on January 5, 1910, lacking but 2 months and 2 days of being 80 years of age. He had been 40 years a preacher and had spent an active life much of it on the frontier of Oregon.
George Washington Carper was born in West Virginia April 7, 1830. He and the wife of his youth together united with the Christian Church early in life. Mr. and Mrs. Carper about 15 years ago came to Promise where some of their children had already come. Mr. Carper preached the first sermon ever preached in Promise in Mr. Mann’s house in June 1885. Most of the time since then he has lived in Promise and preached in different parts of the country until the state of his health prevented him from such labors. During the last few months, Mr. Carper has been a constant sufferer. His life came to a peaceful close January 5, 1910. The funeral services were held at Promise school house conducted by Rev. Fred G. Potter. The remains were laid in the Promise cemetery where his first wife was buried several years ago. Mr. Carper was the head of a large family. He was the father of 13 children, three of whom died in childhood, two live in West Virginia and eight live in the Promise country and were near him at the time of his death. He had nearly 100 grand children and about 35 great grand children. Very fittingly was he generally called Grandpa Carper. A wife who has been a comfort to his declining days, also remains to mourn for him. Death came to his as a relief from toil and suffering. He was cheered by the hope of immortality in the blissful beyond in which he had so great faith.
(George was my 3rd great-grandfather.)
Clay Taylor and Martha (Rowe) Simmons, taken in Ontario, Oregon in 1939. This picture is one of my favorites. It reminds me of the classic American Gothic painting and just seems so iconic. Clay Taylor Simmons is my great grandfather and this is the only picture I have of him. I don’t know much about him or Martha either, so if anyone reading this knows more, please share!
Clay was born on November 8th, 1882 in Millville, California to Shelby Huggins and Nancy Jane (Newton) Simmons. Sometime around 1890, the family moved to Harney county, Oregon where Clay’s father passed away when Clay was sixteen years old.
In 1918, Clay registered for the draft for World War I. From that draft card, I know that he was a farmer and he was of medium height with a slight build, light blue eyes and brown hair. I like that we can see his signature on this card.
1918 also brought the birth of my grandfather, Rolin Clay Simmons. I haven’t been able to find a marriage record, so not sure what year Clay and Martha got married, but it would have been sometime before 1918.
In both the 1900 and 1920 censuses, he was listed as a Farmer, living in Harney county, Oregon in 1900, still in 1918 on the draft record, but then listed in Malheur county, Oregon in 1920. By the 1930 census, the family had moved to Oroville, California where Clay was listed as a laborer doing bridge work. He was 48 then.
When Clay was 61, his wife, Martha passed away in Redding, California where Clay lived until his death in 1953 at 70 years of age.
Tommy, Kathleen, and Judy Sannar
These three kids are the children of Charles and Shirley (Kennison) Sannar. Since the picture is attached to a 1952 calendar, it would have most likely been taken sometime in 1951. Tommy would have been 11, Kathleen 3, and Judy 8. What a bunch of cutie-pie’s!
(Tommy, Thomas Alvin Sannar, is my dad.)
Samuel James Weaver was a soldier during the American Revolution, serving as a Minute Man as well as several different enlistments.
Samuel was born on November 26th, 1755 to Daniel and Anna (Stout) Weaver in Cumberland, Virginia. The times were very turbulent during Samuel’s childhood; the Cherokee-English wars were going on, and the American’s were strongly opposed to English rule. Samuel would only have been 10 years old when the American Revolution began. Stories say that he was a giant of a man, reaching 7’4″ tall.
We know that Samuel was drafted into service just a few weeks before the fall of Charleston in April of 1780. Here is some information from the National Archives that was transcribed from his Revolutionary War Soldiers Pension Application, dated the 15th of April, 1836.
‘Laurel County, State of Kentucky
On the 15th day of April, 1836, personally appeared before Abraham Hunter, a Justice of the Peace for Laurel Cty appeared Samuel Weaver a resident of said county now aged 81 who being justly and duly sworn according to law doth on his Oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed June of 1832
That a few weeks before the fall of Charleston in South Carolina in the Revolutionary War, in the state of North Carolina, Surrey County, he was drafted to serve for three months, and was placed under Jacob Camplin as Capt and was marched from thence toward Charleston in S.C. but on the way he was detached from the Company to guard the baggage wagons.
