There is a wealth of information in the McDonald County Sesquicentennial Family Histories (copies available at the McDonald County Historical Museum – write to P.O. Box 572, Pineville, 64856.)
Today I am enjoying a story submitted by Hester Haney (Hester Margaret Russell, as told by Bonnie Russell Chaffin).
“Aunt Bon recalls that ‘Mam,’ as she called her mother, was born one year after the war. The family consisted of five children when the Civil War broke out. They took Easther (McDonald) Russell’s husband to serve. Will was 12 years old when his dad left, and he had to help his mother make a living for the other four kids. Will had to quit school and work for different farmers. Aunt Bon’s grandma took in washings. After the war Aunt Bon’s granddad was in and out, but from then on he was never satisfied. Will mostly raised the family. The family left Bowling Green, Tenn., arriving with one horse and one ox in a covered wagon traveling west.
“They arrived at the Mississippi River to cross on the steamboat. When the whistle blew, it scared Mam and she took running across the countryside. It took two brothers to run her down and load her on the steamboat. Mam was about 6 years old at the time. Somewhere along the way, they traded the ox for another horse to finish the trip. The family traveled with other covered wagons for safety and to be of help and company along the way. They would travel all day. There weren’t any roads…just trails. A good day’s travel was considered to be 10 to 12 miles. A bad day could be as little as three to seven miles.
“The family had made friends with the wagon in front of them. Mam rode in their wagon a lot of the time because they had more room. Mam’s mother and dad’s wagon was fuller because their family was larger.
“It became evident that the people in the wagon that Mam had ridden in a lot of the time had decided to kidnap her when they left the wagon train. Somehow some of Mam’s family found out and were able to keep that from happening.
“Mam chewed tobacco. I can remember Grandma Russell chewing a cud of tobacco. When we were little and Grandma and Grandad Deb were living with us. Grandma would put a wad of chewed tobacco on a wasp sting or a spider bite. It was one of her Indian remedies. One of the bad parts of Grandma Russell’s chewing tobacco was that when we all loaded up to go somewhere, Grandma would have to sit by the cab door so she could spit. As she spit while the truck was moving, the tobacco juice always came to the back of the truck where we always rode. It was a 1937 Chevy flat-bed truck.
Page 2 of 2 - “I was named after both of my grandparents.”
Do you have memories you would like to share? The McDonald County Historical Society would love to hear about your reminisces. Check out www.mcdonaldcountyhistory/blogspot.com. Learn about the progress as we renovate the grand old courthouse on the square in Pineville soon to be our museum. Don’t let those stories that you have enjoyed fade away. We would love to help you preserve them. We are making available a means by which you can record and save your family history, do check with us. We look forward to hearing from you.
Alberta Anders writes a weekly column for the Daily News.