The Horne Side: Ancestry of Helen Horne Penley
The Horne Family History
The Ancestors and Descendants
Helen Horne Penley
About this book:
Since the late 1790s, the Penley and Horne families lived near Clinch Mountain, Scott County, Virginia. During World War II, their paths converged.
Mitch Penley and Helen Horne married in 1946. After a brief stay in Kentucky, they returned to Kingsport, Tennessee. In 1956, they moved to Brevard County, Florida and joined the Space Race.
Their four daughters are Linda (Novick), Karen (Zack), Priscilla (Frazee) and Michelle (Kennedy). Grandchildren Joey Mitchell Zack and Jane Zack arrived in the 1980s.
Heritage: something that comes or belongs to one by reason of birth. We were born rich. We were blessed by God into a family with a rich heritage of goodness, wisdom, stamina and perseverance. But heritage has no value until you take ownership of it.
Twenty years ago, I wanted to tell Joey and Jane a few things about our family. I thought I might write a little "golden book" about their history. I do believe that if you don't know where you came from, you don't know who you are. I asked questions and jotted down notes. Our ancestors were such fascinating characters, they dragged me into their lives. I learned so much about myself by studying them. For every generation I learned, I wanted to know another. Conjuring up old memories and sorting faded photos was an emotional roller coaster, a manic depressive journey. The notes piled up. Joey built a website to store the files, and it grew beyond 500 pages in no time. My normal relatives don’t want to read that much to find their story, and neither do Joey and Jane. Only genealogists demand explanations for each conclusion, original documents, and source citations. That documentation is available at www.PenleyPearls.com. Hopefully it will be refined after this narrative is finished. It is time to quit searching and sorting and write the story as we know it, with hope that someone can add pieces to the puzzle.
I want a historical record for my children and their children, located in one place, not strewn about. I want later generations to know who brought them around. This is a brief summary of our family history. Take it easy on me, it was tough to reduce 500 pages to this. There were difficult choices on photographs and stories to include. I'm sure I've combined and twisted some stories, and every cousin has at least one more tale that should be included. Their memories are as valuable as mine. I apologize for omissions and errors, and I look forward to the corrections.
Granddaddy Horne told Helen that his ancestors were Dutch, Irish and Finnish, and that the Hornes moved up from North Carolina. It is likely that our Hornes were mostly British, specifically Scot Irish. The naming patterns and name choices meet British traditions of that day. Settlers sailed over to start a new life in America, but upon arrival, as a rule they looked for a neighborhood composed of their own kind. Our Hornes were surrounded by neighbors with good old Scot Irish names. Dutch ancestry may have come through Rachel Burress, or another Horne wife. No Finnish influence is found. Mitch Penley’s grandmother Priscilla Price Penley also spoke of Finnish roots. When he left for the war she told him, “We’re Finnish, we fight to the finish”. No Finlanders have ever been located anywhere near Scott County. Until 1786, Scott County’s land was in Fincastle County. Perhaps Fincastle was corrupted to an assumed Finnish connection over time.
By the 1780s, Divine Providence had firmly placed the ancestors of Mitchell Penley and Helen Horne on a collision course entrenched around Clinch Mountain and Copper Creek in Scott County, Virginia. To trudge through the dusty records of just one county was great relief to genealogists who chased Penleys and Hornes across the Atlantic, through the colonies and into the states. The trials, tribulations, and triumphs of the Penley and Horne descendants before and after their arrival in Scott County are entwined with the historic events of the United States.
Mitch and Helen moved to Florida in 1956, but in many ways "home" to them was still the area between Nickelsville, Virginia and Kingsport, Tennessee. We didn't lose our family, just the mountains. Maybe our ties are strong because we were alone down here, our visits back home special because we didn't see our cousins every day. We ended up with sand in our shoes, so we remain in windy Florida, though we treasure our family back home in the mountains.
Sadly, Rufus and Stella's line of the Penley name comes to an end with my generation, and Kenneth’s grandson Kevin is now the only one to carry Frank and Bess Horne’s name forward. From here, our heritage moves forward under different names. Most of our descendants will not carry a Penley or Horne name, but the values, strength and wisdom of the ages moves through their veins. This book is dedicated to Joey and Jane Zack and Kevin Horne, and all of their cousins, our future.
March 22, 2009
The Ancestors of Jesse Frank Horne
Long before his death in 1979 at the age of 96, Jesse Frank Horne positively identified his parents as William (Bill) Horne and Harriet Stapleton, and his grandparents as John Horne and Rachel Burress to his daughter Helen Horne Penley. He also told her his people came up from North Carolina. Only because of that essential information, it became possible to track Granddaddy Horne’s family backwards through Fincastle, Russell and Scott County records to a Jesse Horne and Nancy Langley who arrived in Scott County around 1816 from Stokes County, North Carolina. The Jesse Horne located in North Carolina moved to Stokes County in the 1780s from Nansemond/Goochland County, Virginia. Good records link our North Carolina Hornes back to Jesse’s father, John Horn of Nansemond County in the 1740s.
Positive identification of our Horn ancestors before 1740 may never be possible because of the common occurrence of the Horn name in colonial America, destroyed records, and blurred misspellings on the surviving documents. The most likely ancestor candidates include Richard and John Horn, found on the 1704 Rent Rolls for Nansemond County, Virginia. In 1714, a William Horn bought land in Nansemond. Even further back, a Henry Horn and Richard Horn were survivors of the 1622 Indian Massacre, their names are documented as residing “Over the [James] River” on the 1624 List of the Living in Virginia. Also in 1624, a Henry Horne from England filed a grievance at Jamestown concerning a servant.
Unfortunately, no document has been found that links us to these candidates, only circumstantial possibilities. Horn immigrants came to America from both Germany and the British Isles, Van Horns came from Holland. On the original 1790 Federal Census, there were 184 individual Horn or Horne names listed as heads of household, including 60 in North Carolina alone. The time has come to write our story as we see it now, with hope that others may add the missing pieces to our puzzle in the future.
Tracing the Hornes before Jesse Horn I:
According to research conducted by Rhonda Robertson and Helen Peoples, our earliest documented ancestor was Jesse Horn, born in Nansemond County (Suffolk), Virginia circa 1749, the son of John Horne and Sarah Perkins. Their research gives John and Sarah five children born before 1762: Jesse, John, Richard, Mary, Massie and Nicholas. The Perkins marriage and the births of the last three children are recorded in the Douglas Register, but the marriage took place in 1755. Jesse, John and Richard were probably sons by a previous marriage for John Horn. John Horne, Sr. sold his land in Virginia by 1780 and took land grants in Surry County, North Carolina. His sons John, Jr., Richard, and Jesse acquired land nearby. The documentation of our Jesse Horn's relationship to the Nansemond Hornes appears well founded. Much of the Robertson/Peoples research has been validated. The American Revolution pension record for Nicholas has been located, his pension ceased at his death on February 23, 1835. Jesse Horn's widow Nancy Horn is found living with their sons in Scott County up through the age of 91 on the 1850 census. The only contradiction with the Robertson/Peoples research is the date of the Perkins marriage and that our Nancy Horn gave her birthplace consistently as South Carolina. Each of Jesse Horne I’s four sons consistently gave their birthplaces as North Carolina.
A Jesse Horne fitting all the age and family size criteria is found on the 1790, 1800 and 1810 Federal Census for the adjacent counties of Stokes and Surry in North Carolina. His presumed brothers Richard, Nicolas and John were landowners nearby. There are no guarantees, but this Jesse Horne family meets all the criteria as a match for the Jesse Horn family that moved to Scott County in time for the 1820 Federal Census. When Jesse’s brother Nicholas applied for a Revolutionary War Pension in Knox County, Tennessee, he stated that all his brothers fought in the American Revolution, and that he and three brothers had moved to Tennessee around 1815.
Jesse Horn I (circa 1749 - 1821) and Susan Melton
Before leaving Virginia, John Horne’s son Jesse married Susannah Milton or Melton on December 22, 1773, in Goochland, as recorded in the Douglas Register. On the original census for the newly formed United States of America in 1790, Jesse Horn was recorded in Stokes County where he had a family of one son under age 16, and four females, seemingly his wife Susan and three daughters, with the same brothers nearby. Jesse Horne’s first wife Susan Melton died in North Carolina sometime before Jesse remarried in 1797. Their only documented son was Pleasant Horn, but the three daughters are linked in later documents.
The Robertson/Peoples research confirms Pleasant Horne of Russell County as the eldest son of Jesse Horne and his first wife, Susan Melton. Jesse Horn’s early census figures indicate a son older than the four sons who showed up with Jesse on the 1820 Scott County census. Pleasant Horn fits the criteria of age, and birth in North Carolina, but arrived on the Russell County tax list in 1801, fifteen years before Jesse Horn bought land in Scott County. The naming pattern of Pleasant’s descendants, Ichabod, Solomon, Sabra, Pleasant, Americas, Judith and Mary may indicates Quaker or German influence. Jesse Horne’s other sons tended toward Baptist and Methodist and Scot Irish naming patterns. Pleasant and the Osbourns were slave owners, our Hornes were not. Pleasant's son Solomon bought a farm in Scott County, and resided literally next door to John Horne on the 1840 and 1850 census. The cultural differences may be attributed to Susan Melton or the Osbourn influence.
Pleasant’s wife, Huldah Osbourn was born in Russell County; the Osbourns were large landowners in the area, established well before the Revolution. Many families from Scott and Russell counties fled to North Carolina for safety from rampaging Natives during and after the Revolution. If the Osbourns fled to North Carolina, Pleasant Horne may have married Huldah Osbourn there and moved back with his in-laws to Russell County after Chief Benge's head was delivered to the Governor of Virginia in 1792. Migration and naming patterns do not match with Pleasant and Jesse Horn, but there are many connections that establish Pleasant as the eldest son of Jesse Horn. Rachel Horn moved to Castlewood when husband John left home. Granddaddy Frank Horne had a continuing relationship with family in Russell County, he moved there as an orphan after the death of his father. His relationships there could have been through his grandmother Rachel Burress, or a Pleasant Horn connection could have drawn him to Russell County.
Jesse Horn I (circa 1749 - 1821) and Nancy Langley Horn
Jesse's second wife was Nancy Langley, born in South Carolina around 1765-1770. Stokes County, North Carolina recorded their marriage on June 13, 1797. Nancy was about 30 years of age at the time of her marriage to Jesse, and this was probably a second marriage for Nancy also. The 1800 and 1810 censuses remain consistent but reflect a growing family. By 1810, Jesse Horne had wife Nancy and three sons under the age of 10 (Jesse, William, John), one son aged 10-16 (Nicholas)and one son aged 16-26 (Pleasant).
The first Horne in Scott County was Jesse Horne I who arrived around 1816 with four sons and his wife Nancy. Those four sons contributed a total of 34 children to the Russell, Scott and Wise County populations. Each of Jesse’s four sons named a son Jesse in his honor, and each of the four named another son William, three named a son John, and two named a son Charles. Without the critical information from Helen Horne Penley, it would have been impossible to distinguish our ancestors from the four Jesses, four Williams, and three Johns in this generation.
1820 Census, Scott County, Virginia: Head of Household: Jesse Horn [Sr.]
1 Male under 10: William
2 Males aged 16 - 26: John & Nicholas (born 1798)
1 Male aged 10 - 16: Jesse
4 Males engaged in Agriculture: Jesse Sr, Jesse, Jr., John, Nicholas
1 Male aged 16 - 18: (John) duplicate category
1 Female over 45: Nancy Langley Horne
Speculation that Jesse Horn died around the time of the 1820 census arises from the fact that Jesse is listed as head of household, but his age is not reflected in the count. Jess Horne was already listed as over 45 on the 1800 census in North Carolina, but the oldest male reflected in 1820 was less than 26 years old. An undated Scott County docket entry has been found for the inventory of Jess Horn's estate, listed after a dated entry for 1821 on page 182 of Will Book 1.
Our Jesse Horn died by 1821. On the 1830 Census, Nancy, aged 60 - 70, was head of her own household, with two sons under the age of 30, John and William. Her son Jesse Jr., and his wife Jane (Belcher) lived next door. Son Nicholas moved to Russell in the 1820s. Nancy is not yet located anywhere on the 1840 census. In 1850, Nancy is found still living in Scott County at age 80 with her son, Jesse. Legal notice of Nancy's death in Scott County on June 14, 1855, was filed by Jesse. The notice gave her age as 90, her birthplace as South Carolina and divulged that she was the daughter of John Langley. Since she was relatively consistent in giving her age at each census, she was probably 85 years old at her death.
Jesse and Nancy Langley Horn's Children
1. Nicholas Horne (November 8, 1798 - May 16, 1872)
By 1830, Nicholas Horne at age 32 had established household in Russell County with six children and his wife Nancy (Donahue). He was Head of Household #1581 at age 51 on the 1850 Russell County Census, with his birthplace verified as North Carolina. Nicholas and Nancy Donahue Horne are buried at the Nicholas Horn Cemetery in Coeburn. In 1850, his home included wife Nancy Virginia Donahue Horne, born May 11, 1798, and thirteen children. Their first four children were born in Scott County, the next nine were born in Russell. The children were Jesse, Polly, John, Samuel, William, Charles, Henry, Stephen, Nancy, Jane, Eliza, Nicholas, and Thomas.
Helen Horne Penley recalled many visits by her father to relatives in Coeburn, thus a search through Wise County records provided additional records collaborating information on Nicholas Horne from Scott and Russell County records. Nicholas settled near Coburn, in the section of Russell County that became Wise County in 1855.