His Capt marched on to Charleston and in the siege was wounded in the knee – upon his return he was selected to return with him home to Surry County and wait upon him and he did so and at the end of his term of service (3 months) he was discharged by Capt Camplin in Surry County his discharge was in writing but which he has long since lost. He does not now recollect the name of his Col. or Maj. – neither does he remember his Lt. or Ensign. In the Company he belonged to he remembers the name of Matthew Peggs – he recollects his name particularly as he was told by his Capt that during the siege of Charleston he stopped shooting and lit his pipe. Four days after his discharge he volunteered for three months in the Militia of said state in Surry County for three months under Capt Wm. Bostic from there he was marched to Hillsborough in N.C. the place of Rendivou, (rendezvous?), from thence he was marched to join Genl. Marion in S.C. After remaining with Marion a little upwards of four weeks he was marched back to N.C. and when his term expired and but a short distance from Moravian Towns he recd a written discharge from his Capt which he has long since lost – He does not remember the name of his Col. or Majors. After his return but after serving under Hostin as will be explained he enrolled himself as a Minute Man for and during the war under Capt. Camplin aforesaid and he was repeatedly called out under him in scouting parties against the Tories. This time his service under this engagement was almost every month, and sometimes after and during the War near three years or perhaps a little upward. During this time he performed his service in N.C. on the Yadkin and Broad River – Deep River and Haw River. On these trips he got several discharges, which he has lost. The Col. or Majors if any, he does not remember. Previous to this he volunteered and went in to Virginia and served a trip of between four and five weeks under Capt George Hastin (afterward called Col. Hastin) of Henry County, Va. This trip was to go to the battle of Gilford in N.C. but when the reached the battle ground in about five or six miles, they met the American troops retreating. The way this happened he was an a visit to Va. at an Uncle _______ Harstin (?) – Whether he was a Capt or a Col. he does not remember, but supposes he was a Col as he was the Commander and had near six or seven hundred men under him. – He recd a discharge (long since lost) from Hastin and not exceeding two weeks he entered the Minute service as ap. (?) For this trip he volunteered for no particular time but served as long as he was required. He would further state that there were two men of his own name who were drafted as he understood in the _____ of N.C. One of them lived in Surry county, the other he does not recollect in what county he lived neither does he know in whose command they were in but one of them deserted and joined the enemy at Savannah, Georgia. He mentions this, for fear it might be supposed he was this man. He would further state that shortly after the close of the war he recd of Capt Camplin a written discharge for his service as a Minute Man as ap. – After this he moved to Tennessee, Washington county, and volunteered to serve an expedition under Capt John Wood under Col Sevier (formerly Gov. of Ten) in the Cherokee Nation of Indians. The time he served he does not remember – but he remembers when they started, roasting ears were not full enough to use, and when he returned, corn was generally gathered and cribed. During this trip a treaty was made with the Cherokee’s at Little River in Ten. He does not remember whether he got a discharge; but was marched home by his Capt and discharged.
1st. He was born in Cumberland county, Va, the year he has stated.
2. He has in his possession a record of his age.
3. He lived in Cumberland or Rockingham county when the Revolution commenced and when called in to service he lived in Surry County, Va. Since, he lived in Ten. and Kentucky where he lives now.
4. The manner he entered the service he has described – he was always a private and upon his own account.
5. He recollects during the service he saw Genl Washington and Genl Marion – He would state that a few years since he remembered his Col and Genl but his memory is almost gone. He hereby relinquishes whatever to a pension….(illegible)
The reason why he has not applied sooner is that he had a repugnance to have it said he was paid by the government and he was so advanced in years he thought it hardly worthwhile to apply.
(Samuel Weaver’s mark here, Laurel County, Kentucky)
I, Abraham Hunter, a Justice of the Peace for the County of Laurel —- that this day Samuel Weaver made Oath before me to the foregoing petition according to law. I also certify that he is not able to attend court. I also certify that his memory is frail and greatly impaired. I also certify that he is a man of good character and I have no doubt this statement is true. Given under my hand this 15th day of April 1836.
