This is the obituary for my great grandfather on my mother’s side, Mose Estes, of Madison County, Kentucky. The story has always been that he served in the Confederate Army, either as a waggoner or a water boy, probably late in the war. The obit states that he did serve in the Confederate Army, and that he lived to be 103 years old. That would have made him born in 1836. However, that appears to be the same year his parents were married. Now stranger things have happened, I know, but census records seem to indicate that he was more than likely born about 1844. My mother remembers him telling stories about the war to her and her cousins, who corroborated this when I met them after we moved to Kentucky in 1974. However, I have never been able to find any record of his service in the Confederate records listed on Fold 3. As the obituary states, he refused to take a pension, so there is no record of that either. It was his story, told to me by my mother, that got me interested in the family history at the Civil War at a very young age. I suppose we will never know the true story.
On my mother’s side of the family I know of only one Civil War veteran, her great grandfather, Alfred Yeager. Alfred’s origins remain obscure, but I do know that he married the widow Sarah Bennett Griffith/Griffy, in Fayette County, Kentucky, in 1852, and they had several children together to add to her one by her her first husband, George Washington Griffy, a daughter named Georgia Ann. Their daughter Sallie Yeager was my great grandmother, and mother of my grandmother Lillie Belle Emmett Estes. Alfred’s Civil War papers show that he served in Company A of the 6th Kentucky Union Cavalry and was absent without leave for several months in 1863-64, believed to have been captured. He showed up again and served until the end of the war. Don’t know where he was, but I do know that his wife had a child in 1864 whose birth date coincided with the his time away, so perhaps he took some of that time to be with her. Alfred survived the war but died in 1869 of complications from lung problems he contracted from exposure to the out of doors, sleeping on the ground, etc. during the war. I have Sarah’s pension application from the late 1870’s and it is so detailed. It was granted to her in 1880 at the whopping amount of eight dollars a month. Of course, in those days, that probably seemed like a fortune to a family who had lost their chief provider. She is listed as his widow on the 1890 Veterans Census, and she received the money until she died in the 1890’s sometime. I would love to know more about him, but so far haven’t been able to find out much.
This is a picture of my great great grandfather, Charles Henry Martin. He was the father of my great grandmother, Martha (Mattie) Martin Cayse, my dad’s maternal grandmother. I don’t know much about his background, except that census records show he was New Hampshire, and his Civil War Records show he enlisted at Paducah, Ky., for one year as a waggoner with the 6th Kentucky Union Cavalry for one year. I don’t know how he got from New Hampshire from Kentucky, but I do know that after the war he married Lucinda Walden and they settled first in Rockcastle County, Ky., then in Garrard County, Kentucky, where he died in 1892. He is listed in the 1890 Pension census of Union Civil War veterans. This picture was sent to me by a family member of his grandson, James Morris Martin, and it has his name written on the back as indentification.
The picture in this article is of the tombstone at the “grave” of Jacob G. Shoup, located in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. It is in the Confederate Section, near the base of the large Confederate rock pyramid dedicated to the Confederate soldiers who died at Gettysburg, and whose remains were brought back from their burial places in Pennsylvania to be reburied among their own in a mass grave, in the early 1870’s. The picture was taken in 2005 or 2006, by a worker at the cemetery. The marker was free and the cemetery orders it and sets it for $100, a price I split with another more direct descendant of Jacob. You see, Jacob is one of my Middletown letter writers, and I have discovered that his 2nd great grandmother, Dorcas Moore, was sister to my 7th great grandfather, Dr. James Moore. (I did not put the flag there, the cemetery did, but if I lived closer I would do so.) The tombstone does not sit on his grave, rather is placed with others of its kind in a row over the mass grave.
Why did I help have it erected in his memory? Because I felt that he deserved no less. I know much more about his family history than I did when my mother found the letters in 1958. I know his brother, Cal, was Captain of Company H, and that he and Cal were both shot while leading a charge to rally their troops at the Battle of Fairfield, a smaller action on the third day at Gettysburg. I know he died instantly from a bullet to the head. Cal was severely wounded in the leg, survived the long trek back to the Valley with Lee’s caravan of wounded, healed, and lived to fight another day, only to be killed himself in action during The Burning of the Valley in Oct. of 1864. Their mother, Caroline, lost two sons to the war. North or South, that was a tragedy. One I can’t imagine.
A long time ago, I made a promise to one of the letter writers, Caroline Lincoln, that I would do what I could to see that she and her letter, and those of the others I called the Middletown Letter Writers, would not be forgotten by future generations. This is the first of such attempts on my part.
Most of you know me as a person who has few female friends. The ones I do have you can count on Facebook. They are mostly from my high school and college days, and from places I’ve lived and worked in the past. I think I got this from my mother. She wasn’t a joiner, and she didn’t have many female friends, mostly because she thought a lot of women were just plain stupid. That was her. This is me, and this post is about my dear friend, Becky Ries, a fellow traveler on the journey we’ve both called Butler University for the past almost 20 years.