2. Jesse Horne (1805 - after 1870)
In Scott County on August 17, 1826 Jesse Jr. married Jane Belcher, born in Kentucky. Their children were John, Nancy, Elizabeth, Eleanor, William, George, Jesse F., Lucy, and Eliza, very familiar names for the Hornes. In 1850, Jesse, aged 45, owned a farm in Scott County with real estate valued at $1,500, a significantly larger farm than the neighbors. Jesse's children were attending school, even 21 year old John was still in school. The entire family was literate, except 80 year old Nancy. By 1880, Jesse F. and Jane Horne were living with their son J. Frank Horn, at ages 77 and 67 in the Floyd District of Scott County, house #207. James and William Salyers were listed as domestic servants to the family. Jesse F. Horne and J. Frank Horne probably are the namesakes of our Jesse Frank Horne.
3. William Horn (1810 - 1873)
In 1850, William is located at age 39 on the Russell County, Virginia Census, with his birthplace verified as North Carolina. In 1850, his household included his wife Nancy Williams Horn, age 35 in 1850, and their ten year old son Jesse, both born in Russell County. William Horn is also found on the 1840 Russell County Census with compatible information, and on the 1860 Wise County Census with 20 year old Jesse, and three additional children: William, Sarah, and Henry.
4. John Horne (circa 1809 - after 1870) and Rachel Burress (1808 - after 1900)
On the 1820 Census, our John Horne is presumed to be the son of Jesse Horn listed as male between the ages of 16 and 18, marking his birth at approximately 1805. John's age fluctuated greatly through the years, an exact birth date cannot be determined. On the 1830 Census, John and William Horne are assumed to be the two sons aged 20 - 30 living in the household headed by their mother Nancy, living near her son Jesse Jr. and his wife Jane (Belcher). Nicholas had already moved to Russell County. By the 1840 Census, our John was head of his own household, aged 30 - 40, and had a growing family with two sons under age five (assumed to be Charles and Jesse), and one daughter assumed to be Mary A. Horn. There is a woman aged 20 - 30 in the home, presumed to be Rachel Burress, John's only documented wife. The 1840 census was arranged by neighborhood. John's brother Jesse lived four houses away, Pleasant Horn's son Solomon Horne lived two houses away from Jesse. Either John or Jesse moved, as over 100 houses separate their dwellings by 1850.
A Scott County marriage is found for John Horne and Rachel Burress on September 10, 1849. Our William (Bill) is the only child indicated as born after the marriage of John Horn and Rachel Burress if that marriage date is correct. John Horne could have been a widower, but more likely the marriage date has been transcribed or transferred incorrectly. A Family Bible maintained by Uncle Ben's daughter Ruth Horne indicates Rachel as John Horne's only wife, and mother of all the children. The same Bible page records Bill Horne's siblings only as Charles, John, Caroline and Liza. Jane on the 1850 count was probably Eliza J. in 1860. Mary and Jesse may have died early or moved on to Kentucky, and thus were not remembered by Bill Horne’s children. On the 1900 census, Rachel Burress Horne stated that she was the mother of nine children, only four of whom were still living. On each census from 1850 to 1900, she is indicated as the mother of the children. This research finds no doubt that Rachel Burress was the mother of John Horn's children. The 1849 marriage date was recorded wrong, or marriage may have come late in the relationship.
Most research found on the Burress line incorrectly lists our Rachel as the daughter of Micajah Burrows of Russell County. That is found to be false.
Rachel stated on the 1900 census that her father was born in Maryland, Micajah is repeatedly listed as born in Bedford County, Virginia. Micajah's wife was Rachel (McCoy); they had a five year old daughter named Rachel on the 1850 Census. By 1850, our Rachel was 42 years old and had seven children of her own. It is impossible to track Rachel to a household before 1850, as the prior censuses only recorded names of the head of household, and age categories of residents. Micajah's family was broken and scattered by 1850, with legal action against Micajah. His wife Rachel moved to Kentucky and died there in 1855. By 1860, Micajah's children were tucked into various homes in Russell County. As there seems to be a continuing relationship between the families of Micajah and William Burress, they were probably related, but Micajah was not Rachel's father.
A thorough search of other areas for a Burrows/Burress male born in Maryland before 1790 found a likely candidate for Rachel's father. In 1820 one William Burress lived in Russell County, Virginia with seven children, including two daughters aged 10 - 16. The name is too common in both Kentucky and Virginia to distinguish in 1830 and 1840 without the names listed individually, but there are William Burress families that meet the criteria of Rachel's parents. In 1850, a William Burress, born in Maryland is found living at age 71 in Lewis County, Kentucky. His wife Mary, age 56 was born in Virginia. (notice that our Rachel named her oldest daughter Mary A. Horn) Mary Burress is found still living Lewis County at age 67 with her son Alexander on the 1860 census, next door to another son H.C. Burress. The William Burress family moved frequently until 1850, but appeared stable after that, the family owned a small farm in 1850 and 1860. With good certainty, it is concluded that our Rachel Burress was the daughter of William and Mary Burress. It appears that William and Mary moved to Kentucky and left Rachel and perhaps other children behind with relatives in Russell County. By 1835 Rachel was living with our John Horn when their oldest son Charles was born.
The 1850 Census is the first to list all household members by name. At that time, the John Horn family is found in house #818 in Scott County. John was listed as a farmer on rented land, born in North Carolina, age 49. Rachel and all the children were listed as born in Virginia. The children were attending school. On the 1850 Census, dated August 22, 1850, John's wife Rachel was 42 years old and our great-grandfather had arrived, William Horne is listed as six months old. Our William was born in 1850 to a troubled generation.
By the 1860 Census there was difficulty in the home; the family was separated. John was found in Wise County as head of a household including a Huldah Hill and eight children. Children named Mary A. and Caroline are in the home with John, but they are identified as Hill children and their ages are not correct. On the 1850 Census, Huldah Hill had been married to Sam Hill with four children, none named Mary, Caroline or Jane. On the 1870 Census, the Hill children are living without parents in a household headed by their oldest brother, Berry Hill. There is no one in the 1870 Berry Hill household named Mary, Caroline or Jane. Rachel (Burress) Horn was also listed as head of household in the 1860 Census, but in Scott County. Their children were living with her but Caroline was identified as Emily C. Horn for that time only and Jane became Eliza J. Horn, thereafter known as Liza Horn. In 1870, John Horn, Sr. was found living by himself at age 68, on a rented farm in the Floyd District of Scott County, Cornville (Nickelsville). Rachel had taken the children to Russell County by 1870, with their son Charles listed as the head of Household #75. Rachel resided near Micajah's daughter-in-law Elizabeth Burress. That neighborhood was full of Pleasant Horn and George Gose's children.
Whatever the reason the family was separated on the 1860 and 1870 census, they reconvened to one household by 1880. They were living in house #16 near Nickelsville with eldest son Charles, still single at age 47 listed as a farmer and head of the household. Charles is the only literate person in the household. Sister Caroline is still single at age 30. John Horn is listed as Charles' father, age 79, married, sick and disabled. Rachel is there at age 70, listed as married and mother to Charles. Our William S. Horn was in the house, white male, age 25, documented as brother to Charles and married to our Harriet Stapleton, listed as sister-in-law to Charles.
In 1900, Rachel Burrows Horne was still living at the age of 91, listed as head of household #16 with her unmarried daughter Caroline, age 45. This is good news for researchers because the 1900 census is much more elaborate. Rachel stated that she was born in May of 1809 in Virginia, her parents were born in Maryland. Rachel was a widow, the mother of 9 children, four were still living. It appears they were renting from landlord William Ramey. The Rameys, a Wolfe family and Rachel and Caroline Horne are all listed as living at dwelling #14, but they are separated into families numbered 13, 14, and 15. Our widow, Harriet Stapleton Horn was living with six of her children in dwelling #16.
The Ancestry of Harriet Stapleton
Harriet Stapleton was born in Scott County in April of 1857, the eldest child of Isaac Stapleton and Mary McReynolds. Only after Harriet joined the household in 1860 is it positive which Isaac Stapleton was our grandfather. Isaac (Ike) Stapleton was born about 1835 in Scott County. On October 28, 1852, Baptist minister Morgan T. Lipps married Ike and Mary McReynolds. Mary was born in 1834, the daughter of Joseph McReynolds, a miller by trade, and Mary Polly Bush; Mary Polly Bush was the daughter of Austin Bush, granddaughter of James Bush. An interesting story exists for Austin Bush's two sisters, Mary and Ann Bush. In 1790, the two young girls were captured by Indians and taken to Kentucky. The Clinch Militia formed a posse and found the kidnappers at the Sandy River. The Indians were distracted by skinning a buffalo they had just killed, and didn't notice the militia's approach. The Militia chose their targets and opened fire. The surviving Indians fled, and the girls rescued. Ann had been tomahawked and partially scalped, but she and Mary both survived and raised families. James and Austin Bush were both members of the original Clinch River Militia; Austin was an Indian tracker and scout. Both served under Captain William Russell.
Mary McReynolds Stapleton passed away before the 1880 census, but husband Ike was recorded at age 45. Harriet Stapleton married Bill Horne by 1876, but Ike still had three daughters and three sons in the home to raise. Ike lived near Nickelsville and was a miller, probably at the Bond/Bush Mill. The current Bush Mill was built by the Bush family in 1896, but it replaced a mill built in the 1850s by S. H. Bond in the same location on Amos Branch of Copper Creek which was destroyed by fire in the 1890s. The Gose family had married into the Bush family, and their combined wealth afforded the building of the new mill in 1896. Helen Horne Penley remembers her Uncle G.W. (George Washington Stapleton) well, and his wife Aunt Mimee (Jemima Wheatley).
The Stapletons and the Civil War
There were actually two Isaac Stapletons listed as teenagers on the 1850 Census, one fathered by Thomas, the other by John. John and Thomas were the first Stapletons in Scott County when listed on the 1830 Census. The data on the two families is almost identical, names, ages, birthplaces. It appears that the John Stapleton clan moved on to Pike and then Johnson County, Kentucky in the 1850s. The Stallard Connection states that the Stapletons moved on to Kentucky because they opposed slavery. The story is told of their long walk to Kentucky and confrontation with Confederate soldiers along the way. The Kentucky Stapletons joined the Union Army in when they arrived, including the other Isaac Stapleton teenager from 1850 Scott County census. All that is likely true, but not all the Stapletons left Virginia.
A cautious assumption is made that our Isaac was the son of Thomas Stapleton who remained in Scott County. Ironically, the Isaac Stapleton that fathered our Harriet fought for the Confederates in the Civil War. By enlistment time on August 16, 1862, he was married, at age 24 with three or four children. He was a private assigned to Company C, 25th Cavalry Regiment of Virginia, The Partisan Rangers of Triggs Battalion.
His company fought under General Robert E. Lee at the Second Battle of Manassas (Second Bull Run) beginning on August 30, 1862, and the Company fought as far away as Rock Island, Illinois and Wakefield, Alabama, but most of their battles and skirmishes were closer to home, including one battle in Scott County on August 25, 1863. His Company C fought eight battles at nearby Jonesville, Virginia and five battles at Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. The Confederate army had to be fed and the rebels had many transient soldiers who went home between battles to take care of their crops. Local farmers were particularly furious at Union Major Beeres who roamed Wise, Lee and Scott County raiding the local farms to feed the Union Army. Whenever Major Beeres came near, the rebel yell rang out and they convened to save their crops. When Company C departed for faraway places like Illinois and Alabama, Isaac Stapleton and other local soldiers may have stayed back to defend Scott County.
In January of 1864, the Frozen Fight took place in Jonesville when the thermometer dropped to six degrees below zero, and the men had to ford cracked ice on the Powell River to cut the Union off. Major Beeres was defeated and sent to prison camp at Andersonville, but rebel soldiers were iced over and many suffered frostbite in the process. The record indicates that Isaac Stapleton deserted the Confederate Army on February 15, 1864. It is likely he did not show for the next muster after the Frozen Fight whether due to wound, frostbite or responsibility to his family.
William (Bill) Horne (1850 - after 1896) and Harriet Stapleton (1857 - 1905)
Ike and Polly's daughter Harriet is first found on the 1860 Federal Census at age four living at home with her parents in Scott County, near Estillville Post Office (Gate City), though she later gave her birth date as April of 1857. At age 16 on the 1870 Census, Harriet is found with her parents in Cornville (Nickelsville) Floyd District of Scott County. The children were not attending school.
On December 30, 1875, Harriet Stapleton married William S. Horne. On 1880 Census, the new family was living in brother Charles' household near Nickelsville, along with sister Caroline and mother Rachel (Burress) Horn. Bill and Harriet's sons Emory and John O. are listed as nephews to Charles. Though listed in 1880 as residing in the Floyd District near Nickelsville, a move toward Dungannon was at hand, as Granddaddy Frank Horne was born in Miller Yard near Dungannon in 1883.
The 1890 Census was destroyed by fire. Sometime after 1895, our Bill Horne passed away between his 45th and 50th year. Harriet and Bill were married about 20 years, and had nine children. By 1900, our Harriet Stapleton Horn was a widow, living in rented dwelling #16 near Nickelsville. Seemingly just down the road was her widowed mother-in-law Rachel Horn in dwelling #14. Wheatley, Powers, and Ramey families were nearby. In 1900, Harriet Stapleton Horn described herself as a widow at age 43, the mother of nine children, with nine still living. Only six of her children were living with Harriet in 1900. The children in the home with Harriet were: Charles Edward age 19, Mary A. age 15, Robert L. age 13, Henry H., age 7, Samuel P. age 5, and at age 4, Benjamin. Only Charles was listed as literate. After 1895, two other children, Frank and John were sent out as farm hands or to live with relatives. John O. Horn was born about 1879. John Horn was a common name in Virginia, and after the 1880 Census, no positive identification of John O. Horne has been made. He would have been 21 years old in 1900; according to Harriet's 1900 census, he was still living at that time, but not in her home. He may be a blurred or misspelled entry at the bottom of another family on the censuses. A John William Horne was found on a Ft. Blackmore draft registration in 1917, born in 1875. That may have been John O., or he may have left the area. Likewise, Henry Horn disappeared after the 1900 census, and cannot be located thereafter. He would have been 17 in 1910, but the name was too common and no reasonable matches were found.