Abraham Hunter, Laurel County, Kentucky
From Samuel’s own account, he served under Col Francis Marion who was known as the “Swamp Fox”. There is a famous story and painting depicting Col Marion inviting a British officer to share a meal of sweet potato’s served on a bark plate. From what I was able to find, there is a strong possibility that our Samuel was the one who prepared this meal.
At the age of 27, Samuel married Mary Ann “Polly” Bollinger on October 7th, 1783 in Washington County, Tennessee. The couple had 11 children and a long life together.
From what I understand, they moved to Laurel County, Kentucky when land was granted to Samuel for his service in the Revolutionary war. The land was located in the Cane Creek section of southeastern Laurel County. Apparently it was a large land holding stretching between the headwaters of Laurel River and Cane Creek. Part of the land, 200 acres, was passed down to Joseph, the youngest of Samuel and Polly’s sons. I believe the rest of the land may have been divided up between a few of the other children.
Samuel passed away on November 14th, 1842 at the age of 84.
He is buried in the Providence Cemetery in Laurel County, Kentucky. The older headstone is his original. A second headstone has been added.
(Samuel Weaver is my 5th great-grandfather. )
Charlotte “Lottie” Weaver came out west with her family from Kentucky in 1878. Lottie settled on Alder Slope and later married William McCormack after the death of William’s first wife Ida.
Lottie raised her family and was very religious. She died in the home of her only daughter of a stroke at age 77. Lottie is buried in the Alder Slope Cemetery in Enterprise, Oregon.
[Obituary of Charlotte Weaver, daughter || A clipping from the ‘Stockman Enterprise.’ of Alder, Oregon, reporting the death of Charlotte McCormack, daughter of Darius Weaver… “Charlotte Weaver was born in Laurel County, Kentucky, Nov 9, 1862, the daughter of Darius and Sally (Morris) Weaver. Her mother passed away when Charlotte was nine years old. In 1878, her father came to Oregon and settled in Alder, and the next year sent for his unmarried children. Charlotte and her two older brothers made the trip by wagon, entering the Valley over the old Smith Mountain Road.”]
(Lottie is my 3rd great-aunt. She is the daughter of Darius and Sarah “Sally” Weaver and the sister of Elijah Daniel Weaver.)
John Michael Rowe was born on December 26th. 1848 to Abbott and Anna (Dial) Rowe in Cabell county, Virginia.
When John was three years old, the family headed west, along with his grandfather, John Rowe. They took a boat down the Ohio river, but unfortunately there was a cholera outbreak and John’s mother, father, and two siblings succumbed to the disease. Grandpa John took the remaining children and continued west. In 1856 the kids were living with their Uncle Jim Rowe in Taylor county, Iowa. Apparently Jim was a mean drunk who harassed and abused his nieces and nephews. John’s oldest sister, Alameda, got married and took their other sister, Mary, to live with her. John and his brothers were left with mean Uncle Jim until the second oldest brother, Parker, decided to run away and take John with him when John was about ten years old. The boys traveled over the Oregon Trail several times as helpers to Bullwhackers and possibly as Bullwhackers themselves. Another of John’s older brothers, Louis, was my 3rd great-grandfather. I’m not sure exactly if Louis ran away with his brothers or not, but I think it is very likely as he is listed in a census as a Teamster. I could be wrong, but it seems like the two could go hand in hand.
When John was 25, he married Deborah Van Elizabeth Fimple on February 21st, 1874 in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. The couple had eleven children over a twenty year span. They lived in various places in Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas. In the 1880 census, the family was living in Liberty, Nebraska and John was listed as a farmer. In 1910, when John was 62, they were in Little Blue, Kansas where John was a laborer who did odd jobs.
John Michael Rowe passed away on July 8th, 1929 from heart disease at the age of 80 years. He is buried in the Humboldt Cemetery in Humboldt, Nebraska.
The above letter was sent to Jess, one of John and Elizabeth’s sons, from John A. Fellers asking for payment for John’s funeral. I find it funny that A.H. Fellers & Son dealt in furniture, undertaking, floor coverings, and paint. It seems that the undertaking is just a bit out of place.
