Monday, January 2, 2017


Ruby Florine Sreaves:

(Source:  The following was first published in the on-line blog, "Pa Rock's Ramble," on Thursday, July 14, 2011.)

Florine Macy  (14 July 1921 - 8 December 1986)

by Pa Rock
Proud Son

My mother, Florine Macy, would have turned ninety-years-old today, and I felt this would be a good opportunity to reflect on her life and times.  I invite any of her grandchildren or others who knew Mom to attach their comments to this post.

My mother was born on a farm on Swars Prairie in rural Newton County, Missouri.   Her parents were Dan and Sis Sreaves (Daniel Alexander Sreaves and Nancy Jane Roark Sreaves).   Mom’s given name was Ruby Florine Sreaves, but she was always known as “Florine.”  She was the fourth of seven children.     All of the Sreaves kids went to one-room schoolhouses, and all but one went on to complete high school in Seneca, Missouri. 

(Mom and I sat down for a session with a tape recorder in the early 1980’s when she first became ill.  She shared many family stories on tape – and I made multiple copies and gave them out to her sisters, my sister, and some other people – but all copies, including my own, seem to have become lost over the years.  If one still happens to be in existence, I desperately would like to have it.)

One of the stories that I remember from our taping session was Mom talking about her family traveling through the woods on Christmas Day in a wagon that was pulled by my granddad’s two farm horses – one of whom was named Dolly.  The family was headed to Gramma Sreaves house for the holiday meal.  She said that everyone sang “Over the meadow and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go” as the wagon rolled merrily along.

My dad told me another story of mom’s youth that she probably would have preferred not be passed along.  At some point when they were little girls, my mom and her sister, Christine, and a third girl – probably their cousin, Margaret Anderson – decided one night that it would be fun to lean backwards out of the second story window of their white clapboard farmhouse and pee – instead of taking the long walk in the dark to the outhouse.   The next morning my granddad was surprised to find three long, bright white stains running down the front of the dusty farmhouse– directly beneath the girls’ bedroom window!

The Great Depression and World War II were the defining events of my parents’ lives.  Everyone learned to be frugal during the Depression, and they learned the importance of service during the War.  Mom worked at a munitions plant in Parsons, Kansas, during World War II, and for awhile I believe she lived with her sister, Christine, in Texas, (Ft. Bliss?) where Christine’s husband, Bob Dobbs, was stationed.  If memory serves, and it doesn’t always, she worked at one of the base PX’s while in Texas.

Mom met my dad, Garland Macy, after the war when he and his cousin, Dalton Macy, were driving a taxi in Neosho, Missouri.  They were married on March 31, 1946, in Columbus, Kansas.  Dalton Macy went on to marry Mom’s younger sister, Betty Lou Sreaves.

My folks were living at a little house they bought in Neosho when my younger sister, Gail, and I were each born.  It was 510 Park Street – right next to the National Fish Hatchery and a railroad track.  Some of my earliest memories are of walking by the fish hatchery with my folks and throwing rocks at the trout.  Mom also liked to tell about the time she lost track of me shortly after I learned to walk, and two high school girls found me playing on the railroad track.  They brought me home to my mortified mother!

Years later I was living in Neosho as an adult when I rode my bike down by the fish hatchery.  An older lady was standing out in front of that little house.  We talked awhile and she invited me in to look around.  Nothing inside of the house brought back any memories, but the lady did tell me that her mother had purchased that house from my parents .  The house had a total of two owners in nearly fifty years!

My mother worked hard her entire life, and I cannot remember a time that she did not have a job – other than her last couple of years when she was too ill to work.  She was a waitress off-and-on for years, and she and Dad built a truck stop (café and gas station) in Goodman, Missouri, with her sister and brother-in-law – Christine and Bob Dobbs.  Gail and I would often have to get ourselves ready for school and then walk from our house to the café where we ordered breakfast from the menu.   Mom also worked part-time as a seamstress for the Penney’s store in Neosho, making alterations on clothes so they would properly fit their new owners.  