Sadly, this family was destined to lose both parents too early in life. Before 1910, Harriet Stapleton Horne was also deceased. By the time of the 1910 census, Harriet's children were on their own. John O. and Henry have yet to be found; Emory, Charles, Mary, Robert and Frank had married. Frank and Bess married in 1905. Ben and Sam came to live with them for awhile. In 1910, Sam and Ben were living with their brother Charles at Osbourns Ford. Ben and Sam were shuffled between Emery, Charles and Frank's families until they could stand on their own.
The eldest child, Emory H. Horn married Nancy around the age of 17, about 1896. They lived in Tacoma, Lipps District, Wise County. In 1900, Emory gave his birthdate as October 1878; he was a coal miner. In 1930 they were still living in the same district with their address marked as the State Road. Emory liked to debate religion, and Granddaddy Horne called him a "no heller" because he at times argued against the existence of hell. Helen Horne Penley took her father Frank to Emory's funeral in the early 1950s and remembers the minister "preaching him into heaven".
The World War I draft began in 1917. Uncle Ben was drafted and came home from Europe with his lungs badly damaged by gas attacks. Informative draft registration forms were found for five of the young Horne men. All five made their mark on the form, unable to sign their names. The early loss of their parents robbed this family of the stability and support system that would have allowed education. Even though free public schools began in Virginia in 1870 these young orphans were never in one place long enough to regularly attend school. The daily demand for food and shelter took priority over the long term luxury of education. The ages and birthdates provided on official documents by these Hornes vary from form to form. Emory was a coal miner, Charles and Mary's husband Bob Holly worked for the CC & O Railroad at least part of the time. According to the censuses, the rest of the Horne brothers appear to have struggled on rented farms as sharecroppers. The censuses only provide a snapshot of a family every ten years, they may have owned land or held different jobs during the decades between the official counts.
We descend from Bill and Harriet Stapleton through their son, Jesse Frank Horne.
The Ancestry of Mary Jane "Bess" Ramey Horne
The Stallard Connection
The Stallard family has a long and distinguished history in America; their progenitor Walter Stallard arrived in America by 1650 from Woolhope, Herefordshire, England. The Stallard history has been documented with detail in The Stallard Connection, often cited herein as a reference. “In the early days of colonization there were two Stallard brothers who came to this country from England. They were of English, Scot-Irish, and Swedish descent. One of them was a good God Fearing gentleman and the other was the meanest cuss that ever drew breath. The new world was too rough for the good God fearing gentleman and he went back to England. We are the descendents of the other.”
Our Immigrant, Walter Stallard (1604 - 1684) married Winifred Hodges in Rappahannock, Virginia.
Their son Samuel Stallard (circa 1664 - 1721) married Grace Boulward, they remained in Rappahannock.
Their son Walter Stallard II (1720 - 1807) married Elizabeth Williams, they moved to Culpeper, Virginia.
Their son, Samuel Stallard II (1745 - 1816) married Jael Duncan and moved to Dungannon, Virginia.
Their son, Rawley Duncan Stallard (1771 - 1856) married Mary Elizabeth Hutchinson.
Their son, Peter Stallard married Margaret Addington in 1823, and moved to Dungannon, Virginia.
Their son, George Washington (G.W.) Stallard married Arie Evaline Greear on June 1, 1848.
G.W. and Evaline's daughter, Mary Ellen Stallard married James Riley Ramey.
James Riley Ramey and Ellen Stallard's daughter Mary Jane "Bess" Ramey married Jesse Frank Horne.
Bess and Frank Horne were the parents of Helen Horne Penley.
Raleigh and John Duncan and their brother-in-law, the Samuel Stallard II cited above were among the first settlers along the Clinch River, arriving in the 1770s. The early Stallards placed a high priority on education and gave several doctors and teachers to southwest Virginia. The Mary Elizabeth Hutchinson above who married Rawley Duncan Stallard in 1792 was the daughter of Peter Hutchinson. Peter Hutchinson's sister Elizabeth was the mother of our cousin and President, Andrew Jackson. The Stallard Connection states that Andrew Jackson was on his way to Uncle Peter's house after the death of his mother when he was captured by the British during the Revolution.
The Ramey Ancestry
As the original Ramey immigrant to Ameria, Jacques Ramey arrived in Westmoreland County, Virginia in 1654. He was the progenitor of the Ramey ancestors of Helen Frankie Horne. Most of our ancestors appear to have been economic refugees to America, but with the Ramey line, a clear link is found to the religious persecution in Europe during the Protestant Reformation. Jacques Remy was a French Huguenot (Protestant) refugee of noble birth, the son of Pierre Remy. Jacques was born about 1630 in Picardy, Lorraine, France. Sources state that Pierre Remy was killed for his religious beliefs by Cardinal Richeleau in an attempt to subdue the heretics against the Catholic faith.
Jacques married another Huguenot, Françoise Haldat. Fleeing religious persecution in France, Jacques and Françoise traveled first to England. Although the family appeared wealthy and educated in France, they apparently arrived in England with few funds, and arranged passage to America in 1654 as indentured servants. In return for the cost of transportation, Jacques came to Virginia bound to Nicholas Spencer, Esq., who was appointed Secretary of the Virginia colony by King Charles II. Married colonists tried to arrange indenture before they left England to assure a life together in Virginia. In this case it mattered not, because François did not survive the difficult voyage to America, and she was probably buried at sea. Upon arrival in Westmoreland County, Jacques' headrights were sold to John Drayton. The Remy headrights allowed Drayton to claim free land for transporting servants to America. Headrights were often traded or sold to acquire blocks of adjacent land, and therefore do not prove servitude to Drayton. Jacques appeared to remain near the Spencer family. Educated servants such as Jacques Remy often earned better treatment and early freedom from their contract. Some contracts prohibited marriage. Multiple marriages were common in the struggle for survival in the brutal world of the early Virginia colony. Disease, starvation, famine and Indian attacks took a heavy toll on families. Little is known of the time between 1654 when Jacob Remy arrived in Virginia until 1671 when he bought land in Westmoreland County.
By 1671, Jacques Remy married Mary Miles. Mary was the daughter of Marmaduke Miles. Some sources refer to her as Mary Spencer, she may have been widowed by a Spencer when she married Jacob Remey. By 1671, Jacques Remey usedthe English version of his name: “Jacob Remey is deeded by William Pierce, 200 acres of a tract of 1200 acres in Nominee Forest in Cople Parish July 21, 1671. Deed recorded Nov. 28, 1671.” In 1715 both Mary and Jacques testified that Jacques "carried chains" in a 1661 survey of Spencer land. Jacob and Mary Miles had two known sons who survived to adulthood. Jacob Remy, Jr. was born near 1672, and William Remy was born circa 1675.
On September 29, 1680, Jacob Remy relinquished his French citizenship and swore allegience to the British crown. "...His Majesty’s Deputy Governor and Commander in Chief, do by virtue of the said Act, hereby certify and declare that Jacob Remy, a Natural born subject of the French King, hath taken the Oath of Allegience before me. Dated in James City, Sept. the nine and twentieth, 1680." In 1693, Jacob Remy was named in the will of his father-in-law, Marmaduke Miles and was chosen as trustee or executor of that will.
Jacob Remey lived to the age of 91, a rare accomplishment itself in the harsh environment of early Virginia. Although he prepared his will almost twenty years earlier, in July of 1702, he died sometime before December 5, 1721, when his will was proved in court. The Last Will and Testament of Jacob Remy is located at the Westmoreland County Courthouse. In part it states, “To loving wife Mary, the furniture in her room. To oldest son William, one shilling on demand. To youngest son Jacob, 200 acres of land, the land on which I now live.” Many of the above facts were found in The Remy Family of America, by Dr. William Rhamey, MD.
We are descended from Jacob and Mary Remey's son, William Remey, born in 1672 in Westmoreland County, Virginia. William married Catherine Ashbury or Asbury. After having eight children together, William died on November 19, 1737 and Catherine died in 1740. We are descended from their son, Daniel Remy. Daniel Remy , 1720 - 1762 married Darchus or Doris Brickey on October 31, 1740, probably in Westmoreland since Doris was the daughter of John and Sarah Brickey from nearby Richmond County. At some point in this era, Daniel Remy and at least two of his brothers moved west and settled near Fredricksburg, Virginia, probably seeking fresh farm lands. All three sons left Fredricksburg and moved further west before the American Revolution. In 1756 and 1758, there are references even further west in Augusta County to Daniel Ramey . Daniel and Doris had at least three sons: James, Daniel and David. We are descended from David Ramey, son of Doris Brickey and Daniel Remey. Sources indicate that our David Ramey was born March 1, 1747 in Westmoreland County. Around 1775 David married Ruth Henderson (1750 - 1830) possibly near Fredricksburg since the Henderson family was there. According to family records passed down through Aunt Gladys, David Ramey (1747-1825) surveyed land along the Clinch River on March 14, 1774. In 1774, our area of Scott County was part of Fincastle County, but became Russell County in 1786, then Scott County in 1815. Wise County was formed from parts of Scott and Russell County in 1855. The 1790, 1800 and 1810 Censuses no longer exist for Washington and Russell.
In 1763, the British ordered all colonist out of the lands west of the Appalachian Mountains. The announced purpose was to cede the western lands to Native tribes, but most colonists suspected the British wanted to keep their citizens closer to the tax collector. Because of the turbulent times, many land seekers were forced to move often, and had to fight the British Army, Natives and squatters for land they had already purchased. The area that would become Scott County was not safe for families in this era, and many moved their families temporarily to North Carolina during the Revolution. The Revolution won all the land to the Mississippi River for the colonists, but the Scott County area was a dangerous place for another twenty years. Until Chief Benge was beheaded in 1794, the Clinch Mountain area was fraught with Indian troubles. Dragging Canoe told settlers they were buying "dark and bloody land". Families were often taken to safe areas; men went back in militia units to plant crops. Some pioneer homes were abandoned for years at a time. Before 1776, private individuals, land companies, Natives, and British and American authorities sold fraudulent deeds. After the Revolution, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and the fledgling state of Franklin argued over jurisdiction and boundaries. After Benge’s death, settlers flooded back to their homes in Russell County, but faced squatters and puzzles of fraudulent deeds.
Although family records indicate a deed for David Ramey on the Clinch River in 1774, no David Ramey has been found in the early records. Blurred spellings for David Reamy, Remey, and Ramy are found in North Carolina up through 1800. Like many other families during this era, they probably moved to and fro during the Revolution. David Ramey may have passed away before the first reliable documents were preservedalthough undocumented sources indicate he lived until 1825, and that Ruth Henderson Ramey lived for 80 years until her death in Scott County, Virginia in 1830. No David Ramey is found on the 1820 Scott census.
Most of David and Ruth's sons stayed in Scott County, although it is nearly impossible to distinguish the lines between the brothers' children. Brother Daniel Ramey, lived in that part of Scott County that became Wise County in 1855. He was the founder of most of the Rameys of Wise County. Brother James Ramey was probably the founder of the Ramey line in Kentucky. By 1830 there were ten households in Scott and Russell Counties with a Ramey listed as the head, by 1840 there were sixteen. Because of the tradition of recycling their father and brothers' names in each family, it would be impossible to distinguish our James Ramey without the precious family records passed down.
Our line is descended from James Timothy Ramey (March 12, 1786 - April 25, 1867) the son of David Ramey and Ruth Henderson. James Ramey married Nancy Penix, the daughter of the neighbor Joshua Penix and Ann Cathey. James is the first Ramey found on a Russell County property tax list, taxed for 296 acres in 1794 . In 1815 a legal description is found for land owned by James Ramey in Russell County: one farm on Grassy Creek and both sides of Copper Creek, 60 acres having thereon one dwelling house of wood, one story, 25 feet by 20 feet, one barn of wood, one corn house, one shop, valued at $200.
Both James and Nancy were still living on the 1850 Census, James at age 67 and Nancy at age 61. Nancy stipulated her birthplace as Wilkes County, North Carolina. There are two younger children or grandchildren living in the household: Eliza was born in Russell County in 1838, and another James, born in Kentucky about 1832. Living with their daughter Ann in 1860, a Timothy Ramey is found, age 66 and wife Nancy, age 65. Perhaps they found the fountain of youth or just lost count. This could be a different Ramey but the presence of daughter Ann makes this likely our James Timothy Ramey. Timothy was identified as a wheelright. The children of James Timothy Ramey and Nancy Penix were John, Isaac, James Henderson Ramey, Joshua, William, Ann, Jesse, and Mary.
We descend from their son James Henderson Ramey (June 23, 1810 - April 13, 1900). In 1831, James married Malinda Cox (1817-1887), identified only as the daughter of Widow Cox, her father may have been David Cox, but the name is too common for certainty. In 1826, Malinda's mother Nancy Cox married Abraham Compton. By 1840, our James Ramey appeared with Jr. next to his name, as head of his own household with four children, living next door to Abraham and Catherine N. Compton. The 1850 Census identified Abraham's wife as Nancy. Six children were added during the 1840s, four were born in the 1850s, and their last child, Alwilda was born in 1861. Their children were: Jinsy-Regenna , James Milton, Samuel Patton, Berry Compton, Harvey, James Riley Ramey, Logan Calhoun, Nancy, Malinda, Henderson, David Wilson, Sarah, Mary and Alwilda.