“Mr. Jess Rowe – Potter Nebr. –
Dear Sir – ;
As no doubt you know we burried your father, and your brotherinlaw Geo Boyer promised to pay the expenses, and he may get them paid some time, but he said you promised to help him out on this, and it would surely be the thing for you to do, and it would be greatly appreciated by him and us to, if you would do this, the amount of the whole bill was $102.00 so if you will pay any part of this you may send it to us or George either one and as I said before it will help all concerned. Now let us hear from you Jess.
A.H. Fellers & Son
By John A. Fellers”
A memory written by one of John and Elizabeth’s grandsons:
“Grandpa didn’t use a cane, when he needed support to walk in his aging years. He used a “stick” and was very particular with it. It had to be made out of cherry wood, no other wood would do. If you look closely at the picture below, (In this case above), you can see his stick lying in front of him on the porch. Close by is a floppy straw hat, he wore, to keep the sun off. He always had a mustache as long as I can remember. My dad was always clean shaven. ~ George Boyer”
(John Michael Rowe is my 3rd great-uncle. He is the brother of Louis Michael Rowe who was my 3rd great-grandfather.)
Elgin, Oregon is my hometown ~ the land rough and remote and I call it mine. Even though I’ve been grown-up and gone now for more years than the 18 that I was spent there, my family roots, heart and soul are still deeply embedded in the Union County soil. My mom and her sisters and brothers grew up here and now my brother and his wife are the only one’s of our immediate family left, raising their kids in our hometown.
Elgin is a small farming and logging community that sits in pretty little Indian Valley in the Blue Mountains of Northeastern Oregon, population around 1200. I swear that all these years later, when I pull into town, the same little old men are still sitting on the same little old bench in front of the downtown corner market. Things and times have not much changed in this remote corner of the world. Some people can’t imagine why we would want to go back there, that things are so behind the times. I try to explain to them that those are the exact reasons, besides the absolute love of the land, that I would want to go back. It’s home. Enough said.
This is the old Elgin Opera House and City Hall. I’m not sure what goes on in the Opera House these days, but when I was a kid it was a movie theatre. There wasn’t a movie shown every weekend, just now and again. It’s a great old opera house with a wonderful balcony and red velvet curtains and seats. There is a notorious story about an old pistol-carrying character who got excited during an old western and shot the bad guy on the screen when my mom was a teenager. During my growing-up years that hole was still there in the screen. Of course, it had to be pointed out and talked about whenever you went to a movie. I wonder if it’s still there?
You know you’re in a small town when the grain elevator is located right behind city hall!
“I am from the cool feel of the big stone porch on a hot summer day
where the sound of laughter and the clink of dishes makes you know that you are safe.
I am from brick.”
This is the house that my Mom grew-up in, the house that I wrote the above passage about in my poem “I Am From Hammer and Nails“. My grandparents lived here for many years and we all have beautiful, loving memories of this place. To me, it brings back memories of Daddy-Longleg spiders and dust; to my oldest sister, the smells and sounds of canning. Behind the house, there was a firepit with Grandpa’s great big fat hotdogs roasting away and long stone benches that were so cool to lay on on a hot summer day. So many cousins running around, so much love.
(My grandparents, Leoma and Rolin Simmons sitting in the backyard of this beautiful brick home.)
“Here we have Elgin High, winning her way to fame.
The purple and white will shine tonight
and romance lies in her name…”
How proud we were to be Elgin Huskies! We had some great teachers at Elgin High and a whole lot of small town pride!
This is C-Zers drive-in and is an Elgin icon. My Uncle Estel and Aunt Flossie Sagers owned it years and years ago but sold it when I was just a little girl to the Churchill family. C-Zers is the only place I’ve ever known of that has BBQ french fries. They are amazing and a must have whenever you’re in town. When I was a little girl, on the last day of school each year all the buses would stop here and we would each get a soft-serve ice cream cone before the buses headed out on their routes to take us country kids home. It was a great tradition that we all looked forward to every year.