My parents sold their interest in the truck stop (La Bella View) to the Dobbs’ in 1958 and bought an eight-unit tourist court on the Elk River near Noel, Missouri.  We were there for six great years – and they were great years!   Mom and Gail and I ran the Riverview Court in the summer, cleaning cabins in the morning, doing laundry – bed sheets and towels in an old wringer washer– in the early afternoons, and occasionally playing in the river in the late afternoons.  (Mom and Gail would often sunbath in the afternoon while the sheets and towels dried on the clotheslines.  We didn’t know about skin cancer in those days.)  Gail and I made friends with many of the children of the tourists who stayed with us, and we also had good friends who had summer cabins next to Riverview with whom we spent many happy hours swimming and playing cards.  Dad worked in town where he had his own DX gas station for a couple of years, and later started an appliance store.

One of the memories that I have of our time at Riverview involves Mom and her soap opera – “As the World Turns.”  She became hooked on that program through the influence of some of our summer neighbors, and she watched it faithfully for years.  We would plan our lunch breaks in summer around “As the World Turns” so that she could keep up with her story.  Gail and I watched, too!

Another thing I remember is going to Springfield during the Christmas break (two or three years in a row) where Mom and Gail and I would stay at a motel on College Street, and then shop on the Springfield Square for a couple of days.  It was a nice break – a mini-vacation of sorts.

Mom completed cosmetology school while we still had the cabin court because she wanted to have a winter profession.  She drove to Neosho five days a week for several months where she learned the fine art of hair care with a group of girls who were young enough to have been her daughters.  After she completed the course and passed her state exam, Mom worked for Carol Kerry at her beauty shop in Noel.  Ironically that shop was part of a large building on Sulphur Street – the same building that my dad later bought to house his growing appliance business.

Mom was always busy, whether at a job or keeping house.  She would sit and watch television in the evenings with the rest of the family, but even then she stayed busy making doilies, pillow covers, clothes, and, later in life, quilts.  She took up painting just a few years before she died and produced many beautiful small paintings of rural scenes.  She was making treasures that her children and grandchildren would remember her by!

My mother had some significant health issues.  She was operated on in the early 1960’s for stomach ulcers, a procedure that resulted in four-fifths of her stomach being removed.  She also had some emotional issues, and looking back on it from the perspective of a trained and licensed clinical social worker, I suspect that she suffered from depression.  She usually had a supply of tranquilizers which doctors of that era readily prescribed.

During her later years Mom helped Dad at the appliance store, and, after he sold that business, she became the office clerk in his real estate business.

Mom and I spent one very interesting day together shortly before she became ill.  We drove to Huntsville, Arkansas, and visited several cemeteries trying to learn some history of her father.  Her dad, Dan Sreaves, had been born near Huntsville in October of 1888, and he attended an elementary school there.  Around the turn of the century he and his family moved to McDonald County, Missouri, in two covered wagons.  That day in Arkansas Mom and I found graves of several individuals whom we felt were probably Granddad’s aunts and uncles or other relatives.

Grandkids were a big part of Mom’s life.  She managed to live long enough to meet all of her seven grandchildren.    Reed Smith, the youngest, was born seven months before she passed away, and the same woman who took care of Mom during her last months also watched Reed during some of that time.    Mom, who was suffering from brain tumors and resultant dementia, didn’t know many people toward the end, but she always recognized me by my voice and called me by name – and one day when someone was struggling to remember Reed’s name, she blurted out, “His name is Reed!”

Mom sewed and made things for several of the kids.  One of the things that she made for Nick was a clown costume for Halloween, and I know that it got passed back-and-forth between the Macys and the Smiths for at least the first four grandkids – and possibly the first six.  The grandkids all called her “Ma.”   Molly told me after Ma died that she was sad because now Ma would not be here to teach her how to sew.

