| || Notes for William Thomas Henry Wimsatt:|
A letter from William Wimsatt to W. H. Randall.
Mr. W. H. Randall
Dear Mr. Randall:
Please pardon my long delay in responding to your call for family history.I realize you will be a long time gathering information at this rate.I assure you that I gladly give what I can, if it is of value to you.
To being, will say that I am a grandson of Sylvester Wimsatt, and a son of Raphael Wimsatt.From Sylvester's tombstone which is in St. Alphonsus' Catholic cemetery at St. Joseph, Daviess Co., Kentucky, about 12 miles from here, I find that he was born February 16, 1810 and died August 27, 1877, at the age of 67 years.He died of pneumonia.His wife was Eleanor (Nellie) Spaulding, daughter of Joe Spalding and Miss Nancy Norris.
From this same stone it gives that she was born February 10, 1816 and died June 18, 1876.She died suddenly -- had not been ill - 'twas then called neuralgia of the heart.She died 1 year 2 months 9 days before he.
The above named Joe Spalding is of the same family as Bishop Martin John Spaulding, the 2nd bishop of the Louisville, Kentucky diocese, later Archbishop of Baltimore, also Father Lancaster Spaulding, also of this diocese and others.
Coincidentally, my birthday is on February 16, also my twin granddaughters', Martha and Dorotha Jarboe.)Sylvester's is February 16, 1810; mine, February 16, 1862; theirs, February 16, 1915.Upon noting the date I remarked, "Why, I was born on my grandfather's birthday."One of these girls, Martha, was quick to reply, "Ha! Ha! You have nothing on me; Dot and I came here on our grandpa's birthday, too."
Sylvester was not a son of either Stephen or Raphael of who you speak.Only three years ago, my father's sister, Jane Wimsatt-Brady, told me that he was a nephew of Stephen, that she always said Uncle Steve.If that be true, then Sylvester's father would be a brother of Steven.
She did not know the name of Sylvester's father or mother either.She didn't seem to know anything of her Wimsatt grandparents.She was then past 80 herself.She died a little more than a year ago.
Somehow, I am wondering if Sylvester's father wasn't named "John", and a brother of Steven, for Sylvester's first child was a son named John who died in infancy, and then later on, a way down the line, he had another son named John.Sylvester also had a brother John whom they called Jack.Do you find that Stephen had a brother John, or any brothers at all?
Then, too, all of Sylvester's brothers had a son named John.I do not know who Sylvester's parents were, where he was born, nor when and where he was married.Somehow, I think he must have been born, and married too, in Marion or Nelson Co., Kentucky.
When he was first married, he settled at Muldraugh's Hill in Nelson County near New Haven, Kentucky.Having taken a lease there, he built a small house of round logs, Grandmother Nellie helping him to build it.
One of the 6 natural divisions of Kentucky, in the central part, is known as the "Knobs".This region resembles the letter "Y" in shape and comprises many knobs on solitary hills of hard rock, often sandstone or sandy limestone which have resisted erosion.The western arm is a wooded ridge called Muldraugh's Hill which stands out boldly from the lower land surrounding it.Some fruit is grown, but the region was not well developed for agriculture, because the soil was thin.Because of this, he then bought a farm of 3 or 4 hundred acres near Raywick in Marion County on Rolling Fork River at old Messenger's Mill.He built a great big house - 'twas log, weatherboarded and plastered.It was here that I first remember anything of him.
He was a man of great energy and hustling qualities, making quite a great deal of money for those days.He had many slaves at one time, paying big sums for them.He was a rather successful farmer, but dealt some in whiskey, having a wholesale house in Louisville, Kentucky, moving there for a while.He traded quite extensively in slaves and whiskey.After he had come from Marion County here to Daviess County - tho' the slaves were freed - he sent back to Raywick and brought one of the old slave families, namely: "Mitt Wimsatt".This old Mitt and wife, Nancy, have lived here with me in the last 20 years, though both have passed away now.He was a fine man with stock.some of his children and grandchildren still live here in the county.Some are better Catholics than many of the whites.Our colored Wimsatts are quite proud, too, of the name.
After the Civil War his slave and whiskey trade was ended; slaves were freed, and such high tax on whiskey made it unprofitable, so he went back to his farm at Raywick from Louisville, my father living in his home there until his return.(When he had his sale to come to Daviess Co., he knocked the head out of a barrel of whiskey and hung a cup by it, but no one abused it.)In the meantime a son-in-law, Charley Pike, and Uncle Hilliary Wimsatt and families had come to Daviess County.Rumors came of the big money made from raising tobacco there.