There are so many things that I could tell you about Elgin – the Christmas Eve tradition of Santa coming around on the firetruck and bursting into the houses with bags of nuts, candy, and an orange for every kid in the house; the 5 o’clock fire alarm that rang every day; my grandparents hardware store and lumber yard where I helped grandma take inventory every year; the Grande Ronde River that runs through the edge of town and is a fantastic place to spend a hot summer day; the sound of the whistle blowing at the mill; the train rumbling through town. I could go on and on without stopping but I hope that just in this short post you can get a feel for the small town that, to this country girl, was the ideal place to grown up. Perhaps a place where your ancestors walked as well.
David Rittenhouse Porter Roddy was my 3rd great-grandfather on my dad’s side. The above picture is a screen shot of the Pawnee, Kansas Muster Roll for part of the Civil War. It shows that David was only in service for 8 months before he was discharged due to a disability.
The following is a lengthy obituary from the Tiller and Toiler in Larned, Kansas. It tells us a lot about who David was and his life.
Obit: Death of David R.P. Roddy; From the Tiller and Toiler, Larned, Kansas; December 5, 1929
“The County’s Oldest Citizen, and Pioneer, Died Sunday at the Age of Ninety Years”
D.R.P. Roddy, 90 years old, the oldest resident of Pawnee county, and a pioneer of the county, died Sunday afternoon at 4 o’clock at the Larned hospital. Several weeks ago Mr. Roddy suffered an attack of pneumonia and was taken to the hospital for treatment. Mr. Roddy was able to survive the attack of pneumonia but it left him in such a weakened condition at his advanced age that recovery was impossible. Mr. Roddy was active until a few months ago even transacting business affairs during his last summer. Mr. Roddy had a long a versatile career in Kansas, as a farmer, railroad contractor and builder and land agent. He associated in the construction of some railway lines by which the middle west is linked with the Rocky mountain and Pacific coast country.
As a Kansas homesteader he arrived in Pawnee county in March 1878. He had come with his wife and six children from Shade Gap, Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. Some advertising matter which he had read on Western Kansas was one factor in making this move, and another influence was the intention of other Pennsylvanians to come west. Mr. Roddy made his first home on the west half of the northwest quarter of section 7. township 22, range 18, Pleasant Ridge township. This was raw land, containing as its chief improvement a frame house of two rooms and a sod barn. For it he paid $8 an acre. The first year he planted a few acres of sod corn and harvested a fair crop. He continued farming the same ground and after three years rented additional land. Mr. Roddy had a ready resource at his hand when hard times came to the settlers of Western Kansas.
While in Pennsylvania he had had some experience in railroad grading as foreman on the East Broadtop railroad. It was not difficult, therefore, for him to secure a position as general foreman of grading and construction on the Santa Fe, which then was in the course of construction.
He became a general foreman for the firm of F.A. Butler, and began work in Rice county, Kansas. Later he was with the A.P. railroad at Laguna, N.M., from which he rejoined the Santa Fe forces close to Ft. Cummings and from there to Deming, N.M., where he graded for sidetracks and station. Following that he went to Olathe, Kansas, then between Las Vegas, NM., and Hot Springs, N.M., at Raton, N.M., from Attica, Ks., to Kiowa, Ks., twenty-five miles of the line out of Kingman, and also some work at Saratoga. He then became a general foreman with J.B. Colt & Sons, contractors, and was engaged in construction work on the Missouri Pacific from McCracken to Pueblo.
From railroad building he and his sons next turned to construction of irrigation ditches and they contracted and built sixty miles of ditches at La Junta, Colo. They built dikes along the Mississippi river in Arkansas and subsequently returned to railroading and did some work on the Orient railway in Kansas, and the line from Osage Kansas, to Cushing, Okla.
Mr. Roddy had many thrilling experiences with the tough and lawless element that infested Bad Man’s Land in Arkansas in the early days. All the towns and camps had their quota of horse thieves and gamblers and honest men as well as rogues had to go about heavily armed. Mr. Roddy at times had the responsibility of superintending the work of 300 men and an equipment of sixty teams.
With this long and varied experience as railroad builder, Mr. Roddy returned to Larned, where his wife had remained in the meantime, and he engaged in the real estate business, handling western lands. He remained in this business to the end of his life. Among other property, he owned a half section of land in Haskell County, Kansas.