My mother, a lifetime heavy smoker, was diagnosed with brain tumors at the age of sixty-two and passed away when she was sixty-five.  I was alone with her at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield when the doctors came in and told her about the tumors.  She was very upset, of course, but said solemnly, “Well, that’s just my luck.”  Today we know much more about the dangers of smoking, and I can’t help but believe that if Mom and the rest of her generation would have had better information, they would have made wiser choices.

My mother has been gone a quarter-of-a-century, but I find myself thinking of her often.   I know that all of our family missed out on a great deal due to her early passing.  I miss my mother and wish that she was here to celebrate her ninetieth birthday with her loved ones.  I know that she would have relished being around her children, grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren – which will number ten by the end of this year.  We would all benefit from having her still with us.

Rest in Peace, Mom – and happy birthday!

Garland Eugene Macy:

(Source:  The following  was first published in the on-line blog, "Pa Rock's Ramble," on Sunday, October 19, 2014.)

Remembering One of the Greatest Generation
by Pa Rock
Proud Son

My father, Garland Eugene Macy, were he still living, would be ninety-years-old today.  He was born on October 19th, 1924, in the Westview area of Newton County, Missouri – approximately halfway between Seneca and Neosho.  
Dad was the second of four children born to Charles Eugene “Chock” and Hazel Josephine (Nutt) Macy.  Dad’s older brother was Wayne Hearcel Macy, and his two younger siblings were Tommy Dean Macy and Betty Joan Macy (Lankford).  My Dad passed away in the wee hours of Christmas morning in 2009 at the age of eighty-five.  With the passing of my Aunt Betty last fall, all of the children of Chock and Hazel are now gone.
My father married my mother, Ruby Florine Sreaves (also a native of rural Newton County, Missouri) on March 31st, 1946.  Mom passed away at their home in Noel, Missouri, on December 8th, 1986.  They had two children – me and my younger sister, Gail.
My parents and their siblings were part of what Tom Brokaw famously called “the greatest generation.”    They came of age in the Great Depression, a time in our history that necessarily forged values like thrift, conservation, and self-reliance, and many of them entered adulthood helping to shoulder American efforts in World War II.  
My father attended school at Westview.  He was a good student, and the teacher promoted him from first to third grade, an act that apparently caused some resentment among his cousins and friends.  Westview only went through grade ten, so when Dad finished tenth grade he moved to Neosho and got a room with relatives – and a job – so that he could complete high school.  He graduated from Neosho High School in May of 1942 – just in time to join the war effort.
Dad enlisted in the new Army Air Corps (the precursor to the United States Air Force).   One of his primary duties was to fix the sights on aircraft machine guns.  He served in England and in France where he attained the rank of Staff Sergeant.  He was the only one among his cousins to obtain the rank of Sergeant, and most of them continued to call him “Sarge” even after the war.  Dad received a serious wound in a training exercise in France in 1944, an act that led to his receiving the Purple Heart.
(Dad's best friend in the military was Joe Spake of Memphis.  Within the past few years I have enjoyed re-establishing contact with Joe's sons and daughter.)
Many in my father’s generation had grown up in poverty and desperate circumstances, and after the war their attention turned to making money so their their families would have a better quality of life than they had experienced in the Great Depression.  My father was always proud of the fact that he had seldom had to work for a paycheck.  He and my mother had a variety of businesses in their lifetimes, and Dad was out working as a landlord on the day he died.
(Dad and Mom also bragged about being homeowners – stating that they had only paid rent one time in their married lives.)
My parents were both good family people, but if there was one outside force that shaped their lives, and especially drove my father, it was it was an obsession to continually be making money.  Money, in fact, was almost his exclusive measure of success.  And it was more than just making money – it was saving, putting money aside for those “rainy days” or the potential needs of old age.    Money was not wasted:  clothes were bought too big so that they could be “grown into,” nights on vacation were either spent sleeping in the car or in the homes of relatives, and treats for the drive-in were prepared at home and brought along to the movies.    Making a big purchase, like a vehicle or major appliance, would involve a “haggling” process over price that could last for hours.  Money was to be accumulated – not wasted.
My father was born poor when the American economy was “roaring” under President Calvin Coolidge.  He grew up in the poverty and neglect of the Hoover administration and the social and economic experimentation of FDR, and he matured in war.  He got his business footing and began climbing the ladder of success while Ike and Mamie were in the White House,  and he passed away during the first term of America’s first black President.  
During my dad’s eighty-five years he went from trapping and selling rabbits for pennies to buying, renting, and selling homes.    He listened to radio when it was a new medium, and as an adult he was able to sit back and enjoy television – particularly the westerns like “Gunsmoke” and “Have Gun, Will Travel.”  By the time of his death he had mastered such modern marvels as the VCR and the microwave oven.   Even though my dad’s father only drove a car one time in his life and often traveled to town in a horse and buggy, my father owned and drove many vehicles over the years, he even had his own airplane for awhile.  (He got his pilot’s license after the war through benefits from the new G.I. Bill.)
When my father was born students were using hand-held slates in the classrooms.  By the time he passed away they were using laptop computers and hand-held calculators.
The old guy saw a lot of change in his lifetime.  He witnessed all seven of his grandchildren reach adulthood, and was even around to meet several of his great-grandchildren.    Those grandchildren and great-grandchildren are all good people – and that is a legacy of which he would be very proud.