Family records indicate Malinda Cox Ramey's name as Malinda or Linda, as she is named on the 1850 census. Beginning with the 1860 census, James' wife is shown as Ellen D. Ramey, though no records indicate a second marriage and the ages of Malinda and Ellen are consistent. On the 1860 Census, Milton and Berry Ramey were hired out as farm hands to the Elam family.
By 1880, James and Malinda (Ellen) Ramey were living only with their daughter Alwilda, age 19, and a servant by the name of Laura Honeycutt. There is no 1890 Census available, by 1900 James and Malinda were gone. Alwilda never married. Helen Horne Penley remembers visiting her at her brother Henderson's home after her parents' death. By the 1920s, she was bedridden or in a wheelchair, and rather blunt and bossy with her family. She would chase the children off to bring her water from the spring on the farm, and if they took a shortcut and brought her well water instead, she could still fling her cane about. We descend from James Henderson Ramey and Malinda Cox through James Riley Ramey (November 25, 1843 - March 18, 1926).
The Rameys and the Civil War
Our Riley Ramey's father was a slaveowner. James Henderson Ramey owned 3 slaves on the 1860 Scott census, two unnamed women aged 35 and 14, and a 3 year old unnamed male slave. He owned no slaves in 1850, the slaves may have been an inheritance from his mother-in-law, Nancy Cox Compton. On the 1850 Census, Abraham Compton, aged 78, owned eleven slaves. The farm he owned was valued at $2,000 in 1860.
In the Civil War, southwest Virginia was deeply divided between sentiment for the Union and the Confederacy. Both armies angered the locals by raiding crops to feed their men and horses, and loyaltyto both sides rose and fell during the war. Toward the end of the war, there were repeated attempts by the Confederates to force Kentucky out of the Union, and frequent forays into Kentucky for food and supplies. At the end, it appears that some of the Ramey boys switched and fought for the Union by joining a Kentucky regiment. Protection of the home soil seems to have been their motivation more than any sudden love for Abraham Lincoln. They may have joined the Union to defend Kentucky against invaders of any sort. All of our Rameys registered as farmers and served as Privates in the Confederate Army.
James Henderson Ramey's six oldest sons fought for the Confederacy. Only two of James and Malinda's son escaped military service in the Civil War. Henderson, born in 1850 was only eleven when the war began; David Wilson Ramey was only eight at the onset. (David eventually moved to Idaho.) Four of the six Ramey soldiers returned home after the war, including our Grandfather James RileyRamey. His brothers, Samuel Patton and Logan Calhoun Ramey did not come home. Samuel was survived by widow Emaline (Elliot) Ramey and two children, Logan never married.
Evidently, James Riley Ramey first enlisted as a Private in Company E, the 48th Infantry Regiment of Virginia on June 10, 1861. He was wounded and received a disability discharge from Company E on August 19, 1861 at Valley Mountain, Virginia. One year later he enlisted as a Private in Company C, 25th Cavalry Regiment Virginia on August 16, 1862. Company C primarily defended Scott County against Yankee intruders who raided their crops, but were also called out elsewhere to support the regular Confederate Army. It appears that James re-enlisted with the regular Confederate Army in Company E, 48th Infantry Regiment Virginia on May 2, 1863. He was tagged as a deserter from Company C, 25th Cavalry Regiment of Virginia on August 25, 1863. He may have been erroneously classified as a deserter because he had left the area with the 48th Infantry, or he may have been taken prisoner by that time.
Milton Ramey: 1835 - 1924, Scott Count Militia, Confederacy
Samuel Patton Ramey, 1837 - 1863 , 21st & 64th Virginia, Confederacy Died in battle at Jonesville, Virginia, February 5, 1863.
Berry Compton Ramey: 1839 - 1924, 48th Virginia, Confederacy, 5' 9", dark complexion, black hair, gray eyes.
Harvey W. Ramey: 1841 - 1922, 64th & 27th Virginia, Confederacy, 5' 11", dark complexion, black hair, blue eyes.
James Riley Ramey, 1843 - 1926, 25th & 48th Virginia, Confederacy 5 ' 5", dark complexion, black hair, black eyes.
Logan Calhoun Ramey, 1844 - 1864, 25th & 27th Virginia, Confederacy, 5 ' 8", dark complexion, black hair, gray eyes. Died at Frankfurt, Kentucky, July 16, 1864. Buried at United States Soldiers' Lot in Frankfort City Cemetery, Kentucky.
In 1864, three Ramey brothers, Harvey, Riley and Logan were found in a Union Army prison camp in Louisa, Kentucky along with their cousin Hiram Ramey. Hiram fought for the 64th Regiment with Patton and Harvey Ramey. Louisa is in eastern Kentucky, on the West Virginia border at the source of the Great Sandy River. Louisa is 130 miles from Dungannon, but coincidentally it is only 15 miles from Wayne, West Virginia where several Rameys would move in coming years. There were several Union forts in Louisa during the war, Fort Bishop was also called Fort Gallup and Fort Hill, found with several references to a Camp Lawrence.
All four Rameys were captured by the Feds in Scott County, Virginia, and may have been forced to march 130 miles to Louisa, unless like some prisoners they were taken by barge up the Great Sandy River. There is no date of capture provided, no indication of how long they were imprisoned. Only their release date in May of 1864 is documented. Once a Rebel soldier was taken prisoner, the only realistic methods of escape were death by the rampant diseases or a loyalty oath. All four of the Ramey prisoners took the Oath of Loyalty to the United States of America and were released. Perhaps they were in prison for a year or more since the Jonesville battle that killed brother Samuel in February of 1863. Harvey was in Scott County on November 19, 1863 when he married Mary Stallard.
After the loyalty oaths, a new set of problems ensued. The loyalty oaths were publicly sworn, in front of soldiers from their hometowns. Prisoners who took the oath were given better food and lodging where they had access to outdoors. Many ex-Rebels could not go home to face hostility from neighbors if not family. The magnanimous Abraham Lincoln devised a plan to allow these ex-Rebels to join the Union Army and go out west to fight Indians who had taken advantage of the Union Army's absence. Thousands took Lincoln up on that offer.
It is not possible now to reconstruct their thinking. They never made it out west, if that was ever their intention. For reasons they understood, Riley, Logan and Hiram "switched sides" on May 13 of 1864, and enlisted as Union soldiers at Frankfort, Kentucky. They joined Company G, 1st Capital Guards Regiment of Kentucky on July 6, 1864. The Frankfort battalion protected the capital from rebel forces or renegade Union soldiers. Harvey Ramey took the loyalty oath with his brothers, but records do not show that he joined the Union Army with them. Harvey had a wife back in Dungannon, Riley and Logan were not married.
Only ten days after joining the Capital Guards, Logan C. Ramey was killed on July 16, 1864, as a Union soldier in battle defending the capital from the Confederate Army. One can't help but wonder who delivered the news to James Henderson Ramey that his son had died fighting against the Confederacy. Logan was buried at Section Three, Grave Three, U.S. Soldiers' Lot in Frankfort City Cemetery, Franklin County, Kentucky,
Loyalty Oath to the United States of America
I _________________ of the County of ________________, State of ______________ do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Union of the States thereunder, and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all acts of Congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by Congress, or the Supreme Court; and that I will abide by and faithfully support all Proclamations of the President of the United States, made during the existing rebellion to slaves, so long and so far as not modified or declared void by the Supreme Court. So help me God.
___________________________________ (signature) Sworn on this_______day of________ 186___.
After the war Grandpa James Riley Ramey returned home to Scott County. He was mustered out of Company G, 1st Captital Guards Regiment of Kentucky on March 11, 1865 at Catlettsburg, near Ashland, Kentucky. Catlettsburg was 150 miles from Dungannon, he had a long walk home. The years after the Civil War were nearly as heartbreaking as the war. Over 600,000 Americans killed each rather than compromise on politics. Both sides were wrong, but the Union won. Financially and emotionally, the South was devastated. Some veterans refused to talk about the war, others replaced painful and harsh realities with tales of grandeur that became legends and myths. Mitch Penley always said those who knew the most talked the least, and that is surely true with the Civil War. If Bess Ramey ever knew much about her father's Civil War experience, it wasn't repeated to Helen. Her daughter only knew that her Grandfather Riley was a Confederate soldier. Riley Ramey applied for a Confederate pension in 1900and reeived fifteen dollars per month until his death in 1926. No record indicates he ever applied for a Union pension.
James Riley Ramey and Ellen Stallard
Riley Ramey (November 25, 1843 - March 18, 1926) married Ellen Stallard (February 24, 1850 - November 15, 1915) on January 16 of 1867. On June 10 of 1867, Riley and Ellen were best man and bridesmaid for the marriage of Sarah Ramey and Andrew Jackson Addington, performed by Reverend James Stallard. In 1870, Riley Ramey, age 28 and his wife Elender, age 20 were renting farmland in Jonesville. They had only two sons then, but by 1880, five more children were added to the family. Both parents were listed as literate, and their children were attending school in the Johnson District of Scott County. The 1890 Census does not exist, but the 1900 census documents the last four of their children, including the historic 1885 arrival of our Grandmother Mary Jane (Bess) Ramey.
By 1900, Riley and Ellen were living on a rented farm near Dungannon at the Floyd District (Osbornes Ford Precinct), Scott County. Our Granny was sixteen years old, but she was still attending school. Around 1901, Riley Ramey began receiving a Confederate pension of $15 monthly. His application stated that he suffered sunstroke and kidney damage during the war, and was unable to work 75% of the time. By 1910, Riley and Ellen had raised their eight children, and they were living alone near Osbornes Ford in Dungannon, still on a rented farm. They had been married for 43 years, and Mary Ellen had given birth to twelve children, only eight of whom were still living. Next door lived their daughter Nancy with husband Lilbourne Sluss. Only two houses away in 1910 lived Bess' brothers-in-law, Charles "Ed" Horne with his youngest brothers Sam and Ben.
Little was recorded about Ellen Stallard Ramey. As the mother of twelve children, she was obviously a busy homemaker. Her daughter Bess was an incredible cook and seamstress, it is assumed that she learned those skills from her mother. Ellen died in 1915. Shortly after Ellen's death, Frank and Bess Horne moved to Nickelsville from Dungannon.
The children of Riley Ramey and Ellen Stallard
1. George Washington Ramey was born December 29, 1867, and was surely named after Ellen's father, G.W. Stallard, he died early.
2. Logan Calhoun Ramey arrived on May 13, 1869, named after Riley's brother who died in the Civil War, Logan moved to West Virginia.
3. Cordelia Ramey, "Aunt Sis" was born May 30, 1871, married Charles Kilgore.
4. Margaret Florence Ramey, born October 11, 1873, married Hugh Emmet Addington and moved to Kentucky, then Michigan.
5. James A. Ramey, born February 8, 1876, married Alice or Alta Lockard and moved to Princeton, West Virginia.
6. Charles F. Ramey was born September 23, 1877, he died before 1900.
7. John Ramey was born July 23, 1879, lived with sister Margaret in Ashland, Kentucky in 1900, and married Lena Watson in Kentucky.
8. Nancy M. Ramey was born March 9, 1882, she married Lilbourne Sluss but Nancy died near 1910.
9. Lilbourne was born January 19, 1884, but died at a young age.
10. Grandmother Mary Jane (Bess) Ramey arrived on February 8, 1885, she married Jesse Frank Horne.
11. Robert Amzy Ramey was born October 5, 1887, He moved to Wayne, West Virginia and married Cora Simpkins.
12. L. K. (Lee) Ramey, born November 10, 1892 but died soon thereafter.
By 1920, James Riley Ramey at age 76 had purchased a home in "downtown" Nickelsville. He shared the home with his daughter "Bess" Ramey Horne and her growing family. Bess and Frank Horne lived there a few years until they moved again seeking more farm land. Helen remembers visiting her Grandfather Riley Ramey in Nickelsville when he was bedridden, probably just before his 1926 death when she was three years old. She remembers his long white hair and long white beard. Although the censuses always listed farming as his occupation until 1920, we know that he was also a shoemaker. Helen still has his little shoe making hammer he used. The 1920 census listed his trade as a shoe mender in downtown Nickelsville. After Frank and Bess moved on to another farm, Aunt Sis' daughter Ora came to live with him and cared for him in his last years.
Grandpa Riley Ramey died in Nickelsville at the age of 82 on March 18, 1926, and was buried at the cemetery on the Charles W. Bond homeplace. Helen remembers watching as his wooden casket was loaded on a wagon. After Riley Ramey's funeral, a Confederate tombstone engraved with his name was delivered to the road above his grave. Helen remembers it laid along the road for a good while until someone in the family figured out how to get it down the dirt path to his grave. Because of its weight and the dirt path to the grave, it was no easy task.
On the famed 2005 Nickelsville Tour, Uncle Charles' son Kenneth Horne took his Aunt Helen, Karen, and Harriet's daughter Janie Clark in search of Helen's memory. Helen was determined to find her Grandfather's grave. She was only four years old at his funeral. Mitch, Helen and Bess had tried in vain to find his grave years before. None of us had much faith in Helen's memory, but it was a nice day for a drive through the countryside, and Kenneth and Janie's company enhances any road trip. Helen remembered the tombstone laying on the side of the road. We finally located a dirt path familiar to Helen, but our vehicles would not take the rugged terrain. We traveled on to the cemetery in Nickelsville, and then lingered long enough at the old Bond house to warrant a warning shot from a nearby rifleman.
On the equally famous 2006 Nickelsville Tour, we piled into Kenny and cousin Billy Wampler's trucks and navigated the rocky dirt path a good distance. When the trucks could go no further, our 83 year old Helen got out and started walking. No one but Helen believed we would find anything but snakes in the thick brush. We tried to persuade her to give up, but she said the graves were just up a bit more to the left. So, we walked. As soon as we rounded a curve to the left, there was the small cemetery with James R. Ramey's Confederate tombstone, just as Helen's memory promised us. The cemetery was perfectly clean and recently tended.