Someone stole Darby, a fast rocking stallion, so my father traced him to some Mr. Long's near Curdsville in Daviess Co., and took him back.When he returned, he interested Sylvester, his father, in the good land here.So in 1869 he sold his Raywick farm to a Mr. Downs and came to Daviess County and bought a 400 acre farm near Curdsville, among the Green River Hills to seek a new fortune in tobacco raising, paying $25 per acre.He could have bought just as good land for less money, but it was an item to be on the river as there were no trains then, and the river was the only means of transportation.My father came here at the same time.I was only 7 years old then. (1869)It was the one big event in our lives.The last of Sylvester's boys were along the ages of my father's first boys.Really, we were all just one big continuous family.
Everything in readiness for the move, the women and children went on train to Louisville; there we took a boat down the Ohio river to Evansville, Indiana., and there transferred to a Green River boat up to Curdsville.It took several days to make the trip.We boys knew every hole and corner on the boat.What a time my mother and grandmother Nellie (Spalding) had with all of us children on the boat to keep us all from "drowning".
At each landing we were on shore and up the clifty banks in quick action.When we got to the dam and locks at Spttsville on Green River, they became so frightened at our daring deeds that they locked us all in a room until we landed at Curdsville.
The men came through and drove the teams and brought the household goods, together with 5 four-horse teams and all the "hounds".
Eventually all the married members of Sylvester's family joined him in his move to Daviess County, though many of the children's children are now scattered.All of their 16 children were born in Marion and Nelson Counties, 3 dying in infancy.
We arrived here in early March, so pretty soon everyone made big preparations for the new experience - a crop of tobacco in our new Daviess Co. home.A new experience it was, too, for that first year much of the tobacco was set out in water 12 inches deep, but somehow it was a pretty good crop.Another unusual happening occurred; on the night the housing was finished, a 6 inch snow fell.Some kind neighbors came to show the men folks how to fire it. ("Housing" tobacco, for those who don't know, means hanging it in tobacco barns after harvest and "firing" means lighting fires to keep it warm. dew)
And, too, that was the year of the total eclipse of the sun.It nearly scared us little ones and the Negroes to death.The sheep bleated, chickens squawked, and all the grandchildren screamed with fear.The grown-ups were back in the tobacco.
Of course, we had heard it was to be, but mail and papers were few and far between then, outside communication almost non-existed (sic), and we were just a little skeptical about its really taking place.This year also, Grandmother Nellie bought the first sewing machine I ever saw.
One amusing little story that went the round among grandmother Nellie's grandchildren was this:
After being here awhile, she made a visit to the ones back home in Marion Co.For the occasion she frocked herself in a new fur which was rare then.Her little granddaughter, Amanda Boone, admiring her grandmother Nellie in such an array of finery exclaimed, "When grandmother goes back, Aunt Margaret will call to Julia Ellen (her daughter), 'Julie Ell'n - Julie Ell'n, come and look at your Aunt Nellie's woolie hing'".
Grandmother Nellie raised lots of geese when we were back in Marion Co., so one cold windy, snowy morning, I in my long tail shirt that reached just above the heels (all little boys wore long shirts and no trousers) decided to invade an old mother goose's home and nest, which was away back under the house.When I arrived, old father gander was there on guard - well! he took my shirt by the tail, and I never got such a thrashing in all my life.I didn't dare squeal, for I was caught in the act, but grandmother soon was on the scene and decided that master gander had administered adequate rebuke and reprieved by sending me home with the coveted egg.
My father Raphael (Rafe) was the third child and the second son of
Sylvester Wimsatt and Nellie Spaulding - born May 28, 1838 and died Oct. 20, 1897.He was married to Harriett Ann Hagan Aug. 1858, a daughter of Pius Ignatius Hagan and Lucinda Rhodes.
Sixteen children were born to them, 10 dying in infancy, 6 living to be grown.Only my youngest brother Charley and sister Eyota being born in Daviess County.
It might be interesting to say that my mother's two great Aunts - Mothers Mary and Ann Rhodes founded the Loretta order of nuns at Loretta, Marion Co., Kentucky more than 120 years, for many years ago the order celebrated its centenary.I have visited their tombs in the convent cemetery there.
My father at one time had a store at Balltown back in Nelson Co.That is not far from the Trappist Monks at Gethsemani in Nelson Co.I have taken to them may pairs of shoes or sandals that my mother made for them.Many a treat it was for me to ride old gray horse Charley with a sack of corn to the Monks to grind our meal.The kind old fellows would then pitch me and my meal aboard my nag to return on my cold, icy trips.
My father was of the real Wimsatt type, a blond with blue eyes, light hair of the unkept type - wouldn't lie close when combed and brushed.He was well liked by all who knew him, and was noted for his wit and humor.Fairly well educated for the times, he taught school for a while after coming to Daviess Co.Though he didn't especially like the school room, he was induced to teach by the neighbors, many being willing to subscribe to the public money to make the salary more attractive.He was justice of the peace at the time of his death.He was even re-elected to succeed himself in that office after his death; having died Oct. 20, time was not long enough before the November election to officially have his name removed from the ballot.