Happy birthday, Dad.  You are remembered and missed!

Floyd Edgar Sreaves:

(Source:  The on-line blog, "Pa Rock's Ramble," 8 September 2015)

Floyd Sreaves at Eighty-Five

by Pa Rock
Family Man

I only have two remaining relatives from my parents' generation.  Sweet Aunt Mary out in San Diego was married to my Uncle Wayne, making her an in-law - though the charming and witty 90-year-old certainly feels more like a blood relative than someone who married into the family.  And then there is my mother's youngest sibling, Floyd Edgar Sreaves.  Floyd turned eighty-five-years-young this past Saturday, and a big celebration was held in his honor at the Swars Prairie Baptist Church in rural Newton County on Sunday afternoon.

I made the nearly four-hour trip to Uncle Floyd's birthday bash to wish him well - and to check in with the assembled cousins - some of whom I had not seen in multiple decades.  If I counted correctly, there were eight cousins present, all grandchildren of Daniel Alexander and Nancy Jane (Roark) Sreaves.  In addition to myself (the oldest), there was my sister, Gail Macy, and Cousin Bill Dobbs (the prosecuting attorney of McDonald County).  Two of Uncle Ned's girls were there:  Nedolyn Sreaves LeMasters, a retired elementary school teacher, and Amy Jane Sreaves (whose married name I don't know).  Three of Uncle Floyd's daughters were also at the party:  Connie Sreaves Fisher, and Roxanne and Dana Sreaves (whose married names I also don't know).

And there were kids and grandkids aplenty!  Uncle Floyd even introduced two of his great-great-grandchildren to the gathering.

Uncle Floyd and I had a nice visit.  He remembered that the last time we had seen each other was at my father's funeral.  That would have been in December of 2009 - a long time ago.  (I have lived in Japan since then!)

I met a young lady at the party named Jennifer, the daughter of one of my cousins, who has an interest in climbing the family tree.  I hope she follows through with her research.  It is a fascinating field of study, and I am so glad to see it being picked up by the younger set.

One genealogy-related thing that I did that afternoon was to get out and walk through the cemetery at the church - a place where multiple generations of my grandparents are buried.  Back when I was working hard at collecting family tree information, I would spend hours in cemeteries meticulously writing down information.  Now all one has to do is just quickly snap pictures of the tombstones with cell phones!  That plus the availability and ease of using the internet makes modern family research so much simpler than it used to be.

Mom used to tell the story of Uncle Floyd visiting her at the hospital after I was born.  He would have been seventeen at the time.  Apparently Floyd picked me up and looked me over, and then said with a straight face, "Why Florine, he's only got nine toes."  That remark threw the new mother into a panic!  (Just for the record, I had ten toes - and still do!)