Bess came from a family of twelve children, but four died very young and five moved away to West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan. Only her sisters Nancy and Cordelia stayed in Scott County. Nancy married Lilbourne Sluss and lived about 15 miles away in Ft. Blackmore until her death in the early 1920s. Cordelia, "Aunt Sis", married Charles Kilgore and lived near Nickelsville and later in Kingsport until her death in 1970. Aunt Sis was the only one living close by, they got together for needlework and visited often. Even though Granny's siblings were scarce, Helen had many cousins who lived near or visited often.
In later years Bess kept closer ties to her little brother Robert who lived in West Virginia. Around 1953, Mitch and Helen took Bess to West Virginia to see her little brother Bob that she had not seen him in nearly 30 years. Bess had last seen Bob when he came to visit their father just before Riley Ramey's death in 1926. Riley died shortly after his visit, and Bob had just returned home when he heard of Riley's death. He was unable to return for the funeral. It had been nearly 30 years since they had seen each other, but it was a joyful reunion, and our newly found Aunt Cora quickly became a favorite of Linda and Karen. She sewed beautifully, and later sent the girls dresses in the mail. Karen still remembers a pastel organdy dress. Later, Uncle Bob and Aunt Cora visited our home on Long Street in Kingsport. Uncle Bob Ramey had served with Uncle Ben Horne in the Army, and they became good friends, swapping stories of their youth in Scott County and World War I.
On the same trip to West Virginia, they traveled deep into a hollow to visit Uncle Logan; Granny hadn't seen Logan in over 45 years. Logan Calhoun Ramey was named after Grandpa Riley’s brother who died in the Civil War. That was the only day Helen ever met her Uncle Logan. By the time Helen can remember, there were only close ties with Aunt Sis and Uncle Bob, the rest had died or moved far away.
Bess' youngest brother, Robert Amzy Ramey was born October 5, 1887; he married Cora B. Simpkins, the daughter of Julius and Bessy Simpkins of Wayne, West Virginia. His World War I Draft registration states that he was short, of medium build, with blue eyes and brown hair. He indicated that he was single, a jeweler by trade, and was helping to care for his aged father. His permanent address was Dungannon, but he was already employed in Wayne, West Virginia.
Robert was drafted on May 25, 1918, and landed at Brest, France August 12, 1918. He was a member of the Second Division Infantry Company K and fought the Battle of Meuse Argonne. After the Armistice, he served with the Army of occupation 1919. After the war he served as a post office clerk at Wayne, West Virginia.
Uncle Bob Ramey had two children, Helen's first cousins, Robert A. Ramey, Jr. and James Mandel Ramey. Robert, born December 14, 1918, married Milldred and graduated from the University of Cincinnatti. In his retirement from Westinghouse Electric he became a professor at the University of Florida; they have a daughter Karen. James Mandel Ramey (September 12, 1920 - February 21, 1996) Mandel married Mary Krepps of Pittsburg in 1950. He was in the Army Air Force and flew 50 combat missions in World War II, earning the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He graduated from Marshall University and was a well revered school teacher. Bob Ramey is Helen's only known surviving first cousin on the Ramey side. As this is written, we are anticipating a visit from Cousin Bob Ramey and his lovely wife Millie.
Granddaddy Jesse Frank Horne (1883 - 1979)
Our Granddaddy Jesse Frank Horne was born at Miller Yard, Dungannon, Scott County, Virginia, probably on March 25, 1883, the son of Bill Horne and Harriet Stapleton. Found on the 1900 Census as age 13, born in April of 1887, Frank had already been hired out as a farmhand employee of the Fraley family in Castlewood District, Russell County, household #258. Frank was probably closer to 17 years old at this time. His draft registration listed March 25, 1882, Ben Horne's Bible record states his birth as May 25, 1883. The Fraleys may have lowered his age fearing taxes or the census taker may have erred. None of Bill Horne's children gave a consistent birthdate on official records until they discovered a document or chose an estimated birthday much later in life. Like his brothers, Frank was listed as illiterate, he never had a chance to attend school. There were many familiar names nearby: Fraley, Stapleton, Osbourn, and Hillman.
Granddaddy’s Uncle, William D. Horne (born 1849) son of Jesse & Jane Belcher Horne lived in house #254. William D. owned his own farm, free of mortgage. In fact, most of the other Hornes in the area were landowners and were notably better off than the descendants of John Horn and Rachel Burress, our Frank Horne's grandparents. John and Rachel's troubled marriage may have taken a toll on their children, and Bill and Harriet's early deaths robbed their children of the strength afforded by a strong and united support system. It is likely that Harriet's children began their marriages with the clothes on their back and survival skills learned as orphans and hired hands.
Frank always enjoyed a good debate about anything. Granddaddy never voted in elections, but he was caught up in the campaigns and gave plenty of advise to people who did vote. In his early years there were property qualifications and literacy tests for voting. His wife Bess Ramey Horne did vote, and he always gave her orders on who to choose. When she come back from the vote, he would always ask her if she voted "right". With a twinkle in her eye, Granny would always assure him that she had voted "right".
Frank Horne was a captivating storyteller, he often mesmerized a crowd on the front porch with the adventuresome stories of his youth. He also shared entertaining spins on current political situations and events, from Watergate to moon landings. He never believed that America landed on the moon in 1969; the entire space program was a hoax pulled on the public to steal tax dollars. The episodes were merely filmed as a Hollywood movie. Helen's husband Mitch Penley worked at Cape Canaveral and tried to convince Granddaddy that he was an eyewitness; he talked to the men on their way to the launch pad; he watched them climb into the capsules, felt the earth tremble under his feet as the men blasted off. Nah, those men had a tunnel they climbed down through before the missile launched. It didn't happen. Mitch was just part of the scam.
Frank's ability to spin a yarn was known far and wide. At a volleyball game in Titusville, Florida I met my coworker Tana Monk's brother who was visiting from Dungannon. We exchanged a few family names and soon he told me of hours sitting on the front porch listening to my grandpa tell tales. He was a friend of Billy Wampler, and his brother had a cassette tape of Frank Horne telling old stories. Jealousy struck, knowing this stranger knew things about Granddaddy I would never know. I inquired without success a few times about getting a copy of the tape.
Helen said her Dad saved his entertaining stories for when company showed up; he was liveliest when a crowd gathered to hear his tales. Any discussion of his childhood evolved into one of his adventure stories. As grandchildren, we never noticed the things he didn't mention. He was always fun to visit, he had a knack for twisting an ordinary conversation into something laughable. He collected knives and memorized their shapes after age robbed his vision. In the summer we had to change into dresses before we visited because Granddaddy didn't believe his little ladies should wear shorts. He was quite agile on his size four feet, even in his 90s he would dance a little jig upon request, so he was our Mr. Bojangles:
"I knew a man Bojangles and he'd dance for you, in worn out shoes.
With silver hair, a ragged shirt, and baggy pants, the old soft shoe.
He jumped so high, jumped so high, then he lightly touched down..."
His brothers were spread out over Scott and Wise County; they rarely saw each other, and the entire family never convened at any one time or place. There were only rare visits from her Aunt Mary Holly; Wanda and Inez visited her in Dungannon. They were there when Mary's husband Bob died in a mining accident. They had gathered supplies to have some sort of party for Wanda and Inez, maybe a birthday party or just an excuse to introduce their nieces to Dungannon. Uncle Bob took a canary down in the mines with him. When the canary died one day, Bob knew he was in trouble and tried to get out, but he didn't make it. Helen didn't remember if there was a fire, a cave-in, or accumulation of poisonous gas.
Frank seldom talked about his family, Helen knew precious little about his childhood or the Horne side of her family. She only knew his parents' and grandparents' names, that they died early and the children were sent off to work on different farms. She learned more in later years by talking to Uncle Ben and Uncle Sam. He never talked about his parents, she assumed both died when he was very young, Helen was surprised to learn that his mother Harriet and his grandmother Rachel lived until Frank was about 20 years old, though he was only about 15 when his father died.
Looking back, perhaps they didn't have close ties in their adult years because they really didn't grow up together. As children they were sent to far flung areas of three counties when their parents passed away. Scott County has five mountain ridges running diagonally across the land separating and isolating the communities. The Hornes were sharecroppers and coal miners who did exhausting work and probably didn't care to walk 30 miles to visit when they had a moment's leisure. There were no cars or days off on a farm, there were daily chores that had no respect for a holiday.
Granddaddy went off to Coeburn for visits or when he heard of a death in the family; sometimes he stayed up there a few weeks. Frank didn't take his family with him on these visits. There were plenty of Hornes to visit in Wise County, but Helen never heard much about them. She only remembers tales about the Fraleys, the Goses, and the Mead family over in Russell County. Granddaddy told about working for a doctor when he was a teenager. He was hired to drive the doctor's wagon around on visits to sick families, and he told sad stories about the sickness and accident victims he saw. He worked for a wealthy Gose family for a while, they were good to him. A Dr. Ira Gose was found, but he was only 27 on the 1900 census. There may have been an older Dr. Gose that Frank drove for in the 1890s, or it could have been a Dr. Meade that was found closer to the Fraleys. The doctor taught him to keep a chew of tobacco in his mouth to kill the germs they might encounter in a contagious family.
As a young farmhand hired out to various families, he learned something from every job, from every family. The newspaper interview included told of Frank rafting down the Clinch River on the May tide of 1905. Frank married Bess Horne on March 16 of 1905. It is not known how long he continued that work after his marriage. In his youth he worked many jobs, and like most farmers he knew at least a bit about everything.
As an adult, Frank Horne was a tobacco farmer, and tobacco ruled the calendar. Until tractors and insecticides were brought in, tobacco had to be topped, suckered, wormed, cut, stalked, handed and handled in the early 1900s much as it was in the 1600s. The tobacco and other crops were planted in early May. Topping the tobacco was the summer job, the blooms and suckers (new sprouts) and worms had to be plucked off the plant whenever they emerged to encourage the growth of larger leaves and higher profits. The summer months were consumed by “topping, suckering and worming” the tobacco. In the fall, the tobacco plants were cut down near the root, and “stalked” for hanging. A tobacco stick was used to pierce the stalk. When the stick was full, with just the right amount of air between the stalks for ventilation, the sticks were carried to the barn and hung between the rafters with the tobacco leaves up-side-down for drying.
Tobacco manipulates events in tobacco country. Planting, cutting, curing, handing and handling schedules were all based on the farmer's best guess. Good judgement brought higher prices and reputation to carry over to next year. Near November, or whenever the tobacco was ready, dried and cured to perfection, each leaf was stripped off the stalk, and “handed” or gathered by the stems into a big handful and tied together at the top with another tobacco leaf. Timing was crucial at this point, the tobacco had to be well dried before removal from the stick, but a good fog or heavy rain had to provide enough moisture in the air to “handle” the dried and pack the brittle leaves. If there was not enough humidity the tobacco would crumble. With too much moisture, the tobacco would mildew. The hands of tobacco were packed tightly and taken to market. Some years the tobacco came in early, some years it came late. The farmers rushed to get their tobacco to market early. Prices usually declined after the first market day. Their fortunes rose and fell with the grade earned by their crop and prices in general. Excessive rain, drought, hail storms, or a bad grade could ruin an entire year’s labor with the next compensation a starving year away.
Frank and Bess Horne's daughters had more experience than they ever wanted with tobacco. Granddaddy Horne was particular about handling his crop, and was known to produce a high grade. Repeated planting of tobacco without rotation sapped nutrients from the soil and “wore the land out”. Sharecroppers usually didn't have enough land to allow rotation. Many ended up moving often in search of better land for their next crop.
Early Raftsmen Braved Unusual Dangers
By Dawn Scott, as published in the Scott County News, 1978
Mr. Frank Horne, a resident of Nickelsville is 95 years old, but has such a lively clear mind and such a captivating manner that I felt transported back in time along with him, as he began to paint a scene for me with words. I seemed to be there with him in the year 1905. Mr. Horne was a young man then preparing to embark upon a journey down Clinch River on a raft.
There was a great buzzing on the shores of the river. People had gathered on the banks to wave good-bye to the raftsmen. Everything was ready for the trip downstream into Chattanooga. The Clinch River was chocked with logs. The logs had been branded and were ready to float their way down many a long curving mile to the waiting saw-mill yards.
Mr. Horne and his fellow raftsmen were a hardy breed, braving the severe weather and dangerous river. The logs were floated down during “May tide,” the time the water reached a high level because of rainfall and thawing ice and snow. The journey down the swollen river would take about one week. During this period the men stayed on the raft, taking their meals aboard the raft an also sleeping on the vessel. Open fires were built directly upon the log floor of the raft and hoecakes were warmed over the blaze. The sleeping arrangements were very simple; a small shed was built upon the timbered barge and straw was used for bedding.
The progress was very slow as the logs and rafts snaked their way down the sensuous, singing river. As dusk descended upon the travelers, a “tie up” was sought, a place to dock the raft so the men could rest. Sometimes if the moon was full and visibility was good the raftsmen would continue their silent assault upon the inky waters throughout the night.
I asked Mr. Horne if accidents had been frequent among raftsmen. He said it was seldom that someone drowned and very few were seriously injured. The work was hard and precautious, but was surprisingly accident free. The worst problem with rafting was if you were accidently thrown from the raft it was very difficult to find an opening in the logs to surface through. The logs were one huge tightly-packed, floating mass. This was one reason some men drowned even though they were good swimmers.
One incident Mr. Horne recalls with laughter involved a stranger who came aboard without being invited. The raft had been secured for the night. All was peaceful and quiet on the river; a good night’s sleep had been anticipated by the tired raftsmen. A small noise was heard to begin with, then the raft began to tip slightly in the water. Mr. Horne soon discovered the source of the disturbance; there on the bow of the raft stood a huge black bear. The bear was just making an inspection of this floating atrocity. It was simply baffling to a bear to find a floating house upon the water in the middle of a wilderness.