Shade Gap, Pennsylvania
Mr. Roddy was born in Shade Gap, Huntingdon county, Pa., February 27, 1839. His parents were William and Sophia (Copeland) Roddy, both natives of Pennsylvania. His father was a railroad contractor before him and combined that business with farming. His mother was a daughter of Mathias Copeland. Their children were: Catherine, wife of James Mills, a Union soldier from Illinois who died during the war; Eliza, who is unmarried and lives in Larned; J.C. Roddy of Shade Gap, Pennsylvania; Margaret, wife of Lawrence Lynch, of Pawnee county; Thomas of Shade Gap; D.R.P.; William who enlisted in the One Hundred and Twentieth Ohio Infantry during the Civil War and died in the Marine Hospital at New Orleans.
Mr. Roddy grew up on a farm and received a country school education. While attending Millenwood Academy in Pennsylvania, he first became acquainted with his wife. On leaving school he was a teacher in Pennsylvania until August 1862, when he enlisted at Harrisburg in Company I of the 149th Pennsylvania Infantry. This regiment was known as the Pennsylvania Bucktails, so called because each soldier wore a deer tail on his cap. The first captain was George W. Spear, who soon resigned on account of sickness and was succeeded by Capt. B.X. Blair. His colonel was Roy Stone. After his enlistment Mr. Roddy did guard duty at Washington D.C., and Belle Plains, Va., and on April 12, 1863 was discharged on account of disability due to illness. His war service over he resumed teaching and also clerked in stores at Latrobe, Pa., and Hancock, Md., and from there returned to his native town of Shade Gap.
Mr. Roddy was married April 12, 1865 to Miss Martha E. Sipes, daughter of George and Rachel (Cornelius) Sipes. Her mother was a daughter of Benjamin Cornelius of Virginia. George Sipes was a son of George Sipes, Sr., and both were Pennsylvanians of German descent. George and Rachel Sipes had the following children: Rebecca, wife of J.S. Hedding, of Hancock, Maryland; Rachel, wife of William M. Williamson, a former judge of Blair County, Pennsylvania; Mrs. Martha Roddy; Sarah, wife of W.M. Elder, who came to Kansas in 1879 and is still in Garfield, Pawnee County. Mrs. Roddy’s father was a tanner, farmer and merchant at Shade Gap, Pennsylvania.
Politically Mr. Roddy was a Democrat, but never held or sought office. He and Mrs. Roddy, who died several years ago, were members of the Methodist Episcopal church. Of their children, Rachel died after her marriage to S.P. Kennison of Larned, leaving two children, Willie and Harry. J.H. Roddy, the oldest son, died several years ago in Pueblo, Colo., where he was a member of the city detective forces. He was married to Susan Lane and had two children, Raymond and Donivan. William Roddy is a theatrical advance man for “The Birth of a Nation”, and George S. Roddy married Mary Stanton, in Chicago he is associated with the Outdoor Poster Advertising Co., Mrs. Steve (Gertrude) Prather, a daughter, of Garfield, also survives him, as well as a sister, Mrs. Margaret Lynch of Dodge City.
Mr. Roddy was a member of B.F. Larned Post No. 8, Grand Army of the Republic, and served as its chaplain for six years. Mrs. Roddy was active in the Women’s Relief Corp No. 61 and served as it’s chaplain for five years.
Funeral services were held yesterday afternoon, (December 4, 1929) at 2:30 o’clock at the Beckworth Mortuary, Rev. W.B. Summers, of Garfield, officiating. Interment was at the Larned cemetery.
Mr. Roddy is one of the last rugged pioneers who contributed much to the development of Western Kansas. He was a man of many sterling qualities, a dependable friend, a good neighbor, and an exemplary citizen. The work of his life is outstanding and permanent in the winning of the west.
What an amazing man he would have been. I would love to sit and listen to his stories.
Big thanks to my sister, Susan, who gave me the copy of David’s obituary.
(David is my 3rd great-grandfather. He is the father of Rachel Sophia (Roddy) Kennison.)