Sunday was a long day - over seven hours on the road, but it was a nice reunion - one that I would have hated to have missed.  It was great getting to re-connect with so many people!

Nancy Jane Roark:

(Source:  The following was written by me and first appeared in my newspaper genealogy column, "Rootbound in the Hills" on the 15th of May, 1989 - the week of the 100th anniversary of Siss (Roark) Sreaves' birth.  Years later it was reprinted in my on-line blog, "Pa Rock's Ramble."

One of the rewarding aspects of writing this column is having the opportunity to occasionally digress through my own family history. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be able to highlight the lives of my forebears who did so much, often in quiet ways, for their friends and neighbors and family.

Last October Rootbound carried a special remembrance of my maternal grandfather, Dan SREAVES, on what would have been his one-hundredth birthday. Now, a scant six months later, comes another family milestone - for it was a century ago this week that "Siss", Dan's wife and the center of his life, came into this world.

Nancy Jane "Siss" ROARK was born to Samuel James and Nancy Anthaline (SCARBROUGH) ROARK in McDonald County, MO, on 18 May 1889, the middle child in a family of nine. Though probably sharing the same dreams that many children have of travel and adventure, she and most of her brothers and sisters were destined to spend their entire lives in the Missouri Ozarks.

Siss met Dan sometime in the early part of the twentieth century. The couple married in McDonald County on 12 Mar 1913, and settled down to the quiet rigors of farm life on a place just south of the Newton County line. Their married life was happy, lasting nearly forty years and producing seven fine children.

Although life on the farm was agreeable with Siss, early on she showed a preference for indoor work. Embroidery was one of her specialties, as was cooking. Siss prepared a big country breakfast and dinner (lunch) each day. In fact, the first two meals of the day were generally so large that there were sufficient leftovers to take care of supper.

When Siss did work outside, she could often be found in her garden, an attractive mixture of flowers and vegetables. She was proud of her dahlias and equally pleased with the fact that much of the family's food supply was homegrown. And Siss had definite ideas on how and where to plant. The seeds needed to go in the ground on specific days, regardless of the weather or her husband's friendly advice to the contrary.

Siss SREAVES was a very religious woman and a good neighbor. She served as a midwife, helping to ensure that that her friends' children entered the world as safely as possible. The SREAVES table was always available to others, especially after church on Sunday when the children took it for granted that their parents would bring home guests for the noon meal.

It was on a Sunday after church in the late 1930s when Siss organized one of the biggest parties that the folks on Swars Prairie had ever witnessed. She and her daughters had picked blackberries that spring to earn money for a very special gift for Dan's birthday. They took their secret "pin money" and used it to have an enlargement made of a small photograph of Dan's mother.

When Dan's birthday rolled around that October, Siss and the kids were ready! Using some false pretense, she kept Dan at church after Sunday morning services were over, allowing everyone in the community time to gather at the SREAVES home. And gather they did! There are still some people around who relate with amazement stories of the many neighbors that were assembled to celebrate Dan's birthday. The feasting and good times lasted well into the evening.

Siss started suffering mild strokes in the 1930s soon after her last child was born. But being the tenacious farm woman that she was, Siss held on to life for another twenty years. Though often ill, she was able to see each of her children through to maturity, and she had the opportunity to know many of her grandchildren.

I was just shy of being five-years-old when Siss SREAVES passed away in 1953. Although my memories of the time preceding her death are few and faded, I can still see my grandmother, quiet and caring, sitting down at a family gathering to share a piece of pie with her little grandson. We ate with our hands (perhaps the table service had already been packed away), and shared a moment - a moment that has stayed with me as a subtle and enduring reminder of a gentle woman who spent a lifetime caring for others.

It is a legacy that I treasure.

Daniel Alexander Sreaves:

(Source:  The newspaper genealogy column, "Rootbound in the Hills,"  25 October 1988.)

This week's column is dedicated to the memory of my grandfather, Dan SREAVES, one of the finest people I've ever known. Special thanks are extended to three of his children (Ruth MARBLE, Christine DOBBS, and Floyd SREAVES) for sharing their memories and reflections about Granddad.