After the long trip down the river to Chattanooga, the journey back was begun. A train was taken from Chattanooga that ran to Mendota, and from there the raftsmen usually walked home. These adventures sound so fascinating, how I wish I could have seen the rafts. How I envy Mr. Horne and his rafting experience.
Mr. Horne will be 96 in March. He grows old in years but has stayed young at heart. He days, “I was young and agile and good on a raft. It was sport and fun but hard work!” He still retains his good humor and the hard work only served to make him stronger.
Mary Jane "Bess" Ramey
Mary Jane Ramey was born on February 8, 1885 in Dungannon. Her death came on August 13, 1976 at the age of 91 at Holston Valley Hospital across the state line in Tennessee. Though she was named Mary Jane by her parents, somewhere along the way she picked up the nicknames Bess or Bessie. Her husband sometimes called her "Beck". She was the tenth of twelve children born to James Riley Ramey and Ellen Stallard Ramey.
On the 1900 Census, Mary Jane Ramey was listed at age 16 lived with her parents Riley and Ellen Ramey in Dungannon, household #16. Riley was a farmer and shoemaker. Our Granny Bess was educated in a one-room school house, possibly the Powers School; she was still attending school at the age of sixteen, which indicates for that day a high priority placed on education by her parents. Bess was always marked as literate on the census forms. Dungannon was a lumber town on the Clinch River, previously known as Osbourns Ford. There were two swinging bridges across the Clinch River that provided a path between Miller Yard and Dungannon. After a railroad line connected the remote area to nearby towns in 1909, the famed "Santa Train" came through, and the coal mining industry took off.
Frank Horne's widowed mother Harriet Stapleton Horne also lived in Dungannon at 1900, though about 100 houses away on the path chosen by the census taker. Harriet probably lived about three miles away, closer to Miller Yard where Frank was born. Dungannon just wasn't that big, it is almost certain they knew each other. At the moment of the 1900 census, Frank Horne was working for the Fraleys in Russell County, but he moved from family to family in his youth, it is very likely that he visited his mother in Dungannon, and probably stayed there between jobs. It is safe to presume that Bess met Frank on the streets near Dungannon. By 1910, Riley and Ellen Ramey lived only two houses away from Charles "Ed" Horne, Frank's brother who was raising his youngest brothers, Ben and Sam in his home.
Mary Jane married Jesse Frank Horne on March 16, 1905 in Dungannon. Their wedding was at the home of her father, J.R. (James Riley) Ramey in Dungannon, the ceremony performed by minister Martin V. Wolfe. Witnesses were Miss Ollie Bauman and Miss Caroline Saunders, presumed to be Bess's friends since no family connection is found in the four family lines united at this wedding. They lived around Dungannon for ten years, their first four children were born there. On the 1910 Census they were at Osbourns Ford in Dungannon with their two oldest children, Mary Wanda at age four, born February 5, 1906 and Robert Earnest at age two, born June 12, 1907. Norman Charles was born later in 1910, on July 2, and Elenora was born November 6 of 1913. Bess' mother, Ellen Stallard Ramey died on November 15, 1915. After her death Frank and Bessie moved to Nickelsville. They rented a little house from Nan Bond, just down from big house we kids knew as Uncle Charles' house. Nan Bond was a 56 year old widow in 1920, she owned both houses, but lived in the big house that we all loved.
The day they arrived in a wagon, baby Elenora saw Nan Bond walking toward them and hollered "Mamaw, there's Mamaw". They had just lost their real Mamaw, Ellen Stallard. Granny remembered how it broke her heart to hear Elenora cry out. Granny explained to Mrs. Bond that they had just lost her mother, and apologized for Elenora. Mrs. Bond spoke to Elenora and said, "You're absolutely right. I am your Mamaw, I'm your new Mamaw Bond." The children formed a strong alliance with Mamaw Bond that lasted for years. Helen was not born until 1922, but she holds fond memories of Mamaw Bond, and remembers sleeping over at Mamaw's, wandering through the big house with marble topped furniture.
After the move to Nickelsville, Bess and Frank's last four children were born. Their first child born in Nickelsville was Aunt Inez, born October 26, 1916, probably at the Bond house. Tragedy struck the family in 1917. Robert Earnest died at age ten on August 24, 1917. Just five days later on August 29, little Elenora died at age four. Both were victims of a flux epidemic, a stomach flu that was particularly lethal to children. When Elenora died, the doctor told Bess to hold off on a funeral, he expected our Uncle Charles would not live more than a day or so longer, he thought it would be better to bury them together. Granny was grief stricken and exhausted with three young children so gravely ill at the same time. The disease was so contagious most neighbors were afraid to go near the house, but Mamaw Bond and her sister brought food and helped Bess nurse the children. Uncle Charles miraculously improved, but it was a couple of years before he fully recovered from his brush with death at age seven.
At about age 76, before 1920, Grandpa Riley purchased a home in "downtown" Nickelsville. He shared the home with his daughter "Bess" and her growing family. Gladys Irene arrived on June 24, 1919, she was probably born at Grandpa Riley's house. Bess and Frank lived there for a few years until they moved again seeking more farm land. Our Helen Frankie Horne was born on November 5, 19XX at a small house in the crook of Copper Creek, about one-half mile from the Kilgore Fort in Nickelsville. Bess and Frank's youngest child was Harriet Ruth, born March 1, 1925.
The Hornes moved often. Helen specifically remembers seven houses, there may have been more. From Copper Creek they moved to a house across the street from Barn's Market in the thriving metropolis of Nickelsville. Harriet may have been born there. Later on, Mamaw Bond moved toward Nickelsville and Bess and Frank rented the big house. They lived there at Mamaw Bond's big house for several years, the Horne children walked one mile everyday to the school in Nickelsville. Helen remembers living way back down in a holler for awhile. When Helen was in seventh grade they moved to a house near where Aunt Gladys would eventually live. A bus picked them up for school, but the county ran out of funds during the year and cancelled the bus route. Helen never finished seventh grade, but she passed tests and was allowed to move on to eighth grade. They moved to a house just off Route 71 on the road that turned off to Bush Mill. They lived there when Inez and Gladys married. They moved back up to Nickelsville around eighth grade. They lived there at the "square house" in Nickelsville until after Helen graduated high school in 1940. Before she married, Aunt Wanda used her teacher salary to buy the square house in Nickelsville. When Helen graduated in 1940 she went to Kingsport to find work, but Wanda became very ill in 1940 and Helen was called to be her substitute teacher at Cowan's Creek where she boarded with the Dingus family. Aunt Wanda recovered and Helen got a job at the hospital in Kingsport in the summer of 1941. Helen rented a room at first, but eventually moved to a house at 1208 Lynn Garden Drive when Frank, Bess and Harriet moved to Kingsport with her. After Uncle Charles married Aunt Toop their family lived at the Bond home for many years to come.
As a mother, Bess Horne was a nurturing soul, always involved and very protective over her children. At Charles' funeral, a story was told of a very cold night when a friend was sleeping over. During the night, Bess made the rounds, piling extra quilts on the sleeping children. When Charles was called down to breakfast in the morning, he hollered out for somebody to bring him a jack to lift the frosty quilts so he could climb out of bed.
Those quilts were surely beautiful as well as warm. Bess Horne was an artist with a needle. She collected scraps of cloth and patiently arranged them into works of art. She tatted lace, knitted sweaters, covered pillows and crocheted doilies and tablecloths. She sewed the children's clothes, Frank's and her own as well. She earned money by sewing for families in the neighborhood. She made all the clothes by hand, there was no sewing machine in the house until much later when Uncle Charles presented her with a lovely Singer treadle sewing machine. Even when she was only able to sit up in bed, she sewed and pieced quilts. She cut each matching shape in her hands with precision unmatched by modern equipment.
Granny's cooking was also revered. Money was tight in this family; the only payday of the year came at harvest. Fortunately, food was plentiful. Granny tended a vegetable garden where Helen remembers they grew "everything" and dug a root cellar to last them through the year. They kept a cow and a few chickens and raised hogs for slaughter. Toward spring when supplies went low, she stretched meager assets into a sumptuous meal. Uncle Ben was left an orphan when Bill and Harriet Horne died, he rotated through many homes in his youth. Years later he told Helen that he loved being at Bess and Frank's table where the food was piled high and tasted so good. Granny sadly remembered him sneaking food to his pockets after eating his fill. She showed him where the extras were kept and told him he could eat all he wanted. At planting or harvest time, the neighbors and hired hands rotated through to help out with big jobs, Granny put out a huge breakfast and then a big feast for dinner at mid-day.
When I was about five years old at our house on Dora Street, I remember standing mesmerized as Granny Bess beat egg whites with a fork into a stiff meringue for a pie, one hand tightly clutching the bowl to her stomach, the other hand swirling like a tornado. I remember that scene every time I stir something similar. With a mixing bowl Bess was one very neat human propeller, her small motor skills finely tuned by needlework.
Bess Ramey Horne valued her education, and made sure her kids were in school and did homework. Wanda and Helen graduated from Nickelsville High School. Helen remembers Bess was never idle, she always had a task or two at hand in the house and garden. There was always a quilt in progress. She unrolled a work quilt each day and sewed at every opportunity before rolling it up to make room for the children to sleep. At evening when the other work was done and the kids were ready for bed, she sat by an oil lamp and sewed long into the night.
Helen grew up without the influence of her real grandparents, Mamaw Bond was the best she had. She was only four years old when Riley Ramey, her only grandparent died. Bess Horne was the tenth of twelve children, her parents were near 40 years old when she was born, most of her siblings were much older than she.
After Inez, Gladys, Charles and Wanda married, Helen moved to Kingsport. Her parents and Harriet soon gave up the house in Nickelsville and also moved to Kingsport. A tobacco crop requires many hands. With no children at home to help in the busy times, farming was too much for Frank. After 1941, Frank and Bessie gave up housekeeping and rotated among their children's homes.
When Helen lived in Kingsport, Bess visited often. She would arrive with a small blue suitcase, a few clothes and needlework. She watched Linda and Karen play and made herself very useful at the house. Aunt Gladys missed Granny when she was away, she loved having Granny there to watch over Billy on wash days or when she had to cook for the farmhands at harvest or tobacco time. Gladys would send Uncle Herbert to get Granny and bring her back to Nickelsville whenever she stayed anywhere too long. Granddaddy Frank visited too, but he would often go to Aunt Wanda's in Jewell Ridge and stay for several weeks at a time. For the last twenty years or so, they spent almost all of their time at Aunt Gladys and Uncle Herbert Wampler's home.
Fortunately, Bess and Frank lived long and kept close ties with their children. Fourteen grandchildren enjoyed the wisdom of their age. Great grandchild Lisa Kay Wampler, Billy and Joann's daughter, grew up next door to Frank and Bess, and could write a book of lessons learned at their knee. Helen and Inez moved away, but they valued their family ties and visited as often as possible. This is a family treasure that began as a school assignment. In fourth grade Jane Zack was asked to write a "Tall Tale". She chose to enhance stories about the prolific quilting of Granny Bess. Never doubt that children listen to idle conversation around the house. This was written entirely at school, so we were astounded to learn that Granny was a heroine to so many people back in the day.
The Bessie Horne Adventures
My mother has told me a story over and over again. It's about my great grandmother Bessie Horne, who was the best seamstress in the world. She could sew a quilt in less than 5 minutes. She also sewed all the clothes for her town, she lived on the Mississippi River.
One day Bessie was on her way to get more supplies when she came upon a lady in desperate need of a new dress, so in ten (10) minutes Bessie sewed a beautiful new dress.
About a week later, there was the biggest oil spill in the world. Everybody worked hard to clean up. Finally it was all cleaned up. But there was another problem, everyone who helped had to have new clothes! That's where Bessie came in. She finished all the clothes for the whole town in less than five (5) hours.
The Mississippi River flooded once and almost wiped out the whole town. Bessie collected all the quilts she had made for the town. With her needle flying fast, she sewed them all together and made a dam that saved the town.
When the water went down, the piles of muddy quilts dried and hardened in the sun. It became the very first bridge across the Mississippi River so the town called it Bessie's Bridge and to this day the local people still call it that. The End.
The Children of Frank and Bessie Horne
Aunt Wanda and Uncle Jim Al Smith
Helen's oldest sister was Mary Wanda Horne (February 5, 1906 - May 15, 1988). In the 1940s Aunt Wanda married James Allen Smith (1893 - 1971) of Coaldan, Tazewell County. Wanda did well in school, graduated from Nickelsville High School and Radford Teachers College. Uncle Charles quit school and worked full time to pay Wanda's tuition so she could become a teacher. She taught in a few schools around Scott County such as Sunny Point and Cowan's Creek. At Cowan's Creek she boarded at the home of Henry and Lucy Dingus. When Wanda became ill in late 1940 or early 1941, Helen substituted for her at the little one-room schoolhouse and also lived with the Dingus family.
Around 1941 Wanda took a teaching job in Tazewell County, and there she met Jim Al Smith. They lived around Jewell Ridge and Richlands, Virginia. Wanda was nearly forty years old when they married, they had no children. Uncle Jim Al was a coal miner and farmer, but he didn't like our bird dog, he preferred foxhounds. His World War I draft registration states he had black hair and blue eyes, but by the time we knew him he had a full head of white hair.
Frank Horne enjoyed visits with Wanda and Jim and spent much time there in later years. He particularly enjoyed fox hunts with Uncle Jim Al. Throughout Wanda's life she remained in close contact with Helen, mostly through the mail but later on the phone. After Jim Al's death in 1971, Wanda moved home to Nickelsville and helped care for her parents. Eventually, Uncle Charles moved to Aunt Wanda's house and lovingly cared for Wanda in her final years until her death in 1988.