I came to Butler in 1995, three or four days after we had the truck unloaded in Lebanon after moving from Wyoming. I remember Becky had her office in Jordan 307, that office where Brian and Robert and the Booth staff now are. She was in there with Molly Cleveland and Susan Sutherlin, and we were all three friendly. Becky and I had a kind of love/hate relationship at first. We snipped at each other in a friendly way, but our closeness didn’t develop right away. Then she left to go down to the LRC and I was given two of her classes for the spring semester and was full time. The job at the LRC didn’t last long, and she was soon right back in the English Department, right across the hall from me, as head of the Freshman Writing program. That was when we really started our friendship. I even worked with her for a year as an assistant, a job I gladly relinquished when there was no more money, not because of Becky, but because it was the biggest hassle I’ve every come across in my teaching career. It gave me a new appreciation of what all she did for the program, the department, and the university. I’m not sure she was as appreciated in that job as she might have been, at least by some.
Somewhere along the line she hired Katie Rauk and Jane Sidey, and, along with Carol Reeves, we started going out to eat at the end of the semester, and once in the summer. Jane left for a full-time job, and Katie eventually returned to Minneapolis with Adam. Carol, Becky, and I never replaced them, but have continued to go out to eat every semester’s end for the intervening years. It is always fun, and never dull. We’ve never gone back to Binckley’s since the waitress spilled the Ranch dressing down Carol’s jean’s leg, and I’ve learned a lot about Indianapolis restaurants over the years that I would never have known.
Becky tried to have meetings of the EN 101 staff, but after I told another instructor, who insisted on quoting statistics to me about how students learn to write, that I didn’t give a damn about his damned statistics, she quit trying to have them so often. I swore I’d never go back to one, and she said don’t worry, I won’t be having any more right away.
I also got a great deal of fun out of teasing her about Steve, her husband. I told her I didn’t really believe he existed. She always talked about him but we never saw him. He’s real of course, and I’m sure they will enjoy their retirement together.
My fondest memory of Becky is the one from when I found out I had breast cancer. I did not want it widely known, so I only told my family, and few friends. When I called Becky I had to leave a message and she called me back, asking what was up. When I said “I have breast cancer” she immediately replied, “Oh fuck”, and I burst out laughing. It was easier to say those words after that. I just though about Becky’s response. It still makes me smile today.
So why am I going through all this? Because Becky is retiring at the end of this semester. She has mostly cleaned out her office, and the three of us are planning to eat out next week for the final time as employees of the University. I’m sure we’ll continue the tradition, but it won’t seem right not to see Becky in the hall, in her office, at the copy machine, etc.
So goodbye my friend of years. Thank you for your friendship and for keeping my secrets, such as they are. Thank you for never shutting your door to me, and for listening to my gripes and grumbles about this and that. You will always have a special place in my life, and I warn you, your time with me isn’t over.
One of my favorite stories of a Christmas past is from 1958. As family knows, my dad lost his job in 1956 when the company he worked for went under due to some nefarious practices by the company financing them. He was about 48 years old, and work was hard to find for a man that old in those days. People thought he should have done better, taken care of his family better, etc. He had a small business he had never given up, which helped tide us over, but Christmas times were hard for a few years.
By 1958, we were living in Middletown, and he was selling roofing materials for large buildings in the winter and doing the application in the summer. He had gotten paid from the sales of some of the material, and we had some money, but not much extra. We went to Muncie on that Christmas Eve for some prudent Christmas shopping, and to the grocery store, and were nearly out of what little money we had. The grocery was the A&P on South Madison.
Now, those of your who knew my dad, Bob Moore, know him to have been a good looking man and a nice dresser. And for some strange reason, when he lost his job, and we were forced to move around, we somehow never lost the 1952 Cadillac that we had bought several years earlier, before the job loss. I don’t know how that happened, I just know it did. So that night, in Muncie, my dad was dressed up, having come from doing business, and my mother and I were not shabbily put together either.
As we walked out of the grocery, my dad saw a row of Christmas trees propped against the building. The manager had helped us carry our groceries out to the car and was putting them in the trunk when my dad asked, “How much do you want for a Christmas tree?” The man named a price I do not recall, and my dad said, “Well, I know a poor family who could use one.” The manager said, “Well, go ahead and just take one, then. No cost.” They picked one out, and tied it to the 1952 Cadillac for the ride to the poor family’s house, and off we went.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, my mother turned to my dad and asked, “How much was the Christmas tree?” He answered, “Nothing?” She was astonished. “How did you do that?” “Well,” he said, “I told the manager I knew a poor family who needed one, and he just gave me one for them for free. We ARE the poorest family I know.” My mother was mortified. But the tree went home with us that night, and shone brightly in our home in the country east of Middletown for that Christmas season.