Daniel Alexander SREAVES: 28 Oct 1888 - 29 Sep 1970
The Ozarks were ablaze in their flaming fall glory, much as they are today. Grover CLEVELAND was in the White House, but within a couple of weeks he would be defeated for reelection by Benjamin HARRISON. Folks in the cities were discussing the tariff and the huge U.S. Treasury surplus of cash, while their country cousins were more concerned with practical matters, like whether to expect a repeat of the past winter's awful blizzard.

It was near Huntsville, Arkansas, a century ago this week that Alex and Mary Jane SREAVES welcomed their first child into the world. The boy, Dan, would spend twelve years in the hills of Madison County playing, going to school, working on the farm, and developing the self-reliance and strong character needed to stand him well over the rough trails of life.

Family legend has it that Alex SREAVES had a violent argument with an unstable neighbor in 1901. Whatever the case, Alex did gather his family into two covered wagons and head for Missouri that year. Mary Jane's brother, Tommy ELLIS, drove the second wagon. The small group of adventurers walked, rode, and camped out for three days and nights enroute to their new home in Anderson, Missouri. Before long, however, the family again pulled up stakes and went to an area between Goodman and Seneca, MO, known as Swars Prairie. It was on this prairie that Dan SREAVES spent most of the rest of his life.

Dan married Nancy Jane "Sis" ROARK on 13 March 1912 in McDonald County. This union brought forth seven children: Harold Dean, Mary Ruth (Mrs. Fred MARBLE), Ned Roark (married Gwendolyn WALLACE), Ruby Florine (Mrs. Garland MACY), Virgie Christine (Mrs. A.G. "Bob" DOBBS), Betty Lou (Mrs. Dalton MACY), and Floyd Edgar (married Shirley MEANS). Dan and Sis also raised her nephew, Ivan ROARK.

The SREAVES family attended church and Sunday School regularly. Dan always tithed, even during times when it seem as though the money just wasn't there, and for years he was instrumental in providing the necessary financial support to keep the doors open at the small Swars Prairie Methodist Church. (My mother, Florine, told me on several occasions that there were so many SREAVES in that small church that the hymn Bringing in the Sheeves would often be sung as Bringing in the SREAVES!) Throughout his life, Dan sought counsel in the Bible before making important decisions.

Dan SREAVES was a farmer, and at times he supplemented the modest farm income by hauling milk and driving a school bus. He and his brother, Jess, were also sorghum producers. Dan had a special filtration process that used local red clay to ultimately render a clear, bitterless sorghum. He would load the sorghum into his old Model-T Ford and take it to stores in Joplin and the surrounding area. People always knew that the SREAVES name on sorghum meant quality.

The devotion that Dan SREAVES had toward his wife never wavered. Sis died in 1953, leaving her husband to endure a period of grief and loneliness. But Dan was not destined to live out the remainder of his life in solitude. He eventually married a widow, Martha THOMPSON ROARK, who had been his childhood sweetheart. There are still people in Seneca who remember Dan pushing Martha down the street in a wheelbarrow on their wedding day!

Dan SREAVES made two significant pilgrimages during his later years. Both were life-long dreams. In the early 1960s his daughter, Christine, and her family took him back to Huntsville. It was the only time that he ever returned to his birthplace. After much searching he found his old schoolhouse well hidden in an overgrowth of Arkansas brambles. The little building was being used to store hay. He also was able to locate a childhood friend while on this trip. Dan and his buddy from yesteryear visited in the man's yard until well after dark.

The other important trek was to California. During hard times the family would often say, perhaps only half-jokingly, that they might just sell out and move to California. They never made the move, but in the summer of 1970 Dan, Martha, and his granddaughter, Sharon SREAVES, did fly to Los Angeles to visit his daughter, Ruth, and her family. And what a wonderful time they had! Dan kicked off his shoes to wade in the Pacific Ocean, and he even rode the rides at Disneyland!