Aunt Toop and Uncle Charles Horne
Charles was the only son who survived to maturity; Helen and her sisters had a heavy load of farm chores. As young girls they topped and suckered tobacco and removed the disgusting worms that plagued their crop. After the tobacco was cut, Helen struggled to "hand" the tobacco just right, but her Dad was seldom satisfied with her little handfuls. Dear brother Charles would often come through and improve on Helen's work before Frank came to inspect. Math was not Helen's favorite subject, but Charles was particularly good with numbers. He sat with Helen in the evenings, helping her with homework, and encouraging her through frustration. Whatever the problem, Charles' calm easy going demeanor and dry wit made the job easier or at least bearable.
Helen was twelve years old when Charles married. She remembers being horribly jealous and disappointed when he married Aunt Toop; she feared she was losing Charles forever. But Lona Ethel Daugherty was a wonderful addition to the family, and Helen soon realized what a blessing she was. Helen conveyed her love for Charles and Toop through the next generation.
Food from Aunt Toop's table is legendary. Forty years later fleeting thoughts of sights and smells from her kitchen throw the taste buds into overdrive. Everything in her immaculate kitchen was cooked from scratch on her wood stove, and in the summer it came straight from her garden. Janie Clark and Karen begged to visit there in the summer. Cobblers or cakes still warm from the oven and topped with blackberries and a bit of fresh cream from the morning milking were supreme. Some in the family still argue that her chocolate cakes were even better. Euphoria began when she said, "Go pick a few berries and I'll see what I can do" or "Try this, it's not much good, but maybe you'll like it."
Aunt Toop had a beautiful voice and if begged long enough she would pick her guitar for us. Her rendition of "Wildwood Flower" was never equaled. Helen remembers visiting Aunt Toop's musical family when her cousins would all sing and play instruments. She earned and learned her talent the old fashioned way, she was the niece of Sarah Daugherty Carter of the famed Carter Family, A.P. Carter's wife. Aunt Toop was the daughter of Sarah's brother, Robert J. Daugherty and Bonna E. Daugherty Addington.
Both Toop and Charles had sweet dispositions and seemed to enjoy our invasion each summer. They took time to make us feel important. When amused, there was a slow smile or Aunt Toop's husky chuckle. Uncle Charles eventually rented the Nan Bond house and raised his family there. An adventure to remember evolved from every visit to that home. We played Cowboys and Indians in the big yard and veranda that stretched around the house. Kenny tomahawked Linda with a hammer as she came around a corner. Bobby and Linda once set Uncle Charles' wheat field on fire, but her parents only learned about it decades later when Linda told them. Charles took care of the problem and never mentioned it.
Charles and Toop's eldest child was Sue Ella. Sue lived with us for awhile on Dora Street before her marriage to Glyn King. We visited every summer. While baby Mark slept, we played cards silently and stifled giggles until time to wake Glyn up for his graveyard shift. They eventually added Brett and raised their family in Shawnee, Oklahoma. We lost Glyn on March 2, 2001.
Bobby Mack Horne reminded us of James Dean's good looks. Bobby joined the Army and came home to marry Peggy Fraley. Bobby died after falling from a roof in a construction accident in 1978. Bobby and Peggy's baby Tina died as an infant. Their daughter Tammy Jean thrives, and fortunately shares interest in the history of our family.
June married Doug Nickels; from a little girl's perspective, he was the definition of handsome. They have Randy and David, and Randy's daughter Brandy. June inherited her mother's cooking genius, Jane would testify to that from her brief residence in Kingsport in 2007.
Kenneth married Dorothy Hamm and continued the Horne name through his son Michael Todd Horne and grandson Kevin Horne. Janie and Karen never threw Kenneth off balance with our relentless harassment, but we enjoyed our efforts and he put up with us. Karen jokingly told Granddaddy Horne that Kenneth had put one of his knives in his pocket. Unfortunately, Granddaddy could not be convinced that it was a joke, and he held a grudge against Kenneth for a long time. Sorry, Kenneth.
When Aunt Toop became ill, Charles moved her to Wanda's house and cared for her. After Aunt Toop's death in 1979, Charles cared for his big sis Wanda until her death in 1988. Just as he lovingly tended so many people in his life, his children likewise cared for him at the end, They are in constant contact with their Aunt Helen today, and she treasures their kinship. Throughout his life, Norman Charles Horne was Helen's staunchest ally.
Aunt Inez and Uncle James Mullis
Aunt Inez was the first of Bess and Frank's children born after their move to Nickelsville. Nanny or Nancy Inez Horne was born October 26, 1916, probably in the little Bond house. Aunt Inez was high spirited, spunky and fun to be around, perhaps the most entertaining of Helen's sisters. Inez left Nickelsville around 1935 to find work away from a farm in Kingsport. Inez met James Henry Mullis there; he had moved in from Texas. They married on May 22, 1937 in Gate City. Uncle James was born in Tucumcari, New Mexico on May 4, 1915. He was the son of postmaster Mosco Arlington and Carrie Mullis. After many years of marriage, Inez and James divorced in the 1960s. Uncle James passed away October 21, 1998 in Tuscon.
We had a delightful reunion with Aunt Inez in Lubbock, Texas in 1963. She paid attention to every detail of our dress, Karen felt like a movie star with Inez's scarfs and sunglasses. Inez was a practical nurse and a hard worker, she held a variety of jobs.
In many ways Helen and Inez understood each other's way of thinking, and Helen was devastated at her untimely death on November 24, 1969. She had traveled from her home in Taos, New Mexico to visit all folks in Nickelsville. She was killed by a drunk driver near Knoxville, on her way home. At the time of her death she owned an antique store in Taos.
Inez and Helen tried to synchronize their trips home to Nickelsville so they could visit, but Inez was not able to get in often. James and Inez had two sons, both born in Kingsport. Wayne Ivan Mullis was born December 22, 1939 and married Monteen, and second Anita. Myron Franklin Mullis was born March 14, 1942 and married Patsy Lou Mosier, and second married Dorothy Jean Lynes. They were older than most of the cousins, but we remember good visits with them at Uncle Charles' house in the 1950s.
Aunt Gladys and Uncle Herbert F. Wampler
Gladys Irene Horne was born in Nickelsville on June 24, 1919. She married Herbert Fred Wampler around 1937. No marriage date is found for Gladys, but she found a good man in Uncle Herbert, and persuaded her mother to sign consent papers to marry before her eighteenth birthday in 1937. Herbert was the son of Quannie Eva Fletcher and Arnold Gilbert Wampler.
Gladys and Herbert had one son, Billy Arnold Wampler, born in 1943. Bill married JoAnn Counts who was a tremendous help to Gladys in caring for Granddaddy and Granny Horne in their declining years. Their daughter, Lisa Kay Wampler married Sammy Parks, now Principal of Yuma Elementary School. Lisa cooked up a fine country feast after the 2006 Nickelsville Tour, JoAnn and Gladys sure taught their girl how to handle a kitchen.
For most of their last twenty years, Bess and Frank lived with Aunt Gladys and Uncle Herbert. Gladys carried the heaviest load in caring for them, but she wouldn't hear of them living anywhere else. Aunt Gladys was the only Horne daughter who remained on a farm as an adult, but Uncle Herbert rarely had Gladys out in the fields. She managed the house, cared for Billy and her aging parents and Mr. and Mrs. Wampler as well. Bill later married Dorothy Gilmer. We lost Herbert in 1985 and Aunt Gladys on April 28, 1992.
Aunt Harriet and Uncle Junior Clark
Aunt Harriet Ruth Horne was the last born to this family. She was born March 1, 1925, possibly at the house in downtown Nickelsville across from Barn's Market. Helen always admired Harriet's good looks, she was taller, had a perfect smile and beautiful blue eyes. As baby of the family, she was a bit of a favorite to her Dad, she handled the farm animals well and he liked her cooking. On December 21, 1945, Harriet married James J. Clark (April 25, 1926 - May 9, 2005), the son of Gordon and Hazel Mosley Clark. Uncle Junior was a ham radio operator (W4HRT) and taxi driver. Harriet was an excellent cook and a hard worker, she held a variety of jobs, and worked for a dry cleaner for many years. Aunt Harriet always took time to make me laugh and feel good. Thanks to Janie I proudly own her cornbread skillet. Harriet died of lung cancer on October 8, 1992.
Their children were James Douglas, Vergil Clarence and our Janie (Linda Sue) Clark. Their kids were our ages and friends with June and Ewell's daughters too. The Clark and Hammond houses were often filled with teenagers. Something was always on the verge of happening, whether we played cards, ran the streets, or cruised Broad Street with Sandra driving. The Clarks on Farragutt Street were in easy distance of stores and a MacDonalds. The urban experiences were new to us.
Janie was my buddy for long stays in Nickelsville too; we went to visit our grandparents, and we did. But we always managed to talk our way up to Aunt Toop's house in short order. Janie agrees that our best adventures were at Uncle Charles' home, running with the cousins, nagging Kenneth or persuading Aunt Toop to make a cake. Janie is always ready for the next adventure, she would say, "Might as well, we can't dance". Janie visited us in Florida a few times. In 2007 when Jane lived in Kingsport Janie became her movie and card playing buddy. Doug married Sharon Patterson and had children Libby (Fancher), Melissa (Al-Salim), Rebecca and James. Vergil first married Paula Major and had daughter Christie Clark, and later married Vickie Hitch. We lost Vergil too soon in 2001. Mitch Penley particularly enjoyed visits from Verg. They had a hunting trip planned before Dad's accident. Both Doug and Vergil were Vietnam Veterans.
June Horne and Ewell Hammond
No discussion of Helen's life or her courtship with Mitch would be complete without including their dearest friends, Ewell and June Hammond. June grew up in Castlewood, Helen was about twenty miles away in Nickelsville. They knew each other earlier, but when they both moved to Kingsport around 1941, they began a lifelong treasured friendship. Mitch and Ewell joined the alliance when they returned from the war. The Horne families are related, but we didn't know where the lines met. When Helen told June that the missing link was still not located, June said, "We're sisters anyway, whether she figures out how we did it or not."
Well, girls, I figured out how you did it. Your sisterhood came through sixty years of outrageous laughter, mutual admiration and respect. You not only shared but also understood each other's trials, tribulations and triumphs. You courted together, and consulted on the final selection of Mitch and Ewell as your lifelong soul mates. You managed to find two wonderful men to not only aid and abet, but also enjoy your escapades. You married within weeks of each other and almost synchronized your children's births, until Helen and Mitch got carried away and had Michelle.
Your family connection is finally found, but it is miniscule compared to the kinship you forged on your own. To find your common ancestor, Jesse Horne, go back six generations on June's side and four generations on Helen's side. You are sixth cousins, twice removed. But then, you are really only half of that, since June descends from Jesse Horn's first wife, and Helen comes down from his second wife, Nancy.
1. Myrtle June Horne and Ewell J. Hammond
2. Wade Hampton Horne (1897 - 1964) and Ruby Vanderpool
3. John Melvin Horn (1872 - after 1930) and Sarah Ellen Ramsey
4. William D. Horn (1840 - after 1900) and Elizabeth
5. Ichabod Horn (1816 - 1880) and Elizabeth
6. Pleasant Horn (1775 - 1865) and Huldah Osbourn
7. Jesse Horn I (1749 - 1820) and Susannah Melton
1. Helen Horne and Mitchell Penley
2. Jesse Frank Horne and Bess Ramey
3. William S. Horn and Harriet Stapleton
4. John Horn and Rachel Burress
5. Jesse Horn I and Nancy Langley
The 1930 Census documents the historic arrival of Myrtle June Horne on March 23, 19XX. June married Ewell Hammond in November of 1946. Hammonds lived next door to Mitch Penley’s family in Scott County in the early 1800s. Lacking stamina to take on another family, Ewell was only traced back to the 1930 Scott County Census: Kenneth R Hammond- 46, Kate C Hammond- 36, Elma- 14, Mateline- 12, Ewell J Hammond- 5.
Even after Helen moved to Florida, their friendship grew with the distance. Jovial letters arrived, with June often writing "Ho Ho Ho" after some understatement or funny story. You knew when Mom was on the phone with June because she chuckled and laughed through the conversation, and her mood elevated again when she retold June's news to Mitch. They were always a special part of our annual trips to Kingsport, and they visited us in Florida. Mitch and Ewell fished at Titusville Pier, with Ewell fending off both mosquitos and a woman who wanted to help him swat so he could reel in his catch. They laughed about that story and many others for years. Their daughters, Sandra, Deborah and Rhonda were our natural friends, and we shared good times as well. They celebrated each other's Golden Anniversary in 1996 and continue to laugh through the aches and pains of age.
Helen Frankie Horne and Mitchell Penley
Helen Frankie Horne was born on November 5, 19XX at the home of her parents, Jesse Frank Horne and Mary Jane "Bess" Ramey Horne in Nickelsville, Virginia. She was the seventh of eight children born to Frank and Bess. At the time of her birth, they lived in a house "at the crook" of Copper Creek, about one-half mile from the Kilgore Fort. She grew up in a loving family with four sisters and one very special brother, Charles.
Frank Horne was a sharecropper, and they moved often around Nickelsville in search of better land. Helen was born just before the Great Depression and the United States was in economic decline through most of her childhood. Times were tough, but this family was never hungry. Frank and Bess always had a bountiful vegetable garden, and kept chickens, a milk cow and a few hogs. At harvest they canned vegetables and buried potatoes and cabbage to last through spring. In the fall they raked chestnuts, walnuts and slaughtered hogs, cured and canned the meat to last through the year. Helen and her sisters grew up determined to leave the tobacco fields in their rear view mirror. Bess was a protective and nurturing mother and an excellent cook. Fortunately for all of us, she passed those regal talents on to Helen. Helen regrets not learning more of her mother's needlework skills, but Helen was an excellent seamstress and sewed her children’s clothes and curtains.