He did carpentering well, loved hunting wild game to an excess, and indulged extensively in neighborhood, after-supper card games.He composed well, merely for his own pleasure.Grandmother Nellie frequently remarked that her son, "Rafe", gave her lots of pleasure while she spinned at nights, entertained her with his writings (some of them love letters) and reading to her.
During the Civil Ware he recruited a company of soldiers at Raywick, but somehow, the command was given to a Dr. Lawrence Crinian in his stead.I don't remember that he fought any.I well recall that we boys sang "Hang Jeff Davis on a Sour Apple Tree."My father died at the age of 60, fifteen years before my mother.She died January 3, 1913.She made her home with me the last 10 years after his death passing away at my home.He would be 95 and she 91 were they living - and Sylvester 123.
Yes, Sylvester Wimsatt had 4 brothers that I know of, but if there were any sisters, I don't remember anything of them.He brothers were (1) Lote (must be Aloysius); (2) Jack (John-I think), the father of Frank here in Owensboro; (3) Bob (Robert, I should say; (4) Ben.The name Lote is given all down the line of descendants, for my father had a brother Lote who married a sister to my mother, Ursula Hagan.
Sylvester's brother Lote stayed in Marion County; Jack and Bob both in Nelson County.Ben went to Larue County, and Sylvester came to Daviess.
There is a family of Wimsatt, though, living in Larue Co. at Hodgenville, the county seat, the place of Lincoln's birth, now noted for the "Lincoln Memorial Home."I do know, though, that Pearl Wimsatt, my first cousin, then of Owensboro, now of Hollywood, California, corresponded regularly with some of the Wimsatt girls at Hodgenville, but don't remember whether she found that they were any of our kin or not.That was about 1905, I think.Pearl is now Mrs. Claude McFadden, 6241 Afton Place, Hollywood.She is a prominent teacher in a high school there.Her sister Ethel Too.She is Mrs. now, but I don't know whom.McFadden is a prominent lawyer there.Both these girls made a visit here in Owensboro and Daviess Co. this summer, but I didn't see them.Sorry, too.
Now somehow, I feel that this family is that of Sylvester's brother Ben, for this is a Ben Wimsatt's family, I hear.My daughter, Jessie, teaches in the Owensboro city schools, in the same building with a Mrs. Joe Walters, who says that Ben Wimsatt at Hodgenville married a first cousin of her husband - that the old Ben is dead, but his wife still lives unless she has died recently, but she is quite feeble now.It has been years now since she has seen anything of them.She still has a bachelor son Ben and 2 single daughters - Lizzie and Addie - living with her.They are in the hotel business - seem to have been so for years.It is the Lynn Hotel, Hodgenville, Ky.She says Ben is rather indifferent and would never answer a letter, so would be best to write to Lizzie for a replay.However, there are other girls married.perhaps if you write to Hollywood to Pearl, she would know whom they are.
Lote has one son - Billie - still living, goes to Church at St. Charles, St. Mary, Marion County, Ky.The church is attended by a priest from St. Mary's College there close.You might write to him - Billy Wimsatt - at St. Mary, Ky.Possible he is on a R. Route.Billy has only 2 sons: one is named Earl, but I can't remember the other's name.Lote's son, Eddie, just died since Xmas - quite old, and very bright and intelligent man.The entire community looked up to him and advised with him on matters of most every nature.He lived at Raywick in Marion County.He attended church there, being most prominent in Church affairs.He married a Miss Dant, who died many, many years before he.He had only one daughter, Edna, now Mrs. Willie Lee Mattingly with whom he lived.Edna has no children.Edna was ill herself in a hospital at the time of her father's death and knew nothing of it until her own recovery.She gets her mail at Loretta, R.1, I think.
Lote's daughter, Julia Ellen Wimsatt-McCauley, has been dead many years, an old woman though.She left many children and grandchildren.Her son Benedict McCauley at Raywick might give you something if you want it from him.For years he was a mail carrier on a star route between Raywick and Chicago, Kentucky, a distance of 5 miles.Suppose he still has the place, and too, for a number of years his wife, who was Miss Lyda Mattingly, was organist at the Raywick Catholic Church.
Of my father's children, only my sister, Emma Wimsatt-Parkinson, and I are left.
My father had only 3 children of the 6 to marry.My brother Jim had 16 children, all dying in infancy but 6.Sister Emma had 11, two dying in infancy; and I had 9, two dying in infancy.Emma and I both have twins - living - hers are girls; and mine, boys.I have a daughter, too who has twin daughters.Of my 3 daughters, one married, one in the convent and one still unmarried.All 4 of my boys are married.I have 24 grandchildren - none married - the oldest, a boy is 20 years old, the youngest, a boy, one year old.Ten are boys; 14 are girls.
I was married to Miss Martha Mitchell, a daughter of Arnold Mitchell and Sara Melton, Nov. 18, `1884.She has been dead since June 15, 1918.I make my home with my daughter, living in my home place.