Dan SREAVES passed away quietly just a few weeks after returning from the west coast. The crowd that gathered at the little church on Swars Prairie for the services was so immense that loudspeakers had to be set up outside for the ones who were unable to find seating inside. With the same minister who had buried Sis officiating, and grandsons serving as pallbearers, the funeral was a fond and emotional farewell to a wonderful man. It was as if the many kindnesses that Dan had shown to others throughout his lifetime had been summoned forth as mourners.

The SREAVES name still meant quality!

Thomas Franklin Nutt:

(Source:  The on-line blog, "Pa Rock's Ramble," 20 March 2012)

Tom Nutt Goes to California

by Pa Rock
Family Historian

Today's posting is for my twelve-year-old grandson, Boone.  We were talking over the telephone last Sunday and Boone was telling me about his periodic visits with his maternal great-grandmother, Ireme Olive (Tippee) Christerson.  Boone is very patient and will sit and listen for long periods of time - even  to old people.  He also knew another great-grandparent - my dad, Garland Eugene Macy - who passed away when Boone was ten.  Somewhere during  our conversation on Sunday, he suddenly asked, "Hey, Pa Rock, do you remember any of your great-grandparents?"

Only three of my great-grandparents were alive when I was born, both of my dad's grandmothers and his maternal grandfather.  One of his grandmothers, Etta Orvilla (Griffith) Nutt, died in the summer of 1950 when I was two-years-old, and the other grandmother, Louella (Pritchard) Macy passed away in the summer of 1954 when I was six.  Most of the relatives called her Granny Pritchard, and when my mother felt that my little sister, Gail, was getting too bossy, she would refer to her as "Miss Pritchard!"

I have no memory of Etta, and only a vague recollection of Louella.  I remember that Louella smoked 
a pipe and she would sit in our kitchen smoking her pipe and visiting while my mom did household chores.  Mom complained long after Louella's death about how mad she would get because Louella would strike her wooden matches on the bottom of our kitchen table in order to light her pipe - leaving long, black marks that Mom felt obliged to clean.

Thomas Franklin Nutt was my dad's grandfather on his mother's side.  Grandpa Nutt died in 1958 at the age of eighty-eight.  He worked as a concrete finisher most of his life and helped to build the courthouse in Neosho, Missouri.

There is a bit of a family mystery with Grandpa Nutt.  He was born in Missouri in 1870 (according to information in the 1880 census records).  In 1880 he was living in the home of his grandparents, Henry and Celena (Rutledge) Nutt in Neosho, Missouri, where Henry was the town marshal.  To this day no one knows who his parents were, but the most likely scenario is that he was the illegitimate child of one of Henry and Celana's older daughters.

My grandmother, Hazel (Nutt) Macy told me years ago that Grandpa Nutt had told her that his father had gone out west with another man, and that the traveling companion eventually returned and said that Tom's dad had been killed by Indians.

But back to Boone's question:  Yes, I did know Tom Nutt fairly well.  In the summer of 1957 our family was piling into our old 1953 Chevrolet preparing to drive to California on vacation.  Just as we got everything loaded, my grand-aunt, Ethel Macy, a daughter of Tom's who had married another Macy, came pulling into the driveway with Grandpa Nutt in tow - where she announced that he would be riding to California with us so that he could spend some quality time with some of his other children - Bob Nutt, Earl Nutt, and Daisy (Nutt) Lindblad.  My mother was especially angry about Ethel's mandate and did a slow burn for 2,000 miles!

A Macy family vacation involved driving and driving and driving and finally unpacking with some relatives.  There was no money for motels, and we took much of what we ate from home.  When Dad and Mom were both  too tired to drive, they would find someplace to stop for a couple of hours and sleep in the car.  Gail and I were in the back seat, and we napped on either side of 87-year-old Grandpa Nutt!