Helen graduated from Nickelsville High School in 1940. A local doctor wanted to send her to nursing school, but her parents wouldn't let her leave home. In 1940 she was Aunt Wanda's substitute teacher during an illness. By 1941, Helen had rented a room in Kingsport, and was working at Holston Valley Hospital. After Pearl Harbor, a better job opened at the Kingsport Press and Helen moved up.
During World War II, Helen corresponded with several soldiers, but it was a Marine who captured her heart in the end. Mitch and Helen met in 1943 when she went with a boyfriend to check about Luther's car which was up for sale. When Luther left for the Army, he left the keys with Mitch so he could transport the family. He did that and more, but in 1943 when Mitch was leaving for the Marines Luther told him to sell the car. Just as friends, Mitch and Helen wrote flirtatious letters during the war. He returned home in December of 1945, and they began dating not long afterwards. Helen’s best friend was June Horne and Mitch formed a fast and lifelong alliance with Ewell Hammond.
Mitchell Clayton Penley was born in Kingsport, Tennessee on February 7, 1925 at the home of his parents, Rufus and Stella Lowe Penley. He attended Bell Ridge School in Morrison City through eighth grade, and later earned a GED in night school. Mitch was a World War II Veteran, Fourth Marine Division, 4th Service Battalion, 23rd Regiment, Company S, Marine Sharpshooter. He fought for the islands of Roi Namur, Tinian, Saipan, and Iwo Jima. He was injured by shrapnel on Saipan, and bore the scar proudly. Nightmares about his war experiences came for many years. Helen sometimes awakened to find herself being lifted in the air as a rocket shell to be loaded. Mitchell saw the famous flag go up on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, February 23, 1945.
When Mitch proposed, he promised they would see the world together. Mitch and Helen married on Saturday, December 21, 1946. They took a taxi to the preacher's house in a blinding snowstorm. After the ceremony, the taxi driver took them to the terminal in Kingsport to catch a bus to Bristol for a honeymoon. It was a treacherous night to be out on the roads, but Mitch had only three days off from work. They stayed at the Martha Washington Hotel in Bristol. Through all kinds of weather and other ordeals, they remained a united force for 55 years.
After Mitch’s promise to see the world, Helen could have been discouraged when their first move was to the coal mining town of Neon, Kentucky. She must have known better days were coming. After the war, Mitch was still in the Marine Reserves, which ironically hindered getting the good job he wanted at the onset of the Cold War. They lived in Kentucky until 1950, Mitch drove a coal truck there. Around 195o he hired on with the security force at Holston Defense in Kingsport. They lived in Morrison City, at the top of Long Street. About 1954 they bought their dream land on Dora Street, and by 1955 they had built and moved into a cozy basement. They were preparing to build the house above it, but defense jobs fluctuated especially after the Korean War ended and there were sporadic layoffs.
In early 1956, Mitch was laid off again. Tired of layoffs, he and Troy Orender heard of jobs at Cape Canaveral, Florida. On a lark they drove down and were hired on the spot. In April of 1956, Mitch returned for supplies, and left a pregnant Helen in Kingsport to await Priscilla’s birth. He bought land and contracted Floyd Briggs to build our house.
Priscilla did her part by delaying her arrival until her Daddy got back to Kingsport. Uncle Luther and Aunt June drove Helen and the girls down when Priscilla was six weeks old. By the end of July, 1956 we were Floridians.
Mitch and Helen found their future with the space program where Mitch worked security for Pan American World Airways for over 30 years without a single layoff. We first moved to Orsino on Merritt Island, as close as possible to Dad's work at the Cape. Troy and Billy Orender and daughter Carolyn were friends for life. We adopted neighbors Uncle Rob and Aunt Martha Honaker as family. Uncle Rob was a Spanish American War veteran. The Briggs family knew all about the nearby swamp and brought us strange creatures. Mitch cleared land for a softball field, and the Briggs and Richard McDaniel families added enough kids to form teams.
In 1962, Congress bought thousands of acres and our home on Merritt Island to expand for the Apollo moon launches. The Vertical Assembly Building (VAB) now stands less than a mile from our old home. In 1962 Helen and Mitch moved the family, and our house to 3980 Cushman Drive, just north of Titusville, near Mims. They could still step outside and watch the missiles fly, and the ground still trembled and the windows still rattled for moon launches and shuttles.
Mitch worked security at the living quarters for the Original 7 Mercury Astronauts, and had many conversations with John Glenn, Alan Shepard, and Gus Grissom. Glenn was a favorite, he greeted Mitch by name and made casual conversation each day. Mitch and John Glenn were both Marines, Glenn was happy to be guarded by a fellow Marine. He pleasantly autographed a photo to Mitch’s daughters. Helen eventually met John Glenn as well, and conveyed her husband’s admiration. All seven of the original astronauts signed a photo for Mitch.
Helen stayed home with her girls until the late 1960s when she worked as a Brevard County substitute teacher and reading tutor for nearly twenty years. Linda, Karen, and Priscilla were born in Kingsport, Michelle was their Florida girl. Helen had a certain look that could freeze a child at 50 yards. If we wanted to get out of line, bicker or skip chores, Mom was usually the first obstacle. Their fort was cloaked against divide and conquer strategies, we had to make our peace with Mom before Dad got home.
When we disappointed Mitch, there was a certain hurt look on his face, followed by the chat. If you dared justify an error by citing someone else's example, the big guns came out. "That was the best they could do in those families. They aren't Penleys. You're a Penley, and you can do better. Find a rose to compare yourself to, don't waste time telling me about the thorns." That's where cousins came in handy, if you could quote a Horne or a Penley, you might get somewhere.
After work, they did everything together, they buddied each other for groceries, to the lumber yard and everything between. If there was a solo event, the other would sit in the car waiting for the finish. The evening news, voting and politics were important, and they raised four politicians to inquire about all sides of a story before deciding anything. Together they cleared land, produced a bountiful garden and sometimes raised their own beef. They never argued. They listened, discussed, and with deep seated mutual respect chose a path. There was no better half in this marriage, just two strong people who adored each other. The devotion and faith gave their union incredible strength and created a haven where many leaned during rough patches.
Finding no local Christian Church, Helen joined a movement with people she met at the Cocoa church. In 1957, Helen was a charter member of First Christian Church of Titusville. Eight families started the church, but Helen and her dear friend Betty Wattwood stayed with the church through thick and thin and became the backbone of the early church. Betty’s husband, Herman Wattwood eventually joined the church, Mitch joined in 1963. Mitch and Herman became Elders, but long before they officially joined the church they bore the heavy lifting of their wives’ mission, Both worked tirelessly to build and maintain the church. The Wattwoods became lifelong friends; Betty passed away in 2009.
The thriving church celebrated it's Fiftieth Anniversary in 2007. Betty Wattwood and Helen Penley were widely honored for their leadership, contributions and stamina as the only remaining charter members. The Wattwood and Penley efforts and labors for that church were monumental. Sufficient words to describe their goodness and our fortune do not exist.
In 2007, Helen and Betty were interviewed by the Florida Today newspaper.
Titusville- Helen Penley came to Titusville hoping to attend an independent Christian Church. But there wasn't one. So she and eight other like-minded folks got together and formed their own.
Fifty years and almost 400 members later, Penley remains humble about her hand in forming the First Christian Church of Titusville.
"They say we started the church," Penley said, referring to herself and another charter member, Betty Wattwood. "We're just the two that are left from when the church started."
Penley, Wattwood and a crowd of 250 celebrated the church's 50th anniversary this week with a banquet, former ministers and a homecoming picnic for many more at Fox Lake Park on Sunday.
Mitch and Helen both joined Mims Volunteer Fire Department and Titusville Coin Club, but their priority was always the church. They raised the girls in the church and focused keenly on education. "Education is the one thing that nobody or no thing can ever take away from you" was the family mantra. They seamlessly merged the priorities of family, church and school into one big mission to learn more and be more everyday. They both took pride in their work; their careers were the means to achieve their goals but never the main event.
If Mitch ever had a chauvinist bone in his body, it disappeared the day Linda was born, if Helen hadn't already removed it. Their children's dignity and dreams would never be diminished because they were not sons. They wanted every opportunity for their girls. Friends at work tried to ridicule Mitch for sending girls to college, but he laughed back. They just didn't understand that education was more important for females. Everyone had to be ready to stand on their own in respectable careers and care for others. The world and the men in our lives needed be aware of that capability.
Mitch eventually kept his proposal promise to see the world with Helen. They saw the places they cared most about and much of the world, with a little help from Pan Am’s employee fringe benefits for air travel. Both homesick, most of their early vacations were back to their families in Tennessee and Virginia. Soon enough they flew to exotic vacations in Hawaii, England and Japan, Canada, California and as well as Tennessee. They also loved road trips, traveling to Ohio, Pennsylvania, Niagara Falls, Chicago, and across the southwest to Lubbock, Texas. Mitch arranged for Helen to take the girls to sea on the USS Alcor to observe a Polaris missile launch from a submarine down under. Mitch and Helen did their own rock n’ roll when their Navy submarine, the USS Nebraska took a sudden plunge to 900 feet below during a shakedown on a cruise arranged by Michelle. They went to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry with Ewell and June Hammond. In later years they traveled in a van with Mitch’s family across the entire United States to California and back. They still flew or drove back to Tennessee and Virginia often, sometimes three or four trips in a year. One must wonder if Mitch was still trying to make up for those three years in Kentucky.
While driving to work on April 15, 1986 a truck hit Mitch's car, he never worked again. He struggled heroically against the injuries until 2001. Dad said if he was going to hurt anyway, he might as well hurt while doing something. They sold their place and moved to Caradoc Circle, closer to their daughters. As soon as he heard they were looking, Grandson Joey rode his bike around his neighborhood and wrote down every "For Sale" sign. Joey picked his favorite, and sold Grandpa on the deal.
The realtor should have split a commission with Joey, but he and Jane got the best of the deal anyway. For thirteen very important years, Grandpa and Granny were just around the corner. Granny's kitchen and Grandpa's wood shop were always open. Mitch and Helen nursed sick kids, delivered science projects, picked up puny kids from school, and watched dance and chorus recitals, soccer and baseball games. Upon every meeting there was the endless transfer of wisdom and high expectations to their grandchildren.
They also bought another house "back home" a mile from Aunt Jeet, just across the line in Virginia. Eventually, it became physically impossible to travel to and fro to keep both homes going. When forced to choose, they gave up the house "back home" and stayed in Florida near their daughters. Helen rarely left his side during those last 15 years, she hovered a few feet away. There was so much he could not do without immense pain. She anticipated and catered to his every need. No greater love and devotion has ever been shown than in Helen's care for Mitch during those years.
After a long struggle, Mitchell Clayton Penley passed away on November 16, 2001. Exhausted from caring for Mitch, her grief and loneliness, Helen was weak and broken for a long while. Slowly she regained her strength, and in 2016 she is quite healthy for a grand lady of 93 years. She is an active force in the church and the community. Helen is still a licensed driver, but relies on her chauffeurs today. She roots for her favorites in basketball and politics, she even worked at election headquarters in the 2008 races for Congress and President. Most important to us, she is still raising her family to ever higher levels of expectations. Her greatest energy is found whenever one of us needs her, and she goes into overdrive when Joey or Jane calls with a question. No matter how full the house, she's still lonely for Mitch.
A few years after Mitch’s death, Helen’s adventurous side emerged again. In 2004 she mentioned that the only place she really missed seeing was Washington, D. C., so Karen and Jane made the trip happen. Priscilla arranged for Helen to take the Saturn Blimp on a sky cruise over Central Florida. Helen wasn’t satisfied until she made her way to the cockpit. She’s always ready for the next adventure, a church mission, live theatre, historic site or lighthouse she hasn’t climbed yet. Michelle learned to pack her suitcase quickly, whether for a road trip with Betty Sipe or another trek back to Tennessee. Linda takes her to car shows, concerts, plays and back to Tennessee. She is always ready to visit her grandchildren, whether for a quick trip to Orlando to see Grandson Joey or a long haul to Birmingham to check out Granddaughter Jane’s new place. Not satisfied with her computer skills, she enrolled in a computer class at the local library. She’s already done motorcycles and helicopters, it’s a daunting task to amaze Helen Penley. Efforts are underway to arrange for a hot air balloon trip, unless we can slow her down first with a bunge jump. Paraphrasing Janie Clark, "Might as well, she can't dance". Perhaps we need dance lessons on her agenda.
In addition to her adventures, Helen visits and talks on the phone to her nieces, nephews and many friends acquired along the way through church, Pan Am and her school career. Aunt Jeet and June Hammond keep her current with all the fresh news from Kingsport. Bob Ramey is planning a visit to Helen this month. Bob is Helen's only first cousin known to be still living. Helen is the last surviving daughter of Frank and Bess Horne. Helen has had to say goodbye to too many people in her life.
The Penley Girls
This generation won't be pinned down in print. They are the cavalry when one is in need, they still know how to circle the wagons. From here, our heritage goes on under different names. Our descendants will not carry our name, but our values, strength and the wisdom of the ages moves through their veins.
Mitchell and Helen's Children:
Linda Kay Penley born, 19XX married John Nicholas Novick.
Brenda Karen Penley born, 19XX married Joseph William Zack, Jr.
Priscilla Ann Penley, born, 19XX married Thomas Leonard Frazee.
Stephanie Michelle Penley, born, 19XX married David Leon Kennedy.
Mitchell and Helen's Grandchildren:
Karen and Joe have:
Joseph Mitchell Zack born June 2, 19XX
Jane Elizabeth Zack born November 15, 19XX.