And that, my children, is how my dad “stole” a Christmas Tree.
Every August, when it’s time to go back to school, I always think back to school beginnings of my lifetime from Kindergarten to graduate school. I remember some very clearly, others not so, but the one that stands out for me this year is forty years ago this week, when I registered for classes and began my study for my Master’s Degree, at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky. One reason it stands out is the picture above and the people I came to know and care about in that year and in those subsequent. To say my life changed substantially is probably an understatement.
Why Eastern Kentucky? They were the first to offer me a graduate teaching assistantship in their English Department. Having such an assistantship was important for me to be able to study. Secondly, the move coincided with my father’s retirement. He asked my mother where she would like to live, and she said, to no one’s surprise, Kentucky. The assistantship offer and the move, as it turned out, were a good fit. So in August, 1974, we left Muncie, Indiana, and moved to a house at the corner of West Main and the Tate’s Creek Pike, where my parents would live for the next eleven years.
I remember climbing the steps the to Wallace Building, where the EKU English Department was then located, and thinking that I would never come to love this place as I loved Ball State. How wrong I was. The Wallace Building was new, situated at the east* end of the old football stadium, and looked out onto the quadrangle which also included the new Chapel of Meditation, and the Powell Building, which at that time served as the student union.
There were eleven of us who served as teaching assistants that year: Danny Miller, Darryl Hovious, Ron Ball, Dewey Weddel, Jane Taylor Boster,, Alice Nevels, Jennifer Riley, Patti Pigg, Owen Branum, June, whose last name does not come to me right away, and me. At age 30 I was the oldest one of the group, and we all shared an office on the third floor of Wallace. Thankfully, we were never all there at the same time! We never expected, going in to that year, that we would come out the other end as an extremely close knit group. There were lots of things we never guessed, but most of them were happy.
Our “beloved” faculty, included Charlie Sweet, Jack Culross, (who were actually not much older than I was I think,) and Edith Williams, who truly was beloved, and after whom I think I’ll pattern the rest of my teaching career. Edith was outrageous, Charlie was “cool” because he was good-looking and didn’t wear socks with his loafers, and Jack Culross…well Jack was just Jack. They all had wonderful senses of humor and when we invited them to our graduate school parties, of which we had several, they actually came and enjoyed themselves. They later told us that they had never had a group of TA’s such as ours, and we took it as a compliment. Almost everyone of us gloried in being different.
Fond memories: study sessions at the old library; Jack Culross’ Literary Criticism class, which almost all of us where in, and during which we often got into arguments that had Jack crossing his arms over his chest and leaning against the chalkboard, looking at us in amazement; Ron Ball’s reaction to my being divorced; Patti’s love life; our Milton class taught by Byno Rodes, who taught us about Moses’ brother A-run, (Aaron) and his wife Ma-ree Pal (Mary Powell); Darrell’s hilarious-to-the-point-of-crying recitation of the prologue of Milton’s Paradise Lost” as Gomer Pyle; trips to Berea with Danny, to country dance and to pick daffodils in the spring; Charlie Sweet giving me a B on my first graduate school paper, and telling me what to do to improve my writing, but also telling me to not stop talking in his class or any others (now you know who to blame?) and all of us reading Bleak House ahead of time for our summer Victorian Lit. class, taught by Culross, and then being told it was full and we couldn’t sign up for it, a circumstance which would raise anyone’s ire, and then protesting to the head of the department. until we finally got into the class; and oh so many more.
I must not forget to mention my dear friend Libby McCord, who although she wasn’t a TA, was a close friend of Danny’s and enrolled in grad school too. She was one of the gang, and she is still my friend to this day. I hope she reads this with love.
Most of us scattered after graduation in August of 1975, but I had one more course to take that fall so I didn’t graduate until after taking my graduate exams in 1977. We kept in touch for a while, had a reunion, the picture above, in the fall of 1975. Some went on to earn their doctorates, others to teach. Some we lost touch with for years. But Danny, Darrell, Libby, Ron, and I always kept in touch. Danny went on to become the head of the English Department at Northern Kentucky State, and left us too soon in November of 2008, just after the election, when he died of a stroke. I still exchange Christmas cards with Alice Nevels, and Libby and I are still in touch via Facebook.
And so it goes. My Master of Arts in English gave me many opportunities to teach at the college level, including my present job at Butler for the last nineteen years. Harold and I were married in the Chapel of Meditation in 1976, and lived in Richmond for four years afterward. My step-son graduated from Madison Central in 1980 and my step-daughter graduated from Eastern in 1982. I became good friends with Libby’s mother and father, and her sister Sally was my student at Model. I will always be thankful that Eastern chose me, and that it has become as much home to me as Ball State. It is truly “My Old Kentucky Home”.
*directions are hard to divine in Kentucky sometimes because nothing is as straight as it is in Indiana.