But we were headed to California, and we damned near made it without a serious incident.  Somewhere in Arizona, however (Dad thought it was Tucson, but from studying a map I am more inclined to guess Yuma), Grandpa Nutt lost it and decided that he had been kidnapped.  He started swinging his cane at his abductors, hitting Gail and I - and I am sure my parents as well.  We wound up leaving him at some sort of hospital or rest home, and his son Bob had to drive out from Los Angeles and retrieve the confused and cantankerous old man.  When he finally got him back to Los Angeles, Grandpa Nutt started saying that my family had stolen his money.  It turns out that he had hidden his wallet in the facility where we had left him - and Bob had to drive to Arizona a second time where he was able to find Grandpa Nuttt's money.

It was a trip that I won't forget, and it is my clearest memory of Grandpa Tom Nutt.  He died in Neosho the following year.

Now I am wondering if my life will be that adventurous and interesting when my children start shuffling me from home to home in an effort to give each other quality time with their dad.  Start planning now kids - the time draws near!

Thomas Franklin Nutt:

(Source:  The on-line blog, "Pa Rock's Ramble," 11 March 2016.)

Tom Nutt's First Trip to the Coast

by Pa Rock
Legend Master

Four years ago this month I wrote a piece for the Ramble about my great-grandfather, Thomas Franklin Nutt, and a memorable, yet harrowing, road trip that he took with my family to California in the mid 1950's.  Grandpa Nutt, who was forced upon us by one of his Missouri daughters just as our family was pulling out of the drive to head to California on a vacation, became disoriented and volatile while on the road, and we finally had to abandon him at a care facility in Arizona until his son could drive from Los Angeles to fetch him.

What I didn't realize at the time I wrote the piece was that was not Grandpa Nutt's first trip out west.  He and his wife, Etta, had lived in Los Angeles during the World War II years to be near some of their grown children - and he had made a trip to the coast as a single man much earlier in his life.

It is Tom Nutt's first trip to the Pacific Coast that I find to be so personally captivating.  I learned about that trip a few weeks ago while doing a bit of basic internet genealogy research.  There I discovered some Nutt family history that incorporated what appears to be a set of notes written by Tom's granddaughter (and my dad's cousin), Maryruth Nutt.  Maryruth, several years deceased, was a nurse in the Kansas City area who never married and maintained a lifetime passion for genealogy.  She and I exchanged a couple of letters many years ago, and we met briefly one time, but during those contacts she never told me the story of Grandpa Tom's trip west as a young man.

Here is my summation of what she had to say in her notes:

Thomas Franklin Nutt was born in 1870, and though his parentage is unclear, he did grow up in the household of his grandparents, Henry and Celana (Rutledge) Nutt of Neosho, Missouri, a community where Herny ran a sawmill and served for a time as the town constable.  Tom Nutt was married on March 31, 1893, to Etta Orvilla Griffith in Neosho, and their first child, Claude Nutt (Maryruth's father) was born to the couple six months later.

According to Maryruth's notes, sometime not too far ahead of that marriage and quick baby, Tom Nutt and one of his Rutledge cousins decided to go on a walkabout and check out the land situation in other parts of the country.  The young men probably started walking west from Neosho, Missouri, in the very early spring of1889, 1890, or 1891 - and they walked all the way to the Pacific Coast!

In later years Tom recalled segments of the trip including the wide expanses of prairie that gradually rose into the foothills of the Rockies, the beautiful Arkansas River Valley that was visible for miles, the groves of cottonwood trees along the river banks, and the glimpsed tribes of Indians and sporadic views of Indian encampments.  Tom found some land that he liked near Wichita, Kansas, and filed a claim on it, but after eventually returning to Neosho he decided not to "prove" his Kansas claim but instead to marry Etta and remain in Neosho near friends and family.  His logic was that Kansas was still too wild and untamed, and Neosho was better suited to raising a family.

So perhaps that is a clue as to why Grandpa Tom Nutt had a meltdown in the backseat of our family car and began swinging his cane at Gail and I and our parents.  He was remembering the old times and wanted to get out and walk!

Rest in peace, Grandpa Nutt.  I'll think of you the next time I dread getting on a treadmill!

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